Motivated Leadership with Craig Ross and Future-Based Leadership with Libby Gill

They say a person is only as great as the people they’re surrounded with. You need great leaders as well as great team members. They have to work together to make things successful. Craig Ross, CEO of Verus Global, says that we are as much motivated with our extrinsic as our intrinsic environments. He lays down the relationship of ensuring the employees’ motivations to developing accountability and ownership, fostering motivated leadership skills required for a business to reach its goals.
Touching on curiosity and building great leaders, Libby Gil, the branding brain behind the launch of the Dr. Phil show, talks about the importance of being able to look into the future. She ties curiosity with hope in a way that looks at how a person who gets excited about the possibilities that the future might bring. As a leader, you need to be able to know what you are going after. Libby believes that hope is a strategy that gives the will-power to have a future-based vision that helps leaders to propel their businesses forward.

TTL 236 | Motivated Leadership

We have Craig Ross and Libby Gill here. Craig is the CEO of Verus Global and he’s an International Book Award author. Libby Gill is an executive coach, leadership expert, speaker and bestselling author. She’s got a new book. They both got some interesting information and I’m very interested in hearing what they have to say.

Listen to the podcast here:

Motivated Leadership with Craig Ross

I am here with Craig Ross, who’s the CEO of Verus Global, a seasoned team and leadership development expert, four-time book author, executive coach, facilitator and sought-after keynote speaker over the past twenty years. Craig Ross has distinguished himself as a trusted partner to leaders and teams at best in class organizations all around the world. He’s also got his latest book, Do Big Things The Simple Steps Teams can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact, that has been featured on Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur. He received the 2018 International Book Award. Welcome to the show, Craig.

Thank you, Diane. It’s a pleasure joining you.

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Do Big Things: The Simple Steps Teams Can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact

How do you get that book award?

You join a team of people who are talented and know how to make those things happen. You carry the voice of great leaders that you’ve met around the world and you can be a conduit for people who are inspired. It’s been a real pleasure and honor getting recognized but truly, the credit goes to others.

I’ve been working on my book where I’ve talked to leaders and tried to get what I learned and share it with other people. There’s so much knowledge out there that so many people have such great stuff. Tell me a little bit about what you do at Verus Global?

For the last 25 years, we’re located in Denver but we work globally. An inspired team that has been obsessed with understanding the dynamics, human thinking, and actions required for teams to do big things. That’s in and out of business. We focus on serving those in business settings, but there’s an overlap in terms of people, families and communities and what’s necessary for us to overcome the odds. People come together during birthdays and holidays. We come together when there’s a global crisis or a local crisis. We, as human beings, have the ability to come together. We’ve been devoted to ensuring that we can do that when we choose to, not simply when we have to.

What you’re writing about is important about making an epic impact and there are many people who want to but they get so distracted. They get the DSD, Distracted, hopelessly-Stressed and Disconnected, that goes along with that. What are the teams that are suffering from this DSD?

I was working with a high-performing team who had achieved their targets. They were at the end of their fiscal year and they went into the situation thinking that they were to be on-fire, they’re going to be hired and be all the things you’d expect with success and in fact, they found the opposite. They were exhausted and beaten emotionally. One of the team members summed it up, “We hit our targets and we still feel like we’re losers.” The way that we’re seeing their current organizations, in terms of what’s necessary for us to achieve, is that people are bleeding for their organizations and giving their all. In many cases, we’re going home and giving our families our leftovers. There’s this toxic cycle that’s not good for us, as human beings, and it doesn’t have to be that way. One of the things that we found is that if we can equip people to focus differently and equip teams to have a common language that allows them to bring more of their whole self to the process then the business benefits. Their homes, families, whole life will benefit in that regard.

Some of what you’re talking about are what I’m studying for my research on the curiosity of how we focus, how we think, and how team members get along. It goes across some of the different areas you talked about extrinsic and intrinsic motivators and the things that make people want to be successful or work well together. A lot of us see silos and those issues in workplaces. Some teams are filled with people who are more takers than givers are. They give too much and then they get taken advantage of. How do you get teams to be well-functioning if they look at things from different realities?

