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Dec 1, 2020
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7. President, The Table Group
7. President, The Table Group
Jeff Gibson shares his journey from Electrical Engineer to President of Consulting at the highly respected Table Group, run by best-selling author Patrick Lencioni. Jeff talks about the ideal team player and discusses the effectiveness of Pat’s new powerfully simple model called “The 6-types of working genius.” Both Jeffs discuss how we can help people be more fulfilled at work, and how leaders can get out of the unhealthy rhythm of focusing on the urgent at the expense of the important.


Intro: Duration: (1:29)

Opening music jingle & sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

Hi everybody. This is Human Capital, a GoalSpan podcast, and I'm Jeff Hunt. Human Capital is the place where I interview top business thought leaders to uncover that deeply human aspect of work. My guest today is Jeff Gibson, president of consulting at The Table Group. The Table Group helps build healthy organizations through consulting and speaking engagements, utilizing their own suite of products and tools for leaders who want to improve teamwork, clarity, and morale.

Jeff has personally consulted with some prominent companies, including Southwest airlines, Del Monte foods, Barclay card, and NetApp. Jeff runs all consulting at The Table Group. Which is based on the models found in Patrick Lencioni's books, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with. One of his most famous books is the five dysfunctions of a team. And I recently finished reading, uh, his most current book called the motive, which I highly recommend, especially for CEOs. Welcome, Jeff. Thanks for coming on the show today.

Jeff Gibson:

Hey, thanks for having me, Jeff. I appreciate it. It's great to be here.

Topic 1. From electrical engineer to President (1:30)

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. So I always like to start our guests with a common question, share with me who or what inspired you to go into business.

So rewind your movie way back and think about the people or places or things that really kind of motivated you and inspired you to go into business.

Jeff Gibson:

Wow. What a great question. And I think I have a little bit of a strange answer to it. I mean, I think in many ways my father certainly inspired me from a work ethic standpoint and, you know, and to strive for something, bigger and better and things like that of course.

I'll tell you, there was a specific story that shifted my career. I started my career as an electrical engineer. You may, not remember that, and I was in designing hardware. And microwave, receivers and things like that for, for satellites at the time. In the middle of that work, I had this feeling, just an unease that this wasn't quite what I was meant to do in the long run.

I was, I was good at it. I wasn't great at it. But I always had managers coming to me to ask me about. Like people related things, like things that our team, if there was tension or things like that, for some reason, they're asking me a recent graduate out of engineering school, these kinds of questions.

I just thought that was a little odd. I didn't know what was going to make of it. But then there was, there was this one instance where I worked in a relatively large division in a, in a pretty big company. And the leader of this division, it was about a thousand person organization. Was not a great leader.

Even as I look back now having come across lots of leaders, I know he wasn't a great leader, but part of, part of him not being a great leader meant that he was actually getting some help. And I was in a meeting at one point and there was this strange person sitting next to him in this meeting. I didn't know who he was.

Nobody knew who he was. He didn't really speak, but in the middle of the meeting, he leaned over to this leader and he said something, and the leader's behavior changed like that. I thought that's interesting, what's going on? Cause they started behaving the right way, and I saw it happen a couple other times, I saw it happen at Christmas party is standing next to this leader, whispering in his ear, giving them guidance.

Well, I came to realize that this guy was an executive coach and I thought, what is that about? I, this consulting thing sounds really interesting. I didn't know what that meant. I didn't know how to get into it, but I did know that I needed to shift my career. And so I quit my job went back to business school, and learned about all things business that I didn't have.

And that was really what set me on this path of, understanding kind of the human dynamics and why that was such an important part of leading organizations. And it's brought me to this point. It was a really interesting change in career, and a moment for me, for sure.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. And I would say there's probably not many people that make the jump from electrical engineering to executive coaching, or account, or consultant.

Jeff Gibson:

No, not at all. And actually, what I love it is that, you know, I worked with a lot of technology companies, days, we're based in the San Francisco Bay area. And so, you know, I have this, I'm a techie at heart, so I love to understand their business. I love to talk in technical terms. Now that was a long time ago.

