A Leader Gets People On The Same Page By Creating Leaders, Not Followers

November 11, 2021 00:47:07
A Leader Gets People On The Same Page By Creating Leaders, Not Followers
I See What You Mean
A Leader Gets People On The Same Page By Creating Leaders, Not Followers
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Show Notes

If Bob Nunnally and his team aren't on the same page, the first thing he checks is his communication. Other things could be happening, but if his team's not getting his meaning and intent, nothing else matters. Plus Bob knows that he models leadership behavior in how he handles the situation. 

 

In this episode, Bob explains specific ways he works the podcast's big questions - What's it mean to be on the same page? How do we get there? What if we can't get there? Then he frames everything he does as a leader's role and responsibility, including the responsibility to create leaders, not followers. With 30+ years' military and commercial executive leadership experience, there's a lot here you can implement. 

 

At minute 46:12, my 32GB memory card - with almost nothing on it - died. Bob and I were already wrapping things up, so we decided to not re-record the interrupted exchange. My apologies for the abrupt transition from conversation to close at that point. As always, here are some of my favorite ahh-ha! moments:

 

2:21 - The mission briefing contract as a way to make sure people are on the same page.

5:27 - Shared knowledge and shared intent increase the odds of accomplishing a mission or task.

10:44 - Being on the same page is knowing my role in attacking a problem, knowing everyone else's part, and what I'll do to assist, if needed.

16:09 - Communication is not like sending a fax.

27:08 - "We're not on the same page. Tell me what you think we should do."

31:06 - A mistake is a good intention gone bad.

37:21 - "None of us is as good as all of us together. The question is, have I created an environment where it's truly all of us together?"