Changing behaviors, thinking and actions, it’s not an intellectual exercise, it’s the business of the heart. Researchers out there that are current and have been around, we’ve been studying them for hundreds of years and they have been telling us that this is true. We like to think that we’re rational human beings and we’re using our intellect to make decisions, but we’re not. Knowing that, how do we affect that so that we can come together, cross-functionally or otherwise, and function from not just the shared reality but a reality that energizes us? The way you can do that is lead with a simple tool. We talked about this in our book called The Energy Map. Simply imagine a circle in front of you and then divide that circle into three parts. You have the backside or the left side, you have the neutral or middle part of the energy map and then the front side. There are things that emotionally charge us, like topics or issues.

If you watch any team meeting in any organization around the world, you’re going to see people scattered across this chart. There are going to be people that are emotional or are called backward-focused, they’re frustrated, angry, disappointed and upset. There are going to be people in the middle, like Shakespeare said, “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes us so,” and managed him to hold that neutral emotional space. There are the people on the front side or right side of that circle who are solutions-oriented, who are looking forward, and perhaps even more optimistic. If teams are not aware of this energy map and they’re scattered all over, they’re going to have to call more meetings, be unproductive, and create conflict in their relationships. We had advised teams to bring people together on that energy map in the same place, so you have the same reality. If it’s necessary for us to share frustrations first, together go to the facts and when it’s appropriate, move to the solutions. You will see as you guide emotions, step focus, you’ll be guided by emotions, that guides our thinking and actions.

We like to think that we’re rational human beings and we’re using our intellect to make decisions, but the truth is we’re not. Click To Tweet

I wrote several peer-reviewed research studies on emotional intelligence because I’m fascinated by how emotions tie into what people do and how they behave. It tied into, when I was studying this curiosity impact, some of the things that hold people back from being curious were the environment. I was watching your bio video on your site and it came across very clearly that your environment, your parents specifically, had a big impact on where you’ve gone in your career. Your mother was very involved, was hard working or the way they taught you to use all the metals, all those factors. Teams are made up of all these people who have different environmental influences, so it’s interesting to look at those things. You discuss in your book the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators and how that helps leaders. How much of it is extrinsic and intrinsic and how do you impact that?

In our parents’ generation or culture, they couldn’t even talk about the soft stuff and work. We’re in an era where we are free to address this now. In fact, the research is clear that if you’re not talking about what we’re talking about here, you’re going to be left behind. These extrinsic-intrinsic motivators become key. One of my clients, an executive in an organization, had a knee-jerk reaction when it came to retaining employees or trying to create more engaged employees, the retention bonus or to create the rewards. They were investing a lot of resources in the financial aspect in terms of, “If you do this, then we’ll give you that.” What he found is that there was no end to that because people always wanted more. The next thing he found is that his competitors throughout hitting him. The third thing is that his boss was coming to him saying, “You’re spending too much.”

There’s a need for the extrinsic, but we talked about what levers are you pulling as it relates to the intrinsic. He said, “What do you mean?” He knew what intrinsic meant, but we had to equip him with what happens when we start tapping into an employee’s deeper purpose in terms of, “What’s my connection as an employee, my personal purpose to the company’s purpose? What happens when I create an environment where I can have deeper relationships?” Those intrinsic rewards, we know for a fact that the younger generations are looking for places to work where they can have a certain type of experience. That has everything to do with the intrinsic. The leaders that know that tap into that and reward people in such a way they’re doing big things.

Everybody’s talking engagement, purpose and how these things are a problem. If you’ve got less than maybe a third of the workplace engaged and everybody else is not there, everybody’s looking for a way to resolve this. There’s so much research on the carrot and the stick. You can read all these things about drive and motivation, but each generation’s going to have unique qualities and things that they’ve been raised to appreciate. Their purpose is going to be different and things need to change. I personally get a lot of attention when people come to me for talking about soft skills, engagement and culture. The biggest things we’re going to start hearing more about because of all this, especially because of AI, is innovation and motivating people to become more innovative, creative, purposeful and to get people involved in it. It’s also important to look at another word that I know you bring up in your book, accountability. Are we getting more accountable leaders? How do we make sure that we are?

TTL 236 | Motivated Leadership
Motivated Leadership: Organizations have been squeezed so much that they need people to step up, own their work, and lead from their position.

 

Organizations have been squeezed so much that they need people to step up, own their work and lead from their position. These are not new ideas, but now the workforce through the environment is demanding it. One of the things that’s key is ensuring that we’re creating the conditions for this to occur and that accountability is ultimately a choice, a personal choice. Any organizations, you can smell it the moment you walk in. If accountability is weighed towards the punitive, they’re going to have difficulties because human beings do not want to be treated as such. They do embrace the need to be held accountable and therefore a punishment or a consequence, everybody embraces that, knows that. Organizations that we’re seeing truly delivering consistently, they’re honoring three conditions. When we honor them, people naturally take greater ownership and accountability.

