Exciting news: The Deskless Report 2022 has launched 🎉 Read it here!

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Introducing The Deskless Report 2022-2023

Introducing The Deskless Report 2022-2023

Workers are desperate for stability, frontline managers are burned out, and corporate leaders are trying to look to the future – but aren’t sure of how to get there. What’s the solution? 

We are thrilled to announce the launch of this year’s Deskless Report, brought to you by Axonify + Nudge! This year, we’re delving deeper into the worker, manager, and corporate experience – we polled 268 frontline corporate leaders, 385 frontline managers, and 633 frontline workers to get a true 360-degree look at the state of the frontline. 

And folks, expect some truly eye-opening 😳 moments. Our research has uncovered deep-rooted gaps in the frontline experience that are finally reaching a breaking point.

The numbers don’t lie:

  • 49% of frontline managers feel burned out on a daily basis
  • 42% of workers are considering leaving their job (up from 36% last year)
  • Only 39% of workers feel heard – plummeting from 59% last year
  • While 65% of corporate respondents believe communication at their organization is effective, only 35% of workers agree
  • 38% of frontline managers and workers said that lack of employee training is impacting their day-to-day work
  • 75% of all respondents believe investing in new technologies for frontline workers improves the overall success of their organization

Head to the Deskless Report to get the story behind these compelling findings – and many more!

The role of DE&I in driving memorable foodservice guest experiences

The role of DE&I in driving memorable foodservice guest experiences

Communities across the country continue to approach something that seems like a return to “normal.” As consumer sentiment around a yearning for experiences mounts, the near-term may present foodservice organizations with tremendous opportunities to increase engagement and customer loyalty through the experience they offer. 

A strong guest experience starts with empowered and engaged foodservice staff. And, according to Sylvain Charlebois, foodservice industry expert and Senior Director of Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, foodservice staff engagement starts with a strong investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).

“Restaurants and other foodservice establishments have, for a very long time, been hubs of the communities in which they serve,” says Charlebois. 

“They are places where family and friends go to enjoy themselves and each others’ company and to enjoy a memorable experience. And, they are places for all members of the community to gather. As such, it’s incredibly important for everyone involved in the foodservice industry to place greater emphasis and focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within their organizations in order to reflect the clientele they serve and the workforce that they employ.”

DE&I is a movement of sorts within industries, institutions, and companies looking to focus on improving corporate and organizational cultures and creating more welcoming and supportive work environments. It’s a movement that has continued to gain significant momentum throughout the pandemic as societies everywhere pay greater consideration toward social issues and causes. And it’s one, says Charlebois, that presents foodservice organizations with tremendous opportunities if they can develop or enhance existing DE&I programs and initiatives within their workplaces.

“There are so many benefits available to organizations that implement this type of philosophy and approach to doing business,” he says. 

“For one, of course, it’s simply the right thing to do. Everyone deserves equal opportunity, compensation, and treatment, despite their race, gender, sexual preference or identification, or lived experiences. Nobody should ever be restricted within their careers or inhibited from growing for any reason. A dedicated and committed focus on DE&I within the workplace ensures equal opportunity and respect, posing potential human, organizational and financial benefits to companies who adopt this kind of approach.”

Here are 3 more ways DE&I initiatives can help drive memorable guest experiences

1. Highly engaged staff

According to the 2021 U.S. Department of Labor, 47.8% of all foodservice employees in the United States identify as part of a minority group. In addition, the 2020 State of the Restaurant Worker indicates that 54% of all employees within the country’s foodservice sector are women. In light of these numbers, says Charlebois, it only makes sense to ensure that policies, treatment and considerations are paid to each member of the workforce. That the return on this type of investment by companies is most noticeable in the impact that it has on employees.

“By ensuring diversity within your workforce and the staff that are servicing customers in your establishments, you’re ensuring a more accurate reflection of the communities that you operate in,” he says. 

