Join us today for Part 2 of the Interview with Alain Huskins author of Cracking the Leadership Code: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders...

This is Part 2 of the interview I had with speaker, author and leadership maven Alain Hunkins.   

In today’s interview with Alain, we talk with you about empathy as a leader.  We also share with you how behavioral economics relates to leadership.  Alain also talks with you about mentorship as a leader and lots more.

Join in on the Chat below.

00:00:00 Thanks for joining us on episode 681 of the inspired stewardship podcast. Hi, I'm Ella Hawkins, author of cracking the leadership code. I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to lead well is key. And one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this,
00:00:31 the inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott Mader, when team meet like you were just talking to Scott about, you know, if it's bad meetings, like what are we meeting? Cause for the sake of meeting, what's the point of our meetings are, do we have, do we have too many people in our meetings? Should these meetings be smaller?
00:00:58 And do we, who needs to be involved in, what are we trying to accomplish in this meeting? Are we trying to gather input? Are we trying to make a decision? Those are two very different types of meetings and oftentimes Welcome. And thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be,
00:01:17 then you must learn to use your time, your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast, who learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world. In today's interview with the LUN. We talk with you about empathy as a leader, we also share with you how behavioral economics can be related to leadership.
00:01:49 And Alon talks with you about mentorship as a leader at lots more. One reason I like to bring you great interviews. Like the one you're going to hear today is because of the power in learning from others. Another great way to learn from others is through reading books. But if you're like most people today, you find it hard to find the time to sit down and read.
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00:02:44 Hello. As a consultant trainer, coach, and speaker around the complex topic of leadership, his recent book cracking the leadership code three secrets to building strong leaders was released earlier this year, over his 20 plus year career. Elaine has led over 2000 groups in 25 countries, including groups at Walmart, Pfizer city group, GE state farm IBM GM and Microsoft Alon has designed and facilitated seminars on many leadership topics,
00:03:15 including team-building conflict management, communication, peak performance, innovation engagement, and change. Alon also serves on the faculty of Duke corporate education and is published in many of the most prominent business and leadership sources, including fast company Forbes, inc, and more welcome to the show, Right? And those are both forms of feedback once just internal and one's external. So they're both valuable.
00:03:46 Um, from that same point of view, one of the things that, and again, listeners, uh, will laugh as they hear this. Cause I preach all the time. The idea of if you are not reflecting on your learning and, and you know, constantly do that plan, execute, reflect, revise, plan, execute, reflect, provide.
00:04:05 If you just simply lived your life that way, if we all did all the time, it'd be amazing what we could do. Now, that being said, you don't always, you can't always do that. You're not always perfect at it. We screw it up too. Um, all of us do, I don't care how, how good you are.
00:04:20 You, you mess it up, but the more often you can do that, the better it, it gets whatever it is. You know, it literally could be in anything in, in that, in that Blake, whether that's communicating with your spouse, whether that's leading your company, whether that's, you know, recording a record, I don't care at all.
00:04:40 I'm really excited to be here with you today. So one of the Things that we talked about last week is, uh, about becoming an effective leader is this idea of empathy. You talked about how, as, as power went up, empathy went down. You talk a little bit about what you mean by the word empathy and how All that can actually help us serve others.
00:05:00 Well, Sure. Yeah. So empathy, my quick and dirty definition is it's showing people that you understand them and care how they feel now, as all the listeners hear that they go, duh, duh, got it. That's simple enough. And it sounds really simple and it sounds really, it is. It's super basic. It's super human. In fact,
00:05:21 all of us have, especially that care how you feel. I mean, we are hard wired for that. If you hear a baby cry, they're the part of your they're like, Oh, here's someone that needs help. We're wired for that. Now the challenge with empathy is that while we are wired to have empathy for others, we don't have it for all others.
00:05:38 It turns out that we actually only have empathy for people who would be within what we'll call our empathy circle. So loved ones, family close friends, make the cut people who you perceive as strangers don't. So the challenge then is what is it that gets in the way. So in a workplace setting, there may be some beliefs and mindsets around who is in your empathy circle and who's not.
00:06:04 And why. And so for my work, both as a practitioner and the research that I did for the book, I found there are some big barriers to leading with empathy. And before I get into those, there's some scary stats. So I found this great study from business solver that show that so everyone knows empathy is important. Is that 92% of CEOs say their organizations are empathetic.
