Do you ever feel uncertain about what it means to be a good leader? This simple, reliable system for people management can help you handle any situation with confidence. If you ever feel overwhelmed in your role as a manager, learn how to refocus, increasing your team’s performance, security and growth by managing what matters. Do you struggle between supporting your team as human beings and maximizing their performance as employees? Create opportunities to resolve that tension and choose both.

Do you think it’s enough to help your team succeed at work or do you want to take your management skills to the next level? Helping your team connect to their larger purpose so they can find success, well-being and profound fulfillment in every aspect of their life, realize your full potential and theirs with The Meaningful Manager: How to Manage What Matters. Here’s my conversation with Jeff Smith.

Welcome to The Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Benji Block and today, I am honored to be joined by Jeff Smith. He’s just authored a new book titled, The Meaningful Manager: How to Manage What Matters. Jeff, thank you for joining us here on Author Hour today

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, thank you so much, Benji. I’m thrilled about the book, working with Scribe, the tribe has been really fantastic and it’s such an honor to be here with you today on the podcast.

Benji Block: Let’s start here Jeff, give some background to our listeners, as far as the work that you do and maybe the lead-up to choosing to write this book.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, great question. So, my background is a little bit varied. I’m a psychologist, I’ve worked in RND, product, a number of different roles and manage and led people in different capacities. One of the things that I realized is that unfortunately, even though everyone deserves to have a great people manager or a meaningful manager, people management has been made so complicated, people do not necessarily receive the training and education and coaching that they need.

They almost never receive the technology that they need to be a good people manager and I really wanted to bring it back with this book with something that is actionable. It’s not your typical fluffy business book where three or four sentences could be a summary of the whole book. Every page matters in terms of giving you something you can act upon as a people manager whenever you’re leading and managing your people. I’m excited to give people an all-in-one approach to becoming a meaningful manager.

Meaningful Management Is A Proactive Way of Uplifting and Considering The Whole Person

Benji Block: Okay, with the other work that you’re doing, choosing to take on a project like writing a book is, it’s not a small thing. Why now, Jeff, when it comes to working on a project of this size and actually getting a book into the world?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, working on the book was a really amazing and enlightening experience for me. One of the things that I noticed is that writing gives such a sense of clarity. I’ve talked about these different optics with now, I think over 10,000 people through different capacities, whether it’s through watching me on video or coaching or group sessions, workshops and so on. And whenever you’re doing that, you describe things in a similar way but it’s not always the same.

Versus whenever you write that book, it gives you a chance to get clarity and then working with Scribe of course really help me with this too, gives you such clarity around like, “Hey, here is the specific idea, here is the right way to explain this and I’m feeling at this moment in time.” Then that actually helped me out in reverse, now when I talk about these concepts, I think that they’re much clearer, they’re much more consistent.

Benji Block: Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about as you’re working on this project and you’re thinking about obviously, in the title, we’re talking managers, we’re talking leaders, but who is like in your mind, who are you imagining as you’re writing this?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, it’s a great question. I’m actually imagining a specific person who is an up-and-coming manager and leader. She was previously on my team, she was an extraordinary individual contributor for me, she started as an intern, really made a big impact and actually, it unlocked my ability to write the book much more quickly because I started to think about speaking directly to her.

Rather than thinking about a generic new manager, I was thinking about this specific person. So whenever I got stuck, I would actually think to myself, you know, “What would I say to Jill if we were talking about this topic?” and that was so helpful for me. I’m grateful for her for a number of reasons but she actually helped me write the book and without actually be even being in the room or even talking to me very much as I wrote it so I’m grateful for that.

Benji Block: Yeah, it’s crazy how many — that is such a similar story to so many authors that I hear throughout these conversations where it’s like, they have this one person that they got focused on and it brought tremendous clarity, better writing. I love that.

