Folk artist Christine Lavin once sung a whimsical song called "Sensitive New-Age Guy." I think we're entering the era of the sensitive new-age leader (hmm, maybe another song parody opportunity). In all seriousness, it seems as if the idea of humane leadership is finally reaching critical mass. The focus on cost-cutting and hierarchical leadership is finally being seen as the dinosaur that it is.
There are a number of books, blogs, and articles about the need for engagement. A good one that did well in 2007 is Growing Great Employees
by Erika Anderson. Using a gardening analogy, it makes the case that we must cultivate employees and encourage their natural growth by creating a nurturing environment in which people can prosper. Not only that, it offers practical tips and templates for doing so. See Anderson's blog at: http://thesimplestthing.typepad.com/
More recently, John H. Fleming and John Asplund released Human Sigma
. Based on extensive studies from the Gallup organization, it makes the case that it's not good enough to have great employee engagement or great customer engagement. You need both. Their studies showed dramatic financial advantages in companies that have employeed both, no matter how good other organizations were at one or the other. The book offers a metric for measuring your "Human Sigma," as well as guidelines for success.
Here's a link to a great Havard Business Review article on Human Sigma (in PDF format): http://interdevelopmentals.org/pdf/hbs-human-sigma.pdf#search=%22human%20sigma%20metrics%22
Labels: customer-service, empathy, engagement