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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CEOs Must Lead the Charge to Grow South Korea’s Economy

By Larry Emond, Managing Partner, Asia

As South Korea begins to boost its economy with a 17.3tr won (US $15.4 billion) stimulus package, all CEOs in South Korea have a duty to their companies, shareholders, and employees to achieve growth. Leading Gallup’s Asia business for over 20 years, during Asia’s boom and bust, and consulting with CEOs from local and multinational companies have taught me as a leader that stimulus initiatives to drive growth can reach their full potential only if they capitalize on an engaged workforce.

Eleven percent of South Korea’s working population in 2012 is engaged and committed to producing value, 23% is committed to destroying value, and the remainder is effectively checked out. My advice to every CEO in South Korea who aims to achieve growth in these challenging economic times is to look at the behavioral economic -- not just the economic -- aspects of your corporation:

  1. Make the metric of engaged-to-disengaged employees as important to your executive team as your stock price, revenue, and profit.
  2. Hire and promote only managers and leaders with innate leadership talent.
  3. Be clear and vocal about developing your leaders, and invest heavily in a succession plan to avoid a rudderless ship.
Across Asia, the concept of leadership development is gaining traction, and research suggests there is a need to quickly develop leaders in this growing region. Businesses in Asia are looking at global best practices, but these will be successful only if companies are developing the right candidates.

(Gallup Managing Partner Larry Emond speaks at
Global HR Forum 2013 in Seoul, South Korea)
Workplace disengagement and its associated negative business outcomes are a symptom of bad management. The 89% of South Korea’s working population who are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work did not start out that way, but has been mismanaged into it. CEOs in South Korea are responsible to ensure that their workforces are being managed by leaders scientifically proven to have innate talent to lead and be followed.
As the major global economies become further interconnected, and South Korea competes with China and Japan for trade, South Korea is already ahead of these regional neighbors (which are at 5% and 7%, respectively) in engaged employees, but far behind the 63% for the best companies in the world. As every CEO searches for growth, a focus on engaging the South Korean workforce through employing world-class managers, and developing them with tools and analytics that measure them against the world’s best organizations, is key to becoming more competitive in a more interconnected regional and global market. 
To learn what your company can do to improve employee engagement and performance, read the State of the Global Workplace report.

Larry Emond will be speaking at the Global HR Forum 2013 plenary session “Successful Leadership by Global CEOs” in Seoul, South Korea.


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