This is the JoCo De-brief podcast, episode two with Dave Burke and me, JoCo Willink. Dave, let's debrief. What do you got working with this company? And we beat them for a little while, but they have a facing a little bit of a challenge. They've got a competitor right now that for the last several months has been prepping a release of a competitive product. Same idea, same space for them. And they had been building up in anticipation of this competition, releasing this product.
And their plan was they were going to go out, kind of canvas the country with a lot of face to face interaction with their potential clients and kind of explain to them the difference between those two and try to show that their product is still the superior product. There is no face to face conversations right now.
So I'm talking to the head of the sales department who had built the strategy on doing this face to face. And because they cannot implement that strategy, he feels like they are setting themselves up for a retreat and that they are going to lose because this other company is positioned a little bit better and that they are concerned about how that's going to play out.
Mm hmm. And they actually should be concerned.
Well, yeah. If you're if you've got Plan A. and it looks like Plan A isn't going to work and you don't know what Plan B is, you're going to face some issues.
That's why we contingency plan. Yeah. The contingency planning for first of all, contingency planning is something you should do all the time. You Plan A. is always a good plan. That's fine. But you should always have some backup or at least consider what a lot of people do. And I understand this, too. We don't always think of these other really worst case scenarios when they were doing their initial planning a year and a half ago. I mean, this is a long range release.
This doesn't just happen overnight. Nobody was really thinking of this massive change, which is totally understandable. So some of the the problems that come with this totally different world, all the companies are facing it. It's not like one company can go do face to face meetings and you can't you're all kind of stuck in the same boat. The real issue here is we started to dissect it was so we had this big wave come out in March, this this covid wave that shut all this travel down.
And the plan was, hey, it's May, June. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. We're starting to kind of back up. It looks like travel is going to open back up.
We're going to stick with plan A and as this, you know, I don't know if it's the right word to call it like a second wave or whatever we want to call it, as it became clear that things were not opening up on the on the right pace. That's kind of when when the panic set in. And the initial part of the conversation is, hey, what's the real problem? The real problem is you did not have a plan B.
The real problem isn't what the competitors are doing, isn't how they positioned themselves or what they're delivering to the market.
The problem is, is that you did not put your sales team, you did not lead your team to be in a position to respond to this crisis effectively.
Yeah, and there's a little I'll pick on you a little bit about the way you said that. So you said the problem was that they didn't have a plan B? That's one statement which is accurate. But then you also said that the problem is that they didn't respond.
And that's an accurate statement. I believe that the more accurate statement out of those two, usually the difference between those two, right? Yes. Like, hey, I didn't have a plan B, but guess what? When I got hit with a contingency that I didn't expect, it's OK because I'm going to respond to it. So for me, in this particular case, I'm thinking this is more along the lines of lack of response. Happening because there's a funny thing that we used to make fun of guys in the SEAL teams that would start to plan contingencies and they start to plan for every contingency.
And we would say, hey, you know, what happens if a UFO touched down and three of your people are are scooped up by the UFO, then what? Then what are you going to do?
So to me, this is a that's what it is. I had no contingency in my mind where I thought, hey.
You know, I can understand, look, we get a terrorist attack and travel gets shut down for a week, two weeks, OK? You know, there's a contingency plan for that and it's a pretty straightforward one. You barely even have to do it. That's what we're going to cancel some stuff and then we'll reschedule. I mean, this is something is something that's so simple, you don't really even have to think about it. But when you start saying, OK, if you would have told me to list out the top 20 contingencies for four echelon front or from any business, I would have not put viral travel shut down in the top 20.
And maybe I'm ignorant. Sure. No, I, I think that is a reasonable thing to not include in your contingency list, which is a global pandemic shut down. All right. I mean, I know I should've listened to Bill Gates because he did a TED talk about it. And it was, you know, seriously, there's like people that and there was you know, it's interesting on the political spectrum, too, you saw people saying, well, you know, you should have been ready for this contingency.
How many contingencies are you going to be ready for? Right.
And so instead of well, in addition to being ready for likely continue, that's a key word that we always used in the SEAL teams.
