Commitment to Self-Awareness:

I dedicate time each day to reflect and assess my emotions, actions, and decisions. By being self-aware, I can understand my strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge biases, and ensure I am leading with authenticity and empathy.

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 Kristin Lytle.

As President of The Leader’s Edge, Kristin Lytle is on a mission to help companies and individuals unlock the full potential of their talent. After working directly with hundreds of leaders across the globe, Kristin has developed deep expertise in identifying and accelerating talent pipelines and uncovering pragmatic solutions that lead to results. Prior to joining The Leader’s Edge, Kristin held leadership roles in business operations and human resources at several large organizations including Vanguard, Kohler, Whirlpool, and Target. Bringing 20+ years of experience, Kristin is dedicated to helping leaders re-invest in their careers and achieve their goals.

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?

I began my career as a Soft Line Teams Leader at a Target store as part of their Store Rotational Leadership Program. I had never been a leader or worked in retail before. The first 90 days were an adjustment, but I quickly learned lessons that I have carried with me throughout my career. Early experiences taught me not to judge people too quickly and to be mindful of set-up-to-fail syndrome. For those who may not be familiar with set-up-to-fail syndrome, it is a dynamic in which employees perceived to be mediocre or weak performers live down to the low expectations their managers have for them. I was concerned about one of my direct reports because he wasn’t keeping pace. It turned out that he did not have the resources to do his job. Through my journey as a Soft Line Teams Leader at Target, I embraced valuable lessons, like not rushing to judgment and recognizing the dangers of set-up-to-fail syndrome, understanding that everyone deserves a fair chance to succeed, which ultimately shaped my approach as a leader.

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

Always ensure that you remain a regrettable loss. You want people to be surprised when you decide to leave a job, you don’t want them to see it coming based on your recent performance or interest level. Remember that you will leave an impression on people until the day you leave, and you want it to be consistent with your best effort. You never know when you’ll bump into someone in the future.

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

An engaged employee is someone who has truly bought into the vision and mission of the organization. Those employees are willing to do the hard and uncomfortable things to accomplish their shared vision. They are fully committed and enthusiastic about their work and the overall mission of the company. Engaged employees are emotionally invested in their roles and demonstrate a strong sense of ownership and dedication to their responsibilities.

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?

We believe that engaged employees are the backbone of any successful organization, and we continuously strive to create a work environment that fosters passion, commitment, and innovation among our team members. We focus on recognizing and rewarding outstanding performance and contributions. Our recognition programs celebrate both individual and team achievements, boosting morale and reinforcing a culture of appreciation. This commitment to continuous learning empowers our team to take on new challenges and develop their skill sets. One challenge we are facing at Leader’s Edge and with our clients regarding the Quiet Committing trend is that high-potential employees may be fully engaged and committed to their work, but they may not be as vocal or assertive about their achievements or ideas. This can lead to their contributions being overlooked or undervalued. We aim to foster a workplace and support our client workplaces where every team member feels empowered, valued, and engaged in their roles and the overall success of the organization.

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

As a leader, I keep in mind the 85% rule. No one is going to love their boss or their job 100% of the time. We all have off days — we’re human.

That said, if someone is approaching or dipping below that 85% mark, I respect the person enough to have a direct conversation with them. I attempt to understand what is frustrating the person and offer support to relieve that frustration. Leaders need to ask themselves if they are more committed to their own comfort or their employee’s growth. A core tenant of being a good leader is demonstrating courage, and we cannot let a lack of courage on our parts impact the career of someone on our teams.

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?

It’s generally a feeling of frustration at employers being disingenuous or a lack of consistency in what they hear and read about values versus what they experience. Being committed takes trust — trust that the work you do will be seen, valued. The pandemic made the lack of consistency in many companies abundantly clear. When employees feel disconnected from their leaders or receive unclear directives, it can lead to a sense of detachment and disillusionment.

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

In the immediate, we will continue to see a battle of control. Hybrid or not? What days of the week are in office? Etc. The trends we are seeing were already coming and were exacerbated further by the pandemic. Employers will recognize that allowing employees to blend work and personal life in a way that suits them best can lead to increased productivity and overall well-being. This may involve offering flexible work hours, remote work options, and results-oriented performance evaluations rather than strictly measuring time spent in the office.

Long-term, I think we are going to see more mini-careers and mini-retirements. People are not going to be able to operate at peak performance for 30–40 years like they could when a real vacation or time off was a possibility without being “always on.” I predict more and more people will start down a corporate path, stay there for some time, then take a mini-pause before figuring out their next chapter.

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

Self-awareness and self-regulation. Self-awareness is not just inward, but rather the realization of how your inward state impacts your outside world via the behaviors you choose to act out. As leaders, we need to hone our ability to regulate ourselves so we can lead with effectiveness. Dysregulated leaders rarely make good decisions.

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?

Overall, leaders need to make space in their minds and in their day to ensure they aren’t discombobulated or over-committing themselves. The impact you have as a leader on others is outsized. Leaders need to commit to being self-aware to put their best foot forward for those they lead.

As a leader, I make the following five commitments daily, knowing they have a significant impact on those I lead:

Commitment to Self-Awareness:

I dedicate time each day to reflect and assess my emotions, actions, and decisions. By being self-aware, I can understand my strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge biases, and ensure I am leading with authenticity and empathy.

Commitment to Mindful Presence:

I pledge to be fully present in my interactions with others. Whether in one-on-one conversations or team meetings, I work to actively listen, offer support, and provide undivided attention to foster trust and connection.

Commitment to Balanced Prioritization:

I prioritize my tasks and responsibilities based on their importance and impact. By focusing on what truly matters, I avoid overcommitting myself and ensure I have the energy and focus to lead effectively.

Commitment to Personal Growth:

I continuously seek opportunities for personal and professional development. By investing in my growth, I can stay ahead of challenges, learn new leadership skills, and set an example of lifelong learning for my team.

Commitment to Authenticity:

I embrace authenticity and transparency in my leadership approach. I am genuine in my interactions, acknowledge my mistakes, and encourage open communication within the team. This fosters a culture of trust and empowers others to be their authentic selves.

These commitments help me maintain a balanced and impactful leadership style, leading by example and inspiring those I lead to be their best selves.

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

Own it! The Oz Principle explains how there’s a difference between a reason and an excuse. A reason turns into an excuse when you stop trying to find a solution. Recognizing the difference between the two is what’s most important and committing to figuring out a plan forward to address it.

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

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn:

We wish you continued success and good health!