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Getting the promotion is the easy part, leading effectively is one of the most challenging pursuits of the professional world. For whatever reason, one of the most familiar approaches to leadership is ‘command and control’ despite the fact that most people will say that they don’t like being led this way. In this episode, we look at three invaluable strategies for shifting perspective on leadership to a style that is more collaborative and responsive.
Adina Tovell 0:00
how do you help help your leaders to become the kinds of leaders that are going to help people feel safe, feel engaged, committed to the organization wanting to stay?
Hi, this is Adina here with today's episode of courage to be curious with Adina Tovell, and every week on our podcast. As you know, we are posing questions in our journey of wondering our way to brilliant. And some weeks these questions are about living, how we live with courageous curiosity, then how we lead with courageous curiosity, and then how we love with courageous curiosity. And this week, we are talking about how we lead with courageous curiosity. Last month, we got so much good feedback on last month's leadership episode so that if you have not heard it, go back and listen to last month either before or after you listen to this month because this is a perfect follow up to what we talked about last month. And I also want to mention that last month, we had offered an opportunity for people to download a handout that we have our workbook actually on leadership, how to define your core values. I'll talk again today why that's so important. But if you didn't get a chance to get it, we want to make sure that you have an opportunity to so pay attention in our social media posts for links to this, go to us on Facebook courage to be curious on Facebook. And if you can't find it as a download there, just message us and we will get it to you. But we really want you to have that we want this app the show to help build your leadership toolbox. So on today's episode, we want to talk about how to be the leader that people want to respect how to be the leader that people want to respect. And this episode falls within our month long theme that we are talking about on our podcasts and our video shorts that are on the YouTube channel and our blogs, and every place in our broad theme called perspective.
And for many organizations that I work with, one of the places that the conversation starts when we begin talking is that the leaders in the organization might have a very command and control idea about leadership, right? We get it, whether we get it from the military, whether we get it from the way things were. And when we were more of a manufacturing industry where you had somebody who was in charge of the floor and making sure everybody follow it in line, there's still many places where organizations realize that what they need is they need a lot of collaboration from their people. They need people to feel psychologically safe enough so that they will take risks and try things out and innovate. They need people to really put forth their best and you know, be willing to take those chances. But yet many times leaders are operating with a style that inadvertently shuts all of that down. And my experience in working with organizations is that people are not consciously doing this, that very often I've heard comments like, well, that's the only kind of leader I ever had is I had somebody who was sort of very directive and telling us what to do all the time. And we got called out more for our mistakes than we did for the things that we did well. And all of this was an effort in order to make things run smoothly, efficiently or safely. And I'm a strong believer, because there are many different leadership styles and theories out there that the correct answer to what is the best leadership style is that it is the leadership style that best matches the situation you are in or is most effective in the situation you are in. So there's certainly moments where command and control I believe is absolutely the best one. And those are often cases where there's something that is so dangerous that everybody just has to follow suit exactly in order to keep people safe. Or when there is a crisis, you want somebody who's going to stand up and start directing people and say, do this do that do the other thing. What we isn't really effective is when we take that into the day to day leadership of people, you know, teams of people and the people leadership aspect of organizations, particularly when those organizations and virtually every single one is today is dependent upon creativity and innovation and where we're trying to keep people. I've never seen anything like it in the us right now where there is actually and I hear that the same is true of brag where there's almost like a crisis to try to find enough really highly qualified people to work or even not as Super highly qualified. We're just gonna have a labor shortage right now of people willing can work. And so there's a lot of competition among companies for the best talent. So if you're going to be an organization that keeps its people, it's how do you help help your leaders to become the kinds of leaders that are going to help people feel safe, feel engaged, committed to the organization wanting to stay. And so we wanted to focus a little bit of attention on that this week, as we're in this month long exploration of perspective. So let's take a different perspective on leadership, let's try some things out and see where we land.
