Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

Self-awareness is all about understanding your feelings, emotions, mental state, and how you're doing. Another big part of self-awareness is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, such as what you're good at, what you're capable of doing, and where you might need some help.

Self-awareness is crucial for leadership because it helps us understand who we are and what we need and expect from other people. Also, it’ll help us identify the areas we shine and the areas we can potentially improve. It also helps control how we come across to other people.

Direct download: What_is_Self_Awareness_and_Why_is_it_Important_at_Work.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:30am PDT

One of the biggest challenges CEOs today say they are facing is lack of leadership talent to carry the organization forward. But it is not a lack of talent that is at the root of this problem.

My guest this week is Scott DeRue, the Edward J. Frey Dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Based on his award-winning research, this challenge CEOs are facing is caused by the fact that 40%-50% of capable leaders are not stepping up because of the risks involved in leadership roles.

Today Scott shares the research behind his article titled, Why Capable People Are Reluctant To Lead, as well as what we can do to change that.

In this episode of the podcast we explore:

  • The three kinds of risks that deter people from leadership positions
  • How we can overcome all three risks
  • What separates great leaders from average ones
  • The biggest mistakes Scott sees leaders making
  • The most important thing for leadership development

“One thing that we can all do to maximize our own potential is lean into those risks--Whether it's outcome risk, whether it's image risk, whether it's interpersonal risk-- let's not let that risk hold us back. But let's lean into it. Let's embrace that risk. And in doing so, by stepping up and assuming these leadership roles, we're able to have a bigger impact in the world.”--Scott DeRue

Direct download: Audio_-_Scott_DeRue_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:07am PDT

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to interview hundreds of executives with different roles within organizations. One of the things I find consistently across the board is an emphasis on servant leadership, this change in leadership mentality that the role of a leader is actually to help others.

Being service-oriented simply means that you think about others before you think about yourself. You put other people ahead of yourself, and it can be extremely powerful.

It makes you a more effective leader, a more valuable employee, and a better teammate. Being service-oriented also helps create happy, loyal, and engaged customers, which is huge for company growth.

Direct download: The_Benefits_of_Being_Service_Oriented.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:06am PDT

With new modern technologies and the knowledge that we have in order to lead more healthy lives, we are living longer than ever. So what does that mean for the way we live and work? For decades we have lived out our lives in three main stages-- full time education, full time work, and full time retirement. But in a 100-year life, that structure is no longer effective.

In this week’s episode Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and bestselling author of The New Long Life, shares her advice on how our current practices need to change in order to make the most out of our longer lives.

As Lynda shared with me:

"At any point in time, you could follow a number of different paths. And I think that's a mindset shift, really. The idea that at any point in time you could plan to be something different. That's the first action. So let your imagination go in terms of thinking about “what could I be?"

In this episode of the podcast Lynda shares:

  • Why Lynda wrote her book, The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World
  • If life stages are no longer in a linear path, what does it look like?
  • A look at the three fundamental principles Lynda uses in her MBA class to help students understand and navigate the challenges ahead
  • Why we all need more personal agency and responsibility over our careers.
  • Lynda’s advice on how we can prepare for the new world of work today
Direct download: Video_-_Lynda_Gratton_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:15am PDT

The worst thing that you can do as an organization is to have a fixed mindset.

In a fixed mindset, you don't believe that people can change. You don't believe that people can learn new things or that they can adapt and improve.

This kind of culture will kill innovation inside your organization.

Instead, you must have a growth mindset.

Always believe that there is room for further improvement, and always learn new things.

Encourage your employees to think outside the box and constantly innovate in this rapidly changing world of work.

This is a really fantastic way to future-proof yourself, your career, and even your organization.

Direct download: How_to_Kill_Innovation.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:15am PDT

For several years in a row, Aron has been on the Glassdoor top 100 CEO list and in 2012 he won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. UKG was rated the #2 best large employer in America by Forbes, it received a 100% on the Corporate Equality Index, and prior to the merger both Kronos and Ultimate Software were separately named a Best Workplace for Parents by Great Place to Work.

How do you build an organization where people love to come to work? Aron Ain, CEO of Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG), believes it is all about trust, transparency, and collaboration. Contrary to past fads, creating an engaged workforce is not about free food, free gym memberships, and frequent parties.

