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Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization by Dan Pontefract

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Chapter Four

Becoming a Connected Leader

Zenger Folkman, a leadership development consultancy, conducted a study of 2,800 leaders in a very large financial services company.1 The authors of the study found the commitment level and overall engagement of employees was 92 percent higher when employees were led by leaders judged by employees of the organization to be effective. Employees at the low end of the engagement scale found their leaders at the bottom tenth percentile of leadership effectiveness. The brilliance of the research came from the measure of effectiveness. Colleagues of leaders were responsible for determining—through 360 reviews, focus groups and the like—whether or not leaders were actually being effective as a result of daily interactions, responsibilities and observations. Imagine what the employees would have said for those at the bottom end of the percentile spectrum? I shudder to think.

What did I gather from the research? Leadership is not a whisper. It is not whimsical. To become a connected leader, someone operating in the harmonious zone, there are five attributes in particular that leaders might want to start shouting in unison: build trust, involvement and empathy, and develop and communicate. These attributes are the foundation of our Flat Army concept.

Take, for example the case of Bill Sullivan, CEO of Agilent Technologies, a $5-billion-plus company of close to 20,000 employees. Bill wanted a leadership framework for the organization to ensure clarity ...

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