Episode 11: Scott Edinger: Finding the Hidden Leaders within your Company

Who is Scott Edinger and what are the key takeaways in this episode?

Every organization has a leader who  doesn’t dress like the CEO or walk like the president, because the truth is that you don’t need to carry a badge or a title to be one. In this episode, we’ll discover and reveal who these hidden leaders are and how can you identify them. And to help us out, we have Scott Edinger, the author and founder of Edinger Consulting Group, to share with us his wisdom.

Some of the topics we’ve covered in this 34 minute interview include:

  • His personal, entrepreneurial journey
  • His thoughts on whether consultants really have skin in the game
  • What inspired Scott to write his books
  • Why entrepreneurs are afraid of change
  • Why Scott thinks that culture is about beliefs and mindsets
  • And plenty of other insights

The Questions

[2:42] What was the monumental event that you experienced and that was the tipping point in your career?
Answer: I think one of the real tipping points was probably when I co-authored my first book with John Zenger and Joseph Folkman, when we wrote “The Inspiring Leader.”

[11:10] How do you make that leap to get people to buy in culturally and say, “You know what, I believe Scott, I’m all in?”
Answer: … The fact of the matter is that anybody who’s trying to help you do something, whether it is a personal trainer, a psychologist, or a corporate coach or consultant, they really can only help to direct you. Nobody can do it but the person who has got to do it.

[12:57] How much is fear a factor in change when you’re working with your clients?
Answer: In every great system, we fear change. I tend to think that we like change. We always like it. There are a lot of changes I’m trying to make for my business and a lot of things my clients are trying to change that they really do welcome.
I think the fear is part of what happens between the change. We like the change, it’s just that from now until then, it’s that part that we’re afraid of. And a lot of times it’s that we are afraid of the hard work.

Culture According to Scott:

If you think about company culture, frankly, it’s probably true of any type of culture, whether it be the culture of a country, or a specific region. But it’s those beliefs and that mindset that influence the behavior of people. Whatever it is that you believe about what is acceptable, what is proper, what the right thing to do is, those beliefs and that mindset is what influences your behavior.

Go To Quote for Inspiration

Scott’s Books

The Hidden Leader

the hidden leader

What Scott Wants His Company to BE:

  • BE Funny
  • BE Enthusiastic
  • BE Focused

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Scott:

Connect with John on

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

John: Hey guys, I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for tuning in to Be Culture Radio. You’re listening to episode 11. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we release a new and exciting episode so make sure you subscribe.

Today, my guest, Scott Edinger. Scott is a consultant, author, speaker and executive coach. Today we’re going to discuss how to create an environment that cultivates high performance.

At the end of our show, you will be able to check out the show notes where references, links and transcripts of today’s episode can be found. You’ll find that at befurniture.com/episode11.

Now join me in welcoming Scott.

John: Scott, welcome to the Be Culture Radio show.

Scott: I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.

John: I couldn’t ask for a better guest. It’s a nice Friday afternoon and there are some folks who I think are going to be really interested today, but before we do that, Scott, can you share with our listeners a little bit about you and your journey and how you got to where you are today?

Scott: There’s a lot of ways I can answer that. I think the short answer is that I was always fascinated, I guess from around my college years, with the idea of leadership and what makes leaders effective. And part of that fascination came about because I was involved in speech and debate and of course, when you study speech and forensics and rhetoric, you end up studying a lot of leaders who give speeches. So I became really interested in that and it led me down the path toward communications studies and the study of rhetoric. Then ultimately I got into fields that involved that kind of work. So that’s the short version of the runway leading up to the start of my professional life.

John: You attended Florida State University, I believe?

Scott: I did. I’m a proud Florida State Seminole. Yes, I love our school. I love the football team; I’m disappointed at some of the field antics of some players but for the most part it’s a great institution.

John: Well, you know what, it is a great institution and it has a lot of great leaders that have come out of it. You being one of them.

Scott, share with us, what was the monumental event that you experienced and what was the tipping point in your career?

Scott: There’s a handful of them. I’m trying to pinpoint one of them. I think one of the real tipping points was probably when I co-authored my first book with John Zenger and Joseph Folkman, when we wrote, “The Inspiring Leader.”

