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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #79: Are You An Inspiring Leader? (Part 2) With Chris Fuller

March 23, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #79: Are You An Inspiring Leader? (Part 2) With Chris Fuller

Is your workplace culture inspiring or exasperating? Are your employees going home drained or motivated? As a leader, it’s up to you to positively impact and develop your team. In Episode #79 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we continue the conversation with one of our Executive Facilitators and the author of Inspired Leadership, Chris Fuller, on what it means to be an inspired leader and how to build an engaged workforce. 

Are you an inspiring leader? Learn more about our assessment resources that were developed to equip leaders with the knowledge needed to grow and move forward along the path toward leadership excellence.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!

Read Transcript Below:

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 drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining.

As a reminder, if you’d like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership process or even perhaps have Perry, myself, or one of our other executive facilitators come and do a private workshop in your organization, please visit While you’re there, if you have a topic where you’d like Perry to get creative around his title as we talk about you can leave that there or even just a question for us. We’d love to hear it at that point. 

Well, today’s topic is really Part 2, and I hope you’ve listened to Part 1 of this series. If you haven’t, listen to this one and then make sure you go back and listen to Part One of “Are you an Inspiring Leader?” with our friend, Chris Fuller. Just as a reminder, Chris is the principal and leader of RightPath Resources, a great partner of ours around behavioral profiling, and leadership training, professional development. He’s also a longtime facilitator and coach for us and content developer. Welcome back. Thanks so much. Perry and I weren’t sure you were coming back after that first session with us. That’s what happens to us, sometimes people will do one lesson with us and then we never see him again. But we are excited to have you back. Also, as we kind of get started, just to kind of give you a baseline of what we are talking about today. Chris has a book Inspired Leadership, your proven path to remarkable results. We’re really just kind of digging into Chris’s thoughts and his mind the way he leads what he’s learned and kind of the principles behind the book. The first session of this, the last time our podcast was recording, we talked about the first two. Give the listeners just a quick recap of the first two that we covered. And then we’ll dive into the remaining five. 

So the acrostic is the IN of inspired to be intentional, right? If we’re not intentional, then we’re accidental. And how many of us even if you succeed in an accident, how do you replicate that? Yeah. And so you have to be intentional to succeed on purpose around those things. And you have to be intentional about people and process and you have all these things to be intentional about. Well, then the S in inspired is you service centric, how do others experience you? You know, Perry, you talked about this often, but nobody wakes up in the morning says, Oh, I hope my boss manages me today. You know, if I could just get managed more my life would be complete. So how do we experience and how does that service come across? It’s not a weakness. It’s a matter of equipping and empowering this amazing workforce that will unlock their discretionary effort.

So those were the first two that we covered last. And what I want to jump in here real quick, and Perry can jump in and we’ll start the rest of the across it. But one of the things you were showing us that I thought was just fascinating, as we talk about some of the content that you deliver around inspired was, alright, well, let’s just here’s a list of 15 to 20 things that we would determine as you serve your team well. And we were going through were like, Oh, yeah, that’s it. That’s a good one. And none of it made me feel like it was weak or, you know, some people sometimes misinterpret the servant leadership. And so, yeah, you just pulled them out. And I love the three columns there that are talking about that. And so I think that’s so key for us to understand. Don’t be afraid to serve your people well. That is not a weak leadership trait or attribute right. And you kind of break that down and and there’s more of that you can learn from the book or from Chris.

That whole mindset though, I think early in the book you talk about, are you designing a culture or defaulting to one? And that’s all of these seven points and especially that about the servant leader in the servant orientation leads to a culture that I think most people want. How do you see that about design default? Well, culture happens with or without you. You have one. Yeah, you have one, whether you want it or not, right? So the struggle is that we’re either going to build it on purpose, or it’s going to be built by the strongest personalities on our team, right. So if the leader doesn’t, you can’t abdicate. There’s no void that’s going to occur in your culture, if you don’t step in and lead and be that person that designs it. And you’re intentional about your interactions on a daily basis, how people experience you, how people experience the workplace, that becomes the culture. Why? Because that’s what’s accepted. What’s permitted is printed. What’s allowed is endorsed culture is not the poster on your walls. It’s the chatter in the halls. Right? And so as you start to think about that, yes, right there. If you start to think about all the 1000 little things, it’s the interactions that occur. And if we’re not intentional about that culture to say, No, wait, no, you know, yes, we’ll attack the process, but not each other. Yes, we will deliver results. And we’ll be relational, all of the design around that culture and the interactions and the expectations. That’s really what we’re talking about owning and you’re either going to be an organizational owner, you’re either going to be a cultural owner, or you’re going to be a cultural victim. 

