Excerpts from Chapter 1
Principle #1 Functional Leaders Drive Profits
We often hear people making jokes about being “dysfunctional.” I’ve yet to meet a person who says they come from a “functional” family, and the influx of reality TV provides a whole new model of dysfunction being played out for future generations. Watching dysfunctional behavior on our favorite shows may be a great form of entertainment, but when the energy of a dysfunctional person seeps into our personal lives, it’s not so fun. In fact, it’s absolutely exhausting and sucks every ounce of energy out of us. Now take it a step further. When that dysfunctional person is the leader who controls our everyday work-life we become miserable and unproductive. On the flip side, when we have a leader who is inspiring and leads from a place of integrity, we become energetically fueled and healthy simply by his or her presence. A business culture is only as healthy as the people who comprise it, regardless of tools or process.
To energize your people, ignite action, and drive profits, all you have to do is create functional leaders who lead from a place of high character. Then Voila! Everything is fixed! Easier said than done, right? Dysfunctional behavior is a leadership epidemic throughout the world. And that’s the exact reason why leadership functionality is Principle #1. If your business is to have any hope for successfully creating a high-performing client-centric culture, you have to make the character of your leaders the number-one priority of your business. You have to turn dysfunctional leadership behavior into functional leadership behavior driven by high-character values.
In January 2013, Fred Kiel, cofounder of KRW International, a leadership and team development company, presented his research in a TED Talk, proving that character matters in leadership, and high-character leaders achieve three times more than low-character leaders when it comes to ROA (return on asset) and employee engagement. The performance swing went from -0.57 percent in losses due to low-character leadership, to 8.39 percent gains from high-character leaders. The trend was consistent in both ROA and employee engagement levels. The study defined high-character leaders as having high integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion.
Kiel’s study was conducted throughout six years, on 100 CEOs from Fortune 500 and 1,000 companies, and sampled more than 8,000 employee observations—a ton of data that produced undeniable hard facts. The question is no longer, Does character matter? The questions is now, How do we make sure that high-character leaders are running the businesses that impact humanity and our world? The study also unearthed a remarkable data point: Character can be taught.
In June 2010, Brene Brown revealed her research findings on vulnerability. Brown’s six-year study yielded thousands of observation samples from people all over the world. Her research concluded that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is the only way a human being will ever feel joy, love, purpose, and an intrinsic sense of “I am enough. I am worthy.” In the study, vulnerability is defined as the willingness to do something without a guaranteed result, having the courage to be imperfect, having the ability to be kind to ourselves first, and believing that the things that make you most susceptible and weak to the world are what make you most beautiful. The key to joy, love, and purpose is vulnerability.
Here’s the connection between Kiel’s study on leadership character and Brown’s study on vulnerability, and why both studies are critical to Principle #1: Functional leaders drive profits. The only way you can have a healthy engaged business culture is by having functional leaders who lead from a place of high character. Yes, leadership character can be taught, but you can’t learn character without allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Until you allow yourself to be vulnerable as a leader, you will forever remain in a state of dysfunction, void of the true character that is proven to get business results. Now here’s the beauty: You can’t argue the data. High-character leaders get results, three times the return on assets then low-character leaders. Whom do you think employees want to work for? Whom do you think investors want to run the business? And what kind of leader do you think will energize people, ignite action, drive profits, and move our world forward? If you said functional leaders, you are correct.
The Impact of Dysfunctional Leaders
We learned in the introduction that we’re all energetically interconnected. Every person is impacted by the energy frequencies produced by the emotions and thoughts of everyone else in the business. If the energy being released into the business is dysfunctional and emotionally harmful, it will spread through the business like a chronic disease, leaving people exhausted, unproductive, overworked, and unhealthy. As the disease worsens, even the people who are intentionally trying to put healthy energy into the business become infected. Ultimately the people who are aware of the dysfunctional energy, and who want to surround themselves with healthy energy, will leave the business in pursuit of a healthier environment.
Here's another truth: People who work for a business automatically give power to those leading the business (consciously or unconsciously). This “giving of power” has a to do with our basic human needs—security and safety. In an energetically healthy environment where leaders understand they have a responsibility to take care of themselves, to exercise high character, and to show vulnerability, this can be a great thing. These are the leaders who are great mentors, who inspire employees, and who get results. These are the leaders everyone wants to work for. However, if the business breeds unhealthy leadership energy, giving leaders automatic power is detrimental to everyone involved. Giving power to dysfunctional leaders will infect the business with chronic energetic illness, thereby harming everyone in the business while harming themselves.
Functional leaders model high-character values. Consistently demonstrating each of the following eight values shows leader maturity. As leader functionality increases, high-character values become more evident in the leader’s day-to-day actions. When leaders feel exhausted, zapped of energy, and filled with toxic energy, they show their worst selves, and character goes out the window. As leaders become healthy and balanced, living high-character values become easy. The health of our human energy and our ability to live high-character values go hand in hand.
Eight high-character values that demonstrate functional leadership:
- Mindful Awareness: Mindful awareness is being present—always. It’s the ability to look into the future and reflect on the past without getting trapped in either place. It’s being conscious of, and taking responsibility for, your actions and emotions. When you’re living in a state of mindful awareness your able to identify whether you’re living each of the eight high-character values, and if you’re not, you have the ability to correct your actions and get back into alignment with each of the values.
