Author Archives: Paul LaRue
What makes a book on leadership and organizational culture good, versus one that sucks?
It is, not ironically, the same thing that makes leadership and work culture not suck. By taking a hard and compassionate look at what you want to accomplish, defining what is good, aligning action off from the theoretical and into the practical, then refining the process until you have the desired results.
Mark Babbit and S. Chris Edmonds have joined their experience of guiding leaders and organizations over a combined 50 years to bring the best book about post-Covid-19 leadership. What they have created in this book is a real guide to transform one’s organization into a place that creates value, respect and results. In a time where failed leadership has had a magnified impact on its constituents, Babbit and Edmonds cut through the malaise to show in real and direct terms how one can change to meet the needs of people in the Social Age.
Good Comes First brings to light the reality that organizational respect for others can be combined with a culture to achieve great results. It cuts through the leadership failings of the top-down Industrial Age and brings to the reader an understanding of where leaders have recently failed us, what a post-pandemic workforce (and people) desire, and, most importantly, how it can be achieved.
And it all starts with the core foundation to make, as the book is named, Good Comes First. Babbit and Edmonds strip down the pretenses of the outmoded leadership styles that don’t apply today and bring from their experience the real-life results of those who have actually made the change to a Good Comes First Culture. They show time and again that when leaders make good come first, and do it correctly, there becomes a transformation in not just results, but also culture that leads to a more sustainable ability to be good, stay good, and do good.
Business leaders struggling to find employees are blaming a labor shortage when what we really have is a RESPECT shortage. The new book Good Comes First helps leaders embed respect daily. Learn more at GoodComesFirst.com. #GoodComesFirst #culture #leadershipTweet
Chris and Mark take the reader through the good, the bad and the ugly of various leaders and the resulting impact to their organization (and the leader themselves) through a myriad of clients they have worked with and other case studies from around the world. With a three-phased approach of Defining, Aligning and Refining, they lay a simple and attainable path to change culture and transform the workplace to a culture that simply “doesn’t suck.” Unfortunately, far too many organizations’ culture doesn’t currently meet the needs of today’s workforce. Yet Babbit and Edmonds take their proven model to show leaders the way forward.
As we emerge from the pandemic and seek a world in where our political, business, faith and local leaders can truly be a force for good, Chris and Mark take the opportunity to show us what good truly looks like. And they very nicely sum up their message with the last line of this great book:
“Do good. Inspire good. And at every opportunity, make sure good comes first.”
A highly recommended book for every leader of scope, place and desire for change that moves forward.
A few weeks ago an article in Forbes expressed how leaders can use power for good in their organizations.
Leadership and power can carry a positive influence with the right heart attitude. But when corrupted by self serving interests, power and leadership become terrible partners.
Understanding the basic types of power that can occur in leadership will help us understand – and at best, become self-aware – what power can do to one in the role.
Power can either be identified in two focuses, either power of self or power of others. Yet these types can be applied and manifest in various ways across these two separate focuses. Let’s quickly breakdown these types to understand the impact of power through various leadership personas.
Power Over. This is overt and subvert, demanding or passive-aggressive, power to control another person. It comes from a leader wanting to exalt themselves by marginalizing others. It can take the form of various types of harassment, racism, bullying and threats, and usually is found in a “command-and-control” mindset. This type of power sees hierarchy as the end goal, and the leader ascending ranks and status for themselves by using others as their stepping stones.
Power Through. A leader who piles onto their people without regard for their well-being is someone who powers through others. It is one of the contributing factors to the work-life and employee well-being crises we see today. The characteristic of these leaders is they see people as a means, a resource, or capital. They feel that everyone on their teams need to act like owners, work as hard as they do, or should eat/work/live their jobs so the company, and the leader, can be successful. Under the guise of teamwork and making sure everyone is committed, this power ignores the limits and balance of the human spirit.
Power of Misdirection. Deferring, blame-shifting and gaslighting are all ways to keep power by tactics that misdirect. When leaders don’t answer questions directly, or with a positive spin or political-speak, they seek to keep their people off-balance by controlling the narrative, the information and the advantage. By not playing straight and talking truthfully, giving vague or blatant lies to get employees off the scent of what is really going on is another way leaders can abuse power.
