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Why does a flourishing organization matter?

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When Ralph asked me to write an article for the newsletter I thought to myself what did I really have to offer?  I have been a chief principle officer of a labor union, Head of Human Resources, Labor Arbitrator on the Maine Board of Arbitration,  Professional Certified Coach,   Director of Distribution, General Manager, a Vice President of Distribution. I still remain active in coaching others as well as a current labor arbitrator. So what, the positions were just places in time over my work career. What I have to offer is a perspective on leadership, a leadership point of view forged by coaching top executives,   executives in operations and as the distribution executive creating high performance people centric organizations.  My beliefs ,values, leadership point of view were developed by work experiences focused on improving the effectiveness of organizations.  People centric organizations is not a grand social experiment. My missions were to optimize the socio-technical systems on behalf of all stakeholders. Over time the metaphor which worked for me was to develop flourishing organizations. The outcome people flourished, companies flourished , profits flourished , families flourished and communities flourished. Leadership competencies  within flourishing organizations were different than traditional organizations. Leadership development of executives, employees was a critical component of flourishing organizations. One unintended consequence of leadership development within flourishing organizations was people who developed new skill sets were more successful in there career in any organization. In fact when employees left a people centric culture to a traditional organization as leaders they were even more successful in their career. So… why does this matter to you? Good leadership demonstrated leads to further promotions for good leadership to be demonstrated Good leadership demonstrated leads to a flourishing organizations where employees flourish. When employees flourish the company develops  a competitive advantage. You see employees engaged, committed to each other, committed to the success of the company, with P&l results better then their competitors. Employees enjoy coming to work, the company enjoys a preferred employer status. In my work experiences a good place to work.

The language of leading through caring:

            Our workplaces are increasingly places where people who work do not flourish.   By flourish I mean people will contribute all that they can be and do on behalf of the company. I have always believed that you need the whole person contributing to the mission of the company. Why ? because they care about the company and the company cares about them!  Additionally, the inside out growth  of flourishing employees leads to engaged, aligned employees, families and communities.  A better workplace! The company pay off  is a competitive advantage, a flourishing company. A competitive advantage will position the company for long term viability. You hear Flourishing Organizations described as a preferred employer, a company that cares about the achievements of the people, a highly profitable company, a great place to work. A-competitive  advantage not copied easily unless you have experienced a flourishing organization (FO). There is no road map  or book on how to accomplish a Flourishing Organization. 

At work people have many opportunities to channel their discretionary-behaviors   aligned to a shared organizational , vision, mission and true north  values. However, since my cancer diagnosis and retirement I have had time to reflect that flourishing organizations are a rare find. My early work experiences were high command and control organizations,  excessive rules to control, decision making pushed up and away from the point where a decision needed to be made, silly control rules and rules never used until used for punishment. It lead me to becoming a union member, a business agent and chief principle officer of a local union. I believed there was a better way for employees to flourish and companies succeed.  

 Here are 15 Perspectives from my living ,leading,  and learning from-organizations/ individuals who flourished. In my judgement flourishing organizations have and will provide better work for those who spend 70% of their time at work. I believe it is time that all workplaces flourish for our country, communities well being. This is a clarion call to be different because I have seen flourishing organization flourish for all stakeholders. In a FO people enjoy their workplace, they like going to work and have a sense of achievement.  I challenge you as leaders to flourish. All of our well being depends on doing something different because what we do now does not work. How well does your organization flourish? 

1.         FLOURISHING organizations build shared meaning through talking to each other. They achieve alignment  at all levels  of the organization. Alignment brings people in on things, they have a say in what matters at work. They craft principles that are not negotiable. Violations of principles, core values will be challenged through coaching.  Decision making is expected to enforce principles and core values   for maximum flexibility to achieve the mission. Personal responsibility in daily efforts- doing your best is a core value. 

2.         The evidence of Vision, Mission and Values are openly communicated throughout the organization.   Each of these components has been distilled to a box top statement. A Bank - Cash in a flash, A distribution center- AS3K- accuracy,  safety, sanitation, speed & caring.   Care about your yourself, your team, your customer. Given my experience in distribution these are core vital behaviors when executed lead to extraordinary success.  Please note profit is a result not the mission. Additionally, you will  find a  communications  alley where the vision, mission, values , vital behaviors are posted as a daily reminder of the goals of a flourishing organization. Each day the employees are reminded what the FO stands for by what is posted. In the distribution centers I lead you would see vision, mission-operating philosophy, values, accuracy, safety, sanitation, productivity, people, customers bulletin boards. One 4 by 8 board for each of the topics. The boards were updated monthly by the star points and the leaders of the company. Team meetings were conducted using the boards as communications props. 

3.         Flourishing organizations set a standard named Big K?  Decisions on behalf of people is measured by how much Big K will the company  offer? Flourishing organizations have a greater ability to care about its employees because they flourish, a competitive advantage.    How much do they care about each other, how much do they care about themselves, how much do they care about the company and how much do they care about their customers?  Four  bottom lines means -me, us, family, and  customers. 

