“The true test of leadership development are the stakeholders and the people that are impacted by the leader.”
How do you measure your effectiveness as a leader? Can you quantify it? Can you pinpoint upward growth?
On today’s Dos Marcos Show, Kinsley and Quinn host Christina Dyer, an Executive Coach, author of the book Savvy Leadership Strategies for Women, and the Founder and President of Noble Leadership Adventures. In this episode they discuss how you measure leadership effectiveness and mobility, the importance of stakeholder involvement in the process, and common blind spots of all leaders.
1) Learn why repetition is the mother of learning and how to put it into practice.
2) The starting point for all individuals when it comes to developing a life-long practice of leadership that matters.
Mark Kinsley: Christina Dyer is a leadership consultant, executive coach, and adventure retreat leader. She’s the author of Savvy Leadership Strategies for Women and the Founder and c e O of Noble Adventures. Christina says you can measure your leadership development and make meaningful change. You’re gonna find out all about it because the Dos Marcos show begins right now.
Mark Quinn: Christina, how are you doing?
Christina Dyer: I’m great. How are you guys?
Mark Quinn: Uh, we are so good. I’m good. Look at Kinsley. He’s always good. He just shines. He’s got that bright smile.
Mark Kinsley: He’s so happy. I got, I got a rosy glow. I got a healthy glow. Yeah. In my best
Christina Dyer: test of 2023.
Mark Kinsley: Hmm. Well, you know what? I think some episodes are recorded slightly ahead of time.
So the first episode of 2023 was with Brett Thornton, who just wrote his first. Be a better presenter in one hour. And actually Brett, uh, is friends with her, nanny AVEs, her nanny in, introduced us to you, Christina. So you can see how 2023 is already connected in this cool way.
Christina Dyer: That’s right. And I was on Brett’s podcast now that I’m thinking about it.
Mark Quinn: Ah, see how it’s all intertwined? It may not be the first, you will be the best. That’s no question about that. But her nanny is a great friend of the show, obviously, uh, an author. Also balanced accountability. So a lot of authors coming to our show. Grateful for that. And Christina, I’m so excited to talk to you because there’s so many things to unpack here.
Your adventures, trips, and. Leadership and all of that. And Mark and I are big fans of leadership and we study it quite a bit and try to, you know, really dive into all the, the, the new books out there. And it is an intangible thing. Mm-hmm. that is so incredibly valuable. To companies out there, and there’s so many levels of that.
But one thing that Mark mentioned at the top of this show that I really want to drill, drill down on is, you know, measuring leadership, right? That’s gotta be, I, I want to hear you talk about that because you said it’s not that you’re measuring leadership, you’re measuring growth in a human from where they start.
To where they end up. And so I want you to talk to us a bit like what are you measuring and is that like, I, I I think that would be kind of hard sometimes because people aren’t really self-aware, right? So I mean, the beginning of that is that hard just to get them, to get to that point. There’s gotta be some kind of a, an analysis or, uh, some kind of tool that you use.
So they. Kind of get something from it, and then from there you establish the baseline and grow. But tell us a little bit about that in
Christina Dyer: your process. Well, that’s a hundred percent right. Right. There’s a roadmap through this process. I come from a background of, uh, therapy and a lot of times in therapy, people talk a lot and they make internal changes in their heads.
Right? But the real part about leadership development is it doesn’t matter if you’re changing here, if you don’t act out those changes because the true. Test of leadership development are the stakeholders and the people that are impacted by the leader. And so when we start, we start with a leadership assessment from the stakeholders.
We get permission from the leader. To interview them, to find out what are the biggest bottlenecks, what are the biggest issues that they might have around a leader? A leader does it themself, and then we sit down and we assess the situation and pick out one to two goals that that leader wants to spend time working on.
And so that is a, that in itself is a huge part of this leadership journey because it takes a lot of courage. for a leader to open themselves up to the feedback from the people they are leading, right? Because that’s a very vulnerable place to be. So that is recognized. The people appreciate that right there.
It also allows them to be more open because the leader is the one that sets the tone for the organization. So we do this assessment, we tell the people what we’re going to be working on, and then the leader checks in with. . And so over the course of 3, 6, 9 months, we do a leadership growth progress re report review that is qualitative and quantitative.
It’s qualitative When the leader speaks to the person and says, okay, thank you for your feedback. How can I do it better? And they let ’em know it’s quantitative When they are measuring that and they get those measurement reports every 3, 6, 9 months, and we go that long because change has to. taken over a long term in order to be sustainable.
Anybody can change for a week or two, or maybe even a month, but a long-term growth strategy is sustainable over a longer period of time. And so we actually measure that growth, and then when the leader doesn’t see the change, then maybe they’re not actually living out the principles or the, um, the behaviors that the stakeholders ask to see.
So it’s, it takes courage. It takes humility and then it takes discipline to act on it, to follow through with it, especially when you may not like the feedback that you’re getting. And if you ever had blind spots, they will be unearthed through this process.
