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304: Robert E. Quinn – Inspiring Positive Change

Dr. Robert E. Quinn Helps Leaders Inspire Positive Change in their Lives

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Robert E. Quinn Show Notes Page

When Dr. Robert E. Quinn was in the 6th grade, there was a popular boy in school who was good at basketball and almost every cute cheerleader loved him. Due to certain circumstances, he had to leave the school, and Dr. Quinn, wanting to be loved by the cheerleaders as well, saw it as an opportunity to replace him and become the best basketball player he could be. After working really hard, Dr. Quinn didn’t see any results, as even though he became the best basketball player, the cheerleaders still didn’t love him or notice him. But something else happened for the first time in his life. He realized he could set a goal and pursue it and turn into somebody new. And from his role as a point guard, he learned that it’s about making everyone else better. Although he never achieved his goal of becoming loved by the cheerleaders, Dr. Quinn learned something even more profound in his life.

When Bob was 19 years old, he had a life-changing experience. He decided to leave college in his sophomore year to serve a 2-year mission. The mission taught him discipline, resilience and how to work with all kinds of people. Perhaps most importantly, it taught him how to make a difference in people’s lives, and how purpose can give your life more meaning.

Returning to college as a 21-year-old sophomore, he became depressed. American History and Stats 101 felt less important than the work he was doing on his mission. He knew he needed to be in school, so he assessed how he might find meaning in his current life situation. He thought about what had given his mission such meaning, and realized he had a front row to seat to change. From that point forward, he mapped out his college path and major. He chose his classes based on who was teaching instead of what the course was. He focused on courses that would educate him on change. Eventually, this path led him to a newly created field called Organizational Behavior.

Since that time, his interest in transformation has never waned. He has spent the last 45 years researching, teaching, and practicing deep change. He is one of the top 1% of professors cited in organizational behavior textbooks and is an expert on the subjects of leadership, purpose, and culture change. He has published 18 books; including his most current book, The Economics of Higher Purpose and his best seller, Deep Change.

Bob was also at the forefront of the Positive Organizations movement and is one of the co-founders of the Ross Center for Positive Organizations. He spent 30 years at the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, and is currently the Margaret Elliot Tracy Collegiate Professor Emeritus. A global survey recently named him one of the top speakers in the world on the topic of organizational culture and related issues.

He has touched many, many lives in his effort to teach people how to become the best version of themselves, and he continues to try to do the same for his wife of 50 years – Delsa, his six children, five in-laws, and 17 grandchildren. Unfortunately, they pose his greatest challenge, and they are sure he is grateful for the chance to test his limits and skill. The saying that it is hard to be a prophet in your own country has become very meaningful to him.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @BobQuinnUofM get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“It’s not about money. Money is a natural consequence of pursuing the purpose.” – Click to Tweet

Leadership is not about skills and knowledge. Leadership is about your state of being.” – Click to Tweet

Be the change you want to see in the world – you turn into positive change and invite others to join you.” – Click to Tweet

It’s about envisioning what’s possible as opposed to being determined by what we know.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

When Dr. Robert E. Quinn was in the 6th grade, there was a popular boy in school who was good at basketball and almost every cute cheerleader loved him. Due to certain circumstances, he had to leave the school, and Dr. Quinn, wanting to be loved by the cheerleaders as well, saw it as an opportunity to replace him and become the best basketball player he could be. After working really hard, Dr. Quinn didn’t see any results, as even though he became the best basketball player, the cheerleaders still didn’t love him or notice him. But something else happened for the first time in his life. He realized he could set a goal and pursue it and turn into somebody new. And from his role as a point guard, he learned that it’s about making everyone else better. Although he never achieved his goal of becoming loved by the cheerleaders, Dr. Quinn learned something even more profound in his life.

Advice for others

Learn by faith.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Ego.

Best Leadership Advice

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Secret to Success

The Four Questions: What results do I want to create? Am I internally directed? Am I other-focused? Am I externally open?

Best tools in business or life

Social Excellence Assumptions.