I've been doing this for over 25 years now. And so, things have changed quite a bit, but just the fact that I have that, that connection to some of my clients, I actually think helps quite a bit.

Topic 2. The Table Group evolution (4:35)

Jeff Hunt:

Definitely. Definitely. And so speaking of that 25 year history, so you, you started with The Table Group, pretty close to its inception within a couple of years.

Tell me a little bit about that and, your journey there and maybe share what have you evolved to today? The inner workings of the firm, how you work with clients, kind of a loaded set of questions.

Jeff Gibson:

It's a big set of questions. You're right. So I, I joined the company two years into its history.

So, Pat and team founded The Table Group in 1997. And really the idea was we need to organizations need to be healthy, and we'll talk more about that and what that means. Um, and they wanted to serve multiple organizations cause they were just serving one. And at that time, again, being a Bay area based company, all of our clients were pre IPO venture backed technology organizations that were growing like crazy.

And we worked with all kinds of, I mean, all kinds, but they were, you know, they were mostly local at that stage of the game. Pat had not written a single book, actually. He had written his first book. Um, but it wasn't even published when he had started the company. So it was, it was founded on the company.

He founded The Table Group on the same premise that people need to be more fulfilled in their work. And we can do that by helping those organizations, they work in and be healthier. And so that was the goal from the get-go, but without a book, without any, you know, any marketing, standing, brand recognition, name recognition, you know, just started meeting people, connecting, networking, and spreading this word of, the idea that it doesn't take. Just being smart to be successful.

You also have to be healthy. That has been the mission since day one of the table. Two years into it. I joined the company to bring, I had some consulting background, so came in to build out more of a consulting focus part of our organization and have over the last 20 years.

And, it gets snowed a lot of time with clients. And what I love about the work that I do, especially at the beginning, you know, we are working with clients over the period of a year, two years, three years, where you go really deep with them, you see the transformation most in both in the leaders, the CEOs themselves, as well as the team and how they, how they are collaborating differently and how it's impacted their frontline people.

And that was one of the things that really drew me to this kind of work in the first place was being able to see that transformation happens firsthand, whereas working in a much larger consulting organization and some of the projects while important, you didn't get to see how they panned out over multiple years.

Well, subsequently over the last 20 years, you know, Pat is a, a phenomenal consultant. I mean, that's his heart and soul is consulting and helping people and helping leaders, but he's also a prolific writer and has been phenomenal speaker. And, since then he's written 10, 11, 12, I've lost count, right off the top of my head.

Best-selling books on the various aspects of content that we bring to our clients. Of course, the best-selling one you mentioned earlier, the five dysfunctions of a team is our most well-known book. But the book that really captures the spirit of our consulting work is our book called the advantage.

That book wasn't even published until 2012. So, 13 years with this organization, we're helping organizations be healthy with this right workup. It's of what it takes to get it done, which is relatively simple, simple, in theory, it's not complicated, but it's hard. It takes a lot of discipline and courage to actually make it happen and that's kind of been the story over the years, we've developed assessments, we have a team assessment now it's, we have an adjunct book to the five dysfunctions called the ideal team player, as we were working with teams around, around teamwork and as a team.

People leaders would ask us well, aren't there some people that are more predisposed to being on a team and the answer is yes, there are, there are certain types of people who are actually ideal team players. And what does it take to become an ideal team player? And, and then you mentioned perhaps most recent book loaded, and then even in the last four months as we've been.

In kind of the, the COVID world and dealing with just everything different patch created a whole new framework called the six types of working genius, which is a way of thinking about the geniuses that are required to innovate in our organization and to be an effective team. And, and that we all have some, and we all have some that we're not great at, and we need to be able to balance one another.

