Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S2EP3: “The Leadership Factory”

“The Leadership Factory” Brief Summary of Show 

In this episode learn to take inspired action and we ask the question; Do leaders, or potential leaders need to go to “The Leadership Factory” in order to be a good leader, or even be a leader in itself? Learn why we think leaders don’t necessarily have to be born, but can be made. Hosts Kyle and Christopher tell a story about the leadership they have had over the years, whether they are natural leaders or not, and why, no matter who the leader, they should be held accountable.

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Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S2EP3: “The Leadership Factory”

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“The Leadership Factory” Transcript

I did manage to call her a fucking bitch later and-

Wait, can you, can you say that?

Is the thought of being imperfect keeping you from taking action? Welcome to Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans. Each week, we give you real-life stories and thought provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life through your own actions. From the heart of Calgary Canada, here are your hosts, award-winning coaches, Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.

Kyle Kalloo.

Christopher James Lawrence.

We are talking about. Actually, I wanted to introduce a topic and I have a question for you.


I wanna know if leaders are born or made. And of course, you know, I came with research prepped on this.

But there’s a specific reason why I’m asking this. Because, I sort of feel like leaders should go to the leadership factory.


And get fixed. And I’ll tell you why I, you know, how sometimes you’re just driving along in your day and you get these memories that come up? So, I had some memories come up when I was working at a previous job. I won’t say where this is, or who the person is, because they’ve made tremendous improvement.

But I’m sure they’ll know.

But they’ll know.




So I remember, just working in this company where, I would just call it amateur leadership hour, like it was just like, you know, like I see more of this and this is totally discriminating. Like I’m gonna rag on retail store managers and it’s not their fault. I think it’s just, you know, I think retail store managers, at least when I was in retail, which granted was 23 years ago, They… They um, their highest level of leadership training, was literally just what they were promoted into. There was no training, per say, on leadership.


And so you got a lot of like this kind of micro, you know, I’m gonna write somebody up for folding a shirt wrong. And-


You know, I’m gonna write somebody up for not merchandising correctly and, you know, that kind of stuff, so that you can eventually fire them for stupid crap, right? So, so this corporate organization that I worked for ah-

And that’s what you meant by amateur is just because-


They didn’t come across as polished.

Mmm hmmm

Or the petty, what we would say punitive things to focus on.

That’s it!


Yeah. So when I moved into the corporate world, I found in one of my, not my first, but my second professional job corporate, it was a lot of the same style of management.


And it was, you know, it was one of those organizations that has a lot of office staff, which is where I was, but they also have a lot of frontline staff. And so the frontline staff eventually get promoted into leadership. And so, you know, you had people in leadership positions that literally had like a one or two-day, you know, leadership 101 course, but you know, and maybe knew some HR rules, but really did not know how to lead. And quite frankly, probably didn’t really know how to manage people either. And so I was thinking about this leadership factory concept and whether or not, you know, ’cause in a factory… Leaders, you know, oh sorry. In a factory, you use raw materials-


And you turn them into something else, potentially, like that can happen. And so I’m wondering like how much of leadership is born. So I have some research on this, but my specific story that I wanted to share is comes from a situation with one of these leaders where one of my co-workers had come back from vacation and she was a little bit hard of hearing, right? So, she had a hard time hearing. And the manager, came into our pod, stood behind her desk, so she couldn’t see her, and she said, oh, I’m gonna use a fake name. Oh Jennifer, how was your vacation? But she said it really quietly. Like it was that early morning. Everyone was talking quiet. It was one of those offices where it’s just like, people really enjoyed coming in at like seven in the morning to kind of start their workday, right? Like it was, so it was like, quiet and kind of whispery. And so of course this coworker who couldn’t see her, also couldn’t hear her when she was talking so quietly. And so she, the manager, raised her voice just a tiny little bit, just a little bit, and said, oh Jennifer, I’m wanted to know how was your vacation? I thought you’d be more tanned. And of course this co-worker didn’t hear it. So the manager looks at her, and to get a laugh from everybody else in the pod, I don’t know if it was to get a laugh or whatever, she said, okay, great conversation, Jennifer. And she walked away.


