The Art of Leadership Vancouver 2019: Conference Summary

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Vancouver | December 2, 2019




About The Art of Leadership


Ron Tite – Organizational Alignment and Positive Momentum


Robert Richman – Corporate Culture and Accountability


Dr. Liane Davey – Team Effectiveness and Productive Conflict


Neil Pasricha – Employee Engagement and Happiness


Marcus Buckingham – Talent Development and Peak Performance


Executive Panel


Bill Williams – Closing Remarks




Many companies like to use quantifiable data to measure the impact of its efforts on productivity. But while the beans are still being counted, creativity is finally finding its rightful place alongside the bean counters. These days, scoring leadership has fallen by the wayside, and words like measuring employee engagement, satisfaction, and accountability have become a critical part of the lens through which leadership is evaluated. What makes a leader great? Is it upholding corporate values and steering a course that is clear to everyone involved? Defining and creating a great culture? Making tough decisions and owning them? Being able to admit to failure, while creating an opportunity for growth and learning from it? Leadership is all of the above and more. Working beyond the status quo, creating change without fear, and fostering inclusivity amongst teams are just a few of the goals that define what great leadership is all about.



RON TITE Named one of the “Top 10 Creative Canadians”, Innovation Expert and Bestselling Author


Doing is the decisions you make and actions you take to live your values.

Ron shared the observation that far too many clients have no idea where to look and who to trust. Why? Because everyone is trying to be everything to everyone. Your grocery store and your local retailer are also trying to be your bank.

experience they are having is honest, and that they can expect that same experience again. Notably, this goes beyond what a company makes or sells; it has to also be what a company stands for, how they act, and how they reinforce their beliefs.

Ron asked, “If everyone is trying to be everything to everyone, what is happening to their brand?” Do customers know what they stand for and what product or service they can trust? Do employees know what the brand promise is?

Ron shared that when Think-Do-Say are out of alignment everyone will experience an integrity gap. When there is an integrity gap, employees, suppliers and shareholders all have different expectations about what they are doing, why they are doing it and who they are doing it for. In addition, when there is an integrity gap, customers begin to experience something different than what they expected and perhaps, what they were promised. When this happens, clients have

In an ever expanding and complicated market, Ron believes great leaders bring clarity to a company’s brand promise by aligning three actions in a compelling, relevant, and authentic way:

no idea where to look and who to trust. Ron closed by asking the question, “How can you use Think-Do-Say to customize your connection and to create alignment with how you connect with what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for?” Are you thinking, doing, and saying what you believe? What do your employees believe? Think-Do-Say allows everyone involved to look out for each other. Think-Do-Say provides a framework where organizational alignment and positive momentum can be supported, ultimately making good things happen for you and your organization.

• What they THINK • What they DO • What they SAY

The corporate culture will either support Think-Do-Say across the company, or it will not. When these actions are aligned, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and customers experience synergy Most importantly, they can trust the





ROBERT RICHMAN Co-Founder of Zappos Insights, Leading Authority on Culture Transformation and Bestselling Author

Greatest innovations come from our greatest frustrations.

CORPORATE CULTURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY One of Robert’s first messages was that a great corporate culture is one that attracts and repels at the same time. If you are trying to appeal to everyone, it means your people and corporate culture are compromising, or being compromised.

These accountabilities are:

3. Do leaders in the company live it?


Robert shared the story that when Zappos started, they didn’t have a budget for marketing and advertising. They thought, “What if we invested in creating a customer experience so incredible that people would talk about it?”

Robert also shared three key principals behind a strong corporate culture that leaders have to implement and nourish.

Robert shared how important it is for everyone to change their relationship with time. Time is the one thing that everyone has in common—we all have the same amount of it.

The Zappos customer service business model became a brand promise and cultural experience that customers could depend on. But that’s not all. That customer service idea also became a cornerstone of a corporate culture that has resulted in Zappos being listed as one of the best places to work. As Robert says, “Service is what we do—we are more than just shoes.” Robert shared three accountabilities a company and its leaders must stand by to build and maintain a corporate culture people can count on.


1. Is the company hiring based on it?

3. Culture is grown through rituals: a. ‘X’ is what we do/practice, all day and every day.

b. Rituals create predictablility and help 2. Is the company firing based on it?

1. Culture is driven by feelings: Feelings drive performance. Energy, excitement, and passion are examples of important feelings.

2. Culture is governed by games, which have: a. GOALS – Do we all have the same goals and deadlines? b. RULES – What are the core values and rules everyone must follow? What are fireable offences? c. FEEDBACK – Everyone gets honest, timely, and constructive feedback so they know how they are doing. d. OPT-IN – Everyone has the autonomy to opt-in and make decisions they will be accountable for.

manage everyone’s expectations.