4.         Flourishing organizations systems are aligned to reinforce principles and core values. Wages contain a gain share plan which profits the employees as the company profits. FOs treat health insurance increases without cost shifting the burden onto the employees.  FO organizations have active recognition programs designed to  reinforce the expected behaviors. (a chip program where employees employers s can turn in chips for company goods)

5.         Flourishing organizations have an active welcoming to work program. It includes safety orientation, mission, vision, expectations, promises, personal character values. The orientation  is the first work assignment before work.

6.         Flourishing organization are preferred employers. The recognition programs changes when needed to meet the reinforcement goals of the organization. Recognition is catching people at work doing and being right. FOs recognize the everyday behaviors needed for a flourishing organization. In my experience flourishing organizations spend approximately 10% of the total hours for communication, safety, leadership education/training and  individual development. Promotions come from within the organization due to an active lead program. You will find two types of leads those who work 85% of the time and senior lead that work 15% and leads 85% of the time. Moreover, you find subject matter experts who are hourly associates. They are called star-points. You might find a HR, productivity, quality and safety, team star-points. Coaching is the foundation for interaction between star-points and employees. The goal for star points is to help the employee flourish in a flourishing organization. 

7.         A  flourishing organization values participation and involvement  as a principle for making better decisions. This leads to greater ownership when decisions get implemented. When you look at  training programs you find situational leadership, conflict management, team building, listening, business mission, vision, core values, safety committee,  leadership training, group process, meeting management, conflict, and coaching as foundation training. 

8.         Hiring is rigorous in a FO. The reputation on the outside of work is hard to get hired but worth it because the company cares about you- you flourish! Flourishing organizations (FOs) turnover, FMLA, sick time leave taken are below their competitors. Additionally, administrative support is minimal because absenteeism, legal leave absence, workers compensation are at least 75% less than competitors. FOs p&l cost for workers compensation is not a significant cost. In one organization I worked the amount of recordable injuries was less than 3 per year. Saving in cost was at least 500,000 a year. 

9.         FOs conduct a state of the company meeting where core business measures are shared with the employees.  You might call this  a report card but more likely a celebration of achievements. Before the state of the company meeting goals are jointly developed at all departments.  Goals are cascaded down to individual members of departments. What do members of a department  contribute in order to achieve the goals of the vision, mission, and values. Goals are expanded to include department goals, personal development, learning, and personal values. Character building through values in action is a core value.

10.       Leadership is is not High command and control. The mindset  is help others flourish at work. You will find leadership amongst the people 85% of their work day. Leaders are not tied to a desk answering email. They have means through technology to be on the floor but answer email and a phone. You find the leaders with smart phones at their sides. The ultimate measurement how did those you lead flourish?

11.       FOs conduct one on ones with employees to communicate what Is happening and finding out why an employee is not flourishing.  You will find an active stay interview process which is confidential but used to improve conditions of Big K. (Care)

12.       Silly rules, control rules do not exist. Rules are tied to vital behaviors, to mission, vision, core values. In FOs the mission is a noble endeavor for it creates the container for employees to flourish.  Who you be in the FO matters as much as what you do. Character values development are part of individual development experience.  Each persons core values, personal mission are knitted within the vision, mission and core values of the FO. All for one and one for all!

13.       FO leadership core values are honesty, integrity, support, caring, forward looking, business competence, and coaching.  FO measure and reward leadership for flourishing goal achievements. 

14.       FOs  are learning organizations. I am not talking about a   formal training program but a informal learning group structure which facilitates self learning amongst peer groups. The self learning groups sets its own goals to measure success. Self determination, learning are paramount to a flourishing organization.  Learning is treated as an investment not a cost. 

15.       Leadership  is uncomfortable unless their core values are aligned with a flourishing organization. When alignment reaches a critical mass of over 35% of the employees  miss-hires self select out of the organization.  You hear people say the company wants my mind, heart, and my physical activity. The expectations are greater in a FO.

