149: Getting Consistently Good Behavior with S. Chris Edmonds

By April 30, 2017Podcasts

 

Veteran culture consultant S. Chris Edmonds shares his philosophy and processes associated with intentionally creating an uplifting culture.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The oft-forgotten half of the manager’s job
  2. How to identify the top citizens in your team
  3. Quick tips for identifying and listing values within your team

About Chris

Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year executive career leading high performing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. He has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. Chris is one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at SXSW 2015.

Chris is the author of the Amazon best seller The Culture Engine, the best seller Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard, and five other books. Chris’ blog, podcasts, research, and videos can be found at Driving Results Through Culture. Thousands of followers enjoy his daily quotes on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration on Twitter at @scedmonds. Visit his website at www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

S. Chris Edmonds Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Chris, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

S. Chris Edmonds
Pete, I could not be more excited to speak with you. Thanks for the opportunity.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, certainly. Well, I want to ask, first of all, a little bit about Ken Blanchard. I was reading his books in high school which kind of got me started on this whole world of personal/professional development. Tell me, what’s the guy like and what’s your career like over there?

S. Chris Edmonds
It’s been really great. I started my own company in 1990 but in ’95 was asked by Ken to join his company and couldn’t have been happier. I’ve been working with Blanchard Programs, I was an internal trainer consultant for your nation, Central Bank, mine too, so I kind convinced everybody there at the Federal Reserve that these were going to be pretty good programs to improve the quality of leadership.
So, as I got into that and hung out with Ken and Margie Blanchard, his lovely wife, a doctor and writer in her own right, and was president of the company for 17 years, I was really just taken by, number one, very values-aligned flair with me, but just an amazing storyteller, a very genuine guy.
And his ability to translate what had been industrial psychology, which is not exactly easy for leaders to translate, for his ability to be able to put simple stories together and parables that could be, “Here’s the three secrets of right raving fans,” or, “Here’s the three secrets of effective leadership,” just very much changed the business press for the better. And he’s written, what, 88, 99 books maybe and have been a very, very strong supporter of my writing and has done forewords for my books. He’s just been great. He’s a brilliant guy.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so cool. And so you’ve got a lot of expertise and experience under your belt as well. I was impressed in your bio about having gone over 5,000 presentations and yet you look so youthful, Chris. Nice and young.

S. Chris Edmonds
Oh, you’re making point. I just hit 65 a couple of months ago and I’m like, “I’m still wearing jeans and I’m still playing rock and roll in a live band. It’s like, apparently, I haven’t figured out this old age thing yet.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s good stuff. Keep it going. So tell us then, having done 5,000 presentations, could you give us a pointer or two, or what are the factors that make the difference between a presentation being a grand-slam versus you find disappointing?

S. Chris Edmonds
Well, what’s very interesting, it really does rely on the speaker to be extremely connected to the audience and the audience’s needs, which may not be exactly what you were signed up to do. So you might find that you get to the event, there’s been some event, or there’s political stuff, for example, that could potentially distract people. If you go up and deliver a canned address it’s going to feel disingenuous.
And so you’ve got to be, number one, very nimble. You’ve got to have three or four slide decks and maybe just one big picture that you’re going to use and speak for 90 minutes with that as the only slide because you’re going to go wherever the audience needs you. So I’m very much of the belief that my charge is, yes, I’ve got a lot of information and I think I’ve got experience, that is translatable to leaders to help them be more effective.
But if I can’t get them to actually be present and listen and laugh then it doesn’t matter how brilliant my research is, it doesn’t matter how funny I am. So the idea is really to pay a great deal of attention to what are people talking about now, what do they worry about now, what are they excited about now, what things outside their world are exciting them/bothering them or whatever on that scale.
And if I can be aware of that then, literally, I may have to do 50% of what I was hired to do and 50% that’s new and different and much more relevant and get them to talk to each other, and get them to react to some of these concepts. So, I think going up on stage and doing a canned address, brilliant as you might think it is, if it doesn’t actually help them see how to be more effective, how to act differently, how to fix problems, they’re not going to care.

Pete Mockaitis
Agreed. So, now, I want to talk about some needs that you’ve met along the lines with your clients talking about culture stuff. I love the quantification that’s pretty impressive. I read that you’ve coached clients to boost satisfaction of customers and engagement of employees by 40% and profits by 35% within about a year and a half. So these are kind of multiple folks as opposed to one very lucky gig.