Recommended Reading

The Economics of Higher Purpose: Eight Counterintuitive Steps for Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization

Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within

Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life

Links and Resources

Robert E. Quinn’s website: https://robertequinn.com/

Robert E. Quinn’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-e-quinn-57b9a9100/

Robert E. Quinn’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/bobquinnuofm

Fast Leader Show on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/FastleaderNet

Fast Leader Show on Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/364qAA2

Fast Leader Show on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FastLeaderShow

Fast Leader Show on Twitter: https://twitter.com/fastleadershow

Fast Leader Show on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fastleader.net

Show Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, fast leader leading today. I’m excited because Oh wow. We get to explore something that I think is really beyond bode. You’re hurt as in Boger hot topic, uh, and has the potential of changing the life of yourself as well as every single person that touches you and your organization. When Bob Quinn was 19 years old, he had a life changing experience. He decided to leave college and his sophomore year to serve a two year mission. The mission taught him discipline resilience, and how to work with all kinds of people. Perhaps most importantly, it taught him how to make a difference in people’s lives and how purpose can give our life for meaning returning to college. As a 21 year old sophomore, he became depressed American history and stats one Oh one felt less important than the work he was doing on his mission. He knew he needed to be in school.

Jim Rembach (00:54):

So he assessed how he might find meaning in his current life situation. You thought about what he had given in his mission or what he has received in his mission, such as meeting and realized that he had a front row seat to change. From that point forward, he mapped out his college path and major. He chose classes based on who was teaching instead of what the course was. He focused on courses that would educate him on change. Eventually this path led him to a newly created field called organizational behavior. Since that time, his interest in transformation has never waned. He has spent the last 45 years researching teaching and practicing deep change. He is one of the top 1% of professors cited in organizational behavior textbooks. And as an expert expert on the subject of leadership, purpose and cultural change, he has published 18 books, including his most current book, the economics of higher purpose and his bestseller deep change.

Jim Rembach (01:53):

Bob was also at the forefront of the positive organizations movement. And as one of the co-founders of the Ross center for positive organizations, he spent 30 years at the university of Michigan Ross school of businesses and is currently the Margaret LD. Tracy Collegium, professor Ameritas, a global survey recently named him one of the top speakers in the world on the topic of organizational culture and related issues. He has touched many, many lives in his effort to teach people how to become the best version of themselves. And he continues to try to do this for his wife of 50 years. Delsa has six children, five in-laws and 17 grandchildren. Unfortunately they pose his greatest challenge and they are sure he is grateful for the chance to test his limits and skill saying that it’s hard to be a prophet in your own country has become very meaningful to him. Dr. Quinn, are you ready to help us get over the hump? I’m glad to be with you today. I’m glad you’re here now. I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better? Well I’ve to reduce my

Robert E. Quinn (03:00):

Life to three words, inspire positive change. That’s my life mission. So I can talk to you for two hours about the word inspire two hours about the word positive or two hours about the word change. And any time I audited those three words, I transform. If I’m in a boring meeting and I remember those three words, I immediately changed my behavior. I do something to elevate that meeting and I don’t sabotage the meeting or take it over, but I take a different approach to what’s happening in that moment. And so I’m passionate about that notion of inspiring positive change.

Jim Rembach (03:38):

Well, you know, as you’re saying that I started thinking about what I was reading in the book and your co-author [inaudible]. Um, I think it’s really important to talk about the conventional mindset, because even what you were talking about as far as that redirection conventional, um, but when you start talking about conventional mindset and you start talking about the work that you did in this book, I think it’s important to kind of lay the groundwork in the two different viewpoints and perspectives that came forward in this book.

Robert E. Quinn (04:06):

Sure. Um, if you look at economics, the first three assumptions are man or woman is a rational, selfish, or sad actor. Resources are scarce. Conflict is inevitable. We organized some hierarchies. Information is filtered. Um, the list goes on and on and on, and economics is called the gloomy science because those are pretty gloomy assumptions. So you know where to, where does social scientists get this garbage? Right? They study me and they study you. And much of the time I behave as a self-interested rational actor. And most of the time my resources are scarce. Most of the time conflict is lingering. And, um, I can’t trust the other person. I’ve got to figure out what’s his agenda. What’s he’s trying to get from me. Right? It’s a transactional relationship. Um, in all of that learning is deeply Philip, um, uh, dampened and growth is dampened, but those assumptions and most of us say, Oh, they’re glibly assumptions of glad.

