Thank you for having me, Steve. I'm happy to be here.
Well, it's so great to have you, you and I met at Stanford about a month ago. And prior to meeting you, I had already read your book that you co authored called The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. So in our discussion today, I'm not really planning to ask you questions out of that book verbatim, because I would encourage folks to just pick it up and read it themselves. But I do want to touch on a couple of the themes that you discuss both in the book, as well as in your talk at Stanford. And the first bucket of questions that I want to talk to you about is about this concept of just regulating ourselves as leaders, I often say, and I totally stole this quote from somebody, so I don't deserve any credit for it.
But I often say that a CEOs ability to manage her own psychology is just as important as, if not more important than her ability to manage her business. So that's where we're going to start. And I want to start with a bit of a speed round for you. So to set the table for the rest of our discussion, I just want to go through four speed round questions. And these Speed Round questions revolve around the question of where do most leaders tend to make most of their mistakes? Okay, so that's where we're going to start. A, by going too fast or going too slow.
I think leaders make more mistakes by thinking too fast and acting too slowly.
Interesting, can you tell us more about that?
Yeah, that they get into a speed round of thinking and they're thinking through things too quickly. So they think about a problem, they move to the next they think to a problem, they move to the next but they don't complete the loop by then taking action, by then communicating with the folks around them. So they're through and on to the next, but they haven't actually completed whatever it was that they had thought.
Interesting. So good segue into the next sub question. Do leaders tend to make most of their mistakes by overthinking problems or under thinking problems?
This one, I think, is biased by different people's personality styles. And so there are some people where their default is to overthink and some where their default is, I don't know that it would call it under think but rather just sort of jump to a conclusion. And so I think that this one is about knowing yourself and taking one step towards center with the awareness that sometimes when somebody finds out, for instance, that they're an overthinker, then they start just jumping to the answer. So there's a risk of over rotating, but I think that one's personality based.
I mean, just as a quick follow up on that one, I'm definitely an over thinker. So I would make mistakes by probably moving too slowly as a result of overthinking. I mean, to what extent, you know, folks listening to this, I'm sure that resonates with some portion of them. To what extent do we just simply accept that as our DNA and embrace it, and to what extent we view it as like a quote unquote, weakness and try to like change it or work on it?
I think it's not about changing or trying to be something that is different from who you really are. I think it's about finding someone in your organization, who can play a counterbalance for you. So somebody who cares enough about you to say, Hey, Steve, I think that you've thought that through sufficiently, let's put it into action, from a place of care, not a place of judgment. That said, I think the working on it is the awareness to be able to articulate that default pattern to someone else, so they can help you watch it, and you can do something different about it together.
Right. So not necessarily changing what is core to your personality, but potentially complementing it with a complementary point of view.
That's exactly right. It's funny that my TED Talk is actually about this whole notion that I don't believe that people change. This I get a 360, and then I'm 180 degrees different. I just haven't seen that in my executive coaching practice. But I do think people grow. And that if you can make a 2% is 7% different Choice Action in your life and your leadership over time that's a profound difference.
Right. Okay. Next Speed Round question in terms of where leaders tend to make most of their mistakes by implementing too much change or not implementing enough change?
I feel like I'm hedging on all my answers here, unintentionally. I think that that's both leader and context dependent. And what I mean by that is that what's needed from a leader brought into a turnaround situation is distinct from regular change management. So regular change management, to me is everyone is trying to navigate this new world of Gen AI assisted reality. I also think this is the balance between novelty bias which is wanting something different just for the sake of difference and fear of the unknown, which has people do some of the same things until they really, really break?
Yeah, that's context specific feels bang on to me this reminds me of Ben Horowitz. He has this amazing classification called the peacetime CEO versus the wartime CEO. And different management styles are required, depending on that very different context. And final one, which will almost certainly be context specific. But the final question is by being too direct, or being not direct enough?
I think that when people are too direct, it gets noticed. And so that gets feedback that gets attention. Whereas not direct enough, gets confused with being nice or being kind, which can easily slip into a lack of candor without people even noticing that it's happened. So I would say that more trouble happens around not being direct enough.