“Most importantly, however, by treating your employees properly, you’re sending them an incredibly strong message of support and care. And when this message is delivered consistently in everything that you do, it results in a highly engaged staff of employees that are proud to be working their jobs and feel confident in the fact that they belong and are important contributors toward helping to achieve the company’s goals and objectives.”

2. Deeper brand connections

Charlebois goes on to explain that engaged employees exhibit heightened loyalty toward their roles and responsibilities, eliciting from them discretionary effort that, in turn, enhances the experience that restaurants offer guests.

“There is a very powerful correlation between the culture that an organization develops for its employees and the experience that the guest receives,” he says. 

“When employees are happy and engaged, they’re really invested in the jobs they’re doing and are willing to go above and beyond to make sure that guest expectations are met and exceeded. In addition, when staff are an accurate reflection of the communities that they serve, customers also feel more welcome and feel inclined to engage with the brand at a deeper level, inspiring repeat visits and patronage.”

3. More feedback and ideas driving revenue and growth

A recent survey conducted by The Harvard Business Review of 1,700 companies around the world found that those operating with an above-average level of diversity within their organizations experience 19% greater innovation revenues and 9% higher earnings before taxes. They are results that Charlebois says are not surprising. In fact, he says that it’s an equation that, from a business and human perspective, makes perfect sense.

“When you engage your workforce with initiatives as positive and encouraging as those related to DE&I, results for the business will be just as positive and encouraging,” he says. 

“Because staff are energetic and inspired and focused on delivering exceptional service to the customer, those guests will return, resulting in increased revenue. And, employees that feel engaged and valued are more likely to share honest feedback and ideas to improve operations or the guest experience. When everyone is feeding in and involved in the success of the organization, limitations are removed, opening up boundless opportunities for growth.”

Though there have been some previously existing barriers that have prevented frontline organizations from actively pursuing and enhancing their DE&I initiatives, Charlebois believes that there may be a much-needed shift in mindset happening at the very top. It’s reflective, he says, of the recognition of brands concerning the opportunities that exist and their willingness to institute positive change.

“There are many within the industry that are now placing far greater emphasis around the issue of DE&I. Excellent work is being done at organizations like Wendy’s, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Domino’s, and elsewhere. The entire industry is stepping up its game with respect to stances on DE&I and the progress that’s being made by organizations toward improving the experiences they offer to their employees and customers,” he says.

“The world is changing. People are continuing to pay much more attention to social issues and the things that impact others around them. The foodservice industry is really beginning to take notice and seize the opportunities that result from creating and ensuring a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture.”

9 books every frontline leader needs to read

9 books every frontline leader needs to read

We’ve talked podcasts. We’ve talked TED talks. Now on to the written word! 

There are thousands of business books out there – each one promising to turn your organization around, make you a better frontline leader, or revolutionize the way you do business. But how do you know which books are worth your time? 

We’ve gathered together nine of the best books for frontline leaders. Check out our general picks below, or flip to our industry-specific selections for leaders in retail or foodservice and hospitality

Enjoy! 📖 


3 books every frontline leader should read: 


The Front-Line Leader: Building a High-Performance Organization from the Ground Up

The Front-Line Leader | NudgeAuthor: Chris Van Gorder

Length: 208 pages / 6 hours 32 mins audiobook

In brief: Van Gorder started his career as a police officer, became a hospital security guard, and is now the President and CEO of Scripps Health. During his tenure, he has overseen a dramatic turnaround, taking the San Diego health system from near bankruptcy to being recognized as one of the most prestigious in the US. 

Why it’s worth your time: Van Gorder’s message definitely fires us up: leaders need to get to know, value, and understand their frontline team members. This is how businesses build accountability, inspire staff, and drive results. Full of practical advice, Van Gorder looks at both large scale strategies and everyday actions that make a difference. 

Key Quote: “When frontline workers are part of any solution, they own it every bit as much as leaders do. Everyone benefits – the organization, workers and, most of all, customers.” 


Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity 

Radical Candor | NudgeAuthor: Kim Scott

Length: 246 pages / 11 hours 55 mins audiobook

In brief: After a long career in the tech world (including stints at Dropbox, Apple, Google, and more), Kim Scott has seen some of the most common management pitfalls: obnoxious aggression, manipulative insincerity, and ruinous empathy. In Radical Candor, Scott offers up a management philosophy based on building personal relationships, being willing to challenge people when needed, taking feedback on your own performance, and investing in others’ growth. 

Why it’s worth your time: No one ever said being a manager is easy, and it can be particularly challenging in the high-stakes environments that frontline leaders work in. Whether you want to improve your own management skills or support your line managers to build strong teams, Radical Candor offers a consistent approach to building a winning workplace culture. Not convinced? Scott has gone on to found a successful corporate training company that has worked with leaders around the world. 

Key Quote: “At Apple, as at Google, a boss’s ability to achieve results had a lot more to do with listening and seeking to understand than it did with telling people what to do; more to do with debating than directing; more to do with pushing people to decide than with being the decider; more to do with persuading than with giving orders; more to do with learning than with knowing.”


Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Leaders eat last | NudgeAuthor: Simon Sinek

Length: 368 pages / 9 hours 23 mins audiobook

In brief: Simon Sinek is a trained ethnographer, business expert, podcast host and author. His Ted Talk was on our list of must-listens for leaders so it’s no surprise that we’re fans of his book. The book is based on an idea that Sinek heard from a Marine Corps general: “Officers Eat Last.” More than just a symbolic gesture, Sinek shows how this demonstrates a commitment at the top to those serving beneath you. 

Why it’s worth your time: Sinek’s book will challenge you to think about your role as a leader: how far are you willing to go to build trust and ensure the safety and security of your team? Sinek uses case studies from successful organizations to demonstrate how organizations where leaders create a “circle of safety” are able to build teams that will go the extra mile. 

Key Quote: “When a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.”   


3 books every retail leader should read:


The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence: Creating a Values-Driven Service Culture 

Authors: Robert Spektor and breAnne O. ReevesThe Nordstrom Way | Nudge

Length: 225 pages / 6 hours 14 mins audiobook

In Brief: Now in its third edition, The Nordstrom Way has been a business must-read since it was first released in the ‘90s. Robert Spektor has written and studied Nordstrom for more than thirty years, and alongside his business partner and co-author, breAnne O. Reeves, has updated this classic for the digital age. But don’t worry, you’ll still learn the secrets to how Nordstrong has built its legendary reputation for customer service (hint: it’s all about the employee experience).

Why it’s worth your time: The most recent edition of the book includes insight from Nordstrom’s leaders on how to adapt to a world in which customers are used to the seamless ease of digital shopping and have come to expect convenience, speed, and the personal touch in all their retail experiences. We love the focus on empowering frontline staff with the digital tools they need to offer excellent service. 

Key Quote: “Recognition is powerful, as long as it’s authentic and specific. Whatever their level on the inverted pyramid, employees want to feel needed and valued.”   


Resurrecting Retail: The Future of Business in a Post-Pandemic World

Resurrecting retail | NudgeAuthor: Doug Stephens

Length: 258 pages / 7 hours 58 mins audiobook

In Brief: Doug Stephens is a leading retail futurist whose long career in retail leadership roles have informed his three best-selling books on retail. His latest, Resurrecting Retail, explores the impact the pandemic has had on the retail industry while also looking to the future. 

Why it’s worth your time: It’s no secret that the pandemic has upended much of the retail business. Stephens examines how consumer behavior has been reshaped over the past two years and offers retail leaders a roadmap for adapting and thriving in a radically changed retail environment. 

Key Quote: “So how should business leaders prepare for an uncertain and largely unprecedented future? Some maintain we can’t predict the future at all. I wholeheartedly agree, nor should we try to predict the future. But that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for it.” 


Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

Let my people go surfing | NudgeAuthor: Yvon Chouinard

Length: 272 pages / 7 hours 59 minutes audiobook

In Brief: Yvon Chouinard is a rock-climber, environmentalist, and founder of global outdoor brand, Patagonia. In his memoir/business book, Chouniard shares the philosophy that has made Patagonia a global phenomenon. This includes dedication to creating a people-focused workplace, with policies that fly in the face of conventional wisdom (including plenty of flexibility to go surfing!).

Why it’s worth your time: Chouinard calls himself a reluctant businessman and his company an “un-business.” Needless to say, his ideas won’t be for everyone. But his book is a rallying cry for finding your company’s purpose and values and then embedding them into every part of your business. And if nothing else, you can marvel at the extraordinary life Chouinard has led!

Key Quote: “Patagonia’s image is a human voice. It expresses the joy of people who love the world, who are passionate about their beliefs, and who want to influence the future. It is not processed; it won’t compromise its humanity. This means that it will offend, and it will inspire.”


3 books every foodservice and hospitality leader should read:


The Heart of Hospitality: Great Hotel and Restaurant Leaders Share Their Secrets 

The heart of hospitality | NudgeAuthor: Micah Solomon

Length: 238 pages / audio unavailable

In Brief: Who would you most like to sit down with to hear how they built a winning hospitality business? Isadore Sharp of the Four Seasons? Double five star chef and hotelier Patrick O’Connell? Or maybe Ritz Carlton’s President and COO Herve Humler? Luckily, customer service expert Micah Solomon has talked to these hospitality titans and more and distilled their wisdom into an entertaining and insightful book on how the biggest names in the business have created their success. 

Why it’s worth your time: This book is a comprehensive look at what it takes to succeed in the hospitality industry. From company culture, to hiring and onboarding, to creating a winning customer experience, this book is full of practical examples and up-to-the-minute insights. 

Key Quote: “Here’s how I’d summarize the attitude of great hoteliers, restaurateurs, and other hospitality professionals… If we did it for our first guest we’ll find a way to keep doing it for our millionth, without rushing or cutting corners, without doing anything to make that guest feel any less than fully valued in our eyes.”


Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food 

Delivering the digital restaurant | NudgeAuthors: Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland

Length: 264 pages / 7 hours 21 mins audiobook

In brief: Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland are both veterans of the industry who have turned their attention to the digital future of the food industry. Like Resurrecting Retail, this book explores the current challenges and opportunities faced by the restaurant industry and is rich with insider knowledge and thought-provoking ideas.

Why it’s worth your time: This book is meticulously researched, drawing on data and sociological knowledge, as well as the expertise of the authors. Leaders in the food industry know that digital disruption (and the impacts of the pandemic) mean that it’s time to adapt or die. This book offers a practical roadmap on how leaders can innovate and adapt. What’s more Orsbourn and Sandland share ideas for business both large and small, making this a valuable read for anyone in the restaurant world.  

Key Quote: “People take pride in sharing their food philosophy and personalizing their order. Ordering online expands our restaurant options and personalizes our choices with a few clicks. More than ever before, restaurants need to understand diverse lifestyles and viewpoints to be involved in the dialogue of what matters most to their consumer base.” 


Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business  

Setting the table | NudgeAuthors: Danny Meyer

Length: 336 pages/ 5 hours 33 mins audiobook

In Brief: A giant of the New York food scene, Meyer shares how he built his business empire. From opening his first restaurant at 27, to running the Union Square Hospitality Group, to founding the fast food phenomenon Shake Shack, Meyer has proven again and again that he knows what it takes to succeed in a notoriously cutthroat business. This is both a memoir of a remarkable career and a valuable business book that leaders in hospitality and beyond can learn from. 

Why it’s worth your time: If you want to understand how a successful restaurant gets built, the classic book is a must-read. In it, he shares his philosophy of Enlightened Hospitality, which he credits to his success. The core principles are: creating a meaningful employee experience, building strong relationships with suppliers, connecting with local community, and delivering an outstanding experience for guests. 

