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The Leadership Journey Part Two: Leads the Team

Tim and Junior continue their Leadership Journey series by diving into part two on leading teams. They discuss the challenges leaders face when transitioning from individual contributor to managing others.

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Episode Show Notes

Tim and Junior continue their Leadership Journey series by diving into part two on leading teams. They discuss the challenges leaders face when transitioning from individual contributor to managing others.

0:02:15 - Transitioning from independent contributor to leading a team requires a fundamental shift in mindset and skills. It's often under-supported by organizations.

0:08:50 - The team is the basic unit of performance for solving complex problems, not the individual. Adopting a team mindset is critical.

0:13:06 - Promoted leaders can struggle with the loss of their technical identity and skills which defined them previously.

0:19:52 - Building trust enables teams to accomplish more together. The components of trust are integrity, mutual respect, competence, communication and initiative.

0:36:35 - Effective coaching is not telling. It's collaborative, leverages strengths and transfers ownership and critical thinking.


Part 1 of the Leadership Journey Series
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Episode Transcript


0:00:02.4 Freddy: Welcome back, Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddy, one of the producers of the podcast. This week we dive into part two of the leadership journey, where Tim and Junior tackle, leading teams. You'll hear why this transition can be so challenging even for strong individual contributors who are promoted into management. Tim and Junior provide practical advice on building trust through integrity, respect, competence, communication, and initiative. They also explain how to coach teams effectively, avoiding common pitfalls like solving problems for others.

0:00:35.3 Freddy: If you haven't had a chance to listen to part one of this series, we'll include a link to that episode in the show notes Now, before we dive into the episode, I want to give you an invitation to join Tim and Junior live on February 22nd for a webinar on the future of Emotional Intelligence. You'll walk away from the event with ways to immediately improve your EQ and a special gift at the end. You'll find a link to register to that event at the bottom of this episode's description. As always, thanks again for listening and enjoy today's episode on Leading teams.

0:01:17.9 Junior: Welcome back, everyone to Culture by Design. I'm Junior here with my co-host, Dr. Tim Clark, and today we'll be continuing the Leadership Journey Series with Part 2, Leads the Team. Tim, how are you doing?

0:01:29.9 Tim Clark: I'm Doing great, Junior. I'm looking forward to episode number 2 in this series. This will be fun.

0:01:33.2 Junior: Yeah, I am too. These ones are hard. These have proven to be hard because there's so much that we could put in there. These outlines, I mean, we could have episodes for months, so Freddy, maybe we will.

0:01:45.8 Freddy: Yeah, maybe we will.

0:01:48.0 Junior: Okay. So to reiterate the purpose of this particular series, we wanted to put together a type of leadership map, if you will, a way to orient ourselves inside leadership at really macro level. Where do you start, where do you go, where do you finish? Not that you do finish. So in today's episode, we'll be jumping into the second piece of the leadership framework. And we outline that in the first episode in three parts, Lead Self, Leads the Team, Lead the Business.

0:02:15.5 Junior: So that's, today is number 2, Leads the Team. And last episode we talked about the four levels of contribution. Levels one and two are about leading yourself, contributing dependently, and then level two, contributing independently. Today we make the transition to stage three or level three, Contributing through others. And next episode we'll talk about level four, Contributing strategically. So Tim, Leads the Team. What do you think about Leads the Team as it relates to leadership generally, and in your experience, how much weight, how much import does this have for you?

0:02:50.2 Tim Clark: I can't even overstate the importance of this. When we move from contributing independently, we talked about in the last episode that we invest in developing our technical depth and then we start adding some breadth to it. But now we're gonna move to leading a team. So this marks the point at which we shift fundamentally the way that we contribute. So think about contributing dependently. Okay, I'm learning. I'm learning. That's why I'm dependent, because I'm learning. And then I move to contributing independently. So, I can do things on my own. I can stand on my own. I can handle more autonomy to get things done. I've developed more breadth, alright. But now when we move to contributing through others, now there's a fundamental shift in the way that we contribute. It's not some incremental change, it's a fundamental change.

0:03:55.8 Tim Clark: We go from contributing independently to contributing through others. So even if you become the CEO one day, you will never go through a more fundamental transition in the way that you contribute than what we're talking about now. As you move from independent contribution to contributing through others. It's fundamental because I was contributing directly, now I'm contributing indirectly. That's not even the same. That's what we're going to talk about. That's what we're going to explore here.

0:04:31.4 Junior: So there's a fundamental shift from contributing dependently, contributing independently, and then contributing through others. The irony is that we often don't spend a lot of time here as those doing the transition and as those supporting the transition of other people. And so if you look at organizations and the resource that's dedicated to making this transition, it's often little to none. And yet this is the biggest shift that any leader will ever make. So you said, Tim, that this is a more fundamental shift than becoming the CEO.

