01 Jul July 1, 2020 – Tribal App Rachael Jackson and Choose Love Gary Heil
Rachael Jackson – Founder and CEO of TRIBAL App
Tribal is a relationship building platform that uses stories
to connect people with more meaningful relationships.
Rachael Franklin Jackson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, a former Army Captain and Apache helicopter pilot. Her life’s work is to connect people to a greater sense of meaning through stories, resources, and relationships. Rachael is the Founder and CEO of the TRIBAL App, a community and relationship-building platform that helps leaders and organizations harness the power of storytelling to build stronger, more inclusive, and resilient tribes through empowering resources and stories of hope, help and purpose. She raised $2M for the TRIBAL project and validated it with 2,500 users with a 95% retention rate. She is also the Founder of Shattered Media, an organization to help people find unique stories that build their brand stories and engage their audiences; and Community Journal, a community-based website that is intended to share the good news stories in the communities.
Gary Heil – Co-Founder of Center for Innovative Leadership and Best-Selling Author – Read interview highlights here
Leaders thinking that they motivate people or give people purpose
is the problem. Purpose is always found. Meaning has to be found;
it can’t be given.
Gary Heil, PhD., is an internationally acclaimed expert in the fields of leadership, management, and organizational culture. Gary is the co-founder of the Center for Innovative Leadership, where he continues to advise leaders in a wide range of industries on cultural issues. Gary has served on a number of public and private Boards, including Gymboree, Red Envelope, and Front Range Solutions. He presently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Cell Tech Metals. Gary, along with his co-author Ryan Heil, shares his wisdom around an actionable framework for building cultures that support higher levels of engagement and innovation in the new book, Choose Love Not Fear: How the Best Leaders Build Cultures of Engagement and Innovation That Unleash Human Potential, based on a decade-long study. He is the co-author of a number of bestselling books including Leadership and the Customer Revolution, One Size Fits One, Maslow on Management, The Leader’s New Clothes, and Revisiting the Human Side of Enterprise. Gary is also the co-founder of the pioneering Leadership Lessons from the Fast Lane Webcast, where he explores some of the most pressing challenges that leaders of today face, with the world’s most respected, creative, and successful thought leaders.
Highlights from Gary’s Interview
So there’s a thing I’d like to say about the current situation: I think when we talk about the new normal today, we just have to realize it’s a lot more new and a lot less normal. But the big question is, how do we respond to so many changes so fast? I think we have to bite that elephant one bite at a time. I think there are so many things and priorities matter. I have a mentor of mine who used to say, “If you’re preaching more than one gospel, you’re confusing as hell.” So I think when we’re looking at our position in the world and looking at what we need to do, we have to focus. Like with all startups, like with all companies, you have to take a few of the things that leverage your change the most and focus there. Those things, I think they’re different for everybody. I think that the idea that most startups and most companies die of indigestion, not malnutrition, is really true. It’s the real gift to be able to figure out what the highest leverage items are. I don’t think we spend enough time doing that, I think our lists of numbers of things we’d like to achieve and the number of changes we’d like to make are so long that we end up making very few of them. I think the organizational white blood cells come out from the existing culture and make it difficult to become who we want to be tomorrow.
So let’s dive into the book. First of all, we didn’t start wanting to name the book Choose Love or Fear, or even have that come out of our study. So a mentor of mine, named Jan Carlzon, 25 years ago wrote a book called Moments of Truth that changed the way we thought about service in America. He used to tell me that the first choice every leader needs to make is to choose love, and not choose fear. He thought we were addicted to fear, and it was killing us. I thought I got it back then 25 years ago, I thought I understood him. But in the middle of the study we did, I began to think maybe I didn’t get it. I thought that we have to be more positive, have more positive emotions. But really, it’s something fundamentally different than that. So Dabo Swinney is the guy that got me to look at it the most. I hang out at Clemson and I’d see him and he’d say, we’re going to win because we love each other, we just love each other differently. I went, “Yeah, okay. That’s what Jan Carlzon said, I get it.” Then I was walking down in a golf course one day with Alamo Alley and he says, you got to love them up before you coach them up. I go, there’s that love word again. Then he’s talking about how much you have to get people to care for each other, in order to get the influence you need to create change.
Then I was talking to a guy named Bob Ladouceur who runs a football program in California DSL, who didn’t lose a game for 11 years. All he could talk about was not football, but how he got kids and loved them. Then I met a wrestling coach in Poway, who wrote love letters to kids. What was fundamentally different every time I met a great team that had engaged people and won more games than any of their peers, the one thing that jumps off the page when you’re in their presence is they care about the people fundamentally different than their peers. I don’t mean, they care like concern for people. I mean, you’d be surprised how many times they use the word love and how they care that deeply. They’re tough taskmasters, they demand high accountability, but the way they think about people is fundamentally different. So when we came to write the book and we looked at the study we did, the one it’s just so different that you couldn’t help but name the book that. Jan Carlzon had it right 25 years ago, it took me 25 years to see it.
