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By David Harder on October, 9, 2017

Why the CEO Must be the First to Engage

If 87% of the world’s talent is disengaged, the probability of CEOs also being actively disengaged is pretty high. With a purely democratic solution, the global disengagement problem can only be solved if everyone from the entry-level worker to the CEO/owner is dealing directly with his or her own engagement.


Engaged CEOs lead their cultures. The very word “engagement” implies connectedness and transparency. The failure of most engagement programs begins when the CEO turns the initiative over to someone else. Make no mistake about it, engagement includes an emotional component and many CEOs are uncomfortable with the feelings generated by the human side of a business. Others are so absorbed in dealing with market and shareholder expectations that they believe they cannot add culture concerns to their crowded plates. Nothing could be more wrongheaded.


It might still seem counterintuitive for CEOs to feel they should be saddled with culture development, but developing awakened cultures is what makes the job of the CEO much easier. I coach and consult with many chief human resources officers while they navigate themselves into newer and better careers. When they come to me with a new opportunity, I almost always ask the question, “Is the CEO leading the culture?” If the answer is no, I tell the client to “keep their bags packed.” When an organization approaches us to develop an engagement culture, the only real qualifier is whether or not the CEO is willing to lead engagement. Without the CEO’s leadership, producing engagement will be more difficult than pushing an egg up a hill with one’s nose.


When a CEO tells human resources to take over engagement, the CEO is now disengaged. As we explore in my new book The Workplace Engagement Solution, the process of waking up, of engaging, and of snapping out of the trance requires personal change. About 87% of today’s workers don’t know how to do that, don’t believe they can do it or are not changing fast enough. How can we possibly expect talent to wake-up if they look to the CEO and see business as usual?


This challenge becomes even clearer when we accept that engagement and personal change is challenging for all of us. The journey from disengagement to engagement requires deep personal change and some new life skills. Unfortunately, too many of us still fear the predictable discomfort of personal change and avoid it at all costs. We do not even understand that we are working against our own best interests. We lack the insight because we simply don’t know what we don’t know.


Therefore, it is critically important for the CEO or business owner to “wise up” to this cause and effect relationship within a culture. She or he needs to become the first to put their feet to the fire and embrace the life-altering possibility of becoming a deep personal change role model.


Now, this is something to get excited about.


Will it happen?


I believe it will. I’m an optimist. I’ve watched over 42,000 people awaken and change.


Brought to you by David Harder – Founder & President, Inspired Work, Inc.

(C) Copyright, 2017, David Harder – (All Rights Reserved)

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