Empower. This is a leader giving power equally and generously to their people, without playing favorites, discrimination or fearing for their own careers and livelihood. it is the pivot point where a leader liberally shares power with others rather than hoarding some for themselves. While empowering leadership doesn’t mean giving up the role or responsibility that is incumbent upon them, it means they have found the most effective way to meet basic human needs in giving people vision, value and voice, resulting in rewarding work and sustainable success. It’s the willing transfer of the the opportunity they’ve been given to enrich others, while ensuring no one has been expended in the process.
Power, like electricity, is neutral. Wrongfully applied, it can cause great harm and can even be fatal. Power in leadership, corrupted by wrongful, prideful and selfish motives can also cause great harm and life-altering after effects.
But in the right hands, and with the right heart-attitude, power can be multiplied instead of hoarded, leading to an impact that will illuminate the lives and careers of those it touches.
Create a power that emanates out and empowers others rather than force them to wear out, retreat or stay in their lane.
If you were to consider what defines a “fearless” workforce, what would be the defining characteristics?
These traits most likely would come to mind:
- Overcoming obstacles
- Creating new solutions
- Bold communication
These characteristics are effective behaviors against external challenges. Yet more importantly, they are even more critical against internal challenges that keep an organization fearful from within.
Many studies have been conducted on this topic, and a particular one from Gustavo Razzetti’s Fearless Cultures initiative resonates with what many others discuss.
Truly fearless organizations by and large are noted for transforming their culture from one that gets the worst out of people to one that gets the best from all of their people. They are fearless from the inside challenges, which enables people to act from a point of freedom and focus that is not counter-productive to survival mechanisms.
For context, here are some of the behaviors an internally fearful organizaiton exhibits:
- Cutthroat behaviors to get “one-up” on another employee or “internal competitor“
- Silenced people who protect their jobs, and short-term peace, in the face of bullying and other threats
- Silos, whereby people need to “stay in their lane”, that squelch collaboration
- Top-down hierarchy that does not lend to being accountable at the top
Fearless cultures, on the other hand, allow for autonomy, change to the status quo and traditional norms, and protect people who wish to speak on any topic that is a barrier to personal, team, or organizational growth.
If we reviewed the first few traits of a true and internally fearless culture, we could apply them in the following manner:
- Overcoming obstacles – removing internal barriers, personalities and behaviors that instill and leverage fear
- Creating new solutions – allowing innovation to flow freely from any individual, paving the way for agile collaboration
- Bold communication – speaking up without repercussions, holding others mutually (yet respectfully) accountable
- Unequivocal Trust In Leadership – employees trust their leaders are looking out for mutual benefit and not the leader’s own interests
Changing your culture to one that is not ruled by fear internally is a process of creating fully accountable mechanisms, allowing everything and everyone to be questioned and challenged, and fostering a safe environment that allows for mistakes, failure and experimentation instead of mere ROI results on every dollar.
The organization that embraces this type of culture shift is like an automobile engine that has been tuned up. The gunk has been removed, the fluids are fresh and moving, and the energy has been boosted as connections and conduits have been cleaned from corrosion.
Some of the more positive results of internally fearless cultures is that they allow for the workplace to be:
- More self aware, both individually and culturally in not allowing fear to manifest
- Create an atmosphere to have straight, tough questions and open talk
- Support failure, allowing for individuals and teams to learn, grow and become better
- Invite participation and collaboration inclusively from all parties
Creating a fearless culture takes, no pun intended, courage to changes that might be met with resistance from the best performers, particularly ones with power bases to lose. Yet it’s those behaviors that are needed to be overcome to unlock the potential of everyone by allowing psychological safety and true 360-degree accountability to permeate the company.
Fearless organizations take a lot of work to change, but once transformed can perpetually keep itself in a sustained environment of courage and inclusivity for all voices to matter in the company.
Ask yourself this week, do your people fear others outside, or inside, the organization?