Key Quote: “In the end, what’s most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.”

5 business podcasts every deskless leader needs to hear

5 business podcasts every deskless leader needs to hear

As a leader, you want to be constantly learning and keeping up-to-date with the latest business trends. But finding the time to do all that learning can be hard to come by. 

It’s one of the reasons we love business podcasts. Episodes come in bite-sized chunks, and can be listened to while you’re commuting, cooking, working out… You name it. 

Best of all? There are now hundreds of great business podcasts out there to help keep you learning and growing. 

However, if you’re new to podcasts, sifting through the wealth of content can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this list of our top five podcast episodes every deskless leader needs to hear. From covering current trends to sharing voices from the frontlines, these episodes will get you thinking, guaranteed. 

Here are five business podcasts every deskless leader needs to hear:

1. HBR IdeaCast’s “One way to fight the great resignation? Re-recruit your current employees.” 

Time investment: ~25 minutes

What this is: HBR IdeaCast is the Harvard Business Review’s flagship podcast. In this episode, host Curt Nickisch sits down with Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer of Humanity Works, a leadership coaching business. 

Why you should listen: Now more than ever, keeping your employees engaged is the key to any deskless organizations’ success. While resignations and labor shortages can put you in firefighting mode, this episode is a reminder to focus on the employees you still have. Cohen and Roeske-Zummer share insights from their own careers and their work with clients that highlight how leaders and managers can support their teams through difficult transitions. 

Our favorite quote:  “People want to be seen for who they are and what they contribute and where they’re adding value. Those are all free things that managers and leaders can do to their people and it’s needed now more than ever.” – Debbie Cohen

2. Beyond Leadership: A Cleveland Clinic Podcast’s “Thank you for speaking up with Main Campus CNO Shannon Pengel

Time investment: ~ 30 minutes

What this is: In Beyond Leadership, host Dr. Brian Bolwell sits down with leaders from the Cleveland Clinic to share insights on leadership in healthcare. In this episode, Chief Nursing Officer Shannon Pengel reflects on the importance of feedback and psychological safety in driving quality. 

Why you should listen: We’re big fans of upward feedback here at Nudge. So, we love how this episode dives into how leaders can create a safe environment for feedback. Pengel talks about the importance of building a culture of mutual respect, and why emotional intelligence is critical for leaders. She also shares tips for how leaders can be more self-reflective in moments of potential conflict. 

Our favorite quote: “I think that’s what we want: everyone to feel comfortable speaking up and then being able to come and work right next to each other the next day, and saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for letting me know. I just didn’t think of that. I can’t believe I overlooked that.’ Those are the conversations we’d like to hear.” – Shannon Pengel

3. #WorkTrends’s “Work Culture Lessons Learned from the Space Shuttle Columbia

Time investment: ~20 mins

What this is: #WorkTrends is the bi-weekly podcast and twitter chat from talentculture. Hosted by Meghan Biro, it brings in leaders from across the business world to look at emerging trends. In this episode, she talks to Dr Phillip Meade, COO of management consulting firm, Gallaher Edge, about lessons from the Columbia space shuttle disaster

Why you should listen: While you may not be making decisions on the scale of a space flight, as a leader, you are responsible for guiding your team through crises (like, maybe a global pandemic?). And in this episode, Meade shares his findings about how work culture contributed to the Columbia disaster, and the cultural and organizational changes needed to prevent future tragedies. Meade gives key insights into the difference between a good workplace culture and an effective workplace culture, and how your culture must be aligned with your strategic goals. It’s a fascinating conversation that gives a new take on the role of leaders in culture-building. 

