Join host Marcel Schwantes and the world's top business thought-leaders, authors, executives, and leadership experts as they reimagine the conditions necessary for creating caring, humane, and human-centered workplaces that result in high-performing cultures and bottom-line impact. The future of leadership is "love in action." Join the movement!
Winning on Purpose with Fred Reichheld
Fred Reichheld is creator of the Net Promoter System, and the founder of Bain & Company’s loyalty practice. He is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World. Fred is currently a fellow and senior advisory partner at Bain & Company, and his work on customer loyalty has been widely covered in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Fortune, and other media outlets. His most recent book, Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers, shows that enriching the lives of customers through love and care is the primary purpose of business. It is also the best way to ensure sustainable growth, happily fulfilled employees, and robust investor returns. He is Marcel Schwantes’s guest this week on Love In Action.
“Financials is what we guide our lives and measure our success by, pay bonuses on, and communicate to investors through, but it doesn’t tell us when we’ve done meaningful work that’s enriched the lives of our customers,” Fred shares. “It doesn’t give us a balance sheet of all the lives we’ve enriched or diminished.” [6:39]
According to a survey conducted by Bain, only 10% of senior executives surveyed said their business’ primary purpose was their customers. “I’m stunned; the evidence is so clear that unless leaders inspire their teams to enrich the lives of customers, they’re not going to [make things better],” Fred says. [10:19]
Marcel asks Fred to define loving your customers. “I think love [is when] your happiness is primarily driven by the happiness you can create in your partner,” he responds. “‘Love thy neighbor as you love yourself’ [means] your happiness comes out of your ability to make your neighbor happy… The Jesus idea of love is pretty close to the business idea of love: the more we can care for others and make their lives better, the happier we are. In a well-run business, the wealthier we get.” [14:34]
When employees feel loved and cared for, they translate that into their performance, which leads to happy and satisfied customers, Marcel comments. Fred talks about how and why leaders should help their employees earn happiness through the reactions of their customers. [18:27]
“The leader’s primary job is to create a culture where the golden rule is dominant, and where people understand that winning is only going to happen for anyone when teams treat customers right and earn their loyalty,” Fred remarks. “Additionally, the teams are empowered to speak up when they see something going on that doesn't feel like it's consistent with their values.” [21:16]
Marcel and Fred explore why ‘bad profits’ are so prevalent. “It's because [leaders] are indicating that the reason we exist is to make shareholders rich; profits is our purpose,” Fred explains. “Or if they understand that customers are their purpose, they don't have the courage to speak up and say these things are toxic.” [23:14]
“Net promoter is a tool to make teams happier,” Fred says. “It’s a framework to think about living by the Golden Rule and choosing which people you want to have relationships with… if you choose your loyalties wisely, they shape your life and they define your legacy.” [30:47]
Fred Reichheld on LinkedIn | Twitter
Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers
How Oxytocin Improves Performance with Paul Zak
Paul Zak is a professor at Claremont Graduate University, founder and Chief Immersion Officer at Immersion Neuroscience, and Senior Scientific Advisor at CancerLife. Over a decade ago, Paul and his team discovered that the neurochemical oxytocin was the driver of trust, love, and morality that distinguish our humanity. In his quest to understand the neuroscience of human connection and happiness, he dedicated two decades of his life to brain research, which took him from the Pentagon, to Fortune 50 boardrooms, and the rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Paul is also an accomplished speaker and author. His second book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, explores the neurochemistry behind toxic organizational cultures, and how we can harness that neurochemistry to build effective workplaces with trust, joy, and commitment.
