Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S2EP10: “Do It Yourself Leadership”

Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – SEP10: “Do It Yourself Leadership”

“Do It Yourself Leadership” Brief Summary of Show: 

In this episode learn to take inspired action as we ask the questions, “Do we have to wait for our leaders to change the culture in an organization? Or, can we begin to change the culture ourselves?” Hosts Kyle and Christopher tell a story about leadership in the organizations they’ve worked for, their time in leadership positions, and how to “Do It Yourself Leadership!”

Calls to Action:

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Christopher Lawrence LinkedIn:

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Change My Life Coaching & Strategic Leader LinkedIn:

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Project Aristotle:

“Do It Yourself Leadership” Transcript:

One, why aren’t they doing these things? And the other thing too is, do I have to wait until I’m a leader to do those things?

[Male Narrator] 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.

Hello, hello to the people of the world.

Why do you always have to start this off so creepy with some song or some shenanigans? Or is that just me? Is that just me?

Why do you have to ruin my fun? This is why people say that you leave dead bodies. And your leadership. You know that?

That’s why I had to, because I had to do it myself. That’s why I had to do it myself.

You’re a very disagreeable person. Go ahead. Say, “No, I’m not.” I want you to say, “No, I’m not.” Say it.

In other news. Welcome. Welcome, welcome, welcome to another exciting week for podcasts. And listen, I have so much to say, and I will just say this that Christopher’s going to cut me off in my storytelling, right? He knows I’m not usually a big fan of storytelling, but when I do have a good story, I wanna tell it. But when I’m telling a story, he wants to cut me up. But when he tells a story, we run over like 45 minutes, 50 minutes. And the moment I start talking, he’s like, “Wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up,” you know what I mean? So, let me just stop all of that. And what are we talking about today, Christopher?

Let me just say something. It’s because you go on tangents and you start talking about like, like we’re talking about something like team effectiveness and all of a sudden, you’re like talking about like, you know, women in politics and how this relates to Harry and Meghan and the royals. And then, like, girl, let me just tell you something. I dislike you today.

And I know why.

Like, not just on the surface, but the deep core of your soul. Although you’re not wrong, let’s get this moving. So, today’s topic is about what, Kyle?

It really is about do-it-yourself leadership. And, you know, let me just tell you what I mean by that. I find, as you know, I work with a lot of leaders and I do also work with a group of inspiring leaders. These are people who really want to learn leadership. And that’s an interesting story as well, because, once we start doing the work we do, they realize, “Well, hold on, is this what leaders are supposed to be doing? ‘Cause the leaders I’m working with is not doing it,” right? So it creates those different things for them, in the sense of, one, why aren’t they doing these things? And the other thing too is, do I have to wait until I’m a leader to do those things? And I want to say, “No, you can lead yourself and you can influence leadership.” And I have an interesting story. Can I tell it? Can I, without getting cut off? Are you good?

So what is today’s topic?

Do-it-yourself leadership. See how-

You know what? I’m so angry at you in my head, but I haven’t stopped listening. Do you know why I’m angry at him, guys? Because I’m trying to eat right. And he brought in an Egg McMuffin thingy. Okay.

You brought in an English muffin with an egg and.

Back to do-it-yourself leadership. Back to do-it-yourself leadership. So let’s just pull that out-

Whose cutting who off now? Why can’t I talk about mine?

I’m sparing these listeners, ’cause they wanna know what the heck is do-it-yourself-

If you wanna talk about the royals, I am a bit of a princess today. Okay, do-it-yourself leadership, let’s get this.

No comment.

Let’s get this rolling.

I remember when I was starting a new gig, I was starting a new job in another world and I kinda was going in front facing in a sense of frontline. You know, I liked them, regardless what I do, I like to start at that level. I like to understand and learn a little bit about the frontline. How do you even do this? And this was in property management. And when I got there, when I was ready to go, I was just like, “Hey, I know.” Have all these things I’ve done in other worlds, I’ve never done property management before, but I’ve done all this leadership and other things and I’ve worked on the frontline. So I kinda, I would think at the time, “I get it, I’m gonna go in, I’m gonna inspire change,” and all that jazz, right? I’m not gonna worry about building trust. I’m not gonna be vulnerable. I’m just gonna go in and do my thing. And so, I got into this property management, you know, role, and I’m trying to work with my colleagues and I wanted to drive change because in that world, there’s so many things that were reactive. Like there is in a lot of, sometimes, in our jobs and other things, right? Is just, you wait for a fire to put out, or you’re working on a project. And it’s just the mundane things. So I wanted to make some change, ’cause I was tired of this constant firefighting. I thought, there’s gotta be a way we could be more practiced. So I started tell people and this one particular property manager I started to tell and I’m like, “Hey, I have an idea, I wanna do this and I wanna,” and I was gung-ho. I didn’t ask any questions. I was just gung-ho to do it. And she’s like, “You know what? I actually don’t trust you. Don’t know why you’re really here. I don’t think probably management should be for guys.” You know? And it’s not that she, I wouldn’t say that she hates guys. It’s just, she’s just thinking from the world that she was in. It’s always been in ladies, right? So, to be honest, it’s not that she has an issue with guys. She was just telling me, you’re the first guy in the organization. You’re not really what she was trying to say. You weren’t here to learn anything. You’re just here to change things. You’re just here to do things, right? And she said to me, Christopher, “When you’re talking to me, can you please leave the door to my office open?”

