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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 24, 2017 1:00 am

'Fusion' helps engage team around goal, author says

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

It's so much easier when everyone on the team is on the same mission.

It takes a thoughtful leader to help bring that about, according to Dudley R. Slater, author of the recently released book “Fusion Leadership: Unleashing the Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts.”

Slater, in a telephone interview Thursday from Portland, Oregon, said he became captivated by what happened when people had a shared goal or mission.

A company or organization is more likely to succeed and employees or those on the team are more engaged.

Slater was a co-founder of Integra Telecom, a fiberoptic networking company that provides high-speed data, and ran the company for about 15 years. Integra had more than 2,000 employees before a new CEO was named to replace Slater.

One annual Gallup survey Slater cited suggests 70 percent of American workers are not engaged in their job and dread Monday mornings.

Fusion leadership is a concept of “fusing together people” around a shared cause or mission, he said.

His book, written with Steven T. Taylor and released Sept. 12, provides tips on how to accomplish that, sharing stories from eight CEOs, including Darrell Cavens, the top exec at Zulily, and Chip Bergh, the head of Levi Strauss.

“Some of them I knew through my business dealings, having run my own company,” Slater said of the CEOs included in the book.

“I was careful to research who I approached because I wanted people who have built something profound or taken something and pivoted it in a new direction.”

Top insights Slater said the book offers suggest that leaders may need to:

• Rethink how they prioritize who they have on their calendar to meet with. Many C-level execs forget to spend time with people on the front lines who are really crucial to an organization's success.

• Reassess who becomes the smartest in the room when conducting a meeting. Many leaders, Slater said, see meetings as an opportunity to drive their agenda or show up how smart they are. In doing so, they miss an opportunity to create an environment of honest debate where all ideas are welcome and stimulate discussion about what's best for the organization.

• Review compensation strategy. Some leaders have an opportunity to decide what they pay themselves as well as others. The formula sheds light on the value they place on the team compared to the value they place on themselves.

Slater said it's not the sole responsibility of any single individual to help create enthusiasm in an organization. But the primary responsibility to connect everyone with the organization's mission does rest on the leader. A shared purpose helps with engagement levels.

“When you do that,” Slater said, “people find fulfillment because they realize they're showing up to work for something more than a paycheck.”

Slater's book is one of several scheduled for a September release. In the coming weeks, I'll share information about some of the others.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.