S. Chris Edmonds
It’s true.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell us then, could you maybe give us a story in terms of what was going on in that organization before you got there, what did you do, and then what’s emerged on the other side?

S. Chris Edmonds
It’s a very interesting question because every client comes with different strengths, different pain points, and one of the longest enduring stories is one of my early, early clients, and I had enough success with this process, which we’ll speak more about, where I was really confident and it didn’t matter what the organization was doing. I don’t care what industry you’re in. People are people and leadership trust and respect is going to go a long way.
So this was a catalog-printing plant and they had 600 employees. There were 30 different native primary languages spoken on the floor. And, as you can imagine, here in the Midwest, 10-15 years ago that was an interesting dynamic. And so, of course, there were cliques that naturally formed with national kind of culture. Folks from Somalia would affiliate with folks from Somalia, and the folks from Samoa would engage with Samoans because they had such familiarity.
They had great success but still were dealing with kind of the classic manufacturing environment, kind of classic issues and their leaders were not highly regarded by the employees. Those pesky employees. And this was an organization that was a plant part of a broader parent organization, so the parent organization brought in Hewitt & Associates out of Chicago. At the time Gallup’s Q12. Got to love Gallup. And this plant scored the lowest engagement of any of their other eight business units.
So, of course, what corporate said was, “Go fix that.” They didn’t say how. They didn’t actually know how, which was not a surprise 15 plus years ago.
So that was where we started, and what was very interesting was there were two fronts we had to deal with. One was the nature of the executive team and the belief of that executive team that their job was to get catalogs printed and out the door. As opposed to, yes, that’s important, but the other half of your job is to create a culture that’s actually engaging, inspiring, validates people’s efforts.
So, what is interesting is that that team really embraced their responsibilities and, in essence, what I was able to help them do was to identify what benchmarks star are doing. And it wasn’t just their skills being applied, it was that they were great team members. What a surprise! They treated people kindly. They had fun. The bosses that were highly-regarded delegated a lot of authority on those folks that really had earned the ability to make the decisions in the moment at 3:00 in the morning when maybe the boss wasn’t there in front of a 20,000 impressions a minute kind of a big machine running.
So, within six months of them engaging in this proactive very clear focus on a very different purpose of the business, and socializing that, helping all of these different kinds of employees from all kinds of places in the world literally, able to engage in a different purpose and to start to honor some values and behaviors that would make, in essence, them treat each other better.
They had engagement growth in 12 months of 40 percentage points which is huge. And I don’t promise that, right? I don’t promise that. But what you saw was, all of a sudden, people, instead of seeing issues, seeing wastes happen, seeing problems occur, and then saying, “That’s not my gig. That’s not my problem. I focus on this little niche of the business and that’s somebody else’s problem,” to them cutting wastes in half in four months, to begin to cooperate and to reduce stupid policies within six months.
And they didn’t wait for leaders to do it. These were really smart people who had great ideas but the leadership hadn’t crafted an environment where they could, what a surprise, bring their brains to work. And so that was one of the first ever. I said, “Let’s measure productivity. Let’s measure customer sat. There’s no question that you’re going to measure results and profits because that’s kind of the core of what you have to look for, that’s what your parent company has to look for.”
So, as those metrics came up, as I began to do more and more other kinds of organizations, I said, “Let’s measure this. Let’s see where this goes.” And these numbers have been consistent. And the trick is that people in the organization see stuff that’s dumb, they see stuff that gets in the way, and if they’re not feeling trusted or validated then it’s like, “Screw that. It’s apparently your problem, right? Either you see this just as I see it, and you’re not fixing it either, but I’m not going to kind of battle the system to try and shoot up a flare and get this thing heard,” to a, “You’re a vital partner of the business. Your ideas actually matter.”
And again it has happened in 99% of the organizations that I have been able to work with. And where the bumps were, where this didn’t take hold, it was entirely the leadership team that struggled with delegating authority, with giving people credit, with praising and encouraging people every day, which is classic leadership stuff.

Pete Mockaitis
Chris, this is the stuff I love. Thank you. I am digging this. So, I want to hear, and they see stuff that’s dumb that is just so, I guess, cuts the heart of it, because I think, I venture to guess, just about every listener knows some stuff that’s dumb right now in their organization.

