Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

Now, more than ever, we need to make sure every leader in our organization is practicing empathy.

Empathy is all about putting yourself in somebody else's shoes to understand their perspective and where they're coming from.

According to Dr. Brene Brown, there are 4 steps to practicing empathy:

  1. Put yourself into somebody else's shoes. Imagine you are in their situation and try to think of a time when you had a similar experience.
  2. Never judge too quickly when a person tells you something. You have to understand the whole story of what’s happening.
  3. Recognize the emotion that the person is experiencing.
  4. Communicate that you understand that emotion.
Direct download: 4_Steps_to_Practice_Empathy_from_Dr_Brene_Brown.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:21am PDT

Joann Lublin is the author of Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life, which came out this month. She is also the author of Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons From Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World.

Joann is the former Management News Editor of The Wall Street Journal where she created its first career advice column which she wrote up until May 2020. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and she won the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest accolade in business journalism, in 2018.


Over the past few decades we have made greater strides in workplace gender equality and we have seen more and more women step into leadership roles, but we still have a ways to go. There are still stereotypes and mindsets set in the past that give the notion that women have to choose between a career and having a family, they can’t have both.

But as Joann has found in her conversations with female senior level executives, not only can women have both, they can thrive and succeed at both at the same time.

While interviewing one executive and mother for the book, Joann found out that the woman had felt it necessary to not put up photos of her children on her desk at work until they were of high school age and she had proved herself at the company. She knew that having pictures up of small children some people might question her conflicting priorities.

Another woman shared that when she returned to work after a couple of years at home with her kids she was asked by male and female coworkers “how do you do it all?” and she said she was very offended by that. Because people wouldn’t have questioned her husband’s ability to do it all even though they are equal partners in parenting. People have these set mindsets that women are the ones doing 100% of the parenting while the men are 100% focused on work, but that is not the case.

What is the motherhood penalty
Joann has a section in her book called The Motherhood Penalty, which reflects decades of research that highlights the bias against women with children. Research suggests that when hiring managers are going through resumes and it is clear from what they can see which people have kids and which ones do not have kids, the managers are more likely to give the interviews and the jobs to the women without kids.

The other aspect of the motherhood penalty has to do with pay. Either because of the breaks women have after having children or the fact that they choose to go back to work at reduced schedules the earning power of moms suffers. Yet this issue does not happen with men.

Joann does add a bit about how men can suffer when it comes to parenting biases. She says, “Men have other problems being effective parents and effective members of the workplace, but the fatherhood penalty is more of if they want to be involved. Fathers, they feel like they're penalized, that their career is going to suffer, that they're not going to be a guy's guy. And so they're reluctant to take the parental leave, even if it's generous and paid, that their employer is offering because somehow they won't look like they themselves are committed to their career. So we need to change our image of what makes for a good parent and what makes for a good worker. From a gender and parenting standpoint.”

The good thing that we are seeing now is Millennials and Gen Xers have more employment choices now. Where past generations may have learned to live with companies that had cultures that penalized parents, nowadays there are so many employment options that people can vote with their feet and move to a company that will treat them equally.

The work/life balance myth
Joann believes we need to give up on the notion of work/life balance. As she shares it is an ideal that can never be realized. In her book she compares balance to maintaining a yoga pose for 24 hours, you can’t do it.

The concept that she talks about in her book is work/life sway. “The idea of work life sway is that you accept the belief that there is no such thing as balance. And you recognize that there are going to be moments in your day and in your life when you have to be 110% there for your job, for your company, for your work. But family needs may intrude without warning, and you have to be prepared and willing and able--thanks to technology-- you can sway the other way.”

One example of work/life sway Joann gives from an executive that was interviewed for her book is from a woman who had returned to work after having a child and one day she got a live video call while she was in her office. The call was from her nanny who knew that the mother wanted to see her child take his first steps. The executive obviously stopped what she was doing and watched her son take his first steps. Instead of having to partition her life off into personal life and work life, they sway together, happening simultaneously.

Our current situation with the pandemic is further proof that we don’t have to be locked in an office away from family for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in order to get things done. Most of us have been forced into living work and life simultaneously at home. And we’ve made it work.