As Aron says, “I believe people join organizations because of the organization. I believe they leave because of who they work for.”

In this episode of the podcast Aron shares:

  • How to keep consistency among leaders in an organization.
  • What it means to be an “un-leader”.
  • How to deal with failure.
  • Why showing true gratitude for employees is so important and what that looks like.
  • The importance of humility and vulnerability
  • How to keep leaders accountable for being the best they can be
  • And much more!

The leaders that employees deal with on a daily basis make or break the experience that employee has. You can work for the best organization in the world, but if your direct manager is a horrible leader, you are going to hate your job.

Because of that fact, leaders inside of UKG, known internally as people managers, are held accountable to be great. People managers are not just evaluated and rated by their direct reports, they are also evaluated by the employees who work for them. Twice a year employees inside of UKG are given a survey with 19 questions with straight forward questions that measure the effectiveness of their manager. These are separate from engagement surveys as those only measure the relationship between the employee and the organization, not the relationship between the employee and the manager.

How to keep consistency among leaders in an organization
Inside of any organization there could be anywhere from 10 to thousands of leaders who are in charge of teams. So how do you make sure that your leaders are consistent and living up to the company values? This is part of why UKG has the employee surveys in place. Leaders are evaluated by employees twice a year, and if they aren’t either at a 90% or higher, or at least improving each time, there are steps in place that are taken.

Depending on the situation the first step if a leader is struggling is to have a conversation and see if improvements can be made. The next step may be to move the person out of a leadership role, while still remaining at the company. And if all else fails, they may be asked to leave the company if they aren’t a good fit with the company values.

Having these ratings from employees is a huge game-changer as leaders typically look at employee engagement surveys to get a feel for how they are doing, but that’s not an accurate picture of the employee-manager relationship.

Aron shares a story about when UKG first started implementing these manager effectiveness surveys. There was a manager who asked Aron for a sit down meeting. When they were talking the manager asked Aron, “Are you going to train me to be a better manager?”. Aron told him that of course he would, but wondered why the manager was coming to him at that moment asking for help.

The manager told Aron that he had always seen himself as a great leader because his team always gave high scores on engagement surveys. But when it came time for these new surveys he received a 59 out of 100 and he was shocked. He had never had the right data that would help him measure his true performance. Well after realizing it he worked hard to improve and two years later he had a score in the 90s.

It is so important for leaders to get an accurate view of how employees see them. How can you expect them to change if they don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. As Aron shares, “Our homegrown training program for our managers is called Courage to Lead. And I tell them the action word isn't lead. The action word in it is the courage, because it takes unbelievable courage to be a great leader. It's’s hard.”

What does it mean to be an un-leader
In Aron’s book, Work Inspired, he talks about the concept of the un-leader. What is an un-leader? Well Aron believes CEOs get too much credit when things go well and they get too much blame when things don’t go well. But this shouldn’t be the case. The reason organizations do well or don’t do well does not rely solely on what the CEO does, and CEOs need to have more humility and humbleness. They need to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

To be an un-leader means you realize the value of the people around you and as a leader you understand that you are not more important than anyone else in the organization. Un-leaders show respect, they offer dignity, and they are thoughtful to the people they work with. They realize that they play by the same rules as everyone else. When un-leaders don’t know something, they don’t act like they do. They admit that they are not sure.

Aron says, “I don't expect everyone to care about people in the full spectrum of how I care about people. But I do expect everyone to be respectful. I do expect everyone to tell the truth. You want to ask people who work with-- you want to get on my bad side quickly, don't tell the truth. It's like, I just have no patience for that. Look, I'm a sore loser. I'll admit that, I play to win. But it doesn't mean I do it in a way that doesn't exhibit good sportsmanship and being thoughtful about it.”

How to deal with failures when you give employees autonomy to experiment
One of the key components of the UKG values is trust, it is something that Aron emphasizes. He doesn’t ask employees to gain his trust, they start with full trust in the very beginning, the trust is theirs to lose.

So as a leader if you give full autonomy and trust to employees how do you deal with failures when they happen? Aron says for him it comes down to not keeping score.

