Jeff Deckman has won multiple international Stevie awards for his book Developing the Conscious Leadership Mindset for the 21st Century. We talk about the underlying causes of all-time-low employee engagement and the new systems leaders can utilize to maximize the value of their human capital.
“The most successful organizational model humans have ever had was the first one, the tribe” - Jeffrey Deckman
An award-winning serial entrepreneur and author Jeff Deckman is a nationally recognized innovator in the mindsets and methods necessary to lead and manage today's multi-generational workforce in the modern Knowledge Economy. He has over 40 years of management experience and has been a serial entrepreneur for 35 years. During that time he built two multi-million dollar companies in the telecommunications integration industry and several non-profits before he founded Capability Accelerators in 2005.
He was also the co-founder of a 21st century think tank where he developed "The Bigger Know Principles of Conscious Leadership" system for leading the modern generations in the modern economy. Over the past 15 years, Jeff has coached, mentored, consulted and trained hundreds of executives and managers in scores of small and medium sized businesses.
Max Traylor: Welcome back world. Hey, I found one. You're in for a treat, grab a beer, do whatever you do. Just sit there and don't do anything for like 40 minutes and just listen to my guest Jeff Deckman. Jeff? Jeffrey? What's your-
Jeff Deckman: Either way. Doesn't matter.
Max Traylor: Sure. Jeff, Jeff Jeffrey, how about that?
Jeff Deckman: That works.
Max Traylor: But I'm drinking a Great North Aleworks robust vanilla Porter. I don't know why it spoke to me. So, here we go. And Jeff, you don't drink anymore. Tell me that you had a jingle to it. What's the story?
Jeff Deckman: I said that I'm an overachiever in life and I figured I drank my allotted amount of alcohol by the time I was about 56. I thought that slogan, Drink Canada Dry, was a set of instructions.
Max Traylor: I look forward to retiring from beer myself. For now it's my ticket to brilliant people like yourself. I wasn't kidding when I said everyone listening just shut your mouth don't do anything, and listen up. I keep hand writtennotes, I do pre calls with everybody we usually talk for about 10 to 15 minutes. I sat there silently and listened to Jeff talk for two hours, the very first time we talked, Jeff. And as I was shuffling through my papers, my handwritten notes here to find the notes on our conversation, I knew what to look for because you're the only person with two staples on the notes, because there's so many frickin notes. So anyway, that is a symbol of my excitement. Tell us what you do professionally.
Jeff Deckman: I am a leadership development and organizational design consultant. That's the easiest way to put it. And basically what I do is I go in, and I help companies build their companies from where they are to where they want to grow to. And I do that by focusing on the human capital side of things. And I focus on the human capital side of things by helping companies to understand the new leadership, mindsets, models and methods that are required to be successful in the 21st century. It's a combination.
Max Traylor: That's what I want to focus on. I want to focus on that. Give me a little bit of your background, the trifecta of the politics that you've been in, the businesses, and in higher ed and how all that came together. I just like to give a little bit of context to people because this brilliant intellectual property, these systems you have, they don't come from nowhere. And people are out there searching for a sign, some signal from the universe on what to focus on. And I think it's all crap. It's hidden in their experiences. There's a magic formula there. So, what's been your journey to where you are today?
Jeff Deckman: Well, it's interesting because over the last probably seven years, aspects of my journey that I didn't think were connected, ended up revealing that they were all connected. I'm one of these people that I get out of high school, and I was done with education. And I went to work as a grunt on a line crew. I was 17 years old working on a line crew in cable television. I did that for about a year. And then I joined the cable system where I got some technical background and became a tower worker, became a field engineer. And at that point in time, that cable industry was growing so fast and it was so new, you couldn't hire anybody experienced. As long as you had a work ethic, and you had a decent boss, you could really move up pretty quickly. Fast forward about the time I was about 22, I was hired to oversee the construction of a large cable system in New Jersey.
Jeff Deckman: So, I had to hire all the people, train them from installers to technicians, to engineers, et cetera. I got a lot of basic leadership training in that because I didn't have any official training. But I found that if you treat people with authenticity, integrity and respect and honesty, they're going to work with you. So anyway, I did that when I started my first company. It was a cable television contracting company when I was 25. And I built that with a couple of partners to four offices in four states, Dallas, Virginia, Jersey, Rhode Island, and that business got to $4.5 million, 108 employees and it crashed in 1987.
Jeff Deckman: I had a wife, I had a two year old, I had another on the way and I had a new mortgage and I didn't know what I was going to do. So, I had a choice, do I hire on somewhere? Because a lot of people knew me in the industry I had a name? Or do I start another business? And that seemed ludicrous because I just crashed one, so why would I think I could go and start another. But I had this nagging thing that I couldn't explain that said, I'm not done yet. I talked with my wife, I happen to have $17,000 that I had leftover from the bankruptcy and we're going through that, IRS, after all that kind of stuff, paid all my debts. And I realized that if I made one decision, it eliminated the other. But if I made the other choice, it kept both alive.
