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Mad Scientist Leader? It's Time to Grow! [Podcast]

Episode 43: In this episode, Michael and Kathryn dive into what it means to have a 'mad scientist' leadership style and the reasons why it can be unhealthy for you and your company. Get insight on how to grow, develop trust, and hold yourself and your leaders accountable in this podcast episode.

Man Thinking Deeply

In This Episode You Will Learn:

  • What a 'mad scientist' style of leadership looks like and how it can hurt your Passion and Provision company

  • The 4 components of Character and Competence: integrity, intent, capability, and results

  • The 5 Areas of Trust

  • Examples of how a leader can empower and protect employees

  • How to hold yourself or other 'mad scientist' leaders accountable

 

"Amazing leaders are willing to talk the talk AND walk the walk. They are willing to ensure what they say and what they do aligns."

– Michael Redman

References:
The Speed of Trust (book by Stephen Covey)
Mastering Leadership (book by The Leadership Circle)

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Michael:           Have you ever experienced the fact that somebody's so talented and so creative as a leader, as somebody who is in charge, the founder of a company or anything like that, that everybody wants to make excuses for all their other shortcomings and immaturities and lack of growing.


Kathryn:
         Yeah. You hear things like well, he's just kind of the mad professor. He's just kind of the mad scientist. He's a genius. The rest of those social things are outside of his skill set.


Michael:
         Today, we're going to talk about those things with the mad scientist leaders and how we need to think about the fact that if we're in that category, we need to be growing because the responsibility of the leader is to continue to grow. All that today on HaBO Village Podcast.


Michael:
         Well, hello everybody and welcome to HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
         And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
         We're glad you're back. We were able to take a short vacation and go over to England and visit Kathryn's mom, had spent some great time there, and now we're back in the studio having a ... excited about today's podcast, and we're going to talk about this whole idea of this mad scientist. I use that term because it was mentioned in our conference room today in a meeting. What's going on is there's a sense in which, it's like, this is the context. Well, they're so amazing at X. They're such a genius that it's okay that they treat other people poorly, that they don't ever keep their word, that they don't ever do anything on time when they said they would do it, and that they alienate relationships left and right, but it's okay. We'll compensate for them.


Kathryn:
         We'll just keep picking up the pieces after them. You know what? It's just what you get, because when you've got a genius at the helm, you know? Sorry folks.


Michael:
         Kathryn and I are going to talk about ... You're going to get some opinion, and some strong opinion about the fact that leaders need to be held accountable. Especially leaders need to be held accountable because if you aren't living an example as a leader, especially in a passion provision company, for yourself and others. If you are not living the example and demonstrating the life of a healthy, proactive, passion and provision leader, then you're going to have problems actually leading people, because what you're doing is, you're saying I'm going to behave X and I want you to behave Y. I want you to go there, and I'm going to go here and just ignore the fact that I suck at everything I'm telling you you're supposed to do. All right.


Michael:
         You've seen the old cartoon. Don't pay attention to anything I do. Just do what I say.


Kathryn:
         Right.


Michael:
         Talk about frustrating.


Kathryn:
         It doesn't work. It doesn't work in parenting. It sure as heck doesn't work in leading a business.


Michael:
         People think it does. Now, there's a point at which I think what happens here is that people get into organizations where the leader, the founder, the mad scientist if you will, has such an amazing ... They're almost like savants. Right? They do such an amazing job in this one area, or it's impacted somebody so much that they're willing to compensate and do all kinds of things and make all kinds of excuses for the leader because they want to see that thing happen. I totally get that. If somebody is amazing at it, great. But, if they're responsible for the company and they're going to play a leadership role, they need to be growing.


Michael:
         This goes back to some things we've talked about already. Really, one of those things is the idea that a leader needs to be growing and developing. We all need to grow and develop as adults. We've talked about this before in the podcast, and that that idea is we want to go from a reactive leader to a proactive or creative leader where we're authoring, where we're doing healthy things. We're behaving and taking of leadership tasks in a healthy way, in a proactive way, and we're taking care of culture relationships and people in a healthy way. When you have these mad scientists, what you have is an immature leader. No matter how skilled they are. No matter how old they are. No matter how successful the company is. When you have a leader who will not grow, you have a dangerous situation.