Now, some of you if you're following along, as I mentioned, our blog posts are also talking about this. And in the blog post that's related to this theme this month, in the leadership strand of our work really talks a lot about some work we did with an organization where we were working with a group of leaders within a division for a year, we had one group for six months, and another group for six months, all the way up and down a vertical line. And one of the reflections of one of the leaders that stood out to me was somebody who I mean, was really reflective individual very smart, and had a gentleness about him, but in the course of our work together, recognize that he really had been using the command and control approach to leadership. And when I asked him, Well, why was that? What drew you to leading in that way? And he said, I just didn't know anything else. All the leaders I've ever had in this organization, and in other organizations behave that way, that I just understood that to be how a leader was supposed to be. And so he had kind of one narrow perspective on how does a leader lead them through our work together, over the six months that I was working with this, this group of leaders started to introduce different notions about how leaders can approach approach leadership in the organization. And we had trainings and we watch videos, and we have conversations and an entire intervention that presented different ideas and different perspectives on how leaders can show up. And at the end of it, he was amazed to realize that he could adopt these approaches that were much more inclusive, much more collaborative and in had involved much more voice from the people that he led, and get at least as good and oftentimes better results than what he'd gotten before. And so one thing I want to say about that, as we're talking about perspective, is the only way to shift or change perspective is to have the introduction of something new, that starts to present represent the presence of an alternative, right, the presence of an alternative, because if we stay in our own little world, in our own little box of things, and if we only associate with others who are doing the same, there's no presence of an alternative. And so there's no notion that perhaps there's other perspectives or other approaches to hold. So the first piece to perspective shifting is even to have this sense that there could be another way. And then as we get acclimated, oh, I start to see some other things, I realize maybe there's some other possibilities, then there's an entire trajectory of things to do in order to get comfortable exploring my experiences is that just because we identify that there's another possible alternative, or a new possible perspective to take on something, we don't automatically just leap. We don't jump from what we're doing or how we're thinking to this new way of dealing or this new way of thinking immediately. As soon as that first thing arises in our thought. Usually, it's much a much slower process than that and involves kind of opportunities to hear more, to learn more, to try things out to test things to see what works to see what doesn't work. What I wanted to do in this episode, if you are on that trajectory, and if you are getting the least bit curious about how you lead, and what might be additional tools to add to your tool belt or perspectives to take as a leader that I want to offer you three of the things that we worked on over the course of that year, with leaders that really helped not only to shift the perspective but the practice as well to that leadership style that was more inclusive and collaborative and engaging.
So strategy number one that we talked about was something that I just love. I will give credit where credit is due I read it in a magazine and educational leadership magazine probably 15 years. ago if not more than that. And it is something that was so powerful has stuck with me all of these years, and I have used it in every leadership role I have ever been in and every training that I have ever brought, because it just, there's so much that's resonant about this teaching. And the teaching was about the ratio of seven to one, seven to one, well, what does what does seven to one stand for? It was like a bank account, that if I'm leading people, that my bank account of connection and relationship with the people or person that I am leading, needs to have seven deposits to every one withdraw. And I love thinking about this, because if we think about our actual bank accounts, if we're not making more deposits, both, you know, the number of deposits. And then of course, in our bank accounts, what's more important is the size of our deposits, than the number and size of our withdrawals, we're going to be in deficit, right, we're going to be an overdraft. And then we get those nasty notes from the banks and all those charges and things like that. So in order to not be an overdraft, we have to make sure that we have a good account balance. And if we even just take stock of how we feel, when we look at our bank accounts, the bigger the balance that's in there. For most people, the more secure we feel, okay, I don't have to worry, I don't have to worry, I'm going to go into overdraft. I know I have enough money to pay my bills. I know I can go out to eat or whatever it is you'd like to do with your funds. What if we thought about the relationships that we with the people that we lead? In the same way? What if we thought about those relationships and measure up? How many deposits do I make? And what is the quality of those deposits? So what do I mean by deposits, deposits is conversations that I have with people where they get the sense that I'm really interested in hearing what they have to say, and understanding them and gaining their and hearing their ideas and what they have to contribute. A deposit could be really taking time