Flexibility can’t just be a policy, it has to be a way of life
One important piece to being able to live in a work/life sway is the organization you work for and the managers you have. It is important to find a place to work where flexibility and maternity/paternity leave is not only a policy, but it is also something that is lived out in the culture.

It is so critical for leaders inside of organizations to live out these types of core values. If you want your people to believe that it is okay to take 3 or 4 months of parental leave after having a new child, you have to be willing to set the example. People are going to look to senior level executives to see that they practice what they preach. Employees want to know they won’t be reprimanded or looked down on for taking time off, or for leaving early to watch their child’s soccer game, or to go home to take care of a sick kid.

Joann has a story about a woman who was the head of HR at a tech company who decided to make an example of what the company viewed as flexibility and leaving work early. She had a son who was in his last year of high school and she knew he would be leaving home the following year to go to college. So she decided that every Thursday she was going to leave by 5pm--no matter what was happening at work--so that she could take her son out to dinner for bonding time.

Not only did she leave at 5pm every single Thursday for the full year of his senior year, she posted about it on the company’s internal website so that employees worldwide saw her example. She showed that the company policies weren’t just lip service or words on a page, they were meant to be lived out by everyone.

When it comes to finding a place to work, this is something to really consider. Is the senior level leadership living out the values and the professed culture of the company?

Women can’t be afraid to set expectations and ask for what they want at work
One of the senior leaders I interviewed for the podcast awhile back spoke of having two phones, a smartphone and a flip phone in order to disconnect from work. While at work she would have her smartphone with her and people could call, text, or email and she would respond.

But once she went home the smartphone was put away and she only had her flip phone with her. Only a select few people had the number to the flip phone so that she would know if it rang, it was an emergency or something very important. Aside from that she wouldn’t check emails, social media, text messages, etc...while she was at home with family.

The same was true when she went to work, her family knew that if there was an emergency or something important they could call that flip phone and she would answer, but otherwise they would wait until she got home. And her coworkers and her boss knew if that phone rang she was leaving the room, no matter what was happening. She set those expectations up from the beginning so that everybody was on the same page and knew what was happening.

Joann says women are not as good at setting up expectations as men are. They tend to be more afraid to ask for what they need. But putting up boundaries and letting people know what it is you want is a critical part of having a successful work/life sway.

When it comes to asking for what you want Joann suggests not doing it as a solo act. Connect with other working moms in your company, figure out the main issues you are all dealing with and come up with some solutions together that you can take to your leaders.

Joann’s advice for working dads
When it comes to “power dads” Joann says her biggest advice is not to just try to be supportive of their wives or life partners, but to be an equal partner. What women who want to be successful in their careers and have children want is co-parenting.

And this is something to talk about early in relationships. Joann says, “Frankly, the time to talk about that is not when you've gone 24 hours straight, with not much sleep, because you're at each other's throat. And Gosh, darn it, I changed the diaper the last time the newborn woke up. You need to kind of come to some meeting of the minds, frankly, at the start of your commitment to a long term relationship. If you want to have children, you should talk about that. We should also talk about who's going to stay home when the kid is born, who's going to stay home when the kid is sick, whose career is going to take priority, as these kids are growing up is one of us willing to be a stay at home parent for a couple of years, is the other one willing to be the stay at home parent the next couple years.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Joann_Lublin_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:08pm PDT

Can you really work with multiple generations of employees?

A lot of people are worried about the new generation that is coming into the workforce.

Here are three ways you can ensure that employees can work with multiple generations:

✅Avoid stereotypes
Don’t assume that if somebody is older, they don't know how to use technology and if somebody is younger, they are great with technology. Let's not assume that every generation and every person from that generation acts or behaves a certain way.

✅Focus on the life stage
We have to focus on the stage each person is at in life. They might be a younger employee who has a lot of responsibilities or an older employee with few responsibilities.

✅Practice empathy
This is extremely important to any organization, especially when we think about working with different generations. We need to remember that different generations went through different things.

These three tips will help create more cohesive teams, especially if those teams are composed of people from different generations.

Direct download: 3._How_to_Work_w_Multiple_Generations_of_Employees.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:47pm PDT

Jeff Schwartz is the U.S. Leader for the Future of Work at Deloitte and author of the new book Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work.

Jeff is also the global editor of the Deloitte “Global Human Capital Trends” report series, which he started in 2011.

