For the last several years, my team has been studying superior execution. We’ve learned from some amazing organizations: Apple, Starbucks, Mayo Clinic, Seattle Seahawks, Clemson football, Southwest Airlines, Navy SEALS, and more. In the coming months, I’ll write about many of the principles and practices that make these organizations so strong.

Today, I want to share something we observed that we weren’t looking for—the power of engagement. When this theme emerged, we were not surprised. Our previous study of High-Performance Organizations had revealed the critical role an engaged workforce played in long-term, sustained success. This new research underscored our original findings:

My new book, Win the Heart, scheduled for release March 4th, is dedicated to answering the question: How do you raise a person’s level of engagement? Below you’ll find a quick summary of the key tenets of the book. But first, let’s begin with a simple definition…

Engagement = How much someone cares.

There are four levers at a leader’s disposal to raise the engagement level of their team members. I refer to these as the cornerstones of engagement.

Connection – How connected are people to the work, their co-workers, and the organization? As the leader, you can facilitate this connection. The list of tactics is infinite – everything from orientation to one-on-one conversations with people. The secret is not to be found in the specific activity; the magic is the intentionality of the leader to create connections.

Affirmation – Do your people feel affirmed for their contributions? Are you sure? Something as simple as a genuine “thank you” can go a long way to making people feel valued. Again, the problem is not usually a shortage of ideas on how to affirm people but more often, the quicksand of busyness leaders find themselves in.

Responsibility – How do you respond when someone entrusts you with real responsibility? My guess is your level of care increases immediately. When we are responsible, by our own decision or the decision of another, it changes our thinking and our behaviors. Look for ways to give team members this gift – not just those in leadership roles, every team member.

Environment – How would your team members describe the environment you’ve created in your organization? Is it life-giving, empowering, and thriving? Do they feel safe to try and fail? If this doesn’t describe your organization, you are leaving discretionary effort, and engagement, on the table.

CARE produces caring!

If you want to pre-order your copy of Win the Heart, you can click here.