00:06:26 Now they asked all of the organizations about the CEOs and only about 50% of the people in those companies said that their CEOs are empathetic. So there's this gap. And I think anyone listening is saying, I am a, no one thinks I'm going to be a lousy, empathetic person. Like everyone means probably to do well. So what are the things that get in the way,
00:06:44 I'd say one of the biggest, especially, especially in a work context, but frankly, probably anywhere in life, these days it's time, the fact is showing people that you care, how they feel and understand them takes patience. And you know, as well as I do it's guys, a patient is in short supply. In fact, many organizations have actually turned this into a core competency.
00:07:04 They call it usually drive for results or bias for action, right? It's like we can't just sit here around and talk about stuff. And so we go, go, go, go, go. And yes, there's time and a place to go, go, go, go. But when it comes to empathy, you got to slow down because human relationships don't travel at the speed of light.
00:07:21 They travel at the speed of people and you know, and I think, and so that connects to number two, big challenge is I think a lot of people are really afraid of this idea of emotions in the workplace. They're like, Oh my gosh, I'm not a psychologist, you know, But it might get at, and it might get me sued or it might get me in trouble too,
00:07:40 is a fear. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. No, I remember I was working with this guy who was a managing partner at a consulting firm. His name's Bob, Bob said, I don't ask my people. He's like, I'll be honest. I don't ask my people how I feel, how they feel, you know, why? Cause if I ask them,
00:07:53 they might tell me, Well, someone telling me I don't want that much information. I don't want to know exactly scram. It's like businesses business and you know, Bob and many people, I mean, particularly, you know, boomers and gen X of which I'm a gen X or myself, but you know, grew up hearing this phrase, you know,
00:08:07 this is business, you check your feelings at the door by her that too. Right. Scott. And so it's so interesting. Cause if you step back and consider that statement, you know, and we just took it for verbatim, Oh this is business. You check your feelings that there were, and didn't question it. But if you step back and think about it,
00:08:22 you can't actually do that. It's impossible. What we ended up doing instead is we suppress our actual feelings. Nobody feel them, we just suppress them. So when people are saying, how are you? They're like, I'm busy instead of saying, I'm really stressed out or I'm feeling kind of hopeless about this. Like, cause you know, as soon as you say words like stressed or hopeless,
00:08:41 now the red flags are going call HR, call you. And that people aren't okay with that. And again, this is another, another thing that I think this pandemic is opening up is that hopefully we're now able to have this conversation that it's okay not to feel okay, you're going through massive global trauma right now. Yeah, I get it. And so I think hopefully people understand the window for having some more patients and you don't need to be a psychologist to be empathetic.
00:09:06 You just need to have a listening ear and a curiosity and an openness to go. I hear you. I, that sounds difficult. Yeah. What can I do to help? You know, you don't have, and so if we don't do that intervention upfront, we're going to ultimately have to deal with some damage control down the road because someone is going to be stuffing their feelings,
00:09:30 feeling like, Oh, I can't talk about, so I can't be me. And in fact, another scary study that Deloitte did a years ago, a few years ago, you said about 61% of the U S workforce feels the need to put on a mask. And I don't mean like a coven mask. I mean like a like armor, like a psychic mask that they have to put on a mask when they go to work because they don't feel safe and comfortable being themselves,
00:09:52 being who they are, you know, 61%. And that again is that puts a big psychic weight on people. And again, the reason I bring it up, isn't just, this is not a psychology class. It's just, when people are feeling that weight, they cannot perform at their best. And so this is all, as you said earlier about,
00:10:11 you know, being, pushing things out of the way, or is it one of, one of the people I interviewed for the book said my job as leaders to be a bulldozer and push the crap out of the way that people don't need. And so if you want to be that facilitative bulldozing leader to make it so people can perform at their best,
00:10:26 having empathy and showing empathy is a vital skill. Well, I think one of the things you said, I want to call it out too, is that idea of sometimes I think we also think we have to fix it somehow. You know, if they share how they feel, now we have to fix it. It's an oftentimes people don't want you to fix it.
00:10:46 They just want to be heard. You know, they need to be listened to. I think if we don't sometimes listen, then people wallow, you know, you hear the people will say I'm venting. And, and sometimes people really are venting. It means they're just sharing to get it out, you know, and move and be able to put it behind them and move forward.
00:11:07 Or at least have someone else, you know, empathize with them and hear them. Other times people want to wallow where it's, you know, I, I just, I want to feel bad and I need to feel bad and I'm just going to stay here. What I've seen is if you don't give people the chance to vent, that's what leads to wallowing.
