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The Proteus Leader Show #37: Being Brave at Work

Erika's guest today is Moe Carrick, best-selling author and founder of Moementum, Inc. Moe's new book, Bravespace Workplace: Making Your Company Fit for Human Life, comes out in May 2019, and today they're discussing the importance in business of being brave, and in building deep, authentic relationships.

00:00-01:15 - Introduction

01:16-07:57 - What it Means to Make Your Workplace Fit for Human Life

07:58-11:53 - Risks of Leaders Not Attending to Fit Workplace Needs

11:54-13:44 - What Leaders Can do to be Braver and to Support Their People

13:45-14:36 - Closing

Intro: 00:01 You're listening to the Proteus Leader Show with Erika Andersen, where you'll get practical tools and insights for leading, managing and staying ready for the future. Erika is the founding partner of Proteus, a firm that focuses uniquely on leader readiness. A nationally known executive coach and bestselling author, you may already know her as one of the most popular leadership bloggers on Ready for something you can use today? Here's Erika.

Erika: 00:32 Hello everyone and welcome back to the Proteus Leader Show. My guest today is Moe Carrick. She's a best-selling author and founder of Moementum, Inc. She helps brave people do the hard things that make organizations great and that benefit people, results, partners, the environment, and the community. Carrick seeks to help people thrive in their companies. She grounds her approach a unifying, an undeniable truth: successful work is dependent on human relationships. And Moe's new book, Bravespace Workplace: Making Your Company Fit for Human Life, comes out in May of 2019. So, welcome to the show, Moe.

Moe: 01:12 Thank you Erika. Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Erika: 01:16 Yes. I'm thrilled to have you, and I couldn't agree more with you about the importance in business of being brave and of building deep authentic relationships. And I'm excited about giving our listeners a chance to hear your thinking in your approach on this topic. So let's dig in. And my first question I'd like to ask is, I just love the title, Bravespace Workplace. Trying to say it three times fast is a little hard, but it's a great collection of words and I'm thoroughly intrigued by the subtitle, which is, Making Your Workplace Fit for Human Life. So can you tell us a little bit about what you mean by that?

Moe: 01:50 Absolutely. You know, it's funny, years ago, many, many years ago as an animal lover, I've, I've kind of heard - we've probably all heard the term, is it fit for animal habitation or is it fit for, you know, for horses in the pen or whatever. And I've kind of always had that image in my mind. And when I wrote the first book, my first book, which is called Fit Matters: How to Love Your Job, with my coauthor, Cammie Dunaway. We were really intrigued with and spend a lot of time researching the idea of work fit. How do I find the place that's going to activate my best talents? And that job was really written for job seekers and people in a job that maybe wanted to explore something new or people that were really out there in the market looking for a job. And we wrote that book based on our mutual commitment to helping people kind of think beyond, fitting in, which sometimes is how people think about work. And so when I was getting close to finishing Bravespace Workplace and kind of looking to finalize the title, I sort of went back to this old notion in my mind of like, you know, what's fit for animal life in terms of like care and feeding. And I really got captivated by this notion of what is fit for human life. And by that I mean, what kind of workplace is it that actually activates the greatness, you know, that we as human beings have, which is, you know, really different than the greatness that machines and automation have, which are important. And I have a whole section of the book actually, it's titled AI, Robots and, Machines - Oh My - about kind of the impact of technology on the human workforce. But, you know, in particular my sweet spot and when I've spent my career really digging into is what is it that happens in the workplace that either activates people's real skill, talent, and joy or, um, demoralizes them, disempowers them and causes them to bring not all of them themselves to work. So that's sort of where the, the fit for human life, uh, kind of tagline came on the front end of the title.

Erika: 03:59 That makes a lot of sense. I'd love to hear your insights. What are some of the key themes? What are some of the things that from your point of view, make a workplace fit for human life?