That was really, for me, a huge transition and I had always been in management and leadership positions in a sales function. Really, in my career in direct sales I had never crossed that line of selling and organizing the delivery of service to actually being one of the people who was creating, the developer of it and the person who was ultimately going to be in front of the stage.

That was a real change for me and one that I had aspired to for a long time. I worked really hard to get to it but the publishing of that book and my participation with them in the research and the writing, that was huge for me.

John: You got to help me with this, Scott. You’re in sales and then you made this quantum leap and became an author. How does that happen?

Scott: I mentioned earlier that in college I studied rhetoric and persuasion and communication studies. So I was always interested in writing and speaking; I just didn’t have the venues for it professionally. But then I started working with a guy named Neil Rackham, author of “Spin Selling and Rethinking the Sales Force.”

I worked a lot in the sales training and sales consulting arena, and ended up doing a lot of short articles and white papers, and I started to get comfortable with writing. Slowly, opportunities began to present themselves to me and ultimately when I was with John Zenger and Joe Folkman, the concept for “The Inspiring Leader” started to come about.

And then, I had the chance to do some of the research and write with them.

John: Now, you shared with us and some of our listeners today that you recently had a book that went live.

Scott: Yes, it’s called “The Hidden Leader.” If I were to summarize the concept for you, I’d say, essentially, that we tend to look upwards in organizations, to position and authority for leadership. And while that’s important, and I’d even say necessary in an organization, there is a tremendous amount of passive leadership behavior that occurs with individual contributors or front line supervisors, or middle managers who we don’t tend to be looking for leadership from. As a result, we don’t notice that some of the things that they do are really profound leadership behaviors. But they don’t always look like the kind of leadership stuff we’re used to seeing. They’re not getting up in front of the entire company and delivering a rousing strategy and directional message. They’re not leading these off-site retreats or something, and they’re not out in front of the organization like you typically see leadership, but they’re doing a lot of things, small things sometimes, that really exhibit great leadership behavior.

That’s the concept that there’s a great advantage for those companies that can create a culture where leadership thrives everywhere, not just amongst senior managers.

John: Now, a lot of the entrepreneurs who listen to our show have come out of corporate America, and we all know about “leaders who hide versus hidden leaders.”

Scott: Sure. You know what, that’s funny. I haven’t used that. “Leaders who hide versus hidden leaders.” The first, the former, is really quite a different story.

John: We’ve all seen them, we’ve all worked for them. As I said earlier on in our show, it’s like the Federal Express commercial where the leader’s got his hand moving in a horizontal position and the guy says, “Well, that’s my idea.” And he goes, “No, your hand was moving in the other direction.” [crosstalk]

Scott: He said it like this, then he makes the motion, right?

John: Exactly.

We look at these things from our perspective and when you were building your name, what corporate jobs did you appreciate, from a cultural standpoint, that helped ground you and make you the author you are today?

Scott: There are two in particular. One of them was one of my first jobs which was, I’ll date myself with them, Coopers and Lybrand, prior to Pryce Waterhouse Coopers, and I was in human resources with them.

It was my first real corporate job and I was working in downtown San Francisco, in the big highrise offices on Market Street. And that really taught me what it means to be in big business, both the good and the bad of it.

All of the good about the resources and the incredible ideas that come out of professional services firms at that level and really the power of organizational culture, all of the good parts of it. And then, all of the corporate speak, the negative side of the corporate culture, the backbiting, the saying one thing and doing another, all the passive aggressive behavior. So I got to see all of that also.

And it really helped me understand when people said, “Do you want big company or a small company kind of work?” I never really understood what they were saying until I got there and I was like, “Oh okay, I get it now.”

So that environment really shaped a lot of how I view corporations. Then the other one, I would say, is Neil Rackham’s firm, Huthwaite, which was a small boutique consultancy in the sales effectiveness arena with training and consulting.

That was about a 100 person company so you go from giant, Big Six at that point, professional services firm, to a 100 person small time consultancy and all of the really interesting things that happen in an entrepreneurial organization, like the breadth of responsibility you can have, the amount of influence on creating change in an organization and how much faster it can happen.

