Issue No. 329 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights a book I recently read and immediately ordered for a client. Read why Google preaches, “Don’t be a sissy!” And this reminder: subscribe here for Drucker Mondays, as 52 guest writers share their favorite quotes and commentary from the new book, A Year With Peter Drucker.
Coach K's Aha Moment!
Mike Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) would agree that he was clueless about the power of connection—until his “Aha!” moment with his wife and three daughters around the family dinner table. That’s quite a statement from Duke University’s head basketball coach with 1,018 career wins, the most in NCAA history.
According to the authors of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work, Coach K transformed his coaching style by watching his wife, Mickie, and the women in his family reconnect at the end of each day. “He also observed how attuned they were to how people felt—their intuition was like radar. Time and again Mickie could sense when something was bothering one of Coach K’s players.”
So Coach K recruited his wife and daughters. “The Krzyzewski women became, in military terms, a reconnaissance team to sense the state of relationships, emotions, connection, community, and unity among the team. The boys became extended members of their family—the women gave the players hugs (which boost the trust hormone oxytocin). As Coach K became more intentional about developing the feeling of connection among the team, it produced superior results.”
Did I mention he’s led Duke to five NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships, including 2015?
Don’t skip this one! Authors Michael Lee Stallard, Jason Pankau, and Katharine P. Stallard deliver well-researched and reasoned insights in their highly readable new book, Connection Culture—just 93 pages, not counting 25 more pages of robust resources, such as the descriptions of 24 character strengths developed by the VIA Institute on Character (my two favorite: hope and humor).
The big idea—there are three types of culture:
• a culture of control (top-down and stifling)
• a culture of indifference (cog-in-machine mentality, power/money-focused)
• a connection culture (the best of task excellence and relationship excellence)
The authors build a very compelling case by noting Gallup’s employee engagement research that “70 to 74 percent of American workers are not engaged in their jobs.” They add, “This may sound bleak, but you should consider it to be a major opportunity.”
Connection Culture has the perfect dose of inspirational can-do examples along with feisty elbow-in-the-ribs warnings. Consider:
• Dr. Herbert Pardees, former president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital led by example when “to extend the feeling of connection, he encouraged staff members to memorize the names of patients and their family members.”
• Alan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing and Ford, “distributed wallet-size cards with Ford’s business plan on one side and 16 expected behaviors (values), including ‘work together effectively as one team,’ on the other. In meetings, he acted as a facilitator and coach rather than a dictator, prohibiting humor made at the expense of others.”
• Texas Christian University established the TCU Center for Connection Culture in 2014. Chancellor Victor Boschini, in order to stay connected with students, “teaches a freshman seminar in education. And he not only knows every student’s name, but also what is going on in their lives.”
Sailboat or Cruise Ship?
• The London church that launched Alpha, a no-pressure course exploring the Christian faith (now taught in 169 countries in 112 languages), described themselves as “a sailboat where everyone on board had an active role to play, versus a cruise ship where passengers were served but never served others.” Holy Trinity Brompton’s core values, “including excellence, serving others, friendliness, and fun, serve to bring about feelings of connection.”
• Nicky Gumbel, Holy Trinity’s vicar, says they “aim for perfection but settle for excellence.”
Increasingly for me, the mark of a significant book lies in the author’s ability to transform a complex concept into a memorable and repeatable phrase. This book succeeds!
Vision. Value. Voice.
Page 25 (yes—another page 25 nugget!) summarizes “A Culture of Connection.” The authors write, “Committed members and servant leaders develop task excellence and relationship excellence that includes vision, value, and voice. As a result, people feel connected, are more productive and energetic, give their best efforts, align their efforts with organizational objectives, and fully communicate and cooperate. This leads the organization to achieve sustainable superior performance.” (See the chart on page 25.)
That preaches—and I predict the 3-V’s outline will be shared at hundreds, if not thousands, of weekly staff meetings in the years ahead. It’s powerful and it’s perfect: VISION. VALUE. VOICE.
The authors list 15 building blocks (three each for vision, value, and voice) that are practical and motivational. Their fresh approach, with examples, is not the usual warmed-over stuff. Example: when is the last time you benchmarked your mission statement against its relevance to a connection culture?
Confession: I read Chapter 5 first. “Taking Action” is a practical color commentary for vision, value, and voice and the chapter inspired me to read and underline almost every page in this short book. I have quoted from the book constantly this last month (yup—even on vacation!).
One more note: I’m helping a client on a core values process and this book came just in the nick of time! At our next meeting, we’ll look at Google’s multi-year study of top-rated managers, “Project Oxygen,” noted in the book. “Be a good communicator and listen to your team,” was one of eight leadership behaviors identified. My favorite: “Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented!”
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work, by Michael Lee Stallard, Jason Pankau, and Katharine P. Stallard.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) The authors say there is a scientific case for connection—a superpower! “At least that’s how UCLA neuroscience professor Matthew Lieberman described connection in ‘Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect’ in his TED talk in October 2013.” Watch the video and then enhance the topic by discussing the theological reasons why God created us for community.
2) Connection Culture cites this research: “Employees who feel engaged and connected are 20 percent more productive than the average employee; and 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.” So…is a connection culture important to your organization’s bottom line—and your people care?
Fired Up or Burned Out - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
As we cycle through the 20 buckets, here is an insight that aligns with Chapter 8, The Culture Bucket, in Mastering the Management Buckets.
In my 2008 review of Michael Lee Stallard’s book, Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity, I noted his arresting comments about an airline CEO who walks the talk!
According to Stallard, David Neeleman, the CEO of JetBlue Airways, “meets 95 percent of new employees on their first day of work. From day one he demonstrates that he values them. He also sets aside one day each week to travel on JetBlue flights where he serves beverages and gets down on his hands and knees to clean planes.” In 2002, JetBlue wanted to hire 2,000 team members and received 130,000 applications!
For more insights on core values—and walking the talk—visit The Culture Bucket webpage.
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