It doesn’t matter what kind of organization you put a conscious leader in. It’s guaranteed to succeed. But what exactly is conscious leadership and what does it entail? Award-winning thought leader, author, and seasoned entrepreneur Jeffrey Deckman talks about this in his book, Developing the Conscious Leadership Mindset for the 21st Century. In this episode, he joins Adam Markel in a conversation about driving performance in organizations, the importance of personal and organizational resilience, embodying the conscious leadership mindset, and creating tapping into the collective genius of your team. Jeffrey teaches us how leading with AIR – authority, integrity and respect – is the key to unlocking top team performance. He also shares his thoughts on the recent trend of “quietly quitting” and how leaders can better support their younger employees who have a different mindset around work and performance. Join in for some valuable insight that will help us make the modern workplace better for everyone!
- 02:30 The dinosaur mentality and managing your decline
- 11:45 Organizations as tribes, not machines
- 23:29 What drives performance behind the org chart
- 26:12 Sustainability vs. resilience vs. stubbornness
- 31:05 The conscious leadership mindset
- 35:10 Maximizing human capital by tapping into the collective genius of teams
- 38:00 Thoughts on quiet quitting and leading with AIR
- 45:52 Take it from the source
- 50:52 You plus multiple brains are a lot smarter than just you
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How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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The Conscious Leadership Mindset And Empowering Genius Teams With Jeffrey Deckman
You’re in for a treat on the show. I’ve got a gentleman by the name of Jeffrey Deckman. I’m going to read a little bit of his bio here and we’re going to get right into the conversation. You’re going to love this conversation. Jeffrey Deckman is a national and international award-winning author and innovator on next evolution conscious leadership mindsets, models and methods.
He is a leadership and organizational development consultant specializing in helping small and medium-sized businesses to maximize their profits by maximizing their human capital. He is a serial entrepreneur who has built two multimillion-dollar businesses so he understands the complexities and the challenges of building a business from firsthand experience. You’re going to love this conversation. Sit back and enjoy.
You’ve probably heard yourself get introduced multiple times. I always find it a little interesting and a little uncomfortable. I don’t know exactly why that is. I still have the stuff to work at around my self-worth. It is a fun thing to hear it. I want to know what’s not written in that introduction. What’s not a part of the introduction that you would love for people to know about you? Pick one thing.
Like you, I sit and listen to this stuff and cringe a little bit. That’s better than wallowing in it. What’s not in that is how challenging all of that was and how I never thought when I was a younger person that any of that stuff could happen. My self-doubt is fuel for me. It’s a painful fuel and I’m learning how to rid myself of it because it’s not needed. Self-belief is a much better propellant. You listen to that stuff and go, “That guy must have his act together,” when you don’t realize a lot of the stuff that I was doing, I didn’t know how it was going to turn out or if it was a complete waste of time. If you keep at it and keep working hard, good things happen.
I didn’t intend at all to ask this question but it’s coming up as I’m listening to you say about how self-doubt has been a propellant at times, yet at the same time, self-belief can be a stronger self is propelling. I want to come back to that. For the moment, do you think that there’s something that doesn’t make sense in the fact that people when they get older take fewer risks? Part of what we know as we’ve gotten older is that the reason we’ve been successful to the degree that we have was the result of a lot of mistakes, having to pivot and being resilient.
It was in making those mistakes, moving from the position and having taken a risk that didn’t work out at the moment that we evolved into the successes that we’ve had along the way. As we get older, we go, “Do I want to? Should I? Would that make sense? What if that goes wrong?” Do you think that makes sense?
It does. It opens up the whole line of thinking with that. In 2016, I had stage four cancer. It was an amazing gift for me. We could do a whole other show on that. One of the things that I got was that I have a runway. This party’s going to end at some point. I started a big leadership certification training program. One of the reasons is that I have hesitated to take some risks. I’ve ended up taking them.
There were two things that were impacting my thinking. One is what I’ll call the fatigue factor where I don’t have the same energy or drive. I don’t want to be doing 70-hour weeks. I want to dial that back. The other thing is the fact that I have a shorter runway. If I go in a direction and make a big mistake, I don’t have the same amount of recovery time.
That shortened runway, on one hand, is like, “If I mess this up, I don’t have another 10 to 15 years to recover.” On the other hand, what I do with that is I go, “I better get cracking on this stuff because I only have a certain amount of time.” All this stuff either works for you or against you. It’s either a foot on the break or an accelerant depending upon your mindset. Much of the work that I do is all based on mindset.
I was thinking that a lot of people who read this show and a lot of the people that I frankly speak to are leading other people. Sometimes, it is small organizations and startup-type groups. Often, it’s very experienced larger organizations with scores of managers and senior-level leaders. I’m asking the question because, in regard to an organization, anything in the universe that stops evolving ultimately stops existing. It’s sometimes called entropy. It’s a part of the natural process. Things die and things are born. That’s the way it goes. We all have a runway, even an oak tree or the longest living trees or mammals. Everything has its runway.
