March 28, 2019

“Dying for a Paycheck” by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Executive Summary

“Simply put, employers can make decisions to improve people’s lives in fundamentally important ways. Or, alternatively, employers can, either intentionally or through ignorance and neglect, create workplaces that literally sicken and kill people.” (Pfeffer, 2018)

This quote is one of the many that stopped me dead in my tracks. To realize that the quality of our leadership can literally put people in the hospital or improve the quality of their lives is very sobering. The subtitle of the book is arresting as well – How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance – and What We Can Do About It. Sure, we managers are all about organizational performance (which is important by the way!), but the way we are managing is not only detrimental to company performance, more importantly, it is detrimental to the very health of the people we are managing.

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and is the author or co-author of 15 books – so he is well qualified to address this subject. Following is a sampling of some “brutal facts” from his book that illustrate our need to become better leaders.

  • “The American Institute of Stress maintains that job stress costs US employers more than $3oo billion annually. The ill-health from workplace stress adversely affects productivity and drives up voluntary turnover.”
  • “In total, workplace environments in the US may be responsible for 120,000 excess deaths per year-which would make workplaces the 5th leading cause of death, and account for about $180 billion in additional health-care expenditures, approximately 8% of the total; health-care spending.”
  • “According to the Mayo Clinic, the person you report to at work is more important for your health than your family doctor. – Bob Chapman”
  • “Simply put, employers can make decisions to improve people’s lives in fundamentally important ways. Or, alternatively, employers can, either intentionally or through ignorance and neglect, create workplaces that literally sicken and kill people.

These statistics should be a clarion call to action for us as leaders.

At Coachwell we “exist to make the world a better place—one courageous conversation, one liberating truth, one great leader at a time.” We believe that we can be a small part of the solution to this issue. Through pure coaching, we can come alongside people and help them to become the kind of leaders that actually improve the quality of other people’s lives through their leadership.

One of our clients is doing this in a remarkable manner. As the president of a manufacturing company, he is committed to improving their workplace by improving their culture. His initial focus was improving the quality of the leadership and he started with himself. Over the time of his coaching engagement, his Emotional Intelligence (EQ) assessment scores have dramatically improved and as a result, so has the effectiveness of his leadership. He dove deeply into raising his self-awareness with very tangible results.

The leadership team, following the president’s lead, have begun changing the way they lead resulting in a much more employee-friendly culture. Now not only have the company’s employee engagement scores gone up significantly (which is tracked quarterly), productivity has improved. Employees are beginning to feel greater freedom to offer up ideas for improvement, they feel more empowered to solve problems, and they now feel freer to “speak truth to power”.

As a result of the changes taking place in this one leader’s life, many, many others are now experiencing a better work-life. Teamwork has improved, people feel cared for, and now they are looking for ways that their company may make a difference in their community and they have a large vision for doing so. Again, this started with one leader deciding to become even better.

This leader is doing so much more to improve the lives of not only those he leads at work but also his family and in his community. He is a leader now driven by the mission to make his part of the world better for others. He is the kind of leader that so many employees wish for. He now embodies our mission of changing the world one courageous conversation, one liberating truth, one great leader at a time.

Examples of leaders such as this company president are what motivate us here at Coachwell to do what we do. It fuels our vision to make the world a better place. The primary way we do so is by helping others to become even better leaders.

Do you want to be an even better leader and to improve the quality of the lives of the people you touch? You can if you really desire to do so and we would love to help you! Reach out to us here. 


Meet BG Allen

BG has over 30 years of leadership experience in the military, business, and non-profits. His experience includes coaching business leaders/owners, non-profit leaders, educational leaders, and senior leadership teams of businesses and non-profits as well as helping design and implement leader development programs, assisting with succession planning, and improving overall organizational health. BG lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Connect with BG here!