Our good friend, Phillip Van Hooser has written a new book: Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership, published by our publisher, John Wiley and Sons. Here’s an excerpt from the book: “Honesty builds respect; respect builds trust — leaders ought to know that, but sometimes it’s hard for leaders to maintain honesty and confidentiality.”
Leaders Ought to Know: Maintain Honesty and Confidentiality
“Casey is a front line supervisor. During a weekly supervisory meeting, Casey’s department manager announced a plan to transfer one of the team’s newest members to another division. The affected employee was unaware of the transfer decision. The supervisors were cautioned about maintaining confidentiality. The manager wanted to meet with the affected employee before the news became public.” Less than an hour after the meeting, out of the blue Casey was approached by the employee in question. “Do you know anything about me being transferred?” he asked. “No, I don’t know anything about that,” Casey responded before walking away. “Moments later Casey returned to the employee with this startling revelation. “I lied to you a few minutes ago. You asked what I knew about a transfer and I said I knew nothing. The truth is that subject was discussed during a meeting I was in this morning. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to share details — your manager will do that — but I wanted to be honest with you.” ‘The surprised employee responded, “Thanks. I appreciate your honesty.” ‘Casey voluntarily shared this very personal leadership experience with me. His admission sparked a wonderful discussion. We marveled at how easy it is for leaders to play loose with the truth—and how often it happens in organizations. We also agreed that leaders often disregard the impact such dishonesty can have on their reputations.’
The Honesty Game
‘Leaders Ought to Know Ground Rule #5: “Leaders don’t play loose with the truth; Leaders lead from a position of unquestioned honesty.” (Excerpted from Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership, John Wiley & Sons, releasing April 22, 2013.) Thankfully, the most considerate leaders fully understand that honesty builds respect; respect builds trust; and trust builds leadership reputations. But the converse is also true. Dishonesty (including those harmless little “white lies”) undercuts respect; unearned respect erodes trust; and eroding trust destroys leadership reputations. Simply put, Leaders Ought To Know the honesty game is one conscientious leaders cannot afford to lose.
Phillip Van Hooser, Leadership Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author – Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership
I happened to be attending the annual convention of the National Speakers Association when I heard the news. I was seated at lunch, with 7 other professional speakers, collectively representing a wide variety of topics, and each of us reflected on how much Stephen Covey had influenced the business in which we all make our respective livings, and to an even greater extent, the world of business itself.
Time Magazine named Covey to its 1996 list of 25 Most Influential Americans, and the same publication, along with Forbes, named his flagship book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the most influential management books of the current era.
His son, Stephen M.R. Covey carried on his father’s legacy, with his 2008 book, The Speed of Trust. We were honored by the shout-out to our book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk, on page 79.
Perhaps the elder Covey’s most important contribution was the voice he gave to the early conversations about leadership, in the late 1980’s. Along with others, like Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, and Peter Drucker, Covey got us talking about leadership. He raised its profile, and caused many to see the immeasurable value of learning not only to manage a business, but to lead people to powerful performance.
In the last few economically tumultuous years, leadership development has, in most organizations, taken a backseat to maximizing short-term profit (or minimizing losses), and businesses are already paying a price. But that price will be dwarfed by the cost of the leadership dearth to come in the next few years, if leaders don’t take steps now to reverse the trend and revitalize their commitment to leader development.
Perhaps our most lasting tribute to Stephen Covey would be to restart the leadership conversation in our own organizations.
Godspeed, Stephen Covey.
Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, was published by John Wiley & Sons earlier this month, and is now available. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.
There is a new cow, ‘er book in the barn, and we want to tell you about it. But first, a little background.
Fourteen years ago we published our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk. Our purpose in writing it was to create the first definitive but useful treatise on the real, tangible bottom-line benefits of treating employees right. Among other things, the book contained an exhaustive business case analysis of companies that have excelled in this fashion relative to their peers, coupled with how-to prescriptive advice for leaders who want to replicate those results.
Compared to the average business book, it has done well commercially, especially for a work that was self-published by two guys with modest bank accounts and no big name publisher behind them. That owes in large part to a loyal following of thousands of “Fresh Milk” readers (subscribe now, if you haven’t already), organizations that have hired us to bring the message to them in person, and others who believe in our work. We remain grateful to you every day.