When it comes to an organization that has a window of time, as we all do, to succeed and deliver shareholder value or value to customers and clients, if they stop evolving, they will soon start to deteriorate and disintegrate. How important is it that the mindset of those managers, especially as they become more seasoned and experienced and have been around the block begin to stop taking risks?
They potentially have a mindset where it’s that same thing. They’re like, “If I messed up at this level, I may not have the time to recover. If I screw up and have to leave this company, it goes horribly wrong. My seniors don’t believe in my abilities anymore. I’ve got to move, pivot and find a new home.” I’m at a place where I don’t want to go through all that. That level of playing it safe or playing the status quo card that exists in the organizations that you’ve worked with, do you see that?
Yes. At that point, they cease being leaders and become managers. What they’re managing is their eventual decline. The world is changing so rapidly that trying to the plateau is not possible because you are not plateauing. You may not be evolving yourself but you’re certainly not standing still. You are de-evolving. In this world, if you’re not constantly evolving, you’re de-evolving.The world is changing so rapidly that trying to plateau is not possible. If you're not constantly evolving, you're devolving. Click To Tweet
We have a mechanized viewpoint of organizations. It’s a Newtonian view. We see them as machines, linear, siloed, hierarchical and standard structures. It’s the worst possible model we could come up with because organizations are not machines. Organizations are organisms. They’re living, breathing, adaptive and learning entities because they’re made up of living, breathing and adaptive entities called human beings.
My whole body of work over the years has been to help develop mindsets, models and methods that allow people to go from the Newtonian industrial age to mechanized models that work wonderfully well in the industrial age and the twentieth century. You can’t argue with that level of success. We’re not in the industrial age anymore. We’re in a network information age.
You’ve got at least two different massive societal cultural changes that are colliding with one another that’s changing everything. One is we’ve got the five most independent-minded generations in the history of humanity in the workforce. They’re smart, mobile and impatient. They want to have a say in what happens. Boomers my age, we want that because we’ve been around a long time. We’ve got something to offer. The younger generations want that because they’ve been raised with that. They can’t even imagine not having input. That is a shift in the level of consciousness of the worker. It’s not a put-my-head down and obedient energy field that I’m dealing with. I’m dealing with a much more vibrant energy field as a leader.
The other thing is the advent of technology, specifically the internet and high-speed communications have eliminated time, space and geography from our daily reality. It’s changed so drastically that if you are not adapting your mindsets, models and methods in your head and organization, you’re managing your decline.
It’s like any other thing on the downside of a sigmoid curve. It starts to go slowly downward. That’s your clue to do something different. It then drops like a rock. Organizations that are not embracing this mindset and not developing the new models and methods to help them exist in this new world are going to suffer and so will the people in them. When the dinosaurs died out, the mammals came in. They did terrifically because they were smarter, faster and more adaptive. That’s where we are. What are the dinosaur organizations and individuals? What is the next evolution? It’s going to be sorted out.
You may also believe or feel this way as well. I get to be on the frontline. I’ve run organizations for many years, which were law firms and other startup firms that I was associated with. In that role of being either a high-level leader or CEO, I was so in the weeds of it. I was nose-pressed up against the glass. I had a hard time getting a lot of perspectives. I thought I did get up to 30,000 feet and look at things but not so much, in all honesty.
I’m a consultant in some organizational development work, similar to you in that regard. I also do a lot of keynotes speaking. I’m a resilience keynote speaker, a mental health keynote speaker and a work-life balance keynote speaker. I get to be called into organizations to not just deliver a keynote, which is usually where things start. We spend 1 hour or 90 minutes with our folks.
Since our work is fundamentally about resilience and we have a proprietary assessment tool that people tend to get a lot out of, we get invited for this continuity training. It is the follow-up where we get to see what their progress is after they start to make small changes. We’re right on the front lines. I get to hear about things that I feel honored about. I honestly feel it’s an honor that people are as transparent as they are.
We were talking to a major accounting firm. He’s saying to me, “I’ve tried so much.” He didn’t use the word frustrated. He was in disbelief that through the pandemic and after the pandemic, he’s done everything he could think of and so much more to get people back into the office and have them want to come back. He’s got this brand new office building. He spent tons of money. It’s gorgeous and he’s got 30% of his people in the office.
He called himself a dinosaur. I said to him, “With all due respect, dinosaurs aren’t dinosaurs if they know they’re dinosaurs. For you to call yourself a dinosaur means you have a level of self-awareness that a dinosaur does not have. I’m pushing back for a second because you are not a dinosaur.” My heart went out to this guy because I know what it’s like to be in that position where you think you’re trying everything. If it’s not the Great Resignation, it’s this thing they call quietly quitting.
