RENO, Nev. — Roughly 400 members of the Northern Nevada business community — from deal-making CEOs to game-changing innovators — are raising their right hands as high as they can, giving the image of the most overqualified collection of students ever assembled.
It’s a Wednesday evening inside the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa’s 14,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, where the Northern Nevada Business Weekly’s inaugural Book Of Lists Launch & Awards Gala, a celebration of the region’s business community, is in full swing.
Hand-raised attendees seated at dining tables are indulging keynote speaker Robert “Dusty” Staub, a prominent author and consultant, who is in the middle of orchestrating an insightful exercise.
“Keep your hand up and look around. Can anyone get their hand higher than that?” said Staub, pointing to a man up front whose hand is fully outstretched like an unashamed teacher’s pet.
“Everyone who works with you,” continues Staub, now raising his point, “has the discretion about how much heart; how much passion; how much commitment; how much creativity; how much problem-solving; how much thought they’re willing to put into your business, into your customers.
“We, as leaders, need to invite people to give us this,” he added, raising his hand as high as possible. “This is, ‘Hey! Let me tell you how we can make this company better!’”
Staub then demonstrated the alternatives, raising his hand lazy and low — “this is, ‘I’m showing up; you don’t pay me enough; don’t expect me to think’” — before stretching it a notch higher — “this is, ‘I’ll give you an honest day’s work, but don’t ask for more.’’”
“Here’s the secret,” Staub added. “Your leadership, especially the supervisorial behaviors of those reporting to you, determines what you get.”
Simply put, Staub was telling the industry and business leaders of Northern Nevada that they should be “leading from the heart,” making a shift, if necessary, from being a transactional leader to a transformational leader.
Transactional vs. Transformational
Now, what exactly does that mean?
Transactional, Staub said, is the realm where things happen — the world of contracts and success. Transformational, meanwhile, is the realm of loving, meaning and significance.
The three transformational messages, Staub said, that should be communicated throughout an organization are: 1) You matter. 2) What we do matters. 3) Together, let’s create something extraordinary.
Staub, CEO and lead consultant of North Carolina-based Staub Leadership International, touched on these components through a series of anecdotes — ranging from his transformative relationship with his late father to the transformative leadership methods of successful CEOs throughout the country — during his hour-long presentation.
Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), said Staub’s message resonated with him on a personal and professional level.
“If you live in a world where you’re just chasing the next deal and it’s about dollars and cents, you tend to lose the enjoyment of the relationship building and the opportunity to develop something that is deeper than just trying to get the deal done,” Kazmierski told the NNBW. “How work is fulfilling and something that you want to do as opposed to just are doing.”
Echoing Staub, Kazmierski said that starts with giving employees a purpose and answering the all-encompassing “why?” your organization exists.
“We at EDAWN believe strongly and focus on quality job creating — that’s our ‘why?’ — and everything we do is linked back to that ‘why?’” he continued. “Why do we come to work? Why do we believe in what we’re doing? It’s because we believe in creating quality jobs in this community.”
Don Tatro, executive director of the Builders Association of Northern Nevada (BANN), agrees.
“A sense of purpose in your organization and a sense of ‘why?’ is so critical to the success, rather than just focusing on the bottom line,” Tatro said after Staub’s presentation. “Focusing on why your organization exists, the purpose of your job and you’re going to make an impact in somebody’s lives … that’s what you need to be doing and focusing on.”
‘Things are not slowing down’
At the tail end of his speech, Staub reminded attendees that to make this message stick, it needs to reverberate through a company’s walls — not just occasionally, or even weekly, but every day, just like bathing.
Greg Mosier, dean of the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno, said those reminders are important for business leaders to absorb.
“I think that’s maybe one of the most relevant things that we all need to understand,” said Mosier, who made a short presentation of his own at the gala, providing an outlook on the many opportunities in store for the Northern Nevada economy for 2018. “You get up, you dust yourself off, tomorrow’s another day; no matter what went right that day, be inspired for the next day. I love that message.”
With Northern Nevada’s economy growing at an unparalleled pace, one could argue that there’s no better time for the business community’s CEOs, innovators and everyone in-between to take stock of their organizations’ leadership, culture and commitment to employers and customers as they seek to lead the region in a transformative way.
“There’s a lot of transformation going on in terms of visibility,” Mosier said. “The business community’s had a really big reputation for many, many years, but not in the area of this diversified economy that you’re starting to see now.
“The fact that you’re seeing companies looking to move here or expand here or start here? There are global companies like Apple, but there are also small startups and small businesses and they’re all so incredibly important for what we need to be doing in the region. And we need to embrace them all.”
Added Kazmierski: “Things are not slowing down. We’re seeing some exciting companies, higher-wage companies, more headquarters, more technology … we’re seeing a community that’s continuing its transformation.”