I think those sorts of things really started to shape my idea of what’s the best of both of these.

John: Scott, I’ve got to tell you, you were tagged by the Gulf Coast Business Journal as one of the 40 under-40 leaders to watch in the Tampa Bay area. Also, it’s pretty interesting, you don’t read music but you perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Now, I’ve got to tell you…

Scott: Both of those things are true. In fact, I do have to say about the Gulf Coast Business Journal 40 under-40, on the day of that publishing, that I was 12 days away from 40. So I was the senior member of that group.

John: [Laughs] I’ve got to tell you, I look at these things and I say to myself, “Here’s a guy that came and got a wealth of information from corporate America but, is he corporate? Does he understand? Does he get it? So, how for you, when you look at it, Scott, how did the culture of the things that you said, “That’s not me.” Because what I read and what I hear about you, and what people say about you, you’re not the corporate suit.

Scott: Well, you know, I have a lot of colleagues who would probably disagree with that because some of them only see me when I’m in the corporate suit. I do definitely have my moments where I am in the corporate suit.

Half of my clients are in the Fortune 500 and that’s part of what it takes to blend in with them and to fit in with them and to be able to help them to implement strategies that will work in that kind of culture. So you really have to understand that. And I’ve been there before, so I can play that part of it.

I also have  a little bit of a, I don’t have another way to say it, but I have a little bit of “class clown” in me. I kind of prefer that. If you give me an environment where it’s allowed, I’ll really take off with it. And sometimes, in a looser environment, that is necessary if you want to create the kind of change that’s needed.

I think in every different company culture, there’s a set of beliefs and mindsets that they carry that is unique to them that determines what’s acceptable around them. And I think they can pretty well sense that, because I’ve been in so many different kinds of companies, from very, very large to really small, and now to extremely small with my solo practice consultancy.

I can sort of figure out what the are norms there, and make sure that I behave in ways consistent with that.

John: Scott, tell me, you talked about beliefs, you talked about norms, and you talked about being a consultant. Now, I’ve worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation, I’ve worked for British Tire and Rubber. I spent 20 years, as I tell my listeners, trying to be a round peg in a square hole, until I finally figured out I didn’t fit.

I’ve dealt with a lot of consultants as big companies bring them in. And I’m always amazed that people would come in and say, “You should do this, and you should do that, and you should do this,” and they had no skin in the game, so to speak.

How do you bridge that? And I think it’s a culture where people come and tell you what to do and how you should do it, but if it doesn’t work out, “Oh, shame, well, I told them what to do.”

How do you make that leap to get people to buy in culturally and say, “You know what, I believe Scott, I’m all in?”

Scott: Yeah, you know, this is  all about culture, right? And the fact of the matter is that anybody who’s trying to help you do something, whether it is a personal trainer, a psychologist, or a corporate coach or consultant, they really can only help to direct you. Nobody can do it but the person whose got to do it.

There’s a level of truth in that. They can only do so much, right? Like, I know when I work with my clients that I can only do so much. But there is a level of skin in the game and I think so for, frankly, a lot of consultants and a lot of professionals who are in some kind of capacity helping others to do something that they wouldn’t ordinarily do without some influence.

So, that kind of skin in the game really comes from a passion to do the work, and the culture around the people who have to do that work in the business is the set of beliefs that influence those behaviors so they have to have a sense that the company is going to support them and that it’s in their best interest, that it’s in their best rational self-interest: not overly self interested, but at rational level. And then, there’s the support that’s going to keep whatever the change that is being proposed alive.

If you could do those things, I think you will find a lot of success. People say cultural change is slow. I don’t think it has to be, even in a big company, but a lot of these initiatives are about change right? Whether its change in the way we work with the customer, or change in our total go to market strategy, whatever it is, those changes all start with what people believe.

You’ve got to figure that out and then figure out how you’re going to influence those beliefs before you get to the kind of typical things: the big meetings, the training and all of that stuff. It’s got to start with mindset.

John: How much is fear a factor in change when you’re working with your clients?

Scott: Fear has an effect. In every great system, we fear change. I tend to think that we like change. We always like it. There are a lot of changes I’m trying to make for my business and a lot of things my clients are trying to change that they really do welcome.