00:11:27 That's what leads to, well, nobody's going to do anything about this. Anybody, nobody cares. So I'm just going to stay here, stuck in the mud, you know, and, and feel bad because that's where I am. Um, but I, but when you can kind of give people that chance to talk and to be heard and to listen most of the time,
00:11:46 you know, I've had those conversations where somebody is talking to me and at the end, it's like that socks. And they're like, thank you. You helped so much. And they leave. And I'm glad I didn't do any of that. You know, I had that with my wife. I don't know about you, but I had that conversation with my wife again.
00:12:02 Yeah. Yeah. I love that. You said that talked about this idea, this fixer, because I think another one of these myths and attracts and the beliefs that we carry is this idea that we have to be these superheroes, all seeing all knowing again, no, you're not, and I'm not we're human. And we know what we know. We don't know what we don't know,
00:12:16 but, uh, you know, in terms of the fixer to, um, uh, I met this guy named Matt, who's a district manager for a global fast food franchise. And, uh, I remember I met him and the company had a hundred districts and he was out of the name, rank all of them. Right. They had metrics up,
00:12:32 up, up and down and he was ranked number one out of all a hundred. And I said, Matt, that's amazing. Have you always been such a top performer for the company? You've been with the company for a number of years? He said, no. When I started, I was like 84th on the list. So what changed man?
00:12:44 Like how did you go from 84 to woman that you said, well, when I started, this gets back to what we're talking about, Scott. He said, when I started, I thought my job was to be the fixer. I was promoted. I was district manager. And so he had all these different restaurants, fast food restaurants. He had about 10 different stores.
00:12:58 You get to drive around. First thing you get every morning was they, they call it the hot list, which is basically a battery of their key metrics. And so we could see everything that was working well and everything that wasn't working well, it was different. It was color coded. So everything in red it's bad, right? So he's looking first thing,
00:13:11 he looks at the hot list and what's in red. It says, I gotta fix this. So he hops in his car and he's driving from the fast food store. And he's going in and says like, Hey, you see this, you gotta do this. Get into this fix, fix, fix, fix, fix. And he said, I did that for years.
00:13:22 And I was so stressed and working hard and nothing changed. He's like turnover was terrible. And then finally said, one of his mentors said, look, people don't want to work for a fixer. They want to work for a leader. You got to change your approach. And so he did. And so he came in each shifted. Now, now the work didn't change,
00:13:40 but Matt changed. And so he started going in. And as you said earlier, Scott got, I think he took a lesson out of your book and said, Oh, I know I have to. I'm a process person. I have to start thinking about people as people. So first thing he would do is like, Hey, how was your week?
00:13:54 He talked to this restaurant manager, how was your weekend? How are your kids? What's going on in this build a personal relationship with them. And then after he had the personal relationship, he pulled out the hot list, but he didn't say this is wrong. He said, here's the metrics. What do you think we should do? And they co-created solutions together.
00:14:11 And so it was built building this, this relationship on this, what I call the three secrets of strong leadership, which are connection, communication and collaboration. And the coolest thing about it, Matt said is like, so getting out of the fixer mindset, he said, now that I'm number one. Not only am I less stressed, I am working so much less hard than I do.
00:14:31 Like life is so much better and easier doing it this way than the old way. Well, yeah. Two people are smarter than one. You know, two heads are better than one is the old adage. And yet we as leaders often think, well, we've got to have all the solutions. Yeah, wait a minute. And yet we, and yet we'll Turn around and tell people,
00:14:54 you know, why aren't you getting input? Well, why aren't you getting input? You know, ask yourself physician heal thyself, right? Yeah. So myself, you know, I'm often we talked about this, I'm a process person. I'm a student of habits. I know student of systems, however, I'm also a student of behavior. Um,
00:15:11 and, and the fact that the way people think about things, the way people act is not as black and white as we make it out to be, you know, of course, I, again, I spend a lot of my time as a financial coach. So behavioral economics, as an example where, you know, for years we treated economics as the quote unquote,
00:15:31 the law of the reasonable person, you know, the, the, this is what a reasonable person would do. And it's like, yeah, but we aren't reasonable people. So needless to say that doesn't work and behavioral economics kind of looks at it differently. It begins to look at it as people first. So I've seen parallels between those kinds of thinking and the way I think about leadership.
00:15:51 I think you call some of that out as well. Would you share some of the ways that you see, you know, looking at things from that behavioral standpoint, behavioral, economic kind of idea, and leadership and how that can help us as leaders make employees more effective or lead them more effectively? Yeah. If you think about this idea of, you know,
00:16:10 behavioral economics is that, you know, before we're going after the rational economic theory said that people are always acting in their best economic self interest. And then the behavioral economics came along. They like no things work. And that, you know, we are, you know, in some ways, predictably irrational about how we think about stuff. And so then really what this,
00:16:30 you know, we tend to think that we, we are these objective decision makers when in fact we are so influenced by so many things like crazy thing is that, you know, that if you look at the number of dentists in the world, like percentage wise, and there's a higher number of people who become dentists, whose names are dentists, okay,
00:16:52 it's freaky. It makes no sense, like why would be because their name is similar, you know, it's just one of those things that really that's how we do stuff like that. That much in the same way, as you think advertising doesn't work on you, Oh, it's working on you. I mean, it works all of us, okay.