43:51 - An operational definition of organizational culture.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Welcome to, I see what you mean a podcast about how people get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is Bob Nunley. Bob's a federal consulting market colleague and COO of a waste international Corp of technology, cyber and business management, SDB OSB, Bob, welcome to the show. Speaker 2 00:00:25 Well, hi. Thanks Lou. Speaker 1 00:00:27 You're welcome. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Once you give us a short give listeners the short bio, so they know what I know about you. Speaker 2 00:00:38 Sure. Uh, well, I am, I'm easily. The most blessed person you've ever met in your life. Uh, I, uh, I flew fighters in the air force for an entire career, which was a lot of fun. Uh, I kind of summarize my career as half the time I was building new things and half the time I was fixing broken things, uh, I think both of those opportunities gave me a chance to, uh, to work with and for some of the most amazing and influential leaders actually in our country is really, really a blessing. Uh, and, uh, I think I've, uh, had a pretty good opportunity to apply and adapt those lessons, uh, to the roles I've had as a, as a vice-president and as a chief operating officer, as the president or CEO of, uh, various companies. Uh, and I get again, uh, happy to be here and thanks Luke for this opportunity. Speaker 1 00:01:24 You're very welcome. So you and I have worked together. I want listeners to know that, and we think similarly about some of these things, we have had conversations about this topic before, and I'm going to ask you a question. I'm going to set it up this way. There's a situation I'm very intrigued by that I'm working on, which is when a leader, any leader team lead CEO, any any anywhere in between just having a conversation with the team and has that feeling that we're all we're on the same page meeting ends and they find out later that they weren't on the same page. It's common. It could happen in between you and your wife. It could happen between siblings. It just happens. We think we're on the same page we find out. We're not, you had a very interesting practice in the air force that you used to actually make sure that when a conversation ended, you and others were on the same page. Why don't you tell us about that? Speaker 2 00:02:21 Yes. You know, uh, I think one of the interesting things is we're all colored by, uh, in some way positive or negatively, I guess, about the experiences in our lives. Uh, and so yes, as a, as a career fighter pilot, um, uh, in, in the F 16, 8, 10, and some other airplanes is, um, there is a standard in the mission briefing where we call it the contract and that's where the flight lead. He or she is briefing the rest of the team and, and laying out for, uh, for all of us, our roles and responsibilities, uh, his or her expectations for how we will protect the formation, uh, how we'll handle emergencies, uh, how we'll handle specific radio calls or, uh, or issues or threats, or it gets things pop up that we weren't expecting at all, um, how we'll deal with them. Right. Uh, and so it starts at the first of, uh, first of the briefing and it's, it's normally stated upfront, this is the contract, uh, and then we all died. Speaker 2 00:03:21 And we basically, it's almost almost like, uh, uh, when you fly in an exit row of an airplane, uh, in this case, the flight lead looks at you and goes like, do you understand? And you go, yes, I got it. Uh, and I feel like, uh, I didn't fully appreciate the influence that had on me until, uh, until some, uh, I got into various leadership positions outside of the military, uh, where, uh, I'm very much interested in understanding that yes, indeed what I want us to do was properly and clearly communicated, uh, that it was properly and in, uh, in fully understood. And, uh, now I get to know that's true. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:04:03 That's great. I'm going to unpack that a little bit called an a contract, which is very interesting. So it's, it's, it's like, you know, like the, the, the part the parties are, are assigning something they're, they're signing onto something they're agreeing to something you covered some really important points, expectations, roles, and responsibilities, some planned events. That's my label. I heard you say a few things that I could anticipate being in, in, in the mission of planned activity or event, and then some contingencies, some what ifs. Yes. W how much was this one way you speaking to them? How, how conversational was it? How did, how much did people have ideas that they chimed in with? Speaker 2 00:04:45 Um, well, I would say typically, um, in the contract period, there wasn't a whole lot of discussion, but there was certainly clarifying questions or, uh, Oregon, somebody said, well, how about this other technique for doing this? Uh, yeah, those were always entertained, right. Because, uh, I think as we can almost always appreciate, we're not always the smartest people in the room. Right. But you've got to open that door to communication, right. To kind of get the great ideas. Speaker 1 00:05:13 Exactly. That's what I wondered. You've set the stage there. Y'all take off. Right. And there's how many of, how many of you, Speaker 2 00:05:21 Well, anywhere from anywhere from two to 45 or something like that, sometimes they're very large packages. Speaker 1 00:05:27 Yeah. Okay. And, and, uh, I think of, uh, I think of a, of a football team, American football team breaking the huddle. Right, right. And it go into the line of scrimmage. Each person knows what they're supposed to do. Each person knows what others are supposed to do to achieve an objective. No one knows what the defensive team will do until the ball snap. Right. Right. And then what I think is cool is, and I'm going to ask you if it worked this way, the shared knowledge and the shared intent that the team had when they broke the huddle, enables them to react to the defense, to some degree, to compensate for things that aren't going their way. If you're a guard and you needed to open a hole to your left and the guy facing you moves to your right, he helped you out. If he moves into the space, you were supposed to create a hole with maybe your, maybe your, your tackle helps you because he sees that, right. You can adjust, right. Shared knowledge, shared intent, enables people to not just execute their role, which is the starting place that has to happen first, or not much good happens if people don't execute their role, but also to coordinate and helping each other as unforeseen and maybe unwanted events occur, shared knowledge, shared intent leads to, I don't know, I think a higher probability of a mission accomplishment, right? Speaker 2 00:06:56 Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Right. Uh, there's uh, uh, we're, we're mixing lots of analogies here and