Episode TwoHundredSixty

Culture: Creating Conditions for People to Thrive

Guest: Ben Schemper, CEO at Abundant

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About This Episode

Sales is conversations. Sales is relationships.

Leadership is conversations. Leadership is relationships.

How do you ensure that these relationships and conversations are happening on a foundation of true connection?

I recently had a profound conversation about human connection, culture, and leadership with Ben Schemper, CEO at Abundant, on the Sales Engagement podcast.

“I am somebody who is very passionate about transformation and creating experiences for leaders to experience transformation themselves,” Ben said. That passion came out in everything he talked about.

Let’s dive right into the conversation!

Leadership and culture

“Leaders must do the work first for culture to change, and they must do the work with their culture for culture to change. So those two are kind of inseparable,” Ben said.

Abundant works with individuals and organizations that are experiencing a certain level of success and achievement but they are aware that something is missing… usually a sense of meaning and purpose.

It’s not the 90s anymore. For most of us, money isn’t the end-all, be-all of why we work.

“Whenever things are feeling a little bit vanilla, that’s an orange flag that can quickly turn into a red flag,” Ben said. In other words, apathy will become a culture problem.

There’s a threshold you cannot cross if you’re only focusing on achievement.

You have to engage not only people’s heads but also their hearts. “It requires people not just to be experiencing great results, but experiencing meaning and connection along the way,” Ben said.

Leaders have to make culture a priority. When culture needs to change, it’s meaningful and authentic work that will start to make a difference.

Engaging the human heart

There are a lot of demands on us as humans that extend way beyond earning an income. It’s arguably one of the most complex times to exist in the world.

“One of the biggest changes is how much input we all have on a daily basis,” Ben pointed out. “Your salespeople have a lot more demand on them than they ever have before.”

Organizations that recognize the call to create opportunities beyond financial opportunities are the ones that offer something that really matters, a deep sense of purpose.

Here’s the one question that leaders should ask:

What are the conditions in which my people will thrive?

Approaching culture from that perspective instantly moves beyond a focus on accomplishments to a focus on meaning.

Here are some of the ingredients that lead to the best version of someone showing up at work:

  • Energy
  • Connection to peers
  • Strong purpose
  • Clear vision
  • Being accepted for who you are
  • Engagement in contributing to greater good
  • Belief in the mission
  • Feeling of psychological safety

If employees have these things, they’re going to be working at their best. Achievement will happen as a product of creating an environment that engages the hearts of individuals and creates unity among teams.

“Connection and community is actually more important than the content,” Ben said.

Fostering psychological safety

Psychological safety, or felt safety, is created when people feel mentally and emotionally safe enough to be vulnerable.

It doesn’t work when leadership brings in an outside team to “fix” their people. Leaders need to participate in the transformation to create trust and bond everyone together, especially when a leader leads with vulnerability.

“A lot of leaders have this expectation of like, I need to have all my shit figured out, I can’t let my people know that I have challenges or flaws,” Ben said. “But when we actually reveal that to our people, it builds trust, it makes us seem like a real person, and it creates the safety for the rest of the team to be open and honest as well.”

Bottom line: When it comes to vulnerability, leaders should go first.

Being an abundant leader

“An abundant leader is somebody who leaves situations and people better than they find them,” Ben said.

This might mean not having the answers. This might mean prioritizing connection over accomplishment. This might mean listening more.

If you’re viewing work with the lens of leaving the situation or person better than you found them, it creates a bit of a paradox.

In a world with more demands on us, we leaders need to have enough to keep giving. The only way to make that happen is for your support to match your ambition.

“I see a lot of leaders who have a lot more ambition than they do a willingness to receive support,” Ben said.

Leaders who are vulnerable can accept help and can give help more freely than those who don’t build relationships and connections with others.

It means asking the big questions:

  • What’s most important to you? 
  • What’s your vision for your mission, for your family, for yourself? 
  • Who are you going to need to become to create that? 
  • What are you going to need to learn? 
  • What characteristics, qualities, or values are you going to need to cultivate?

Ben’s parting wisdom

Ben: Now really matters more than ever. And that’s always true, but it’s more true now than ever. Our world is changing, and humanity is really defining itself. Culture is a huge part of the future of humanity. What if that was the greatest impact that you can make — through the way that you create culture, not just a product or a service or a technology? The world needs people to take that mantle of responsibility on and have that become a part of many people’s mission. 

Learn about Abundant and find many resources on the website. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn or, even better, by email.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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