The Way Forward Webcasts with Leon Goren

'The Invisible Leader' with Zach Mercurio

June 20, 2021 Season 1
The Way Forward Webcasts with Leon Goren
'The Invisible Leader' with Zach Mercurio
Show Notes Transcript

Research consistently finds that purpose may be the most powerful influencer of our behaviours, attitudes, and motivation in organizations, work, school, and life. Yet despite the increasing evidence of purpose’s power, many of the organizations, systems, and institutions which dominate human life aren’t built to elicit and leverage the fundamental human search for purpose and meaning. Zach Mercurio, a purposeful leadership expert and author of The Invisible Leader, joined The Way Forward webcast to help us figure out just these problems. 

In The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose, international purpose and meaningful work consultant and researcher, Zach Mercurio, shows business leaders, educators, students, athletes, and parents HOW to discover, clarify, and deliver their reason for existence―their authentic purpose.

The Invisible Leader takes the next step and details both how purpose works and the research-backed practices to implement it in our lives, work, and organizations.

Leon Goren:

Hi, I'm Leon Goren, president of PEO leadership, a peer to peer leadership advisory firm. We're an amazing community of CEOs, presidents and senior executives. Ask yourself, are you learning as fast as the world is changing? It's time for Ontario business leaders to band together for counseling support, it's time for you to tap into the business with some of our peer groups and unlock new ways to grow. I want you to come out of this COVID crisis a better leader and your organization ready for what's next, take the first step at po dash leadership.com. Special thanks to Aaron and barillas for helping us bring you today's p o leadership's way forward podcast. I'm going to kick it off. Just with a quick introduction of p o and myself. I'm Leon Gore, and I'm CEO of p o leadership and welcome to the way forward our live webcast series. If you're joining us for the first time, and you're a co president, business owner and our corporate executive, looking to grow your leadership capabilities and performance, grow your trusted network and of course, grow your business you've landed in the right spot in this rapidly changing business landscape. The importance of expanding your connections and having insightful and meaningful conversations with the right peers is now more important than ever. At p OE leadership. Our members include some of North America's strongest leaders representing almost every industry, they lead both SMEs and multinational organizations. And they understand the value and importance of being able to connect and think with each other as they all work very hard to successfully achieve their personal, professional and organizational goals. If you're thinking about the future of your business, and navigating through the many unknowns that lie ahead, if you're thinking about your stakeholders in your employees, how you continue to engage and inspire and support them, especially during this time, if you're thinking about whether and how you should pivot your business understand the importance of being able to step outside of your organization to learn from others. Or if you're thinking understanding ports of continued learning and the necessity for improvement, no matter what the role responsibilities you have today. And just take a moment to visit our website. It's p o dash leadership, calm, and just please connect with us. We'd be happy to speak with you on how we can help make a difference to both your life and your organization. So now before I just didn't I'm going to introduce Zack, just a couple of logistics. Zack and I are going to kick it off. We're going to do our typical fireside chat. I apparently had a lot of questions, so but I will keep it to 3035 minutes. And then really we want to get you guys. Guys ladies all involved in the discussion. So please use the question box throughout the session. And we'll do our best to answer as many as we can. So here we goes. Zack Mercury is an author, researcher and consultant specializing in purposeful leadership, meaningful work mattering and positive organizational development. He wrote the invisible leader, transform your life working organization with a power authentic purpose to provide individuals leaders and organizations with the tools to activate their purpose and create cultures where everyone matters. In his work, he's worked with over 150 global companies not for profit schools universities around the world. Zack helps sport forge purposeful leaders and provides practical tools to cultivate positive organizational and team cultures enable more meaning motivation and well being. Some of his clients and partners include Hewlett Packard the Food and Drug Administration Caterpillar ghiradelli chocolate company, crocs the Alzheimer's Association and the list goes on. He's earned his PhD in organization learning performance and change from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he serves as an Honorary Fellow in Department of Psychology center for meaning and purpose and as an instructor in the School of Education. His research on meaningful work has been awarded the Association for talent development, the Academy of Management and the Academy in Human Resource Development. He writes regularly on his blog and newsletter and his thoughts on purposeful leadership mattering and meaningful work have been featured internationally in media outlets such as Forbes, Inc, magazine, the Denver Post Psychology Today in the Huffington Post, Zack lives in his wife with his wife, two young sons and adopted.in, Fort Collins, Colorado. Zach, it's a pleasure for me to welcome you this morning on our way forward live webcast.

Zach Mercurio:

Thanks, Leon. Thanks for having me. Thanks, everybody for joining in. If you're like me, this delay actually worked for you. I'm always slightly behind schedule. So I would have been right on time if I were you right now. Perfect start time. So thanks for sticking with us.

Leon Goren:

Now. That's awesome. Yes, thank you. So Zack, I thought I'd open it up with some maybe some definitions of what purpose is to you and even how you found your purpose. I'm thinking from an individual perspective was Start with that. Yeah.