When we talk about contingencies, it was likely contingencies.
You prepare for the top three, four likely contingencies once you get beyond that. Well, now what we have to do is we have to be able to respond quickly. We have to make decisions quickly. And this is one of the main lessons that I've been teaching through covid is iterative.
Decision making is, hey, I'm going to make I'm known for being very, very decisive. Why am I known for being very decisive? Because I make very quick decisions. But the way that I cheat in doing that is I make very quick, small decisions. When covid hit and we started, we had the muster happening in what was it supposed to happen in May. I hate to corvids here.
No travel, cancel muster. Well, am I going to immediately cancel Mostert? Well, I don't know how long it's going to cost. I might be gone by then what. So instead, it's not a massive decision immediately. Hey, Jamie, call the hotel. We're shutting down.
No. Hey, Jamie. Who, if you don't know, is our operations director at National Front, hey, Jamie, why don't you talk to the hotel and just see what kind of things we could do if we need to push this event back, how much flexibility they have. So she starts going down the road. That's a that's a pretty decisive hey, I made that decision in five seconds, right?
Oh, Ojukwu. Super decisive. Now, I'm super decisive because all I did was ask Jamie to call someone and talk to him about something. It's decisive. But here's the cool thing.
It was action. It was action. We're taking we're taking positive action.
So, Jamie, who prior to that's going on, the thinking herself. Oh, gosh, what's going to happen at the muster?
That's a big that's a big thought. What's going to happen to the monster? What's going to happen? Well, so she doesn't know what to do. Well, guess what? Here's what you gotta do is to call the hotel and see what the options are. OK, boom. All of a sudden, she's got a move. She knows what she's doing. She's going to gather some information. And when she gathers that information, guess what we're going to do?
We're going to reassess it. We're going to make another small step. So so being able to respond to bad situations. Or completely unpredictable situations or situations where the information isn't all that good.
All those things, if you're able to do that well, are the marks of a good leader and a good team when you aren't able to respond? Well, that's obviously the marks of a bad leader and a bad team. So, yeah, I think it's important to recognize that you're not going to be able to plan for every contingency. Just it's just not going to happen. And what you need to do is train and keep your mind open so that when things that you don't expect happen, you can adapt to the situation and you can respond appropriately.
Yeah, that's a really good point. And and one of the interesting things that played out as this several month process went through is this their initial their pre covered plans, a good plan.
They don't really well positioned. They had a solid team there in the game. You'd work with them in the past.
This is kind of their second iteration with us. They kind of embrace the reality back in March, but they never really they never really let go of the what they wanted to do, this face to face is the best way we communicate. Nobody does it better than us. I can sit down across from you. I can convey this message.
And it was a little unwillingness to just accept what was happening. And one of the things that was, again, very early on in the covid scenario was your if online you had you said something, I think in the very first one. And we repeated over and over again, except this is real.
You said you told people you got to accept this is real. And so as March became April and April kind of turned to June in a maybe they looked for reasons why they could just go back to the original plan.
And the part that was the most challenging was from March to July, August. That alternative plan was no longer quite as crazy as it would have been if we were doing this back last year. So this potential of not being able to do face to face was becoming much more real. And what they started to look for is reasons why they didn't have to do that. Hey, I heard Travelzoo opening up in the Northeast. Hey, this airline is not.
And so they held on to that too long. The outcome of that was just, like you said, the ability to maneuver. What prevented them from from being able to respond was the unwillingness to just accept this is real and accept that as a is a much more likely alternative than if you were to say, like I said seven months ago, you got some magic crystal ball. Here come the Martians. Of course, that's not a reasonable thing. The way this kind of played out, though, is when we had that first conversation was like, listen, the issue here is as a leader, you didn't put your team in a position to respond.
When he came back with was we've got a two day role play scenario. I'm bringing every sales person on my sales team on a live two day zoom session. Can you support with us and role play? Because we have to be ready for the virtual interaction. And that idea actually came from a couple of subordinates, couple of his junior sales reps, who had accepted the fact that this is not going to play out the way you think, boss.