Jeff Deckman: So, if I went to work for somebody, I'd never start another business because I'd have two kids and cetera. So, make sure you can pay for their college track. But if I went out, if I started another business, and that failed, then I can always go get the job. So, I started the business. And it was brutal. But at the same time the telecommunications industry was starting. I shifted from being a cable television contractor to one of the early entrepreneurs in the telecommunications space, ended up building really large networks, copper, fiber, Co-X, voice, data, video, I sold that company a week before its 21st birthday to my management team. I saw a lot of how to build a company from the bottom up with very little money until you could make enough money to afford to do the things that you wanted. I was never properly capitalized, but I had a pretty good run. I learned the value of human capital because when you don't have financial capital, you can't buy your way out of mistakes.
Jeff Deckman: And because I came from the blue collar, I understood, I went from blue collar to white collar, and I understood every step of the way. That was a lot of my business training. But at the same time I ended up getting involved in politics, which I never thought I would do. But the state of Rhode Island actually licensed my entire industry, the telecommunication contractor industry out of business. And they turned it over to the electricians. And they wouldn't grandfather the contractors into the licensing. So, they went around, started shutting us all down, which is illegal. A bunch of us got together, competitors became collaborators, sued the state, got a restraining order, to keep them from enforcing that law. And we realized we had to go to the scene of the crime, which was the state house to fix it, but we couldn't afford a lobbyist. So, my buddy and I paid five bucks and went up to the statehouse in Rhode Island signed up to be lobbyists, and we figured we'd go in and figure out how does this stuff work and how can we undo what had happened to us?
Jeff Deckman: Nobody thought we'd be successful because you don't repeal a law. Nobody's going to admit they're that wrong. But anyway, we ended up getting a repeal. And part of the repeal was that there was a study commission put together to figure out well, how should you guys be licensed? There's a lot of politics around that. I learned a lot about manipulation, dirty pool, through that process. And long story short, after three years that study commissioned never could meet because the people that were opposed to us licensing ourselves and the electricians, they would never show up at these meetings, so we never had a quorum. The champion rep up there came to us and said, "Look, guys, this is what they're doing for you. You have to write the law." And we said, "We've never written a law." And he said, "Well..." pardon my French but this is what he said. He said, "Well, tough shit figure out how to write one." So we said, okay.
Jeff Deckman: We sat in my buddy's basement, where he had his office and for two years, we studied how the state of Rhode Island licensed professionals and trades. And we came up with a licensing structure and there was no licensing in the country for telecommunications contractors. So, we invented a proper way to license it. Anyway, we wrote the law. And I lobbied that for about two years to get it passed. And then it got passed. And we created a licensing board. And then I sat on that. I've been involved in business and then I've been involved in politics from that standpoint, and working with government. And then because of what I saw up at the statehouse, I said, I want to learn how to run campaigns because I want to help good people get involved. I'd run campaigns on the state and local level. Because I was showing up in all these places, I started getting on people's radar screens and I ended up being appointed by three governors in Rhode Island to sit on various boards and commissions focused on economic development, workforce development, and entrepreneurship.
Jeff Deckman: And that culminated in them asking me to take over a large industry cluster that was focused on bringing federal dollars into the state to help Rhode Island develop their information technology industry. So, I had to do collaborations that involve government, higher education and business leaders in the IT sector to do workforce development and training programs. So, we got $15 million in from the feds through an innovation grant from the Federal Department of Labor. And we created these curriculums that allowed people at the top of the IT to move up to the next level, and to [inaudible] underneath so that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds could get into that industry. So, I learned a lot about nonprofit, I learned a lot about collaborations, I learned about the power of government, higher education and business and I actually develop high end collaboration skills because those three groups don't like one another. And so how do you get them to work together?
Jeff Deckman: What I learned in that is, seek alignment and you will get your agreements. When I went to them and said, "Look, do you all care about workforce development, economic development, entrepreneurship development?" And they all did for their own reasons, and they all came at it from their own ways, but none of them could do it completely. By pulling together business, which business people are great at getting things done very quickly and inexpensively. Higher education can do all the research you want. So, and government is the bully pulpit, government can apply, funding government can get out ahead and make public announcements about the importance of stuff. I got each of those groups to instead of looking at what they don't like about the other side, I got them to understand how important and valuable the assets at the other side had work to them. And then once they saw that, and they were all aligned on getting those three things done, then we could create agreements on how to do that stuff.
Max Traylor: Yeah. Well, what I like about that story is it has an ending. And the ending is this formula that you've created. That's won a ton of awards. I want you to talk about your book and talk about the awards not to gloat, but just because this is so exciting and the stuff that you're finding is becoming internationally recognized as there's a big shift in company culture, and leadership, employee productivity. And I don't think it's a conspiracy theory anymore. The shift is underway. And you're either on board or you're not. What's your book? And what's this formula that you started to figure out?
Jeff Deckman: Well, let me drop back and talk about one more thread that was going on while that other stuff was going on. About 20 years ago, I ended up getting on a spiritual path. Not a religious, but a spiritual path. I've studied Taoism for years. I've studied Native American cultures and spirituality.
Max Traylor: That's okay, Jeff. I've studied IPAs.
Jeff Deckman: Yeah. Well, hey, I've seen God at the bottom of a bourbon bottle a couple times.