00:17:04 This is why advertising is in business. And so we can take a page out of this idea of influence is that there are things that we can do as leaders. And we don't want to say force or, you know, but let's call it nudge. I think that's the word that a lot of the behavioral economics economists use is this idea of the Nanjing.
00:17:22 So I'll give you a couple of examples outside of the workplace. And then we can look at things in the workplace. So for example, if you want to nudge someone to eat smaller portions of food, you could serve it on smaller plates because a smaller plate size creates the perception that the plate is bigger and they're not as hungry again. It sounds crazy,
00:17:42 but it works. Another obvious one that works well too, is if you want people to be more, to be sign up as organ donors on their driver's license, in case there's an accident, they can donate their organs is make the default that you're already in the system and you have to sign to opt out as opposed to the other way around. Right?
00:18:02 So where they have default, are you opting in or opting out again, take a look at all those check marks on your computer screen. When people are asking you to opt in or opt out, it takes an extra little effort to click extras. And they know that, That I wish retirement plans at work are that way, too. Exactly who would do that?
00:18:20 You know, which is why I want you to sign up for a subscription model auto pay because the time it takes to stop uncertainty, I was like, ah, that's too much work. I'll just stick with subscription. So you're getting all this stuff. You don't actually need it and you're paying for it. So those are a couple of examples outside of work.
00:18:34 So if we think about work, what are things that we can do to help people to perform at their best? Well, my research, I found that there's actually four fundamental human needs that need to be satisfied for people to perform at their best. So it turns out we all have this need for safety. Now that's a very obvious right now in the middle of a pandemic there's physical safety,
00:18:58 which is why people are all working from home, social distancing, but beyond physical safety, there's also fiscal safety. So for example, there are people earning a living decent wage, like, you know, in a certain point. Cause if you feel like, Hey, I'm going to do this for a dollar an hour or something to say, it's not going to work.
00:19:14 Um, so that's physical safety and then you've got psychological safety. So that is, do people feel safe? We talked about this earlier about the sense of do people feel safe bringing their whole selves to work and what are things you can do? So an example, specific thing you can do to increase psychological safety is as a leader, you can model being vulnerable.
00:19:35 So if you want teams to open up is you could open up again, let me talk about easier to change yourself than anybody else. So yeah, if you want your team to be more honest with you, why don't you start by being more honest with them? Now, we're not saying you have to bare your soul and share your deepest, darkest secrets,
00:19:49 but what's something that might be a stretch where you let people know. So for example, Scott, I imagine the first time that you realized that you needed to put, um, reach out to people on your process, task list, it might've felt a little risky. And maybe saying to your team, say, you know what, folks, um,
00:20:07 I'm not a natural people person, but are you really important to me? So this is what I'm doing, but you just saying that to somebody that takes some vulnerability, right? And the cool thing is at the moment, it seems really scary. But on the flip side, the person who hears that goes, wow, that takes some courage. I want it.
00:20:24 And that actually builds trust because vulnerability is what builds that trust. So that's an example of something you can do. Another thing you can do to build psychological safety is if you're working with a team is to make sure that you hear from everybody, you don't have a one or two people dominating the conversation, but you know, if there's a team of six are saying,
00:20:41 Hey Scott, I noticed you haven't said anything like what's on your mind. Like, what would you like to share in this to make sure that they're because not everyone's as comfortable speaking up and grabbing the talking stick as it works, to be able to do that. So what, And other people will grab it and beat other people over the head with it.
00:20:58 Exactly. Exactly. So, and all the research would say that teams that are highest performing have about equal amounts of air time and people become more clued into the cues of the people around them. So those are a couple of things you can do. So anyway, we got kind of down the road around safety. So the other three needs, people have a need for energy.
00:21:17 So what are the things you're doing to promote energy on your team? And a quick, simple thing that you can do really practical for any one, listening, think about your meetings and how long are they. So if your meeting is going more than 90 minutes, do you put a break in? Because the fact is we all know what it's like,
00:21:33 like two hours. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, I cannot focus. Like some, like your internal monologue is going, this is crazy. Why are we so, but they'll push on. So just, I call it the 90 minute rules, making sure you take a break at least 90 minutes or more frequently. So a need for energy.
