What image comes to mind when you hear the word “breakthrough?” Athletes, psychologists, and good leaders understand how the pictures of what’s possible in our head are often self-limiting. That’s why I’m so happy to announce the next book on our Good Leadership Press label: Breakthrough to Goodness – How to Tap Into Your Team’s BIGGEST POSSIBILITIES. The book is a collaboration with Jodi Harpstead, former CEO of Lutheran Social Service. You can get a copy by following this link – it’s a Buy One, Gift One offer (2 for 1) on the Good Leadership web site.
Leaders today aren’t hired to protect the status quo. Especially in human services and healthcare. The population in America is aging, and diversity is increasing at an unprecedented pace. Those trends present huge challenges to our society, including many non-profits and businesses. But through the eyes of Jodi Harpstead, CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, those same trends provide unprecedented opportunities!
The Bell Curve Always Applies
When leaders like Jodi enter an organization with personal energy and breakthrough thinking, not everyone is excited. It’s because breakthrough thinking is also “change” thinking. It’s human nature, for those bringing change, to feel energized and inspired about the possibilities. It’s also human nature for those whose work is being changed to feel threatened and afraid of the unknown. That’s the Bell Curve in action.
Good leaders like Jodi instinctively know a certain percentage of people will be immediately energized by new ideas and become early adopters. And an equal number will feel threatened and become active resistors. It’s the vast majority in the middle of the curve who determine success or failure.
Jodi’s unique approach to influencing the moveable middle of the curve is what makes this book stand out in the sea of leadership books. She didn’t force her big ideas onto the senior leaders in her organization. And she didn’t ask the managers to cascade her transformational strategy. Instead, she taught the executives and managers the inherent value of having Breakthrough Goals of their own as a strategy to stimulate the whole organization.
Involved = Engaged
The strength in Jodi’s approach can be summarized by a mystical thought I shared in the dedication of my second book, What Really Works (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2011): “Those who are building their dreams will never be angry or depressed.” —Author Unknown
What that means for business leaders today: when you encourage managers and employees to work on their own breakthrough goals every day, the organization doesn’t have an employee engagement problem. They get the opposite – an entire workforce alive with the purpose and possibilities of their work. Brilliant!
Since 2009, my firm – Good Leadership Enterprises – has been coaching good leaders on how to create great results in their businesses by leveraging the idea: goodness pays. So, what do we mean by “goodness?”
Def: Goodness is when people thrive together, in a culture of encouragement, accountability, and positive teamwork.
Goodness is an ancient idea. And it’s also relevant today in a world that’s filled with dark noise and stress disease. It’s also important to know that the “goodness pays” idea is more than my opinion. With the help of my co-author, Paul Hillen, we proved, with significant research, that leading with goodness actually pays in consistently positive financial terms for the organization. Goodness is more than a soft and squishy way of handling people – it’s a feel-good concept because organizations with leaders who consistently produce positive financial results feel better about themselves. They feel like winners, with more resiliency, hope, and motivation than organizations where people feel like losers.
In partnering with Jodi Harpstead and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, our two firms have been thriving together – feeling like winners. This book, published under the Good Leadership Press label, represents everything good about our two organizations. We’re financially strong and still learning from each other in ways that make us both better. That’s goodness.
One final thought: Over my 20 years as an executive coach, approximately one-third of our clients have expressed aspirations to cross over from the for-profit sector into non-profit at some point in their careers. Most of them express the desire to “give back.” Less than half of those clients act on their altruistic leadership instinct. Very few who try to lead in the non-profit sector are effective. They quickly learn their commercially-oriented style of leadership doesn’t translate well to the context of non-profits and they give up. Those who transform themselves as leaders succeed.
Jodi Harpstead is a shining example for how to cross over. She’s every bit as driven and intense as she was in her days of commercial leadership at Medtronic. And she’s also thoughtful, compassionate, and social-hearted in ways that endear her to the staff and supporters of LSS. She’s a rare leader with a special combination of skills and experience. But, her success is not impossible to re-create.
Leaders from both the non- and for-profit sectors can learn and grow from Jodi’s approach to leadership: If you take the time to tap into the breakthrough aspirations of the people in your organization, you will discover the outstanding benefits of a culture alive with possibilities – with people who are also resilient against inevitable setbacks. We call it good leadership. I encourage you to read the book and discover how you can breakthrough to goodness.
You can get your copy here – remember it’s a Buy One, Gift One offer (2 for 1).