John at IABCAs you can see John Smythe attended the International Association of Business Communicators World Convention in Toronto with daughter Rosie. Here we are at the Rogers baseball stadium rooting for the Toronto’s home base ball team, the Blue Jays vs the St Louis Cardinals, who unfortunately thrashed the Blue Jays. It was, none the less, a hoot!

Meanwhile at the convention John talked about a weird phenomenon associated with employee engagement. The weird thing is that despite all the rhetoric, all the noise and hype and corporate survey results claiming rising levels of engagement; at the national level the numbers of people at work who say they are engaged is flat lining at or below 30%. I thought this was just a UK number but other speakers from the Americas said likewise.

In my own workshop on the ‘Two key ingredients of effective engagement for leaders’ participants reported similarly – that despite all the surveys, programmes and ‘stuff’ the engagement dial was not moving up.

John’s focus was on the elephant in the house when it comes to employee engagement. That elephant he claimed is the Paradox of Power. As you may know Engage for Change believe that the most critical enabler of engagement is the willingness and capability of leaders, managers and supervisors to enfranchise people in the decisions that affect them and which they can improve.

That requires leaders to consciously consider who else will add value, speed and energy if others beyond an elite (and themselves) are invited to challenge and contribute. The elephant is that many of us rather like command and control, hierarchy and are quite fond of deference. This we believe is the main restraint on raising the engagement dial. The focus in organisations is on engagement programmes, surveys and ‘stuff’.

It should be on leaders’, managers’ and supervisors’ attitudes to power and deference. Most of us grew up in the shadow of command and control and many organisations are still little soviets. The attention now should be on this paradox of power.

See John’s keynote below; and get in touch if you wish to continue the conversation johnsmythe@engageforchange.com, +44 (0)7710 130755.

Click here for Notes to accompany the slides below