00:21:48 So we have locked by the way, Still applies to zoom meetings too. Oh, even more so I think the 90 minute rules become the 60 minute rule because it actually, you know, we talk about zoom fatigue and all the needs for that. So yeah. So we have a need for safety, with need, for energy. We also have a need for purpose.
00:22:03 People want to know that what they're doing is matters and contributes to something bigger than themselves. So how do you let people know that what they're doing matters? So a quick, simple examples, if you are in some kind of organization and you're serving some kind of a customer, can you bring that customer in to talk to your people about the impact you're having on them?
00:22:23 So people can hear it directly from the primary source. Like this is the impact we're having, as opposed to, especially in a larger organization where you're maybe very numerous steps removed from the end user. It's like, let people know this is the difference we're making because when people know they're making a difference, it makes that's what makes the difference. So,
00:22:42 so that's, that's about purpose. And the last one is around ownership. And then we talked earlier about micromanagement and that sense of, you know, people want to know what the end result needs to be the what, but they don't want to be told exactly how so, giving people some autonomy and some freedom and some creativity to figure that out on their own.
00:23:00 And now you can check in and support them around that. They may come up with great new ideas that you want to borrow. But again, we've got, so we've got safety, we've got energy, we've got ownership and purpose. And that as leaders, if we can design borrowing from behavioral economics design environments, where we nudge people to get those needs met,
00:23:19 surprise, surprise, they're going to perform at their best. And what's interesting. There is rephrasing. So rather than using the term nudge, what I always tell people is whether you're looking at this for yourself, whether you're looking at this as a leader for your organization, adding friction to those things that you don't want to happen and remove friction from those things you do want to happen,
00:23:41 you know, make, make it smooth. Right? Think about getting up and going for a run in the morning. Well, if you lay out your shoes and you lay out your clothes and you make it where it's almost a no brainer, you just get out of bed and go, it's a lot easier to go for a run in the morning,
00:23:56 shocking, you know, but that's how, that's how we really work. That's how we actually do things. You know, if you, if you make it hard for yourself to do something, then it's ever going to happen. Um, you know, because we, we do things out of emotion. We justify them after the fact with logic, but we do it because of the emotion because of how we feel.
00:24:17 Yeah. I love what you talked about, the idea of the difference between adding friction or removing friction and probably the two biggest places where we deal with friction. That's the biggest source of frustration. I'm sure you've seen this when I've done research on this too. It's meetings and emails. I mean, that's the double headed beast that we all deal with.
00:24:36 You know, I'm seeing major amounts of time. Bain and company did this great study about where people spend their time a few, a couple of years ago. And they found that people spend something like 65% of their time is used up between meetings, emails, and then they have unproductive time. It leaves you like 15% of your time, about five hours out of a standard work week of what you're getting stuff done.
00:24:57 So for me, you know, and in the book I write about this, that whole chapter called making things simple, really taking a look at what are things you can do to remove the friction in bad meetings or add friction to the, you know, whatever it is, um, to make it. So for example, you know, one of the things that gets in people's ways or on emails or interruptions.
00:25:16 So for example, unless you're on call turn all the automatic notifications off, like, have you turned anything that buzzes, dings, pings and rings off? So you're not being distracted every little while and just focus on something that takes more time and energy. Yeah. Yeah. What are the, uh, areas that, that I've seen is that area of email?
00:25:39 So when, when I was in the corporate job, my record was 197 emails in one hour that I got, I received. Um, you know, I would get sometimes as many as 800 to a thousand emails in a day. And I, and I still learned to manage that and be effective. And guess what part of the way I did it was I turned email off for large blocks of time,
00:26:01 you know, and I'm not staring at it 24 seven. I would open it up, process the email, turn it off, go back to doing what I needed to do. That was actually work that required focus and energy because you're, you're absolutely right email when I wasn't doing it. That way sucked up huge amounts of my time and attention. And guess what?
00:26:21 I still got all my email stuff done, you know, it wasn't like, I, it wasn't like things fell through the cracks. It was actually more effective as a way of doing it. Uh, but you know, if you have a leader who, if you have an email answered their email in 35 seconds is picking up the phone and calling you then,
00:26:39 you know, unless it's really an emergency, in which case, why did you send the email, pick up the phone and call them in the first place? Right. You know, that the email was probably an unnecessary step, but I've, I've, I've had that happen too. Where if I did Dana, it's there an email in 35 seconds,
00:26:53 it was like, I was getting a phone call. Well, that's not effective. Exactly. And I think as leaders, one of the things that's important for us to do is we need to set some expectations and be really overt with what our expectations are around response times, because you know, people are good at a lot of things, but mind reading is not one of them.
