Tag Archives | Integrity

Service Above and Beyond

SCE_0300aHere in the US we’re celebrating Memorial Day today. The holiday originated in 1868, after the Civil War, where an event called “Decoration Day” encouraged citizens to decorate the graves of those who died in that war.

It wasn’t until after World War I that the holiday expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.

My dad served in the US Navy in World War II. Like many other members of the “greatest generation,” Dad didn’t speak of his wartime experiences with us. When we posed questions, he didn’t answer directly. He said he was proud to serve, that he was well behind the front lines, and that others had it far worse than he did.

Dad was proud that his service would enable he and my mother to be laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery. When Dad passed away in April 2011, I arranged for Dad’s funeral service and burial there. The photo above is of two US Navy officers folding the American flag that was featured in Dad’s service that day.

Dad’s funeral service was a wonderful celebration of his life and his military service. We were lucky in that Dad survived his service days. Many families suffered the ultimate loss when their loved ones were killed in war zones.

Very few Americans have served in the military. One recent estimate is that 7.3 percent of living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. All Americans are grateful for their service.

The total number of Americans who have died in American wars is approximately 1,264,223 as of this date. The greatest majority were over 618,000 Civil War deaths and over 405,000 World War II deaths.

This holiday, we pause to celebrate their service, their courage, and their sacrifices.

The impact of combat on those who serve is significant – mentally, physically, and spiritually. The film American Sniper, the story of US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is praised as an accurate depiction of the horrors of modern urban warfare.

It is a powerful film, showing the demands on service members in the midst of a seemingly unending war, on them as parents, on them as teammates, on them as trained professionals. What they experience in combat, in moment-to-moment live fire conditions, leaves a deep impression on their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Exceptional medical care in the field today enables wounded service members to return home, when in past wars their wounds would have caused their deaths. They return and attempt to put their lives back together among civilians who have never seen what they have seen.

I believe all service members deserve our gratitude for their willingness to put their lives on the line, every day, to serve their country. And, on this day, we remember and thank those who gave their lives in such service.

What is your experience? How can we civilians show our genuine appreciation to active and former service members appropriately? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © S. Chris Edmonds Photography. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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.”

Bad Bosses Erode Performance and Engagement

How engaged are your employees at work? How productive are they?

Great leaders – those who inspire top performance AND genuine team member engagement – pay attention to both productivity and employee engagement, every day.

Why? Because a work environment that treats team members with trust, dignity, and respect in every interaction boosts engagement, service, and results.

The biggest influence on employee engagement? Jim Clifton, the Chairman of Gallup, says it’s the quality of your leaders. In his post, Millions of Bad Managers are Killing America’s Growth, Clifton states that an estimated seven million lousy managers are “not properly developing or worse, are outright depressing . . . millions of US employees.”

Tiny HR’s 2014 Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture report found that 49% of employees are not satisfied with their direct supervisor. Only 21% of employees said they feel strongly valued at work.

In Workfront’s 2015 Work-Life Report, sixty percent of employees believe bad bosses (those who are demanding, overbearing, and mean) have the greatest negative impact on work-life balance. Poor work-life balance is costly. 68% of employees report poor morale, while over 40% report employee burn out, high turnover, and poor productivity.

These studies – and many more – underscore the significant impact that the quality of your leaders have on team member engagement, service, and results.

I don’t think companies intentionally hire bad bosses. I do believe, though, that companies tolerate bad behavior from bosses far too frequently.

Any instance of bad behavior – be it yelling, cursing, demeaning, etc. – erodes trust, dignity, and respect. Why would companies allow these interactions? In my interviews with senior leaders, they frequently report bad behavior – but they discount the negative impact. “Oh,” they’ll say, “everybody knows that’s just how Bob is.” Or they might tell me how Bob’s team “always comes through at the end of the quarter.” Or they’ll say, “Bob doesn’t know any better.”

Or they’ll say, “I’ve tried, but nothing works. I don’t know what else to do.”

