Drink Like a Lady Podcast

Become a Leader that Matters with Dan Pontefract

December 12, 2021 Joya Dass
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
Become a Leader that Matters with Dan Pontefract
Transcript
Joya:

Uh, Dan, Emily joins us from Philadelphia. She is a partner in a law firm there.

Emily:

Hello.

Joya:

Emily. When did you get your haircut?

Emily:

It's been a couple of weeks and we can't wait for it to grow back. It's a little shorter than I wanted. See if that happens.

Joya:

Oh, man. All right, we'll give it a few more minutes. Wait for everybody to join here.

Dan:

Joya, the next trip. And where will it be? Or your groups are the group?

Joya:

Well, they're coming up one after the other. I've got this Friday. I've got Washington DC. The next Friday, I've got Philadelphia. Um, the next one after that is just a wedding I'm back in Wisconsin. My boyfriend's from Milwaukee.

Dan:

Oh no, it must be happy with the Bucks. And if he's a basketball fan.

Joya:

I don't think he's still happy with the football team, what is the football team's name?

Dan:

Green Bay.

Joya:

I think they did really poorly. Um, because I heard a lot of screaming and yelling in this house.

Dan:

There's some turmoil in that team right now.

Joya:

Uh, so bucks. Yes. Um, the other one. No. Hi, good morning, Marianne. Hello?

Marianne:

Hello.

Joya:

What's the name of this football team? Again? I should know this because I'm actually going to a game in Milwaukee.

Dan:

Well, it's Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers.

Joya:

Yeah. So, well, I'm being made to suffer through a Packers game live.

Dan:

And you're going to turn to, Joya, you're going to turn to a cheesehead or whatever they call themselves.

Joya:

I'm going to fleet and farm and getting as many pieces of goose down my body can sustain for that.

Dan:

That's totally different than Emily's Philly cheese, right? That's different, you know, Green Bay, cheese and Philly cheese, and Emily, come on, let's make sure we're clear there.

Joya:

Marianne joins us from California. So she's on your coast. She have a company called ninth gear and she's in, I keep wanting to say Foster City, but you've moved from there.

Marianne:

San Mateo.

Dan:

Oh my gosh. Amazing.

Marianne:

Where are you? Dan?

Dan:

I'm in Victoria. Up the coast in BC, but I was chief learning officer for several years with SAP and would make the run. I would make the rundown that 101 so many times.

Marianne:

To Deer Creek Road.

Dan:

Yeah, exactly, yeah.

Joya:

Marianne, uh, Michelle and I were marveling at just how the landscape in California is so, so different than what we're used to here. Cause everything is flat made to sustain earthquakes, I guess.

Marianne:

Well, brown is the new grain.

Dan:

That's how you're going to come. Come live in the Northwest we're emerald green everywhere. It's very lovely up here. Rainy. It's raining. Yeah.

Joya:

We're just used to so many. I mean, where I live, it's just tall buildings everywhere. All right, ladies, let's go ahead and get started. I want to introduce you to Dan Pontefract who is coming to us from Canada today. And he is the CEO and founder of the Pontefract Group. A firm that improves the state of leadership and organizational culture. He's also the best-selling author of four books. One of which you can see right here on the screen, which is "Lead. Care. Win." And we're going to be talking today about the kind of leader we want to be. Do we want to be somebody who's just going through the motions or are you creating a culture of engagement where every single one of your employees feels valued? Dan, we're going to be talking about seven, uh, tips that you offer in this workshop, and then we'll open it up to questions. So, welcome.

