Each year a group of amazing individuals gathers to push into the question of how to become transformational leaders and coaches within their organizations, teams, and community.
This past March I had the honor to be the keynote at their small gathering of about 60 high capacity business leaders. These men and women are connected to the organization Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Washington state and the event was graciously hosted by a good friend Glenn Powell at The Bank of the Pacific.
The content of the talk is built around the 3 Dimensional Coaching framework created by Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Jeff Dukes. In a nutshell 3 Dimensional Coaching is a method of coaching athletes which addresses the players beyond just on-field performance, and looks holistically at the body, mind, and heart of the players. It’s a powerful framework which helps to meet their emotional and even spiritual needs.
This group of change-makers I was honored to address is working to take this from a coaching-only framework and build it beyond; to co-opt it and grow it into a leadership framework.
Below you’ll find my succinct talking points as well as a replay of the event.
Introduction — What's at stake, Biblical Principles Actually Work
The stakes are high if we don’t engage our employees!
I've used this metaphor here before — imagine for a moment that you’re in a rowboat.
Say you’ve got 10 people in your boat.
You’ve got 3 people actively paddling;
5 people will paddle if asked, but if you look away they will be on their phones, playing with their oars, splashing in the water, etc.;
and you have 2 people in the back of the boat actively drilling holes causing the boat to actively take on water.
(If you haven't connected the dots by now, the boat is your business, or your nonprofit, or your kid's school.)
Gallup recently published a survey and those were the findings.
You've got 3 people actively engaged working to grow your organization and win.
You've got 5 people who are disengaged for whatever reason.
You've got 2 who are actively undermining your culture and vision.
Think about this for a moment — in America right now, the average org has 70% of its workforce disengaged. 70%!!
To win, we must start looking strategically at our employee engagement and how it impacts our performance as organizations.
Biblical Principles Actually Work!
Because of what's at stake, it’s imperative that we find ways to engage our teammates and employees. And I believe that Biblical principles—treating our employees with dignity, and engaging them on the heart-level, viewing them as created with value and purpose—are not only what we ought to do, but they happen to be highly effective way to engage our employees. This framework of what we're calling 3 Dimensional Leadership has the ability to catalyze our staff to bring their best selves to work, win for the organization, and mark them for the better as a result!
If 70% of our employees are disengaged, we will habitually turn over top talent, produce mediocre results, fail to innovate, and lose profits over long-term. We will be missing a massive opportunity to create organizations which move out of the transactional, carrot-and-stick culture, and into transformational places to work.
The aforementioned Gallup survey paints the picture of what's happening on average.
But we’re not in this to be average.
By focusing on the whole employee—body, mind, spirit—applying the 3 Dimensional Coaching framework to our personal and organizational leadership, addressing employees beyond simply managing for results, will move people from disengaged to engaged, and help us win.
The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of 3 Dimensional Leadership
Here are the basic characteristics of coaching at each of the 3 Dimensions as structured by Jeff Dukes’s 3 Dimensional Coaching, and what these dimensions look like through an organizational perspective. This is what we're calling 3 Dimensional Leadership.
WHAT is 3 Dimensional Leadership
FUNDAMENTALS (or “Body”) — 1st Dimension
In sports this is things like: teaching technique, play assignments, speed, quickness, strength, and agility. The skills and abilities you must have in order to perform.
In your organization this may look like: sales training, process improvement, systems, and structure. Training and equipping your teammates to carry out the responsibilities found in their job description.
PSYCHOLOGY (or “Mind”) — 2nd Dimension
In sports this looks like: motivating your players, helping them channel their emotions, teamwork and team cohesion. Professional teams even have “mental coaches” whose sole role is to help players forge a bulletproof and unflappable mindset.
In your organization this may look like: helping your salesforce be better trained and more confident, creating an atmosphere of recognition and safety in which employees feel well thanked and well heard, conflict resolution, finding synergies between departments, forming solid team dynamics, regular feedback so evaluations don’t become this scary punishment-thing, but are seen as opportunities for growth.
HEART (or “Spirit”) — 3rd Dimension
In sports this looks like allowing the game to be a context to help players understand where their true value, identity, significance, character, worth lie (hint: it’s not in the sport itself). The best coaches in my life cared about me beyond what I could produce on the field, and I knew it. Paradoxically, that motivated me to want to exceed expectations.
In our organizations we have the ability to lead in a transformative way as well—where employees are highly engaged in the mission of the organization because they feel like they’re growing and receiving just as much.
[**There are many amazing resources out there to help you deep dive into the specific tactics and strategies to achieve each of these 3 Dimensions which would be beyond the overall purpose of this overview/talking points. My purpose is to give you a general overview of the framework, how it's been used in the coaching world, and begin to cast a vision and connect the dots for how we may start understanding how this applies to our organizations.]