Business leaders are always looking ahead to see what is coming in the future of work. The trends that we have seen coming in the next 5-10 years have been accelerated due to the pandemic in 2020. Things that we thought would happen in 5-10 years have happened in weeks and months.

When it comes to the future of work Jeff believes that we are in the end of the beginning, and we are beginning the next chapter. We now have the technologies in place, in this new chapter we are going to see the implementation and scaling of these technologies and the new ways of working.

“One of the one of my favorite quotes is a quote from Albert Einstein who said that you can't use an old map to explore a new world. And I think that's part of what we learned in 2020...But a lot of people are using old maps for new problems. And this is a big shift we're going through now.”

Jeff believes that Covid-19 may be an event that changes work forever. One of the things we are challenged with in 2021 is to figure out if we now return to what we did before, or if we use the events of 2020 as an on-ramp to something new. Jeff’s view is that we will use it as an on-ramp to something new.

What does the future of work actually mean
We hear the phrase “the future of work” so often these days. It is at the forefront of so many discussion. But what does it actually mean? Jeff said it can mean a lot of different things, but for him there are three main things that make up the future of work: how work is changing, how workforces are changing, how workplaces are changing.

Jeff says, “I think we spent the last 20 years setting the table for the future of work discussion. Identifying what the work, workforce, workplace options are, what the implications are for communities, regulation, education. 2020 was a bit of a fast forward button or a forced experiment button. And as I was mentioning earlier, you know, I think we are at the end of the beginning of the future of work. And we are at the beginning of the next chapter, which is taking these changes to work, workforces, and workplaces, and just implementing them at scale. Not on the side, but in the heart of what we're doing.”

Top trends in 2021
Jeff and his team at Deloitte have been releasing trend reports since 2011 and they recently released their report for 2021. Some of the top trends they focused on were:

  • The integration of wellbeing into work, not as a set of side benefits, but in a deliberate way that is integrated into work
  • Super teams, which is how we put AI and robots on the team in a way that supports people and allows them to do more human work such as deep care, deep teaching, deep design, etc…
  • Beyond re-skilling and looking at developing enduring human capabilities, giving workers what they need so they can shift and work up to their potential even when they have to do something outside of what they were hired to do
  • The real challenges around workforce governance, we found out in 2020 we don’t have the data and information needed
  • The elevation of the HR role in the first few months of the pandemic and looking at how HR can lead into this reimagination and re-architecture of the work era.

What Jeff worries about for the future
When it comes to the future of work Jeff is mostly optimistic and he doesn’t have many fears. But he does have a specific worry about the future.

As he shares, “My concern is that we aren't taking advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us, as both businesses and as communities in society. We're at a very interesting point, where we have the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things in terms of the way we live our lives, we organize our work, the way we organize education, the way we organize our businesses. And I worry that we're not really as focused on the opportunity as we can.”

He is concerned that some of us are not prepared for the unpredictable part of life. As the world changes some of the institutions we have--such as schools, communities, and businesses--will have to be able to stretch and flex to be more relevant.

We have to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us. With the innovation and technology we have today we have the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things in the way we live, work, learn, and organize.

What do business leaders need to do to take advantage of the future of work
When it comes to taking advantage of things coming in the future of work Jeff has some advice for business leaders. They are:

  1. Leaders need to recognize that the role of business leaders is to deliver value, not just cost savings. Big changes in the economy comes not just from cost savings and productivity, but from innovation, new value, and creating new sources of meaning.
  2. Leaders must wrap their minds around the idea that they are leading workforce ecosystems today, not just individual employees. It is not the same as 30 years ago where you just focus on who to attract, develop, and retain. It’s now about accessing, curating, and engaging. You can access talent in the form of a human or a machine. You can look inside of your organization or by using talent marketplaces. You really have to look at all of the ways you can access and curate talent.
  3. Leaders must think of themselves as co-creators. We have to move from a supervisor mentality to a player-coach mentality.

