Becoming a strong leader doesn’t just happen overnight and, unfortunately, it doesn’t happen without putting some thought and effort into it. At Station Summit 2017, leadership and personal branding expert Judy Goldberg laid out a precise blueprint to help aspiring executives move into leadership roles.
Goldberg’s platform is based on a pyramid of five core values, four environments, three types of people, two answers and one key element.
Five Core Values
Goldberg asked attendees to raise their hands if they knew their five core values – almost no hands went up. “It doesn’t surprise me that the whole room’s hands don’t go up,” she said, “but core values are why you make the decisions you make every day. The more solid you are on your core values, the more decisive you can be. Knowing your five core values helps you “unclutter your life, know how to respond in tough situations and forge lasting relationships with those around you,” Goldberg said.
While people think they know their core values, they often aren’t living those values. For example, Goldberg said she was working with an executive who said she (or he) valued her family and time with her kids.
“I asked questions about where she was spending her time, energy and money,” Goldberg said. “It was a hard conversation and the person in front of me started to cry. I asked what was going on and she said, ‘although I value my family, I don’t spend time with them. My money is mostly spent on thing for work and home and my energy is mostly depleted by the time I get home to them.’
“There was a misalignment between something she thought was a core value and where she was spending her time, energy and money.”
Goldberg worked for Discovery for 10 years, and said when she was interviewing with the company, she did so with her core values in mind. With the word “curiosity” in the company’s tagline, Goldberg knew she had found a good fit.
“That alignment around my core values is what led me through my career there,” she said. “It’s something you really need to sit down and think about. It does not happen overnight. Discovering what your true core values are and really aligning yourself to them could take a year or longer. Part of this is getting really real with yourself and recognizing where your values are showing up. What is it that you value that drives your decisions every single day?”
The next plank in Goldberg’s pyramid are the four environments that people tend to find themselves in at work. These range from simple to complex to complicated to, finally, chaotic (think President Donald Trump’s White House or UK Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s parliament).
A simple environment is ordered and has a right way about doing things. There are known knowns, facts, right answers, best practices sand rules. In a complicated environment, it might be tougher to find solutions to problems and thing aren’t so cut and dried. In complex environments, things are unordered and there aren’t always clear answers to questions and messy situations. And finally, chaotic environments are full of unknown unknowns, high turbulence and no right answers. Many times, experts are brought in to help in these situations.
Goldberg herself experienced working in a chaotic environment when she went to Sony Pictures for a year after her 10 years with Discovery. “I left about a week after the hack,” she said, referring to the massive email hack of Sony in 2014 that resulted in many leadership changes at the company. “That was chaotic to say the least. There were lots of unknowables. You went in to work and had a skull on your computer and couldn’t access any of your files for days. There were literally people crying in the hallway. Some people responded in a positive way, others not so much.
“One of the things we want to do when we enter a chaotic environment is to move into as quickly as possible into a complex environment – something that’s a little more manageable.”
Three Types of People
The next plank is composed of the three types of people you encounter throughout your career. These are “adds,” “diminishers” and “multipliers.”
Adds add value, positivity, bring great energy and are great to be around. As their moniker suggests, diminishers are the opposite of adds. They drain your energy, dampen your food and you feel it when they walk into a room. They aren’t much fun to be around. And multipliers are people who challenge you, make you think, cause you to go back and do some research. You want to learn to lead as a multiplier, Goldberg said.
“When you are working with a team, leaders tend to shift from answers to questions. The best leaders talk the least and ask the best questions. They share their ideas in small doses. They don’t want ‘yes’ people, they want challengers who continue to raise everyone’s game.
“What, ultimately, do you want to achieve? What are your goals for your life and your business? If you recognize that 50% of the people you are spending time with are diminishers, you might want to make a change.”
Next are the two answers and these are simple: yes and no.
Fundamentally, these are the answers to every question you will encounter, with some caveats. The trick is how you position your yeses and your nos. If you have to say “yes, but,” that’s effectively a ‘no,’” said Goldberg. Better to say “yes, and,” which remains a yes.
But when you have to say “no,” it’s best to explain why so people on your team don’t feel denied or ignored. Another option is “not yet,” which is still a “no,” but it can also be a delayed “yes,” when positioned correctly.
One Key Element
Finally, leaders need to keep one key element sharp and ready to go and that is their brains. Goldberg’s advice for the care and maintenance of our brains is much the same for our bodies and our overall health: eat right with a focus on whole foods, get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, exercise every day even if it’s just walking for 20 minutes, be mindful through meditation or yoga; maintain a positive mindset and invest healthy relationships.
Said Goldberg: “These are what I believe are the five foundational pieces to building your leadership.”
[Image courtesy of Cashman Photo]