Robert E. Quinn (05:16):

I don’t believe that every one of us is governed by those assumptions right below the chin right here. They’re unconsciously operating all the time. I’m saying, what does my boss want? What do I tell these direct reports? What, you know, I’m living by transactional theory all day long and transactional theory creates the culture of the organization. Now the contrast, uh, if you think about that as a think of a normal curve, or put those in the middle, then over on the left, where the normal curve turns to, to what’s less desirable. What we have is the realization was assumptions, conflict, constant problems, trying to manage the problems, increasing control, fighting resistance. It’s what every manager does all day long. Now that leaves one blank space and that normal curve. And the question is what’s on the other side of that curve. That’s what we never think about.

Robert E. Quinn (06:18):

And the answer is, um, sometimes people are not self-interested. When is that? What does it tell us? Um, sometimes we create resources in real time. How do we do that? Um, sometimes we live in trust and we don’t filter the information. Sometimes learning accelerates. Sometimes we become increasingly we become incredibly collaborative and creative, and we do things that other organizations can’t do. In other words, high performance, the stuff at the right side of the curve is not based on conventional assumptions. And most people become petrified by that, right? They say, well, then you’re a utopia. Well, we’re not talking about utopia. We’re talking about reality. Um, 20 years ago we founded a new field of study called positive organization scholarship, and then asked what the people look like at their best, what a groups look like at their best and what the organizations look like at the best. And that mission was how do you scientifically answer those three questions? So you’re not talking philosophy or religion or values. You’re talking scientific fact about man, woman groups and organizations at their best. And we now know a lot about that, but it doesn’t look conventional

Jim Rembach (07:46):

Well. And as you’re talking, talking about the, the con the conventional mindset, I mean, to me, as you were talking, I started hearing a lot about fear, motivators and fear influencers. And I mean, even when you start talking about the thing that’s so embedded in our corporate culture, it’s SWAT, you know, its weaknesses, you know, threats. When you look at the statistics associated with the conversations that have happened at the board level, you know, 85% to 90% of it is all about, you know, risk mitigation and it’s, and it’s all of the fear, you know, components and elements. But here’s the thing that I found interesting as I was doing research on this. Uh, and if you go to a business purpose.com, um, and look at some of the hysterics, it says, you know, globally, when you start looking at our society, most people, 67% agree that it’s become more important, that brands choose to make positive contribution to society. And so we’re making our purchase dollars now in decisions based on that, uh, also when you start looking at purpose led brands, uh, they seen their value surge by 175% over the past 12 years versus a growth weight of just 70%, you know, for the listless brands, um, and here, and then also global leadership forecast, uh, that, you know, um, it actually impacts, you know, finances of organizations by 42% when they’re a purpose driven. I mean, so the, the whole economics of this is also defining what the conventional thinking is.

Robert E. Quinn (09:16):

No, that’s absolutely right. We have more and more research showing that purpose driven organizations do better, not only on human factors, but on financial and related factors, but for someone who’s thinking conventionally, someone who’s been trained, uh, in graduate school, in any field, um, that is a huge leap of faith, right? Because everything I know says it can’t be true. You know, it’s all about compromise, transaction, uh, efficiency being smarter than, than the other person being in a game and beating them in the game. Um, we’re so invested in that meshed in that, that I can take that researcher site and put it in front of people. And it doesn’t change anything that is, facts are irrelevant when they’re not aligned with your current belief system. That’s why the stuff is an enormous opportunity for CEOs and senior executives who wanted advantage, right? But it’s not about money. That’s the paradox, right? The money is a natural consequence of pursuing the purpose. That’s, you know, that violates Milton Friedman and, uh, you know, we, we’re very sure that can’t be true

Jim Rembach (10:38):

Well, and you’ve essentially put together this topic is something called intellectual arrogance.

Robert E. Quinn (10:49):

Um, that sounds like it’s a university thing. You know, intellectual arrogance, intellectual arrogance is something that I engage in every minute you do. And everybody on the street does. Um, when, you know, if you go to biology and research and biology and look at the autonomic nervous system, whenever there’s a disruption of any kind, if I’m in a meeting and the CEO raises his eyebrow, that’s a very simple act by autonomic nervous system reacts to that. My first, what I call level two is I go under fight or flight mode. I tense up. And then you mentioned fear a while ago. That’s fear based. Well, most of you know, many, many times a day, we’re in that place. If we’re in this interview and you asked me some question, I’ve never thought about it before, I’m going to tend to have a natural reaction to go into fight or flight.

