Leadership of Precious Children is a Privilege

The Fusion 2.0 Conference, the inaugural gathering designed to inspire humanity in the workplace, brought together speakers who shared their experiences around humanity in the workplace with evidence-based stories and real impact. And it was filter-free, refreshing and liberating for all.

Bob Chapman, Truly Human Leadership

Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-WehmillerInc. Magazine’s #3 CEO in the world, who leads by implementing what he calls “truly human leadership,” opened the conference with his keynote address: Building a Truly Human Workplace Where Everyone Matters.Everyone matters because everyone is someone’s precious child. A child that was raised by parents who cared for, equipped and did everything in their power to send that child into the world to succeed. Bob elaborated on this ah-ha moment, which was about connecting the idea of a father’s truthful unspoken message to his daughter’s fiancé at the altar with the idea of hiring someone and taking them into the workplace. In either case, it might have sounded something like this, “I’m entrusting my precious child to you. A child I’ve nurtured and supported. Now don’t screw it up.”

This story framed up how Bob thinks about leadership, “Leadership is a privilege, not a job,” he said. Certainly a privilege he doesn’t take lightly, as more stories throughout his session revealed. He compared the one-hour a week at church with a 40-hour work week, and concluded that yes, the workplace and a leader can have 40x the impact of a religious leader. He's taken the roles of parenting and leadership and dissected them to find that they’re pretty much identical.

The point is: Bob is profound and you should read his book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, coauthored with Fusion’s Friday keynote and the co-founder of Conscious Capitalism, Raj Sisodia.

Experience Happiness

Prior to Bob’s keynote, Linda Saggau and Nancy O’Brien, co-founders of Experience Happiness, hosted a 15-minute Happiness PopUp. Linda addressed the elephant in the room: organizations have to be willing to talk about stress and burnout to implement change that increases real and lasting wellbeing in the workplace.

Attendees of the session walked away with a 30-day happiness practice guide and an invitation to follow-up with accountability in that practice. Very appropriate to start that practice right away on November 7th in honor of National Stress Awareness Day, I’d say. 

Morning Sessions and Labs

Twelve morning breakout sessions and learning labs covered all of the six program tracks with programs including Busting Your Bias with Kelly Weiley to Unlock Your Inner Changemaker to Foster a Truly Human Workplace with Henry Albrecht; and Creating a People-Centric Culture with Aaron Dimmock to Having Conversations That Work: Skills in Listening for What Matters with Dr. Wendy Lynch.

Unlock Your Inner Changemaker

Henry, CEO of Limeade, a Fusion sponsor, shared his journey and the build of an emotional brand. He noted that your brand is what people say about you to others when the brand (leadership) isn’t looking. He also touched on a concept – a “bank of care” that’s about long-term investment in your employees, and practices like company-wide 10-minute collective mindfulness minutes that are mandatory and meditative.

Having Conversations That Work

Dr. Wendy Lynch, Lynch Consulting and author of Get to What Matters, walked us through the journey of a meeting and a conversation. In meetings, set a clear intention by asking what do you want for yourself? what do you want for the other person? So often we gloss over this, but know that even if you don’t set a clear intention, you have an underlying one and that can backfire. She also shared some insight that is simple, but rings true when you think about what you uncover when you dig deeper: the first thing that someone says is almost never what matters.

Am I Hungry?

The morning sessions rolled into the most mindful, healthy selection one has ever seen at a conference. Our emcee, Darryl Sellers, welcomed the group and when it was time for dessert, Michelle May of Am I Hungry? guided us through a mindful eating practice that was a challenge for those of us with a love of sweets. Sweetest takeaway?: the sense of scent plays a major role in enjoying what you’re eating and rushing through the experience is a significant missed opportunity! 

The energy from lunchtime conversations and mindfulness carried over into the afternoon innovators series where each presenter did a back-to-back session. The format of the series – 30-minute sessions not associated with any particular track – gave attendees insight into leaders who have put people first.

The Innovator Series: Aduro

The Innovators Series of six included Dr. Toni Best, founder of Aduro, a Fusion sponsor, and Kristen Hadeed, Student Maid CEO and author of Permission to Screw Up. Toni shared a lesson learned about giving a product away for free, re-engineering the product to do so much more, then discovering those same clients weren’t really willing to pay for what they once got for free, no matter how enhanced. Because of their culture today, Aduro acknowledges that while they of course pay their people fairly and provide for them, their employees ultimately come for the mission, not the money. 

The Innovator Series: Permission to Screw Up

In Kristen’s session she framed up the scene of her first screw-up and the starting point where she turned an exodus of 45 employees into the genesis of the culture that she’s grown into Student Maid today. She weaves in some great stories, which you can read up on in her book, and points out this particularly interesting business model of entry level work and the requirement of employee's leaving the company upon their graduation. You can bet when these young adults do move on, they’ll be seeking companies that do workplace well. 

Rethinking the Role of Wellbeing for Humanized, High Performing Organizations

Next up, all Fusion attendees, aka #FusionChangeAgent(s), came together for the day’s ending keynote by Fusion and Salveo Partners co-founders Dr. Rosie Ward and Dr. Jon Robison. This duo was uplifting and inspirational to watch as they tag-teamed redefining health, wellness and wellbeing for employees and organizations.

Jon covered the biological basis of wellbeing via birds in flight, citing their need for self-determination and leadership – it’s not innate it’s learned. Successful leaders know that employee behavior and motivation cannot be forced because employees need to be intrinsically motivated and serve as the author of their own journey. In other words, offering wellbeing incentives and programs is not a healthcare cost-saving strategy.

Rosie shared her story about going from supported and human workplace behavior and treatment from her boss to a complete 180 in a workplace that had become de-humanized. She absolutely can speak to the cost of toxic workplaces and just how much wellbeing truly matters. To illustrate, the math looks like this: ENGAGED + THRIVING = WELLBEING. When this equation is working, you have employees that are:

1. 45% more likely to report high levels of adaptability in the presence of change;

2. 37% more likely to report always recovering fully after illness

3. 59% less likely to look to a different organization in the midst of adversity

Jon and Rosie rounded out the session with The Thriving Organization Pyramid, found in their book: How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work, another conference must-read. They shared the illness-wellness continuum from pre-mature death to high-level wellness and ended on a thought for the future of business:

“Organizations today are judged for more than their success as a business. They’re now being held responsible for their impact on society at large.”

-- The Fusion 2.0 Conference, November 7-9, a revolution to re-humanize the workplace, delivers the practical knowledge, skills, and inspiration to lead positive change in the workplace. It’s a multi-disciplinary experience where like-minded professionals who care deeply about wellbeing create an action plan and design the support necessary to effect positive change.

-- This event recap is not inclusive of every session during the day on November 7, 2018, It’s intended to give attendees and anyone interested some of the highlights and flavor of the day.