As Norman Pickavance notes in his book, “The Reconnected Leader: An Executive’s Guide to Creating Responsible, Purposeful and Valuable Organizations”, the average person has lost trust in the business world. After going through a financial recession, a mortgage crisis, steadily increasing executive pay, and outrageous cases of misconduct, who can blame them?
Consumers, employees, and stakeholders have taken off the rose-colored glasses and want more from their leaders if they want to earn their trust. The problem, Norman Pickavance suggests, is a connection gap. Many businesses have a problem. They have pursued a path of “maximizing profit only” that has ignored or burned connections with their customers, their community, and their employees.
Executives create policies that focus on increasing revenue and can sometimes force employees to try to cut corners in order to meet sales goals. Board members receive increasing pay while the company’s revenues are plummeting. Employees may even be tempted to report fake or misleading data just to satisfy unrealistic expectations from an oblivious management team.
All of these are examples of businesses behaving badly represent the gap in connection Pickavance is talking about. That connection gap can damage the long-term health and reputation of a company. Customers aren’t fooled and neither is anyone else. There are many ways that a company’s mismatch between principles and action can be revealed. Trust is one of the main reasons a customer selects a business out of the many options out there — and the reason that a customer returns.
Eight Steps to Closing the Connection Gaps in Business
Pickavance’s solution to business owners is to find those gaps in trust (both current and potential) and then plug them using specific steps to serve stakeholders. By stakeholders, he means all stakeholders (customers, employees, their industry, their community and the world at large), not just the person who reads your financial report. Pickavance argues that closing these gaps allows businesses to be more responsive to their environment and build the trust they need with stakeholders.
When you understand what is happening on the front lines, you can better understand how to manage policies in the boardroom. When you take the time to develop and retain talent, you keep employees. When you develop authentic relationships with customers, they return.
The first part of “The Reconnected Leader” makes Pickavance’s case that connection gaps in a business can do incredible damage. He cites several case studies ranging from Shell to pharmaceutical industries who blatantly disregarded regulations and safeguards for profit. Pickavance argues that these situations might come from “bad apples”, but owners need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Are the policies they create hostile environments for workers? Are we asking too much from employees? Are we fostering an environment of connection or “winners-take-all” individuality? “The Reconnected Leader” carries readers through numerous case studies identifying different elements that many business owners may not pay enough attention to.
The second part of the book delves into the methodology behind Pickavance’s 8-step method of closing the gaps. He covers issues ranging from creating more effective boards to improving employer-employee relationships. Most of his recommendations touch on issues that have been well covered. But the methods in The Reconnected Leader go a little deeper than a company newsletter or sponsoring a community event. Pickavance delves into morality and ethics, often drawing from various subject areas, to show that business leaders have not gone far enough to build lasting relationships. Each chapter includes concrete steps or questions for business owners to consider when trying to close the connection gaps in their business.
Is “The Reconnected Leader” Worth Your Time?
If your business (small or large) suffers from issues in employee morale, productivity or ethics, this is definitely a book worth considering. “The Reconnected Leader” offers a meaningful and well-thought out perspective from the typical business objective of maximizing shareholder revenue, to issues that speak of inspiring ideals. Pickavance wants to encourage business owners to move away from the individual “my company is only here to make money” attitude and connect with a deeper purpose intended to create and foster longer-lasting relationships.
The book is also helpful if you are a business owner or board member who is seeking to better embody “servant leadership” or leadership focused on connection, values and transparency. There are ample case studies and a specificity that offers immediate action.
“The Reconnected Leader” isn’t a quick read, however, because it involves analysis of case studies and somewhat intensive steps aimed at starting change. In other words, it’s not the kind of book you can just pick up to try a few steps. It’s the kind of book where you have to think about what you are reading and apply each step.
About the Author
Norman Pickavance is an author and consultant. He can be found on Twitter at (@NPickavance). “The Reconnected Leader” is available on Amazon. This review was based on a copy provided for review purposes.