He says, “I try really, really hard to not keep score. And the reason I try really hard to not keep score, if you came and sold me on an idea to do something, and six months later, it's not going well-- and you know it better than anyone that it's not going well-- what do I want you to do? I want you to stop it, stop the project, stop throwing good money at a bad idea. But if every time I'm keeping score, and I'm going to put you in the penalty box, then you're going to spend another six months absolutely, positively proving it was a stupid idea. And wasted another six months of time and money. So that's how I deal with failure. Now, if the same people keep bringing ideas, and we say, okay, go do it. And it keeps being a dumb idea. And at some point, I say, well, I'm not sure that this person has great judgment on ideas like this, but I certainly start with the way I described it.”

Action items for leaders who want to start improving
When asked what advice he has for leaders who are looking to better themselves, Aron says the biggest thing is to understand the world doesn’t revolve around you. Work hard to trust your people, communicate with them, be transparent, and show them respect.

You should also respect that people have lives outside of the organization and that their families are the most important thing and they should come first.

Take time and think about what it looks like to trust your people. If you trust them to get their work done, how does that exhibit itself? You can’t just say the words, you have to make trust a living breathing part of your organization.

“If we want to be great leaders, if we want to create organizations where everybody loves to work, if you want to have these places that have these great people work for us, then you better find ways to engage them and you better do these key components around this that we've been talking about. You may be able to trick the people to come work for you. But you're not going to keep them.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Aron_Ain_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:51am PDT

What should you do if you work for a #leader​ that you don't like or don't get along with? If you're in this situation you typically have a few options.

1) Do nothing and suffer.
2) Have a conversation with your leader.
3) Try to switch teams.
4) Quit.
5) Focus on doing great quality work.

Regardless of the path you take, I think the worst option here is the first one. If you do nothing and just complain about your situation then I'm sorry, but you deserve what you get.

You have to take charge over your own personal and professional success. I talk about this more in the video. Let me know what you think. Have you ever been a situation where you had to take one of these paths? I sure have!

Direct download: What_if_You_Dont_Like_Your_Leader.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:55pm PDT

Manfred Kets de Vries is The Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools. He has received INSEAD’s distinguished teacher award five times.

Manfred is also the author of 52 books including The CEO Whisperer, Mindful Leadership Coaching, and Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership. And he is a consultant on organizational design, transformation, and strategic human resource management to leading companies all over the world.

From a young age Manfred was interested in psychology and human behavior, he was intrigued with trying to figure out why people act in certain ways. In college he studied economics and organizational behavior. Throughout his career he has focused on the intersection of these two areas and eventually he was appointed as the Global Leadership Director at INSEAD and he started a program specifically for leaders where 21 executives come together and Manfred creates what he calls tipping points for them to teach them how to make decisions in more humane and effective ways.

There is a Gallup poll that shows that 85% of employees worldwide don’t feel engaged at work. And as Manfred says, we only have one life to live so we should be making the best out of it. So he enjoys working with leaders because they have such a profound effect on the lives of their employees.

The 8 Archetypes Of Leadership
Back in 2013 Manfred wrote an article for HBR on what he calls the 8 archetypes of leadership. These are recurring patterns of behavior that Manfred says influence a leader’s effectiveness inside of an organization.

As Manfred says in his article “I think of these patterns as leadership “archetypes,” reflecting the various roles executives can play in organizations and it is a lack of fit between a leader’s archetype and the context in which he or she operates is a main cause of team and organizational dysfunctionality and executive failure.”

The eight most common archetypes are:

  1. The strategist: Leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organizational forms and generate future growth.
  2. The change-catalyst: Leadership as a turnaround activity. These leaders like messy situations that they can come in and fix. They are good at implementing organizational change. But when things are good they tend to get bored.
  3. The transactor. Leadership as deal making. These leaders thrive on negotiations. They are skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities. They are great dealmakers.
  4. The builder. Leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. Leaders in this category dream of creating something and they have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
  5. The innovator. Leadership as creative idea generation. Leaders in this category focus on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
  6. The processor. Leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
  7. The coach: Leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.
  8. The communicator: Leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers, and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.

It is important to know which type of leader you are, as well as what archetypes your peers and team members fall into in order to create the most effective and cohesive teams.

Can you change your archetype?
Over the course of your career as a leader you may be interested in changing your archetype. Manfred says it is possible, but it’s not easy. Instead of trying to change yourself, you may consider surrounding yourself with people who fall into the archetypes that you need for what you are currently facing. Embrace the traits you have, and allow other people to fill in the gaps where you are lacking.