Dan:

Thanks so much, Joya, uh, hopefully six, but, uh, w if we, we can, we can add a seventh. Um, it's a joy to be here. Uh, no pun intended, I guess it's a Joya to be here. Um, and when Joya prepped me, sort of what, what this group and how this forms and what you get up to. I was really, really excited. Um, first of all, uh, I want to explain a little bit about my relationship with Denise and I, my much better half. Um, we, uh, we met at McGill in Montreal, um, and right away clicked because we sort of have almost like role reversal responsibilities where I'm sort of like the maternal person in the relationship I'm with the family. And Denise is more of the paternal. And so I feel at home right now when I'm like hanging out with, um, the, honestly like a group of women, because it feels like that's, that's my, that's my tribe. Rather than hanging out with men, I would never be, for example, joy at a Green Bay Packers game. I was just not in my, that's not my scene. Anyway, if you're a green bay packer fan. Uh, my, my apologies. So my I'll just quickly talk a bit like one minute about why I'm here and how I got here, I suppose. So, um, I've always been in, uh, kind of the, uh, leadership development space. And so I thought I was going into academia. And so I, I, I wrote, and I, I learned a lot about how to be, uh, in that leadership space. So I ended up at the Institute of Technology of British Columbia, helping adults change their careers effectively for seven or eight years. And then I got wooed into the high-tech space where I was saying to Marianne that. I ended up as chief learning officer for a high-tech company called SAP and did that for seven-ish years and then ended up basically at the, AT&T of Canada for about 10 years, which is called Telus. And again, I helped change the culture there, uh, went from, and some of you might know culture score. So an engagement score of 47% all the way to 90. And then I went on my own about four years ago, I started writing books a while ago and et cetera, but I've always been enamored and really, uh, thinking through what the, you know, what it means to be a leader of self in a leader of others. And so after I wrote three books, I then started thinking about, well, what are these kind of lessons that I've garnered? You know, I just turned 50 this year. So I hopefully have learned something over the past, you know, 25 years of working with people. And I kind of distilled it down to, uh, these kind of nine lessons in the book of which we're going to just briefly talk about six of them and sort of some things that I've noticed, uh, over the years. So Joya and I will kind of riff a bit. And then I think we've got lots of time, obviously for discussion, if I'm not mistaken.

Joya:

But then the one, the first question I want to ask you before the tips is from a bottom line perspective. And we talk about this a lot here from a bottom line perspective. Why does it matter to be a leader that matters? How does that impact the revenue generation?

Dan:

Oh my gosh. So I could share right off hand, probably 15 different research studies that are, that are causal. And what I mean by causal, that means they've looked at the, um, performance of the team, the productivity of the team, and then kind of the statistical results of the team or the organization, whether that's EBITDA, uh, whether that's profitability, whether that's share price. And they've, they've, uh, these researchers over longer too. And they'll studies have found out that when a mostly organization or a team are engaged. So when the leaders cultivated and inculcated a culture of care, of support, of psychological safety, um, of empowerment, of empathy, of care, I just kind of narrowed it all down to the word care. Then these results kind of go through the roof. So what, what's the problem, Joya, in, in my work at least, is that way too many organizations and leaders seek the results rather than building the culture or building the right behaviors. And so they've got it wrong. The, the outcome. Are the statistical, uh, increases in productivity and revenue and profitability, et cetera. That's the, the problem is that when the leader or the team, the C-suite has said, we need to increase our revenue by 20% this year, or we need to, uh, bump our share price up 15%, or we need to increase our customer satisfaction by 12%. How do you do it? You do it on the backs of behavior and the team in which that you're, I hope afforded the opportunity to work with, but if you're not starting with the culture and the behavior and the attributes and the, and the nuance of how people need to interrelate and work with one another, how do you ever get to the outcome? And so, frankly, like so many people got it wrong, uh, and I'm not saying everyone's got it wrong, but there are many, many, many leaders in organizations who have it backwards.

Joya:

So let's get into point number one. How do you be a leader who conveys meaning? And doesn't, wield just power.

