Be a person of integrity. People may not like everything about me, but I will settle for being known as someone who has integrity.

Quiet quitting is the emerging phenomenon of employee disengagement, essentially quitting on the job. What strategies do high-impact leaders deploy to motivate themselves and those around them to move from quiet quitting to quiet committing? Because, at its core, there is no change without commitment. Commitment to change ideas. Change beliefs. Change perspectives. Change routines, rituals and boundaries. Organizations change one commitment at a time. One leader at a time. As part of our series about “Quiet Committing: The Top Five Commitments High Impact Leaders Make & Keep To Themselves Daily”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Isaac Hayes.

Rev. Isaac Hayes is the founder of Healing of the Soul Ministries and author of “Men After God’s Heart:10 Principles of Brotherly Love.” He is also an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Thank you for making time for our visit. What was the first job you had, and how did that job shape the leader you are today?

Karen, thanks for this opportunity to share with you and your readers. My first job was at a neighborhood store, which we call in the Black community the “corner store.” I was probably 12 or 13 years old. I simply asked the owner if I could work there by stocking shelves and keeping the store clean. He agreed, and I would go there each day to stock and sweep.

As I think about it now, it helped shape me in several ways. First, it taught me how to be a go-getter. By that I mean, it built in me the drive to pursue what I wanted — which at that time was a way to earn some money. Second, it taught me the importance of hard work. I was faithful in showing up on time and performing my duties with excellence. Finally, it instilled in me a sense of pride in working, both the esteem that comes from being employed and that which comes from what you produce. So, looking back some 30 years later, it’s interesting to see how the early framing of that boy resulted in the leader I am today.

We’re talking about quiet quitting in this series. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a job you decided to quit?

It took me awhile to remember a job I quit, but I do recall one such occurrence. After I graduated from college, I came back to Chicago. It was a weird season in my life when I couldn’t land a job, so I decided to try working at a security company. My first assignment was to monitor an outside parking lot, at night, in the winter. It was dark, cold, and boring. I knew then and there that security was not my calling in life. I finished my schedule, but I did not go back.

What it taught me is the importance of pursuing work that you are passionate about. Sometimes, our need for money is not a strong enough driver to overcome a misalignment in purpose. I needed money badly, but not badly enough to freeze my bottom off. I needed to direct my efforts to areas where my passion and purpose could find expression in the work I did. So, I encourage everyone to pursue work in the areas of their passion and purpose. Otherwise, their commitment will not be there.

Employee Engagement is top of mind for most organizations. How do you define an engaged employee?

As the name of my company suggests, I focus on the soul of our anthropology. We are a spirit, have a soul, and live in a body. All three make us human beings and differentiate us from God, angelic beings, and animals.

The human soul consists of our rational mind, emotional mind, and volitional mind. In layman’s terms, our soul is made up of our mind, emotions, and will. Thus, to be engaged in any undertaking requires that our rational, emotional, and volitional minds participate in whatever we undertake. If the totality of who we are is not involved in the work we are performing, then we will not be engaged. Our bodies might be present, and our rational and volitional minds may assist us in carrying out our duties, but if our heart isn’t in it, our productivity will be negatively impacted.

What leaders want from their employees is for them to be engaged fully — in their thinking, feeling, and decision-making. And, usually, the area of disengagement is in the emotional sector. This is why a lot of energy and attention is being given to social-emotional intelligence, because grit and grind are no longer getting the job done.

Say more about your Employee Engagement portfolio. What’s working? What’s not working? And what are you piloting now to address the Quiet Committing trend?

During these past two years, I have given serious attention to increasing my social-emotional intelligence. It is not new, but it is new for me. Its importance to a team’s chemistry is so essential that I have my entire department reading and discussing a book about the subject so that we can be more attentive to our own shortcomings and each other’s needs.

The competency to be self-aware, self-regulating, other-aware, and relationally adept is as important as casting vision, strategic planning, and project management. It is the skill that helps to move others along like a steady stream. In my opinion, there is no greater skill needed than social-emotional intelligence, especially given the world in which we now live. People won’t put up with the hardnosed, bootcamp approach from 20 years ago. Leadership requires a greater level of sensitivity. Otherwise, your team will quit on you.

As goes the leadership, so goes the team. How do you hold leaders accountable for their own level of engagement?

That’s a very good question. Because I lead a team of leaders who lead leaders, I first try to model the principles I want them to employ. It is not my expectation that they necessarily take on my leadership style, because everyone’s different. But I do believe there should be a framework from which we all operate. As an assistant pastor at a megachurch, I have started extracting leadership principles from the Bible and discussing them in our monthly departmental meetings. Quite ironically, one of the things I talked about in this month’s meeting was commitment, along with confidence and creativity.