Appendix A 

1. Flourishing organizations is a term I adopted after working with the concepts from Flourish,Martin P Seligman. A flourishing individual likes learning new things, time at work has personal meaning, you feel positive about work and yourself, people at work care about you, and your character strengths are used at work. Healthy Organizations in which People Can Flourish A recent poll returned the surprising result that over 60 percent of people were seriously interested in changing their jobs and only 15 percent were fully committed to staying in their current position. This is due to the economy and the treatment of employees and degrading working conditions that the 60 percent observed (see below). The manner in which layoffs occurred in almost every sector and form of organization provided a visual language about corporate values. The way your colleague has been treated is more than likely how you will be treated as well. We all give much of our lives to organizations of various types and we all hope for more when we are in them. While not a recent phenomenon, organizations have changed much in the modern era, becoming more focused on strategy, mission, and efficiency. But in reality they are made up of people. It is people who do the work within them, people who run them, people who shape them. The human capital present and the responsibility of leadership/management for this resource are sobering. It is surprising that as much as people write about leadership, there are virtually no books and few articles specifically written about a theology of organizational life. We are consumed with the leader and his or her growth and capacity and seemingly less than interested in running healthy organizations. This disconnect is an odd one, especially since it is in organizational life that we see our values, beliefs, and practices expressed most vividly. The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being” Much of the discipline of economics is allegedly devoted to the maximization of some notion of expected utility, supposedly taking into account all aspects of an agents preferences. The goal of the discipline of positive psychology is sometimes articulated as the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive” (Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania; Flourishing Measures The Flourish” measure is obtained by summing the scores from each of the first five domains. The Secure Flourish” measure is obtained by summing the scores from all six domains including the financial and material stability domain. Each of the questions is assessed on a scale of 0–10. Domain 1: Happiness and Life SatisfactionDomain 2: Mental and Physical Health.Domain 3: Meaning and Purpose.Domain 4: Character and Virtue.Domain 5: Close Social Relationships.Domain 6: Financial and Material Stability.

2. A leaders concern for others all too often gets sidelined in todays high-pressure business world. Many leaders assume high pressure yields high productivity, when in fact the opposite is true. Emotionally intelligent leaders who cultivate a positive culture increase engagement and productivity while reducing turnover and health problems among employees.

All of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies under the relationship management domain necessitate a caring attitude. Leaders with strengths in these competencies¬–including coach and mentor, teamwork, and inspirational leadership–truly care for their employees. They cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation and have a genuine interest in helping others. And they inspire their team through a shared mission and common purpose. In the workplace, positive practices have been found to increase productivity and organizational performance. Positive practices include empathic support, a respectful environment, and meaningful work. There is not one single trick for leaders here. Rather, a combination of positive practices has the most potent impact on team morale and organizational outcomes.

Leaders who exemplify these positive values most effectively apply positive practices. For example, leaders can guide their team to establish positive norms, offer training opportunities, and align the organizations mission with daily realities. Setting a positive tone for your team has an amplifying effect: it produces positive emotions in individuals. After all, emotions of all kinds can be contagious. When one employee experiences gratitude–as Lauren did when Jabir offered her guidance–it enhances trust and begins a mutual cycle of positivity. Positive practices also have a buffering effect. Caring teams handle work-related stress better and prevent unproductive conflict.

The acronym PERMA captures five central elements of human flourishing, each independently measured and enhanced.

Positive emotions





It is the character strengths that are the pathways to PERMA. Seligman says this: these twenty-four strengths underpin all five elements, not just a: deploying your highest strengths leads to more positive emotion, to more meaning, to more accomplishment, and to better relationships” (Seligman, 2011, p. 24). There is now plenty of research that supports this theory showing that character strengths closely connect to each part of PERMA/flourishing (see Niemiec, 2018, for more details).

So, how might you take action and really put this research into practical reality in your life? Lets use the acronym of PERMA as a guide. Each of these action-oriented interventions comes from the new book Character Strengths Interventions:

Positive emotions

Feeling pleasant feelings such as joy, excitement, interest, hope, and contentment come from many sources, one of which can be reflecting on something good that happened during our day and sharing it with others. Reference: Lambert and colleagues (2011)


There are seemingly countless ways we might use our signature strengths to engage more at work, at play, and in whatever we are currently focused on. And there is good reason to do so, as workers who reported high strengths use at work were 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those who reported low strengths use. References: Hone and colleagues (2015); Langer (2006); Proyer and colleagues (2013).


Couples who recognize and appreciate the character strengths of one another have more committed and successful relationships. Put simply: Theyre happier in the relationship. Reference: Kashdan and colleagues (2017).


Workers who use their signature strengths at work are more likely to experience meaningful work – their job becomes a calling” in their life. Reference: Harzer and Ruch (2016).


We can directly accomplish more in life by creating goals and taking steps to reach them. Goals can be big or small. The best ones are specific and reachable. Hope is a central part of this. Reference: Cheavens and colleagues (2006)

Emotional Intelligent Teams, Hughes, John Bradford-Terrell: Authors suggest EI teams have 7 things; 1. Sense of purpose ( shared visioning, mission, values), 2. Pride, a sense of we are unique, accountable, committed, 3. Group likes each other, 4. Act genuinely, committed to each other with a willingness to work our of role,5. Clear about roles, goals, responsibilities, 6. Inspired to make a difference and do what matters. These are components of a flourishing organization. 

3. Truth about Leadership, Kouzes ,Posner, Truly inspirational leadership is not about selling a vision; its about showing people how the vision can directly benefit them and how their specific needs can be satisfied ( shared vision). Leaders must be able to sense the purpose in others. What people really want to hear is not the leaders vision. They want to hear about how their own aspirations will be met. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be realized. They want to see themselves in the picture of the future that the leader is painting.( accomplished by shared visioning)The very best leaders understand that its about inspiring a shared vision, not about selling their own idiosyncratic views of the world.

