the seed field podcast; season 3 episode 4- 42; Individual looking off in distance with group of people talking behind.

S3E4: When Toxic Behavior Is Tolerated at Work, Good People Quit. Is There a Different Way?

From spreading rumors and giving condescending feedback to undercutting decisions and meddling to try to bring down a team, toxic behaviors are all too common in the workplace. In this interview with Dr. Mitchell Kusy, author of the book, Why I Don’t Work Here Any More, we learn more about these toxic behaviors and what we can do to make sure they don’t derail our organizations. From the “Jekyll and Hyde” dynamic that toxic employees often use to hide their behavior to the notion of “toxic enablers” and “toxic buffers,” Mitch shares many evidence-based insights into what creates this unhealthy dynamic—and how we can intervene to create work cultures of respectful engagement.

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Episode Notes

Find out more about the PhD in Leadership & Change or the Professional Certificate in Leading Transformative Change that Mitch teaches in.

Learn more about Mitchell Kusy’s work here

This episode was recorded February 14, 2022 via and released March 1, 2022. 

The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University.

The Seed Field Podcast’s host is Jasper Nighthawk, and its editor is Lauren Instenes. Special thanks for this episode goes to Karen Hamilton and Melinda Garland for their contributions.

For information about this and past episodes and to access a full transcript, visit To get updates and be notified about future episodes, follow Antioch University on Facebook.

Guest Bio

A 2005 Fulbright Scholar in Organization Development, Dr. Mitchell Kusy is a full professor in the Graduate School of Leadership & Change at Antioch University. A registered organization development consultant, Mitch has consulted with hundreds of organizations nationally and internationally; he has been a keynote speaker around the globe. Mitch has helped create organizational communities of respectful engagement, facilitated large-scale organizational change, and engaged teams through assessment and team-designed actions—all with a focus on improving organizational culture and long-term return on investment.

He previously headed leadership development for American Express and organization development for HealthPartners. Following these corporate experiences, Mitch was a full professor at the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, where he designed the doctoral program in organizational development.  Previous to his latest research and book on toxic personalities, Why I Don’t Work Here Anymore, Mitch co-authored five business books—one a business bestseller. In 1998, he was the Minnesota Organization Development Practitioner of the Year. He resides in Minneapolis and Palm Springs.

S3E4 Transcript


[00:00:00] Jasper Nighthawk: Welcome to The Seed Field Podcast, the show where Antiochians share their knowledge, tell their stories and come together to win victories for humanity.


I’m your host, Jasper Nighthawk. If you’ve ever had a job, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced a situation like this. Someone you work with does things that make you feel bad. They could be a boss, a coworker, or even someone who you manage. This toxic behavior can take a lot of different forms.

It could be spreading rumor, it could be giving condescending feedback, or it can get even worse. It could be undercutting your decisions or meddling to try and bring down your whole team but whatever forms that the effects are, I think felt really personally, you can end up feeling frustrated, demeaned, sad, and ultimately, if you’re anything like me, you might end up wanting to quit your job.

If you’re nodding along, you won’t be surprised to know that this is a common experience across the world of jobs and it’s a big problem, not just for the employees, the people who might be the immediate victims of this behavior, but also for organizations because we suffer the effects of this decreased enthusiasm and poor work, and maybe worst of all, when employees just end up quitting. Happily, people have thought about this problem and have tried to find solutions and solutions do exist out there.

Today, we’re lucky to be joined by someone who’s explored these solutions and that is Dr. Mitchell Kusy. He’s a professor in Antioch Graduate School of Leadership & Change, and most relevant to us, he’s the author of the book, Why I Don’t Work Here Anymore: A Leader’s Guide to Offset the Financial and Emotional Costs of Toxic Employees. I know that saying, it’s a guide for leaders, you might hear that with like an uppercase “L” and it’s just for the CEO of some big corporation, but having read it, I see this book has insights for anybody who works with other people.

