Perspectives on Leadership: Strategizing is Easy, Executing Is Harder

Great workplaces are created by leaders who build trust and make employees feel valued

April, 2016

Hawaii Business magazine has recognized the state’s Best Places to Work for 12 years and the common denominator to each organization’s success has been effective leaders. These leaders understand the importance of a workplace culture that engages, motivates and inspires employees.

When you read the company mini-profiles that begin on page 52 and the in-depth profiles starting on page 77, you learn how their leaders built Best Places to Work:

◆ Create a strong culture that is purpose-driven so employees feel their work is meaningful.

◆ Support professional growth with a focus on creating career paths for employees.

◆ Foster innovation and creativity by creating a respectful workplace where employees feel comfortable steppingn outside their comfort zones.

◆ Support work/life balance to produce highly engaged employees and avoid burnout. This often means offering flextime or options for working remotely.

◆ Offer wellness options for employees to support a stronger, healthier workforce, with the understanding that happy and healthy employees are usually more productive.

◆ Provide competitive benefits to attract and retain employees.

But understanding these principles for success is actually the easy part. The real challenge is executing against the strategy. That’s what separates great leaders from the rest. And to understand why they succeeded, it helps to dive deep into the Best Places to Work survey, which is conducted for Hawaii Business every year by the Best Companies Group, a national organization with a well-deserved reputation for understanding and measuring employee engagement.

The main tool that Best Companies uses to assess organizations is a confidential survey of the employees of participating organizations with 78 questions and open-ended statements. That’s a lot of data, so I’m glad they crunch the numbers for us. The top 10 factors this year that most commonly produced engaged employees all reflect good leadership, but these seven are especially dependent on effective leaders:

◆ I feel I am valued in this organization.

◆ I have confidence in the leadership of this organization.

◆ This organization treats me like a person, not a number.

◆ There is room for me to advance at this organization.

◆ My supervisor treats me fairly.

◆ Quality is a top priority with this

◆ The leaders of this organization care about their employees’ well being.

If you can make your employees feel this level of engagement, you have succeeded as a leader, and your organization has a bright future.

Many companies that participated in this annual survey did not start as a Best Place to Work. But they learned from the confidential employee surveys and gradually improved their culture. Sometimes it took years to become a Best Place to Work, but it was worth it. It’s time for you and your company to take that first step. Sign up for next year’s survey at

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Bobby Senaha