0:05:01.4 Tim Clark: Yeah.

0:05:02.7 Junior: That's big.

0:05:03.6 Tim Clark: Well, it is. It's a big claim. But I'm talking about the nature of the way that you contribute and how that changes. How many times have we said or observed that organizations promote individual contributors to management, to a team leadership role on the strength of their performance as an individual contributor?

0:05:26.4 Junior: All the time.

0:05:27.3 Tim Clark: We do that all the time, across organizations we do that all the time. That's not wrong. The problem is, that experience, that knowledge, knowing how to contribute independently does not necessarily mean that you will be successful leading a team. It doesn't naturally follow that you will be able to lead a team. So if you go into the stewardship of leading a team with the mentality of an individual contributor, what's going to happen? You're going to fail. Because it's not the same skillset, it's not the same mentality, it's very different. And so, as you said, organizations underinvest in helping individuals prepare to do that.

0:06:14.4 Junior: So our hope today is to give some practical advice. How do we make that transition? What are some things that we should keep top of mind? And as we said at the beginning, there are a lot of things that we could include, dozens and dozens of things that we can include that would be appropriate. We don't have time to include the dozens and dozens, but we'll give you a few that we hope will be helpful. And it's worth reiterating that you can't successfully lead a team before you've appropriately addressed leading yourself. This is sequential, the model builds on itself. And Tim mentioned in the last episode, concentric circles. And I like thinking about it this way. Lead self in the middle, lead team outside of that and lead the business outside of that. But you never graduate from leading yourself. So keep that tucked away in the back of your mind as we go through the next two episodes, that we're not graduating from leading ourselves.

0:07:12.0 Junior: It's something that we need to spend time on and do well forever. We can't neglect that, or it will hurt us, especially as we're making these transitions to higher levels of leadership. So what does it mean to lead a team? It's probably worth doing an episode about the five functions, but there are five primary functions of every leader. And as you begin leading a team, you assume a new role that includes these five functions. We're not gonna spend a lot of time on them but these now become part of your role. Vision and strategy, and when you're originally making this transition, probably not so much vision and strategy, but it's part of it. Alignment and execution, change and innovation, talent acquisition and development, values and culture. These were not your primary responsibility before the transition, were they, Tim?

0:07:51.4 Tim Clark: No. Not at all.

0:07:51.8 Junior: You just had to worry about your own little piece of the world. You had to get your work done. And now all of a sudden, overnight, we're telling you that you're now responsible for these things, alignment, change, talent acquisition, values and culture. And it seems like that came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, we're now responsible for these really big things.

0:08:12.5 Tim Clark: It's true. Yeah. You don't think in those terms and people need help to get there, so their impact now becomes indirect. It also needs to become scalable. So the question that we often ask Junior, when we're looking at an individual and we're contemplating making a promotion decision to become a manager, we ask, "Is this individual scalable?" And what that essentially means, at least in a significant way is, are they able to contribute through other people? And are they able to perform these five primary functions that you just mentioned?

0:08:50.0 Junior: Yeah. It's worth calling out that the team is the basic unit of performance. And we talk about this a lot. So if the team is the basic unit of performance, then we need to be able to operate at least at this level. So if we can't graduate and successfully make this transition, we'll never be able to operate at what we would deem the most basic unit of performance, which is at the level of the team. So Deloitte said, "This new mode of organization, a network of teams with a high degree of empowerment, strong communication and rapid information flow is now sweeping businesses." Now, I don't know how old that is, but it's interesting to me because it seems to be widely accepted, widely acknowledged, almost common sense at this point, that the team really is the basic unit of performance.

0:09:35.8 Junior: And so we need to get the idea that the fundamental unit of performance is the individual. We need to get that out of our minds and understand that if we're really going to solve complex problems, if we're really going to make a big impact, and we're gonna do that at scale, we have to have a team to do that. We're not going to be able to make massive contribution and massive difference just at the level of the individual. We're going to need to work together.

0:10:02.9 Tim Clark: That's really true, Junior. Think about any problem that we confront, any opportunity, any potential innovation, it's cross-disciplinary, it's cross-functional. There's no individual that can really do that. And so by definition, it requires that we have a team, it requires that we collaborate, that we work together, that we help each other in that process.

0:10:21.7 Junior: So why is it difficult? The transition itself? Why is it so hard? There are two things that come to mind for me as I think about this issue. One is that the nature of the problem is hard, period. It's inherently difficult. Regardless of the resource available to you, it's a difficult thing to do. You're making a fundamental transition away from independent contribution to contributing through others. It doesn't matter who you are. That's not an easy thing to do.

