My good friends and colleagues at CultureSync have a very special event coming up called “Leadership Unleashed, Live in L.A.” I know I will be there, but that’s because I have the inside track on just how great this will be. Also because leadership is a topic dear to my heart, and this is one of those rare events that will not only inspire but also give you hands on tools you can implement right away. I also know that this is important work that can be implemented in virtually any organization with success.
Let’s be honest, leadership is a big buzz word. So much so it gets used interchangeably with management, or outright replaces the term simply because it’s sexier. Leadership is also seen as better than management (it’s not, they are both important). And of course there’s an endless supply of definitions and paradigms about leadership.
So why attend this particular event? One CEO recently shared these points in response to that query:
“I guess I have just always felt that both leadership and culture were pretty simple. Just be the supervisor you always wanted to have and you are 90% of the way there. To me that means the following”
The points he made were similarly sound:
· Live by the golden rule
· Put the needs of the group ahead of the needs of any individual including yourself
· Show mercy but not favoritism
· Give them the tools, training and resources they need to do their job
· Set clear and consistent expectations
· Listen to their suggestions and empathize with their problems but more importantly help them find the best solutions for both
· Let them know you care about them and that you appreciate their efforts, seeking to give praise more often than criticism
· Inspire them to feel like this is more than a job, more than a career. You have to make them feel like they are called to be here and to make a difference.
Frankly those seem like sound principles and most would agree. So the big question then is why do more than 75% of U.S. corporations NOT do that? This includes organizations where the leadership will wholeheartedly agree with these principles yet the research demonstrates they are not living it throughout the organization. How many times have you dealt with a company that has a respected, even inspiring CEO where you just wish you could get through to them and let them know how their vision was not being lived on the front lines despite what their numbers say?
I remember a time when I hit my own breaking point and reached out to the CEO of JetBlue, a company I admired dearly for their innovative and inspiring culture, because my experience with their culture under the stress of a blizzard was so horrendous that I knew he would be mortified. I did make contact and was assigned someone who really did care. But all it took was a few more obstacles and once again another person’s passion got lost in the mire. It’s apparently not so easy for the walk to match the talk without a very different type of leadership than a well intentioned charismatic leader can provide.
The CEO I cited at the beginning went on to express his doubts that the level of
success touted could be derived from a book or seminar. Better to spend those three days as a team working on completely actionable concepts they can all agree on, and set a plan to measure and monitor, than spend 3 days hearing management theories that will then need to be distilled into an action plan for the organization. This stuff just seems too hokey.
I’m a big fan of working a plan to fruition. We’ve all been on those projects and know too well that isn’t necessarily synonymous with the 25% of organizational cultures that do extraordinary work. I believe we’ve lowered the bar to the point where “customer service” is a laughable catch phrase and authenticity has become a competitive advantage. Not bad has taken the place of good.
But don’t take my word, let’s look at some facts:
- CultureSync interviewed over 24,000 people during 10 years of research and found that there’s a 300% to 500% increase in profitability when organizations operate at the highest developmental stages
- Great Places to Work found that Investing in great workplaces with high trust cultures yields distinct, tangible business benefits (up to 50% less turnover, 4x cumulative stock market returns, profits increase 12 fold)
- Towers Watson found average increases of 19% in operating income, almost 28% growth in earnings per share, Vs. companies with low levels of engagement which saw operating income drop more than 32% and earning per share decline over 11%
- Scott Keller in Beyond Performance found that organizations that balance the collective mood of the tribe and performance have a 220% greater chance of being in the top quartile of profitability
- In the Harvard Business Review’s Feb 2012 edition titled “The value of happiness” they reported that thriving tribes are 300% more creative, 31% more productive and have 37% more in sales
I don’t disagree with that first CEO’s assertion about the principles cited. I can tell you that after spending more than 30 years in the people business, from being a practicing psychotherapist to an executive coach, that people are complex.
One leader’s belief’s, values and principles don’t easily trickle down through the ranks, nor is that sustainable. Leaders don’t create followers, followers create leaders. That’s a different type of leadership. Not different principles, but different leadership. And because I know the folks at CultureSync personally I am confident that attendees to this special conference will leave with that experience and some gems that they didn’t know they didn’t know.
If you’re serious about leadership, and leading a movement, not a company, then check out “Leadership Unleashed, Live in L.A.”