Dan:

Yeah, well, at the end of the day, there's some questions here that I think a leader needs to ask themselves. Um, I've got a few here, so maybe I'll even flip forward to here. So the questions like, you know, as a leader, why am I here? So, what's your role as a leader? Are you here for power, for a team in increase in size, budget size? Are you here just for the stock units that are awarded every year, the bonus, right? Like why are you here? And then, you know, equally, so you've got to, Joya ask the question. Well, who is, who am I actually serving? Is it me? You know, let's, let's talk football for a second. Cause we brought up the Green Bay Packers. Right? Well, what if an entire team was playing for just the names on the backs of their Jersey and not the proverbial, you know, crest on the front of you? Well, or the crest of the team. What happens is you've got a team of individuals. And so you're not asking the question, well, who am I serving? Am I serving the team members that are part of this illustrious crew that we're trying to work on our objectives together? Um, I could get even existential and suggest Joya, that you got to answer the question. Why are we here, uh, in life as a leader? Are we here to serve community? I hope so. Are we here to, you know, um, better the planet in which we can leave it for our offspring and cousins and you know, um, nieces and nephews and children? I hope so. So who are you serving? Right? Is it just me or is it a greater stakeholder kind of genre? And then of course, I truly believe if you want to be meaning driven. You've got to answer the question. Well, how do I want to be known when I leave a room? Do I want to be the bully, the person who didn't answer the emails, uh, the ones who, uh, reprimanded people publicly in a meeting, or, you know, someone who knows the names of their children, you know, the team members, children, those that they love, um, going to the ballet and not a Green Bay Packer game knows that they, you know, they just basically paying an interest right into who they are as a human being. So that whole notion of playing for meaning, uh, to me, is, is about these kinds of questions that leaders aren't asking, and that gets them into trouble.

Joya:

The number two, and I, I love that it's about time because I feel like every week I'm in front of my membership and time management is a pain point. So managing time and transforming your relationship to it is part of the recipe to being a leader that matters.

Dan:

Yeah. Uh, just so happens. I might've put a few thoughts together here, so I call it ah, stay present, and I wrote an entire book about this. So that was my third book. I'm not here to sell books by the way, but I, I got frustrated with teams and executives, uh, leaders, people of all stripes who are like quite frankly, frenetic, you know, they're out of their mind busy when I do, um, like, you know, time audits, as I suggest here on people's calendars. I asked them to go through a reality check on the time audit and say, why are you always back-to-back-to-back? Why is every meeting 60 minutes? Why don't you think about, you know, um, repatriating your time, you know, which baked basically means to, to win it back. And, and more often than not the culture that's ensued over the last five to eight, 10 years, right? It has been, uh, we're a meeting culture. Uh, and we get our work done at night. So what you've got and you've, again, whether it's APA, so the American psychological, or psychologists association, and other groups that are studying this, you have a horrific number of, uh, increases in stress, uh, in, in, in weight issues, in drinking and or drug issues. Like it's just, it's, convalesced into this nuttiness and zaniness of what are we doing to ourselves as human beings. So I think that leaders, uh, and ourselves, we have a kind of a fiduciary responsibility to our own humanity, and we need to be looking at our calendar, our, how many meetings do we have? You know, the best one I love Joya, which is ironic, of course, um, the meetings to plan for the meeting. Like we have a meeting with the boss, so we better plan two meetings to meet with the boss. Like, it's just, it's gotten to that. And then, you know what you add to that the, the reality that we've got texts, DMs, emails and all kinds of social media going on. Like, it's just, it's a lot. And so if we don't have, like, I call it focus blocks. If we've not put into our calendar, focus blocks for me or call it Dan me-time or Novena time or Jodi time. Right. Like if you don't have that, then how, how do you survive? And that's where I kind of see the consequence right. Of where people's stress and psychological almost unsafeness is, is coming out.

Joya:

Number three is embracing a curious mindset. I often say that one of the sorts of. Markers of a member at this, at this academy that I've created is that somebody who continually wants to be learning and continuously is curious about their world, but how does this make a better leader?

