Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP


A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
June 2014   |   By Dan Gaynor

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Engagement and the Competition for Talent

"Talented employees need great managers. The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor." Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman. First Break All The Rules. I remember reading this opening quote the first time probably twelve years ago now, just before leaving my post as president and publisher at the Calgary Herald, where our leadership team (a team I worked hard to assemble and develop) had ended a tough labour dispute in two key departments and taken the newspaper to record earnings. The quote is presented as the most important finding in a book that was based in extensive workplace research. So when the authors described it as the most important finding, they had my attention.

Here is what I thought: Do I want talented employees? Yes, everyone else can have the other ones! I want the ones who are talented, those who really care about their work. So if I want these people I've got to give them great leaders. Talented people know they have choices. I've always known that leadership development is the key to attracting, motivating and retaining talent. Skilled and caring leaders create the conditions for employee engagement – the phrase we use most often to describe the outcome great leaders strive for. And employee engagement drives corporate performance.

I approached each newspaper leadership assignment by selecting and then developing the best leadership team I could, because I know that every team reflects its leaders.

For my own book, The Heart and Hands of Leadership: The Twelve Timeless Practices of Effective Leaders, released at about the time you are reading this article, I wrote: "I believe every team that achieves commercial success with poor leadership could become so much more with good leadership. Let's ask ourselves what these teams could become if the people who did the work were enthusiastic participants and not reluctant survivors, if they were chasing a dream they cared about for a leader they cared about."

The employee turnover rate can be too low, which is usually a sign that leaders are avoiding performance problems, but more often it is too high, a sign of poor leadership. Good leaders create environments people don't want to leave. Experience has convinced me that there are many talented people labouring under poor leaders who are waiting for a leader who inspires them to provide the best they have - to fully engage them in work they are proud of for organizations they are proud of.

This said, the stakes are about to go up. Over the next five to ten years baby-boomers are going to leave the workplace or scale back and the competition for people is going to intensify. Talented employees are going to discover that they have choices like never before. They will gravitate to workplaces that are well led. In this significant way a good leadership development program, one that can attract the right people and help them develop their leadership potential - will become a key competitive advantage. Will your organization be ready to compete in this environment?

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are you willing to make changes to the leadership team when it becomes clear they are needed?
  2. How much time do the members of your team spend on developing their leadership skills?

To go deeper on leadership call or write about a half day workshop or a keynote address.

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
June 2014   |   By Dan Gaynor


Has this article sparked some thinking?
Join our blog Talking Leadership here to share it with other readers.


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Authenticity and Vulnerability?, November 2016

The Pain Problem, October 2016

The Big Question, September 2016

Risky Business, March 2016

Mentoring in the Moment, January 2016

Sacrificial Leadership, December 2015

5 Tactics For Better Meetings, November 2015

Leader as Follower, October 2015

Dynamic Balance, September 2015

Fearless Humility, August 2015

Fear and Accountability, July 2015

Building a Feedback Culture, June 2015

Fostering Accountability, May 2015

Confront or Avoid?, Apr. 2015

The Heart of Accountability, Mar. 2015

Powerful Ambition, Feb. 2015

Inspiring Possibilities, Jan. 2015

Ralphie and the Strategic Approach, Dec. 2014

Disagree Well, Nov. 2014

Culture and People, Oct. 2014


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