The Ed Eppley Experience
The Ed Eppley Experience

Episode · 1 month ago

Leadership Deep Dive on Self-Awareness and Being Courageous

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rick Packer from Pat Lencioni's Table Group joins me in this episode of The Ed Eppley Experience to share his thinking and experiences in how leaders can become more self aware. (Hint - It helps to be open to feedback.) In his work with hundreds of execs and CEO's, he's learned that the best execs focus on doing what their role demands rather than what is pleasing. And you'll love Rick's comments about "uncommunicated expectations" and "the messy middle"!

...it's hard to be courageous without selfawareness. Otherwise you become reckless because you could display alevel of courage, make courageous decisions, but again, if you're notexternally open, you're not willing to receive feedback, you're not as selfaware as you otherwise could be. So you can make a courageous decision thatwould be entirely reckless. And I think those two go hand in hand, welcome tothe Ed Epley Experience 20 minutes That simplifies the complex job of managingand leading people and inspires you to take action on what you probablyalready know to build and sustain a smart and healthy business. Here's yourhost, Ed Epley to introduce this week's guest and business leader, Welcome once again to the Ed. Eh pleaseshow your opportunity to learn from the experts about ways to run a moresuccessful and sustainable business. Today's topic is being courageous andself awareness and I could think of no one better to help us explore those twoareas for effective management and leadership and the gentleman we'regonna have on with this rick packer, he's from the table group, he's anexpert in these areas and he's a good friend and he's been a mentor to me andI would also say at times we've switched roles but rick, thanks forjoining me again, Welcome to the f lee experience. Yeah, it's great to be here,ed and let's just set the record straight. You've been the mentor overthese last 25 years, not the other way around, I feel like roles have reversedmy friend, let's get on with the topics at hand, just remind the audience veryquickly what's the work you're currently doing. So what's your what'syour normal week and month look like? Yeah so I'm a consultant and I workwith executive teams. I typically have about five or six clients at a giventime and go deep with those executive teams on all things that we callorganizational health. I'm a principal consultant at the table group and thisis my 17th year uh in this role and I couldn't be happier with it. Just greatteams, great clients, great community at the table group. It's really goodwork. I love it. And some of the clients you work with or have workedwith include. Well I mean here in Atlanta a lot of the big brands sochick fil A and coca cola and home Depot the C. D. C. Up there where youare Ed Cardinal health, Ohio health, some construction companies andmanufacturers companies. So across the board and I work with a lot of mediumto big sized companies but also spent time with some small organizations aswell. And I just love the variety of the organizations I work with. Thefirst topic is self awareness And for definition or context sake. The way wayI'm positioning that is. How well do I know my own strengths and weaknesses.So where does self awareness fit into the hierarchy of importance for someonebeing effective as a manager and leader...

...in today's world for you rick? Well,the way that I look at it is um you have to be open, right? If if you'renot open then you're not really a self aware and without that, how can youimprove, how can you get better? Because if you're not growing yourself,how are you growing your organization? So, I mean, I put it pretty high upthere on the hierarchy and in fact a lot of the leaders that I end up workwith, working with um that that don't have self awareness. That's one of thereasons why we're called in to help with that organization, because theleader or the leadership team is struggling relative to the dynamicsthat present itself and that around the executive table. So it's pretty high upthere in terms of having to be self aware and I think one of the bestthings to do that is you have to be externally open are the majority of theengagements in which you get invited in because the Ceo the owner, thepresident is a self aware enough to recognize that they need help Or isthat being asked of them by either their organizational development personthere, Chief people officer or someone else around the table. It really is amixed bag and it's both are the ones that you just mentioned, the Ceo is theone that's reaching out or is the head of HR or a development that sees theneed on the executive team um for us to come in and work with. And of coursewhen the ceo is the person who is asking us to come in, it's the processstarts a little bit quicker with a lot more gusto. Um when is somebody elsebringing us? And of course then we have to have the conversation with the Ceoto make sure that they are on board with going down this process ofbecoming healthier. And of course, are they willing to be open to increasetheir overall self awareness? Because what I know about the work that that Ido and I know the work that you do and is if the leader of the team, a lot ofthe cases CEOS um if they don't want to do this work and if they if they're notexternally open to feedback and others, um this process does not work. It'sreally an uphill battle. It's fairly frustrating for all parties. Wouldn'tyou say rick? It's it's it's frustrating for the ceo it's alsofrustrating for the people around the table who see little to no progress.And I know as a facilitator, it's very frustrating to know that you're you'repushing the rope up the hill, so to speak. Yeah, because if the leader inthe Ceo and anybody does not have self awareness, um it is frustrating andimagine a team of eight executives and they all are aware that the leader isnot self aware. That's a painful existence. The emperor has no clothes.That's kind of the scenario you're operating it Precisely. If I had 10ceos in a room, what number of them would probably have high levels of selfawareness that based upon your experience? About half, Okay. Yeah,about half. I think that's about right. Um the members of their teams I believeare more self aware. Then the ceos are the leaders that I work with. That justseems to be my gut feel if I just think...