Michael:
         Right now, we are in a situation where we have a client who is in that. They came along and asked us for help. I'm amazed at how many things are happening.


Michael:
         Here's what we're going to do. We're going to talk about this, and I want to talk about this in the context of trust. We've talked about speed of trust and Stephen R. Covey's book, Speed of Trust, and how the whole concept, if you're not familiar with it, it's one of the best examples and definitions of trust we've ever seen.


Michael:
         Then, from there, he defines trust within the business context. You'll see this played out with speed. If trust is high, things happen quickly in a business, and it costs less to achieve. So, costs are down, effectiveness, and efficiency and everything else in production is high. If trust is low, then costs are high and everything else takes longer.


Michael:
         I mean, we've seen this lots. Haven't we Kathryn?


Kathryn:
         Absolutely. I mean, it doesn't require obviously a rocket scientist to understand that if you trust me, and I send you a proposal that outlines what we talked about, you're going to glance through that, and you're going to be like, yep. That looks about right, and you're going to glance through that. You're going to be like, yep. That looks about right, and you're going to sign off on it. If you don't trust me, you're going to nitpick every little piece of it. We're going to go back and forth 15 times and eventually we might get something signed, but we're both going to be kind of worn out. That doesn't mean trust doesn't need accuracy. It's just there's a completely different interaction that happens when somebody trust you and somebody doesn't. If they don't, it just takes forever to get anything done.


Michael:
         Yeah. There's a story about what's his name, that owns Berkshire Hathaway from Omaha?


Kathryn:
         Warren Buffet?


Michael:
         Yes. Warren Buffet. One of our staff, Chris, it's like Warren Buffet's one of his heroes. There's a story, and I think it might even be in The Speed of Trust. Warren Buffet and another company, they were doing a major hundreds of millions of dollars deal. They were selling a company. What happened in that process was that they had all these lawyers on both sides, and the lawyers were saying we go to do this, we got to do this, and we got to do this. Buffet and the CEO from the other company had a one meeting conversation.


Kathryn:
         I love this story.


Michael:
         They agreed on a price. They shook hands, and all the lawyers were freaking out. They're like, no. I trust him that he's delivering what he says he's delivering, and the other person says I trust that they're going to pay for it. It all worked, and they sold the deal. Now, you might be saying Warren Buffet. If you don't know who Warren Buffet is, he's like, depending on the day, he's either the richest or the second or the third richest man in the United States at any given time. He lives in Omaha. He owns all kinds of stuff.


Michael:
         What they're doing is this whole issue of The Speed of Trust. Now, trust breaks down. Work with me with this. Trust breaks down into two major parts. Competence and character. There's this great graphic in the book. Page 57 if you're looking.


Kathryn:
         Based on the edition in front of you.


Michael:
         The paperback edition in front of me. You have competence and character that break down into four pieces underneath it. There's this picture. Imagine a picture of an oak tree. A mighty oak tree. Okay. This oak tree is growing and it's like, I don't know, 75 feet tall. Huge canopy. The whole bit. Then imagine that in the graphic, that's the top two-thirds of the picture. Then you see the ground. Then, it allows you to see underground with all the root system of this mighty oak that are all over the place supporting the strength of everything above ground.


Michael:
         Everything below the ground in this graphic is referred to as the character. Everything above it is competence. The character is highlighted by integrity. That's one of the four. You have character below, competence above. Two segments of trust. Then they break that down into four more pieces. Integrity, intent, capabilities, result. It's a great opportunity to talk about this because full trust is what we're talking about in leadership. As a phenomenal leader, you're going to want to develop trust with yourself and trust with those around you, one on one, the larger group of your organization, the community of your company, no matter what size it is, and then a reputation of trust in the overall market and society.


Michael:
         You've got self-trust, one on one trust, organizational trust, market trust and societal trust. Those are the five areas of trust. They work outward like a rock that gets thrown into a pond and ripples out. At every level you're going to deal with integrity, intent, capabilities, and results.