And so it's just been, you know, it's been so neat to see all these different things and we've been bringing them out to be. You know, a consumer opportunity where the six geniuses has an assessment that a consumer can take, but at the same time we're working with corporations and their senior teams on adopting a framework, organizational health that can transform them, you know, across the whole board. It's a long winded answer I hope it hit on the things that we were looking for.

Jeff Hunt:

No, it's very powerful. It's exactly what I was looking for. And I think a couple things that I'm reflecting on from what you said was that your mission from 25 years ago is just as effective today or more needed today than it was 25 years ago.

Jeff Gibson:

Yeah. It is more important because there's a lot more opportunity, you know, as we’ve grown. And we have more influence and we have more contacts. There's a lot of avenues that we can go down. But at the core, for us, it's about, you know, helping people be more fulfilled in their work. And that's like, I want to change the world at work so that people go to work and they come home energized because of what they did not drained because of how they retreated or how their organism was functioning.

And if you think about how much time we spend at work, especially now as we're on zoom quite a bit, or, you know, any kind of video calls, it's like, it's a tragedy. If people are just, getting their soul suck to dry rather than doing something that's meaningful and any way that we can touch that and then we can change.

Change people's frame of mind as a leader or as an employee, changes their perspective and how they actually serve their organizations. We're, excited to go after and our consulting organization too, which again, I that's where I spend most of my time. It's just a small percentage of it, whereas 21 years ago, when I started, I was a hundred percent of what we did as many companies we've evolved but our evolution has been about serving at the end of the day, our ultimate purpose and have impact.

Jeff Hunt:

Well, the other cool thing about that evolution is from a consultative standpoint, you're limited in your impact, but the products that you guys are producing. Can truly impact thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of companies and individuals. So that's exciting.

Jeff Gibson:

Yeah, it's an exciting, and we just, we even the summer we launched a new program called Kappa pro. And Kappa pros stands for consultant and practitioner Alliance. And it's a membership network for consultants, external as well as internal to be able to learn from us directly, you know, up until then, we were kind of confined to the 45 consultants that we had around the globe to Petro organizations and lots of people that would read our books and, use it on their own, how we've got this collection of people that are phenomenal consultants in their own, right.

That are all over the world that are. Learning directly from us tapping into one another. And it's just, yeah, it's another way to, to impact on a grander scale, and we're constantly looking for that.

Topic 3. Six types of working genius (12:15)

Jeff Hunt:

That's really cool. So let's stay with this six types of working genius for just a second. I'll put in a plug because I actually bought the test and I took it or the assessment. And, I think everybody passes, right? That's the beauty of it, right?

Jeff Gibson:

There's no right or wrong answer.

Jeff Hunt:

Right. You learn what activity either builds you up and makes you come fully alive or what sucks the life out of you? And I would say it was pretty convicting because it said that I was, uh, my two were invention and galvanizing.

Jeff Gibson:

Does it feel accurate for you?

Jeff Hunt:

It does feel accurate, I guess. You know, I'm curious as to, maybe you could share a little bit more about this and I, if you want to share what are your two types of working genius? Are healthy organizations filled with a diversity of types? Tell us a little bit more about this model, just so people can get familiar with it.

Jeff Gibson:

That's a great question. So I mean, there's a lot of resources on our website. We even created a standalone website for it called working genius.com. And so you can go there and find out more, but here, the idea was this. This is just how Pat innovates and how he comes up with ideas. Sometimes they just happen like this. And this was one of them. One of our staff asked Pat, like, why do you do what you do? You know? And he's like, I don't know and this conversation led to the idea that there's actually six different geniuses.

And each of us have two that we consider our genius. Each of us have two that we consider a competency, meaning we can do it if we, if we have to and we can do it relatively well, but there's also two of them that are considered frustrations things that you're like, okay, if you, if you have to do that for very, very long, very much time, you're going to be, you're going to be strained.

