Everything rises and falls on leadership, goes the popular saying. More important, for business, everything depends on having good leaders to grow companies.

But to grow companies, people forget that you first have to grow leaders. For current or aspiring leaders, the journey toward leadership greatness never ends. But it does have a starting point.

1 question leaders must ask

So, here's the raise-the-mirror question that will raise your leadership bar, if you're willing to accept the challenge: 

Are you giving your employees purposeful work and one in which they are using their God-given strengths every day?  

According to Gallup, which has polled the world's employees and managers covering over 160 countries since 2005, their big breakthrough is that what the whole world wants is a good job

And a "good job" comes attached with a mission and a purpose -- and one that employees are really good at -- with a living wage that takes care of their needs. That's it. 

Well, not really.

To reach this state of nirvana in the workplace, the right kind of managers have to be put into positions of leading other human beings. To Jim Clifton's point, head of Gallup, he once said: "Leaders everywhere in the world have a tendency to name the wrong person manager and then train them on administrative things -- not how to maximize human potential."

Globally, says Clifton, only 15% of employees are engaged at work. This means that 85% of employees either aren't engaged, or worse, they are actively disengaged -- acting out their unhappiness and sabotaging the workplace.

4 things managers should be doing

Clifton argues that once companies start to invest in building up the leadership skills of front-line managers -- who are the ones most responsible for engaging teams -- the engagement crisis is fixable. "Nothing works in the absence of great managers. Your leadership doesn't work in the absence of great managers," states Clifton in a recent interview.

To that end, managers must do four things to transform their work culture:

1. Build a culture where purpose trumps paycheck.

People of every generation, not just Millennials, are intrinsically motivated by work that has meaning. And great leaders tap into the emotional side of engagement, giving people a higher purpose beyond just enrolling them to help a company make a profit. "Increasing profit should be assumed, but it is not the mission," Clifton points out.

2. Give employees career development.

One of the key engagement strategies managers can implement is to honor their employees' human drive to learn and grow. And career development is one of the biggest reasons people join organizations. Clifton says, "Today's employees don't really want free lunch, toys in the office, volleyball courts or Bring Your Pet to Work Day. What they really want is career development. They want the same thing their team leader wants from them -- they want to improve. They want someone to take a real interest in their development."

3. Know your employees' strengths.

"Maximizing an individual's potential begins with knowing their strengths and building their work and careers around those strengths," states Clifton. Managers must recognize what unique strengths and natural gifts their people bring to the table. They do that by:

  • Creating new roles and job assignments that leverage those strengths and gifts.
  • Giving knowledge workers the time and resources they need to seek and share crucial information and knowledge that will get the work done. 
  • Being curious and having conversations with employees who show interest in new areas, in order to explore whether the new interest is a strength that may be further developed and utilized for business outcomes.

4. Transform your managers from bosses to coaches.

One of the best ways to influence a team to perform at a higher level is having the mindset of a coach. An average employee under an average leader will thrive once he or she is assigned to a leader with a coach's mindset, who see the potential in an employee. This is the draw for Millennials and Generation Z. They want to work for leaders who can coach them, who value them as individuals and as employees, and who help them understand and build their strengths.