Change is constant, and organisations and their leaders must continually evolve to maintain market relevancy. Additionally, every organisation has its own culture, language, social norms, taboos, sacred spaces, business processes, varied IT systems, and informal hierarchy. It’s unreasonable to expect any program to translate perfectly from one economic community to another. Moreover, work commands a massive portion of one’s day, so deriving meaning and contentment in what we do and the time we invest in it is imperative. While today we may acknowledge that some form of change is necessary, such transformation mandates the need for a dramatic change, self-actualisation, and inspiration.
Dr. Corrie J Block, a world-renowned business strategist and celebrated author of several books, including ‘Business is Personal’ and ‘Spartan CEO’, has empowered individuals to form new insights and find the link between their purpose and work. One of the most sought-after business and executive coaches, he helps employees to connect meaningfully to their work and helps leaders to create that meaning for their team. An increase in productivity and meeting business goals is simply a by-product. Business Strategies, Online Courses, Private Coaching, Masterclasses, and Motivational Keynotes are some novel services he has to offer.
In an exchange with Dr. Corrie, he tells us how he has multi-pronged strategies in place to determine and implement the right training methods. He dedicates his time to asking questions, listening, and understanding the leader’s requirements. He adds, “I can only hear the voice of the organisation once I’ve listened to a varied cross-section of its people. Then, in the synthesis of those individual narratives, the organisation starts to take on its own voice in my head.” Post conducting extensive inquiries and obtaining enough input, the last question he asks the client is, ‘what does the organisation need from me that I can provide?’.
Four Steps to Achieving Business Goals
He elaborates on the methodologies he employs as a successful leadership coach in his training programs. He believes it has four elements: story, science, skill, and summary. He commences the training program with stories from himself and his participants. The questions stimulate a conversation and spark debate on a particular subject. Once the participants feel like they are heard, they are ready to hear back, and that is when Dr. Corrie brings in the science. “I’m a leadership guru. But if you truly want to learn leadership, don’t follow me; follow the science. Smart people are more moved by what’s true than what sounds good on a mug,” opines Dr. Corrie.
Once the stories and science are done, they are all translated into a set of skills. All the new information amalgamated needs to be processed and funneled into creating a set of replicable skills that can be applied to real life. After practicing the skills in the training environment, he leads a summary conversation with the participants to see what ideas meant the most to them. “My leadership training programs have clocked in at an average direct ROI of more than a whopping 800 per cent, but that’s not why I think they’re successful. I think profit and performance are a by-product of passion and empowerment. At the end of my programs, participants regularly line up for selfies with me, ask me to sign a book for them, and send me ‘thank you’ notes even after days and months because something significant changed in their view of themselves and their work. That’s a successful training program,” explains Dr. Corrie.
While his name and services spell out recognition and success in the market, Dr. Corrie reveals he encounters several challenges in his line of service. He states that his topmost challenges are staying current on research, and getting emotionally involved with his clients. He adds, “I don’t rent my time. I rent space in my head. My clients know that I take their concerns with me. I dream up solutions at night and sometimes even devise great strategies while at the gym. I live a holistic life, meaning I don’t compartmentalise. I’m amazing as a coach because I empathise with my clients and genuinely connect with them. It’s sometimes tough, but it makes me a more effective coach.” He believes that the world is changing so quickly that any leader that doesn’t spend at least 4 hours per week in research will inevitably be left behind by the pace of development. Dr. Corrie nipped this challenge in the bud by taking courses in finance from Harvard and A.I. from M.I.T. to add layers of input to the books and blogs he reads to stay sharp. It’s easy to become complacent, and it’s tough to stay in shape.
The Insatiable Curiosity to Learn and Impart Knowledge
Dr. Corrie shares with us how he did not even possess an undergraduate degree and had started with just a high school education to sustain himself. It wasn’t until he founded four companies that his mentors and leaders persuaded him to return to school. He admits, “I thought they were crazy, and it would be a waste of time. But I was wrong. My mentors saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I finally agreed, and a university in the US took a risk on me and let me participate in MA in Global Leadership.”
It was a four-year program that he completed in 18 months with an extra 8-credit thesis and a 4.0 GPA. It was then that he discovered that academics, research and writing were all his talents that play a key role in the success he has achieved today as a leadership expert. His passion for research and writing has become a best practice and remains a core discipline in his life. He confesses, “Since then, I’ve always had some kind of formal education going on in the background. It’s my hobby. I don’t watch hockey or collect stamps. I read and write, and from time to time, I get a degree or certification due to my unorthodox hobby. For me, though, I’ve never cared for the certifications. For me, it’s about knowledge and competency.”
The Initial Steps to Commencing a Life-changing Career
The decision to walk down this career path was influenced by his father, shares Dr. Corrie. At 23, his father, with a contemplative look, turned to him and said, “Son, I’ve been working for the same company for the last 25 years, and I’m just not sure if I’ve wasted half of my life or not. If you want to do something crazy with your life, you should do it now while you have time to clean up the mess.”
These two simple lines shook him to his core and woke him up. He was the Inventory Manager for a major manufacturer, and his wife was an award-winning Retail Manager. They were headed straight for a suburban home with a white fence, 2 kids, and a dog. This got him thinking about himself and how dull his life would be; everything lined up, predetermined, sterile, and void of adventure. “So, my wife and I quit our jobs and moved to Estonia as social entrepreneurs. It was tough. We didn’t have much savings, so we dined on potatoes for about a year. We became malnourished in the process, and it wasn’t until our second year that we started bringing in enough money to eat meat regularly again. But wow, what an adventure,” discloses Dr. Corrie.
Redefining the Meaning of Success!
Now recognised as a leadership expert, business strategist, organisational behaviourist, and international author and speaker, he does not let his success take over his humble nature and perception of success. “Going bankrupt twice taught me to redefine what success meant to me. I have a much more balanced definition now that includes health, fun, family, travel, love, and art,” he says as he adds, “My mission is to help people find meaning at work. No matter where you live or what you do, if you are going to spend half of your life at work, it should be a meaningful half.”
He believes that work is every individual’s social role and how they add value to society in exchange for its resources. He aptly describes how adding value to one’s occupation makes life of greater significance, “Adding your efforts to the world through work is how you express gratitude for being born into a world of opportunities and technologies created by generations that came long before you. Work builds your dreams, cares for your family, and contributes to the development of our species. And at its foundation, it’s not just a job, it’s half of your life. How can we not find meaning in that?”
The Ladder to Success
To any business executives looking to carve a top management space, Dr. Corrie advises them to get to know themselves better; determine their strengths and weaknesses. A leader that knows themselves very well has a significant advantage over those who don’t. Leaders that know themselves can surround themselves with people whose strengths cover their weaknesses. They can capitalise on the wisdom of diversity by including different people in their team. They can invite disparate or contradictory opinions without feeling disrespected or offended because they know they don’t have all the answers. Leaders who know themselves very well also know who they are not. And that is a competitive advantage in executive leadership. He concludes, “I think we all deserve to find meaning in our work, and I’ve dedicated my life to helping people find that meaning.”
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