Zach Mercurio:

Yeah. So So what is purpose, one of the funny things that's happening is people think purpose is a trend, or a fad, because it's in a lot of blog posts and articles and in the popular press, and if you spent time around a toddler, as I have, I have a six year old, a three year old, there's some commissioned artwork back there. You know that one of the first words that humans use, when humans use language to make sense of the world, one of the first words they use is why I mean, we are wired, as human beings to search for purpose, it's our seeking system, it never goes away. The problem is we get to educational systems and work systems that depress that seeking system, but it's always there, you know, we're meaning making machines. And for me, I was the youngest of three brothers. And when you're the youngest, if you're the youngest on this call, you know that you get really good at a couple things, one, entertaining yourself to comparing yourself. I was sort of always searching for significance in my own life. And I was very susceptible to how we generally educate people, especially in the West, which is we educate people for success. If you're required to achieve these things, then you'll be successful. If you get this job, then you'll be successful. If you get this paycheck, then you'll be successful. We live in this perpetual if then argument. And the problem is, with being motivated in a life by those things, is precisely the fact that you can achieve them. And then what you have to have something else to to generate your happiness. So that landed me in an advertising job in Washington, DC. And on the outside, I was doing well. Everybody thought I was successful. And I was really good at it. I remember my manager giving me some really big accounts, I was excited. But I remember being out working with these human beings who were our clients, and then going back to the office and talking about how much money we could get out of them. And I just felt you know that that emptiness inside, you know, that seeking system, the toddler brain, why am I here? Why am I doing this? I would also hear everybody, when they came into the office, they would talk about it almost the weekend yet on Monday. And it's astounding and depressing how many people live for two sevenths of their lives, the days that begin with the letter S right. I don't think that's healthy as a society. So on a lunch break, I had this encounter, I met this cab driver. And I've told this story countless times, because it's the only reason why I'm in front of you right now. And I remember talking with him, and he asked me how I'm doing and I grumbled Is it the weekend yet, and it was like a Tuesday at the time, which is embarrassing. And then I asked him how he was doing. And he lit up, he started naming all of the people he had picked up that day, telling me their stories. And there was something that was a spark in the sky that I couldn't quite pinpoint. But I want it really badly. If you look up in US News and World Report, taxi drivers, one of the most difficult occupations, but but he was able to experience and I felt that joy in that job. And why? Because he didn't talk about what he did. He didn't say my week is awesome. I'm a cab driver. He talked about why he did it. And it was since that moment that I was kind of like, hey, I want to be a cab driver. But then I was like, I really want to learn how we can build a contribution, focus perspective and mindset. And so I've really been researching that, and in working on that ever since. And my purpose is to help people realize their own significance right now. Because when I look at my childhood, and what led me to where I'm at, I mean, that's what I what I needed.

Leon Goren:

So in the book, and I know you've read the book a couple years, but you taught the difference between purpose and authentic purpose. And so how does it evolve into the authentic purpose? And like, what's the difference between the two?

Zach Mercurio:

Yeah, so authentic purpose is a genuine reason for being that takes your unique strengths, meets those up with human needs around you. And it's like your fingerprint, where your resources, your unique resources, meet human needs. That's when you're on purpose. I don't think purpose is found somewhere out there in a blog post. It's usually right where you are purposes and out there waiting to be found. It's right where you are waiting to be acknowledged. You have strengths you have resources they meet human needs around you as an individual in an organization right now. So it's almost becoming aware of those things that are important, but going one layer deeper. The sociologist Corey keys has a great framework for this around authentic purpose. There are four types of purpose right? You can have a purpose that's aimless and useless, meaning there's no directed goal, and it's not useful to anybody, like I want to make a lot of money. Alright, aimless. There's no direct gold number. Useless. It's not really useful to anybody except for you. And then there's a, you can have a purpose that directed. So you have a goal I want to make $50,000 in the next 10 years for myself, but it's useless to other people. And then you can also have a purpose that is useful, but not directed. That's like, I want to help people. Right? That's useful to other people. But who are you going to help? How are you going to help them? Where are you going to help them? How are you going to know if you do help them. So the key is authentic purpose key says is a purpose that is both directed and useful to other people. And the crux of why purpose works neuro scientifically and neurobiologically is that usefulness piece, UCLA symbol center for neuroscience finds there's a part of our brain, that's hardwired for contribution. And when we contribute to each other, we actually get a boost of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin, which control for mood, movement and motivation. Now translate that to work, right mood, people feeling good motivation, having the energy to do the work, and then movement actually doing things. And that's why purpose is so foundational and important.

Leon Goren:

That's great. I get to keep us focused on the individual. And we'll talk about the organization because we're going to transform it into the organization. But I always believe you got to start with the leader. And we got a lot of leaders on the on the call today. Yeah. It's an interesting time, right? We've all gone through this whole COVID time.

Q&A from Audience:

When I think and I listened to a lot of leaders talking, it's almost a time of reflection now. And it's funny, because I think purpose is even more important than it was three years ago, even though it's always been important. But I think people are now starting to think about it more. Woody, you know, you've worked with many different leaders, how do you? Where would the starting point for an individual be to really start to think about what is my purpose? How, where am I being useful? How am I impacting human beings and relating to some of their strengths? Like, where do they start?