Mark Kinsley: What are Christina, what are some of the common blind spots that these stakeholders surface whenever you speak to them about leaders?
Christina Dyer: I would say the biggest blind spots are that the leader thinks they’re communicating their vision or their plans or how they would like to see things. Um, and it’s in their head, but they’re not communicating it clearly and then setting up, uh, responsibility for it and accountability. Right. Um, her nanny talks about accountability.
That that is the number one foundational. Part of leadership is being accountable to the people. And I think that leaders think they’re accountable. Leaders think they’re communicating, but people are not receiving it. And so if it’s not received, then that’s when everything falls through the cracks. Um, another big part is ego.
Um, it’s hard for leaders to say, I don’t have all the answers, because they’re supposed to be the ones that are leading. Most people, most stakeholders want to see that the leader is just as human as they are, and that they make mistakes too, and that brings about stronger foundational trust and team cohesion and the ability for the people to move forward because they see the leader is working on themselves too.
Um, so I would say those two things, the lack of clear communication and um, I mean, making sure they’re communicating clearly and often because people. and so restating, restating my, I went to Catholic high school, right? My nuns sister Tootsie, used to say, repetition is the mother of learning. And I remember that.
I’ll remember that. To my grave, repetition is the mother of learning. She said it all the time, and that is very, very true. That’s how people learn and that’s how people know they’re supported by you. When you’re consistently going back and reiterating what they said and saying, I am here. I am your foundation.
I got you. Trust me, follow me.
Mark Kinsley: Let’s break down. Thank you Sister Tootsie. What a great lesson. Yes, thank you, Tootsie. Did she ever love come down on you with the ruler across the knuckles?
Christina Dyer: No. I went to Catholic school and there was nothing but love. I’m telling ya.
Mark Kinsley: Mm-hmm. . Hey, my wife went to Catholic school in Chicago as well, so I know that you grew up in the Chicagoland area.
Yeah, she was right there in the city. She grew up on a Navy pier, and then over in Wrigley. Which school? Do you remember? I’ll have to ask her. Uh, we’ve walked by it a few times when we visit the city, but I, you know, I’m sure if she had a sister Tootsie, that name would’ve come up because it’s so , so specific.
Christina Dyer: Same high school as Melissa McCarthy, St. Francis Academy,
Mark Kinsley: Melissa McCarthy. She’s amazing. I love her. That’s very cool. Okay, so let’s, let’s dig into awesome leader in her own right. Hey, let’s dig into this idea of, you said, failure to communicate in failure to create accountability and ego. Let’s take ego out of this for a minute.
Okay. And let’s just talk about the failure to communicate and that failure to create accountability. You said a lot of times employees are stakeholders. don’t hear what the leader thought they said. Yeah. So Frank Luz used to say, it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s what people hear that actually matters.
So I know this is probably getting into like master’s class territory. Mm-hmm. . But how do you coach leaders on ways to effectively communicate if they’re failing to do it and they think they’re doing it?
Christina Dyer: Well, so two ways. Uh, number one is working one-on-one with me. I will often repeat what I heard them say and ask them, is this what you want?
Is this what you meant to say? And it’s amazing how they say, that’s not what I said, or I say, okay. You didn’t give me enough information. So here’s what I’m gonna assume. Is that what you want me to move on? Is that how you want me to act on, on this assumption? Right? So when people don’t have enough information, they make it up.
always across the board. And so, um, very often they say, well, that’s not what I told you to do. It is what they heard. So checking in and checking back. So there’s a process of feedback where the people tell you what it is you’re asking for, right? And then feed forward is the next step is how can I do it better?
Tell me what you heard, and then what am I gonna do next? Right? So that whole loop. Is all about action. It’s not just about receiving the information, it’s now acting on it. So that’s one. Um, and
Mark Kinsley: then the, and, and by the way, let’s, let’s put a double red underline, uh, beside what you just said underneath what you just said.
An example of this mm-hmm. , and this is just a very basic example, is sometimes. when I call into this Mexican restaurant that I really enjoy, I don’t get my order in the bag correctly, and I get home and, and it’s wrong. Mm-hmm. . And so now I’ve gone to the, to the method of, um, my wife always tells me to check when I get there.
I’m not the best at that, but what I do on the front end is I say, Hey, can you read back to me? Mm-hmm. what I just ordered so I, so I can make sure I got it. . Mm-hmm. . And I think as a leader you can do that with your stakeholders, that people you’re communicating with. Hey, can you just paraphrase back to me and make sure I communicated this properly?
Mm-hmm. . Um, and that way you’re at least hearing it, like you said, and I’m sure you have a lot of other like gentle yet effective ways to point out, hey, what I just said may not be sticking in your brain the same way. So let’s close the gap.
Christina Dyer: Right, right. And I’ll tell you just one quick little story was I was working with a large hotel chain, and it’s fascinating different cultures, right?
It’s just as different as every individual family with a culture that is created in these companies. And I have seen and been in a lot of toxic, hostile work environments, and this company was so kind and so caring and so supportive. That it almost became like the double-edged sword, like the other side of that was people wouldn’t.