Michael:
         Now, obviously integrity boils down to I said I was going to do something, and I'm going to do it. It's the root of all trust. Right? Then, from there above, it's like okay. Intent is the next step. What is it important to do? What am I intending to do? Was I intending to hurt you? If I hurt you, I wasn't ... All of us have been hurt by somebody who didn't intend to hurt us, and they came back, and they said, I'm sorry. I've hurt people. I didn't intend to do that. It was such a misunderstanding. My intent was to help and for some reason it didn't come out as help. As our saying goes ...


Kathryn:
         Help is only help if it's perceived as help.


Michael:
         Help is not help unless it's perceived as help. If that's the case, I was trying to be helpful, and it wasn't perceived as help. We can forgive that much easier than I had no intent on helping you. I had no intent to honor my word. I was being deceptive or anything else. It violates trust.


Michael:
         In a passive aggressive leadership model, people say all the time yes, yes, yes. I'll do that, and then they go away and do something different because they never intended to do what they said they were going to do. That's what happens in a passive aggressive model. We see that right now in one of the clients that we're working with, that it has describing to us an unhealthy culture in an organization they're purchasing. They're moving in, purchasing it. There's a staff of about 25 people. What has been created by the leader is a culture where everybody goes I feel like I'm being micromanaged right now, but if I keep my mouth shut, and I don't confront it, he'll go away and then I can go off and do want and then nobody is going to hold me accountable.


Kathryn:
         He'll come in and say do this, this and this. The person who he is saying that to will be like, okay, okay, yep. Absolutely. Okay. Okay. Then, he walks away. They have no intent to do it. They don't do it and it never comes back at all. It's just and that's that. We're used to that and on we go. Think how that would be at your company.


Michael:
         That's awful.


Kathryn:
         That's terrible.


Michael:
         Intent is important, but then having the best intent and not being capable of doing something. I love this example. I'm going to ask you to do brain surgery. You're not a brain surgeon.


Kathryn:
         But, I trust you.


Michael:
         But, I trust you. I know you have my best interests. My wife has my best interests at heart. For those of you that are new, Kathryn's my wife.


Kathryn:
         I do have his best interests at heart.


Michael:
         I also happen to be her husband.


Kathryn:
         Works out well for both of us.


Michael:
         And business partners. I can ask her, will you take this drill and drill into my head and take out this tumor? Will you relieve that pressure? She could say yes, and she's going to do it with the best intent, but she doesn't have the capability because she doesn't have the training.


Kathryn:
         That might be the end of our podcast if you ask me to do that. I think that pretty much would be over.


Michael:
         That would be it.


Kathryn:
         I'd have to find a new podcast partner.


Michael:
         Wait a minute. You'd find a new podcast partner?


Kathryn:
         You never know.


Michael:
         You'd leave me and go find a new one?


Kathryn:
         Well, if you're dead.


Michael:
         Okay.


Kathryn:
         All right.


Michael:
         All right. Fair enough. We go from integrity, to intent, to capabilities. Do you have the capability to do this? This all has to do with trust and then we move into results. If you look at this graphic, the root system is integrity. Just above the ground is intent. Half way up the tree is capabilities. The full growth of the tree at the top is results. Here's what happens. Mad scientists, these people that are super savant in some area and everybody, they want you to make exceptions for their mistakes. They're telling you that you should. Other people have come into this co-dependent model that is trying to make sure that something happens and there are exceptions to this I know. If you have somebody who is an expert at something, don't give them a job description of something else. Don't give them the job description that they're not good at.


Michael:
         If somebody is really good at something, they need to also follow through. You can't just wait until they have the whim unless they tell you I'm going to wait until I have the whim. Okay. That's fine, but when somebody says I'm going to do X by Y date, and they don't, and everybody goes well, that's just the way it is because they're such a genius. We'll just put up with it. It's mad. It's madness. It's just madness.


Kathryn:
         It is madness.


Michael:
         I don't understand it. When we're doing leadership development and coaching through our office, what you're hearing today is really two different meetings that happened in our office today. One that a company that's buying another company, and they're trying to work on culture and vision and messaging for them. We're working with them on that. We have this dysfunctional company that they're trying to figure out how to change the culture. That's one of the tasks. That's hard, and it's real. It's going to take time, and it's going to take persistence. As we talked to them today about trust, it takes understanding the anatomy of trust and then knowing how to evaluate the different pieces of the anatomy of trust so that you're not blanketing a solution that really is designed for one specific place.