They call it presenteeism. It’s like, “I’m present but I’m not there.”
I’m throwing you right on the spot because you consult in this way. This is a guy who is coming from this place where he feels like he’s incentivized his people to be there. He’s feeling disbelief, not frustration, that more people haven’t decided to return to the office. This is not an easy question in this context but what do you think? What would you say to him?
What I would say to him is, “First of all, thank you for caring. To your point, the fact that you are acknowledging that you think you have dinosaur tendencies means that you don’t have as many as you think you do.” I would suggest that the reason people haven’t responded is that he didn’t go to them and ask them what they wanted with the best intention.
Certainly, in my generation, everybody has been taught the top-down, command and control leadership method that management has to come up with creative ideas and solve the big problems. It’s not so much from an ego standpoint. It’s from a sense of obligation and responsibility. I tell senior leaders that I deal with, “That’s unfair to put yourself in that spot when there’s so much more help around you.”
There is another way to do it. There’s a collective genius around everybody. I call it the bigger know. I know what I know. They know what they know. Together, we have a bigger know. All the work that I do is looking to tap into that collective genius. If you get their collective genius, you get their collective energy. One of the things that I preach is if you’re going to change someone’s job, location and responsibilities, bring them into the design process before you do it. Get their input. You’re going to find out what’ll work and what won’t work. If you have good intentions and you’re not a dictator and most people aren’t, you’re not going to have a problem opening that up to them. They will tell you what will attract them to come back in. It saves time and aggravation on both sides of the equation.
Another thing that I help potential dinosaurs is that I say, “Here’s how you protect yourself from dinosaurism. You meet with those younger people.” In my 60s, I’m talking to the 40-year-olds and 30-year-olds. What they need from me is my elder wisdom. I’ve been around the block. I’m steady. You can’t shake and scare me. I’ve seen it all. I’m tough enough. However, what I need from you is your mastery of technology, fresh legs and innovative ideas outside of the model that I was raised in that’s no longer working.
Organizations aren’t departments. Every organization is a tribe of tribes. Engage them as tribes. Engage them in conversation by directional conversation. Don’t always lead from the front. The three things the modern leader has to master is not to be command and control where they’re like, “We’re going to take that hill.” Some of that’s good but your role is to be a master communicator, collaborator and facilitator. You need to be in service of that collective genius or bigger know. You need to resource it, activate it, help steer it and guide it.Don’t always lead from the front. Your role is to be a master communicator, collaborator, and facilitator. You need to be in service of your team’s collective genius. Click To Tweet
The last company I had, I sold it 1 week before its 21st birthday many years ago. It was a data networking firm. We were going to build large networks. I designed computer networks for twenty years. When you look at the network manager of a computer network, that management software is not in there driving all the actions. It’s monitoring the conditions. “Do we have a breakdown? Is it going right? Do people have the software that they need?” It’s a facilitator and that’s what you do in a network. That’s how you empower and get a network to be this thing that takes energy and exponentially increases its effectiveness and power. It is by being that.
What we have to do is to start shifting from the Newtonian mechanized method to more organic organizations or organisms. We also, at the same time, have to stop thinking silos and think networks. There is a reason why you take one computer and put it into a network exponentially faster, more powerful and more effective. The way that network is designed to operate, there are four basic principles to it. When you take those same four basic principles and apply them to building a team, which is a knowledge network or a human network, you plug one individual into that team and they become exponentially more effective as well. It’s the same four pieces.
When I stumbled on that a couple of years ago, I fell off my chair because I went, “A network is a network, whether the processors are computers or whether they’re human beings.” A computer network needs processors. We need people. It needs software applications. They need training, education and experience. It’s applicable to the tasks they’re going to do. They need high-speed communication networks, strong relationships and trust.
A computer network needs bandwidth to handle the amount of work that’s going through it. These people need time, resources and support. It is those four things. You assemble a team looking at, “Do I have enough processors? Do I have the right software and applications in it? Do they have the training? Do I have the right type of high-speed communication network? Do these people get along? Do they like one another?” If not, maybe I go into a little bit of management of that but at least I know I have to manage that.
One of the things that a lot of executives don’t think about, “Is the people that are working for me probably are already doing 45 to 50 hours worth of work a week anyway. When I add something to them, the biggest question I have to ask myself is, “What am I going to take off of them and how?” If those people don’t have the bandwidth to do their job, the job’s not going to get done. If you don’t get those four things right as a network designer, that network’s going to become a not work. When that not work doesn’t work, you’re going to go in and lean on them. They’re going to get upset because they’re going to look at you and say, “You didn’t design and resource us right.”
