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January 20 2014

The Human Capital That Wins the War: Engaged Workers

My last LinkedIn Influencers piece dealt with 'non-engaged' and 'dis-engaged workers,' a group who together account for more than 80% of all employees in the global workforce today, this according to the Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report of 2013. This fact might get you down, if not for the really good news.

According to the same Gallup report, 13% of global workers are engaged workersOnly 13%.

And this is precisely the reason why I am such a fan of hope, optimism and aspiration. Why I believe that leadership, and not just those we refer to as leaders, make all the difference in the world.

Hope is so powerful, you only need a super minority of it to change our world. Apparently, you only need a minority of it to lead it too

Evidently 13% of global workers provide enough of the passion, purpose, engagement, work ethic, and the get-it-done, what-we're-for attitude, that allows good to continue to win in our world. 

This 13% group is nothing less than the excellence obsessed dream team in your life. These are the folks you absolutely count on in your professional life. To put it bluntly, these are your warriors. This is who you go to (theoretical) "war" with, and would never think about going to war without. Best in class companies have an above average percentage of these individuals amongst their employee and their leadership ranks. 

At Operation HOPE, I know this first line group like the back of my hand. They are also family, to me. In my world they include Bill Walbrecher, Rachael Doff, Rod McGrew, Lance Triggs, Fred D. Smith, Mary Hagerty-Ehrsam, Jena Roscoe and James Bailey, amongst other senior leaders, along with Leslie Alessandro, Charmela Freeman, Sevan Torossian, SirJames Buchanan in my office. And each of these leaders, have their own group of engaged workers that they rely and depend upon. And therein lies your organizational, transformative power. Positive leverage.

This is the group that you think about every time you have an important project. A project which is time essential, and requires an over the top leadership commitment -- along with a ‘no-buts, just do it’ attitude. 

You can hopefully call up the same list in your own heads right now. Many people would call this your 20/80 list. The 20% of the people who end up doing (and often even voluntarily signing up to do) 80% of the heavy lifting, consistently; within your company, government, organization, school, unit, department or group. I call this my 8-10 List

1-5 is mediocrity. Even the Bible suggests, "be hot or be cold, but if you are lukewarm I will spat you out." Translation: even God does not like mediocrity. 

5-7 is entertainment. It's the person you date, but you do not marry. 

8-10 is excellence. Not black excellence, or brown excellence, or white excellence, or male or female excellence, or Republican or Democratic excellence. It's just excellence. It's real leadership

I call on the same 8-10 class of leaders whenever I need anything really important done. And particularly, if it is a new or unproven idea of mine. Ideas with ‘no instruction manual attached.’

As I outlined in a recent LinkedIn Influencer post, “real leaders (often) emerge in response to crisis.” Add leaders responding to challenges and garden variety problems, to that list. 

They are the ones who come to you with solutions, when most everyone else only tell you why something cannot be done. They are the ‘what they are for’ people, in a world seemingly obsessed with a ‘what I’m against’ mentality.

In my book Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead In A Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), I talk about love and fear-based approaches to leadership, and how most of our so-called leaders today have been leading by fear. That’s an interesting commentary, given that the Love-Based Leadership approach is the only thing that grows an enterprise and builds long-term enterprise wealth. 

The recent box office smash movie The Lone Survivor clearly shows what a small, well trained, highly focused, inspired and committed group of leaders can do while being vastly outnumbered and outgunned (in this instance, four Navy Seals on our side, against an enemy of almost 100 on the other). 

This and countless other examples like it illustrate and underscore what real leaders can do, when they live for something larger and more important than simply themselves. 

Just imagine what American and world leaders could do --or even you and me in our own company or organization -- if all we and they did was double our number of engaged workers. 

Change the world, that's what.

John Hope Bryant is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and is the only 2010-2012 bestselling business author in America who is also African-American. His newest book, due out May, 2014, is HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM, and will be published byBerrett Koehler Publishing).

Photo: marekuliasz/