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How to Self-Assess Your Leadership in 2020 [Podcast]

Episode 111: Michael and Kathryn discuss the current climate in our nation and world, and share how you can reflect on your leadership right now in order to make healthy business and leadership choices that value humans and equality. If you are struggling or feeling conflicted about your role as a leader amidst the current events of 2020, then give this episode a listen.  

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In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover how clarifying questions can help leaders learn more, and assume less.
  • Find out why reflection on your own weaknesses as a leader shouldn't be avoided.
  • Learn how assessing your own cognitive biases is a step toward a better Passion and Provision company.
“What we have is an opportunity as leaders to acknowledge that we have weaknesses- we can't avoid acknowledging it. It's the frailty of humanity. So let's do the best we can to grow and move. And in today's world, we want to build companies through good leadership, building strong community, building good communication, and through honoring people. Calling them to something that is bigger than all of us that will provide good things and improvement in our society, communities, families and in our individual lives."
- Michael K. Redman

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References:

FulfilledTheBook.com

 

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Michael:
              Hello, everyone and welcome to the HaBO Village podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              We're recording this on the first week of June.


Kathryn:
               June 4th, to be exact.


Michael:
              And we've been wrestling with what to talk about today, and in the midst of all of this, we're still in the coronavirus crisis aftermath. Places are slowly opening up and everything else and so I think we all have a coronavirus hangover.


Kathryn:
               And will for some time.


Michael:
              We're all dealing with new things. Then we've got a whole lot of stuff going on in our country around the topic of race and the challenges that we as human beings have when it comes to looking and seeing people that are different. Different perspectives, different opinions, different personalities. I don't need color in skin for me to be annoyed with people who are different than me. It's sad to say sometimes, but you get frustrated. You get challenged. My wife and I, my daughter and I, my employees and I ...


Kathryn:
               You never get irritated with me. Come on. Don't even.


Michael:
              And you know, you get this stuff where it's like we just have these challenges, and now we have all this extra stuff, and I want to say up front, I didn't want to talk about any of this stuff. Not that I wanted to run away from it, but I didn't want to contribute where I didn't think we had anything to say and I just didn't want to become part of the noise where everybody thought they were doing that. But we have a podcast. We've been doing this for a very long time.


Kathryn:
               And to not speak to it is to be like ...


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               What do you do?


Michael:
              I don't want anybody to think that ...


Kathryn:
               Just ignoring it.


Michael:
              Ignoring it.


Kathryn:
               Sunshine and rainbows everywhere.


Michael:
              Or to be unclear about our perspective, if they care. And I don't want to force our perspective on anybody that doesn't care, so we're going to share some thoughts today. Warning, there's a label on that, but really I think if anything else with Kathryn and I as we've discussed, the thrust of this podcast today is really around, it's more about leadership. It's more about, as leaders, what do we do? How do we lead in times like these?


Michael:
              We just did a podcast just a few weeks ago on leading in crisis and dealing with the coronavirus, but this is a different ... The temperature in America right now is just ... It's a different beast than we all have to stay home. We've gone from people being riled up and stressed and starting to protest, and in some cases riot before there was any race stuff happening and before the issues back-


Kathryn:
               Just in response to being locked up, right?


Michael:
              ... In the Midwest. Yeah, just in response to the coronavirus. Then we had the other challenges and issues that we've had that are a recurrence at some level of things that have happened over the last several years, and there's a tension that's going on, and part of what we're all dealing with as human beings at a much more higher level, philosophical level, is the issue of having to adjust to change versus times in life when things are going fine and we don't have to adjust. Human beings in general, when we're leading, we are not great at change. We change, and then we set our new course, and then we follow that course. And we're creatures of habit, and we're creatures of perspective and we like to know what's coming around the next corner. We like to have a sense that we're not going to be completely surprised.


Michael:
              Yeah, every once in a while, we want a new novelty. We'd love to see something new. We'd love to see a new sunset. What we don't want is we don't want to go around the corner and run into a danger that we didn't know was there.


