Looking for Competitive Advantage? Read “Connection Culture”


The book Connection Culture is a succinct explanation of how a corporate culture of connection and engagement will drive business success.

Connection Culture

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When you hear corporate culture in conversation, it’s unlikely your next thoughts turn to the band U2.

When I first picked up “Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy And Understanding At Work” by Michael Lee Stallard (@michaelstallard), I thought it was going to be a leadership and corporate culture book meant more for larger companies.

I was pleasantly surprised when the book started with a reference to U2 and how it’s the band’s commitment to a connection culture that has it behaving more like an organism rather than an organization.

Connection = Success For Companies and People

Author Michael Lee Stallard has one single mission, and that is to show that connection in the workplace isn’t a soft science. It’s a proven track to success, profitability and happy, productive employees.

Like so many successful executives, Stallard learned about the power and profit potential of “connection” later in life.

In the acknowledgements of “Connection Culture,” he says:

“As an adult, I got caught up in the pursuit of money, power, and status, and that drive increasingly crowded out relationships. It was only later in life that I learned (the hard way) that we are hardwired to connect.”

He goes on:

“Connection in the workplace is an emotional bond that promotes trust, cooperation, and esprit de corps among people. It is based on the share identity, empathy, and understanding that moves primarily self–centered individuals toward group–centered membership. Without that sense of connection employees will never reach their potential as individuals. And if employees don’t reach their potential, the organization won’t either. Connection is what transforms a doggy dog environment into a sled dog team that pulls together.”

Stallard’s objective with this book is to bring this message to the forefront of a small business owner’s attention. Then, hopefully, they can reap the benefits of a connected workplace.

Your Business Can Benefit From Connection — No Matter How Big Or Small

Stallard started “Connection Culture” with U2 but then he also used much larger and more unwieldy organizations as examples to prove his point. Let’s take a look at his references to how retired Ford CEO Alan Mulally created connection inside of Ford.

First it was by being open, honest and authentic:

“When he was introduced as CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2006, Mulally stunned the audience by candidly answering the question ‘What kind of car do you drive?’ with the response ‘A Lexus, the finest car in the world.’ The room fell silent.”

This is a great example of how Mulally created a connection culture — by simply saying what was so. He expected his leadership team to do the same.

“Connection Culture” isn’t a very long or wordy book, but it’s loaded with lessons such as:

  • How to create a shared cause that is greater than yourself.
  • The six specific human needs that must be met to feel connected to work and colleagues.
  • The scientific case for connection based on psychology, sociology and neuroscience.
  • How to assess if you are an intentional connector, an intentional disconnector or an unintentional disconnector.

Read It And Reap

I see “Connection Culture” in the same category as so many leadership books. It’s preaching to the choir.

Perhaps the people who will get the most benefit are those who already understand the power of connection and employee engagement. Perhaps they are looking for more and better ways to systematize that connection?

Honestly, if you’re working in an organization that is controlling or indifferent, don’t think that giving this book to your CEO on his or her birthday or reading this as part of a team exercise is going to help.

“Connection Culture” is a wonderful book for already-aware small business owners, department managers and team leaders who are looking to use their connection and engagement strengths to drive performance.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."