That’s one of the reasons why there is a conflict between the frontline and the front office. Gallup has been doing studies on employee engagement for decades. Consistently, only 3 out of 10 employees are engaged. When Gallup asks people, “How many would like to be engaged?” Seventy percent of the workforce say they want to be engaged. When I talk to management, I say, “How many of you would like your people to be fully engaged?” All the hands go up. I’m like, “Put your hands down.” I ask the workforce, “How many people want to be more engaged and participate?” All the hands go up. I’m like, “Put your hands down.” The question then becomes, “What’s the issue?”
If there is a baseball manager that could get three of his players out on the field, he’d lose every game, get fired and never be hired again. In our world, 30% is considered acceptable. If it’s not a people problem, what is it? The problem is our model. We’re not machines, organizations or organisms. Instead of managing by org chart, you manage by the network and things are going to change.
I’m in the process of writing a book about what’s drives performance behind the org chart. My research has shown that there are three things behind the org chart that are 100% responsible for the performance, therefore, profits. They are tribal dynamics, knowledge networks and culture. Culture is the level of consciousness of the organization.
I do a ton of work around helping people see what those three pieces are. If you go in, manage the tribal dynamics, assemble your teams as knowledge networks, pay attention to the level of consciousness of the people and how they interact and get that right, your financial capital is going to go off the scale. If you get the human capital right, financial capital is going to work itself out because financial capital is a lagging indicator of human capital.
We can’t keep treating our organizations like machines. We can’t keep treating our people like cogs or tools to make the machine work or we’re going to keep getting the 30%. You shift that around and treat them as a tribe of tribes and as human beings. They want to be engaged. Stephen Covey once famously said about trying to be understood, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” I have a version of that when it comes to employee engagement. “Seek first to engage, then be engaged.” Flip it. You got to flip the paradigm because the old paradigms will get you killed in the new world.
The people I work with are like, “We want to change but we don’t know what the new model is.” How could they? It’s taken me fifteen years of a ridiculous amount of time, work, research and working it out with my clients so I know this stuff works. The thing I tell people I work with is, “The more you learn about this stuff I’m talking about, the more intuitive you will become and the more you will realize how much you already know about.” It’s just a paradigm shift. It’s cool because it worked.
We were talking about the importance of resilience and how every one of these stories of success or even the things that don’t feel like success are still stories of resilience in so many respects. I want to get a sense of how you feel about that word. Having written a book called Change Proof, that’s all about how you leverage uncertainty as a super powerful resilience.
When I work with organizations, it’s usually on that culture side because we have to operationalize resilience. To do that, it has to be baked into the value and be a part of the standard operating procedures. They have to model and reflect that there has to be modeling and permission given for people to see that this is not the check mark or the idea du jour. It’s real. There has to be a partnership. There has to be support that’s baked in so that people can work in a new arena.
The resilience arena is new for a lot of people. At least according to our research, the paradigm has changed but a lot of people don’t realize that that’s the case. Even if they do realize that the paradigm has shifted, they don’t know what the new one is. Until they know what the new one is, they still lean back on the old one, the outdated one or the one that doesn’t work. That outdated model is one where we see resilience as our capacity to go forward no matter what, tenaciously or persistently.
I’m a very tenacious and persistent person. It has a level of importance in my life. Yet, I know that if all I ever do is tirelessly try to applaud forward the grit mentality, I will become exhausted. The older I get, the more I realize that that’s true. It’s also true for 30-year-olds that we are burning people out. It was the 55-year-old waiting on retirement in school who was reading the paper in history class. It’s the teacher that was no longer engaged or present. 28 and 29-year-olds are at the point of burnout, not 55-year-olds or exclusively so. I want to get a sense of how important resilience is to you in your experience in working with leaders and teams. I also want to get a sense of how important it is to you personally.
Resilience is essential. It’s the lifeblood of everything that we do if we’re looking to move forward and not die in the bind. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, sustainability was the ultimate goal. A friend of mine I talked to you about, Larry Quick, is the guy that does genius-level stuff around resilience. He helped me to understand the difference between sustainability, resiliency and the superiority of resiliency.
He said that sustainability is about getting hit and getting back up. Resiliency is getting hit and getting back up stronger, smarter and more agile. There’s a big difference between resiliency and stubbornness. Both of them require a level of perseverance. Stubbornness is a one-trick pony. I’ve accomplished a lot of things because I’m boneheaded and stubborn but as I’ve gotten a little bit older, a little lazier and a little smarter, I was like, “There are other ways to do this.” It’s about being agile.Sustainability is about getting hit and getting back up. Resilience is getting hit and getting back up stronger, smarter, and more agile. Click To Tweet
When a door is closed, you don’t have to smash through it. Maybe you can go around it. Maybe it’s the wrong door. Maybe you hit a trampoline and go over it. You’re being agile with your thinking. That is how you tap into the creative genius of yourself as an individual and the collective genius of all the other selves that are associated with you. Being open and looking for the best idea wins. Get the ego out of the picture. As a leader, if you’re not trying to lead the people to the best thinking, processes and environment possible, you’re not leading.