0:10:48.7 Junior: And so that's the first, is that the nature of the problem itself is difficult. And two, is that the environment, the infrastructure, the support is often deficient. Most organizations don't appropriately resource that transition from leading self to leading the team. So what does that mean? If it's a difficult problem and we're not gonna have a lot of help, then we need to take ownership of that transition and build ourselves into the types of leaders we know we need to be. The types of leaders that are going to be demanded by the organization, but then of us. If we're going to appropriately influence people and do that in a healthy way, and we wanna stay as far away from pathology as we can, then we need to take responsibility and figure out what is it that we need to do and how do we do it. So why is the nature of the problem difficult? It's a huge mindset shift, and if you're talking about promoting an individual contributor that's been technically very good, here's something that I think is often not talked about that I've seen, is a loss of technical identity.

0:11:51.5 Tim Clark: You know, I love this Junior. I love that you have framed it this way. And please explain how you got to this, because I think the way you frame this, I think is a huge epiphany for a lot of people.

0:12:02.6 Junior: Well, think about what you've been doing as an individual contributor. You've been building depth, you've been given a unique niche area, and you've been told this is your role, become as good as you possibly can be. And so if you're highly skilled, that's your identity at this point. You find your identity in your competence, in your skillset as it relates to your role. And so if all of a sudden you're told your role is going to become less technical, it's going to become more administrative, we're gonna take you out of the weeds that you've probably grown to love and we're gonna put you up in a tower. And you don't get to touch all the fun stuff that you used to touch before and you don't get to get your hands dirty in the same way. If you have built your reputation and your identity and the technicality of your role, you're probably going to find it very difficult to step away from that hands-on work and adjust to the less technical, more administrative role. That's probably going to be difficult at the level of identity.

0:13:03.6 Tim Clark: Yes.

0:13:06.7 Junior: Because if you look at the way that you interact with other people and the way that they see you, it's probably relative to your role and your technical competence. And so we're pulling away a piece of your identity. And so that loss of technical identity is something that we should not underappreciate when we're asking people to make this transition.

0:13:23.7 Tim Clark: I agree, junior, but I do think we do underappreciate it. So the mindset shift is a deep psychological transition. It's a deep psychological transition. And you can't just understand it cognitively and say, Okay, I have therefore embraced the new mentality. That's not how it works. This is an emotional and intellectual and psychological transition where you leave the current state and you go to a future state. I just love the way you frame that. That loss of technical identity can be very real, it can leave you with a deep and profound sense of loss as you're moving away from that. And then what comes with that? A lot of anxiety and fear. Can I be successful in the new role? Who am I? So you go through this period of being disoriented and feeling that you've become detached, you've become uprooted in a sense, and you haven't yet become rerouted so you're in transition. Very difficult.

0:14:26.4 Junior: Well, if you look through the lens of technical identity, you can see why people might micromanage, especially if they're governing or they're advising or they're managing technical people. If they are coming from a technical background, what are they gonna wanna do and where are they gonna feel comfortable doing the technical work? And so they're gonna wanna come in and get their hands back in the technicality of whatever it is they're doing. And so you can see it's not surprising. And then add to that, we have a new skill gap, but the skill gap is not technical. The skill gap is now managerial. Instead of doing the technical work, now we've gotta learn better communication. We need to learn delegation and we've probably never had to do that. We need to learn feedback. These are not easy skills to learn. These are not skills that you will learn overnight. It's not something you can read a quick manual and become competent.

0:15:19.3 Junior: These are things that leaders will work on for the subsequent decades as they attempt to become better. And these are never done. And it's different than the technical work because in many instances, the technical work has a finish line and it has a standard of performance, and it's binary. You do it or you didn't do it, it was satisfactory or it was unsatisfactory. There's no binary nature to communication or delegation or feedback. It's always going to be deficient. You might get 99% there and there's something else. And so in the technical work, you can say check or 100, it's on spec or it's not, it's on time or it's not. But these softer skills, these managerial skills can be more difficult in that way, which I think is another reason that it's hard.

0:16:07.7 Tim Clark: Junior. Let's also acknowledge the fact that it often happens that an individual, an individual contributor who may be very talented, very capable, very high performing, gets promoted to lead a team and is in that role and does not go through that psychological transition, that mindset shift. But stays in the mindset of an individual contributor and individual contribution, stays there, but is trying to manage people and lead people. So for example, I talked to a very good friend this week who is a financial professional and works as an individual contributor on a team.

