Dairy Farmers know that contented cows give better milk.  Research confirms that contented (engaged) employees give better results.  Richard Hadden is the co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series shows you how to create a culture of high engagement.

Richard is a co-founder and partner of Contented Cows Partners.  As a keynote speaker and leadership trainer, Richard helps  organizations apply proven principles to increase engagement and profitability.

In this episode, you’ll learn

  • The undisputed evidence that companies that have satisfied, engaged employee make more money
  • What the frequently-used term “employee engagement” actually means
  • The single most important to focus on to get people engaged at work.
  • What’s really different about getting the “younger generation” engaged at work

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The Transcript

Brad Wolff 

00:02 

Welcome to the is about you podcast show. Today’s guest is Richard Hadden. I’m excited about Richard because he’s a speaker. 

00:14 

Author and workplace expert who focuses on the connection between employee engagement and organizational results Richards, a former banker and software designer and he led teams in both fields before starting his speaking training and consulting business in 1990 

00:38 

In the last 25 years he’s spoken for more than 850 corporate and association audiences on five continents about the link between people practices in profit performance. 

00:52 

He’s a co author of the popular contented cows leadership book series and his latest book contented cows still give greater milk or still give better milk once again becomes a business case for employee engagement. 

01:10 

Richards company’s motto is to treat people right to make more money and he believes that leadership not gimmicks is the most direct and reliable route to organizational success, Richard. It’s an honor to have you on my show. 

Richard Hadden 

01:27 

Thank you, Brad. It’s an honor to be here. 

Brad Wolff 

01:30 

And you bring a tremendous amount of expertise and employee engagement to our audience. And that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been so excited about having you on as a guest. 

01:39 

Now I’m fascinated, as I always am into what brought people to where they are. So tell me a little bit about your origin story that got to where you are today.  

Richard Hadden 

01:50

Okay. I think it’s a little different, but I guess everybody’s stories, a little bit different. I was

01:55

I was a computer software designer and programmer back in the 80s, early 80s before PCs back when we were using what they called multi user micro computer microcomputers and

02:09

Really taught myself some of the technical part of it. I have a management degree. So, of course, that, you know, made me eminently disqualified to be

02:18

Any kind of a manager or leader, but I did have that degree and I went out there and I was doing

02:24

The technical work and before too long. My company, put me in a leadership position completely without any regard to my ability to lead real human beings.

02:35

But I was pretty good at the technical part of the job. And I think that’s how a lot of managers get there, get their jobs. Anyway, so I did that for a number of years and

02:46

Through a series of events in which the company was sold and that kind of thing. And I decided to leave and not not move to another part of the country.

02:56

I kind of went out on my own and was doing mostly technical consulting network consulting for companies, but my many of my clients I guess sense that

03:07

Maybe I wasn’t as good at computers as I was with people and began to ask me to, to help them with more operational and human resources and people kinds of issues.

03:18

And so as soon as the technology began to make a rapid shift toward PCs.

03:25

I decided it was probably time for me to rather than then make a commitment to that new technology. I was going to change my focus to more of a people centered business. And so that’s what I did.

03:40

I began teaching at Jacksonville University, which was my undergraduate alma mater taught management.

03:47

A little bit of technical stuff and also international economics.

03:51

And through that process learned that I really liked to talk and I like to speak and be in front of people. But if anybody knows about the pay scale of an adjunct instructor

04:01

At our small private university you know that you can’t really support a family too well on that alone. And so I kind of put myself out there and said, Hey, I’m I’m this leadership trainer leadership consultant and

04:12

I can, I can do this. And I was very fortunate that people say, Oh, no, you weren’t lucky you were good. No, I was lucky because I got, I got some pretty big clients right away. They had no business hiring me

04:24

But they did. And then I will say that I guess the results were pretty good they and they enjoyed how I

04:29

Looked at, and talked and came across on stage and in front of their groups. And so I was able to build that leadership business from there. After about 10 years of doing pretty much what would be described as leadership training workshops full day and two day workshops

04:46

I met and ran into over the course of a number of different occasions, Bill Catlett who has now been my business partner for

04:56

Oh, let’s see. Let’s going on about a better part of 25 years now, and Bill and I decided to collaborate on our first book, which was contented cows give better milk.

05:07

That provided us with a number of opportunities and invitations to speak in front of corporate and association audiences.

05:15

And just kind of built the business from there so that’s that’s what I’ve been doing pretty much the last 25 years is some consulting, but primarily, my main activity is onstage at a corporate or Association Conference delivering the keynote, perhaps a workshop or a breakout. Wow.

Brad Wolff 

05:35 

So, that that is an amazing story. And as often happens, what we evolve into is very different than we ever would have predicted  

Richard Hadden 

05:46 

Exactly, yes.  

Brad Wolff 

05:47 

So your story is different but everyone’s, like you said,  

Richard Hadden 

05:50 

Everyone’s a little different in some way. 

 

Brad Wolff 

05:52 

Right, and often unpredictable. So with with your series of books. The contented cow series. How did you come up with the metaphor of a cow.  