S. Chris Edmonds
Absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe that dumb stuff, it’s, “Hey, it’s dumb for you,” but in a global system it actually is, in fact, beneficial. It’s just you, unfortunately, see a microcosm that is not so fun for you and works against your interests and is frustrating but is beneficial in aggregate. And other times it’s dumb as dumb. It’s just bad news for everybody.

S. Chris Edmonds
Right, and it may have been something brilliant and well-intended 20 years ago and it’s still in place, and it’s not relevant anymore. And that’s that kind of, “Well, I’m supposed to maintain this beast even though some of the beasts is really dumb,” and it’s like, “No, you’re supposed to make it better and engage people and have people actually feel like they can make their work environment work better. That’s the way to engage people.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is fantastic. And so I want to hear then, it sounded like a lot of the meat of it was you said they benchmarked the stars.

S. Chris Edmonds
Yup.

Pete Mockaitis
And so if we can maybe get the two-minute version of how did they go about identifying those stars and how did they go about learning what they were doing? And then how did they get those behaviors successfully transmitted and replicated by others?

S. Chris Edmonds
What is the biggest challenge that leadership teams face and senior leaders face is to get out of the mindset of their job is entirely addressing products and services, “That’s my job. I’m supposed to make sure that we get results and profits and everybody is happy.” And, as I see that, I go, “Congratulations! You’re proactively managing performance. That’s half the leader’s job.” And they look at me funny, right?
“So the other half of your job is to create a purposeful, positive, productive work culture.” And they, again, look at me a little funny. And so what’s very interesting is that leaders have rarely been asked to do that, there’s not role models they’ve seen over decades in a career where leaders did that, there’s this hit-and-miss kind of great bosses that they worked with, and they never stopped to say, “Hmm, how did that great boss be a great boss for all of us? Because maybe five of my great bosses were in very, very different scenarios, very different businesses, very different economies,” what have you.
And so the reality is that everybody knows who are the great performers. That’s because, again these leaders have been focused to look at that. And sometimes the best performers are doing repeatable activities the same way every day, and that kind of helps move along something that’s a bit more conducive. It really requires the same activities every day.
On the other side, you may have a great performer who not only can do the stuff by rote, but is saying, “This is really dumb. We could save an hour a day if we changed this process, if we fixed this system.” And they proactively dive in and play behind the scenes and realize, “Oh, we could even save two hours.”
So there’s the folks that are going to go by the rules and then there’s the folks that’ll break the rules. And the reality is both of those players can provide a great deal of traction on performance at different times or in different parts of the business. So those folks typically, I asked leaders, “Who are your top five performers?” And no hesitation they tell me that.
Then I say, “Tell me who your top five citizens are,” and they look at me funny. I get a lot of funny looks. I’m okay with that. But I say, “Okay, tell me about the folks that are consistently simple, they’re actually nice to others even under pressure. Let’s talk about the folks that are genuinely appreciative of others’ work and they praise and they encourage.” And they could be a leader or could be a frontline employee, it could be an informal team lead at 3:00 in the morning, and they go, “Uh, there’s him and there’s her, and that’s kind of all I know.”
But as I start to get to, “Let’s look at if you’ve created a culture that is driven entirely by performance, you had individual compensation and incentives which inspires people to actually pit each other against the other, and if I win and you lose today then I win, and tomorrow we battle again. It’s not about sharing information to improve efficiency and to take an idea you heard from a customer and realized you could make $100,000 if you invest three months a time in that because it’s a huge cool market opportunity. If no one’s sharing those kinds of opportunities then you’re compressing the ability of the business to evolve and to succeed.”
And so the bigger question and the bigger challenge is often, again it’s not about performance, it’s about values. It’s about those nice people. And, of course, the leaders go, “Why should we really care about niceties?” Because you don’t have a nice organization here. If you’ve got 30% engagement then that means 70% are not engaged. That means you’ve got some dissatisfied folks, and it means you actually have to change the rules to be able to craft an environment where people are civil to each other, they’re genuinely sharing information. There’s maybe compensation changes that have to happen.
Because what if we actually have 50% – I do this all the time – of “merit increases” for players of the organization based upon the success of the overall organization? And they look at me funny. It’s like, “Well, the individual compensation isn’t helping. You gain traction in these opportunities. Let’s change it up.” So it’s very interesting because my education opportunity is to get them, yes, to identify the performance stars, but I want you to identify the benchmark value stars as well. And that’s a little tougher but they do typically have one or two people that they can mention.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So you talked about civility as being a key value. And so is there a checklist, the top five, or what’s the Chris lineup that you’re looking for?

