Welcome to our interview with Jon Mertz. Jon is the CEO of Activate World. A modern think tank that explores CEO and business leader activism through a podcast and articles while bringing together the best of business with the best of society.
Jon is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as a Leader to Watch by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon has a background as a farmer’s son in his formative years, a political appointee during his 20s, and a marketing and business development leader over the past twenty plus years. His work has been in large and entrepreneurial companies like Deloitte, IBM, QuickArrow, and Corepoint Health.
I’m Bill Fox, Co-founder here at Exploring Forward-Thinking Workplaces. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Jon Mertz today.
Jon, welcome to this forum and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of Exploring Forward-Thinking Workplaces.
How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
Jon: That’s a great question and a question that many leaders need to think through a little more clearly and thoroughly. I believe the first place to start is to think of the workplace as a community. In our communities, we have life and work that happens. We need to get to know our neighbors, and we need to help out when needed. Communities have threats but in general they are places where people feel like they can be themselves. They can challenge others. They can challenge themselves, and they can contribute and share and learn as part of that community.
It’s a subtle mind shift, but we think of workplaces as being more cubicle or office-oriented, which are staler and more sterile.
Not only as people working there but as leaders. We start treating people a little differently, and we collaborate a little more closely in the work that we do. Through that we’ll get better results and more innovative solutions as well.
What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
Jon: I’ve been thinking a lot about that in several ways more recently. I’ve been involved in a doctorate program in interdisciplinary leadership. Right now, the class is on strategic management and the whole idea of how you encourage strategic thinking. I think it’s fascinating. It plays directly to an answer to this question regarding how you get employees more attentive and higher performing.
I think the way you do that is by how do you encourage strategic thinking within your organization? An interesting book came out a couple of years ago called WorldMaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy. It was a fascinating read because it showed how different generations worked with each other and offered ideas to build a better world.
Some characters in the book were not big names as far as people that we may know, but yet they did very creative and Innovative work to try to make the world a better place. Part of that was through encouraging strategic thinking within the organization.
If we want to get the best out of our teams in our organization, it goes to how are we really encouraging people to think differently. Or how to think about how they are approaching certain challenges and solutions. Questioning some of that thinking because out of that we’ll get better thoughts, plans, and results.
Note: This is a preview of the full interview. The complete interview was selected by Apress for publication and continues in The Future of the Workplace.