Vince Molinaro diagnoses recurring problems in leaders today, the mindset of a great leader, and what it really takes to deliver accountable and transformative leadership.
- The four key terms of the leadership contract
- Why having tough conversations is so important
- Steps to being an accountable leader who gets the best out of people
Vince Molinaro experienced a defining moment early in his career when he saw a respected colleague and mentor succumb to a cancer she believed was the byproduct of a stressful, toxic work environment. As a result, Vince vowed to teach business leaders how to build successful organizations by increasing the accountability of their leaders. He’s a leadership adviser, speaker and an author of The Leadership Contract(Wiley), a New York Times and USA Today bestseller now in its third edition, and The Leadership Contract Field Guide, published in January 2018.
Items Mentioned in this Show:
- Vince’s Book: The Leadership Contract
- Vince Molinaro’s personal website: http://www.TheLeadershipContract.com
- Vince’s Blog: Gut Check for Leaders
- Book: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James Collins
- Tim Ferris: 5-Bullet Friday
Vince, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.
Thanks so much, Pete. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Oh yes, I’m looking forward to getting into your wisdom here, but first I have to hear the back story of you playing at the accordion as a child. Why this instrument?
I didn’t have much choice. I wanted to play the guitar and the drums but that got kind of ruled out. My parents were Italian immigrants, so the accordion is what most kids like me learned early on in their lives. That’s what I started with. Lasted about seven years of lessons every Saturday morning. That’s part of who I am. It’s part of my heritage as well.
The accordion, the first thing that comes to mind when I imagine an accordion is Steve Urkel. I believe he also was an accordion maestro. Was he not?
I believe he was. I believe he was. It had at that time, certainly when I was growing up, a little bit of that geeky brand. Now actually I find that certainly among some Millennials, it’s a pretty hip instrument to play.
Excellent. You sound super hip in terms of your content that you’re sharing. I’ll give it to you. Tell me, did you have any tremendous accordion performances or highlights of your accordion career?
You know what? My problem was that I very quickly learned to play by ear. I would listen to music and I could kind of figure out how to play it on the accordion. Instead of practicing all the music that I was told to learn, I would spend all my time at the time figuring out how to play The Eagles and Supertramp on the accordion.
That took over my interest. I was a pretty mediocre accordion player. There aren’t many memorable experiences as a performer.
I’m wondering, do you think you’d be capable of playing the accordion today or is it long gone?
I could play at a very rudimentary level. I did when my kids were younger and they were – we gave them piano lessons. I did take some piano lessons. There is that musicality inside me that I still maintain a little bit.
I think if anything the benefit is it really introduced early on a love of music, a good ear for music and the discipline that it takes to practice something every day consistently though I didn’t practice what I was supposed to practice, I did spend a little bit of time on that instrument every day.
That’s great. I also want to hear about you’ve got a great title, the global managing director of leadership transformation for Lee Hecht Harrison. Can you tell us what is that role and this organization?
The organization is a part of The Adecco Group, which is a global Fortune 500 company. LHH is one of the world’s leading talent and career development firms. We operate in 65 countries. We’re the world’s largest provider of career transition and outplacement services.
When companies are needing to reduce staff, we’re able to come in and provide really valuable services that help people through the transition, help them kind of find new work, better jobs faster.
Then we also have our talent and leadership side where we work with companies helping them develop their leaders so they can be effective in dealing with all the change and transformation that’s happening in many sectors around the world.
I’ve got sort of a small consulting unit and we’re responsible for driving the thought leadership for the company and helping really senior leaders think about how they need to kind of help their leaders get to the next level so their companies can be successful.
That’s excellent. You put some of these concepts into your book, The Leadership Contract, which is now in the third edition. Is that right?
That’s correct. It’s just come out in its third edition as well as a field guide companion book that allows the leader to kind of apply all of the ideas in their own leadership role.
Well, that’s great. What’s sort of the main idea or thesis behind The Leadership Contract?