The first condition is the employee feels good about himself. You work on emotional intelligence, you know the importance of that. When the key is there, we’re not saying the employee feels good about the change that’s occurring. If they feel good about themselves, they’ve got that EQ. Number two, along the way their ideas have to be involved in some way. They have to feel heard. We’re not talking about the annual survey, we’re talking about through the process. The third one is that their motivations have to be tapped. There are so many organizations with the best of intentions but are blatant in their abuse of this. They assume the motivations of their workforce and they do the knee-jerk, “If you do this, you’ll get the promotion. If you do this, we’ll increase market share. If you do this, you’ll get a raise.” Those might not be my motivations and if they are, they’re all extrinsic. This is about ensuring I know what motivates each of my teammates and employees, and then leveraging that as it relates to developing their ownership so they’re more accountable.

I teach a lot of business courses and we talk about what motivates in some of these courses. I’m super competitive when I was in sales. I remember one company, every week it was how long you can stay on dialing for dollar calls and they’ll reward with a Suns tickets to go to a basketball game and I didn’t want to go because it was at night and I want to go to bed. It wasn’t something that even motivated, but I was super motivated because I’m so competitive and I didn’t want to lose. For me, it wouldn’t have mattered what it was but for other people, they never asked what it is that we wanted to drive us.

You carry the voice of great leaders that you’ve met around the world and you can be a conduit for people who are inspired. Click To Tweet

When you mentioned annual surveys, that brings to mind annual appraisals, surveys and all the things that happen once a year that no one looks at, that old way of thinking. One of the biggest things that I got from what you said was that we need to have people understand what they do and how it ties into the overall goals of the company. If they’re working on something during the day, do they know how that impacts the overall end-goal that everybody wants to achieve? A lot of people will say no if you ask them what they’re doing and how does it tie in. Do you think most people know?

No, there are levels of the why, “Why is this important?” I concur and clearly, the research is out there to support that observation. One of the first things we can do is ask leaders, “If you’ve got seven direct reports, can you tell me the personal why? Why is it important to that particular teammate that in-direct reports that they show up with their best? What makes them tick?” Then connect that to the businesses, “Why the business?” the plan or strategy, whatever needs to be executed.

There are a lot trying to get away from silos. There are more cross-functional collaboration and more attention to these issues out there that we didn’t think of before. Leaders could improve a lot in how they deliver their objectives and their organized organizational KPIs. What did you cover in that respect and the book? Is that something that you talk about?

It’s hugely important because we’re moving through an era where we need to redefine what we mean by the team. We’ve got too many people that are, with the best of intentions, still functioning from an outdated idea around what team means. The truth of the matter is it’s fluid now. If we use the old definition that, “I’m on eight or nine different teams,” and now the team includes the customer, supplier, vendors and people from all different parts of the enterprise. What’s necessary is to ensure that leaders are equipped with the ability to collapse the time necessary.

We’ll use Tuckman’s Model to go from the forming to the performing right. One of the things that I can offer is early in a meeting, simply ask someone, “What’s your role?” We include this in the book and people want to say, “I’m the finance guy or I’m the strategy guy.” The real answer we’re looking for is, “I’m here to make my teammates look good. I’m here to set everybody up for success. I’m here to ensure this team succeeds but delivering on my functional responsibilities.” If that’s not the top of the list in terms of my responsibilities, my role, we’re going to function in silos.

I got tired of teams and with having meetings to talk about the next meeting and there’s a lot of that going on. Why does that happen so much? I’m thinking, “Why are we here again?” You’re doing the same old thing, but you never get there.

We have opportunities in our workforce to leverage technology even more. We’re seeing people come together in meetings and simply share information and there’s the needed courage to make a decision. One of the things we encourage our clients to do is all that information sharing is done before the meeting. Their first reaction is, “I don’t have time,” then what you’re doing is taking the time in your meetings or the business is suffering. It’s hard to make the shift, but you’ve got to do it. The meetings are dedicated to making a decision and that allows us to ensure we’re not having to have pre-meetings, post-meetings and scheduled meetings beyond the one we’re having.

Changing behaviors, thinking, and actions is not an intellectual exercise. It’s the business of the heart. Click To Tweet

That’s like the flip classroom model they use in any education. You talk about changing the way we’ve done things in the past. You also discussed the antiquated concept of the dirty fish tank training model. I’d like to know what you mean by that and is it very effective?