Unknown:

Start now, today. And what I mean by that is that you can get a lot of purpose anxiety as well. I talk to a lot of, there's a lot of executives, a lot of leaders I talked to, that are thinking about what's next for them. And what's going to happen when they retire. And there's this there can be a purpose anxiety that happens when we think about finding this one purpose. But there's a big difference between having purpose and being purposeful. And if purpose is our contribution, the reason for which we exist and our use and usefulness, then being purposeful is being contribution centered in our thinking, being in doing. And so today, right now, think about the next conversation you're going to have, and think about how am I going to use my strengths to positively impact the next person. It's just like, you know, when you wake up in the morning, right? A couple of years ago, I had a bad habit. Get up, look at this thing, my calendar, and I'd say, What do I have to do today? Right. That's how I think about if you're the voice in your head was a motivational speaker. Hey, Zack, what do you have to do today? How are you going to get through that meeting? Right. It's not very motivating. But one of the things, I realized that it's a pretty bad question to ask yourself. So a purposeful mindset is looking at your phone and being like, how is what I'm going to do today going to affect others? And it's that mindset, right? That purposeful mindset where you think about your contribution, and emphasize contribution, your cause versus your achievements and the things you do that you start to uncover your purpose, you know, as you live out your day, but it can start right now. So focus, is

Leon Goren:

it a statement? Do they do you have to formulate a statement for yourself that you can visualize is a different than a vision, in a sense for an individual or an essence?

Unknown:

Yeah. So that's a good question. statements are very helpful. But more helpful if you have a statement, but you don't believe and act in a way that aligns with your statement, then the statement doesn't matter. Right? I always say, practice your purpose before you proclaim Your purpose, as an individual and organization. So here's, here's what I mean by that. Like, for example, one thing that you could do if you're a leader, and really want to work on this, think about the things like everyday the things that you love to do. Think about the things that you're good at every day. Heck, you could write a list each night, you know, what did I love doing today? What was I good at today? And then the third thing is think about how those things that I love doing, how is what how is what I'm good at? How does that affect other human beings? What bothers me about the world, how do I contribute? And it's at the intersection of those three things, your passions, your talent, the impact you want to make, that your purpose will arise, you'll see trends. And then yes, I encourage you this Start to start then thinking about a statement because our environment informs our beliefs. So if you wake up every day, and you read a statement of your contribution, if you end your day and read the statement of your contribution, in 30 days, it's gonna be very difficult for your brain to not start getting into the habit of being contribution center. So, so there is there are ways to create a statement, and it's bringing to life those strengths. So your purpose is to what is a strength and action verb that brings to life who are the people you impact with those strengths? And what do you want people to think feel be do or have as a result of you being on your strengths. But first, and this is what's missed, is you have to learn to be purposeful. Because there's again, there's a results mindset and a purposeful mindset. Right? I get messages on LinkedIn all the time from people saying, Zack, I'm a results driven professional. And I'm like results of what even my kindergartner knows that you can't have an effect without a cause. You can't pursue an effect to get an effect, right? You can't pursue profit to get profit, this business example, every effect has a cause a contribution and purposeful people are contribution obsessed, and they trust that the effects and results will follow.

Leon Goren:

Okay, that's an interesting way to put it. Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Are there? Are there any examples? Like even for yourself? Do you have a statement? And the reason I'm asking statement, because when we go to the organization, I'm gonna ask you the same thing, like establishing something and I'm even trying to understand the difference between that vision and an organization and a purpose statement that people want? Are they the same? Like I sometimes I call it the essence of why we do what we do, right? But yeah, an example of a great one that you Yeah, the chat

Unknown:

might might blow up here, what I'm about to say this, a lot of people think that it doesn't matter the difference between purpose mission and vision, right, that you can use them interchangeably, I think it matters tremendously. And I have disagreements with clients about this. So your purpose is so mission, if you look at Mission, right, for example, the root word of mission means to call to send out, your sending people out, it goes back to the old Latin, you know, missionaries to send out q imagine being sent out with no reason to go out on a mission. Right? So your mission is is what you're going to do what you're going to do. So purpose is why it matters, why you exist. The reason for existence, the problem, you exist to solve the reason why you'd have a mission. So a mission without a purpose is just activity. Right? It's finite activity. Purpose is the reason for your existence, why you exist, the human problem you exist to solve if your organization wasn't around in five years, who would care? That's a great question to ask your board. And why is that embedded throughout? And then mission is how you go about delivering that purpose, what you do how you do it differently? And then your vision is, what do you what do you imagine the world being like, if you were done? What would the world be like socially, technologically, economically, environmentally, politically? If you fulfilled your purpose through your mission?

Q&A from Audience:

Okay, I think that actually makes a lot of sense. You really put it in the context, and you can actually understand it, because I find also that people get confused all the time. I love the way you define mission. Because if that makes sense. So jumping into organizations today, right? What comes first, so you're a leader, you've picked an organization, this is funny, because you're a hired gun a lot, we get a lot of hire guns, right? They get hired by these corporations, they get into the corporation.

Unknown:

I wonder how many of them truly reflect whether or not their own purpose aligns with what that organization's about? I hope they do in most cases, but I can tell you, it's probably 5050. What comes first, when you come into that organization? Or what's more important, the vision or the purpose? Or if you're working with a group? Where would you lead them first? Would you lead them to work on the vision and then come back to the purpose or the other way around? So I would go right down to the front line in the organization, the front line? I mean, if you're a distribution center, go to the distribution center packers and ask them why do you think we exist? And I start there, because it doesn't matter what flashy purpose statement or branding or slideshow you put together. If people at the front line in your stakeholder community don't believe it. It's not going to matter. So one The things I would do is I would assess initially do an assessment. Like if I were going in, nobody's done this work, I would ask people, one, why do you think this company exists? And I would synthesize that data to I would say, what are the values that guide your best work here? And I would synthesize that data and bring it up to the executive team. And I would sit down with a leadership team of key leaders, and then I would answer those questions as well. And I would, I would come together and find some of those trends. And this is called as an action research process. And this is why it's a little slower than a branding exercise. But but it's the slow work. That that permeates cultures when you get stakeholders engaged. And you know, there's gonna be a lot of things you don't want to hear. I had one leader say, Well, if I do this, what if they say the purpose of the company is different than what I want it to be? Well, then, what are you going to do just apply and force someone into believing something, values and purpose aren't prescribed, they're believed. So you have to start with that belief, and then use that data from within to craft. The purpose, I will also say this, don't get hung up and having a purpose. So this is gonna sound odd coming from someone who wrote a book about purpose. But don't get hung up on having a purpose. get hung up on making sure people, humans, individual humans in the organization can know and see exactly how they contribute. Because remember, the reason why purpose works in organizations, is it taps into the primitive desire to contribute and to be significant. And that's accessible, whether you have a purpose statement, or not. Every job, you know, I always tell my college seniors that I teach, they're graduating, I say, the one mistake I don't want you to make is think that any job exists to pay, you know, good hiring managers, like, hey, let's give someone some of our money, right? Every job exists to solve a human problem or fill a some sort of human need or desire. purposeful organizations make sure there's a clear line of sight between the individual the task and the ultimate contribution. So if you don't, if you're not creating a purpose statement, like start starting there, start with those things, and then build yourself up to where you're in a place to craft an authentic purpose statement using that that data but just like an individual, as an organization, you have to cultivate a mindset as well. I've seen so many purpose initiatives fail, because people say we have this new purpose statement. But we're still going to measure you by self serving Commission's. Yeah. It doesn't work. conflicts. Yep. Yep. And the role modeling, I mean, you got to live by it. Right? everyone follows a leader that strikes your organizational culture around that purpose as well. Right.

Q&A from Audience:

couple more questions around this stuff. You know, there's a lot of organizations out there today sit on boards do different things as well. And they think they have a purpose. But I'm not sure they actually do have a purpose. Yeah. Now understand that. Do you have examples of some great organizations? Because you're seeing a lot? Yeah, that you can share with us that it really it emotionally connects with not just the people outside their customers, but internally, like people just live, eat and breathe and drive that company?

Unknown:

Yeah, I'll give you a story of a journey. And it's a local one for me. And it's actually a tunnel carwash company. So a lot of people will be like, what, what's their purpose? And I remember sitting down with Justin, who's the general manager of this carwash service, and they're very big, especially here in the West. And I was talking about this system, you know, what's the human problem you exist to solve? And he said, Well, you know, I realized that a couple of years ago, but no one wakes up and wants to work at a carwash. So think about that for a minute. There's something there, right? Every carwash is saying we wash this amount of cars, we do this faster, we do this better. He's saying, you know, I realized that I'm hiring people with that just get their GDS, it's a next step to their future. And so he said he spent a year formulating this purpose that our purpose has to be to prepare people for their future. And what they started doing was they started asking people like why people got their cars washed. And there was profound like, stories, right? They were part of people's everyday routines, whether they're going to a graduation, going to a funeral selling a car. And so their purpose is to provide prepare people for the future and provide for the community now. Now, how are they doing this right? Every time a task is delegated, they tie the task to how what the worker will learn ties to their personal development plan for the future and where they want to go. They offer 401k options. There are Also, right now in the midst of pandemic working to build an affordable housing complex for their employees. Right now they have the average tunnel car washing system brings, you're going to learn about car washes right now brings about 300,000 cars a year, they wash over a million cars per year, they get almost 500 applications for every one position, people internationally want to come work for them. Right? Those are the results of purpose, but not the purpose. But his journey of really thinking what is the human problem we solve? That was even detached from their product product, which is hard for leaders, right? Yeah. created a unique culture. And that's why I say that, you know, anybody can copy what you do and how you do it. But they can't really copy authentically at your core, why you got started, and why you exist, and people have tried with them. So it's a it's a really interesting one, because a lot of people say like, I couldn't, you know, I couldn't imagine it, but but I think it's a really powerful story.

Q&A from Audience:

Yeah, no, it is. It's funny, I'm reading your book, and I read your bus driver story, too, right? Where you went in there. And I'm, I'm reading and I'm getting emotional, listening to how you took those stories and how it transformed that organization as well. And created meaning that mattered for each of those individuals.

Unknown:

Yeah, can I say one more thing? Yeah, absolutely. You have purpose. Your organization has purpose, you create value. Like everybody listening, if you exist, right now you create some value for human beings. The key is to make that very conscious, very aware, and embedded in at the forefront of how you approach the work and do the work. And that's the practice of purposeful leadership. Right, purposeful leadership ensures a clear line of sight between an individual task and the end outcome, the bigger contribution, the bigger significance. And yeah, those bus drivers, I went into work with a group of bus drivers and mechanics. And I remember the supervisors being like, Oh, this is going to be a tough crowd, they're not going to want this purpose stuff. And I said, you know, everybody searches for purpose, it's probably been locked away by self fulfilling prophecies, like, they're just here for a paycheck. Nobody's just here for a paycheck. That may be why someone works, but it's not what they want to experience in work. And so I went into this, and I had them write down. And this is something you could do this is really powerful practice. Actually, if you're listening, have people if you're still listening, people write. People write down, think of a moment in your work, where they most believed that their work mattered, what was happening, who was around what was said, and go to the people, you don't think we'll have a story. The people, I always get people there behind the scenes, they're in finance, you know, it's hard for them to see their purpose and have them write that. And I remember reading the stories that we had 75 bus drivers, they said they wouldn't want to talk about this, I got 75 stories. One of the first ones I read was by a bus driver, who said that a mechanic who said that they were at the funeral of a pre kindergarten student. And the kindergarten student who passed away his parents saw them with a badge, the school district badge, his mechanic shirt he was wearing, and said, I just want you to know that the bus ride to school was the highlight of my kids young life. And, and he said that that's why I come to work. I need this paycheck. That's why I work. But why I want to keep coming every day is because of that. And that's accessible in any organization and in any job.