My book is called Developing the Conscious Leadership Mindset for the 21st Century. It’s all about that. It’s all about the first step on a path of leadership is an inward one and so are all the rest. If I can’t lead and manage myself, I’ve got no right coming out and telling you what you should be doing. Leadership is a state of consciousness. People will follow your directions if you have authority over them. I want to function with a level of consciousness where people look and they see that I’m authentic, I have integrity and I respect them, myself and the organization. They look and will respect my consciousness enough to follow my direction.
If I have people working for me who follow my directions, the minute I stop giving them directions, they’re probably going to stop. What is that direction? That is authenticity, integrity, respect and performance. It’s like, “Let’s create a Navy SEAL team here. Let’s not be the regular Navy. The regular Navy is awesome but let’s go out and kick some ass. Let’s have some fun and develop this team.” All we have to do is tap into that collective genius that we all have and make it part of it. It gets to the point where people love the idea so much. You have to flatten your network out a bit.
I’ve been humbled by a dock worker one time. At first, it didn’t feel good but after that, I was glad that I was. Smart is smart. Degrees don’t make you smart. They don’t make you wise. People are brilliant. I was raised poor. I’ve got a whole section of my family that shares the tooth at Thanksgiving. It’s a rough crowd but these people know how to fix things because they’ve never had resources so they’re incredibly resourceful and smart.
I’ve also been around people at the genius level. Everybody has a genius level somewhere. It’s my job as a leader to maximize where their capabilities are and put them in a position where their talents can make them feel good and they can grow and help the organization. If you’re not leading with that level of consciousness, you’re not leading.
I appreciate so many of the things you shared with us. It’s a knowledge network. You’re creating a knowledge network or a genius network, if you will. One of the most important things that leaders can do is communication, collaboration and facilitation. Often, we think things are thought of in silos. That’s not the way nature works. Everything is integrated. It’s always the case that what’s under the ground reveals what’s above the ground at some point. The things that we can’t see are often very powerful in nature. You’re using the word consciousness in that respect. That consciousness is the process. It’s the context, not necessarily the content. We can be almost agnostic as to the content.
The way you’re describing a conscious leader and I very much lean into that very same worldview is that you could take any conscious leader and drop them in any organization. It doesn’t matter which it is or what service you’re providing. Ultimately, understanding how you develop people through context as opposed to through content is pretty magical.
I am proof that what you said is true. My first company was a cable television, construction and engineering firm. I made it for seven years and it crashed. The next company I started is cable television but it was in ‘87. I jumped in and saw the birth of the telecommunications industry, voice, data and video. I was right in the front lines of that. That was what my professional experience is.
I can take these processes and this level of consciousness. I’ve worked with top-level defense contractors. I’ve worked in accounting firms, nonprofits, logistics and healthcare. I’ve worked everywhere. People say, “What business do you work in?” I say, “Any business that has people in it.” You need to know what your discipline is and what you’re doing for a living. I depend upon you to be good at that and I’m assuming you are because you’re in business.
You bring that piece. What I’m going to bring in is how to help you maximize that human capital you’ve got around you. Every organization is a living, breathing and talking library. You can go in and that library will tell you every problem you have, the source of it and probably how to fix it. It’s brilliant. Not anyone in there has all those answers but collectively, you bet they do. The ones that don’t, who cares?Every organization is a living, breathing, talking library. You can go in and that library will tell you every problem, the source of it, and probably how to fix it. Not anyone in there has all those answers. But collectively, you bet they do. Click To Tweet
You’re going to have enough to work on with the things that they have that are going to increase your bottom line, your morale and the functionality of your organization. It becomes fun. You get to this point of, “We’re activated here. We’re energized.” When you change your level of consciousness, you change the energy field in which you operate, whether it is higher or lower. When you feel joy, you’re energized.
I’m going to put you in the fryer again. It’s so topical at the moment or more than topical. It’s a real thing. It is this concept of quietly quitting. People are maybe not resigning as quickly as they were when inflation wasn’t quite as noticeable or when some other situations, I suppose, were different. There was a backstop from the government if they decided to leave their job. With this, maybe not so much. What do you think is this quietly quitting thing? What’s this all about? Your wisdom on that subject would be wonderful.
It is a combination of several factors that are all coming together that are real, legitimate and incredibly important. As leaders, we start getting our heads around it. The first thing is we need to accept the fact that this new generation that’s coming in is wired differently when it comes to how they see their work-life balance.