Let’s dive into some of the content here. You lay this out really well but unfortunately, and a lot of organizations’ management and leadership can feel like an obligation. It’s not anything inspirational really or any other thing other than “Okay, well, we need to have somebody kind of rallying the troops,” right? I want to start by parsing out two distinct groups here and I want to hear what you think separates meaningful managers as you define in the book from mediocre managers.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, it’s a great question. Meaningful managers to me are people who are focused on really what matters which as described in the book is performance, security and growth. We’re going to be thinking not just about what are these people accomplishing that helps support the organization’s needs but also, what are their needs as individuals and they looking at those two lenses together which I think is a really exciting way to think about management that does make it more meaningful.

Whenever you’re connecting with this person, not just as a number on a spreadsheet or their employee number or I need this output from them but when you’re connecting with them as a human being and you’re thinking about their needs as it relates to their own security, their own growth, just connecting with them with a sincere “How are you” giving them feedback along the way, proactively that allows you to be uplifting them encouraging them, recognizing them, along with sharing the observations that they need actually.

If you’re not very caring, if you hide the truth from people and don’t tell them whenever something needs to change. Whenever I think about meaningful management, it is about being, it’s being proactive, it’s about holding yourself accountable and it’s about thinking about that whole person.

Benji Block: Okay, we hear a lot that it starts with us, as leaders, right? Meaningful management, even it starts with you. You start the book in that place where we’re going to be introspective first. I think of the airplane, put on your own oxygen mask before helping somebody else. Let’s go there, as it pertains to self-awareness and within this entire model that you’re laying out in the book and what it means to be a meaningful manager, what’s been the most beneficial thing for you when it comes to self-awareness? Maybe it’s an exercise or something that has helped you lean into your continued growth personally.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, it’s such an excellent question and I know that I’m clear on the answer because it came to me immediately, which is clearly understanding your values and then evaluating whether you’re living your life and expanding your time and energy, in support of those values. Most people do this on maybe a superficial level but getting a little bit deeper and thinking about “Hey, here’s what really matters to me and then here’s how I actually spend my day.”

Benji Block: Yeah.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Here’s what I’m actually doing with my time and my energy and looking at that combination and if there is dissonance there or conflict even, then it’s a great place to start to just say, “Hey, what actually matters to me right now? Am I actually designing my life and my approach to work and beyond in support of those values?”

Benji Block: Okay, so a couple of follow-up questions there. One, what age were you when you did this value audit of sorts?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, it’s something that the value audit to me is something that you can come back to at different points in your life.

Benji Block: Do you remember when you did it for the first time?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: The first time was probably a conversation that I had actually — I could think of a very specific conversation I had in high school where someone that I was in a relationship with and I were talking about, you know, what’s important to me and I was like, “Well, it’s God, family, basketball.”

Benji Block: I love it.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Those were my values at that point in time and I can remember where I was when I said it. I can remember the look on the person’s face whenever I said it and you know, I did love basketball. But again, these things evolve and change over time.

For example, you know, there was a period of time in my life where I was very into travel and exploration. It was just like, I’d get on a plane to go anywhere and while I still enjoy travel, that shift a little bit. I like exploration but maybe in a way that’s a little bit more subtle like trying a new trail in a state forest or in a national park.

These things do change over time and that’s one of the things that I think is so important whenever you think about your meaning, like in your life, passions, values, the vision for your life is that these things do change and evolve and we need to just honor that and I think that takes some of the heaviness out of these decisions where it’s not like, “Oh, I’m writing down my five values” or “Three values and this is me for the next 80 years.”

Benji Block: Right.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: It’s like no, this might be you for the next three or four months and then something happens in your life and things change. We do want to make sure that we’re giving ourselves space to realize like, “Hey, we’re all masterpieces, we’re all works in progress and we’re all learning and evolving together.” I think that’s a really fundamental idea of meaningful management is seeing that in yourself and seeing that in the people that you manage as well.