I know. Like total HR because-


Jennifer didn’t hear her say anything. And that, actually in that moment, I lost respect for her. I never treated that manager the same again.


I did manage to call her a fucking bitch later. And-

Wait, can you say that like-

I don’t know for-

Shane, I’m sure Shane will tell us if we can or can’t, but yeah. Okay.

Yeah, I don’t know if we’re allowed to swear on this podcast. Maybe Shane could bleep it out.

Uh… Yeah.

You know? I think that’s-

So, I’m thinking myself, like, like obviously like, like there was something else going on for that leader that she got to that place. There was a lack of maturity and understanding. I knew who her leaders were. I think they were strong managers, like they could get stuff done, but they were not good leaders. And so, you know, but, like, I’m curious, Kyle, I kinda wanna hear, you know, some commentary from you on this.


And then


I wanna share some research that I found that actually I thought was a little bit astounding.

Interesting. Um, I don’t know what that is, but I’m actually curious to learn about the research as well. But I can tell you this, as you know, I’ve been doing this leadership gig thing for a long time, work with some plethora of different style of leaders out there, and so, I do see different levels, especially when we’re talking about those people who wanna become leaders. And we’re talking about those people who are frontline leaders, and then we have middle management leaders, and then we have the executive C-suite leaders, right? And so, I believe there is a combination, for some, there’s a combination of, like you were saying, they have that raw material, right? So, these are some things that they just do without thinking, ’cause I’m thinking about even my own experience. And there’s some people who can learn this stuff. I really believe they can be made ’cause sometimes the situation-

That leaders can be made?

They can be made. Absolutely. Well, why not? Like if you’re talking to me, ’cause understanding some of the fundamentals of leadership, those are things that I’ve been able to successfully teach other people, so I do believe it can be made. Now here’s what’s interesting though, understanding the concept of leadership can let you know, ’cause I’ve seen this as well, where they’re like, okay, if a leadership is responsible for that, I’m not interested. And that’s good. You’d rather that, then maybe, in your situation, or that story, that this person maybe thought they could do it. No one else was kind of holding them accountable to it. And therefore, they just do that, ’cause you and I both know, we’ve worked with some people were, and I don’t know if we’re swearing, but, there were shitty bosses.


Like there were shitty leaders. And then of course here’s the thing that the frontline always struggled with, how did they get that position? How are they still in that role, right? Like how would this person is leader? How long does she last in this role? Like, was she there for awhile? Did anyone hold her accountable or what?

Yeah, so I know just a little bit, but I think actually, so in my understanding, that was her first leadership position.


But my understanding is that she has stayed a leader, not just in that organization. I think she has stayed a leader in most of her career. And I’m sure she learned a lot, like, you know, like I think we forget the leader comes with their own bullshit too.

Yeah. And here’s the other thing I would say though, and we, again, without, you know, talking about the history of that company, but what we find ’cause this businesses too, is that if you’re not at a position in your company to afford that skilled leader, you’re gonna go with in-house. You’re gonna promote from within. Not saying it’s always a bad thing, but there, when you’re talking about those amateur leaders is because they’re there, we make the assumption that they’ve been here long enough, they should know better, so therefore they could lead. And that’s not always the case. Once you get a little bit more senior in organizations, you will find that they’ve recognized, hold on, we need to spend some money on the development, or attracting. Hence, head hunters, right?

But see, that’s my issue though, because I have spent time in organizations where they spend money and time on development, but they’re not held accountable to that development. So, let me give you an example.


They, how many, and you would know this, you know, certainly Kyle, how many times do they bring in a leadership coach like you to make a change, or they have online leadership training, or face-to-face two, three-day course or some kind of, even, maybe it’s a strong mentorship program, but there’s no accountability to what I would call the behavioral skills of leadership. So, what they hold people accountable to. And certainly this wouldn’t be all organizations.