I like that. I think, you know, I love, I love analogies, but, uh, uh, absolutely true. Right. Uh, as we would come out of the contract, uh, and then get deeper into the actual, how we're going to execute the specifics of this mission or sorority, um, uh, when we actually lined up and, and took off and in, uh, in pushed over into bad guy country and stuff like that, you never knew exactly what was going to happen. Right. And you had, um, um, prepared for the worst. Right. And, and, and hoping for the best. Uh, but, uh, in general, you're absolutely right. The contract allowed us to know how we might flex together. Right. And so, uh, without getting into too many details, but one of the reasons you fly in, um, in a formation and even number formation, typically of fighters is because you can't check your own six o'clock, you can't look behind you not well. Speaker 2 00:07:55 So the wing man is, is flying line of breasts with you, uh, six to 12,000 feet. And he, or she can see behind you and you can see behind them. Right. And, uh, uh, and so when bad things happen, you're, you're over there going like, okay, I know what my flight lead's going to do. I know what my responsibilities are, but I also know that I'm responsible for this piece of it, wherever he, or she turns, I've got to check and make sure the six o'clock is clear. And so, as you get thrown curves or, or, uh, or the, or the defensive moves into the tackles position, you go, like, I still know what my job is. Speaker 1 00:08:33 Right. I love that. That's like, like a coordinated line of sight you described there, right. Where you can have your own on a site, but someone else could. And then that leads to, like, someone could come call you and say, and report something there's sort of a shared, um, they're, they're adding information for situational awareness. Right. They're adding what they see that you can't see. That's pretty cool. Let me ask you, uh, one of the basic questions of I ponder and I want the podcast to address is what's it mean to be on the same page? What would you say? I think we've said it, but I want to be sure we didn't miss something. What did it mean to be on the same page when that, when that mission brief ended in the contract was agreed to? Speaker 2 00:09:12 Yeah, so, uh, it, it basically meant that, um, I know what my role is. I know what success looks like. Uh, there's a great, a great, again, a military piece here that, that I've been able to use in the civilian sector quite well. And that's all commander's intent. Uh, I knew what success was supposed to look like. I knew how it was supposed to be measured. Um, and so, and I knew my role and I, as you, as you alluded to, I pretty much knew everybody else's role. And my job is not to go do their job, unless God forbid something happened and I needed to backfill them and fill in, right. That's also part of the contract. If somebody, uh, doesn't make it to the flight or survive to fight, who's the next in line to take that person's job, that's part of the contract. Speaker 2 00:09:56 Right. And so, uh, so I think that's, uh, stepping out to the jets or, or, or even now in the business world, us kicking off a project or a program or whatever it happens to be is, is having that same shared understanding of, I know what success is supposed to look like. I know how we're going to measure it, to know if we are being successful. I know what my role is in it. I know what my peers role in is. I know what my bosses role is in it. Uh, and they know these things as well. And so with that kind of alignment, I, I, I, I find that it's, um, it's enjoyable even to get into sticky pieces in, uh, cause nothing ever goes as planned. Right, right. Uh, exactly as planned, uh, that when, uh, when you get thrown that curve ball or, uh, or, uh, the change happens is knowing, okay. Speaker 2 00:10:44 Based on what I do know about our shared success, how do I attack this? What is my piece of attacking it? And then there's also the other thing that's, uh, that I think is critical, uh, in everyday operations. And certainly, uh, drilled into us in the private world is no hesitancy to ask for help. And, you know, pilot fighter pilots yelled out, Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of, I need help and I trust you. And, and I know you're going to beat my help. Right. And so being able to have that confidence to ask for it, even when you know, I know what the plan is, you know, what the plan is, we got thrown a curve ball something's going badly. Uh, I could use some help. I think that's what also helps us get on and stay on the same page. All right. Speaker 1 00:11:29 Aye. Truer words were never spoken. And I think one of the things that happens in a situation in let's say, leave the military situation, you've described relationship home work, team situation, head nodding is often taken as a sign of agreement. And for as a sign of understanding in an environment, for whatever reason, we can talk about the reasons, although they're, well-documented, someone's not comfortable asking a question, it's very easy to leave a room with two or any number of people thinking some somewhat different things, maybe wildly different things, but at least somewhat different, different assumptions, different understanding, different expectation, different prediction. You know, we're always making predictions of how something's going to go and why we're. And there's a, there's a really great part of the organizational management change literature about making an organization safe for those conversations. For questions, say, for honest conversation, for questions, I did not know what you just told me about the fighter pilot culture that Speaker 2 00:12:40 Yeah. That, uh, you have to be comfortable, uh, asking for help yelling. Mayday. If you need to a Speaker 1 00:12:47 Weakness, Speaker 2 00:12:48 It's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength. It's a sign of strength because I, uh, the culture is, uh, is developed such that you don't think less of me, you know, I'm calling for help because I trust you to help me. I have confidence in you. Speaker 1 00:13:04 That's really cool. Um, obviously you don't, you know, you know, your job, you're not calling for help to say, Hey, what was I supposed to do? You're not, that's not what you're calling for help because something has occurred. It could be mechanical. It could be visual. It could be something's occurred. And it also alerts others. Just something they might need to know about. I'm, I'm, I'm assuming, right. Speaker 2 00:13:25 Oh, it absolutely right. Absolutely. Um, uh, back to, uh, back to the visual lookout, right. Um, when, uh, when I'm flying line of breast with, uh, with another fighter and somebody shoots a missile at us, or something like that, um, I'm expecting that my women who would be a much more junior officer or much less experience, uh, that he, or she could yell, break right break. Right. And I don't go