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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #151: Leader Skill: Finding the Small, Yet Meaningful Moments

August 26, 2021
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #151: Leader Skill: Finding the Small, Yet Meaningful Moments

How good are you at finding ways to serve the people on your team? Today Perry and Chris talk about the importance of finding the small, yet meaningful moments that make a positive difference in the lives of others.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results.

Hi, I’m Perry Holly, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, Vice President of the John Maxwell company. Welcome, and thank you for joining us. Just as a reminder, before we get started today, if you want to download the learner’s guide, if you have a question for us, maybe you want to learn a little bit more about Perry or one of our executive facilitators and coaches coming to speak to your leadership team, or maybe even some direct one-on-one coaching through leadership situations, if you’ll just visit, you can leave us a comment, leave us a message there, and we would love to get back in touch with you.

Well, today’s topic is titled Leader Skill, finding the small yet meaningful moments.

Perry Holley:    How about that?

Chris Goede:     I love that. Now, here’s what I love about it. I was talking to you and Jake just minute ago, I was on the road a couple of days this week with a client of ours and the individual started this conversation out in front of the group and he said, “You know, I used to think that leaders are born,” and you’ve heard this old statement before, some leaders are born, some are not. Do you believe they can be born? And he’s like, “You know, I just thought it was coming through natural tendencies.” He said, “What I’ve learned over my years now is that it’s really, there are skills that can be developed for me to become a better leader. Sure, maybe some are born with certain competencies in certain areas.”

So what I love about this is that we’re today going to just talk about another skill that each one of us can put in our tool belt to become a more effective leader, to increase our influence. And remember what we’re doing as people inside our organizations directly affects the leadership culture inside, whether it’s at home, whether it’s in your communities, volunteer group, profit, nonprofit, and so I love the fact that we’re bringing another skill. So talk to us a little bit about your thoughts behind this one.

Perry Holley:    Well, we’ve been talking recently about the skill of observation, and we talked a little bit in previous podcasts about your self-awareness, others awareness, and situational awareness, and it really requires not just looking around, but being observant. That’s a definite skill. But I’ve noticed the better I get and the more observing, not looking, the more observing I do, and that others’ awareness, I start to notice small, yet meaningful, things that I could actually do to help serve or assist my team and people on my team or just in my circle of influence in general. It could be at home, could be at work, could be in the community. I find these places where I can actually meet that need and it could be helping them do something physically or just listening. As a number of things the way this pops up. But if you can learn to observe, you can find these meaningful moments that will help raise your level of influence with others, your level of engagement with others, and the level of participation that they want to be a part of what you’re doing.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, I think it’s powerful, and an example that I think about in regards to this topic for me is that in our last podcast we talked about body language and how just by observing that will tell you a lot. For me, I try to be very observant in meetings, both ones that I’m facilitating or leading, and then ones that I’m a part of, of other people in the room. And what I’m looking for is certain body language that is a disconnect or a comment that’s a disconnect. And then one of the things that I’ve done is I will then go on a one-on-one conversation, just in passing, just something small, and say, “Hey, I saw the other day in the meeting it kind of didn’t set right with you. Where was the disconnect there? Can I help you in any way?” And I think if we, as leaders… That’s just a thing that came to my mind when you talked about small and meaningful, that’s one of the practices that I do in order to be observing the people that are around me.

Perry Holley:    Well, I’ve seen the same thing. I started noticing it even just something simple like being out for a walk and trying to exercise or go for a walk in the neighborhood, and I saw a guy standing in the bed of his pickup truck with his huge picnic table and his wife was standing on the ground and I could tell what he was thinking was she was going to grab the other end of this, and I’m sure she could, but then I thought, “Where’s it going?” And he’s pointing up to her on this deck on the second story, so I just yelled, “You need some help?” And so by me observing… You know, I’m listening to a podcast, I could have kept my head down. I could’ve just kept going.

Chris Goede:     Are you listening to our podcast?

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Perry Holley:    Yeah. So I thought, “Could I help?” And most guys in this situation immediately say, “No, I got it. I got it.” He said, “Oh please.” And it took all of about seven minutes for he and I to wrestle that thing off that truck, up those stairs, and position it. It was life-changing to him because he had no idea… He was going to have to hire somebody. I mean, how was he going to get it up there? And to think that a meaningful moment to him cost me nothing except I observed it. And I just wonder how many times are we missing… and I love your example about in a meeting, around our team, noticing things, how can I be more observant of these things and find these meaningful moments that really are difference makers to people? It didn’t cost me anything.