Neuroscience visioning:

  Truth about Leadership, Kouzes ,Posner, Truly inspirational leadership is not about selling a vision; its about showing people how the vision can directly benefit them and how their specific needs can be satisfied ( shared vision). Leaders must be able to sense the purpose in others. What people really want to hear is not the leaders vision. They want to hear about how their own aspirations will be met. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be realized. They want to see themselves in the picture of the future that the leader is painting.( accomplished by shared visioning)The very best leaders understand that its about inspiring a shared vision, not about selling their own idiosyncratic views of the world.

Neuroscience visioning:

  Bringing Out The Best In People, Aubrey Daniels

Public Agenda Report on Restoring Americas Competitive Vitality,” Yankelovich and Immerwahr (1983) reported that fewer than one out of four employees, 23 percent, said they that were performing to their full potential and capacity.

Discretionary effort is defined as that level of effort people could give if they wanted to but is beyond what is required. In other words, because discretionary effort is above and beyond what is expected, demanded, paid for, and planned for, there would be no punishment to the performers if they didnt do it. Discretionary effort is what is possible. “ Note: capturing discretionary behavior on behalf of the company is a true competitive advantage.

  Why Motivating People does not Work or And What Does, Susan Fowler. People are always motivated. The question is not if a person is motivated but why. 

The motivation dilemma is that leaders are being held accountable to do something they cannot do—motivate others. The workplace either facilitates, fosters, and enables our flourishing or it disrupts, thwarts, and impedes it. Motivation is internally generated form the inside out when a employee feels they have choices, the source of actions proceeds from ( inside out), people care, and people are contributing to something greater than themselves. A noble mission. Peak performers are  goal driven. Peak performers are values based and inspired by a noble purpose.

  Stephen Gill, Command-and-control leadership remains pervasive throughout business, government, and nonprofit organizations. defines command-and-control as:… a style of leadership that uses standards, procedures, and output statistics to regulate the organization. A command and control approach to leadership is authoritative in nature and uses a top-down approach, which fits well in bureaucratic organizations in which privilege and power are vested in senior management. It is founded on, and emphasizes a distinction between, executives on the one hand and workers on the other. It stems from the principles of Frederick Winslow Taylor, and the applications of Henry Ford and Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. As more empowered, flat organizations have come to the fore, command and control leaders have been increasingly criticized for stifling creativity and limiting flexibility.

Democratic versus Autocratic leadership: Autocratic relationship style is one in which one person runs everything and makes all decisions without consulting others. Democratic leadership is a style in which managers work with employees to make decisions. In my experience democratic leadership is preferred in flourishing organizations. The one exception is when teams, groups have to discipline a member for violations of principles. 

  Flourishing itself might be understood as a state in which all aspects of a persons life are good. We might also refer to such a state as complete human well-being, which is again arguably a broader concept than psychological well-being. Conceptions of what constitutes flourishing: On The Promotion Of Human flourishing,Tyler J VanderWeele However, I would argue that, regardless of the particulars of different understandings, most would concur that flourishing, however conceived, would, at the very least, require doing or being well in the following five broad domains of human life: (i) happiness and life satisfaction; (ii) health, both mental and physical; (iii) meaning and purpose; (iv) character and virtue; and (v) close social relationships. All are arguably at least a part of what we mean by flourishing. Each of these domains arguably also satisfies the following two criteria: (i) Each domain is generally viewed as an end in itself, and (ii) each domain is nearly universally desired. I would suggest that these two criteria—of being ends and being universally desired—may be useful guides in decisions concerning the domains that should be included in national surveys and polls to assess flourishing. I adapted this at work as : happiness and work satisfaction, work well being based on Maslow Hierarchy Of Needs, shared work meaning and purpose, character values communicated, measured and expected, and close social work relationships. 


  Core values of admired leaders- Truth about Leadership, Kouzes ,Posner,  When followers admire their leaders the leaders values as described by followers as honest, forward looking, inspiring, competent, supportive, dependable, fair minded, and straightforward. 


  Truth about Leadership, Kouzes ,Posner”One of the most powerful internal motivators on the planet is a sense of meaning and purpose.7 Throughout human history people have risked life, security, and wealth for something that is greater than themselves. People want a chance to take part in something meaningful and important. There is a deep human yearning to make a difference. People want to know that there is a purpose to their existence. They want to know that their lives mean something. A significant part of the leaders job is uncovering and reflecting back the meaning that others seek.7.  Kenneth W. Thomas, Motivation: What Really Drives Engagement, Second EditionSan Francisco Barrett-Koehler,2009

  The metaphor Big K versus Little K (care) came form a conversation with my Human Resource Manager James Langston. How much did we, could we care about the employees who worked for the company. 