as a leader. Well, wait a minute, did you say right or left? Or like, why aren't you, why, right. Yeah. I am trusting that when they made that call to me, that directive call to me and they know what the contract is, and they know what success looks like, that they are being very directive to me in a way that I need to act. Now I could sort it out in a little bit. Speaker 2 00:14:13 Right. Right. And that is a very different kind of cultural environment where you go, uh, especially with the junior staff, right. Or maybe the least experienced among us or whatever it is, giving them the right through a contract to be able to speak up and say, yeah, that's true. Uh, Hey, I'm seeing something you don't see. That's true. Right. I think there's a, there's another element of this culture, the fighter tonic culture though. That's important. And I think it, it often is missing in business, uh, uh, as far as I've seen, and that is the debriefs after we fly the mission, uh, and we come back in and we all walked out to the jets thinking that we're all on the same page and we come back, uh, the deeper is as, as you've probably heard before is a, is a, no-holds-barred no rank in the room conversation about how well we did. Speaker 2 00:15:03 And, uh, the youngest among us can call out the oldest among us, uh, or the most seasoned among us, uh, and say, Hey, you said you were going to do this thing and you didn't do it. Then you did it this other way. And we may have this conversation. And well, I had to make a change on the fly and the person goes like, well, you should have communicated that to me. Conversely, those people who were, you know, nodding, like the little ducks in the room, didn't do this thing and I go, but you were nodding. And then I go on. Yeah, we didn't understand. I go, okay, it's time out. How did we get that far down the path of you didn't understand. Right. And so I think some of those experiences produce the scar tissue that goes like, I don't want to be in that position. Right. But it's that closing the loop that I think is important. It's not simply, uh, all the presentation done in the briefing, but the ability to come back after a mission or a program where you've delivered a project or a client engagement or whatever it happens to be, and have, get that honest feedback for yourself and each other. Right. And hold yourselves accountable to it. Okay. Speaker 1 00:16:03 Yes. The debrief as part of getting on the same page, that's really Speaker 2 00:16:09 Absolutely. You've got to in the same way, you know, we, we joked about before, uh, that, um, so many people think of communication and man, I am dating myself here, but a communication is like a fence. You send it. So you must be done right until you know, that the fax was received and it was legible and that they got it and they acted on it. Right. Well, comms has to be the exact same thing, whether, whether I'm trying to brief the business development team or, uh, or a delivery team, or, you know, a fighter pilot group is, is being able to come back and go like, so how come we didn't do this thing? Right. We said, we were going to do this thing and we didn't and start to undercover uncover, uh, where the impediments were. Right? Speaker 1 00:16:55 Yeah. Each of us, I think each of us is, is, is largely on our own page. I've had folks disagree with me on this, feel free to, but I think larger, or we have an own page that we're on and to create it to be on the same page, we have to create it. And we created, I think we created it from our own pages and to do that, we have to share something of what and, and, and have to be heard, not just share, send, but be heard. What's something that, that world looks like to that person. I always like to know why, like, so if you told me what and why you saw something somewhere, I'd want to know Tommy, why not? Because I'm challenging you because I'm really curious. And when I understand why you see something a certain way, or why you size it up a certain way, I have a lot more understanding of what it means to you. And that could be very valuable because that, what that, what, and why helps me understand how, or it helps me make decisions about how that's more aligned or more right. More aligned. So you mentioned commander's intent. We talked, we actually talked about it, but just say what that is, because that's a cool concept. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:18:00 So again, uh, drawing from military experience, uh, commander's intent is a process or a, uh, an approach using the military. That, again, I've found very successful in, in, in, in this business application, it's where the commander or the leader, maybe it's a project manager or the CEO, or the COO business development lead, whoever states out the vision, the description, the definition of what the successful mission will look like, not the details for how to do it, but what the success would look like. And then what winds up happening on the military side of the house is the people who will execute it, then go fill in all those gaps. Right. Right. They go like, okay, so this is, this is the vision of success. It typically also includes a statement of the why. Right, right. Uh, and, uh, and then out of that, um, uh, the, the captains majors, lieutenants, uh, everyone go in and say, okay, well, here's how I would do that. Speaker 2 00:18:56 What then happens is they do a brief back to the commander that says, okay, here's, here's what your stated intent was. And here's how we're going to accomplish that. And then the commander can typically roll in and, and have a couple of, uh, you know, conversations about, well, why, why left and not right? Why fast, why not slow? Why blue, why not red and all this kind of good things. And then what winds up happening is for the group of people that are involved in that, uh, it starts to create a same sheet. We know, again, what chic shared success would look like. We know how we're going to be measured that success. And then I know, and my boss now knows what my role is in delivering that success. So it is, it is an extension of what we started with is the contract, right? Commander's intent is indeed a way to do that, maybe at a broader or larger mission before. Speaker 1 00:19:48 And I think the, the shared understanding of what, why and how, or the shared development of what, why and how you can be given a what and why you go away and figure it out somehow, and come back to talk to the lead, whoever whoever gave you the, the intent, you might provide some information that causes them to reconsider something. Sure. When you, when you start to work through the details of the, how that can inform some of the what and why, and, and adjustments have to, could be made to skip that sync up, there's a, there's a, there's a, uh, element or characteristic of people working together that way we're talking about, which is emergent. We don't know what, we don't know everything