I think that fear is a part of “what happens between the change?” We like the change. It’s just that from now until then, it’s that part that we’re afraid of. And a lot of times it’s being afraid of hard work.

A lot of these changes are really hard work. My response is usually, yes. “So you’re trying to grow a $5 Billion enterprise, let’s get at it.”

John: My father used to say to me when I was growing up in North Carolina, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

I want to jump off a little bit and ask you, as we’ve talked about beliefs a couple of times and I’ve shared with our listeners over our shows, I feel for me that the beliefs that you carry into your adult life are shaped by what I call, your tribe.

I refer to the tribe: I have my tribe, which is my mom and my dad, and my six sisters and my brother, and they change based upon my needs with regard to where they sit as far as the hierarchy of my needs goes. We talked about how people have beliefs at work, so how strongly do you agree that people’s beliefs are shaped by where they come from and the environment that they come from?

Scott: I think your beliefs are 100% shaped by the environment. I do not think that there’s a genetic – if there’s a genetic factor to it, I’m going to say that it’s less that 10%.

I don’t have scientific data on it, I have tons of anecdotal evidence about it. I would suggest that so much of this is shaped by your early experiences and those beliefs, as well as what you think about the things that you experience and the stories you tell about them.

Having said that, that doesn’t mean it’s locked in. It can change, sure. It’s not easy, but it can change. Beliefs and mindsets are malleable.

John: Agreed. You know what, you’re a very sharp man. I’ve read about you . I’ve read some of your books and some of the writings you’ve done with the Harvard Review.

Scott: You’re very nice, thank you. I appreciate that.

John: I’ve been very impressed. One of the things I do to give back is, for the last dozen years, I’ve been involved with an AAU program for boys’ basketball with inner city kids. I’ve ended up mentoring quite a few of these young men who come from single parent homes. They have nothing, other than the foundation, that their mother or their father have given them.

One of the shining examples is a young man who today is an executive from Mandalay’s food. He grew up. He was at [15:32 inaudible] but we stuck together and he ended up with an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, he is gainfully employed, doing great and people say, “You did that.” I said, “No, no, no… He did that.”

Scott: Yeah, that’s a great story.

John: He took everything and all the advice. All I told him was to read. My advice was to act like a human being, treat people the way you want to be treated and read. So I try to make it simple.

How do you make it simple for people to get it, Scott?

Scott: Huh, that’s a tough one, John. How do I make it simple for people to get it?

I think you got to make things really pragmatic. I work with senior executives from Fortune 500 companies on how they’re going to do a better job of inspiring and motivating others, and big time partners at Booze Allen on how they’re going to create more value for clients and people in call centers, the front line folks who are trying to satisfy customer requests.

And with every single one of them, what I have found is that helping people to get it is to understand the unique environment that they operate in and to be able to figure out how you make a concept pragmatic for somebody. How do you make it practical, so that they can do it every day, multiple times a day, if it’s a behavior.

That’s really the approach that I tend to take when you’re trying to instill a new skill set or a new way of doing things. So that would be the approach, I would say, that I’ve seen be effective, and it really is getting things to a pragmatic level.

John: Okay, so now we’re going to drill down a little bit. Here’s a two-part question for you. One, how do you define company culture? And you’ve just talked about some amazing companies. And then what has your experience been with them? What was your experience and how did they leverage and attract amazing talent, and create and accelerate growth? Because you know what, Scott, that’s what you do for people. So help me with that.

Scott: The culture definition is a pretty easy one. I’ve mentioned it’s about mindset and beliefs, right? So, if you think about company culture, frankly it’s probably true of any type of culture, whether it be the culture of a country, or a specific region. But it’s that beliefs and that mindset that influences the behavior of people. Whatever it is that you believe about what is acceptable, what is proper, what the right thing to do is, those beliefs and that mindset are what influence your behavior.

So if I were to sum it up in a sentence: it’s the beliefs and mindset that drive behavior and that dictate behavior. And if you think about culture, that’s really what it is. That’s why so many companies are unsuccessful in changing culture because they immediately go to behaviors instead of trying to figure out what the beliefs are that are underlying those behaviors around this company, and how we address that.