Kathryn:
               And that has been a summary of 2020. Like, oh no.


Michael:
              A friend of ours said recently, "I want a do-over on 2020, except for your book launch," and I'm like, "I agree." There's even times when I'd like to redo parts of the book launch.


Kathryn:
               I'm just kind of smiling because I keep thinking to myself, okay, those of us in the north state who in November of 2018 had the campfire and we're living through-


Michael:
              And for those of you listening outside of California, we're referring to northern California.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, northern California, so the Chico, Butte County area. We had the campfire which destroyed the town of Paradise back in November of 2018.


Michael:
              14,000+ homes gone in 24 hours?


Kathryn:
               Yep, and so we spent 2019 just kind of dazed I think and in recovery and making plans and starting to rebuild. I think I saw ...


Michael:
              And six months before that our neighbors an hour north-


Kathryn:
               An hour north had the car fire.


Michael:
              Lost well over a thousand homes and are still recovering from that.


Kathryn:
               They did. So we, you know, smoke, ashes, all of that. So that was 2019, and I remember looking at 2020 like, "Okay, I'm so glad 2019 is over."


Michael:
              Actually the fire was 2018.


Kathryn:
               I know, but the aftermath and the living through it.


Michael:
              Oh, the aftermath and recovering.


Kathryn:
               So 2019 was all about that, right? And I remember just, welcome to 2020. Okay. 2019's gone.


Michael:
              Going to be good.


Kathryn:
               It's going to be great.


Michael:
              It's going to be great.


Kathryn:
               And, oh my goodness. So just feels like, I think part of it is there's just some fatigue. It's crisis upon crisis, and I think our ability as leaders sometimes to respond well starts to get worn down a little bit. So how do we sort of refresh and rejuvenate ourselves in the middle of those kinds of realities?


Michael:
              Yeah, and we've also been in the Redman household and in Half a Bubble Out we've also been confronted in the last two weeks with three deaths of people we know and care about.


Kathryn:
               Non coronavirus related.


Michael:
              Non coronavirus related, and then they all died before their time. And so in each case it was a tragedy, and a unique tragedy in each one of the three cases in the last 14 days or so. And we're like, okay, crikey, this is a lot.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              And we're being vulnerable right now to you all and I know that some of you are like, "I can't handle this," and you're going to turn us off, and I don't blame you. I might turn us off today too. But for those of you who are like, "We just want to be honest and vulnerable and real and go, 'This is challenging,' and find some silver linings in it also." Because as leaders, we are called to seek out some truth and to remind ourselves, and then our people that we're leading, what the center line is and to call them back to it, and to encourage them. That's our goal as leaders. What's truth, and if we believe in that truth, we believe in those things that we see, then we can call people back to it. And if it's a place where it brings good things, and not all good things are just without pain and trial. I know that. When we raise our children, there's hard times in life, as we learn and grow. Sometimes learning life lessons is hard, but those are the things that yield good fruit on the other side.


Kathryn:
               Definitely.


Michael:
              And so we want to talk about and remind all of you on that, and then just, Kathryn and I are big fans of statements that have been written in the past of things like it's really, we want to remind you of things you already know. We want to build you up in the truths that you already living into, and maybe somewhere in the midst of it, from a new perspective at a new time, the same old truth has a new value to you, a fresh value to you. And one of those things, after deciding what to do, deciding that you're going to call your people back, that you're going to choose to step into being a leader, because those of certain leaders, sometimes we just, we want to opt out of leadership.


Kathryn:
               At least for a day.


Michael:
              Especially when it's really tough, and so we want to speak to our people and one of the things we need to do is making sure that we ask a lot of clarifying questions of whoever we need to. What's going on? I love the quote recently, "Your ears never got you in trouble." Meaning listen, because if you just do a lot of listening, you're not going to get in trouble there. You may get frustrated at times, but you're not going to get yourself in trouble. It's when you open your mouth that all of us-


Kathryn:
               It's the old saying. You got two ears and one mouth. Let's use them proportionally, shall we?


