"A Strategy for Achieving True Performance."

      A few years ago, while searching for something to watch on television that wouldn't churn my stomach, I happened upon Undercover Boss.  In case you don't know the show, the theme in every episode is a CEO-level executive discovering how disengaged he or she is from the managers and front-line employees.  Because the CEO is not engaged, many of his/her people are disengaged from their work.  After a few episodes I wondered, "Are these stories real and if so, do they represent the norm?"  If this is commonplace in business, then is it reasonable to assume that similar disengagement exists with regularity in our schools, families and churches?

Engagement -- Today's Hot Topic


      Today when the subject of employee performance comes up you can bet that the word "engagement" is not far away.  Maybe you've heard or said this: "George seems to have lost his edge.  He's no longer engaged at work."

      Engagement is both an internal and external concept.  It refers to a person's internal attitudes (e.g. level of commitment) AND external activities (i.e. one's level of busyness.)  When used as a performance indicator. Both meanings are necessary.

      Engagement has yet another meaning. It is also a solution for transforming  liabilities (disengaged people) into fully assets (engaged participants).  By implementing a process of positive engagement we can disengage the disengaged from their lack of engagement.  (Sorry, but I had fun with that sentence!)

      In other words, engaged leaders aiming in the right direction, exerting their influence, and leveraging their smoothly running machine does not necessarily arrive at the intended destination.  A third component is needed -- the Gear of Positive Messages.

      Recurring empowerment messages have the capacity to transform the disengaged to the fully engaged.  If we want a culture of positive attitudes, empowering beliefs and constructive behaviors we need to deliver messages of hope, encouragement and positive thinking to our students, employees and other people for whom we are responsible.  The alternative is a dysfunctional and toxic culture.

A Program for Creating High Performance


      Imagine a culture with high performance and happy people.  We can have it simply by implementing a top-down program of engagement.  Think of the program as a high performance machine with four gears.  Let's begin with leadership, the gear that determines direction and ignites the energy that initiates motion.  For the engagement program to work as intended, the connections in our high performance machine must be tight and the movement in the right direction.  Anything less will be ineffective.  As John C. Maxwell says, "Everything rises and falls on leadership."


      Next, visualize the leadership gear firmly connected to the gear labeled "Leverage".  The role of this second gear is to multiply the machine's potential and provide lubrication to achieve and maintain long-term, high performance.  The leverage provided by this gear makes it possible for the machine to move forward faster and climb steep hills as necessary.  With  these two gears engaged appropriately, the machine hums.  Without a good tight fit it slips and sputters.

Matt Rush is Fully Engaged
(In His Own Way!)

"The Message Is the Mission!"


     The first two gears without the right third gear is what contributes to today's cultural mess.

     Whatever sector of society we're talking about, relationships change when leaders commit to refocusing on the people who matter most: employees, students, children, colleagues and friends. The catalyst of leadership commitment that connects to the leverage principles and positive engagement messages is an engagement model that can change your culture.

  In other words, a fully-engaged leadership aiming in the right direction and leveraging its influence and resources does not necessarily arrive at the intended destination.  The Gear of Messages, the transformational gear, is the one that matters most. In the hands of effective leadership, engagement is the process that carries the message that fulfills the goals of engagement!

The Gaither Band Engages with Music
Larry Ford & J.D. Summer