About nine months ago we were approached by John Wiley & Sons with the idea of doing another book, specifically a re-write of the original. Though flattered by the offer and the prospect of working with the best business book publisher on earth, initially I wasn’t wowed by the idea. My thinking was that the principles of leadership are timeless (they really are), and we’ve made our point – let’s move on. It was only after a couple of in-depth conversations with my co-author and business partner, Richard Hadden and the folks at Wiley that they were able to pierce my sometimes thick skull with the realization that, whereas leadership principles may be timeless, the context within which organizations and leaders are trying to survive and apply those principles is different – radically different today. Indeed, it would be nearly impossible to connect the dots between the world of 1998 and the one we live and work in today.
The external environment notwithstanding, work itself has changed in material ways. The rules and the deal are different, the field of play is bigger, the pace exponentially quicker, the goalposts narrower, shareholders less forgiving, and the talent more elusive, mobile, cynical, and mercenary. An entire project or career can be launched or terminated with 138 characters and an RT.
One aspect of workspace physics remains rock solid, however; the precept that focused, fully engaged workers produce more and better stuff, yielding better outcomes. Motivated people move faster; they always have, and always will. So, how does an organization, how does an individual leader apply those precepts in a vastly different context? Our newest work, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, addresses this specific issue. I’m very glad that we went ahead with the project. We’re proud of it, we’re delighted to be partnered with Wiley, and we think this is our best work yet. But we want you to be the judge.
With a brand new and even more compelling business case, fresh, contemporary examples and exemplars, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk addresses head on:
- the trust gap that business leaders (all of us) must overcome,
- the process of communicating (really making meaning) with a workforce that is as distracted as it is diverse,
- how to recognize and reward great work without having access to a pile of cash,
- the realities for employers of the ongoing health care saga in the U.S.,
- how to let your people know that you really care,
- reskilling our management workforce after a four year training hiatus.
You’ll hear about heretofore unheralded exemplars like:
- LaRosa’s Pizza, where work process issues are reworked in order to make staff and guests alike a lot more satisfied
- Plamex, the Mexican division of headset maker Plantronics, where thanks to workplace weddings (yes!), employees are a lot more than “engaged”
- Alaska Clean Seas, where they’ve taken workplace safety to a whole new level
- Toronto’s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, where they feel that fans shouldn’t be the only ones having fun
- Rackspace, where recruiting is really a contact sport
Like its predecessors, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk is an easy, high protein, unpretentious, slightly irreverent read. It is available NOW in both paper and digital formats at your favorite booksellers. Click HERE for a link to a free sample chapter, and HERE to buy the book from your preferred bookseller.
Please, buy the book in your favorite format, read it (a great vacation read), and tell others about it. We’d be delighted if you would take time to post a review at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or both. And, as always, if you’d like for one of us to deliver the message in person at your management or association meeting, our dance cards still have open dates. Just get in touch.
A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, the next edition of which will be released in July 2012 by John Wiley & Sons. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows
Steve Jobs’s resignation as CEO of Apple is a good reminder for leaders everywhere, and at every level, to ponder the question, “What will happen when I leave?”, whether “leaving” means quitting, retiring, getting promoted, being fired or laid off, or dying. And it’s not a question reserved only for legendary founding CEO’s of mammoth multinational corporations. It’s a question for every manager, leaders of teams large and small.
“What could happen when, for whatever reason, you leave?”
Three distinct possibilities exist:
1. Things will fall apart (a lot, or maybe just a little). In its August 26, 2011 issue, USA Today reported University of Illinois Professor Heitor Almeida’s claim that “companies with founding CEO’s tend to outperform and have 10% to 20% higher valuations than firms without”, and that “firms that lose their founder CEO often struggle, as was the case at Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Charles Schwab and Apple itself after Jobs left the first time in 1985.”
I’d be willing to bet that being a “founding” leader has less to do with this phenomenon than being a strong or iconic one. GE’s Jack Welch comes to mind.
The organization (team, branch, department, division, corporation – whatever) whose success is so closely tied to the personage of its leader at any given moment that it can’t survive that leader’s departure isn’t really all that great an organization, is it?
2. The business or team will survive, and even thrive. Leaders who build an organization around more durable principles than themselves often have the pleasure of looking back and seeing the success that came from the foundation they laid, and the work they did.
Southwest Airlines has done just fine since the retirement of co-founder Herb Kelleher as CEO. No one could be happier about that than Herb.