Where to start
Transformational, 3 Dimensional Leadership STARTS WITH SEEING people.
In essence — “I see you as capable, and I want to pour into you.”
Transformational leadership boils down to choosing the paradigm of seeing employees as whole humans—body, mind, and spirit.
Choosing to see them as capable and worthy of pouring into. Choosing to care about them enough to guide them to success in their area of responsibility within your organization. To guide them to the life-changing revelations that since they are valued and can succeed at work, that they can do other things well in areas of their life beyond work.
Relational Work = Hard Work
Here’s the catch: This is freaking hard work.
There is no magic formula or cookie cutter process — it's messy and hard. God’s created us each with uniqueness, our employees each bring a life of experiences, and scars, and joys, and tastes, and worries and anxieties and insecurities to the workplace which we as leaders must navigate.
You will make mistakes. I make them every week.
As a mentor of mine, Zach Clark taught me, mistakes are opportunities for building relationships. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and vulnerable — i.e. 'human' — when leading your employees because you might make mistakes.
Trust God will honor our messy attempts at loving our employees well and intentionally working to create a culture where others flourish.
The alternative to doing the hard work is doing what the average manager/owner/organization does: viewing work simply as a transactional, 1 dimensional world. A shut-up-sit-down-do-your-task-clock-out work environment. Viewing your employees as units of production.
This ugly alternative is what we get unless we work with intention to craft a work culture we’re proud of. A work culture that matters.
Why I left the business world...and why I’m returning.
5 years ago, I left the business world jaded and lacking a vision of how (or if) God could use business in his redemptive work in culture.
We’ve missed the mark if our purpose starts and ends with maximizing our bank accounts.
Especially when that pursuit pollutes how we operate. When it leads to us treating employees as mere units of production, and treating customers as bundles of emotions we need to manipulate to buy more widgets. I realize now that’s a very 1 Dimensional approach to business leadership (at best).
Profit is a subset of sustainability, not an end in and of itself. And the environment which leads to sustainability over the long-term is when organizational health is prioritized and people are well-engaged and well-cared for.
As it turns out, RESULTS and TRANSFORMATION are not mutually exclusive.
We can achieve exceptional and tangible results AND make work a place where people can flourish.
God does indeed have a place for business in advancing the common good.
3 Dimensional Leadership provides a great starting framework for finding our part in God’s vision to use business as a force to shape culture for his purposes.
WHY 3D LEADERSHIP IS IMPORTANT
Aside from the obvious employee engagement which we talked about above with what’s at stake, I believe there are two "Why’s" behind this concept of leading the whole person:
1. We are each made in image of God, with dignity and value
2. Each human has a purpose as part of the creation mandate found in Genesis 1:28
Reason #1: Made in Image of God (Loving doesn’t equal nice)
It's not just important to lead well to engage people so we don’t become the sinking boat example. It's important because each person is made in the image of God and we are called to recognize this and respond in love. But that’s not a call to just “love” them — in the like, “yeah yeah I love you, bro. But I’ll never call you out or help you achieve growth”-kind of way.
We’re not called to stop there. I think we sometimes use that as a cop-out because we’re not working to love them into their truest selves. Too often we allow our desires to be “nice” or “popular.” And that’s not truly loving them. Loving people means keeping them accountable.
Reason #2: Purpose
The creation or cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28 to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth is the purpose of all humankind. It is the very first commandment, if you will. In essence this calls us to go create — to build businesses, organize departments, marshal our resources to solve problems and add value, compose music, design computers, start companies, manage banks, etc. Business is central to the creation mandate.
We’re called to lead our organizations in a way which empowers people to do their best work and find joy and purpose in doing this work they’ve been called and assigned to within your organization. We have a responsibility to create work environments where people flourish and can fulfill their work and this creation mandate well.
HOW to become a 3 Dimensional Leader
This is by no means a definitive guide, but good place to start might be with some rapid fire case examples where we can see this working well (and not-so-well) and apply it to our own workplaces.
1st Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS
I recently had the opportunity to serve as a Spanish translator on a medical mission. I had a conversation with a gentleman who was recently retired from the Parks and Rec Dept. He talked about his retirement with a twinge of sadness, saying "I was just managing and punishing bad behavior." This is an example of a very 1-Dimensional workplace (at best) — just lording over the disengaged employees to get them to comply. No buy-in, there’s no sense of team or safety. It’s transactional.
If we stay at this dimension as leaders and organizations, we will lose.
2nd Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS + MIND
CONFIDENCE: Built through recognition, big and small. Casting and helping others live into an identity—a “future self” as Tim Keller puts it.