You're probably in the wrong job. If that's what you're leveraging. And essentially the geniuses are this that there's a genius of wonder. Which is, you know, like people that like, think about why things are the way that they are? And how did something get that way. And they're just, they're curious about things and con constantly contemplating. I don't have the genius wonder, in fact, it's one of my working frustrations. I don't like to sitting in a space just thinking about things, but interestingly, the genius of wonder leads to leveraging people who have the genius of invention like yourself. I didn't see that idea on my own because I don't have the genius of wonder, but I do have the genius of invention.

I actually can solve that problem for you. And I start to invent and create an ideate and things like that. And those two kind of live in this ideation phase, which a lot of people think about. They think about the invention is kind of the genius. It's like, no, no, these are all geniuses, but certainly you coming up with an idea. Well, and then people with a genius of invention, they need people with a genius of discernment. And the genius of discernment, people that are like, Oh, this is not a good idea. Is that time well spent? Is that an effort worth going after they just, they have good innate judgment about all kinds of things, whether it's a core competency and a skill that they have or not, they just have insight.

And people with the genius of invention need people with some discernment to tell them whether or not that's actually a problem worth solving at the end of the day. Otherwise, they might go down this path and create something that nobody needs, wants, or will ever purchase, you know?. You know, then the genius of discernment, those people need someone with a genius of galvanizing.

And the key of galvanizing. Are those people that kind of rally the troops are like, Oh my gosh, you've told me that's a great idea. I love it. I'm going to help people get behind it. And they're able to motivate people and get us moving in the right direction and marshal resources to get things done. The deep people with the genius of galvanizing, they need people who have a genius of enablement and genius enable them that are, those are people who are like, I'm on, I'm in, I'm on board with helping, I'm going to pour into it. I'm going to be there and help along the way. And then the last genius is the genius of tenacity.

And genius of tenacity is like, Okay. You've motivated me because you've galvanized it. I've got people who are helping. It's like, I'm going to make sure we get across the finish line. We can get this done. And so, you know, everybody's got to that they're geniuses. And if on a team you're missing some, it can be very problematic.

You know, we have an executive team that we work with that don't have any genius of wonder and the only genius of invention is actually from the general counsel of that firm. Who's not, you know, that's not their job to ideate all the time. And so they have to construct opportunities for them to think.

It doesn't mean they can't do it, but they need to construct opportunities and space for you to be able to do it. If, as a company. You're an invention. Say you're a creative company. You're a, uh, an ad, you know, an ad from, or you're coming up with new products and things like that. You probably have a lot of geniuses of wonder and invention.

You know, likewise, if you're a, an insurance company or, you know, you're a production line, you probably have a lot of people with the genius of enablement and tenacity. On an executive level, you want to make sure that you're leveraging all six of them in some way, shape or form.

Otherwise you're going to miss something. You might make a bad decision. You might spend time inventing something that doesn't need to be invented. You might execute yourself right off of a cliff that didn't need to be executed because you were going down a different path. And it's just, this is a brand new conversation we're having with clients.

And it's so simple as last, we explained it to you like, oh my gosh, I got it. And now they changed their behavior. And how they're talking about their team, about or talking about their staff, how they're developing their team members themselves, um, just overnight after thinking about their, their various six types of work.

Jeff Hunt:

That's great. It sounds like by taking these assessments and having a better understanding of our makeup and then having rich substantive conversations, we have the ability not only to improve our self awareness, but also increase trust internally. Is that correct?

Jeff Gibson:

Absolutely. I mean, because in, inherited trust on any team that we work with is the idea that we need to be able to be vulnerable with one another.

We need to acknowledge our own weaknesses, strengths, etcetera. Well, part of this is saying like, yeah, I'm actually not very good at that. I need somebody to help balance. And so, just the, the process of going through that gives people an opportunity to be vulnerable that thereby will build trust as you leverage one another over time.

Topic 4. The most common challenges during the pandemic (18:58)

Jeff Hunt:

Right. Okay. That's excellent. Um, let's shift and talk about some of the most common problems that you're seeing in companies today. You know, 2020 has just been such an exceptionally challenging year for businesses, for people, for humanity in general, with pandemic economic strive, um, you know, racial injustice and all kinds of major problems. But as you consult with firms and as you're 45 consultants worldwide, and your, your new Kappa group consult, what are some of the most common challenges that you're seeing?

