As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Eades.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and hosts the popular podcast, “Follow My Lead.” John was also named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Iwas a year into building LearnLoft and we were really struggling. So I decided to let go of one of our team members. At the end of that meeting, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “I didn’t know where we were going, I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, and I didn’t know how I was helping us get there.” It was at that moment that my personal mission and the mission of our organization was born. We were going to do everything in our power to help professionals become leaders so they didn’t have to experience the same failure I did. Not just for themselves but most importantly for the people they lead.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The new book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is being published on November 15th by McGraw-Hill. It’s a book filled with principles, stories, models, and tools to help a professional apply them on a day in and day out basis.
Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
People don’t have a purpose for work besides their paycheck. Their boss or organization as a whole isn’t connecting the work they do to a deeper purpose. One of the principles in Building the Best is People persevere because of purpose not pay.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
At the center of being unhappy is not being satisfied. When a professional isn’t satisfied, they will look to other things to fulfill their desires. This means they will put a fraction of their possible effort into the work they do every day, which will create a fraction of the result they are capable of.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
It starts with understanding what culture really is; we define it in Building the Best as the shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior. For any manager or executive to create a thriving culture they must be aware of the 4 elements that make up that culture:
Safety- This both the physical and emotional safety that is required in the work environment. While physical safety is cut and dry, emotional safety isn’t so easy. Turns out this is one of the most important things you can do as a leader to improve your culture. Google’s Abeer Dubey and Julia Rozovsky, led a two-year study called Project Aristotle, which evaluated 180 Google teams, conducted 200-plus interviews, and analyzed more than 250 different team attributes. They outlined five key characteristics of enhanced teams with psychological safety being one of the most important.
Unity — Everyone has a series of fundamental needs. One of these is the longing to belong and be connected with others. The psychological theory called, “the need to belong” proposes people’s sense of social belonging is indeed fundamentally required and as important as food, water, and shelter. It is a major responsibility of a leader to give their people a sense of belonging in order to create a unified team.
Positivity — Creating positivity in an organization is a true competitive advantage. It’s important to employees because we are wired to be attracted to it. The heliotropic effect is a simple scientific theory that proves all living things are inclined toward that which is life-giving and avoiding that which is life depleting. If leaders want to create an encouraging culture it is their responsibility to make a conscious effort to be positive.
Energy — P.J Fleck, the head football coach for the University of Minnesota, is famous for creating energy well before the results are achieved. He used a mantra called, “Row The Boat” to assist his players, coaches, and fans to be committed to creating the culture he knows he needs in order to be successful.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
Culture change starts small and specifically with leaders who make it a priority. The reason for this is simple, leaders create the culture, culture produces behaviors in the workforce, and those behaviors end up determining the results. The only way the society makes a broader change in the US work culture is by individual leaders making the correct decisions.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
There are many leadership style’s but the one that is most important today are leaders who elevate others. I do all I can to best live that out, by leveraging high levels of love and discipline in the way I lead.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
No one achieves anything in life without the help of others. There is an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.” My colleague Christina Wilder has been invaluable to me on my journey. Not only did he show courage to leave a corporate job but she has pushed me to keep going one day at a time.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I learned a long time ago that my life isn’t about me. At the center of our mission as an organization is to turn other professionals into leaders so each and every day I work to bring goodness to the world through my writing, speaking, coaching, or teaching.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s hard to give you just one but my favorite is “Nunc Coepi.” It’s a Latin saying which means, “Now I begin.” Everyone is going to make mistakes as a leader but we all get to wake up and try to do better moving forward.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
That the essence of successful leadership today is about elevating other people. Most importantly, that isn’t for the select few. It’s for me and you.