to honor somebody's work to give them a compliment or an affirmation on work well done. And not kind of a frivolous one, I always say, Hey, good job, you know, that's barely worth a fraction of a penny in terms of the deposits, were something that truly addresses the quality of the work, the creativity of the idea, contribution to the project. That's where you really gain points in terms of making the contributions where the contributions have significant value. Maybe going out of your way and showing up for someone paying attention when there's a hardship in someone's life, and perhaps shifting a responsibility to somebody else in order to make things easier for the short term. These things that constitute contributions into the relationship. That's what we think of as deposits, right? And in the seven to one ratio. If we have a, we have a balance, or a ratio of seven deposits for every one withdraw. So what's a withdrawal? withdrawal might be a time when I need to give some feedback to somebody, you know, hey, there was something that really didn't go well here. And we need to discuss it. Or deposit might be that request that somebody put in some overtime, or redo something or give a little bit more than maybe what they're used to giving. So we're asking for something back from somebody. Why is the ratio of seven to one so important? The ratio of seven to one is so important, because it builds the foundation of trust in a relationship. And if we think about it, in all relationships on our lives, when we feel like people really care for us, when people are willing to go the extra mile for us when you know people have gone a little bit further, we're willing to do that back, right. We don't even think of it as a withdrawal. We think of it as just what it means to be in relationship.
But when we get into the workplace, and I also think we're in another episode when we're in schools, but we're in schools, if we're in workplaces, and we tallied up over the course of a week or a month, how many withdraws versus the number of deposits do I make relative to each of the people on my team? We might be surprised. We might be surprised that we may be barely even have a one to one ratio. We could have a one to seven meaning a one deposit for seven withdraws. And when that happens, that's what burnout is. That's where resentment comes in. That's when people feel like there's a lack of sense of trust or a lack of sense of feeling being valued in an organization. So one of the strategies that I worked with leaders on over the course of our year together was really mastering this seven to one ratio. And I want to bring that out here. The second thing that we worked on was about how to really take care of oneself. Okay, why is self care, a leadership strategy? So self care is a leadership strategy. Some of it some this might feel totally self evident to some of you, but it is a self care strategy. Because we know what it is like to be in deficit mode. If we are lacking sleep, if we are lacking good nutrition, if we are lacking exercise, if we are lacking time to be quiet, if we are lacking time for meaningful relationships in our life, if we are lacking time to explore things outside of work, it comes out in how we show up at work. Everybody is looking to the leader to set the tone. Everybody's looking to the leader to kind of create the environment. But if I as the leader, I'm so overtired and don't get enough of the right food and don't get good exercise, and have no free time, and I'm working 24 seven, well, most leaders get grouchy, most leaders get more demanding. And so a second strategy for really leading well, is to make sure that you are investing in your own self care. And third strategy I wanted to talk about and of course, here I am, back to my curiosity, and I am back to questions. The third strategy is to stop assuming, I'm just gonna say it really clearly stop assuming there's so many instances when we assume things about the people that we lead, somebody is calling in late for the third time this week. If we don't know the details, we make up the story about it. And it's an interesting thing to me. But most of the time, when we make up stories about people, they're very unfavorable. We rarely make up a story saying, Oh, you know what, I bet that person's really having a hard time. And, you know, I think that they're doing everything they can to get here. But this just got in the way, and I'm gonna give them all the benefit of the doubt. We rarely make up stories like that. Or we don't make up a story that says, hey, I bet maybe they're trying to work from home in order to get some extra time in on this project. And that's why they're not in the office right now. Unfortunately, our minds tend to go to the stories that are deprecating or just unfavorable to somebody. And so instead, let's stop assuming, stop assuming and start asking. As you know, I am an advocate of asking questions, I would like us all to ask more. So the what we worked on with this is when somebody is performing in a way that seems to not be measuring up to the standards you have, what could you ask that person to better understand the choices they were making, why they were doing the things that they were doing? My personal belief is that most people are typically trying to do the best that they can, it doesn't always mean that what they're doing is going to meet up to the standards. But what is the gap between the best that they can or the best to their understanding? And what the expectation is, I can find out if I ask a question. When something is late, we might have a whole story as to why we think the thing is late, why this person is always late or why did this happen on this project? What if we stopped assuming, and we just started asking? We might assume that because somebody doesn't speak up in meetings very much that they don't really have anything to contribute.