at the beginning. As we learn new things, we might reconsider something we thought at the outset. Speaker 2 00:20:34 And that's what we're seeing in agile software development today, too. Right. And I lead a lot of agile software. Um, and that's the, one of the things that makes me most excited about it is I know what the general vision for the software is, but until I get in there and start delving it, I'm going to come across something that I didn't foresee. So the solutioning of the, how happens in an agile environment where I'm not afraid to make the mistake, I'm not afraid to ask for help. Uh, and, uh, and then quickly iterate, iterate to do what we call fail smartly, right. Fail fast, right. And then move on to the best way to solve that. Right. Uh, so again, I see a lot of these, uh, uh, similarities in, uh, in how I was raised in the fighter world and what I'm seeing, um, in the, uh, in the business world. And they're very much about the communication, the two-way communication, uh, and the techniques to get everybody on the same page and knowing that we're not going to get it right. But how are we going to get back on the page? Speaker 1 00:21:31 Exactly. Knowing even that might fall off the page or run into a ditch, but, but there's, but you've got to get back on. And, and that's part of, that's just part of the process to me getting on the same page has to do with, I have a definition I've been testing. That's a good word, a definition I've been testing that, getting on the same page as agreeing enough right now to take the next step. So it allows for the iterations because you can come, right. You're just going to take the next step. And so you might be in a process that's somewhat linear, and you could agree now about what the next step is. You take it together. You could be, you could, you could have a conversation. You say, you know what, Bob, we're not agreeing on some basic things. Maybe we need to go do a little bit more discovery, a little bit more fact, finding a little bit more. Speaker 1 00:22:19 We could agree to that. We go and collect some more evidence, some more information, somewhere, whatever, bring it back, look at it together. But we, if we, if we've agreed enough to take the next step released on that page, I never wanted, I didn't want getting on the same page to be, to sound or to, to to mean something ultimate or, or, or, or final, or like the big C consensus. Uh, we're on the same. We have, we have that happen in our lives, but especially in the work world, that just, that's not how it works. That's not how projects go. That's not how initiatives, that's just not how the work happens. And so the ability to come back and I think I'm focused on discovery, what do we need to know appraisal? What do we make of what we know and application, what are we going to do with what we know? And you can keep iterating those three things in cycles all the way through implementation, right? Right. Deepened implementation. You can be discovering new things, sizing them up, making sense of them and saying, Hey, we're okay. Keep moving or wait a minute. This, this came out of nowhere supply chain problem, or a customer problem. And you make an adjustment, but what do you think? Speaker 2 00:23:36 Yeah, I, I, I wouldn't disagree with that at all. I think that that's, um, uh, very much how things operate today. The, the decision cycles have, have, have occur so quickly. Uh, and there are so many options and alternatives and so much data and stuff out there. It's, it's kind of a, fool's errand to go. Like, I think I've got the whole thing nutted. I got it. I understand everything from a to Z. It's not the case. Right. Especially in, uh, anything that's competitive because your competitors are trying to change. And when too, which is going to cause you to have to act in a different way. Right. I know you're familiar with the OODA loop. Right. Which again, observe orient decide act, which is, is the, um, microsecond, um, flow of information that fighter pilots use, especially in air to air combat, right. Is a observe what's happening, orient yourself to it, decide what you're going to do in act and do that a thousand times in a second. Right. Right. Well, the same thing I think happens is we're rolling out large business opportunities or, or we're pursuing, you know, complex it solutions or, or, or really complicated, uh, client deliverables. Right. Right. Is something's going to change. Clients needs are going to change. We laid out an entire, uh, proposal and we're delivering this piece of work only to find out that the client actually wants something else. Yeah. Well, okay. So what are we going to do? Speaker 1 00:25:04 Right. Right. Got to adjust Speaker 2 00:25:07 That's right. Right. So, so, so taking that, and again, the concept within agile or which is important in here is the min viable product, the MVP. Right. Uh, I talked to people all the time that, you know, I don't think agile and those kinds of things are, are peculiar to the it world. Uh, certainly applicable here, but to even writing something right. Meant viable product to be my first outline. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And then I go like, ah, you kinda got that wrong. Okay, great. Yeah. I'm not afraid to swap, swap, swap the sections around or things like that. Right. Right. Speaker 1 00:25:45 Sure. Well, we've talked a lot about what it means to be on the same page, how to get there, even how to stay there with implications for if we fall off the same page, how do we get back on? What, what do you do in a situation where you need to be on the same page with somebody or team needs to be on the same page? It's not happening. You've attempted it. So you're maybe you're faced with inability to get on the same page with somebody. What do you, what do you do? What are your options? What do you think at that point? Speaker 2 00:26:12 Yeah. Um, well I think this is why, uh, why leaders get paid the big bucks. Right. Cause, uh, whether they do or that is wind up, uh, um, wind up, uh, doing a lot of, you know, introspective thinking about why this is the case or it isn't working. Right. I'll tell you personally, I, I often start with myself and go like, okay, is it mate? Like, is there something I haven't been able to communicate here? Right. Uh, in maybe I just, you know, I find it there's this phenomenon in my own life where I have already thought through 10 steps and, um, you know, down the field a long ways and the person's going like, wait, w w what sport are we playing? Yeah. Yeah. Okay, great. So I have to back up and do that. Uh, so I know that that's a personal weakness in my life, so I try to get to, uh, uh, to, to make sure we're all starting off in the same foot. Speaker 2 00:27:08 Uh, but if I, if I found that, uh, that, you know, we've just taken a couple of swings and misses, um, one thing is I, uh, I often ask is can the person, um, I might ask the person to tell me what they