Of course. I’m speaking from my own experience and bias, but what they hold people accountable to Kyle is the numbers, the stats, the projects, the getting things done, the generating revenue. And certainly, you must do that, because without those things, you don’t have a business. And if you don’t have a business, people don’t have jobs. So I’m not saying ignore that, but we know effective leadership breeds productivity and healthy corporate culture. But I have never seen an organization, in my experience, truly, ongoingly-


Hold leadership accountable for their leadership behavioral skills, their leadership training, their, like, what are you doing to hold people accountable to it? And then-


To me, that’s-


The biggest breakdown-


In the group that needs the most work. You know, it always starts at the top and trickles down, but the group that needs the most work is that middle management group,


because they’re the ones that are usually, not always, newest-


To the positions. And oftentimes that’s where they stop their growth and you know? We hear this phrase, you get promoted to your greatest level of incompetence.

Yeah. Yeah. You’re definitely right. And I think on that list of leadership responsibility is to sure there’s a cohesive team, right? And I find that follow-up is not there because if you think about it, those senior leaders are more visionary. The middle management, frontline leaders are the ones who are going to take said vision and put those action plans, right? They’re responsible to do the action. But because of that disconnect of accountability, they don’t know if it’s working or not, unless it goes completely off the rails, right? ‘Cause they don’t have that frontline piece or the frontline themselves, don’t have visibility to that. So, I agree with you. And it’s only a matter of time you will see that culture roading, right? But again, coming back to what you were saying around, are they made, right? Is it is, there’s almost like there’s a factory for workers, but there should there be a factory for leaders? Absolutely. I think it’s a combination of both ’cause even at the senior level, they too need to have some discipline of accountability as well. But here’s a thing, you can’t have accountability, in my opinion, without having commitments. So the question is, are people getting commitments from the said leaders? Because that could also trickle down.

I think that’s really important. I know both you and I’ve worked in organizations where we have been over promised to and under-delivered.


And I think when you get commitments, and certainly like, you and I both very early in our careers, picked up the tactic of write down what the leaders saying-


And email it back to them as your record, right?


Saying, Hey, this is, you know, just high level. Here’s what I understand we have discussed, right? And so that’s your, you know, whether they reply or not is irrelevant, right?


It’s get it in their inbox so that, you know, CYA, we say right? Cover your


Now, I’m interesting. What the research say?

Yeah. So actually the research would support this thing about, this, that what you’re saying, that it is a bit of both, there are some natural talents-

Okay. And skills with leaders. And, but leaders are also made. So here’s, this comes from Cambridge University, okay?


So, the article is called nature versus nurture: Are leaders born or made? A behavioral, sorry, a behavior genetic investigation of leadership styles. So, this actually gets into the genetics of leadership-



Interesting. So, I will let people read the article themselves, but here’s some things that I highlighted. Individual differences in personality traits have been found to be moderately, to highly heritable. So, you can inherit leadership traits. And so it follows that if there are reliable personality trait differences between leaders and non-leaders, then there may be a heritable component to these individual differences.

Thank you mom. Thank you, grandma.


Right. Yeah, totally.

So. Yeah. Yeah, I was just gonna to say, and for people

That’s another podcast

That didn’t, yeah, yeah.

I’m going to a dark place with that right now.

It’s like, oh, oh, that’s what you’re thinking I’m for. Okay, so… The present study proposes to address the lack of research in this area by examining the heritability of leadership style, as measured by self-reported psychometric inventory. So, anytime we hear self-reported, there’s always, um, it’s always questionable, but anything in social research is questionable. Repeatability is an issue, right? All of these things. But we have to use what we have, right? And social research, the data from social research changes all the time as human beings change. So, they actually use 247 adult twin pairs.