Richard Hadden 

06:06 

Well, some of your some of your more mature members of your audience will probably remember when carnation milk use that phrase quite a bit, they still use it. 

06:18 

But they made the claim pretty heavily for a long time that their milk was have such high quality because it comes from contented cows. 

06:29 

Bill Catlett actually read an article back in the 90s that was written by Tommy Lasorda the famed baseball team manager. 

06:38 

In which he said content and players give better performances and that sparked something in bills mind about contented cows. He liked the sound of that. 

06:47 

And so he began with this idea. We’re going to try to make the case that contented cows. 

06:52

Not only do contented cows give better milk that’s pretty well scientifically established but contented or satisfied or engaged employees give better performances at work.

07:04 

Now, part of the problem was then that that phrase contented cows is a registered trademark of the Nestle Corporation, which now owns carnation mill. 

07:14 

And so everyone advised Bill Oh don’t even ask. They’re not going to let you use that. Well, Bill has never been one to take people’s advice at face value. 

07:26 

He contacted the folks at Nestle incarnation and through a series of meaningful discussions, they said, We’re quite happy for you to use that phrase in the context which you have described 

07:38 

And so we owe a debt of gratitude, no money changed hands. We have a very nice, very clear letter of understanding between the two of us. 

07:47 

And so we use that phrase contented cows. It has kind of taken on a life of its own. I think the alliteration of contented gals and just kind of a whole, I think people like cows. 

07:58 

It has helped, I think, raise the awareness of the brand and of the concept I am always very clear to say that we are not comparing people to cows and that’s not a very flattering. 

08:13 

Comparison to make. And I think most people take it in good humor in which it was meant 

08:19 

That yeah just like contented cows give better milk contented employees get better performances at work. So our whole 

08:26 

Premise, if you will, is that there’s a strong connection between a company or an organization strategy around employee engagement and the level of financial or operational success which they enjoy as a result. 

 Brad Wolff 

08:42 

Got it. And whenever I see a carnation can in the supermarket. I’m going to think of you. 

Richard Hadden 

08:49 

Thank you. Thank you. And some of the cans are still branded in that same way. So, 

08:53 

They have different, I guess, different branding schemes going in different parts of the country, but I’m looking up right now in my office at a tower of six carnation milk cans, all of which have a contented cows seal on it. 

 Brad Wolff 

09:07 

That’s awesome. So Richard you and your co author Bill Catlett were among the first people that made the business case, not just the social case. 

09:17 

For creating a great workplace with your first book, the original contented cows give better milk back in 1998. Yeah. What did you find that led to this conclusion. 

Richard Hadden 

09:32 

Well, it was interesting. We actually never intended to write a book about this, we were planning to look for for research that would back up the claim that both of us. 

09:43 

Kind of felt intuitively that I should know these companies that seem to do so well also seem to be great places to work. I mean, you read about all the 

09:52 

You know the books and about about the companies and magazines like fortune and ink and Fast Company and 

09:58 

Business Week and so forth that were performing well and then you would see these lists of companies that had distinguished themselves. 

10:05 

As great workplaces and we saw it was an awful lot of overlap. Let’s go out and see what people are saying about that. Well, keep in mind this was 1995 1997 

10:16 

The internet was very introductory and rudimentary at the time, and there was certainly no Google 

10:22 

You couldn’t look things up the way you did. And so the research was difficult to come by. 

10:27 

But we found after more than a year of looking that nobody had done the kind of research that we thought people had done. So we said, then we will do it ourselves. 

10:36 

And so we actually went and we looked at companies we pick six companies that at the time. And keep in mind this is a historical context night mid 1990s. 

10:46 

Companies that were known as great places to work based on a kind of a long and involved algorithm of qualifications. 

10:57 

Which are covered in the book, but which are really boring to talk about and we started we settled on these six companies and they were companies like Hewlett Packard and FedEx and 

11:08 

I’ll go ahead and say it even Walmart, which at the time had a really good reputation, different from the reputation, perhaps, that it has today in terms of being an employer. So we looked at all of those companies. 

11:21 

And said let’s see how they do financially compared to a group of other companies which were known as being particularly bad places to work and I won’t 

11:32 

I won’t mention those but some of us can imagine what those would be, and we saw very quickly that just pure numbers. 

11:39 

The what we put them into categories that contented cows and the common cows, as we call them the contented cows substantially not marginally but substantially substantially 

11:50 

outperformed their common cow competitors leading us to the initial conclusion that there may be a connection. 

11:58 

Between an organization strategy around employee engagement and how well they do on the bottom line. 

12:04 

We did a lot of other research to try to verify and to add a little bit of depth and color to that and everything that we looked at in fact everything that we have looked at over the last 25 years 

12:16 

Tells us that there is a strong connection. We just can’t make the numbers work out any other way. 

Brad Wolff 

12:22 

Got it. Well it, like you said, intuitively it makes sense. It’s just now you have the actual numbers to back it up.  