So she didn’t feel safe.

Why? Right? I agree with you, but me? No, you know me. Who could not be safe with me? Don’t answer that. But, yes, you’re right. She did not feel safe, like, ’cause I didn’t do that work. I actually didn’t do that work. Now, I wanted to make this job meaningful for me. I didn’t wanna just do the day in, day out, like I was saying to you, so I wanted to make it. So I thought I have great ideas and I was pushing them down on her and doing all these other things that I felt we can move forward to it because here’s what I recognize. There was no structure in property management. At least the company I was with, there really wasn’t structure. Which is why I was asked to kinda join the team anyway. So I was just ready, gearing to go and do those things. But I didn’t actually have some fundamental things about how do I wanna do this. I didn’t factor in how I can get support from other people, ’cause I wasn’t getting it. I wasn’t even focused on getting it, but I was not getting it. So I knew I wasn’t being led. So I felt I had to step into that leadership.

And the truth is, is that like you’ve said that you’re attracted to chaos. And so the, you know, the truth is, is that you’re most comfortable. Like there’s different styles of leadership. I shouldn’t say most are comfortable. I know you from that time period. And at that time, your greatest sense of achievement and comfort came from a command and control style of leadership. So it’s like you’re great in a crisis, you know what I mean? You’re great when teams are falling apart, you’re great when companies are falling apart, you’re, you know, and not that you’re not great at other things. I’m just saying like, that’s, you know, certainly there’s that kind of like superstar kinda mentality, the rescuer, the star shining, you know, kind of mentality. I’m not saying that you’re seeking that out.


I’m saying that I think externally to others that’s how it’s perceived. And so you’re just like,


and you’re very results-driven too, which is super important, you know? But it gets in the way, right?

It totally did. And you know, and I think in that moment, I wasn’t waiting for someone to tell me or to lead me to do these things. And I think sometimes, and I see that with a lot of my clients. I see that with, when I speak about different events, that’s what’s happening. A lot of times people say, “Well, I don’t know. The leader didn’t tell us to do that.” Or the managers, “I’m waiting for the manager to tell me to do that.” And, why? Like, if I, think about that situation, if I was waiting to be told to be proactive to here’s the type of structure we need, are people liking what they’re doing? I don’t think that was gonna happen anytime soon. And it’s frustrating, ’cause I know people who are in those systems, who are frustrated, but they just still don’t know how to do it themselves. So I don’t know what else is out there, like when it comes to that whole leadership piece and, you know, can you do it yourself? Should you wait for leaders to tell you?

Yeah, I’m curious, like, so what did you end up doing?

Well, you know what? I actually had to do some of the things that I had to do in previous world, which was build trust. I really have to start to ask them questions, right? I re- even though I saw it, I needed the buy-in, I needed to involve them. And sometimes, this is just your colleagues, right? I’m not talking about a mob mentality. Like, “Yeah, this is not right. Let’s go and get them.” I’m just talking about, what else could I do? I start to say, “You know what? I’m sometimes getting frustrated that everything is so reactive. Like, is there anything we could do in this role that we could be proactive about?” Like, do we know that elevators are gonna break down? Do we know that we should probably get these vendors and subcontract. Should we get in front of the board on certain things? And when it started to come from them, it was great, ’cause they started to see solutions. Then they start to suggest certain things. Or the best part I like is when they’re like, “I never thought about that way.” And in that moment, they’re like, “Well, let’s go ask management.” And then I would say, “Okay, is this because management needs to approve it? Or is this something that we can do? Can we do this? Do we need to run this by management?” I’m not saying, “Let’s not include management,” but it was clear this was in our preview, right? Because this impacted how we did what we did and how we felt about doing what we did. And, but if those are the results that we’re looking for, those things that we’re trying to drive. Why can’t we just do it?