Jeff’s advice for individual leaders looking to navigate this new world of work
Individuals have a lot of responsibility in preparing themselves for the future of work. But we are highly adaptable and there’s a lot we can do. Jeff’s advice for individuals is:

  1. Adopt the growth mindset, don’t have a fixed mindset. Growth mindset is the belief that you can improve your abilities through hard work, exploration, curiosity, and learning. Your capabilities are not stagnant, you can do something to better yourself.
  2. Understand the importance of being a team player. There is nothing wrong with individual work, but in this new world of work individuals must be able to work well with a team, no matter what their role on that team is. We have to understand the different roles of teams, what a high performing team is, and understand that you may play different roles in different teams that you are on--whether you are a participant or a facilitator, an expert, or even the leader of the team
  3. Embrace the 100-year life span and the 50-60 year career. As we live longer lives we have to recognize that our careers no longer mean working for one company in one department. You will have multiple reinventions in your career, so it is important to recognize that and prepare for it.

“If you think that your journey is going over one mountain, and you find out that the journey is going over six mountains, it really helps to know that it's a six mountain journey versus a one mountain journey, right? You're mentally prepared, you're physically prepared. And you know, we're telling people, it's a one mountain journey, you go to school, you pick a career, you go to work for somebody, maybe it's a two mountain journey, or maybe there's another mountain behind this one, but if we know that it is a portfolio of reinvention that the journey is much more varied than we thought. We think that will help us to be prepared.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Jeff_Schwartz_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:25pm PDT

What’s the worst career choice you ever made?

I remember when I was younger, everybody told me not to move to San Francisco. They said I couldn’t afford to live there, that I didn’t know anything about speaking, and that I was a terrible writer and couldn’t write a book.

People would say that I should be a lawyer or a doctor, that I should do this or that. And I spent a lot of my life listening to other people and trying to fit into somebody else's mold.

When I wanted to start a business, everybody told me that I didn’t know anything about starting a business and that I should get an MBA instead.

Listening to other people was the worst career mistake I ever made.

It took me several years to understand that I shouldn't be listening to other people--I should be listening to myself.

It's ok to take advice from other people and to hear what others are saying. But ultimately, you have to take it with a grain of salt, because nobody knows you better than you.

Direct download: 2._The_worst_career_choice_I_ever_made.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:44pm PDT

Steve Preston is the President & CEO of Goodwill Industries International, the world’s leading workforce provider. He leads a team of around 140,000 employees across the United States.

Prior to his current role Steve served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

He orchestrated successful turnarounds as the CEO of two private corporations, Oakleaf Global Holdings and Livingston International and he was the CFO of two Fortune 500 companies — Waste Management and ServiceMaster.

The world looks very different today than it did just over a year ago. The pandemic and other world events have had long lasting effects on the way we live and work. Steve’s role at Goodwill has put him in the unique position of not only having to address these issues inside of his own organization, but because one of Goodwill’s main operations is workforce development and job placement, he has had to pay attention to how things are changing in all industries.

Goodwill has 650 job centers around the country where people can go to get trading development, coaching, and job placement services.

One major trend Steve has been focused on is the acceleration of job displacement due to Covid-19.

As he shares, “Before the pandemic, we were very focused on what everybody's calling the future of work. And that is a significant migration in labor demands by employers that are more focused on technology skills, and other cognitive and relational skills that surround the product development and service delivery. And so many of the forecasters or economists were forecasting that 30 or 35 million jobs would be lost over the next decade. Well, what happened when COVID hit is not only did we see unemployment spike, there were two other phenomena within that, number one, that people who lost their jobs were people with lower levels of education, lower income levels, and disproportionately people of racial and ethnic minorities. And then in addition to that, employers accelerated their adoption of digital technologies, customer interactions, supply chain support, and other kinds of internal management processes.”

Because of both of these situations happening quickly--1. That the people who were most likely going to lose jobs over the course of the next decade lost their jobs in 2020 and 2. Companies accelerated their digital transformations--we are now in a situation where people urgently need digital skills to be able to compete for jobs. We have employers who are looking to upgrade the level of skills for all roles and the people who need jobs right now don’t have those skills.

The future of the office
One thing that we have come to realize over the past year is it is possible to get work done at home. In fact a lot of people are finding they are more productive at home. Organizations are realizing that even though people aren’t physically in the office or always working the traditional 9-5, work is getting done.

So does this realization mean that physical office spaces will disappear in the future? Steve doesn’t think so. While we can work from home, as humans we thrive on interaction, relationship, and connectedness that just isn’t the same when we talk virtually.