Dan:

Well, let's, let's look at an example, first of all, I think Joya. So, um, let's look at two. So everyone's heard of Malala Yousafzai. So Malala, uh, recently, uh, earned her, um, her degree at Oxford. And now she's going on to a Master's and she's already been anointed to go into a doctorate. How does Malala get to Oxford? Well, because she was, I mean, this is a recent days as well. What's going on in Afghanistan and the Taliban. Well, she was pushing for, uh, girls and women to, to learn, you know, she wanted, uh, women to be learners, to be lifelong learners because she felt as a young girl, kind of a 13, 14 year old that this was wrong. And so she pushed and pushed and pushed because she remained curious for her own learning, and she wanted a whole generation of women to be able to learn. Now the Taliban had other, you know, um, I guess, uh, thoughts and tried to assassinate her. And she recovers from that assassination attack goes obviously to England and goes on to win the Nobel. And obviously we know the story from, from Malala, but there's like, I mean, it's a famous story, but it's a story of perseverance of when you're continuing to look out for your own development and even the development of your team in her case, a country of women. Uh, I think that speaks volumes. Um, I really do. And so for me, I think we can learn from, you know, those, those examples and where we just sort of take credence and, and pay homage to that necessity that we're not done. This whole notion of, you know, um, remaining curious, like everyone in this group you showed up today. Cause you're kind of curious about what Joya had on her program, want to have some dialogue, like kudos, this is amazing. Right. But think of maybe your peers, some of your colleagues, your friends who are in a rut, they're in their lane, they're not getting up, you know, um, they're not realizing that the lane in the pool is full of other lanes and more water, like lift up the lane and get over and say, Hey, who are you? Can I meet you? Or, Hey, what's in your lane or that's the curiosity thing? I think that's often missed. Alice Coachman is the other example I wanted to quickly bring up, Joya. Alice Coachman, uh, raised in the south, lived in the south, you know, looked at all the white kids when she was growing up, she was black and, and said, oh, they're all learning track and field. You know, they're doing high jump. They're doing, you know, the long jump they're doing sprinting and I'm not allowed to, you know, I'm in over here segregated. And so, but her curiosity kept coming back and back to the point where, you know, she went out and found materials, her own stuff, like milk crates and ropes. And, uh, she was barefoot, but learned how to do the high jump on our own. Cause she was curious about her own penchant to be an athlete til eventually, you know, a local kind of coach at a university was looking around and saying a white guy. Well, this is amazing. What a, I can help you. And so he remained curious if you will, about Coachman's potential long story short, she became the first black woman to win a gold medal at an Olympics in the 1948 summer games in London, in the High Jump. So if we squash our curiosity, we might not win a gold medal. If you follow my drift as a, as a metaphor, as an analogy,

Joya:

Embracing change, I'm watching season two of the morning show and it starts with a diatribe about the old network executives who don't even know how to embrace change. Meanwhile, everything else has moved up to the cloud. What happens? What happens to your leadership when you're not embracing change?

Dan:

Well, I mean, um, it's a Kodak moment. So I mentioned, I turned, I turned 50 last month, so I guess I'm old now or whatever I am, but that means I grew up in the eighties with the Rubik's cube, the pet rock, but also Kodak. And so everything was a Kodak moment. And when everything's a Kodak moment, you got to kind of peel back the layers of that story and wonder what the deal what's the deal with that? Well, Kodak, the company based in New York, right? Um, had 90% worldwide market share of film and they had 85% market share of cameras. I mean, it was a, uh, a force now there were three individuals in the basement up in upstate New York where headquarters are with Kodak, trying to figure out in the mid eighties, digital photography. And after, you know, months and months of trying to figure out how to do digital photography, they figured it out. And they went to the bosses and they said, hey, we've figured out digital photography. We know it takes 17 minutes for the image to end up on a computer screen way over here, but, we patent it and we figured it out. Let's, let's pursue digital photography. This is like circuit 1985. And the execs, the leaders, were like, what are you crazy? Don't you know that, um, we're Kodak, we've got 90% of market share and film and 85% in cameras. And so they just, they, they ignored it. And so back to your point, Joya, is a good one, right of the show and kind of things going into the cloud, Kodak, which had employed about 150,000 people, now, today isn't even a camera company has about 3000 employees fell off every, you know, Wall Street list possible. And then of course the Japanese companies picked up the patent and whether you're Sony or Sanyo, Casio, all those folks, right. They ultimately created digital photography, same story about not remaining curious, those companies forgot what you know, um, Apple was about to do with the iPhone and put a little camera in a phone. And so, you know, Blackberry is a great example. They're like no one would ever want to put a camera in a phone and what happened to Blackberry. So if we don't remain curious, we can end up on the sidelines, if not out of business, whether it's a company, a business, or yourself, you, you too could be rooted up because you haven't kept up. If you will, with the change.

