Tag Archives | Integrity

Deliver on the Promise of Servant Leadership

working togetherThe quality of many work environments around the globe isn’t very good. Some would say it sucks. The frustration and stress most employees experience at work quashes hope, discretionary energy, well being, cooperation, and performance.

The data is undeniable. Only 21 percent of employees feel strongly valued at work (TinyPulse). 72 percent of employees report that the most important factor in their job satisfaction is “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” – yet only 33 percent experience that respect (SHRM). Employees are leaving their jobs at the fastest rate since 2007 (US Department of Labor).

Data alone doesn’t tell the story. Human experiences can.

Here’s a powerful example. Two friends changed jobs in the last year. Both are talented, engaged actors on this stage we call earth. Their experiences, skills, and industries are quite different, but both were ecstatic about the promise of working for a great boss and a great company.

In both cases, these friends were hired by someone they respected and were excited to work for. Within months, however, the bubble burst. Their great bosses left their respective companies, leaving my friends in a dysfunctional work environment with poor leadership.

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Why did their bosses leave? Politics. Favoritism. Promises made and not kept. Values conflicts. My friends are doing the best they can under trying circumstances – to say the least.

Who has the responsibility and authority to create a powerful, positive, productive work culture . . . to ensure all employees are treated with respect . . . and to ensure employees feel strongly valued at work?

Leaders do.

And, many leaders don’t. They don’t know how to manage their work culture. They’ve never been asked to do that.

When leaders do embrace this responsibility and fully implement a culture of trust, respect, and dignity, amazing things happen. Engagement thrives. Service quality skyrockets. Results and profits jump 30 percent and more.

Our world desperately needs servant leaders – in our organizations, in our neighborhoods, in our political system, in our court system – basically, everywhere. Servant leaders create environments where values – how people treat each other – are as important as results.

There are servant leaders all around us. We read about and appreciate servant leaders of global organizations like Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group and Garry Ridge of the WD-40 Companies. We know less about local servant leaders like my friend, Umair, here in Colorado.

There is a movement afoot to formalize what effective leadership looks and sounds like – to inspire leaders across the globe to embrace the promise of servant leadership. Check out the True Leader Creed, a recent effort created by valued friends. If you agree with what the creed requires, sign it – and live it.

We need less divisiveness, less dismissiveness, and less demeaning words and actions from leaders today. We need servant leaders that create respectful workplaces and meaningful work that serves others. Servant leaders praise, encourage, inspire, and hold others accountable for being our best selves.

The road we’re on isn’t a great one. We need a new direction. Sign the creed. Be of service and of grace. Inspire people to amazing performance.

You’ll have a lot more fun – and you’ll attract and retain talented, engaged employees.

Does your boss today model servant leadership? How good is the quality of your team’s work environment? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Steven Pepple – Adobe Stock. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Manage Change with Heart and Soul

ASCAP_Logo_Primary_wTagline_BlackIn my previous post I looked at two successful but struggling organizations – one struggling with the implementation of a “manager-less” organizational structure.

Implementing change is not easy. Simply announcing the change and “hoping” everyone buys into it rarely works. Let’s look at an organization that is changing fast and well.

Change done really well includes involvement of key stakeholders, alignment by team leaders and team members to the plan, and action – testing new methods and structures to serve better. You’ll see all of those in play in this story.

ASCAP is a 102-year-old member-owned performance rights organization (PRO) which grants performance licenses and collects performance royalties for music publishers and creators. (Full disclosure: I’m an ASCAP member.)

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The music industry is undergoing tremendous change. How can a PRO protect and promote members’ works in the digital age?

A year ago, Elizabeth Matthews was hired as the CEO of ASCAP. She and her team are implementing a six-year strategic plan to keep ASCAP relevant in the digital age and evolve to serve their members as effectively as possible. Matthews and her team are aligned, communicating, and moving fast.

One of the most significant and visible changes that ASCAP implemented last year was to make available to the public the percentage shares ASCAP songwriter/publisher members hold in co-written songs and the shares of co-rights holders in those songs. Making such details available amounts to sacrilege in the music industry, yet it is the right thing to do.

Matthews said that ASCAP’s goal is to ensure “people in the outside world know exactly what rights are available for licensing and our membership has confidence that they understand the rules in place under which they get paid.”

ASCAP’s evolution has been in the works since 2013. A team of outside consultants worked with ASCAP for a year to help develop their plan for the future. To learn what key stakeholders thought, interviews were conducted with the licensee (user) community, foreign performance rights organizations, music publishers, and music creators. In December 2014 the ASCAP board approved the six-year transformation plan. Matthews was appointed CEO the next month.

Within weeks, Matthews set up a transformation management office with a key executive and a talented team driving the process. At the same time, executive leadership was evolving. Some retired, some accepted new offers. This can have a negative impact on a change initiative – yet Matthews saw the silver lining. “As a not-for-profit membership organization with a key mission to drive advocacy, education, and a community for creators, people who work here . . . think of it almost as a calling,” she explained. “The hardest thing to drive in a change management situation is alignment of employees around purpose. Luckily I have that here!”