I was climbing telephone poles and towers when I was 17 and 18 years old. I’m a hard-working guy. There were no snowflakes on me, except if I’m in a blizzard. The stuff that I do has no kumbaya in it. It’s all designed to work. You’ve got this younger group that’s in here and they’re not pushed out of the nest as quickly. With these people that are sitting there, some people call it presenteeism. When they’re disengaged, they’re sad. They wish they weren’t. They’re bored. They don’t know what to do.
I look at management and say, “You have an upset going on because you need more performance. Take a look and seek first to understand, then to be understood. Take a look and find out what it is that’s upsetting these people.” It can be frustrating to be sitting there listening to this stuff because you don’t relate to it. You want to yell at them to suck it up.
True leaders are like, “I need you to understand that I’m at least respecting you enough where I want to hear what you have to say. In that, I’m going to ask for you to hear what it is that I have to say.” I’m then going to say, “Can we align upon the fact that neither of us is happy? I’m not. You are not. We’ve aligned on something where we’re both in the same unhappy bucket. How do we get out of this? You tell me some things, I’ll tell you some things and let’s see how far we can move the needle.”
You’re not going to move the needle all the way over to Happyville but the most important thing that is going to happen with that is you’re going to improve the level of trust and the human relatedness to one another. I’m constantly telling people, “See the human in the human.” Everybody’s challenged. There is nobody that has a free ride. Everybody’s got stuff going on in their lives. If it’s not financially, it could be health, family or dysfunction. Who knows?
Let’s take this opportunity to create a work environment where it’s maybe a little bit of a sanctuary. We’re going to have our ups and downs. I call it leading with air. This is a place where you come in here and it’s a place of authenticity, integrity and respect. Respect has three parts to it. Authenticity is me being me and accepting who I am. There’s a great quote from Rumi that says, “I am what I am because this one is like that.” That’s self-acceptance. You are that with as much grace as you can muster. Don’t be a jerk and go, “This is how I roll.” Be authentic.Lead with AIR - Authenticity, Integrity, and Respect. Click To Tweet
Integrity is about being authentic in the world, having good character and being honest. Respect is about me respecting me and my boundaries, you and your boundaries and whomever it is who’s paying us. If we work within that realm, we’re going to move the needle further than what it is. When that happens, all of a sudden, we feel that things are different. That energizes us. We want more of that because up to that point, the person that’s sitting there who has resigned without quitting is in a form of resignation and they’re not happy. That’s what it is you have to do.
I don’t know who said this but it sounds like a Rumi thing to say. The quote is, “Problems are good because they show you where your problems are.” It’s an interesting thing. You’re like, “What do you mean problems are good?” You don’t have blind spots as to what those things are. As difficult as this is to be on the front line, as you and I are and speaking with organizations about these challenges that they are having, they are also great opportunities to address things that otherwise could be cancerous. There are things that are happening that you’re unaware of and that are more devolving than evolving. There’s an opportunity for evolving out of it. That’s what’s good about it.
The fact that it’s showing up is another wave. We’ve got hit with wave after wave. Organizations and leaders have been hit with too many waves to count. There are so many groups that are flat-out exhausted from wave after wave of change, uncertainty and all of that. To have yet one more wave that we’re giving a label to as this quiet resignation thing happening, we don’t necessarily want it but it is a very good sign that we can see it.
Another expression that I heard some years ago that I love was, “What’s coming is going.” You can think about all the problems in your life and all the things that are maybe not to your liking at this moment about whatever. At the same time, you can acknowledge that whatever’s coming is also going. It’s a good sign on some level that you can see it. The guy who thinks he’s a dinosaur isn’t a dinosaur because he thinks he’s a dinosaur. That level of self-awareness changes it. It is transmuting the situation. It’s something different because he’s questioning and he is sensitive.
When you think about this younger group of folks, which are the Millennials and Gen Zs, they’re questioning more. They’re sensitized and sensitive to these things in part because they have a different consciousness than the one that you grew up in or I did. While it’s challenging for someone of a different generation to be able to understand that, there’s something quite magical, miraculous and mysterious, certainly, in all of that. I so appreciate hearing your perspective on that.
If I sit down, ask and seek to understand you, I get to ask you to seek to understand me as well. This is about fairness and` equity. It’s like, “Do you want to be heard? I want to be heard too. If you can’t listen to me, then how can you expect someone else to listen to you?” Young people question everything but at the same time, they already think they know everything. From whatever news source they’re getting, that’s what they’re parroting out. It’s not just their generation. It’s generational. Young people are quicker to believe than they are to research. That’s the big challenge we have. There are so many social media platforms out there and many places where we’re breathing our exhaust and echo chambers.
