Hi, this is Erica. Thanks for joining me today for another season of Leadership on the Ground. In this season, we are covering the Timing of Leadership which is all about answering the question of when. Time is a precious resource, a nonrenewable resource. So learning how to use it, leverage it, and turbo-charge it in our life and in our career can be a gamechanger. Okay. Let’s get started.
You are listening to Leadership on the Ground Season 7: The Timing of Leadership. Throughout the previous six seasons of Leadership on the Ground, we’ve covered the essential basics of leadership in the 21st Century, leading in real-time, and the rhythm, tensions, realities, and the context of leadership. So for this new season, we cover the critical discussions around the timing of leadership which is all about answering the question of when. Learning how to use, leverage, and turbo-charge time will be a gamechanger for you and your organization.
And now, here are your hosts, Erica Peitler and Todd Schnick.
Todd: Alright. Good morning and welcome back to the Timing of Leadership. Today, we’re going to talk about the timing skillset. I am your host, Todd Schnick, joined by my friend and colleague, Erica Peitler. Good morning, Erica. The Timing Skillset. I’m still thinking a lot about last season’s Context Skillset so I’m looking forward to this. So heck, I guess when it comes to time, lead us off by grounding us in some definitions regarding investing, spending or wasting time.
Erica: Ooh, a quiz. Best spending ways. That’s important. It’s important to get some definitions off the table right off the bat. So investing time. Investing time is when you give and you get back later, right? So it has a return on investment. There is a return on your resources. Even putting Leadership Rigor ROR2 which is a return on your resources and rigor. But there is a return on it, right? So there is a give and a get and it’s a smart move in a lot of cases.
When you spend time, spending time is good too but usually, spending time is self-satisfaction, personal fulfillment, you know. It’s joy, happiness. I’m spending time with my family. I’m spending time with my friends. I’m spending time doing things I love and I’m investing in my hobbies. Awesome. Spending time is great. When you’re wasting time, and this is the more challenging one, you’re giving your time but you’re frustrated and you feel like you made a bad choice. In business, this could be a problem because then you can have some resentment, you could damage your relationship. It may even cause disengagement if you feel like your time is being wasted. So a couple of basic definitions to get us started.
Todd: But this idea of wasting time has a lot to do with the context of leadership too, right?
Erica: It does. And if I don’t understand the why we’re doing it, it can feel like a waste of time. It can go back to why am I disengaged? Well, I don’t see the connection. I don’t see the connection between why you’re asking me to do this and how this can actually be meaningful, so it doesn’t seem meaningful to me. It seems like a waste. But we really could be actually a very valuable thing that you’re doing but the leader didn’t make the connection for you.
Todd: Gosh. We could talk for hours on these three concepts of time. The skillset of coaching and developing others which in my view is the job of a leader and that’s a good investment of time. Yes?
Erica: That is a clear investment and that’s a great investment. And you’re right on, that is the job of the leader and that is an investment of time that’s attempting to get others to higher levels of productivity and importantly self-sufficiency. When you coach and develop people and you get them to higher levels of self-sufficiency, that gives you the lift that we talk about and altitude and that productivity comes back to you multiple times over as a return.
Thing to watch out for though is some people love to coach others and they think it’s very valuable and it’s meaningful but some don’t love to coach. In fact, some people think it’s a waste of their time and they get really resentful. They get to a point where they think they want to have people working for them and then they get people working for them and the people have needs and they have desires and you got to invest time with them but you don’t want to because you’re so busy doing your own work or you don’t have the capacity to coach and develop them. And if that’s some of the people that you’re surrounded by, as a leader, you got to make sure those should be individual contributors and subject matter experts. They shouldn’t be leaders of other people.
Todd: Where do you draw the line between investing time on new learning, on training, on development to benefit you and the organization versus doing that because you don’t want to do anything else, because you don’t want to do the hard work? “I’m training here,” when they’re not getting their work done.
Erica: Yeah. It goes back to and we talked about this in the last episode. As a leader, I’m really clear. I put forth the goals. Here is what I’m expecting. Let’s be really clear about what the expectation is and then how you get that done. And the timing, we set timing expectations. You can get it all done at the beginning. You can get it done throughout. You can get it done at the very end but you got to get it done. At the end, you’re not going to tell me, “Well, I did all these training modules and all this kind of stuff.” You got to figure out a way to get the job done too and I’m going to give you that freedom. But if you disappoint on that and you don’t fulfill your objectives, that’s going to be a problem.