It’s a big deal. You’re going to have some of your readers, if they don’t hear everything I’m sharing, you’re going to get some emails saying, “I disagree with that guy you’re interviewing.” There are two components to it. One is that leadership matters but teams deliver. There’s this overemphasis in our society to think that if you can shift the thinking actions leader, you’ve done it right, you delivered the holy grail. We’re not going to dispute that, but what we are going to say is that the leader’s still one person, we’re on multiple teams, and that leader has a whole bunch of work to do themselves, more and more we need to look at it this way.

A lot of the development being done is that we take the leader from the system, send them to training, and put them back in the system. It’s as if you walk into an office, there’s a dirty fish tank and it’s yellow, “I can’t believe they haven’t cleaned it in.” Along come some cleaners, they remove and scrubbed the fish and then they put it back in the dirty fish tank. They expect that clean fish to change the tank, it’s not going to happen. This is why we are adamant about developing leaders in the context of their team, you’ve got to affect the system while you’re affecting the leader and vice versa. When we do that, we see a much more accelerated change and improved outcome across the board in a much more sustainable fashion.

I like to look at all the things that make people more creative, innovative and engaged. All the things we’ve talked about are stuff that I’m researching. Have you always been a curious person? Do you think you can develop it in other people? I wanted to know your background of what you thought the importance was of curiosity.

It’s critical and the world’s requiring it. One of the things that I would counsel and mentor is, “What am I curious about?” If I’m curious to get something, then it’s going to be tough for me to sustain my curiosity. If I’m being curious about the purpose and pleasure of learning and serving in my ability to make a greater difference than there is no end to my curiosity. It comes back down to what’s my motive for my curiosity?

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Motivated Leadership: Innovation begins with being curious and asking questions.

 

What I found is that there are four areas that hold people back from being curious. Their assumptions that they maybe won’t like it or it’s too hard or there’s a technology that either does it for them or they can’t understand it or their environment. Your environment might’ve had a big impact from what you said about your parents on your video. I was trying to identify what’s holding people back. Once you recognize it, then you can go forward and try and work on some of these areas. There are so many people that have so much to offer in the business setting but they’re afraid to say something. They’ll look stupid or they’ll get rewarded with more work. Any cultural change you have to get from the top down. Some of these guys want innovative companies, but to me, innovation begins with being curious and asking questions. Watching Warren Buffet and Bill Gates talk, the first thing they said they had in common was they were both curious. What advice would you give to CEOs to have them embrace curiosity?

We do two things. I’m going to do this in the context of the team because we can coach the leader all day long. Based upon our experience, you can get there much quicker if you bring the team together and you do exactly what you’re talking about, what’s the value of being curious. Here’s the key piece, “If I’m going to be curious then I can also be wrong,” as a team starting yes or no, “Is there a value in being wrong?” Everyone’s going to say yes and we can say, “What does it look like for us to be wrong?” Everybody answers that and then here’s the big question, “What will we do when someone on the team is wrong publicly? What’s the appropriate response that generates more curiosity?” It’s key because leaders, what we’re asking them to do is scary because you’re talking about being curious publicly, to be vulnerable, “I’m supposed to be the expert and have all the answers.” They know they don’t and incredible pressure. Let’s get rid of the pressure. Let’s have more fun in the process and have a simple conversation as a team around what it looks like to be curious, wrong and support each other when we are.

I know so many people want to find out more about your latest book and how they can learn more from you. Is there a website or something you want to share to let people know how to learn more?

I’m in all the social media. Our website is VerusGlobal.com. You can email me at Craig@VerusGlobal.com and our books are available everywhere.

Thank you, Craig. This was so much fun.

It was fun, Diane. Thank you for the important work you’re doing out there.

Future-Based Leadership with Libby Gill

I am here with Libby Gill, who’s the former Head of Communications and Public Relations for Sony Universal and Turner. She was also the branding brain behind the launch of the Dr. Phil show. Libby is now CEO of LA-based Libby Gill & Company, an executive coaching and consulting firm. She’s the author of four books including the award-winning You Unstuck and Captures the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow. Libby has shared her success strategies on CNN, NPR and in Businessweek, Time, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and more. Her latest book is The Hope-Driven Leader: Harness the Power of Positivity at Work. It’s so nice to have you here with me.

I’m delighted to be with you.

