Kevin Kruse started his first company as a 22-year-old. As any passionate entrepreneur, he was committed to seeing his company scale the heights of success. A year later, he found himself deep in debt before giving up on his dream.
Now a New York Times bestseller, Kevin is a renowned thought leader and currently the Founder & CEO of LEADx, an online learning platform that provides leadership coaching and training for managers and leaders across the globe.
Understanding what keeps employees emotionally invested in the work, brand, and company is the key to ensuring that each individual in an organization reaches her or his maximum potential and in-turn drives business results. Kevin is on a mission to unlock this potential and ensure that both managers and individual contributors get the required coaching and nudging to achieve their dreams--and bottom-line.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Kevin Kruse, Founder & CEO of LEADx shares some insights about entrepreneurship, work, and life.
In your entrepreneurial journey, you’ve seen many ups and downs. How did you go about facing those challenges and what kept you going?
In startups, and in life, you just have to realize there will ALWAYS be ups and downs. If you aren't failing on a regular basis you clearly aren't experimenting and innovating hard enough. You need to separate a failed product or a failed business from feeling like a failure as a person. Also, in times when I do start to feel discouraged, I just remember my deeper purpose and keep at it.
What led you to start LEADx?
I had been retired for several years but saw the power AI chatbots were having in the area of mental health. I realized the same approach could be applied to leadership and management training. So I invented "LEADx Coach Amanda", the world's first executive coach robot powered by IBM Watson. Now everyone around the world can get world-class learning and coaching by downloading the app.
Which three words best describe your role?
Chief robot designer.
Your mantra to time management and getting things done.
1440! There one thousand four hundred and forty minutes each day. And once a minute is gone, we can never get it back. Time is life, and you need to really invest your time--your life--intentionally.
Skills you look for when hiring new talent.
I always look for high IQ, high conscientiousness, and great communication skills.
Three metrics to know how engaged are your employees.
You don't need three metrics, you need one metric. But that usually comes from an average of 3-4 survey questions. A great single question that can be used as a simple metric is whether or not you'd refer a good friend to come work in your company.
Two ways to drive higher engagement across departments.
There is a single correct way to drive higher levels of engagement. Measure it with a survey, give the results to each manager, have the manager's team action plan solutions, and hold the managers accountable for improving their results or maintaining high scores. And in terms of ways managers can increase engagement, often it comes down to giving more recognition, helping people to grow in their careers, and having strong trust.
One tech/innovation that will transform the way HR and business leaders approach employee engagement completely.
Answer: The reason why engagement scores don't improve is that managers don't follow-up with their action plan items. They forget about changing their behaviors until it's a year later and they have to do the survey again. But now, every manager can get an AI-powered robot coach who will understand their engagement scores and then send the manager hyper-personalized nudges throughout the year, give them an action plan to get better, etc.
One thing that makes you passionate about what you do?
Everyday we get emails from people around the world telling us how the LEADx app has helped them to get promoted to manager or helped them improve their engagement scores. It feels great to know that what we've created is actually helping people's careers and lives.
Who has been the biggest influence on you?
I'm an entrepreneur because of my father. I'm a writer because of my mother.
What keeps you awake at night?
Thinking of all the people out there who have high potential but don't yet have their own AI-powered leadership coach.
If not a co-founder of a management training company, what would you rather be?
A detective who hunts down serial killers.
One must-read book for CEOs and business leaders
Selfishly I'd say, Great Leaders, Have No Rules. But Radical Candor by Kim Scott is amazing too.
What magazines and books have you read recently? What do you do in your spare time?
I'm a single Dad and startup entrepreneur so there is no spare time. I read when I'm on airplanes, though. I just finished a new book by CEO Bobby Herrera called The Gift of Struggle which is great.
Your next upcoming book or project that you are excited about!
We're getting ready to release a new nudge system so "Coach Amanda" will send you notes based on not just your strengths and weaknesses, but also based on your actual personality.