Q&A from Audience:

Yeah, that really that's that was that really stuck with me. Right? Yeah, you really hit a core point of, and it's funny because I think about us as leaders today, we get so busy, so carried on in terms of what we're doing, and taking your story and just even being able to walk the front lines. Right. You said that was the The first thing you would do, doing that on a regular basis and asking the questions about people and their jobs making creating their importance that they actually mean something to not just the organizer, what they're doing is just so important. And we just we we don't do enough of that. Because we're overloaded. We think we're overloaded and it is such a key piece to keeping our organization moving forward.

Unknown:

Yes, feeling seen is a basic human need. If someone doesn't feel like they matter, it's extremely easy for nothing to matter. If you have a motivation issue in your organization, you probably have a mattering issue. Because you know, and what your point is, is noticing people, affirming them, showing them that they're needed. I mean, that's a basic need, but there's been recent studies that find that over 67% People in US companies, for example, indicate that they feel invisible, that one or more times in work. And it's simple things, right? This is not rocket science, you know, maybe I'm pricing myself out of a job, but this doesn't cost much money. It's really going back to the fundamentals of being human. Right, the fundamentals of leadership, and great leadership is tremendously boring. Right? great leadership is remembering someone's last name. Knowing who someone relies on who relies on them, knowing their kids names, knowing the new hobby, they started knowing whether their dad's in the hospital, noticing whether they're suffering and offering an action to help. If you look on LinkedIn, nobody posts I remembered someone's last name today. But it's actually those things, those little things that create legacy, not your big product launch. Right? It's remembering someone.

Q&A from Audience:

It's funny, you're gonna, I don't know if you read this article recently, but it was on Amazon and Amazon does some great things. But they talked about their people in the warehouses. Yeah. And the idea around, it's good, actually, they turn over every two to three years. And it increases productivity, because you know, you get tired in your job, and it's boring. So when you come in the first few weeks, yeah, it's a learning curve, then you can really productive after a few years, it probably does make sense to change it up. And it's totally counterintuitive to what we're talking about here.

Unknown:

Yeah, anytime you use a human being as a means to an end, they cease to be a human being to you. Yeah, they're a tool. And it's, let me let me so it's easy for me to say that, like the luxury of my job is I don't have to do any of your jobs. Right. So it's easy for me to study how people work, you're in it, right? And I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I get sometimes I get this, sometimes I find myself like, I need this person to do something for me. Right. But it's the awareness of that. And making sure we're not treating people as simply a means to an end. And I when I read that Amazon article, I said this could be a bet about 1000 companies. Oh, yeah. It's not it's just indicative of when we use human beings, as instruments for self serving material gain. There is no long term positive effect. When you play that out to its end on people, organizations of the planet. You know, Simon Sinek says that's the finite game. Yeah, a quarterly earnings report is finite. shareholder return is finite. It's just like, it's just like me, right? If I get that job, then I'll be happy. We sort of a lot of organizations operate like toddlers in the backseat of a road trip. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet, right? versus sitting down and really thinking about why we're going there, the process of going there. And so that's the value of shifting from a results mindset to a purposeful mindset is you have more long term, more long term thinking, which is so important.

Q&A from Audience:

So I'm gonna open up for questions. I know, people are putting questions in the chat. So I'll look at the chat. And I'll also look at the q&a. But as please go ahead and start putting your questions in there. Zack, in relation to where we are today, in the post COVID world, I know the US is ahead of Canada and stuff. The big issues on leaders minds today. And again, unfortunate, because they sit in all these different groups, these advisory boards, one, how am I getting everybody back to the office, you know, we're going to be working at home, can I continue to sort of build organizational culture when they're only in there two or three times a day to burn out. Even the leaders themselves are burnt out right now. And you and I talked about this quickly, too, like, I don't think things are gonna slow down, we're gonna go into a roaring economy. Now, if you were burnt out today, I can only imagine what's going to look like three or four months from now. And then the third, that's gonna lead to a lot of turnover, people looking for different jobs. And then the other element with this changing world, finding talent is going to become insane, in terms of great talent, with new capabilities to allow you to continue to grow. As I think about these things, I come back to purpose, right? What an advantage an organization has, if they're driving meaningful, things that matter. They're valuing their employees, they're recognizing their employees. If you haven't been doing that, or they're showing empathy during this time, if you haven't been doing this, you got some real problems potentially coming. And that comes back to your business trend, right? Where is purpose becoming a trend, and I'm like, it may be becoming a trend because this is what's going to happen and is currently happening. Any thoughts like you must be immersed in this stuff right now?