I will talk a little bit about what leadership means also inside organizations, but I’m really excited to have this conversation around toxic behaviors in the workplace and what we can do to make sure they don’t derail our organizations. Let me quickly introduce Mitch a little bit more. Beyond being a professor of organization learning and development in our PhD in leadership and change, Mitch is an international consultant to leadership, a Fulbright Scholar in International Organization Development, and he was previously the head of leadership development at American Express Financial Advisors, so welcome to The Seed Field Podcast, Mitch.

[00:02:49] Dr. Mitchell Kusy: Hey, thanks, Jasper. That was a great introduction. Really appreciate that. I appreciate your examples that you gave of some toxic behaviors.

[00:02:59] Jasper: Yes. Well, I know that we’re going to get into more of those examples but I feel like this is a personal topic as well as a universal one because I’ve certainly had jobs in the past, where I’ve experienced things like this, so I’m really excited to pick your brain on this.

To start off, we do this in basically all of our interviews now, but I want to take a moment so we can disclose our positions and where we’re coming to this conversation from. I think this is super important when we’re talking about things that touch on power and certainly, the workplace is a place where power is going in all of these different axes.

For myself, I’d want anyone listening to this interview to know I’m a white cisgender man. I currently don’t live with any disabilities and I’m a millennial, and also, I spend a lot of my 20s under the poverty line. Today, I pay taxes as part of the middle class. Mitch, would you mind telling our listeners where you come to this conversation?

[00:03:59] Mitch: Sure. I appreciate that introduction, Jasper. I’m a white cisgender gay man, I’m not currently living with any disabilities. I’m a baby boomer, and after spending most of my life with my life partner of 35 years, Scott, I am really proud to be in a world now that is more authentic and real about who we are.

[00:04:27] Jasper: Yes. Well, thank you. Thank you also for disclosing that I know probably not all interviews you are asked right off the bat to talk about this thing that is connected.

[00:04:35] Mitch: No, that’s great and I appreciate the authenticity of it.

[00:04:39] Jasper: Well, let’s jump right in. The center of our talk today is your book, Why I Don’t Work Here Anymore, and I’m really excited. I have a lot of questions about it. My first question is, you and your colleague at the Graduate School of Leadership & Change, Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, who your and her research forms the core of this, but you conducted this research on the question of the impact that toxic employees have on their organizations. I was curious, why did you frame the question that way, like around individuals rather than I could imagine researching toxic work cultures or toxic employers?

[00:05:16] Mitch: Well, one of the reasons for that question, by the way, it’s a great question, Jasper, is that any kind of research study, you have to start somewhere, and because there weren’t very many large-scale initiatives, research initiatives like this, we wanted to start with the personal component from individuals and what was really interesting about this is we got so much information from over 400 leaders in our study.

Before we talk about the study, let me take a step back, and sometimes one of the questions that people ask is, how did you get engaged in this and sometimes they ask both Dr. Elizabeth Holloway and they ask me, “You’re both such nice people. How’d you get involved in such a nasty topic as toxic people?” There’s actually a positive spin to this, but I want to tell a little story. Years ago, I’ll bet it’s been 15 to 20 years ago, I walked into an elevator and I smelled a special perfume in that elevator, Jasper.

I got sick to my stomach and I couldn’t understand why. As an organizational psychologist, I was pondering this, what’s going on that I just don’t feel right. Well, in a moment, it dawned on me that perfume was worn by a toxic individual I worked with. At the time, she affected my personal well-being and ultimately affected my own health. All of us have stories like this.

Elizabeth has her own stories about this and we wanted to go on a saga to find out more about this and ultimately, we found out many things in three – since you’ve asked about the impact – that we know that toxic behaviors now, in fact, not only our personal wellbeing and health as I just related, it affects secondly, team performance and it affects organizational productivity, so those three dimensions are really key to keep in mind.

[00:07:31] Jasper: Yes. We could extrapolate from that that it also affects society. As much as the people in our society are being forced to spend their time laboring in proximity or underneath people who are toxic in this way, which we’ll get into that but it affects all of us and the wellbeing of everyone.

