Do you aspire to be an effective leader who impacts and inspires your team? Learning key strategies to encourage action, focus, engagement and timely execution of tasks, will help lead you and your team to continued success. Executive Coach and Leadership Advisor, David Chinsky, talks about his passion for coaching as well as his program to train future leaders and help them to achieve their goals.

  • 3:01 – Make ‘one day’ today
  • 5:39 – The faces of leadership fitness
  • 14:40 – Toolsets to becoming a great leader
  • 18:04 – The gift of feedback
  • 18:42 – How to have conversations that neutralize defensiveness 
  • 26:53 – Conversations vs. confrontations
  • 29:25 – How to deal with internal & external pushback
  • 33:41 – Risks, successes & failures
  • 36:38 – How core values create instant bonds
  • 48:23 – The vanishing ‘to do’ list
  • 55:16 – Timeless approaches


Mentioned Book

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh

Full Episode Transcription:

Todd: (00:00)
All right. So welcome to the show today. I am so excited. I have David Chinski from Fit Leaders Academy, and as I’ve been researching guests, certain people catch my eye. And what really attracted me to David was his vision, his simple, straightforward, and inspirational vision, which is to create vibrant leaders who enjoy balanced lives marked by personal health and sustained contribution. So David’s a rockstar and in addition to that amazing vision, he brings more than 25 years of executive leadership and management experience to his role and his focus in his fit leaders Academy. So, David, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show.

David: (00:40)
Thanks Todd. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

Todd: (00:42)
Yeah. So, so what do you want to get into, I mean, I know a little bit about you from researching online. We haven’t spoken much other than just before the show. But I’m really inspired by what you do and again, your, your vision and would love to hear your definition of what drew you to that as a career and what you do for your, your members and your friends and your, and your network.

David: (01:05)
Well, Todd, I’d like to start by just acknowledging the importance of, of today, where we’re talking today on nine 11, September 11th. And that that’s a day that changed a lot of lives. A lot of people lost their lives that day. And a lot of people made some pretty significant life altering decisions that day, myself included. I had been a corporate executive for over 20 years at Ford motor company at Nestle at Thomson Reuters and went into work every day, doing my best. And I kept getting promoted and everyone was telling me, this is exactly what you should be doing with your life. And yet 

David: (01:49)
I had been feeling this passion bubbling up inside of me, that what I was really here to do was to develop future leaders. And that’s what I tried to do as much as I could. In my executive role, I was an executive vice president who was a senior VP of HR. I was a general manager. And while I enjoyed that work, I enjoyed even more. The time that I spent with my leaders, helping them with their succession plans, coaching them, training them. And this was before coaching was a profession. I just enjoy spending time developing people. And I didn’t have a lot of time to do it. I had to steal time literally away from running the company to be able to exercise these skills and to pursue my passion of developing people. So for probably the last seven years of my corporate career, I was questioning whether this was really what I was here to do. And occasionally I would actually park as far away from the building. As I could thinking that this morning, I’m not going in, I’m going to go halfway to the dump and then go back to my car.

Todd: (02:54)
You get that longer walk just to see if you actually pulled the trigger and said, forget it I’m outta here.

David: (03:01)
So I was thinking that that would happen one day and it never did. And then I was in Washington DC, one Tuesday morning, and it was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. And I was about six miles from the Pentagon was attending a professional development program myself. And as the horror, was unfolding that morning, as we were beginning, our class of everyone was kind of rushing out to the lobby where there were some TVs and we began to understand what was happening. And for some reason, when I saw those towers going down that morning, I realized that a lot of people had just run out of one day, I’m going to do this or one day I’m going to do that. And I realized that’s exactly what I was doing. I was, I was saying one day when I retire one day when I have enough money in the bank, I’ll start a leadership development company. And I realized that a lot of people were never going to be able to make good on the promises that they were telling themselves that they were going to do. And so that morning I made the commitment and within three months I left my corporate job without any clients, without a business plan. I just knew in my heart that this was my calling and my wife and I had this conversation that went something like, how long are we going to give this before you go back and get a real job? And

Todd: (04:25)
I had that conversation two months ago with my wife.

David: (04:29)
Yeah. So it’s a serious and important conversation. And so we agreed that we would give it a year and that was almost two decades ago. And since then, I’ve had the privilege of, of working with hundreds and hundreds of organizations and thousands and thousands of, of leaders. And over the course of that period, develop my model of leadership fitness.

Todd: (04:51)
That’s great. That is such an inspirational story. And you’re right. And thank you for recognizing today as as 9/11, it is significant. And I’d love to touch on them and we will circle back around to that and talk a little bit about how dramatic moments help lock-in memories. Right? And it’s kind of a fascinating topic to me. So, so many questions come out of that. Why don’t I save them a little bit? Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about what, you know, you made that decision. You, you give it your, your year and it started to work enough, so you could pursue it full time. And now you’ve been doing this for 19 years. It’s a great, it’s a great story of how that catalyst really made you take the leap of faith a little bit. So let’s, let’s dive into a little bit more about what that looks like right now for you.