I think this is going to be a problem for us. We're not going to get to be face to face. And when he finally accepted that this was real, it was awesome to see that team pivot and him say, hey, listen, you know what? I miscalculated team. I got this wrong. What do we do now? Because now we're weeks away from this. And they were able to go right into this two day session that we supported and jumped on the calls of them and watch them go through back and forth and help them do the role play.
And the real issue for him was he finally accepted that this was real. Yeah.
And wrapped up in all that is is an expression that you hear all the time.
And it's it's that people see what they want to see. And that is so wrapped up in there. And if you think about what that expression is wrapped up in, guess what? That expression is wrapped up in ego.
I, I think things are going to go this way.
I want things to go this way. And therefore, when I see, you know, the Northeast open up travel on trains, planes are next broke workers are next.
We're good to be south. The Northeast is they got hit first. They're already out of it. We're good to go. Let's roll it.
We don't have to worry about this stupid online stuff. We're going to be back face to face. People see what they want to see. And when I say people, I'm talking about you.
I'm talking about me. I see what I want to see. And that's one of those one of the things that you have to watch out for when you're a positive minded person, hey, this is going to go good.
And this is where I actually am. I'm Mr. Positive. See the good right all the time. But there's things that I feel deeply.
One of them is the crunch of time. I really feel the crunch of time because I recognized it a long time ago as the one factor that there's absolutely no mercy, it has no mercy. You let that you let that hour go. You let those two months go by. They are not going to have mercy on you. And if you think about that, if you constantly pay attention to time because people just lose track of it, people just lose track of it, they think that they can crunch it.
They think you can make it back. They think you can turn it around. You can't. And for me, time is always like a primary driver of letting me see what reality is, because if you're not dealing with reality, if you're not accepting what is going to happen or what could happen.
And by the way, how much what do I give up if. If I think something is going to happen or I think something else is going to happen, what do I sacrifice by saying, OK, look, like I got some contingency plan for looks like I need to set up a security element over here in case we get attacked from over there, that that seems like a good move. What does it cost me? Nothing. It doesn't cost me anything.
So you can make maneuvers to prepare for things that are coming. Whether you're right or wrong, it doesn't matter. You didn't sacrifice very much to make this adjustment. So when you get shot down and you think it's going to be for a month and then you'll be able to go back to face to face. Cool.
So we are going to do for the next month going to hibernate or do you sit around? Right.
What do you gain from that? Nothing.
What do you gain by saying, hey, look, just in case, just in case I'm wrong and just in case the reality is we're not going to be able to travel for another six months. Let's start coming up with a plan on how we're going to execute this thing. And by the way, let's start executing it. Let's give it a shot, and if you do that, what do you sacrifice?
You don't sacrifice anything and you actually move yourself and your team forward, which is what we're trying to do.
Yeah. And there's so many components inside there. There's obviously taken ownership of the problem. There's cover and move where people are working together and solving problems. There's a whole bunch of individual elements that we teach. But all of it together is the idea that as a leader, you are responsible for your team being successful. We have to do whatever is required to do that and. The only thing worse than the panic of recognizing you wasted those two months or whatever that time is, is when you look out over the horizon, you see that your competition didn't.
And that was a hard lesson for them. Again, you know, their ability to respond to that had they had sportingly to step up and make things happen, which was awesome to see. But that adds to the. Not only did you waste your time, they didn't.
Because where does that put you that put you four months behind.
Yeah, right. Because they moved two months. A new way to nowhere. Yeah.
Rough. All right, next one. What do you got? Company reached out to us, this was kind of cool because when they first reach out to Echelon Front looking for leadership development, what they were looking for is they are they they got a company that works.
And safety is a huge part of what they do. They put people out on site and they deal with kind of high risk terrain and things like that. So safety is a critical component of the culture.
As you might guess, companies that work in high risk environments, they're littered with young, motivated type people that don't always think about their own personal safety.