[00:07:52] Mitch: No one is immune of the 400 plus people in our study, we found that we ask one question to the past 5 years, their experiences with toxic individuals that are whopping 94% said past 5 years, they experienced working with a toxic person.

[00:08:10] Jasper: 94%. That’s a big number.

[00:08:14] Mitch: It’s a very big number.

[00:08:15] Jasper: Can you tell us what toxic employees look like or what toxic behaviors they might engage in?

[00:08:20] Mitch: Sure. First of all, Jasper, Elizabeth and I found three categories of toxic behaviors: shaming; passive hostility; and team sabotage. Shaming is where people belittle one another, they dress them down, they engage in condescend remarks, and they do it either one on one to an individual. If I’m doing that it to you, or they do that publicly to you in a group, or they may do it to a group. One category is shaming. The second category is called passive hostility. People who get their aggression out in very passive ways, and the third is those individuals that engage in team sabotage.

One of the things that we discovered is, you don’t have to have all three benchmarks to be considered toxic, either shaming, passive hostility, or team sabotage. That’s one genre, a benchmark.

The other is this. If you think of those three and you think of these three perspectives, the behavior needs to be targeted, it needs to be harmful, and it needs to be repeated. This is my work that I’m doing now with the Healthy Workforce Institute and the CEO of that organization and is Dr. Renee Thompson. She works– and when I work with her exclusively in healthcare, and that is one of the things that we accentuate within the Healthy Workforce Institute that you need to have those three behaviors. It’s targeted, harmful, and repeated.

The reason we look at all three is, it’s not just getting up on the wrong side of the bed. It’s not just that times being uncivil because let’s face it, we all have had bad days, we all have said probably some things that are not the most respectful to someone, and hopefully when we do that, we apologize. Again, if we think about targeted, harmful, and repeated that if I got up on the wrong side of the bed and even though I talked with an individual and I wasn’t very respectful, if it’s not typically the way I talk with that individual, then if there’s a high probability, it’s not toxic.

[00:10:31] Jasper: That makes a lot of sense and it seems like for your research to be useful, you would want to define it somewhat narrowly and yet you find even define narrowly it’s experienced by so many people. I was struck in your book that not only 94% of people said, “Oh, yes, in the last five years, I’ve definitely experienced this.” Also, over 50% of people said that if they were the targets of this toxic behavior, they said they would quit.

Right now, we’re recording this in the winter of 2022 and we’re in the middle of one of the biggest upheavals of the American labor market that we’ve seen some people call it the great resignation. I think maybe that focuses too much on leaving a job and not enough on getting a new and hopefully better job that are paying, working with better people. At any rate, it’s obvious that these toxic employees who you’re writing about drive people out of their organizations.

What are some of these perils for organizations that fail to notice and to take care of these toxic employees?

[00:11:35] Mitch: First of all, let’s talk about the quitting. In our study we found that 51% of individuals, as you said so concretely are likely to quit, Pearson and Porath, two other researchers found that in a general population, 12% actually do quit when they’re exposed.

[00:11:55] Jasper: That’s still a giant number.

[00:11:57] Mitch: It’s still a giant number and also let’s talk about quitting when you’re on the job. One piece of quitting is the tangible quitting when you leave the organization or you leave this job and you stay within the organization, but go to another job.

The other whole perspective of quitting is what happens when you quit your commitment to the organization. An example of this is, my boss starts work at 8:00 in the morning. Subsequently, I’m going to start work at 5:00 in the morning, so I have a maximum three and a half hours with that individual. Or my boss is going to ask me to do this extra work on a weekend or the boss asked this, and you know what? I’m going to say no. Not because I don’t have the time but because I’m fed up that either the boss is toxic and I don’t want to demonize bosses, it could be a colleague and the boss does nothing about that behavior.

Yes, and on top of that, we now have the great resignation. November 2021 was the number one month in history with the highest quit rate. Number one in history, not the past decade, not two decades, but period.