  The Bass Handbook of Leadership, Theory, Research …. Bass,Bass Participative leadership” suggests that the leader makes group members feel free to participate actively in discussions, problem solving, and decision making. It implies increased autonomy for followers, power sharing, information sharing, and due process (Lawler, 1986). Participation implies that followers have a voice” and influence in deliberations (Wright, Philo, & Pritchard, 2003). But freedom and safety to participate do not mean license. In participative decision making, the leader summarize, acknowledge, and use followers’ ideas. Participative leaders use group processes to promote follower inclusion, ownership, involvement, consensus, mutual help, cooperative orientation, and free and informed choice. These leaders try to avoid unilateral control, hidden agendas, and inhibition of expression of feelings and relevant information. Additionally, according to West (1990), the leaders provide safety for followers by creating a nonthreatening environment in which the participants can be involved in decisions that affect them.”

Act-Advise matrix when you begin to share decision making there must be a transition while people arrive at the same understanding of business principles; the bottom lines. Shared decision making requires decisions that improve the exposed bottom lines of the organization. So when trained you may act while learning you may advise until you have the needed competence. 

  The Great Game Of Business, Jack Stack, In the early 1980s, Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation (SRC) in Springfield, Missouri, was a near bankrupt division of International Harvester. That's when a green young manager, Jack Stack, took over and turned it around. He didn't know how to "manage" a company, but he did know about the principal, of athletic competition and democracy: keeping score, having fun, playing fair, providing choice, and having a voice. 

With these principles he created his own style of management - open-book management. The key is to let everyone in on financial decisions. At SRC, everyone learns how to read a P&L - even those without a high school education know how much the toilet paper they use cuts into profits. SRC people have a piece of the action and a vote in company matters. Imagine having a vote on your bonus and on what businesses the company should be in. SRC restored the dignity of economic freedom to its people. Stack's "open-book management" is the key - a system which, as he describes it here, is literally a game, and one so simple anyone can use it. 

The Great Game of Business started a business revolution by introducing the world to open-book management, a new way of running a business that created unprecedented profit and employee engagement.

  Adapted from concepts, Creating Your Best Life Adams,,Miller,Papp Frisch. Goal success components- Set stretch goals they lead to higher performance, self set high commitment goals lead to higher performance and a greater likelihood of achievement, participation, praise, ,money only matter when set to self made high commitment individual goals, internal satisfaction derives form goal attainment that matters to the individual. Goals for flourishing organizations have a personal individual payoff plus an organizational payoff. 

  Primal Leadership, Daniel Coleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee  Harvard Business Review articles What Makes a Leader?” and Leadership That Gets Results.” But this book goes far beyond those articles to advance a new concept: primal leadership. The fundamental task of leaders, we argue, is to prime good feeling in those they lead. That occurs when a leader creates resonance—a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people. At its root, then, the primal job of leadership is emotional. One of the oldest laws in psychology holds that beyond a moderate level, increases in anxiety and worry erode mental abilities.  Distress not only erodes mental abilities, but also makes people less emotionally intelligent. People who are upset have trouble reading emotions accurately in other people—decreasing the most basic skill needed for empathy and, as a result, impairing their social skills. 27  Another consideration is that the emotions people feel while they work, according to new findings on job satisfaction, reflect most directly the true quality of work life. 28 The percentage of time people feel positive emotions at work turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of satisfaction, and therefore, for instance, of how likely employees are to quit. 29 Psychiatry 42 (1997): 1039–1050.  28. Emotions reflect quality of work life: Cynthia D. Fisher and Christopher S. Noble, Affect and Performance: A Within Persons Analysis” (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Toronto, 2000).  29. Job satisfaction is not the same as feeling good while working: Cynthia D. Fisher, Mood and Emotions while Working: Missing Pieces of Job Satisfaction?,” Journal of Organizational Behavior 21 (2000): 185–202. See also Howard Weiss, Jeffrey Nicholas, and Catherine Daus, An Examination of the Joint Effects of Affective Experiences and Job Beliefs on Job Satisfaction and Variations in Affective Experiences over Time,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 78, no. 1 (1999): 1–24.

Truths that apply to the science of creating Flourishing organizations:

1.         Trust Factor of Creating High Performance Companies, P.J. Zak I found that high-performance organizations have cultures with high interpersonal trust and highly motivated employees. The cultures in these organizations objectively perform better. The Gallup organization reports that companies with engaged employees are 22 percent more profitable than those in which employees are watching the clock.”  The Science Behind Building A Culture Of Trust TD Magazine,June 2016:48-53. The effect of trust on quality of life is considerable; Canadian economist John Helliwell and his colleagues found that a 10 percent increase in employee trust in a companys leaders has the same impact on life satisfaction as a 36 percent increase in salary. John F. Helliwell, Haifang Hware “ Well Being and Trust in the Workplace” Journal Of Happiness Studies 12 No 5 (2011) 747-767” 

2.         Neuroscience and Oxytocin: Trust Factor of Creating High Performance Companies, P.J. Zak “ It turns out that trust begets trust” is just how the brain works. In experiments I began running in 2001, my lab showed that when someone is tangibly trusted by a stranger, the brain synthesizes the signaling chemical oxytocin. We found that the more trust one is shown, the more the brain produces oxytocin. Trust begets oxytocin, which begets trustworthiness in return. Think of oxytocin as the biological basis for the Golden Rule: If you treat me nice, my brain makes oxytocin, signaling that you are a person whom I want to be around, so I treat you nice in return. Trust is part of our evolutionarily old repertoire of social behaviors.” “The most important thing to know is that oxytocin works by activating a brain network that makes us more empathic.” Participation with involvement creates opportunities for trust to develop trust. 

