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VIDEOS & WHITE PAPERS: Leadership at its Best | CEB & Kelly Global Workforce Research

What is in the DNA of highly engaging leaders?

Rebecca Ray explains  this Conference Board Insight: Are you an admired brand? (Why engaging leaders matter.)

This article looks to behaviors and approaches that engaging leaders at all levels demonstrate to deliver consistently exceptional business results.

What are the critical behaviors highly engaging leaders must master?
What are organizations doing to support leaders at all levels?
How do highly engaging leaders approach engagement?
What do employees want from their leaders?

Engagement can make a difference in employee and organizational performance; however, promoting a culture of engagement in the workplace is not easy. It is crucial for CEOs and the senior team to take the lead in championing a highly engaged culture.

What specific actions can CEOs take to hold leaders accountable in sustaining and enhancing employee engagement?

Every day it seems a new business book appears offering advice on leadership in the modern workplace. But what actually makes a good leader? The answer is different for everyone.

Leadership is about many things – vision, performance, motivation and insight as well as functional or technical ability. Often leadership is also about what ‘works’. Employers have an innate understanding about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to management, after all they observe it every day.

The ability to accurately identify and accelerate the development of future leaders is critical for ensuring sustained business performance and growth. Whether the focus is on identifying high-potentials (ie. diamonds in the rough) or grooming senior executives closer to c-suite succession readiness, having the right assessment processes in place is a key component to an effective talent management strategy. While there are many perspectives on the ideal approach, there has been little data available to date on what companies actually do in the area of high-potential and senior executive assessment.

What is clear from the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index, a survey of 170,000 people across the world, is that there is a serious disconnect between what employees want from their leaders and what they actually get. Not only are workers failing to grasp their management’s vision, they are questioning the core principles that underpin their organisations. Our survey explored the way that workers think about the quality and style of leadership in their organisation, and to what degree they share the goals of their leaders.

Just one third of workers reported satisfaction with their management’s leadership style.

So what’s going wrong?

Are the messages from the top not clear enough, or are the leaders themselves not right for the job?

When workers are asked about their chosen leadership style, there is a clear preference. Together, the ‘democratic’, ’empowering’, ’empathetic’ and ‘visionary’ modes of leadership make up an overwhelming 81% of the favoured styles. Workers clearly opt for a leadership style that emphasises the “soft” skills–communication, vision, empathy, team building, and individual empowerment.

But what they actually get at work is entirely different.

The many common style of leadership is “authoritative”. And it’s also the least preferred. In fact, just 43% of workers are getting the style of leadership they actually want. Effective leaders should motivate staff to achieve higher performance. Yet, something is amiss as only half of the people we surveyed say that they are inspired by their current manager to perform their best.  In many instances, the way that workers feel towards their employer rests on how much they “buy-in” to their manager’s goals and vision.

Workers who understand and embrace the goals of management have a shared purpose, which means that everyone is clear about the business’s direction and how to implement it. But again, our findings paint a disturbing picture for many companies. Nearly four in 10 workers do not believe in or share the vision for their organisation mapped out by its leaders, or they are unsure what it even is. By any measure, this represents a huge deadweight of workers who are disengaged and surely working well below their best potential. Of course, it is entirely possible that this “lost one-third” is right. Their management may be on the wrong track, but can’t see it. Businesses fail every day because of poor management. Meanwhile high performing enterprises go to great lengths to ensure there is a shared vision for the company, from top to bottom.

Workers who are isolated from the core mission of their organisation may be the victims of leadership failure; whether that is down to the failure of managers to even have a strategic goal, or their failure to communicate that goal. Either way, it’s a major vacuum that is impacting significantly on productivity and staff morale.

How engaged are your employees?

Engagement can make a difference in employee and organizational performance; however, promoting a culture of engagement in the workplace is not easy. Chief human resources officers are in a prime position to affect business results through human capital—there are few things more important in their role than building a culture of engagement and the highly engaging leaders who will deliver performance through engaged teams.

Rebecca Ray explains in this Conference Board Insight


Reconstructing Leadership: Business people never grow weary of chasing it or proclaiming it.

Even though the basic elements of leadership remain constant, we always grapple with how to be leaders among our competitors. Commerce, unlike leadership basics, evolves constantly. For example, major market evolutions always seem to happen on or around the turn of a new century.

The twenty-first century version has been fuelled largely by the accessibility of technology. It’s personal. It’s mobile. It’s constant. On our hips and in our handbags, technology has changed not just how we communicate but what we communicate.

Reconstructing Leadership Image

Everyone is a producer, not just a critic, of content—all types of content. Word of mouth has been amplified to unimagined degrees. We don’t just recommend a new detergent to our neighbours, we like it on social networks and write reviews on e-commerce websites. Customers influence markets and talent pools 24/7. Geographic boundaries are no longer an issue for data transfer. Add this phenomenon to other innovations in products and manufacturing and we have, yet again, a whole new set of demands for corporate management.

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The Leadership Disconnect

This white paper examines the issue of leadership in the contemporary workplace from the employee perspective. It explores the way that workers think about the quality, direction, and style of leadership, and the degree to which they share the goals of those who head their organisations.

Leadership Disconnect

The paper examines the leadership issue across industry sectors, and globally, across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA regions. It also includes a generational perspective, with a focus on the three main workforce generations—Gen Y (age 19–30), Gen X (age 31–48), and Baby Boomers (age 49–66).


Given the resources that businesses devote to enhancing leadership capabilities, there remains a worrying gap between the priority and the results.

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Kelly specializes in providing  staffing solutions. Backed by an international network of offices in over 36 countries, delivers a wide range of services, including recruiting, human resources management and placement for job-seekers.

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