[00:13:16] Jasper: If that doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of employers, I don’t know what should.

[00:13:22] Mitch: [chuckles] You’re absolutely right. Therefore, the title of my book is aptly titled is Why I Don’t Work Here Anymore.

[00:13:30] Jasper: One thing that I think anybody listening to this might ask is like, if I was a boss and I saw that my middle management in one division was bullying other employees or engaging or sabotaging or engaging in any of these behaviors, I would give them a pink slip tomorrow and say get out of here. You talk about this Jekyll and Hyde dynamic that can come up.

[00:13:58] Mitch: It’s a chameleon effect. What Elizabeth Hollow and I found in our study is that toxic individuals are very capable of kissing up to people with power or perceived power and knocking down to individuals without power. Let’s take the scenario that you just gave me. You have a boss, the individual, they are a leader in the organization, maybe they’re an executive vice president or the director of a nonprofit organization. They have someone reporting to them who is tough and they demand high achievement, all good things.

What this leader, let’s call this leader the executive vice president witnesses is, “I know they’re tough, but you know what? They really demanding high achievement,” but what they don’t see are the perspectives and the behaviors where they’re engaging in condescending comments, they’re belittling the individual and they’re shaming. Some of the staff are saying, lots of stuff are going on, but what the executive director or the vice presidencies are just someone that’s demanding high achievement.

[00:15:18] Jasper: Yes, that makes a ton of sense. If all that you’re evaluating when you’re running your organization, if you are several steps up a hierarchy ladder is great results. You talk about how toxic employees can sometimes be really high performers. It’s like they’re achieving so much, but in fact, there’s this rot that you might not see. I wanted to bring up the question of, I think you call it Skip Level meetings as a way of interfering this process. Maybe this is a place where we can get a solution that our listeners might not have heard of before.

[00:15:52] Mitch: Let’s talk about the Skip Level discussion. I learned this years ago when I was director of executive development and organization development at American Express Financial Advisors. The mantra that the organization operated under is that everyone has the right and responsibility of good leadership. If you are not getting this good leadership, you have the right and responsibility to tell someone about it. The process of the Skip Level discussion is this, the leader in the organization and an individual could do this on their own, but it’s best when there’s a system where everyone is doing this.

Leaders in the organization to talk with individuals, two levels down from them and says, “I want to hear what kind of leadership you are receiving.” It could be very positively framed. I want to know that the positive dimensions of leadership you’re receiving from your boss. I also like to know areas of improvement. We did this throughout the organization at American Express, highly successful. One of the caveats was, no one was going to lose their job by talking with the individual two levels up from them about the experiences.

Let’s just pretend that you have a boss and your perception is you’re being belittled, you’re interrupted at meetings, you’re not allowed to shine and you now have an opportunity to talk with your boss’s boss. To your immediate boss, this could be highly threatening. When the boss’s boss talks with this individual and says, “Okay, have you talked with your boss about these behaviors?” et cetera. Let’s just say they have and it’s too threatening for me.

“I want to set up a time for the three of us to have a conversation. I’m going to bring your boss in to this conversation and so we’re not talking behind their back and we’re going to understand both sides of the coin, if you will. Would you like to have someone else come into this conversation with you? Would you like to have a human resources, professional accompany you?” The point is to engage them in a constructive conversation about what is the first step that we need to do.

Perhaps one of the things that comes out is that the boss of this individual is continually interrupting the individual, the staff person at a meeting. One of the pieces that’s set up in contract is, “I’m going to monitor this and may I call your attention when you do this?” That’s the first piece. The second is that let’s just pretend the staff person has some issues that they need to work on as well. They’re often coming in late, et cetera. This is an opportunity for a forum.

It’s also an opportunity for these leaders to understand what they’re doing well. I have a whole chapter on this in my book called the Skip Level discussion.

