Monday, March 14, 2022

Leaders and Employees: Everyone Can Be Heroes

Thanks to social media, over the last 13 years, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, and customer experience experts. One of these experts is Jason Meucci from Seattle, Washington. We recently had a discussion about leadership, and highlights follow below Jason's bio.

Jason Meucci is the Chief Possibilities Officer at his Leadership Prelude Coaching and Consulting practice. As a leadership development and team building coach, facilitator, and educator, he helps leaders and teams expand and enhance their possibilities by integrating the “3C’s” that he considers a prelude to transformational leadership into their culture: Care, Connection, and Contribution. Jason has spent more than 25 years in the corporate and nonprofit world, working in and with companies that include: CNN, the Points of Light Foundation, Delta Air Lines, KING TV, and Expedia Group. No matter his role, his favorite responsibilities have always been building teams, developing people, and crafting cultures. He has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, where he’s taught graduate courses in Leadership and Team Building, and also serves on the Board of the Association for Talent Development’s Puget Sound Chapter. Connect on LinkedIn at, and on Twitter at @jmeucci and @LeaderPrelude.

QUESTION: I love your title, "Chief Possibilities Officer." Can you share how that came to be?
JASON MEUCCI: The title is a way to combine who I strive to be and the impact I try to make through what I do. Possibilities are something to aspire to; they give us hope. And if you’re leading, developing, or caring for others, one of the greatest things we can give them is hope. That’s something I try to be intentional about doing.
I use that title for my team-building and leadership development work, which is all grounded in the principles of Care, Connection, and Contribution. When these values become an everyday part of someone’s leadership, the way a team works together and the environment in which they operate, problems start to look a lot more like possibilities. Check out the graphic below.

I also do a fair amount of coaching and mentoring with people who are looking for more purpose in their life or their work. When they discover it, they inevitably see a whole new range of possibilities for themselves. 


QUESTION: Your resume includes a unique section called SUPERPOWERS. Can you explain why you include this, a few of your superpowers, and why everyone should include this section?
JASON MEUCCI: Everyone should include this section because everyone has superpowers! Many people have sections that specifically highlight their top skills, which is certainly important and might even be necessary for those pesky Applicant Tracking Systems. I just feel like a good resume can showcase those skills in other ways.

I chose to include that section because I want to be known for what I’m innately great at and love doing. Superpowers are what come naturally to us, the things people consistently come to us for no matter the setting or the role. They’re how we uniquely contribute and can’t help doing because they’re a part of who we are. Some of my superpowers include team-building and leadership, mentoring, talent development, facilitation, and being a crafter of connection.

In my days as a hiring manager and people leader, it was more helpful to know what someone is CALLED to do, not just what they CAN do, because that’s how I know how they’ll make the biggest difference and be most fulfilled in their work.

QUESTION: You share your leadership philosophy on your website: "Everybody matters." Can you please elaborate?
JASON MEUCCI: I’ll start by saying that’s inspired by Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller. As he says, and as I profoundly believe, everybody should feel like who they are and what they do matters. It’s a big part of the “Contribution” piece of my work that I talk about: Everyone has something unique and important to contribute.

It could be what they do, how they do it (which gets back to Superpowers), or even how they show up for others in the process of doing that difference-making work. It’s the leaders who are intentional about consistently recognizing and appreciating those qualities, and then crafting and delegating work in a way that empowers people to do work that matters to them, in a way that matters to others, including the organization as a whole.

TWEET THIS: Everyone has something unique and important to contribute. ~@jmeucci #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: The creation of a positive employee experience and employer brand is critical for long-term employees and business success. What three tips would you give new CEO’s to create what I like to refer to as corporate assets?
JASON MEUCCI: I’ll preface this by saying, I’d hope someone who’s reached the C-Suite would already be thinking this way. But for any new leader, I’d make the case that:
[1] There’s no bigger influence on customer or brand experience than EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE. If employees don’t love working at your company, if they don’t feel cared for or invested in as a human being, there’s absolutely no way that they’ll give you their best effort. Why would you go through the exhaustive and expensive process of hiring people, then not be intentional about giving them an environment that enables and inspires them to fully utilize the attributes you hired them for in the first place? You can’t expect people to fully care about their work or your customers if they don’t feel cared for by their leaders.

[2] You can turn The Great Resignation into The Great Retention by prioritizing people over profit and production. It’s not a case of either/or. It’s an understanding that BY putting your people first, profit and production will exceed levels that aren’t possible, or at least sustainable, otherwise. Create a culture where people can not only thrive but grow and develop in ways that matter to them and they’ll not only have no desire to leave, they’ll become an army of recruiters and brand ambassadors because they can’t help but talk to others about what a great place it is to work. It’s hard to acquire new talent if you don’t take care of the talent you already have.