think we need to do. Cause I, I want to try to understand if maybe just maybe part of the impediment here is they've actually got a brilliant idea and I squashed them. And they're just trying to tell me what their brilliant idea is to pull this thing off. Right. So, uh, so, so I try to, I try to put, put, put them in my position and go, okay, so you tell me what we think. Right. Another thing I often look at is, um, did I make a bad choice relative to the, person's either commitment to this or their skillset? You know, there's this interesting phenomena too, and I'm sure you've seen it where, when you're working with a boss, right. Speaker 2 00:28:01 And it's, it's as opposed to say, you're just working with your peer and you know, that peer happens to be first among peers, right. Versus you're working with your boss is you don't want to let them know typically that you can't do something or you don't understand it. And you may not ask questions, right. Because you don't want to come across. And this ties back to what we were starting about talking about earlier. Right. My expectation is that if I've asked you to do something and you don't know how to do it, you're going to go, like, I don't know how to do that. Right. But, but I also get that. There's plenty of situations where they're just not going to say that they're not going to ask me that question. Uh, so I'll, I'll try to dive into that. You know, you do occasionally come up in a situation where literally this person is not the right one to pursue the task with you or to take that role or whatever it is, in which case that's the hard conversation, right. Where you have to sit down and say, you know, I just don't think this thing is for you. This is not in your strength. They could Speaker 1 00:29:02 Be relieved. Speaker 2 00:29:03 You know, they could, they could have been waiting for a chance to not have to have these conversations. Speaker 1 00:29:08 I like that though. Is it me? I think it's always good to ask that question first, because it's easy to overlook that question. It's easy to overlook that. I like tell me what you think we should do. Answer that question. I think could be very illuminating because somebody could have a different perspective on something that maybe if they're talking to me, I didn't have that perspective. Or maybe I was aware of it, but didn't think it through deeply, there's something I'm always wrestling with about what does something mean to live, look at the same thing. And it can mean something different. I think that's pretty fascinating. And I think in the kinds of conversations we're talking about in the workplace, other relationships too, but the workplace team, what something means, isn't always easy to communicate and maybe isn't always, there's not space made for, for, for communicating that. And if you said, if I said to someone, tell me what you think we should be doing, chances are, they're not gonna just say back what you said. Speaker 2 00:30:08 Right. Cause then the conversation becomes, why aren't we doing it? Right. Speaker 1 00:30:11 They're going to say, well, then they're going to answer with something that might surprise me. It's like, wow. All right. Tell me more about that. Cause I hadn't thought of it that way. Speaker 2 00:30:19 Well, th there's a couple of things that I've come across, uh, uh, over the years that, uh, that fascinating and they continued to fascinate me and that is how some people define terms differently. Right. So, uh, one things I try to do is, uh, and I know it probably irritates, you know, some people who work with me, uh, but I'll, I'll, I'll say like, when I say this term or use this term, this is what I need. Right. Uh, but there's, uh, there's another thing, um, that I've found useful in my life is in, and that's, uh, making a, uh, uh, creating a definition of if, if you will, or what a mistake is. Right. Right. And in my life, a mistake is a good intention gone bad. Right? And so if, if we're not being successful, we're not on the same page of music. Speaker 2 00:31:06 And it appears as though the other people are, or the other person, or whatever it happens to be is, is making mistakes. I used that as the thing was this a good intention. They had a good intention, but it went bad. And if by following that, that thought trained, what allows me to do is say like, okay, was there a communications issue? Was there a priority issue? Right. Was it a logistical issue that had it been solved? What they were trying to do, what it turned out great. Right. Uh, as opposed to, this was a bad intention that went well, right. This was a good intention that didn't go well. And that's a mistake. And I think mistakes very personally, if I'm in charge right. Of going, like, how did I permit this mistake to happen with the team? Right. Because they didn't have enough beans, blankets, or bullets or notebook paper, or whatever it happens to be. Right. Or I didn't prioritize for them. Well, so that's why this thing is late, uh, that I wanted to get done. Cause I didn't help them prioritize or back to where we were talking a few minutes ago. Maybe it was a communication problem. Communication was mine. It was my problem. Speaker 1 00:32:12 Yeah. Well, you said something that made me think of enablers and constraints. I think a lot about enablers and constraints on people. And so you don't always know what constraints are operating on somebody or constraints they perceive or operating on them. And some of the questions that you're asking, tell me what you think we should be doing. Or you could even talk about the match between skill sets and a task or between commitment and a task. You might find something surprising they might share with you something that, that is situational and not personal. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:32:40 I would, I would agree with that, that, and this becomes a really important part in the leadership role, right. Is to be able to uncover those things that aren't readily evident or might never be evident in just become to continue to be an impediment to somebody's success. You know, when you go through the hiring process, as most of us do, we're usually pretty good at it. Occasionally, you know, there's like, oh my God, why did we hire Bob? Right. But, but generally we're pretty good at it. So my going in position typically is no one wants to do something poorly or badly. Right. Um, it, they're not mailing to Dan on purpose. There's something else out there. Right, right, right. Um, and, uh, and being able to understand that, oh, they're shared resource and they've got two other bosses and those people are squishing their heads to get something done. Speaker 2 00:33:34 And so my things that are priority, right. Yeah. I didn't know that. And they're not going to rat out the other two bosses. Right. Right. So how, how do I, how do I create that environment, right. Where to be, and stay on the same page or if we're not on