Todd: Okay. Alright. Erica and I will return after this this short break. We’ll be right back.
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Todd: Alright. Back with Erica Peitler. We’re talking about the timing skillset. Back to our conversation investing, and coaching, and training. I mean there are obviously still some good and bad choices that we can make regarding where we invest our time coaching. Yeah?
Erica: This is such an important question and I recently had a couple of conversations with some high potential talent around, yes, this exact subject. There are times when you make a good investment and a bad investment. Let me explain this a little bit. If I were going to ask you, where do you think most leaders invest their time coaching and developing other people in the organization? You think that they invest time in their high potentials, you think they invest time in their average performers, their underperformers? Where do you think most people spend their time?
Todd: Probably the underperformers?
Erica: They do. They actually do. That is the worst possible place that you can spend the time. In fact, I often draw a pie chart and I say, “Look, about 20% of your organization is high potential, high performers.” They’re the people who do 8 times the productivity of everybody else. And you love those, right? It’s that 80-20 rule like, “Oh, my God. They get so much done.” And then you have about 30% of your people who are good strong performers. They’re like B, B+, they’re A. You have about 30% of your players that are C and D. They’re just kind of getting by, probably some of them shouldn’t be in your organization. And then you have about 20% who are future high potentials.
Now, in all honesty, what we tend to do is, we take the really high performers and we say, “Okay. Try to shore up the C and D players.” And I go, you’re putting all of your time in the wrong bucket. You’re taking your 5-8 times high productivity and you’re putting it in the lowest form of return on investment that you can. If you take your high performers and you put their time in coaching the high potential, the exponential multiplier effect of the of the future of your talent bench is off the charts but most organizations refuse to do that because they think, “Oh, no I got to shore up these people because they’re lagging behind.” Well, you know what, you got to them out of your organization or you have to have other people who are less productive, maybe some of your average players help coach and develop some of the players that you think could actually get to a higher place. We put all sorts of the wrong time, in the wrong places when it comes to coaching people.
Todd: Yeah. You partially answered my question. I was going to say, what do you do with there underperformers and you also have to ask the question, are they underperforming because they’re out of context?
Erica: Okay. Let’s say maybe they are and I would look there first and I would say, “Okay. The first place to look is who are they working for? Do they have clear objectives? Have I done my job to make them effective as a leader?” Because you may have a leadership problem. You may not have a follower problem or a direct report problem and you have to discern that. One of the ways that I look at that is I say, “I don’t want to invest time in people who aren’t investing time in themselves.” So if you are disengaged and out of context, let’s say, some of that is on me and some of that is on you because you should say to me, “Hey, I’m feeling disconnected here.” It’s like, “Give me a sense of what’s going on.” Those people who have come to me and asked me that or want to know that, to me they want to help themselves and then I need to know that wow man, I got to put more effort in helping them. So it’s a little bit of a two-way street.
Todd: Remind me again what was the percentage of your team that are underperformers? Did you say 30%?
Todd: That’s significant.
Erica: It’s significant.
Todd: That is the difference between success or failure. How much of this can also be your hiring process in —
Erica: A lot of it is your hiring process. A lot of people will hire and here’s the biggest mistake that people – they don’t invest enough time thinking about what are we hiring for. I like to hire for a blend of the values as well as the skillset. But a lot of hiring managers will say, “Oh, they have the experience we need so we’re just going to bring them in.” What if they don’t really match with your culture? What if they don’t really jive with it? And now, you’re investing, spending a lot of time trying to help them get in line with your values. Why don’t you just hire people that are already in alignment with your values? If they’re in alignment with your values and they have the skillsets, they’re going to hit the ground running but we don’t spend enough time thinking about that and planning for that upfront.
Todd: And let me ask you another. I’m getting free consulting here. If you haven’t already picked up on the soap, it’s obviously cost, time and money to hire new people if you let someone go. So where do you draw the line on making the decision of it’s worthy of trying to save this person or it’s time to cut them loose and bring in someone new?
