Tales From a Top Management Consultant

Leadership coach Rand Stagen says you don’t have to go through formal leadership training or hire a personal executive coach to understand the power of reflection. ”Everyone has time for reflection,” Stagen says. “You can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes a week to ask yourself some key questions. If leaders don’t take a little bit of time to evaluate, it’s difficult to make adjustments.”

SUCCESS sat down with the executive coach for the August 2014 issue. In this web exclusive, Stagen shares what lessons he has found most valuable from leadership at Whole Foods Market, Zappos and Patagonia. 


“About three years ago I was in Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey’s office, and I asked him, ‘John, Whole Foods is a global organization with 60,000 employees. Is there any relationship between your personal development and Whole Foods at this point?’ And he looked at me, paused, and said, ‘Rand, all I can tell you is that for more than 30 years, every time I had a meaningful breakthrough, soon thereafter the executive team of Whole Foods had their own breakthrough.’ He said, ‘When it was time for me to have one of those breakthroughs, I would know it because I was frustrated with Whole Foods. And when I got frustrated enough, I would realize it wasn’t about Whole Foods, it was Whole Foods telling me, John, it’s time for you to go and have another breakthrough.’ For me, that was like a Jedi kind of level, where he talked about having the experience of being in this dance, that when he grew, the organization grew. There will be readers of SUCCESS who, when they’re frustrated with the performance of their employees, that frustration is as much about themselves as about their employees. And that’s tough medicine for most people to swallow. But you have to take responsibility and transform yourself if you want to see your team or your organization transformed. Leaders go first.”


“Our company’s whole reason for existing is that we believe that our clients can do the kind of things that Zappos and Patagonia and other companies are doing out there, demonstrating that businesses can be unapologetic free-market capitalists and still deliver their businesses in ways that are conscious, purpose-based and intentional. They don’t have to leave their humanity outside of the business. Our vision is to help more and more companies become these conscious capitalists, to awaken businesses to a whole new way of seeing themselves. Another way to think about it is sort of changing the narrative of business. Right now, people think, I’m going to become rich and then I’ll do something that’s important. I’ll start a philanthropy, I’ll give back. And we say, ‘Why do we have to look at it in such a compartmentalized way? Why can’t we integrate the success we all want as businesspeople with the significance that we all want as human beings? Why can’t we integrate those together and build businesses that allow us to express that within our business?’”


“We believe that the way to change the world is to change business, because business is where the power is on planet Earth right now. Business is controlling the marketplace, politics, community, everything. If business is where the power is, we’ve got to make business a better culture, a better consciousness, but the only way to transform a business culture is to transform the leaders of the business, so our whole strategy at Stagen is to start with the leader. The leader affects the organization, and the organization affects the community and the society.”


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