S. Chris Edmonds
Great question. One of the things that I learned a long time ago is, as brilliant as I am, of course, is that I have no idea how these businesses actually operate day-to-day. Now, I work really hard when I engage a senior leadership team. I do interviews and I learn a great deal about how the culture operates, but I’m often getting, in those interviews, a greater snapshot of how the executive team operates and then, secondarily, how the rest of the culture operates.
So, I really have to come in and play dumb, and it’s not very hard for me, because I have to say I don’t know what values make the most sense for you all at this stage in this business right now. Now, what I do know is I’ve got 20 years of other clients’ values and behaviors, because we’re going to define values in behavioral terms. So let me take a quick rabbit hole for a moment but I think it’ll be beneficial.
So, why do you care about values defined in behavioral terms? Because we want to take the demonstrated comfort and demonstrated skill that leaders have to manage performance expectations to standards to values expectations and standards. So, hang with me. So, if I say, “Tell me what your top five key results are for performance.” Off the top of the head easy. They know full well. They’ve been watching these for three hours before I engage in a conversation with them.
“Tell me about your top three values you’d like lift.” “Well, we’ve got 16 values that we did in 1949.” Right? Or there are some often legacy values but they’re not tactically relevant. They’re not actually acted upon consistently. Or, by far, 80% of my clients have no formal values whatsoever but they know the way people treat each other is nice. So I said, “Okay, good. And again I have a checklist, but I’m not going to tell you the checklist.”
“What I’m going to tell you is that you already know what values would help reduce the drama, would help increase teamwork and sharing of information and, God forbid, cooperative interaction for success. You already know those things that you’re worried about hearing over the weekend, right? That you’re going to come into work on Monday and someone had some huge knockdown drag-out. So, what are the behaviors, what are the values you’d love to be lived so it would be fun?” That’s a different F word to work but smart. “It would be inspiring. It would be validating.” And I tell you, it doesn’t take these leaders long.
So, typically I do interviews in advance, I get the senior leadership team in a room. That could be a small business team of five, it could be 20 because it’s a bigger operation. I’ve had multinational leadership teams in a room of 20-22, and I say, “What values do you want lived? What’s going to be a better set of operating principles so people aren’t so freaking mean to each other every day?” Right? And they go, “Oh, honesty.”
And, of course, what I’m fascinated at is as soon as they come up with three or four values that’s because those are the problems they’ve been facing for decades, and it’s often honesty. It can be excellence. It could be innovation/creativity. Now, again, you may not have that in a more manufacturing environment because there’s some kind of rogue things that they have to do, right? They’re trying to duplicate certain packaging in a certain way within a certain timeframe. I don’t want you to necessarily be creative there, right? But there are some other places where creativity would be great.
Respect comes up all the time. Integrity comes up all the time. And they all want an answer, “Give me the right answer. Just give me the list of values and behaviors and we’ll just embrace those.” I said, “No, because you’re not then relying on your own gut understanding of the way this culture operates today, and there are some good things about it. So let’s steal those. Let’s grab those.”
So people are a little miffed at me, but once they get rolling then they actually get a little bit giddy. So I’m going to share one with you. This is a very recent culture client, met with the leadership team in July, and met with next level leaders, about 140 of those, in December. And in that timeframe, so it’s three or four months and you’re thinking, “Why does it take so long to craft values? And it’s just not that complex.” “Oh, it really is because you don’t want to do the dumb things. You don’t want to do wrong things. You don’t want to craft some system that is seen as irrelevant.”
So these guys were so great. So their definition of respect is appreciating the worth of others and treating everyone with courtesy and kindness. So let’s let that kind of come over us, and it’s like, “That makes sense.” But they said, “Well, what if we just stay with that, and then everyone will then immediately treat each other with respect and kindness?” And I say, “Wait a minute. Do you announce aggressive performance goals every year?” “Yeah, we do that.” And I said, “Do you get into details of what you’re going to measure?” “Yeah, we have to because otherwise it’s too high a level.”
I said, “Good. Now, let’s translate that respect value as you’ve defined it into observable, tangible, measurable behaviors, because if we can get some behaviors defined then we don’t care what their attitude is, we don’t care what other demands there are in their lives – well, we kind of do.