Most likely what will happen is a hybrid model that allows people to work from home part of the time while still coming into the office on a regular basis. Whether they are in the office more will depend on the role they have.

Steve says, “I'm definitely thinking about a hybrid model, because I do not want to throw out the human interaction side, I think that's critical. And I think, you know, especially when you are dealing with complex business issues, and making tough decisions-- having trust, having those deep personal relationships, is just, I mean, that's how leadership functions well, is being having that joint accountability and trust, and being able to move forward together with those situations in place. And pure remote doesn't do that.”

Steve’s advice for people looking for jobs now
Trying to find work in the middle of a pandemic is hard, it is stressful, and some may feel like it is impossible. But Steve has some great advice for anyone who is looking for a job right now.

First of all, he says it is so important to take care of yourself mentall and emotionally. Don’t let the stress of finding a job or being turned down for a job affect your mood. Spend time with friends, stay engaged, and take care of yourself.

It’s also important to take advantage of the time that you have without a job to build your skills. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on getting a degree, there are so many places to learn these days. Develop skills, specifically digital skills like coding or data. Utilize this time to better yourself so that when the right job opens up you are ready for it.

Bettering yourself can also look good in an interview. When talking with a potential employer when they ask you what you have been doing during your unemployment you will have a great response. You’ll let them know what you’ve been doing to build skills whether it is from online courses, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc…

“Time is precious, you know, and most of us in our lives are always looking for time. And when you've got it, the challenge with having time, like unemployment is it's filled with all sorts of anxiety and urgency. But you have to find space to make it a good time, to come out at the other end in a better position when you entered it.”

Steve also says to look around at the network around you. We all have networks, whether we realize it or not. A conversation with someone you know may lead you to a job. So talk to the people you know, let them know what you are looking for, and who knows it could lead you to something.

The best skills and mindsets for the future
In this new world of work there are certain skills and mindsets we should focus on. And it is important to have a balance between technology skills and human skills. Being able to walk into a new job and feeling comfortable around their technology whether you have used it or not is beneficial. Specific digital technology skills such as coding, data analytics, Python, Tableau, etc...are good as well.

Basic workplace effectiveness skills are crucial as well. Knowing how to effectively communicate, how to negotiate, how to present yourself, how to listen to others are all key skills if you want to have a successful career.

When it comes to certain industries looking to hire people, Steve says the retail industry is starting to come back. Logistics has stayed strong and IT jobs are always in demand. Hospitality on the other hand--hotels, restaurants, airlines--have not bounced back yet and it could be awhile.

Purpose in business
One thing that Steve is very passionate about is purpose in business. As he shares organizations are large ecosystems with tons of employees who are impacted by the actions of the leaders. So it is crucial for leaders to bring wholeness to organizations and to create cultures that allow people to thrive and grow.

“When you don't have principled leadership, you see terrible things happen. I was CFO of a large company during the Sarbanes Oxley meltdown in the early 2000s, you saw all kinds of moral issues across the world. I was the HUD Secretary during the housing crisis. And there were all kinds of moral failures across businesses, you know mortgage institutions and in any number of, you know, lenders and people who are in the securitization industry, we need principled leadership and people who have a sense of true north, because in so many ways, great leadership brings flourishing to their organizations and to our communities. And bad leadership causes terrible things, which can result in a systemic breakdown.”

Steve is no stranger to leading in tough times. His advice to leaders right now is to know what the mission of your company is and what you’re hoping to achieve. You have to use that mission and lean into it as a rallying cry for your people. Because, as Steve shares, what happens in a crisis is people are scared, they are confused, and the last thing they need is lack of direction. It is up to you as the leader to provide that direction for them.

Know what your problems are, what are you facing as an organization. Then using your mission and your goals figure out a solution for that problem. And it is so important to keep your employees engaged in the process along the way. Employees want to see what is happening and know what their role is.

“In a crisis can actually be a great time to infuse purpose into the organization and see your employees rise up to to go after that mission.” Leaders have to be open and transparent. People want to know what the truth is and they can tell when you are not being honest. Be decisive, be clear, make a decision, and move forward. Your people want to trust you, and they want to trust that they can follow you as their leader.