Unknown:

I am immersed in it. And I think that I mean, what would you do? What would you give up to feel significant? Every day? You know, like think about let's just think about that. Right? And a lot of people say it's a generational thing I've talked to rooms of every generation, I said, How many of you would prefer not to feel significant in work? No one raises their hand. Right? We got to get back to the basics right? One is, I think that what you're going to find emerging from this is there's, there's a few forces. In every major economic or social disruption in history, an existential crisis, mass existential crisis is followed. second industrial revolution, Emily Durkheim, the sociologist did a famous study on suicide. And what he found was that it wasn't the loss of work, a job income that caused mental distress, it was the loss of the ability to contribute to something beyond the self. In the Great Depression, it wasn't the loss of income was the loss of a sense of self sense of identity. In the Great Recession there, the four times higher were the visits to mental health facilities Stanford found after the Great Recession for people who kept their jobs. So now you have these forces of one you have job and health insecurity. So job plus health insecurity, you have rising social unrest and rising awareness of social and racial justice. You have people who are called essential by the government returning to work and asking is my organization treating me as essential? And you have people who are unemployed, or susceptible to feelings of worthlessness, uselessness, coming back into work? This is all coming together to create a meaning deficit. And where is that going to be filled? Well, it's going to be filled in the place where people spend over a third of their waking lives. And so I think one of the greatest responsibilities of leadership going forward is going to be to create mattering for people. I think it's a societal public health need. I mean, how we make meaning and work is inevitably how we make meaning in life, even if we don't want that to be true. You know, a lot of people say, Well, I just work for paycheck, I compartmentalize, psychologically, that never works for the long term. You can't compartmentalize 35% of your waking life, your seeking system, your toddler brain is still going. And I think organizations that can answer those big why questions can show people that they matter, notice, affirm, show people that they're needed, remind people that they have strengths, show them their significance, and create environments that are emotionally and physically safe. Those are the companies that are going to thrive. And if you're not doing those things, it's probably going to be in 20 years, just like in the 90s people were like, do I need a website? Yeah, you know, I think in 20 years, people are going to be like, oh, now people, like, do I really need a purpose is this purpose thing real? You know, I just need to, you know, make enough money to survive. I think that just like if you don't have a website now, you're irrelevant. I think that if you don't have that bigger purpose, invest in putting humans First you'll you'll be slightly irrelevant in 20 years. Yeah, I know. That's a big statement. But when you look at just social, mental public health, from a despair point of view, like you talked about burnout, Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist and concentration camp prisoner wrote Man's Search for Meaning he wrote, despair equals suffering minus meaning. And when we think about like burnout, for example, one of the biggest causes of burnout that a lot of people don't talk about is depersonalization. So it's inertia. We do the same thing every day. And we forget about why we're doing it. And so if someone asks you, Leon, why are you doing this today? That's just Zack said so. And that inertia, when we disconnect with the significance of our work, can really result in burnout. And so leaders can bring people significance of the work back into the work.

Q&A from Audience:

Yeah, you know, it's time and effort of a leader, right? And understanding the importance of it is to really slow it down in a sense, and ask, spend the time ask the people and explain to them how they're actually inputting, you know, impacting someone down the chain, not the organization, but someone who is either going to use that product concern, and possibly, or changing their lives. And and it's really just conversations right and understanding most employees, we don't think about that. And we're never asked to think about, we're just there to nine to five, a lot of them right, got to get through the work today. Right. And

Unknown:

I think the one thing that to keep in mind is it doesn't have to be again, it doesn't have to be huge. If you can just show people how they're significant. It's powerful. I was working with a big manufacturing company. And as you as you know, supply is a mess right now. And so they had them have a whole shift, cover another shift of 60 people, so they didn't have to work Saturdays, and there was a ton of grumbling like, gosh, you know, what, why do we have to do this? And I said, Well, how are you telling them to do this? Well, they say, Hey, we got to do this. We got to step up, all this stuff's going on. And I said, Well, what would those 60 people who wouldn't have to work Saturday to be able to do with their lives on that Saturday. And then they started talking to me with their kids do what they want to do. And I said, instead of telling people Oh, we have to go help this other building out this other plant out to make sure that, you know, just because we have to tell them, you know, imagine that you can help 60 human beings have a Saturday with their families. Yeah, just say that. Yeah. You'll be amazed at what showing people how they matter can do instantly just changing the way you talk. Yeah, that's huge. It's absolutely it's it's trying to provide me and again, the context is so important here, you hit it dead on. And I'm gonna go some leaders are meaning givers. I mean, and that's the thing. I think that leaders can be purveyors of meaning. I mean, you can shape the storyline, the through line, the why we're here. But it's a deliberate habit in practice.

Q&A from Audience:

Yeah. And it can be started at any time. That's the I think you opened with that, right? You can start now you can start doing these things. Now. It's not like, oh, where am I gonna start? I'm going to go to some questions here. Kyle, the tastic. I'm going to read the questions. What are some good questions to ask to figure out how our actions affect our team example? I don't know what my contribution has been, if I don't know how the people on my team receive what I offered. Hmm.