Marcel Schwantes asks Paul to talk about his background. “My goal in my professional life is to create technologies and knowledge to help people curate their lives for greater happiness,” Paul shares. [3:22]
Oxytocin has numerous effects on our behavior, Paul finds. The more you trust someone, the more oxytocin your brain produces, and that prompts you to reciprocate good deeds and hospitality. Additionally, oxytocin increases your sense of empathy and reduces physiological stress. It allows you to feel comfortable within a group or community, which lends itself spectacularly to teamwork and organizational performance. [6:44]
“Trust is a set of behaviors, not a feeling state,” Paul clarifies. Marcel asks him to describe how he and his team created the survey instrument they used to study several thousand companies. “Once we identified the sets of behaviors that were relevant to trust within organizations, we created this survey… [a lot of] companies let us come in and take blood from their employees to measure oxytocin levels. Then, we collected data from a huge swath of the US population to identify how these behaviors improved the performance of those organizations,” he explains. [12:14]
We’re not out of the pandemic yet, Marcel comments. Research proves that the sudden shift to remote work and all the challenges it entails has had negative effects on people’s mental health, making it a crucial issue for organizations to address. He asks Paul where holistic development falls under the oxytocin umbrella. “The precursor for trust is psychological safety,” Paul replies. “If I am so stressed out that I'm just holding on with my fingernails, I'm not going to connect to those around me or have the bandwidth to be an effective employee.” He discusses how a high trust model influences holistic development. [20:15]
According to Paul, building caring relationships at work is an opportunity to expand your social network, which is where most of life’s satisfaction comes from. He explores the concept of trust and accountability, and why one does not negate the other. [26:31]
Uncertainty manifests itself in the brain exactly like stress, which is an inhibitor of trust. “Humans don’t like uncertainty… if they don’t [have the relevant information], humans [run the rumor mill] and use bandwidth on that rather than focusing on creating value for the organization,” Paul claims. “I can reduce that rumor mill if I share information broadly.” [28:04]
“If you think about the investment you can make to improve performance, trust is a fairly inexpensive dimension with high returns,” Paul advises. “Think about creating a culture where your high performers can thrive, grow, feel recognized and have the opportunity to control their work lives.” He shares why leaders should personalize their efforts to recognize high performers. [31:50]
Paul Zak on LinkedIn | Twitter
Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies
Choosing to be Courageous with Jim Detert
Jim Detert is this week’s guest on Love In Action. He is a Professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business Administration and the world’s foremost expert on workplace courage. Jim discovered that courage is a skill that anyone can learn and develop over time. Jim’s new book, Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide to Being Brave at Work, explores why people speak up or stay silent at work, and teaches you how to channel your emotions and take action with the right attitude and approach.
Jim defines courageous acts. “A courageous act at work is something you do for a worthy cause despite perceived risk, and those risks might be career [related], economic, social or psychological.” [6:45]
Marcel asks Jim to share how he conducted his research. “I used all kinds of methods in a lot of cases,” he replies. “I collected deep, rich stories from the actors themselves, and sometimes I asked people to report on others’ courageous acts… I surveyed thousands of people to understand what kinds of behaviors were at play, why people behave how they do, and what skills seem to make a difference in how the acts go.” [15:17]
Whistleblowers are workers that take internal problems external, Jim says. Despite laws against retaliation, whistleblowers tend to get “clobbered emotionally” and often lose their careers, reputation, friendships, and relationships, as well as their jobs. Yet even after all this, they confidently say they would do it again. “We have a code that tells us what’s right and wrong, and there seem to be very few people who regret it in the long term after they stand up for who they are,” he claims. [23:37]
According to Jim, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing battles at work. One such factor is how important an issue is to you and others. “I can notice 42 things a day that irritate me about my work environment and that I could speak up about, but if I overdo it on Monday about a couple of relatively trivial things, when the big one comes on Thursday, nobody wants to hear me anymore,” he explains. [31:19]
In most cultures, especially for men, anger is the acceptable way of expressing hurt or pain. If you see someone acting with anger, as a leader you owe it to them to investigate the root of their anger and display care, rather than dismissing them immediately. Not being bothered to even try finding out what may be wrong is not a sign of a caring leader. Jim and Marcel explore how fear influences leadership. [36:56]
“Reasonable people adapt to the world around them; unreasonable people try to change the world around them. That's why all change depends on unreasonable people,” Jim quotes. “My calling in life is to be functionally unreasonable. We can’t change systems and long embedded beliefs without having the courage to challenge them and push for something that might seem crazy or outlandish at first.” [44:36]
Jim Detert on LinkedIn
Leading with Care with Heather Younger
Heather Younger is on a mission to ensure leaders use their power to make the workplace a safe space. An experienced keynote speaker, trainer, and consultant, her recent book, The Art of Caring Leadership: How Leading With Heart Uplifts Teams & Organizations, emphasizes the need for leaders to model kindness, compassion and empathy, and outlines nine ways to manifest the radical power of caring support in the workplace. She is Marcel Schwantes’ guest this week on Love In Action.