And when they reached out to Echelon Front, a lot of it was the experience that the SEALs had. And they actually connect with me as well, because in my experience with aviation, they thought there'd be a really cool connection between the risk that the military takes on the aviation side and on the ground side and drawing a parallel to how to improve their safety culture. So they originally asked us to come and join them and we started working with them.
Their goal was to help us or have us help them build a better culture of safety, to lower mishaps, lower injuries and and help their team. When I first started to explain to them, I said, hey, let me let me offer how Echelon Front as a company when we work with companies a lot, dealing with the same thing. Let me talk to you about how we look at safety culture. Safety problems inside an organization is a leadership problem.
We don't look at safety as some sort of standalone, separate, isolated thing that you have to fix your safety culture. If you have a problem with safety, you have a leadership problem. Yeah. And by the way, we look at every problem that you have as a leadership problem, but you are right. It is interesting that people try and carve safety out as if this isn't really hey, look, you know, people got to be safe, but that's that's the responsibility.
The safety officer over there totally.
We have a safety team. We want to help bolster the safety teams so they can go make people safe. And what I did was I just made the connection between our view of safety and look, look, aviation safety in the world you came up with safety is very important. But what I told him, I said, hey, let me just explain how we see it and see if we can find some compatibility. This is before we started working together.
I said, hey, we do not see safety as the mission. Safety is not what we do. Let me talk about why safety is important, though. Our mission, my mission in aviation was to take an airplane, go over and drop bombs or do what I want to do with an aircraft.
I'm going to take a team and I'm going to go cross the line of departure and engage an enemy. There is inherent risk associated with that. Flying airplanes can be risky. And if I want to ensure that I have a perfect safety record, the way to guarantee that I have no safety mishaps and safety problems in an airplane is I don't fly. I will never crash an airplane if I don't go flying airplane. The problem with that is, is I will not accomplish my mission.
I will not be successful in the military as a pilot. I won't be successful in business if we say to ensure safety. So we just won't go do our job. We won't go out on site and work in a high risk environment. The flip side, if I just ignore safety, go, hey, I'm not here to be safe. I'm here to get the job done. I'm here to accomplish the mission. I'm going to take my team and go do whatever is required.
You going start hurt people, start breaking things and start damaging things that over time you don't have the people and the equipment to do your job. And guess what happens to the mission? The exact same thing. You will not be successful. So there is actually a balance between having no concern for risk and being so risk averse and being so safety focused that you don't actually do your job. Neither one of those will help you accomplish it. And when we made the connection, they recognize what they didn't need was us to train their their safety team.
What they needed was leadership development inside their company. And by definition, the safety culture would improve at their company.
Yeah, I think this was on F on line the other day. Reminded me with a client, somebody asked about culture and, you know, the establishment culture and how important is culture.
And I got a little fired up talking about this because when you extrapolate culture out, culture is actually the ultimate form of decentralized command is the ultimate form of decentralized command.
If I understand the culture of my team, then I can actually make decisions based on our values.
If I know that as an American service member overseas, we want to we we uphold the highest values. When I have to make a decision about what I'm going to do, I can make a decision. I can make just about any decision based on the fact that I want to do the right thing. That's what I'm trying to do. So if you're in a company and you understand what the culture is, you understand that the culture is we always take care of the customer.
You can make ninety nine percent of your decisions just based on the. Fact that, hey, look, the customers bringing back this piece of equipment that we gave them and they say it's broken, OK? Hey, Roger that. No problem. Here's here's a new piece of equipment. Now, can you get to a point where somebody brings back a a million dollar piece of equipment? You say, oh, yeah, no problem. No questions asked here.
No, there's a limit, but you can make ninety nine percent of your decisions just based on understanding the culture of the company. Same thing with safety. If we understand where the level of safety and how important safety is. If we understand that, then we understand we can make ninety nine point nine percent of our decisions correctly just based on the our understanding of safety culture.
So culture is an absolutely powerful thing. And yes, you are right that where culture comes from is leadership. And what's important when I say that culture comes from leadership. When I talk to companies about culture, I say, where does culture come from? People say the leadership.
I say, who are the leaders? Everybody everybody in an organization is responsible for the culture inside that organization.