Skills in a post-Covid-19 world
Historically many people have been excluded from jobs because they didn’t have a certain degree or a specific amount of experience to even be considered for the role.

But this practice is starting to change. Companies are starting to realize that it is better to focus on skills in recruiting and promotions instead of education, degrees, and specific experience.

Steve says at Goodwill the first thing they do when a candidate walks through the door is they do a skills assessment. Then when working with that person for a desired future role they can help pinpoint what skills the person already has and what skills they will need to work on in order to successfully take on that role.

A lot of times we have a hard time translating our skills into specific roles, we may not even realize that we have a set of skills. One group of people who have a hard time with this are veterans. They don’t usually have college degrees or formal education, but they have phenomenal training, discipline, they have great communication and even leadership skills.

“I am optimistic, because I think we're reaching more people through what's kind of opened up over the last nine months, I think, and I'm hopeful that employers will continue to open their minds about how best to fill those roles. And I'm very hopeful that people like Goodwill, and other people in this industry will continue to expand the relevant opportunities for people to get relevant skills for relevant roles.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Steve_Preston_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:19pm PDT

Leaders need to serve themselves.

This is the leadership hack of Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens in the United States.

While leaders need to serve their leaders, their customers, their partners, and their teams, they also need to serve themselves.

Self-care can manifest in a lot of different ways, but for Barbara, it's about sleep. Oftentimes, sleeping on a problem can greatly increase your potential for better ideas instead of trying to solve the problem at the moment.

Self-care is different for each person, as each of us is dealing with different kinds of stress. But the most important thing is that you take care of yourself so that you can then take care of others.

Direct download: 1._Why_You_should_Practice_Self_Care_as_a_Leader_1.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:22pm PDT

Ryan Hawk is the host of one of the most popular management and leadership podcasts in the world called, The Learning Leader Show. The show was chosen by Apple Podcasts as an “all time bestseller” in 2020 and it has received acclaim from Forbes and Inc. Magazine.

He is also the author of Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader. It was named one of the 100 Best Management books of all time by Book Authority and it was named the best leadership book of 2020 by Forbes.


Contrary to popular belief, top performers do not always make the best leaders.

At the beginning of his career Ryan was in sales making cold calls for LexisNexis, and he was very successful at it. Because he was a top performer he was promoted several times and ultimately he moved to a sister company and became the VP of North America. Over his time as a leader he learned a lot and was able to gain the skills needed to lead, but thinking back to his first management role, Ryan says he wasn’t prepared for it.

Being a top performer does not mean that you are a great leader. But so many companies still rely on this benchmark alone when promoting people to leadership roles.

As Ryan shares, “the funny part about it is there's very little of what you did as an individual contributor that actually translates to you being a good coach or manager of a team of others doing that. The skill sets are just completely different. And I understand why you look towards the top performer because basically the thought process is well, they were really good, so they probably have earned some respect from their peers. Let's elevate them and then tell them okay, tell everybody else exactly what you did so that you can create a bunch of clones essentially. So I get that that's why it happens. However, there are a lot of superstar performers that are horrible coaches.”

Ryan was able to learn from hands on experience and ultimately he decided to create his own sort of leadership PhD in the form of one on one conversations with leaders from all walks of life. This turned into his podcast, The Learning Leader, which he still hosts today. He interviews CEOs, athletes, authors, professors, and many others who have experience in leadership in order to help listeners continuously learn, grow, and improve.

The difference between a top performer and a leader
Most of us have had a teacher at some point in our lives who was extremely smart and knew their subject very well, but had a hard time teaching it to others. They make what they do look easy, but as soon as someone has a question they struggle to help that person truly understand.

As Ryan shares this happens in sports too. Superstar players like Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan are put in coaching roles and while they are amazing players, they are not great coaches.
“I think the same happens in the sales world. The same happens in all the business world where you're just grabbing the top performer, without actually fully checking, can they coach others who aren't as talented as them? Can they help other people who aren't naturally as good as them? And that's the problem, is sometimes we elevate and promote people who are just not good teachers, not good coaches, and a big element of management, of leading a team is teaching and coaching other people to levels that they didn't even realize they were capable of reaching.”

Organizations need to look at other qualities for potential leaders aside from generating the most money or bringing in the most clients. They also need to invest more in training future leaders to make sure any individual who is being promoted has the skills necessary to lead.