Pete Mockaitis
The respect might not be in your heart but it shows up, and then we’re okay with that.

S. Chris Edmonds
Exactly. And, again, if we assume that everyone is going to know what we mean by respect, oh, we’re going to be wrong and surprised every day. So, they defined, and here’s a couple of them, “I seek and genuinely listen to other’s opinions.” That’s the first behavior for respect. Well, that puts some demands on those leaders. Second one, “I do not act or speak rudely or discount others.” Oh, my God. At that stage you’ve removed two of the primary disconnects where people feel dismissed, discounted, demeaned in the workplace.
Now, we’ve set a standard that says, “Not only do we need you to kick butt on all these performance targets, but be nice. Flat out be nice. Don’t discount others, don’t blame others. Listen to others. What a surprise! Don’t speak rudely.” And what it does is then it sets the standard of, “Okay, then now, as a leader, I can attempt to model these behaviors.” It puts discipline and structure behind that other half of the leader’s job. Yes, performance is important. The other side is this value side of people treating each other respectfully day-to-day.
And you can’t assume that it’s going to happen because it doesn’t. We’re mean. We’re selfish. There’s all kinds of interesting dynamics at play on the workplace, so we’re going to change the rules. And what’s wonderful is that someone at this stage will say, “Well, if we defined these behaviors,” and in this case these guys have like 22 of them, and it’s like, “I think that’s too many behaviors.” I said, “Well, these are problems then we have to measure all these.” Okay. Well, that’s the key.
The measurement then, just as you measure performance traction on a weekly basis or a monthly basis, certainly an annual basis, you then have to gather employee perceptions of how well the leaders are living these valued behaviors. And it’s like, “What do you mean?” “So we’re going to do a custom values survey, and every leader is going to be rated by their direct reports on the degree to which,” and again I’ll use this example, “their boss seeks and genuinely listen to others’ opinions, and it’s going to be a yay or nay. There’s no middle ground.”

Pete Mockaitis
So, binary. No, “strongly disagree,” “strongly agree.” But they say, “Yes,” “No,” for this week or month.

S. Chris Edmonds
Exactly. And what that does is it allows then, each leader, to get a profile of their employees’ perception of how well they are actually modeling these valued behaviors. Because if the leaders aren’t modeling those valued behaviors there’s certainly no chance of the rest of the employees saying, “Well, I can hardly wait to do this too
And so you can tell where the core of this shift to values and behaviors lies. And what’s very interesting, by the way, is that sometimes people will use a behavior that I think fits into a different value, “My voice doesn’t count. I have no opinion.” Because if it makes sense for them to fit in the excellence value, and I think it’s more respect, I don’t care, because they know the way their culture is operating today, and they have a genuine… the shift is very interesting. They have a genuine desire, “If we’re going to fix this drama, holy God, that’ll be outstanding.” Right? Because that’s the stuff that drives people crazy.
That’s the stuff that erodes credibility and trust. That’s the stuff that cause people to leave organizations is because they’re demeaned, dismissed, discounted. Those are my three D’s, right? And so the idea, though, as you can tell is that I’m very carefully painting these leaders into a corner. Because I’m saying, “If you are going to formalize these values,” in an organizational constitutions, by the way, that’s what we call all this, “you’re going to put strategies and goals in there, that’ll handle performance expectations. Those will be updated maybe quarterly, maybe annually, whatever.”
“But you’re going to formalize a servant purpose that is a reason for being for the organization besides making money,” and they look at me funny when I say that, “and then their values and behaviors. And as you formalize those you have to measure them. And once you’ve measured them, then you’re going to give people feedback, and some are going to be doing some things well in employees’ perceptions, and some are not going to be doing these things well, and they’re going to need coaching and redirection.”
And they get the idea that, “Well, what’s interesting then, if we’re going to measure both performance traction for leaders and, ultimately, employees over time, and we’re going to measure values alignment with demonstrating these behaviors, leaders first and then employees over time, then what we should be doing is looking for people who can consistently deliver high performance and results in a nice way. And we define what nice is. We define what behaviors we want

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is very cool. And so I’d love to hear then, you sort of gave us the deep process and I found it fascinating. So, tell us then, if you find yourself in an organization, you’re one professional in a sea of culture surrounding you, what are some kind of immediate actions or steps you can take to, again, making a positive cultural difference?