TEAM COHESION: We all have a longing for community, to be known and to know. Culture of recognition where teammates are praising each other, not just some top-down awards thing.
“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.” - Norman Hidle
SAFETY: This is a base motivation. If people don’t feel like they can do their job without fear of punishment when speaking their mind or taking appropriate risk, they will not feel safe. When they do, we’ve tapped into this second dimension.
Recognition and team and confidence can be accomplished by being present. Visiting with employees at the office or outside of it. In the same way that 3D Coaching mandates that we must be able to enter the life of an athlete away from the locker room and field, we must find creative and authentic ways to do this in our jobs. This will create the space for authenticity and vulnerability which I’ve found to be key for helping others see leaders as human and relatable and worthy of following.
MOTIVATION: Money can be motivating. Rules and policy can be motivating. But only extrinsically and only so much. Over-communicating that the purpose of any policy or rules is for the highest good, through transparency.
But be careful: "Ultimately rules without relationship lead to rebellion." as Josh McDowell puts it. Each individual is different. What motivates one, doesn’t for the other. Finding out what motivates your different players or employees is key.
CELEBRATION: "Follow the bright spots" as the Heath brothers say in their amazing book "Switch: How to change things when change is hard". Find what’s already working and support and celebrate the crap out of it. Find the sparks — who/what is going well — and do everything you can to lift that up and oxygen to that spark to light a fire!
3rd Dimension — FUNDAMENTALS + MIND + HEART:
The most powerful motivating force in the universe is the force of LOVE.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor. 13:4-7
How to become a leader at the 3rd Dimension boils down to this —
That your employees know you care about them beyond what they can produce. That they are cared for, and that sometimes means doing the unpleasant or unpopular things for the greater good, but ultimately over the longterm your heart for them will be made transparent and communicated well.
Example—Reaching the 3rd Dimensional remember reading a story a number of years ago about a top high school recruit who was making a decision between USC and Ohio State. He ended up deciding on OSU. The player’s rationale: “both schools have exceptional football programs — you go to either school to become a great football player. But you go to Ohio State to become a great man.” We have this same power in our organizations, and here’s just one example:
Recently, a few friends of mine who own their own business were telling me how they had to scale back and let a few people go. They gave the employees being let go the hard news that it was their last day and they'd be paid 2 weeks pay.
Now this is where it gets good...
One project manager who was being let go came back to the partners and said, "Hey, I'm going to be fine, but I know that Sally could use more time and money to land on her feet and find her next gig. My husband and I will be fine — why don't you give my 2 weeks pay to her."
Wow! I mean, if that doesn't speak to the culture of their business, I don't know what does.
My philosophy has been deeply shaped by these guys and other business owners I've been blessed to call friends who are trying to revolutionize how we view work and build work cultures that matter. They have insanely inspired staff who are themselves raving fans and brand ambassadors, and believe so deeply that business is to help others flourish that they'll even give up their severance!
FINAL CHARGE — WE NEED YOU TO LEAD US!
I think we all recognize that the world has changed.
We, the very people you’re leading, are no longer getting the support we once did from our communities and families. The world is a broken place, and many of your employees are looking to their work to be more than it once was. They’re looking to their work to help support and fulfill them, not only financially (of course financially, that’s a given!) but emotionally and even spiritually.
The world needs leaders to lead us — we need YOU to lead us! This 3-Dimensional Framework is a great roadmap to start guiding your path.
Thank You for the opportunity to be part of transforming this framework for leaders within the workplace.
WATCH "Measuring what makes life worthwhile" TED talk by Chip Conley
READ: Peak by Chip Conley
Chip beautifully and practically transforms Maslow's hierarchy of needs to fit the employee, customer, and investor and makes a case for how all three are connected and how our organzations can be massive forces for good (and profit).
Related Articles, Inspiration & Acknowledgements:
Bill Latham & MeTeor Education (meteoreducation.com) — Bill was the first to point me to the Gallup example and highlight what's truly at stake right now in the American workforce. He's on a mission to create a culture that matters at MeTeor and in doing so, rethink the 21st century classroom. Check out his new book (co-authored with Rex Miller!) Humanizing the Education Machine: How to create schools that turn disengaged kids into inspired learners.
ipsoCreative (ipsocreative.com) — they're a boutique web agency who's state (and lived) purpose is: "Business is not to maximize shareholder value. The purpose of business is to help humans flourish." The great thing is — they're winning.
Zach Clark (developmentandleadership.org) — Zach runs a business called Development and Leadership Coaching and has taught me so much on how self leadership and nonprofit development is an amazing laboratory for learning to lead other well.
Gallup survey on disengaged workers — http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx
FCA/Jeff Duke's 3 Dimensional Coaching Institute (3dinstitute.com)