Why Great People Quit Good Jobs - Christie Lindor - TEDxZaragoza


On April 15, 2018, Christie delivered a 14-minute talk to an audience of 500 people at a TEDxZaragoza event in Zaragoza, Spain

Entitled Why great people quit good jobs, Christie expands on the common management theory, people do not quit companies, they quit leaders. Christie’s assertion is that people quit more than just leaders; they quit organizational cultures to which leadership is one component of a broader ecosystem. She then takes the audience on a journey of what an organizational culture is, the difference between a culture in “survival” mode versus a thriving culture, and how anyone can help create a meaningful work environment.


This TEDx talk was inspired by a blog post Christie wrote that went viral 3 times in 2017, read at least 185,000+ times and shared thousands of times all over the world in one month. To this day, the blog post is highly debated online and I continue to receive emails from people because the topic (unfortunately) resonates with so many.


The TEDx talk is only a small excerpt of Christie's seasoned experience and expertise as a management consultant, author, writer and professional speaker. Get in touch with Christie to speak or keynote at organizations, colleges, and professional conferences across the globe.

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Christie Lindor

Imagine for a moment that you’re miserable at work, and you’re thinking about quitting. But you’re really good at your job.

Colleagues come to you when they need help.

Clients praise you

You have a supportive manager.

And, you may even be paid really well. Would you walk away from that?
Now, I know what you are thinking: “Why would someone walk away from what sounds like a dream job?” But I know that I have.

And at first, I use to feel so guilty and felt so ashamed for feeling so miserable and wanting to leave. But the more I shared my story - the more I realized that I was not alone. Because it turns out that great people quit good jobs all of the time. The real question is, “Why?”

There is a saying in American business that people do not quit companies, they quit leaders. From my personal and professional experience, I believe there is something much more at play than people quitting leaders.

I believe, great people do not quit companies or leaders. great people quit organizational cultures.

Today I want to talk about two things:
1) Why that happens
2) How you can create a meaningful work environment in which great people want to stay

You see, any organization are comprised of two categories of people – employees and leaders. Employees and leaders work together under a set of defined rules. This is THE definition of a culture.

What’s interesting is that, the culture of a company functions similar to that of the human body.

Like your own body, cultures have a DNA imprint that transfers messages created by the people working together.

If we take a closer look at a culture’s DNA strands, you will find that they are encoded with information like values, attitudes and beliefs shared by the people working together.

So in this context, culture provides a sequence of instructions and code for how people are treated, how decisions are made, who gets hired or fired, AND what behavior are rewarded, promoted, valued, and recognized

And just like your body, the culture of a company adapts to any environment that it finds itself in. The human body is a fascinating instrument in that it can go from “fight or flight” survival mode to thrive depending on how favorable conditions are for growth and sustainability.

Cultures are no different.

So you see,

When the people at work are unhappy, especially great people, it stresses the entire organization.

This leads to a company culture operating in survival mode.

So what does a culture in survival mode feel like?

If you hold your breath, the moment you walk into work in an attempt to “make it” through the day, And you do not exhale until you leave the office, and you do this day in and day out, that is a clear indication you maybe working in a company culture in survival mode.

Constantly working in this type of environment is at best uninspiring and at worst, it is exhausting. The hard truth is, many organizations operate culturally in survival mode.

(So as you can see, this guy us clearly in survival mode right now - crowd chuckles)

So...what does a culture in survival mode look like?

It is an environment where at the top of the house, there is a lack of clear leadership. And because there is no clear leadership, this leads to a misalignment where the vision or direction where decisions made throughout the company do not match its core values.

And since the vision is misaligned, this leads to no clarity in the roles & responsibilities of its people.

And when there are no clarity of roles, this then leads to compromised values or beliefs where mediocre performance is accepted AND even encouraged.

Once you have compromised values, this then leads to toxic behavior being tolerated by employees and leaders alike.

And it becomes a place where people are disrespected and everyone’s opinions are not valued as equally.

Once toxic behavior seeps in, it leads to a cliquish environment with a lack of diverse thought, the wrong people being promoted, and no appreciation for community, affinity, or recognition of others.

