A Second Look at the Value of Employee Engagement

If your company invested $700 million to $1 billion in a market opportunity with little or no revenue growth, you would quickly reconsider the proposition behind the investment. U.S. companies are spending that amount trying to increase employee engagement while Gallup tells us engagement remains flat at 32% in the U.S. and 13% globally.

The connection between employee engagement and productivity, profitability, client satisfaction, and absenteeism is well-documented. Separate studies from McKinsey and Gallup state that productivity improves 20-25% with connected employees.

To foster engagement, new corporate campuses look like city parks, loaded with places to collaborate, exercise, engage with colleagues, enjoy free gourmet meals, and relax. Deloitte’s list of factors that contribute to a positive work environment includes—

Employee ENgagement
Rethink Employee Engagement
  • Humanistic workspaces
  • Time for slack
  • Inspiration
  • Self-directed, dynamic learning
  • Culture of recognition

Accountability for results is not on the list.

Yet, telling someone their effort makes a difference, is one of the most powerful ways to fuel an employee’s passion and energy. Realistic expectations and accountability for achieving them are more impactful than any other corporate benefit. You can easily identify people not motivated by accountability. They are the people that don’t want to do what they are supposed to do.

Let’s rethink employee engagement. The desire for full engagement across an organization leads to the plethora of initiatives consuming that $700 million. What if companies stopped trying to engage everyone in the enterprise and focused those investments primarily on the emerging leaders, high potential employees, and the people the company can’t afford to lose to another organization—or to their own apathy?

If the Pareto Principle is true, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest engagement dollars in expanding the 20% producing most of the results to 40%? The ROI should increase exponentially for companies that focus more effort toward high-potential leaders most likely to become fully vested in their own and the organization’s success.  And, in the process, the same 20% are highly likely to influence the engagement of other key talent, now and in the future!

Job satisfaction, personal happiness, and engagement with life (including work) are not the result of a perfect environment. They are the result of personal choice. A percentage of every workforce is disengaged with life and will likely never become engaged at work. To invest equally in that group as in the people most likely to grow and contribute is a questionable strategy.

One component of executive branding is helping a leader recognize his or her unique value contribution and how a distinct combination of skills, personality, executive presence, and potential defines current and future success. Build the brand of the people willing to take responsibility for their—and your company’s success.

Treating every employee fairly is isn’t treating every employee the same.

The Texas Talent Grab

The Talent Grab of a Competitive Market

Texas Talent
Gone to Texas Talent Grab

In the mid-1800’s, as scores of people (outlaws included) pursued opportunity in Texas, the phrase “Gone to Texas” or GTT would frequently appear nailed to the doors of abandoned houses or on fences beside vacated property. More recently, the Texas Governor’s Office of Economic Development gave GTT a second life by attracting new businesses to the Lone Star State with the promise of “Texas: Wide Open for Business.”

This 21st century GTT invitation is working! As home to 54 Fortune 500 companies, Texas ranks No. 2 in the U.S., ahead of California and Illinois. In the past six years, 75 major corporations have moved to Dallas/Fort Worth. Start-ups, company expansions, and corporate growth in DFW generated over 119,000 jobs between February 2016 and February 2017. An accelerating business environment creates an exponential competition for talent.

The Dallas Business Journal recently detailed the talent grab spreading across north Texas. None of the companies moving to Texas have announced an interest in candidates from the bottom half of the talent pool. The best companies are implementing ways to find and hire the top ten percent—and they are getting what they want.

Talent Matters

Toyota announced their move from California and in a few months received 19,000 resumes aimed at the 1,000 openings the automaker is bringing to Plano. Tractor manufacturer Kubota’s move to Grapevine is driven by the need for innovation, efficiency, and talent. On a smaller scale, private equity firms are considering the talent in an acquisition as carefully as their quantification of a company’s financial results.

More than ever, human capital investments are being analyzed, quantified, and measured for impact to the business. In designing themselves for the future, companies must address the need for visionary leaders who can build a culture, the impact of workplace automation, and the on-going demand for employee engagement. These challenges become opportunities for differentiation when the leaders charged with resolving these realities are the most talented people the market offers.

How well is your executive leadership equipped to excel in a market where talent, technology, and transformation are driving forces in every organization?

Your Brand Isn’t What You Do. Your Brand is the Impact You Bring.

Your Brand Isn’t What You Do. Your Brand is the Impact You Bring.

Companies aren’t buying what many executives are selling.

In a cut-to-the-chase, hyper-competitive, globally uncertain business environment, Boards of Directors, and CEOs pursuing exceptional talent are looking for people with a history of creating results, not people doing the things that should create results.