David: (05:39)
So for the first eight, nine years of, of my time, with what I initially called the Institute for leadership fitness. Now we’re focused a lot more in fit leaders Academy, a lot of custom leadership work. And then I was working with an executive coach myself, and she encouraged me to think more broadly about the impact I was making and what my model was. And so I started thinking about what are the issues that my clients are coming to me, seeking help developing in their own world, both professional and personal. And I came up with four, what I now call faces of leadership fitness. Some people call them pillars, foundations. I call them faces of leadership fitness. The first was clarity. I realized that a lot of my clients were seeking an ability to set a clear direction for their teams and removing and in doing so removing the ambiguity that often exists, you know, getting people on the same page and also then being able to articulate that, that vision in a way that compelled followership, because it’s not enough to have an idea and a vision, if you can’t ignite a spark in the people that you’re working with.

Todd: (06:59)
I would imagine sometimes you, you have people that have clarity internally, but they haven’t really managed to communicate that. And yes, you’ll have the clarity that people can understand and grasp onto that. Then they do have that spark. 

David: (07:14)
Yeah, you got it exactly right. It’s two pieces. The first piece is being able to generate that vision being able to point to a future that as a leader, you know, the organization needs to head toward. And then secondly, as you just expertly identified is you have to then be able to translate that into a vision that people can grasp that, that they understand where they say, yes, I want to follow you. So that became the first face of, of leadership, fitness, clarity. Then I realized, well, you can be really clear about where you want to take your team and then be afraid to go there because of self doubt, because of all the negative voices that are telling you, you’re not good enough, you’re going to fall flat on your face.

David: (08:01)
No one’s going to support you or fund you. Who do you think you are? So confidence became the second face of leadership fitness. So it’s important to be clear and it’s important to have the courage to cross that line and to actually take the chance and to be willing, to take a risk, even if it doesn’t work and, and to be a strong advocate for what you believe is, is an important next step, so that you can take your team and your organization to the future that you see based on your clarity. So confidence became the second face. And then the third face was effectiveness. I realized that you can be clear and confident and then not know how to get anything done. So you know what you want to do. You’ve got the boldness and the courage to do it, and you don’t have the skills of effectiveness to make anything happen.

David: (08:57)
And as I thought about effectiveness, I realized that most of the leadership training that I had had over the course of my career was almost exclusively focused on effectiveness. You know, come, come to our program and we’ll teach you how to do this, or how to do that. That’s effectiveness and that’s great. We need effectiveness. And yet I think it’s important to be good at the things that are the right things that are, that are aligned with the strategy. That’s where the clarity comes in and you can be really effective and then not use your effectiveness skills because you’re afraid to do so. You’re afraid to make the first move. So clarity, confidence, effectiveness, were the first three faces of leadership fitness. And I actually thought I was done at that point. I actually went to my coach and I said, coach, I, I think I’ve got my model of leadership development. I’m going to call it leadership fitness, and it’s clarity, confidence and effectiveness. And my coach said, you know, I think that’s a great start. Why don’t you put it aside for a few weeks and go back and see if you’ve left anything out. So I listened,

Todd: (09:56)
David, real quick. Did you call it the four faces of leadership or the four faces of leadership fitness?

David: (10:02)
Well, actually at the time,

Todd: (10:04)
That’s what I was getting at. I wondered if fitness was in there to begin with?

David: (10:08)
It wasn’t it wasn’t, that’s a great question.

David: (10:10)
Actually I really hadn’t named the model leadership fitness and, and various do question. And I did it because of what I discovered I left out. And what I remember the fourth face of leadership fitness is vitality because I had been working with a number of clients at the time that actually had healthy doses of clarity, confidence, and effectiveness that were running out of gas. They weren’t able to go the distance. They weren’t taking care of themselves. They weren’t taking regular exercise. They, they weren’t aware of the impact of the foods and beverages. They were consuming on their energy throughout the day and they weren’t disconnecting to renew and reset their energy. So when I added vitality then it became a very whole person, whole leader approach to developing leaders. And that is where the fitness came in. Because often when I talk to people about leadership fitness, they just assume I’m a sports coach that I work with athletes. Oh, well talk more about that?

Todd: (11:21)
Well, I, I made that assumption at the very beginning. I said, Oh, one of my clients is Joe, the CEO of Spartan. And I said, are you into Spartan? Cause I figured, you know, when I heard of fitness and vitality, I’m like maybe he gets out there and cracks the whip on these leaders out, in, you know, on the track basically.

David: (11:37)
Right? And it’s obviously something that a lot of people do think initially. And when, when we have a conversation with, with prospective clients and with, with customers, they begin to understand that being fit and being vital and vibrant is essential. If you’re going to be clear, confident, and effective, if you don’t have vitality, if you’re not at your best, you’re not going to be clear. You’re going to be muddling through things. You’re going to, you’re going to have cobwebs you. You’re not, you’re not going to really be able to focus. And if you’re not taking care of yourself, if you don’t have vitality, you’re probably not going to have as much confidence. Right. Cause when we feel like we’re at the top of our game, a lot more confidence to whatever we’re doing and then effectiveness, whatever resources we’re bringing to a challenge or a decision are probably going to be somewhat depleted if we’re not taking care of ourselves.

David: (12:33)
And so that’s why we see these four phases of leadership fitness. As, as an integrated model, you can’t have any three without the fourth pick any three. And if you don’t have the other one, it’s hard to be a fit leader. And so that’s the model. And then I just, once I put it together, I wrote a paper that I published called the four phases of leadership fitness. Then I was thinking, well, not what do I do? How do I help people become fit leaders? And that’s when I set out to actually write a curriculum where I started writing workbooks processes, tools to help leaders become clearer, more confident, more effective and more vital.