the same patient and seeing the same success out of the mission commander's intent or whatever it happens to be when I seen the successful vision of the contract, right. To be able to dive in there and create that rapport that allows him to say like, you know, here, here's the problem. You know, my, my dog is sick and it's really bad. Like, okay, Speaker 1 00:34:08 You know, you, you probably know this in social psychology. There's something very, well-researched called the fundamental attribution error. And it means that we S we tend to ascribe more success to ourselves, uh, personally than situationally. And we tend to ascribe failures to others more personally than situationally. Right. And it's a fundamental error because the research shows that, you know what, it's often pretty situational. We all know a person who wasn't didn't have their heart in something, or didn't belong in a role, bad fit, but that's, those are the exceptions. Most people on the team are shown up every day to do a good job. And there's something about the system that they work in that could be in their way. And to pause some of the questions you've shared with me that you ask yourself is the fast, effective pausing to check that it's easy to blame the other person, but what's operating on them. That I might not be aware of that that could affect their performance. And if I'm aware of it, can I do something about it is obviously were there, and, and like you said, it's, it's maybe part of what it means to maybe it's part of, what's fundamental about being a leader is that you search for those kinds of things? Speaker 2 00:35:26 Well, the, uh, another absolute truth I have discovered after, or during 35 years of senior leadership positions is that there is always more to the story, right? There's always more to the story. There's always a separate way to look at it or, or the data that you didn't have as the boss. Right. We get, we get insulated a lot of times, right? Because we're running, we're an inch deep and a thousand things trying to keep companies running and, uh, and clients happy and all that kind of good stuff. And there's somebody who's working on this, who's a mile deep in three things. Right. And, uh, and what's their perspective and what do they think? And, you know, I'm not always the smartest guy in the room. In fact, I've probably almost never the smartest guy in the room, but if I am smart, it'll be that there will be really smart people in the room that will be on the same page and be listened to them. Right. Speaker 1 00:36:21 I love that. That's a great Axiom. There's always more to the story, you know, there's, there's this also this notion of, of, of, of, of bounded rationality, which is, we can only know so much about any situation and we can only process so much about any situation. So our rationality about a situation is bounded, but the kind of communication you are talking about stretches those boundaries, right? It, it opens, it opens them up because you it'd be, you, you can add to what each other knows. And I like to think about that as creating more of a group knowledge out of individual experience. And that group knowledge is additive, but I think it's also a multiplicative, right? The ideas start to come together and people have an aha moment, oh, wait a minute. If that's what's going on with the client and that's, what's happening in the supply chain, what about, what did we do this right. That emerges out of the conversation. And nobody had that on the agenda. Nobody had done a report on that. It just comes out of the conversation. Right? Speaker 2 00:37:21 Well, I think this ties well to, to Lou to how, how you even began, this whole conversation is being on the same sheet of music or being on the same sheet is not for a singularly, um, exclusive task. It's about how we operate together, right? And so have we created that environment where, uh, leadership listens to, uh, uh, to everyone else and everyone else's listening to each other, and everyone feels comfortable in that environment, you know, speaking up and speaking out and, um, and helping everybody create the dots. There's too much data, too many decisions to be made too many options out there that any one of us knows at all what I, what I try to coach to the team. So my teams is none of us is as good as all of us together. Right. The question is, have I created an environment where it's truly all of us together Speaker 1 00:38:13 Okay. Right. Where people can really bring their best to something. And it's, and it's, it's welcome. That also makes for a pretty exciting and gratifying environment to work in. Speaker 2 00:38:23 It is, it certainly is for me when, uh, when I see groups of folks self-organizing to solve a problem and being able to run after it, uh, you know, they they've tied strengths together. If they put strengths over weaknesses of individuals, they figured out how to do that. Oh man. It's an amazing thing to see, you know, Speaker 1 00:38:43 Have you noticed how, like, out of nowhere, how much energy can get created by people coming together? That way it comes from the interaction, it's like a physics thing, chemistry. Speaker 2 00:38:54 Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And you start to see that success. And that's another part in this whole leadership that daily struggle is to be in those challenges where it's really hard for the team to, uh, to get it in here and get in sync and be aligned with the client and produce things. How can I, as a leader introduce that, that, that modicum of success where now they can build on it, right? You talk to coaches who are <inaudible>. They just want that one little victory. Right. And they, cause they know with that, they can build more energy and they can build, uh, get people on the same page and all those kind of good things. And, um, and that's, that's our mission, right. Is to, is to figure out how to get that to the team. Speaker 1 00:39:36 We can't stop without you sharing with me. We discussed before three roles were three responsibilities of a leader. Speaker 2 00:39:43 Uh, this is something I coach too. And it does very much tied to what we've been talking about is, uh, uh, when I hire somebody into a leadership role in the company, it doesn't matter whether they're a dock foreman or, you know, they're the senior vice president of something, um, is I tell them they have three commitments to the company and that's the create the vision for their work area to develop the culture of those around them and to communicate the decisions. Right. And just quickly create the vision is that commander's intent. What does success look like for us in our group? Whether, you know, we're, we're loading trucks or we're selling products, uh, through BD or we're running the entire company, what does success look like for our group? Right. And then develop the culture is very much about creating the things we've been talking about. Speaker 2 00:40:28 What