Mmmhmmm. So, here’s what they said. Results indicated that most of the leadership dimensions examined in this study are heritable as are two-higher level factors. And it suggested that 48% of the variants in something called transactional leadership may be explained by additive heritability. I don’t know what that means. So, we need a geneticist to explain what additive heritability is. And 59% of the variance in transformational leadership may be explained by non-additive or dominance heritability. So, I think what they’re saying is that, yes, there are some traits that are heritable, but you know, from my work with Dr. Breen and the health program and that kind of thing, a gene doesn’t always express-


What expresses the gene is our environment, right? So it’s like, you might have the gene for Alzheimer’s or cancer, but that gene may never express, right? And so it’s kind of like, and it’s based off many factors in your environment, stress, psychological, environmental, nutrition, all of these things play a role in your environment. And certainly what we believe is that the healthier the environment, the healthier genes get expressed. So, what this is, and also because it’s 48 and 59%, what this is saying is that, there, you know, I think what I’m understanding here is that there’s a likelihood too, that these, you know, that they’re, that leaders can also be, or leadership qualities can also be made, but they may not be natural or raw talents. Like, somebody who has a natural proclivity and probably some genetic coding that allows them to play the piano or sing better than somebody else. Um, that doesn’t mean that other people can’t learn it, but they might have to work harder at it or do it differently.



And do you sense? And you said something there, Christopher, sorry to cut you off there, but you said something, I just want to jump in on it. Is, the exact what you just said about the environment, right? And the environment, you know, the food, the interaction, all those things that is also relevant for leaders, right? ‘Cause that plays a role in we call culture. ‘Cause if those things are impacted differently as well, that is going to also influence that said leader, regardless if they got the gene or not got the gene so to speak, right?

Yep. So Kyle, why don’t you tell me, and our audience, I wanted to know the three most powerful strategies, like three most inspired actions that a leader could take today, to… You know, to kind of inspire, or to become a stronger, better, whatever leader, I think-


Maybe you need to put the words around that.

Yeah. I think when I, the, I would like to use the word competent leader, right? ‘Cause it’s really about competency, right? ‘Cause you will have leaders where like, ugh, he’s a really nice guy, but, you know, oh, she really means well, but you know, at the end of the day, as leaderships no different than in operations and business, it has to produce, it has to get you to where you need to go as outlined by the goals, or the vision or the um, ah, you know, standards of the organization. But let’s talk about competency in leadership. For you to be an effective leader, to be highly competent. The first thing I would say is, do you know what your team wants? Do you know what? And I’m when I say team, I’m talking about every individual. So if your team is eight or nine or 10, do you know what anything that they need? What are the things that you feel your team need? Does one need more conversation? Doesn’t one need more training? Does one need more understand? Does one need more engagement? Whatever those things are. Can you say, if I said leader A, what does Susie Bell need? What does Jeff Blo needs? What does right? You need to know that. And so that leads into the second part is make time for your people, right? I know sometimes leaders are really distracted operationally because that matters, right? Leadership does matter operationally to get things done. But remember you can’t do it alone. You actually need said team to do those things. That’s why you don’t have the frontline report directly to the CEO. And trust me, I know companies who tried that and there is requirement for different levels, different tiers. So, all I’m saying is make time, a big chunk. Did you know, fun fact, a big chunk of a leader’s time, even some, again, don’t quote me on this. Some research, some things out there that says 80% of a leadership time should be taken up leading their people, right? So, and if it’s not, then you have to ask yourself that question. Why isn’t that? So, that is the second part of it. And so don’t skip out on those meetings, make them, you know, behavioral. You already know every Wednesday I meet my team between this time to this time. Everyone gets a chance to meet with me, right? You’re not meeting them all in one week. You can pick

People get resentful when you cancel their meetings?

I had one leader-

Some of it. I needed some tremendous guidance from her. And, um, I think maybe she showed up to like, her admin would accept the meetings.


Like, like the meetings were accepted, but she maybe showed up too… I don’t know, if I was lucky, you know, to maybe 1 or 2 out of every 10 or 15 meetings.

