During 2012, I undertook a maverick research project with my Gartner colleague Debra Logan. We explored the evolution of leadership in a social world that we eventually called socially centered leadership.
The hallmarks of the socially centered leader are:
- Clear, honest, and credible communication that articulates intent
- Emotional engagement and personal generosity
- Fact-based decision style
Our recommendations to people who aspire to socially centered leadership are to:
- Elevate your team’s mission; articulate it simply, clearly, and often
- Encourage as much transparency as possible without breaking the law
- Prioritize and systematize genuine personal contact with your workers
- Stimulate experimentation, make and admit mistakes
- Develop a competency in collaborative decision making
The need for a more humanistic, socially centered leadership style are clear. The numbers tell us that high levels of employee engagement correlate with high organizational performance. We cited a number of examples of such studies in our report. Following the report’s publication, Gallup conducted its eighth meta-analysis on the Q12 using 263 research studies across 192 organizations in 49 industries and 34 countries. Within each study, Gallup researchers statistically calculated the work-unit-level relationship between employee engagement and performance outcomes that the organization supplied.
Work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity. Work units in the top quartile also saw significantly lower turnover (25% in high-turnover organizations, 65% in low-turnover organizations), shrinkage (28%), and absenteeism (37%) and fewer safety incidents (48%), patient safety incidents (41%), and quality defects (41%).
This year, we are continuing our research by exploring how technology supports or subverts a socially centered leader. (This effort is complemented by work Elise Olding and Jackie Fenn are doing to study how a better understanding of the brain will change how we work.) We’ve interviewed a variety of wise people. We will publish research of our findings in September and conduct workshops at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo events in October and November.
So far, they’ve argued the side of the argument that technology can enhance the socially centered leader’s engagement with employees. I’m wondering if there are downsides to the use of technology to increase the engagement between a socially centered leader and their employees. What do you think? We know that technology cannot make up for a lack of the basic skills of a socially centered leader. But when it’s used with proper intent, can it be misapplied or even backfire?
Let me know what you think. Comment on the blog or send me a tweet @CRozwell.