Simple Things Great Leaders Care About Everyday

Wooden miniature at the start point of puzzle maze wood block. Leadership concept.

Ask a group full of professionals what they want out of a manager, and chances are you’ll hear “someone that cares about me” at least half of the time. While it seems like an obvious and simple desire, the sad reality is it’s a rarity.  

According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units, yet only 36% of U.S employees are engaged in their work and workplace.  

While employee engagement is undoubtedly a complex topic, engagement improves when managers genuinely caring about the people they lead.  

Employee engagement improves when managers genuinely care about the people they lead. 

Webster defines caring as “to look after and provide for the needs of.” It doesn’t take skill to care. All that’s required is to have a heart for people and the courage to do what’s in their best interest, even when it’s not easy.

Do’s and Do Not’s

Megan Witherspoon had a viral post on LinkedIn got me thinking, effective leaders do and don’t care about many things; what are they? Based on my personal experience, studying over 60,000 managers and coaching leaders at every level here is my list. Let me know in the comments what you would add or subtract: 

Effective leaders DO care about:

  • Their people and helping them reach their potential
  • Their organization and team culture 
  • Each team members attitude, including their own
  • Each team members effort, including their own
  • Respect and trust between team members
  • Proving the best tools and environment to help achieve success
  • How people are leading themselves
  • How team members are growing and developing
  • The achievements and results of their team 
  • Empowering people to make decisions
  • The core values and character of people
  • The mental, physical, and financial health of their team members
  • Getting the truth on the table
  • Communicating clear standards and expectations

Effective leaders DON’T care about:

  • Who gets the credit
  • Where work is done
  • How work is done
  • Pleasing everyone
  • Always being right
  • Changing their mind

Does a Long List Mean Leadership is Hard?

Often when lists are long, it means the job, role, or task is difficult. Leadership is no different. However, just because leadership is hard doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, especially if you start the complex topic of being a successful leader through the correct lens. I defined a leader in Building the Best this way, 

“A leader is someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.”

Instead of thinking about leadership as unattainable or something only meant for certain people with unique talents, start thinking that it’s for you. The most essential element of leadership isn’t talent; it’s choosing to lead right from where you are.

“The most essential element of leadership isn’t talent, it’s choosing to lead right from where you are.”

Leading from where you are starts with a decision to embrace two primary things:

  • Responsibility
  • Ownership

When you can get in the headspace that you are responsible and are willing to take ownership of things in your sphere of influence, you are leading right from where you are. It’s my hope you will not only embrace this challenge but you will invite it into your career. Because if there is one thing I know for certain, we need more people choosing to take responsibility and ownership to lead right where they are.

What did I miss out on? Tell me in the comments

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why the Best Leaders Use Purpose to Improve Engagement

Recruitment concept searching for employee

There is this common belief that disengaged employees are bad employees. The reasons are numerous, but a few common behaviors include; laziness, boredom, uninspired, and limited productivity.

While it’s undoubtedly true these aren’t the habits that produce excellent results; it doesn’t mean a disengaged employee is a bad employee forever.

Take Mark, the CEO of a medium-sized manufacturing company, as an example. Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and relentless work ethic, he and a small team grew his business from nothing to $15M in revenue over ten years. But as the company saw revenue plateau for three consecutive years, Mark began to lose interest.  

He started working fewer hours, stopped holding daily huddles with his management team, and found himself just going through the motions. You could say he was lazy, bored, and uninspired, thus he became disengaged from an outside perspective.  

Thanks to his team and external coaching help, Mark began to recognize what his disengagement was costing his own company and how it was negatively affecting his people. Through a lot of hard work and soul searching, he rediscovered his passion and purpose and committed to new habits to replace the stale ones. Mark has transformed his leadership approach in just six short months and has breathed new life into the business and his team.  

He also provides an example that disengaged employees aren’t bad employees, and no one is immune to becoming disengaged, even the CEO.

Disengaged employees aren’t bad employees permanently, and no one is immune to becoming disengaged. 

How Disengaged Are We?

