William Powell is the founder and Executive Director of The Leadership Advisor. William is about 50 kinds of passion looking for new ways to get out. He has lived and worked on three different continents and continues to advise clients in countries around the globe. William’s passion for leadership development, organizational culture and employee engagement has led him to develop a model he uses with his clients as a means to help organizations make proper sense of how these 3 areas impact people as well as the company. William is an inspirational speaker and the author of Personal Ecology: Self-Management and the Art of Cultivating Healthy Relationships. His insight is sought after by a wide range of professionals and William is a “Leaguer” in the Switch & Shift community. William is currently writing his 2nd book and research has begun for a 3rd book. He lives in Helsinki, Finland with his family.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
Business is dynamic. Humans are dynamic. The fact that how we view, approach and manage work has remained static is not only dangerous, but willfully ignorant. This mentality has shown its destructive side and an alternative has become both a business and moral imperative. As leaders, we are short-changing other human beings of their own potential and our businesses are suffering for it. Human beings cannot and should not be relegated to units of effort that achieve a part of a whole. A better work environment is a precursor to a better society. We spend nearly 60% of our waking hours at work. The kind of day we have at work is the kind of day we have at home and around our communities. Businesses are community leaders, whether they want to be or not.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
Championing human potential and facilitating human flourishing. There is an organic way that leadership, culture and employee engagement influence one another. There are also distinct relationships that connect each of these areas. The Leadership Advisor helps organizations gain a better understanding of how this works and how it impacts their bottom line numbers. Human-centric is profitable and we work hard to help make that happen.
Why do you do what you do?
Human Beings. There is nothing more amazing than seeing a human discover and express their passion and potential. Watching it is one of the most incredible experiences ever. Participating in that process is the kind of intoxicating leadership we need more of in the world.
What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
I like any kind of painting or drawing that emotionally moves me in one way or another. Music is so much a part of my world, I don’t honestly know how anyone can live without it. The most emotional art I have seen is of a Polish painter who was tragically murdered – Zdzislaw Beksinski. His paintings are dark, but they have a romantic feel to them. Amazing!
What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
Just one?! It would have to be family first. It is compulsory to take 2 months vacation each year – 4 weeks over Christmas and New Year and 4 weeks during the summer. The quality of family life and work life are interdependent. Good home life, productive work life. Good work life, productive home life. Making them a competition is to lose on both fronts.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
Again…only one?! I would have to say Project Management. I have this uncanny ability to make complex things quite simple. Breaking things down into digestible chunks is a bit of a game for me and I enjoy the challenge. Learning more about project management has helped me become better at this over the years.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
Compare your decisions against the idea of human flourishing. When humans flourish, they’re profitable and productive. When they flourish, there are workplaces that champion human potential and are innovative for the needs of the marketplace. When humans flourish, more and more outlets are available for creative genius. When humans flourish they are developing both themselves and one another. There is no room for politics and posturing when flourishing is a focus. Strategy becomes clear and engagement becomes a natural result. We all want to flourish and we all need to flourish. Meet that need and work will be meaningful and much more human.
What does your preferred work environment look like?
An ideal work environment for me is one that is fluid, but still well organized. I use the analytical and the creative areas of my brain fairly equally, so both need to be satisfied. I like the sit on a bean bag, drink coffee and joke your way into a solution kind of environment, but there has to be some focus and order to things for me to feel the most comfortable.
How do you stay productive throughout your day?
Productivity. What’s that?! Work isn’t so much work for me, so I rarely measure it. I can so easily get lost in my work, I usually keep piling things on. It energizes me. I do happen to be most productive early mornings or late afternoons. The middle bits are sketchy. So, the middle of my days typically are filled with networking or letting my mind wander as a means to be creative.
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick?
I have read so many books, I struggle to land on just a couple. I think the more recent books that speak to facilitating a Work Revolution would be: What Matters Now by Gary Hamel, Start With Why by Simon Sinek and We by Rudy Karsan & Kevin Kruse.
Where in the world are you?