0:16:50.9 Tim Clark: And he talked to me about his manager who micromanages every last thing that he does. And this friend of mine is very capable, very talented, does not need to be micromanaged this way, but is nevertheless going through this experience. And his manager continues to manage this way and has done so for, I don't know, two or three years. So what I'm saying is, we have to acknowledge that there are managers, there are individuals that are in managerial roles, and they are clinging to the mindset of an individual contributor. They're clinging to that, and they're stuck in that even though their role has changed.

0:17:35.1 Junior: Never made the transition.

0:17:37.4 Tim Clark: Never made the transition.

0:17:37.5 Junior: I've seen leaders that have been in a role for 20 years and never made the transition. [laughter]

0:17:43.2 Tim Clark: It's true.

0:17:43.2 Junior: It's a hard thing.

0:17:45.1 Tim Clark: Yeah. Changing your role doesn't change your mindset.

0:17:48.7 Junior: No.

0:17:52.8 Tim Clark: It doesn't change... It doesn't give you that psychological transition that you need. It doesn't elevate your skills. We can give anyone a new role, we can say you're a manager now, you're a leader, there's nothing magical about that.

0:18:03.6 Junior: Yeah. So it's difficult. There's this mindset shift we need to take on, a skill gap, there are organizational factors that are cultural, could be support related. So what do we do? What do we do? There are a whole host of things that we could recommend, and we're only going to spend time on two today.

0:18:21.5 Tim Clark: Junior, let me mention one other part of the transition that I think is important. So you talked about a mindset shift. You talked about a skill gap that needs to be closed. And you talked about organizational factors that are new if you move to this kind of role. I think it's also accurate to say that this transition also includes a moral transition. And the reason I say that is because you have to get to a point where you, as you move from direct to indirect contribution, you have to get to a point where you are able morally and emotionally to rejoice in the success of your people. So can we just think about that for a minute? You have to be able to rejoice in the success of your people. If you can't do that, if you resent their success, if you struggle with their success, then you will become an obstacle. So somehow you have to emotionally and morally transition to be able to be happy in doing that job of indirect contribution. If you struggle with that, you're never going to get there. Does that make sense?

0:19:33.0 Junior: It does make sense, and it's difficult to do. I'm glad you brought it up. Because we're saying that the nature of your role is now contribution through other people. And it means that, then success you experience through other people, yet that's often a transition that's really difficult for people. But probably a very good indicator of how well, we've transitioned.

0:19:52.9 Tim Clark: Yeah, what if you have a mindset or an attitude and you're competitive with your people. You've taken a competitive stance with your own people and you lead the team, that makes no sense, at least you're not going to be successful that way. You're not competing with your people, you are helping them, supporting them, enabling them, coaching them, mentoring them, and yet we see instances where team leaders are... They take a competitive stance with their own people, they're not getting it.

0:20:23.2 Junior: No, they're not. I'm glad you brought that up, and I haven't thought about that in the context of this episode and I think it's really helpful. So how do you behave? What are your patterns as it relates to the success of other people? It's a great introspective question. So the first thing that we're gonna wanna do, among other things, is that we would hopefully wanna do at the same time is build trust. So we're gonna spend some time talking about trust today. Now, we've thought about a whole bunch of different things that we could put here, there are a lot of things that would help us become better leaders and make this transition. But we put trust as number one. Build trust. So much of this transition from self to team has to do with trust. So Tim why is it so high on the list?

0:21:02.5 Tim Clark: Well, it's high on the list because everything turns on your ability to create and sustain trust. And then I want to bring in a little theory and even moral philosophy here, if I might, but without getting too abstract. So I wanna introduce a couple of concepts, and let's see if we can keep this practical. So back in the '90s, a political philosopher called Russell Hardin, he wrote a paper in an academic journal, that most people have never read, but I read. It was part of my graduate school training. The paper is called the Street-Level Epistemology of Trust. Now, what in the world does that mean? It's a pretty complicated title.

0:21:48.8 Junior: Just some light reading.

0:21:50.4 Tim Clark: Yeah, just a little light reading for all of you, but I think we can explain this, it's a pretty simple concept. The Street-Level Epistemology of Trust. Now, it is true, the paper gets very deep and philosophical, but I want to bring out a couple of points that are practical and should matter to anyone who is trying to lead a team. Hardin talks about why and when it's rational to trust, and when it's rational to distrust. So when you think about, if you're a team leader, why people should trust you, or if you're a member of the team, why you should trust your team leader.