It really started – I spent my career in the whole leadership industry. I’ve done it through consulting with hundreds of organizations over the years. I’ve done a ton of research and writing as well as I’ve held a lot of senior level roles myself and built businesses and whatnot.
In the last little while, we kept hearing a real problem by a lot of our customers, which was we’re investing more than ever in leadership development, but we’re not seeing it translate into stronger leadership. We’re trying to understand what’s kind of behind that.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on the industry, what I saw my clients doing. It came down to this idea of I think what’s missing is leaders not understanding that when they take on a leadership role, they’ve actually signed up for something quite important. But a lot of times that is not made clear or transparent.
It’s largely because we have a history of kind of promoting strong technical performers into leadership roles. We throw them into those roles, don’t give them a lot of support, don’t give them a lot of guidance of understanding what it means to be a leader. They try their best, but they’re never really performing as effectively as they can.
That’s where this idea of a contract in that I believe it’s kind of human nature for us to hold anybody we deem to be a leader to a higher standard of behavior. We expect more from people in leadership roles than I think we should. To me that implies a contract. When you take on a leadership role at any level in your career, you’ve actually signed up for something important.
I think that idea is not necessarily new. I think it’s always been there, but today the role is so demanding that we have to understand there’s a leadership contract and then the terms that go along with that contract. That’s essentially the big idea of the book.
Intriguing. What are some of the key terms of the contract?
As you talked about contracts I’m thinking – I recently became a landlord. We’ve got leases. It’s so funny with tenants. You discover maybe every few months, there’s another thing to put in the lease. We didn’t think of it last time. Not to put that in the sink. I guess we’ve got to spell that out. What are some of the key terms that show up in this contract?
Well, there’s really four when I try to really distill it down to how to help individuals in leadership roles really think about their role. It’s really about the mindset of the leader.
The first term is that it’s a decision. You have to make it. What that means is you’ve got to really think about yourself and define yourself as a leader.
I have found in my work and my team has as well in developing thousands and thousands of leaders worldwide that you find that I can kind of take on a leadership role. Let’s say I’m an engineer and I’m a great engineer. They kind of have a split mind. They still think of themselves as engineers and the leadership part of their job like their part time job.
They kind of all get to that leadership stuff Tuesday afternoon where I’ve got a window between 2 and 2:30. What I’m saying is, “No, no, the decision is you’ve got to define yourself as a leader.” Yeah, you might be an engineer or an analyst or an accountant by training, there’s nothing wrong with that. But once you’re in a leadership role, that’s got to be your main thing. You’ve got to define yourself in that way.
If you know yourself well enough, you kind of say, “You know what? It’s not for me,” then that’s a very noble decision. I think we need more people to be honest with themselves in acknowledging when leadership isn’t their thing. That’s the first one.
The second one says that okay, once you decide then you’ve got to understand that it comes with responsibility and obligation. You have an obligation to shareholders, your customers, your employees, the communities in which you do business. The fundamental obligation is to leave your company in better shape than you found it.
You look around the world today. You see leaders involved in scandals or corruption or other bad behavior and you kind of go, “Well, they’ve clearly missed this point somewhere along their career as a leader.” Obligation is the second one.
The third one that often surprises leaders is I’d say leadership really is hard work. You’ve got to get tough. You’ve got to have the resilience and resolve to tackle some of the challenging things you’re going to face.
A lot of it always has to do around people, managing poor performers, giving candid feedback, making tough calls that might make you unpopular with your team but are critically important for your business.
Sometimes people come in with a fallacy of, “Well, now I’m the manager. I can just kind of put my feet up on my desk and everyone else does the work.” It’s like, no, no, no, you’ve got a lot of work to do as a leader and some of it is pretty tough. If you don’t do it, you actually – and if you avoid it, you don’t appreciate how much you weaken yourself and weaken your team.
Then the last one is really the new motto of leadership that’s emerging in companies is that leadership as a community. It’s about leaders working together in a very unified way, where in the past it was a very centralized, key decision makers at the top. They dispensed the order. The rest of us did our jobs.