If you compile the findings of surveys querying CEOs’ biggest concerns, top executives consistently state their angst is linked to:

  • Leading Digital Transformation
  • Creating Disruptive Innovation
  • Securing Global Data
  • Finding Critical Talent
  • Ensuring Organizational Alignment and Employee Engagement
  • Navigating Geopolitical Uncertainty

Driving revenue growth, increasing cash flow and profitability, creating client loyalty, and improving shareholder value come with the job. If a CEO isn’t achieving these, he or she will quickly add to the statistics about rapid CEO turnover.

This means executive branding isn’t about creating awareness and market perception about what you do. Executive branding is building a reputation, crafting a powerful message, and clearly communicating your impact on what matters to CEOs and Boards, and how effectively you engage with the people around you.

Your brand is:

  • Knowledge – What you know or the answers you can get.
  • Relationships – Who you know or who you can connect with.
  • Results – How what you do produces results that impact what matters.
  • Reputation – Your history of delivering outcomes that drive corporate success.

A scan of executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles reflects a gap between what many committed and successful leaders are talking about and what the people hiring them care about. Whether you want to advance in your current company or are considering outside opportunities, it’s time to refresh your brand around your results more than your activity.

Source: Leapfrog Executive Services 

Personal Branding Service for Senior Executives Now Available

Exciting news about a personal branding service for executives. I am delighted to work with my colleague, Jim Hess to launch this enterprise–as an addition to the speaking and training solutions I provide through Jordan Development.




Brand Enhancement Service Available for Senior Executives

 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX  (June 15, 2017)  Leapfrog Executive Search, a boutique retained search firm, today announced the formation of  Leapfrog Executive Services,  a new division dedicated to helping senior executives enhance their personal brands.

In response to a market demand by currently employed, C-level executives wanting to pursue new leadership roles, Leapfrog Executive Services will provide resumes, marketing biographies, LinkedIn profile optimization, and social media enhancement to help executives create greater differentiation, increase visibility, and gain personal credibility in the marketplace.

Jim Hess, Founder and Managing Principal of Leapfrog Executive Services and Leapfrog Executive Search said, “In conversations with sitting senior executives, we learned that a C-level executive wanting to initiate the pursuit of a new career opportunity needs a trusted, quality resource, that can provide personalized, confidential, and timely branding and marketing assistance. Unlike outplacement, our services will help executives proactively advance themselves in a market without waiting for opportunities to come to them. We are excited to offer this valuable service and become an organization to which others can confidently refer executives.”

About Leapfrog Executive Search:

Founded in 2001, Leapfrog Executive Search provides retained search expertise that is focused primarily on HR leadership roles.  The company is uniquely positioned to complete searches for talented performers who impact bottom-line performance. Organizations choose to engage Leapfrog Executive Search because of a demonstrated commitment to building relationships with HR leaders, functional leaders, and vendors, giving the firm unparalleled access to talent. Leapfrog Executive Search brings clients broad industry knowledge and solid domain expertise that ensures candidates are aligned with each client’s business challenges, strategic opportunities, and organizational culture.


Media Contacts:

Jim Hess                                                                      Joe Jordan

214-435-5409                                                              214-714-3987

jhess@leapfrog-services.com                                      jjordan@leapfrog-services.com


Are Internal Monopolies Hurting Your Customer?

Are Internal Monopolies Hurting Your Customer?

Whatever your role, it is always good to ask yourself, “Who is my customer?”

Corporate monopolies in shared services
Is the customer forgotten by your shared services teams?

By definition, a monopoly is “the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.” That is the kind of relationship many corporate functions enjoy. When the monopoly goes unchecked, costs increase, it is difficult to compete, and soon “corporate” becomes the center of the business universe–much to the dismay of the end user or customer.

University of Toronto professor Roger Martin raises some solid questions about improving the monopolies held by shared services in companies in Harvard Business Review.

“Competition is business’s great trainer . . . When a customer chooses an alternative provider, that provides an important signal of how the monopolist needs to get better to get that customer back . . . Hence, my belief is that the only way to have efficient, effective corporate functions is to take away their monopoly right to serve.” (RLM)

His brief opinion is worth a read–and some reflective consideration by leaders in IT, finance, HR, etc.

Developing Strengths, Not Weaknesses

Are your training investments focused on developing strengths or overcoming weaknesses?

Peter Drucker said, “[Someone] should never be appointed to a managerial position if his vision focuses on people’s weaknesses rather than on their strengths. The [person] who always knows exactly what people cannot do, but never sees anything they can do, will undermine the spirit of his organization.”