Zappos believes that respect for time is fundamental to an organization’s corporate culture. If someone shows up late for a meeting it suggests they have a greater respect for their own time over that of others. Robert also pointed out that we don’t need other people to change our own behaviour, especially in relation to time. He encourages us to be early, and to model this behaviour into the corporate culture we want. This summary is based on Robert Richman’s presentation in Toronto centered around corporate culture




DR. LIANE DAVEY Organizational Psychologist, Team Effectiveness Expert and New York Times Bestselling Author

TEAM EFFECTIVENESS AND PRODUCTIVE CONFLICT Isn’t teamwork always awesome? Liane says no. Teamwork is a challenge for anyone trying to survive the corporate world, and a lack of conflict is hurting our teams. It’s stopping us from making tough but important choices. Liane believes that we all need more conflict at work. Why? Because if we don’t face conflict, it lingers and gets bigger. This avoidance is what Liane calls conflict debt. Often, someone else has to pay for the conflict avoidance.

SOLUTION #2 Hypothetical Strategy Instead of pushing your idea, use a ‘What if’ statement to get people to generate possible solutions. In the case where a department head believes the sales unit will not agree, ask, “What if sales did agree?” a. What would it look like? b. Is there anyone in sales who might be an early adopter?

Liane gives us three solutions to help us engage in healthy conflict, and begin to transform it into problemsolving. She warns that we are clumsy with conflict, because we are out of practice.

Not only is this a good solution, it feels good to be part of this problem-solving approach.

SOLUTION #1 Speak Their Truth… Then Speak Yours

Team members don’t all pull in the same direction, even when they all have the same objective. For example, teams that include finance, marketing, customer service, and risk all have different needs and priorities which can create conflict. Instead of becoming frustrated, we can choose to begin resolving this conflict by asking three questions for each team:

Make sure their truth comes out of your mouth, before you speak your own truth. ‘Speak Their Truth’ doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but doing this shows you are listening, which may take down some of their defences.


Having the courage to disagree with your team is essential to building a high-performance team.

SOLUTION #3 Teams Are Not Easy

a. What is the unique value that this department brings to the team? What expertise do they have?

b. What stakeholder group does this department represent? What perspective do they advocate for?

c. What is the challenge that this department is obliged to put into the discussion? This exercise shows us that conflict is not the opposite of teamwork; it is the purpose of teamwork. These three questions will help make conflict normal and easier to manage. How can you make conflict a productive part of your job?




NEIL PASRICHA Fear is an excuse that holds us back.

Positive Psychology Researcher, Harvard MBA and Former Director of Leadership at Walmart

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND HAPPINESS Our parents told us that if we study hard, get a great job, get promoted, then we will be happy. Neil argues instead, that this model is broken and that the path to real happiness should be reversed. We need to train our brain to be happy first, and then the great work and success follows. According to Stanford University, happy people are:



1. Forest Therapy: A brisk nature walk in the

Neil closed by sharing another broken model—that ability leads to motivation, and motivation leads to action.

woods for 20 minutes with no cell phone.

2. Replay Journaling: At the end of the day, take 20 minutes to replay all the great things that happened that day and write them down with a pen and paper. 3. Book Reading: Read 20 pages of fiction from a real book—not an electronic device.

• 31% more productive • 37% better at sales • 300% more creative

And that’s not all. Happy people:

Neil also encouraged us to tell someone when we choose the option we want to commit to. Why? It helps us be more accountable. Neil shared, “When you tell someone, it is 50% more likely that you will do it.”

Instead, Neil suggests the reverse— that action leads to motivation, and that motivation is what leads to new ability. He argues that it is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than to think yourself into a new way of acting. What this means is that through action we begin to learn and gain confidence in our ability, which reinforces our motivation to continue. Can you commit to doing one of these for 20 minutes per day, for 20 days?

• Are 40% more likely to get a promotion in the next 12 months • Live an average of 10 extra years

In his study of happiness, Neil has discovered three amazing ways to help people be happy and increase selfengagement. He calls them his ‘Big Ones’. They are highly effective, simple to do, easily shareable, and take an average of 20 minutes each.





MARCUS BUCKINGHAM World’s Leading Expert on Talent and Strengths Based Leadership

TALENT DEVELOPMENT AND PEAK PERFORMANCE Marcus set out to answer the question, ‘How do experts become experts?’

Study excellence as it actually happens in the world. Focus on what you want to be, not what you don’t want to be.

branch—not new branches.