0:22:30.0 Tim Clark: Now, think about this, if you are a leader of a team or perhaps you're a member of a team, and you're trying to determine, as I said, when and how and how much to trust your team leader. So first, let's define trust. Trust means that I have predictive understanding of another person. In other words, I can predict that you will fulfill certain expectations. So the entire premise of trust is this, if there is trust, that means that we can work together, and if we can work together, we can create or produce something special, we can contribute something more than we could on our own. Okay, let me make a couple of points about trust, here's the first point. As Russell Hardin says, Knowledge determines our capacities for trust. That means that as we're interacting with each other, we gain knowledge about each other in those interactions, that is what is a Street-Level Epistemology. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with the theory of knowledge, so how do we know? Basically, how do I know that I can trust you? I know that I can trust you based on my street-level interactions with you. As we log hours together, as we work together shoulder to shoulder, I'm gaining knowledge of you, and I'm able to figure out if I can trust you. So what he says is that trust is embedded in iterated and thick relationships? Does that make sense? Sure it does.

0:24:11.8 Tim Clark: We're working together, and out of that interaction comes our ability to predict whether we can rely on the fact that you will meet certain expectations. And if you do, and if I gain that predictive understanding of you, then I'm gaining trust in you. So leading a team, the second domain of leadership hinges on my ability to trust you as the leader of this team. But let's also recognize that building trust, it builds slowly with the accumulation of these interactions. Let's also acknowledge Junior, that we can damage trust very quickly and the past lingers, and so it's an accumulation of good performance and trust-worthy performance that allows us to continue to trust over time. I wanna say just a couple of other things that he mentions, that are so good. Trust involves, I'm quoting from his article, "Trust involves giving discretion to another to affect one's interests." I am giving discretion to you that will affect me, so I'm taking a risk. This move is inherently subject to the risk that the other will abuse the power of that discretion that I've given you. And then he quotes David Hume do you remember Junior, David Hume? The political philosopher? This is what he says, "It is impossible to separate the chance of good from the risk of ill."

0:25:54.0 Tim Clark: Wow, that's an incredible statement. So if we're going to do something special together, if we're going to create something more than we could if we were on our own, we can't do that unless we're willing to take a risk and to trust each other. So trust opens the opportunity to do something great, to have this team and to work together, and to be able to go to a place that perhaps we didn't even think we could go. All of this turns on trust and where does the trust come from? A street-level understanding and accumulation of experience with each other. I love that.

0:26:31.8 Junior: There's a lot in here.

0:26:33.1 Tim Clark: There's a lot...

0:26:34.6 Junior: So one of the things that must be true is that there can be no trust where there is no risk. And then one of the things that I'm thinking about in making this transition, if I'm a leader and I'm thinking about building trust, I guess the first is that it must be intentional. You don't mistakenly build a tremendous amount of trust. And two. If you want to become more trusted, ask yourself how might you become more predictable? I think that that's probably a more practical lens to look through, than coming at it directly through trust. Because if trust is predictability then how do we as leaders become more predictable to those around us? If we can go into a room and people can predict what we're going to say about some bad news, or if they can predict how we're going to behave when something doesn't go well, or when something does go well. Can I predict that this person is going to give me due credit? Can I predict that this person is going to take my vulnerability and reward it, not punish it.

0:27:36.3 Junior: So that I think is a really useful lens based on what you've been describing from Hardin is how do I become predictable to those around me? So let's break trust down even further into some component parts, to make this a little bit more actionable. We're gonna say that trust has five main components, and these are components on which we can rate ourselves or we can rate other people. And as we do that, we'll have a pretty good idea of how much we could trust someone or how much other people might trust us. The first one is integrity. So think about all of these as they relate to predictability. What is integrity? Acting out of moral, honest or truthful intent. Doing what you say you'll do. Is your integrity predictable or not? Think about the last few times that it's been tested, think about the last few times it's been tested in front of other people, each time that it's tested is an opportunity for us to build the trust and build the predictability.

0:28:35.0 Junior: So one of the things that I will mention as it relates to integrity is that it's really difficult to build trust when there's no visibility. So Tim, you're saying that there needs to be a thick relationship, there needs to be interaction. Which means that if there's not a thick relationship, and there's not a lot of interaction and I don't have a lot of visibility, regardless of what I see, I can only trust you so much. So to me, this means being transparent about the issues of integrity that we encounter. It means being public about those things, it means publicizing some of those things and sharing so that other people have an opportunity to get more data. If we just show integrity behind closed doors, of course, that's important, and maybe that's the heart of integrity, but we need to publicize some of these things so that other people have an opportunity to see us.