I was thinking about you because I was watching the TV show, Bowl. Isn’t that based on Dr. Phil a little?

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You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk-taking in Work and Life

His son created it and it is based on his first career as a trial psychologist. He had a company called Courtroom Science where they did jewelry, training and paneling.

I was thinking because I knew you were coming on the show, how were you behind that branding brain of that? What did you do with that?

I was the first person hired on the show, which is unusual because I was an outside consultant. I had left the corporate world where I headed up communications functions for all those companies always on the television side. Phil was looking for somebody to establish his brand. It’s funny to think that he needed any help. At that time, he was on Oprah once a week. They were looking for somebody that knew books, television and the seminar world. It was a good fit for me, so I stayed and launched the first two seasons.

He was still on the Oprah show when I joined. My initial goal was to separate him from Oprah and he was her sidekick every Tuesday. The great thing about television is you don’t want anybody to blend, you want somebody who can polarize the audience, either love them or hate them or love to hate them. He was one of those guys with that strong personality and so direct. He made television magic. Seventeen years later and he’s still doing great ratings.

You made a switch though from what you did to what you’re doing now. I could see that they would be complementary, the skills are similar.

I don’t know how anybody goes into business of any kind that doesn’t know basics of marketing, branding and writing. There are plenty of things I’m not good at, but those were the skillset I brought with me, just communication functions. Fortunately, I’d always been a writer in some capacity, starting out writing advertising copy, working in PR, and writing my own book. It did help a lot, but it was a big leap to go from the corporate world into executive coaching.

What’s the biggest challenge of that?

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The Hope-Driven Leader: Harness the Power of Positivity at Work

The biggest challenge was probably the same for anybody who’s starting a business like, “How do you get known for what you do? How do you find your audience? How do you figure out your sweet spot?” I had always been a good team builder and a good leader. I always had the youngest and greenest team of anybody at the three studios that I worked at because what we did was very labor and time-intensive. I needed a youngster to go hang out on the set of Married with Children for three days. I couldn’t babysit the Entertainment Tonight crew and I had to teach him how to deal with it. It’s a very delicate art dealing with talent, being in the middle of a production, having a news crew following you around, it was pretty exciting.

What I loved was the aspect of helping turn people into leaders and helping them chart their own path. You can imagine the entertainment world is not all that warm and fuzzy when it comes to helping you with your career path and establishing what you’re good at, you’re on your own in some ways, I loved that process. Coaching came along as a relatively new field. I was ready to move on and I thought that ticks all the boxes for me. I’m going to give that a try, but I can see that that would be a great transition.

I have a friend, Dr. Gilda, she was a regular in Sally Jessy Raphael, similar to how she’s been on the show. She’s a friend of mine and I see her doing the same consulting of the things that she does on the side. What you do is you have this background or foundation of what people want just from having to be a branding expert, what appeals to people in this broadcasting industry. It’s an important background. I know your latest book has to deal with hope. My latest book is to do with curiosity. I was looking up some research that has hope and curiosity and I found a good quote from Hedy Lamarr. You probably know who she is, but most people have to be over 100 probably other than if you’re in the entertainment industry to remember her. She was a very famous and beautiful actress in the ‘30s. She said, “Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. The unknown was always so attractive to me and still is.”

Curiosity, to me, is the sexiest attribute anybody can have. If they got curiosity, I want to chat with them. It’s exciting.

I created a curiosity instrument to measure what holds people back from being curious, so you and I have plenty to talk about that. It ties into hope, according to Hedy Lamarr, at least. I’d like to know what science you found behind hopefulness. What research did you do?

I had written a book, the title was Traveling Hopefully, and it was based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s quote, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” I grew up in a challenging family of alcoholism, mental illness and suicide and I had a lot to get over in my young adulthood and it takes a while. I’m sure you know from your background and the academic work you’ve done. It’s a re-learning process and I always considered hope to be that jet fuel. It’s what got me up in the morning and what got me to think I’m trying to prove a little bit every day. Later, as I was coaching and thinking about hope and what the meaning of hope was, I happen to be fortunate to stumble on this research from Medicine and Positive Psychology. There were only about three books about Hope Theory, as it’s called.

It started with the professor at the University of Kansas. He’s now deceased, a fellow named Dr. Rick Snyder. He was on sabbatical and he thought, “I’m going to go check out the research on hope and see what’s in the library and read up on it.” There was nothing, he realized, as a scientist, that no one thought you could measure it. It had only been included in religious texts, literature, poems and all of that, but not in any scientific way. He created, as a good psychologist would do, what he called the Adult Dispositional Hope Scale and it’s twelve questions that measure how hopeful you are.