Michael:
              Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. So I mean, you ask a lot of clarifying questions. Kathryn, clarifying questions. Talk to me about that.


Kathryn:
               Well, I think that one of the dangers we have as human beings is that especially if we don't love complexity is we tend to generalize and over-simplify.


Michael:
              Yeah, that's a good point.


Kathryn:
               So we make profound assumptions about what somebody else is thinking or feeling or whatever, and we assume based on their behavior that we understand everything about what causes that, and that's dangerous. So asking clarifying questions is all about really trying to get behind like, what's happening here? What is causing you to respond the way that you're responding or feel the way that you're feeling? So that there's context for a deeper conversation for better understanding for not pigeonholing somebody into whatever our view is in general.


Michael:
              Why do we generalize? I mean, we were talking about this earlier, but I know that when people say, "Oh, you're generalizing," well, why? I mean, is generalizing a valuable process ever?


Kathryn:
               Yes, absolutely. I mean, the world is a complex place and if we don't generalize some things, we put things in categories, right? We have to categorize to make sense of the world. There's no question about that, so there's value in being able to categorize things. The danger is when I take a category and just assume everything about that without any variation within that category, and that's where it gets dangerous. So we have to group things. It's just part of how our brain sorts information, but to move beyond the grouping, to the fact that not everything in that group responds or feels or acts identically is a really, really important skill and it's a very important skill of leadership.


Michael:
              Yeah, and identity is so often for so many people attached to the groups of the communities they're a part of. Whether it's a Democratic or Republican party or any kind of political party. Whether it's, you know, I am not part of any party. I am part of the not party party.


Kathryn:
               So you're part of something. We are tribal. We want to belong.


Michael:
              We do want to belong, and we want to belong, and we believe that there is a way to shorten the communication process by saying, "I'm part of this group," because over time, because you just, you know, you meet somebody new. You don't have enough time to say, "Let me tell you all the nuances about who I am and what I think." As opposed to, you know, "Let me tell you some things about it." On the simple fact, you know, when we're in England visiting family, restaurants behave differently. I mean, even in England, the bathrooms are different. The way the public bathrooms are are different. There's so many things that are different, and yet it seems like it should be similar because they speak English.


Michael:
              And yet to say, "I'm an American," explains like, "Forgive me, I'm not from here. Could you explain something that you think is so common sense that everybody should know?" But as soon as you say, "I'm sorry, I'm not from here. How did the bathrooms work?" You know, somebody has a little bit more patience because if it's, "Oh, you're not part of the ..." The things that we have assumptions about in our society when it just comes to those things, or tipping. The difference between tipping your waiter or waitress in America and tipping in England, and even Europe. Very different. Now it's starting to become more common over the last 20 years, but it's different.


Michael:
              These are things we just assume, and then if you don't tip in America, what does that say about you? If you don't tip in England, what does it say about you? It doesn't say the same thing for most people. That's just a really super generic way of saying there's these assumptions that live in us and we have different ways of looking at things, and sometimes saying, "I'm part of this group" is actually helpful. We're not trying to say it's not helpful at all.


Kathryn:
               No. I mean, you have to be part of groups. It's just the way it is. The danger is what happens when we absolutely place everybody in that group in the same frame and we basically are like ... Because what ends up happening is that if we become too connected to our group, and especially when we get into stuff like race and that kind of, the stuff that we're dealing with in our country right now, it becomes an us versus them.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And if I have been raised to be afraid of certain things because of experiences of my people, first of all, it's not fair to assume that every person who was raised in the UK until they were seven and then moved to the United States has the same fears that I do.


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               They may not. It could be completely different, depending on where you're raised, what you grew up with, the perspectives. There's so many things that feed into just our core worldview, and I think one of the things that happens especially for me in the middle of cycles that we're in, because these are cycles. So this challenge with systemic racism in our country, it ebbs and it flows. It never goes away. It's always there. It's real.


