CEO Culture Hacks: Core Values In The Workplace – Learn, Grow, Stretch

Learn, Grow, Stretch. This is Mind Over Machines’ mantra for improving the self. It is also a list of guiding workplace values. Let’s start with “Learn,” a broad imperative with many facets.

As a software and data consultancy, our company purpose statement is to enrich lives by enabling people to work smarter. So, of course, we expect our MINDs to be working toward mastery of technical subject matter. More importantly, we also are working toward mastery of our selves—our thoughts, emotions, actions and their repercussions. It’s commonly known as emotional intelligence, and has several elements.

Reflect on Yourself in the World.

“Why do I think how I think? Why do I do what I do?”
“Is it serving me well, or do I need to recalibrate?”
“What does the other person in this interaction really need?”
“Can I provide it, thus precipitating a win-win?”

If you want to lead others, you first have to successfully lead yourself. It’s a common trope in thought leadership for good reason. Leaders have to start by identifying their core values and principles. Then, they need to get really good at continuously asking and answering the questions above, keeping those workplace values always at the forefront.

The longer I work at this whole life thing, the more I’m convinced that the secret to personal and professional success is making authentic human connections. They are so rare that when you open one up, people will pour themselves into the channel you’ve created and do all they can to help you achieve your vision and promote a positive work culture.

That’s the same conclusion Trillion Dollar Coach Bill Campbell came to, which is probably why I can’t stop recommending his recently released leadership playbook. (Here’s a CliffsNotes version of the key takeaways.)

When you routinely take the time to reflect on yourself and your place in the world, human nature compels you to connect with others, to care for your fellow humans and achieve larger, communal (and dare I say, business) goals. Self-reflection leads to compassion, which LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner defines as “empathy plus action.” As he says, actively working to alleviate the suffering of others requires “pausing, and being a spectator to my own thoughts, especially when getting emotional.”

Own Your Growth.

When you prioritize learning about yourself and your craft, you often uncover new professional avenues you didn’t even know existed. Some are appealing; some aren’t. You have to determine which is which. At Mind Over Machines, career growth is a personal responsibility. Every MIND gets to shape itself in a positive work culture.

Here again is the autonomy discussed in our first culture post. Being kind to oneself means:

A: Figuring out what you want

B: Giving it to yourself.

This time we’re combining two of Daniel H. Pink’s three* components of motivation: autonomy and mastery. You get to decide what you want to master. Make a plan. Communicate your plan. Get what you need.

That last part is where I think Mind Over Machines senior staff excels in creating a positive work culture. We love to help people get where they want to go professionally. Watching people grow is one of my favorite things about my job.

Embrace Change.

Love it or hate it, our industry is awash in change. We are students of it. We grapple with how tech change impacts individual careers and our business as a whole. We sell digital transformation; we create it. And everybody on the team is acutely aware of our role as change models because, if a tech project is going to fail, it usually fails at the adoption phase. The biggest challenge is convincing end users to embrace change.

We don’t have a required reading list at Mind Over Machines, but if we did, Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? would be at the top because it explains how to remove ego and fear from the change process. If you can strip away those elements, change can actually become invigorating.

Now, there are two ways to embrace change: proactively and reactively. There’s the seek it out, grab hold, and “bring it in for a hug, man.” And then there’s the “embrace” where this giant blob of change smashes into you, backs you up against a wall, and you have no option but to hug it out. They are very different experiences, but both will get you where you need to go.

It may not be cool to admit, but over the course of our company’s 30-year history, there have been times we were behind the change curve. Being the underdog can provide just the motivation you need to step up your game and make change happen. I’ve seen it on a company-level and an individual level. People engage both their analytical and creative brains and figure out how to shift and augment their existing skill sets in service to a new technology or a whole new paradigm (e.g. the move from developing to customizing business applications).

The capacity to embrace change is born of intellectual curiosity and self-reflection, the very same practices that underpin learning and growth in a positive work culture. As long as our MINDs stay curious and reflective, we will continue to Learn, Grow & Stretch.

* In case you were wondering, the third component is purpose, and we covered that up at the top.

About This Post

Learn, Grow, Stretch is the third installment in a series written by Mind Over Machines Founder & CEO Tom Loveland. As he explicates our core values in the workplace, we’ll populate this company culture grid. It’s a snapshot of who we serve and how. Click on any cell to read that post.

SELF Be Kind Learn, Grow, Stretch
CLIENT Bring Your Brilliance