Well, to define love a bit more deeply, it’s about asking how do you care deeply about something? It’s more than ‘I know your players and I treat you nicely and I recruit you’, I think it has to do with ‘Even when the chips are down, I have your best interest at heart’. I think the guy who defined it the best in a non-sexualized way is a guy named Thomas Aquinas. He said basically that when you talk about love, what you’re really talking about is you consistently wish the best for the other person and help them get there. I’m continually enabling other people to be their best, to do their best, to feel their best. I think it really is a level of empathy and a level of caring, and a level of responsibility to the other person. For Dabo and for Bob Ladouceur and for Alamo Alley, and for every one of them, I think it’s more than just positive emotion, I think it’s the lens through which they see the world.
I was talking to a professor at university the other day and he said, “Well if we didn’t have grades, nobody would come to school or people wouldn’t learn.” When I was a Head of Public Comp Committees on Public Board of Directors, the whole institution is set up on “If I bribe you, you will do better. Because if I don’t, you won’t do it well.” There is this assumption that if I use this manipulation or this fear, I can get more from you. The people who really are committed to using positive emotion to build cultures think less about manipulation, and they expect people to be their best just because they have that expectation of human beings. It’s the lens through which Dabo sees the world, I think.
Now, the interesting question is can you bring that lens into your personality as a new trait? Is that kind of leader born or made has been a question they’ve been arguing about for a thousand years. When you think about what leadership is, I think leadership is no more than a reflection of who you are. It’s not a list of styles that you adopt or something you just bring into your life and use part-time because it works. That doesn’t work, because in bad times that exposes your character. So if you don’t believe it to your soul, the first time things go badly, you’re going to change not in a good way. So the real question is, can leaders become something other than they what they were yesterday? Can we change ourselves to be better people is the real question that underlies that. I think we can, I don’t think we’re born with a predilection to use fear to manipulate people. I think that we all care about things in our life. Whether we’re a grade school teacher or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, I think we sometimes think of leadership as more transactional. It isn’t. The whole study of influence says that the number one thing about influence is a relationship. If I have a relationship with you, I care about you and you care about me, I am better able to influence you and our team. I think that in and of itself should be something that is obvious to us as leaders, but it hasn’t really permeated most cultures. So I think there is a cynicism about it. But sometimes, we think we care and basically, we don’t care as much as we do about the bottom line sometimes. That comes across to people and it affects engagement.
We’re spending $50 billion a year in leadership development, but we’re still doing such a poor job. That’s what’s caused us to do the study. I was uncomfortable with being in the field for 40 years. I basically said, why is it we’re spending $50 billion and only less than one in three people in North America are highly engaged in their work? You can hardly tell a negative leadership story without somebody wanting to top it. If you walk into your friends and you go, “I had this boss and this boss was crazy” and you tell a negative story about a boss, almost always the other person is going to tell one that’s bigger than yours. So we have an astounding number of bad leaders we don’t want to face. What bothered me over the years and studying it is, we not only tolerate them, we promote them. So we have these bad leaders, and then we have a bunch of leaders that are pretty good, but they’re interchangeable. Then we have the top 5% or 10% of the world that are really very different and very good. But if you look at these guys and you say, why do we tolerate them? Look at how we train them, look at our incentive compensation reliance on manipulating people into performance.
It was 70 years ago when Doug McGregor and Abraham Maslow were arguing across Boston. Since that time, we’ve been studying the effects of incentive schemes, and they don’t ever do what we want them to do. The more I bribe somebody to do it, the less interested they become in the underlying activity. So we have most of what we think motivation, is a manipulation of rewards and punishments. We manipulate people, and then we’re surprised when they’re less interested in the underlying activity when the research over the last 70 years says exactly that. So I think there are lots of reasons we’re not getting better. I think when we study leadership, we study the leader, we don’t study the follower. The fundamental attribution error, I think, in the study of leaders, is that we overestimate the effect of the character of the leader and we underestimate the effect of the environment or the culture. If I put a leader and take him out of one company and I put him in another company, they rarely perform the same way. The culture homogenizes people more than we like to think. I think there are lots of reasons why we don’t get better, but I think for all the money we’ve spent, we haven’t gotten the payback.
I think the main thing all businesses need to do is to ask in the world that has changed more radically in the last four months that we would have wanted, is just how our customer’s experience is going to be different? If I look at education, I see MBA programs at the highest level preparing not to go back to school this fall. They’re developing technologies that are going to have a virtual classroom that makes Zoom look antiquated, I believe. It isn’t that the students don’t want to go back, it’s the older teachers that don’t want to go back, and you look at how they’re going to have to innovate. I think innovation is going to be driven by changes in our customers’ appetites. I think unless we realize how much our customers might have changed in the last five months, we won’t understand what the new normal being more new than normal will look like. So I think the one piece of advice that I’m having to live is to try to really understand how our experiences in the last five months are going to change your appetites going forward.