[00:19:13] Jasper: I think part of what is so nice about the way that you describe that is that, it creates a set time for these discussions and this feedback to happen and it creates that forum. You’re really communicating clearly the person who perhaps is reporting that they’re receiving poor leadership from their boss is enabled and knows the parameters of like, “I’m not going to lose my position for reporting this,” and there’s a space in a lot of organizations for a biannual qualitative assessment of performance or a performance review. Those can often become perfunctory where what you’re describing seems much more relational and trying to get to the bottom of it.

[00:20:01] Mitch: It is relational. I want to talk about the two words you just said that is really right on, Jasper. That there’s a set time. As an organizational psychologist, I have come to believe based upon the evidence that’s out there is that typically, the most successful change is not always about a bold stroke. It’s rather about a long, slow, steady march, and subsequently, this is not a bold stroke to have a conversation with someone about what’s bothering you. You’re creating a safe, psychologically safe space for people to do this.

When you guarantee that no one is going to lose your job, and sometimes people come back, well, how could you guarantee no one lose their job? Let’s pretend that the boss has never talked with the individual about coming on time or setting up consequences when they don’t come on time. Respectful engagement is not about being nice, necessarily. It’s about being honest with individuals in a safe kind of space.

[00:21:19] Jasper: Yes, that thing of clarity where you know what you’re being evaluated on and what’s expected in both ways. I feel that’s the hallmark of good communication.

[00:21:30] Mitch: Exactly.

[00:21:31] Jasper: I want to bring up another concept from your book, which is the idea of toxic enablers and toxic buffers. Can you define these terms for our listeners?

[00:21:41] Mitch: Sure. We actually are two types of toxic enablers. One is what we call the toxic protector. This is the individual who has a special relationship with this toxic person. Maybe their kids go to the same school. Maybe they’re they both go to the same faith-based institution. Maybe they work out together, maybe they’re neighbors. Because of that, they witness these toxic behaviors and don’t do anything about it. Then the other enabler is what’s called the toxic buffer. This is the individual– let’s pretend it’s the boss. Someone reporting to them, they believe is toxic. They engage in shaming behavior and it’s targeted, harmful, and repeated.

This person has individual reporting to them. What this boss does is takes away the responsibilities from this individual, saying, “You’re no longer” in this example, “going to have direct reports. I’m going to make you an individual contributor.” By the way, red flag, whenever I hear that someone has been made an individual contributor, I think they’ve had their leadership or management responsibilities removed. There’s a very high probability that that individual is toxic.

Now, back to the toxic buffer that often these toxic buffers have a lot of emotional intelligence. Think about what this boss did. “I’m going to take you away from no longer leading a team. You’re now an individual contributor,” but you know what happens, Jasper? The problem continues.

[00:23:18] Jasper: Yes, the problem hasn’t been intervened with. There hasn’t actually been a resolution.

[00:23:22] Mitch: No. What ends up happening is in both situations, the toxic protector, because of their special relationship, enables the toxic behaviors. The toxic buffer, because of what they try to do in all positive ways, enables the behavior. Here’s the fascinating action strategy that we discovered. Sometimes it can be highly threatening to give feedback to a toxic individual. However, if you take away the system that supports that toxic behavior, you might find that the toxic behavior changes. In this instance, we suggest giving feedback to either the toxic protector or the toxic buffer about the impact of their behavior. That allows that behavior to endure.

[00:24:13] Jasper: Thank you for defining those. As you were saying that I see all these dynamics, not only in workplaces, but also in families or in the Catholic church, I feel often would take people who were literally abusing children and would reassign them without ever addressing the actual behavior.

One thing that hearing you talk about this made even clearer to me is the way that often these toxic buffers and these people who are in some way covering for or trying to protect the job of a toxic employee, they’re doing that often, I think out of a sense of empathy and an understanding that under capitalism if somebody just gets canned from their job they might have a real bad time and you can care for somebody, even if they’re toxic, but that ends up, they’re acting in the interest almost in a kind of class solidarity of this person they work with rather and they end up harming their organization. Is there a way for everybody to win in this?