A lot of times, people don’t believe that change is real or that they don’t have confidence in something that the company is doing, whatever it is.

All the training or culture meetings that are in the world aren’t going to change that. So that’s part one, yeah?

John: Yes.

Scott: Okay, so the second part you asked me was about attracting talent, right?

John: Yes.

Scott: So, the ones that are best at attracting talent treat recruiting the way college sports teams treat recruiting. And you mentioned Florida State earlier. Obviously, I’m a big Florida State Football fan, and I’m one of those who follows the college recruiting also. The way in which these coaches go after and identify potential people in their market that they want to have on their team,  because they believe those people are going to help their team win, is a huge prioritized effort. And in most organizations, that huge prioritized effort doesn’t exist or if it does exist, it exists on the part of human resources.

With no disrespect to human resources, they’re not going to be the reason that top talent joins a company. Top talents join a company because they want to work with other top leaders. So while leaders really have to take it very seriously, the senior executives, division managers, typical functional leaders of the organization, have got to take it really seriously and make it a part of their imperative.

Now, they can get all the help and the resources in the world from HR, but they’ve got to be the ones to attract the talent and they’ve got to make it a priority and too often, they don’t.

The ones who make it a priority really do win.

John: And where does character fall in for you? Because, as I shared with you with what I do, I talk to a lot of Division One coaches. It’s a phenomenal program out of New Jersey, they call it The New Jersey Road Runners, we send six to seven Division One basketball players out every year. Being that I am the general manager, they don’t ask me about them as far as their basketball skills go.

But the very quick, first question they ask me is, “Tell me about the kid. Tell me about the character. So how do we intertwine the character and culture?”

Scott: I’m trying to think about the question and how to answer it succinctly, because I can talk through a while about it, but if you think about character as going beyond not lying, not cheating, not stealing, then that’s kind of table stakes in business today. If you have those things then you’ve got a clear absence of character, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if there’s a lot of presence of character, because you don’t always see those sorts of things. So you look for people who follow through on their commitments. Can they be counted on?

When they are asked their opinion, are they confident and able to express that opinion even if it’s a disagreement? Do they have the skill to do so without being disagreeable, as I often say. The idea that character influences the attraction of talent and the creation of culture, I would say, it’s the bedrock of everything because this is the degree to which people can count on the integrity of others.

I can’t imagine anybody joining an organization or wanting to create a culture or be a part of a culture that didn’t have some level of really strong integrity about it.

John: So it would be safe to say that one’s character is measured by what you do when no one is looking?

Scott: Yeah, a great quotation, and one that I really like. And I think everybody who is listening here will have the experience of having done something that they really would not like people to know that they did. If you use that as your litmus test, then that’s a pretty good definition.

John: When I grew up I was told, “Go ahead and do anything you want, as long as you would do it in front of your mother.”

Scott: Yeah, another good one.

John: I live by that. That one’s pretty easy. Right and wrong became very easy growing up.

Now Scott, in “The Hidden Leader”, it said that there’s nothing traditional about business today and staying relevant is a constant struggle. “The Hidden Leader” cast a fresh eye on what it means to be a leader. So that being said, what tips can you give our entrepreneurs who are starting to hire and to build their business around building a great team and great culture?

Scott: Well, if I think again back to this idea of culture and leadership, I would have to point to focusing on relationships. I’m pretty intentional when I talk about this sort of thing to point out that I mean much more than being friendly or collegiate, or even nice. Those are good things. They’re not necessary, though. The focus on relationships is really about a connection of some kind. So as a leader, regardless of what your position is, whether you are an individual contributor or the CEO, it’s about your ability to understand and to be able to make some kind of connection. I mean a human connection, not with a task, not with an output, not with a job to be done, but with another person and to be able to make the emotional connection becomes the real key to leading and influencing others.

If you think about all the things that we are able to do through relationships, in “The Hidden Leader” we introduce this idea of leading through relationships rather than through authority from a position or a title. Then, the ability to influence others has everything to do with that connection that you have with them. That can be enthusiasm, and energy, and excitement about something. On the other side of it, you can be angry about something and be frustrated about something, and that’s an emotion that is powerful. It can drive great results through relationships as well, as long as you can work through it productively.