Max Traylor: Yeah, we're all victims of spiritual...
Jeff Deckman: Yeah, that's a whole other story [inaudible] fun in dysfunction. But that journey was really important because what I learned through those experiences, literally 4,000 hours, it retreats over a 12 year period of time. And what I learned was how to separate my ego from who I really am. And that is a fundamental piece of all my work. Everything that I just explained before about the businesses and the politics and the collaboration and nonprofits. That's important, that's mechanical. But that alone wasn't enough to get me to realize what needs to be done in the modern leadership environment, right? My book is called developing their conscious leadership mindset for the 21st century. Because today's workforce is made up of four or five of the most independent minded generations, literally in the history of humanity. They're in the workforce. And none of them want to be told what to do. None of them respond well to command and control. And none of them want to not have input. They want to be empowered.
Jeff Deckman: And that's causing a major problem, because the traditional leadership methods that we've had, and it worked extremely well in the 20th century, are paramilitary, command and control, top down. They're beautiful models for the industrial age. And for a century that had two of the biggest wars in the history of the world, right. So, between the wars and then the men coming out of the wars, the men and women coming out of the wars and then taking that mindset to build the largest corporations [inaudible] again, the world's ever seen. All of our leadership training follows that model, which is fine. But what's happened is the ground has shifted underneath that model. And like I said the generations of today, they do not respond to that model. In fact, they push back from it. That's why Gallup shows that employee engagement hovers at around 30%.
Max Traylor: What does that mean? Tell me more about that, because you've given me some numbers that I tried desperately to repeat and never get it exactly right. But tell me about this problem with employee engagement.
Jeff Deckman: Okay, so Gallup identifies three layers of employee engagement, engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged. Engaged people are those ones who, you know what, they show up to work, they're in, they're into it, they go home, they think about it, they love what they do. Those people are 90% productive. Not engaged people are people that are going and they're doing their job, but they have a life after it, and they're dependable, but they're not highly engaged. Those people are 60% productive. And then you have actively disengaged, and those are the people that are actively working against the company for whatever reason. And those people are 40% engaged. Right? 40% productive. So, highly engaged they're 90% productive, not engaged are 60%, and actively disengaged are 40%.
Jeff Deckman: So, when you look at those numbers, and do you have a lot of people that are 60% productive and 40% that drives down your performance, which drives down your profits? Engagement is tied directly to profits.
Max Traylor: Does Gallup say anything... Do we know anything about the distribution of those groups today? Are most people in the 90% productive category? Is there a trend to more people being actively disengaged? What's the state of things out there, because most people that I talked to hate their jobs.
Jeff Deckman: Well, if you look at it 70% either really don't care or they hate their job.
Max Traylor: Okay, that's the punchline, I see it a lot.
Jeff Deckman: Imagine if you managed a baseball team, and you had three people playing and six sitting in the grass.
Max Traylor: Well, that was me as a kid. I sat in the grass in the outfield. I was talented. But in Little League, how many times did they hit it to the outfield? So what are you going to do?
Jeff Deckman: So you were not engaged?
Max Traylor: I was actively disengaged.
Jeff Deckman: Right. Right. You were there, right?
Max Traylor: Deliberately messing with the team.
Jeff Deckman: If they moved into the infield, or if you were winning more, all of a sudden you get into it, right? So the reason that those 70% of the people it's not that they don't want to like their job, everybody would like to be productive, almost everybody. In fact, I had a conference one time, I had a mixture of executives and frontline people in it, and I asked all the executives who here wish that they had employees that were leaning in, and were more interested, and were more accountable, and all that type of stuff, all the hands go up, right? I said, "All right, put your hands down." I looked at all the frontline people. I said, "Who here wished that they were listened to more, had more input, and were able to be more empowered?" And all the hands went up? And I said, "Okay, so everybody wants the same thing?" What's the problem?
Jeff Deckman: And the problem is the leadership model. Because the leadership model doesn't encourage or make room for those people on the frontlines to really be fully engaged. So, what's any intelligent person going to do, who's not really being listened to or engaged or respected? They're just going to drop back and go, whatever.
Max Traylor: Or look for a new job?
Jeff Deckman: Yeah, there's a story of Jack Welsh, where he gives this guy a gold watch for 50 years of service and the guy looks at him and says, "Hey, thanks for the watch. But you know what, if you would have treated me differently, you could have had not only my body but my mind for 50 years too." Right? In today's world, we're in a knowledge economy. And it's not manpower that turns the wheels of performance and profitability, it's mind power.
Max Traylor: Yeah.
Jeff Deckman: So, the leaders today they really need to activate what I call the bigger know that collective genius of the group. You know what you know, I know what I know and together we have a bigger know. In a knowledge economy with knowledge workers, you need to get that knowledge capital flowing, and command and control models don't allow for that. They oppress it.
Max Traylor: All right. Got the challenge? What's the solution? What's the new thing? What are all these awards about? The book, don't be modest, tell me the awards again. You've been noticed to say the least.