...about, oh, half dozen teams that I'mactively engaged with or this clients over the years. Um So yeah, that soundsabout right. That's an interesting thought. So do you think it's acollective self awareness of the team? Or is it in other words, does the factthat they're a group force them to be more self aware than the individual ceowould be? I'm just curious if that's something about the power of more thanone person being around the table, because the numbers of that team, theycoalesce, right? I mean they're talking, they're engaging and they have sharedfrustrations, they have shared excitements and opportunities and theyseem to have more frequent conversations without the leader andthey understand what's going on. I think in the business and perhaps havereally good pulse and the leaders left out a lot of those conversations,especially if they're not self aware and they're not externally open. Umthen there certainly left out of those conversations and that maybe you'veheard me say this before, but there's a correlation between the higher you goand your career and the amount of truncated truth that you receive. Sothe Ceo received less true than the executive team that reports to him orher. And then the people who report to the executive team received more truth.So it's just it's a correlation. And I think that's just it's very hard andyou have to work, you have to work hard against that to script that dynamicaway. Which is some of the work that we do to build trust in relationships onthose teams. But if you think about it, I mean it's been said multiple timesbefore, it can be lonely at the top. Which is a shame because it doesn'thave to be right, right. No question about it. Do you think that most ceosare hard wired to be more self aware than others or is it learned? Is thatis that nature or nurture kind of a thing? That's a great question. And Imean my gut wanna says that it is both. Which one has a higher priority orwhich one do I see more often? That's hard to discern. I do see Ceos learn it,leaders learn it and then others of course, I think they're just naturallythat way and that gifted. But that's a hard one to distinguish. I think it'sboth. I would think that there is a high correlation to emotionalintelligence and self awareness. Oh yeah, without a doubt. I think thoseare absolutely correlated. Yeah. Be interesting to know the statisticsabout that. But you got me thinking that's, that's always what I expectfrom you. Where are you in your own journey of becoming more self awarerick? I I know Christie works hard kidding you to be more self aware. Butand and professionally, where do you think you are? I mean, I'm I'm on, onthe journey ahead. I am on the journey. That's for sure. So it's one of thosethings were thinking, how can you talk about your own self awareness? Becauseum, I think everybody would admit that they are self aware. But when you workwith them or you observe their behavior, you obviously see that in other people,um the fact that they may not have it and I'm sure that's the case with meand you and others, but a couple of things stand out. One is uh, as apractice within our consulting firm. You know, we're hyperactive aboutfeedback where we're just, we've shared...

