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A 3-step guide to staff engagement: Invest time and effort in developing these skills

I used to hold breakfasts with groups of employees to discuss aspects of our business and allow them the opportunity to ask questions. In one of those, I learned a valuable lesson.
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We were openly discussing common business challenges and how hard people had to work. One of the attendees made a statement: “Some days, when I wake up, I wonder why I come to work. I would love to understand what we want to be, where we are going.”

I realised in that moment that I should create an environment where people can connect the dots. The team should know and understand the vision of the organisation and get engaged and connected to it. By doing so, their job would have a clearer contribution to the final goal and they would execute with a stronger sense of achievement.

In the role of a CEO, there are a set of distinctive leadership skills, all aligned with three core dimensions, which interrelate, reinforce and develop together. The better you are at each of them, the better you are at leading. Personally, I found these three dimensions essential as a CEO. And this is what I call the “three-dimensional CEO”.

Those are: the evangelist, the engagement and the execution dimensions. Each would be critical in certain occasions. I have met leaders who are strong at one or two of them. I believe that a well-rounded CEO should invest time and effort in developing all of them.

Those three dimensions are connected to three CEO roles underneath the generic banner of the chief executive officer: chief evangelist officer; chief engagement officer; and chief execution officer.

The chief evangelist officer is responsible for creating a vision for the organisation. The vision describes: “where you want to be”. You must define what you aim to deliver and what your long-term legacy would be.

It should generate excitement in the team, the market and your customers. This vision must consider that we live in a digital world. Traditionally, the vision was created at the top and cascaded down. Nowadays, co-creation is key.

This means building it together with all your stakeholders. How do you articulate the vision to your colleagues? Can you explain it to your kids in an easy and exciting way? Next time you are in a meeting, ask the attendees to write the vision down and see what happens.

The chief engagement officer is the one who must link the vision with the execution through the connection with the people. The vision is nothing without a team who don’t believe in it. And the execution is nothing without the team who deliver it. This is the dimension where I have witnessed some executives struggling.

You should be ready to get exposed, open your thoughts and ideas and even showing the person behind the job. Ask yourself if you understand what motivates each person in your team. Engagement requires time and effort from a great leader.

The chief execution officer must convert the vision into actual plans. You must define the outcomes, the metrics, work the details, put in place the right governance and track the performance against those goals.

Execution is the most visible dimension as it is linked to results. Does everybody understand what organisations key objectives are and why? How do you measure and share progress?

Aiming to master each of the three dimensions will make you a better leader. But it is the way you combine them that will make you a 3DCEO.

Luis Alvarez Satorre has spent over 30 years in leadership roles. He regularly attends the World Economic Forum, speaks at conferences, runs a radio program called “CEO Conversations” and is author of Becoming a 3D CEO (£14.99 Panoma Press).

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