Robert E. Quinn (11:50):

That is I, and when I do cortisol begins to pump in my brain, my system tenses up, I underperform my potential. On the other hand, I can go from there to level three in which I feel safe. And I feel connected to you and together we can hold a conversation where we are, co-creating learning and real time you’re asking me meaningful questions. I give you meaningful answers, leading you to share something meaningful. We’re building on each other. And we finished the hour saying that was one of the best hours I’ve spent in a year, right? That’s a very different experience, but even our biology works against us in terms of going there. So when I think about this,

Jim Rembach (12:44):

Uh, I, I, I start talking, you start talking about this. Um, and I think you’ve set this up conflict of value creation in higher purpose and all of those elements and all of those fear motivators and all that conventional wisdom and all that arrogance is really positioned within these two areas. So if you can talk a little bit about, you know, this conflict, uh, and then also what has happened in the past five years with that conflict,

Robert E. Quinn (13:14):

Um, to be in any human system and to be surrounded by change, which we always are, but in the last decade or so, we’re experiencing change at a higher rate than any human experience before. Uh, I cannot pick up my phone and look at the headlines without seeing such and such company introduced a new technology today, right? Uh, we’re being overwhelmed by technological advances and every one of those has consequences. So we live in enormous uncertainty. Our governments are failing us. You know, we do a lot of personality pointing, but we have these huge hierarchies across the world. We call governments, they can’t adapt. Corporations are dying at a faster rate than any time in history. They’re having an enormous challenge, adapting a human beings. Let’s just think about the pandemic. Uh, and when I have really honest conversations with the people close to me and they describe, and I think of some women talking to me about, I don’t know if my kid’s going to go to school in September.

Robert E. Quinn (14:33):

What am I do with that? I, I haven’t had a conversation with, I haven’t been out with any friends for six months. I’m disconnected, I’m isolated, I’m getting depressed right now. Those are people in pretty good situations. Think about all the people who are in deprived situations, right? We have a huge population of very troubled people, uh, that conflict trickles down. Then we get angry, right? We either fight or flight. We either get depressed or we get angry. Now look at the political situation, not only this country, but in every country. And we don’t even know if we can contain it anymore. Um, we look at the November election and say, what’s going to happen that day. You know, it’s, it’s, uh, we’re in a very fragile place. And then we have people, uh, if you look in the United States and you won’t pick one side of the aisle, look at both sides of the aisle. Um, they live in fear, constant conflict. And in dishonesty, you know, this, what what’s happened in the last few years is if someone uncover something about, you, just tell a bigger lie. And, uh, the notion of false news started out sounding fairly innocent. Um, now I think it’s devastating and, uh, it’s become a tool. So we’re creating chaos and, uh, it’s everywhere.

Jim Rembach (16:08):

Well, as you’re sitting there and talking about that, to me, it’s like the, okay, the savior or star. And the way point is to really help us to connect with and find that higher purpose. But, and so before we go down that a little bit, I think it’s important when you start talking about all the research, all the study, all the experience, all of what you’ve had exposure to and a half brought forth. When you start talking about higher purpose, what is it

Robert E. Quinn (16:37):

Is higher purpose? Um, higher purpose is moving from ego goals to contribution goals and figuring out for you, uh, what that most meaningful intentional state is. So, for example, for me personally, I say my purpose is to inspire positive change. It took years of work to get to those three words, right? But when I say those three words, they hold for me in every situation, we’ve done work with thousands of people. And, uh, I have lots of colleagues who’ve done the same, helping people find their individual purpose. It’s always about shifting from ego goals. How do I make ends meet? How do I make money? How do I to contribution goals? What is it I’m going to give away? What are my gifts and how am I going to give those gifts away? How might we make, how am I going to make this planet a better place? And so it’s always a move up for organizations. It’s, it’s equally more hard actually. Um, what is it, why do we exist? And how is the world better? Because we exist in a way that connects every employee in this company. Well, that’s not your typical put it on the agenda, cross it off next week task. It’s a task that many executives hate because it requires so much work and it doesn’t yield to normal thinking processes. So higher purpose, uh, is a purpose. Higher means it’s about contribution. It’s about making the world a better place.