...feedback on a consistent basis to makesure that we're serving our clients well because it's often that we work inpairs as consultants. We're working with our executive teams and here'sjust a very recent example, one of my colleagues were debriefing after sometime with a client and she said to me rick, she said, hey, I need to pointsomething out to you that I observed in your behavior today. And she said, didyou realize you interrupted several people on the team multiple timesthroughout the day? And I'm like, no, I think I remember doing it once or twice,but I mean more than that and she's like, can happen quite often And I'mlike, I feel horrible. So I need to have that self awareness to continue togrow and get better within my craft. Hey, I think I told you about that like15, 20 years ago. Yeah, it didn't take, I'm sorry. I never missed anopportunity for a cheap shot. I'm sorry. I took you away from the point. Youremember you remember what it was gonna be? Maybe, I mean, you can't miss thatopportunity, but here's the dynamic that's at play. So what has to bepersistent or has to exist within the relationship for that exchange tohappen? One is, I mean, we have to have a level of trust within thatrelationship and my externally open to that sort of feedback or do I getdefensive? Do I put walls up why things that do I say things like how dare you?So we have to have that relationship with our colleagues on teams with ourbosses, with our peers, with our subordinates so we can help each otherbecome more self aware when we're open to that level of feedback in exchange.Yeah. And that's something that is not a switch that you turn on and then it'sgood you can destroy that. You can turn the switch off even though it was onfor a while. You can turn it off unintentionally. I've experienced in myown career, uh, with never having that is the intention. But behavior or wordscan make it more difficult for people to tell you what you need to hear. Youknow, it can, but here's something I'll add there and I'm guessing right nowyou could probably think of a handful of people that if they would call youup and give you some information, some feedback, some observations you wouldlisten to what they have to say regardless of how long it's been sinceyou've talked with them and then other people would be the opposite, right?You may have had a conversation with him yesterday, but you're the feedbackand the information may go in one ear and out the other. It really, andthat's why the quality of the relationship is so important. I thinkfor that you have with others to become more self aware, let's uh, in theinterest of time and we might circle back to self awareness before we'redone. But in the interest of time and making sure that we give the secondtopic courage or being courageous. It's do, let's let's move on. The definitionI'm putting on that is the ability to move or act despite fear. And umthere's so many examples of executives, you know, being slow to act, being whatyou could argue too cautious when the...

...options really didn't require it. SoI'm curious about how common do you see the trait of being courageous inexecutives with whom you work? Not enough, That's for sure not enough. UmThere's certainly courageous leaders that I work with and they areincredible and people respect them like the old E. F. Hutton commercials, right?When they talk, people listen because they've earned that respect, they'veearned that because you've seen them make incredibly hard, challenging,difficult, gut wrenching decisions that a lot of people don't want to be in. Umbut the answer to your question, it's not enough leaders who I think displaythat level of courage or courageousness within the seat that they're in andmoments kind of expand upon that I know you have perhaps some more questions,but one of the things I challenge all my leaders with CeoS executive teams,other people in the organization is um you know, the role that you're in rightnow, you're in it right now there, there was somebody in that role beforeyou, there will be somebody in that role after you while you're in thatrole you have to do the best possible job and honor the organization thatyou're working with and the challenge really here becomes we have to becomesubservient to our role. In other words, I may not want to I don't have apreference to, but the role that I'm in requires me to do so in other words,whether it's I have to become more self aware or I have to become morecourageous, I have to quit leading out of fear and those may all be tendenciesthat hold me back and my leadership back, someone called it a leadershiplid. But we have to look at the role that I am in, the role that you are in.What does it require regardless of what I prefer. Yeah, I think that's one of the majorhurdles that I see of of people when they move into higher levels ofresponsibility, it really doesn't have to be even the C suite if I'm anindividual contributor, moving into a, you know, a team leader, a manager role,if I'm a manager moving to director and so on. Every one of those movesinherent with that are going to be responsibilities that you didn't signup for knowingly, you didn't, you didn't sign up for those things. And sowhen confronted with that, you know, like having to fire someone, mostpeople don't think about that until they have to do it. And that's uh asyou say, that requires becoming subservient to the role, recognizingthat the duty foregoes any level of comfort that you have with doing yourduty and and so I appreciate you pointing that out. Do you think it'smore important to be courageous or is it more important to be self aware?It's hard to be courageous without self awareness. Otherwise you becomereckless because you could display a level of courage, make courageousdecisions, but again, if you're not externally open, you're not willing toreceive feedback, you're not as self...

