What does it take to become superhuman? That's what this show explores. With thoughtful explorations and insights about work, society, and culture, we dig into the areas of life where human potential can be unleashed. This podcast accompanies a blog and newsletter.
The Complete Guide to Leadership for New Managers
We can all agree that if placed in a leadership position, we’d rather be effective than ineffective. We’d rather people like us than hate us.
In short, we’d rather be a great leader than a bad boss.
The problem is too many managers still try to gain respect through fear. Too many managers get so caught up in “the work” that they neglect to tend to their people. Too many managers have had no training at all, and are left to follow the bad examples that came before them or react without thinking about the ramifications of their actions.
This is where it falls apart. This is how so many managers become bad bosses instead of great leaders.
It’s not controversial to suggest that a work environment based in fear and that treats us as a number, isn’t one we’d like to be in. With few exceptions, we would prefer to be somewhere where we feel cared about, trust our managers and team members, and have opportunities to do meaningful work.
That’s why if we want to create work environments that are kinder, safer, and more equitable, we need a new path to follow. We need to make sure that every new manager has the training and mindset required to create thriving work cultures and replace the old fear-based model.
We can do this…but it won’t happen overnight. It might take a generation, it might take two, but we can do it. Here’s how…
In a little less than two months, I will be releasing my book The Lovable Leader.
This book is the culmination of everything I have observed, studied, tried, failed, and succeeded at in my career thus far. The lessons are drawn from personal experience but even more importantly, from the vast bodies of accumulated knowledge on leadership, along with psychology, influence, trust, motivation, branding, and more…
It is a handbook for new managers that puts trust, respect and kindness at the forefront. It is an easy-to-follow instruction manual for those who want to build loyal teams, resolve conflicts effectively, and accomplish great things as a team.
Not only will this book show you how to be more effective, and more well-liked…but it will also show you how to be a great leader with all of the tools to create work environments that are kinder, safer, and more equitable.
The book comes out in January 2022. Join the waitlist to be notified when the book is available for Pre-Order.
If you are a fan of my work and writing on leadership, consider joining my launch team to help the book climbs the Amazon charts and get in front of more people.
Thanks in advance.
Worth the wait
Think back to when you were a kid.
I grew up celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. I remember that the time from December 1 to the morning of December 25th, felt like an eternity.
Now, I’m consistently surprised when my birthday is a week away.
Age is one factor in this equation, but there’s something even more important.
Anticipation alters your perception of time. It creates an energy pattern in your body. It’s a form of excitement.
Some people find it uncomfortable. I love it.
Two days ago, Sony released their final trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man movie, No Way Home.
Before the trailer came out, fans were eagerly awaiting news of when the next trailer would drop. There were fan-made trailers, fan-made posters, and endless blogs and vlogs analyzing every rumor and leak.
I was one of the people who would turn giddy whenever something related to the film would trend on Twitter. At the same time, I tried to fight my urge to look into it, because I want to experience the magic of complete surprise in the theater. I wanted to indulge that anticipation.
Whether we’re talking about a service, a product, marketing, or sales, how often are you focused on creating something people would wait for? Do you even know how to do that?
One of the problems, is that we’re living in a world where you’re constantly told that in order to keep up, you need to create 5-6 TikToks per day, post to Linkedin 4 times throughout the day, and bombard your audience across every other channel on the internet. You need to turn up the volume, right?
But, the real winners are not the ones with the most volume or who apply the most pressure but the ones who can make something that is worth waiting for it.
One option is to churn out as much as you can, hoping for a hit, only to then try and keep the attention until your next win. Another option is to slow down, and take the time to create something remarkable.
Here’s my suggestion…
How to be worth waiting for
While you would think quality is the secret ingredient here, it’s actually third on the list.
Whether it’s Marvel movies, Mochi donuts, clever Old Spice ads, or the agency with a wait list, the factors that allow for anticipation and a captive audience are this:
Create something that cannot be replaced or substituted
Create something that is not for everyone
If you want a thriving business, you need to be distinctive to the degree that if you couldn’t start work for the client for a month, that they would wait, because you cannot be replaced or substituted. This starts with you brand work and then shows up in every aspect of how you deliver your products and services. If you are a one-of-a-kind, then there will be people willing to wait for it.
In order to do this, you need to know who you are for. This means identifying that perfect audience and creating for them. I have countless friends who had no idea there was a new Spider-Man movie coming out. Likewise, I could not tell you much more about Harry Potter than it’s about wizards and Voldemort is bad.
Obviously, all this works even better if what you’re creating is amazing. But more important than being good, is being unique, irreplaceable, and for someone specific.
I’ll watch every piece of Spider-Man media that comes out regardless of the quality, because there is no substitute, and it’s something I love. As I build my business, I
What is your Dream Job?