Jim Rembach (18:33):

I, and this isn’t the superficial, you know, buy one of these things and donate one. That’s not what we’re talking about.

Robert E. Quinn (18:39):

Yeah. That’s in that checklist mentality, executive halves, that that’s what they want to come up with. I’ve seen hundreds of organizations engage the exercise, put the plastic mat up on the wall with the vision, the mission and the values. And I walk into the cafeteria and I say to the clerk at the end of the lunch line, Hey, that thing up on the wall, what do you think of that? And she rolls your eyes. Now that rolling of the eyes is profoundly important. When executives do the work of purpose with the ulterior motive of manipulating the system with nets that’s management, how do I trick them into working harder? What they do is positive damage to the organization. The workforce is now even more cynical than it was yesterday. You can’t fake higher purpose. You can, but it’s a devastating outcome.

Jim Rembach (19:43):

So I think what you’re saying is short-term, and long-term, I can make it get some short term gains from it, but the long-term impact is devastating. Like you’re saying, okay. So you actually, in the book, the second half of the book is talking about the eight steps for creating a purpose driven organization. And like you were saying, this is hard work also when you, when I have had the opportunity to work with organizations to try to do, uh, you know, or the discovery of that higher purpose. Um, and you talking about the emotions that come out and the anger that pops out, I mean, it’s, you have to be prepared for that. It’s not easy. Um, so you talk about these eight steps and they are, and I’ll read these real quick envision, a purpose driven organization, discover the purpose, meet the need for authenticity, turn the higher purpose into a constant arbiter, stimulate learning, turn mid-level managers, into purpose driven leaders, connect the people to the purpose and then unleash the positive energizers. And so for me, when I look at this list, I’m like, okay, is going through this path or these, and of course, they’re all important. They’re all interrelated, but is there a particular step it’s like when they hit this part, it’s like things just kind of walk,

Robert E. Quinn (20:57):

Uh, yeah. Let me give two answers to that. The first statement is each of those eight statements are incredibly carefully crafted because they’re, counter-intuitive in the first one sounds innocent and vision, the purpose driven organization or the purpose driven workforce. Okay. That sounds easy. It’s not easy. My conventional thinking says they won’t cooperate unless I force them to or pay them to, well, that’s not the purpose driven workforce. Now, almost every policy decision we make almost every design decision we make. I’m making the assumption. I got bad people who won’t cooperate and it’s so implicit in assumption, right? Well, that’s true for every one of those eight statements. Now they do have a sequence to them. And your question is, you know, is there a turning point? The research has a pretty clear answer to that. If you get to the point where you’re already all the way down to the middle managers and they’ve brought in authentically and they now are purpose-driven leaders, we immediately said, then we begin to see a financial return.

Robert E. Quinn (22:10):

Now, if you go further and very few companies, so this is hard work and you get it all the way to the first line, the outcomes are extraordinary, right. Um, but you know, there’s like four or five steps just to get to the step on the middle managers, you know, just an engine. And I both say often the most important word in that book is the word authentic. The average executive cannot imagine authenticity to have an authentic purpose. One that’s real well, how do you know what’s real? It’s the arbitrary of every decision? Well, what does that even mean? We were in a company in Ohio and this mid-level woman told us in the middle of this meeting, told a story. She said, this morning, I was with my boss and he said, we’re going to do X. And I said, no, we’re not. Now what?

Robert E. Quinn (23:06):

She said that every head in the room looked at her. Uh, she said, we’re not going to do that because our purpose as a company is this and that’s inconsistent. And the boss said, Oh yes, thank you. Now at that moment, the CEO who was sitting next to me said, do you see what I mean? When purpose is the arbiter of every decision, that means every person in the organization becomes empowered. Now we can’t imagine that. We can’t imagine coming up with a statement would, which would be the arbitrary of every decision to be constant in it. Because we in a world of convenience and compromise ethics, again, go back, look at the political stage with both sets of actors. You know, the dominant principle is do what’s convenient, lie, cheat steal to whatever. If it’s convenient, there is no moral principle there, right? And constancy of purpose means I have to do things harder.