Always Know Why It Matters

Benji Block: Okay, last follow-up question on this one. If I was going to ask Jeff now, what are your values, what would you say to that?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, I appreciate the question about my own values. You know, whenever I think about my values, exploration has always been really high for me and it’s a strength of mine to be focused on things like boldness and courage and taking action so, exploration is up there for me. Another one too is service.

The more that I reflect on myself, the more I like to embody — and this was actually an organizational value at a different company that I worked at that was, “Work for and love the success of your colleagues and customers” and I like to operate from that model, you know?

Other positive psychology has been summarized before as, “Other people matter” and I would add, “And so do you.” Other people matter and so do you, because we don’t want to get to where we’re just giving, giving, giving and we’re not honoring our own needs but the reality is like, other people do matter. Other causes matter so I enjoy serving causes around, like animal welfare for example. Service is something that I definitely value.

Benji Block: Moving on, you say to manage what matters, start with what matters and you mentioned these three worlds earlier, performance, security and growth. You take time to break those down in the book. When you’re working on this project and trying to boil down what’s important, why did you find these three to be these vital topics that you wanted to hone in on?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, excellent question. We do want to be thinking about the organization’s needs and the individual’s needs, right? It has to be a balance. Performance, you know, starts to describe an organization’s needs. We want to be in a place where we’re delivering what our organization needs from a financial perspective, from an ethical perspective, from a purposeful perspective and support of an organization’s mission.

But then, security and growth — Scott Barry Kaufman wrote and extraordinary book called Transcend. He has really modernized and extended Abraham Maslow’s work, he’s famous of course for the Hierarchy of Needs. Scott has some things in his book about security and growth as two different groupings of individual needs and I kept the same model. I had the extraordinary honor of working with Scott and one of my colleagues at 15Five.

Her name is Courtney Bigony, on a measure that actually is related to this idea of security and growth so that was sort of the combined inspiration for those three things.

Benji Block: Love that. What you do is you kind of parse out those three and then you talk about five practices that demonstrate this presence and this empathy right but they support these core areas of performance, safety and growth. Now, I’m not going to put you on the spot and make you list the five. I’ll read the five and then we’ll dig into a few of them here but the five practices are, one, prioritize goals, two, feedback, one-on-one’s is the third one, decision making and collaboration.

I picked two, then I’ll have you pick one that I don’t touch on but let’s spend some time here and let’s dig in on that first one, prioritizing goals because for a lot of organizations, they’re going to have some sort of structure in place. Maybe it’s quarterly goals or it’s rocks and EOS type system but what we can — I mean, there’s a million things you can easily get wrong within goal-setting. So, let’s start on the negative side and then we’ll go to the flip side and say, when it’s done right, what does that look like?

But specifically, when it comes to prioritized goals, what do you see a lot of organizations or companies failing to do or struggling with?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, great question. I’m an EOS fan, visionary and integrator was a framework that really influenced my own thinking about myself so I’m grateful for Wickham and his colleagues who wrote that book. Prioritized goals, the biggest mistake an organization make around this is not prioritizing them.

Many organizations have something like OKRs or smart goals, rocks, they set them quarterly or annually or biannually. As it relates to prioritized goals, one of the biggest things that I see is the lack of prioritization. Oftentimes, an organization will say like, “Oh yeah, here’s these seven goals and they’re all important, we don’t have a sense of how important they are relative to each other.”

The other thing that organizations oftentimes don’t do is tie the goals back to something that matters to the individual. There’s an opportunity there as well, to understand like, “Hey, here’s what motivates this specific person.” We want to make sure that we’re explaining the impact that this goal is having, not just on our financial performance and not just in terms of organization but also in terms of that individual.

One of my favorite models is Martin Seligman’s PERMA Model from his book Flourish where he describes what it means to flourish and experience a sense of well-being and he describes positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. And to me, prioritize goals and having conversations about them then honored progress and achievement really do help with this idea of wellbeing.

There’s actually an individual benefit alongside creating prioritized goals and supporting people appropriately so they can make meaningful progress on meaningful work and it relates to this idea of wellbeing for the individual, in addition to financial performance and other outcomes that the organization wants.

