Randall Stutman on Coaching and Feedback — August 30, 2021

Randall Stutman on Coaching and Feedback

Many leaders are hesitant to work with a coach primarily because they do not want to give up control or power. However, working with a coach will increase a leaders experience by a factor of N because the coach has worked with many leaders and will share his/her experiences. Good leaders ask for help and are willing to accept it when offered.

Another benefit of having a coach is because the higher you climb in the organization, the more filtered information becomes, especially feedback about you. A good coach will tell you like it is without fear of retribution.

Regarding feedback, Randall says feedback is bad. Why? Because feedback is directional and carries with it power and authority. It is more like, I’m not asking, I’m telling. However, giving advice is better. It is more neutral. Advice offers suggestions. Most people are likely to listen to a suggestion or recommendation rather than receive feedback.

So why to most leaders provide feedback and not give advice? It comes back to that control and power thing. Leaders want quick results and they want to be right.

Randall Stutman on What Leaders Do — August 29, 2021

Randall Stutman on What Leaders Do

In early August, I signed up to take a nine week leadership challenge hosted by Ryan Holiday from Daily Stoic. During week one, Ryan interviewed Randall Stutman, a Leadership Scientist from the Admired Leadership Institute. The Admired Leadership Institute’s mission is to understand what makes great leaders and to teach the uncommon behavioral routines of the world’s best leaders.

I pulled so much content from that interview that I decided to break it up into several posts separated by topic. In this post, I will share Randall’s thoughts on what makes a good leader. In later posts, I will share his thoughts on Coaching and Feedback, Talent Management, and Change Management.

What is Leadership?

A leader is a person who wants to work with others to solve problems that he or she can’t do alone. A person’s desire to lead should be based more on solving problems and helping others and not about the desire for power, control, and influence. The end game should always be about working with others to solve problems and improve situations.

During the interview, Ryan asked Randall who were on his G.O.A.T Leadership list. He replied with, “It is time to stop celebrating leaders and start celebrating their actions and behaviors.” He warned listeners not to put leaders on a pedestal or hero worship them because all leaders are people and all people are flawed in some way. Instead, we should focus on the things we can learn from leaders, from their actions and behaviors, and incorporate them into our daily lives.

Getting Things Done and Priority Setting — July 2, 2021

Getting Things Done and Priority Setting

At the beginning of this year, I took on new work to revive and build-out leader development at my company. Seven months later, I find myself struggling to make real progress because I haven’t figured out how to prioritize this new work over the stuff I already do.

I have made some changes to help clear my plate. I promoted a high performer to her first management role and delegated some work to her (probably not enough). I have also started to step back from hand-holding another newish manager for several months until a couple of critical projects were completed.

However, it is not enough. I’m afraid my letting down my bosses, executive team, and employees that are part of the leader programs. I don’t think I have too much time before they begin to lose patience and worse, confidence in my ability to leader this effort.

It is not for a lack of interest and motivation. I’ve worked toward getting this opportunity my whole career. It is where I want to spend the remaining years I think I have left. So, I’m taking the long holiday weekend to think about what I need to do to get the ball rolling faster. No excuses, I just have to set daily goals and completed them, no matter what.

Reading Out Loud — July 1, 2021

Reading Out Loud

Back in May, I watched Patrick King’s YouTube video Instant Social Skills Upgrade Exercise – Read Out Loud!  In this video, he recommends establishing a daily read out loud habit to increase your vocal skills and social confidence.  I decided to give it a try and I purchased two books that I keep on my desk under my Laptop Stand:

I stayed pretty consistent during the month of June, only missing a couple of days.  As a result, I feel I am making improvement in how I project my voice and enunciate my words.  As an extra bonus, I truly enjoy reading the short passages on Stoicism and Leadership before I begin my workday and it helps me maintain a Positive Mental Attitude.

You Get More By Letting Go — June 30, 2021

You Get More By Letting Go

I attended a workshop today hosted by The GKC Group on Executive Presence. Toward the end of the session, I asked one of the Executive Panelists John Drain, CFO at Hearst Television, “What behaviors do you see in emerging leaders that might cause them to derail their careers?”

Here is a summary (my notes) on what John shared with the group:

  • People who have control issues. That is, they always have to be in control.
  • They feel that if they are not always in control, they are going to fail.
  • There is usually something behind this behavior, a fear of failure, low self-esteem, etc.
  • This not only affects them, but their entire team.
  • Some people can be coached to let go, but there are some who cannot and always have to be in control.
  • Those who cannot, put everything on their back and will eventually burnout or implode.
  • At the same time, they are not developing their team. Sooner or later, their best employees will leave to seek out opportunities to grow and develop elsewhere.
  • As a leader, one of your core values must include helping others succeed.
  • You cannot do this if you always have to be in control.
  • You have to learn to let go.

His advice reminded me of a post I wrote years ago for another blog. It is from a conversation film director Kevin Smith had off the cuff with his friend Jason Mewes on his podcast:

I could never understand when I was younger and listening to older directors, how much control they gave up. When I was a young director, I used to force actors to do what I wanted them to do. Now that I’m older, I get it. You get more by letting go. If you put somebody in charge of their own performance, they are ultimately going to give you their best. The best thing to do to create an environment for very talented people is to let them do what they do best and take a step back and don’t interfere; maybe stepping in every once in a while to help shape or tweak something. I know how to get the best out of people and what they do and that is my job. That is what I’m good at.

I shared this quote during a breakout session we had shortly after the executive panel convened and got a few head nods.  For me, it is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned in my career. I fail at it everyday. But every once in a while, I succeed.  When I do, I get to see my team grow.  There is no other greater reward as a leader.

Problem Solving with Perfectionists — June 29, 2021

Problem Solving with Perfectionists

I have a team member who is bright and conscientious. She is the resident expert on our systems and work processes. Most of the time, her approach to solving problems and implementing solutions is spot-on. However, when a solution doesn’t immediately present itself, she can get stuck. Her high need to ‘be the best’ gets in the way of coming up with ‘good enough’ solutions.

This happened in a meeting today. She identified a hurdle in extracting some data to upload into a new system. I felt like there was a solution lurking somewhere in the background and it just had to be flushed out. In the past, I would jump straight into brainstorming mode. I find when I do this she puts up a wall and we make little progress.

Today, I tried something different. I took a more rational approach by breaking the problem down into three distinct parts: filters, date ranges, and data extraction. At each step I asked open-ended questions and tested her assumptions. We got to the root cause of her issue at step 2 and then I was able to brainstorm potential solutions. Less defensive, she was in a better mindset that allowed her to consider each of my ideas and pick the best one.