Based on surveys I conducted for my recent book, The Future Leader, on average people are moving into their first leadership role in their mid to late 20s, but leaders say that on average the first time they receive formal leadership training is somewhere in their late 30s or early 40s. That’s a huge gap of time that people are leading without any kind of formal training.

How to solve the leadership problem
As Ryan shares, it is important that we realize that attaining a leadership role is not the only sign of success in someone’s career. Not everyone wants to be a leader, and not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are other paths people can take in their career that will allow them to be successful without leading others.

It is up to organizations to create multiple career paths for employees. People need to feel like they can continue to be an individual contributor while also being able to grow and thrive in that role. Management roles should not be the only way to move up and grow inside an organization.

“I think it's good to have both sets of people or a wide variety of people. I love having people on my team that I know, they're never going to be a manager and that's completely fine. They're going to crush it here. Let's just do everything we can to support them to make sure they're feeling growth to take care of them. As well as there's the other group that maybe they really want to be a manager and they have some of that innate skill and talent that let's let's work with them to get better and better, so when it comes time for them to run a team, they're in a better position than I was when I got promoted cold.”

What Ryan looks for in a great leader
Ryan believes great leaders are fulfilled by teaching and coaching other people. They genuinely enjoy helping others grow and improve. They are selfless people who put others before themselves. People who get focused on an end goal and set out to achieve it no matter what with the mindset of “nobody’s going to get in my way”, aren’t in a place to be a successful leader. Leaders care more about people than the end goal.

Great leaders value diverse thinking and differing points of view and they are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes. They have patience and a willingness to learn. They embrace curiosity and they are comfortable admitting they don’t know everything--they’re not afraid to ask for help. They are both respected and liked.

Why you must start by leading yourself
In Ryan’s book, Welcome to Management, he points out that before you can lead a team, you must learn how to lead yourself. We’ve all heard the phrase that is used on airplanes when they say you must secure your oxygen mask before assisting others, and that is the same concept here.

It is important to look inward first and figure out what you need to do to put yourself in the best position to lead a team who actually wants to follow you. In Ryan’s case he wanted to become a learning machine so that his team would see him as someone who was constantly striving to get better. So he built a four part framework for himself to figure out what it actually means to be a learning machine and how to actively live it out on a daily basis.

His four part framework consists of:
1. Learn: He is constantly reading articles and books, interviewing different leaders, listening to podcasts and finding new information and great ideas.
2. Test: When he finds a great idea he then tests it out to see if actually works
3. Reflect: After he tests an idea out he looks back on the process and the results to see how it went and to decide if he should keep going with it or let it go.
4. Teach: Teaching is a great way to reinforce new things. Ryan shares his experience with others in order to solidify what he has taken in and tested out.

To give a picture of what this process looks like in real life Ryan shares an example of how this could be used for something learned in an article. Perhaps you find an HBR article on how to run better meetings. So you’ve read the article and you’ve thought about how you could use this with your own team. And you’ve brought the idea to a mentor or someone who has led teams before to run the idea past them for their feedback. Instead of just soaking in the information and thinking about it, you need to test it.

So in your next meeting you try out the ideas from the article and you invite your mentor to sit in on the meeting to see how it goes.

After the meeting is done you meet with your mentor or with people who were in the meeting that you trust and who will be honest with you to get their feedback on how it went. You all reflect on how it went, what worked and what didn’t. Should you keep using it or scrap it?

Then you teach the idea to someone. It could be someone you are mentoring or someone in your company who is thinking of moving into a leadership role. You sit down with that person and explain the idea you learned, how you used it in your meeting, and what worked well and what didn’t.

“Before you know it, you've been in all four quadrants in one day, or maybe a few days, whatever it may be of saying this is how to….and you do that for basically everything within your career, or everything in your life, of always striving to fuel the intake engine, run experiments based on what you learned, reflect on how it went--what to keep doing what to stop-- and then sharing with other people. And it just goes on and on and on and never stops. And then once you pause at the end of the year, if you're regularly behaving on it, wow look at everything we've done over the course of the year, we've changed a lot. Because you're in this constant state of being a learning machine. And that's how I think you can regularly figure out new and better ways to do things.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Ryan_Hawk_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:18pm PDT