[3] Embrace the fact that a positive employee experience leads to not only better business results, but a better world. Without a positive employee experience, people are likely to finish a day of work feeling depleted, demotivated, or demoralized. That takes a big toll on how they show up in other key life roles, their relationships, and their communities. Look at your employee experience as an opportunity to be a force for good by giving your most important assets, your people, an environment that builds them up instead of breaks them down. They, and society, will be better for it.

TWEET THIS: It’s hard to acquire new talent if you don’t take care of the talent you already have. ~@jmeucci #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What three leaders, from history or business, inspire you, and why?
JASON MEUCCI: Here are my three:
[1] Theodore Roosevelt: 26th President of the United States. He had a combination of curiosity, adventure, and diversity of interests that I relate to on a spiritual level. I also happen to think these are some undervalued aspects of leadership. So many of his big ideas were in support of our shared humanity, hard work, and, of course, daring greatly. We need more of that in leadership.

[2] Howard Behar: Former President of Starbucks. He played a huge role in growing the company into the global giant it is today. And he did it with the cultural philosophy that focused on people more than coffee, knowing that caring for your employees as human beings is a catalyst for everything else a business needs to succeed. He’s an authentic leading voice in Servant Leadership, who recognizes that every single person in an organization has something important to contribute.

[3] Greg Daniels: Creator of the American version of THE OFFICE. That may seem an unconventional choice, and there’s definitely a recency bias at play, but like millions of Americans during the pandemic, I immersed myself in THE OFFICE including the multiple podcasts exploring the making of the show. What I’ve learned is that Daniels’ gentle and visionary leadership was what created the container in which this enormous cast could create something special. He had a way of recognizing the unique humanity and talents in each member of the cast and crew, then synthesizing that for the greater good of the show.

Everyone (the show’s cast, guests, crew) speaks so reverently about the sense of belonging, kindness, and humility that permeated the entire production. Daniels created a culture that enabled everyone to be their best selves and do their best work because they felt cared for, connected to each other, and knew that their unique contributions mattered. You can really sense that when you watch the show. Having spent most of my life in the TV business, I find it fascinating. The beautiful irony is that the show is about a dysfunctional workplace with a bad boss, but the team that created that fictional world actually had a thriving culture led by a great leader.

One very important caveat to this list: These are leaders I feel a personal connection to. While there aren’t any women on this list, I firmly believe that women are unquestionably better leaders than men, and no one can convince me otherwise. That’s another blog post for another day.

QUESTION: What is your favorite leadership book, and why?
JASON MEUCCI: The last book I read in grad school was “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle. Maybe it’s not technically a leadership book, but I’d argue just about the most important thing any leader can do is create a culture that enables an organization’s people to flourish, because when you have that, the possibilities for your business are enormous.

I like to say that “The most meaningful ROI is the Return on Intention.” Coyle’s work offers compelling examples, from just about any size and type of organization you can imagine, of how successful cultures come to life by design. It’s up to leaders to be intentional about it.

TWEET THIS: The most important thing any leader can do is create a culture that enables an org’s people to flourish. ~@jmeucci #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: How does an organization know when its employer branding efforts have evolved into enthusiastic brand ambassadors?
JASON MEUCCI: Anecdotally, employees just can’t keep themselves from organically talking about how much they love their experiences at work, how great their boss is, or how proud they are of their company’s services, products, or charitable efforts. You see it in their personal conversations and what they share publicly on social media (in authentic posts that are easy to distinguish from the scripted ones often handed down from the comms team).

From a performance standpoint, a company will know it when they see employees repeatedly going above and beyond in any type of customer-facing work. Those employees intentionally carry the reputation of the company on their shoulders and will do whatever is necessary to uphold it because they’re that proud and committed. They don’t do work just to check boxes – they work to make a difference. Incidentally, I don’t think any of this is possible unless and until employees feel cared for, connected to each other, and are contributing in ways that are meaningful to them.

QUESTION: Erika Andersen, a leadership expert and author, wrote, "Great leaders don't do it alone...they get help." What does this quote mean to you?

JASON MEUCCI: Normalizing asking for help has become a bit of a mantra for me the last couple of years – in being a leader and being a human. For me, this quote speaks to how important it is for leaders to be vulnerable enough to ask for help, and humble enough to empower and encourage others to help in a way that leverages their superpowers. No leader can do or know it all – and any leader that tries to do EVERYTHING on his/her/their own is not a very good leader.

Getting help gives others a chance to contribute. As I say in my team-building work, asking for help gives someone else a chance to be a hero. And people that feel like heroes are more likely to perform like heroes.

TWEET THIS: No leader can do or know it all – and any leader that tries to do on their own is not a very good leader. ~@jmeucci #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My gratitude to Jason for sharing his leadership insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credits: Pixabay and Jason Meucci.

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