Heather talks about the experience at a previous job that inspired her to pursue leadership development and employee engagement as a career. “I realized I needed to be … that voice for those who didn't ordinarily have a voice at the table, who often felt like they were hopeless and helpless,” she shares. [3:31]
If the top leadership isn’t open and humble enough to recognize and accept they may be responsible for their company’s issues, half the battle is already lost, Marcel says. “They have to champion the change management. They have to champion a new way of doing things,” he adds. [10:12]
Heather shares the story of WD-40’s CEO’s pivot to leading with care, and why it’s a business imperative. After changing the way he viewed and interacted with employees, the bottom line of their company increased exponentially. By putting care into the workforce, he created a vision that rallied shareholders, stakeholders and customers and significantly improved performance. WD-40’s employee engagement scores reach 96% year after year. [14:37]
Soft skills are the new hard skills. Leaders that think empathy, compassion, and kindness are ‘too squishy’ are the ones that fail to step up with courage, Marcel remarks. He and Heather discuss the importance of cultivating self-leadership skills as a prerequisite to being a leader. [23:00]
Listening is an important part of leading with care, according to Heather. “In order for [listening] to be effective, it has to be bidirectional,” she claims.”It’s not just you sitting and hearing; it’s you asking the right questions, going back and forth [with] dialogue. Most people think listening is shutting up, but not always. In fact, the most effective listening [involves] asking the right questions, open and closed.” [29:34]
“How do you get people to go above and beyond in an environment [that bred] the Great Resignation?” Heather explores ways to motivate your employees. While money and bonuses are good incentives, they can only go so far in encouraging people to actively engage and perform at their best ability in an otherwise toxic environment. “Do they feel like they're on a mission that is bigger than themselves? Do they feel like they're involved in meaningful work? If the answer to both is no, money [as an incentive] isn’t going to last.” [34:29]
Heather Younger on LinkedIn | Twitter
Workplace Psychology with Jennifer Musselman
Jennifer Musselman is a globally recognized executive coach and a licensed marriage and family therapist for high-performing executives and entrepreneurs. She has been featured on Psychology Today, Forbes, and Huffington Post. She specializes in emotional intelligence, navigating conflict among leaders and couples, anxiety, burnout, and stress and depression management. With 20 years of experience as an executive at Fortune 500 companies, Jennifer intimately understands the pressures her clients face in having to do a balancing act with their professional goals and their personal life. She is this week’s guest on this special episode of Love In Action, which is both an interview and a live consultation.
Jennifer recalls her negative experiences within a toxic workplace. “There was a change in leadership at the top that completely altered how people started connecting and relating with each other,” she says. “What I didn’t understand was the workplace trauma… even my personal therapist didn’t know how to handle it because therapists aren’t trained for that.” She describes the harmful effects that followed in her personal life, and how it motivated her to study organizational psychology. [5:07]
Marcel asks Jennifer for tips on how to manage our emotions during a state of languishing. Self-care through self-reflection can help you recenter yourself, she replies, and doing so with a trained professional is even better. “Sometimes we need someone to get us out of our bodies and heads.” [10:18]
Leadership is about modeling the behavior that you espouse across the board, Jennifer defines. A good leader actively practices the values of their family, their company, and their country. [16:17]
Jennifer shares a recording of a live consultation with one of her clients, a CEO of a technology company. She helps her client explore the ups and downs of the recent happenings in his life, and how he has been mitigating them. They discuss:
When conflicts in your personal life clash with your professional life. “I need to be focused for the team, and I can’t let personal things seep into how I present myself in the business, but unfortunately it has,” her client shares. “It’s been a challenge in the last few weeks.” [19:05]
How to pull yourself out of a low-energy slump. “Everyone needs their own process of self-reflection,” Jennifer advises. “Find moments of personal reflection, which includes your thoughts… and then pay attention to how you behave. Having a chart of that gives you a better understanding of yourself and how you handle these moments.” [26:42]
Mastering self-efficacy. “[Self-efficacy] is embracing that [you] don’t have to have all the answers; [you’re] in process. The answers will come, and you’ve created the network of people to lean on,” Jennifer remarks. [33:37]
Jennifer rejoins Marcel to talk about key takeaways from her session with her client.