Todd: (13:22)
I was actually looking on your site and was blown away by all these different modules that you have. And I’m assuming that’s what you’re talking about here. Like these individual do you call them modules or training?

David: (13:38)
We do we call them modules. We call them learning modules, leadership, fitness learning modules. And when we work with, with our customers, we would probably have a lot more modules than, than a client might want to engage us around in a given time. And that’s great. They can pick and choose. We usually do an assessment. We mapped their competency models, their leadership development challenges to our modules. And then we put a program together and we actually have 32 modules. And our online program actually features 24 of those.

Todd: (14:16)
It’s awesome. So I love that the four phases it’s, it’s great. The clarity, confidence, effectiveness, and vitality. So so many questions around this that I’m sure people listening or watching here would, would probably have in their heads as well. Do they have an order? Do you have to do them in order or is that part of the process where you do an assessment and then you come up with a plan?

David: (14:40)
When we, when we go onsite and work with an organization, a company, we first try to understand what their needs are. And then we put a program together based on best fit. And so they can actually select whatever tool sets they’re most interested in. We’d like to recommend. And, and, and we strongly encourage that all faces of leadership fitness be reflected in the program. We deliver for them because of our belief that this is an integrated system and you can’t, you can’t just study effectiveness and be a fit leader and you can’t just study vitality and be a fit leader. So our typical program for an organization is 16 of our 32 modules. And we work with them to pick the 16 that are the best fit. And we teach four in a day, four learning modules in a day. And so we do a four day program, four by four gives you the 16 learning models. 

David: (15:43)
And we always have at least a month in between those full day workshops. I’m not a big believer in a four day learning process. It’s too much material and it doesn’t give people the time to process and apply what they’ve learned. And so we actually provide executive coaching after each of our full day workshops, about two weeks, three weeks after if it’s a, if it’s a monthly program where people come one day a month for four months, and that gives us the opportunity to make sure that people are getting the material and it gives us the opportunity to coach them around any obstacles they might be encountering in the real world. When they go back to apply what they’ve learned, they might say something like, gee, it made perfect sense in class David. 

Todd: (16:38)
And it’s not working as I planned. 

David: (16:40)
Right, so we can coach, we can coach them through that. So tell us how, how did you go about it? You know, what was your first step? What happened? How did you respond to that? And then we can, with, with that coaching process, help them go back and be successful at applying what they’ve learned. So it’s those four days. And then also there’s four coaching calls that in addition with some leadership assessments creates the experience, the leadership fitness experience. 

Todd: (17:14)
So four full day trainings four one coaching call per month,

David: (17:17)
One coaching call after each of those four days, usually two, three weeks after it, certainly before the next workshop. So before we, we, we teach new material, we want to make sure that we have another opportunity to touch the material that we discussed in the previous workshop. 

Todd: (17:38)
That’s great. Very, very neat. When you, do you have anything in your mind? It would be, it would be awesome. If you had a specific example, you who you could name, who, you know, would be okay with that, but if not anonymously would be fine as well, but something that was, you know, maybe a process that wasn’t overly complicated, but once they, once they got it and they figured it out and they implemented that change, it made a big difference for them. 

David: (18:04)
I think one of our most popular learning modules is, is what we call the gift of feedback. And the gift of feedback is all about how to have conversations with people who need to do something differently. And often we’re afraid as leaders to have these conversations because we don’t know how they’re gonna, and we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. So often we just. 

Todd: (18:24)
Confrontational. It has a reputation of being confrontational. 

David: (18:30)
It often is. And that’s what we’re trying to change with our program. So the gift of feedback, first of all, just by the title, you can see that we believe that feedback is a gift as a gift. 

Todd: (18:40)
I really liked that framing. That’s great.

David: (18:42)
And so we teach people how to have a conversation that neutralizes the defensiveness that usually accompanies these kinds of conversations. And we teach a seven step process. The first three steps are the most important because that’s what sets up the conversation. And so if you think about problem impact and cause, so the, the first step is describe the problem. So it might be the Todd. I want to talk to you about something I’ve noticed. I’ve noticed that you have been late to the last four meetings that we’ve had as a team. That’s it? That’s, that’s the problem now. It’s not, Todd

Todd: (19:24)
It’s not stated as a fact, it’s that like, it’s not, you feel, you know, you don’t care about meetings. Very different. 

David: (19:31)
Yes. Right. We got more allies, right. We don’t know whether you care or not. You know, if I say, you know, if you cared about us, you’d be on time. 

Todd: (19:41)
There’s a conflict, right. Because you immediately stirred me up. And if I do care, I just happened to get my coffee that time. And I didn’t know I needed to be on time.

David: (19:51)
Exactly. So the first step is really, as you say, it’s just objective and it’s 30 seconds or less because sometimes when we give feedback because we’re nervous and we don’t have a process and a structure ourselves, we go on and on and on. And the other person’s eyes glaze over. We’re confusing them. Sometimes we’re talking about multiple things and now they don’t know what we’re talking about. And now they want to intervene and defend themselves. So we can’t describe the problem in 30 seconds or less. We don’t know what the problem is ourselves. Right. So, Todd, I want to talk with you about the fact that you’ve been late to the last four meetings. That is the problem. The most important step in the process is the next step. Step two, which is explain the impact. And this is what often diffuses the defensiveness.