Jeff Deckman: Yep. I think it was in May, I was informed that I won Stevie Awards from the American Business Awards Association. And to be honest, I didn't know what they were. So, I was like, "Okay, well, let me look them up." Talk about being naive, excuse me. So, I looked them up and basically, the American Business Awards are the Academy Awards for a Business Awards. So, I won the gold for the best ebook for the Kindle version, and I won a bronze for the best business book. Then, the book was entered in the International Business Awards, who had their event in Vienna in October, and I won silver for best business book in that, and I won bronze for best ebook. What that meant was 13 National judges and 10 International judges looked at the content of this book, and based on that content alone, I had nothing to do with me. They didn't know me, nor should they. But they looked at The approach that I took with the book, and they were so impressed by it that they thought it was worthy of their acknowledgement and their awards.
Max Traylor: So, tell us about this formula. I always call things conspiracy theories.
Jeff Deckman: Yeah.
Max Traylor: But it's not. Tell us about the new formula. How are companies getting people engaged, tapping and unlocking the minds of these five generations that actually want to contribute?
Jeff Deckman: Well, how are they doing it? They're doing it very, very poorly.
Max Traylor: Yes, they [crosstalk 00:22:35].
Jeff Deckman: But they don't want to be.
Max Traylor: Yeah.
Jeff Deckman: Right? The essence of this book, in order to transform our leadership methodology to match where the social consciousness is, in order to transform your way of thinking and any way to a new way, there are three steps I've learned. There's three steps. First, you have to develop a new mindset that fits with the new conditions. We have to get our head around where command and control doesn't work anymore, and people aren't going to do what we tell them to the maximum degree that they could just by us using authority and force. It's not going to happen, right? So you have to embrace that, if you stick to the old model, okay, but you're just going to have... you're going to work harder and have more frustration, because it's just not going to work.
Max Traylor: So, what do we do? We just tell everyone [inaudible 00:23:31].
Jeff Deckman: Well, what you do is you provide them with a different mindset. And you help them understand why this mindset not only is important, why their timing of it is now, and what it consists of. I've read a ton of leadership books, and I've done all kinds of stuff, and they would always frustrate me because they would tell me what to do, but not how. I'm a reformed engineer, I'm an operations guy. I was in a think tank for two and a half years developing this stuff. I get thinking in the cloud, I get that. And I do that pretty well. But unless I can bring it down and I can make it real to people on the front lines, it has no value. So me telling you that, "Hey, a tsunami is coming, build a boat." And you go, "Okay, I believe you. I want to build a boat. How do I build a boat?" And I just tell you to build a boat.
Max Traylor: Yeah, well, I'm ready, man. I got my Robust Vanilla Porter. I'm ready to build the boat.
Jeff Deckman: Ready to go.
Max Traylor: What is the mindset, that's my question. What's this new mindset? What do we have to shift to, I get it. Command and Control eff it. Don't want it, not working. What's the new mindset? How do I build the boat?
Jeff Deckman: The new mindset is what I call, and this is a term that's used a lot, but I have a specific version of it. It's conscious leadership. Right? Leadership is a state of consciousness. People aren't going to follow you because you have power or you have authority. You can make them do stuff, but that's not them following you, that's them responding to you. If you have the level of consciousness, almost like a tribal elder, where people look and go, you know what, I respect where he or she is coming from. They're not just looking out for themselves, they're looking out for the greater good. They're smart, they're disciplined, they hold themselves accountable, they hold other people accountable. All of a sudden, the way we're wired as social creatures, is we look to someone like that, and we will follow them, and we want to emulate them, and we want to work with them, because we respect where they're coming from.
Jeff Deckman: Leadership is a state of consciousness. And the first step on the path to conscious leadership is an inward one. And so we're all the rest. If I can't lead myself, if I can't manage my emotions, and if I can't discipline myself, and rise above a lot of this stuff that's going on. And I'm never going to get myself to a place where I'm going to be able to lead you. So, I have to be able to learn how hard it is for me to get from my ego based leadership to an elder based leadership. I had to take myself through that path. And it was tough for one of the reasons I went, for 12 years, doing all this stuff. But I got there and I learned a lot of things along the way, still learning in school every single day. And what I've done is I've taken some of those cornerstones and I put them in this book. And this book is very unique, because it's not a book that you sit down and just read through, it's actually a workbook.
Jeff Deckman: And what I did was I took actually 52, I'll call them, contemplation seeds, their realizations, their methods, their paradigm shifts, and I put them in this book. And the thinking was that, go in and do one a week. That's why it was 52. The first chapter of the book, and each chapter is one page. And it speaks to the particular point that I'm making. The first one is, leadership as a state of consciousness, and people aren't going to follow you just like what I talked about. Then the point... what you do then, is then you think about that. And on the other side of the book, you write what you think about what you just read. And it could be anything, it could be all that makes sense, or I think he's full of crap or whatever. But anyway, you're right, how that hits you where you're at.
Max Traylor: Gets people thinking.
Jeff Deckman: Get people thinking, right?
Max Traylor: Creates a conversation.
Jeff Deckman: It creates a conversation.
Max Traylor: You never hear it, but it creates a conversation for them.