00:27:13 And, you know, it's amazing how, like I sent the email, how come I haven't gotten back to him and I, and we start creating this whole story. And as you know, as well as I do is what ends up happening is in the absence of hacked, the stories that we spend generally are negative because that's where people go to.
00:27:29 I mean, it's just in the absence of information, we assume the worst. It's how human brains are wired to assume we have a negativity bias. So whatever we can do to short circuit that negativity bias by being really clear, like, Hey, this is how I work. This is, you know, I'll give another example around the email piece.
00:27:46 I have a lot of leaders. They say, you know what? I sent emails to my people at 11 o'clock at night because frankly that's after my kids go to sleep and that's when I'm productive. And I say, I'm okay. And I already know, they even say, and I don't expect my people to open it. And I say, do you realize though,
00:28:00 if you see exactly, I mean, Hey, have you told them that? But even if you have told them that if you send the email at 11 o'clock at night, that is now off of your back, but it's now psychological baggage that they, if, if they see it in their inbox and they know I don't have to get back, but now they're thinking about it.
00:28:19 And so you're now putting this weight, which is supposed to be renewable downtime, potentially, which is why work seems to have expanded to 24 seven is we need to learn how to carve buffers. And if leaders don't model that behavior, it gets out of hand very quickly. Oh yeah. Yeah. And, and I've seen that both ways where it's,
00:28:37 you know, first off they don't tell you that you don't need to respond. So now you have an expectation of response and then B even if they do, yeah. If I'm checking an email at 11 o'clock at night, it's really hard to walk away from that and leave it unresponded to, and then still be productive and have my own downtime and,
00:28:55 and my own time to rest on my own time to be present with my family. Cause there's some part of you, that's still thinking about it. Absolutely. One of the things that I like to talk to folks about is this idea of becoming a mentor to others. Uh, and yet again, kind of like leadership and kind of like being a leader folks often push back on that and say,
00:29:18 you know, I'm not ready. I'm not able to help others. I'm not able to mentor others. I don't know enough. I haven't done enough. I haven't whatever, fill in the blank. Right. There's always an excuse. What advice do you have for somebody who has been put in that position where they're being called upon to mentor others, but they feel unprepared themselves.
00:29:38 That's a great question. So it's interesting. Cause I, I get into this conversation where I'm mentoring a lot. And I think the challenge for many of us is we kind of put that word on steroids. Like I'm the mentor or on the flip side, people say, I'm looking for a mentor. Will you be my mentor? And like, I would say,
00:29:54 timeout, timeout. Let's like no more capital and mentor lowercase. M because there is no one person in the world who's going to be, you're all seeing all it's again, it's like that idea of the superhero leader. Who's going to fix everything for us just in the same way. You know, we elect someone who, Oh, they're going to fix everything.
00:30:11 That's not how these things work. You know, it's, it's, it's a team effort. So the first thing is, if you don't think you're ready to be a mentor, if you have any experience about something that someone else doesn't have, guess what? You've got some insight and wisdom to share. I don't care what your role is and what level and how many,
00:30:27 like, we all have something that we can mentor somebody else in. And it isn't about being more senior. I get mentored by people who are half my age about all sorts of stuff. Like for example, social media and technology, you know, like, how does this work? It's not, it's not my skillset, not my gifting, but I can learn from people who know that.
00:30:43 So I'm being mentored in that way. So the first thing is to realize, yeah, you can mentor easily based on who you are. And as we were just talking about set some expectations of what this mentoring relationship looks like, I think too many people think, Oh, I'm going to be a mentor. They're going to suck up all my time.
00:31:03 I'm going to have to, you know, this is like, I'm adopting a child. Like, no, no. I mean, if you're adopting a child, it's one thing. If a mentor, like you can even have a preliminary conversation, I'd like to be of help. What does that look like to you and have the, your mentee start to define that.
00:31:19 And if that works for you, great. And if it doesn't work, negotiate, say, you know, this is what I'm willing to do, you know, or let's try this out and see where things go. Um, what I have found in general is if you have people who have asked for the mentorship relationship and if they come prepared, or you can say,
00:31:38 like, I have a lot of people who want to know stuff about like write letters, writing books, or leadership to go on, it's like, look, you have X, like I'll set a boundary, I've got 15 minutes or send me your questions and I'll get back. But if the questions aren't clear, I'll say, can you go rewrite this?