Right, right. Okay, so staying on this theme of regulating ourselves as leaders, it's no surprise for anyone listening to this to hear that being an entrepreneur requires otherworldly levels of commitment, hours, dedication, etcetera. But I've noticed that at times, I kind of feel like those of us in the entrepreneurial community somewhat mindlessly, and oftentimes needlessly work hard, perhaps to the point of it being counterproductive. So I'm wondering, in your SEO coaching practice, how often do you encounter this with your work with leaders? And what are some of the reasons why some leaders tend to sometimes mindlessly throw hours at their craft, even if doing so doesn't necessarily result in better decisions or better outcomes?
This pattern happens really, really regularly with leaders and entrepreneurs in particular. And I think part of it is that work is one of the greatest addictions, that gets public approval. And so if people were drinking or abusing drugs, or to check out people would be like, wow, that's a problem. But when people check out into work, other people, society kind of gives the thumbs up. So I think it's easy to get seduced into working longer, or quote unquote, harder without actually making any progress. I think you asked why. And often, there's a feeling that people aren't willing to feel so they keep working, for instance, they could feel really nervous about a proposal.
And so they endlessly polish it, it doesn't actually get any better, right? That's sort of the mindlessly throwing hours at it. But it helps calm their nervousness. Or they might feel sad about losing a client. And so they put in more hours to try to compensate. Actually, they're just resisting feeling the loss. In my coaching engagements, we often do a practice around noticing when something is intentional, versus when something is what I refer to as an unconscious commitment. These are the things that we say we don't want, but that keep happening. And so anytime there's a complaint like that, like, hey, gosh, I'm overworking or gosh, I don't have time to be with my family.
I want to get curious with them about what else might be going on that's having them do that thing. And a couple just quick ideas. Some of these, I think you might have even shared with me, people will overworked to prove their own worth, sort of if I'm working hard, that might mean that I feel more worthy. Or they might be overworking because they believe in zero sum outcomes. If I if one is going to win, and one's going to lose the person who puts in the more hours wins. I think it's a false belief, but one that's pretty compelling to many people. And then I think there's also this notion of trying to create safety, without realizing that no matter how much work I do, it's still an uncertain world.
Yeah, I mean, the other thing that I observed in myself only, of course, only in retrospect, with only the clarity that hindsight can bring, is that we spend our entire lives in academia, and in the early parts of our careers witnessing a positive and linear correlation between like brute force and success, which is to say like, hours, commitment, dedication, etcetera. The more I study for a test, the better I do, the more hours I put in at my junior investment banking role, the quicker I get promoted, but at a certain time in one's career. You're no longer playing the brute force game, I kind of used the phrase you're playing the clarity of thought game.
And when you are in a position where you're just playing a fundamentally different game, mindlessly throwing more time at it might actually be counterproductive. So I kind of reflected on the idea that the two places where people kind of stumble is A, they compare themselves to people playing a different game than them. Maybe they're comparing themselves to someone playing a brute force game, or B, they don't really recognize which game they are playing at that stage in their life and their career.
I agree with both of those things wholeheartedly. I would add, I think sometimes people don't realize where the real value is that they're creating. And what I mean by that is to your point of like, if you're building a model than yeah, the more cells you fill out in the amount of time allocated, whereas the ideas, or some people refer to them as like the million dollar pivots. Those most often happen when there's space to think, which can feel in the moment counterproductive, even though it's actually the most productive thing a person can do.
Right, right. The proverbial shower thoughts, right?
Correct. Yeah. Yeah, I think about it was like shower thoughts or run thoughts. I don't know what your practices, but for me, I find when I'm hiking in the mountains, without my phone, is often when the best ideas happen.
Yep, yep. Okay, so in your book, you talk about this concept of 100% ownership, which I really like, and specifically 100% ownership of things that happen within your professional life. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from this guy named Jerry Colonna, who I think is also a CEO, coach, but.
