0:00:03.3 Jacalyn Holsted: Hello, I’m Jacalyn Holsted, and you are listening to On Point Conversations. In this podcast series, we share creative marketing, content and branding strategies that help your business successfully navigate the new normal marketing environment.
0:00:28.4 JH: Today, I want to talk about a topic that I’ve been thinking about for some time. It’s not a new topic, and it’s definitely not a topic that we haven’t heard many, many times, and that is leadership. In the last few months, I have been focusing and thinking about the whole area of leadership and what that means. It’s not that we’re necessarily born a leader, it’s not like we necessarily are educated at the best schools and we are suddenly a leader, a lot depends on experience and background and mentors and all these things that make us good leaders, but we can grow and change, and we can also add principles and we can become better leaders. As we talk today, I’m going to talk about eight principles of leadership. These are the basic few because there are many more, and I’m going to be talking about those skills in other podcasts. Today, I’m going to start with what I believe would be pretty basic ones.
0:01:27.9 JH: I want to also talk about, really quickly, a book I just read, it’s not a new book, but I just acquired it. It’s by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and the name of it is Leadership in Turbulent Times. And this particular book is taking leadership principles and using things that were case studies, I guess, in a way, from history, so it covers Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. In order to give real concrete things that happen and can be done in a leadership type of situation, where it’s more turbulent times, which we can definitely say that we are in at this point, more turbulent times.
0:02:17.4 JH: Principle one is to set a standard of mutual respect and dignity among your team members, your C-suite, wherever you are a leader, learn to control your anger. Nobody wants to see a temper tantrum, nobody cares to hear about a temper tantrum, and if you have a temper or just out of control anger, nobody’s really listening. The first thing they’re going to have is the fight and flight syndrome, which means all they’re going to do is try to get away, and they’re not going to get your point, they’re not going to get what you’re doing, it’s not going to soak in their brain. So be cognizant of that and figure out how you can control that. The other issue… And I’ll just put this on the aside, in an angry mood or a mood that doesn’t appear to be very good mood, don’t get on social media and put up a post that you have to take down later, or people have gotten fired for that. People have gotten reputations ruined for that, and it can take one and they never go away, by the way, you can delete them, but they’re always… They can always be re-constituted, that’s what I think, anyway, they come back.
0:03:34.9 JH: Principle two… Oh, I want to add on principle one, just one more thing about that. I have been in companies that hired training companies to come in and train their culture because they’re concerned about the way that people are treating each other and disrespect or maybe there’s some racist things going on or whatever, and they want to have a training company come in and train. That company will come in and train. Later, the trainers will say, “Unless that information and unless that behavior is exhibited from the top down, don’t expect it to be among your team members.” So, from the top down, it’s showing mutual respect and dignity to those around you.
Principle two, draw an immediate sharp line between what has gone on before and what is about to begin, particularly if you’re restoring confidence in the spirit of morale of your customers, of your team members, you want to make it very clear where you’re coming from, and a sharp line between what went on before and what is about to begin.
0:04:52.0 JH: Principle three, keep your word. Now, on the outside, that sounds very easy, but in order to keep your word, you want to be sure that you remain uncommitted in the early stages. Until you have a full facts, until you have a full picture of what’s going on, until you have a full idea, you want to remain uncommitted, because what you want to do is when you make a commitment, you want to honor your commitments, so commitments should be something not done lightly, they need to be something that you think about, you ponder over, you develop it and then you keep your word. Now, many companies, in fact, many, many companies were surprised when COVID-19, suddenly there was a stop, stop business, we’re quarantining. So, in that case, just going back and saying, “I can’t keep my commitment for this because and here’s why,” people will understand that. But you don’t just drop it, you don’t just say, “Oh, I made this commitment,” and people are going to understand that we’re in a different stage now. Don’t assume, don’t assume that they’re going to understand.
0:06:05.1 JH: Principle four, and it goes back to what I said just a little while ago, but really gather first-hand information about your questions, your concerns, what’s going on, because what you want to do is you want to secure a reliable understanding of the facts, causes and conditions of the situation. Sometimes it’s hard to be… To just look at the facts, because emotion gets into it, so you might be looking at having your mentor group. You maybe you have a board, but you want to… And I wouldn’t give it to a whole lot of people, but be talking to, “Is this the fact? Is this… How do I get to the facts?” And facts are often facts and figures, they’re causes. If you’re in a situation, as I was saying in your… Let’s say that you’re in a manufacturing situation, visit the manufacturing floor. If you’re a brick and mortar, visit the store. Don’t tell them that it’s you, but go in and just observe, observe other stores. Observe other manufacturing floors if you can get into them. Observe and keep aware of what you’re seeing.