Robert E. Quinn (24:11):

We working with a company right now and we’ve made enormous progress. And then last week, one of the people said I had to fire somebody. You know, if we’re pursuing our purpose, we still have to do hard things sometimes. And sometimes you fire people. And I said, that’s exactly right. Tell me how you fired them differently than ever before, to see if I’m living that higher purpose. I don’t do anything the way I used to do it. I it’s much harder to work because I’m building a culture in which people are integrated and spontaneous and contributed. Conventional economic theory will not take me there.

Jim Rembach (24:52):

So as you’re talking, I also start thinking about the focus on customer experience over the past couple of years and how more and more are talking about that whole retention piece instead of the acquisition piece. And, you know, helping, you know, to people, you know, helping people to make them more successful talking about, uh, you know, the whole cloud-based technology systems where stickiness is important and client success is important. And when I start thinking about purpose, now it’s easy for me to say, Oh, I can see the economics. Now the relationship is the key. And then therefore, you know, I start putting these things in place, but then that whole authenticity starts rearing its head. So how, how do we make sure that we’re, we are becoming more customer centric, more customer focused, because that is a very vital, uh, purpose these days, uh, with, without sacrificing the authenticity,

Robert E. Quinn (25:46):

The, uh, you know, for a lot of companies, they, you know, they, the end up focusing is they do purpose work on their customer. Um, and that’s crucial because that makes life inconvenient. Right? I have to work harder if I’m sincere about the customer, but that’s only a partial view. What about the suppliers? Uh, what about the employees? What about, um, you know, am I capable of even getting to a higher level, but when you get there, uh, it’s a different transaction. It’s not transactional anymore. So think about the customer center companies early on. I remember 30 years ago buying, uh, my first non-American car. This was at the height of the quality Wars and us was just terrible. So I went and bought a Honda accord, and I remember for years, every time I got in that Honda accord and sat in the driver’s seat, I said, I made a really good decision.

Robert E. Quinn (26:53):

And I couldn’t even explain it, just sitting in that seat, that product had quality that other products didn’t have. Right. Uh, now those things change over time, et cetera. But at that moment, Honda Toyota, they were doing something that Ford, general motors wasn’t doing at the time. Right. And they were focused on me as a customer. Now, if you do that, your work as a leader is much more challenging, right. Then the kind of leadership we were getting from American managers at the time. Now we’ve made a lot of progress since, but the point is, uh, it’s not businesses business. It’s not a game. It’s not a transaction, although that never goes away, I have to save money. I have to be efficient, but it’s bigger than that. Right. And Milton frame, and it’s just wrong.

Jim Rembach (28:00):

That’s somebody that’s trying to get in. Who’s in the next, next guest. Sorry. Well, but as you’re, as you’re, you know what I mean, for me, as you’re saying that I started, I started thinking about, um, you know, the, the, hold on one second, that, that disrupted me. Let me think.

Jim Rembach (28:24):

But as you know, your, your TA, as we’re talking about that and where we are today, uh, needless to say, it is a very important for us to build, uh, this purpose driven society, because the natural forces of all of, like you said, the global governments, the know, I mean, we can just go on and on and on, like you said, talk for two hours. We could probably go for total. Um, I may be even in an organization where I don’t have some of those things occurring, can a mid-level manager be somebody who is actually causing the change to happen from within, at that lower level

Robert E. Quinn (29:08):

For 20 years, since we started posit organization scholarship, and we began to teach these kinds of notions, the single most frequent question I’m ever asked is some version of what you just asked. I’m just a accountant. I’m just a middle manager. Um, just a first, uh, um, just a member of the C-suite, but I’m not the CEO. Um, the list goes on, ah, this is a financial organization. This is a medical, or, you know, just fill in the blank, right? If you took all those questions and line them up, they would Garrett. What they do is they paint a very clear picture. People know, absolutely know that in their organization, they have no voice. And we’d love to put pictures on that of, well, it’s, we’re talking about first level people. We’re talking about everybody. We’re talking about CEOs who feel disempowered, who can’t make things happen.