Michael:
              The pot's always hot. It's just is it boiling over or not?


Kathryn:
               Right. It's just when it boils over, and so this recent boiling over, what it always does is it causes me to have to stop and go, "Okay, what are my underlying assumptions? Who am I in the middle of this? How do I think and feel and respond that would potentially contribute to the challenge as opposed to be someone who would be part of healing that challenge?" So even just owning our own stuff in the middle of this as leaders I think is really critical because to assume that you know, "Oh, that's their problem." You know, "I'm not like that. That's their problem. They're jerks. I'm great. I don't have any issues," is something that I think is unrealistic.


Michael:
              Yeah, I think it is and that's also as a leader being self aware. We have to be self aware of our own stuff and our own failures, and that's one of the reasons why coaching, we love leadership coaching and things like that. You have somebody else looking at you and asking questions and things like that. Those are helpful and significant and everything else because we get into those places, and we're talking about culture in our companies on a regular basis. How do you build a culture? How do you build a strong culture? How do you build a culture that people identify with and want to work in your company, and all of those kinds of things. And yet, while they say, "I am part of this company," and hopefully we've got people that say yes to our core values and our vision, they also have uniquenesses and they have different nuances and maybe they believe in what we do but they have different beliefs in other areas. And so for us to be able to figure out, how do we continue to encourage within the realm that we have influencing?


Kathryn:
               You were going to say control and you stopped. You don't have control.


Michael:
              I don't have control.


Kathryn:
               I saw it.


Michael:
              We don't have influencing.


Kathryn:
               We have influence.


Michael:
              Where you're asking questions. You're encouraging people to listen. You're encouraging us to remember that for some, and I was reminded of this this last 24 hours. You know, gosh, we're in our 50s now, and we've seen a few things in life and we've been a few places in life, and our unique stories, you and I, Kathryn specifically, has led us through a lot of different twists and turns with our families and in things that we've experienced and challenges we've experienced and places we've had to grow, and realizing that A, everyone has a unique story. There's two things that go hand in hand and that are points I'm trying to make here. Remember that for some, this is all new and remember that people have experiences that we don't know about. So there's things in people's past, events that have happened, where they're experiencing a gridding now and the world through those things, and that's a significant, whether their own hurts or wounds, or just quite frankly they've seen it.


Michael:
              I mean, everybody who went through World War II, or even the folks I knew who went through Vietnam, once they'd been over there and once they'd seen those things, even if they were healthy and whole and everything else, they had a viewpoint and experience that added to and expanded what they were seeing that I may or may not understand. I may or may not know. So to write them off because they were this or they were that is dangerous, especially before you've heard. It's one thing to come to a disagreement and finally walk away because everybody's listened to everybody and said, "I disagree, and I have to disagree, and I appreciate you saying what you said. I've listened, and now I still think that that's not completely accurate." Well, that's okay. That's a healthy place. That's a hard place for us to be, but the other thing that I was saying is we have, especially those of us that are older, there are a lot of people in their 20s and 30s. They're adults. They have jobs. They have families. They're making decisions. And some of them have never even been through any of this.


Kathryn:
               This being like this kind of uptick in-


Michael:
              Uptick in all this stuff going on in our society. They may not be old enough to even remember the last time we had a major ... They weren't aware or paying attention last time we had a major virus. Maybe it just missed their radar because they didn't know anybody, or they weren't alive or old enough to remember the aftermath of the civil rights. I remember-


Kathryn:
               Or even the Rodney King riots in the '80s, right?


Michael:
              Absolutely.


Kathryn:
               They're not quite old enough to have that be fresh in their mind.


Michael:
              If you were born in '81, '82, '83. You and I graduated from high school, and the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles were a major issue and discussion nationally, a very heated discussion over race again.


Kathryn:
               In the late '80s.