Moe: 04:13 Yeah, thank you. It's great question that's really central to, I think, my whole career as well as to the content of the book. And remind me, Erika, I'll come back, I want to say a word or two about the term Bravespace, but in terms of the fit for human life, what I've named and identified in the book based on my research and the research of others is that I think people really have seven things that they need from work. And those seven things are different currencies than they were certainly when I was a young, entrant to the work environment, um, which was, you know, 40 years ago, practically. And I think those currencies really change. And so I'll just mention them quickly and you can kind of tell me how they resonate for you. And the first one is sort of the most obvious people need to be able to meet our basic human needs. We need to make enough money or other non cash compensation to provide food, clothing, shelter and safety. And that currency is the one that is probably the most known, and that's been the most studied around. To what degree does our compensation motivate us, etc. But you know, we do need to meet our basic needs. The second need that I've identified is the need to contribute, which is the need to do something that matters to someone, you know. And that doesn't necessarily mean that everybody needs to work for a socially or environmentally minded organization that's changing the world. It can be as simple as: do I understand how my contribution day to day makes a difference to someone, whether I'm cleaning floors or studying spreadsheets? The third one is to be seen and to be known. You know, to not be anonymous. Have someone know my name and know maybe a little bit about my circumstances. The fourth and I think in many ways this is one of the most important, is the need to connect in real ways with other people and know, we know now that you're probably familiar with, most of us are with Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. And, and Maslow did have human connection, um, and in fact love on his hierarchy. But he kind of put it a little midway up the pyramid and there's a number of researchers today that are kind of debunking Maslow's philosophy and saying, actually, our need for human connection is as basic as our need for food, shelter, water and safety. And we don't have it, we die. So I believe that I've seen that play out over and over again that we bring that need right to work, especially if we're working full time. The fifth need is to learn the need to become better, to self actualize, to grow.

Erika: 06:40 Mastery.

Moe: 06:41 Mastery! Yeah, absolutely. Or even even the pursuit of mastery, which would delight, you know, many of us. The sixth is to feel supported. And I define that as to be able to be brave knowing that there are risks. You know, we can't guarantee safety in everything we do. For example, if we're working in a company to innovate, we know that some of our innovations will fail. And so that can feel really dangerous. But when we have support at work, we become much more capable of great things because we can take the healthy risks that allow us to be creative, to say hard things, to navigate the impossible. And then the seventh is to make our lives work. And that's really about being able to do the things that matter to us and that are ours to do. And that's highly personal of course, based on our stage of life and our interest, you know, am I a professional athlete that needs to work my work schedule around my athletic training? Am I a mom that wants to reenter the workforce? Am I a retiring executive that wants to travel? You know, we have a really big need to make our lives work. So when I say fit for human life, I'm in particular talking about how do employers navigate these seven needs that people have of work and do their best to, to meet them. Not every time, not 100%, but to the extent that people really feel they can bring their best.

Erika: 07:58 I absolutely love that list. I completely agree with all of them and have seen the need for them, in every, in our own work place, as you were saying, I was kind of ticking off against Proteus because we certainly try and make workplace and it's like, Oh yeah, I think we do pretty pretty well on those. And, certainly I've seen in my work with clients the risk of not attending to those things. I'd love to hear your perspective on that. What are some of the risks of leaders not attending to those people needs, the fit needs that people have in their workplace?