Who also lives in Boulder.
Oh, really? That's amazing. So he has that he has this question that he posed. The question is, how have I been complicit in creating the conditions that I say I don't want? And I have to imagine that we all do this to some extent. So can you maybe just give us a few examples of how leaders probably subconsciously, are indeed complicit in creating the circumstances they say they don't want and maybe how we can go about identifying these things for ourselves?
Yeah, absolutely. This is the process of unconscious commitments that I referenced just a second ago. And anytime a person has a complaint, I think that you can start to use this process. And I'm curious, I can certainly work with common things that I hear in my coaching practice. Or if you have something that you experienced from when you were a CEO, or something right now that you're willing to work with, sometimes it's fun to do this process real time.
Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. This is requiring me to think in real time, but one thing I think that immediately comes to mind is I often said that I wanted the ability to delegate more frequently and trust my executive to simply do the tasks that I found myself doing, but I just kept running into, well, it's much faster if I just do this myself, as opposed to teaching somebody else how to do it and check their work. So on one hand, I said I wanted delegation. On the other hand, I didn't create a context and environment that would allow me to delegate
Perfect, perfectly well done. So if I were going to do this process, and anybody who's doing this, the first thing to do is to write down this notion of I say I want x, but what I create is y. So I say I want to delegate but what I create is an environment where I don't delegate, and then I have people teach me how to do the thing that you said you don't want. So the y in that sentence. So Steve, if you are going to teach me how to not delegate, what would I need to do? And what would I need to believe? Like, if you were gonna give me a training manual? What are a few things I would need to believe, a couple of things that I would need to do.
On how to not delegate?
Correct, you already said a few of them like jump in, I don't really trust them, believe that it will be faster if I do it myself. And other proteston to not delegate?
I would say articulate to your team that you want more delegation, but then kind of cut their legs out from underneath them by not giving them the opportunity to succeed. Worrying only about speed the first time you do it, and ignoring the efficiencies that would be created if I just slowed down and showed them how to do it once or twice. Those are few of the reflexes that come to mind.
Oh, these are so good. These are exactly right, cut out their legs from underneath them, really get fixated on speed versus ultimate efficiency. Bravo. So first thing you do is you write down the complaint. Then you write the training manual for the thing you say you don't want. And I find that my training manuals when I write them, sometimes they're funny, and sometimes they're tragic. So different tones for different training manuals is absolutely okay. The reason to do the training manual is it starts to get us into the mindset of oh, wow, this is exactly how I'm creating this outcome. So if it feels like it's happening to me, by writing the training manual, I start to see oh, actually, I am creating this, which is sort of back to your quote, this is part of how I'm complicit.
The next piece, though, feels important to me, which is to recognize this behavior serves you. And it also costs you. That if it only cost you, you would already have stopped doing it. Like we don't do things that have no benefit. And so we write down, how does it serve you? And again, you had a few, like, I get to be faster in the moment, or I get to maintain control? Are there ways that not delegating served you?
Those would be the two that come to mind, I think maintenance of control, I guess, assurance of outcome, which is to say that if I do it myself, I just know it's going to be done right? Speed. Maybe a sense subconsciously, of usefulness, like I feel useful when I'm doing this, I feel like I'm adding value when I do this.
I'm so glad you named that one. Because many of the things that will keep us caught in these unconscious commitments or in these things we say we don't want is that part of our ego gets hooked by it. And this notion of like, but then I know I'm valuable. And this work is easily visible versus that thinking work that we were talking about before, spot on. Is there a way that not delegating cost you?
Oh, yeah, enormously. You know, for years and years, I would keep doing the thing that I probably could have delegated in a days or a week's worth of time. So it cost me time, it cost me the empowerment of my direct reports. It cost me balance in my life. Because if I wasn't doing these things for x hours a week, that I could reallocate those six hours a week to family. And it cost it's presumably it's stunted the growth and development of the people that I wanted to grow and develop.
