Paul Batz with Paul Hillen

What is goodness and how does it pay?

In 2015, Paul Hillen and I set out to prove goodness pays financially in leadership. It’s a relevant topic because our research before 2015 showed that four out of five leaders believe goodness pays. And yet only two of five are happy with the consistency of their financial results. There’s a gap between those who believe and those who actually know how to make it pay. We wrote this book to help good leaders eliminate self defeating habits, and to adopt a common-sense approach – centered on goodness – to create better business results.
To define exactly what goodness means in leadership and business, and to demonstrate the correlation between goodness and profitability, we engaged research partner SMS Research Advisors. Over three years, we scanned volumes of academic, business, and popular literature on leadership, interviewed 15 highly acclaimed business leaders in small, medium, and large businesses across America, and completed a statistically-significant 900-person survey of leaders.

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The results speak for themselves.

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Our research successfully defined the connection between goodness and business leadership:

Goodness in business is when people thrive together in a culture of encouragement, accountability, and teamwork.

How Goodness Pays features a statistically-significant one-question diagnostic tool:

Our objective in creating the GPS was to develop an easy tool to assess your goodness in leadership;
and it also helps with the action plans for improving your leadership to get better financial success.
Similar to the one-question Net Promoter Score, the one-question GPS is a predictive,
fast way to gather feedback from the managers in your company, and it also comes with
advice about where to focus your actions for improvement.
Here is the fundamental basis for the GPS:
Higher Goodness Pays Score =
Higher probability of positive financial results
The GPS is calculated based on the numerical average
of your employee responses to this one key question:
Using a 1-10 scale: How would you rate your direct leader
on proactively promoting goodness in his/her
decision-making within your organization?

We employed a three-phased research approach:

Phase 1:

Literature Review, to ensure
“goodness” had not been
specifically researched or
written about by others

Phase 2:

Qualitative interviews of highly successful leaders, who have been celebrated through industry awards, the media, and great financial performance

Phase 3:

Quantitative, 900-person,
survey of representative business
leaders from the United States

15 highly-acclaimed business leaders interviewed:

Large company leaders
(500+ employees):

  • Amanda Brinkman, Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Deluxe
  • Richard Davis, retired CEO and Chair at U.S. Bank
  • Ray Kowalik, CEO at Burns & McDonnell
  • Greg Page, retired CEO and Chair at Cargill
  • Chris Policinski, retired CEO at Land O’ Lakes

Mid-size company leaders
(250-499 employees):

  • Lynn Casey, Chair at Padilla
  • Jerry Mattys, CEO at Tactile Medical
  • Mike McMahan, President at St. Francis Hospital
  • Marcia Page, Founding Partner and Executive Chair at Värde
  • Liz Smith, President at Assurance Agency

Small company leaders
(50-249 employees):

  • Charles Antis, CEO at Antis Roofing & Waterproofing
  • Karen Clark Cole, CEO at Blink UX
  • Umit Nasifoglu, President at Wedding Day Diamonds
  • Clara Shih, CEO at Hearsay Systems
  • Colleen Needles Steward, CEO at Tremendous! Entertainment

Our most powerful finding was that building a culture of
goodness in leadership improves financial results.
Specifically, we found that goodness pays financially
when leaders achieve these Five Goodness Pays Factors:

  1. Compelling business plan. Prepare a business plan that creates genuine employee engagement and followership.
  2. Belief that profits are healthy for all. Build commitment to the idea that profits are beneficial for everyone in the business–employees, executives, and owners.
  3. Team-based culture. Create a culture that rewards a “we is greater than me” approach in which multiple people are accountable and rewarded for delivering on important promises.
  4. Timely and transparent decision-making. Gain employee respect by making decisions in a timely fashion and by being accountable for the behaviors and results that come from those decisions.
  5. Magnetic ethics. Attract good people by role modeling what is and what is not acceptable.
Throughout the book, you will read qualitative and quantitative proof about how goodness pays, including coaching comments on how to make goodness pay specifically for you. This is valuable information, but you could also argue that some of it is nod-your-head-in-agreement common-sense. In fact, throughout this project we often heard this reaction about goodness in leadership: “I get that it’s good to be good. I get that goodness makes a workplace healthier and more productive. I get it.”
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The push-back we get from skeptics about goodness as a leadership strategy is driven by a mindset along the lines of “goodness is fluffy BS.” These reactions always fall into one of three categories, which we call the fear-based myths about goodness.

Myth #1:

Goodness is a religious term that has no place in business. Yes, most religions share some version of goodness as a virtue, but our research shows that four out of five business leaders believe goodness pays, when goodness is defined as people believing they can thrive together.

Myth #2:

Goodness is soft and can’t be
measured or managed. The people
who measure perception and employee
engagement would not agree.
And with the emergence of business
watchdog sites online like
and, your
business reputation is anything but soft.

Myth #3:

Goodness gets exploited. Radiating goodness does not mean you are a leader who is easily taken advantage of. In fact, employing honesty, fairness, and ethical decision-making almost always requires standing your ground–not caving in the face of opposition. Goodness is hard work.

To end the book, we get back to the research which validates the premise:

Goodness Pays.

Good leaders create great results by leading with goodness. It’s an others-orientation, and reflective of an ability to maintain a healthy tension between taking a long-term view and having short-term performance expectations. Goodness pays financially for leaders who have these things alive in their leadership:
  1. Creates an atmosphere of mutual trust by demonstrating honest, ethical behavior
  2. Leads by example – adheres to the same standards they expect of others
  3. Has a sincere relationship with others regardless of their position in the organization
  4. Takes responsibility for decisions without finger-pointing
  5. Communicates a clear vision with compelling strategies and goals
The rewards for leading with goodness are measurable: consistently-positive financial results, stronger relationships with the people important to your success, and a stronger sense of purpose in your work. And maybe the best payoff: leading with goodness will help you work with a clean heart and mind, knowing you are radiating goodness every day.

About Paul Batz

Paul Batz is a thought leader on how goodness pays in leadership and business, and recognized as one of the top leadership bloggers in America. He is an author, executive coach, and international speaker who built his firm Good Leadership Enterprises with the same strategies around goodness he teaches clients.

About Paul Hillen

Paul Hillen is an accomplished senior business executive with 32 years of experience in general management, sales management, and marketing at both large multi-national companies (Procter & Gamble, Cargill) and mid/small size companies. He has held positions as President, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer. He is President and COO of Revier Brand Group, LLC at Revier Cattle Company.

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About Good Leadership Press

Good Leadership Press publishes exciting books on positive leadership. The publisher and authors believe goodness pays, because goodness grows!

Each title features credible research, real stories of goodness at work in the world, practical leadership strategies, and coaching tools to help good leaders make goodness pay financially through their leadership.