Spoiler alert: I’m a big fan of Chris Edmonds’ thought leadership. Having reviewed his book The Culture Engine and interviewed him, I’m always up for reading his insights. Now he’s back with his latest book, Good Comes First: How Today’s Leaders Create an Uncompromising Company Culture. He’s partnered with Mark Babbitt, co-author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive to write a much-needed guidebook for leaders who are road-weary from nearly two years of pandemic upheaval, labor shortages and social unrest.
Chris and Mark have tapped into the zeitgeist of our modern workplace: disaffected workers, exhausted leaders, lightening-fast business pace—all of which may cause a leader to wonder: is there any good left in the (business) world? The authors offer a hopeful “yes!” to that answer with a caveat: are you ready to put in the work to create “good”? And possibly listen to some difficult truths?
Entrepreneur Venus Williams worked with Chris to align values and create a cohesive culture at her two companies. She writes in Good Comes First’s foreword: “The task before you isn’t easy. You’ll occasionally grow weary of being a perpetual role model. Along the way, you’ll lose people you always considered loyal; you might even consider them friends.” Those are sobering words! Williams also offers this as the final reward for the difficult journey ahead: “As a team, we are all now driven by the same purpose—making us much more productive.”
The Premise: What is Good Comes First in a Nutshell?
Good Comes First places the notion of respect firmly in the center of the book’s premise. In The Culture Engine, Chris certainly advocated for leaders to honor values as much as business results. It seems as if Chris and Mark feel that the notion of respect has been lost on leaders (and perhaps society in general) so they decided to make the twin objects of respect and results the centerpiece of their book’s thesis. In this video, they discuss the provocative notion that our society doesn’t have a labor shortage, we have a respect shortage.
If you’ve read The Culture Engine, some of this book might feel like a review. Even so, it’s worth a read because Chris and Mark have not only refined the concepts put forth in The Culture Engine, but have added to them with a model they’ve termed a Good Comes First (GCF) Accountability Model.
The Golden Nugget of Good Comes First
The tagline for this book is, “build a work culture that doesn’t suck.” Chris and Mark have given you a very detailed blueprint for doing just that. There are checklists, sample values statements and a host of other specific “how-to” tools at your disposal.
The other Golden Nugget is the authors’ coining of the phrase Boomer Male Syndrome, or BMS. Interestingly, they fit the target demographic, so perhaps that’s why they feel secure in addressing this issue. They believe a significant factor in the disconnect between employees and (some) leaders is that a certain mindset (which may be prevalent in white males of a certain age) is creating a barrier to the type of modern leadership needed. Check it out in chapter 12.
You Will Like This Book If . . .
You want a detailed roadmap of how to implement and navigate a change in your workplace culture. (This could also be a change in your department’s culture, if that is your span of influence.) The authors write, “This responsibility comes with significant demands. Over the next several months and years, you will need to invest time and energy in communicating, coaching, and celebrating your desired culture. You will spend even more time modeling and measuring your company’s values and behaviors. You cannot delegate any of these primary responsibilities. This job is entirely yours.”
Sound daunting? Ever the encouragers and optimists, they respond with this answer: “The good news is you are the right person for the job.”
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of the book for review purposes and am a member of the authors’ Ambassador Team. I was not told what to write, and the opinions in this blog post are my own. Also some of the links may be affiliate links.