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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #81: The World Has Changed – From Optimal to Possible Part 2

March 31, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #81: The World Has Changed – From Optimal to Possible Part 2

We define leadership as influence. Right now, more than ever, we need to be leaning in on that influence to help people through this time of change. In Episode #81 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we continue the discussion on what leaders can do to connect and add value to their teams during these uncertain times, and unveil what you can do to help yourself and your team move from optimal to what’s possible. 

As we continue to assess and reflect on this new reality, self-assessments are a valuable tool for leaders to learn more about themselves and reflect on new opportunities.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!

Read Transcript Below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast. I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell Company facilitator and coach, and I’m here again with my socially distant friend, Chris Goede, Vice President with The John Maxwell Company. We’re going to continue today the second part of a two-part discussion. We started the last podcast called “The World Has Changed, Now What Do I Do?” And we’ve enjoyed the conversation. We’re actually learning ourselves; we mentioned as we are in the trenches, well, and this is affecting everyone. And so Chris, welcome back.

Listen, I’ve been called a lot worse than a social distance friend. So I’ll take that as a compliment from you. It’s funny to those that are joining in and listening to Perry and I; we were joking right before we went live that, you know, Perry, again, looks like he’s on the top of a building in downtown Atlanta, and I’m in the cellar. So I’m in the bunker. I don’t know what’s going on around here, but we were giving each other a little bit of a hard time. You know, as we kick this off, one of the things we were talking about on our last episode here was just connecting with your team and being real and having fun. And so periodically, what I’ll do is I’ll show up for a Zoom meeting with some crazy backgrounds, and just, you know, get them laughing and get them talking about kind of reality and having fun. And so it’s a great way for you know, the virtual world that we’re all living in now. Just to have some laughs and fun. You did it to me yesterday, I logged in, and you had a can on a wall like a vault of toilet paper that’s behind you. 

I said I’m starting a new business. It seems to be like that’s what I was searching for. Yeah, hoarding, and then then and then reselling it, but hey, listen. We were just trying to have a little smile and fun with you. But we know that man, we’re in a global crisis. And it’s not it’s not, you know, the normal, but what is what is optimal right now for us? And how do we, how do we lead more effectively when it comes to that with this pandemic that’s going on. And so before we turn to the list of eight that Perry kind of developed for us, and just some of the contents that were on his heart that we wanted to get out and share with you right away to guide yourself and your team through this optimal time. Let’s talk about how to handle massive change for just a second Perry. And you’re like; you can’t talk about change in just a second, even in maybe a normal time what we thought was normal, changes are complicated. Now, it’s even a little bit different. And I think it’s becoming real to everyone.

I’m really leaning on this learning I had several years ago. A great friend of mine leaned in one day, and so you know, people say they hate change. And he says, That’s not true. I’ve always thought it is true. He said, No, if you hated change, you’d never do anything in life. You never would have gone to school, bought a car, learned to drive, gone on a date, you wouldn’t have done anything. And so we do change. But he said what people are fearful of is losing control. It’s not the change. It’s the feeling of losing control that change brings, and so if there’s ever been a time when I feel like we probably all feel like we’ve lost control, and there’s so much uncertainty everywhere right now, that it’s just easy to feel that way. Now, it might help. If you think about your team or your family, even yourself is what are things you could do, especially as a leader for your team. Are there things you could do to help restore a feeling of control even though there’s uncertainty not saying you’re going to make promises, but you can help with that. I have found for me, personally, the number one way you can help kind of ratchet down someone’s level of tension that they feel is to simplify.

How can I make this the complexity of everything right now? How can I simplify, and that may be as simple as just listening, coming alongside letting them know that you’re there, maybe providing help in some way, providing additional resources. John Maxwell gave us some great advice that said that if you’re listening to social media, or the media, other people, politicians, anyone that has an agenda, you have to be careful with that because they could ratchet up that feeling out of control. But if you just said he’s looking at two things. The World Health Organization and the CDC, Center for Disease Control, whatever they publish, he looks at it once a day. Stay informed, stay educated, but kind of take some of that anxiety out of that. What people are looking for is ways to get our lives back in control. And you may be able to do that simply by coming alongside, letting them know they’re not alone. A lot of us are feeling this way, actually probably all of us to some level of feeling this way you’re not alone, and how can we do it together? So I just wanted to put that out there because I think there’s a lot of anxiety.

Yeah, I think it’s a great way to start, and a lot of leaders out there are communicating that message. I think it’s a great reminder. I think we have to communicate often. I think we have to communicate more than we ever have. And just as we mentioned last time, people respond differently. And people hear communication differently. Go back and listen to one of the lessons Perry and I did on the how versus the why. Right? There are people that speak the language and then there are other people that speak the language and you don’t have all those answers for your team right now. But you need to acknowledge that and you need to know how to communicate with them, and through that, some are going to overreact. And some are going to under-react. Like they have no idea what’s going on, you know, we have some of those on our team. And, some, you know, may not react at all, but everybody’s struggling inside because to your point about change. The first question anybody asks when they hear some type of change? How does this affect me? That’s the question they ask. While they do go to school, and make a change, they go, how does this change my schedule? What does this look like? You know.

I just lost control. That’s right. That’s right. So I’ve taught my kids you know, from an early age control what you can control and, now more than that, now more than ever, that is so real to us. And we say can even around the Goede household as we talk about this. And one of the things you said last time we were together I think this is really good. It’s not just talking about leaving your team at work. We’re talking about leaving your family. We’re talking about leaving your parents, we’re talking about leaving your groups that you’re involved with, you know, I know some guys have served on boards now that’s it’s just changed and, and so just think about this because remember what how The John Maxwell Company and John himself define leadership is influence. And we all have influence. And right now more than ever, we need to be leaning in on that influence to help people through this time of change. 

So let’s talk, let’s dive in because I think you have some valuable content that I think will really help those that are listening and/or joining us today. And so we started about you saying that there’s eight things that you can do as a leader to help yourself and your team move from optimal to what’s possible. So we’ll look back at the four that we covered in the last lesson. If you missed that, I’d love for you to go back and listen to the first one. The first one we talked about was stop thinking about the way things used to be, right? Don’t, don’t live in the past and don’t dwell on the loss of optimal or what could have been. Number two we talked about assessing your new reality. We all have a new reality. I call it the new normal. And, and so we all have a new reality. Number three that we talked about was reaffirming your personal goals and your desired outcomes. And then finally, we closed up with number four, where we talked about how what happened opens opportunities for you as a leader for your business, your team. And then how do you use your gifts and talents and the gifts and talents of those that are on your team to serve your customers to serve your audience? And as we transition into number five, and I’m going to ask you to jump on that here in just a minute, Perry. One of the things that was a big takeaway for me last time was you and I just really talking about thinking. We always talk about leaders, and how we don’t have enough time to think and reflect and we’re in the business. Well, I’m here to tell you right now, we all probably have more time than we probably desire. And while we’re in it or trying to fix it, do not forget to spend some time reflecting, as you talked about last time, and thinking about your business about your people, and how that affects them as well as your customer. So let’s dive in. Let’s dive in. Let’s go after number five here, and we’ll give you guys the final four and just some thoughts from Perry.

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Do you say Final Four to remind us that we’re not going to see the Final Four? Yeah, listen, though, do not talk to me because I watch when I’m at home. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. I don’t do Netflix. I don’t binge-watch, although I may start. Yeah, I watch ESPN. That’s it. Then poor ESPN. I had a funny story really quickly. My brother in law texted me yesterday, and today, he has never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d be watching ESPN at two o’clock in the afternoon. And I’m watching a frog jumping contest, like frog jumping. 

I have to watch the 2018 football game again, keep replaying it. So that’s right. You just triggered something before I gave you number five was Wow, with business kind of going away for a lot of us in the short run, where we always work in the business now is a great time to be working on the business. So a lot of these eight that we’re talking about are how to reflect into where’s the new opportunity, whereas the new normal going so number five was I love this one. It came to me, and I thought — are you running the what-ifs run the what-ifs? And whenever massive global change occurs which thankfully massive global change is seldom, but it does happen. It’s good to really spend time contemplating what’s the magnitude of how things will change and affect my world? So I want to spend time considering what-if scenarios on what’s possible in each case. I love to do this. I do it by myself for sure, but now I really want to do it with my team. So, you know, we’ve been talking. What if more businesses move online, they don’t do events anymore? What if travel is restricted for six months? 12 months, 18 months? Well, what if what happened? So I know for you and kind of in the trenches, living this out, as we all are, you have a team and you have a business? How do you do this brainstorming? That what-if thing – how does that resonate with you? 

Yeah, it’s something that we’ve already begun to practice, and I think every leader probably has had these conversations. If you haven’t, you need to have them with your team. And just to give you a couple of real examples, from my seat as a leadership, all my dream Team last week, we said, let’s just get on virtual zoom, we don’t do a whole lot of virtual training. However, that may change that may become our new reality. And so I said, Let’s get on as a team. And I picked one of them to be the facilitator. And I said, hey, let’s just let’s get on here and brainstorm on how do we make this as interactive as possible? Is this the right platform? What platforms out there should we be looking at doing it differently? Now, it as a leader really made me sit back and go man should have been doing this a while ago, right? I mean, you always have the hindsight. 

And so I’ll give you a funny story. Again, as Petty and I mentioned, in the early on, sometimes it’s just good to bring a little humor, not to the situation, but just to the team, right. And I had one of my sales team members say, Hey, Chris, how are you starting calls with our clients? Like, do you talk about it to be avoided like and I said, No, you don’t avoid it. It’s everybody’s reality. And I said, let me just share with you a couple of calls I’ve had with some of our clients. And this was earlier last week. I said, we just both got on the phone and started laughing. We didn’t even know what we were laughing at. We’re just like, really kind of, are we here? But back to this brainstorming thing. There’s two things, examples that I’ll give you one we just got on to, you know, what does this look like? How can we educate our coaches and our facilitators to lead a more engaged and effective meeting and interactive meeting and so one of our guys, Eric Corona, who you guys have heard or heard from before on our podcasts around millennials. As soon as we turn the zoom meeting on, we look and everybody’s kind of casually sitting in their house and we’re going to catch up and Eric stands at attention with a suit and tie on. And everybody gets on and he’s like, Good afternoon. My name is Eric Corona. I’m your facilitator for this afternoon. And we just began to brainstorm How can we do this better? What does this look like? The other thing is, if you heard Perry and I talk about how we’ve been drastically impacted by cancelling one of our largest events on our John Maxwell team. And we have two events. We have one in, you know, it’s in March. And then we have one that’s in August. And as we’re working through this virtual, we’re getting a lot of feedback that people love the virtual aspect of it. But for us as a business, we really want them to go through a certification in person. But we had a conversation last night as the leadership team, Norwood Davis, our CFO, said hold on to you, you need to be answering the question. What if travel is not available in August? What if the Marriott where we had been a partner with for a long time is no longer the Marriott? You have to begin kind of having those conversations? And so those are two examples of how we’re beginning to even just ask ourselves those questions and brainstorm. I’ll give you this thought before you go to number six for us. I was talking to Greg Cagle and he is one of our executive facilitators and coaches. As a matter of fact, Perry and I are probably going to have him on in the coming weeks. Just some of the effects that are happening for him. And he’s right now a champion of ours for one of our largest clients that is in the manufacturing business publicly-traded company. And we’re moving all of our training for them virtually. And what does this look like? And we’re having a conversation and it made me think, your question made me think about the statement that he said to me the other day that I can’t get out of my head. He said, Chris, good leaders will go through a crisis, will go through a change, and they will return the company and the business back to quote-unquote, normal though they’ll get the company through it. He said, But great leaders and if you look at this, like, if you take 9/11 if you take a financial crisis, take any of the crisis we’ve been through in the past, he said, but great leaders will ask what will always be impacted by this change and look for ways to get on the other side of that. Look for ways to set up your business to be successful on the other side of that, not just getting through it. Because as we’ve talked about in the past, there’s a new normal, right? And so as great leaders, what are we looking at the impact of changes that are going to happen from here moving forward? To get on the other side of that, so just maybe think about that, as you were kind of pinging me. And we come up brainstorming and changing the way that we do business because of the new reality.

Love the what if, because if what we are learning from this, it’s going to change everything we do in the future. That’s right. I don’t think you can crisis-proof your business, but you know, make some strides from what you learn. So it’s a great exercise. Number six, be generous with others. And during this time, we already mentioned that everybody’s kind of handled in different ways and you need to be respectful and understanding of how people do that. But we’re not all in the same place. We’re not all seeing the current events in the same light, and some people will be affected more than others, some will have a difficult time moving forward. So I was thinking for myself just looking around my team and my peers, the folks that are kind of closest to me and going through this event, my family is that, can I be generous with resources? You know, it could be my time, it could be money, supplies, you know, toilet paper, I don’t know what driver though. You need to be generous. Right? You know, I said Be generous with empathy. Just really, it’s a little easier this time because we’re all in it. You know, I don’t have to imagine what you’re going through. I kind of know, but maybe I don’t know, to your extent. You know, if you have elderly parents, do you have something on the personal side, if somebody in your family may even have been diagnosed positive? There’s a lot of ways that we could join people in where they are. And then just general understanding, just not expecting people to see it the way I see it. Not expecting people to feel it the way I feel it but that just meets them where they are. So I think now’s a great time for generosity as we kind of look for getting past optimal moving toward possible. Generosity will go a long way.

Yeah, it goes to some of the questions that we’ve talked about in the past that now more than ever, your team, they’re going to be asking themselves questions about their leader, about their organization. The one that comes to mind is do they care for me? And this is a great point that you make right here about being generous because your generosity to your team will answer that question. The other thing is, you know, can I trust you? And so, those are the two questions that came to mind when you said that and I think, in your generosity, those answers continue to be yes, even in times like this. 

I read a statement the other day, and I tweeted this out, and I just thought it was kind of profound for the moment. Because so many of your team, so many of your people are looking at you as their leader, and they don’t know the answers. They don’t know the questions. You don’t either. But I tweeted out, I said, the statement that your team needs to hear from you the most right now is I’ve got your back. Now, as leaders, you’re like, well, I don’t know what that means. I know, I don’t know what it means either. But I know that I’m going to try to figure it out. I know that I’m going to do whatever I can in my power, to be generous to my team to, to, you know, protect them to help them to, to your point, maybe it’s even it’s just resources. And so I think that’s a great point to make sure that you continue to have that generosity.

Number seven. I hope this was really obvious, but be adaptable, in uncertain times. It’s anything if you’re being rigid or expecting something or have high expectations about the way things are going. You’re going to be sadly disappointed tonight. In a global pandemic, let me tell you. This is so unknown. We’ve never been down this road in our lifetimes. But the dynamics are shifting moment by moment day by day. So all I know, what is adaptable means to me, I’d love to hear how you’re helping your team adapt and yourself personally, but I figure, keep learning. I use this time to be investing in myself, keep growing, learning as much as I can about what’s going on about how it’s affecting my business. Keep looking for what’s possible. Keep that upbeat attitude outlook, you know, this is going to change some things, but it can also make some things better, but I’ve got to be able to move and adapt to the quickly changing dynamics.

Yeah, I think to your point, this is a strong word. This could be the word of the month for us right? Adaptability, flexibility as a team. Is it ideal for us to be doing virtual training? Maybe, maybe not. Is it ideal for me to have my team working from home? Maybe, maybe not. Right. Some, I think when we announced it before we even finished announcing it. We’re out the door with our bags packed, and you know, others were like, No, it’s not ideal for me. But as leaders, you know, I think Carly Fiorina said one time her definition is that she solves problems. And in order to solve problems, you have to be adaptable. You have to be flexible. And one of the clients that we’ve talked about before that we have the privilege of working with is our, you know, Special Forces in our military, the men and women there and you know, one of the key things that differentiates them is they’re incredible leaders, men and women. But they told me they said it’s not the skill set of leading a team. The handling the weapon, pulling out a strategy. It’s how we are able to adapt to what our end goal is to the current situations that arise on any project that we’re on. And it is those that are adaptable are the ones that are successful leaders in our organization. I thought, as I was thinking about this word, I was like, Yeah, I mean, I’m sure every time that they step foot out there to protect this country and protect you and I personally, things don’t go as planned. And they are incredible, from a leadership perspective as adaptable. So same thing for us here on a much wider scale. Believe it or not, right? We’re talking about life or death there. In this case, we may as well don’t don’t hear me say that not being insensitive to this, but as leaders, our new reality is changing, and we need to be adaptable to that.Yeah, but they say innovate, adapt, overcome. That’s right. That’s right. Probably pretty good thoughts for right now. Finally, number eight. I added this after sending some coaching calls and hearing from some executive leaders How they were kind of beating themselves up. I just said number eight was Be kind to yourself. No, you should not have seen this coming. No, you should not have known how this could happen. It’s not your fault. It’s out of your control. It’s unfortunate, but now the mindset I really want to have is that whatever situation I find myself in that speak kindly to myself and just chart the path forward for me, for my team, for my business, there’s nothing to be gained from as a business leader, especially as things are not going the way we want right now. Don’t beat yourself up about it. So be kind to yourself.

That’s good. That is a good word. That reminds me. You say this quite often. Your people are watching you all the time. Yes. And, so if you are internalizing that and you’re blaming yourself, and you should have seen this coming, and your team is going to see They’re going to feel that and it’s going to be contagious one way or another, it’s going to be contagious. And so you as a leader, you know, need to be making sure that you are staying positive forward-looking, having a good attitude about that.

Now, I just added a number nine, during our conversations that we’ve had over the last two days, preparing for this. And number nine is to keep your sense of humor. It’s good. I just noticed that we’ve had a couple of laughs and it’s not a funny time at all. And we’ve actually changed our format and I’m not standing right next to you and I miss that camaraderie, but we have still kind of laughed about some things we’ve seen the way people are using zoom the way some of the disaster we just had a few smiles and I think your team, it’d be really easy right now to be really serious and it is a serious time and to be really focused and it is a time that needs focus, but to fail to laugh at yourself or to laugh with each other would be a great missed right now. So, you know, have a smile you we’ve had a few smiles over the waist have Yeah, then we get back to it. So yeah, I appreciate you reminding me that it’s okay to have a smile. Why don’t you wrap it up for us and take us home? 

Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. So I appreciate you adding number nine. I was a little scared because during our last comment when I was watching you, I could tell something was triggering in your mind. And what I thought number nine was going to be, don’t use the word contagious, like crazy, right? I was like, why am I using that word right now? Listen, hey, just a couple of thoughts. As we kind of wrap up, here’s the deal. We just want to add value to you. Right? And we want to help you with leading your team, influencing your people. Perry and I are talking about a couple of different things. I’ll just kind of give you some insight into that. We’re talking about, you know, the 5 Levels of Leadership, which is the model that we use around the world to help with culture and developing leaders and all the competencies that follow within that. We’re talking about what that looks like in a virtual world? And we’re working through some ideas that we’re going to share with you. The other thing is that, you know, John’s just given us three great lessons. And one of the things we’re talking about is how do we take bite size clips of that maybe show you the clip, and then Perry and I say, this is what it’s like for us, and in the trenches and what we’re dealing with, because you’re dealing with it as well. So a couple of things as I just kind of wrap up from our conversation today that I want to share with you. The first one is, and John shared this today, and I thought it was spot on. He said adversity makes you relatable to others. Right, like sometimes, as leaders, you may be distancing yourself from your people. There may be a gap there may not be self-induced, they may create it more than you do. But here’s the good thing. Just like Perry said earlier, we know what they’re going through. We know what you’re going through. And so at times of adversity, it closes that gap and it makes you relatable to others. Make sure you have a proper perspective. And the last two things that I’ll save you, this goes back to the mindset. And Perry started our first lesson about this, which is how we view things is how we do things. 

And so have the right mindset, the right perspective. My final and closing thoughts for you, and this is really why we’re doing this, Perry and I look at this as everybody that’s listening and participating as part of our team. Keep your people first. Keep your people first and times like this. Yes, they have to produce. And there are some industries right now you may be listening to this. I was talking to somebody the other day, and they’re like, not only did I think 40 hour work weeks were long, but I worked a couple 40 hour days last week and they’re in the technology business, right? And I just encouraged him. I said, Man, that’s awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing, keep helping us and there are some industries that right now are being leveraged to the hill of their capacity. Don’t forget about your people. So you might be producing like crazy. Don’t forget about your people. You may be in a crisis, and you’re not producing at all. But don’t forget about your people.

Good word. Thank you, Chris. And I’ve never meant this more I say it now is if you have a question situation, you want to bring it you’ll go to You can leave a question there. We also have a learning guide for these two episodes, which will have these eight things as well as the links to the Facebook Live that Chris mentioned that was so valuable, that John did is that it was very worthwhile. I thought it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. But leave a comment, leave a question. We always love hearing from you. We’re very grateful that you would spend even a few minutes with us. Thank you very much to John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast. 

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