Leadership Is Not a Slogan

Let’s Get Serious about Creating Healthier Leaders and Workplaces


5 minute read

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“Imagine if your employees start every day excited and end every day accomplished.” These words grace the top of our website homepage. For us, it is not just a simple banner slogan. It’s a mission to create healthier leaders and workplaces, and my Dion Leadership colleagues and I take it quite seriously.

On most days, I feel like we are making progress. We are blessed with like-minded clients who are passionate about developing their leaders and creating healthier workplaces. The projects and initiatives that we envision and co-create with them make an observable difference in the lives and careers of the participants. We have a talented cadre of coaches and consultants who put their hearts and souls into helping leaders grow. We also track the business results and ROI of our programs in the form of performance, retention, well-being, and other key metrics.

I’ll admit, however, that I’m not immune to becoming a little discouraged at times.

When I read about the proliferation of bad bosses and toxic cultures and plummeting engagement scores, I wonder if our work is enough to counter the negative forces impacting today’s workplaces. I found myself in a particularly disheartened place after reading the “We Can Fix Work report that was recently published by The Workforce Institute at UKG. It details the results of a 10-country survey of 2,200 employees, C-level leaders, and HR professionals. On the cover page, the authors explain that the report “provides insight into what parents, family members, and mentors are telling children and teens about what they should value in their jobs and employers.”

These are the startling statistics that gave me pause.

Nearly half of employees worldwide (46%), including one-third of C-level leaders (29%) in the U.S., would not recommend their company nor their profession to their children or any young person they care about.

And if that’s not bad enough, how about this one: 38% of employees globally “wouldn’t wish my job on my worst enemy,” increasing to a staggering 45% in the U.S.

Between this report and toxic cultures research conducted by MIT Sloan School of Management’s Donald Sull, it’s clear we still have some work to do in 2023 and beyond!

Where do we start? In their excellent article How to Fix a Toxic Culture, Sull and his co-authors explain that leadership consistently emerged as the best predictor of a toxic culture.

During the COVID pandemic, some organizations placed their leadership development and talent management programs on hold. I believe the data is revealing the disturbing implications of that choice. It’s time to restart these vital programs. Consider starting with the following three actions:

1. Make the respectful treatment of employees at work a non-negotiable. Don’t use supply chain problems, being short staffed, unhappy customers, or any other internal or external factors as an excuse for managers or peers to mistreat each other. Pay attention to everyone’s behaviors, especially those of your senior leaders, who set the tone for the whole company.

2. Be aware of what your employees really think. Regularly ask employees how they really feel about their work experience, and coach your leaders to do the same. Create a regular practice, in one-on-one and small-group settings, to collect their views and suggestions.

3. Ensure leaders lead. Actively sponsor programs to set expectations for managers and leaders to create a better employment experience for your workforce. Take a fresh look at work tasks, workload, and work processes from the viewpoint of how it impacts employees.

    1. I understand that these are not small tasks. They will take planning as well as time and resources to implement. That is where we can help. As you consider your 2023 plans, please consider engaging Dion Leadership to help with your leadership development, management training, or leadership team development. We would also be happy to schedule a call so we can discuss how to make sure your organization doesn’t contribute to any cringe-worthy statistics.

    Steve Dion-Founder & CEO-Dion Leadership

    Steve Dion

    Founder & CEO

    Steve has dedicated his career to understanding and improving organizational cultures through the creation and deployment of innovative assessment, leadership, and team development programs. He is a regular contributor to CEOWORLD magazine, Chief Executive, Fast Company, Training Industry, and HRCI’s HR Leads Business Blog. Steve and his Dion Leadership colleagues have recently launched a new
    e-learning course that supports
     work-life alignment.

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