It's not just, hey, the the CEO sets the culture well, the CEO, it has influence on the culture, but that CEO can have a culture in his mind.
But if the people if the team doesn't understand except acknowledge, encourage, grow and believe that culture, that culture is worthless, everyone, that culture has to be unified throughout the organization. How do you get the culture unified throughout the organization? Well, what we have to do is we have to make sure that everyone understands why we have this culture.
We have to understand that, hey, listen, you want to know why we have the culture of the customer always being right. The customer comes first. You want to know why we have that culture? Why? Well, number one, we want to provide a good service. That's great. We're good people. We want to provide a good service also when we provide good service. People go out and tell other people about the good service that we provide people with us on the Internet, people refer us business, we end up with a good quality rating when we get a good quality rating from people.
People come back, it grows our business. The more our business grows, the more people come in here, the more people get treated well, the more people spread that work. That is how we grow the opposite. If we don't care about our customers, guess what? Bad word spreads even faster than good word. And we'll end up with no business here at all. Safety.
Why is safety important for our culture? Well, because we don't want it to go and hurt. Yeah, absolutely. We care about our people for sure. Guess what else? If we have accidents all the time, guess what happens to our insurance? Do you know that there's there's companies there's there's owners that will not hire us to build if we have a bad safety record?
They don't want a safety. They want a group with safety issues. So if if we have a bad safety record, Dave, if you break the safety rules and you get hurt, it's not just you that gets hurt. Yeah, that's horrible for you. It's horrible for your family. It's horrible for your being able to pay your mortgage. It's horrible for a bunch of reasons. But on top of it, you're not just hurting yourself. It hurts the company because now the company has to pay more insurance.
Now, guess what happens to our price? We got to raise our price. And now what do we get? More jobs or less jobs and we raise our price. I'll tell you, we get less jobs when we get less jobs. Does do you still have a job? No, you don't. So the culture is not just something you can pull out of thin air and mandated on people. There has to be an explanation behind culture.
And the most important part of that explanation has to be why we have this culture and how the culture itself reinforces the survivability and the growth of our organization.
That culture to decentralize command connection, you actually also made that on an online session from a question from one of the troopers who joins us on the phone line. But that was one that I called you on, on a phone, on the phone after, because every time something comes up, you and I end up on the phone talking about some leadership thing and doing a debrief. Doing a debrief. That's right.
And I remember calling you like, hey, that was that the way you communicated that to them? And we actually made the connection to this client, which was this idea that culture is what that's what decentralized command is built around. And that was a really powerful thing for me, because it was this idea that in simplest terms of decentralized command, it's what let people make those decisions without their boss being over there telling them what to do, which simply cannot be done because you can't be with all your people all the time.
But it got connected directly to what you said was one of the problems they described as like, well, we only have a two person safety team. We can't hire 20 safety people. That's exactly right. That's why every single person in the organization has to understand that despite whatever their title is or their job or their particular skill, they are responsible for safety and actually they're responsible for everything. But that connection of culture, which is all too often culture, is just some sort of thing that's written on the wall.
This is what we believe. But people don't truly understand what it means when I can now connect that to a principle that we teach decentralized command as a principle, we teach. And I'm actually able to explain it in a way that they go, oh, I know what you're talking about. I read that the book you talked about that when you gave your combat leadership briefed to us.
That was a really powerful thing that worked directly with them, because you know what? Most companies can't have an entire safety team just running around, making sure everybody's safe, that they need to rely on their people to believe in, that it lets their people make decisions that they know is in the best interests of the organization winning. And that was a huge point that made a huge impact to this team to amazing how everything's connected, isn't it? Indeed.
All right. What have we got? One more. Yeah. What do you got? We got.
So you like the fact that you prep these? Yeah. Yeah, this is awesome. I'm like, let's do it. But I can't prep any more podcast, bro.
You you need to at least come up with the subject matter. I'll, I'll debrief it all day long. But these are on you man. Do the coolest part about it is when you ask me you're like, hey, I got this idea, I think we should do this. Can you come up with some stuff. Phone. I'm like JoCo, I have an unlimited supply. I mean, every single day I am talking with clients that we're working with about these problems and how we're applying the principles to help them come up with a solution.
