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Jack Child Shares Leadership Strategies To Improve Your Company’s Culture

This interview was conducted by Krish Chopra and published on on May 18, 2018.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Jack Child from G-Force for the ongoing series: CEOs Share Leadership Strategies To Improve Your Company’s Culture.

Jack is the CEO of G-FORCE. They’ve recently launched G-FORCE Franchises for Veterans as well as won first place Boston Innovets Veteran Pitch Contest among 18 Contestants for our G-FORCE Concept.

Krish Chopra: What are the 3 most important values that your company’s culture is based on?

Jack Child:

  1. Trust
  2. Accountability
  3. Preparation

Krish: Managing millennials can often be a polarizing topic. Can you elaborate on your advice for managing the “millennial mindset?”

Jack: What I find polarizing is the idea that people insist upon creating these categories that, frankly, are less than useful. Are there differences in expectations between someone my age and someone starting out? Sure, but that has always been the case. Our focus on military veterans tends to erase those constructs.

Veterans are familiar with, and are attuned to, a value system that prioritizes our core values. I don’t see it as “managing millennials”; I see it as creating opportunities for those whose shared commitment defines them more than empty categories. Keep in mind, also, that many of these “millennials” have seen combat or played a role in support of combat missions. That puts them far ahead of most in the “life experience” category at a very early age.

Krish: What are your “5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Culture” and why?

  1. Embrace Diversity — a diverse workforce is one that brings a wide array of talent and experience to bear.
  2. There’s no monopoly on good ideas — I strongly believe in clear lines of communication and accountability, but to thrive you must let every stakeholder know they can be heard and the best idea carries the day.
  3. Celebrate Success — take the time to share what works — not simply to acknowledge someone’s hard work, but to set an example for others to aim for.
  4. Own Your Mistakes — This isn’t a plea for mea culpas, but to take mistakes and examine the decision-making process in a transparent manner. You never want anyone to be afraid to make a mistake. Being honest about your own sets the bar. We called these “Lessons Learned” in the military debrief room.
  5. Relax — No matter the work, if you let it dominate your every thought you’ll burn out and what could have been good and sustained others will flounder. You have to be able to separate and get some perspective. Making this part of the culture will help keep people fresh and performing at higher levels than the endless grind.

Krish: Strong company culture is something that everyone likes to think they have but very few have it. Why do so many organizations struggle with creating strong, healthy work environments?

Jack: Too often these cultures are the product of the idiosyncrasies of the founder(s) or executive management team. Leadership comes to believe that because they hold these positions all they touch is gold. It is a narrowing of possibilities for others and creates a toxic feedback loop of letting the emperor know his new clothes look just great.

Krish: What is one mistake you see young start-up founders make in their culture or leadership practices?

Jack: The challenge is to harness one’s idea without falling in love with yourself for having a good idea. It becomes next to impossible to adjust and improve.

Krish: To add to the previous question, young CEOs often have a lot of pressure to perform and often wear many hats. What’s a simple time efficient strategy they can start doing today to improve their company’s culture?

Jack: Delegate. Surround yourself with people you trust and hand off everything that can be put in competent hands that have the time and expertise to handle. Doing it all yourself destroys everything but the ego.

Krish: Success leaves clues. What has been your biggest influence in your leadership strategy and company culture? Please feel free to share a person, book, another company, etc.

Jack: This may appear obvious given that my business is dedicated exclusively to veterans but, without a doubt, it has been my military experience as both an enlisted man and officer. There I learned clear lines of communication, clear (and demanding) expectations and the methodology to prepare for each mission, each flight, and each task that was required of me. I was expected to perform at the highest levels, not for my own advancement, but to achieve shared goals — sometimes with life and death consequences if not done right. I can think of no better proving ground for business leaders than a stint in the military.

Krish: What advice do you have for employees who have bad bosses? How can they take control and improve a bad situation?

Jack: If you find yourself in an untenable situation because of a dysfunctional boss, supervisor, or entire ecosystem of management the first thing to do is remain calm. Recognize the situation for what it is and what the limits are. People are often blind to their worst impulses and as an employee you should not take on the responsibility of correcting the problems in management. Odds are they believe the business is flourishing and headed in a positive direction. You take control in two ways: 1) Do your work at the highest possible level without adding an ounce of additional stress. You may find your HR team is responsive, but remember this: the toxicity that is allowed to flourish is the culture that is rewarded. You aren’t going to change it. and 2) Leave. As quickly as you can. Do not allow your good work and good name to be used by those who do not respect you or your contributions.

Krish: Okay, we made it! Last question — what’s one unique hack you or your company does that has enhanced your work culture?

Jack: There is no hack. To hack something is to come up with a work around. No, the only way forward is the daily demonstration of respect and fluid communication. Respect can’t be hacked. It is earned. So earn it.

A note to the readers: Improving company culture happens at any level in an organization. If you learned one thing in this interview, please share this with someone close to you.

A special thanks to Jack again!

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