Today we’re working in more networked models. It’s cross-functional work. We’ve got global matrix structures. You’ve really got to be thinking about all the leaders and the relationships they have with one another and how effective they are at working together.
There’s a leadership contract and the four terms that I think are really helpful to think about our role as leaders today.
Yes, I’m right with you there. I want to sort of talk through each of these a little bit. With the first point in terms of deciding that you’re a leader. I guess as a youth I went to many leadership conferences. It was sort of beat into my head that everyone is a leader. We’re all leaders.
Maybe could you contrast that a little bit in terms of the difference between we all exercise to a degree leadership and influence and self-management, and all that stuff, versus what you mean by the decision to be primarily a leader.
Yeah, I kind of probably would phrase that a little differently. I would say we all have the potential, leadership potential within us. Then I think you’ve got to make the decision to fully commit to say I’m going to be truly accountable and work really hard to be as great a leader as I possibly can.
I don’t subscribe to the sense of there’s a few of us that have been blessed with these special traits of a leadership and the rest of us don’t have them.
Like you, I do believe everyone has the potential to be a leader, but I think that potential has to be honed and in order for it to be honed, you’ve got to be pretty deliberate at the decision you’re making and make that really firm commitment to yourself to be really deliberate as a leader. That’s kind of my perspective on that one.
Could you paint a picture for us with regard to the cost or the commitment or the time investment that is really necessary to lead effectively.
I’m not sure if it’s as much about a time commitment as much as really how you think about yourself. If you think about yourself as a leader, then you realize that in many ways there are different expectations of you, to know that you’re always on.
A good example is someone I write about the story in the book. He was a team member, this was in a technology company, … team. Then he got promoted to be the leader of the team.
Now all of the sudden, he found that the nature of his relationships changed, that he couldn’t behave in the way he did when he was a team member, where they would go out for dinner and for drinks and party and have fun. He realized, “No, no, now I’m the leader. I need to behave differently.”
It doesn’t mean that I bring a sense of authority to the relationship. The expectations are different. There was an example of how he realized he needed to step up in different ways in order to lead that team. He still had strong relationships. He just wasn’t one of the guys and the gals as much.
That’s sort of that it’s kind of more how you show up, what you pay attention to, what you’re being deliberate about and obviously that commitment to develop yourself, to be open to feedback and to invest in your own development. I think those become fundamental.
Understood there. When it comes to the leadership is hard work phase, could you share a couple of examples of the hard work that is often dodged and how to engage in it all the more effectively?
Yeah, the two we hear a lot about is not being aggressive enough in managing a poor performer and not having the confidence to give candid feedback to someone on your team. If you take, let’s just focus on one of them.
If you take the classic story of the chronic poor performer. I’ve played this out wherever I’ve traveled globally. It tends to follow a same story or arc.
You’ve got a poor performer on a team. Everybody knows who the poor performer is. When employees and team members are off having lunch or a coffee, there’s a lot of gripping about the poor performer. “Why can’t she or why can’t he get his act together? We’re all having to kind of put in extra effort in order to cover that person,” and on and on and on.
As the weeks and months go by and you as the manager or the leader do nothing, the conversation shifts from the poor performer to who? To you. Now the gripping is about why aren’t you doing anything to help this person. Either give them training, either move them to another role or maybe they need to be exited from the company.
Finally you get the courage and you decide that maybe yeah, this person needs to leave the organization. You finally do it. The first thought that comes to your mind – into your head every time you do it is why did I wait so long.
That’s been a universal finding every single time I talk to a leader about this. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a CEO or a supervisor, a team lead. If we knew that, if we know why are we waiting so long, then why do we wait so long? We don’t appreciate there’s a price you pay as the weeks and months go by not addressing an issue like this.
That’s only one of many issues you’ve got to deal with. What I talk about in the book is the hard rule of leadership, but as leaders, when we avoid some of these legitimately challenging hard work, we don’t appreciate how we weaken ourselves, weaken our teams, and actually weaken out company.
But if you have the courage to address them in a more timely manner, you actually strengthen yourself, strengthen your team, and strengthen your company.
