It’s no secret that the most important asset most companies have is their people. Whether a business is predicated on providing fabulous service, pursuing rigorous production goals or maintaining an innovation edge, it’s often employees who, at the end of the day, determine whether it will thrive. That simple fact is borne out by the emphasis that Chief Executive’s CEO of the Year Selection Committee places on a leader’s ability to foster engagement among his or her employees.
“The higher your employee engagement the better performance you will achieve in every aspect of the business,” notes Bill Nuti, CEO of NCR and a longstanding member of the Selection Committee. “From how you create personal loyalty to how you deliver great solutions to your customers, be it innovation, process or technology, the real key to attaining all of that [comes from achieving a] higher level of discretionary effort. People will make extraordinary efforts if they want to—not because they have to.”
The most effective CEOs find ways to nurture engagement by rallying employees around a common purpose, making that purpose feel attainable, motivating the extra effort that
requires and modeling the behavior they seek. Reflecting on CEO of the Year award recipients, Nuti cites two leaders who demonstrated an extraordinary ability to drive employee engagement:
“As a result, he was able to significantly improve the performance of the company—the innovation that came out of the design team was phenomenal and they were more productive, more efficient and achieved higher quality due to that higher engagement.”