Michael:
              And when that happened, we were old enough to know it, see it, and we had friends that were in the midst of the riots. So we were processing it at a whole different level. You know, "Are our friends going to be okay? Is this going to be safe? What's going on?"


Kathryn:
               Yeah, my best friend married a law enforcement officer and it was his first posting, so I was looking at that thing from a whole like, "Oh my gosh, is he going to make it home" kind of thing.


Michael:
              Yeah, yeah, yeah. So when we process those things, we realize some people are right now especially on social media and everything else, but a lot of people are processing this for the very first time. This angst and tension in our society. We've been fortunate enough to walk through multiple occasions, especially with our friends over the years that are of different races and colors and had some conversations and had hard conversations and understood, and I'm realizing that my knee jerk is to say, "We've had these conversations. Why are we having them again?" Now, please do not get mad at me and throw something at this podcast. I was going to say radio. Throw something at your radio, but I realize that until there's dramatic improvement or no need for improvement, we probably still need to have the conversation.


Kathryn:
               Yeah we do.


Michael:
              I know that. I want to grow and everything else, but I started to get very frustrated with the issue that we're rehashing conversations that didn't get us anywhere at times, and yet I realize that there are people, first of all, the first time you come in contact with ugliness, and I believe racism is an ugliness. Just-


Kathryn:
               Evil.


Michael:
              It's just a horrible, horrible thing. Racism, the discrimination of people and the lowering of their worth as human beings based on any factor is in my opinion not okay, and Kathryn and I both believe that. Whether it's religion, whether it's race, whether it's creed. We do believe that there are things that are right and we do believe that there are things that are wrong, and we do believe that there are places where you can't escape truths, but I don't know any truths that hurt people. I don't know any truths that actively go, "I'm going to put you down and stand on you so I can get taller." There's nothing that benefits that, and at least longterm. I mean, there's a short term.


Kathryn:
               So what you're trying to say is that what you believe to be actual truth would never devalue a human being.


Michael:
              That's a nice way of putting it.


Kathryn:
               Because if it's truth it's going to value humans.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               Because humans are valuable.


Michael:
              Your life, your contribution, your uniqueness, the things you bring to the table, and wanting to make sure that it's really clear at some level that we here at Half a Bubble Out, HaBO Village, we believe those things. We believe that kind of equality, and we love our friends that are Jewish. We love our friends that are Christian. We love our friends that are black. We love our friends that are Hispanic.


Kathryn:
               Chinese.


Michael:
              We love our Chinese friends. I love my Chinese friends, but it is amazing how brutal we can get with other people, and it's not just in America.


Kathryn:
               No, it's not.


Michael:
              Like having conversations recently in the last six months, again, with some of our Chinese friends and talking about the racism in Asia against other Asian countries. Americans look at Asians and see Asians a lot of times, especially if you're uneducated about it and don't realize the difference, but the Chinese versus the Taiwanese versus the Japanese.


Kathryn:
               Koreans.


Michael:
              There's a lot of racial tension in that side of the world because they're from different countries. They really do see each other as dramatically different and have different perspectives about why one is better than the other. It's just human beings unfortunately chase this down.


Kathryn:
               There's racism within races. Like people of the same color who are at each other because of demographics or poverty versus wealth. I mean, the dividing lines are everywhere. They're everywhere.


Michael:
              Yeah, and so what we have is we have an opportunity as leaders, and this is really where I want to call us to is first you acknowledge, we got these weaknesses, and you can't completely avoid, as much as I would like to, you can't completely avoid coming back and being willing to acknowledge that they're there. The frailty of humanity is there, but at least you can say, "Okay, let's do the best we can to grow and move."