Hope is the jet fuel that keeps us up every morning to continue to prove a little bit of ourselves every day. Click To Tweet

A fellow from the medical side named Dr. Jerome Groopman, who wrote a book I read a number of times called The Anatomy of Hope. He’s an oncologist who thought of hope as a healing agent, not in a mystical or woo-woo sense, but what you stand as a clinician. When he gave a diagnosis to a patient or patient family, at first he thought, “I’ve got to tell them everything.” There and then, he was shutting down his patients in this sense of overwhelming and dread. He went, as we often do when we correct our mistakes, all the way in the other direction and then started telling them so little that people thought, “I guess everything’s okay,” even when it wasn’t. He had to find that spot in the middle and delicate balance that he called True Hope, which was, “Here’s the reality of the situation, but there are opportunities to or overcome it.” Not that everybody’s going to survive every illness, but he saw that when people were allowed to participate in the healing path they released brain chemicals, endorphins and enkephalins that would suppress pain and a moose and boost their immune system.

I thought, “If it works in those difficult areas, it’s got to work in the workforce.” I started injecting some of those principles. I found that even though we say hope is not a strategy, if I’m coaching a leader and laying all these strategies and resources on top of them without helping them build a sense of confidence and a vision for the future, it fell on deaf ears. If they got excited about possibilities, it goes back to curiosity. If they began to see it, get excited and understand that there are lots of ways that you can overcome challenges, then you could inject the specific tools and strategies for them to use. I’ve seen that as a very powerful force working with my clients. It’s sometimes hard to explain to people because they think hope is fuzzy.

The soft skills are challenging too. A lot of this is what I’ve researched. My dissertation was on emotional intelligence, which leads me to behavioral and cognitive things. When you’re talking about Groopman, what I did was, unlike what he did with his disposition scale, I created a curiosity assessment and that was so challenging. A lot of it is based on some of the work I looked at, some of the research that you’re talking about like Carol Dweck’s Mindset. What you found with curiosity as well that it releases dopamine, cortisol and some of the things that you mentioned.

I worked in pharmaceutical sales forever and I found that fascinating. All this is all back to what you said, to get them excited about the possibilities. This all boils down to whether you’re talking hope or curiosity, the things that are going to be hearing the most about to me, soft skills, emotional intelligence culture, and all of those top things. In artificial intelligence, we’re going to hear a lot about innovation being such a big topic and what things lead to being productive and innovative, hope and curiosity are both going to be tied into some of those bottom-line benefits. You say that hope is a strategy. What do you mean by that?

TTL 236 | Motivated Leadership
Motivated Leadership: As much as we love to think hope is not a strategy, if you create a future-focus vision based on that hope in absolute pragmatism and practicality, that vision becomes doable.

 

As much as we love to think hope is not a strategy and people think it’s being too up in the air and abstract, if you create that future focus vision based on absolute pragmatism and practicality, it’s doable, but it’s not necessarily easy. I don’t want to burst anybody’s bubbles or big dreams, but if I got about a 60-year-old client who has been in the corporate world for 30 years, it’s unlikely they’re going to go back to school and be a professional baseball player or ballerina. Let’s be realistic. You can maintain that hopefulness and excitement about the future, but let’s channel it into something that’s realistic and doable. Even I question people about, “What is it about that appeals to you?”

I’ll never forget one woman who came to me because she was convinced she had to work for Oprah and that was the only way she was going to fulfill her dreams. We got into, “What’s the value of that? What is the excitement? What is the inspiration? What is the motivation? What’s behind that?” Let’s open up the channels. There must be 50 things that sit that. Once you’ve got that sense of, “I can see, it’s either I want to be in Hollywood or I want to be challenged creatively or I want to set the bar high,” let’s find out what’s behind it because there’s not one way to do something. We don’t live in the assembly line world anymore. One of the things Dr. Snyder said about Hope Theory was it is willpower, which is what you think it is but it’s also based on way power meaning multiple pathways to an end goal.

If you think about it, and particularly I see this as relevant to Millennials who want to figure it out and do it their way, if you give people license, with some supervision that’s appropriate for their professional level but you say, “Here’s the end goal. Here’s what I want you to get.” You figure out how to get there and you own the process and that’s when people get excited, turned on, curious about, “How many different ways are there that I could do this? What’s the most effective, fastest and most fun way to get there?” That’s when you create that future vision and you see it. The hard thing is life intervenes, we’ve got to keep that excitement alive and keep feeding the fire behind that vision that we’ve got for our personal or professional lives.