Follow back, follow through, and communicate back when there were misunderstandings or miscommunications because they wanted to be nice and they didn’t wanna hurt anybody’s feelings. So you know that other side of being too nice and overly. Careful also creates issues. So we need to be aware of what our culture is breeding and developing, and make sure that clear communication and foundational trust where people can be honest with each other is the foundation across any business, large or small.
Mom and pop, all the way to, you know, Walmart. Why should I say Walmart? Because it’s the largest retail in the world.
Mark Kinsley: Yeah. And it’s in our backyard. It’s such a great point to be a friend of ours who’s been on the show a few times. Dr. V from Kelley’s. Mm-hmm. , uh, down there in central Mississippi. He says, culture is what you create or what you tolerate.
And in that situation, even though it was a very loving, nurturing environment, part of the culture that they were tolerating was over-indexing on being loving and nurturing and support. At, at the expense of being clear and, and being able to debrief and call each other out on things that, that you would need to fix and make better.
Um, what, what, let’s just go there for a minute. Like stay with that example. What, what do you do to change that culture? And I, I’m sure it starts at the top, but like, what are the tactical things that you deploy to start nudging people in that direction? To build that trust and that trust muscle they need to do that job.
Christina Dyer: Well, it all starts with vulnerability, right? It’s, it starts with everybody being able to le be in a safe place. Usually you’re starting with a small group of the leadership, right? Because everything trickles down from the leadership and what they encourage. What they expect, and what they allow is key, like you said, right?
What you have to do is have everybody share some kind of vulnerability and fear, and then kind of level set where everybody feels safe enough to say what they need to say and set some parameters and rules. You don’t leave this room and then talk about what somebody said around the water cooler. You don’t make any decisions based on the truths that people expressed in this room.
You know, business, I think pushes all of that away because it’s touchy-feely or soft or whatever the word is that you want to a apply to it. But that is not, it is the tough stuff. That is the tough stuff of working together because business is about people and the first customer of any retailer. Is their employee and they have to really make sure their employee feels supported and cared for, but that they understand we need to have a level of compassionate candor in order to communicate clearly, because you’re going to have all kinds of starts and stops and bottlenecks when processes go awry.
People start pointing fingers and it. It can go to hell in a hand basket, right? So it’s not often that it’s the people that have problems. The processes create problems between people. So getting clarity around all of these steps is key that it’s foundational to moving forward towards. Anything to jump in?
Christina, we need to fix this before we’ve fixed. This is premature and will not, you’re building on a, a house of. Right.
Mark Quinn: Yeah. I, I was gonna just ask you drill down on a couple things you said there. Let’s start with vulnerability. Mm-hmm. . And then I wanna talk about like, you know, getting leaders to understand the importance of leadership, even though they probably think it’s important, they just don’t act on it.
But vulnerability, that’s not an easy one. . Right. Especially these days, you look at politics and no one wants to be wrong, and there’s so much spin and you’re at a high level dollar company and you don’t wanna admit a weakness because that shows weakness, right? I mean mm-hmm. . But at, in the end of the day, at the end of the day, you only can get to the better place if you expose yourself a little bit.
Right? And that’s not easy to do. How do you coach people through that, that, you know, the guys are the big egos or the women with the big egos and they don’t wanna like, Expose themselves that way. How do you nurture them along so that they understand that if they, if they just trust you and take that step, there’s something good in that.
How do you, how do you do
Christina Dyer: that? You know, I think saying to people very pragmatically, . What is the, what is the fear? What do you think is going to happen? And then when they go backwards and say, well, this might happen, and then what? And this might happen, and then what? And then they kind of relive it and they see they’re not gonna die.
Nothing’s gonna happen. Most people are going to follow them even more loyally because they’ve been more human with them. There are some people that are going to. Be caught up in all of their own stuff and say, I’m not following that person. They need to be strong and lead and, and then maybe they’re not a good fit for that organization.
Right? Because if that kind of. Toxicity is present, it’s gonna infect the whole organization. So the leader really needs to take a stand and say, clearly this is what I want. And it starts with me. And I have been in a situation where I’ve sat next to a leader and under the table I’ve tapped their leg and like, it’s okay, you’re gonna get through this and you could and nothing.
Nothing happened and the sense of relief and the weight that’s lifted off of ’em, and the fact that they now look at their team as partners rather than a hundred percent responsibility on the leader. Because when someone thinks I have to have all the answers, who do they talk to? They have no one at the top.
That’s the lonely at the top. It’s really, really scary that they, that they show themselves to everybody. So maybe if they’re that uncomfortable, they only show themselves to maybe two or three trusted friends or trusted partners or, you know, coworkers or colleagues. and start there and try it on for size, but it’s baby steps.
It’s like, it’s like there’s a bridge, right? You’re just laying the first plank and then you’ll lay the second plank. So it’s a process just getting people to be patient with that process and trust it is the difficult part. Especially committing to
Mark Kinsley: the process, right? Yeah. Committing to the process. And yes.