So there are lots of powerful uses of emotion. I wrote for Harvard Business Review, I have to be real careful here, as I’m not talking about wild displays of emotion. I’m talking about the fact that we are humans and are filled with all kinds of emotions. We’re not machines, so being able to harness them and use them as we relate to others is part of the key to leadership, no matter where you’re leading from.

John: So, Scott, what are the most common mistakes that professionals make when they’re trying to build a successful culture within their business?

Scott: I think they make the mistake of focusing too much on fun. I’m a big believer in having fun and goofing off, and having a culture where happiness is encouraged and fostered. I’ve worked with companies in Silicon Valley that really took the wrong route in trying to build a culture by having Foosball tables and free food in the kitchen. This is not the sort of stuff that makes for a culture. It makes for a nice environment but culture, really, is developed by leaders and they are the exemplars and the role models with the kind of behaviors that are acceptable in an environment.

So they try to do some of the little things and forget the big things, which is to say that you’ve got to be the role model for what you expect people to do.

John: Well, let’s talk about that for a moment. As I shared with you, I’ve been in and out of corporate America and I’ve seen leaders who were either unwilling or unable to effect change, and because they held the title of President or CEO and they slammed their fist on the table and said, “This is the way it will be,” everybody nodded their head at the boardroom. They said, “Okay, it’s going to be that way.” Then they walked out and went, “What a jerk!”

Isn’t there some of that too?

Scott: I think so. I think there’s a lot that gets caught up in that. Part of this is down to the fact that a lot of this is done by those kinds of leaders with the belief that they can drive others to achieve results, but it just doesn’t end up working that way.

When someone is telling me that this is their goal and this is how they’re trying to go about it, there’s the question of “Is it working?” Oftentimes, it isn’t.

John: So Scott, when do you call them on it because what I hear is, “I’m unwilling. I’m unable to do it so I’m going to bring Scott in and have him do it.” And that’s not what you do.

Scott: Yeah. It’s tough when the person who has hired you for an important engagement is the problem. But that’s your job. It’s your responsibility to point it out.

Now, I’m pretty direct about it. I don’t need to be blunt about it, but I can pretty well tell a senior executive that the reason that a particular behavior is rampant in the organization is because he has both allowed it and exhibited it publicly. That could be yelling at people, where all of a sudden that starts to happen and people start to treat each other with a lack of respect. It could be any number of things, but these are the sorts of things where leaders sometimes forget you’re being watched all the time.

So if you’re going to do something, you better be sure that you would be comfortable with other people doing it.

John: How often does the messenger get shot?

Scott: It happened to me once. Truly, just one time where I wasn’t really shot but definitely the engagement ended. I was told, “This isn’t what I wanted”.  But that’s only once in over 20 years of this kind of work, the last four of them being with my own practice.

John: Okay. One out of 20. That’s pretty good, Scott. [crosstalk]

Scott: Yeah, in 20 years I’ve only been a part of that happening one time. Most of the time, by the time a leader has made the decision that they’re going to hire me, or someone who is like me, to do this kind of work, and by the time you are stepping up to make that kind of investment, there’s a recognition that if you’re hiring the expert, you’ve got to listen to him.

John: Amen.

Scott: I think that’s why it happens that rarely. If it was just a random sample and we said, “Hey, go talk to these 50 CEOs,” I’d bet it would probably be the case that 30 out of 50 would say, “Get the heck out of here.””

Those are not the random sample.

John: No, they are not. Scott, there are a lot of companies and they are just receiving funding. They just got their Series A funding and are looking to hire and grow aggressively. They want to leverage their culture, so what milestones would you give them so they know they’re on the right track?

Scott: That’s interesting. I worked with a couple of companies that have ventured back start-ups, and there really are business metrics that they have put forth. The one metric that I think is a real marker for success is the employee engagement score.

Now, there’s a lot of ways to go about it. There’s a lot of good instruments for it, but the employee engagement metric includes a qualitative measure. That is, it ought to include random interviews and focus groups where people will have the ability to talk about the experience that they are having, both anonymously and in a public situation, so that you can blend that with data and figure out, “Okay, where are we? Are we on the right path here? And where are we off the path?”