This one gets a lot of attention from leaders. They all kind of admit, “Yeah, I’ve got a bunch of relationships I’m avoiding,” I mean, “A couple of conversations that I’m avoiding. I’ve got some strained relationships that I’m not doing anything about because I just can’t get myself to approach that person.” We don’t appreciate day-to-day how it weakens us and weakens our performance.
To the answer to that then, you mentioned courage in terms of executing that. Any pro tips for pulling that off?
Well, in the field guide I kind of talk about really learning how to have tough conversations. I call them tough conversations because number one they are legitimately tough. They’re tough on the person. They’re tough on you. We don’t necessarily like having those conversations, but we need to.
A lot of times people kind of confuse being tough with being rough, which is not at all what I subscribe to. You can be tough, you can hold someone accountable, you can kind of put their feet to the fire, without being abusive, demeaning, or a bully.
What I say is the place to begin is to think about how much you care about that person first. Because if you think about how much you care about that person, you realize then you have an obligation to give them the feedback. Maybe it’s something in their blind spot. They’re unaware of something they’re doing that’s undermining their performance.
I see so many times a person’s career gets curtailed because everybody knows a secret about them but no one’s ever had the courage to sit down and say, “Hey, you know how you do this? This is not working out.”
What I find is that the more you do this, the better you get at it, the more practice you have, the confidence increases and then people just know that you’re a person they can count on to give them the straight goods.
I find a lot of times in my work with CEOs one of the things they value is “You’re going to give me the straight goods. I’ve got no one around me that has the courage to tell me like it is. I need to know how it is.” That’s I think the real opportunity.
What our global research has found is one of the lowest areas in companies is peer-to-peer feedback. You’ve got leaders who are hesitant – so if you and I are peers in different departments or divisions and we’re not getting along, we kind of avoid each other, but we don’t have the courage to kind of sit down and hash these things out.
I think that’s going to be the future of leadership – otherwise we just waste a lot of time and things drag out longer than they need to. I think it just begins with having that confidence and courage and knowing how to have a tough conversation, but it begins with actually caring about the person and their wellbeing and their outcome, their final outcomes.
I hear you. Then on the flip side of that I think that there are a lot of leaders who claim they want to hear the real truth, but their actions and demeanor, words in response don’t really mirror or reflect what they claim to want. Do you have any pro tips on how you can actually be encouraging and receptive to the real stuff, the truth that may be unpleasant to hear?
I think you’ve got to be active in soliciting it, number one.
Number two I think a lot of scenario leaders often fail to appreciate how much people just naturally will tell you what you think you want to hear as opposed to telling you what you need to hear. You’ve got to kind of call that out and say, “Okay, are you telling me what you think I need to hear or are you sugar coating this or are you only giving me the positive side to the story?”
Jim Collins in Good to Great really talked about our ability to accept the brutal facts. I think that’s where it begins. If you can kind of set the tone that it’s okay to accept – to talk about the brutal facts, to not kill the messenger, then you will see people come to you.
Now, on the flip side, when you are that person speaking truth to power or having to raise a contentious issue with a senior leader, what I’ve learned that helps is if you don’t come across as you’re whining or complaining or blaming, because that’s what tends to get the backs up.
If you come at it with a place of maturity, you’ve done your homework, you’ve got the data, you’re being factual, that show kind of how you care about the company, then that also helps the message be easier to take as well.
I think it’s kind of a dual thing there. The leader has to set the right tone, has to challenge people to not make sure they’re telling them what they want to hear, not punishing people for doing that. Then on the flip side we need to learn how to kind of deliver some of those tough messages in a way that they’re going to hear it without reacting to someone who’s whining and complaining.
All right. Thank you. In addition to delivering the tough messages, what are some of the best practices in terms of regular and daily communication to be inspiring and motivating and getting the best performance from people?
It’s interesting. We did a global study on leadership accountability. We looked at – one of the things we found was that leadership accountability was a critical issue in over the 2,000 respondents we had globally. 72%, three out of the four companies, said it’s a critical issue, but there’s only a 31% satisfaction with the degree of accountability being demonstrated by leaders globally.