According to Jennifer, there’s a fear of being perceived as weak when you’re in a position of power, particularly in men. People see when you’re struggling and can create their own narratives about what might be happening, so it would be beneficial to be a little transparent with them. Expressing vulnerability creates a bond with your coworkers, and gives people the opportunity to support you. [42:48]
“Our minds, hearts, and bodies are connected,” Jennifer says. “When we start to feel emotional, there’s a physiological reaction… The first thing you have to do is get a hold of that sensation in your body… deep breathing connects you to your heart.” [45:00]
Leaders need to allow employees to have a voice, Marcel comments. It’s not just handing down decisions from the mountain top; employees should be able to voice their concerns, input, and even ideas. That’s the caring part of leadership, he adds. [49:23]
Jennifer Musselman on LinkedIn | Twitter
The Great Resignation, Retention, and the Talent Lifecycle with Mahe Bayireddi
A special thanks to our sponsor, Phenom, for making this episode possible. Building an inclusive workplace that truly puts employees first doesn’t happen overnight. To help employers get started, the team at Phenom created The Definitive Guide to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for HR. In it, HR leaders and practitioners will learn how to build and implement creative — and authentic — DE&I strategies that connect with employees. Check it out at phenom.com/blog/diversity-and-inclusion-guide.
Mahe Bayireddi is CEO and co-founder of Phenom, a global leader in the HR technology space with a mission to help a billion people find the right job. Their AI-based SaaS platform, TXM, connects all stakeholders in the hiring cycle for a personalized talent acquisition experience. Also an official member of Forbes Technology Council and serial entrepreneur, Mahe is passionate about using software to fundamentally transform the talent journey. He is this week’s guest on Love in Action, sponsored by Phenom.
In the age of the Great Resignation, COVID-19, and the rapid transition to a virtual workplace, leaders need to step up and demonstrate care in a business context more than ever before, Marcel Schwantes comments. He asks Mahe to talk about his background. “My story consists of three things: my family, Phenom, and my spiritual evolution. Those are my priorities,” Mahe shares. [1:58]
“The core principle of meditation is being quiet so you can control your thoughts… That quiet place [allows] you to reflect on who you want to be. [By doing that], I can lead [Phenom] better,” Mahe remarks. That quiet place can also enable you to drown out noise you don’t need and orient yourself to one direction, Marcel adds. [5:47]
Mahe discusses Phenom’s mission. For Phenom, ‘right’ isn’t about just getting a job; it’s about connecting with the purpose of the company, actualizing your full potential, and becoming the best person you can be. It’s a journey, not a destination, Mahe says. He talks about the culture at Phenom and his definition of leadership. “Leadership, to me, is ruthless compassion. You should be ruthless in delivering results, but compassionate for those you work with.” [14:24]
According to Mahe, everything happens for a reason. “Nothing happens to screw you up,” he claims. The toughest parts of your life are opportunities to learn and grow, and being positive enables you to tap into that. “When we interview people, we ask them to start with a story, and we look at how they construct it. We don’t mind if they’re skeptical; as long as they’re not cynical.” [17:18]
The Great Resignation is less about remote work, and more about people reflecting on their fulfillment at their places of employment, Mahe says. Every generation has a different set of expectations, and things like CSR and ESG are timely concerns in today’s age. The Great Resignation is a result of those concerns coming to the forefront. [25:58]
Leadership involves compassion and ruthlessness. The ruthlessness is for the greater purpose, and the compassion is for the individuals who contribute to that purpose. Being a good leader is like being a parent, Mahe asserts. “A lot of leaders prefer to be good uncles rather than parents. It’s easy to be a good uncle, but it’s much harder to be an average parent.” [30:58]
Mahe Bayireddi on LinkedIn | Twitter
Business and so much more
This is a podcast where you think it will be all "business-y", and yes, it is. But so much of what they cover can be applied to your personal life. The ideas presentedcan really make you re-think the way you conduct your business and your life. Well worth the time.
Just what we need
Love everything about this podcast! Bringing thoughtful conversations with incredible experts and authors to talk about what is most important during a time it is desperately needed!
Really Enjoy This Podcast
Great podcast! I especially enjoyed the recent interview with Kevin Oakes on Culture Renovation. Such a thought provoking conversation about the book, offering practical advice that any business leader can utilize to create healthy cultures.