I’ve worked around people who seemed helpful, but then the leaders shattered them. How do you think if you’re that leader that’s doing that to someone?

To me, it is beliefs linked to behavior. If you think, “I’m hopeful,” first it’s the definition. It’s a belief that change is possible, that’s fundamental. We think, “Doesn’t everybody believe that?” Think about your own world and everybody’s got somebody who’s the die-hard defender of the status quo. The, “It is what it is” person or, “You can’t fight city hall” person and that’s never going to change. If you believe change is possible and you have an expectation that what you do is what makes the difference and you were driving the outcome not the rest of the world or the government or your boss or your spouse, but you drive the outcome, then you’re able to move towards that path. There are bosses who say, “I want to let people do their own. I want them to have ownership of the project.” They hand off a task and, I see this over and over, they swoop in when they get nervous and take it back or try to fix it or change it rather than let somebody grow and develop.

In the world we’re in with the rapidity of change, we can’t be saving people or stopping them from taking risks or developing their own skills and talent. It’s hard, especially for that leader who’s on the precipices of true leadership, there’s this area in between where they’re still a little bit of a manager and almost a leader, where they’re nervous leaders. They don’t want anybody to make a mistake or do it a different way or they make a misstep, obviously, you’re not going to bet the company on your brand-new intern, but you got to let people take Some chances and have some ownership and that’s one of the killers of hope. This is so basic, and I see this with senior leaders, the people that can’t shut off their phone long enough to have a five-minute conversation. It’s not just rude, but you kill the, “I’m important, value me. I’m respected. I’m an unimportant part of the team.” That’s a way to kill that sense of, “I’m valued and I should be here.”

We, as human beings, have the ability to come together. Click To Tweet

It reminds me a little bit of what Simon Sinek had a video going around about leave your phone outside in for meetings. Do you think that that would be something that leaders should consider?

In my Hope-Driven Leader book, I’ve got a whole thing on meetings and I’ve got a blog that says, Don’tcha Love Meetings? I also add to that if someone has to be on the phone, I deal with a lot of media people and they’re nervous without their phones. If you’re on that side of deadline that you can attend a twenty-minute meeting, then stay at your desk. No blame, no shame, just don’t join us. If you can’t leave your phone or something else that’s more important, then that’s okay. I also think people should have no more than three agenda items and they should stick to it because there’s no way to frustrate your team faster than to veer off on a tangent that they’re not prepared for.

You make them feel stupid, unready and they don’t get their answers to questions that they’ve got and you caused all sorts of delays and frustration. It’s not even frustrating. They are at the level of angry boiling over point when leaders continually do that to them. I have a client right now that people put meetings on calendars, they don’t invite you, they plug it into your calendar and they tripled booked people. I’m going to shut that down, I’m not sure how long it will take me, but that’s got to go away. How can you even pretend to respect somebody’s time?

You talk about change being possible in Millennials and I’ve seen so many people talk. I did see Simon Sinek talked at one of the Forbes Summits I went to about some of this stuff. A lot of it is about optimism, failure and some of the stuff you address because you alluded to it. When we talk about failure, it’s changed a lot since I’ve been in the working world. Before, you don’t want to fail but now, they’re almost seeming to look at it much more in terms of learning experiences. Do you think that’s a Millennial gift that we’ve got? Where did we get that thinking?

I think some of the great companies, the Googles and the Amazons, they have things instituted. There’s a great book by John Doerr called Measure What Matters and he talks about what he calls OKRs, objectives and key results. It’s setting your big picture objective and different teams or individuals set the results what they have to achieve to hit that objective. It can be different for the marketing team. The Research team can play into that objective, but they’ve got their own measures and their own results but they measure it, or at least John Doerr and companies like Google measured it at a 70% level. If you get 70% of the way there at success, if you get 100% of the way there you set the bar too low.

It’s always looking to stretch because now if we don’t continue to innovate, you can’t be who you were yesterday. I talk about this and in corporations all the time about the rapid change in the needs, you can go into lean manufacturing all you want. If you don’t take your people with you as you change systems and processes, it’s not going to work. You look at companies that didn’t read the tea leaves from BlackBerry to Toys R Us to Blockbuster. If they were thinking, “Our technology is about to be outdated, what do we need to do next?” they’d still be with us.