3.         Culture; Organizational Culture and Leadership, Edgar Schien, 4th. Edition “ The culture of a group can now be defined as a pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, which has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.” You may look for Culture by observing relationship interactions, organizational norms, values in action, rules off the game, embodied skills,  climate, shared meanings amongst people, rituals, and  celebrations. Change The  Culture,Change. The Game, Connors, Tom Smith “ Creating an organizational culture where people embrace their accountability toward one another and toward the organization should occupy center stage in any effort to create successful organizational change. Without accountability, the change process breaks down quickly. When it does, people externalize the need to change, resist initiatives designed to move them forward, and even sabotage efforts to transform the organization. With accountability, people at every level of the organization embrace their role in facilitating the change and demonstrate the ownership needed for making true progress, both for themselves and their organization.”

4.         Character:  The Power of Character Strengths, Robert M. Niemiec, Robert E. McGrath Character strengths are basic elements of our identity. When we express these character strengths through our thoughts and actions, research says we tend to feel happier, more connected, and more productive. What is particularly remarkable about character strengths is that they can contribute to your personal well-being, to the quality of your relationships, and to your community as a whole. Character. strengths cut straight to the core of who we are. They reflect our basic being” as human beings, and our doing”—that is, the good we put out into the world.  The VIA Institute offers a character strength inventory which can be taken on line. There are 24 character strengths which are categorized ; Wisdom, Courage, Humanitarian, Justice, Temperance, Transcendence, strengths. 

5.         Maslow Hierarchy of Needs:Top Business Models; 50 Transforming Ideas for Leaders,Consultants,Coaches, Stefan Connors, Jonathan Passmore:” Maslow needs: 1.  Physiological: to have the food, drink and sex you require. He described these as the most basic and biological needs.     2  Safety: to be in an environment that is safe physically and psychologically.     3  Social: to have a sense of relationship with people as individuals and groups.     4  Esteem: to believe yourself to be successful and worthwhile in your own eyes and the eyes of others.     5  Self-actualization: to desire to become all that you are capable of becoming.” My adaptation at work: A place of work that provides job security by creating a competitive advantage, a safe work environment with a focus on eliminating unsafe acts, behaviors, relationships built on respecting each other, commitment to work out of role to help others, participation, training, learning, accountability that raises self esteem, teamwork, and finally creating learning opportunities, work for flourishing. 

6.         Self Determination Theory, Top Business Models; 50 Transforming Ideas for Leaders,Consultants,Coaches, Stefan Connors, Jonathan Passmore: Through their research Ryan and Deci conclude that a persons sense of well-being, and consequently motivation to grow, is likely to be heightened when three fundamental human needs are met. These are: first, autonomy, the need to be able to choose what they do; second, having a sense of competence, a belief that they know what they are doing; and third, relatedness, the ability to participate in human relationships that are fulfilling and secure.

7.         Future. Search principles; Future Search Network;

Future Search Principles:

•           Get the whole system” in the room. Invite a significant cross-section of all parties with a stake in the outcome – those with authority, resources, expertise, information and need.

•           Explore the whole elephant” before seeking to fix any part. Get everyone talking about the same world. Think globally, act locally.

•           Put common ground and future focus front and center while treating problems and conflicts as information, not action items.

•           Encourage self-management and responsibility for action by participants before, during and after the Future Search.

8.         Team Building, The Five dysfunctions of Teams, Patrick Leniconi:”  The first dysfunction is an absence of trust among team members. This failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of  engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments. A lack of healthy conflict is a problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement during meetings. Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an avoidance of accountability, the fourth dysfunction. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team. Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive. Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team.”