We found that pattern, it doesn’t matter whether we collected the data in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, it was the same pattern. It was quite stunning actually. I was not expecting that.
But one of the things we also found is that there was a difference, a connection between strong leadership accountability and company performance, where industry leading companies just surpassed the rest of the companies on a number of areas.
One in particular that was interesting is we asked the respondents, “Think about the leaders in your company that are truly accountable. What is it that they do differently every day?”
The first one is that they hold everyone to high standards of performance. They set the bar really high. I would say that’s one of the things you need to do.
Number two is they’re genuinely excited about the company and its future. To your point around the inspiration, that’s where inspiration comes from. If I show up as a leader and I’m dragging my heels every day, you can imagine what impact that has on the engagement me, of my team, and my employers. But if I’m truly and genuinely excited and enthused, that’s a huge motivator.
The third thing they do is they actually have the tough conversations, so people know exactly where you stand and there is that clarity. You may not like the conversation from time to time, but they always know you’re going to have their back and not withhold anything that could be getting in the way.
The fourth thing is they’re very good at communicating the strategy so that everyone has real clarity about what it is they need to do and how it contributes.
The last thing is that they’re always kind of looking to the future, anticipating trends.
The first four are really about how you communicate, how you inspire. Set high standards. Jeff Bezos Amazon just with most recent letters to his shareholders, talk a lot about how they set really, really high standards and how when you set high standards, they are inspiring to people because people want to excel, people want to do great.
To do that, you’ve got to set the bar high. That’s the starting point. Then you kind of show your enthusiasm. Then you bring strategic clarity. Then you have the courage to have the tough conversations when you need to. We can kind of define behaviorally what really accountable leadership looks like day-to-day and the impact it has on people.
Well, I guess I’d like to hear maybe a specific example or a case study where I could just get a crystal clear picture associated with “Ah, that leader is being very accountable,” versus “Ah, that leader is being very not accountable.”
Well, you know if you think about what’s been happening in the world and you think about – I’ve traveled – in the last two years I’ve traveled to 60 cities around the world. It seems like wherever I was landing there was a significant leadership story unfolding, mostly on the political side.
On March of 2016 I land in São Paulo, Brazil. I happened to land on the day when millions of Brazilians are taking to the street to protest their corruption in government and corruption among senior executives. There I was that whole week there to talk about leadership. That’s all anyone wanted to talk about.
But you get to see the negative impact that has on people when the most senior leaders are not being held accountable.
You can kind of see it in corporate performance. The good examples, probably the example that is a good one right now is what Starbucks has done this week with the training. They shut down the store to provide that important training they needed to kind of get a core cultural issue.
That was a very strong message from the CEO to say, “We have a problem. We’re going to fix that problem. We’re going to address it in a pretty dramatic way.” What company does that? What company shuts down its doors to address an issue that need to be addressed?
That’s an example of that accountability. They didn’t deflect it. They didn’t deny it. They didn’t diminish that. They addressed it head on. That’s the kind of example to me that we need more of.
What you generally find is a lot of leaders as they take on new roles in companies, they come in and they always see a gap in accountability. That’s the biggest challenge that I find that they’re struggling to put in place is how do you kind of create that sense of accountability.
Then you see examples of companies that haven’t fared well where leaders get defensive. They make mistakes, but they won’t admit them. You can kind of go on and on and see those examples play out.
But that’s generally what it looks like whether it’s at the C-suite right down to a front line. It’s people not owning their role, not owning when they’ve made mistakes, not apologizing, and doing nothing to rectify the situation.
You say accountability. It’s really about the ownership in terms of this is my responsibility and I will do what is necessary to ensure that it is made right.
Yeah. That sense of ownership is really important. A lot of my clients say, “We want to build an ‘own it’ culture. We want people to feel like, they feel like the company is theirs.” Because if you feel that, then you bring that sense of ownership every day. You bring that sense of urgency. You just are kind of operating at a higher level as a leader.