What is your dream job?
I’ve honestly spent a little too much time wondering what that really means.
Today, I’m going to indulge in a bit of my own curiosity. I’m going to try to analyze what makes a dream job, try to answer why more of us aren’t working our dream jobs, and finally attempt to figure out how we can create businesses where more people feel that they are working in their dream jobs.
Dream + Job
A job, by definition, is the exchange of labor for money.
Therefore, a “dream job” is the best possible version of trading your labor for money, right?
Yet, whenever I’ve talked with people about their dream jobs, I’ve noticed that the answers rarely has anything to do with the money.
They might say professional basketball player (like I did as a 13 year old).
They might say actor.
They might say world leader.
While most dream jobs people pick typically pay very well, in most cases the reasons people give for picking a particular job as a dream job has more to do with the work itself, or the impact and outcome of the work, than it does the salary. To test this, ask if they’d switch to another job for the same salary and most would likely say no.
Salary is a factor but I’d argue it’s a relatively small factor, once people’s needs are met.
The Anatomy of a Dream Job
Here’s my hypothesis…
If dream jobs do exist, everyone’s dream job will follow roughly the same formula:
do something you enjoy and/or that matters to you,
with people who you don’t hate and who, ideally, share similar values and respect one another,
on a flexible schedule that works for your lifestyle
compensated enough cover all of life’s necessities (food, water, clothing, shelter, and healthcare) plus the time off and funds to indulge in leisure activities that you enjoy,
Unless your definition of a dream job is to be a billionaire or to literally get paid exorbitant sums of money for doing absolutely nothing, then I’m willing to bet that this formula hits on all of the important points.
I can hear it now:
“My dream job would be all of that, but with more money.”
This is one of the reasons why there aren’t more dream jobs. It’s because we’re living in a world where there is almost never enough money to feel truly comfortable and there is virtually no safety net to fall back on.
Without living wages or adequate social safety nets, dream jobs and more likely to be dreams than jobs. So, we frantically chase every dollar, hoping to quell the terrifying fear that a dip in the market, an untimely illness or injury, or an extended layoff will leave us hungry or homeless.
Therefore, for the dream job formula above to work, it would need to be backed by a safety net that would allow you to move jobs without fear of losing your housing, healthcare, or going hungry. Under the current conditions, the only dream job, is the one that eliminates any fear of not having enough, or getting left behind as a consequence of the “free market.”
These jobs are few and far between.
In a world with miners, janitors, and people who work in any form of customer service, it is mathematically impossible for everyone to work their dream job whether that is the “purpose, people, pay, and freedom” version or the “get money for doing nothing” version.
Which brings us to the point of this post.
A critical examination of dream jobs reveal that we can put it within reach and fix our broken
One of the most emotionally challenging aspects of leading teams is delegation.
On the surface, it sounds quite simple. Just assign the task to someone else.
However, in order to delegate work to someone else, you must relinquish your control and put trust in someone else to handle the task. You need to confront your concerns about failure, or come to grips with whether or not anything less than what you could do on your own would be acceptable. You have to consider what it would mean to your reputation if you don’t do the work yourself, or the end product doesn’t measure up.
All of this is remarkably difficult, and the primary reason why many managers routinely find themselves saying “I’ll just handle it this time and delegate it next time.” Sadly, next time often never comes.
Mastering delegation is important. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today because I don’t want to waste your time reiterating that you have limited time, can’t do everything, and need to leverage the strength of your team to increase your chances of long term success.
Instead, I want to illuminate the three different types of delegators, in hopes that you can find their motivations inside of you.
Delegation Motivation: Boss Style
Motto: Do as little as possible.
“The boss” knows how to delegate work, and their reasoning is simple: the boss is in charge, the workers do the work. At some point, this type of manager was probably encouraged by their manager to delegate more work…and they took it to heart.
Here’s the message that they received.
A boss has a neatly designed role with a pay grade. Anything below that pay grade is a waste of time and should be handed off. Workers do the work and Managers manage, right?
Any manager motivated by their status and rank, who sees work as something to be done by their laborers, will likely adopt this delegation motivation. Over time, it becomes a game of “how-much-work-can-I-push-off-to-my-subordinates-and-get-away-with-it.” Their ultimate goal is to be able to do nothing, except tell others what to do. If they could hire a project manager to do that and report back in, well that would be even a little bit better.
This isn’t so much delegation as an abdication of responsibility due to a superiority complex.
Delegation Motivation: Manager Style
Motto: We all need to work together to get it all done.
A good manager sees their role as keeping everything in balance and moving forward.
Delegation for the collaborative manager is about making sure everyone is supporting one another to get everything done.
It’s a sort of puzzle to be solved.