Yeah, it’s interesting, actually. So, your story really kind of is a story of a thousand teams, I think. You know, tens of thousands of teams. And some of the stuff you’re talking about, you know like, like the basic level is trust and that kinda thing. And, you know, without trust, things don’t happen. It also relates very closely to a project that Google did. And it was from, I think 2012 is when it started. And it was a two-year-long effort called Project Aristotle. So-

I don’t think I’ve ever heard about them.

Yeah, it’s interesting, actually. So I think, it’s common out there, but I think it’s really kind of understated and it really should be utilized by folks. Interestingly enough, the workshop that you do called Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, that workshop that you do with teams.


It aligns very, very closely with the results that came out of Project Aristotle. So there’s some things that, you know, it’s a different, it’s sliced differently in the workshop, but-


You would see the fundamental key thing.


So before we actually get into some of the, like the keys to success for teams, here’s some background and findings on it.


So they used 180 teams at Google, okay? And a two-year research study. So I would say within one organization, that’s a fairly large sample size.


Two years, you know, we always look for length of time, right? So what they’re looking for is repeatability. So here’s the interesting thing. They didn’t detect any patterns to correlate why some teams succeeded and some didn’t. So there were no patterns detected in that way.


Even teams that had similar makeup, or even some of the same members still have varying results on, in terms of success and team cohesiveness. They also noticed that personal friendships, strong management, team structure, personal interests, gender, longevity, and, you know, the Cinderella story, the star, the superstars, right? When a bunch of individuals try to be superstars. That data provided no clear insight, meaning that there was no, none of that actually contributed to as a key to success. And also, okay, so this is a final determination. So a group of C- Sorry, a group of superior individuals was less important than the collective ability of the team.

I, hands down.

So when you hear these and I’m gonna call them old school coaches, old school consultants,


you know,


these old school folks that are like, “I only hire stars. I only hire stars. And if you don’t shine in the first two months, I fire you,”


and look,

Yeah, that whole fire fast and hire slow is the common expression, which I don’t subscribe to. But, yeah.

No, no, you got it the other way around.

No, they fired.

Yeah, yeah, you were saying hi- Wait, I think you said it backwards the first way. Most people hire slow, fire fast, right?

Right. And that’s-

You know, it’s funny. I think we do the opposite in this organization

Of course.

and I think we do so with great success. We just found out

Of course.

we are now a two-year winner of the Consumer’s Choice Award and make no mistake in the area of coaching and make no mistake. That is as a result of our team, not despite our team.


That is as a result of our team. And so,


you know, so, we actually do the opposite. Like, we’ll take more time with people and it’s like, “Well, it’s a waste of time.” And I was like, “No, it ain’t, girl,” because hiring and firing is a lot of effort. It’s a lot of time. It’s very expensive retraining people. I would rather work with somebody on a mistake that they’ve made three or four or five or six times over and over again to help them learn it. And do you know why, Kyle? I know you and I are not big on loyalty, but it does breed something called psychological safety. And this is actually-


Sorry, go ahead.

Or, yeah, just back to your comment around safety, right? And I think about the other part of that as well, not only just the cost of recruiting, but that equity, that asset, that’s walking through your door like when someone has contributed. As much as you hear organizations talk about their people, their people, their people, but yet, they’re the first line on the expense line that we chop, right? We start looking at them as a liability and that’s where they are. Payroll is under the liability section when it should be under asset, right?


‘Cause it’s an asset.

Yeah, yeah, totally. Although I wouldn’t, don’t tell the CRA that because I want my write-off. So actually, you know, what comes to mind? Do you remember that story that you told me about the kid on the basketball team and his parents came and asked you why you wouldn’t play him

Yep, yep.

and you kept benching him.


I want you to tell that story just briefly here, because I think that this is a really good metaphor for the exact problem with how teams are structured.

Yeah, you know, her son. There’s a Bantam team that we were recruiting for at the time and, you know, he kinda got on the team, but he was always driving to the basket, right? As a point guard, he was always going towards the basket and he was getting benched a lot because he wasn’t a team player, right? He didn’t pass the ball, right? Like what are the other four people gonna do on that court with him? You know what I mean? And that was the issue. And so when the mother came to me, the parent, came to me very angry. Like, “He always gets basket and he always,” I said, “Right.” But he’s not, he’s working with other people. There’s other people on that team. So yes, he gets the basket. Yes, he always drives. But, what about everyone else?” Right? When do you say, “Yes, I can do that, but I have to look left and right to see who else is with me.” And he wasn’t doing that. And I think that happens on teams all the time.