And there may come a time, Manfred believes, when it may be time to resign from that position and go elsewhere. Maybe it is time for you to do something different. Years ago Manfred was speaking to a group of around 200 executives and he asked them how long is the productive life of a CEO and they said seven years, plus or minus two years. After that it’s time to move onto something else.

What should you do if you are placed in a position that doesn’t match your archetype?
There may be times when you feel you are being put in positions that don’t match up with your archetype and at that point Manfred says you have a decision to make. We are no longer living in times when you stick at a specific job at one company for decades. So you have to figure out what gives you energy and what brings you joy.

Manfred suggests keeping a diary for a few weeks to keep track of the periods of time that you feel positive energy and joy as well as situations that impact you negatively. That way you can look back and see what things are important to you, what things you should seek out and what situations you want to avoid. Looking back on that log of activity you can make a decision as to whether it is worth it to stay in that position or not.

Keeping archetypes in mind when you build your team
It may not be possible to have each of the eight archetypes represented on every team you work with, but it is good to keep these archetypes in mind as each one has a role to play in an effective team.

Manfred gave an example of an investment bank that he worked with in the past. They had a group of seven people who covered almost every archetype except they didn’t have anyone who was good at coaching.

As Manfred shares, “they were not good in coaching, they were too busy with strategy, deal making and also having the things on time, all those kinds of things. So because of that, they decided we have to do something about it. And we have to hire someone who takes that role, because it will be growing very fast, and we don't pay any attention to that kind of thing. And we're not very good at it either, given our personality.”

It is important to know which category you fall into and to be able to identify what’s missing. It’s not an exact science, and what combination of archetypes you need depends on the industry that you are in, but it is definitely something you should be aware of.

Direct download: Audio_-_Manfred_Kets_de_Vries_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:23pm PDT

A lot of people are very uncomfortable asking for feedback.

And rightfully so!

Early in my career, I was one of those people who was weirded out by asking for feedback.

But I realized that when you phrase feedback in a different way, it makes the conversation a lot easier and more directed towards your growth and development.

Here’s how you can rephrase the feedback you want to get.

1. Can I get your advice? If you've created a solution to something and you want to get feedback on what that solution is.

2. What can I do better? If you want to improve yourself on a certain thing.

3. What can I focus on now to prepare for a future role? If you want to focus on your growth for future learning and development.

I found these questions very effective to get the feedback I’m looking for. Try it out!

Direct download: 3_Questions_to_Ask_to_Get_Better_Feedback.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:21pm PDT

Deanna Mulligan is the former President, CEO, and Board Chair of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, a 160 year old Fortune 250 company with around 9,500 employees. She is also the author of a new book called Hire Purpose: How Smart Companies Can Close the Skills Gap.

Deanna was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune in 2019 and she was named one of “The 50 Most Powerful Women in New York” five times by Crain’s New York Business. Prior to Guardian Life Insurance, Deanna held senior positions at AXA Financial and New York Life Insurance and she was a principal at McKinsey & Company.


In the financial crisis of 2008 nearly 9 million people lost their jobs. For four years unemployment was at an all time high, and people were having a hard time finding new jobs. It was at this time that Deanna started thinking about the concept for her book, Hire Purpose. She knew it was important to find a way to make sure that this type of situation would never happen again.

The focus of the book was, as Deanna shares, “How can we make sure that people are constantly being re-trained, thinking ahead, upgrading their skills, so they don't have long periods of unemployment in the middle of their career--when they might have children and they might have elderly parents to take care of, when it's the most difficult, when they're saving for retirement-- to be unemployed.”

From the very beginning of her time at Guardian she made learning a priority in the culture of the organization so that people could constantly upgrade their skills and their talents.

What is the skills gap and why is it a problem?
Technology is rapidly changing and customer expectations are changing along with it. As consumers we expect products and services to be faster, better, cheaper, and more customized. Because of that organizations are having to adapt and implement newer, better technologies to keep up with demand.

As a result of these changes, employees who were trained for a specific job with one set of technologies, now have to be able to do something completely different, and if those employees are not consistently growing, learning, and developing new skills, they are going to get left behind.