S. Chris Edmonds
What is very fun about this process is it works for an individual leader in a small team, it works for a multinational, it works for everything in between. It’s like, “Where do I start? How do I engage this group in this whole conversation about values and behaviors?”
Well, the reality is that leaders are in charge of the culture. You may not like that, you may not have ever been to all that but deal with it that’s why you get the big bucks. You are in charge of the quality of the culture. And so what this approach gives you is a wonderfully crisp template. It really literally is a template and it’s my define, align, refine major steps and major phases.
And so the define phase is what values and behaviors are we going to embrace, that we are going to set out as our desirable way of treating each other so people will be nice and they’ll be civil and, God forbid, they’ll validate each other? All that fun stuff. But the leaders are the ones that have to make that stand. They have to present a draft of this organizational constitution, so that’s the define stage.
And include a team leader in the midst of a huge culture that is bent, possibly broken, that the organization is not actively engaged in a cultural refinement. Include an individual team leader, do this process with their five-member team or 12-member team, absolutely. And what’s cool is you just follow the steps. We’re going to define, we’re going to decide what values and behaviors. The organization may have values or may not, right? They will probably have to go into the details of, “We are going to have to get very specific about the behaviors we want, right?”
So the idea of an individual team leader engaging in this define of values and behaviors for their own team and nobody else in the organization is doing it, it works perfectly well. Now, there’s a bit of swimming upstream as you can imagine that’s going to happen because none of his or her leadership peers are going to be engaged in this. They’re going to be kind of solitary in this effort but I continue today, a couple of years plus after The Culture Engine was released which outlines what an organizational constitution is, why you need one and how to craft one. That’s literally what the book does.
I still get emails, and I get voicemails, and I get texts from leaders that say, “This actually works.” And I found, in a number of cases, then I want to kind of dig in and go, “How are people reacting to you?” Because as often this kind of fledgling idea takes hold in an individual team performance improves. We know it improves because people feel more validated. They’re going to take more chances. They’re going to want their team to be more successful, so performance increases.
Customer satisfaction increases. And engagement, that is by far the most consistent metric today of employee satisfaction, is far, far more organizations today are actually engaging in some means of either a morale survey, or an opinion survey, or an engagement survey.
And, typically, what happens, not surprisingly, is those pockets of excellence have far greater gains in engagement, in service, in result, and sometimes leaders higher up go, “What are you feeding this over there? Why is there improvement here? What are you doing there?” And then there has to be some interpretation, “Well, I’m trying this values thing and it’s really working.” And so sometimes that can take hold. My ultimate goal is that leaders in a formal setting or an informal setting will see that this makes sense, and you can actually create a much more purposeful, positive, productive work environment whether the rest of the organization is engaged in a change of culture or not.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Thank you. So anything else you should say about The Culture Engine before we hear about some of your favorite things?

S. Chris Edmonds
It’s certainly gratifying to have folks read it. It’s available on your primary online sellers. It’s available in some bookstores as well. You can take a look and learn more at TheCultureEngine.com. But just do a search for The Culture Engine and it’s, again, a handbook for leaders that want to improve the quality of their work culture.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

S. Chris Edmonds
There are so many and I have to say that as much as I’ve been writing about culture over the past five years I confess that the quote that I pop up with was my own. And it gets to the idea of managing performance. Great. That’s half your job. The other half, managing values and citizenship. So that’s a very core mantra of mine. I think if I had a bumper sticker, that would be it, and it really does outline kind of the opportunity that I have to educate leaders to do the rest of their jobs well.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a piece of research?

S. Chris Edmonds
Oh, boy. There are such good ones. I’m very, very impressed with Deloitte. They do a human capital survey every year, and the last couple of years they’ve been very, very focused upon the power of culture, of increasing leaders’ awareness of culture and how it may not be helping them today, right? Culture exists and often culture is driving everything in your organization for better or worse, so I love what Deloitte has done.
But one of my favorite research quotes comes from a company called TINYpulse, and they’re an engagement company. They do a pulse survey, not surprisingly. And TINYpulse, in 2014, released an engagement and culture report that was outstanding. It was about 400,000 responses, and the core metric that I pulled from that is that in that study only 21% of employees say they feel strongly valued at work. And I thought, “Oh, that’s a two-by-four across the forehead.” So, 79% of employees do not feel strongly valued at work. That’s a sin.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes. And how about a favorite book?