Benji Block: Okay, so I want to spend a minute there because I imagine, you know, we tie goals to a bigger vision for the company at large, right? Maybe it’s a three-year plan or a five-year plan or something that’s beyond just the quarter, we’re not just making goals in a bubble or in a vacuum. But the goal for the individual and tying the goal there and allowing them to see how it will allow them to flourish, that gets a little bit more complicated or can take longer, right? To get good at, at first. Can you give me an example of what that might look like?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, great question. One thing to remember is that goal-setting should be top-down and bottom-up process and one of the main parts of this book is that people managers play a really important role in that process. While it might be too much to ask, the board or CEO to come up with a way to personalize the meaning of every single goal, it certainly shouldn’t be too much for the people manager to know their person, to know their people and their team, to know that person’s motivational signature.

What matters to them? Are they interested in solving complex technological challenges? Are they interested in being an entrepreneur within the organization or becoming an entrepreneur one day? And making these goals and these other things that an individual does on a day-to-day basis really relevant to them as people.

Again, that responsibility like yes, people and culture and HR teams can provide programs and education and the right technology to make that possible and create the right scaffolding but people managers and meaningful managers need to take that next step and ensuring like, “Hey, you have prioritized goals, you always know what’s most important” and you also know — always know why it matters.

I want to be reminding people along the way through these other practices like one-on-ones and feedback like, “Hey, am I unblocking you? How can I best support you right now? How can I make sure that you consistently making progress?” and you’re not just constantly feeling stifled by situation or context or circumstances around you. Those things are so important for meaningful managers because people want to make that meaningful progress on meaningful work and then they want to be seen and valued for that progress.

Prioritize goals. Again, the biggest challenge that I see is that organizations just don’t prioritize them in the first place but then they also don’t make them relevant to the person. They just sort of assume that the individuals within the organization can do that translation of like, “Oh yeah, we want to increase our revenue this year by 71%” and it’s like they expect the individual to make the translation where it’s like, “Well, if we do that, that actually opens up more career paths for you.”

If you like to become a manager, we need to grow so we can hire more people so we need more managers or if you want to get promoted, our financial success is central to you getting promoted. You know, the more cache that the brand of our organization has out on the world, the more likely you are to get the future opportunities that you want maybe at other organizations.

That level of translation it can be done at the leadership level and the CEO level but also meaningful managers have such an opportunity to personalize and describe like, “Hey, this is how this matters to you as an individual and to our team.”

Meaningful Conversations

Benji Block: There’s so much there. I have to give you kudos for the amount of questions that you provide readers in this book because there are so many times where you’re like just literally like a list of questions that readers can go back to and say, “Okay, is going to help?” For instance in this goal-setting process and you can go reference this book, look at the questions and literally apply it right on the spot.

This isn’t like a one-time read. This is a go back to and reference and I really appreciate that especially when it comes to things like prioritizing goals because you are reading in a silo, maybe reading at home or wherever you are and then you have to go back into the work environment and actually apply this. So the questions are a great way of doing that. Let’s go to another one of these and we’ll go to the third of the five practices.

I want you to walk us through what an effective one-on-one would look like. What’s maybe even the cadence and frequency of these meetings but what makes a one-on-one effective and so important in your mind?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, thank you and thanks for the compliment on the questions. I definitely want this to be a book that people feel comfortable just opening up and then literally read the questions out loud to your people and you can say like, “Hey, I read this book about meaningful managers, so you are going to notice some changes in me” and then just use the questions in the book in that way and I hope that people use it that way.

So one-on-ones to me, they start with a really strong foundation. For example, a kick-off type meeting where you ask some questions and you get to know, “Hey, this is someone’s values. This is their strengths, this is what matters to them.” Sometimes people call this providing a user’s guide to one’s self but just this idea of like, “Hey, we want to make sure that we get to know each other and that we have this deep personal connection.”