Richard Hadden 

12:29 

That’s right. And since then there have been a lot of a lot of people, organizations and so forth have a lot more notoriety and much larger wallet. So then we have who have made the same observation, most notably glass door. 

12:46 

has repeatedly said that if you look at the companies that are at the top of their employer reputation rankings. There’s a strong correlation between that and the top performers in the standard course.  

Brad Wolff 

12:58 

Yeah and that very much lines with my experience working with companies as well is the end of the day, a company is made up of its people. That’s the key to everything. 

13:10 

And people that are happy to be there and engaged are going to do a better job and the organization that’s focused on that is also going to bring in a lot more opinions viewpoints. 

13:24 

Listen to perspectives that maybe aren’t popular because they are valuing people more and those factors can make a huge difference in success in an organization. Yeah. So it actually makes sense on a lot of levels from just from my perspective. 

Richard Hadden 

13:37 

Yeah. And when we first started making presentations and speaking and doing keynotes at conferences and so forth. We 

13:45 

It was funny. We said, Oh, these people want to know what they wanted us to prove it to them that 

13:50 

You know, so we had all these beautiful slides with charts. Oh, Brad. Some of the most amazing pie charts you’ve ever seen. And you know what nobody cared about the pie charts. 

14:01 

Before long, people, you know, without us going into much detail. People say, yeah, yeah, we get it, we accept the notion that there is a connection there. You don’t need to prove it to us, tell us how to get there. And so that’s what we focus most of our time on now. 

Brad Wolff 

14:16 

Interesting. So 

14:20 

We Richard. We hear a lot about this thing called employee engagement. Yeah, and you’re in your own words. 

14:28 

How would you define what employee engagement actually is. 

Richard Hadden 

14:34 

Well, I’ll tell you how I wouldn’t define it. And that is how you often read about it and you’ll, you know, if you look up employee engagement, you’ll see something like the degree to which an employee is psychologically and emotionally invested in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. 

14:44 

I think it’s much simpler than that and I usually just say employee engagement. That is the degree to which someone is in to their job. 

14:51 

You know, we have that term right you know you’re really into it. Are you into this. Are you really into it. And if you’re into it. 

14:57 

I think we can make a pretty good argument that person is engaged. Unfortunately, too many people are kind of out of it. 

15:04 

And not into it but I think that’s that’s kind of what you know you can look at people and see. Do they, you know, do they, do they come in early. Do they leave late, do they do more than they have to do, do they contribute more 

15:19 

More intellectual more psychic and psychological value than is just their job. Do they just focus on the job description or do they focus on something bigger. Do they help others out do they 

15:34 

Do they persevere through challenges, things like that. And that’s when we know someone has engaged. And that’s because they’re really into their into their work, their into their company. They’re into the leadership. 

15:44 

They’re into what they do for their customers. So that’s a long way of saying employee engagement means the degree to which you’re into it. 

Brad Wolff 

15:51 

That’s, that’s a great way to look at it because 

15:56 

Everyone gets it on the terms of what means what it means to be into it for themselves. Yes, that’s, that’s a that everyone can interpret it their own way and it’s valid. 

16:11 

So if, if we boil it all down. 

16:16 

What’s the single most important thing that we have to focus on to get people engaged at work. 

Richard Hadden 

16:25 

One word brand leadership. 

16:29 

And I know that sounds general and back in and I can almost see some of the eye rolls out there feels. Oh, yeah. Okay, well, so what does that mean 

16:38 

And the reason I say that is because there’s a lot of emphasis in fact every year when the kind of the rankings come out of, you know, the best places to work here and there, nationwide worldwide statewide in your particular county or wherever you are. 

16:52 

What gets written about it tends to be things like free food and the kinds of other things that we that we look at, you know, bring your pet to work day. Do we have nap pods and benefits and 

17:07 

And compensation and things like that. And all of that is in the mix. But again, when we boil it all down. But I think the one thing that distinguishes those companies that are truly great places to work from those 

17:21 

That may look that way on the surface is the degree in the quality of leadership from the very top all the way to the front line. 

Brad Wolff 

17:31 

That’s and that’s very much in line with my experience. 

17:36 

Because I believe leadership drives culture. Culture drives engagement. And engagement drive result. 

17:43 

Exactly, all starts with leadership and to me, leadership, just means impact. We’re all leaders and that we’re all we all have an impact on ourselves and others with how we think and do things. 

17:56 

That’s really all leadership means and the impact of the people that are at the top is the driving force and, you know, from my perspective, it’s hard to argue that that’s not the case. Yeah. Oh. 

Richard Hadden 

18:10 

And one way that I define leadership is very simply as the earned consent of followers and so have you earned the consent of those who look to you for leadership, because you cannot impose it you can’t force it. You can’t require it or demand it. You must earn it.

Brad Wolff 

18:29 

Right. So even if you’re the CEO or whatever your title is 

18:34 

Right. Yes. You always have an impact. The question is, have you earned the impact that’s going to bring out the best in people. 