0:29:28.3 Junior: So if there's some ethical dilemma that we're facing or some moral issue that's come across the desk. I think it's appropriate to share some of those things from time to time, so that people have enough data, so that they can see, okay, this is someone I can predict, because they've shown me, here are 17 different times where they've been tested in this area, and they've responded the same way, 17 times. If we don't give people that opportunity, they're only going to be able to trust us so much. It doesn't mean publicize in virtue signal that's not what talking about. But give them enough data and let them interact enough so that they can see the history.

0:30:05.2 Tim Clark: Yeah, they're accumulating a data set, Junior, that's the street level interaction, that's the accumulation of that experience and knowledge of you so that you do become predictable to me.

0:30:16.0 Junior: Number two is mutual respect. Caring about others views, feelings and human status, this has a lot to do with rewarding vulnerability and showing stage 1, inclusion safety and creating an environment where that's true. But what does mutual respect have to do with trust in your mind, Tim, why is this on the list?

0:30:34.8 Tim Clark: Well, when you show respect, you are revealing your intent, you're revealing the way that you regard others, the way that you view them, the way that you care about them, and that needs to be displayed to some degree. So again, it goes back to the predictive understanding of another person, and it can't be that you are simply acting out of your own self-interest, that you are ordering your preferences and simply maximizing your utility as a human. That's part of the predictability that I want to understand, but it goes beyond rational actor. It has to go to moral actor, that you care about others, that they have worth to you, and that your intent reflects that.

0:31:23.7 Junior: And you can ask the question, H"ave you ever trusted someone deeply who didn't show mutual respect?" No, no, you're not gonna be able to find any instances of that. Next, we have competence, so you're applying the knowledge that you've gained over time and the skills that you've built to solve problems and create value. What does this have to do with trust? I need to know that you're gonna be able to do what you say you're going to do. It's much more difficult for me to trust you, I probably won't if you don't have a demonstrated track record of performance of being able to do the job at hand. So the competence thing may seem ancillary, we're talking about trust, it's all about integrity, it's all about... Yes, but it's about competence just as much, especially in a professional setting. I need to be able to lean on you, I need to be able to delegate, I need to be able to do all of these things. And if you don't have a track record of performance that you can do the job and have the technical skill, I can only trust you so much.

0:32:24.0 Tim Clark: Well, I think Junior it goes back to what we've said before. You may have integrity and you may treat people with mutual respect, but if you're not competent, then, I'd love to take you to lunch. And that's great, and I'd love to be your friend, but I can't follow you, you're not gonna lead the charge, I'm not going to follow you into battle because you're not competent. So that's an aspect of trust that becomes very important, as you said, in a professional setting, we have to have that.

0:32:56.5 Junior: Incredibly important. We have to, and I've seen that play out time and time and time again on teams and on our own teams. The trust can be incredibly high when everyone at the table is competent, they have integrity, there's mutual respect, and there's two other things. And that's one, communication. Connecting and sharing, meaning with others through verbal or written channels. Without communication how could there be trust? Really difficult. And the last one is initiative. And this one's one of my favorite. Motivation and willingness to take action without outside influence, initiative. I find that those I trust more than anyone else have the highest degree of initiative because I can trust, I have confidence to the level that it's predictable, that... I may not even know what the issue is, but I know that if the person sees it, they're gonna go get after it. And if they see something that needs to happen, they're gonna go make it happen.

0:33:56.8 Junior: And so the combination of those five things is what results in the highest amount of trust. Integrity, mutual respect, competence, communication and initiative, so how do we as leaders become predictable as it relates to those five things? That's the question, and that's the question that we are saying could be the most important question as you're making this transition from individual contributor to leader of people, now certainly this opportunity exists for everyone, regardless of whether or not that transition hasn't happened or it's recent or it happened a really long time ago.

0:34:33.1 Junior: These are things that we can focus on regardless of who we are, where we are, what our role is, our level of seniority, this is a huge lever. And so think about these, rate yourself, be introspective about these. I'm I predictable as it relates to my competence, am I predictable as it relates to my communication, or is there a lapse in communication and it's predictable. Do I take initiative? And not just do I take initiative in a vacuum, but do I take initiatives such that other people would say that I take initiative. Is it a pattern in my behavior that's enough to predict what I'm going to do next?

0:35:12.0 Tim Clark: Junior, let's also talk about the fact that there may be listeners who are not in positions of leading a team but they want to be. They aspire to lead a team. They're individual contributors right now, but they would really like to progress on the path to management and leadership and lead a team. I think these questions, Junior, that you've just raised would be very appropriate for the individual contributors to ask themselves to evaluate their own progress, because if that's what you'd like to do, if you'd like to lead a team then you need to be paying attention to these components of trust, and do some introspection, see how you're doing.