And where there is a clear lack of diversity & inclusion, this then leads to stagnant organizational structures and processes, which manifests into a place where it becomes too difficult or too political to get any damn thing done.

Which leads to great people quitting good jobs.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

On the other hand, what does a thriving culture look like?

I’m going to provide you with three distinct examples.

It’s the successful online entertainment company that disrupted an entire industry with a thriving culture. Where people are very thoughtful in how employees and leaders are hired with a laser focus on culture yet never wavering from that recruitment criteria. It’s being accountable to how decisions are made and what behaviors are rewarded. It is creating a healthy environment where only high performance is accepted and valued. It is a place where creativity and innovation is the norm and people are empowered to take charge of their careers as well as the company’s direction.

Or, take a social media giant that created an entirely new sector on the grounds of a thriving culture. It is a place where employees and leaders share the same open workplace. It’s where both trust and transparency abounds to create the perfect backdrop for bold problem-solving solutions. This environment develops employees and jobs centered on personalized human talent, passion and experiences that are a strategic imperative of that organization.

I personally remember the very first time I experienced a thriving culture. It was a former client of an established financial services organization. That experience still brings a smile to my face 10 years later. I absolutely loved going to that client site because every day I had the opportunity to be part of the infectious energy of excitement in the air. Everyone had a voice and were vested in rallying to solve the company’s challenges. In meetings one couldn’t tell who the C-suite executive from entry-level employee was. In thriving cultures, the line between employees and leaders are blurred because everyone – people - are empowered to take charge.

An increasing number of companies have realized that culture can be a competitive advantage to mitigate against market shifts. In a recent Global Human Capital Trends report 50 percent of CEOs surveyed are currently attempting to change their culture in response to shifting talent markets.

In today’s competitive, looming environment, there is a of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence.

With robotic automation, your very livelihood may be at stake without a thriving culture. You cannot afford to ignore the problem anymore.

According to the Harvard Business Review, adaptability is a key distinct advantage of thriving cultures and companies that get this, understand that it is the key to sustaining market competitiveness.

While i’m not saying thriving cultures are perfect, thriving cultures are about performance. Thriving cultures adapt. Thriving cultures get results.

Are you ready to take on the challenge of owning your experience and creating your reality of a meaningful work environment?

Employees, stop accepting the mediocrity being dished out by colleagues, management, and leadership teams alike. Ask hard questions; get involved in problem solving, be part of the conversation.

And take time to reflect on what is stopping you or your colleagues from coming in and doing your best work? And liberally share those ideas and possible solutions with those around you.

Last but not least, employees, if you have done everything and I do mean everything - and there is still no change after a concerted effort,

You have the power to walk away and find an environment where your values are aligned. But remember employees,

You are the validators of a culture.

So if you stay and become complacent, you also bear responsibility should your colleague walks away.


take charge of the narrative you are creating every single day.

Leaders, you are regulators of a culture. Step up to your role accordingly. Step up.

You do not have to accept survival mode as your reality or the reality of your people.

And that also doesn’t mean leaders to go and dump the problem onto HR to create yet another forced employee engagement program and then walking away.

Because what you are essentially doing is putting the burden of your leadership responsibility of shaping and owning culture onto a business function instead of yourself.

Leaders, how are you conveying a vision that makes people excited to come into work? Walk the halls and talk to your people.

Figure out what do they need? Is it empowerment to make their own decisions, coaching, new experiences, need processes improved, approval layers reduced, political obstacles removed?

Just like the body, it is your decisions and habits as a leader that either creates a thriving culture or reinforces a culture in survival mode.

So imagine that instead of being miserable at work, You woke up every day excited and energized to create a thriving culture that becomes so amazing

You not only attract the best possible colleagues, but you help build a business that can adapt AND thrive in the digital economy.

Employees and leaders have the power to shape the conditions of the work environment.

And maybe with your help, we can wake up in a world where not only great people do not quit good jobs

But, good jobs do not quit great people.

Thank you.