Win the Talent War: Simon T. Bailey Bestselling author of 7 books
“You weren’t born to fit in. You were born to be brilliant.”
Simon T. Bailey
Bestselling author of 7 books, Simon T. Bailey, who once worked at Disney World, now owns and operates a self-described “premium education and learning development company, where we design curriculum and content, for individuals and organizations to be brilliant in business and life.” He is also one of America’s 10 most-booked keynote speakers for corporations and associations, and gives seminars and presentations worldwide, for companies like IBM, AT&T, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Toyota. Bailey shares his experience of company culture, and attracting, nurturing, and retaining top talent.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:00] Introduction of guest, Simon T. Bailey.
[01:05] Strategies for creating a positive corporate culture.
[01:58] The job of a leader in corporate culture.
[04:13] What are the best ways to communicate feedback to employees?
[07:49] Releasing your brilliance.
[09:28] Employee experience and engagement.
[14:28] Bailey’s books, and the Brilliance series.
[16:52] What does leadership mean to you?
[17:50] Failure is a powerful teacher.
Simon T. Bailey: Redefining Leadership
Introduction and Background
Simon T. Bailey is the bestselling author of 7 books, and one of America’s 10 most-booked corporation and association speakers, on subjects of change, leadership, and customer experience. He is also a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, executive advisor, and entrepreneur. He has worked with over 1,500 organizations, and spoken before more than 2 million people in his presentations and seminars, in 45 countries around the globe. His list of clients includes AT&T, IBM, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Toyota.
Prior to striking out on his own, Bailey had 30 years of experience in different jobs in the hospitality industry. His last job was Sales Director at Disney. “Today, I run a premium education and learning development company,” Bailey explains, “where we design curriculum and content for individuals and organizations to be brilliant in business and life. I live in a small town called Windermere, Florida, which is at the doorstep of the happiest place in the world, Disney.”
Strategies for a Positive Corporate Culture
When asked for strategies that organizations can utilize in creating a positive corporate culture, Bailey has an unusual take on it. He believes that corporate culture is in how we answer the phone, interact with colleagues, and it’s about what goes on in meetings behind closed doors. According to Bailey, “It’s not necessarily the mission, and vision, and values, and all those things that are written on nice pieces of paper, or that hang in the lobby of the corporate offices. Company culture is who we are when no one is looking over our shoulder. That’s your culture.”
Leadership Strategies Promoting Positive Corporate Culture
Unlike anything you may have heard in the past, Bailey states emphatically that the job of a leader is not to create culture, nor to motivate people to do things within the culture. “The job of a leader,” he says, “is to invite people on a journey to discover who they can be while they’re in the culture.” First, many leaders have discontinued the performance review and shifted to what Bailey refers to as a career investment discussion. These are scheduled every 90 days, and they start with these 4 questions: Where have you been? Why are you here? What can you do? And, where are you going?
Your talent will be more productive if you check in with them regularly, as opposed to the twice yearly old-school performance review. “The second thing leaders are doing,” explains Bailey, “is helping employees understand that, yes, we’ve hired you to do X, but who do you want to become, and what is the value that you bring to us, that you want to unleash? And it’s that shift in thinking, instead of do what we hired you to do, to really tapping into, who can you be? And who can you become while you’re in this culture?” The third thing, which Bailey insists is critically important, is for leaders to celebrate what people do right, instead of what they do wrong. When individuals in a culture are celebrated, they make it a habit to go above and beyond every day, because the appreciation makes them want to.
Best Ways to Communicate Feedback to Employees
“First, find out the learning style of the person,” advises Bailey. “Are they a visual learner, are they hands-on, or are they auditory? If I want the feedback to stick, and really create a change of behavior, I have to understand how that person is wired.” Secondly, always remember to celebrate publicly, but coach in private, and provide them with tangible examples so they know exactly what you mean. And it is important, Bailey cautions, to not just give them the what of your instructions, but the why. It helps them get the bigger picture, so they can convey it to their team as well. People tend to work better when they know the why. The third thing is that once a person is operating and communicating in the way that they should, point out to them how they can make improvements.
Releasing your Brilliance
Some of Bailey’s most popular books and videos focus on releasing your brilliance. “Releasing your brilliance really comes down to, how do I bring out the best in myself, and everyone around me, every single day?” His epiphany at Disney was realizing that they never hired him to do a job. They hired him to create moments for everyone around him, and at the same time create moments for himself, to understand how he could make a difference for guests every single day. “I’m intentional,” says Bailey, “I anticipate how to go above and beyond the call of duty, not because I’m asked to, but because I want to. That’s how you begin to bring out your brilliance, and stand head and shoulders above the rest.”
Employee Engagement and Experience
Crucial to employee engagement, according to Bailey, is taking the time to tell the backstory of your company, letting them know why you do what you do. “The importance of that backstory is that a person begins to see through a fresh lens, of how the company came to be, and what role they can play in helping the company to move forward.” As a young man and new Disney employee, hearing Walt Disney’s backstory changed Bailey’s thinking. Instead of seeing himself as just an hourly worker in the sweltering sun at Disney World, he began to feel the excitement of being part of sharing Disney’s magic with families from around the world. “What I’m seeing with companies as they think about retention,” explains Bailey, “is how do they go back to the once upon a time, and connect the story of why we do this, why we sell widgets, why we do what we do, how do we connect the story, to the head, the heart, and the hands?”
Bailey’s Books and the Brilliance Series
Simon T. Bailey’s website showcases some of his highly successful bestsellers, including Shift Your Brilliance, Release Your Brilliance, and Success Is an Inside Job, all very motivating and inspiring works. “With Shift Your Brilliance we spend a lot of time developing that as a system,” he says. “What individuals will learn is that if we engage talent in a fresh, new way, we have to understand that we have to shift how we do what we do, by recognizing that employees today want to be developed, they want flexible benefits, they want to be able to blend work and life, they want a clear career path and businesses that help them do that.” That creates loyalty. Another thing Bailey teaches is how to move your talent from mentorship to sponsorship, which improves employee retention. “The big takeaway is giving people a mindset to see differently, harness their personal power, create a vision,” he advises, “and take the wheel, and not to allow anyone to become a backseat driver.” That, Bailey says, is the essence of all the work he’s created.
What Does Leadership Mean to You?
The definition of leadership for Bailey is quite different than it is for many others. He defines it as releasing the need to be right and becoming open to listening more and talking less, in order to grow. What that does for followers and teams is recognize that it is not about the leader who is actually working for the greater good. “Leadership is about being selfless,” says Bailey, “and tapping into everyone else, to help them be their best, and that becomes fulfilling.”
Failure Is a Powerful Teacher
“What motivates me is for people to say, ‘I made a mistake, I failed, but I’ve learned from it,’” explains Bailey. “It’s the ability to be self-aware enough to say it’s okay to fail forward, and get back up, and keep on going.” In his scorebook, embracing failure and getting back up is where the true learning happens.