Jim Barnett is CEO of Glint, which enables real-time employee engagement data to provide leaders with actionable insights into the health of their organizations. As an accomplished serial entrepreneur, avid practitioner of Vipassana meditation and proponent of conscious leadership, we asked Jim about his approach to corporate culture and leadership. Here's what he shared.
You have a 100% approval rating on Glassdoor and your company ranked No. 7 on Glassdoor’s 2018 Best Places to Work. To what do you credit these accolades?
JB/ Our people. Our company stands out because of the people who work here, and their commitment to our mission: to help people be happier and more successful at work. With those stakes, we tend to attract purpose-driven employees who recognize, and believe in, the higher vision of the business. The people who work here don’t just look at our company as an organizational development tool, or an AI-driven HR platform. They look at it as a way to help people love their jobs.
In addition to inspiring employees, you also have to have inspiring leadership at all levels. We truly believe if you invest in your people, you create growth opportunities for everyone. When people thrive in your organization, you’ll be more successful as a company. By putting people first, we’ve created a working environment of inclusion, trust and belonging. What does that look like? For us, it’s about going beyond perks, to focus on purpose. We listen intently and continuously to employees and communicate what we’re hearing and what we’re doing to address their concerns. In addition to perks like catered lunches, we provide benefits that are meaningful to individuals, like volunteer opportunities, continuing education and advancement, an organization-wide gratitude platform, and even “No Meeting Wednesdays” to help employees focus on important projects.
Do you really start each morning with a full hour of meditation?
JB/ Yes, I really do! Every Monday through Friday for the past 28 years has started the same way: with an hour of Vipassana meditation. When I first started, I worried that it might make me too mellow as a business person. But, it turns out, dedicating that time to clear my mind sets up my whole day. It brings clarity to what I need to get done. It makes me more focused and open to people.
The core of Vipassana is seeing things as they really are or “looking into something with clarity and precision.” To me, that resonates with the type of leader I aspire to be.
Additionally, meditation has found its way into our work life. During quarterly management team meetings, I sometimes lead an optional 10-minute guided meditation. There’s no obligation to participate. But, we find, when we meditate together, there’s a sense of clarity and connection that develops. And that sense of connection helps us execute better as a team.
Tell us about your conscious leadership style.
JB/ The vision behind my conscious leadership style stems from wanting to bring awareness, authenticity and caring to my leadership role. This means I bring my whole, authentic self to work and try to lead from a place of trust, responsibility, curiosity, integrity and ease. I work hard to create an environment with no drama, a focus on "we" not "me," and where we believe in creating "wins for all" vs. win-lose scenarios. We also place a high priority on our mission, our values and our commitment to service.
What has been your biggest surprise from conscious leadership?
JB/ I knew what an impact conscious leadership had on me and my career, but it’s been amazing to see the profound impact it has had on our company.
When I first explored conscious leadership, my goal was to become a more authentic individual. I wanted to lead my life in a way that would bring more joy and happiness and to cultivate my own sense of purpose and mission. But now I’ve realized that conscious leadership can also create a conscious culture. It becomes a movement within your workforce. When you evolve your leadership role, moving away from “command and control,” what you’re really doing is sending a signal that you trust your employees. And when that happens, you empower and enable them to make decisions, take ownership of their roles and careers, and thrive.
What work do you hope to do in the future?
JB/ Over my career, I’ve come to realize that I’m most happy when I am working in service of others. I’ve found this not only in my work for customers but also in my life outside of work. Our company’s purpose is to help other people be happier and more successful in their roles. We’ve already seen this begin to take shape for our customers, and we’ll continue to learn and evolve to help more people around the world feel listened to, develop as professionals and as individuals, and perform at a higher level.
The style of meditation I practice is popular in Myanmar. In order to give back to the region that has given me so much, my wife and I built a residence there for people living with HIV and AIDS. It’s a place where people can live for extended periods of time while they receive medical care at nearby clinics and develop the life and work skills to help them cope with their illness. In the future, I hope to expand the work we’re able to do in the region.
What “first steps” might leaders who want to adopt more conscious behaviors start with?
- Try to be as authentic and open as possible: Try to be your true self and stay open and curious. Say what’s true for you and create a culture that “defaults to open.”
- Welcome feedback as a gift: It’s easy to fear feedback. But, a better question is, what is that fear costing you? By opening yourself up to feedback and seeing it as a gift, you’ll become a stronger leader. You’ll see things more clearly. And you’ll stop making decisions based on your own internal assumptions and biases.
- Put your people first: By creating a people-driven organization that recognizes and appreciates the people you work with every day, you will foster an environment of caring, growth, inclusion and belonging that helps your employees and your company thrive.