Jeff Deckman: Well, yeah. And what it does is it puts that thought in the person's head, and whether they like it or they don't like it, then the idea is to walk around for, if you're doing a 52 week version of it, right, or a week. And just think about that, and see how your thinking changes, because once you take something and you put it in the forefront of your mind, and now all of a sudden. It's like you buy a green car, right, a green Chevy or something like that everybody has a green Chevy, you now see it. Because you're aware of it. So, you walk around with this thought. What does this leadership or state of consciousness mean? And where can I see it playing out? And what will happen is, after a period of several days or a week, you're thinking on that will shift.
Jeff Deckman: It may solidify exactly the way it was but you understand why you think that way now more, instead of just like, I think that way. Well, why do you think that way? And does it really fit? And does it support or more often what happens is, for me, whatever I thought was really off, the more I thought about it, I was like, "Oh, that's right. There's something in there." And then that's when the shift happens. This book is designed to give you something that is really important on this conscious leadership path for you to think about.
Max Traylor: Well, I know that I got to... as I hear you talk, I'm in the middle of finishing my book. So, there might be some style updates. I love that approach. It makes total sense. Let me go back to the trifecta of the system that you have. The first was mindset, I need to understand the other two. And then my last question is going to be around, what do we do with this thing? What are your aspirations for... How do we change the world? Are they all going to buy your book and that's going to be it? Are you going to run around holding people's hands. how's this going to work?
Jeff Deckman: Yeah. So, for transformation, you need three things. You need a new mindset, you need a new model that you can see the world through, that fits the mindset, and then you need specific methods that you can actually use to manifest the mindset through the model.
Max Traylor: In the model.
Jeff Deckman: New model. The new model, and the non industrial, post industrial age is not the org chart. The org chart is a horrible model to define an organization. In fact, it no more defines an organization than an X-ray defines the human body. Right? All it does, it shows you the structure, there's bones, and they're shaped like this, right? So, there are departments and there's layers. And I'm not saying get rid of the org chart. What I'm saying is put the org chart as a secondary model, the new model that I've found and I've been working with and doing trainings around it, it just it's true. Is that there's an organizational trinity. There are three things that are happening behind the org chart that are 100% responsible for driving all for performance. They are tribal dynamics, knowledge networks and cultures.
Jeff Deckman: That's the new model. When I give people that I work with this new model to see their organization, they're seeing much deeper into the organization. And instead of seeing the organization through an X-ray, they're now seeing it through an MRI. Right, you can see the muscles, the tribal dynamics are the muscles, that's where the people come together and they work together. Are they healthy? Are they sick? How do you have to adjust them, right? The collective genius, the knowledge networks, getting people, assemble teams. I designed computer networks for 20 years. The same exact network theories that allow one computer to become exponentially more powerful than network, apply exactly over to developing teams, where one human becomes exponentially more powerful when mixed with others, if you design that team to function the same way. I talked about, I use network design theory, which has four steps to it, it's not that hard, and I apply that to developing teams, so they have really robust knowledge networks.
Jeff Deckman: And then the part with culture, I go about culture very differently. A lot of people say they want Google culture. And I tell them "Tough, you're not going to have it." And they look at me, and I'm like, "Well, it's a couple reasons. You're not Google. So, you're not going to have Google culture." It's like looking at the family next door and saying, "I want to live like them." It's not going to happen. Why don't you take the best things that you see in that and fit it into your culture? So, when I do culture, I sit down and I get a sense for what is the existing culture of the place? What are the tribal dynamics? If it's a construction company, it's probably rough and tumble. If it's a defense contractor, it's very different. If it's a nonprofit, it's very different. So, you start where they are and then you look to help them institute a couple of things. I like to keep things simple and I like analogies.
Jeff Deckman: There's three fundamental pieces that if you apply it to an individual, or to a group, or to a culture, you're going to get positive results, and I call it leading with AIR. And AIR is an acronym for Authenticity, Integrity, and Respect. Those are the three cornerstones of your culture or your leadership ability or your teams, you're going to have a high performing team. You're going to have a team that's bonded with one another. You're going to have a team that respects itself and protects itself. So that when you get a bad seed in, they either convert the bad seed into a good seed, or they spit it out. That's part of their consciousness of this new leadership mindset is, look, we can't be using power and force. We have to use collaboration, communication, facilitation, empowerment. But at the same time, you still have to have consequences and that's really important to have in cultures too.
Jeff Deckman: A culture is a society, every society has a judicial system, right? One of the things that I do when I'm helping companies build their culture is, let's figure out what type you want to be and we'll keep it healthy. And then let's define your criminal system, right? What's a misdemeanor? What's a felony? What's a capital offense? The misdemeanors are what I call, come on man, offense. Come on man, you're late. Come on man, you can't be doing this, lets go. So, that's misdemeanor. Felony is you do that and I'm writing you up, and I'm going to write you up in three strikes and you're out. Capital offense is one and done. Sexual harassment, violence in the workplace, done. Sorry, I don't care who you are. Nobody is above the law. So, you get everybody management and the workforce to agree on what those are. And then that is what allows you to keep order within the culture because a culture without measured in fair consequences is chaos.