Jeff Gibson:

Well, there's several, I think, you know, you could talk about some of the easy ones that I think people will rattle off right off the top of their head, which is. There is a sense that people just getting burned out. People are spending a lot of time on video calls. You're working from home. You don't have the same opportunity, even like walking down the hall to go get a cup of coffee, isn't the same as walking into your kitchen and getting a cup of coffee.

And so, I think it's been universal, but I think that's a lot, a lot of people have their eyes and attention on that. One of the things that's a little bit different that we're seeing is because of that and because of the immediate nature that we tend to be dealing with things, you know, in many ways, the first three months of this was, it felt like a, you know, it felt like we were at a hundred yard sprint that ended up lasting for a 26 miles, you know?

And it's like, we were running as hard as we could because we didn't know how long this was going to last, what it was going to look like. And as a result, we got into this rhythm of mostly paying attention to the urgent. And frankly, we doing a good job of paying attention to the urgent and important. If you look at a company's matrix.

But what we're missing the opportunity right now is, is having finding time where we can step back and just talk about the important. Uh, important things are actually kind of getting pushed to the weight, to the sidelines. We're not teams are not taking the time to be reflective.

They're not necessarily, whereas, you know, a lot of our work used to be spending a couple of days, outside of the office somewhere where we could just kind of step back and question your strategy, questioning your goals, do some things to build the team and to further build trust. You used to be able to spend that time.

It's still possible to do in a virtual setting. And some clients are being very creative in how they actually are doing it in person socially distant, safe outside, you know, and I'll tell you, every client that has met in person has been grateful for the fact that the team has been willing to come together and stretch themselves and doing it in a safe way that it was, it was worthwhile. The time has been well spent.

I think one of the challenges, to going back to that challenge, is we need to make sure that as teams we are spending time focused on the important, not just the urgent important, because the urgent important is kind of, it's always going to be there. We're always on a rat wheel, you know, just running all the time, but there's some big things that we're going to be missing. And if we don't plan for those things that are a little bit further out, I'm not talking five years out, I'm talking nine months out. Right. We, uh, we're going to miss something. The other challenge that I think we're seeing. Is there. It's interesting how much staff there are changes to staff there are changes.

People are getting hired. People are changing jobs and bringing those people onboard both to the company, culturally, and to the team from a team relational standpoint and a cohesion standpoint. Is much more challenging in a virtual world and you've got to spend time intentionally doing it and it takes more time than you really think.

I encourage my clients to have real conversations about their personal challenges and how they're having a hard time right now and talking about their family and, you got to spend time doing all those things, but when you have a brand new executive on your team, if you don't take time with them to onboard them, to who you are, what your culture is, what they're all about, and help them do that with their team, you're going to find yourself a year down the road, having a stranger sitting in your staff meetings, because they're just not going to have that same opportunity.

And I have seen. We've been very successful in transitioning our work to virtual work, but you still miss something. You know, you miss that, in-between time you miss the evenings where you could sit around a fire and have a glass of wine and just talk about things more socially and in an unhurried way.

And I feel like we're maybe hitting the ceiling of cohesion that we can get to in a virtual world. And we're going to have to figure out how to do that. I honestly, I've been surprised and impressed by how much we can do virtually, you know, imagine if this were to have happened 25 years ago or 10 years ago, frankly, and how we would have had to deal with it.

So fortunate that that's the case, but the relational part of the teams, which is so important, I think is suffering more than we might think. Sure.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. And recognizing that seems so very important. And it's, it's also, I'm just sort of reflecting on the fact that you're comment about sharing glass of wine in the evening with a new executive or colleague that's on the team can build trust and relationship in a way that you can't over zoom.