Now before we get into the state of engagement in the workplace, we must level set on a common definition of employee engagement. While there are tons of great definitions of employee engagement, I have come to define it this way, “Employees who are emotionally committed to the success of the team or organization, demonstrated through their actions.”

When employees are engaged in this way, they are more productive, happier, and fulfilled in their professional careers. This makes it hard to imagine why anyone would sign up to be disengaged, but unfortunately, it’s more popular than the latter. 

To give you an idea of how unengaged the workforce is today, Gallup research found only 39% of employees are engaged, and 14% are actively disengaged

Managers are Most Important

While the current engagement statics are no doubt a bit gloomy, I am an optimistic thinker. Instead of seeing it as a problem, I see it as an opportunity, much like many of the great leaders I have studied. Great leaders look for opportunities in problems.  

When you look at employee engagement through the lens of an opportunity instead of a problem, clarity emerges. The opportunity present is for managers to take personal responsibility instead of pawning it off on HR or relying on the bi-annual company-wide engagement survey. While Human Resources professionals are key and engagement surveys are essential, research indicates that managers affect 70% of team engagement variance. 

So if you have a title that comes with the responsibility of leading others at work, know the actions you exhibit today will reflect the engagement you get tomorrow.

The actions leaders exhibit today will reflect the engagement they get tomorrow.

How to Drive Higher Levels of Engagement

Most bad leaders assume that disengagement will take care of itself if you throw money at people (If only it were this easy!). In Adam Grant’s book, Think Again, he wrote, “Research across industry, shows once people are earning enough to meet their basic needs, paying them more doesn’t stop them from leaving a bad job and bad bosses. In most companies, if the pay were the carrot, that would have already solved the engagement problem.”

Grant is correct; while pay is essential, it won’t solve the problem. One key action leaders can leverage to drive higher engagement levels is to connect the team’s activity to a deeper purpose.  

Connect your team to a deeper purpose for higher engagement levels

Shared Purpose

Employees don’t get burned out because of their work; they get burned out because they forget WHY they do their work. Because of this, leaders of high-performing teams are constantly reminding their people of the deeper purpose behind the work they do.  

One of the most prominent mistakes managers make is believing it’s not their job to connect their team to a deeper purpose. Don’t fall into this flawed thinking. Embrace the responsibility that you are the connector of cause.  

On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Rodney Showmar, the CEO of Arkansas Federal Credit Union, said, “Engaged professionals don’t get up every day to do a function; they get up every day to fulfill a purpose.” Showmar and his team do a phenomenal job connecting every single one of their 350+ employees to “making a difference in people’s lives.”

A deeper purpose like Showmar articulates has been instrumental in achieving higher levels of success for his organization. Do not go another minute without being clear on why your team is doing what it’s doing. It’s easy for people to get lost in the monotony of their everyday work without considering how their work impacts the larger organization and customers. 

If you’re unsure how to communicate this to your team, start by answering these three complicated yet straightforward questions:

  1. What do you do? 
  2. Why do you do it? (Hint: it’s got to be more than making money)
  3. What positive impact does our work have on others?

It’s easy to skim past these questions, but I’m challenging you to pause. Reread them and ask yourself if each member of your team could answer it with clarity. If the answer is no, you have some work to do.


Disengaged employees aren’t bad employees. Before judging them, use your empathy skills and recognize disengagement can happen to any of us. Then look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What can I do to get them emotionally committed to the success of the team?” There is a good chance the answer to that question has nothing to do with money but instead reconnecting them to the purpose behind their work.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why Measuring Employee Engagement is Pointless (Unless You Do This Too) [VIDEO]

Organizations spend so much time (and money) measuring employee engagement. The challenge is, they then do little to nothing to truly IMPACT engagement after the survey.

Want to make a difference today? By focusing on your core values, you can make the biggest impact. Core values are the fundamental beliefs your organization knows to be true.

This short video takes less than two minutes to watch and will give you tips for creating meaningful core values that leave a lasting impact on your employee engagement.


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