Boss A cares about your issues and concerns, leads by example, gives honest and helpful feedback, coaches and develops you, and builds teamwork and trust. Boss B has high standards of excellence, pushes and stretches you and your team beyond what you thought was possible, relentlessly focuses on top priorities and goals, and drives hard for continuous improvement to achieve ever higher targets.
Which boss would you rather work for? Which boss are you? Which boss describes most leaders in your organization? Which boss has the highest level of employee engagement?
In their latest Harvard Business Review blog, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman report on their study of commitment or engagement levels of 160,576 employees working for 30,661 leaders at hundreds of companies around the world. They report that employees of “Drivers” (Boss B) rated their engagement levels slightly higher than those working for “Enhancers” (Boss A).
In “Nice or Tough: Which Approach Engages Employees Most?” Jack and Joe show that either approach on its own produces a paltry 6.7% (working for Enhancers) and 8.9% (working for Drivers) of employees rating themselves as highly engaged.
Where employee engagement really soars is with Boss C; a combination of both approaches. Jack and Joe conclude “it’s better to be nice and tough…both are needed to make real headway in increasing employee engagement. In fact, fully 68% of the employees working for leaders they rated as both effective enhancers and drivers scored in the top 10% on overall satisfaction and engagement with the organization.”
Doesn’t a powerful combination of both Enhancing and Driving describe the best bosses you’ve known? It certainly aligns with plenty of other leadership research. We thrive under caring, nurturing, honest leaders who drive, inspire, expect, and accept nothing but the highest standards, continually pushing and stretching everyone to peak performance. When we’re treated like trusted partners on the grow, making a significant difference, and achieving outstanding results, we’re highly engaged and highly effective. Customer service, quality, safety, productivity, and profits soar. Extraordinary leaders pull and push.
• “Thoughts That Make You Go Hmm on…Synergistic Opposites”
• “7 Steps to Higher Likability — and Results”
• “Are the Most Effective Leaders Loved or Feared?”
• “Powerful Combinations: Drive for Results and Builds Relationships”
• “A Balanced Approach for Highly Engaged Employees”
• “Demanding Leaders Are Much More Effective — and More Likable“