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The Secret Behind Getting the Right People on the Bus

Image of the Kadoo team sketching the first company video.

Looking back over 2012 (and ahead into 2013), I realize that my priorities have shifted rather dramtically. In the past, my thinking was way too small. It used to be that I strived to be the best leader with whom the people on my team had ever worked. While that statement seems really egotistical, it isn’t.

Instead, that mindset caused me to think about leadership as service to those who worked with me on a daily basis. It required me to create a healthy workplace that enabled each person on my team to thrive. This perspective formed the basis for trust and open communications. It also pushed me into a continual pattern of growth, so as my team members grew, my personal growth had to keep pace with theirs. Finally, by role modeling behaviors of being the best leader I could be, the people who worked with me would naturally adopt the behaviors that would also work for them and we’d generate a positive trickle down effect.

Untangling The Leadership Thread

For the past two decades I’ve observed companies ranging in size from the Fortune 500 to startups struggle with common cultural issues. The underlying cause: A leadership deficit.

Despite all of the evidence gleaned from studies published by The Gallup Organization and best practices published by Jim Clifton, Marcus Buckingham, Jim Collins, Daniel Goleman, and a host of others about how to create and lead exceptional companies, the American managers’ approach to leadership has changed very little over the years. The result: approximately 70% of employees want to leave their jobs. If you think these folks are putting the company’s interests before their own, guess again.

Working under these conditions produces a lot of pain and frustration. Complicated, often illogical processes get in the way of productive work. People join camps, set up fiefdoms, and rub each other the wrong way. Communication falters. Politics runs rampant. Finger pointing becomes commonplace. The bottom line: Employees feel frustrated and stress builds up from working conditions where they feel unappreciated and underutilized.

And thinking about all of these dynamics—leadership styles stuck in the past, frustrated managers and employees, unproductive and dysfunctional teams recently led to a big ‘aha.’ There is a way to address these dysfunctions and it’s really not that complicated. Hard work, yes. Complicated, no. And while I believe the cause is rooted in leadership, it’s not in the typical way we think about leadership.

Instilling Corporate Emotional Intelligence™

The beginning of next year, I will unveil a model that gets to the heart of the matter. Even though we know the things that we ‘should’ do, and the positive outcomes they produce, we rarely recognize the ‘why.’ Or appear to know how to turn toxic cultures into a thriving cultures with happy employees, processes that make sense, and vastly improved returns. Imagine what it would feel like if most everyone got up every morning and felt excited about going to work.

We’ll go down that road in January, starting with a model on Corporate Emotional Intelligence™, (aka CEQ™). We’ll talk about getting the right people on the bus (and in the right seats). We’ll describe how to design an Employee User Experience (EUX™) that  motivates and engages people throughout a company’s lifecycle. I believe the models can help create Cultural Differentiation™ companies can bank on.

And that brings us full circle. While I still strive to be the best leader I can be, I now dream of eradicating the frustration that comes from working for companies that think they can differentiate without inspiring the workforce and with products and services that are ‘good enough.’ Can we just agree to stomp out mediocrity? Let’s get on the path to feeling great about getting up and going to work in the morning on a large scale. Once you’ve worked in this kind of environment, you really just can’t stand the thought of going back to the old way of doing things. It’s an important distinction because customers know the difference.

Have a safe and happy holiday. See you in January!

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