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Finding Inspiration and Purpose with Jeff Augustin

Last Friday, nearly 200 leaders gathered for the 108th Good Leadership Breakfast, featuring Jeff Augustin, Vice President of Global Business Services at Merck Pharmaceuticals. This spring, the theme at the Good Leadership Breakfast is all about Celebrating the Magic of Managers, and Jeff delivered with sharp insights as expected. 

Jeff immediately highlighted how good leadership transcends geographical boundaries. Jeff shared how the manager experience has changed from his perspective over four decades of experience in international companies. With employees working from home, managers today don’t have all of the in-person tools available to create the important sense of mission, purpose or belonging.  And, he pointed out that we are new at learning how to manage the push/pull of our personal and professional lives. While working from home in experimenting with changing operations, like workflow and processes in order to lessen the load, Merck didn’t notice much of a difference in quality or productivity. However, burnout and fatigue are clearly on the rise. This prompted Jeff to ask this critical question: “Do we have a workload problem, or an inspiration problem?” he asked. “People enjoy doing work when they feel valued, receive impactful feedback, and appreciated for their contributions,” he observed. Without those positive feelings, a full workload feels like a problem. 

Jeff’s Success Habits

With every Good Leadership Breakfast speaker, we interview a few of their direct reports to identify their leader’s success habits. A success habit is something a leader repeats over and over, because it really works. Jeff was pleased to know his team shared these three success habits as his secret sauce: 

  1. Big Vision – excites people about what is possible 
  1. Double Why – provides both the internal and the external “why?” 
  1. Team First – then autonomy for leaders

Jeff believes not only in the magic of managers, but celebrating the magic of managers, and the role they play in rallying the entire team around Merck’s vision. “Managers are the tip of the spear,” he emphasized, “when they get it right, our employee engagement and satisfaction scores really soar. And when they don’t get it right, the numbers are terrible. So, empowering managers is essential for the team to maximize their value.”  

Join us for our next Good Leadership Breakfast, with Kristine Fortman, CEO at Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. Until then, keep radiating goodness. Get your tickets here.  

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