0:35:49.5 Junior: And if the organization is taking a holistic approach as it relates to the evaluation of a potential leader, they're gonna be looking at these sorts of things, we certainly do, if we're looking at somebody who's eligible for promotion, it's not just technical skill. We're looking at these integrity, mutual respect, competence, communication, initiative. Are these things there or not? Because why would we promote someone we can't trust, and if this is what trust is, it has to be there? So how do you reduce trust? Looking at it the opposite way is also useful. Act without integrity, don't show mutual respect, be bad at what you do, don't communicate and wait to be told what to do. If you do those five things, sure-fire way to not have anyone trust you. So don't do those.

0:36:35.1 Junior: So in leading a team, you're modeling behavior is the most important thing. And you're in complete control of those five things we talked about, which is important, so you're modeling behavior. Second to that are your coaching skills. So this is number two of the two things that we're going to share today, is become an effective coach. Now, we could do a series on Coaching, but we don't have a lot of time today, but we're gonna go through some of the basics. And the first one that I'll call out Tim, is that coaching is not telling. Some people make this transition and think that that's the first thing that I need to do is I just tell people what to do now. That's the difference in my role, is before I was told what to do, now, I just tell people what to do, what do you think about that?

0:37:18.5 Tim Clark: No, it makes a lot of sense. Just take a look at any coach in athletics and sports. When they're coaching, what are they doing? They're talking. What kind of talking are they doing? They're telling. A lot of us grew up playing sports, and we were deeply socialized into a coaching model, that was a tell model. I was, Junior, you were. We were on the receiving end of a lot of telling, year after year after year, and so we come to believe over time that that's what coaching is, it's telling people what they need to do. It's telling people what they're not doing right, it's telling people what adjustments they need to make. Let me ask you a question, if you, just in your mind, I want you to think about, for all the listeners out there, I want you to think about a world-class athlete, or a performer. It could be an actor, could be a musician, could be a dancer, could be an artist of some kind, could be an athlete, anyone that has achieved world-class status in their art. Do they still have people that coach them? Yes, most of the time they do. What are the interactions like? Does the coach embrace a tell model for a world-class performer? Not really, it becomes more of an ask model, so they move from advocacy to inquiry, they move to the inquiry side of the coaching continuum.

0:38:37.4 Tim Clark: Why? Because at some point, and Junior, you talked about this last time, when we talked about the first domain of leading yourself, you have to learn how to self-coach. Well, if you are the coach, what are you trying to do for your people, you're trying to help them get to a point where they can self-coach. You're trying to build that capability in them, you're not trying to create this dependency. You're trying to move beyond the dependency and transfer the critical thinking and transfer the ownership. That's why you move to the ask end of the coaching continuum as much as you can.

0:39:18.4 Junior: Yeah, it makes me think that the relationship between the highest-performing coaches and the highest-performing people, it's peer-based. They treat each other as peers. And another example that I really like in this scenario is a golf caddy, so think about what a golf caddy does and the interaction between a caddy and a golfer. How do they communicate? "What do you think? What are you thinking? What are you thinking?

0:39:42.2 Tim Clark: Yeah, what are you thinking? Is probably the most common question. It's joint discovery.

0:39:48.4 Junior: Exactly. Think about that interaction. "Why, do you think we should lay up right here? Yeah, yeah, I think that's probably right. What do you think? Four or five. Maybe five. And it's inquisitive and it's exploratory. And there's this element of shared adventure, and we're in this together. We both want the same thing, we both might have slightly different opinions. I don't know why, but that just came to mind and I feel like that's a pretty appropriate example. How could you... Maybe I'll take it a step further. If you think about being a caddy for your people, what are you doing? You're taking a step back, you're not the one in the limelight, but you're facilitating their success, you're helping along, you're giving just a piece of advice.

0:40:33.8 Tim Clark: You don't have the club in your hand.

0:40:34.2 Junior: You don't have the club in your hand, hey, we've been in this situation before. Remember this last hole, this thing happened. You can do it, this one's all you. And maybe, hey, sometimes you say nothing. You know that they know exactly what needs to happen and we just sit back. And so I think that that whole orientation of joint discovery is amazing. And if you look at Tom Brady and Bill Belichick look at that relationship, do you think Bill Belichick was just barking orders?

0:41:01.5 Tim Clark: No. No.

0:41:01.6 Junior: No, he didn't. Especially over time as... You see you have a track record of competence.

0:41:07.2 Tim Clark: Well, Junior, it reminds me of the statement from Russell Hardin, it's a thick relationship.