Michael:
         Then, later today, we had this mad scientist comment. Every time we have a meeting, it's like we find out that there's one more person that this leader has alienated and yet everybody's trying to figure out how to not hold him accountable to what they're doing so their own agendas can be met.


Michael:
         Now, I'm being kind of harsh. If you're listening to this podcast, hopefully you want direct because when we get on a moment like this, when I get on a soapbox like this, you want direct because this is really the crux of leadership development. Amazing leaders are willing to walk the walk and walk the talk. Talk the talk. Walk the walk. They're willing to align that.


Kathryn:
         Yep.


Michael:
         What they say and what they do aligns. Go ahead.


Kathryn:
         I would say if there's somebody who is leading a company that you're associated with who kind of falls into that roll, I mean it's possible that that person actually doesn't have the capability to lead.


Michael:
         Totally.


Kathryn:
         At that point, you start thinking about what are the alternatives? Is there someone we can partner with them? Is there somebody that can help them stay on track? I mean, Iron Man needs Pepper. Let's face it. Iron Man can't get anything done if Pepper's not helping him.


Michael:
         Right? When he kind of alienated her ...


Kathryn:
         He's a little bit of a genius, and he's a little bit of a mad scientist, and he just goes off and does his thing, and then he alienates everybody. He needs Pepper.


Michael:
         He was an idiot.


Kathryn:
         He was an idiot. People need their Peppers.


Michael:
         Pepper's like, you either get yourself together or I'm out of here.


Kathryn:
         Right.


Michael:
         And she left. She put up with him for a while.


Kathryn:
         If you're not a Marvel fan, that illustration is not going to help you.


Michael:
         Yeah. Iron Man's not a real person.


Kathryn:
         He is in my life.


Michael:
         Pepper is not a real person either. These characters, that illustrates a great point.


Michael:
         As we've talked today, one of the key and really the big theme out of all this is, if you're going to be a great leader, if you're going to lead a successful company, and you're going to find passion and provision, you're going to find peace and joy. You're going to behave in wise ways. You're going to lead.


Michael:
         We're going to do another podcast on a new aspect of leadership that we were introduced to and just thinking about, just some verbiage that we were introduced to that we love. Real quick here. That verbiage is, leadership and leaders are designed to protect and empower the people they lead.


Kathryn:
         Makes me so happy.


Michael:
         To protect and empower. You brought that up today with a client, Kathryn. I mean that's powerful. What stands out the most to you about empower and protect?


Kathryn:
         I think that so often leaders think that they're job is to get everyone to do what they're telling them to do. We've talked about healthy leaders are those that want to help the people under them be successful so that they can then perform at higher levels, grow in their own career and character, and ultimately that's good for everybody. Sometimes, it means you're at the end of moving on and that's kind of a bummer, but the reality is if we're not about helping other people grow, then I think we're not good leaders.


Michael:
         Yeah. Yeah.


Kathryn:
         That's the empower idea. What does it look like to empower? Then, the protect concept for me is, if I'm leading a company, I want to make sure that my employees are in the best possible situation they can be in to be successful. One of the examples that we share with our clients not infrequently is we had an opportunity once to experience a client who decided that he was a little angry about something. Something had gone wrong he didn't understand and rather than inquiring about it, he just chose to start yelling and screaming at our staff. So, Michael took the opportunity to let him know that he no longer was a good fit for our company because our job is to protect our staff if we're going to have a culture that we want to work in from abusive clients. That's just not who we are. It's not what we do.


Kathryn:
         When somebody sort of framed it for me as our job is to protect and empower, everything in me just sort of resonated with that. I was very excited to hear somebody make it that sort of simple.


Michael:
         Kathryn's being very tactful. The short end of it is, this client of ours decided to yell at two employees and to accuse them of lying, and I fired them. I just very quickly said that's inappropriate the way you behaved. You need to find another marketing firm and consulting firm to work with.


Michael:
         Now, interestingly enough, they were very contrite. They were from New York City. They blamed it on being New Yorkers. You know, everybody here is rude. I'm like that's just no excuse. They actually were very contrite. They apologized. That was over five years ago. They're still clients of ours. They've never, ever, ever once raised their voice again as far as I can remember with any of us ever. It doesn't mean that we haven't had difficult conversations and there haven't been hard challenges in their business, but we held them accountable. It was to the peril of our cash flow. We made a decision based on ... It wasn't like, well, they don't spend much. They were spending a fair amount. We dealt with that.