Our favorite quote: “The biggest problem that I faced, believe it or not, was that the organizational culture at KSC was by all accounts a great organizational culture. We had just literally been named the best place in the federal government to work right before the accident… And so when I was asked to lead the culture change, one of the things I struggled with was: how do you change a culture that by all accounts looks like it’s a great place to work?” – Phillip Meade

4. Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama’s “Coming Together at the Grocery Store

Time investment: ~45 mins

What this is: Essential Voices is a podcast that shares the voices of workers on the frontline, followed by a roundtable with activists and leaders to discuss the issues raised. In this episode, host Wilmer Valderrama talks to grocery worker Ben Hess about his experience on the frontline, and then has a roundtable with actress and activist Sophia Bush and Jim Araby of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 Union.

Why you should listen: As leaders, it’s important to understand and know as much as possible about our frontline workforces. In this episode, Hess’ story is powerful, as he shares his experiences during the pandemic, including getting sick with COVID-19 and struggling with his mental health. In the subsequent roundtable discussion, the guests draw broader insights from Hess’ story, and reflect on how the pandemic should change how society treats frontline workers. 

Our favorite quote: “It’s still hard to go and work in retail because there’s just so much coming at you. You’re given these rules from the government, you’re getting rules from your employer, you’re getting opinions that you’re forming yourself based on the news and you’re trying to figure out how to meld them together. And at the same time, you’re getting people who are competitive about it and you’re trying to just function.” – Ben Hess

5. HRChat’s “Giving the Deskless Workforce Tools to Thrive w/ Jordan Ekers, Nudge.” 

Time investment: ~25 minutes

What this is: We couldn’t let you go without sharing one of the business podcasts our own COO Jordan Ekers has been featured on! HRChat is the leadership podcast from the HR Gazette. In this episode, host Bill Banham and Ekers dive deep into how technology can better serve deskless workers, boost productivity, and increase employee engagement.  

Why you should listen: In this episode, Ekers shares some of the key insights and research that have gone into the development of Nudge, and gives clear examples of how Nudge can impact your business. This episode is a great introduction to the ideas behind Nudge and how the product works – all in one engaging podcast episode!

Our favorite quote: “One of the first things that we did was to try to understand what motivates a deskless worker. We’ve now conducted significant proprietary research, as well as dove into all the employee engagement data that all our customers have… And the three things that drive satisfaction of a frontline worker is how well a brand communicates with that worker; how well a brand or a manager recognizes that worker; as well as, how well a manager accepts feedback and closes the loop to drive better change.” – Jordan Ekers

Business podcasts are a great way to squeeze some self-learning into a busy work life. Looking for more ideas to brush up your knowledge? Check out our list of top TED talks for deskless leaders


6 TED Talks every deskless leader needs to see

6 TED Talks every deskless leader needs to see

Great leaders are always learning, which is why we love TED talks! Browsing the vast library of talks given by world-renowned experts, you can custom-create your own leadership training program filled with inspiring talks to ensure you’re being the best deskless leader you can be. 

But your time is valuable, so you need to pick your talks wisely. Not sure where to start? Here are six TED Talks that are well worth your time. 

1. This is what makes employees happy at work by Michael C Bush

Time investment: 4 minutes

What it covers: Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush shares the key to employee happiness: making people feel well-treated by their leaders and their coworkers. Bush shares key three strategies that can boost employee happiness: trust and respect; fairness; and listening. 

Why you should watch it: As a deskless leader you already know the challenges of connecting with and retaining your deskless employees. Bush gives you practical advice on how to make changes in your organization that can keep your employees happy (and loyal!) and driving your business performance. 

Our favourite quote: “The miracle thing is, you don’t have to spend more money to make this happen. . . It’s not about the perks. It’s all about how [employees] are treated by their leaders and the people they work with.” 


2. Why we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers by Diana Dosik

Time investment: 10 minutes

What it covers: Organizations are using sophisticated techniques to understand their customer journeys. Boston Consulting Group partner Diana Dosik argues that they need to use the same level of sophistication when it comes to understanding their workforce. Dosik makes a compelling case for how improving the employee experience can help your business run more smoothly.