So, what I'm hearing you say is it requires a significantly greater level of intentionality about how we're communicating, how frequently, what specifically? So we're, we are spending time, uh, with all leaders talking about things that are strategic, not tactical because this pandemic has forced us into this myopic sense of short term urgency, where the, it feels like the path of least resistance is to talk about, what are we going to do financially this next quarter?

And, and what's going to happen if we don't make it versus what you're suggesting, which is much more, let's talk about the big picture. Let's talk about our relationships, how we're working together, what is our, our long-term quote-unquote strategy, which may have moved from three years to six months. But is that kind of what you're driving at?

Jeff Gibson:

Yeah, it's exactly right. And I think we've even tried to replicate some of the experiences of a traditional offsite virtually, you know, and, and using like one of the best pieces of zoom is the breakout functionality. Well, if not use, like, you know, if you have a large group of people, it's like send them into a breakout with just three people and have them talk more intimately, bring them back together and have them share, you know, you hear about people doing happy hours.

Or maybe your happy hour actually used to have a little bit more structure to it than just showing up and hanging out and just, you know, chit-chatting, you know, which isn't bad in its own right? But there's something that needs to be a little bit more scripted. So you're actually talking about those right kinds of things.

And then individually as leaders, I think we just need to, we need to be connecting with people more personally and individually and, and if you find yourself as a leader, getting sucked into the weeds and spending too much time in spaces that you shouldn't be working on, um, you're not going to have time for that.

And what a great opportunity to truly empower your team to do work so that you can focus on the things that are actually going to encourage them to be more effective in their roles right now.

Topic 5. How to take your own temperature? (26:45)

Jeff Hunt:

Most definitely. How do you suggest that organizations take their own temperature? So like if I'm an executive leading an organization and you know, people are, I know that I need to have work harder to have intimate relationships with all of my colleagues in my employees. I don't really know how I'm doing. So, what do you suggest they do in that area?

Jeff Gibson:

I suggest keeping it simple. It's not over complicated. I would just ask them. Sure. You know, if I have an offsite with a client coming up, I would say, Hey, everybody on the team, I want you to just knock at your next staff meeting, just check in with your team.

So how are you guys doing? What are the big challenges right now? What can we talk about with the executive team? That'll help break through some of the barriers of things that you're facing in this time. Let me just hear from you. And then, then they can bring it back to the team to talk about it because we tend to know, we just need to have that venue and space to do it.

I mean, I know a lot of organizations do like regular pulse surveys and things like that to provide some anonymity and some regularity of data. And you certainly can use that, but I'll tell you, there is nothing to replace. Just picking up the phone and calling a few people and saying, what's going on for you right now?

And if you need to have an outsider, do it, to give you the bandwidth. So, you don't have to do it. That's fine, but I just, I wouldn't overthink it, I wouldn't over complicate it. I would keep it as simple and straightforward as possible.

Topic 6. Do you really want to be a CEO? (28:05)

Jeff Hunt:

We tend to overcomplicate things, don't we? it's easy to do that. So we need reminders just to, Hey, let's just keep it simple. So, for sure. That's right. All right. Think back on all these client engagements that you've had over the years and share the most difficult question you've ever had to ask a client is.

Jeff Gibson:

Oh my God. Well, so we work with a lot of mostly executive teams, CEOs, and their teams. And there's been two times in my career where I've had conversations with the CEO, or I just felt, I don't think, I don't think they're really into it. I don't know that, they're certainly not leaning in and leading the way that they should be. And I'll look at them and I'll say, do you really want to be a CEO?

Do you really like being a CEO? And, and just getting asked that question as a CEO. Cause they're like, they'll pause to be like, um, yeah. You know, but of those two times, I've asked one time to see you as like, no, I don't really, I don't really get much joy out of this.

And helping them redirect their role to something that they're better suited to, and one time the CEO's like, no, he's like, I really do like this and here's why I like it. And like, okay, good. Now let's, let's help you with the things that are getting in their way.

Jeff Hunt:

That's a great question.

