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Improving employee engagement has been one of many issues for presidents. We often think of rank-and-file employees when it comes to engagement, but what about senior executives? We assume that they have very high engagement but a recent survey conducted by the Coaching Research Institute showed a different picture.

In the survey, "engagement" was defined through the following question items:
・ I want to help the company grow.
・ I identify with the company's vision.

Senior executives from 108 companies answered a survey regarding their companies and their presidents' leadership. Figure 1 shows scores the senior executives gave themselves on their engagement (using a 7-point scale) and we can see that the engagement score varied, ranging from 4.5 to 7.

Figure 1: Engagement score distribution
Figure 1: Engagement score distribution

n=108 companies
7-point scale ("1-Strongly disagree" - "7-Strongly agree") 
Survey: Leadership Assessment
Coaching Research Institute, 2016

In the same survey, the senior executives were asked to rate their own president on his/her leadership. Among the senior executives from 108 companies who have participated in this survey, we divided these companies into two groups.

Group A: Top 10% with the highest engagement (11 companies)
Group B: Remaining 90% with higher engagement (97 companies)

Using these two groups, we observed the score gap of question items regarding the presidents' leadership. Question items were categorized into 8 different categories and the average scores are shown in Figure 2.

・ Growth resilience
・ Directional clarity
・ Accountability
・ Self-management
・ Communication
・ Delivery of message
・ Execution of operation
・ Change resilience

Figure2: Leadership score distribution
Figure2: Leadership score distribution

n= 108 companies (Top 10 %: 11 companies, others: 97 companies)
Survey: Leadership Assessment
Coaching Research Institute, 2016

"Growth resilience" and "directional clarity" had the biggest score gap between Group A (top 10% with the highest engagement) and Group B (remaining 90% with higher engagement). More specifically, below were question items that had the biggest score gap.

Growth resilience
・ The president spends a minimum of 10 minutes each week to communicate with the senior executives. (Score gap = 1.1)
・ The president gives senior executives suggestions and assignments that motivate them. (Score gap = 0.9)
・ The president tries to support the senior executives' success and development. (Score gap = 0.9)

Directional Clarity
・ The president sets concrete goals to realize the company's vision. (Score gap = 1.0)
・ The president frequently talks about the company's vision. (Score gap = 0.9)

This result suggests that presidents interacting with senior executives to promote the growth of the company and having clarity in direction of the company can help improve employee engagement, especially among senior executives. Like managers interacting with their direct reports, presidents should also do the same with their senior executives to share their vision and work towards success and growth of the company.

Research Overview

No. of samples : 108 companies
Period : November 2012 - March 2015
Survey method : Online survey
Survey tool : Leadership Assessment