Chris Goede:     Nope. So it’s an interesting story. I thought you were going to say that she was the one that said, “Yes please, come help,” not him, because I definitely would be like, “No, no, no, we’re good,” and then I would have had Sarah try to help me do that. So a couple of things, thinking about your story there in regards to where we’re going today about finding small yet meaningful moments to help with people, is I love the fact that if you’re lifting your eyes to what’s going on around you, you can often find ways to serve. To your point, you could have had your head down, walking around.

It makes me think about John talks so much about walk slowly through the crowd. And I find myself, I’ve actually had someone that called me out on and I was grateful for it, holding me accountable, he was like, “Man, I saw you in this environment the other day and three times you walked through a crowd of people and you were just on high pace. That doesn’t seem like you. Is everything all right?” And I was like, “Man, I appreciate you saying that.” And so when you think about this, so just slow down and walk slowly through a crowd.

The other thing is we talk a lot about MBWA. Do you have your MBWA? Management by walking around. Leaders, listen, maybe it’s not that you’re walking around with your head down, maybe it’s your head down in your office every single moment of the day. So what is it that you can be doing to get out and have your eyes up, to your point, see what’s going on, observe others? I think the other thing I heard from you is that serving others doesn’t require a ton of time, but it adds a ton of value. That individual that you helped was like, “Man, I’m so grateful that Perry just kind of reached out,” and to you it was seven minutes, and so it doesn’t necessarily take a whole lot of your time in every situation.

Now there might be some that where you go, “Man, okay, no I’m not.” If I backed up with a 40-foot moving truck, you’d probably keep your head down and walk on by, but there are a lot of-

Perry Holley:    That would be a meaningful afternoon. This is meaningful moments.

Chris Goede:     Moment. That’s exactly right. That’s right. And I love the fact that when you serve other people, you open the door for connection and engagement and it’s in your neighborhood. And I don’t know your relationship with that individual in that story, but I think as Andy Stanley says when we’re talking about these small yet meaningful, “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” And I think if you just keep that mindset and you look for those, you’ll be able to see them.

Perry Holley:    Yeah, I did not know this person. It was not on my street. But I tell you what if I ever walk down that street, they go out of their way to greet me.

Chris Goede:     No doubt.

Perry Holley:    And also, I travel with some guys that they love to get on the plane, sit in their seat, throw on their headset, look down, and don’t get involved with anyone. And I thought what a great opportunity to have your head up and look around. It’s just a metaphor for me to how leaders, we can be so consumed with what we’re doing that we miss these small seemingly insignificant opportunities to provide a meaningful moment to someone else. So, I asked you to think about some meaningful moments leaders could find in their day if we were just being observant enough to find them. Did you do your homework? What’d you come up with?

Chris Goede:     So listen, I was just thinking about a story. I was traveling the other day and you talked about getting on the airplane. I’m just going to need to confess it. There are some times I sit down and just put my headphones on and go to work and not know what’s going on. But I had this young lady that was traveling and I sensed her come by. And I always look for opportunities just to help, especially the people that can’t lift their luggage up. You and I have the privilege of being 6’4″ and above and at least fairly can still around. And so I said, “Hey, listen, can I help you put that piece of luggage up?” She looked at me and she said, “Well, I appreciate the offer, but I raised four boys. I got this.”

And I was like, “Okay, well I tried.” I say that because I was thinking about sometimes these small but yet meaningful, just the offer, would make a huge difference. That individual may have said, “No, I don’t need any help with the picnic table.” This lady said, “Hey, I don’t need any help.” But the fact that you just were aware of your surroundings allows you to find small yet meaningful ways to impact people. This goes back to, and you guys have heard Perry and I talk about these kind of three questions that John asks every follower, and you should be asking every follower about you, which is that they’re asking can that leader, can that individual help me, do they care about me, and can I trust them. And I think as leaders, if you’re looking and/or able to do these small yet meaningful moments as a skill set of a leader, it will absolutely be able to help you do that.

So number one, let’s talk about this. You’ve given us a couple of things we want to go through here. One obvious meaningful moment is, give you some tangible things here to be thinking about because we gave you some examples, but now let’s talk about some other tangible ideas, is helping someone on your team with a problem or challenge that they are facing. And I want to add to this, personal or professional.

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     Because we spend more time with people that we work with than we do with people that we live with. And what that means is that they’re going to bring to work what’s going on personally and they’re also going to take home what they’re dealing with professionally. And so, as a leader, if there are certain things that you can help them with, some of the things that they’re challenged with and that they’re facing personally or professionally, there may be an opportunity for you to do something to help in that area.Perry Holley:    Second meaningful moment I found was using my influence to perhaps open a door to a connection or to a relationship for someone that’s on my team by noticing in my observation that they’re trying to move in a certain direction. Is there someone I know, someone I could connect them with? I smile with that because one of my closest relationships today happened because someone where I work, a manager I worked with, connected me with someone he thought would be of value to me based on my interest in leadership and that in turn opened a door for me to meet you, which in turn opened the door for me to do what I do today. So all of that because someone made a meaningful, it cost him nothing, it was a reference, and it set me on a different trajectory.