Richard Hadden 

18:43 

Correct. So 

Brad Wolff 

18:46 

We also hear a lot about how hard it is, or at least how diff different it is to get the younger generation millennials is often what I hear, engaged at work, is it really all that different. What, from your perspective, Richard, what is going on in this area. 

Richard Hadden 

19:08 

Well, a lot of complaining is going on. And I know that 

19:12 

You know, the way the way that I often approach it with an audience. And this is becoming more and more. I mean, this is 2019 we’ve been talking about Millennials. 

19:21 

For 10 years now, you know, and we’re still talking about it and people I heard someone recently say oh, that that’s kind of a pass a subject. 

19:30 

Not based on the calls and emails that I’m getting from clients and potential clients. You say, we want you to come and talk to our organization about this and then. Oh, and you can, yeah, help us work with these younger workers and I 

19:42 

S to the word millennials, because I don’t know Brad yet. You and I were both millennials, at one time, you know, I mean, I happen to be a millennial back in the 80s, but 

19:52 

You know, we’ve all been in our 20s and 30s and working every generation has had friction with the succeeding generation. 

20:00 

I’m not sure any generation has complained about it so much as my generation, the baby boomers and so I you know I really tell these folks that I was saying, hey, look, stop the whining and in case you haven‘t noticed, they’re not making any more baby boomers, you know, I mean, 

Brad Wolff 

20:20 

Production 

20:21 

Is becoming fewer of them, but  

Richard Hadden 

20:24 

Yeah, I mean, 

20:25 

Well production on that model has shut down. So let’s quit waiting and hoping that everybody who’s in their 20s and 30s is going to 

20:35 

Work and act like someone who was born in the 40s and 50s and 60s. It’s not going to happen. Instead, what we need to do is rather than hoping that that generation will change. 

20:47 

We need to take action on something we do have control on and that is to adapt our organizations to do what I call burning the available fuel. 

20:56 

The workforce today is made up, you know, four to five generations. But in terms of the numbers. 

21:04 

Especially coming in, it’s very clear that these are people who tend to be in their late teens 20s AND EARLY 30s. 

21:12 

Right now, and we need to have an organization in order to stay competitive, we’ve got to have an organization that attracts retains and engages 

21:20 

The people who are available to deliver the labor to our organization. And that requires a lot of change. But everything is as required a lot of changes over the years, but perhaps this changes at a more accelerated rate.  

Brad Wolff 

21:35 

So I like what you said and I think it’s definitely the case every generation complains and criticizes the succeeding generation. Yes, I remember the things. My parents used to say. 

Richard Hadden 

21:49 

Right. And they never thought I never thought you’d amount to anything. Did they brand. And I didn’t either. And you know what 

21:56 

We’re not shape with 

Brad Wolff 

21:59 

Who’s coming after us is the fear. 

22:01 

That yeah  

Richard Hadden 

22:04 

Yeah, and you know what 

22:07 

We did alright. And I think almost everyone who’s listening to this did alright so that’s what I want to remind people, you know, 

22:15 

I always say, you know, people say, what are we going to do with these millennials, I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to hire them. 

22:22 

Eventually you’re going to turn everything over to them. And you know what it’s going to be okay so let’s just calm down, settle down dial it back a little bit and figure out how to make all of this work. 

Brad Wolff 

22:36 

It crashed classes with our values, often because our definition of, okay, is how we’re conditioned 

22:42 

Yeah, we’re conditioned for what’s ok differently than what their condition. But at the end of the day, she’s okay  

Richard Hadden 

22:49 

That’s right, but you know they’re there are all kinds of ways for the different generations. And that really is the challenges. 

22:56 

I’m hearing. It’s not so much how do we manage this younger group at the questions. How do we manage an entire group made of people 

23:04 

Who are in their 20s, all the way to their 70s or even beyond. How do we manage all of that. And that really is a challenge, but there are ways to make it happen. 

Brad Wolff 

23:13 

Absolutely, which takes open hearts open lines.

Richard Hadden 

23:17 

Yeah. 

Brad Wolff 

23:18 

To start with, 

Richard Hadden 

23:19 

Right and and really trying to exploit and I use the word exploiting the most positive of senses to exploit the advantages that each age group. 

23:30 

Has and and see how we can work together. You’ve got people who have tons and tons of 

23:35 

institutional knowledge and experience and perspective. And then you have people who are just coming on to the same, but they have 

23:43 

They have solved problems. Ever since they were in middle school or before many times, using technology. So how can we use the technology that perhaps the younger workers are very comfortable with. 

23:55 

To solve existing problems that the more mature workers are very familiar with and that’s when we see those those things coming together very well. 

Brad Wolff 

24:04 

Absolutely. So Richard, what do you see as the relationship between leadership development and personal development.  

Richard Hadden 

24:16 

I think that someone who was interested in her or his own personal development will always 

24:26 

Will always go toward leadership development. In other words, personal development involves a lot of different things, but one of those attributes, one of those qualities 

24:36 

Is how do we develop ourselves as a leader, whether or not you’re in a management, you know, quote, management or supervisory position officially in a, an organization. 