It paints the question, “What is research?” We can’t digress there but it is the fact that what people call research is what they read online. I’m not pointing a finger to say something is or isn’t because I couldn’t. I’ll say a great piece of advice that a first early mentor of mine when I was seventeen and working as a summer camp counselor said to me. He said, “Take it from the source.” That was in regard to a particular person at this camp that happened to be one of the owners who was annoying the thing out of me. It was getting under my skin.
This guy was watching and it agitate me. He’s a 40-something-year-old guy. He says, “Look at this guy. He’s a very passionate, intense young man. He is going to do great things in his life but if he keeps getting drawn into this emotional distress, he’s going sideways.” He says, “Take it from the source.” It took me a lot of years to unpack what that wisdom or advice was. I do get it. If you don’t consider your source carefully, you can go down a lot of rabbit holes and end up in a lot of places where you don’t know how you even got there, to begin with. You and I could talk about that socially, politically, in every which way or context.
I’m sharing that old wisdom and advice that I got a long time ago to anybody that makes sense to and anybody that might need to hear that at this moment. Take it from the source. I love the way the conversation flowed, Jeffrey. Thank you so much for that. My own take on this from the standpoint of what we spend our time researching, thinking about and talking to people about is that people are not feeling cared for. The first wave was people leaving because they could find the grass they thought would be greener elsewhere. We know that the grass isn’t greener. They don’t know that but we know that. A lot of those people will even try to return if they didn’t burn a bridge when they left.
We got this other thing, the quiet resignation or quietly quitting thing. It’s because people are genuinely not having their needs met. I want to go back to what you said at the beginning, which is if we’re willing to have conversations and ask people, “What do you need,” that’s the managing partner. To find out what they need instead of trying to be like, “They pay me the big bucks so that I can figure out how to solve every problem. That’s why I get the big pay.” We know that’s a bit ego but it’s also a bit BS. You’re not going to solve this by yourself.
I’m speaking to any leader out there who’s felt that same frustration with how to get people back to work, how to keep them inspired or engaged. Bring somebody like Jeffrey in to help you talk about it. Talk to the people within your organization about it. Have transparent and relatable conversations that create trust. That’s where you’re going to get the collective genius that Jeffrey was speaking about. It is the bigger understanding or know that comes from this humility.
Not thinking that because you are a senior-level person. You make the big bucks. Congrats on that. Somehow or another, you have to figure it all out because that’s what you’re being paid to do. I get that but that’s a recipe for not understanding and then watching as things devolve around you and being in disbelief at the fact that it’s happening.
If you’re getting paid to solve the problems, then how can you argue that multiple brains are not smarter? You plus multiple brains are not smarter than just you. If you’re paid to solve the problem, your job is to solve the problem. That means you need to pull as many brains in as possible. It’s not a singular act. It’s a collective act.
There is one point that I want to make sure that I touch on here. This stuff is not about the kumbaya. I’m going to sit down and look to try to understand you and you to understand me. All along, we need to perform here. There have to be consequences to this. They’ve got to be clear and defined. A culture without consequences is chaos and I’m not getting paid to lead a chaotic organization.
We’ve worked with a lot of people and said, “I hear what you’re saying. This is my obligation to make this thing happen and do the best I can with you but we either need to move you up or I need to move you out. If you’re a bad seed here, you’re negatively affecting the other people who want to do good work. We can’t have that because that’s a low level of consciousness. How can I help you get up to where you’re performing the way you should be and not a distraction? If not, with all due respect, you need to go somewhere else. We’re going to make sure that happens.”
I’ve worked with a lot of people that were challenged. I had construction companies. Sometimes, the workplace was the only safe place these people have been in based on how they were raised. I had to set up consequences so that it would hit them in the head a couple of times to go, “Maybe I should change my behavior because I don’t want to go home and tell my spouse that we don’t have a job.” I didn’t want that for them either.
There is this one guy I’ve been working with for weeks. I said, “I can’t want you to have your job more than you want the job. You either got to start coming up or I got to get you out. No harm, no foul. I love you either way but this is the real world.” You have to have that in there, especially with these younger people. Sometimes, they need to hear that. There’s a lot of wisdom and discipline. Discipline is a learned skill. Sometimes, it’s learned in a hard class.
It’s a great depth that we can go into a lot of these things. I want to say thank you again for the time and the insight. I know our folks have enjoyed it and are getting a lot out of it. I’ll speak to our audience in saying goodbye. I want to say, first of all, that if you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend or somebody that you know that might need to hear some of this or all of this. We always love those five-star reviews so please feel free to leave that. We love that on Apple or wherever it might be that you’re consuming these shows.
Also, feedback is like air. It’s oxygen for us. Leave a comment or question for me or Jeffrey. We can connect on LinkedIn and elsewhere. I’ll look forward to doing that. I’ll close by saying there’s an old TV show called Hill Street Blues. Some of you may have seen it. That was a show based in Boston. The sergeant was a tough guy. This is appropriate to what you shared, Jeffrey, about discipline.
