Category Archives: Leadership

Book Review – Good Comes First

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 #culture #leadership

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.


4 Types Of Leadership Power

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.

(Image by Dima Burakov from Pixabay)

The 5 Benefits of The Empty Employee Chair

Last week we looked into how the empty customer chair should work in customer-centric organizations. By implementing the premise properly and with the right intentions, companies can see a tremendous shift into their ability to gain trust in their customers.

Now what if we tried to implement a similar method for employees with the empty chair?

When companies think about who they truly serve, customers seem to take priority and employees tend to be forgotten, squeezed out by the push for more revenue. Yet employees are not part of an “either/or” equation, but are just as vital as customers and should always merit sincere consideration as “AND” in the equation.

Taking the same technical approaches as one does for the customers chair, let’s map out how the organization should consider the employee chair.

Employee Viewpoint. Consider what the typical employee must contend with on a daily and weekly basis. Are they overworked and stressed from no work-life imbalance? Does leadership minimize their concerns and efforts? What is the meta (macro and micro) of the comments (not just ratings) of the latest employee surveys? By thinking through all conversations and how a front line worker will view the attitudes, language, intentions and agendas of leadership, this first step will get management more attuned to how the employees really view the company.

Employee Impact. Whenever a new system, campaign or procedure is being planned out, the impact to the employee should be discussed. Will this add to their workload? Even a few extra minutes to today’s employee will seem onerous. Will there be proper training? Just showing them quickly and expecting full competency with little ongoing follow up will create frustration to the team. Will this enable them or prevent them from being more customer facing? These questions and answers need to be genuinely answered, and not in a flippant fashion that lets leadership move onto the next project once it’s been “handed off” to the team members. Focus on what’s best from their viewpoint, not easier for management.

Employee Voice. Think of three types of employees: the average worker, the skeptic and the stressed employee. What would they say about the conversations, ideas, and strategic plans being offered around the table? What questions would they have? What other types of employee voices are in your organization? Many times, leaders only consider the voice of a few, typically the top performers or the poorest performers, and dismiss the latter as problem employees and only consider that the top members will be happy with these changes. Considering that others besides the top or bottom performers statistically make up 70-80% of your employee base, the majority of the voice needs to be more represented in these sessions.

Alignment of Mission. Ask yourselves – do the employees really, truly understand our mission and core values? Do we promote them at every session? (And do we actually take real time to do this, instead of checking the box?) Many employees feel that company mission and values are not expressly given to them, leaving them with a feeling of disconnect. If leaders can consider that well over 50% of employees need a better vision of mission and can dovetail this into their initiatives, they would gain an incredible advantage into their recruiting and retention efforts, as well as raising the level of alignment in the organization. Keep discussions with a keen mindset of elevating mission alignment in the team at large.

Employee Well-Being. Prior to the covid pandemic, employee well-being was the fastest growing concern among both leadership and employees heading into 2020. As we emerge from the wake of this epidemic, employee well-being is more fragile than ever, and leaders should make this a core priority in every discussion. How to eliminate (or at least reduce) employee stress, distrust about their company leaders, job security and overall health should be a leader’s core function going forward. In addition to how the above points play into the role of well-being, contemplate how leaders behaviors and biases contribute as well. Being mindful of the employee holistically will probably be the most beneficial endeavor any organization will undertake.

Having this practice will help ensure that the employee is always at the center of your organization. Along with the customer, it will pay dividends not just for leadership and shareholders, but all constituents.

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

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