24:48 

Or just in terms of how you interact with people and so I see people all the time who they don’t want to be a manager, they’re not a manager. They don’t want to be a manager, they don’t want the headache and all that. 

24:59 

But they can develop themselves into having the kind of influence that leaders have, you know, how can I help people in a positive way. How can I influence them in a positive way. How can I 

25:13 

Help people to realize, more of the value that they bring not only to the workplace, but to the community. And so that’s where I see personal development and leadership development. 

25:23 

Working together and you know leadership development takes many forms, and it may be, you know, having somebody like me stand in front of a corporate classroom and teaching leadership skills and and doing 

25:34 

Leadership workshops and things like that. But that’s only one small element of it and much of it has to do with 

25:43 

Experiencing leadership, looking at leadership, looking at my role models mentors people who do it very well. 

25:50 

emulating the best parts of what you see in their behavior and really trying. I think leadership in addition to being the earned incentive followers leadership is it is a focused way of having a positive influence on those around you.

Brad Wolff 

26:04 

Great point. So what do you see as the role that personal development has played in your own success, Richard. 

Richard Hadden 

26:14 

Well, I 

26:16 

Said, I was a management major in in college. And so I, you know I thought okay well I’m going to get to this degree is as management and that obviously, you know, people may say, oh, well, we’re gonna make you somebody boss right away. 

26:28 

I learned in my very first job, which was with a savings and loan Association here in Florida and some of your listeners will laugh, you know, 

26:38 

1980s savings and loan, Florida, you know, and that’s not necessarily a great place to be. I really cut my teeth with with leadership there. 

26:46 

And I quickly saw that what I had learned in college prepared me in no way to lead people who are coming to work with issues personal issues and self esteem issues and their own development. 

27:00 

Needs and then not, you know, let alone, trying to meet the needs of customers. And so I quickly began to access everything I could not only reading books, attending seminars trying to improve my leadership education. 

27:15 

But tried to look at people, both in the company I worked for and others who I respected as leaders and said, you know, what would they did, there’s one person in particular, I can think of. 

27:31 

I never worked with him but I saw him as a leader and someone who I admired when I would face a situation that I didn’t know what to do about I would think, what would he 

27:42 

Do about this and in some cases I had the ability. Fortunately, to go to him and ask him. And so that was one way of helping to develop my own leader what became my leadership style over the years. 

Brad Wolff 

27:55 

Got it, got it. So it seems like a common thread, and that is the engagement or that you were into improving I’m struggling here. I want to get better. 

28:11 

And it’s that tension of wanting something 

28:13 

Right now, that led to the effort.  

Richard Hadden 

28:17 

Right, and I think the idea of wanting to get better means that you’ve value leadership development mean some people 

28:26 

To me, leadership is not or someone who’s not a skilled leader. It’s not necessarily a reflection of their 

28:31 

Of their character. Yeah, there’s people very high character that are simply just not good leaders on you know that that’s fine. Just don’t get into a position where people are relying on you for leadership and you’ll be fine, but 

28:43 

I think when people say, well, gosh, can anyone be a leader or 

28:49 

I think, you know, not anyone’s hands but a lot of people can and I think it starts with that desire to have that positive leadership influence. And so I tell people, you know, 

29:01 

If you’re going to hire someone into a management role. Or if you’re going to promote someone to a manager role, we’ve got to make leadership behavior, an absolute 

29:12 

number one priority in terms of what they bring the skills that they bring to the position. It doesn’t mean that they are already fully developed as a leader. 

29:23 

In especially if you have someone who’s not got a lot of experience or not a lot of age into the mix. But if they have that desire. If they value leadership. 

29:35 

If they can articulate the benefits of leadership. Then you have someone who has the potential to become a very good leader you have somebody who really doesn’t value. 

29:43 

That or can’t really put into words what that means then there. They may be very successful as an individual contributor, but not necessarily someone who’s going to have responsibility to lead and drive the work of others. 

Brad Wolff 

29:56 

So let me let me clarify something he said that really caught my attention, Richard. You said, not everyone can be a leader or a current effective leader. 

30:07 

Is that not everyone has the ability or not everyone has the desire that they would make the effort. I want to clarify what you’re what you mean. 

Richard Hadden 

30:17 

I think both of those options are true. I believe that there are people who don’t have the ability 

30:21 

And there are those who don’t have the desire. Now if you don’t have a strong ability, but you do have the desire. I think you could overcome the lack of ability 

30:30 

With that desire but i mean i i really see people in three ways. And you know, I guess everyone who works in this area of leadership probably gets a question or is there such a thing as a born leader. 

30:41 

I have observed three types of people with in this regard, in my experience, you have people who are yeah born leaders, they just can’t help it. They came 

30:51 

They came out of the hospital and that third day I’m leading you know you can see that in fourth grade. I mean, in four year old kindergarten and they were 

30:59 

They were kind of leading it doesn’t mean bossing and directing, but there was a leadership quality there. 