David: (20:43)
So Todd, you’ve been late. I want to talk to you about the fact that you’ve been, it’s a conversation. I want talk with you about the fact that you’ve been late to the last four meetings when you’re late. It causes people to lose track of where we are, as they’re saying hello to you as you come into the room late. And it really messes with the momentum of the meeting and the productivity of our time together. That is the most important step because I want you to own that. And I’m not, I, I’m not suggesting. That’s why you’re coming late. That’s the impact of your coming late. And this is the real reason we’re having the conversation. Even more than the problem to me, a problem without an impact is not a costly conversation.

Todd: (21:32)
It’s not a problem, right? I mean, it’s, yeah, it could be a thing, but if you’re late and maybe if you were there on time, you would have disrupted the meeting more. I don’t know the impact is the problem.

David: (21:45)
Right? So, so when I say, when you’re late, it caught, I, what I’m hoping you’re doing is you’re thinking, Oh, I don’t want to be responsible for that. Gee, that’s not a good thing. And then, and again, that should also be articulated in 30 seconds or less. And then the third step, which is the, the, the, the, these three steps set up the conversation, the third step is identify the cause. So I’m going to turn it over to you now by saying, so what’s causing you to come late to our meetings or what’s preventing you from being late. I’m not going to tell you what I think the cause is because I probably don’t know. I might guess, right? Occasionally, although I’m probably gonna get no, that’s not it. So why don’t I just start with a good open ended question. So what’s preventing you from coming to the meeting on time. So in a minute or less, I don’t talk anymore. I take 30 seconds to tell you that, you know, describe the problem 30 seconds to explain the impact. And then with an open ended question, I, I turn it over to you and then I zip it. I don’t say another word. I’d let silence. Do the heavy lifting.

Todd: (22:57)
Do you find that would that third question about the cause? Is it important to, to use either the positive or the negative? Like, is it equally effective to say what’s causing you to be late or what’s preventing you from being on time? Right. One is kind of a towards, in a way.

David: (23:15)
Yes. I think both can work and I’ve, I’ve used it both ways in my own feedback conversations with, with people that I’ve engaged with, where I needed to give them feedback. And when I talked to my customers who have adopted this, this approach, they share the same feedback because the question does come up, should it be, should it be what’s causing you or what’s preventing you from coming on, you know, go meet at meetings on time. I don’t think it matters as long as there’s no judgment in it. Right. Cause there’s no judgment in either of those what’s causing you to come late. What’s preventing you from coming on time here,

Todd: (23:49)
Referencing the problem, not the impact. Right. So you’re not saying what’s causing you to disrupt the whole company and waste time during a meeting.

David: (23:57)
Yes. Yes. That’s, that’s a really important observation. So the impact is critical. And yet when we move to step three, which is identify a cause it’s a question that revolves around the problem,

Todd: (24:10)
The fact yes. Indisputable fact. Cause if he doesn’t make to something that’s subjective or that they may not agree, like, Oh, it shouldn’t disrupt the meeting. It’s not disruptive. Right. I know it’s not disruptive. Right. But if they come five minutes late can argue that. Yeah. That’s great. And that’s only the first three steps.

David: (24:32)
Yeah. So that’s really to kind of get the conversation going, which is the most important part, right? Because that’s what people don’t have the confidence in, in doing is starting that kind of conversation. And these conversations can be had with our bosses and colleagues just as much as we might choose to have them with our team members, our direct reports that this can be used with, with anyone and, and often needs to, we, we often don’t have those conversations with bosses where they can be made to understand the impact of the things they’re doing or the things they’re not doing. They’re they’re in their unwillingness to take something up the chain of command because they’re afraid. Well, you don’t want to talk with you boss about the fact that, you know, this is an issue that keeps coming up. And, and my sense is that you haven’t kind of taken this or made this an agenda item with your boss. When, when that happens, I feel like my team and I are not likely to get any resolution on this because we’re not taking the, the next step what’s what’s preventing. And so when I talk to a boss, the only change I make is I usually change you to us. What’s preventing us from having those conversations with the people who really need to hear this information.

Todd: (26:03)
Yeah. It’s funny as you were walking through this, because we’re talking about the leadership and oftentimes, you know, when you hear a framework, you think this is to be coached down, right. To people who are under you or reporting to you, you are responsible for it. But it’s, I mean, it’s almost seems more important to be able to speak like this, to someone who can give you the ax. Right. Because, it handles something that could be misinterpreted, right. As you think they’re disrespectful. Like if you, if you frame this differently without being very grounded in like you show up late, like if it’s your boss who shows up late for the meeting it’s right. And a lot of times they have good reason to do so. So this is a great way to bring those things up without causing unnecessary conflict, right.

David: (26:53)
It’s designed to be a conversation, not a confrontation. We certainly wouldn’t want to confront our boss and we don’t want to confront our direct report because it doesn’t end well. And we often create more problems, relationship problems with, with someone, right. If I came to you Todd and said, I want to talk with you about the fact that you’ve been late two to four of our last meetings. What’s wrong with you? Do you not know how to tell time? Do I need to buy you a new alarm clock? I’ve just created a whole new problem between you and me. Right? Like who do you think you are talking to me like that? And you’re not focused at all on the problem of being late. Yeah.

Todd: (27:36)
Yeah. So would this, this is a great example. Thank you for that, David. That’s helpful. Would you, where do you bucket that? I could almost bucket that in the first three areas.

