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Demystifying the role of leadership in employee engagement

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Organisations with highly engaged employees, through a strong culture and effective leaders, outperform their competitors on a sustained basis.

Harvard Business Review identified effective leadership as a key driver of employee engagement and subsequent business performance improvement. While leaders acknowledged that they need to improve employee engagement they were unsure about how to approach this goal and measure the results of their efforts.

Disengaged employees, according to Gallup, are a risk to organisational growth and innovation. Gallup’s research suggests that managers account for as much as 70% of the variance in engagement scores across business units. The key to improving employee engagement is better leadership.

Highly experienced senior consultant and Executive Education facilitator Muriel Roake agrees that the research is unequivocal. She advises that high levels of employee engagement correlate with higher productivity, great customer service, improved safety and greater employee wellbeing. And all these attract talented leaders to the organisation and the cycle continues.

A favourite quote Muriel shares about leadership’s role in company culture and employee engagement comes from Richard Branson. “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”

Muriel has a passion for developing people and particularly developing leaders and working with them to develop a great organisational culture. Great organisational culture creates a great place to work where people are highly engaged which leads to great results for the organisation and improved productivity.

Joining Air New Zealand after the events of 9/11 presented Muriel with a unique opportunity to contribute to the transformation of the organisational culture and develop a unique brand personality.

Muriel spent 11 years as Head of Organisational Development at Air New Zealand. She explains that building a great organisational culture is like making a great wine, it takes time.

Air New Zealand’s leaders knew that “’their main competitive advantage was not their aircraft,” says Muriel, “the key was creating a very compelling customer experience and in order to create this you need people to deliver that great customer experience.”

As a result of the improved culture and employment brand Air New Zealand won a wide range of passenger awards as well as the Randstad Best Employer Award three years in succession, and the Airline Transport World award for the top global airline twice in three years – the first time in history.

A career highlight for Muriel was an invitation to join then Air New Zealand CEO, Rob Fyfe, at the acceptance of the ATW Airline of the Year Awards in Singapore, as recognition of her contribution.

Muriel views the process for improving employee engagement within an organisation as a cycle which begins with enlightened leadership. The culture of an organisation is created through the day-to-day actions of its leaders. When this culture creates a great place to work the organisation can attract and retain engaged employees.

Another benefit in increased employee engagement is improvement in the retention and attraction of high quality talent. Creating an irresistible culture makes recruitment and retention of employees much easier.

The challenge for leaders is that many of them struggle to define the organisational culture that they desire for their organisation. Culture and how to create it are a mystery to them.

Muriel is facilitating the University of Auckland’s Executive Education upcoming short course Building an Engaging Culture. This highly interactive one day workshop will equip you with practical skills to create a high performance culture within your organisation and increase employee engagement.

Muriel describes this course as “demystifying and defining the role of leaders in the culture of engagement and its impact on organisational performance.”

“Participants will leave with “a toolkit of techniques, things to do in their day to day role as leaders that help to create a great culture,” Muriel says. “They will come away with a clear picture of what they can do when they get back to work to impact on culture and engagement and the business metrics and KPIs that they are responsible for.”

To learn more and register Building an Engaging Culture



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