Moe: 08:36 Oh I love that question. And you know, it's really interesting Erika, because over the course of my career, you know, early in my career and sometimes even today, people will say to me, when they learn what I do, they say, Oh, you know, you're one of those touchy feely types that like deals with the soft stuff, you know, and, for many years I just would kind of laugh, ha ha. You know, that's right. And of what we see now with some of the research that's come out in the last 20 years, research by people like Daniel Goleman on emotional intelligence and Patrick Lencioni on teen health, Renee Brown who's a mentor of mine on a courage practice. We know now that this step is not soft. Anyone who's tried to do these skills of activating the best that people can bring every day know that it's not soft at all. It's really, really hard. So I think the risk that leaders face are many and are varied. One obvious risk is the risk to the bottom line for a company that's focused on profit. The bottom line always is impacted by efficiency and quality and customer satisfaction. And when people are not bringing their full selves or when people are, as I sometimes say to clients, underemployed, meaning that instead of bringing let's say 75 to 100% of their great work skills to work everyday and maybe they're bringing 25%, you know, they're doing the bare minimum to get by. That's very expensive for business because that person is holding a full time position, but they're actually only firing on 25% of their greatness. So that leaves this unexploited x factor in terms of efficiency and quality. So that gets quite expensive for employers over time. And the other thing that of course is very expensive for employers in a work in an employment environment like we have today is employee churn. And you know, even when we bring a candidate in the door to start working for us, it's usually depending on the company, it's a period of time before they become capable of actually being competent and confident in their job role, whether it's very frontline or senior executive. And so when we add the cost of recruitment, the cost of assessing work fit, the cost of bringing them up to speed and orienting them, we get an exponential risks with leaders not tending to the people part of the business. And then there's, you know, others like the risk of litigation for leaders who have really toxic environments where we see "me too" claims and sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace. That costs companies a tremendous amount every year. We also see impacts on safety. You know, leaders who are running organizations where physical or emotional, intellectual safety isn't present end up paying, in terms of ultimate costs in so very many ways. So I could go on and on, but I think the risks are really high for companies. Now if you're a nonprofit organization, the profit impact is not as clear, but certainly we can translate that to a dilution of mission. How can we really meet our goals, in a government or a nonprofit entity when we are incurring these kinds of costs of people being partially engaged or, you know, behaving in ways that are dangerous to one another.

Erika: 11:54 As you're speaking I'm thinking, yes, completely agree. And then there's this and there's that. And there's the, I mean, there are [illegible] I mean, one that just occurred to me that, I'm sure it was on your list, but you didn't get a chance to mention was just also it hurts, attraction, I mean, in this environment when unemployment is pretty low, if you know, word gets out pretty quickly, if your workspace is not fit for human consumption. It's much harder to attract good candidates if you don't have a good environment that has at least some modicum of these seven things. The one that's most intriguing and probably the least thought about is this idea of freedom to be brave. And so I always promise our listeners some practical insights and tips. And I think, you know, I think it's easier to think about probably how do I give people enough to live on? How do I make sure that there's a sense of meaning and purpose? You know, those things. Not that they're gimmes, but easier to think about. But I'd love to get some tips from you about what leaders can do to be braver and to support their people in being braver.

Moe: 12:55 Hmm. Yeah. I think, Erika, that from a base perspective, whatever leader in any company should do is first of all, you start with self awareness and in particular building their courage practice and the dare to lead curriculum from Bernay is a powerful way to do that. I think the second thing I would recommend for any leader is to begin developing the capacity of their leaders at every level to have both head and heart skills. We know our companies through our immediate boss and so no matter how great the CEO is, if the frontline supervisor out there in the field is a jerk and is not leading well with his people, those employees underneath him or her is having a bad, are having a bad experience. So I think for all leaders - those are my two quick hits on where to start.

Erika: 13:45 That's wonderful. So thank you so much Moe. Obviously we could keep talking forever, and ever.

Moe: 13:51 Yeah, it was very fun.

Erika: 13:52 Yeah. And listeners, if you're interested in finding out more about Moe and about Bravespace Workplace, just go to Find out more about the book and her work and to find out more about some of the ways we at Proteus support leaders to build powerful positive workplaces, you can go to and just click on Company Culture. So thank you for listening and until next time, here's to creating the life you truly want.

Outro: 14:20 We hope you're feeling better equipped to create the career, the business and the life you want. For more insights and tools for leadership and management, join us Have an excellent day and thanks for listening.