Lakeshore leaders profiled in new book about honesty and truth

2020 seemed like an ironic year to release a leadership book focusing on honesty, trust, and teamwork. But for Scott Patchin, truth in business leadership has never been more imperative to the bottom line. 
Scott Patchin's latest book was published in November.
“So often, business leaders tell me that their biggest desire is to help employees grow and succeed while having the business sustain without their 24/7 involvement, but they get so burned out trying to accomplish that.”

Truth at the Heart: How honesty, trust, and teamwork can transform your business was published in November 2020 and is the second book in Patchin’s Honest Culture Series. Patchin, based in Holland, is the owner of The trU Group and has been coaching business leaders for more than 20 years. 

The new book features interviews with Lakeshore area leaders Dr. Donna Lowry, President and CEO of Ready For School; Paul Doyle, CEO of Coastal Container; and Jane Clark, President of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. 

“The single biggest way to get people to speak the truth to you is to act on what they tell you, especially when it’s different from what you originally thought. If they change your mind, and they can experience that, they’ll speak truth to you more,” says Clark, quoted in the new book. 

Patchin also features insights from Michigan leaders Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Javier Olivera, CEO of Supermercado Mexico and Dr. Diana Wong, Associate Professor of Management, Eastern Michigan University.

Connecting with employees

The book focuses on Patchin’s trademarked “Honest Culture Journey,” which simplifies the steps for business leaders to connect with their employees at a direct and empathetic level. Patchin says many business leaders attempt to compartmentalize their business lives, but investing in becoming an honest leader bleeds into personal lives. This is why Patchin often uses parenting analogies with leaders — because of their relatability.
Jane Clark is the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce President. 
“Empathy sounds squishy, but empathy is nothing more than a question, and having the patience to listen to an answer and respond to it.” 

In the West Michigan community and culture, “niceness” is often a trait that controls interactions, Patchin says, adding it also debilitates honesty. 

“Directness is always taken much better when there’s a relationship,” he says. “If you create the right rhythms and contexts around your team, people will eventually be comfortable with being direct.” 

Paul Doyle says in the book that telling the truth can often be received as negative feedback, but he believes honesty in business is more than a transactional conversation.

“So, speaking the truth … maybe we need to elevate it,” says Doyle, quoted in the book. “Regardless of whether it’s good, bad, or neutral, the purpose of speaking the truth is to serve.” 

Diverse group of leaders

The book features a diverse group of leaders from different industries to illustrate the results of an honest culture. Patchin says it was important to elevate the voices of leaders that readers might not have an opportunity to meet.

Donna Lowry is the President and CEO of Ready for School. “Leaders in this part of Michigan get it,” Patchin said. “They are entrepreneurial-minded because failure is not keeping them down.” 
 
A majority of business leaders don’t receive direct tweets from customers or appear on CNBC segments, but the past 12 months forced leaders to be in touch with the emotional state of their teams. Patchin says that, although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed businesses across the world, he is still helping leaders with the same problem of engaging with employees. 

“You have to genuinely care about your people,” he says. “You have to believe it, but also have to demonstrate it.” According to Patchin, a way to demonstrate this is to simply say, “Tell me more about that.” 

Truth is on a continuum

Patchin uses the example that if your employees are working at a plant during a global pandemic, safety will mean something different for a person living alone versus a person living with an at-risk elderly family member. Asking questions about what makes the employees feel safe can avoid miscommunication, resentment, and conflict. 

Paul Doyle is the CEO of Coastal Container.“Truth is not a point in time. It’s not one data point. Rather, it’s on a continuum — not a continuum of truth, but a continuum of relationship,” says Dr. Lowry in the book. 

In 2021, Patchin says leaders are going to need to respond to the long-term effects of the pandemic’s reactionary business habits. His new book provides two things leaders can implement immediately to their businesses. The first is to create a clear target and the second is to create team experiences where honest conversations and listening can happen. 

“The context of a trusting relationship doesn’t start with me necessarily liking you or knowing you, it’s that we have a common belief of what needs to get accomplished,” says Patchin. “If we’re clear on the plan, then the plan helps us tell the truth.”

Truth at Heart is currently available on Patchin’s Amazon site, where other workbooks and publishing’s of Patchin’s are available.  

Read more articles by Luke Ferris.

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