31:04 

I think there’s some people who are blessed with that gift. Just like there are some people who are blessed with 

31:09 

musical talent and artistic talent and so forth. I think they’re people who are blessed with leadership talent. 

31:14 

I think most of us fall into a middle category where we have the potential if we have the desire, we have the ability, and if we have some experiences that help us to develop 

31:25 

Those skills and practice those skills and see the benefit of those skills, then we can become very good leaders. 

31:32 

And then I think there are some people who, as we say here in the South. Bless your heart. You will never be a good leader, you may be a good person. 

31:39 

But you’re probably never going to be a good leader. So the only time that’s that’s a problem is if we put you in a leadership position to lead you are ill suited 

31:49 

So there are a lot of 

Brad Wolff 

31:50 

Leaders can take take one of those people 

Richard Hadden 

31:51 

Exactly yeah yeah position. Yeah. There are a lot of good people who are not very good leaders but let’s just don’t put them in that position to find out that they’re not your fingers. That’s a great point. 

Brad Wolff 

32:06 

Now, Richard, what story or personal experience, would you like to share that demonstrates a really big success on your part.

32:22 

I you mentioned earlier about when you lead a team of software technicians, I believe you mentioned that you started off in that area. I wonder if there’s any stories from that back in the 80s that stand out to you. 

32:39 

You said that you weren’t a really good technical person, but you were good with people.  

Richard Hadden 

32:43 

Thank you. 

32:45 

Yeah, so I was put in this position. 

32:49 

In a very technical role. I mean, I, you know, this was, again, this was the early 1980s, not everyone could work computers, the way people can today. 

32:58 

And certainly not from the back end. So I did not have a strong technical background, but someone, someone whom I knew kind of, you know, third degree of 

33:08 

Separation knew of me knew about me and he said, I want Richard hadn’t working in my company. 

33:16 

And I wasn’t actually looking for a job. I was what they would call today a passive 

33:21 

job seeker wasn’t really looking for a job, but was looking, you know, if someone made an offer. I was certainly going to look at it. 

33:28 

And so this fella came to me and he told me what do you want me to do. And I said, I’d love to work for your company. But you know, I just don’t have any technical skills any technical background have an interest in it, but I’m not really 

33:37 

Not really already trained in it. He said, we can train you with that. He said, There’s something about you that that I think in our company at its stage of development. 

33:47 

I see you as being a very good fit for that. And so he brought me in and I did learn the technical part of it, but because of my strong interest in leadership and having done some pretty intentional things toward developing my leadership skills. 

34:07 

Again, I don’t think I’m one of those at the top level that’s particularly gifted in this. I think I’m kind of in that middle level and i and i can develop those skills and I so I tried to do that. And through that we were able to 

34:18 

Like I said my technical skills were adequate but they were not as good as many of the people who might lead as as my position develop 

34:27 

The company encountered some challenges primarily with the rapid rate of technology change. And we were able to with a really, really good strong group of people 

34:41 

Do some pretty amazing things that others thought maybe we couldn’t have done and so 

34:46 

If you had had me as a really really good technical person but not particularly interested in leadership. I don’t think that would have happened. And so I think the lesson that we, that we have there is that it’s so important to hire people 

35:01 

Based on on qualities based on attitudes based on values. And then if they make that cut we may want to look at the more technical and operational experience and skills and things like that. 

35:14 

Unfortunately, when I see too often today is over emphasis on the very kind of the easy things that rise to the top and the skills, experience, you know, how many years have you been doing this job and what company. Did you do it with and so forth. 

35:28 

And the result of that in many managers will tell me this. So often, they’ve hired people for skills and experience and had to terminate them for lack of fit with the organization and with the job. And so I learned early on that someone who was not particularly 

35:47 

Suited. It didn’t look like on paper suited to be successful in that position, I was able to, you know, again, through the 

35:56 

Through the hard work of the people on that team to do some pretty good things, even though at first, people might not have thought I was the ideal candidate for that job I

Brad Wolff 

36:06 

Coming from a 25 year career in the recruiting and retention industry, Richard. I’ve seen that a lot of times it’s not in most jobs. It’s not so much. 

36:16 

Do you have the pre the the experience already. It’s your capabilities. Your attitude, your energy, your values. So your experience, I think, is very common that the best candidate is not is very frequently not someone that has the most appropriate experience for the job. 

Richard Hadden 

36:37 

Tried it that makes it tougher. I mean, it would be easier if everyone would present, you know, with exactly what we’re looking for. 

36:45 

But I think managers hiring managers recruiting managers have to end, whether you would know this certainly from being in the business. I have to work a little harder at that and look a little deeper than just what’s on the surface. Exactly. 

Brad Wolff 

36:57 

So, what, what’s a funny entertaining a crazy story that you’d like to share that’s occurred in your in your work career. 