If we asked however, we might find that there are other reasons why they don't contribute in those meetings. Let's stop assuming and start asking. And as with everything we talked about on this podcast, all of this is transferable into the rest of our world. If we have spouses that we are typically assuming negative things about at certain times, or our kids are doing things that are annoying us and we are making up the story as to why they are doing these things that annoy us or friends that are behaving a certain way at a given time. The reason that we assume is because the mind needs a complete story. The mind is a meaning making machine and operates in the story form. So if there are missing pieces to The story, the mind will automatically fill some in. Because the mind doesn't really sit well or do well with story or pieces that are just like fragments and don't fit together. And that's where the assuming comes in. What's cool to me is, as I've learned about this with vision is that when we see things like if I'm standing at a window, and I look at a tree, I'm not actually seeing all of that tree, I'm seeing matter that's bouncing off of light and reflecting off of, you know, my eye, and it's creating pieces of images. But because my mind knows what the object is, it fills in the pieces. But because I'm not actually seeing every single piece of matter that is part of that tree, I am seeing reflections that help you to understand that this is a tree and then I fill in the rest of the pieces. look that up if you're interested. But our mind does the same thing with making up stories about why people are doing what they're doing or saying what they're saying or being the way that they're being. And what my experience has been is that the assumptions tend to deteriorate relationships, they tend to deteriorate people people's experience of us as a leader. And so my third tip in this is, let's start asking and stop assuming this episode was all about how to be a leader that people will respect. And these three strategies, no matter what style of leadership, you are executing in any particular situation, these three are meant to be global. They're meant to give you a global sense of if I really want to build trust with the people that I lead. If I want them to feel committed to me as a leader and committed to the organization or the project, what are three things that I can consistently do, I can consistently maintain a seven to one ratio of deposits versus with withdrawals, I can really commit to my own self care, because if I'm committed to mind, it means I will also be committed to my people self care, and that will be appreciated. And then I can stop assuming and start asking. If you're interested in reading a little bit more about the exploration of the year long journey, that you can check out our blog, because you will find us courage to be curious all over LinkedIn, and our other social media sites where you'll be able to read and access the article. And if you're not always sure how to ask the right questions. And if you're really committed to being the kind of self reflective leader that people will respect. Go to our website courage to be curious, calm. And check out our card depths because we have three sets of questions hard to live with the courage to be curious, lead with the courage to be curious and love with the courage to curious. And that leadership deck is designed for you. There are 26 questions that are designed to support your own reflection of self. Who am I as a leader? How do I show up? And 26 questions that really are there to support you in getting curious about the people that you lead? It is written in that way? How do the people that you need do this? Or how might they think about that? or What did you ask them? So we want to give you this resource, we want you to have the resources at your fingertips to get really good at asking questions, because it is so critical to productive relationships. I also just want to give you a preview because we are in August right now we are talking about leadership and questions. And we have incredibly exciting guests coming up in both September and October we are we are going to be having on the co authors of how to ask powerful questions will wise and Chad Littlefield.
I get them each separately. So two different episodes where we are going to go so much more in depth about the importance of asking questions, how to ask those powerful questions, and the difference they make. So you want to stay with us and you want to be present for those episodes. We also offer teachings that stem from the podcast and other teachings for those who are courageously curious and speakers and growers on our YouTube channel. So if you want to head over to the YouTube channel, we have material there that is not in our podcast and not in their blogs, but totally fresh in material. They're really supporting those who are committed to growing and being at your best in the world. Thank you for listening today and we will be back next week with our love episode how to care well for the people that are most important to you. With the courage to be curious
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