Robert E. Quinn (30:13):

And I can’t emphasize that enough CEOs. Um, we have learned helplessness everywhere and the culture reinforces it. Uh, Warren Bennis wrote a book called the, the, uh, unconscious conspiracy. And his point is just so precious. He was the president of the university of Cincinnati and his, he reflected on that. And the book, he said there was a conspiracy unconscious, but every moment someone would come in and say, president, you need to sign these hundred letters for the alumni asking for money. President, you need to meet with so-and-so, here’s your, here’s all your meetings for the day. He said, my entire life was structured by bureaucrats meeting, conventional needs. That’s what management is. Now, what that also meant is I could not change the institution. There was virtually zero time for me to lead bureaucracies, hierarchies, conspire, to smother leadership. And they do, I had a Dean of a medical school, told me the first thing I did when I became Dean is I hired a psychologist to coach me every Friday. And this coaching was prescribed. It was one question he had asked me the same question every Friday. What have you done this week to move the institution?

Robert E. Quinn (31:42):

Yeah. You wrote a hundred letters. Yeah. You solved 50 problems. How is the culture better today than it was last week? How is this a better organization? He said, I bring him in. I haven’t asked you that every week, because that’s what leadership is. It’s not solving the problems, delivering the financial bottom line. Um, it’s making a better institution than I had last week. And if I do those other issues take care of themselves. Um, that’s very hard for people to believe, but the point is biologically our biology conspires to stop us, our culture, conspires to stop us. We know we’re powerless. And until we make the changes until we know our own personal purpose and are committed to it, we are just reactive. We’re armies of the walking dead. That’s what most organizations look like.

Jim Rembach (32:40):

So in order for us to not be that guy or gal, um, it does require a lot of inspiration, a lot of insight, and you’ve shared a ton and I greatly appreciate that. Um, but one of the things that we look on the show for that inspiration are quotes. Is there a motor too, that you’d like that you can share?

Robert E. Quinn (32:59):

Um, Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world. That’s a profound quote. Most people quote it, but don’t know what it means in the leadership industry. The fundamental belief is that leadership is about knowledge and skills. And that’s totally misleading. Leadership is about your state of being in terms of again, answering your last question. I wrote a book with my son called lift the fundamental state of leadership. When we said, here’s four questions, you can ask yourself in any situation. If you answer them authentically, you will empower yourself and you will lead. And the four questions are, what result do I want to create? Uh, people say, Oh, that’s a throwaway. I always do that. No, you don’t. The question you ask yourself all the time is how do I get what I want? What result do I want to create means I have to do something that’s not been done.

Robert E. Quinn (33:55):

I have to create AMI internally directed. Am I authentic in the embrace of this result or intention? Am I other focused? That is to, I practice empathy for all the other people in the equation, the customers, the suppliers, my employees. So I know their deepest needs and interests. It’s amazing how many people can’t answer that question. Fourth question is, am I externally open? Am I able to join with you and listen to you? And co-create the next step in this journey with you as an equal. Now I still have four stars on my shoulder and I could stop and say, no, we’re not going to do that. But can I step out of that? Can I step out of my authority and expertise? If you can answer those four questions in any situation, no matter how big or not you have in your stomach, you change your biology. You go from level two to level three, you begin to function, oxytocin pumps in the brain. You in instantaneously see strategies. You couldn’t see five minutes ago. You can do that. Everybody can do that. Everybody knows they can’t. So we’re talking about something incredibly basic, and that’s what Gandhi was saying. Be the change you want to see in the world. You turn into positive change and invite others to join you.

Jim Rembach (35:23):

So, as you’re talking about that, I start thinking about times where, when I didn’t ask those smart questions and when I didn’t do the right thing, when I had learning opportunities from it, and on the show, we talk about getting over the hump that we’ve learning opportunities and others can learn from that. And hopefully not have the same failure points, um, a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share.

Robert E. Quinn (35:47):

Um, well, I can, I’ll take you back to the sixth grade. In the sixth grade, we had really cute cheerleaders. And on the first day of school, the teacher walked in, pointed to a kid and said, you have to go to the other school. Your parents had moved across the boundaries this summer. Now it turns out this boy was the cutest boy in the class, the most athletic boy in the class. And the most poppy, every cheerleader loved this boy. Now, as he watched out of the room, I thought, this is my opportunity. If he was the best basketball player, then I’ll be the best basketball player. And these cheerleaders will love me. So I went home that day at three 30, took a lopsided basketball, went to a lopsided rim, and I shot until it’s too dark to see. And I went back the next day and the next day, and the next day when the basketball season started, I went from being second string to being star of the team.