Joya:

Your next point is lead by lifting others up. That's hard to do because you've got so many pressures you're already balancing.

Dan:

Yeah. I mean, so we've talked things like, you know, culture we've talked about busy-ness right. We've talked about the need to produce, uh, the performance culture that's, you know, in so many different organizations, but really what, for me, it comes down to are a few things, right? If you kind of, um, you know, champion others, as I, as I say, uh, you are acting with civility, so you are you're, you know, proverbially holding the door, Joya, you know, remember when we went into buildings and we'd hold the door for people who are coming along the other way, right behind us, that that's kind of, what to me is a little bit missing. Is that because of that freneticism, the busy-ness, the me me me kind of culture and attitude that's enveloped. Uh, we need to resurrect that, that humility, that humble pie, that, that I'm here to serve others regardless of my stature or my title. Um, and you know, I, I just, I think if we, if we were to just start with the basics of that civility of, of being humble of knowing that we're here for others, and when we do champion others that builds up the culture that builds up the team camaraderie, and then people ultimately do want to go above and beyond the call of duty because they feel that connection. They feel that you've got their back Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft and he has one of the best lines. Um, and HBR has called him captain empathy. Uh, I've had a privilege to interview him a couple of times. He's like amazing. Anyway, his one of his lines is "my responsibility as a leader is to provide air cover for the team." And that's really championing others, right? That's saying I've got your back. You go out and be curious, try something, fail. Don't worry. Or the only way in which we're going to move forward is if we keep doing those things and that, you know, when, um, maybe something that goes awry, I've got your back, I've got air cover for you. I just love that line. I think it's a great example.

Joya:

I love that line, too. Your last point is acting with decisiveness and acting with clarity. Before we turn this over to questions, right?

Dan:

I mean, so leaders today, again, we go back to some of the hazards that are getting in the way, when, if I, if I take a positive road here, when they are proactive, uh, collaborative, communicative, when they, uh, do three things very well in particular, which is reminding the team of what they're doing. Uh, how they're doing so the progress and when it's supposed to be done by, uh, while it's providing that kind of guide on the side coaching year, so that there it's not performance, appraisal and reviews, but it's the guide on the side kind of 10 minute coaching, um, instances that allow that, what, how, and when, um, to, to persevere, to, to manifest, you know, that is clarity. So it sounds weird, like I've called it. I think it's number seven here on the actual list, your command clarity. So you're like really damn years in the word command. Well, it's not a command and control thing. It's that you have a stature of, um, awareness that you are there for the team, providing the clarity on where we are, how we're going to get there and what the progress is. And the more you do that. The clear the team member is, so they're not lost take, for example, like the last 18 months. So pre pandemic, let's just say, arguably, a lot of people were on-site in the office. Pandemic, most of us sent home and now whatever we call this, like the almost post pandemic, right. Uh, we're kind of seeing a lot more hybrid work opportunities. Well, when you have people both at home and on the, in the office here is, uh, uh, an unbelievable opportunity to create more clarity because again, not everyone's virtual and not everyone's face to face. It's going to be somewhere in between. So holy smokes, do we need to command clarity as a leader these days, even in ourselves as an individual. So that's what I believe.