Why you should watch it: When it comes to communication and execution, frontline leaders often blame employees for failing to respond, without investigating the underlying roadblocks. This TED Talk encourages leaders to explore the challenges organizations might be able to overcome, if they could identify the unseen factors that hinder change and progress. 

Our favourite quote: “Business leaders have a golden opportunity; they can understand and shape employee journeys the same way they do customer journeys. In fact, they can do it even better, because they have more touchpoints with employees than with customers.”


3. How to Lead in a Crisis by Amy C. Edmondson

Time investment: 4.5 minutes

What it covers: What does strong leadership in a crisis look like? Confident? Unwavering? Armed with all the facts? Sounds nice, but this model of leadership isn’t always realistic, especially when uncertainty is high. Instead, leadership expert Amy C. Edmondson suggests that leaders must rethink crisis leadership and focus on being transparent, acting with urgency, being led by their values, and giving power away.

Why you should watch it: Deskless leaders recently got a masterclass in leading through a crisis during the pandemic. But this won’t be the last upheaval leaders will face. Edmonson offers a way to “flip the leadership playbook” so that you can meet the next challenge (and the next, and the next) in ways that will bring your team along with you.

Our favourite quote: “We follow this new type of leader through upheaval, because we have confidence not in their map but in their compass. We believe that they have chosen the right direction given the current information, and that they will keep updating.”


4. Forget the pecking order at work by Margaret Heffernan

Time investment: 15.5 mins

What it covers: Writer and entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan argues that we need to reconsider the “superchicken model,” where energy and attention is heaped on high performers at the expense of everyone else. Using research and real-world examples, she illustrates how top organizations instead focus on improving the bonds between employees, and creating a culture of “helpfulness.”   

Why you should watch it: Building a sense of community between employees in a deskless organization can be a challenge. Heffernan highlights how seemingly small changes can have outsized impacts on team cohesion, creativity, and even profits. Heffernan’s radical rethinking of how to lead is a vision of making every team member count (and accountable). 

Our favourite quote: “For decades, we’ve tried to motivate people with money, even though we’ve got a vast amount of research that shows that money erodes social connectedness. Now, we need to let people motivate each other.”


5. Why good leaders make you feel safe by Simon Sinek

Time investment: 12 mins

What it covers: Management theorist Simon Sinek goes back to the earliest days of human evolution to explain why trust and cooperation are so pivotal in organizations. Sinek highlights the difference between organizations where employees trust their leaders versus those without trust. 

Why you should watch it: We’ve talked about the importance of psychological safety for deskless employees before, and Sinek’s talk brings that need vividly to life. Sharing thought-provoking examples of leaders who put the wellbeing of their employees above their own interests, Sinek challenges us to think differently about what it takes to create a sense of safety, trust, and community in the workplace. 

Our favourite quote: “If the conditions are wrong, we are forced to expend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and that inherently weakens the organization. When we feel safe inside the organisation, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize opportunities.”


6. How reverse mentorship can help create better leaders by Patrice Gordon

Time investment: 4.5 mins

What it covers: Executive coach Patrice Gordon uses her experience as a reverse mentor for Virgin Atlantic’s former CEO Craig Kreeger to show how reverse mentoring is a powerful tool for ensuring diverse views are heard at every level of the organization – but for it to work, it’s important to create a structure. 

Why you should watch it: We love upward feedback, and Gordon’s talk offers a blueprint for helping leaders to see beyond their own blinkers. If you’re interested in experimenting with opening up more two-way communication, Gordon’s five steps will help you establish a successful program. 

Our favourite quote: “Our organizations can fall right through that gap into stale thinking, blind spots, and having policies that could alienate underrepresented groups, not only in regards to age, race, or gender, but all different types of viewpoints.”

Deskless leaders work in a challenging and dynamic business environment and it can be hard to find time to focus on leadership skills. But with a bite-sized time investment, these TED Talks will help you gain some new ideas and perspectives – all over a quick cup of coffee.