0:07:21.3 JH: In principle five, strike the right balance between realism and optimism. You want to set a compelling picture of the future. Let’s say that you’re doing your yearly meeting at the end of the year and you’re giving forecasts for next year and you’re ra ra and you’re getting people excited. And so, you don’t want to go in there with doom and gloom and say, “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We have no idea what’s going to happen.” But you want to go in with a balance, a balance between what’s realistic and what’s optimistic, and maybe even that’s what you’re saying, “I’m optimistic that this will happen, this is how we can do it, this is what we can do,” factual ways to do it, and then you just have to let it go to that point in time because you don’t want to make false hope.
0:08:14.3 JH: Principle six, be accessible and easy to approach. I’ve worked with some CEOs that are wonderful. They’re accessible, easy to approach, easy to talk to, they’re clear that they’re going to seek out other information before they make any commitments. That’s really good. I’ve worked with other CEOs who are, not approachable, but if you were to share anything with them, team members, it would be held against you, so you kind of want to look at who your leader is, but as a leader yourself, you want to be very cognizant that you are accessible, and you’re easy to approach.
0:08:56.9 JH: Now, I’ll just give you an example, this happened to me, I had a team member come to me to complain about their supervisor, and I can’t make a decision, I didn’t have both sides of the issue, so I suggested getting the supervisor and the team member together with one of their group members, of a higher level or myself, I can’t do all of those when I’m in a CEO level because there’s many of them, but having another person in the room who’s impartial and objective is a good way, and also knowing that this is something–How to approach that issue, it might be even coaching the team member who comes to you and tells you that their supervisor is, whatever complaint they have, coaching them on how to go back to the supervisor and ask adequate questions in a non-confrontational way so that it can be resolved. Sometimes those are not resolvable, so then you have to take another approach.
0:10:00.8 JH: Principle seven, anticipate contending viewpoints, that means you’re getting different viewpoints from different people, and some of them you may not like, but it’s always important, and I think people should look forward to those contending viewpoints because what’ll happen is, you’ll make yourself have more information, make better decisions, make better commitments in having that. And I was struck by the example, there’s a whole other book that I’m going to read from Doris Kearns Goodwin, but she does touch on this in Leadership in Turbulent Times, that Abraham Lincoln actually put his adversaries in cabinet posts and people who voted against him, people who ran against him, in order to make them part of his group and to get them to be more on a friendship or a level to where they could work together because he knew that in order to have something happen, they have to be able to work together.
0:11:00.2 JH: And then principle eight is find time and space for you to think. That’s really an important one and it often seems like that’s the last thing people think about, but as we work remotely, which we’re doing right now, wherever you are, and you probably want to get out of your home office or your home, go someplace where you can think. I find nature to be good, it’s kind of cold right now and kind of rainy, but even taking a walk is pleasant and it gives you a good sense and a feeling of solidness and you can then think even better and more, and then you’re probably going to want to share some of this with your executive team, if that’s who you’re working with, your board of directors, but at least you’ve thought about it before you even presented it to them.
0:11:52.0 JH: I hope that helps you in your… In thinking about, “Are you a real leader? And what do you need to do to become a better leader?” So, let me go through those principles again, I’ll kind of go through them more quickly this time, but I want you to be thinking about them. One is, do you set a standard of mutual respect and dignity? Do you control your anger? And do you make sure you don’t get on social media when you’re angry, or you have something that’s very controversial to say? Have you drawn a sharp, an immediate line of demarcation between what has gone on before and what is about to begin? And again, particularly if you have to restore confidence in the spirit and morale of the people. Principle three, keep your word and do that by remaining uncommitted in the early stages, and then when you made a commitment, honor your commitment, and then if you’ve made a commitment that you can’t keep make sure people understand what the circumstances surrounding that lack of being able to keep that commitment is.
0:13:01.1 JH: Principle four, always gather first-hand information, ask questions yourself, secure the reliable understanding of the facts, causes and conditions of the situation. Five, do you strike the right balance of realism and optimism? And that’s a difficult one, you’ll want to think about that, and there’ll be people you’ll probably want to consult with on that to have that kind of really balance between those two. Principle six, are you accessible? Are you easy to approach? Are you able to handle the situations adequately. And principle seven, do you anticipate contending viewpoints and are those okay with you? A leader has to be very confident in their points and in their vision and their mission, in order to take contending viewpoints. They also have to be able to sometimes say, “Ah, you have a good point.” And then the final principle, find time and space for you to think. Take time somewhere to think, just be able to practice some self-healing and self-relaxation and really think about what it is that you’ve been told or what you see, sometimes just getting really out of that… And if, particularly if it’s an emotional situation, getting out of that, spending time in nature or wherever you are feeling very comfortable and safe, will help you make better decisions.
0:14:43.2 JH: Thank you for listening, and I invite you to join me next week as we talk more about specific actions you can take to reach your own business goals. You can find my library of other inspiring podcasts like this one at onpointthinking.com. Again, thank you for listening. This is Jacalyn Holsted at On Point Conversations.