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Executive Leadership Podcast #185: The Role Leaders Play In The Story Of Their Team

April 25, 2022
Executive Leadership Podcast #185: The Role Leaders Play In The Story Of Their Team

Are you playing the hero for your team? Today, Chris and Perry talk about the role a leader should play to empower their team for maximum results.

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Perry Holley:    Welcome to the 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. I am Perry Holley, a Maxwell Leadership facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, Executive Vice President with Maxwell Leadership. Welcome, and thank you for joining. When I say that, I really do thank you. We just recently crossed over three million downloads with our podcast, and we hear stories and people sharing some of their impact with some of our team and some coaching calls that you’ve been on. We thank you for not only listening to this yourself and growing yourself, but then passing it along and sharing it with your team.

Perry Holley:    We get a lot of, I saw you did too, reach out from LinkedIn.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    And people are saying, “Hey, I listen to you guys,”

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    So appreciate that.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And I love even, we’ll go back to, we mentioned this a couple episodes ago, we have some leaders that send it out to their team. We try to keep these under 20 minutes, or if you’re like me and you listen to everything on 1.5, it could be about 12.5 minutes.

Perry Holley:    But Perry sounds really fun.

Chris Goede:     Perry sounds… I actually fast forward through Perry. Let’s listen to those.

Perry Holley:    They got it finally.

Chris Goede:     And then when they come together and they start their team meetings, they just say, “Hey, what’s your number one takeaway.” And they begin to share it’s five minute. It’s a great little tool for you to use but thank you for listening. Hey, I want to let you know, one of the changes we’ve been able to make that’s been extremely positive is virtual trainings, virtual workshops, and through all of the changes that many organizations have been through, it’s been positive one for us. And we used to do a lot of them in person. Now you help us with this.

Perry Holley:    I do. I’m doing one this week.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, that’s right. You’re doing this week on The 5 Levels of Leadership. But if you’re interested, I want to encourage you to visit And there you can find some of our public workshop offerings. I know we have one May 19th where we’re going to do the For Content, F-O-R, where we really encourage you to figure out what are you known for? And not only with your team, but also with your community and your organization. And then June 9th, we’ll be doing The 5 Levels of Leadership. So anyways, check out the website, you’ll be able to kind of learn more about that and sign up. We’d love to have you participate in that. Well, today’s topic is titled The Role Leaders Play in the Story of Their Team. Talk. Yeah. You’re smiling so big. For those of you that aren’t watching right now. Perry’s so excited about this title. It’s not even funny.

Perry Holley:    Well, there’s a story unfolding, you and your team. And I was on a coaching call recently, and the person I’m coaching is being promoted to a senior role. And he told me he was quite nervous because the person he was replacing is a real hero. He is the hero of the story. He’s rescuing and hero… He solves the sales problems, the operations problems. He’s just everything to everyone. And he goes, “I’m afraid. How am I going to replace this guy?” I said, “Your role in this story, between yourself and the team,” I said, “Who’s the hero?”

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    And he’s said, “Well, me.” I said, “No.”

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    “No, the team’s the hero.” And I said, “Between your company and your customer, I teach this to sales people too, the salesperson and the customer, who’s the hero of that story?’ And sales people will say, “Well, I am. I’m the hero to save the day.” I go, “No, the customer’s the hero.” And so that’s really what I want to talk about today was what role are you playing?

Chris Goede:     That’s good.

Perry Holley:    And are you stepping into this hero role too much? And what role should you be playing? Because I’ve got some ideas on that too.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. I love that where we’re going with this analogy of this story heroes save the day. They make sure there’s always a happy ending. They’re solving problems. They’re pulling people out of trouble.

Perry Holley:    Yep.

Chris Goede:     At times what it reminds me is back in the day, we used to talk a lot about helicopter parenting. Right?

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     It’s almost like they’re being a helicopter, a boss, when they are the hero. It’s really about them and in a business context they act like they have all the answers. I said, “act” that’s right. Intentionally said that word. They don’t let the team solve their problems, which is a great miss on growth of team members. I know it’s been, for me, in the past, some of the greatest growth that I had is letting me struggle and solve my own problems. And so they ultimately want be, to your point, they want to be the hero. They want it to be about them.

Perry Holley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Goede:     And I think that’s the biggest problem with this?

Perry Holley:    How much do you think, we talked about it here in the past, but John talks about shifts, leader shifts. Shifts a leader must make and that shift from being a soloist to be the conductor.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    You think about if you were a conductor of an orchestra, but you wanted to be the hero. Do you run around and play all the solos yourself? Do you put yourself in all those positions? Got me thinking, we also talk here about Liz Wiseman and multipliers. Are you diminishing the behaviors of people because you’re trying to do too much?

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    So, there’s lots of things that we do there. And like I said, this guy’s nervous that he’s replacing someone that he can’t replace cause I’m not anybody’s hero.

