In his own words: Sam Deep’s value proposition to his clients is that their leaders will become beacons of integrity, engagement, accountability, strategic thinking, and success.
This week’s blog is a recent interview with Sam.
ME: Sam…for those who are not familiar with your work, describe how you help business leaders.
SD: My mission is to take pain out of the lives of my clients. Three common sources of the agony they report are (1) departments working at cross-purposes, (2) an absence of accountability among their employees, and (3) the pressures from above to do more with less. Leadership needn’t be as painful as it is for so many business leaders. The focus of my coaching and the curriculum of the Sam Deep Leadership Academy is to prescribe proven cures for what ails them, their teams, and their organizations.
ME: You’ve written several books. Summarize ones you feel are the most practical for people facing challenges on the job each day and how they help.
SD: Someone once said this about the books: “All you do is tell people to put up an umbrella when it rains.” He was right! The most helpful truths are simple ones. I recall a TV talk show interview for the bestseller Smart Moves: 140 Checklists to Bring Out the Best from You and Your Team. The host asked, “Sam, with over 1600 tips in those 140 checklists, how do readers find the most important one? Is there a tip more valuable than the rest?” My response was, “There is: know your audience⎯whether leading or following, speaking or listening, selling or buying.”
ME: Since you’ve been in the leadership development business for decades, what changes are you now seeing in the workforce issues leaders face?
SD: Successful leaders do two things: they win people’s hearts (engagement) and they hold their feet to the fire (accountability). Both appear to have become more difficult since my first consulting engagement in 1969, and for different reasons. Engagement is tougher to achieve as workers become more transient and as companies show less reluctance to summarily shed them in tough times. Accountability is in shorter supply as our society grows more politically correct and leaders cooperate by tolerating previously unacceptable behavior.
ME: How has the technology of social media, email, and mobile use made communication better…and perhaps worse in some ways?
SD: Charles Dickens answered this question back in the middle of the 19th Century when he said, “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.” Email and texting are wondrous ways to transmit plans, budgets, and schedules. But they expunge the “soul” of interpersonal communication that relies on some degree of emotion, desire, or intent for its success⎯and most of it does. As Dickens foresaw, our expressive voices and animated body language are nowhere to be found in electric communication.
ME: What assessments do you make of the millennials coming up in the workplace?
SD: We should take care not to attribute the characteristics of a broad group to any individual. Some millennials behave more like baby boomers and vice versa. That said, these are the distinguishing attributes of under-30s that my clients have shared: creative with little patience for plodding; energetic, but with little desire to sacrifice personal time for overtime; a strong sense of entitlement resulting from the “you deserve the best” culture in which they’ve been bred. Perhaps their most positive impact on the workplace is that they pressure organizations to give them the great leadership they should have been giving all employees before millennials ever appeared on the scene.
ME: Who are the people you set forth as role models for leadership in either the for profit or non profit environments?
SD: I’ve had the pleasure to work with several great leaders. Three who come to mind are Tom Rittenhouse, former CEO of GS1US; Tony Buzzelli, retired Senior Partner at Deloitte; and Ray Betler the current CEO of Wabtec. They’ve each demonstrated the ability to involve their people through servant leadership while holding them strictly answerable for results. A leader who once graced the international scene and who was a superb exemplar of that blend of engagement and accountability is General Norman Schwarzkopf. That’s why his troops called him “teddy bear” and “stormin’ Norman.”
ME: If you were Donald Trump’s leadership consultant, what might we hear you telling him? And…Hillary?
SD: Leadership is the same whether practiced on the campaign trail, in the Oval Office, or in a mom and pop shop. Create a distinct and inspiring vision for your team. Maintain a positive, hopeful, and optimistic outlook. Listen to your people and welcome their ideas. Never make a statement, when a question will get better results. Keep your people informed. Be clear, specific, and forthcoming with your expectations. Show your appreciation for hard, smart, and value-added work—constructively criticize the opposite. Keep disruptive emotions and impulse in check. Set a correct example; hold yourself to the highest ethical standards. Remain humble. Lead like Jesus!
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