Robert E. Quinn (36:44):

And it was exhilarating, but the cheerleaders didn’t give a hoot state. Didn’t even notice I was alive. It didn’t work, but something else happened for the first time in my life. I realized I could set a goal and pursue it and turn into somebody new. And then I learned because I was a point guard because I thought it was about ego and making lots of points and getting the cheerleaders to cheer for me and I, in a point guard job was quite different. It was to make everybody on that floor better than they are. And I fell in love with that role. And all of a sudden in the sixth grade, I’m thinking about the whole, I’m looking to make other people better. That was a million miles away from where I started that school year. And in the end by gold to be popular cheerleaders, never materialized, but that was a profoundly important over the hump moment in my life.

Jim Rembach (37:46):

Wow. Thanks for sharing and going that far back and talking about where you are now. Um, I start thinking about all the work, like I said, all the work that you’ve amassed, but there’s still a lot of work for you to do and a lot of impact. And I think, uh, you and I had the opportunity to chat a little bit before we started recording. And I think all this work that you’ve done right now, it is just so important and so appropriate and can be so leveraged right here right now, more than it ever has before. And so when I start thinking about some of the goals that you have, I mean, you set, you know, and stated what your purpose was, but if you have one goal, could you share it with us?

Robert E. Quinn (38:25):

Yeah. Um, I’m 74 years old. And I think until they put me in the ground, that those three words inspire positive change will lead me to keep learning every day and every day, I’m going to try to turn that learning into a blog or a paper or a book that someone can read now or a hundred years from now and make their life better. Now that’s the goal. In fact, I often say I’m, uh, I have one manuscript I’m trying to write that’s for my great, great, great granddaughter. That’s the objective that she would read that manuscript. And in a very dark day, she’d know what to do.

Jim Rembach (39:14):

And the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor. And even better place to work is an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement, along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers to learn more about an even better place to work, visit [inaudible] dot com for slash better winning solutions, guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers to learn more about an even better place to work visit [inaudible] dot com forward slash better. Alright, here we go. Fast leader Legion. It’s time for the home. Oh, now the Humpday hotels. The part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions. Okay. Robust yet revenue responses are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Dr. Quinn, are you ready to go down? I’m ready. All right. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Jim Rembach (40:19):

What is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

Robert E. Quinn (40:23):

Um, I think that Gandhi quote, be the change you want to see in the world.

Jim Rembach (40:27):

What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Robert E. Quinn (40:31):

I think those four questions helped me in anybody else. What results were on a crate? Am I internally directed? And my other focus, am I externally open?

Jim Rembach (40:40):

And what is one of the best tools that you believe helps you in business?

Robert E. Quinn (40:45):

At the beginning, we talked about the conventional assumptions, and then we talked about assumptions on the right side of the curve. I call those social excellence assumptions. That’s the most powerful tool I know when I lay that in front of a set of executives and they look at that a whole new world opens, right? It’s about envisioning what’s possible as opposed to being determined by what we know.

Jim Rembach (41:11):

Okay. And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion? And it can be from any genre. Of course, we’re going to put a link to the economics of higher purpose and deep change in your show notes page as well.

Robert E. Quinn (41:23):

Um, I, that there’s an old book called the path of least resistance by Robert Fritz. I think that’s one of the most valuable books I ever read.

Jim Rembach (41:34):

Okay. Fast leader Legion. You can find links to that. And other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/bob Quinn. Okay. Dr. Quinn, this is my last company. Hold on question. Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, however you can’t take it all. You can only take just one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Robert E. Quinn (41:58):

I would say the skill would be learning by faith. Now, what does that mean? There’s two words knowing and learning the danger is when I know I stopped learning and the learning is not book learning. It’s the ability for you and I to step into uncertainty and make a better world. So that’s the skill I take back.

Jim Rembach (42:24):

Dr. Quinn, I’ve had fun with you today. How can the fat your Legion connect with you?

Robert E. Quinn (42:28):

Uh, there’s a website, uh, Robert Quinn, um, and there’s a lot of stuff on that they might find. Interesting.

Jim Rembach (42:35):

Robert Quinn, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and the fast leader, Legion, honors, and honors you. And thanks you for helping us get over the hump.

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