Communication & Alignment

5 ways CEOs can keep teams focused and positive

As CEO, it’s not only your job to run the business, but you also need to inspire positivity and focus in your employees. So how do you do this? It might not always be easy, but it is actually pretty clear: Build and sustain relationships.

Relationships are the driver of employee engagement and positive teams because employees want and need connection, support and guidance from their managers and their peers.

Here are five things you can do to commit to making the relationships in your workplace stronger and more effective.

1. Start with you.

Emotional intelligence — the ability to know and manage yourself and your relationships — is likely the most important soft skill in today’s workplace. You build rapport and loyalty when you learn how to not melt down, bully and lose your cool in challenging or frustrating situations (also known as “the Bully Boss”).

Many CEOs work with executive coaches to expand their self-awareness of their strengths (that get overused), their liabilities (that get underused) or their triggers (things others say or do, or situations that activate a reaction instead of a response), to develop greater self-regulation, calm and focus.

Employees develop greater loyalty to those who are self-managed and able to successfully handle both the good and tough times the workplace generates. Remember: people quit people before they quit companies.


2. Reconnect personally with your team.

Make it a point to really get to know your employees. To effectively manage and coach your employees, it is important to know their strengths, interests and values. It is important to know what engages and disengages them about their jobs and the organization. It is critical to know how they best communicate and learn, and what their most and least favorite aspects of their jobs are. This is critical relationship information.

Equally important is to get to know them outside of work. Ask them about their hobbies, their family, their worries or struggles, or even things that are going well in their lives. And, when appropriate, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help. Though some employees may prefer not to share too much personal information, the fact that you asked goes a long way.

Gather important information about each of your employees to understand not only the abilities needed to be successful in their roles, but the other abilities, interests and passions that make them who they are. Use this information to connect with them in a more effective way and coach them. Employees want time with their managers, so use this increased time to get to know them and to develop a plan to connect with them more effectively going forward.

3. Include your team in creating shared goals.

Goals are important. They provide direction, clarity and focus, and by including employees in the creation of goals, or more specifically team goals, they feel more included, valued and part of the organization. They know you are interested in what they think.

A workplace culture that asks employees for input not only benefits from greater employee loyalty, but also from expanded ideas that come from empowering and expecting employees to actively think throughout their days. An added bonus: those employees share their working experience with others, attracting other top talent and top performers to join your team.

4. Share leadership responsibilities with the team.

Sure, you may be the host of the daily or weekly huddle, or the meeting with senior management that reviews your department’s result. But why not share that responsibility with others on the team? This is a way to expand their sense of inclusion, as well as building the bench strength of the team.

Wise leaders are always grooming and developing their future leaders by including them in tasks and events that develop their skills and exposure in the organization. Similar to including employees in creating shared goals, sharing responsibilities to help employees gain greater understanding of their organization and, by default, their own unique strengths and abilities, it enables a greater connection between the employee and both the organization and the manager who orchestrates it.

5. Commit to sharing more performance information.

You want your employees to be more focused and engaged, but it’s hard to create that when they work in the dark. They can’t connect their work to its impact or value when information about why they’re doing what they’re doing isn’t made clear.

By improving your relationship with your employees, you create the space to have more candid and honest conversations about performance. The result is a welcome and productive conversation around feedback because it’s delivered from a place of care, support and guidance, instead of reprimand.

Get employees involved in creating their own performance expectations that help them amplify their strengths and connect with areas that interest and excite them. But remember, these are things you won’t know if you don’t first make the time to better understand each employee.

An added bonus: employees take ownership of things that benefit them and the organization. They learn and grow, and the organization improves.


Commit to enhancing the relationships with your employees by starting with you. Develop greater self-awareness and self-regulation to be more responsive instead of reactive. Then, spend time to really know your people as people, develop them in areas that benefit you and the organization, and include them in more of your daily decisions (this can be done on-site or remotely).

Employees want to feel valued, respected and included. In return, they work hard, bring their best performance and stay loyal to you and the organization.

Make relationships your priority.


Category: Communication & Alignment

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About the Author: Jay Forte

Vistage speaker Jay Forte is a certified CEO/leadership/family coach, author and nationally-ranked thought leader. As president of Humanetrics LLC, he provides talent, mindfulness and strength-based tools to help p

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