These are difficult conversations if your company has never formalized how people need to treat each other at work. If the only targets you set are performance standards, then people – bosses and team members – often behave badly to deliver those results.

The best way to move forward – and to hire aligned bosses moving forward – is to craft an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal statement of your company’s (or team’s or department’s) purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

By formalizing the values you want modeled in every interaction – including defining values in observable, tangible, behavioral terms – you create clear agreements with your leaders about how they are to manage their team members as well what performance standards are required.

If, for example, you have a “respect” value and one of your behaviors is “I treat everyone in a civil manner at all times,” you can measure the degree to which leaders actually do treat others civilly. If they do, praise and encourage them. If they don’t, redirect them promptly.

If they continue to treat people badly, lovingly help them out of your organization. The quality of workplace interactions is too important to leave it in the hands of mean leaders.

Want to learn more about creating workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution? My latest book, The Culture Engine, will help.

Don’t let bad bosses erode team member performance and engagement. Demand civil treatment and model it, in every interaction.

What do you think? Do you believe that bad bosses erode engagement and performance in your company? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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.”

Trust and Respect Require More Than Training

troops yellow ribbonAfter a six-year $287 million campaign to make US Army soldiers more optimistic, happy, and resilient, the results are less than stellar.

USA Today reported that twelve months of data through early 2015 found that 52% of soldiers scored poorly in optimism and 48% have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

One of the most concerning trends to me is that 39% of soldiers don’t trust their immediate supervisors or fellow soldiers; they don’t feel respected or valued.

The Army’s positive psychology program began in 2009 in response to rising suicide and mental illness among enlisted troops. The program was controversial from the start. A panel of scientists showed that the program demonstrated little to no evidence of preventing mental illness. This 2012 article raised serious questions about the program’s ability to address these issues.

It is very good that military leadership recognizes the importance of positive mental health of troops. And, it is clear that this particular program has had very little positive impact on soldiers’ well-being.

The psychological impact of combat, frequent deployments, and defense cuts on soldiers’ engagement and optimism is easy to comprehend. I don’t believe that any single program or training can offset those sobering effects.

The good news? There are ways to create consistent civility, performance, and satisfaction in the workplace. Any workplace.

What can have a significant positive impact on the well-being of team members – be they soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, employees in your company, etc. – is how they are treated by their leaders and their peers.

All trust is local. All relationships are local. By “local” I mean “within arms reach.” The folks you interact with regularly, face to face or virtually (email, video link, etc.) are where your most frequent experiences occur. Those experiences either enhance trust and positive relationships or they erode them. Those experiences are rarely neutral!

How you are treated by your leaders and peers, moment to moment, in daily interactions, has a huge impact on your feeling of being in on things, of being trusted, respected, and valued for your efforts and your accomplishments.

There are numerous examples of inspiring leaders in our military today. US Navy Captain D. Michael Abrashoff changed the culture of the USS Benfold through grassroots leadership. Abrashoff created a crew of inspired problem solvers by creating a meaningful purpose, trusting talented crew members, and building buy-in with his “it’s your ship” mantra.

All military organizations have values defined. The US Army’s values are clearly spelled out. What is missing in many organizations around the globe is demonstrated alignment to their values, in every interaction, every day. Those values need to be defined in behavioral terms then measured, monitored, and rewarded.

A training program can boost awareness and build skills, but the program alone can’t change day to day behaviors. That requires commitment on the part of leaders to model the values, praise aligned behavior, and redirect mis-aligned behavior, consistently.

Our active and veteran service members give their best daily. They’re not getting OUR best, in the form of proactive care, treatment, and support.

We must do better.

What do you think? Do you agree that trust and relationships are “local”? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Carolina K Smith MD – 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 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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.”

What I Do and Why

Dollarphotoclub_77730279a-2I’m a rational thinker. There are times it helps me serve others well. And, there are times when it becomes a hurdle to helping others truly understand what I do!