00:31:54 But it's setting some clear boundaries. People respect, clear boundaries. It's when we don't leave, when we leave them open and people feel like it's a really fuzzy gets into, into trouble. So just being able to do that, and I've had so many amazing mentors and be like, Oh, like, Oh, every store is like, Oh, this mentor,
00:32:10 this, this it's because it's just, if you ask people and you're respectful of their time and you follow up, it's really hard for people to turn you down. I mean, if you've done your homework, you know who they are, what they can do. And you ask some pointed questions and respect their time and follow up with a thank you.
00:32:26 The world is your oyster. I mean, and in today's world, you can Google anybody and pretty much get in touch with them. It's amazing if you want, now again, you can't just say, Hey, can I call you up and talk to you? If somebody reaches out to me, Hey, let's get together for coffee, like time for half an hour for coffee with somebody.
00:32:41 But if somebody has a real something that they want to learn or has focused on, of course I'm willing to give some time for that because frankly it's flattering. Well, the other one I hate is can I, can I get together with you and pick your brain? It's like, wait, what does that mean? Exactly. It's again, having them do some more homework and then it can be really useful because I was finding,
00:33:05 getting more in these relationships when I'm mentoring, I get out as much as I get put in, it seems like, cause I'm learning something too ultimately, and we want to contribute because that's part of the whole idea of what's the legacy that you want to leave as a leader. No, for me, my legacy part of my legacy is I want to leave more leaders in the world who know what facilitative leadership is,
00:33:24 how to do it and how to move forward in terms of creating a world where more people can make things easy and removing friction. I, I it's, it's funny. But if you think about it, you know, just in a, in a, an a numbers perspective, again, you know, the millions of dollars that we waste off of just think about meetings,
00:33:47 I'm alone. I petitioned whenever I worked in corporate that when we would have a meeting, we would literally figure out what the average hourly rate was for everybody that was in the room or on the call. And we would put, you know, this meeting cost us this much an hour, just in salary, just in having these people sit in there.
00:34:06 You know, cause there were meetings. I was in where it was the CEO and the VP and the other VP and the other, other VP and the other, other, other VP, you know, for an hour and a half. And it's like, I just think if we had a little ticking clock, it would make some, make us a little bit more aware of,
00:34:22 you know, if we're going to have a meeting, it should serve a purpose that justifies the cost, the cost that we're spending. Right. I mean, if we're just going to have a meeting to sit around and I know we were just talking about mentorship, but it's the same idea, you know, that's where getting, setting those boundaries, setting that expectation,
00:34:39 uh, you know, should help you as a mentor, be more clear on what it is that you're doing and what's the outcome that, that the person really expects. Um, I love that idea of setting that up upfront and be very explicit with it. So we talked earlier about the four human needs that we all have. Can you talk a little bit about how as a leader understanding those needs can help us improve our employee collaboration?
00:35:06 Sure. Yeah. If you think about it. So, you know, we live in this world where I think Something like 65, I can't remember the exact statistics on this, but it's about 65% of people are working almost always in teams. I mean, it's, it's, I mean, it's a team based work is so, so as leaders,
00:35:21 what can we do? So those teams are optimizing as much as they can in terms of how they work together. And so if we go back to these four human needs, we talked about this earlier, you know, around safety, energy, ownership, and purpose. So we as leaders need to step back and go, okay, so for this team to collaborate,
00:35:42 let's do a safety check at work. How's the safety going on? What can we be doing to make it even more safe for people? How's the energy on the team? Um, what are the things that we're doing? So for example, when the team meet, like you, you were just talking to Scott about, you know, if this bad meetings,
00:35:59 like what are we meeting just for the sake of meeting, what's the point of our meetings are, do we have, do we have too many people in our meetings? Should these meetings be smaller? And do we know who needs to be involved in what, what are we trying to accomplish in this meeting? Are we trying to gather input? Are we trying to make a decision?
00:36:14 Those are two very different types of meetings. And oftentimes we don't express that. So having a clear agenda and facilitating that, that energizes people, because then they know why they're there as opposed to, um, do I have to show up and I mean, you probably have had the experience of showing up to a meeting going like 10 minutes and you're thinking,
00:36:31 why was I invited to this? Or we talk about anything and then like, do I get up and leave now? Or does that look awkward? The, and the, and the other one that happens is where you're called to the meeting. They do need input from you. You've given your input. Now the meeting has moved on, but now do I leave for an hour and a half?