Of course, I am checking our KPIs to ensure that we are meeting our targets and accomplishing our objectives, but I am also becoming more aware of their emotional signals, verbal and nonverbal, because that is the metric that most impacts their engagement. Have we had some hard conversations? You bet. Have I wanted to hear everything I’ve been told? Not at all. But I can say unequivocally that I am becoming a better leader because of the honest feedback that I am receiving from my team. Thus, as I grow in my social-emotional intelligence, the better engaged my team will be.

The first phase of the pandemic ushered in the phenomenon called The Great Resignation, where employees left organizations to pursue greater meaning and purpose. Then came The Great Reshuffle, where employees left organizations to pursue promotions, pay and perks. Now we’ve entered a third phase, Quiet Quitting, where employees are deeply disengaged. What do you believe to be the key drivers of Quiet Quitting?

I believe the drivers are what we have been discussing throughout this interview. First, the pandemic awakened in people the recognition that their paychecks were not aligned with their purpose and passion. People were working to live instead of living to work. The result was a mass resignation of those who were not pursuing their passion and purpose because they remembered that life is short.

Second, people have suffered emotional burnout from the pandemic, the uprisings, and our politics. Those who reshuffled have landed in the same spot as those who resigned. They got paid more but were also asked to do more with less, adding to the anxiety that already existed. Because they were not monitoring their emotional tanks, they have become frustrated with their jobs and the lack of support they are receiving and are disengaging from their work.

What do you predict will be the next phase in the evolution of the employer / employee landscape?

Sadly, I think the writing is on the wall that we are moving to a robot- and AI-driven workforce. With the Great Resignation and difficulty many companies experienced with hiring workers, employers are determined to not be caught in that situation again.

Additionally, in cities like Chicago, we see Labor making huge political gains that will legislatively reshape employer/employee relations. It is my understanding that unions across the country are looking to Chicago as a model to follow.

Lastly, there is a tremendous breakdown in trust between employers and employees. Hopefully, there can be a Great Recalibration, where employers pay fair wages, respect the boundary of workers’ private lives, and treat their employees as fellow human beings. At the same time, employees must put in an honest day’s work, be committed to their company’s mission, and view their employers as allies.

What leadership behaviors need to evolve to improve employee engagement in a sustainable way?

I’ve been giving this some serious thought over the past year. The times have changed and, like it or not, we must also change as leaders. At the top of my list is improving our social-emotional intelligence. If we don’t develop this skill, we can forget the rest. Next, leaders must develop more patience. As an assistant pastor, I can appreciate this better than most secular leaders, because I’ve come to understand that the urgency with which I operate is the exception and not the norm. It has forced me to reevaluate whether my employees are moving “too slow,” or I am moving “too fast.” Lastly, there must be engagement outside the office. I have found it helpful to have meals together, particularly after a huge win or to celebrate a birthday. Interacting outside the office as a community, as opposed to a company, makes a profound impact on what happens back at the office. I can tell the difference when we have been all company and no community.

Change requires commitment and happens one choice at a time. What are the top five commitments you make and keep to yourself daily that have a material impact on those you lead?

  1. Try and live a Christ-centered life because He showed us how to lead people from a disposition of love.
  2. Begin each day with Scripture reading and prayer. In secular spaces, this is called mindfulness. The point is to align my spirit and soul with God’s spirit so that I can employ my rational, emotional, and volitional minds in my leadership from a biblical perspective.
  3. Implement the principles of social-emotional intelligence so that I fuel my team’s desire to engage.
  4. Grow each day as a leader so that as my employees see me grow, it will inspire them to continue to grow.
  5. Be a person of integrity. People may not like everything about me, but I will settle for being known as someone who has integrity.

What’s the most effective strategy you’ve discovered to get back on track when you break a commitment you’ve made?

First, I remind myself that I’m human and will never get it right all the time. Second, I determine why and how I got off track and develop a strategy for how to address the issue the next time it presents itself. Third, I refuse to lose, so I will myself to recommit. Finally, I monitor those vulnerabilities I discovered so I don’t repeat the same mistakes.

Thank you for sharing these important insights. How can our readers further follow your work?

Thanks again, Karen, for giving me this opportunity to share with you and your readers. They can learn more about me at and at @RevIsaacHayes on all social media platforms.

We wish you continued success and good health!