David: (27:46)
So it’s an effectiveness module. You have to feedback is an effectiveness module because it’s a tool for how to have these, these conversations more effectively. And you’re right. Many of our modules could fit in multiple faces of leadership fitness. We try to put, I try to put them in the, in the one that I think is the best, the best fit.

Todd: (28:13)
Yeah. So the, and it makes absolute sense that it goes into effectiveness. It’s the, you know, the tools, the skills, the skills and the tools. Right. but that leads really nicely into a couple of questions I wrote down about confidence. Right. Because, and I guess I’ll phrase it as a question here. So what is it that gives you confidence? What does it give someone confidence? And I have a few things I’ll follow up with, but I’d love to hear your answer first before I do.

David: (28:43)
Sure. Well, there’s a, there’s a lot of different areas that we focus on when, when we’re teaching confidence, one is just kind of helping people get clear on what their communication style is and preferences and how they might alter it. When they’re talking with someone who’s, who’s different. So becoming more comfortable around what I need when I’m interacting with someone, we have a module called the masterful communicator, and it’s all about being able to adapt your approach and not taking personally when people communicate with you in the way that they best know how so. So yeah,

Todd: (29:21)
That’s a great little addition to that sentence in the way they best know how,

David: (29:25)
Right. Right. Right. And, and because that’s who they are, it’s hard to change your style. If you understand someone else’s style, though, you can modify your approach. You don’t change your style by modifying your approach. You’re still going to be your style. Although if you understand their style, you can more confidently converse with them. So that’s one piece of it. Another piece is just how to deal with self doubt. And we have a module called the confidence net, which is all about building your own net, like a safety net. We talk about a confidence that what are the habits that you might develop that give you that ability to deal with both external and internal pushback? So external pushback is you might just disagree with something I say in a meeting. And so how do I, how do I deal with that without getting flustered and without feeling attacked. And then internal pushback is the, the gremlins, the voice, which are probably more difficult to deal with because we feel like they’re coming from us. When we hear our gremlins saying, what do you, what, what are you thinking? This isn’t going to work, give it up now. And so we teach people how to, how to manage those gremlins. And then also how to develop a repertoire of positive habits to kind of give you that confidence, to be able to deal with that.

Todd: (30:55)
How do you address confidence in a plan, right? Do you coach people that, you know, plans don’t always work. Right. But I think from what I’ve seen in personally, like if I don’t really believe that what I am recommending or about to do will absolutely, without a doubt work, you know, knowing that that’s sort of unrealistic, but it still lowers the confidence level in me standing to my team and saying, here’s what we’re going to do. This is the plan. And, and speaking confidently that that is the right thing to do right now, you know, on the flip side of that is, you know, you can be confident that here’s what we’re going to do. We will either learn, or it will work or both on the middle, but how do you address like an action plan and being confident in that?

David: (31:47)
So are you asking, how do you deal with a situation where you’re not confident at the moment that this is the best course of action, and perhaps you’ve been told up from above that this is what we’re doing, and you need to communicate it. 

Todd: (32:01)
Either you’ve been told or it’s maybe uncharted waters and you’re trying a new new campaign or new type of product launch or new market. Yeah. How do you develop confidence in something that is unknown and you’re, you’re hesitant to say it will work.

David: (32:16)
Yeah. So I think it’s, it’s all about changing the perspective that we attach to, to what we’re feeling, right. So someone might be thinking, I’m going to be an utter failure at this. This is never going to work. Now that might be right. That, that, that might be the outcome. And yet that’s just one perspective. And so often when we get stuck and we, we don’t think we can move forward. It’s

David: (32:40)
Because we think the only way we’re thinking about it, that’s the only way to think about it. That there’s no alternative. And so I often recommend to, to my clients, all right. That’s one perspective. So you might say stand up and stand in a place in your, in your office where, where your perspective is, this is not going to work. Okay. Now move, move to another place in your office. What’s another perspective that you might bring to this activity. And usually people say, well, I’m going to be another success. So this is, this is going to work. Okay, great. That’s another perspective. Alright, move somewhere else. What’s another perspective. Well, maybe it’s I might fail and I will learn something so that I’ll be better positioned to do it differently the next time. So we then say, well, where do you want to live? What, from what perspective do you want to move forward?

David: (33:41)
Right. So yes, you might fail. That’s always a possibility when we’re taking risks, right? Risks are defined as you know, uncertain. We don’t know if we’re going to succeed. If we never take risks, we will never succeed. Right. We have to take a risks and sometimes it won’t succeed. Sometimes it will succeed. Sometimes it won’t work and we’ll learn how to do it differently the next time. So it’s all about being willing to open up to the possibility of success. See, a lot of times people are afraid of success. They’re more afraid of success than, than, than failure. And so we have to help people embrace that failure is okay. Failure is an essential step in the learning process. And I know a lot of organizations have a hard time with this because even though organizations tell their people, we want you to take risks.

David: (34:31)
We want you to step up. We want you to take initiative. The first time you do that and you fail, you often get your hand slapped, or you never get an opportunity to take another risk. So we’re sending a mixed message to our people. We’re saying, we want you to share your ideas. We want you to step up. And then when they do, and it doesn’t work out, we ostracize them. And sometimes we even fired them. So that’s why a lot of people stop taking risks. Because if, if that’s the consequence of, of, of, of saying, this is what I think we should do, even if I’m not 100% confident that it will work, I’m willing to do it. If the organization punishes us, that is a, is a real confidence Buster. 