is, what are the decisions I can help us make? What are the skills I can develop in the team? That'll let us all work as one big group, right? It's all about creating the values, right? What are the true, genuine values that we operate by? Uh, because that's what drive operations, right? Those decisions we make. And the third part is communicating the decisions. Uh, it's not enough to be in a leadership role supervisory role and be able to decide yes or no, or up or down or green or red. Uh, but to communicate that to the team, because that's what allows you to say, here's the decision I made, uh, here's why I made it and tie it directly to the values and to the vision. So it creates this nice tight circle for your team. And I believe that does represent the kinds of things. You, you kick this conversation off with, about being on the same sheet, where you have a shared vision, we have a shared culture and we have a shared understanding of how to make decisions. Speaker 1 00:41:24 Yeah. I love it. Uh, we've talked about that before. It's, it's concise, but it packs a lot. I'll share a little notion of culture with you and then we'll, we'll wrap up. I've been, uh, you know, I've done some more traditional cultural work for some time. And I always like to know what the scholars and practitioners or practitioners are saying about these things, because it's, they think about it more than I can. And I like to start with where are they, what they know. And the literature on organizational culture is a Bismal at defining culture. Can't tell you how many articles or books I read that I never could have gotten past the graduate school professor of mine, because that says it doesn't define it. It says culture refers to, or culture is about, and it goes on for paragraphs or chapters. And it never really defines it. Speaker 1 00:42:08 I would've had them slashed to ribbons if I shared the paper that way. And so I hit on a definition some years ago that actually came from the business model. You know, there's a lot of work in, in about business models and the business model canvas you might be familiar with. And I adapted a definition from that for culture, which is organizational culture, which is a shared rationale for why, how we spend our time and our talent, the way we do and not in some other way. So the key element is it's a shared rationale. It's not something that I hold or something that you hold. We have the same rationale for why we do what we do in our jobs that might be keeping our head down and not getting in trouble. That might be free to ask questions. It's a shared rationale for why we do what we do and not something else to get our jobs done. Speaker 1 00:42:58 And if you look at it that way, you can see culture cut across different lines in the organization. Maybe there's a, in some organizations, there could be a culture of, of, uh, there could be a culture of school nurses because they all face a certain situation or someone, right. And they've got to share a rationale for why they do what they do and not something else that could be in 200 locations across the county, but maybe there's a culture of, uh, there could be a, a shared culture. If you think of it that way can cut different ways. That could be really interesting, like lines of sight into an organization and go, that makes sense. Now I see what's happening there. Right, Speaker 2 00:43:38 Right now I w um, my personal definition is pretty close to yours, and that is a mindset, a shared set of values that drive what we, uh, how we decide and how we act Speaker 2 00:43:51 Very, very similar. And I liken this, uh, I liken this to, um, uh, when we were 16 years old and we were about to do something a little bell went off in the back of our brains and we go like, gosh, what would my mom think? Um, is, uh, culture to me is when that happens across an organization, uh, in the absence of direct supervision, where I tell somebody to do something and they have to act, it is truly based on the values, not the ones we espoused, but the ones we actually have as an organization that will drive that decision. If, uh, if we could talk about our corporate values, integrity, but if we pencil whip stuff or, or, uh, we turn a blind eye to, uh, uh, to inappropriate behaviors or things like that, then the people who were making decisions on our behalf, absence, direct supervision are going to make choices that are aligned with what we're doing and not what we expect exactly. Right. And so, uh, that's why it's, uh, you know, the second thing on my list is develop the culture. It really means develop and execute the values within the, whether there's a loading dock or the front, uh, the, the, the C-suite that truly will allow those in the organization, uh, to be successful and to do the things we want them to do without our direct supervision. Speaker 1 00:45:10 That's a great comma clause without direct. Yes. That's what happens when someone's not watching, or someone's not looking, or, or like you said, there's not, someone's not telling you what to do. That's, that's when you have, um, when you act a certain way and not another way. And when others do the similar thing, you have a culture, it could be a bad culture. Speaker 2 00:45:33 Right? Absolutely. And to your, um, your example there of, uh, disparate to your, um, geographically dispersed units or organizations absolutely indicates that the parent organization could have this set of values, but if you go visit that outpost, um, they're operating in a totally different way. Right. Uh, and, and you're wondering why they're not successful or something like that. And so it, it, it, it has to be, again, that they'll go in, off in the back of your head going like, gosh, if my mom was here, what would she think? Uh, because you know, the CEO's not here, the CEO's not here. The BP's not here. What decision the decisions on facing? What would they expect? Speaker 1 00:46:15 Bob, thank you for joining the podcast. I had fun and learned a lot as I always do when I talked to you, Speaker 2 00:46:20 You're very, very tiny Lou, thanks for this opportunity. And, uh, always available to have a chat about stuff that's passionate, then Speaker 1 00:46:29 I thank you. I think this was, uh, we had a very illuminating, a lot of great conversation. I hope, I think there's a lot of good things in there for people to, to try, which is what I like to do with the podcast. Thank you, sir. All right. Thank you. And that's how I see it. My friends, I want to thank Bob for recording today's episode. You can find it at, I see what you mean dot <inaudible> dot com. Plus all those places that you usually listen to podcasts, send questions and suggestions through the app. Subscribe and give me a five star rating unless you can't. In which case, tell me why and join me next week. We take another look at how to get on the same page as stay there, unless we shouldn't.

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