Max Traylor: Well, I sure appreciate you shedding some actual tangible light on the word culture because I think it's probably the most ambiguously used term in business today. So, there you go. But I got a question. Tribal dynamics, when you're drinking beer you got to think polarity, one or two things then you got to move on. Give me an example of a tribe within an organization or tribal dynamics within an organization so that I understand how that's different from the org chart.
Jeff Deckman: Of all the things that I talked about beyond the importance of getting their consciousness piece right. Tribal dynamics are the most powerful force within the organization. There's a lot-
Max Traylor: Circle gets to square.
Jeff Deckman: There's a lot of different tribes, right? If you think of an organization that has a lot of departments. You have the engineering department that's a tribe, you have the finance department, you have the marketing department, you have the sales department, you have the R&D department. Those are all tribes. They have similar languages, they engage in similar activities. They're socially or they're professionally connected, right. And they're working towards a common goal. And the mentality of let's say, the frontline construction folks is very different than the mentality and the tribal dynamics of the sales force. Those tribes operating within the bigger tribe, every company is a tribe of tribes. Those as a leader, I have to understand the tribal dynamics of each of those groups and understand that they're very different and then I have to be able to create the conditions where they can interact with one another with authenticity, integrity and respect. You get to keep your different flavors of culture. We're not going to make the construction guys be super nice. And we're not going to make whomever the finance guys be rough and tumble, be who you are.
Jeff Deckman: Then there's also tribes that are position based. You have structural departmental tribes, and then you have position based tribes, which are frontline workers, middle management, senior management, ownership. There could be something happening that affects the frontline workers, that all of a sudden those people and all those individual departments, they become a tribe. And they are looking to go one direction or another. And you need to be able to understand what those tribes are when they're shifting and what is shifting them, so that you can be aware of them and respond to them. Show up where they are. As a leader, I have to be seen as a valued trading partner. Because I'm not in your tribe, I might be in the department, but I'm not in your tribe. I'm senior management, you're a frontline worker, I'm not in your tribe. But if I can show up, as somebody who's valuable to you...
Jeff Deckman: When I had my last company, I used to tell people don't think of me as the president of this company, think of me as the person who can probably get the most stuff you need, so that you can be as successful as you can be. I'm a great facilitator, don't look at me as this power guy like that's going to kill us. Look at me as the asset that I can bring, and engage me that way. Because I need to know what you need because I can't see it, and you can. And I need you to tell me because on the frontlines, organizations are living, breathing thinking libraries. I tell executives this all the time, the people in your organization know every problem you have, can tell you why you have it, can tell you why it's not fixed and probably can tell you how to fix it. If they can't tell you how to fix it, if you add them into the conversation, it will become part of the solution. You're a living, breathing talking library.
Max Traylor: But that doesn't happen. That doesn't happen today. That information in the limited experience, I have at a top down would you call it military?
Jeff Deckman: Yeah, command and control, top down.
Max Traylor: Command and control. You just get shut down. You have an idea, you have an insight, you know how to fix something, you shut your mouth.
Jeff Deckman: Right.
Max Traylor: And that's how it works.
Jeff Deckman: And that's why 30% of the people are not... 70% of the people are not engaged. And Gallup has identified that that lack of engagement costs American companies $500 billion a year in lost profits. Because the org chart is designed to restrict people's natural movement. The most successful organizational model humans have ever had is the first one they've ever had. And that's the tribe.
Max Traylor: Yeah. Well, I have another piece of insight. I needed a personal experience. My personal experience in big companies is so limited, I went out on my own, coming from a couple generations of entrepreneurs. So, Maxtraylor.com was going to happen. But I remember bringing up something, it was so obvious to me, and I brought it up in a meeting, and it wasn't my boss, it wasn't my boss's boss. It wasn't the head of the company that said anything about my new insight, the thing that I wanted to change. I was pulled aside by a colleague, that said, "You can't do that. I can't believe that you brought a fricking obvious truth to the table. You embarrassed me and this and that." So, it goes back to your conversation about tribes and from some of our previous conversations, if the tribal dynamics it's about understanding who has influence. And that influence might not come from the org chart, or it might not come from the boss.
Max Traylor: People might go to the janitor, because he's fricking all knowing and he knows how to get things done. And he takes care of people we don't know. But it's those dynamics that you won't see through the X-ray, that you won't see through the org chart that you need to understand as a leader. If that company understood there was one person running around shooting down good ideas. Well, I definitely wouldn't be there but people like me might still be there. And they're not doing very well anymore.
Jeff Deckman: Well, that's another thing that I help people see. Once I can get you to not look at the org chart just as this static structure, and I can help you to see that it's this complex organizational trinity with all this stuff going on. Now all of a sudden, I can start showing you other things that were invisible to you before but were there. So that you could see them.
Max Traylor: Yeah, like that was invisible, 100% that whole dynamic was invisible, to the leadership team, was invisible to my boss. Three months later when my boss came to me and gave me this offer for a new position and she was all excited, I was like, "I made this decision. We do that, I was out of here, buddy." It happened behind the scenes and it happened from a peer, shutting down good ideas and shutting down creativity of the young people.