Michael:
         The big thing here today is, really, is there an accountability? I mean, it really goes down to accountability and trust in leaders and two different perspectives. One. If you want to be a leader who is really, really a good leader, you've got to develop integrity, intent, capabilities, and results. If you say you're going to do something, there's got to be results. If you don't have the ability to do it, you need to either learn how to do it or stop saying you're going to do something and delegate it and find the right people that are going to do it. You can have all the weaknesses in the world, and that's okay, as long as you realize you have those weaknesses, and you are just willing to acknowledge them. Then, make sure that they're taken care of so that the people around you don't suffer from your weaknesses. That's just not cool, because that's not protecting them.


Kathryn:
         No.


Michael:
         And it's not empowering them. The other thing is, is if you have a leader around you, whether one of your leaders that are on your staff, or you're a leader in an organization where there's leaders above you that are like that, I want to encourage you. There needs to be a form of accountability. If you're in an organization, or a company where the leader above you is considered a mad scientist, and they're allowed to say whatever they want and do whatever they want and promise whatever they want, no matter how charming they are or anything else, but they're not building trust, and they're not acting with integrity in the midst of that, no matter what, I want to encourage you. Either speak up and say something and find out, are you in a culture that actually is going to ever become a passion and provision culture? If not, maybe it's time for you to either start your own company or start looking for a company that honors trust, integrity, intent, capability, and results.


Michael:
         Ultimately, building trust, which creates passion and provision companies.


Kathryn:
         Yeah, and because many of you who are listening are the ones that are leading your companies, this is more in some senses also a sense of hey, are there things that you know that you need to grow in that you're just kind of letting go because you think [inaudible 00:23:35], the leader, I can get away with it? If that's happening, you need to not do that. You need to own your crap.


Michael:
         Own your crap.


Kathryn:
         Am I allowed to say that?


Michael:
         Well, it's our podcast. We can say what we want.


Kathryn:
         You need to own your crap. You need to start working on those areas where if you've had repetitive people or repetitive situations where you've hit a road bump in your relationship and something that's happening and it's happened multiple times, odds are that that's you, not them, no matter how much you tried to blame them.


Michael:
         Yeah.


Kathryn:
         If it comes down to two or three situations and all of a sudden the same feedback is coming at you, then it's time for you to realize the common denominator in that relationship is you. You probably have something you need to grow in.


Michael:
         If that's the case, a couple of different things. We have other resources that are available. We'll recommend The Speed of Trust to you as a book. If you're ready to grow and you feel stuck and you feel like you keep going around dealing with the same frustrations in your company and you have to look inward first. Speed of Trust is the first book I will recommend. Then, the second is Mastering Leadership. Mastering Leadership, by The Leadership Circle. Phenomenal book on how do we grow. How do we build the plan so that we continue to grow as leaders? There very well may be somebody listening today who has been struggling, and frustrated, and you know you've got some challenges and weaknesses, but you're at that point where it's ready to talk more about those places that you can actually get stronger, but you're asking the question how, because I feel stuck.


Michael:
         If you feel stuck, a couple of different things. Grab these books. Speed of Trust or Mastering Leadership. Then, Half a Bubble Out. Those of here at HaBO Village and Half a Bubble Out. We work with leaders who are interested in getting unstuck and building a passion and provision company and leading it well.


Michael:
         You can do it. If you're sensing that at all, I really encourage you. It's possible so you can have hope. All right.


Michael:
         We just really wanted to talk about that today. I hope it was helpful. I hope there was something of interest and engagement there and there's something you can take away from today's podcast.


Kathryn:
         I know Michael feels better just, you know ...


Michael:
         Just getting it off my chest.


Kathryn:
         Just getting it off his chest.


Michael:
         Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


Kathryn:
         Thank you. Even if it's just him that feels better, thank you for listening.


Michael:
         I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
         And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
         This is HaBO Village Podcast. You have a great day. Thanks.


Kathryn:
         Bye.