Drucker’s thoughts are underscored and expanded in a recent Harvard Business Review article by the talented team at Gallup. They conclude that, “there’s significant potential in developing what is innately right with people versus trying to fix what’s wrong with them.” At a time when employee engagement is a pressing concern for many global organizations, this Gallup study found employees are six times more likely to be engaged at work when they get to do what they are good at–rather than focusing on those skills in which they will never excel.

Hiring strengths and teaming to account for weaknesses is more than a popular HR mantra. Gallup’s research found it makes good business sense with solid growth in sales, profits, and customer engagement.

Investing training dollars in trying to get people better at things they will never be good at is a misplaced use of time and resources.

Choose to Look at 2017 Through a Lens of Hope

Looking Through a Lens of Hope

Pensive businessman sitting at office
2017 Lens of Hope

After a series of unexpected changes, difficult circumstances, and repeated disappointments, it is tempting to pack your hope in a box in the attic of your mind and think that the worst that could happen might be the best that will happen. You start sounding like the Peanuts character Snoopy as he bemoaned, “Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope of advancement.”

In 1936, Václav Havel was born into one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Prague. His grandfather was a leader in the arts, and his uncle’s work laid the foundation for the Czech film industry. Following the 1948 communist coup, Havel’s family lost most of its wealth. A gifted author and playwright, Havel was a banned writer after his condemnation of the Warsaw Pact invasion. In 1977, he was charged with trying to subvert the state, and in 1979, sentenced to four years in jail. Ten years later, he was again incarcerated, this time for standing in the street. During long nights in prison, Havel could not have imagined that he would one day emerge as the central figure of the Velvet Revolution and become the first president of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Repeatedly slammed by discouragement, defeat, and the brusque unfairness of life, Havel continued to pursue his dream of a better future for himself and his nation. He learned to see beyond his current circumstances, refusing to allow the realities of the present to dim his convictions about the future. While speaking at the Hiroshima Memorial in 1995, Havel shared a message that articulated the beliefs that kept him pressing forward after hitting wall after wall of opposition.

“Many times in my life and not just when I was in prison, I found myself in a situation in which everything seemed to conspire against me, when nothing I wished for or worked for seemed likely to succeed … Whenever I found myself immersed in such melancholy thoughts I would ask myself a very simple question over and over again, ‘Why don’t you just give up on everything?’ … Each time, I would eventually realize that hope, in the deepest sense of the word, does not come from the outside, that hope is not something to be found in external indications simply when a course of action may turn out well, nor is it something I have no reason to feel when it is obvious that nothing will turn out well … hope is a state of mind, and we either have it, or we don’t, quite independently of the state of affairs immediately around us … Indeed, only the infinite and the eternal, recognized or surmised, can explain the no less mysterious phenomenon of hope … I do not know of a single case in which there is a genuine acceptance of some bitter personal fate … which can be explained by anything other than humankind’s sense of something that transcends earthly gratification.”

Attitude is not dictated by circumstances. Wherever you are in life and whatever you may encounter during the journey, it is valuable to remember that your attitude isn’t imposed on you — you choose it.

Difficulties in life are not dispersed through a merit system. Unexpected events often bring unwanted adjustments. Doing what is right can make a situation more difficult than when it started. Choose to look at life through a lens of hope.

As a leader, one of the valuable roles you play in the lives of the people you lead is demonstrating genuine hope — a hope you choose, that tomorrow will be better than today. Take advantage of every communication to provide a realistic and hope-filled assessment of the present and the future.


From Sharpen Your Life, Copyright © 2016, Joseph M. Jordan/Jordan Development, Inc. All rights reserved internationally.
Download your copy today on Amazon.

Sharpen Your Life FREE on Amazon through Jan 2

Sharpen Your Life – by Joe Jordan

Sharpen Your Life, by Joe Jordan

According to Gallup, 70 percent of us aren’t happy and feel unfulfilled in our jobs. Most likely, if a job isn’t fulfilling–a big part of life isn’t fulfilling either. If you are one of those 900 million people and you want to change that, then this book is for you.

52 brief chapters, look at ordinary people who made deliberate choices that created a path through a tough situation, altered a life trajectory, or constructed an opportunity from the rubble of personal failure. The stories and examples are anchored in reality and full of practical actions you can take–today, to live with intent and renewed energy.

I’ve invested 30 years in helping people find greater success in their careers, improve their relationships, and address the gaps between where they are and where they want to be. I’ve spent even longer learning how to do those things for myself. I’ve discovered life is messy and living it well boils down to more than following a few “keys” outlined in a quick-fix, self-help book. Changing your life requires changing your behavior. Making a lasting behavior change demands that you change the way you think.

