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Pull the Plug on Disengagement. (#54)

The Confident Leader

A Gallup poll reports that only 13% of U.S. employees are actively engaged at work. This leaves a startling 87% who are only moderately engaged or disengaged, a borderline professional pandemic.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the [people] to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
— Antoine de Saint—Exupery

This Week’s Edition

The cost of employee lack of engagement is staggering. Employees who are not engaged at work are less productive and negatively influence the culture. The leader must stay engaged to fight disengagement, but how?

Clarify Your Thinking

“Robin, look at the results of our recent employee engagement survey.  It’ll be helpful as you prepare to lead our our upcoming strategic planning retreat,” Josh, the CEO, said.

“Great. Is there anything specific you want me to focus on?” I asked.

“I’m a little surprised about the leaders who report to me. They are registering some signs of being disengaged,” Josh said.

“What do you think is going on there?”

“Well, I can only guess. Maybe the pandemic is taking its toll. Are they working too hard? Are they unable to continue to rally the troops? Do they not like working here? Am I not leading them well?” Josh questioned.


Leaders who play the leadership guessing game often end up feeling more uncertainty about their leadership which may eventually lead to them being disengaged. 


“Josh, the data from the survey is a good starting point. It’s your job to stay in the game and get the information from your team so you can strategize on how to improve engagement,” I offered.  


All too often leaders are fearful to ask the questions that need to be asked. They are afraid of the answers or the solutions they may be asked to implement. Whatever the reason, leaders must find the courage to engage this dialogue with their team – step one for increased employee engagement.

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

 Trust is the foundation for employee engagement. Without trust people are not inclined to stay committed to a relationship. In the workplace, where either party can break the trusting relationship, it is often the employee who will blame the leader for the breach and rationalize their own lack of active engagement as a justifiable response. Therefore, leaders must take the lead to establish and maintain trust.


Common challenges related to trust are unclear expectations or uncommunicated assumptions. Add the following to your leadership dialogue to elicit engagement and build trust:


1.   Clarification: What questions do you have for me?

2.   Alignment: Can you say back to me what we have just covered?

3.   Support: What can I do to help you fulfill your responsibilities?

4.   Purpose: Let me share with you why we are doing this?

5.   Ownership: What ideas do you have about how we might solve this?

6.   Humility: What feedback do you have for me around how I am _______ (i.e., running the weekly meeting)?

7.   Commitment: What’s your vision for your role here?


Josh was bold. Pushing any fear aside he asked the questions that mattered. His leaders were impacted by his intentional leadership questions. Some answers were tough to hear but his relationships deepened and palpable engagement increased.



Boost Your Performance

Just ask. Watch your leadership doubt melt away as you get answers that allow you to stop guessing and lead with conviction. Employee engagement will follow.

What’s Your Opinion?

Are you questioning your next strategic move for your business? Consider joining one of our leadership cohorts starting in September. Reach out to learn more about how to fulfill your greatest professional vision:

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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