Well, and the value is, is that sometimes, the star fails too. And this is why we need to create cohesive teams and the importance of the work that we do with five behaviors of a cohesive team.


So Kyle, actually, this comes from a TechTarget. So we’ll put the link in the show notes. The summary, and certainly, there’s more detailed microdata from Project Aristotle. I encourage everybody, whether you’re a leader or a team player and actually, leaders are just team players, leaders work for their teams, right? Not the other way around. When, you know, so as a team player, this is what we mean by do-it-yourself leadership. This is the imperfect inspired action that we’re asking you to take is to influence these changes within your own teams, rather than waiting for your leader to say something


or do something. Your leader is just a human being that also has mistakes, stop putting them on a fucking pedestal, right? So, here’s five keys to success that every team member has to contribute to. It’s not just the leadership, but if you contribute to this, you influence this, you mention it, you will be doing do-it-yourself leadership.


Okay, so here’s the five things. The first one. So this came from Project Aristotle like I said, there’s more data, but these are some of the summarized keys to success. Psychological safety is the first thing. So, team members must be comfortable in taking risks and speaking their minds. They need to know that their team members will support their actions and not ridicule them. So like this old 1980s, 1990s, bring the team together and fire everybody. I worked with a guy like that at TransCanada. He was in his, I think he was in his mid-70s or something. And he was a, you know, this experienced contract worker that he came, and ’cause he could drive results. And I was like, “He fucking destroyed teams is what he did.” Like, it’s like, “Yeah, he could get the project done, but like, look at how much you lost in effectiveness and labor rehiring and all the rest of this because of an asshole like that,” right? So everyone on the team has to feel like they’re not gonna be made examples of something if it doesn’t go right. You know, so, and then I look at our own team and it’s like, we, you know, we hired a bunch of new members and it’s interesting because one of the first things we said is like, if you need to cry, it’s like seriously, it’s okay. Like it’s okay. Like we might need to take breaks, so you can gather yourself, but I’ve never been a check it at the door guy, right?


And as a leader, I’m usually the first one actually that says, you know, “I’m struggling today.”

I think even in the onboarding, although we said what we did, I could see their faces, ’cause as you know, we’re, some of them are in the office. Some of them are actually working from home. I could see where they’re agreeing and all that other stuff. But I see that slight look of, I don’t know if I really believe them yet. Is this real? Do they really mean that? Right? And you could say it all you want. And I like what you said, it’s the psychological safety, ’cause sometimes people feel, “Well, the building is safe, then this is safe.” But if, internally, you ridicule them, you don’t, you know, you’re truly don’t have an open door policy, then psychologically, I don’t feel safe to bring up issues or discuss, right? Sometimes, it’s not even issues. It’s a dialogue. But if I feel, as soon as I start talking, you’re gonna be, “Yeah, but, yeah, but, yeah, but,” then you’re teaching me, don’t even bother contributing.

It’s interesting because I think, you know, I, when it comes to this piece, I won’t leave well enough alone. Like if I can see that somebody is struggling, I will actually go and just be like, “Are you okay?” Like, “What’s happening?” And they’re like, “No, I’m fine, I’m fine.” And I’m just like, “We don’t have to talk about it, but I feel like if we talk about it, you’re gonna feel better.” Like, it’s just like, I won’t leave well enough alone, if it looks like somebody’s struggling.


The next factor, Kyle, is dependability. So everyone does have to contribute to the best of their ability and deliver high quality work. They have to do this within the time parameters that they’re allotted and or what’s agreed upon. This comes into the five behaviors of a cohesive team around accountability, right? Holding each other accountable. So dependability means that-

And commitment.

And commitment, right? So, dependability means that they can count on each other to do the jobs that they’ve agreed to do. Now, I wanna make a comment here because tying that into psychological safety, sometimes the best of our ability, changes based off what’s happening in our lives


or the workplace at the time. The more stressed out you are, your ability goes down, right? So, keep that in mind. Like, what is the best of your ability in that moment? Right? And keep focusing on your high quality work. And I think dependability also means accountability. Meaning, are you asking for help? Like, sometimes dependability is like saying, “Hey, for me to be dependable, I’m gonna need some support with this aspect of it. I’m intimidated by it. I feel like I’m an imposter. I’m not sure I quite have the skill set. Can someone review it for me?” But that, you know, like that’s a culture that has to be nurtured and created


by everybody. Not just the leader, including the leader, but not just the leader.