[00:25:13] Mitch: There are strategies to increase the probability of success. Let’s talk about some of the easy things. Let’s talk about gossip. This is something that I discovered that in my own research and in my own working with clients that everybody does, and psychologically, what gossip has is a secondary gain factor. Meaning, when sometimes we gossip, we’re sort of rubbing our hands together at times in delight at the thought of various kinds of behaviors. “Can you believe the way she just spoke with her boss? Can you believe the way that person dressed down someone in public?”

[00:26:03] Jasper: Absolutely. There’s some excitement there.

[00:26:05] Mitch: There’s some excitement about it. Here’s one of the strategies. First, extract yourself from gossip. What you don’t want to do is be holier than thou and point your finger and say “you shouldn’t gossip.” One of the strategies that I share is to talk about yourself in this perspective, something like, “I know I’ve been part of these, and you don’t even have to use gossip, I know I’ve been part of these conversations in the past. I don’t feel good about myself when I am engaging in these behaviors. Subsequently in the future, I’m going to extract myself from that.”

That’s one strategy. Another strategy is that when giving feedback, I have a three-step process, it’s called the intro, the behavior, and the toss back. The intro would be something like, “I just noticed something that occurred at this meeting that you were engaged in. Is this a good time to talk about it?” Or, “Could we set up a time to talk about this another time?” That’s the intro. The behavior, what you don’t want to do is use words like, “You shamed me in public,” because even though we’re using that as a category that has a highly connotative sense that causes us to bristle, “No I didn’t shame you.”

What you want to do is call it the behavior. “At the meeting, I noticed several times when I was speaking, you interrupted me.” It’s harder to dispute that kind of stuff when you’re defining the behavior. That’s the second. The third is what I call the toss back. “Do you want to talk about this now? Should we set up another time to talk about it? I want to hear your views.”

The important point is you want to engage the person in the conversation about the impact that this has to you, the impact to the team, the impact to the organization. That’s a second strategy. I’m going to stop and hear what other follow-up questions you might have, Jasper.

[00:28:18] Jasper: Thank you. That’s thoughtful, too. No, that’s super useful. I think anybody who provided feedback, in that way, would be giving an active generosity to the person who they were giving it to by trying to present it in a way where they wouldn’t get their back up. They wouldn’t bristle, but the potential for change would really be there.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the way that these toxic behaviors and the broader idea of trying to combat and address toxic employees in our organizations, how that intersects, not just with the kind of bottom-line ideas of profitability or organizational success, but also the bigger values that we emphasize here at Antioch, especially social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice. Can you tie this in for us? How does focusing on toxic employees interplay with those concerns?

[00:29:13] Mitch: Yes. Let me give an example from healthcare. As I said earlier in this interview, Jasper, healthcare has done more than any other industry and looking at the injustices that are going on in healthcare organizations. Some of the statistics that we know are that, for example, in one study, they found that surgeons who demand perfectionism in the operating suite and they don’t listen to other kinds of perspectives about an error that is about to occur anywhere from 12% to 15%, this harms the patient. Another study found that 49% reported that intimidating physician behavior caused them to seek advice from someone else rather than the initiating provider.

In terms of the injustices when we just look at what happens with the patient experience, and other studies have found that 15% of these intimidating behaviors can result in patient death. Now, taking it back to Antioch when we think about social injustices, when we engage in these disrespectful behaviors, what is happening is it’s terrorizing all of us and individuals who have perspectives that they have been marginalized in the past, these behaviors intensify. It’s incumbent on us to engage in respectful behaviors.

Again, it’s not about being nice. It’s about how do we give feedback to someone, how do we share with someone that we’re in uncomfortable working with them and here are the reasons. Sometimes what’s important is that we know what the impact of these behaviors are. At times, I suggest to individuals that when they’re giving feedback to share that impact, “I’m less apt to come to you in the future as a result of the way you treated me at this meeting.”