...aware as you otherwise could be. So youcan make a courageous decision that would be entirely reckless and I thinkthose two go hand in hand, but you would put the prioritization thatbecomes self aware and then you're more likely to be courageous in the rightway, right time for the right reasons, if that's what I'm hearing you say?Yeah, I mean think about all the different decisions that leaders haveto make over the course of time and people may associate a recent decision,a recent tough call that they had to make as being courageous, but theyweren't externally opened, they were not self aware and they ended up makinga pretty bad decision because they weren't open to other input from it. Sothey made a courageous decision that lacked a lot of insight if you will andthat's why I prioritize the soft awareness piece over the courageelement. Do you see common scenarios where executives lack courage? Yeah,sharing feedback with your people again back to the point that I made a momentago, not being subservient to your role and basically um engaging in your rolein the way that you prefer, the way that's comfortable for you, the waythat you would define leadership regardless of, that's what theorganization needs. I'm gonna stop you there. Am I not acting because of fear?Or is that just lack of wanting to do the hard stuff? Well, it could be both.I mean, so I'm guessing it's the lack of the hard stuff, but there's anelement of fear and there as well. I mean I think about this, I mean thosewho are deeply connected because if I'm not doing the hard stuff that isrequired in the role that I am currently occupying, there is some sortof fear that I have that's holding me back from engaging in that hard stuff.Not always, but I think that those two are definitely correlated. And and forme, I go back to um you know, Patrick lynch jones book the motive and say,what's your motive for being a leader? Right? Is it all about um the rightsthat you get relative to the role that you're in of being a leader and all theperks and the benefits? Or is it about the responsibility that you have toserve and lead others? And when you when you look at the your motive asbeing a leader through that particular lens, it causes you to question notjust your ability and willingness to lead, but the way that you would engagein the role and why you're doing it to begin with. I think I see there's a common areathat's uh people avoid doing things they should and I think it's fearrelated and I would put that in the area of dealing with destructive heroes.I think especially when that person has been there longer than you, you inheritthe team, this person is producing great results, but they're violating,you know, the team norms or the values of the organization in some cases andyou know, in pursuit of achieving your own results, you could be fearful ofpulling the trigger on that difficult person. I see that in a lot of cases.Yeah. And I'd say that it comes back to fear of embarrassment, fear ofrejection. There's a couple other features as well. But to be specific interms of the behavior that you would see on any leadership team is like justfor whatever reason, avoiding the...