Todd: (35:16)
Yeah. Yeah. Those are great. All right. So we got in pretty, pretty deep to effectiveness and confidence. You want to tackle the other two clarity and vitality and give that example for the effectiveness. This was great. Another tangible example would be really nice to hear for the other categories.

David: (35:35)
Yeah. For clarity, we talked a lot you know, mission, vision, and values. The mission is the, what the organization does. The vision is why it does it and the values usually relate to how we do it. And so we talk a lot about core purpose and core motivation and the importance of, of, of values. So, you know, mission and vision, we give a lot of examples of, of good and poor mission and vision statements. And then we kind of take a deep dive into values because values are incredibly important. They can amplify the clarity of a mission and a vision statement. You can have great mission vision. If your values aren’t very wholesome, then it’s not really going to create the outcome or the future that you want. And the one example I give around values is so when I was working for an employer of mine, many years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Chicago, to meet the vice president who had purchased our product.

David: (36:38)
And I was the general manager of this business line. So once the sales team had successfully closed the deal, I would go with them. And I was there to shake their hand and to commit that we were going to take care of them and kind of be the face of, of the, the leadership of the company. And so I decided to talk about our values, our core values, and I always carried them on, on a card. So we laminated our core values. Like a lot of organizations do, although as a general manager at every meeting, I would ask people to take the card out of their pocket. And the first time you can imagine the horror when people didn’t have it.

David: (37:19)
So they learned that it was important to have it. And I set an example that I carried it with me all the time. So when I was in Chicago for this meeting, it was my time to talk. I started talking about values and I reached into my pocket and I had my card and I swung it or push it across the table to this individual who had been the, kind of the strategic buyer. And instantly he reached into his pocket, pulled out his card and pushed it in my direction. So in an instant, there was a bond created between our two companies, because we cared enough about our values to share them. And, and so that values help us retain people. They help us attract employees. They help us attract customers those matter. And a lot of people think that values are the soft stuff. And they’re not study after study has shown that companies, organizations that have a strong set of shared values, outperform organizations that have weak values on profitability, on, on growth. And so values are, are the hard stuff. And if we don’t get them right, we’re going to have a hard time connecting with with our stakeholders.

Todd: (38:40)
Yeah. Yeah. I’m a huge fan and believer in the process. And I think one of the things that I thought was really interesting that I’ve read about that was, and I don’t remember who said this or what book it was in, but but I’ve read a lot on core values and the whole discovery process and having them in a card and getting people to know them and live them and having them be actionable. But what was interesting about this was that they said something similar to what you just said is the companies that have core values and have gone through that have better metrics. They grow better. They retain their employees better. They attract better people. But what was different about what it said is it said it doesn’t actually matter what the values are. What matters is that, that it’s important to the people there, that they discover them and bring them to life.

David: (39:32)
Yes. And they have to be reinforced and recognized. And what we would do once we created our set of core values is every month at meetings, all hand meetings, we would give an example of someone who had epitomized each of those core values.

Todd: (39:51)
I love it. 

David: (39:53)
And at the end of the year at our kind of annual party and, and meeting, we would give a thousand dollar check to the one person who did the most based on a, on a panel’s evaluation of living one of our values. So we put our money where our mouth was and people wanted to be recognized in our monthly meetings. And then obviously they, they, they wanted to get a thousand dollar check. And so we really did live our values. It’s, it’s really important to not stop once you’ve done the discovery process and simply put them up on a wall. Like when I go to customers often I’ll see their, their values in a meeting.

Todd: (40:36)
Honesty. Right. What does that mean? Exactly. Right. And you know, funny enough to that point, I was speaking with another guest and we’re talking about the same, the same thing. And, you know, the problem with like a one word value with nothing else to explain what that actually means to the person who identified or is claiming it is it can mean very different things to different people. And a lot of times it’s just an easy way out. You know, Enron’s one of Enron’s core values was integrity that didn’t pan out. So well, I get clearly, I would imagine at some point, whoever selected that, that was important to them, and they probably lived with that as a important part of their character, but it certainly didn’t permeate the culture enough to prevent some, some messes they got themselves into.

David: (41:28)
Yeah. I think that’s a really important observation Todd, because a lot of times people their own meaning out of words, that they hear. So it really is important to go beyond the one word value and, and to articulate what, what, what does it mean to us as an organization? And this is where getting people involved throughout the organization comes into play so that there’s some ownership about, you know, what do we mean when we say a passion for pleasing customers, right? What do, what do we mean by delighting our customers? What do we mean by service excellence so that we kind of remove some of the noise around, well, that’s, this is what this means to me. And that’s what it means to that person. This is what it means to us as an organization. And this is what we’re striving for. So I think that’s a really important point. And, and anyone who’s thinking about putting some values together that might not have them today having a sentence or two that accompanies each value is very powerful.

Todd: (42:26)
Yeah, absolutely. And is that part of the process that you bring people through as well?

David: (42:31)
Yes, we do. And we have some derivative work that we do outside of the program that, that actually helps people understand what are the disconnects between the values that people see every day in the workplace and the values they’d like to see in the workplace. So what are the current cultural values and what are the desired cultural values? And that, that is a great start.