When I’m not able to clearly and simply describe what I do, that’s not a good thing.

For example, when people ask me what I do, I typically outline my culture change process. I describe the logical phases of how I help leaders create and manage to an organizational constitution – and what the benefits are to them as leaders, to their team, to their customers, etc.

When I’m done explaining what I do, I am rather pleased with myself. I’m convinced that I am being clear and concise. The reality is that I’m not being clear, at all.

My response actually inhibits others’ understanding, because my answer assumes they know a LOT about team dynamics, servant leadership, and the powerful impact of team culture. Those are unfair assumptions on my part!

I needed guidance to craft a clear, pure description of what I do and why I do it. That description needs to reflect the beneficial impact I have on clients.

That description needs to stand alone, without the requirement of background knowledge to “interpret” what I’m saying and what I mean.

I’m grateful to David Greer and Mark Deterding for helping me reach this clarity. They are outstanding coaches who didn’t let me off the hook when I kept returning to my comfortable process description.

Here’s my current thinking on my value proposition.

I get people to embrace a better way of living, leading, and serving.

I help people transform from a task-driven, competitive existence to a purpose-driven, values-aligned existence.

I accomplish these beneficial impacts by walking beside each person I counsel, first guiding their understanding of this better way, then guiding their embracing of this better way, in every interaction with family, colleagues, neighbors, and strangers.

When a client internalizes this better way, he or she confidently navigates the challenges, temptations, and opportunities that arise daily at work, at home, and in their community.

My strongest contribution to others is my ability to enable that internalization.

This description of my value proposition feels good and feels right to me. I know I’ll continue to wordsmith it – but the core of it feels right.

How do you describe what you do and why you do it? How clear and concise is your description of your beneficial impact on people every day? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © ra2 studio – 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 these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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.”

The Announcements Fallacy

AnnounceHow well are new policies and procedures embraced in your organization? If you’re like most companies, it all depends on how well – and how quickly – those new expectations are embedded as practices.

It doesn’t matter what the change is – it could be a new software system or a new purpose statement; what matters is what happens after the change is announced. Yet most leaders operate under the faulty assumption that telling people what is expected ensures alignment to the change.

This fallacy is known as “managing by announcements,” a virus-like plague that I call “MbA.” When infected with the MbA virus, leaders do a good job of defining purpose or policies or procedures. They then publish and announce the details – and expect that all employees will immediately embrace the new expectations.

Leaders believe, “We’ve told them what to do. Now they’ll do it.”

Defining and announcing the new expectations is the easy part! To ensure that desired changes take hold, leaders must spend time and energy to ensure people modify their behavior, adapt their approaches, and demonstrate the new requirements.

To build credibility for the desired changes, leaders must LIVE the new requirements – right out of the gate. They must model the changes, coach the changes, praise progress as others embrace the changes, redirect players who are not embracing the changes, etc. It’s called “holding everyone accountable.”

Yet we see indications of the MbA plague all the time.

Here’s a recent example. A multi-billion dollar company has their business principles and standards crisply defined and widely available. Their standards include:

  • Our clients’ interests always come first.
  • Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business.
  • We take great pride in the professional quality of our work.
  • To breach a confidence or use confidential information improperly or carelessly would be unthinkable.

Their list of standards is extensive. Reading the full list, I believe you’ll be satisfied that this company has clearly defined what a good job looks like in their organization.

This problem? There was little accountability for these standards and practices. This came clear when in July 2010 the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that this company, Goldman Sachs, agreed to pay a record $550 million fine to settle charges that the company misled investors in a subprime mortgage product just as the US housing market began to collapse.

Soon after, the company put a new business standards committee into place to emphasize collective accountability for demonstrating the company’s business principles and standards. At this point, the jury is still out.

How can leaders immunize themselves against the plague of MbA? Follow the prescription noted above – live the new requirements in every interaction. Model the new rules, coach the new rules, and hold people accountable for the new rules.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Photo © stillkost – 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 these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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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