This precinct was in a South Boston tough area. He would say to his guys, “Finish up the meeting.” It was their morning gathering. As they were getting ready to leave, he would say to everybody, “Be careful out there.” He would stop, pause and make eye contact. It was a great, wonderful way to me that that show showed that even this tough guy had that level of discipline that came from a place of the heart. It was born out of his love for his people, the men and women that were in blue. He wanted them to be safe, do their jobs well and feel good about the work they were doing. That’s what I’m going to leave you all with. Be careful out there. Thank you, Jeffrey. I appreciate your time.
What a great next-level series of insights from Jeffrey Deckman. That conversation was enjoyable. I’ve been doing this for many years. We’re up near 300 episodes but I still get so excited and enthusiastic like a child because of conversations like the one I got to have with Jeffrey. He’s a little bit my senior. He is a couple of years older than me, maybe ten or so.
I love the interplay and the fact that my knowledge of things and experience takes me so far. I get to have a conversation with someone like that who’s got a different set of experiences and knowledge base and more years on the planet. He’s got more times around the sun and wisdom of the seasons of his professional life and personal life that impacted me in that time we spent together.
There is a lot of very valuable organizational, developmental insight and nuance in the conversation that we had about things such as why it is and how it is that people are quietly quitting and where leaders meet that moment. Where is it that we, as leaders, are able to see the evident dissatisfaction and even pain of people in the workplace as not something that we ought to be not upset with because it’s upsetting to the business model, profit or KPIs? Rather, we’re upset and concerned about the person or the personnel that are experiencing the human capital.
It is by that very fact of sharing valuable insight and feedback about things not being satisfactory or optimal. This idea that people leave a job or quietly resigned from things, that resignation is the most important intel that we can get as leaders. It’s also a challenge. At the same time, we want to resolve the challenge but we don’t resolve the challenge without understanding how the challenge came about and why the challenge is showing up.
In many respects, it’s a welcome thing or a blessing of sorts because the alternative is that people are unhappy, dissatisfied and disengaged. We don’t see the signs of it except in the output or in other places. We are blind to it until creates a devolution instead of an evolution. When disintegration begins to happen, it is often even more difficult to arrest, change or turn that around. It becomes a much more difficult job and maybe even an impossible task at a certain point.
It is to see the signs of it early even if they are difficult signs to see, especially when it’s another wave of change or disruption. After a pandemic brought wave after wave of disruption and uncertainty, there are still more people that are not eager to go back into the workplace or are only doing so halfheartedly. They are somehow still not happy in their roles and jobs and are quietly quitting those roles and responsibilities.
These are not easy things to see. Yet, they’re vitally important that we see because problems, while not necessarily what you want to experience, are good. They show us where our problems are. Therefore, we are not blind. We are not going forward blindly but forward with a greater capacity to understand with greater awareness and consciousness. Nothing bad ever comes out of higher consciousness.
All good things come from higher levels of consciousness. To the extent that this raises our awareness and consciousness, it wakes us up to these very important things about how people are doing and feeling within the organizations that we lead or are a part of. That is life-giving. That is how we must evolve.
I so enjoyed the conversation by taking a look at some of those things and talking about the importance of communication, collaboration and facilitation. I enjoyed talking about how you create knowledge networks or the collective genius that leads to this collective know or the bigger know that we all must have that to see innovation occur in the future that is forever changing in a world of constant never-ending change.
Jeffrey lit me up with some fantastic examples, tangible insight and stories of his personal life, as well as his work in organizations of many different kinds. You’re going to find that the conversation was organic. It felt to me like we kept following the threads or the little bread crumbs that kept leading us to yet another important thing. It was one after another. That kept my interest. I was on my growth edge and learning edge.
It had me inspired as well. I hope you find that was the same way for you. If you do, feel free to share the episode with a friend, family member or somebody you think would benefit from hearing some or all of what was shared. Leave a review. We love the reviews always. You can leave a comment as well. We’d love to get your feedback and I will be the one to answer it. Ciao, everybody. Be well.
- Jeffrey Deckman
- Change Proof
- Developing the Conscious Leadership Mindset for the 21st Century
- Apple Podcasts – Change Proof Podcast
- LinkedIn – Adam Markel
About Jeffrey Deckman
Jeffrey is a national and international award-winning author and innovator on next evolution conscious leadership mindsets, models and methods. He is a leadership and organizational development consultant specializing in helping small and medium-sized business to maximize their profits by maximizing their human capital. He is a serial entrepreneur who has built 2 multi-million dollar business so he understands the complexities and challenges of building business from first-hand experience.