The consulting firm, McKinsey & Company estimates that in the next 10 years 350 million jobs globally will be changed significantly. They also estimate that 75 million of those jobs will go unfilled because there will not be enough trained people to do the work. Deanna believes that it is up to leaders to make sure that their people are ready for this new world of work.

Many companies today are looking to hire people with certain skills and abilities for new roles, but they are having a hard time finding anyone that is qualified. That is our current skills gap problem, and it’s only going to get worse, unless we all take action.

What can CEOs do to close the skills gap?
As a leader of Guardian Deanna knew that she had to make learning a priority. But she realized that while initiatives are good, having one or two in place wouldn’t solve the problem. She knew she had to build a culture of learning that would become integral to the day to day operations of the organization.

One example of what Deanna implemented inside of Guardian was the start of leader learning day. On that day 900 of the Guardian leaders from around the country came together to figure out what they as leaders needed to learn and what ways they could help their employees learn. It was so successful that the following year the learning day was opened up to everyone inside the organization and it was extended to a full month instead of one day. Employees, no matter what level they were in the organization, could attend seminars, lectures, and courses online or in person. They came together to figure out things like--what am I going to do next? How do my skills and passions apply to what the company sees as new jobs coming up? Where can I go inside or outside the company to get the training I need?

People at Guardian understand that they are accountable for their careers and that the company wants them to be successful and therefore is behind them every step of the way to make sure employees have the resources and tools they need.

Who is responsible for learning--the individual or the organization?
For many decades there has been an assumption in place that what we learn in school will get us to where we need to be in our careers, and if anything new comes up our company will just teach it to us. But with the fast pace of change this is no longer sufficient. We have to realize that we need to be lifetime learners in order to keep up.

Deanna believes that education is a team effort. As she shares, “From my perspective companies that can afford it should help their employees to learn new skills and to do everything they can to be of assistance, but the company can't know what you love or what you're passionate about, or what makes you tick. And it really has to be a combination of the skills that the company is looking for and what you like to do and are passionate about, because learning takes energy. It's hard to learn without passion, and I don't think that anybody can force you to learn. You have to have initiative and want to learn.”

One thing we have all realized during the pandemic is that when we have to, we can learn new things. We all had to learn how to work from home, how to use Zoom or platforms like it, how to juggle family life while simultaneously working, etc...As humans we have the ability to learn new things and adapt. We have to stop getting stuck in a fixed mindset, where we believe that we have a limit on things that we can learn--and we have to move to a growth mindset, where we understand that we can gain new talents and skills through hard work, advice, education, curiosity, etc…

Advice for individuals who want to become perpetual learners
For any individual employee out there who wants to be prepared for the future of work and who wants to become a perpetual learner Deanna has a few pieces of advice.

  1. Start small--look at a problem that you have at work or even at home and figure out if there is a different skill, ability, or technology that you could use to solve it. How could you take a different method than you’ve used before to take on a current problem.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail--When babies first learn to walk they fall down a lot. But they get back up and try again. And as adults we don’t even remember falling down, but if we gave up after one or two falls we would still be crawling. The same goes with learning new skills. You will probably fail a few times, but after you succeed even once you will have the confidence to keep going. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  3. Develop a learning culture--Once you solve a problem at work it will get easier to go find another one to work on. And it can encourage other people around you to think about problems they can solve as well. There could be a problem that will take multiple people, so think about putting together a group to solve it. It doesn’t matter what your seniority level is at work, you can inspire a learning culture around you at any level.

Advice for leaders who want to build a culture of learning
If you are a leader inside of an organization who wants to ensure that your people are prepared for the future of work and any employment changes in the future Deanna also has some advice for you.

  1. Celebrate success--When an employee changes the way they do something or they learn something new--even if it is something small--it is up to you as the leader to elevate that. Make sure everyone knows about it and get everyone excited about it. Maybe you can get a cake, or put up a sign that says thank you to that employee, or call them out in a group meeting.
  2. Give people room to fail--It is completely unrealistic to think that your employees are going to feel free to learn new things without making mistakes. Learning is about experimenting, struggling a little bit, and figuring things out. Failure is a part of that process. You have to let employees know that failure is okay and it is normal.
Direct download: Audio_-_Deanna_Mulligan_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:18pm PDT