Unknown:

Yeah, so one of the things is some questions, but also a tool that I like to use it is a cycle and habit of purposeful affirmation, right? We have the capability for each other, of showing each other the evidence of our contribution, and Kyle's right, like we know, our meaning based on the evidence of our meaning from others. And that's all purpose is contribution. That's one of the only ways to get feedback. So one of the things that is really powerful is anytime you're saying thank you to someone, or anytime you're saying good job, don't just say Good job, make sure you're creating a culture where people show people the difference that they make, describe specifically the situation that whatever you're saying, Thank you for happened, describe this name, the strengths they used, and then show them exactly how those strengths made a difference telling the story of the impact on you, as well. So a couple of questions, you know, you could ask your team is like to help you feel like you matter. What might I need to start doing? And what might I need to stop doing? Like, that's a great question right there. Or when you leave conversations with me, What do you feel? What are you motivated to do? What are you thinking? Right? So it goes two ways, I think you have to create a culture where people are giving people the evidence of their significance. And then also ask some of those more targeted questions that get at your impact. Now, they,

Q&A from Audience:

you reminded me, we were doing 360s, with our leaders, and then we had some feedback systems afterwards. But the psychologist I was working with, the one thing that stuck with me is every interaction that you ever have with any individual, whether it be in the hall, in your office, on the front line, at the end of that conversation, and it's not just a conversate. Now, it could be through digital means to put yourself in that other person's shoes. Are you leaving them engaged, inspired? Are you leaving down and out? Like, how how's that person feeling now? And it's a starting step, baby step in terms of moving people and getting,

Unknown:

I love that. And one of the questions that I use is like, even if you say you have to deliver negative feedback, or have to send an email ask is the way I'm doing it going to extract from this person's energy, or regenerate this person's energy, right? Because oftentimes, we want people to change. We need people to change. But what we do is we give them feedback in a way that extracts the very energy they'll need to change, right? And we get ourselves into these downward spirals. But purpose is really helpful with that. So you could say, I have to lay someone off today. How would my purpose do that? How would my values do that? Yeah. And so it can be a really tremendous guide. When you know when you know why you are you'll know what to do. Yeah, sounds good. All right. I'm gonna go to another guy. I have one from Priyanka, I apologize. if I'm pronouncing names incorrectly. I'm actually Tara Zack. How do you think mn C's I hope you know what and C's are telling me? I don't know. Companies multinational and the actual company, okay can strike a balance between yielding material outcome revenue and creating a purposeful culture in the organization? everything you're saying is insightful. By the way. They're loving it. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, I don't think you can separate the two, you know. So we get into this material gain, and then we get and purposeful culture, every financial outcome is mediated through human being. So what is the quality of the medium? The human being right? Like, think about it. And so we get into this that we get in the short game, right? Where we think about that the outcome, its material gain, or its purpose, its profit or its purpose. No, it's profit because of purpose. So you can deliver more of your purpose. And so think about that, like what to get the result you want? What would be the optimal health of an individual in your organization, individual human being? And how will you support that? How, for example, it's the difference between lagging indicator and a leading indicator? You know, Peter Drucker once said that profit is not the purpose of a business, it's the test of that business's purposes validity in the world. Right. So the purpose that the outcomes are lagging indicators of the leading indicators, which are people and human beings. So it's more a matter of emphasis. And I do think you can do both. I think that you can. And quite frankly, I mean, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something maybe controversial, but if you're such a great business leader, you should be able to figure out how to turn a profit, and how to care for people. You know, absolutely. Your business model. Makes sense, right? Yeah, we should be able to figure that out. And we should, we should have a redefinition of what a good business leader is. And I think that definition has to be first and foremost that you are responsible for where 1000s of human beings spend a third of their waking lives. If you want to find a cause or a purpose. Look inside first, because the most impactful thing a company can do for the world, is to make sure that where people spend a third of their lives is dignifying meaningful and creates mattering. That's the ultimate sacrifice. Now, I know you're saying on the multinational corpse. It's interesting, because

Q&A from Audience:

Canada, for example, has a lot of subsidiaries, right. So your head office could be in France, in the United States. And often, especially during times that are difficult. The leader in Canada, for example, will get the call and just say, listen, kind of lay off 5% of your stuff, your profits, not there, right. And so that leader, sometimes even though their culture, it's almost like they're running to culture, sometimes you have a culture, which is not a great multinational Corp. But you have different cultures in different countries. And that leader faces a lot of pressure, they actually have to, they can lead by purpose, they can have a sub culture almost, that they're protecting their people. But when you're dealing with head office, the pressure Let's head offices have the same context and the same belief. It is often putting these leaders in really tough situations, and I see it all the time with multinational leaders. And on running the subsidiaries.

Unknown:

Yeah. And if you if you're in that situation, a one is, I think, focusing on what you can control, right, really important. If you're one of those leaders. A lot of people say to me, Zack, what what do I do if my leader doesn't believe in this stuff? Well, you know, no one can tell you not to create psychological safety matter and connect with people shows show people they're needed, right? No one can take that away from you. So focus on that, but my hope is, is that it does have to permeate and start, at some point with beliefs from the top right behaviors from the top. And it's just simply, and I have a lot of empathy for a lot of leaders and executives who you are responsible for people's livelihoods. I mean, you get up every day, and you have to think about that quarterly earnings report, right? And what that's going to look like, and I have a lot of empathy for that. I don't have to do it in my job. So I have a lot of empathy for people who get up every day and have to think about that the weight of that. And I think the key is, is is if you're in an organization, having some empathy, upwards in the organization and starting to open up where you can some of these conversations of, well, how can we do both? What are the leading indicators from a people perspective to getting those numbers that you need to hit? Really quickly, just a really quick example of how, how quick a shift can be I this VP of sales, who said to me, Zack, I like your Work on purpose, you know, nice little talk on purpose, I think she said, but when people don't hit their numbers, I need them to hit their numbers, or they're not gonna have jobs. And I go, Well, how do you what do you do when they don't hit their numbers? And she said, Well, I usually get them together. Oh, my Google speaker. She said, thanks, Google. So she said that, my I get my leaders together, and I say, Hey, we need to get the numbers up. How does that go? Well, people it's a 15 minute meeting. I said, What if you just got them together? And said, How can we contribute more to our customers to get the numbers up? The room opens up, right? And that's an example of how you can be purposeful in pressure. It's great.