And there's an unlimited supply of this. And again, these problems might be specific to these companies, but they are relevant and apply everywhere.
When's the last time you went on the road face to face with the company? The first week of March was the last time I was on an airplane. So it's been interesting and we've been very lucky because we never would have been able to convince people that we can do what we do over the Internet.
We never would be able to convince people if everyone didn't get forced to make some calls with their family and make some calls.
You know, I always tell people I had Easter dinner with my parents on Zoome, and that's when I realized, OK, this is we're in a different place now.
And, you know, trying to explain to a client there's another good move was was and we we all just just kind of did this instinctively when we had to cancel something, when a client canceled with us. And we would connect with them to discuss where we go from here. Yeah, sure.
Let's do a Zoome meeting and let's talk about what we can do to help you out. Boom. All of a sudden we're on a meeting with them and we're having a real time discussion and they can see that.
Look, do you lose something on Zoome? Sure. You lose. There's there's some there's some element that gets lost.
It is very small. Yeah, it is very small. It's a very small element. You know, maybe you lose some of the body language, maybe you lose some level of of of the presence.
But the reality is when I'm talking to two hundred people in a room, I can't see I can't see the facial expressions of those people in the back. When I'm talking to two hundred people on a zoom call, I see everybody. Yeah, I see. As you were there, I see someone that's got that puzzled look on your face or you've heard me do this on f on online where I get down answering a question and and I and they go up, they go OK.
And I go, you didn't like that answer. We're not there yet. I don't understand. In fact I did that today.
And if you notice that today I go I gave a couple of answers and I go, you know, those aren't the answers we're looking for. Those were my initial probe to try and figure out what's going on here.
But those aren't the answers that we're looking for to tell. Explain to me what's actually happening and that that would not have happened if I couldn't have.
That guy's face and being able in a zoom called to be like, oh, OK, we can we can drill down a little bit right now. Look, I'm on stage. There's two hundred people sitting there. There's four hundred people. There's a thousand people sitting in the audience. We're not drilling down into the specifics of this guy's situation on ASIMCO.
I'm right here. Wait, let me let me explain why I'm in an auditorium with a thousand people and this guy asks a question. I'm going to give an answer. There's a thousand people there waiting. I can't see this guy's face barely.
I don't we don't have the time and we don't have the we don't have the for lack of a better word, we don't have the intimacy for me to look at this guy and say, explain to me what's happening.
But when you're in a room call, I'm six inches away from your face and you're six inches away from my face because we're staring at a camera that's six inches away.
So the the the loss of, oh, maybe some presence, the loss of some body language, just in the fact that we can go a little bit deeper, it makes us there's some aspects of a a meeting that absolutely is better than alive meeting.
Especially when I go on to talk to, you know, someone's having a conference and it's a thousand people. Look, you put you put two thousand people into an auditorium, the people in the back, you know what they're looking at when I'm speaking. They're looking at video. They're looking at the video camera that's projecting my big freaking head.
And by the way, in the back, they can't really even see that that clear.
So what are they looking at when they're looking at me?
And guess what I'm doing? I can see them. And when they ask a question, there they are. So there's some absolute advantages to it. And and we get these things on my mind and that allows us to dig down and figure out what's going on. But it's amazing that you list off the fact that you have all these. I say, hey, do you have any issues we can talk about you?
Like I got issues. We can talk about all that.
And what's amazing to me is all these are issues that that are unfolding right now in Echelon Front 2.0, which is echelon front virtual training through the interweb. It's awesome. Yeah.
Totally agree. I remember thinking at first to kiss, hey, I like I like speaking, I like to talk. And one of the coolest parts about this job is it was very much wheelhouse for me. I don't I like to be on the stage. I like to talk. I get a little animated. You can get right up with somebody. You can sit down. And there is a lot of things about the speaking in public thing that I really liked.
And I was I was concerned a little bit like, hey, how am I going to be able to replicate that through Zoome?