Mm-hm. Do you have any quick pointers in terms of just immediate do’s and don’ts in order to be more of this transformational, and inspiring, and accountable leader like tomorrow, “Do this and stop doing that?”
Well, I think right off the bat is if we kind of think about applying the four terms that we talked about earlier.
The first thing is you need to do – I’ve got a weekly blog that I call the Gut Check for Leaders. It’s always framed in the form of a question to inspire reflection.
I would think about really sitting down and saying, “Have I really made the decision to kind of think of myself and define myself as a leader. Am I all in and fully committed in my role as a leader?” Because you can’t do anything until that foundational question is answered.
Sometimes we let ourselves slip into a state of mediocrity or we don’t pay attention to it or we get so consumed by the day-to-day workload and challenges that we don’t pause and reflect. I would take a few minutes to think about that.
Then I would say, “Okay, if I’m all in, then what am I really here to do? What’s the purpose of my role? What are my key obligations? Who am I obligated to? What’s the value that I’m trying to create for customers, for my employees, for shareholders? How am I leaving my company in better shape than I found it?” Those are two pretty big questions that I think are foundational.
The other opportunity related to hard work is what one thing that you know you’ve been avoiding, and we all have our list of those things that we’re avoiding, they’ll come top of mind pretty quickly. Make some advancement on improving that. Stop avoiding it. Stop delaying.
Find a way to make progress because if you make progress, even in a small way, you are making things better. You are advancing things. You’re not going to be stopped. You’re not going to be spinning your wheels. That I think is critical.
What is it that you’re avoiding? Is it feedback I need to give someone? Is it a tough conversation you need to have with a peer or colleague?
Then the last one around community is research that shows in organizations today, the amount of collaboration that we’re doing has increased like 67%. Now we are more dependent on others for our own success.
There was a time when say 20 years ago when organizations were more hierarchical. I could be fairly independent as long as me and my team did our job in our own little silo, we were okay. Now you’re so dependent on one another.
I would sit down and think, how strong are my relationships with the people that matter most to my success. Where are my relationships strong? Great, maintain them. Where are the relationships strained and how can I repair them?
Those are the four things. You’ve got to decide are you all in, be clear on what you’re obligated to, start being more deliberate and tackling the hard work and strengthen the relationships that you need to be successful.
All right. Thank you. Tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?
I think we covered everything. Probably the part that I would mention is I think it’s really important in today’s, in this period we’re in now with the disruption that’s happening in a lot of industries, with the advent of artificial intelligence, and the whole move of machine learning and robotics, it’s unclear what the future of work is really going to look like.
But I think what I’ve come to really know and understand for sure is that an organization desperately needs leaders and need leaders at all levels to really step up and be strong.
If you are that one person that maybe you’ve never thought of yourself in that way, but you feel you’ve got that potential in you and if you really want to start stepping up, you’ve got a huge opportunity to add tremendous value to your organization and to your success.
Leadership roles are difficult, but when you can build a great team, when you can drive strong, collective performance, I feel there’s nothing better and more rewarding in one’s career than that opportunity to be a leader. It’s a time when we need strong leadership and we need more people to step up and be accountable and help our companies be successful.
All right. Thank you. Now can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?
A favorite quote is my current favorite quote. I got it a couple of weeks ago from Tim Ferriss, I think it’s his Friday 5 Bullet email blast that comes out. It was a quote that he’s been mulling called the Hanlon’s Razor. It says something to the effect of ‘never kind of interpret malice, when stupidity is a much better explanation.’
Why I like that is I find many times in organizations, particularly in large, complex organizations, stuff doesn’t always work out. In fact, it feels like more things don’t work out than do work out.
I spend a lot of time talking to leaders who are really frustrated by things that don’t work out. They get really angry like, “Why can’t marketing get its act together,” or, “What the hell is going on with sales?” “Those folks in R&D don’t have a clue what’s going on.”