Jeff Deckman: That is a toxic culture that's pulling down the tribe. Right? That's cultural impact on the tribe. If that tribe was healthier, and they would see this guy doing that thing, somebody would pull him aside and say, "That's not how we do it here. Don't you shut people down." Because culture is so powerful. You get it going in a direction it's going to continue to go. But you bring up a very valuable point, and it's something I help leaders see. It's the most undervalued management asset in a company, and they're all over the place. But they're never tapped into. Is what I call the tribal leader. And the tribal leader is somebody within that particular group, whichever group you're working with, who they see as being very influential, and they trust. And oftentimes it's someone who does not have the title of boss or manager, but it's someone within the tribe. Right?
Jeff Deckman: Those people are the eyes and the ears of the institution. Those are the people when management goes in and says, "Hey, we're going to do this great thing." And everybody sits down and says, "Yeah, great." Management walks out, they all look at her and say, "What are we doing here?" And if she's on board, they're on board, if not... because they are suspicious of the next level up. What I do, and I go into companies all the time, and I engage these tribes, and I have to figure out where they are, and who they are. And I don't know any of these people. And then I have to find out who the tribal influencers are. And you can have positive and negative within the same tribe and are oftentimes at war, right? Back and forth with one another. So anyway, once I find those people, I acknowledge them. And I let them know that I see their value, and I see their influence and I show them respect.
Jeff Deckman: And when I show them the respect, they look at me and say, this is somebody who not only is a manager, but he's from the outside and he's coming in and he can see that I'm a player. Okay. Well, if I respect you, chances are you're going to respect me. And eventually you probably, you might even start to like me. And if I can have a relationship with anybody who there's respect, and even a little bit of like, we can do all kinds of stuff. Because that starts to build trust. But when you have trust, you have speed, and you have collaboration, and you have communication. And collaboration and communication is the lubrication that keeps the gears of the organization going. Because organizations, the way they make money is through humans. Money doesn't make money any more than money loses money, people do both. So, your balance statement is a lagging indicator.
Max Traylor: The people.
Jeff Deckman: The leading indicator is the people. If you go in and you do the people stuff right, and you can't fake it, because the tribe is brilliant. One of them will sniff you out and tell the rest of them and the rest of them won't tell you that they know that you're full of it.
Max Traylor: Yeah.
Jeff Deckman: Right. But once you build those relationships, now all of a sudden, there's always going to be a certain amount of distance. I'll never be completely included in that tribe, nor do I need to be. But I need to have an agreement where if I'm on fire, you're going tell me, or if you're on fire, I'm going to tell you. And we're going to work together, and you're going to be representing your side, and that's great. And I'm representing my side of the equation, and that's great. But we're going to meet in the middle, because we all have to work for the betterment of the organization as a whole. And the minute we start getting into fighting and turf wars, that's ego over elder, that's old school leadership, conflict, and everybody loses money, and nobody's happy about it.
Max Traylor: We got a couple minutes left, you got this system, people are noticing, the world needs to change. If they don't, well, we know what's going to happen.
Jeff Deckman: [crosstalk 00:46:45].
Max Traylor: But for someone like yourself that's winning all these awards, and you got this system and you've got the book and you've got it all figured out, what are you excited for? How are you going to bring it to the world? How do you weaponize this thing and get people to pay attention?
Jeff Deckman: Yeah, so I'm excited about a couple things. I'm really excited about the fact that all this stuff works. It's taken me 40 years of experience and 15 years really in the trenches working on it. And I know everything I've put together works. And not only does it work, but I can teach it. For me to know this stuff it's not a big deal. My mission... and I had a cancer experience a handful of years ago, and it got me to look at my runway and what am I going to do with the rest of my time here and all that, all that kind of stuff. And what I've decided is that the best way that I can make an impact in the world is to try to help people to get leadership skills that will help them interact with people in a more healthy way, in a more productive way. This isn't about woo, woo, this is about smart capitalism. This is about getting things done. I wrote the book, the book got the awards. I'm doing training programs now, I do public speaking.
Jeff Deckman: I do consulting work, where I actually go in and I help companies to take themselves from the industrial age models of leadership and organizational design and start to incrementally introduce things that allow them to shift at a rate of speed they're comfortable with. This stuff is complex and doesn't happen overnight. But it's like turning to Queen Mary, once you get it in the right direction it goes. And the good news is for me, that the world has shifted over into this space and it's not going back, between the consciousness of the modern worker, and the fact that technology empowers the individual, unlike anything we've ever seen. Those two things are forcing a different leadership methodology. If you don't adapt, you're just not going to have an effect. The challenge is, okay, the train's left the station, I'm not in Kansas anymore, how do I adapt? And what I've spent the last 10, 15 years doing is figuring out what those adaptive systems are and teach, putting them in a series of packages where I can teach them to other people.
Jeff Deckman: And what I constantly get when I do my trainings and I'm doing another training on May 7th and 8th, it's two days on the actual method. Is when they start seeing this, what I constantly hear is, you know what? I knew this. I'm surprised how much I already know about what you're saying. I just didn't realize it. I didn't realize this stuff was at work. I've talked to you about some kind of heady stuff, but you get it, tribes. What's that? Knowledge, network, cultures? This is not rocket science.
Max Traylor: Well, to be honest, here's my question, Jeff. This stuff is important.