0:41:13.6 Junior: Amazing. So the traditional approach to coaching. It's a decades-old paradigm of really bad habits and annual performance appraisals, and that's how we coach, what we will say is that coaching is not a few things. It's not top-down, it's not based on any sort of gotcha. It's not punitive, it's not arduous or administrative, it's not check the box, it's not a one-sided conversation, and it doesn't just happen when performance is off track. So if it's not those things then what is it? It's collaborative as we've talked about, it's ongoing, which is another element of healthy coaching, it's reinforced with micro-coaching at the time of need, which we'll talk about briefly. It positively helps people reach their goals, it leverages their strengths and it's aligned to the business goals, so it's holistic and that it's aligned with the bigger picture and what we're doing. So.

0:42:01.6 Junior: Tim, tell us a little bit about micro-coaching because we use this with leaders a lot.

0:42:08.4 Tim Clark: Micro-coaching means that when you engage with someone on your team, it's a brief encounter, it's a brief interaction. It's not staged, it's not scripted, it's in workflow, it's usually targeted at something, and as I said, it's frequent. Now, compare that to the traditional long-cycle coaching pattern of the past, where you might have an interaction more infrequently, it lasted longer. Okay, which would you rather have it? So the micro-coaching is bite-sized, we're talking about short burst encounters a minute to maybe... I don't know, the outer limit is probably like 10 minutes, that's it, and it's timely. So you're really paying attention to things as the team leader, and you just engage in a touch point, and, sometimes you don't know why or exactly what you're going to address. Other times you do, but you're doing it frequently, you're doing it briefly, and it's just superior to the traditional long-cycle approach.

0:43:12.4 Junior: And the whole time we're doing this, the whole time we're coaching, we're trying to do two things, which we've talked about before. We're trying to transfer ownership, and we're trying to transfer critical thinking. We don't wanna hold on to those two things. We don't wanna be the person that has all the answers. We don't wanna breed dependence, we wanna facilitate their transition to independence. That's what we wanna do. So a few more things that I wanna mention as coaching derailers. I always think that these are really valuable when thinking about coaching, and they're good for me as a reminder. These are things we don't wanna do. Add too much value. You're always giving your two cents, giving your opinion too early, I do this one a lot, talking over people, finishing other people's sentences, answering your own questions, giving off poor body language, bringing up old mistakes, cutting people off, showing impatience, showing indifference, trying to coach at the wrong time and multi-tasking while you're trying to coach. So those are some things to keep top of mind as things not to do. If you stay away from this list, you can do pretty well, and if you try to micro-coach in the moment of need, one to five to maybe 10 minutes, you can do really well.

0:44:22.7 Junior: And if you have in the back of your mind the whole time, what am I trying to do? I'm I trying to transfer ownership? And I'm trying to transfer critical thinking. And you have that peer orientation as much as is appropriate of joint discovery, imagine Tim, if leaders were able to effectively do this, some do and we've seen it, and it's brilliant when it happens. It's a journey that each of us needs to go on to become better.

0:44:47.1 Tim Clark: Even if the development of your skills Junior, as a team leader are lagging, if your intent is there, people feel that, they smell it, they sense it, and they're okay with your awkwardness or maybe your lack of competence in some of these areas. Your intense there, they see it, they know you're gonna get better, and it starts working, you start gelling. And what happens, you're building trust, the collaboration becomes richer and more effective, and lo and behold, it's working.

0:45:18.2 Junior: So the leadership journey. We're moving from lead self to lead the team, and we're gonna talk in the next episode about leading the business. But in making that transition and becoming a leader of people, these are the two things that we would put forward as two of the most important. One, build trust, and two, become an effective coach. If you could spend energy in this transition on two things, these would be at the top of the list. There are others, of course, but these are very, very important. So Tim, any final thoughts as we wrap up today?

0:45:51.3 Tim Clark: Just remember to rejoice in the success of your people.

0:45:56.6 Junior: Love that. So if we wanna be as effective as possible, we need to pay attention to where we are in this leadership journey, you've probably plotted yourself and where we might focus to improve. So thank you everyone for your time and your attention, we appreciate your listenership very much. If you liked today's episode, please leave us a review and share it. We'll see you next week. Bye, bye.


0:46:23.9 Freddy: Hey Culture by Design listeners, this is the end of today's episode. You can find all the important links from today's episode at And if you found today's episode helpful and useful in any way, please share it with a friend and leave a review. If you'd like to learn more about LeaderFactor and what we do, then please visit us at Lastly, if you'd like to give any feedback to the Culture by Design Podcast or even request a topic from Tim and Junior, then reach out to us at or find and tag is on LinkedIn. Thanks again for listening and making culture something you do by design not by default.


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Episode Transcript

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