Richard Hadden 

37:07 

Oh, well you know what a lot of a lot of funny things have happened. One of the wild as atheist I guess situations that I can remember. And it taught me taught me a real lesson in terms of employee engagement. 

37:22 

A few years ago Bill and I were invited to do some leadership training for the county or the Borough of the north slope in Alaska in most states have counties Alaska has burrows. 

37:34 

North Slope. This is as far north as you can get on the continent of North America. It was pretty bleak. 

37:40 

Territory up there. But we had some interesting experiences while we were there, we decided 

37:45 

That we, as long as we were going to go that far to what was at the time called Barrow. 

37:50 

Alaska. It has a, it’s a reverted now to a to a native name, which I find difficult to pronounce. But most people know it is Barrow, Alaska. 

37:58 

And we went up to read. We’re not going to go that far without going in additional nine miles from where we were staying to see the very 

38:04 

Point the very tip of the of the continent but you couldn’t just get in the car and go there. And so there was a person and we’d been told about who had a service, who would you know take you out there. 

38:15 

And it was, you know, double digit degrees below zero. It was getting dark. You know, at 230 in the afternoon. 

38:24 

But we were determined to do that. This guy took us out on what amounted to a golf cart. 

38:29 

Out there nine miles beyond town over the tundra we encountered all kinds of difficulties along the way. So much so that I really encourage him to turn on. Go back. I can, I can look us up on Google, you know, see what it looks like. 

38:42 

This guy persisted through some mechanical issues with the golf cart and and all this kind of stuff. And then someone who was supposed to be there to help us didn’t show up. 

38:52 

He was undaunted, he was determined he was going to take us out there and so we went out there and of course it was an amazing experience to see the ocean froze in place. 

39:06 

You know in a wave, you know, a wave and come up and frozen and it was just amazing. You know that my toes standing on the very northern tip of the 

39:15 

Of the continent. And so I was so appreciative to him we you know we were coming back and. And I said, well, you really you know you overcame a lot of 

39:23 

A lot of difficulties, just getting us out here, these nine miles. And he said, Well, I’m so glad you called me. He said I wasn’t going to tell you this, but you were my first customers. 

39:36 

And, you know, at that point it all became obvious. Oh, that’s okay. 

39:42 

But what I drew from that wasn’t I often talk about this with employee engagement. You know when you’ve done a job for weeks and months and years and years and decades and decades, it can become 

39:52 

Very routine and mundane and and you just, you know, any little thing that comes up, we can’t do that. Well, and you’ll just kind of fold over this is what I call the wonder of opening night and I get this from my, my son who is an actor who talks about 

40:10 

The fact that if you really want to make every performance magic you perform it with the wonder of opening night and not do, even though 

40:20 

Actors and performers, do the same thing over and over and over and over night after night after night after that opening night mindset in mind so that you give the same stellar performance. 

40:29 

This guy was working with opening night wonder and he was therefore able to overcome so many obstacles. He has since become quite successful with his business. And I’ve talked with him. And I told him I hope you never lose the magic of opening night. 

Brad Wolff 

40:47 

That’s got a lot of applicability and engagement, that is that is a choice that each one of us makes when we go to work and we can look at the things that we already know how to do well as just routine or we can find the uniqueness of each situation. 

41:04 

Right. That’s, that’s a great lesson that all of us, I think, can apply. So Richard when you’re feeling down and discouraged and really don’t want to take action. What do you find helps you rebound into a positive state so that you can take action. 

Richard Hadden 

41:22 

I think first of all about the impact that that action will have on others, or the impact that inaction will have on others, and I think 

41:32 

I know, certainly in my case, in terms of work, whether it’s been, you know, the very first job I had 

41:37 

Very first job I had working in the kitchen of my church for Wednesday nights supper, all the way to other part time jobs in you know in high school and so forth. 

41:50 

If I become discouraged and so forth. I think about what impact, you know, what am I really doing it is my work important and I think 

41:58 

The minute we lose sight of how important I’ll work is it’s it’s easy to get discouraged and so 

42:03 

If we become discouraged. We have to think about. Alright, so what am I doing here, and how is it helping somebody and and once we come into contact you know in our minds with how our work is impacting the end user, the customer. 

42:17 

Whether that’d be an internal customer or an external customer, then that gives me that gives me the motivation to go on. 

Brad Wolff 

42:25 

That’s a great leadership question because leadership is about impact is what it what is my impact if I do this, what’s an eye on it packed. If I don’t do anything. Yeah, so that’s that’s a great question. I think for all of us. 

42:40 

So is there anything that you feel is important that we haven’t discussed that you want to add Richard 

Richard Hadden 

42:48 

Well, I just think that, you know, let’s get past the buzzwords of employee engagement and even leadership and things like that and just 

42:56 

Asked the question as a leader in the workplace, whether you’re in an official leadership position or maybe an ad hoc or a de facto leadership. 

43:07 

Position that the question is what can I do today that will have a positive impact on on someone else and I often find that when I asked that question. And when I am deliberate about having that positive impact. 