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Chris Goede:     Yeah. So let’s talk about this, right? You and I both very familiar with Donald Miller and his book. Donald’s been a great friend of ours and of Johns. Matter of fact, we’re going to go through and talk about building your story brand. That’s kind of Donald’s sweet spot. He actually came in and helped us with our story behind…

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     Maxwell Leadership and what does that look like? And so we’re going to take his model and kind of talk through this illustration and then talk about how do we apply this as we begin to talk about being the hero or what the story is for your team.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. I love this. When I first saw it and I started working with sales people about developing a sales story, but it applies almost everywhere and like said, Donald Miller’s done a great job with this. He does tell you that if you buy into this and this really resonates with you, that it’ll ruin you for every movie you ever watch going forward because every story follows this and you’ll be able to pick this out in the movies that you watch. For me, I use an example, maybe you can play along with me on this. I said, “You…” And Donald Miller does this when he teaches it. About using the movie Star Wars.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    Most people would know Star Wars. I’ll label the role. And you tell me who you think the role is. So if I say in Star Wars, who is the hero of Star Wars?

Chris Goede:     Now, let me just pause for a minute. Okay. I need my wife and my son to listen to this because they’re huge Star Wars fans and I’m not, and they’re going to be extremely surprised. And I’m just going to let everybody know that Perry has helped me with these answers.

Perry Holley:    You know the answers.

Chris Goede:     But I do. Yeah. This has been around for a long time. So hero is Luke Skywalker.

Perry Holley:    Okay. Luke Skywalker is the hero of the story.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. That’s right.

Perry Holley:    And what you’ll find, and Don Miller teaches this, we should also just kind of relate this as a leader, if between you and your team, who’s the hero is the team. And so what every hero has in the movies that we watch and every story is that a hero has three problems, Donald Miller would tell us. They have an internal problem, an external problem, and a philosophical problem. And so this is a bigger challenge to say. But what do you think Luke Skywalker’s external problem was?

Chris Goede:     Darth Vader.

Perry Holley:    Yes.

Chris Goede:     I almost tried to do. I was kind of in between right there. Yeah. Darth Vader.

Perry Holley:    Luke. Yeah. And what do you think was his internal problem?

Chris Goede:     He doesn’t believe that he’s a Jedi.

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     He…

Perry Holley:    Well, why are you bothering me? I’m not even a Jedi. I don’t why this pertains to me. And what about his philosophical problem?

Chris Goede:     It’s really bigger than either one of those answers. It’s really between good and evil, right?

Perry Holley:    Exactly.

Chris Goede:     Philosophical difference between good and evil.

Perry Holley:    So when you’re thinking about, as a leader, everybody on your team’s facing an internal problem, external problem, philosophical problem.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Okay. So let’s get out of the movies. Let’s get away from Star Wars. Let’s come back to, but I love where we’re going right? Because we’re setting the context. Hopefully this is easy for you to remember in this process. Let’s go back to this retiring sales executive story that we’re talking about here and where the salesperson, right, would be the hero of the story.

Perry Holley:    Right?

Chris Goede:     The external problem is the client or the prospect’s challenge. The business challenge that they have. The internal problem would be their own belief in being able to sell or to solve that problem, that challenge. And then the philosophical problem is how the sales organization goes to market with the solutions to battle the client’s challenges.

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     So what role does the sales executive play in the story?

Perry Holley:    Well, let’s get out of the sales executive and go back to the movies. The way the story works is that every hero has a guide. So let’s continue our game, go back to Star Wars, if you already declared that Luke’s Skywalker is the hero. Who is the guide?

Chris Goede:     I am grateful for these notes. Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Perry Holley:    Exactly. And in every story a guide…

Chris Goede:     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Perry Holley:    So the hero has three problems. The guide has to have a plan to address those three problems. So you mentioned that Luke has a problem. That he’s got an internal problem that. We’ve got addressed that.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    He doesn’t have the belief. I’m not a Jedi. So what was the guide’s plan for addressing that?

Chris Goede:     He introduces Luke to Yoda who will overcome the challenge of belief in being that Jedi..

Perry Holley:    Right. So in the retiring sales executive story, he’s positioned himself as the hero, when he should have been playing the guide all along. And the question you have to ask yourself as a leader, and then I’ll ask you, is what can you do to play your role as guide to your heroes of your team? What should you be doing if you really say “I’m the guide for the team.” To do that. They’re the hero.

Chris Goede:     What I love about this is we’re really, really talking about level four influence, right? When we come back to everything that you and I build off of these content pieces for our podcasts around The 5 Levels of Leadership, and we’re getting you into the mindset of thinking to be that guy. To be the one that is developing your team and your people. And so that’s a level four mindset. And so I think you really have to have a plan. You got to know what is the challenge that your heroes are facing. And then you have to equip them, develop them and get them to a place to where they can overcome the challenges that they’re facing. A lot of times I’ll even say, “Hey, my number one job is to remove obstacles for you.” Now that may be to equip you, to develop you or to empower you, but also to remove some of those obstacles so that you can overcome those challenges.