Her senior leadership team now includes executives from the music industry, from the startup environment, from technology, from investment banking, and more. She knew this team needed a wide range of experiences. If she could rally them together, they’d be focused on innovation (in a 100-year-old industry!).

There’s a new chief of strategy and a new product team to help develop initiatives around data tools, analytics, automation, and forecasting. New technology will help licensees, publishers, and creators understand and leverage more information, effectively. A licensee, publisher, or creator will “be able to find the information they’re looking for 24/7.”

Matthews notes, “By charter, ASCAP is here to protect creators’ rights. We’re owned by them. You can work at a lot of cool places that are about big data – but we’re big data with a heart.”

This is how you implement change – by involving all players, by engaging all leaders in the transformation, by testing new ideas quickly, and by investing in purpose, productivity, and passion.

What’s the most effective change initiative you’ve experienced in your career? What did leaders do to engage, inform, and involve you? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

ASCAP logo © ASCAP. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Four bad workplace behaviors you need to stop tolerating now

Boss yelling at his employees at a briefingIn the middle of a busy afternoon, two senior leaders engaged in a screaming match in the office.

They cursed and yelled at each other in full view of 30 employees.

Their behavior was disrespectful and appalling. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing to watch.

I asked the company president about the argument. He said, “I know. It happens all the time.” I asked, “Why do you tolerate that bad behavior?” He replied, “I told them to stop.”

I stated the obvious: “Telling them to stop has not caused them to stop. You’re tolerating incivility and disrespect, which erodes performance, engagement, and service.” The president knew all that. He was frustrated and didn’t know how to make his senior leaders behave.

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Bad behavior in our workplaces is all too common. Workplace civility expert Christine Porath has found that 98 percent of employees she has interviewed over the past twenty years have experienced uncivil behavior at work. In 2011, half of respondents said they were treated badly at least once a week.

You get what you tolerate. If you enable bad behavior – by ignoring it, by demanding it stop then doing nothing when it continues, by modeling bad behavior yourself at times, etc. – bad behavior occurs more frequently.

If you demand civility – ensuring everyone is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction – civil behavior occurs more frequently.

Here are the “top four” bad workplace behaviors that you need to quash, right now. They are listed from the “somewhat benign” to the “most damning.”

Demeaning, Discounting, and Dismissing – The three “D’s” happen so often and so casually at work, it seems like they’re not that big of a problem. However, the three “D’s” are gateway behaviors to much worse (as we’ll see in a moment). This combination has no beneficial impact on the players, the work, or the business. The three “D’s” are always used to “prove” that the deliverer is smarter, better, more capable, etc. then the receiver. In positive workplaces, ideas can be debated loudly and assertively AND people are treated civilly and kindly, no matter what.

Lying – This one is often known as “lying, cheating, stealing.” What happens when people lie, when they take credit for others’ work, when they say they’re done but haven’t started, when they “bend the rules” to accommodate their desires? They get found out – their lie is exposed to the light of day. Lying to protect a colleague is still lying. Telling an untruth – no matter how small – erodes confidence and performance.

Tantrums – Now we’re getting to mad skills, meaning “one is highly skilled at demonstrating one’s anger!” Throwing a hissy fit is selfish and self-serving. It makes the issue all about the tantrum-thrower rather than about root cause: missed promises or lies or a lack of skills, etc. Yelling, cursing, throwing things, slamming doors – we’ve seen it all. These actions mask the underlying problem(s). If left unaddressed, everyone who works with the tantrum-thrower is forced to accommodate the brute’s whims, walking on eggshells every day.

Bullying – this is by far the most harmful of bad workplace behaviors. The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating, and humiliating. Their 2014 study found that 27 percent of American workers have current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work. 72 percent are aware of workplace bullying. The most troublesome finding? 72 percent of employers deny, discount, rationalize or defend bullying. Bullying in any form destroys workplace trust, respect, and dignity.

These four bad behaviors ruin any chance of a positive, productive culture. Don’t tolerate them – quash them.

Which of these bad behaviors is present in your workplace? How have leaders addressed them? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © berc – Adobe Stock. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Are You a Trusted Agent?

I’d just finished a four-day program in China for a long time culture client. The work with the Asia region leadership team couldn’t have gone better. I was packing for the next day’s flights back to the US and called my wife, Diane, to check in.

Diane had experienced a gallstone attack the previous day. She felt terrible and was at risk of going into septic shock. And I wasn’t there to help her.

Diane’s adult kids – my step-children – live close by us. Daughter Karin and son Andy – and their spouses – were totally on top of things. They got her checked into the hospital, coordinated with the nurses and doctors, communicated with me with detailed information about the plan, and stayed with Diane through much of her hospital stay.