[00:31:32] Jasper: That makes a lot of sense. You bringing up healthcare just reminded me of multiple friends of mine who have worked in the healthcare industry and who’ve been impacted by anti-gay bullying or anti-black bullying or discrimination. These toxic behaviors, I think, do end up often falling on the backs of people who have less privilege, they end up being targeted for them.

[00:31:59] Mitch: Exactly. What you said is those individuals who have been less privileged, they are going to be less amp to speak up when they are terrorized by toxic individuals. Interestingly, I was doing a keynote address several years ago to a non-healthcare group. Even when I’m working with non-healthcare report these statistics because we’re all impacted by healthcare. A gentleman raised his hand and said, “This is really interesting, Mitch. My wife is a nurse and just last night, she reported that she disagreed with the medication order.” I said, “What did your wife do?”

He said, “My wife went to two to three other individuals to interpret the order.” I sort of knew the answer to this next question but I asked him anyway and I said “why.” He said, “Because my wife was intimidated by the provider, initiating the order.” Then it gets worse. A woman raises her hand and says, “Mitch, I’m a surgeon. I need to be intimidating in the operating room suite. I need to demand perfectionism. Would you want to go to an imperfect surgeon?” I’m dying up there. [crosstalk]

[00:33:16] Jasper: That sounds like a softball pitch.

[00:33:17] Mitch: Talk about this one is toxic – and I said, “Doctor, I want to go to a surgeon. If they were about to make a mistake, someone feels comfortable at the moment to call them on that air.” There was utter silence in the room.

[00:33:32] Jasper: Well, thank you for sharing that story. I feel like this is bringing us right to our conclusion. Although I think we could talk about this for hour if we have time.

[00:33:41] Mitch: Well, we could always do a part two.


[00:33:43] Jasper: I’ll look forward to it. Somewhere down the line. I wanted to close by asking in the conclusion to your book, you have this mantra, to be a leader is to teach. If you’re not teaching, you’re not leading. I was hoping you could just talk a little bit about that how it ties in with this book and your larger mission as a leadership educator.

[00:34:02] Mitch: That’s my mantra and it’s not just something I say. It’s something that I do. Let me give an example. I just shared this with a client last week about to be leaders to teach. If you’re not teaching, you’re not leading. We had a training session and I was doing a program on everyday stability. By the way, that’s the language that Elizabeth Holloway and I point for these respectful engagement behaviors. I said, “Don’t keep this stuff to yourself. At every team meeting, do something.”

Like, for five minutes say, “Hey, I just attended this training program that Mitch did and I discovered the following. Let’s have a five-minute discussion about this,” or, “We have these new organizational values. I don’t want them just be on a wall. At every meeting, we’re going to take five minutes. I want to have one or two individuals talk about one thing that they either did or witnessed that demonstrated those values.

I want at every meeting, one or two individuals to share an obstacle that prevented them from achieving that value in the organization.” Five minutes at every meeting, you need to integrate respectful engagement into the fabric of what we do every day.

[00:35:15] Jasper: That is such a nice place to leave this. Thank you so much, Mitch, for coming on The Seed Field Podcast.

[00:35:20] Mitch: Well, my gosh. Thank you, Jasper, you’re a wonderful interviewer. I would love to work with you.

[00:35:27] Jasper: Well, thanks so much. I think our paths may cross again.

[00:35:29] Mitch: Great. Well, thank you, Jasper. I wish everyone has a great day and that I provided some insights for them.


[00:35:43] Jasper: Mitch’s book, Why I Don’t Work Here Anymore, the one that we’ve been talking about, is available from your local or online bookseller and we have a link to where you can buy it in our show notes. We’ll also link there to the school that Mitch teaches in, the Graduate School of Leadership & Change at Antioch University. We post these show notes on our website,, where you’ll also find full episode transcripts, prior episodes, and more.

The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University. Our editor is Lauren Instenes. A special thanks to Karen Hamilton and Melinda Garland. Thank you for spending your time with us today. That’s it for this episode. We hope to see you next time and don’t forget to plant a seed, sow a cause, and win a victory for humanity. From Antioch University, this has been The Seed Field Podcast.