Jeff Gibson:

It's not a natural question to ask somebody in that role, but, it can be an important one to provoke them a little

Jeff Hunt:

Very true. And actually, it just fits so perfectly with Pat's book The motive. Exactly. Yeah. So any of you listeners that are wondering, go pick up that book and read it because. Really and it doesn't only apply to CEOs. It can apply to anyone in any position. What is your motive for being in that position?

Jeff Gibson:

In fact, it's probably better for people to learn and read about before they become a leader of significance. If those things are not interesting to them, don't develop yourself into something that you're not going to be committed to doing. But again, like much of our stuff, it's not complicated, but it's a pretty basic question that needs to be asked.

Pat will tell you in writing that book, he's like, this would probably be the book I'd want people to read first. He's like, this is probably should have been the book that I wrote first, but you know, sometimes the ideas don't come to you in the right kind of order. And so, yeah, I think all leaders should read that one.

Topic 7. A high sense of belonging, culture, diversity, and inclusion (30:40)

Jeff Hunt:

Yes, exactly, okay. One, one more question. And we'll jump into some sort of lightning round questions. I'm curious is to what your thoughts are on what leaders can do to help transform their cultures, to be more inclusive and diverse workplaces that really embody a high sense of belonging, you know, and it, it's related a little bit to what we were talking about earlier with zoom fatigue. And this migration to remote work, how do we do all these things? Well, how do we actually create cultures that have these senses of belonging that maybe even have a diverse set of working geniuses, if you will, but also diversity in terms of viewpoint, gender race, etcetera,

Jeff Gibson:

For sure. And here's the great thing is diversity is fantastic around everything except your core values. We'll be, be provocative and say your core values are actually should be your limits of diversity in an organization. Meaning, there needs to be a nucleus of something that bring the people together this organization that says, this is who we are, because, that's where the entire culture is going to belt from.

And if you don't have clear core values, and when I say core values. I'm thinking like one, two, or three, we're not talking about a long list of 10 because you want your entire workforce to really lean into an embody these, when you have those, then you can celebrate diversity and encourage it around everything else.

But if you don't have those. It's much harder to actually do that because you don't know kind of who you are and what defines you. And as you're trying to reinforce your culture and expectations and leadership expectations and composition competencies in a virtual world, having that both so well-defined and over-communicated in a way that is unambiguous by leaders, people will be like, okay, I'm opting into this culture and if it's not for me, I probably should opt-out. And if people have that level of clarity, everything else is going to be far more problematic and challenging.

Jeff Hunt:

That makes so much sense because it's almost as if you're describing core values as creating the sandbox with which we can all play in, and we can create that diversity in the sandbox, but if we don't have those core values and then all of a sudden we try to creating belonging, creating diversity becomes a check the box of events rather than something that's truly inculcated into the culture that we embody. Is that right?

Jeff Gibson:

Exactly. I mean, imagine going to work for Nordstrom. Last thing you would want to do to go to work for Nordstrom is if you don't love customers and love serving others and are willing to go over the top on stuff, you probably shouldn't work at Nordstrom.

But if you aren't clear on that, not a great place. Southwest airlines, you mentioned this is a client of ours that we work with. We worked with them on their values. They have three really clear core values. They're the fun-loving, or your spirit, servant's heart company. If you don't love serving people, if you don't love working hard, if you don't, if you can't laugh at yourself and encourage humor, probably not the right airline for you to go to.

And there's plenty of other airlines that might be better suited to you. If you're not able to crack a joke about yourself or treat someone well or go that extra mile. I mean, what other airlines are you seeing people, you know, flight attendants come by and pick up trash. Throughout the airplane as your deboarding so that they can turn them around more quickly.

It's like that embodies everything about them. I would want every company, I certainly would help every client get to a level of clarity around what are those things that we then can build and articulate all of our culture around. And once you have that, then it's just a matter of, doing the hard work, you know, every day.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. And Southwest airlines is such a great example because they embody their core values. Like every employee you interact with you are witnessing their core values.