I could give a million other examples. I’ll give one. A manufacturer client of mine had a plant in the midwest that had endured a long history of labor problems, undoubtedly owing to a succession of plant managers who thought they were there to manage machines and production, not to lead people. The union was pretty much in charge of this particular facility, the only one of the company’s plants that was losing money. A new sheriff came to town, in the person of a new plant manager, and within 3 years, the labor troubles had subsided, the union had been deemed by the workers to no longer provide added value, and the plant was making money.
The new plant manager had fundamentally changed the leadership style in the whole factory, and his style had legs. Sadly, in his fifth year at the plant, he died unexpectedly. That was 2004. I still keep up with the HR manager at the plant, who tells me that the place is humming along nicely, and performing profitably on the foundation built by the late, greatly admired plant manager.
3. They’ll follow you where you go. This one may be the most personally rewarding, and is becoming more commonplace. We find ourselves in an age in which people are less and less tied to their organization – their employer – and perhaps more connected to individuals leaders – those who are seen as conduits to individual development and the chance to do meaningful work. For skilled leaders on the move, this may be the way to not so much leave a legacy, as to take one with you.
Many organizations espouse a desire to be an employer of choice. Our research has shown that to be a profitable course. But how realistic is it today, in a world where institutional trust is at a low point, and the “deal” in the workplace has been turned on its head?
Perhaps a greater aspiration is, on an individual level, to become a “leader of choice”. That might help answer the question, “What will happen when YOU leave?”
Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.
Since the middle of 2007, corporate and other organizational training budgets have been in the deep freeze, along with new hire requisitions and your last three merit increases. During that period, four classes of grads have found their way into the workplace. Many of them have since moved into their first management positions as their predecessors and even a few baby boomers have ascended a rung, or moved along. Most of these moves have occurred with virtually no formal preparation or training to enhance the likelihood of success. Moreover, during this same period, the workspace has become a faster paced, less trusting, less forgiving, meaner place.
Learning about little things, like how to select/deselect teammates, how to coach for better performance, how to acquire and use influence, how to manage time/priorities, and how to recover from a failed project or other career spill has largely been declared DIY territory.
Against this backdrop, and armed with the belief that a recession is a terrible thing to waste, in 2009 we embarked on a new book project. The “we” in this case took on a new dimension by virtue of two important new partnerships.
First, on the writing front, we teamed up with Reston, Virginia based management consultant and coach, Meredith Kimbell. Meredith added fresh perspective, tons of great examples from her consulting practice, a pithy writing style, and a woman’s touch. And, she’s just plain fun to work with.
Second, in order to accentuate B2B sales, we signed on with the king of leadership book publishing and B2B distribution, David Cottrell of Cornerstone Leadership Institute. A strong reader’s advocate, David pushes authors, his staff, and himself to do their very best work, and do it in less than 118 pages. There is no doubt that he pushed and cajoled us into doing a better book. And, true to his word, David consistently does exactly what he says he will do. How refreshing is that?
For those who speak, train, coach, and consult for a living, as we do, doing a new book is akin to printing new business cards – expensive business cards. It is also a lever that forces us to think long and hard about new realities, and prepare fresh advice and content for client presentations; content that is worthy of the time it takes to read or listen to. Forgive the lack of modesty, but we’re confident that we’ve succeeded.
Rebooting Leadership, our newest work, was written expressly for the above-referenced 1st and 2nd level managers, who daily attend to the myriad thankless tasks associated with getting the wash out, and those who coach and lead them. It’s a high protein, fad-free guidebook that is chock full of prescriptive advice for surviving and succeeding in the new world in which we find ourselves. Think of it as a semester’s worth of leadership education for much less than the price of a textbook or seminar.
Rebooting Leadership is an easy, 2 hour read, equipped with immediately actionable insight and prescriptions. Available both in print and digital versions for the Kindle reader, it is our best stuff to date, and we want you to have it.
The book even has its own website, at RebootingLeadership.com.
The print edition is available for $15.95 from Cornerstone Leadership Institute (volume discounts apply).
The Kindle version is available for $9.99 from Amazon.
For those who like to try before they buy, a free sample chapter is available by clicking this link.
OR – if you want to have one of the authors come to your organization and teach your leaders what it means to reboot their leadership, click here.
Whichever path you choose, we’re confident that you will find Rebooting Leadership a valuable addition to your management library.