Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

Employee Transformation

The CEO’s Job:

Leadership guru, David Marquet, notes that the only effective way to change human behavior is to change the environment. The environment is how things get done, the decisions that get made, and how we treat people. That is the culture—and we create a culture based on shared values. I believe that the CEO has one primary task: to manage the corporate culture.

Therefore, as the CEO, owner, founder, and leader, we are responsible for the behavior of our employees. If we take our

eyes off the culture ball, we will wind up with an accidental culture and behavior we may not wish to have.


In his new book, The Second Mountain, David Brooks states that we should:

“Never underestimate the power of the environment you work in to gradually transform who you are.”
—Brooks, David. The Second Mountain (p. 22). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Many leaders find it daunting to accept and be accountable for the transformation of employees. They do not see the real impact of their words and deeds. However, my observation is that the statement is true. Employees who resonate with the values underpinning the organization’s culture thrive and are fully engaged. Those who do not either leave or become one of the many (Gallup says 70%) employees who are disengaged.

Transforming Lives

Successful leaders transform people’s lives. They develop other leaders to understand and accomplish the same transformation in those they lead. The change can be harmful if the leader allows a toxic culture to take hold. We all know the examples of deleterious cultures—Wells Fargo comes to mind as one of the more notorious cases.

Companies that develop positive cultures do well financially. They are sustainable, have low employee turnover, and enjoy stakeholder loyalty (stakeholders comprise employees, customers, community, vendors, and shareholders, and I rank them in that order).


The leader’s transformational reach is broad. As employees are changed, they, in turn, treat customers in the manner in which we treat them. My experience is that they also carry their experiences home. They bring their skills to bear in other organizations. That belief is why I use my tag line of “Creating a better world, one leader at a time.”

In summary

A business leader is responsible for establishing values and enforcing those values. The established values underpin the culture and create the environment that, over time, transforms our employees, their families, and the organizations to which they belong.

I know I’m dreaming, but if every leader understood that concept, took it seriously, and was determined to be a positive force, our society would undoubtedly be in a better place than we are at this point. What are you doing to shoulder your responsibility as a transformational leader?