Connection Culture Book

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Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work, 2nd Edition (September 2020)

Connection Culture provides a new way of thinking about leadership based on the universal human need to feel connected to a group (which is in contrast to feeling unsupported, left out, or lonely). The book describes a connection culture that helps people and organizations thrive versus “cultures of control” and “cultures of indifference” that drain the life out of people and sabotage organizational performance. Connection Culture includes inspiring stories of outstanding leaders who cultivated cultures of connection, scientific evidence that people and organizations need human connection to thrive, and descriptions of ways to connect that include attitudes, uses of language, and behaviors. The 2nd edition adds profiles of diverse leaders who tapped into the power of human connection, questions at the end of each chapter to help the reader apply the material, and a 5-step process to operationalize connection culture. Written for busy leaders with little time to waste, Connection Culture is concise, inspiring, and practical.

Our first book, Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team's Passion, Creativity, and Productivity (Harper Collins Leadership 2007), introduced the idea of connection culture.

“Connection Culture provides ideas, actions, and pathways that servant leaders can use to not only enhance performance, but more importantly to build a strong culture.”

—Howard Behar, Former President, Starbucks International
“A great leadership guide for leaders at every level.”

—Frances Hesselbein, President and CEO
The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute
“This is more than a great read; the Connection Culture strategy is a game changer for leaders.”

—Vernon Clark, Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Chief of Naval Operations
“Every manager needs to read this book—it will foster healthier work environments and make my job a lot easier!”

—Ted George, M.D., Clinical Professor, George Washington School of Medicine, Senior Investigator, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Author, Untangling the Mind
“This deep exploration of connection culture explains the positive effects of using these skills and offers dozens of ways to get started on the journey.”

—James DaSilva, Senior Editor, SmartBrief on Leadership
“Don’t wait another moment. Get a copy of Connection Culture for yourself and your colleagues. They will thank you.”

—Tom Jansen, Scout Executive/CEO, Transatlantic Council,
Boy Scouts of America
“The message of Connection Culture is profoundly personal yet ultimately universal. If you think you know what connection really means, you’ll come away with a whole new perspective once you have read this gracefully written book.”

—Bruce Rosenstein, Managing Editor, Leader to Leader, Author, Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way
“Leadership is about relationships. Connection Culture reveals the art and science of creating a culture that builds relationships and drives performance.”

—David Burkus, Author, The Myths of Creativity and Under New Management
“You must read this book. It’s vital to the success of our organizations, our communities, our families, and the human race.”

—Janis Apted Yadiny, MLS, Associate Vice President, Faculty and Academic Development, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center


“Practical suggestions for employers who want to change 
their organizational culture.”

—Financial Times
“[Stories] about the companies who have got it right…are memorable”

—Los Angeles Times
“Connection is one of the most essential elements in a truly great team, no matter what the field. And no one understands that like Michael Stallard...a world-leading expert on how to create a 'connection culture.'”

“A wonderful book…Connection Culture isn’t a very long or wordy book,
but it’s loaded with lessons.”

—Small Business Trends

About the Author

Michael Stallard is an expert on how effective leaders boost team performance and employee engagement through increasing human connection in organizational culture. He gives keynote speeches, leads workshops, and consults for clients of Connection Culture Group (CCG). He is the primary author of the books Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work and Fired Up or Burned Out: Reignite Your Team's Passion, Creativity, and Productivity. Articles written by Michael or about his work have appeared in leadership and business periodicals worldwide. Texas Christian University established the TCU Center for Connection Culture based on Michael and his colleagues’ work. Prior to co-founding the Connection Culture Group, Michael was chief marketing officer for the private wealth management businesses at Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab. He has graduate degrees in business and law, and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1991. Michael is married and has two grown daughters.


Dr. Todd Hall is the Chief Scientist for Connection Culture Group, professor of psychology at Biola University, and faculty affiliate in the Harvard Human Flourishing Program.  He has 25+ years experience helping individuals and teams thrive.  Todd’s consulting work focuses on helping leaders experience deep growth and build a Connection Culture.  He is a regular contributor to the Human Capital Institute, and his writing and work have been featured by,, The Association for Talent Development, and  

Todd has been privileged to consult with start-ups, government agencies, non-profits, and for-profits, including the National Institute for Mental Health, Northwestern Medicine, McDonalds, The New York City Leadership Center and numerous universities.  He is a licensed psychologist in California, and holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Biola University and a doctoral specialization in measurement and psychometrics from UCLA.

Prior to teaching and consulting, Todd served on active duty in the Army as a clinical psychologist.  He and his wife of 28 years, Liz, have two adult sons, and enjoy traveling and hanging out together at Disneyland (his favorite ride is the Cars ride at California Adventure).

Katharine P. Stallard is a partner at Connection Culture Group. She is a gifted connector, speaker, and teacher who brings diverse experience in marketing, administration, business, and non-profit organizations to her role. Katie has co-authored and contributed to articles appearing in publications including HR Magazine and Leader to Leader.  Audiences and workshop participants enjoy her sense of humor and practical advice. Comfortable in front of people, she's been singing in a capella groups for more than 25 years, and has even done a bit of TV and film work. Katie is the first to admit that she "loves a microphone." A surprising piece of her story is that she is a three-time cancer survivor. She has extensive experience helping and serving on the boards of social sector and education organizations. Katie graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in business administration. Katie is married and has two grown daughters.

Jason Pankau is a cofounder and partner at E Pluribus Partners. He speaks, teaches workshops, and serves as a consultant and coach to leaders at a wide variety of organizations. Jason is a contributor to Connection Culture, Fired Up or Burned Out and What Managers Say, What Employees Hear. He has contributed articles to leadership publications including Leader to Leader and Leadership Excellence. In addition to his work at E Pluribus Partners, Jason leads Chicago Hope Church in inner city Chicago and is president of Life Spring Network, a Christian ministry. Jason earned a B.S. from Brown University in business economics and organizational behavior/ management. He was captain and pre-season All-American linebacker in football, school record holder in discus, and national qualifier in track while at Brown. Jason earned a Masters of Divinity from Southern Theological Seminary. Jason is married and has two sons and two daughters.