The reoccurring one-on-ones and we want them to be regular, at least twice a month. I like having one-on-ones once every week. I am actually playing around with twice a month now to see if I want to stick with that — but having this conversation with your people at least twice a month and you want them to be meaningful, so not just a regular conversation but a meaningful one.

I mean, how many times have unfortunately the people listening to this podcast been in a situation where they meet with their manager or they meet with somebody and it is just like, “How are you?” “Fine. How are you?” “Fine.” “Great, how’s that project?” “It’s on track.” “What’s up with this?” “Oh this..” and then that’s it and it’s just a status check-in. It is very thin, it doesn’t facilitate a good connection.

Whenever I think about a meaningful one-on-one, I think about again, it’s a regular conversation because whenever you have the regular conversation it gives space. You need space whenever you talk to somebody to make sure that like, “Hey, we can actually explore what is going on for you and we aren’t just constantly rushed where I have seven things I need to go through and I will talk to you again in 90 days.”

But that meaningful part comes from a personal connection, you know, “How are you?”  Look at your notes from the last meeting, bring in something that you learned before so that again, it shows that you are listening, you’re taking action. You know, reminding people your prioritized goals like one of my favorite books about management is simple and it is not academic in nature but it’s amazing and the one made it manager.

There is so many things that are baked into that book around keep your goals really simple, priorities, give feedback that I think are really important for managers to know. So prioritize goals, make sure you are keeping those goals top of mind, reviewing progress against those goals. Teresa Amabile’s book, The Progress Principle, is really wonderful and she has an HVR article called, The Power of Small Wins, it’s great as well.

Where people again want that meaningful progress, so we want to see and recognize progress. We also want to be unblocking as meaningful managers. You know coaching, so when I think about feedback and when I think about coaching and asking questions, you know, one of my favorite phrases to use is I would consider whenever I’m coaching people because I am not a natural coach.

I am a natural problem solver type of person but you want to give the people that you manage the type of thinking that they need to solve problems on their own, so I would consider and then describe different facets of the problem to think about instead of immediately go into solution and then giving them advice as a last resort. Whenever we think about giving advice, it’s very natural to just leap into what I have heard called before, the advice monster, like we think we know the answer.

Benji Block: Guilty.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: We aren’t actually, yeah, me I mean, the same. It’s human nature, especially whenever you are in a position of power because it is natural to think like, “Oh I am their manager, I have to have the answer” when the reality is you don’t. You probably don’t know enough about the context to even give good advice. If you are going to give advice, make sure you understand the context and get a little deeper in there.

Don’t just immediately refer back to something you tried seven years ago when you were an IC and it worked for you then but advice should be your last resort and then there is things like redirection. So you might be in a situation where someone, unfortunately, is off the track and you need to give them really clear direction. You don’t want them to be in a situation where it’s like, “Well, why didn’t you tell me?” you want to tell them.

Just make it really clear if they have to change and then also, we want to be thinking about as part of one-on-ones, this idea of agreements. Conscious leadership has this beautiful idea of agreements versus expectations. Agreements are a full-body yes where you are really saying yes to something, you know your head, heart and gut are all saying yes and you agree to who will do what by when.

Then expectations are something that it is a little less clear, if you live up to expectations, it sort of like, “Meh, I did expectations.” If I exceed expectations then it’s like, “Okay, you know that happens rarely.” If I don’t meet the expectations and it’s like, “Well, I feel terrible and let down” and the resentment builds, right? So we want to get into agreements, we want to be really clear who will do what by when and we want to take action as a meaningful manager.

A killer question, if there is one question you don’t even have to read the book to get that I think is just very important it’s, how can I best support you right now? So that question is very intentionally framed up that way because support — well, I’ll start with best. So best gives a sense of prioritization because as people managers, many of us are player-coaches. I know I am where I have my own responsibilities that I need to take care of in addition to managing my people.