When one person has too much on their plate, some of the load should be moved from one resource to another. The best managers here see themselves as part of this collaborative process, sharing the same commitment to the work as they expect from their team members.
This sort of delegation is motivated by balance and is undertaken in service of the work.
Delegation Motivation: Leadership Style
Motto: We need a team of leaders so everyone’s growth is a top priority.
Leaders delegate for two reasons.
The first is to create the conditions so they may have the space to place an intense focus on the highest priority items for the good of the team.
The second is to give others the chance to shine.
The work isn’t handed-off because the leader is lazy and doesn’t want to work. It’s not handed-off purely because a resource is available. The key difference is that work that is being delegated is not being handed down, it’s work that invites people up.
How do you give someone critical feedback without them getting defensive but instead taking it in the spirit in which it was given?
Whether you are a manager who needs to deliver some suggested improvements for a team member, a spouse who needs to broach a difficult subject with your partner, or a parent who needs to course correct a child, it’s never easy to deliver criticism.
Everyone will struggle with it at some point in their lives. So, how can you do it effectively?
Open to Feedback
There are two types of feedback that people tend to be most receptive to hearing. I covered this more extensively in Coaching Toolkit: The Art of Feedback. Here’s the high level overview…
The first is the feedback that we consent to or ask for. People are much more likely to get defensive or push against unsolicited feedback. By contrast, even if the feedback is negative or critical, people tend to be more receptive when they ask for it.
The second is feedback that they already know but need to hear in order to work through. This is found in questions such as: what do YOU think about it? We tend to be more willing to acknowledge our own truth and perspective before accepting it from the outside.
In short, effective feedback is a function of whether or not the person receiving the feedback is open to it.
This naturally leads to the question: how do I get someone to be open to or solicit my feedback?
What is the key difference between how we relate to taunts from a bully versus advice from a parent? In this extreme example, it should be evident, that the difference, is intent. The bully intends to harm you. The parent, presumably intends to help you. At the core of this difference in intent, is the degree to which each of these individuals cares about you.
Ideally, we want those who are critical of us, to also care about us, or at the very least care about what we’re doing as part of a team.
Imagine a spectrum of caring from no care at all with a potential to harm, extending to deep care with the intention to see one flourish. Now place people from your life along that spectrum.
Which of these individuals are you most interested in hearing feedback from, especially negative or critical feedback?
Hopefully you can see that the closer you get toward care, the more likely you would be to accept or even embrace the feedback.
Now ask yourself…
Where are you on the continuum of care?
Do the people in your world, at home or at work, place you to the left, the center, or the right of that spectrum? If you want to have people seek out your feedback, or at the very least consent to it, then you need to make sure they sense that you care.
Care is at the core of critical feedback. Make sure that you are attending to it, before trying to give people advice. Because if you don’t, you could be wasting your breath.
The Attrition Equation
Companies all over the country are facing worker shortages in what has been dubbed “the great resignation.“
“People just don’t want to work” or so the narrative goes.
Today, we’re going to answer the question of why people are leaving, and what we can definitively do to fix it.
Read the post for full context or just jump to the solution here.
In 1979, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, published their behavioral economics theory known as Prospect Theory which showed that people’s perception of gains and losses are processed illogically. The research showed that, on average, we process the pain from the perception of loss between 2-3x greater than the perception of joy from an equivalent gain. Losing $50 is perceived to feel 2-3x worse than gaining $50 feels good. This is why Prospect Theory is often referred to as “loss aversion theory” and has had a significant influence on modern marketing, sales, and communication.
The second chapter in Jonah Berger’s book Catalyst is called Endowment. This chapter explores the idea that people tend to resist change, and tries to identify solutions. The book cites research that shows it takes an average of 2.6x the upside versus downside for someone to make a decision. This is right in line with the research from Daniel Kahneman who, by the way, won a Nobel Prize for his work on Prospect Theory.
This means that, on average…
someone would need to have a potential upside of $260 to risk losing $100 (example straight from the book)someone would need roughly 2.6x more features and benefits, with no perceived losses, to change internet service providers, cell phone model, or other products and servicessomeone would need a job offer that, on the whole, seems 2.6x better than the perceived downsides of leaving their current job
Did you catch the key word?
In all of these cases, the gains and losses are subjectively perceived, rather than objectively defined.
For example, a $260 upside versus $100 downside will feel very differently to someone living in abject poverty than it would to a billionaire. The subject changes the equation.
People make decisions based upon their perception of the situation and that perception is shaped by their situation in life.
All of the above information shows what it would take for someone to change from their current state. If a benefit fails to be perceived as being substantially better than the staying the same, or the potential loss, people will be reluctant to take action.
Understanding all of what I just wrote is critical if you want to reduce employee attrition in the midst of “the great resignation.”
Let’s dig into it.
“No one wants to work”