So that’s the one measure. I think asking about that along the way and having some measures of success related to that are important.

John: All right, so I’ve got to stop you and ask you right now. You said, “Interviews. Ask people.” How do you get people to tell you the truth, Scott, versus what they think you want to hear? And how do you know when you are getting sunshine blown at you?

Scott: First off, use nobody inside the company. It’s not realistic to expect an internal person to do that. So that is one of the benefits of a third party, and that doesn’t have to be a super highly paid consultant. As long as you have a third party and promise anonymity, anonymity of attribution I should say. You want to be able to share things, concepts, and ideas, but to be able to shield people from anonymity of attribution and gather the feedback that way.

I don’t think that it can be done by an internal person, in any case.

John: I agree. I think it would be impossible and foolish.

Scott: Yeah, there are some cases. I could pick a case where I could tell that people were rather reticent to say things because they thought that I was a pipeline to the CEO.

So I spend a fair bit of time in one company earning that kind of trust so that I could get the inside information about what was actually happening in the manufacturing facility, and could learn about some of the particular personnel issues that were happening, so that I could understand what was being accepted and what was creating some problems.

Sometimes, it’s not that easy to just go and ask. You have to spend a little time there.

John: Right, So what happened? We want to know.

Scott: Oh, I learned – I had people divulge information for me that they probably wouldn’t have, even confidentially, had I not spent the time and earned their trust.

Obviously, I can’t share that here, but two people ended up being let go from the organization. A couple of people who were – I think it’s not an exaggeration to say they were being oppressed – got promoted. And things are in a much better condition than they were before.

John: Great to hear. All right Scott, we’re going to go through, because we’re coming to the end, and I really appreciate your time. But I just have a few quick questions for you and we’re just going to run through them. Okay?

Scott: Sure.

John: What book changed your life?

Scott: I’m going to say a book called “High Performance Sales Organizations.”

John: What’s your go-to quote for inspiration?

Scott: There’s one from F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I hope I get it exactly right here, that says, “The true test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two ideas, two opposing ideas in mind, at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

John: That’s a great quote.

Scott: Yes. I like that one and I think that’s the challenge in life.

John: It certainly is. If you had to describe – well, let me just back up one moment. What company do you admire the most as it relates to their culture?

Scott: There’s a client that I work with. It’s a regional credit union called GTE Financial. They used to be a national credit union but now they’re regional and their CEO, whom I worked pretty closely with, Joe Brancucci, has created a culture where happiness is the priority.

Now this is a bank, but they talk about happiness and service to others. They have their problems too, by the way. But this is a great company culture.

John: So, if you had to describe your company in three words, what would they be?

Scott: BE funny. I’d like to be entertained. BE enthusiastic, and BE focused.

John: Excellent. Now, Scott, today we’ve talked about how you create an environment that cultivates high performance. My readers and all of my listeners want to know how to do it. They should get your book, called “The Hidden Leader.”

Scott: Absolutely. Take two of them, because they make a great gift and Memorial Day is just around the corner.

John: Scott, can you tell our listeners how they can get a hold of you if they want to drop you an email.

Scott: Yes. There are a couple of ways to reach me. You can reach me directly through, the Edinger Group website, that’s www.edingergroup.com W-W-W dot E-D-I-N-G-E-R group dot com. And on that website, in addition to the videos, articles and podcast, all of which are free, and lots of resources at no cost for people, there’s all of my contact information.

There’s a Contact Us file at the bottom where you can submit a message through the website or you can just call us or send me an email directly.

I often answer my own phone if I’m around, and I’d certainly answer you.

John: Get his book. The show notes will have more. All of this information in the show notes. Scott, I can’t thank you enough for taking your time out of a late Friday afternoon and spending it with us at BE Culture Radio. It’s been just a windfall for me. I loved the opportunity to talk to you and I hope that you’ll come back on our show again.

Scott: I’d be delighted to. This was a fun conversation. Great to talk with you.

John: It’s been our pleasure. Have a great weekend. Thanks so much and be well.