Michael:
              And in companies like this in today's world, we're talking about building companies on this podcast on a regular basis through good leadership, building strong community, building good communication, and a sense of honoring people. Honoring them and calling them to something that is bigger than all of us that will provide good and improvement in our society and our communities and our individualized and our family's lives so that we all can say, "Yeah, I want to be a part of that, and I like it so much I want to be a part of it and I want to come alongside and I want to throw my arm, my shoulder to the wheel and move forward and just say, 'Yes, I'm willing to pour myself into it,' and let's do it together." It is a beautiful thing in the midst of that, and I think Passion and Provision companies really do provide that. There is a sense in which everybody is equal at some level of dignity and humanity and honor.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Michael:
              And then we just take different places within the program to our places to help. What are the best places we can be in? How does that feel to you?


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              That feel okay?


Kathryn:
               It does. I think the other thing that I want to be able to say to you as a leader out there is it's okay to be sad. It's okay to just be like, "Wow, there is a lot going on, and this is a really turbulent time," and it's likely given the state of the nation that it's not going to get easier anytime soon, partly because we're heading into election season and we all know how vitriolic that's going to be, right?


Michael:
              Ooh. That was a big word.


Kathryn:
               Vitriolic. I know. So be wise about what you're listening to and what you're watching and who you're paying attention to. Get the facts about stuff, but realize it's okay to be sad. You can't live there forever, but it's okay to just be like, "Wow, this sucks. This is really hard. All of it." And then you regroup and say, "Okay, yeah, it's really hard. Now, what do we do? How do we move forward?"


Michael:
              For those of you, there's going to be a very small, maybe a small amount. I get this way sometimes where it's like, "I'm just not grieving." Everybody around me is sad. I'm not grieving. I'm like, it just is what it is. We don't want you to feel, because sometimes y'all get thrown into a bucket, and I'm with you. Sometimes we get thrown into a bucket of, "You're not grieving. This isn't bothering you, so something's wrong with you."


Kathryn:
               Yeah. There is no one right way to respond. There just isn't.


Michael:
              There are healthier ways.


Kathryn:
               There are healthier and unhealthier ways to respond. Throwing glass through the window of a shop that is owned by someone who didn't do anything is not healthy.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               But there are healthy ways to respond, but even just based on your personality, right? I mean I have friends who are activists in their personality and they're going to go march and they're going to go be part of the peaceful protest, and I'm probably not. That's not how I'm put together. It doesn't mean I'm not processing and walking it through, but even just permission to be who you are in the middle of it while still responding in a healthy way I think is important.


Michael:
              Yeah. So I don't know if I want to make this happy time, but this is not a happy time. We are at difficult times in our country and in our world, and yet we all have to still be in business and we still have food on the table, pay the mortgage, and take care of our people. And so as you move forward in Passion and Provision business and as you move forward and in creating work that survives the hard times and thrives in the good times, we want to be a part of that conversation, we want to thank you for being part of our conversation and listening and tuning in today, and then really just want to encourage you. It's possible to find these things, and we're going to try and speak even more into finding the joys in the midst of all of this, because there are joys. There are great things happening. There are people around you that are having successes and winning, and even when people have conversations where they disagree but they come away knowing that they've been heard and respected even if they do disagree, those are wins.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Michael:
              Those are huge wins in our society, and let's just go ahead and continue to commit to encouraging those things and those kind of conversations, and when we do something dumb or stupid, just admitting it and apologizing and moving on. Because we all do that too. I know I do. I say things sometimes and I just shouldn't say, and I try not to, and then I have to apologize for them. So that is probably it for today on the HaBO Village podcast.


Kathryn:
               It's your first time, we're sorry. We're usually very upbeat.


Michael:
              And even funny at times, and there's a lot of banter. So if you want to know more about Passion and Provision and are trying to understand what this looks like as a Passion Provision company, we have our new book out and you can get that at fulfilledthebook.com.


Kathryn:
               That's fulfilledthebook.com.


Michael:
              And there's also a link on habovillage.com and it really walks you through the concepts and the ideas and gives you some really practical tools to building a company that's fulfilling, thriving, successful, and then we call that Passion and Provision, so that it's intriguing and exciting. So, have a great day. Thank you for joining us. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And this is the HaBO Village podcast. Take care.