2. Tasks they are good at

As leaders, the best way to develop excellence and success is to focus energy on aligning people’s strengths with the company’s mission, vision, and goals. Marcus encourages us to do more than focus on strengths. He recommends we ‘interrogate success’ and get to know all elements of it by asking questions like:

3. Tasks that give them strength and

• What am I doing when I experience success?

The simple answer is that people become excellent when they are motivated by three things: 1. Tasks they enjoy spending time doing

empower their spirit • What am I thinking when I experience success?

Marcus encourages us to spend less time focusing on what doesn’t work, and more time on what works exceptionally well. While it’s good to understand what doesn’t work (so it isn’t repeated), spending time studying failure isn’t going to help us become experts. Marcus shared research showing that when we play to our existing strengths, and are motivated by personal interests, our brains actually build new synaptic connections to support this learning in very exciting ways. Marcus likens learning to how a tree grows. Learning is like growing new buds on an existing


• How can I do more of that, and do it better? • How can I celebrate success?

The example Marcus shared was about Lionel Messi—a star soccer player who has a passion for the game and great skill with his left foot. When Messi was young his coaches failed him by trying to get him to improve his less dominant right foot. In other words, Messi’s coaches focused on his weakness. Messi became so disheartened, that he was close to quitting the sport. At that moment—faced with losing a great talent—his coaches backed

off and began encouraging Messi to improve his skill with his left foot. They also challenged Messi saying, “Wherever you are, be dangerous.” And the rest is history. PULL ON RED THREADS Marcus shared a final observation that people experience job satisfaction when 20% of their job consists of work that they enjoy, are good at, and focuses on their strengths. Marcus calls this work ‘Red Threads’. If the percentage of a person’s work goes higher than 20%, job satisfaction for the most part doesn’t change. However, as that number drops below 20%, there is a marked decrease in employee engagement and job satisfaction with every percentage point drop. Marcus encourages us to get to know and protect our own ‘Red Threads’. Marcus’ final message is, “Find your red thread and weave it into your contribution. Don’t wait too long. As a leader, give your people time to love what they do, and do what they love.”








National Director

Senior Vice President, Managing Director – Search Practices

Senior Vice President, Development Technology and Services

When it comes to disruption and influencing change in an organization, it really is about the relationships, trust, and the value that you are bringing to it. While in many cases it is easier to influence downwards to your direct reports, it is absolutely critical to do this upwards. This is done through continuous respect, trust, and communication with the people who are below and above us.


Leaders who can impact transformation are the ones who can navigate through what is changing all of the time—the way the world of work is changing, the way that people do their jobs, and jobs themselves—and rapidly. Being able to stay ahead of and help lead this in a robust way that helps move the business forward, while bringing the team with them, is key.

We need to listen to people and talent that whisper and don’t just shout—the fact that someone is not necessarily vocal does not mean that they don’t have a valuable opinion. Make sure to pull in engagement regardless of personality traits and encourage people to share their opinions. Once we have that diversity of opinion, we will be able to unlock and maximize the power of difference and diversity.


CLOSING REMARKS To know and not to do is not to know. Think, Do, Say Stop the “Pitch Slap”. When behaviours don’t align, you have an integrity gap. Have a genuine desire to connect with people. Authenticity is being comfortable with your imperfections. Purpose before profit Be a disruptor. Look for Massive Frustration. Remove what seems essential. Create an experience through metaphor. Leverage underutilized system capacity. Conflict is the purpose of teamwork. “Taking it offline” is THE meeting to go to! It’s also a “conflict debt”. Embrace conflict. You need it to grow and make change. “This is important! What do I need to understand?” Stop listening to your “Itty, bitty, shitty committee”! If you know you need to innovate, it’s too late. Be Happy – Great Work – Big Success! Sadly our cell phones are a ”constant fondle”. Instead, peel an entire orange in ONE move. Take the 20 for 20 challenge: • Brisk nature walks AKA Hiking • The 20 minute replay AKA Journaling • 20 pages of fiction – reading an ACTUAL book

Prime your brain for positivity. Open a door for total strangers for 5 min! Do! Can Do! Want To Do! Excellence must be studied as it exists in the world. Not by inverting the bad. Cascading mini goals trickle down on you like toxic rain. Be curious about excellence. 19 left and 2 right make you an expert soccer player and super left footed! You have a left foot too! Spend a week in LOVE with your job! Find your Red Thread. The power of human nature is that each human’s nature is unique. To learn and not to do something with the learning is not to have learned. Go and LEAVE YOUR LEGACY!


To know and not to do is really not to know. To learn and not to do something with the learning is really not to have learned. BILL WILLIAMS Host









Mayhew Consulting

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