Heart Leadership: Attracting and Keeping Your Best, Loyal Employees

By: Mona Mitchell

Facilitative Leadership Equation

In my January 2020 post, I wrote that the future of leadership is anchored in Heart Leadership which makes up one part of the equation for Facilitative Leadership.

Facilitative Leaders engage with the team members surrounding them. They facilitate employees’ understanding of their value and their goals—encouraging accountability and responsibility, their personal and career growth.


How has attracting and keeping your most loyal, productive and talented employees changed over the years?

I’d like to think that the Heart Leadership part of the equation is a new idea, but it’s not. Attracting and keeping good employees are two of the most frequently asked questions in the business world, and maybe the most important. I believe they are very relevant to organizations today. The Toronto CHRO Leadership community would agree - attracting and retaining talent continues to maintain its top spot in topics addressed at their annual summit.

I was recently revisiting old files that I have saved over the years and I came across an article written in 1999 by one of my former colleagues - “12 Ways to Keep Good People.  What attracts the best employees to a company and what makes them stay?”  In the article, information was shared by Marcus Buckingham at a 1999 conference while he was with the Gallup School of Management. During his talk he shared these questions and explained how they measure the “core elements” required to attract and keep the most loyal, productive and talented employees.

He also stated that the beauty of these 12, according to Gallup, is “that they address factors that are particularly important to the most talented and productive employees; the questions are less interesting to plodders”.

These questions were a result of Gallup’s research through interviews with more than a million employees over 25 years. Using all the analysis statisticians use, they isolated the following 12 questions that most accurately measure the likelihood that a given workplace will attract and keep the best people. Buckingham stated that the EXACT wording of the questions is very important. 

How do employees assess if they feel important to an organization today?

I share Buckingham’s questions with the belief that they are still important to organizations today:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  7. At work, do any opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission of my company make me feel like my work is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, have I talked to someone about my progress?
  12. At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?

Read the above 12 questions again. It’s been 20 years since they were written, and we have entered a new decade. What has changed in employee engagement over the past two decades?  Here is another way of looking at it. What would you remove from the list above?

Identifying the ingredients in Heart Leadership

Back to Heart Leadership – in my humble opinion the following are the ingredients to the heart part of the equation:

  1. SELF-AWARENESS: You are self-aware of what you say, how you say it and how you impact others you work with.
  2. TRUST: That you trust that your team and your peers are doing the right thing.
  3. LISTEN/LEARN/CHANGE: You are aware of your short comings and you are willing to listen, learn and are willing to change.
  4. EMPOWER: You empower your team members and become very comfortable with relinquishing control.
  5. INSPIRE: As a leader you inspire and bring out the best in people across the enterprise.
  6. COACH/MENTOR: That you spend much of your day coaching and mentoring your team members.
  7. COMPASSION: You have compassion and you nurture a healthy work environment.
  8. INCLUSIVE: You are inclusive and believe and promote equality.
  9. FLEXIBLE: You are open to the opinion of others and their influence.
  10. SUCCESS: It is important that not only your team achieves their goals but that your peers and their teams achieve their goals.

As we take time to pause and focus on family this month, reflect and be honest with yourself on how often you engage in the Heart Leadership part of the equation with the team members you lead and other members of your work family.

Connect with me at mmitchell@achieveblue.com to learn how to measure heart leadership.

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