Fantastic. Let’s move, we have a lot to cover. I want it to be intentional. The s was service wrapped up the P stands for passion. Walk us through that. So I’m a guy that trades on energy. That passion, that enthusiasm, right? If you’re not bringing that energy, John’s Law of the Lid, right? The leader is the lid on the organizational energy capacity. And so as we start to look at that, and we start to focus on the leader Are you fired up? Do you come to work on purpose with purpose on a daily basis, and marrying purpose and passion? That’s where we start to unlock that discretionary effort and are you still lit up, and leader if you have lost your fire, I’m asking you please either regain that fire, regain that passion and energy or find something else that will light you up. Because at the end of the day, the team can never rise above your enthusiasm. And one of the things I know about teams is teams are either going to be mission minded, or they’re going to be messy minded. And sometimes we need that passion. We have to rally the troops and you have to have it before you can give it to others. Fantastic.

To be a Successful Leader, You Need Feedback on Your Leadership.

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So I’m going to encourage you if you’re driving, I don’t know maybe you’re on a treadmill right now somewhere else. At some point in time, get somewhere with a pen and piece of paper and just listen to the last three to five minutes because there is a lot of gold right in there someone one line statements that Chris, you know, shares with you. And what I love about it is that leaders we’re contagious. You’re contagious to your point. It’s going to happen with or without you. Yeah. And so you’re going to set that bar around passion. And so you’re either going to have a team it’s like, well, all or like Chris, where you’re bouncing off the walls when you walk in here and extremely. You guys are into sports. Right? What are they talking about? All the sports? Yeah, you’re talking about the momentum has shifted, right. So as a leader, do you even have a barometer on the momentum, the energy and the inertia within your organization? Yeah. And momentum, as John says, we’ve learned solves 80% plus of your problems. The Great Exaggerator right. It gives you the horse power behind it. 

Okay, so in your book also kind of referring back to it. I love this because I think this is a huge conversation about challenges that we have inside the organizations around culture. You say, there can be a disconnect between personal passion and the organization’s purpose. So we talked about you having to have passion, right? But if it’s not in alignment with the organizational purpose, we’re going to have a problem.Talk a little bit about that. And just your thoughts behind that. You have to bring the fire to work every day. 

So here’s the deal. What you do for a living is either your fire, or it writes the check to allow you to do your fire when you clock out at night, right? Yeah, so the question is, what are you lighting up about what lights you up now for me? I want to light it up with people that light me up in an impactful way, right. And so that passion and that fuel, I happen to have aligned my passion with my employment. And so what I do for a living is my energy, it fills me and fuels my tank on a daily basis. But I don’t want you to think that just because your work is not your passion, that you don’t need to bring that fire to work every day, because we need to see our work as our resource for us to be able to do that passion nights and weekends and be able to do that particular thing. Either way your work is your fire, or your work pays for your fire. Either way, bring that fire. That’s good, fantastic. 

So the I in the inspired framework is for integrated. I think this was not more obvious to me. So explain integrated. Well, you know, even when you’re inspiring how many of us have ever worked in an uninspiring process? Right? How many of you ever have thought when you’re trying to serve your company, it really shouldn’t be this difficult. I’m having to fight my company to serve my company, right?

That is called bureaucracy. And anytime systems are meant to support processes are meant to add value. And so if we’re not integrated in the process if we’re not integrated, how many times do we silo up and it’s sales versus accounting or sales versus creditor, or you know, quality versus production. And so every day, we need to integrate instead of isolate. And that integration of understanding people and relationships and departments and internal and external, if you want inspiration, sometimes we need to leave the theoretical, we have to be intentional. And we have to get into the grittiness of who does what, by when and how we’re going to hand off this baton because the outflow of that becomes uninspiring or exasperating. Yeah, and you have to have that abundance mindset around what you’re doing in order to integrate to understand the bigger picture of that. 

Alright, so the R, I love this. Everything that you’re talking about is, I think, the foundation for what we call Level 2, connecting with your people so that they want to follow you, right? Like, just even in recording this episode in your passion, right? Like, I want to learn more about that like that, whatever it is like, right. And so I’m at that point where that Level 2 influence is just naturally going to happen if you become an inspired leader.

All of that doesn’t happen without this next letter. Right, you talk about being real. R-E-A-L. John, you’ve heard John say, R-E-A-L, for how many of these books are a few books and a few lessons on that. But man, this is so true. It goes back to that authenticity piece that we’ve talked about, because how many of us have fallen followed a non authentic leader, right? And we’re like, ah, talk about real from your lens and why it’s so important in this concept. This is one of the reasons I made that significant investment into RightPath is you have to know your wiring to be authentic. You have to know your core, you have to know where you’re coming from. And so anytime I print out somebody’s behavioral styles, their personality and we do this assessment, I make sure that everybody is crystal clear that there’s no weakness on that page, there’s no weakness in your personality, the question is not Is it a strength or a weakness? The question is, how does it fit in light of your role? So, we do a lot around making sure the right person gets in the right seat, we talk about the ability to to match job function and behavioral style or personality. So in that alignment, that reality, then I know, you know, you can be this heavy handed, blunt, assertive, you know, independent person, and in some areas, it is going to be a strength, not a weakness or not a struggle. So when we get real about our wiring, and then we can get real about each other’s wiring then we

Look at how we can interface and integrate all those things. But the first piece is can you be real? Can you be authentic? And can you even just be, I think, authentic enough to own it. I know I’m not always a detailed person. So I need to lead where I’m strong, put a system where I’m weak, I need to lead where I’m strong. I need a partner where I’m weak. And it’s not about insufficiency. It’s about this amalgamated, inspiring collective team that we get if we get real. So here’s how I want to go. I want to run down a little rabbit trail with you really quick, when you’re just going to do that, too.

So we’ll go to go one out one back again, back. While you were just talking about that, a story you shared with me came to mind. You know, we hire and add to our team, because of the skill set and what they’re bringing to the table and we want them to be real and we want them to be authentic. But then they get on our team and as soon as something’s not working, right, or maybe we don’t like the way they’re doing something we want to change them, and you shared a story with Mark Cole and I a couple weeks ago, we were out in Dallas for a large energy company and you were doing some work with us. And so from a high level, share the story a little bit about the impact of being able to understand the assessment as a benchmark for a hiring tool in regards to it in regards to a call office. And what came to my mind was allowing those that are extroverted, because you think, Oh, you know, call center, I have to have somebody that’s extroverted, right? That’s really not what we found out about what we need in those individuals. We need them to be real and authentic and aligned with who they are. And you couldn’t do that until we did the assessment, talk just from a high level and give our listeners a little glimpse about the power of the tool that you’re now leading could be for the organization. 

So we do a tool called benchmarking. And so for this particular call center, there were 300 people in the call center and we profiled each of those for the behavioral profile through the RightPath assessment, the Path 4 and the Path 6. And then they forced rank, the all 300 around the effectiveness that they were operating in and that call center. So we had the top 10- 20%, bottom 10-20%. And then we looked at their RightPath and we were able to benchmark and those that were in a particular quartle, one of the things that we learned is for a call center that is talking to people on the phone all the time. Wouldn’t you want an extrovert? Yeah, you would want an extrovert right? But the struggle was they were hiring people that were too extroverted. So the algorithm of the RightPath allows me to understand whether you are an extrovert or whether you are a one sigma two sigma extrovert, which means you’re more extroverted than 90 to 98% of the population. So what happened is, they were getting dissatisfied employees because they didn’t necessarily want to be on the phone and then off the phone.

They were extroverts. They wanted to talk more. So their call time went up, their satisfaction with their job went down. They didn’t want to stay at their desk, they wanted to interface more. And so one of the things that we found through this process was we were able to lower their turnover 10 points, wow. 10 points, because we dialed back and said, if a person clips this particular one, you might want to talk to them about so we didn’t necessarily It wasn’t an exclusionary item on the hiring process, but it certainly was an interview tool to be aware that they may have a better roll fit within your organization with a one sigma two sigma Delta on their extraversion love it. Fantastic. 

I was interested in I always love hearing you talk about IQ versus EQ. That seems to fall into this being a real piece of it for me. Just your thoughts about what’s required for the job is that most people think IQ means you have to have that competency, but yeah, you’re taking most of the research that says EQ has a strong piece of that. So I lean heavily on learning this from Daniel Goleman, a Harvard professor that really was the father of emotional intelligence sort of study and doing all those things. And what I love about it is, you know, here’s how I want to make sure so the study came back and said, your success as a leader is 15% IQ 85% Eq, okay? The piece that is important to me, is it doesn’t mean zero IQ, right?

We say all the time look, if you meet the best people person in the world, but you know, Southern vernacular, they’re dumb, as a post, right? Are you going to entrust your career track to that person? So what I believe is the business acumen, the fundamentals, the excellence in your executive role, you need that but what people remember more so than any of that is how you treated them, how you left them, how you interface with them. So the balance of IQ and ease IQ. IQ is table stakes to get you in the game. EQ is going to keep you in the game and engage your people and elevate their discretionary effort. Fantastic. All right, moving on the E, we’re going to wrap this up the E is for execution. Probably the most important thing as a leader you need to be doing Yeah, walk us through that one. The reason we exist is to execute. Yeah, if you are not getting those Level 3 results in the 5 Levels, it doesn’t matter how relational you are, you can kumbaya to the ends of the earth, and you’re going to be broke, your organization is going to be mediocre. So we have to execute and we have to execute with excellence. So with the intentionality and the integration and all of those things, it culminates into this deep understanding of the trips, which is within your organization that makes execution a natural byproduct, instead of this Herculean effort. Does your organization have systemic success? Or is it through the Herculean effort that allows us to get there.

So when you’re talking about sales, hey, we want 365 new sales. Okay, well, my question is, how many leads are we getting? And if we’re not doing marketing, right, then we’re not getting the right number of leads. So how can you ask me for 365 sales, when if we backed up, we don’t have the input to be able to deliver that output. So we look for the molecular, we look for the sort of those systemic breakdown pieces of the least common the, that predictive behaviors that are going to allow execution. And if we can help our team focus on the critical behaviors, the critical deliverables then excellent execution will take care of itself. That’s great. All right. 

Last one, brings us to the letter D. Right, which stands for develop. Tell us a little bit about this one. That’s and then what you guys are all about. I was going to say, and isn’t it? Yes. And isn’t it? The three of us can sit here and share testimony after testimony that most often. Most leaders don’t go to that level of developing people, right when we talked about the law of the lid on a previous lesson, and there’s above that Level 2,  that Level 3, right, the execution, there’s just this lid right on leaders and organizations around the world because they don’t go to that next level of developing people. Talk to us a bit about that from your lens, you know, got a lot of Fuller-isms. And so my Fuller-ism on this one is you’re either going to get better by the day, or your team’s going to get better by the day. And so this continuous improvement zanic type mindset where we’re like, you know, if if we’re going to get there, it’s going to be because leaders improve themselves and improve their people on a daily basis. And, you know, the old story that was in one of the Blanchard books was, you know, the pushback is, well, I don’t want to invest in and what if I invest in them and they leave, and the jokes kind of on them because it’s like, what if you leave them insufficient and they stay right so, the fear is the fear is the lack of investment.

So as we look at this intentional leadership plan these leadership plans are going to grow the organization and grow the leaders. How many times have we promoted people prior to preparation? And so when you promote prior to preparation, you’re setting them up for failure. You’re not setting them up for success. Yeah, it’s not going to happen overnight. It has to be developed. And in that preparation, champions aren’t made in the ring. They’re recognized in the ring champions are made in the preparation phase in the dark of night, doing the miniscule things, doing the little things that are going to get us there. And leaders, it’s because you have chosen to be the investing leader, instead of the diminishing leader. And I think one of the biggest compliments you could ever get as a leader is that you are a leader that developed leaders. It’s not easy to do, and it goes back not at all It goes back to every single one of the across things that we talked about, right we talked about starting off with being intentional, and all of those things would lead you to if you do that right man just go ahead and put the icing on the cake with developing people.

So as we wrap up man, Chris I seriously I love your passion, you know, longtime friends, appreciate everything that you do and what you stand for. And so I would encourage everyone to listen to this lesson and the first part of this lesson multiple times and get out your pen and pad of paper to take some notes. So let me just summarize as we close and kind of recap. I N. So what we’re talking about is in the Inspired Leadership book, your proven path to remarkable results that Chris has the I N is for intentional, the S is for service. The P is for passion, the i’s for integrated, the R is for real. The E is for execution, and the D is for development. 

And I think when you are really thinking about driving results in increasing your engagement level inside your organization. That’s what you need to keep in mind. And you can design your culture around that. Well, my thanks as well. It’s been very inspiring for me and I’ve learned a lot. I really enjoyed the book. I think our listeners will too. You can get a learner guide for this episode and the previous one that kind of outlines all this for you, as Chris said, take some notes on that. And also, you can find all of that at, and you can leave a comment for us there or question or learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership. As always, we’re grateful that you joined us. This is the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast. 

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