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Diane had an endoscopic procedure to pull the gallstone on Thursday (Friday in Asia, when I was flying home). That procedure went well. The doctors then decided to remove her gallbladder as they were confident there were more stones “ready to block the bile duct again.” That laparoscopic procedure was scheduled for Saturday.

I returned to Denver late on Friday night and was able to see Diane before her surgery Saturday, along with the kids and spouses. We hung out and visited Diane after she was returned to her room after recovery. Diane was released from the hospital two days later and is recovering nicely.

Our kids acted as “trusted agents” for Diane in my absence. They didn’t miss a beat. They coordinated with Diane, me, the hospital staff, and many more players, seamlessly. They were active participants in discussions and decisions. They were dedicated to Diane’s care and acted as a unified team with “one mind, one heart, and one voice.”

They had my back – and Diane’s.

I learned about trusted agents from a fine man and good friend, transitioned US Marine Raphael Hernandez. The US Marine Corps is one of the most values-aligned, high performance organizations on the planet. Their operating teams are crisis response expeditionary forces focused on specific threats and tasks around the globe. Marine Corps members align to this important, great purpose.

Raphael explained that trusted agents are like-minded players – peers and bosses – who have common values and shared goals. You trust them with your ideas and hopes – and they don’t use either against you. Trusted agents act in service to each other, all the time, every time.

While deployed in Iraq in 2004, Raphael worked with one of his best Marine commanders. Raphael was the director of operations, responsible for transporting 2500 Marines to Kuwait then to bases throughout Iraq. Raphael’s boss trusted him completely. Raphael shared ideas, concerns, plans, and questions with no fear whatsoever – and with no negative repercussions from his boss.

Improvised explosive devices (IED’s) throughout the country caused the team to fly most Marines to their bases for their safety. Approximately 100 Marines were transported via convoy to escort heavy equipment that could not be flown in Marine C-130 fixed wing aircraft. Raphael’s commander could have taken the safer route by flying. Instead, he chose to ride in the convoy with his Marines, along with Raphael, facing IEDs all along their route.

They arrived safely. By the commander’s choice to put himself in harm’s way, trust in him and in his decisions skyrocketed.

Convoys may not be part of your daily operations like they are with US Marines. You can, however, act as a trusted agent – serving others, supporting others, valuing their ideas, efforts, and accomplishments, at work, at home, and in your community, every day.

Who are your trusted agents? What do they do – how do they act – to deserve your trust and confidence? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © ALDECAstudio – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Unrelenting Integrity

Business shaking hand with a clientThere are cheaters all around us.

VW diesel emissions. Russia Olympian doping. Subprime mortgage lenders. Lance Armstrong. Fantasy football.

Why do people cheat? I think there are hundreds of reasons. To win. To gain unfair advantage. To make more money. To look good.

Self-serving players in our midst don’t always cheat – but cheating is always about the cheater winning and others losing.

What our nations, companies, communities, and families need today is unrelenting integrity.

I define unrelenting integrity as the daily demonstration of kindly honoring one’s service commitments to others.

It’s about holding oneself accountable for one’s actions and promises. One shall not compromise one’s values, no matter what.

And it starts with each of us. We cannot wait for “someone else” or “everyone else” to embrace integrity as a core value, as a way of living and interacting each day. Each of us just need to embrace it and live it.

The good news is demonstrating unrelenting integrity isn’t complex. There is no club to join. There are no monthly dues required. There are no meetings to attend.

There is simply you, making a bold commitment to make your promises clearly and keep your promises daily.

How might it work? It would probably involve behaviors like these: Every day, you hold yourself accountable for your commitments and actions. You attack problems and processes – not people. You accept responsibility and promptly apologize if you jeopardize trust or respect. You align your daily plans, decisions, and actions with your purpose and values, in service to others.

That “in service to others” piece is important. You could have strong integrity to your own, selfish gains! I don’t think that’s what this world needs of us inhabitants right now. The world needs a strong network of trusted players who work with – not against – others.

Many of us make promises without fully committing to the time, energy, and investment those promises require. Tiny HR’s 2015 Employee Engagement Report found that the single largest productivity killer in the workplace is co-workers’ lack of follow through and communication. 35 percent of respondents reported this issue!

Our integrity is maintained with every kept promise. We can’t be casual about keeping our commitments or we’ll miss an important deadline. If we miss a deadline, our integrity will take a big hit.

If we live in unrelenting integrity, we might create a trend – in our work team, among our friends, in our neighborhoods – where others embrace unrelenting integrity in their lives. Getting others to embrace unrelenting integrity is beyond our control . . . but if we can move the needle a bit that direction, greater trust, respect, and dignity might occur.

How do we eat this “integrity” elephant? One bite, one kept promise, at a time.

All the time.

What do you think about living with “unrelenting integrity”? What have I missed? In what ways can you increase your commitment to your commitments? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © nd3000 – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2015 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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