Jeff Deckman: It's important.
Max Traylor: I find it hard to believe that you're satisfied with going around and delivering this stuff yourself.
Jeff Deckman: Oh, is that?
Max Traylor: That means that you get to address a teensy, weensy little teensy sliver Jeff size portion of the market.
Jeff Deckman: [crosstalk 00:50:11].
Max Traylor: What about the generation of executives that want to do their own thing? They want to contribute to the marketplace, let's see what's broken in the world, and you've got this system, are you planning on training them, certifying them so they can make a difference on all the companies that their boards have? What about the next generation of frontline workers and leaders? It's bigger than you now?
Jeff Deckman: Oh, it's way bigger than me. And that's one of the things I'm really excited about is I'm now starting to pull this stuff together and you are being... you are helping me because I always knew I had this stuff and I could do a train the trainer. Because that's what I want to do, right? Because that's how... I'm a network guy, I understand how things go viral.
Max Traylor: Yeah, well, that's why we write it down. If you're satisfied with you run around holding people's hands, you won't have to write it down, you just say, "Hey, it's the Jeff Show, [crosstalk] be there."
Jeff Deckman: Right, it's the Jeff Show.
Max Traylor: You can give me a call.
Jeff Deckman: I see this as my way of helping people to shorten their learning curve to get to where they need to be so that they have more success and more prosperity. So yeah, I'm in a process right now putting together a train the trainer program that is going to be for consultants. There's a lot of consultants out there who are looking for systems and methods that work. If they can then take, add on to what it is that they already know, and they're really good at, and then they have this system that they've really been deeply trained in, and they can adjust it to their own. And then they add that to what it is that they're doing. So, whether you're working in an organization, or whether you're an outside consultant, if you're at the high end of this leadership space, we have responsibility for anything from middle management going up. This is going to make your life easier and trust me, you will work less, accomplish more and have a lot less stress.
Jeff Deckman: Because you've got everybody in the boat and they're pulling in the right direction. And the minute that they see that now wait a minute, there's something changing in this organization, management starting to ask me questions and they want to listen, that's what this two day conference is that I'm giving. It's a eight step leadership system that tells you how to identify the network, what shuts it down, how to open it, how to build it, how to strengthen it, how to deal with it when it breaks down. It's step, step, step, and I've been using that for 10 years. It just straight out works.
Max Traylor: How do people get your book? How do they figure out about this workshop that you're doing? Give them the name of the book again, just send people to one... remember, there are drinkers out there, so you got to send them one place, is it like jeffdeckman.com, they get everything right there. Where do we send them?
Jeff Deckman: It is you go to jeffreydeckman.com and you're going to learn a-
Max Traylor: Thank you, thank you by the way. Thank you for not having some ridiculous company name that we can't remember.
Jeff Deckman: Oh, I have one, it’s Capability Accelerators, which is closed.
Max Traylor: Oh, shit. I spoke too soon.
Jeff Deckman: I accelerate with.... But two years ago I looked and I said, "No, I have all this whole body of work and I have to be the brand." So, it's jeffreydeckman.com, you can email me at @jeffreydeckman.com. I google well, and I have a website up on the conference right now. It's consciousleadershipconference.com. And it is a kicked ass conference. It's two days, it's at the Alton Jones Center of URI, and literally presidents and kings have gone there. Eisenhower used to go there, use it as a retreat and to chill out. So, we go there, with two days, we send the rest of the world away. We do it deep dive into this and we create a wisdom council for two days. And you learn this system, because I said mindset model method. We teach it, we go deep into the method, which brings the mindset and we introduce what the model is. But it's about that method, so people can go learn it today and leverage it tomorrow.
Max Traylor: Well, you know what? I can see it. You know how you know you've made it, is when your business card just says Jeffrey Deckman and on the back. It says, I google well.
Jeff Deckman: I google Well, yeah.
Max Traylor: And my book is-
Jeff Deckman: Just google me, because you're going to find all this stuff out here. There's an insight folks, google the guy.
Max Traylor: Yeah, and go on YouTube and you'll find my YouTube channel, just Jeffrey Deckman.
Jeff Deckman: [crosstalk] your personal brand. Isn't that the point because you leave a conference, you don't know where that card is, but you might remember Deckman, [inaudible] guy, Jeff. Let's google and see which one. Well, thank you so much, I tell you what, it leaves me wanting an episode to, an Encore beer. But life goes on, I got to go to Las Vegas tomorrow, I got things to do. I'm going to leave you at that for those of you listening to the show, google him Jeffrey Deckman, I encourage you to and-
Max Traylor: And send me emails if you have questions. I am a devoted teacher to any devoted student. If you want to know about this stuff, I live and breathe this stuff because it's so fascinating. And I've seen so many organizations that were sick, that made their people sick, heal. Just because you shift the level of consciousness that you're going in there. And it's like I said, it's not woo-woo, it's not hugging everybody. It's about leading as an elder and not with your ego, changes everything. And when that starts to shift in an organization that goes viral too. It just does.
Jeff Deckman: Cheers Jeff, and for you listeners tip your waitress as usual. See you next time.
Max Traylor: Thanks.