And it also helps on trust though. Like, think about your own lives. When you ask, I mean, a friend of yours or whomever to show up to something for you or to do something for you and they don’t do it. How likely are you going to depend on them again? How likely are you going to ask them to do anything for you?

Exactly. So I’ve got three more here, Kyle, the third one is structure and clarity. So, this one goes without, you know, like this one is probably done the most common of the five, but, they need clear direction and goals, and that’s vital. Everyone has to understand what part they play on the team. They need to understand how they should go about getting their job done, so as to help them succeed. Now, that is not the same as micromanaging.


It’s just an understanding and then providing direction and clarity, as needed in the details or the minutia where people might require more.

Yeah. And this is where, you know, Christopher, you and I both know as coaches, this comes up all the time. That’s exactly where we always start. If we’re not clear on your goals, clear on why you’re here, clear on why you wanna do this, why you wanna get a raise, why you- If you’re not clear on those things, how are you going to actually strategize to get there? Would you go to a new address you’ve never been before without looking it up on your GPS or the map. It doesn’t matter how motivated you are. It doesn’t matter how excited you are. No matter how positive you are. Without that map, you’re still lost. So you got to be clear. That’s what that is. And if it’s not clear, then stop and reposition, right?

Totally agree.

I know there’s a thing about guys about not asking for directions, but after a few times, a few bad turns, make no mistake, I will pull over and say, “Listen, where exactly is this place?”

Totally. So the next one is meaning of work. So, Google’s researchers seem to find that individual personal satisfaction in the job they were performing was also a key element of success of the team. This also kind of falls in line with Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive.”


So motivation 2.0, which speaks to, you know, autonomy and purpose

And mastery.

and mastery, right? So meaning of work is really key. The last one is the impact of work. This is what drove me nuts when I worked in the oil and gas organization and industry. So, impact of work, how does the work that these people are doing actually benefit the company, right? So, they need to know that they’re not simply wasting their time when they’re doing things and that it’s actually driving something forward. I remember when- oh, girl, I’m just gonna call out the organization. TransCanada, now called TC Energy. This was over a decade ago. They put together a report card for all employees to pin up in their pods, around their KPAs and KPIs. Kyle, I had no idea what any of them were. I had no idea how I contributed to it. I went and talked to my leader about it and she looked at me and she says, “Actually, I don’t know.” And she was a senior director


who was made a VP like less than 18 months later. She says, “I don’t know.” She said, “You might fall into this one a little bit.” They weren’t understandable by people who didn’t have a technical role in operations or maybe business development, like, you know, but, which isn’t a lot of what we did in that company. Most of what we did was actually building, right? Like it was, and then, there was some shipping pieces, but it was just a really interesting thing. So I think people need to tie to that impact of work.

Yeah. And two things I would say on top of that is, regardless of what position you have in the organization, the do-it-yourself component is asking for that clarity by saying, “Listen, I’m reception here and I know the mission, vision value, says by the 2030, we’re gonna be dah, dah, dah, dah.” I just wanna know, how do I add reception contribute to that? How can I do meaningful work that contributes to that overall goal? “Hey, as the leader here.” “Hey, as the front person.” “As the person who does sales.” I need to know which part of that slice of the vision or the goal or whatever that I can contribute. If you don’t know, it’s for you to go find out. The second part of that is don’t be afraid to ask your leader. Is, you know, asking them. The work that I’m doing, is it impactful? Right? Does it have any impact right on the team? Because that is where you’re going to associate your meaning to it. Be okay to ask that question, don’t wait for the leader to say, “Hey, Susie Bell, just so you know, the work that you did yesterday was fantastic and it’s meaningful to the organization. And because of you, we’re dah, dah, dah, dah.” If you wanna know and you want to know what that looks like, don’t be afraid to go and ask that question.

And to the leaders, start fostering this culture of, you know, of, you know, of these five key successes. Maybe bring someone in like Kyle who can, you know, consult with you on the five behaviors of a cohesive team. So folks, here’s your Imperfect Inspired Action for the week. Your imperfect inspired action is to recognize that you can do-it-yourself leadership. And these are the places that you wanna start these five key areas. Do not wait for the culture to change. Start to change the culture of your immediate team members, regardless of where you sit in the organization. Influence can start anywhere.

That’s awesome.

[Male Narrator] It’s our goal to build a global community of inspired action takers and we can only do that with your help. So if you love Inspired Action, please leave a review on your favorite podcasting app and share us on your socials. You’ve heard from us, now, we wanna hear from you. Go to and tell us, what is the inspired action you took this week? Next week on Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans.

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