43:20 

That it ends up having a positive impact on me, and so I’m going to encourage some of your listeners to maybe be a little selfish and look at it that way. How can I, you know, in impacting others I create a positive experience for myself.  

Brad Wolff 

43:33 

Right when we get out of our own head about ourselves. Yeah, we actually end up 

43:39 

enjoying being with ourselves. 

 Richard Hadden 

43:41 

Yeah yeah and being with others too. Yeah. 

Brad Wolff 

43:44 

So what. What are one or two things that people would not learn about you, Richard from a Google search that, you know, would make you relatable. 

Richard Hadden 

43:55 

Maybe the fact that I have had the opportunity to visit all 50 US states. 

44:02 

I noticed when I was about 35 that I had 

44:07 

Into about 35 states based on just travel as a child and a young person or family. And then in my work as I was doing a lot of traveling and I said you know what, by the time I hit 50 I want to hit all 50 states and 

44:22 

So I admitting the fact that I have yet. Now I have now surpassed that 50 

44:28 

Landmark I did manage to visit all 50 states before I turned 50 

Brad Wolff 

44:34 

I would say you’re in a very exclusive group of people. I don’t know any stats on it but I intuitively, I would say that there’s very few people in the country that have done that.  

Richard Hadden 

44:46 

Well, there’s, there’s actually a group I belong to and I you know I paid my I paid my $5 membership fee or something and I got a certificate of people who have been all 50 states. But yeah, I don’t think there’s a, I don’t think it’s a huge group. 

Brad Wolff 

44:59 

Okay, well you know what, I’m resigned to the fact that I may not be able to join your 

45:06 

But I’m still a decent person but i’m not i’m  

Richard Hadden 

45:09 

Clearly not a character issue in any way of 

Brad Wolff 

45:12 

Hope so. Richard what URLs. Would you like to promote that the audience would benefit from being aware of

Richard Hadden 

45:20 

Oil, I have to ask people, and invite people to visit us at contented cows.com and I emphasize the S. 

45:28 

At the end of that word contented cowards.com there is actually a website called contented cow calm, but it is for a pub in Minnesota. 

45:37 

So it’s not going to give the same kind of information that ours would. So go to contented cows.com you’ll learn a little bit about our story and what we believe about the connection between people practices and profit performance and there’s all kinds of resources there. 

Brad Wolff 

45:52 

And if you’re in Minnesota also visit content, a cow com 

45:56 

There you go after you go to content.

Richard Hadden 

45:58 

That’s right. 

Brad Wolff 

45:59 

And what are the biggest reasons that listeners should visit your website. 

Richard Hadden 

46:05 

Oh, well, if they would like to learn a little bit about our philosophy and not just our philosophy. But what we’ve learned in our research over the years about that connection between people and profit. 

46:18 

But if people are interested in hiring me or bill to come and speak at their conference or to come and bring leadership development, training into their into their companies than there are good ways to do that. Bill Catlett is also 

46:36 

One of the best executive coaches. I know, and has a pretty thriving practice in that area. And so there’s information there and ways to contact bill for for coaching that’s bills primary activity is the coaching in our company and my primary activity is the speaking and training. Great. 

Brad Wolff 

46:52 

And any premiums or premiums that you that you would offer for our listeners. 

Richard Hadden 

46:57 

Yes, one book we wrote we’ve written five books actually in one of them is, it’s not a narrative book you know that starts off once upon a time in a land far away, but it’s a it’s a it’s an Interview Guide that people can access 

47:12 

And the, the URL is simply contented cows.com slash interviews. 

47:19 

And if they go there, they can download a free ebook, it’s not. It is a PDF download. It’s nothing fancy. It will not show up on your Kindle, but 

47:30 

It is a free PDF download at least 25 behavioral characteristics for which you may wish to interview people and then provide some suggested interview text for each of those 25 behaviors. 

Brad Wolff 

47:45 

And are there any books or publications or events that you’d like us to promote 

Richard Hadden 

47:49 

Well, I would love for everyone who can to have the opportunity to read contented cows give better milk. 

47:56 

That’s probably more relevant than the, the original the original is out of print and sometimes difficult FIDE except I do have maybe a dozen or so copies here in my office. 

48:06 

But contented cows give better milk, not only gives that that background of the business case for creating a great place to work, but it provides some amazing examples of organizations that get it and are doing it right. And the, the business benefits that they have read as a result. 

 Brad Wolff 

48:24 

I actually listened to the audio book several weeks ago and it was a great book and it really provided a lot of data that was very reassuring of the value 

48:36 

Of really treating human beings with respect and consideration and the benefit that it has is far above the investment that an organization makes to do it. Yes, like 

48:51 

Richard, thank you very much for investing your time to be on our show. And I’m sure our listeners are going to find a lot of value with this and I encourage everyone to check out Richards website. His book and other offerings that can help you. 

49:09 

Thank you. Thank you. 

Richard Hadden 

49:10 

Thank you, Brad. It’s been a pleasure to be with you. 

 

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