Todd: (42:57)
I love that. I love that now that can probably lead to some challenging conversations, because if you you know what I have seen, you know, firsthand, and then through, through mentors and reading you know, one of the, one of the people I learned the most about this this whole process is Tony Shea, right? Not directly I’ve, I’ve met him before. I actually went to one of their all hands meetings at one point. But his book delivering happiness is fantastic in, in learning about this. But one of the things he talks about is his first company. He, he grew it and it grew so fast that they just were, they were hiring someone every day, basically. And they ended up with a company where the people in the company did not share the values that he built the company around because he just didn’t, he didn’t integrate them with the culture enough or keep them alive. So when you do your process, have you ever had an example where you start with someone who is like, they just got a mishmash, I got a total melting pot of different people in different values. So you ended up with maybe conflicting opinions.

David: (44:09)
Absolutely. And that’s the beauty of the process. You know, it, then the senior leadership has to be open to this process because it can be intimidating, particularly senior leaders, particularly when people say that these are the values we see, we see hierarchy and we see blame, right? The information hoarding and see all of these things that as a senior leader, I’m going to say, Oh, gee, those aren’t good things. And that’s kind of an indictment if you will, of us and what we’re about. And yet, if we’re not honest, if we’re not open to hearing from our people, we’ll never know that, that these things are eating away at our potential. And we need to replace those potentially limiting values with positive value. So yes, it’s a, it’s a natural part of the conversation. It’s a, it’s a very challenging process to facilitate.

Todd: (45:06)
Yeah, I can imagine. I was just going to say, I’m sure you’ve learned a lot throughout the years of how to maybe not soften the blow, but to frame it properly because as a leader and especially as many leaders are a bold and opinionated, right. That can be hard to swallow, even gets back to you. And you come back with a report and says, 72% of the people say that you’re kind of a jerk in the way you operate every morning. Right? Like, I mean, they might actually not use those words, but they could dig up some stuff that from outward appearances, especially at a larger company where there’s not a lot of engagement right. Between the leader and, you know, a large pool of the staff, right. It might come across that way just because it’s a busy, he’s a busy leader and he’s got a lot to do. And when he gets there, he’s got to get right to it. And there’s no time for small talk and that might come across as Curt. And yes, you know unappreciative.

David: (46:05)
So we prepare, we prepare the leaders, we prepare the senior leaders, we prepare the founder or the, the, the CEO. But to expect that some of this is going to be uncomfortable and that their, their role is not to become defensive it’s it’s to embrace the truth. And, and particularly with founders, right? You mentioned founders you know, when you’re first starting out, you’ve got a small group of people. The values are often shared. In fact, you usually look to select people who are just like you, that share your values. And as you grow, as you go from a 10 person company to a 50 person, to a thousand to 20,000, you lose control. If you’re the founder, you’re not hiring everybody anymore. You probably were hiring everybody directly when, when it was a five, 10, 20 person company. So you’re going to get a hodgepodge, a mishmash of values.

David: (47:03)
And, and sometimes the founders still thinking that initial set of values are prevailing. When in fact the reality is different. So we, we, we work, we work with founders, we work with with the senior leaders ahead of time. In fact, we tell them, don’t have us do this. If you’re uncomfortable with hearing that things are not the way you think they are. Cause it’s worse. It’s worse to give people that opportunity to share the truth and then nothing happens. Right. That it is just the don’t don’t address it even though you should address it. Yeah. I’ll have to go into this the right way.

Todd: (47:42)
Yeah. Well, I mean, I can see this tough exercise, but incredibly valuable, especially with creating that clarity. Right. Understanding if the clarity you might have internally is being communicated properly, excuse me. Or it’s, or it’s not coming to us. Right. Absolutely. Do you have a few more minutes first to dive into vitality? 

David: (48:03)
Absolutely, absolutely.

Todd: (48:03)
Excellent. And I can already see, like, I mean, this is what you’re talking about here is the exact type of things that build a strong team and a vibrant culture. So I’m, I’m eager to hear how vitality groups that for one person and then maybe how that influences their entire team and their company once they get yes.

David: (48:23)
So we, we touch on a number of different aspects of, of vitality. The one we’d like to start with, which is some people question, well, why is this vitality is a module that I, that I, I titled the vanishing to do list,

Todd: (48:37)
Oh, I saw that’s the one title that stuck in my head, like above all the others. I was like, that is a brilliant title because how great would that be?

David: (48:46)
Yes. So we actually do teach people how to make everything banish from their, to do list at the end of every day. And of course, we’re not, we’re not suggesting that everything gets done at the end of every day. Although everything comes off the, to do list either by doing something in two minutes or less delegating it or calendarizing it. So the key to the vanishing to do list is this principle of calendarizing. So the things that take longer, the things that, that I am not going to be able to get to for a while, I don’t leave them on my, to do list. I make the commitment that day when I’m processing my to do list. And for me, it’s, at the end of every day, it can be done at the, at the beginning of every day. It should be done consistently at the same time every day.

David: (49:31)
So it becomes a habit. And so if I can’t get something, does I’m processing my list at the end of the day, the things I haven’t gotten to yet, I can get it done in two minutes or less. Great, done, check it off. I don’t have to do it. I delegate it. And the decision to delegate isn’t do, I think I’m going to have time to do this myself. It’s do I have to do this? Or is there someone else who would be developed by having the opportunity to do it, and who has the skills to do it and is, and is the person who really should do it because too often we’ll think, Oh, I’ll get to this by the end of the week. And a couple of days go on and we’re still on our to do list. We still haven’t done it.