There are so many companies that won’t even be there tomorrow, and you wonder who it will be. I was reading the Wall Street Journal about Honda. They’re starting to have to even out things that they were known for doing because they can’t keep up with the innovative process. What we’re going to see is so much focus on trying to keep up, think, and be proactive. Optimism, hope and keeping an open mind to possibilities, what you’re doing is important. What’s next for you? You get a lot of people and probably a lot of corporations who want to get exposure for their ideas, do they try to tap into your knowledge of broadcasting and all that to get the exposure further ideas? I’m thinking because I’ve written a brand publishing course and some of the stuff you talk about it are some of the stuff I talked about in courses.

In the corporate world, particularly in areas like healthcare or technology where I work a lot, there’s still a curiosity and sexiness factor about having come from the entertainment industry. It’s not nearly as glamorous or exciting as people think, but they’re the same as everybody else. The studios, it was music with the way music had gone viral and free downloads. Look at the networks versus the Hulus and Amazons of the world, all of those models have changed. Sometimes companies can’t keep up with that change. I also think for individuals and organizations, if we focus on what we’re great at and not try to be 50 different things. Look at Zappos and Tony Shay, he will be the first to say, “It’s not about shoes, it’s about customer service.”

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive – Robert Louis Stevenson Click To Tweet

I had the good fortune to interview him before he blew up and started telling his own stories. I’ve got a story about him in my book, You Unstuck, and he was so clear about when he first heard this idea, it wasn’t his. It was an idea pitch to him about, “Let’s sell shoes online.” He thought, “That’s insane. Who wants to buy shoes online? You can’t touch them. You can’t try them on.” He discovered that more than 10% of shoes were sold through catalogs and thought, “I can do the catalog business one better.” Then it was no longer shoes, it was, “Let’s make people just so beside themselves,” and Amazon does it probably better than anybody in the world of delivering seamless customer service. We can all take a lesson from that in whatever we do. If you’re not surprising your clients and customers and you’re not delighting them with the old overdeliver, you’re missing the boat. It’s identifying what’s the core. The most brilliant is Google, “Let’s catalog the world’s information and make it easy for you to access.” Every subset of what they do is about cataloging information.

It is interesting to look at everybody’s vision and mission statements because they make you think about what everybody’s up to. A lot of people could learn so much from what you’ve talked about in your work and what you’ve been writing about. I know a lot of people are going to want to know how can they find out more about this book and your other stuff or if they want you to come to speak, is there a website or information you can share?

It’s LibbyGill.com and if anybody wants to shoot me an email, it’s Libby@LibbyGill.com. I have people call me six months after I’ve spoken somewhere and I say you have a dilemma or question, pick up the phone, send me an email, it’s all on my website. They can also download a chapter of The Hope-Driven Leader on the homepage of my site.

I appreciate having you on the show, Libby. It was interesting.

Thank you, Diane. Stay curious

Thank you so much to Craig and Libby. If you want to find out more about the upcoming book, Cracking the Curiosity Code and the Curiosity Code Index, that is going to be all available at CuriosityCode.com. I appreciate that you all joined us and I hope that you join us for the next episode.

About Craig Ross

TTL 236 | Motivated Leadership

Craig Ross is the CEO of Verus Global, a seasoned team and leadership development expert, a four-time book author, executive coach, facilitator, and sought-after keynote speaker. Over the past 20 years, Craig Ross has distinguished himself as a trusted partner to leaders and teams at best-in-class organizations all over the world, such as P&G, Nestle, Cigna, Tillamook, Alcon and Universal, equipping them with proven processes and tools to immediately increase their capabilities, create stronger work teams, and accelerate business results. His latest book, Do Big Things: The Simple Steps Teams Can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact, has been featured in Forbes, INC and Entrepreneur, and recently received the 2018 International Book Award.

About Libby Gill

TTL 236 | Motivated Leadership

Libby Gill is the former head of communications and public relations for Sony, Universal, and Turner Broadcasting. She was also the “branding brain” behind the launch of the Dr. Phil Show. Libby is now CEO of LA-based Libby Gill & Company, an executive coaching and consulting firm. Author of four books including the award-winning You Unstuck and Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow, Libby has shared her success strategies on CNN, NPR, the Today Show, and in BusinessWeek, Time, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many more. Libby’s latest book is The Hope-Driven Leader: Harness the Power of Positivity.

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