- Freedom: Freedom drives revenue by giving everyone in the business the permission and protection to address challenges, manage initiatives, and develop strategies in their own unique way. When leaders exhibit the value of freedom, they trust everyone involved, and their need for control and constant oversight is removed.
- Truth: When leaders live the value of truth they are transparent in all accounts and without exception. In the workplace, living the value of truth negates denial; excuses dissipate, ownership for mistakes become obvious and engagement heightens because people feel good about where they work and who they work for. “I’m honored to work for such business or such leader” is the benchmark statement when a leader lives the value of truth.
- Integrity: Integrity drives trust by acting consistently with principles, values, and beliefs, telling the truth, standing up for what is right, and keeping promises. Integrity takes courage and fearless conviction. When a leader lives in a state of integrity, he or she ensures the business operates from a place of truth, and he or she does what is right for humanity by putting the people who work for the business at the center of decisions, without wavering.
- Compassion: Compassion increases engagement and talent retention. Compassion is about genuinely empathizing with others; showing sympathy with authenticity. Compassion breeds trust, respect, and loyalty throughout the business, and shows everyone that the business has heart. When leaders have compassion, it’s evident that they care about how the business impacts people and communities.
- Creative Expression: When people feel they have truly been given the freedom (granted both permission and protection) to express themselves openly and without limitation, ideas and innovation flow easily through the business. Change becomes fluid and easily embraced, because people feel they’re contributing to the experience rather than being impacted by it…negatively or otherwise.
- Forgiveness: Forgiveness fuels innovation and is the genuine act of letting go of one’s own mistakes, as well as those of others. Forgiveness is the most challenging of all the values due to our human tendency to hold on to grudges and past resentment, dwell on hurt, and harbor shame associated with perceived failure. The key to living the value of forgiveness is to forgive yourself first—the rest becomes that much easier.
- Responsibility: A direct partner of truth, responsibility is about inspiring and driving action by taking ownership for personal choices, admitting mistakes and failures, embracing the responsibility for serving others, and leaving the world a better place. When leaders live the value of responsibility, deadlines are met, promises are kept, and the overall performance of the business improves.
The Process for Functional Leadership
Character can be taught. And as you’ve learned, the key to a thriving culture is having healthy leaders who live high-character values—a feat that can feel impossible. That said, teaching character is not only possible, it’s easier than you may think. That is, if the business leaders are committed to the destination.
The following is the fastest way to teach character; a three-step process that works well in a business of any size. The steps are comprised of three interventions: CVS Accountability, (2) Neuro-Leadership Coaching, and (3) a solid mentor program.
- CVS Accountability:
To achieve a high-performing client-centric culture, the business needs to hold all its leaders accountable to living high-character values and demonstrating conscious leadership. This means the review process, bonus structure, stock options, and any other benefit that has a direct tie to monetary compensation only goes to high-character leaders—period. Yes, other performance metrics are important, but how a leader lives high-character values and their ability to demonstrate conscious leadership on a daily basis must hold a 50-percent review weight at a minimum. This is called the Character Value Score (CVS). The CVS is a cumulative result of employee and peer observation surveys, engagement survey results and employee retention. As you’ve learned so far, it’s high-character leaders who get results—three times more than low-character leaders. If the business is serious about creating a high-performing client-centric culture, then the business needs to get serious about functional leadership. And, given the current state of our society and the world of business, if you are to have any hope of making change in the leadership arena, you need to hit the paint point, the security blanket, the elephant on the room: money.
- Neuro-Leadership Coaching:
Neuro-Leadership Coaching is how a business teaches character. The primary focus of Neuro-Leadership Coaching is to eliminate negative mental programs and to create new positive mental programs; allowing someone to achieve their optimal performance state at a much quicker pace than traditional executive coaching. A process driven approach, Neuro-Leadership Coaching addresses core beliefs, values, and past experiences to create new behavior patterns; and it uses mindfulness and linguistic techniques to facilitate the coaching process. As your building the new culture, leaders receive one 90-minute session every two weeks until achieving optimal performance levels as indicated by the CVS. Once leaders achieve a consistent state of high-character leadership, they transition into a mentor role and help fellow leaders move through the process.
- A Solid Mentor Program:
The third step is a mentor program for your leaders. This is much different than Neuro-Leadership Coaching. Mentoring is about building a trusted relationship with someone further along the leadership maturity curve. A leader can look to this person for advice, guidance, and an example of what great looks like in regard to living high-character values and demonstrating conscious leadership inside the business. It’s important that the mentor program is not optional, and everyone including the CEO participates. Leaders who have attained a consistent state of high-character leadership (identified by the CVS) automatically become mentors. The mentor role should be positioned as an honor and high-level of achievement throughout the business.
If the business does not currently have functional leaders, or it is not large enough to support a mentor program, you can partner with other businesses or seek out functional leaders in your network. I’ve never met a functional leader who has turned down an opportunity to be a mentor—it doesn’t happen, because functional leaders have a strong desire to help other leaders succeed.
You are now well on your way toward creating a high-performing client-centric business culture. The final message is simple: Teaching and reinforcing a culture of high-character leadership is the most important priority for your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a billion-dollar company or the owner of an ice cream shop—character matters.
CH 1 PRINCIPLE #1 FUNCTIONAL LEADERS DRIVE PROFITS | FUEL YOUR BUSINESS: HOW TO ENERGIZE PEOPLE, IGNITE ACTION AND DRIVE PROFITS © 2014 GINA SOLEIL aLL RIGHTS RESERVED
Originally published on December 11, 2018 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau