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Executive Podcast #208: Five Questions to Help You Define Your Leadership

October 6, 2022
Executive Podcast #208: Five Questions to Help You Define Your Leadership

John Maxwell says: “The position doesn’t make the leader. The leader makes the position.” Many leaders get the title and think very little of define the type of leader they will be. When you intentionally define your leadership, you take leading to a new level. Learn five questions that will help you define your leadership. 

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Perry Holley:

Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Executive 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 Holly, 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. One of the things that this podcast was really built off of was the methodology and the principles of the five levels of leadership. It is what creates common language in organizations around the world that we have the privilege of working with and really helps them shape and enhance their culture. If that’s something that you or your team are interested in learning more about, I want to encourage you to go to maxwellleadership.com/podcast. There’s a form there you can fill out and submit it, and our team will follow back up with you. It’s also a great way for you to access some resources. You can download the learner Guide from today’s session that Perry’s created, or even submit a question for us that we can answer in a future session.

Well, today’s topic is called Five Questions to Help You Define Your Leadership. John Maxwell talks about the position doesn’t make the leader, the leader makes the position. And people will buy into the leader first before they buy into the vision or the mission of the organization. And so good leaders recognize that being appointed by an organization to a certain position doesn’t make them a better leader, doesn’t give them the right to lead. They have to really kind of work through this. And getting that title does very, very little to define the type of leader they want to be, the type of culture the team’s going to have. They got to really be intentional about what that looks like in order to lead it at another level.

Perry Holley:

And this is a topic that we discuss quite a bit in the five levels of leadership. It’s a kind of level one that John will talk about, that being given a title is a call to you to define your leadership style to define your leadership position. And you’re right, many leaders, they think, I got the title, I got the job, and they don’t take the time to intentionally define that leadership. So the truth is that every leader that holds a position, really for any length of time, you will define it in some way.

Chris Goede:

Somehow. It’s going to happen one way or another.

Perry Holley:

Yeah. So why don’t you be intentional about it, and that’s what I really wanted to cover today, these five questions, or just some thought provoking ideas on how to be intentional, a little strategic about setting yourself up, what your reputation as a leader will be and how you want to define your leadership style.

Chris Goede:

Yeah, I like it because I think a lot of us as leaders and team members, we have lack of awareness as we get further into our journey of leadership, or content, or personal growth. And this kind of brings us back and says, Hey, where are we at? And let’s be very clear about why we want and why we should design our leadership so that we’re modeling that for our team. Because, leadership is more caught than taught. And I love this comment that we talk about where people are watching you all the time. Perry talks about this, and so we got to make sure that in order for us to get to a point to where we are influencing people and they give you the right, the permission to lead them at level two, they’re going to be watching you, and they’re going to be interacting you. And what does that look like? And you’re going to have the opportunity to define that, and it kind of starts at level one.

So, let’s look at these five questions that can help us intentionally design our leadership.

Perry Holley:

And I’m going to put you a little bit on the spot and say, how would you answer this question that I don’t find these to be excessively easy. You need to think about them just a bit. But question number one is, what is the single most important guiding principle for someone in my position? The single most important guiding principle for someone in my position. And leadership roles are filled with challenge, and changing dynamics, and circumstances, and many sources of stress that can come into a leadership position. So when the pressure’s on, I want to know what’s the principle that’s going to guide me? What is my process there on determining that? And what’s the one thing I must always keep in mind no matter what happens? So you define that, you not only reduce the chaos in your mind, you really know how to conduct yourself at all times. So do you have a single most important guiding principle?

Chris Goede:

Well, as I think about this, I think there are going to be different organizations, maybe different industries that have different answers. And that’s okay. I’m thinking about different clients that I was with this week, where their single guiding principle may be a little bit different than mine. For me, it’s simply people over process and profit, period. We say we’re in the people business and that’s really what we are in, and so we really want to think about how are we adding value to people. That’s my decision making filter. At the end of the day, when we look at everything, my guiding principle is, does this add value to leaders? Does this add value to people? And then we can figure out the process and the profits and everything else. So for me, it starts with that. How about you?

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Perry Holley:

I’d say, and by the way, you do that really well.

Chris Goede:

Well thank you.

Perry Holley:

 In the middle of chaos, the middle of demanding times, getting things completed out the door, those types of things, you do put people first. That defines you very well. I think for me, I think about it quite a bit around … and I wish I had had this when I was younger, but really a servant leadership mindset to be more servant minded in how I look at the people on my team. And maybe it feeds in, I think you exhibit a lot of that as well. But to think about it, when things go south, when things get tough, when stress is high, when tension is on, I want to treat people in a way that I’m here to serve and help and provide resource. I’m not the guy in the corner office that you got to explain things to. I’m in there with you and helping you to succeed.

Chris Goede:

I love that. Real quick, One of the things, you model this and live it out so much so that we’ve had a couple of clients actually talk about this servant leadership model, this servant leadership content, what does that look like. And you actually created a training course for some of our clients, and we do it in a way that obviously is geared towards the leadership side of things. And we struggled sometimes where we go, is servant leadership really … What do we want to title this? But it’s so needed out there in organizational development in order to enhance the culture. And so, I know that’s something really dear to your heart.

Perry Holley:

Yeah and mess with people’s heads until I say, Well, we could call it lead with love. And then their heads explode.

Chris Goede:

[inaudible 00:07:05]

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Perry Holley:

Second question on defining your leadership style is how does someone in my position best serve the organization? So I think one of the principles we discuss in level one is the idea of connecting your leadership to the bigger picture of the organization. So what is your organization trying to accomplish? In my position, what can I do to best serve the organization? So, what is someone in your position, how do you best serve the organization?

Chris Goede:

Single one?

Perry Holley:

 Yeah.

Chris Goede:

So, as I thought about this, for me, the best thing that I can do in order to serve the organization is to make sure that my circle of influence, my team, are in alignment and understand the bigger picture of the organization. I think a lot of times that leaders sometimes will create silos and will almost kind of decompartmentalize what they do versus the overall. And so the best way that I can serve the organization is to make sure that my team understands what it is that we’re doing and how it aligns.

The other thing is around this is then also make sure you circle back and talk about not only how it ties to the bigger vision, but then the impact that that team is having. So the first statement I made was a benefit of the organization. That’s where I go, Man, that’s probably how I can best serve the organization, because then it’ll help us be in alignment and produce. The other way is how I’m best serving the team in order to be an alignment with the organization, which is make sure you’re coming back and reporting back to them, Hey, this is the impact that you’re having, these are the lives impacted, lives influence, here’s the revenue, here’s the KPIs that you met, and that’s now impacting the organization because of this. And I think if I can create that alignment, that’s the best way that I can serve the organization.

Perry Holley:

I think about it for me, was really around equipping and developing others. So I’m in a different position than you, I’m in a different season. What do you call it? Season of life?

Chris Goede:

Season of life, yeah.

Perry Holley:

It’s that you called me old earlier?

Chris Goede:

 That’s right, yeah.

Perry Holley:

That’s really my role, how I can best serve the organization, I think, is through developing and equipping those that are coming up. Because, we’re in a performance environment. We’re out in front of clients and I wanted everybody to serve well.

Chris Goede:

I like that. Yeah, that’s good.

Perry Holley:

Third question was how does someone in my position best serve my leader? Thought this was an interesting question, John. These are from John Maxwell. I thought, Wow, I don’t think that I as a young leader, ever thought of that, not once. But wow, what a great question. And so, one way to make a lasting impression with your leader is to prompt them, and prompt them really to think of you when describing the position you hold, so figure out how to serve them. So when you think about doing your job exceptionally well, there’s a couple things we talked about, when we talked about leading up, but what are your thoughts on that?

Chris Goede:

Yeah, this is a great question. And my team periodically will ask this question of me, and the first thing I say is, Man, continue to do your job for you. Continue to write content for us and develop these podcasts. And so when that is happening, that immediately kind of, again, lightens my load when those questions are asked and they’re doing their job. The other thing too, is around this, is make sure that you’re continually growing. We’re big on personal growth, and I think anybody in any role or position, leadership or not, should be developing yourself. And I think when you do that, then that helps, again, define your leadership, but then it also helps define your leader’s leadership in a way of how their team is growing and how they’re producing. And I think that’s important when it comes to this point.

Perry Holley:

And I think about it now is, and you’re my leader, so I’m thinking about, I definitely want to lead myself well. I definitely want to lighten your load where I can, because you carry a lot. I think everybody on our team is looking for ways to take things off of your plate, and really look for ways to do my job exceptionally well, so you don’t have to come behind and do my job. That’s like the worst thing any leader could have to do.

Number four question that you should ask in order to define your leadership style was, how does someone in my position best serve the people I lead? So we talked about my role in the organization, how do I serve my leader, and now, how do I serve my people? I think about it for me, I want to lead my example, setting clear direction, helping define priorities, things that really help the team. But how about for you?

Chris Goede:

For me it’s really around removing any roadblocks or barriers that they have to accomplish what their KPIs are, and then the challenges that come along with that. I want to really be able to allow them to exceed even my expectations, their expectations, of what their performance could look like. And the only way to do that is to make sure that you are getting involved and clearing out some of the things that are in front of them that are holding it up.

I got an email from one of my team members last week, I was on the road, and they said, Hey, so here’s the situation. What do you want me to do with next steps? This is not in my wheelhouse, so it’s holding me up a little bit. I’ll dig in if you need me to, but man, I’d love some help here. And I’m like, I got it. I got it. And it was around some legal language and some other things that were going on there. And so when you’re doing that, I think that is something that serves your people extremely well.

The other thing I want to share here is I think it’ll also serve your people very well. We just talked a minute ago about making sure you’re continually growing. For you, thinking about the amount of content that you produce for us and for organizations around the world, if you weren’t continuing to grow and to learn and develop, and you are, I say this all the time, I tried to keep up with Perry, by the way, on Audible, and it took me about a week and a half to know that I wasn’t going to keep up. So I quit, and now I haven’t listened to one book in several years.

Perry Holley:

That’s not true.

Chris Goede:

But he is just an avid consumer. And so that is so important to that role. But I think as leaders, going back to this question, in addition to removing roadblocks and barriers, you need to be growing, and then you need to share what you’re learning. To serve them well, you need to share what you’re learning, because it is contagious. And also, not only can they grow and learn from what you’re learning, but then it’ll inspire and challenge them to go, Man, I probably ought to be digging into an audible or a book or an article or a blog, whatever. There’s so much content out there right now, but just make sure that you’re doing that, because I think that’ll serve them well, because then you’ll see the effects on them begin to happen in a positive way.

Perry Holley:

Yeah, I totally agree. Well, question five, I found to be the most unique question of them all, and another one I hadn’t would never have considered, but John tells us, What can someone in my position do that makes my team invaluable? I thought, Wow, what can I do to make my team invaluable. If your position or department were eliminated, what would the organization lose? And I thought, Man, that’s a tough question. Most departments or teams accomplish something that only they can do. But what service, function, product vital to the success of the organization, what is it you do that the organization really needs? How do you see that one?

Chris Goede:

Your comment about it being a tough statement of if you’re a team, your vertical, your division was eliminated. That’s not only you, that’s families, and thinking about it, how do I lead a team? How do I become someone with influence and a leader that allows that team to flourish and to make sure that I’ve done everything I can in my power to facilitate the success of that team in the organization. So how do I make them invaluable? Here’s what I wrote down.

Are we cross functionally finding ways to jump in and help other teams with the resources that we have? Give you an example. We have an incredible entrepreneur solutions group on our team led by Chris Robinson, phenomenal leader. And one of the things that he’s been looking for is around facilitation. Well, that’s what we do with organizations and in the corporate sector. And so we began having a conversation about how can I come over, what does this look like, how can we add value to what you’re doing over here? And so, that’s one way, is thinking cross-functionally inside your organization, what are the ways that we can add value to them as a team in order to grow our influence. But more importantly though, you have resources and access to things that they don’t. And then the other thing is, maybe it’s not even thinking about how you can jump in and help them with your resources, even though it doesn’t affect your P&L, but then maybe it’s even just adding value.

I love this. We do this with a lot of our clients and people that we coach, and we do a lot of training for where we’ll see an article, we’ll read something, you’ve heard something, you’ve been coaching somebody, you’re man, Hey, listen, I was thinking about you, here’s an article I read it really speaks to. Well, why wouldn’t we be doing that for our organizations as well, both from a professional standpoint as well as maybe even some personal things?

I’ll give you an example, back to Chris Robinson, who is an incredible leader. A man loves pickleball. And I said, pickleball. It’s the first time, I think, we ever talk about pickleball in this kind of … and we give him a hard time about it all the time, but he is really, really good at it, and he has the desire to reach some of the highest levels of pickleball players. And I’m a huge sports fan, I was reading Sports Illustrated a couple weeks ago and saw this pickleball article and read it. I was like, Man, that was pretty good. So, made a little note, said, Man, Chris, I was thinking about you, I just wanted to add a little value. Hey, I know you love this, you may have seen it. Here it is. And I shipped down to them.

So thinking about things like that with cross functional teams, make your team, your leadership, invaluable to the culture of the organization. And I think that’s important.

Perry Holley:

I love that, yes. Being service minded to the rest of the team, not just in your own silo to do that.

Chris Goede:

 That’s right.

Perry Holley:

And I learned something new, that Sports Illustrated covers pickleball.

Chris Goede:

I think it’s cray.

Perry Holley:

 I didn’t know that was possible.

Chris Goede:

It’s even a live event on ESPN nowadays.

Perry Holley:

Get out.

Well, thank you, Chris, and thank you all for joining this. Reminder that if you want the learner guide, leave us a question or a comment. Learn about our offerings, more about the five levels of leadership that Chris mentioned earlier. You can do all that at maxwellleadership.com/podcast. We love hearing from you and we’re very grateful that you would spend this time with us. That’s all today from the Maxwell Leadership Executive Podcast.

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