I am delighted to feature my interview with the inspirational David Sturt
David is the author of the amazing book ” Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love”. His philosophy is so relevant and important for the future of leadership. It was with great pleasure I was able to ask him more about his work. You can find out more about David below.
1. At O.C. Tanner, you help leaders how to “think and do” differently to make a difference people love, what are the biggest challenges you have encountered in changing mindset and behaviour?
I think the biggest challenge, or maybe the biggest opportunity for discovery, is that so many people believe that really off-the-charts great work is beyond their control. That it requires a position of leadership, or a certain level of authority within an organization. Not so. It does require some specific actions and ways of thinking that we’ve been able to map. But we’ve included examples from people ranging from janitors and wait staff to CEOs of enterprise corporations. In all of those cases, the thought processes and the actions they take are very similar.
2. In your inspiring book, “Great Work”, you have so many wonderful examples of people who do “Great Work”. Reading some of the examples made me remember people I’ve encountered in all walks of life who just seem to have a natural gift to work in the way you describe. As you gathered the many, many examples, did you ever ponder the age old question, is leadership inherent, or learned?
I believe that some of the aspects of leadership (and of greatness) are inherent in all of us, but in every case, there are additional elements that need to be learned. There isn’t anybody who doesn’t benefit or get inspired by the examples of others who’ve brought those traits together in just a little bit of a new or different way and by doing so produced an outstanding new outcome. This is what makes the Great Work topic so compelling as an ongoing dialogue as well. We will never grow short of subject matter and new ideas to learn within the framework of what it takes to accomplish really outstanding work.
3. In all of the examples you gathered to inform your book about “Great Work”, what is your favourite, and why?
I don’t know if I could name a single favorite. This question is really hard. But as an example, the story about a manager at a huge Subaru plant who managed to completely eliminate all landfill waste … that’s an amazing outcome, and one that required the efforts and best thinking of many other people along with her. I believe all of the stories that are motivated by giving back or creating a greater good for our surrounding communities—not just by the chance to achieve professional advancement—would have to rank at the very top of my list.
4. Much of our work in e.MILE is about inspiration. What has been the most inspiring moment, or achievement for you to date?
If I had to choose one moment, it would likely have to do with the chance to observe astonishing transformations take place in the people who practice the great work principles, and to see it happen first hand. For example, seeing a janitorial worker—someone in one of the lowliest professional positions—make a difference in someone’s outlook and outcome as they wait in a hospital to receive medical care (that’s one of the stories we retold in the book). He had every reason to feel unhappy and resentful in a mundane kind of job. But he saw his role as something more and he made a big difference to patients, and the joy he experienced was perhaps even greater for him than for the people he served. And then to see the impact of thousands of situations like this, in aggregate—that’s a pretty powerful experience for me.
5. Our readers are leaders, managers, HR Professionals or experts in leadership and people development. What is the most valuable single piece of advice you could give to a leader?
Now there’s a question that’s much easier for me to answer. Appreciate your people. And not just inside, but show that appreciation outwardly in the ways that will be most meaningful for them, as opposed to simply hitting an accomplishment checkmark for you. To recognize and appreciate someone for greatness, and to do it in a way that holds meaning for them—not only is it inspiring for you, but it is also the most sure path to inspiring further engagement and greatness from them. This principle is central to every accomplishment within an organization.
6. Your book “Great Work” is an inspiring read. What else is in the pipeline for you and O.C. Tanner that our readers should watch out for?
The best thing I can tell you is to stay tuned. As you know, the book opened at #6 on the NYT bestseller list and the book and its message has been spreading profoundly since then. The research is continuing and there is much more to come. You will likely see another major title come from our institute within the next 1-2 years, and there is much additional dialogue on the current study that is emerging in the meantime as well.
7. How can our readers best connect with you and the “Great Work” you do?
We have a website dedicated to the Great Work book and conversation that is easy to get to, at www.greatwork.com. That site also tracks the times and places of events where I and the other members of the O.C. Tanner Institute are presenting and speaking, if you’d like to have the chance to connect with me or the other team members live. Also, and easiest of all, is to follow my columns that I’m publishing weekly together with Todd Nordstrom for Forbes at http://www.forbes.com/sites/
Thank you David!
David Sturt is an Executive Vice President of the O.C. Tanner company and New York TImes Bestselling author of Great Work: How To Make A Difference People Love. His career began in market research, where he analyzed the impact of recognition on people and their work. He has been a leading innovator in the industry, helping to pioneer the first-ever web-based recognition programs, and leading how the world’s top organizations think about accomplishing and appreciating great work. His education (a bachelors in human resources and an MBA with emphasis in strategy and marketing) and his experience (VP of Product Development and Technology at Learning.com and over 18 years as leader in employee recognition) make him uniquely qualified as an expert in engaging employees, inspiring contribution, and rewarding outstanding results. He frequently consults with Fortune 500 leaders and speaks to audiences worldwide. He has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Human Capital, and is a regular contributor to Forbes.com.