Chris Goede:     You know, John teaches this comment or question you should ask people as you meet with them. He says, “Hey, who do you know that I should know?” I want to flip that around based off your comment right there, which is who do I know that I should introduce you to. If you had that mindset going into connections with people, it would be a very, very powerful way to connect them and be a powerful moment for them, and life changing to your point, as you just mentioned that you’ll never forget that.

Number three, another meaningful moment can occur when you find a way to help someone grow and improve. I have had many leaders and coaches in my past that have helped me grow and improve and it’s been meaningful moments in my life. Some I enjoyed more than others, but it’s actually proved to increase their influence with me. And as a leader, I’m looking for creative ways to help people on my team improve their skills so that they can become a little bit better at what they do. And I think when you do that and people know that you’re helping them become better and grow, that’s a huge motivator for your team and for your people. It makes them want to contribute. It makes their engagement level to increase.

And so I was just the other day reading on a trip I was on and I read an article about writing and it’s not something I’m very passionate about and/or gifted at, but I have a couple of people that are on my team that do and so I just ripped out the article, scanned it, and I said, “Hey, I was reading this article the other day, thought about you all, and thought maybe it might help you.” Just little things like that if you begin thinking about it helping them grow in certain areas would be huge.

Perry Holley:    Another one that I think is a little bit related to that though, I think it’s overlooked sometimes, is the opportunities you have to provide feedback to people. And I came up with that because of the people that take the time and take the risk to provide me feedback on what I do, it really is so meaningful to me. It didn’t cost them a whole lot, but I find that most of us would love to have someone in our life that helps us get past the struggles or get past our blind spots to provide meaningful feedback. It helps me to improve my game. That’s a great gift you gave me. It didn’t cost you a lot to give that to someone, but it can be a life changer for them.

Chris Goede:     That’s what I was talking about a little bit earlier about just kind of observations in meetings in small little yet meaningful conversations. I was in a meeting with someone that’s not directly under my influence inside the organization and I saw a different posture, both in a positive way in the comments and the way this individual handled themselves. And so a couple of days later, I passed them in the hallway and I said, “Hey, I just want to let you know, I saw this and I saw that, and I thought that was awesome.” And so being able to do that and give that feedback is a huge meaningful way to people.

Okay, so number five. Finally, another way I can think to provide meaningful moments for someone on my team is to help where possible when you find them in a painful situation or struggle. I’m going to go back to this personal or professional thing. I think it’s going to show its head. If you observe it, it’ll be there. It’s easy to not notice when someone is dealing with a personal struggle. We’re like, “Oh, they’re dealing with that. That’s their story.” But man, kind of jump in that hole with them and you don’t have to solve it for them. I think about my conversations oftentimes at home with Sarah, my wife, it’s like, “I don’t need you to solve this. I just need you to listen to me.”

And I think as leaders, a very meaningful way is for you just to have a listening ear and you never know the impact that might have on them. We are in the people business and so people just want to be heard. And to this point, sometimes just what they’re going through, just to be a listening ear, is very meaningful to them.

Perry Holley:    Well, the bottom line to me is that if you can develop this skill of observation, you will be amazed at the opportunities that will present themselves for you to add value to the lives of others and it doesn’t have to be… It’s generally not big, doesn’t cost you much time to do it, but it’s meaningful to them. It increases your influence and increases the level of engagement from them, their buy-in to you, the connectedness you have, it’ll generate better results because people will feel valued by you. And I just love this.

Chris Goede:     Well, let me wrap up just by saying this, we gave you just some thoughts, a couple of things to be thinking about in regards to observation, and we talked about it on a previous podcast about the power of that. And today we’re talking about even just finding some small meaningful ways. The only way to do that though is to observe. Let me go back to something we talked about a minute ago, which was walking slowly through the crowd and management, by walking around, we are going to encourage you to get out of your bubble and keep your head up as Perry did when he was walking around, and looked for opportunities to be able to serve and add value to people and influence them. And they don’t have to be big ways, but they may be small to you, but I promise you the way that they’re received, and we can all think about leaders in our past that have done small things that were very, very big to us. And they’re out there, we just got to be paying attention to them.

Perry Holley:    Good word there, Chris. Thank you. And as a reminder, if you want the learner guide for this episode, or leave us a question or a comment or learn more about some of our offerings, you can do all that at We always love hearing from you. And we’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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