These chapters will show you how to think critically about your world, make the decisions you probably already know you need to make, and take the actions that will position you for a lifetime of success.

Download your copy today and you receive a free Strength Quotient Assessment Worksheet that helps you identify specific areas where you can target your personal growth.

Addicted to Busyness? It’s Your Choice.

Addicted to Busyness

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the mornin’ last,
Just kickn’ down the cobblestones,
Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy.
The 59th Street Bridge Song, © 1966 Paul Simon.

When Simon and Garfunkel sang us into the 70’s with their whimsical reminder to “watch the flowers grow” we had no hint of how fast life would eventually get. Many professionals today know that a “more with less” company culture often demands a “more in less” relationship with time. Multitasking develops into a way of life and sleep deprivation becomes a conscious choice for people trying to squeeze one more responsibility into an already overloaded day before collapsing in bed exhausted, but feeling too “wired” to rest.

Adrenaline Addiction

Too busy?

We’re running on adrenaline—and it’s killing us. Psychologist and author Archibald Hart notes that, “People in a hurry never have time for recovery. . .  we are living at a pace that is too fast for our bodies. This is the essence of the stress problem.” Hart adds, “The fact your body has adapted doesn’t mean the behavior is healthy.”

Adrenalin is a chemical that is naturally produced by your body and designed to help you respond quickly and decisively in demanding situations. The problem in a hyper-speed culture is that people maintain “fight or flight” levels of adrenaline throughout the entire day. Their bodies are never allowed to return to a non-challenged state as high levels of adrenaline chip away at the body’s immune system, damage internal organs, and speed the aging process.

If you’re a naturally intense person (Type-A) you aren’t going to change your personality. You can change your behavior. They key to making any lasting behavioral change is recognizing and addressing the thoughts, beliefs, and unmet needs that motivate your actions.

The Power of Choice

Don’t excuse an over-packed lifestyle by saying you have no control over your schedule. Every investment of your time is the result of a choice that you make. Regardless of the breadth of your responsibilities, the significance of your role, the magnitude of your duties—you have the power to say, “I’m sorry, that time on my calendar is already committed.” When you lose the ability to say, “No,” you invite other people—and their agendas—to control your life.

The assistant for an executive in a high-tech company told me one day she did not have a view of the personal time on this vice president’s schedule. He considered his personal time his own and he blocked those hours in a way that prevented anyone from putting something into that space on his calendar. I hope he keeps doing that–he’ll live longer.

If you’re “dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep” ask yourself what you are afraid will (or won’t) happen if you relax, refocus, and renew. You may be surprised to discover that investing time in recreation, solitude, and adequate rest will dramatically increase your efficiency—and maybe leave you “feelin’ groovy.”

From It’s Your Life–Live It. Copyright 2016, Joseph M. Jordan. All rights reserved. Look for the book on Kindle in December 2016.

Accountability – The Too-late Dimension of Leadership


A responsibility matrix defines it. Leaders are expected to assume it. Performance reviews require it. The majority of people avoid it.

While thinking about the interdependence of leadership, sales results, critical thinking, and individual performance, I concluded the vital connection between these four components of success is accountability. I am not talking about the after-the-action kind of accountability when a company does something wrong or Wall Street promises are not met and a CEO says he or she is accountable. While that is admirable, and is better than no accountability, it doesn’t prevent a problem or performance gap–it just pins the blame on someone.

What would happen if we shift the timing of accountability from calling on someone to justify their behavior to asking them to define how they will manage their and others’ accountability as an active part of day-to-day coaching and performance management?

I don’t think this is a matter of semantics. Accountability is most effective when it is a proactive, intentional behavior that is defined when an initiative begins and is integrated and demonstrated throughout a project’s life cycle or regularly discussed during a sales year.

Every year sales leaders define revenue targets and sales professionals commit to achieving them. CEOs give guidance on how their companies will perform. Operational leaders promise greater team performance and higher levels of efficiency. To make it all happen, companies invest millions of dollars training employees to perform better and teaching leaders to coach to expectations.

But throughout the year, when people don’t perform as expected, leaders avoid the difficult conversations, don’t make time available to coach, or they are not held responsible for having the conversations. Performance lags through a quarter, six months, or a year. Worse yet, leaders protect team members from their individual accountability, knowing an individual team member’s performance gap is a reflection of a gap in the leader’s performance as well.

After three decades of corporate life I’ve concluded there is only one group of people who do not embrace and promote accountability as a proactive leadership behavior. That group is the people that don’t want to do what they are expected to do.