I've actually even found you said it well, because there are things that you can actually do. There's the resume that you can't do in person. Anybody that's resistant to the idea that we can't forge good relationships or that's not true because. Yes, do you lose something for sure. But you can more than make up for it in other ways. And it it is not an excuse or a reason why you can't make things happen, which has been awesome for me.
Who likes to be face to face time check. So speaking of all these issues we see right now, virtually what's what's the third one? All right. So we have a we have a site manager.
So inside a district that had five sites. So District had five different operations and each one was run by a site manager. This site manager that I was working with at this larger company got promoted to district manager.
The very first task, the very first assignment for this newly promoted district manager who used to be a site manager, was one of the other sites in their district, was underperforming, and they were now tasked with making sure that they get up on the step. So what happened was, is this person who was a site manager went from a having a peer who was underperforming. One of the sites is actually making the site manager look pretty good because she was outperforming her peers, now had a subordinate who was underperforming, which made her look bad because she had a team that was she was responsible for.
And the the the core of the question was, how am I going to take ownership of this other site that I was working parallel to sort of independently inside the district? Now I'm responsible for this person's performance. What what am I going to do and say to allow me to now in this new role as her as his boss, her as his boss, getting them from being underperforming to getting up on the step when before we were just peers working totally independently and the previous district manager didn't get that person where they needed to be.
And again, the answer to that question wasn't really that hard when we started to dissect what her role was as a site manager, her previous role, and was she having issues with just the idea like, oh, now I'm responsible for this?
When before I what was what was the thing that she was trying to overcome yet?
What she wanted to what she wanted to do when she was going to set up her very first conversation with her now subordinate site lead was sound authentic. And how do I say that, that I can take ownership of this as your district manager without kind of come across as like I'm just using the words of extreme ownership because she was struggling with how to say it. So if I'm I'm your boss and and how I can take ownership of the problem that your site is underperforming and she couldn't she wanted to talk through how can she sound authentic in explaining that this is her problem to solve and this is something she's responsible for, she has ownership of.
So where did you take her? Well.
The first thing was, I highly recommend to everyone when you are going to take ownership of a problem is you should be authentic, you actually have to believe that is your responsibility. Do not walk in. Apply the words that we teach Echelon and think those words are going to solve your problem for you.
So. So which you is questioning her authenticity. Do you think that she was actually thinking, well, now I'm supposed to be in charge, but I really don't?
Yeah, I don't really know how to make the connection because I don't really understand how I could be responsible, because before he ran his site, I ran my site.
And just because I'm his boss now, how do I go back in time and say that this history of underperforming, that I'm now responsible as a district manager is something I need to take ownership of?
Do you think the disconnect was her thinking, look, I was over there, I did my job well, you don't need to get babysat. Why am I supposed to help this person out? That's exactly what it was. So OK, so that's that's what I was missing. I couldn't quite figure out what the issue was because I was just thinking how cool know bad dreams, only bad leaders. We got someone to underperform. Now, how do we get in there and support them?
How can we help them and let's make this happen. But she was thinking not really my responsibility. Yeah. How am I responsible for him? As a matter of fact, I hope I outmaneuvered this person. I got elevated and promoted as a result of that performance.
And again, it's it's it's exactly what you just described, which was what we did is we just spent a little time kind of dissecting what her role was when she was a site manager and why understanding what her role was as a site manager will help her as a district manager with five sites, kind of all answering to her. And the piece that she was missing, which is which is understandable, is her job wasn't just for her site to do well.
That's not what the site manager does. But in a very simplistic way, the site managers responsible for their site, she's supposed to make sure her site performs and delivers and meets the metrics and delivers on time. And she did it very well.
That's actually not what your site manager's supposed to do or or should I say, that's not the only thing your site manager is supposed to do. And so the real question was, how do you want your five site leads to interact with each other? How do you want them to work together? Do you want them to be competing with each other, undercutting each other, benefiting from somebody else's underperformance? Or do you actually want those five site leads, especially the ones that are outperforming the others to find ways to help those other sites so the entire district does better?