9.         Mental Models, Peter Senge,” Senge, P. (1990) "The Fifth Discipline: Art and Practice of the Learning Organization". New York. Doubleday.”Mental models are conceptual structures held in each persons mind that shape the way each person perceives the world and as a result acts in it.”(Flood, 1998) This is obviously an extremely important part in the success of any organization. If an organization has employees that share the same mental model, then it is likely to operate very smoothly- alignment. In Peter Senges Mental Models, he explains that many brilliant ideas never get put into practice. The reason is that the ideas never get translated into action. To avoid this, managers must develop and implementation strategy that describes, in detail, the steps they will take to help gain a shared vision throughout their organizations. Senge stresses the fact that our mental models shape how we act. They are also ingrained into us and can make it difficult for the acceptance of new ideas. Senge continues to explain that employees may be ingrained with mental models that become out of date in the business model (Senge, 1990). It is important for manager to engage their employees and understand their mental models. Using surveys, meetings, training, the internet, and various other ways, organizations can gain support and learn from employees.”,

10.       All Teams are not created Equal, Lyman Ketchum, Eric Trist.  The authors propose that work contains properties and within the work derives intrinsic motivation. Good work job properties needed as conditions of jobs are: Fair and adequate pay, Job security, Benefits ( competitive to industry), Due Process. Intrinsic motivation include variety and challenge ( that  is why participation matters, you will see an active multi skilled workforce), continuous learning, Discretion( shared decision making), Autonomy ( Act/Advise matrix with shared decision making), support & recognition ( catching someone doing right recognition programs), through work employees provide meaningful contributions to organizations,  and a desirable future.( share vision- how Great can we become) FO organization have done a better job at creating job properties and opportunities for intrinsic motivation within work. 

11.       All the leader you can be, Bates Executive presence: The qualities of a leader that engage, inspire, align, and move people to act. Character includes person-based dispositions in moral development, temperament, and interpersonal relations. The five facets of Character that make up this foundational dimension of executive presence in our model are Authenticity, Integrity, Concern, Restraint, and Humility. The quality of Concern is conveyed as a genuine demonstration of interest in others and their welfare. Concern is present when people sense the leader is attuned to their ideas and feelings. Leaders that exhibit Concern convince us that what matters to us, matters to them. Our interactions with them tend to feel less transactional and more sincere. The ethic of care is grounded in values that affirm the dignity and worth of each person.1 Referred to as individual consideration” in the book Transformational Leadership, by Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio 2 such concern is known to promote organizational citizenship, above-and-beyond commitment and effort, and team cohesion.

12.       Lead More Control Less, Weisbord, Janoff Socio- Technical Systems: ERIC TRIST, A CREATOR OF SOCIOTECHNICAL SYSTEMS,” went down into a South Yorkshire coal mine in the 1940s and came up a changed man.” He had seen a mining system that engineers could not conceive. Enabled by a new roof-control technology, the miners and managers had formed self-managing work teams. Every miner learned multiple skills in place of narrow specialties. At a higher level of technology, the miners rediscovered the craftsmanship of their grandfathers. The mines with self-managing teams had higher output, less absenteeism, and fewer accidents than did traditional mines with tight supervision. Thousands of others have since learned from the miners’ innovation. Much of what we call dysfunctional behavior” happens in work structures that prevent people from using everything they know. You probably have heard of places where jobs are so narrowly defined that even robots would be bored. Restrictive work rules undermine productivity. Leaders who coordinate and control from above settle for mediocre outcomes. You will get better results structuring work so that people control themselves. You cannot improve fragmented systems by teaching people human relations skills. Think of structure as giving people tools, knowledge, and authority that reduce the need for outside experts and tight supervision. Unconventional? Yes. Effective? Proven repeatedly by others for decades and documented conclusively by Marvin Weisbord in Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century.

13.       Leadership, Theory & Practice,  7th edition , Peter Northouse Expectancy theory of motivation (Vroom, 1964). The underlying assumption of expectancy theory is that followers will be motivated if they think they are capable of performing their work, if they believe their efforts will result in a certain outcome, and if they believe that the payoffs for doing their work are worthwhile. The challenge for a leader using ideas from expectancy theory is to understand fully the goals of each follower and the rewards associated with the goals. Followers want to feel efficacious, like they can accomplish what they set out to do. But, they also want to know that they will be rewarded if they can accomplish their work. A leader needs to find out what is rewarding to followers about their work and then make those rewards available to them when they accomplish the requirements of their work. Expectancy theory is about the goals that followers choose and how leaders help them and reward them for meeting those goals.

14.       Core Values,  CorePurpose, Leadership from the Inside Out, Kevin Cashman   Core Talents are those that make us feel energized or in flow,” as scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call it. Csikszentmihalyi, well known for his research and writings on flow” or optimal experience,” explains that among other things, when in flow” we lose self-consciousness. We may lose track of time, not even realizing how long and hard we are working. The experience is so enjoyable, we would do it even if we didnt have to. At the end of a day although we may be tired, we dont feel drained. Instead, we feel a strong, inner sense of fulfillment, and we look forward to the next day with eager anticipation. Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, in his work on learned optimism,” calls Core Talents signature strengths.” He says that when we use our signature strengths” in work, we increase our opportunities for more happiness in our lives. When we turn our work-life into our lifes work,” it is the most satisfying because it is done for its own sake and for the people it serves rather than for only an extrinsic reward. Core Purpose is like my compass. It helps to point all my energy, behaviors, and decisions in the right direction.” Core Purpose is the true north,” as Bill George tells us, that keeps our career and life decisions in harmony with our authentic talents, values, and meaningful contribution. When considering purpose in our lives, we often confuse the what” with the how.” We ask ourselves, What am I going to be when I grow up?”  Purpose is there all the time, and its waiting for us. Its our duty, our role in life; its what we have been prepared to express. In Synchronicity—The Inner Path of Leadership, Joseph Jaworski writes, It is the call to service, giving our life over to something larger than ourselves, the call to become what we were meant to become—the call to achieve our vital design.” If we ignore this calling, no amount of external success can make us feel complete. The implications of discovering purpose go far beyond our profession or career. Note: So if core values, purpose ( meaning) matter to a flourishing individual than how important is knitting individuals values and purpose  into the organizations mission, its reason for being, doing? Alignment is critical by people nesting together what they believe with other people at work. 