But you also see that kids don’t want a degree from Zoom University. So I think that the virtual classroom to some extent, like the virtual keynote, like the working-from-home, won’t be the norm forever. But I think what will be is there’ll be a change in the way we think about online classes. So even in the best universities in the country, people take classes online. What we used to have for a class online will never be the same again, after this. I think we’ll invent technologies and the online experience will be fundamentally different than it used to be. So I don’t think that what we see is something as simple as the COVID-19 hit, and therefore we’re going to have Zoom University. I think that what happens is our experience with having to do Zoom University for a while will change our appetite for these kinds of educational experiences. For instance, if they’re getting really good, because let’s say academia pulls together some interesting technology, how about in a large company when they do leadership development and they’re spending time and energy and money flying people all over the world, to dunk people in a training class for a weekend that could have had better application worldwide? If we did part of it virtually, unless expensively, will that change the world? Will we look at movies the same way having to go to a movie house with a social experience of it, when most of us have learned to stream everything under the sun for the last four months? I think those experiences won’t say that movie houses will go away or that Stanford will always have a virtual MBA classroom only, but I think on the fringes of what innovation will be, every one of those experiences will change us in some substantial way.
People are having trouble figuring out how to give purpose to a long-distance employee. Well, I think the world where we haven’t met our new employee is going to not exist for very long. I don’t think that works in and of itself. However, let’s just take the idea of purpose in general. I don’t think you give people a purpose. I think that leaders thinking that they motivate people or they give people purpose is the problem. I think that purpose is always found. Not my idea, Viktor Frankl said it a long time before me, is that meaning has to be found, it can’t be given. My job as a leader isn’t to motivate a team, my job as a leader is to give a person an opportunity to come to do something interesting. It’s like a teacher, I can’t make you learn, but if I’m a great teacher and I provide an interesting and engaging classroom, I have a better chance of engaging people in meaning. I think that we provide opportunities, and if we can then recruit the right people who find those opportunities engaging and interesting, and they can find meaning in that, we have a better chance.
The problem comes I think when we believe that our companies are about shareholder value only. When that happened in the 80s and we started to do it, it didn’t help us in this way. I’m all about return on capital and money, but the problem is the best way to do that by all the research is to engage people at an emotional level to get something done. People don’t need to be curing cancer to be emotionally involved. A friend of mine who took four companies public before his 40th birthday, he was a software guy, he says people just want to be part of the best company in the world doing what you’re doing. If you’re striving to be the best, people can get emotionally engaged because it is fun and engaging and worthwhile and has meaning to do something better than anybody else, does it? He was really clear that I can’t do it to people, but what I’ve done is arose an opportunity to be great. It’s amazing how many people flock to an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
So I think if we thought leaders were in the opportunity business, and it’s our job to create an opportunity that’s fundamentally different than what you can do somewhere else, I think we are much more successful. I think the whole construct of thinking ‘I give people meaning’ is part of the problem. I love the word purpose, but I don’t know how to give it to them, I’m just not smart enough to be able to do that. There’s a reason why most people in the country when they go to work, don’t think they have a purpose. 50% of the people who are employed in North America today are actively looking for their next job. So if we keep thinking we’re giving them purpose, and then we’re surprised that 50% of them are looking over their shoulder for their next job, we ought to sit there and go, what’s wrong with us? 30% are highly engaged, 80% don’t trust their leader. The constructs that we have about motivation, I’m still amazed by what we think the manipulation of rewards and punishments will do when it undermines real engagement, and we think it creates more engagement. So lots of bad assumptions we make behaviorally, and I think we’ve been doing that for a long time. But I’m not naive, I think that leaders sometimes think they motivate people or give people purpose.
60 years ago, there was a guy named Doug McGregor at MIT who was arguing with A. Maslow. I was lucky enough to write a book with Warren Bennis years ago, Warren was a student and worked for both of them. Warren Bennis before he died, he continued to say Doug McGregor’s old line, but how do you motivate people, and McGregor’s line was “You don’t, you can’t, you don’t have that much power.” You can’t motivate me. The most you can do is create an environment where I choose to give my best. But if you think you motivate me, you spend a lot less time thinking about what you’re asking me to do and you think it’s your responsibility. You just don’t have that power. I don’t think it’s a new concept, I’m saying. I’m saying that the best thinkers in our world for 100 years have been saying the same thing, we’re just stuck on a treadmill of inheriting practices that are less engaging. So leaders don’t get better and we spend a lot of money running in circles.
So the book is Choose Love Not Fear: How the Best Leaders Build Cultures of Engagement and Innovation That Unleash Human Potential. The best way to find more online is if you go to GaryHeil.com or you can find me at the Washington Speaker’s Bureau. WSB does a great job for a lot of us in helping to make us accessible.