And that whole explanation you just gave from the safety is actually the same thing, too, is that if I as a site lead help, the other site leads perform well, who benefits?
And so the real the hurdle was, hey, your role as a site lead wasn't just to have an awesome site that did really well. It was more than that. And now as a district manager, when you talk about your sites, four of them used to be your peers. They hired from the outside to replace her in her particular job. But the other four were people that were literally peers for the last two and a half years. Is what is it that you really want from them operating in silos, autonomous from each other and benefiting from their failures?
Or do you actually want to build a relationship where you share and challenge each other and force each other to get better and share best practices and help them out and elevate everybody's game? And we talked about that for a while and that made it a lot easier.
When we role, we role play the actual conversation of her initial discussion as, hey, I'm here as your new district manager. We role play that a few times to have that discussion.
What approach did you take?
What would give me, like a little bit of her opening salvo at the troops, the opening salvo at the the five new the five site managers forum, which she's known for years, that are her peers, was the first part of the conversation was, hey, listen, I am so stoked for the opportunity to be a district manager and work and engage with with all of you. I got to be really honest and I'm paraphrasing. This is her saying, I got to be really honest.
My view of what I thought a site manager was supposed to do wasn't exactly right. And what I have come to realize is, as I've thought about my role as a district manager, is that how I function as a site manager wasn't how I really think we should operate. And that's where the ownership piece came in and what made it very easy for her to go?
Oh, I it's not even hard for me to take ownership of this, because all I have to do is explain the things that I didn't do as a site manager and what I realized I should have been doing the whole time and then went on from there.
You're smiling because I can tell that that actually resonates is the idea of, hey, if you understand what you could identify, the ownership piece comes naturally when you recognize what you should have done differently.
Yeah, the note that I wrote down was when I was like, oh, what did she say? Because I'm I'm thinking like, this is what I would have said, you know, that is the way that I paraphrase it myself was that, you know, I'm opening up with I was wrong. Right. I was wrong. And that's just a perfect way to open up and say, look, you all saw me as a competitive person. I was hiding information.
I was trying to kick your ass. And that's actually not the right way to do this. Do we want to be competitive with each other? You sure? We want we're doing a fun, positive way. And right now, what we want to do and here's where I would go right into it. What we want to do. Is not be competitive with each other sites, we as a team want to destroy the other districts.
So, yeah, I mean, we'd go there quick and of course I'd say that and have a good time with that and say, look, even though I want to destroy them, guess what? I want our company to win. And so we're going to kick their ass, but we're also going to show them how we do it. So we elevate everyone and that's going to elevate us and we're going to move forward.
So, yeah, that's I mean, and that's it. And that's almost verbatim how to play it out. Was this district going to dominate? But I'm actually going to apply the lessons that I learned that I should have been doing back as a slight lead and apply that all the way across the organization. And actually, one of the things she came to understand was. If she does that, if she dominates as a determiner, but also gets all the other districts in the game too, she also is going to continue on the path and she's going to grow and responsibility and she's going to dominate, which is what she wants to do as well.
So there's that connection and. Which is another thing, a leadership strategy and tactics, if if you're doing well and you're doing the right things for the right reasons, your team is going to do well. And when your team does well and they win, guess what? You win. All right. Forty two minutes long, but still kept it under the forty five minute, that's a good place to stop if you want to dig deeper into all aspects of leadership in any arena.
You can join Dave and me and the rest of the Echelon front team. You can do it all the time. You can talk to us all the time. You can talk to us live. Heff online, dotcom. It's where we solve problems with leadership. And if you want leadership guidance inside your organization, come check out our leadership consultancy at Echelon Front Dotcom.
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I've also written a bunch of books on the subject of leadership, extreme ownership, the dichotomy of leadership, leadership, strategy and tactics. Also have some other podcast, JOCO podcast, JOCO Unraveling, Grounded and the Warrior Kid podcast. And if you want to support any of these podcasts, including this one, you can get some gear from JoCo store, dot com or origin main dot com. Thank you for listening to the debrief.
Now go lead.
This is Dave and JoCo out.