Jeff Gibson:

Right. They're a wildly diverse company beyond that. I mean, every kind of person you can imagine where it's their beautiful thing, but they all share that one thing in common that they can all stick to and they can celebrate the Babylon or not.

Topic 8. Lighting round questions (35:09)

Jeff Hunt:

Okay, so I'm going to throw some quick questions for listeners, Jeff has not heard these in advance, so is off the top, the first one is very easy, at least for most people, it's also very introspective, which can be helpful as we finish out this difficult year. What are you most grateful for?

Jeff Gibson:

It's actually an easy question for me to answer. I became an empty nester last year as my youngest daughter went away to college. And in the spring of this year, we had an unexpected opportunity for our two children to be home with us for six months that we had not expected. And at first, I thought I would kind of be frustrated by losing my empty-nesterness, but I'll tell you, it was probably some of the most special six months that we've ever had and remember forever and be absolutely grateful for. And I'm happy that my kids now are back in there, you know, where they need to be. But that's something that I think is, it was a total silver lining to all of this.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah. Even in the midst of tremendous hardship, there are huge blessings. Right?

Jeff Gibson:


Jeff Hunt:

Who is one person you would interview if you could dead or alive?

Jeff Gibson:

Oh my gosh. Um, wow. That's a great question. Um, I think, we're in kind of a political time right now. I would love to interview Abraham Lincoln.

I think just like understanding, cause there was a lot of tension politically in that time, I think we tend to overlook the fact that there was still a lot of infighting and, and I would just love to know what was going on in his mind, how he stood his ground, how he was so determined, and clear about his righteous purpose in life and I think that would be really inspiring.

Jeff Hunt:

Definitely. What is your favorite or, your top book recommendation? Now you can do these two ways because Pat's written like you said, 12 books or whatever. You can tell us that one. And then what's your non-Pat top book recommendation.

Jeff Gibson:

So I appreciate the caveat, so my favorite out of all Pat’s books for those people that don't have read any of past most of his books, he writes the payable story. My favorite is his book called the truth about employee engagement. I love the simplicity of the model of how you engage in bullies. I love the story. if I were to think on the, you know, I love reading the Bible and, but if I were to think about another book that I would encourage everybody to read is a story called unbroken.

It came out several years ago and it is an amazing story of, just survival and, you know, staying strong internally. And it’s a true story. It's a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. And if there's one book that I would encourage everyone to read, anytime I come across somebody who's not read that book, I’m like you have to read that book, it's just hearing it's real, it's just a great, great book to read.

Jeff Hunt:

Yes, I've read it and will absolutely validate it's an incredible book. So if you haven't read it, pick it up. Last question. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Jeff Gibson:

Probably that it's, that vulnerability is a good thing and not a weakness. And so many things STEM from it. You know, so much of our work is based on vulnerability, but I think very early on in working with Patty's like no vulnerability, we're meant to be vulnerable. And so many things STEM from it. And it's not something that we're naturally good at coming out of the womb, but it, um, it's something that's free for you personally.

It's kind of like, was it Mark Twain that said, you know, if you don't ever lie, you don't need to remember what you said or something along those lines. Vulnerability is just, just be yourself all the time, and if people don't like it, then that's okay. And, but most people will, and that's better.

Jeff Hunt:

That's great. That is probably the best piece of advice all of us can have at this point right now, too. So. Yeah, I really appreciate that. So, Jeff, it has been great to have you today. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and your time and, uh, yeah. For being with us today.

Jeff Gibson:

It's such a pleasure. Thanks for having me, Jeff.

Jeff Hunt:

You bet.

Outro (39:58)

Closing music jingle/sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

Thanks for listening to the show this week. We release a new episode of Human Capital on the first and third Tuesday of each month, I would really like to know what you thought of this episode, send your comments to humancapital@goalspan.com. Human Capital is produced by GoalSpan, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and please share this podcast with your colleagues, team, or friends, thanks for being human kind.

Human Capital — 7. President, The Table Group
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