15.       Magic Five keys to unlocking the power of engagement, Terry Maylett Ph.D., Warner Ph.D., Depending on the source, youll read that anywhere from 63 to 70 percent of American workers are not fully engaged in their jobs, and results are similar outside the United States. Want to keep yourself up at night? Read Gallups State of the American Workplace Report: 2010–2012, which insists that fully 18 percent of workers are actively disengaged at work and every day from nine to five are actively sabotaging their employers’ businesses. One of the biggest misapprehensions is that engagement is something the organization imposes on employees—that its transactional. If I give you this, that, and the other, youll become engaged in your work.

Engagement is collaborative: Management must create the opportunities to find meaning, connection, and self-actualization at work, but its up to the employee to say, Im in!” Employee engagement is an emotional state where we feel passionate, energetic, and committed toward our work. In turn, we fully invest our best selves—our hearts, spirits, minds, and hands—in the work we do. The top criterion that managers were expected to show: the ability to inspire trust.

16.       The Change Cycle, Ann Salerno; LillieBrook, Change: This holds true whatever the impetus, crisis, challenge, or well-constructed strategic plan, whatever the rewards of success or consequences of failure. People must buy in. No matter the value or process employed to make the change, there will be unforeseen implementation issues and underlying dynamics created by the workplace environment and the organizations communication style. If change is initiated in a decree from the top brass and the news then makes its way down through the ranks, what we call the they factor”—How did they decide?, How do they know?, They have no idea can arise among employees and lodge a stick in the spokes of the transition. When you look at The Change Cycle model,This represents the true cyclical (versus linear) nature of each change we experience. In the outside ring are the six sequential and predictable stages of change. The names of the stages (Loss, Doubt, Discomfort, Discovery, Understanding, and Integration) indicate the primary experience of that stage. I have adapted this over time as; perceived loss to doubt. In some cases doubt leads to the pit. Here you look for disorientation, disengagement, disappointment, disillusionment, and disgust. Disgust usually is blaming. The next stage doubt to reality. You hear it as what about me will I fit? The next stage discomfort to discovery, and finally discovery to perspective. Perspective sounds like a search for new meaning. Perspective leads to understanding than assimilations. The best question to answer for an individual is now that I understand what are the benefits? Change by the way is personal and at the individuals pace as they travel through the stages. I would add that when the change begins you will have. Certain group of individuals before doubt ,minimize the change. They usually have a harder time in each of the stages. 

17.       The Servant Leader; Phil Hodges; Ken Blanchard Servant Leaders. As you consider the heart issues of leadership, a primary question you will continue to ask yourself is: Am I a servant leader or a self-serving leader?” It is a question that, when answered with brutal honesty, will go to the core of your intention or motivation as a leader. Servant leaders, however, look at leadership as an act of service. They embrace and welcome feedback as a source of useful information on how they can provide better service. The journey of servant leadership that starts in the Heart with motivation and intent, must travel through another internal domain, that of the Head, which is the leaders belief system and perspective on the role of the leader. All great leaders have a specific leadership point of view that defines how they see their role and their relationships to those they seek to influence. My adaptation is a serving leader is found in flourishing organizations. The leaders have a shared, clear, compelling vision of a desired future, they know  and communicate the purpose and mission of organization, they know what they believe in ( clear values), you will be able to see the values in action by leaders behavior, they know what customers value, and finally, they have a perspective ( picture) of the desired future they value for others in organizations. 






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Walter Stilphen Jr.
Top Priority You

Walter Stilphen was raised in South Portland, Maine and has been a Human Resources leader for the last 17 years. Walter has also served as General Manager of a distribution division with over 40 years in growing flourishing high performing organizations. You can follow Walt on his LinkedIn page at



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Preparation for Building a Culture

Every Year Tells a Story

The Pillars of Organizational Culture

Magic - What is in this book?

Dunning Kruger Effect

The language of leading through caring (part II)

Why does a flourishing organization matter?

Peer Communication and Care

Communications That Can Enhance your Relationships

Persistence: A Vital Leadership Quality

Increasing Meeting Participation


Time for a Paradigm Shift