We kind of attribute malice, bad intention, where sometimes I think people are just overworked. They’re not always making the best decisions, maybe because they don’t have all the information. I find it’s an interesting way of reframing those things that cause a lot of stress and frustration. That quote is kind of resonating with me the last few weeks.
You know, it does me as well. I think about that in large part in relation to the media when it comes to stories just being incomplete or seeming like the word choice is full of bias in terms of “Well, we know how you feel about this issue,” is that I think that I think this journalist really just has too much on their plate in terms of budgets and workload and what’s going on.
I particularly think about when the story is about a document like a Supreme Court decision or papal encyclical, it’s sort of like none of you have just read the whole document, which seems like sort of the thing to do when you’re reporting a story on that and it’s all completely contained in one volume.
It’s like you could read all of that and then you can report on it and then you have the complete picture of what’s inside it. But it seems like they never do. I don’t think … work in the mix.
Yeah. That kind of helps, right? It sort of helps because you could be sitting on what were they thinking. I think that is an important part of people’s realities today.
I think what it also means for leaders, and I’ve been thinking about this as well, is this ability to sort through what’s real and what’s hype because there’s just so much coming at us. I just want to be clear on what’s going on sometimes. It’s hard to do.
It’s hard work because there’s a lot of information, some of it conflicting, some of it biased. Then if you kind of assume there’s mal-intent, but then that just adds an emotional component ….
Okay, thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?
That’s a great one. I kind of stay on top of a lot of the science that’s going on. I don’t think anything specific that I would cite. I think what’s interesting is I am starting to see a pattern in some of the research in a number of areas where what we’ve long believed or long held to be true is being upended a little bit.
It’s early days in my conclusion, so I don’t want to be too definitive just yet, but I think it’s a kind of an interesting time where a lot of these things that we always took for granted are being changed. That I think creates new opportunities to think broadly about our future and what’s possible. That’s kind of how I would answer that right now.
All right. How about a favorite book?
I’ve always had an interest in kind of Greek and Roman thinking and drama, so I’m all into the books on kind of the stoic way and how it plays out in leadership. There’s a lot of those books out now that are really meaningful to me.
That’s great in many ways. There’s a number of those. Ryan Holiday does some great work there. It just brings kind of an interesting perspective to life, which is in many ways really practical and in some ways also pessimistic, which I find interesting. It’s just a way of helping you reframe and be effective in a world where there’s so much complexity and change.
Thank you. How about a favorite tool?
Well, I do the cooking in the house. I would say that the knives I use to prep and make meals, those are my favorite tools, particularly when they’re nice and sharp and you can do some great prepping. I would say those are my favorite tools because they help me cook the meals for my family.
All right. And a favorite habit?
It would have to be the discipline of exercise and making sure I do that every day and keeping myself as fit as I can. I think that right now in terms of where I’m at is really important to me.
Okay. Is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect, resonate, get Kindle book highlighted, retweeted, heads nodding when you share it from the stage?
The one I think I stumbled on is something about ‘when it comes to leadership, good intentions are not enough.’ I find that one always captures people’s imagination.
I think it’s because I think that we have a lot of people in leadership roles who are well intended but don’t appreciate what it really takes to excel and be successful, so good intentions are not enough when it comes to leadership. You really need to roll up your sleeves and commit to the role.
Okay. If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?
Certainly, LinkedIn is the platform I primarily use to share my blogs and whatnot, so they can find me there. Or at www.TheLeadershipContract.com. They can find out about the books, the blog and other work that I do.
All right. Do you have a parting call to action or challenge to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?
Well I think being awesome at one’s job really takes that sense of commitment. I think it’s echoing what I said before. Companies need people to step up and be leaders at all levels. Like we discussed earlier, we all have that potential inside of us. It’s not a magical quality that only a few people have been blessed with. I think if people really want to be awesome at work, the way to do it is to step up and lead.
Okay. Well, Vince, thanks so much for taking this time and sharing the wisdom. I wish you tons of luck and success with The Leadership Contract next edition and the field guide and all you’re up to.
Thank you so much. I really do appreciate it and this was fun, some great questions. Thank you.