I can’t just take on what they are doing and I don’t want to do that and I am fortunate to work with the team that never happens because they’re all accountable people but we do want to set people up for success by prioritizing the support with best, supporting them not helping them. Many people think asking for help is a weakness so just take that out. Just talk about supporting you and then right now.

Again, removing a little bit of like the theoretical that can come in and just say like, “Hey, right now” — and often times the individual will say, “Oh, I don’t need anything right now” but sometimes they’ll say, “Oh yeah, I really need you to talk to so and so” or “I feel blocked here, what should I do?” but how can I best support you right now is just a question that I find myself constantly coming back to not just at work, even in my personal life.

Feedback: Reminding People of the Possibilities, Even When Something Goes Wrong

Benji Block: Yeah, two takeaways there. I would consider and how can I best support you right now, both of those are extremely practical takeaways that we can bring back into our leadership and in our daily life and I would even say this, if you are listening and you are not managing people right now and you were to start using those, it is a great time to start practicing.

If you ask those that are your bosses, “How can I best support you right now?”, watch the doors that opens for you because that is a fantastic question to ask from the bottom looking up as well. Okay, so as we start to kind of wrap things up here, I touched on two of the five, we talked about prioritized goals, we talked about one-on-ones, there is still feedback, decision making and collaboration.

Do you have one of those you would really want to point out, Jeff, and one more that sticks out to you?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, it’s tough to choose.

Benji Block: They’re all your babies, I know.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: They’re all I know and I appreciate the opportunity to choose one. I am actually just going to choose one briefly and then I will expand on another one. Feedback, whenever I think about feedback, I think about feedback holistically. Whenever most people think about feedback, it feels very terrifying because they’re thinking about critique, right? But we want to think about feedback more broadly as recognition.

You know, celebrating other people, strength spotting, active constructive responding, encouraging. So, reminding people of the possibilities even when something is going wrong. Observation, so what you actually saw, heard and noticed, it is a much better way to get into talking about what my need to change than leaping in with critique. Advice, which should be your fifth option not your first one and then redirection, which is a very clear time and as a manager, a great book is called, Coaching with Backbone and Heart, by Mary Beth O’Neill but you have to have both heart and backbone.

Part of having both heart and backbone is, whenever you see someone whose behavior needs to change, you change it. You tell them like, “Hey, this is very specifically what I need you to change and why. Do you have any questions? Let’s create clear agreements who will do what by when around this change.” So it is caring to do that but whenever you think about feedback, think about it more broadly but the concept that I want to talk about a little bit as well is decision-making.

You know, one of the things that I emphasize in the book is that decision-making requires a lot of humility. It is very easy to come into a situation that feels similar to something you’ve done in the past but then you realize it’s not and you need to come in with humility and learn and understand the problem space before you start leading into solutions and getting there. One of the things that I think is really surprising and sad but it is a big opportunity for leaders and managers and organizations is reminding people what do they want to accomplish.

You know, what is the desired outcome that you have? Why does it matter? Getting really clear on whose decision it is. I mean, how many of us have been in situations where it’s like, “Hey, 17 of us have been talking about this, none of us know who actually gets to make the call.” What’s the context around the decision of course is very important. It relates to humility, what are our decision-making criteria? What matters? Just getting really explicit on those things.

You know, stating your assumptions, stating your criteria is so important as well and we want to make sure again as we’re thinking about decisions that we are giving them real deadlines and not just, “Oh, this is for this next week. Next week, next week.” We want to make the best decision that we can but we need to do it on time and then how do you introduce data and fresh perspectives into this decision.

One of my favorite phrases that I encountered, this is now about a year ago, it is called “conjecture land” and it came from Tom Shih, he worked at Google, he worked on Google Glass and he talks about conjecture land being whenever a bunch of smart people get in a room and they don’t have data so they just conject. They just make up their own perspectives and talk about them and oftentimes, the person who is perceived as the highest-ranking or has most positional power, the smartest in the room, whenever you won’t actually really know.

