How a culture of goodness drives better business results

September 16, 2019 Aaron Kinne

5-minute read

When you hear the word “goodness,” what comes to mind? Kindness? Honesty? Integrity

According to Paul Batz, goodness is “creating an environment where people thrive together in a culture of encouragement, accountability, and positive teamwork.”

In a Workhuman® Radio interview, the CEO and founder of Good Leadership Enterprises points out that it’s the leader’s job to not only find goodness, but to “make it grow in every single person that’s a part of their enterprise.”

To listen to the full interview, click here.

The Seven Fs©  ̶- building the foundation of good leadership

Paul believes leaders can do this through a concept he and his colleagues developed called the Seven Fs: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future. Together, they comprise a lens that serves as an icebreaker and discussion starter to ensure people are in tune with each other’s needs.

As Paul explains, “Our belief system is that we can grow any one of these Seven Fs as much as – or more – at work as we can at home.”

Paul compares the Seven Fs to the idea of a wheel: “When they put wheels on carts, they could actually move things. When you organize the Seven Fs into a wheel, it becomes a really interesting conversation because the wheel is the symbol of momentum in physics.”

In his analogy, those who score high on all seven of the Fs create a wheel that is “expansive, wide, and will roll.” But if it is thrown out of balance by a low score in one or more of the Fs, the wheel will be clunky and not roll well. In discussions about goodness and leadership, the question then becomes: “Will your Seven Fs wheel roll?”

Faith and its role in good leadership

Paul spent some time talking about faith, one of the Seven Fs. “The way we think about [faith] is that we’re not asking you ‘Who do you worship? Why do you worship?’ That’s really not the conversation.” He notes that 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians and Chinese figured out that “the most productive people in society had a connection between mind, body, and spirit. And spirit is just another word to say ‘faith.’”

In his experience coaching more than 250 C-suite executives and CEOs, “we always go to a faith conversation” when things get difficult. But what about having a faith conversation when things are going well? That’s the time to ask: “Is it possible that you could be more magnetic and could things actually go better?”   

Paul talked about the importance of employees having faith in their leadership.

“If leaders are not willing to be faithful, then why should anybody expect that the organization would do the right thing in terms of a crisis, or when things get really difficult? Once again, it’s not about being preachy or converting people. It’s being willing to lead with an open heart, and that includes a faith conversation.”

Goodness pays

So how does this tie back to “goodness” and how it impacts bottom-line business results?

Paul shared the story of when he first coached Paul Hillen, who was then the CMO at agribusiness giant Cargill (and is the co-author with Paul of the book, “How Goodness Pays: Why Good Leaders Thrive in a Transparent Business World”). Paul quickly realized that Hillen “was one of those results-only guys. I referred to his leadership style in those days as a ‘bag of hammers.’”

It was up to Batz to convince Hillen that goodness would actually help him get better business results. Hillen’s initial response? “I have no time for this. You have to get some data and prove it to me.”

It was this data-gathering exercise that helped prepare Paul for the challenges ahead: “Because ‘goodness’ has all these attachments with religion, being too nice, being too soft – it meant that we really had to do the hard work.”

The first thing he did was ask leaders what kind of culture they want to work in. Four out of five described a goodness culture. To put it another way, 80% of leaders – when asked unprompted – believed that goodness pays. “What we try to do is to get the team to lead with an open heart and say, ‘OK, if all of our employees were thriving, would our business results be better?’ And every single time they said, ‘Yes.’”

Creating a “goodness culture”

Paul sums it up this way: “I believe you can be happier personally and professionally if you have a culture of goodness. And most people want it that way.” And why not? After all, a goodness culture delivers better business results, according to Paul’s research.

So how do you create a culture of goodness? Paul cited four cornerstones on which one is built: rewarding excellence, living generously, promoting fairness, and spreading positivity.

Greg Page, a former CEO at Cargill, believes that the most important job of a leader is to be a pancreas for their organization – to filter out all the bad toxins. In Greg’s view, no matter what negativity comes into an organization, it’s up to the leader to make sure that excellence, generosity, fairness, and positivity come out. That’s what building a culture of goodness is all about.

The meaning of working human

The interview concluded with Paul sharing his thoughts on what it means to work human. In his view, it’s a culture where people thrive together – one where employees believe that, when the organization does well, they’re going to benefit as much as – or more than – the people who run and own it.

“Particularly today, we’re surround by so much dark noise. We’re losing trust in government, big business, organized religion, the media … it’s everywhere. So if you can’t come to work and find moral, ethical strength and positivity, where are you going to get it? That’s what working human means to me.”


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About the Author

Aaron Kinne

Aaron Kinne is a senior writer at Workhuman.