David: (50:12)
It’s the end of the week. And then we realized, you know, I’m never going to get to this. So then I delegate it. So when I delegated five days later, I’ve just robbed the person I’ve delegated this task to a five days that they could have been working on this. So the isn’t will, I have time to do it. The question is, do I have to do it? Is this something I need to do? Or is this something that I can delegate? And then if I can’t do those two things, do it in two minutes or less or delegated. Then I decide today, when in the future, will I be able to do this? Whether it’s administrative work, whether it’s writing a policy, whether it’s helping develop one of my key staff by spending an hour or two with them, I put those appointments on my calendar and then I check it off my list.

David: (51:04)
So at the end of every day, my to do list is empty. And I start with, it vanishes. It’s called a vanishing to do list and we do that with email too. 

Todd: (51:14)
And you and you bucket that in the vitality, in the vitality phase, because of it’s the release and the physical relief from not having the angst of having 50 things on your, to do list. 

David: (51:27)
Because if we’re not in control of our calendar, we’re being drained. Our energy is, Oh, we’re overwhelmed. Oh my I’m never going to get this stuff done. So you can be eating well and exercising and taking time off. And yet you still have all of these things. What am I going to get to that? When I go home, I’m losing control. I’ve got way too many things, about 30,000 emails in my inbox, which I had a client actually have 30,000 emails. And we taught him how to move the emails to only the ones he could see at the end of the day on his monitor without scrolling.

David: (52:05)
So with the, to do list, the goal is nothing survives with an email inbox, nothing survives that you can’t see without scrolling. And we got them down to that. So yes, that’s why it’s vitality. And we actually usually try to teach that first because it’s such a, it has such an impact on how. 

Todd: (52:26)
It’s a cleansing feeling. I mean, I’m no Saint when it comes to email inbox, that’s for sure. But I do, I do try to be very specific about my daily to do list and really only have two or three critical things that must be done. And the rest I tried often, I was forward to the right time. Yes. And it does it, it even, even if you don’t dive in full on and do the entire process, you’re talking about just getting everything out of your head, right putting it on the whiteboard, putting on a piece of paper, this frees up space, and it creates a sense of calm.

David: (53:02)
Absolutely. So we start there and we also talk about distractions and, and keeping your attention. We have a module called the attention keeper, and we have an attention checklist where we talk about all the things that can kind of move us off, what we’re supposed to be working on. And, and, and we lose focus. So keeping our attention, managing distractions is important for my business. 

Todd: (53:28)
This is fantastic. David, you got so much great stuff in there. And if anyone is listening, I will put a link in the notes. I mean, can they get a sneak peek at any of this? We talked about a lot of what you do. And I know you do this for leaders. Is there always one on one coaching? Do you work with groups? Is can they join you? Can they join the online portal and be part of the community on there? How does it all work?

David: (53:48)
Yes. So we do have an online community and fit leaders, is where people can go and they’ll learn. They’ll be able to see the same list and actually not list you. You actually see the workbook covers for the 24 learning modules that each in fit leaders Academy. And if they, you’ve probably discovered this as well. Todd, if you click on any of those, 

Todd: (54:12)
I’m just putting it up on the perfect fit 

David: (54:18)
Right? So first they can watch that video. If you move, if you move the screen back down, creating failures. So that’s a, about a 10, 11 minute video that kind of walks through the model of leadership fitness. And then if, as you scroll more, you’ll see the four phases of leadership, fitness defined, and then below that are the 24 modules that you can access if you purchased the fit leaders Academy. And if you click on any of those, if you click on any of these, you’ll actually get a short description of the, of the learning outcomes, like what we teach and what you can expect to learn from those. And that’ll, that should work on all of them. So, yeah.

Todd: (55:05)
And so this is fantastic. Well, that’s, that’s great. So I highly recommend anyone go there. And is it a, from what I can tell it’s a one time purchase and then they get access to everything. Is that an annual, 

David: (55:16)
It’s a one time purchase Todd, and as long as the internet, doesn’t get blown up, blown away in the future. It’s a, it’s a lifelong library of, of access. And you’ve probably discovered if you’ve kind of taken a look at the content, these are our approaches processes that are timeless. We’re always going to have to manage conflict. We’re always gonna have to manage our inbox. We’re always going to have to learn how to give feedback. We’re always going to learn how to be a humble servant. So these are videos that people come back to time and time again, because you might learn the gift of feedback and not actually have a juicy conversation coming up. And then a week later, a month later, a year later, you’re going, gee, I wish I could go back and hear David walked through the process with his examples where you can just go back to the gift of feedback and you’ll be prepared to go have that conversation. 

Todd: (56:14)
Yeah. And there’s timeless principles that help you learn and grow and engage with people like that is never going to change no matter much, AI’s coming out and, you know, new social media platforms and anything that’s kind of the newest bell and whistle. Yes. If you understand people in conversation and communication and strategies for dealing with that it’s it’s, as you said, it’s timeless. 

David: (56:40)
That’s what leadership is.

Todd: (56:41)
Yeah. That’s great. All right. Well, David, thank you so much for the time and the, the examples. I’m eager to dive in myself and, and I have a ton of things to talk to you about after the call, some interesting people to introduce you to as well. So thank you for taking the time. And it was really great to learn more about that leaders Academy. 

David: (57:02)
Thanks, Todd. 

Todd: (57:03)
All right. Have a great one. 

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