An important part with decision making too is how can you break the decision down, how can you gather data, how can you create prototypes, how can you actually take the decision out and test it in the real world in smaller pieces so you are not actually wasting time? It’s amazing, you know, that organizations will make decisions that have implications and the millions of dollars or tens of millions or hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars without understanding, “What do we want to accomplish?”

How does it fit with the context, does it relate to our strategy? How can we test it? How can make sure we’re just taking the SVP or the C-level person’s word for it? Why are we even making the decision? What’s the deadline? Who owns it? Those things just aren’t defined. So, decision-making is another opportunity where I hope in the book like literally walk into your meeting with the book or copy it somewhere else or type it out and print it or something.

But there is a list of questions that are intended to help you make sure that, “Hey, when we make this decision, we’re doing it in the best way possible that is fully informed” and it is not just your typical 17 people kind of guessing. No one knows why we’re making the decision or what we actually wanted to accomplish and then eventually, time runs out and then we go in a direction, so we want to avoid that. It is a big opportunity for not just meaningful managers but also leaders as well.

Benji Block: Well, this book is like you just eluded to, it is hyper-practical. It is something that you are going to go back and you’re going to reference and as we start to wrap up here, the book closes with working on creating your own meaningful management system and I thought instead of going and giving a step-by-step system because we want people to go pick up the book, I want you to zoom out for me.

Tell me as we get to the end of our time together today, when readers are done with the book and they have actually gone through the process, they have created their meaningful management system, they’ve applied the things we are discussing and the things you go on to greater detail in the book. What do you see becoming the outcome? What’s the takeaway that you are excited for leaders to experience?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, there’s a few. One of them that comes to mind, one takeaway that I would love meaningful managers and leaders to take from the book is a sense of fulfillment and joy that can come from managing people whenever you know how to do it well. I think many people are thrust into management positions, maybe it was the only way for them to get promoted or they didn’t really want to do it but they were asked to.

But whenever you have an opportunity to serve other people as a meaningful manager, it gives you such an opportunity to see them be successful and uplifted and provide them what they need for performance security and growth that I think it can contribute to the sense of meaning and fulfillment and even joy. It’s wonderful to watch other people succeed and know that you are part of that success.

Another outcome that I am hoping for is a sense of confidence. As I keep mentioning, many people who are in management positions were never taught how to be a manager. You are sort of learning by ride along, you just see how you were managed and led in the past like, “Oh, I like that. I didn’t like that” and the intention of this book is, and just under 200 pages, that you have a step-by-step guide for the different things that are fundamental to people management and if you follow the book and you trust the book, then you can become a more meaningful manager basically immediately.

Then you can learn like, “Hey, here is how I tailor this. Here are the nuances that are relevant for this person or my situation” but this book allows you to go from wherever you are now to the next level just contained in this one book and again, one of my goals for the book was not to write something that you say like, “Oh that could be summarized in a paragraph or a couple of pages.” I wanted to write something where it’s like there is something actionable on every single page and every single paragraph.

I’d love to learn more about what people think about the book and I am grateful to be part of the Scribe podcast to talk about it.

Benji Block: Well, it has been really fun to chat with you about this and I know there is going to be those that want to continue to follow you and your work. How can people do that? How can they reach out? How can they stay connected to you, Jeff?

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Yeah, thanks. I would love to connect people and one of my favorite phrases is feedback is always welcome, so I am curious to hear what people think of the book. You can connect with me at or on LinkedIn at Jeff Smith PHD.

Benji Block: Wonderful. Well again, the book is called, The Meaningful Manager: How to Manage What Matters. It’s available on Amazon now and we encourage all of our listeners to go pick that up. It is going to be a fantastic resource for you. Jeff Smith, thanks so much for joining us here on Author Hour today.

Jeff Smith, Ph.D.: Thank you so much, Benji. I can’t wait how to hear how you use it on Tucker.