Erica: Okay. I’ll give you my answer and then I’ll give you what I see happening in a lot of organizations. So my answer is, I would rather cut bait early and suffer through some of the pain of the gap because that’s a high motivator for me to go out there and act on it. When people say, “Well, I’ll just try to carry them along,” what happens is they lose track of time. And the month turns into three months and then it’s never convenient and the warm body that you know is better than an empty spot that you don’t have and who’s going to do that work if we let them go. That’s when you see organizations erode over time because they’re tarrying these 30% people who are underperformers.
So basically, even if everybody else is doing a great job, they’re operating at 70% of their capacity maybe. Or maybe because the high performers are overworking and covering so much more of the load than everybody else, maybe you’re at 100% but you’re in an unfair distribution and those people could get resentful and maybe not want to stay with you.
Nothing is more disempowering and demotivating than watching people get by who are underperformers and who are slags in the system, so to speak, when I’m working at 5-8 times productivity and I’m doing all that I can. That’s completely demotivating. And a lot of leaders will do that for a really long time. For me, I want to reward my high performers and I want to reward them also with colleagues and peers that are equal to and up to the same level of commitment and challenge that they are. That’s when you get a really high-performing organization.
Todd: Boom. There you go. Okay. Last season, we talked about leadership styles in the context of the context of leadership. So maybe it’s appropriate to talk about these 6 leadership styles with respect to the timing skillset.
Erica: Yeah. The right time and the right context. We said that these two work together. I keep going back to wanting to reinforce these 6 leaderships styles because most people don’t spend and invest enough time in them. But let me ask you this question and let me see if I can prompt you. You ever hear of the golden rule?
Erica: What’s the golden rule?
Todd: Do unto others that you want to do with yourself.
Erica: Exactly. Most of us lead using the golden rule. We say, “Hey, I kind of like things this way. I’m going to lead this way.” What we really need to do in today’s world is a more contemporary style of leadership. We need to lead with a platinum rule. Want to take a guess of the platinum rule?
Todd: I have no idea.
Erica: Lead as others want to be led. I love headlines. I love when people are really direct with me and really clear but other people may want maybe more questions, maybe more coaching. Or I’m a thinker so I got a helmet on. You can throw anything at me, it will bounce off. But others who are feelers may need more of that affiliative style. They need to know that you’re really empathetic and compassionate to where they’re coming from and that you’re giving them some time to get into some of the things you’re asking for.
So the big takeaway about when you use certain styles here is today’s best contemporary leaders lead with a platinum style. They’re in service to you and they’re mindful of who you are and where you are and when are you at a point where this style is more beneficial for you than this style because you need it. And they’re able to have that agility and they’re able to put that out there for you because you need it at this time.
Todd: But that requires really knowing your team, right, and that process takes time. So again, coaching tip here, as a leader, what’s your best counsel on how to invest the time to really get to know your team so that you can know which style to leverage?
Erica: My favorite way to do this is – and we’ve talked about the dimension of motivation and inspiration. I can’t motivate people. But as a leader, I need to know what they’re motivated by. For example, if you’re motivated by achievement, if you’re motivated by learning, if you’re motivated by recognition, that gives me hints about how to inspire you to be the best performer that you can be but also how to coach you. So if you are looking for recognition, I probably am going to be more affiliative with you and tell the story of how Todd achieved this and this is the struggle that he went through and being with him in that moment. If you’re much more achievement-oriented, I might be a little bit more direct with you and say, “Alright. Let me point you in this direction but you go after it.” So understanding the motivations and inspirations can give you some hints in terms of what style. But the other piece that I’m guided by and we talked about conscious competency, really comes down to, have you done this before, Todd? What’s your confidence level? Because of I know your ability to do it and whether you’ve done it before and what your current confidence level is, I can also try to pinpoint a style that may be more appropriate based on where you are at this time.
Todd: Alright. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Next week, we’re going to talk about The Strategy of Time. Erica, before we go, should anyone have any questions on any of this, how do they find you?
Erica: You could reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any email questions or you can go to my website EricaPeitler.com and send me a note.
Todd: Alright. Todd and Erica signing off for today. We’ll see you next week.