Author Interviews

In Great Company

In Great Company presents a practical approach to ensure that your employees perform at their highest possible levels. It’s not about increasing salaries, offering huge bonuses, or investing in the latest employee engagement tools. The real answer is simpler, deeper, and longer-lasting: getting your people to love where they work. 

Founder and CEO of one of today’s top leadership development firms, Best Practices Institute, Louis Carter takes you step by step through the process of building a lasting emotional connection between your staff and your company. Carter’s proven strategy is founded on five key principles: collaboration, optimism, values, respect, and performance. Fuse them together, and your company will be the envy of your industry.

In Louis’ groundbreaking guide, he provides everything you need to create an environment where people have a strong sense of belonging―a place where people finally feel like they’re part of something big, where employees want to work collaboratively and creatively, where your staff and your company grow together.

We had the opportunity to interview Louis to discuss his personal development and how you can lead by example to ensure your troops are in great company.

Why Did you decide to write In Great Company?
The concept of the book came into being when I began conducting research around what made for a Most Loved Workplace (MLW), which is, as you may have guessed, a workplace creates peak performance – where people are 9X more likely to stay and produce more because they love their company. As you can see, In Great Company, I worked on several studies with the intent of learning more about the relationship between employees who loved their workplace and their overall performance and affective commitment to their organizations. The research revealed some interesting results that supported this hypothesis.

In one global study that surveyed 150 respondents belonging to Fortune 1000 companies, we found that a staggering 94 percent of respondents reported that they were between 2 to 4 times more likely to produce more for their organization if they loved their workplace. In regard to retention, approximately 95 percent of the study population reported that they were 2 to 4 times more likely to stay with their company if they loved their workplace. This prompted the question, what would make for a workplace that employees love?

Although many people would anticipate the answer being based around money, the truth is that most people love their workplace when they feel valued and respected. However, that is sometimes easier said than done for leaders in the workplace. Through In Great Company, individuals who have been thrust into a leadership position can learn how to cultivate these skills and become a leader who is emotionally connected with their team.

What experience caused you to see a need for the book?
In my line of work, I connect with all types of professionals who need help running their organization more efficiently. What few people consider when they are working in corporate positions is that they will eventually have to manage teams of people, whether that be in the form of a small team within the workplace or a whole organization as a CEO. Guess what? Few people know what to do because no one teaches you this valuable leadership skill! There is a culture built around leadership that gives off the impression that effective management is based solely on how well you are able to get things, but it leaves out the important aspects of how to connect with and motivate your employees in the first place.

I wrote the book with the intention of emphasizing the need for the emotionally connected workplace while also providing prospective and current leaders with the advice they need to develop these skills and this kind of  work environment on their own. Having an insightful and actionable resource to go to when you are tasked with these kinds of responsibilities is something that everyone can benefit from.

What is your 1 best practice that you live by daily?
Making an effort to connect with other individuals on a personal level. As a society, we live in a largely disconnected world, which is a far cry from the social people that we are meant to be. Everyone is dealing with something in their personal lives, and I do my best to reach out and offer support where needed. Kindness is a language that we need to speak to one another more frequently!

How has writing made you a better thinker and better person?
Having worked on over 10 books and coached 100s of top level successful executives, I can tell you that you pick up a lot of information along the way as you go from the conceptual models to pragmatic applications. All of the research and energy that goes into my publications and work help me to grow and develop as a professional, which, in turn, helps me to further improve the skills of my audience. Beyond the research, however, the most valuable thing that I gain from my writing is personal connection. I have the honor of working with and connecting with so many amazing people that give me insight into their own personal experiences and earn their friendship and support along the way. All of these experiences have molded me into the person that I am today, and I am extremely grateful for it.

Is there one short story/tips from your book you would like to share?
I think it’s important to discuss the more toxic traits of leadership and how they can undermine your collaborative efforts as a leader. In my book, I talk about the experience that retired Brigadier General Tom Kolditz, who is also the head of behavioral science and leadership at West Point, had with team dysfunction while he was working with U.S. and Korean soldiers in the 90s.

The issue that arose was the major difference in physical training and combat techniques between the American forces and the South Korean soldiers. While the South Korean soldiers were very bright and excellent with martial arts, they lacked the muscular build, bravado and brute force that most of the U.S. soldiers had, which resulted in the South Korean soldiers being marginalized and bullied. This created a power imbalance that made it difficult to properly manage the unit. As Kolditz describes it:

“When you’ve got different types of people working in an organization, it’s pretty easy for cliques and barriers to get thrown up. But it’s clearly dysfunctional, and on a team of this nature it can be catastrophic.”

Did Kolditz back down? No. Instead, he assessed this situation and sought to remedy the situation.

“I required certain segments of training to be conducted in the native Korean language. It changed things by making American soldiers completely dependent on the Koreans. Suddenly, the Korean soldiers became the top commodity in every one of my hundred-person subunits. Over a span of about two or three months, they went from being second-class citizens in a dysfunctional relationship with the U.S. soldiers to being really close, cohesive members of that team.”

Being a great leader requires you to take initiative and to not only show respect for your team but to demand that your team respects each other. While leadership by force is often the model that many seek to mirror, empathetic, respectful collaboration will always take the lead.

How did your leadership and ethical philosophy develop?
Serving as a coach for others, I think that it is only natural for us to take an empathetic approach to leadership. My job is to work with others and to help them improve their skills, which first entails learning more about who they are as an individual, what they will need to work on over time, and what strengths they can leverage to their advantage in the moment. When you work in any kind of leadership position where you are guiding others toward their goals, you start to realize that connection, understanding, and providing value are some of the best ways to foster self-development. I believe that these traits are what helped to shape my current worldview and the way that I teach others so that they can embody the leader they seek to become.

Buy In Great Company here.

Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, and an award winning social/organizational psychologist and author of the book published by McGraw Hill:  In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace. He is author of over 10 books on leadership and management including Change Champion’s Field Guide and Best Practices in Talent Management and his latest research “Most Loved Workplaces.” He is one of the top advisors to C-level executives – helping them and their organizations achieve measurable results. Carter is the recipient of ELearning! Magazine’s Trailblazer Award, HR Tech Conference’s Top Products Award,  GlobalGurus Top Organizational Culture Gurus in the world, and Leadership Excellence Magazine’s Best in Leadership Development for his work as Chairman and CEO of Best Practice Institute. He received his MA in Social/Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.

Louis can be reached via his Website, Best Practice Institute, Twitter, & LinkedIn

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