...difficult conversations, right? Whetherit's a team based conversation or one on one conversation with appear ordirect report or even a boss sometimes just for some reason we shy away fromthose challenging and difficult conversations. And of course in ourwork, what we, what we realize is there's a lack of trust in therelationship which is why we're not having those courageous conversationsdoes being courageous always get rewarded. Is it always, you know, a win.Oh no, not at all. I mean there's plenty of examples when a leader hasmade a difficult decision? The right decision and it's not popular with themasses whatsoever. And as a leader, I mean, I think that's one of the reasonswhy they would say it's lonely at the top. It's not because no one isfollowing you. It's because the decision that you just made, which iswhat we always remember. The most recent decision our leaders made. Itwas hard. It was difficult and you feel like you're on an island because it'snot very popular, but you believe it's in the best interests of theorganization, whether it's short term or perhaps even over the long term.Tell us a story of a time or two when you've had to challenge the Ceo orpresident to be more courageous. Can you think of a time where you felt likethe need to say you've got to step up to this issue, Whatever it was you twocome to mind, one is more recent and the other has happened a few years ago,the more recent one at working with the leader and her team. And after we weredoing some work with the team, the leader and I would debrief and we'dhave a conversation and she would say I'm so disappointed rick and my team.And I would say, huh it certainly didn't show itself when we weretogether, why didn't you share that with the team? And like, oh that wasjust like it would break their heart if they hear me say that I'm disappointedin them. Well are you disappointed? Yes, I was disappointed. Like you have toshare that with your team. And for some leaders that's really hard to be ableto say to directly to your team. I'm disappointed in our progress. I'mdisappointed in our launch. I'm disappointed in behavior or our rollout.But that's one of those things that we have to be able to communicate. Becauseif you hide that it's always going to come out because uncommunicativeexpectations that you have for people always lead to resentment. And if I'mnot communicating that to you and I'm holding that in, it's going to come outin the former resentment is in a show up in the relationship. Now I have togo back and caveat it with this something I've said. I think multipletimes so far ahead when you don't have trust in that relationship, sharingthat can be dangerous and people are gonna take it, interpret it in adifferent way than you're intending. And I certainly see that in a lot ofcases. I have another example if you want that as well, keep them coming.Yeah. So um this is a few years ago I was working with the team and the Ceowas giving me a lot of information about the very destructive behavior ofthe CFO and um some multiple conversations and over and over againevery conversation would turn to the destructive behavior of the CFO. And Ifinally said to the Ceo. You know you're enabling this behavior. And theCeo responded with, well what do you...

...mean? Does the CFO work for you? Yes.Did you hire the CFO? Yes. Have you told the CFO that their behavior isinappropriate? Oh no I haven't had that conversation with him yet. Right. Sohere's the case where the Ceo was just talking to me as an external personwanted me to come in and fix the entire team because here's what was going on.The entire team was being damaged by the behavior of this one particularindividual. The CFO on the team and they wanted to hire me to fix it. So anexternal person can't fix that issue. We can come in and help the team,helped the leader accept the responsibility and then we can showthem steps to do so. But they're the ones that have to lean into that and wekind of guide them through that process. It's hard. But the Ceo was enabling thebehavior and it was one of the features that we've talked about before. I thinka lack of um courage. What's the impact in most cases based upon what you'vewitnessed when the president Ceo owner exhibits appropriately courage. Whathappens with at least the team that that person manages and leads the wordthat comes out of everybody's mouth. Whether it's audible or not is finallythat's what they're saying, that's what they're thinking. Finally, the personsees it the way that we've been seeing it for years. Finally, it sounds likethey're going to address this and we can get after this because this iswhat's holding us back, whether it's on the entire team, whether it's for aparticular project, I think people's initial response is relief and find outthat doesn't mean it's easy because we have to enter the danger we have to dothe hard work, we have to go into the messy middle. And the messy middle iswhere all the difficult conversations have to take place. And but that'sthere's no other way around it. We have to step right into any time that weavoid because of a lack of self awareness or a lack of courageousness.And we try to avoid stepping right into the middle of the messiness. The issueis not going to be resolved in the way that it needs to be resolved. He's rickpacker, he's a principal consultant with the Table group, he's a goodfriend and he's certainly a tremendous asset to organizations that he helpsrick. What's the best way for people to reach out to you should they want toconnect or talk more about being courageous and self awareness. Well,Table group dot com is a great place. I'm one of the consultants on thatwebsite, but just google my name, rick packer, usually I pop up pretty up inthe search is so I'm not big on, I don't have a lot of social mediaplatforms. But yeah, Table Group dot com is a great place to find me alongwith my consultants at the Table Group. Well, thank you once again for takingus down this path of more clarity and awareness of what it takes to be agreat leader. We'll have you back soon. I have no doubt about it. Thank yourick. My pleasure. Thank you for listening to the Ed EpleyExperience. For more information on building a more sustainable, smarterand healthier business, visit www. The...

Epley Group dot com for resources tipsand Ed's latest blogs. That's the Eppley e P P L E Y group dot com. Plustake a free assessment at the epic group dot com slash assessment to findout how you measure up as a highly skilled and accomplished manager andwhere to focus on improving your skills.

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