S. Chris Edmonds
Oh, boy, there are so many. So many of Ken’s books I still love. The One-Minute Manager Meets the Monkey is still one of my favorite books, and that’s probably 25 years old. And it’s really about consequence management and it’s about ensuring that people say if they’re going to do X they actually do X. It’s accountability. It’s a huge, huge, hot button of mine. So, that’s one of my favorites.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And how about a favorite tool, a product or service or app, something that helps you be more awesome at your job?

S. Chris Edmonds
You know what’s interesting is I’m in this solopreneurial life, I have learned, especially over the past five years, as my brand has gotten clear, and as my writing has gotten clearer, I’ve got a virtual team. So I’ve a PR pro, I’ve got an editor who is relentless and just brilliant. She’s fabulous for me. I’ve got a brand strategist guy.
And so one of the things that I have to do very well is as I make commitments to all of them, because they’re virtual, they’re not here, we’re not under one roof by any stretch of the imagination, is I am constantly promising to do a blogpost, a video episode, whatever, for some outlet, for some platform. And if I don’t keep track of these commitments they’re just going to go away.
So my publicity pro is great but I use an online task management system called Nozbe that is brilliant. That is my online commitment management tool and it’s brilliant.

Pete Mockaitis
And that’s also shareable with your team, right?

S. Chris Edmonds
It is. It is. Absolutely. I can send stuff. They can send stuff to me. They’re mostly sending stuff to me, “Don’t forget. This is due.” So it’s a great team system as well.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, excellent. Thank you. And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice that helps you flourish?

S. Chris Edmonds
Oh, man. One of the things that I’ve mentioned being a musician on the side, I’m right in the middle of learning a bunch of new songs, I’m in a working band, I’ve been a working musician for decades. So one of the things that I’ve been doing here is learning new songs for a wedding reception that we are playing at in two weeks. And so diving into new music, learning, and I’m a guitar player, watching YouTube videos of lead guitar parts and having to learn that, that’s so different than being a speaker, being a consultant, being a writer. It’s so different.
And I’ve had some feedback from some of my virtual team members who said, “It’s such a pleasure to have you realize it. You’re going to be gone for this weekend in Grand Island, Nebraska to play at the state fair for Friday and Saturday night. You’re not obsessed with the projects coming up with clients or with the next fast company article or whatever. You’re off playing music. It’s totally cool.” So I think there’s balance there and certainly there’s some creativity that’s very different than what is required by my business. So I just love that.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, very good. And how about a favorite nugget, a piece that you share in your writing or speaking that really gets folks resonating, nodding their heads and saying, “Yes”?

S. Chris Edmonds
The core nugget for me is the foundation – and Ken Blanchard has been very much a driver of this – is the idea of servant leadership. And if you read my posts and you listen to my videos and you read the books, that theme of servant leadership is constant. And the idea of leaders choosing to go down the path of leadership because they’re going to look great, or they’re going to make more money or, they’re going to make their place in the world, that’s not the best driver or motivator for leading others.

The idea that has been around, not surprisingly, for centuries is that the best leaders, the ones that we hold in high regard, the ones that trust us and we trust them, serve us. They help us succeed. They are purely there to help smooth the path where they can or support us if we’re crafting a new path, blazing trails. So the core nugget of servant leadership is absolutely a foundation for me.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And tell us, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

S. Chris Edmonds
I would point them to my main website of DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com. You’ll find my research there, my posts there, my videos there. You can find a link to my music site there if that so inspires. But that’ll be the best place to go.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

S. Chris Edmonds
Oh, absolutely. I would certainly, for leaders, my classic challenge is do not leave your culture to chance because it is likely not going to serve you or others very well. So, be intentional about culture, invest time and energy in culture. It’s going to make people be a lot happier at work and, not surprisingly, a lot more productive.

Pete Mockaitis
Very good. Well, Chris, thank you so much for this. It has been a blast, and keep on rocking.

S. Chris Edmonds
Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

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The Gold Nugget

The Gold Nugget

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