Q&A from Audience:

I'm gonna go to Maria, I'm finding these in the chat these questions to concept of languishing is emerging during this phase of COVID. How does a leader stay passionate about their purpose and motivate others to stay passionate about their purpose? She picks it up start with themselves. Right? And and it's tough. How do you stay passionate about your purpose every day? What do you do to reinforce that for yourself?

Unknown:

Yeah, I remember when I was writing my book, I asked someone how to write a book. And he said, write the book. He said, he said, he said writers write, purposeful people think about their contribution. And sometimes you have to force the action. Right? So like, at the beginning of my day, I do look at my calendar. And I do ask myself that question, I just write it down, you know, how is what I'm going to do today going to impact other people? At the end of the day, what are the questions you ask yourself? It starts with the internal narrative. And this is when things are good. And when things are bad. Elvis Presley once said, when things go wrong, don't go with them. Right? So you have to you have to take account to this question. Are you reacting on instinct? Or are you responding on purpose, and what I mean by that is that oftentimes when something happens, we feel fear, anger, frustration, all emotions that actually narrow our attention on ourselves and on survival. Whereas when you think about how would someone with my purpose respond here, it helps create a little space between stimulus and response. And this is why all of those things like emotional intelligence, awareness, all of these leadership ideas come together, and are critical foundations of being purposeful. But you got to force yourself into a habit, like, how do you write when you don't want to write, you sit down and write. You know, you set a timer and you write, it's just like anything else. So I encourage people to develop some habits. Also team habit, like you asked in one of your bullet points you had asked like, how do you maintain a culture in a time where people may be working remotely, make sure that you have dedicated space for ways of being as much as you do for ways of doing and what I mean by that is, we're really good at doing things with one another on teams. And we jump into a zoom meeting, here's the agenda. But make sure you create space where people can talk about how we're being with one another. How we're communicating with one another, what we need from each other. And that can really help as well. So you can create team habits where you're collecting and telling stories of the works impact, you're giving nudges to Oh, yeah, this is why we're doing this. And a leader has a lot of power in creating those habits at the organizational level as well. Oh, that's great. Those are great tips, and really important today in that environment. Because again, the zoom, everyone talks about the efficiency of this thing, right? Let's get on gotta Right, right, right. And we're forgetting that whole element of sort of connecting. And they're like, update festivals. Oh, yeah, they're not date update, update, update, update, then getting something of some importance. Now we don't have time. But just carving out like five minutes to ask you. Does anybody have a story of when they experience the work? We do mattering in the last week? Just one one and a half minute conversation can reorient the whole meeting? Absolutely. So I'm gonna go last question here. And I think it's really curious to know the purpose behind the title of Zach's book, The Invisible leader. Yeah, there's amazing woman 1928 Mary Parker, filat. She's an activist and also a management scholar as a woman in 1928, which is amazing. If you have a chance to read any of her writings, she's sort of like this oracle of management thinking that no one knows about and she said that both leaders and followers are following the invisible leader, the common purpose. And I really believe that great leaders get out of the way. And they let the purpose become the ultimate leader of the organization. And in our lives, what if what if the purpose was your boss? What if your purpose was your boss? What would you do? What kind of actions would you take and I will If you if you like plays or you like books, a good book or a good play, they all have a through line. Right? It's the it's the essence of what the story is about. And it's invisible. Nobody says this is the through line that's keeping the plot together. No, but just all of the actors know how to act. They know what demeanor to make sure they're, they're aligned with the through line, the books, the structure is aligned with the through line. That's the invisible leader. It's your through line. So what's your through line? What's your storyline of your work and of your life, and when we don't have a storyline, we get a lot of wasted energy. But when we do have that through line, we get a lot of harmonized energy. And that's the power of that the invisible leader that that bigger purpose.

Q&A from Audience:

I think that's a great way to finish off our call today. Zack, thank you so much for joining us. Well, here it's this morning. It's still the morning and colleagues it is yes. And really sharing your insights. Fantastic. I urge you all to pick up the book. I know it was written 2017. But it is a fantastic book. It's absolutely relevant to where you are today as you think through stuff personally and think of stuff within your organization as well. Must and then Zack, you're doing lots of writing as well these days. So easy. Just Google on Google Zack, and you'll find a little bit of what he's writing on his purpose stuff. So on behalf of all of us, thank you so much for joining us for a great session today. If you're interested in our way for live webcast, please visit us appeal leadership.com you'll find a number of recorded past webcasts I've included Kim Scott and traer Brian Erica Dhawan Morgan housel, Joe Jackman, Harry Kramer, the list goes on. We are going to take the month of July off. Whoo. We're all feeling a little it's been a incredible 15 months doing this. And we'll be back in August with Drew traven. Where, where we'll try and bring some humor into the workplace. And Andrew just background. He's an engineer.

Unknown:

So you go engineering healer workplace, that should be interesting. So really looking forward to that conversation. Until we meet again, I'd like to wish you all a fantastic day and a great first half of the summer. I don't want to rush it. We'll see you all in August. Take care everyone. Thank you Zack. Thanks, everybody. Thanks Leon.

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