Perry Holley:    I love that. And I’m thinking that as Obi-Wan in the movie provided the guidance, gave him a plan that was going to lead to the destruction of the Death Star or to destruction to the Resistance, set him up with training, got him equipped, got Luke belief system right, put him in a position to win. And then Obi-Wan, if you’ll recall, kind of gave himself up. I hope I didn’t ruin the movie for anybody. Well, he gave himself up and removed himself from… He’ll show up again and again in the kind of spiritually, but he won’t be there physically anymore. And I thought, isn’t that interesting as a leader thinking what are the things I could do? Maybe we could, as we work toward wrapping up, to think toward some actions you could take as a leader. What would empower you, for you to empower your team, that you don’t have to be there.

And we talk many times here about, do you like seeing it work without you or because of you? And so if I want to see it work without me, I need to have my people in a place that I see the struggles they have. I know the legitimate needs that they’re working with. How can I provide, as a guide, a plan to help them get past it? Is it equipping? Is it development? Is it working with them? Is it modeling? Is it demonstrating? Is it helping hold their hand through some tough times? What is it that they need so that I can get them to where they can be the star, the hero, of that story? Not me. I think a lot of leaders, we struggle with sometimes with moving past, having been an individual contributor, we’re now a leader. It’s so much easier just to be the soloist than it is to be the conductor of all these soloists. How can I position myself to be that guide that the team needs?

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    And I want to play that role in my story.

Chris Goede:     Well, and this is a great mindset for us to have as leaders, as you begin thinking about the role that you do want to play and it’s contagious. So the role that you play for your team is the role that they’re going to play for their team. And you need to begin thinking about how do I live this out? How do I become that guide and not the hero. There is a hero complex, I guess maybe if I can say that out there for leaders, right?

Perry Holley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Goede:     And we know it. You know it. You do a lot of coaching with some high level leaders and there’s a little bit of that mindset in there. And so we got to be very cautious of that.

Perry Holley:    [crosstalk 00:14:10] myself. I mean…

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    Coach, I want to be the answer to the problem.

Chris Goede:     I want to have the answers. Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. Oh, man I’m so glad you came to me to help solve all your problems.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. I feel good about you. Oh, thank you very much.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. As we wrap up, we’ve all been on teams with that one person. That one, what we’ll call hero. To where they always want to be right. They always want to save the day and et cetera. But if we act like this and if we lead our team like this, this will inhibit us from really achieving the results, our KPIs, that we are charged to be able to do. And it’s going to prevent us from developing people, which by the way, ultimately should be our number one goal. If we do that right, the KPIs will follow. And I just wanted to just encourage you to think about, as you grow your level of influence with people, and we understand, just to kind of refresh right.

Level one is we’re leading by position. Level two. We’re leading through permission. They want to follow you. Level three is you’re producing. You’re getting results, but level four people are following you because of what you’ve done for them personally and professionally, and you develop them. And that’s where we all need to get as a leader. And when you are doing that, you are not the hero. You are the guide. And as you’ve thought back over your career and leaders that you’ve had and looked at those that have been heroes, and those that have been guides, there’s a drastic difference in the influence that they have with you and on your journey. And I just want to encourage you. We don’t have to always be the answer. We don’t always have to solve all the problems. We need to always be thinking about how we developing our people.

Perry Holley:    Would you be concerned about if you’re a leader and people on your team keep bringing you the problem? Keep bringing you the question. Keep coming to your office and asking you to speak into these things. How do you deal with that?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. It’s funny. Just had a conversation with a couple of team members earlier today and here’s how the meeting they started. They said, “Now we want talk about what the problem is and we have a couple solutions for you.” Which is much different as a mindset in the way they’re thinking than saying, “I have a couple of problems. I have no solutions.”

Perry Holley:    What do you want to do about it?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. I don’t want to be in that place. When you’re doing that, you’re not allowing them to… You’re not getting their perspective. You’re not allowing them to think for themselves. You’re shutting them down and there’s going to be absolutely no growth when it comes to that. And so… Yeah, that drives me crazy.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. No. I developed a little phrase that when that would happen, I’d say, “Well, I have a point of view on that, but tell me what you think.”

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    And then I’d really want to hear how they’re thinking. And then I can coach their thinking and be a guide not rush in with the answer to be the hero and I…

Chris Goede:     And you can learn how they do think. Right?

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     So when you talk about coaching their thinking, that’s something that John has talked about for a long time, which is as leaders they begin to develop and you think about promotions and moving them. You want to know how they think, right? And so if it’s not the right way, I love how you talk about it, you coach their thinking. And so if you don’t ask those questions and you don’t encourage them to bring those solutions, you’ll never know.

Perry Holley:    Right. Well, that’s a great skill to have because it puts people at a place of empowerment where they can then begin to solve their own problems and you can do the things that only you can do. Well, thank you, Chris. And thank you all for joining us. As Chris mentioned at the top, if you want to learn more about our offerings and some of these virtual offerings, as well as some face to face things we’re doing, you can find all that at We love hearing from you. If you have a question or a comment, please leave it there as well. We’re so grateful you would spend this time with us. That’s all today from the Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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