00:36:53 You know, exactly awkward, awkward. Yeah. Yeah. So there are things that we can do around energy. So what are the things we can do to increase people's energy around stuff? Um, and then what, what are the things that we can do so that people can take more ownership of their work? You know, are we setting up for example,
00:37:12 upfront and clear norms around here's, here's the result that we're going forward? Do we, co-create the agreement on what that is? And then do we give the boundaries on? Okay. Like with, you can play within these lines, like here's your sandbox, go into town, like have fun, do it. And then let's and if we need to check in along the way,
00:37:30 we're checking in, just to make sure how can I support you? Right. There's a big difference between that industrial age mindset of I'm micromanage I'm on your shoulder, I'm checking up on you and making sure versus, Hey, I'm checking in. How can I support you? How's it going? It's going great. Let's celebrate that. And how can we learn and replicate that if it's not going great,
00:37:47 what do I need to do to support you? Because ultimately, and this goes back to one of our earliest things that we said at the beginning of our first conversation is if our people aren't doing well is our first impulse to go Scott, what's your problem. Cause, you know, if you don't do this, you're gonna be out of a job as opposed to going,
00:38:06 what am I not doing to support you? What did I not do? So Scott, how can I help? It looks like you're struggling with this. Is there something going on? What, what, what can I do to help, right? That should be the first impulse, right? It's a much more sustainable and nurturing conversation. I know that sounds a little soft and fuzzy,
00:38:22 but all the research would say, that's what actually helps to benefit performance in the longterm. And even if you do get to that point with an employee where, where you do have to have the tough conversation, and again, I've been, um, and, and let someone go. Um, you know, my thing was, I want to know that I have done truly everything that I possibly could do,
00:38:47 help them in every way I could try it, everything we could and, and worked with them and walk beside them and now really, and truly letting them go is actually the best thing, not just for me, but for them, you know, not just for the company, but for them, because they're just not going to, or maybe moving them to a different seat if it's not,
00:39:05 you know, getting them in a different job or giving them a different whatever. Um, depending on the situation, all of those are possible, but it cause otherwise, I mean, if I didn't do that, I feel guilty for firing, you know, it's like, cause I let them down. Um, yeah. I mean, what you're touching on here,
00:39:22 Scott is really, I mean, it's at its core, it's, it's around treating them. It's it's person to person, as opposed to that kind of adult child dynamic that you see in so many organizations where we're kind of these benevolent parent figures as these leaders. Like, I know what's best for you. I know what the answers are. And if you didn't work out,
00:39:41 you know, then we have this difficult, awkward, like teenager conversation. I'm sorry, you're not a good fit. And as opposed to saying, let's treat each other with respect and as adults and let's track things along and yeah, we might have that difficult conversation down the road, but that shouldn't be the first conversation as you're saying that we should go down the road together with our mutual interest in mind.
00:40:03 Yeah. And very often, if you truly have done that by the time you get to that point, they're actually ready for that conversation too. It's no longer a, you know, cause I've been in the conversation where it was a surprise. Um, it's like, what, what you're letting me go, where did that come from? Um, you know,
00:40:20 that doesn't feel good on the receiving end. I've never done it on the giving end. I hope. Yeah. I probably You've been more guilty of that than I think, but I've tried not to be. Yeah. You can follow a Len on LinkedIn. He's uh, Elaine Huskins. It's spelled a L a I N H U N K I N S.
00:40:44 Or you can find him at his website with the same spelling, that.com you can find out more about the book@crackingtheleadershipcode.com. Of course I'll have links to all of that over in the show notes as well. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener? Oh, I, first of all, I want to thank you Scott, for the great conversation today.
00:41:05 And I would say that, I mean, the key to moving forward with any of this stuff is just a little bit of action every day. It's not about trying to do it all. It's not about setting a new year's resolution. I'm going to do assault. It's just, and we talked about earlier about the power of removing the friction and creating some habits.
00:41:25 So creating habits that focus on development, learning, and growth and doing those things consistently over time, you oftentimes leaders, we talk about words like inspiring charismatic. I would take consistency over any of those other words any day of the week. So be consistent and take action. And you will start moving in directions. You might not get there in a month or even in six months,
00:41:48 but it's amazing. You do that over the course of a year, two years, five years. It's amazing how much things will change for you. Thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship podcast, as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling.
00:42:28 If you enjoyed this episode, please, please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/itunes rate. All one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed until next time, invest your time, your talent and your treasures,
00:42:59 develop your influence and impact the world.


In today's episode, I ask Alain about:

  • Empathy as a leader...   
  • How behavioral economics relates to leadership... 
  • Mentorship as a leader...
  • and more.....

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When teams meet what are we meeting for?  What is the purpose of the meeting?  Who needs to be in the meeting?  Bad meetings derail us. - Alain Huskins

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