Yeah. That’s unfortunate because leaders, sometimes we take it for granted. We take advantage of it. It’s even in personal relationships, right? You know, my second offer, I could reschedule on her. You know, I could reschedule on him. I could re- like, and we constantly do that. Oh yeah, this is more important. When you do that, as much as you just said, this is more important. That’s what your frontline employees feel. You find something else more important than you actually meeting with me, which leads to the third thing I would suggest, which is feedback. Here’s the thing that I’ve learned many months ago. As a leader, you do not have the luxury of not giving feedback. People on the frontlines of, well, that’s not my job that’s someone else’s job and dah, dah, dah. And they can say whatever they want to say. But as a leader, you can’t do that. I can tell you how many times I’ve been in, you know, development meetings. I’ve been, you know, meeting with my counterparts in different, ah, or departments. And every time I hear them gripe about someone, I mean, like I remember one person she was going off and she was like, I know, but she does this, and she does this. And I’m sorry, I hate to maim the voice there. But you know, she was going off about this person doing that. And one thing I said to that leader is, I said, so when you spoke to her, what did she say? She’s like what? I said so when you gave her that feedback, what did she say? Well, I didn’t ask, did you give that feedback? No. I just said, when you, because it’s understood that you should have given that feedback, right? She says, well, no. I said, well, see, that’s a problem. ‘Cause why did all of us need to hear about it? And she, the employee who’s doing this behavior that you do not want know about it, right? And it’s not always giving feedback that is good, bad, or different, or, you know, in the sense of positive or negative. Feedback is feedback. It’s important for them to know when they’re doing a good job, it’s important for them to know when they have behaviors they need to change. It’s important to know that this is what’s expected of them, right? Oftentimes, when I’m working with a team and I say, okay, so tell me some of the feedback you got from your leader. How are you doing? Are you good, bad, different? And you know what they always say to me? I don’t know. I think it’s good. No news is good news. Oh, that, I cringe. And trust me, that’s another podcast because they can’t know that they are doing well, if they don’t hear feedback.

Yeah I had to leader that was-

So, that would be the third part.

Just like that. She said, if you don’t hear from me, you know, you’re doing a good job. And so then, then what? Like, so I should fear every time my phone rings and I see your name on it. Every time I see you coming down the hall to my desk, I should be afraid of you because that’s not good news.

That’s right.

what a stupid thing to say? Like, what if you don’t hear from me, you’re doing a good job. You know what that is? You know what that is. It’s an excuse. It’s an excuse. So that I, as a leader, if I say that I can get out of doing the leadership aspects of my job that are, that sometimes are a little bit naggy and nit-picky in getting the projects done and getting the numbers rolled out and getting, you know, like all of those things that, you know, shareholders and executives want to see. I mean, it’s all the numbers, right? But it comes at such a great cost, when you say something like that, it’s like, you know, you’re doing a good job if you don’t hear from me. And it’s like, what a shitty leadership model? Like what a terrible style that is. It’s like, it’s like, what? Like, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe folks have something contrary to that.


So Kyle I, in our next podcast, we’re actually gonna talk about what it means to check it out the door, which is gonna be all about the employee. And we’re gonna talk about three powerful, inspired actions that folks on that podcast can take, for their, you know, towards their leadership.


‘Cause they can play a role.

To help them.

They can play a role. It’s not just the leader. ‘Cause to be honest, the biggest part of accountability should actually come from the frontline.

I totally agree with that. And I’m really looking forward to it. So, okay. So Kyle, I, this is the question to our audience. If they had to take one imperfect inspired action on this topic in the next 24 hours, what are you gonna do?


That’s our question for you, the listeners, what are you gonna do?

Just one thing.

One imperfect inspired action as it relates to leadership. And remember, leadership isn’t just by title. It’s by how you show up, you could be the newest, lowest person in an organization and show more leadership than anybody else in that organization. So, what are you gonna do? We’ll see you next week, folks.

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Next week on Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans.

They all mean different things, depending on who it’s coming from.


Your too anything is a criticism, period. And anything that you are too much of is also an asset.

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