Absolutely, absolutely cost personal relationships, trust with the team, ultimately time and growing the people who you want it to grow. Well done. As people look at your own list, because yours will be maybe will have similar elements. But as people I coach, look at their list their, how it serves me and what it costs me list, that is a moment of choice. Sometimes people will look at how it serves me and say I am willing to live with the costs because the benefits are so great. And perfect. If you want to keep it now you're doing so from a place of awareness. More frequently, I find that people will look at that and say, wow, I'm not willing to sacrifice balance in my life, or the empowerment of the people on my team anymore.
Now they're more willing to take a look at alternative paths. Sometimes it's as simple as okay, now how do we delegate, but often there's a little bit more of an on ramp where it's not just a as we talked about before, it's not a 180 from not delegating to delegating completely. But finding a way that you can start to increase your delegation in a way that helps create some comfort around some of the things that feel like you might be losing.
So the magic of the exercise is making these subconscious ideas and preferences, conscious and explicit. And that tends to lead to a bit of an aha moment because we often don't really realize what we're doing to ourselves.
Exactly right. And with that clarity of how I'm creating it, whether or not it's worth it, it creates more possibilities rather than just the binary you do or you don't. And in that awareness, you can decide what you do want to do you think there's there's an additional piece or that you hinted out, which is often a complaint. And as I'm thinking about 100% responsibility, there's often some what we call harrowing. I imagine we'll talk about the Drama Triangle. But playing the hero is where I save the day, I rescue, I do for, I make it faster. And there's something really addictive about playing the hero that I don't delegate and I can jump in or I say I'm going to delegate but then I save the day at the end and do it my way, which is the right way and better. And so there's an interplay between seeing the awareness and seeing whether or not I am actually empowering or whether I'm disempowering the people around me.
Yep, yeah. And to your point, we will get to the hero and the victim archetype. Where I want to go next, though, I think follows naturally from this concept of, I don't really know how to set but I'll just kind of lazily call it self sabotage like unconscious self sabotage. During your talk at Stanford, you mentioned that you studied the work of Gay Hendricks. And I happen to have just finished his book called The Big Leap. And basically, that entire book is focused on introducing this concept called the upper limit problems. So I know that you're familiar with it, can you please describe what that actually means? And the extent to which you've seen it manifest with the CEOs that you've worked with?
So I second the plug for Gay Hendricks's book, The Big Leap, it's a really excellent book. And this concept of the upper limits problem I see all over the place. It's actually perfect timing that, in the coaching certification for business leaders that I lead just yesterday, our monthly call was about upper limits. So the concept is this. In life, there's a range in which we feel comfortable, where things are neither too good, nor too bad. It's sort of the range where we're comfortable, I like to think about it a little bit like a thermostat, that I feel really comfortable when the thermostat is set between call it 68 degrees and 73 degrees. But ifit went to 74, it's too hot.
And once it's you know, 66, it's too cold, right? In life, there's a range where it feels like, Ah, I can make this much money, or I can be this close to my partner, or I can maintain this level of health or this level of balance. And then something will happen where it starts to feel too good. And I think it's really interesting to notice how many sayings there are around this, feel free to jump in with your own, I think about like, well, it's too good to be true, or what goes up must come down. Or don't get too big for your britches, that there's sort of this subliminal messaging around. Don't be too awesome. Don't be too great. Don't be too successful.
And so what will happen with leaders, is they'll get to the point where it feels like, oh, wow, am I allowed to attract this many clients this quarter? Or am I allowed to sign a deal that has this many zeros in the contract? And it's almost like I scare myself a little bit like, oh, my gosh, this is outside my regular comfort zone that range where it feels like, I know how to integrate it. And then folks will self sabotage. Absolutely unconsciously. I've never met a leader ever, who said to me some version of Haley, I realized that, you know, there were so many really excellent clients entering our pipeline that I decided I should blow it up. Like, that's not what happens.
But what will happen instead is they'll change a bunch of terms in a way that turns things off, or they'll find that they get really sick. Or they'll find that all of a sudden, they start second guessing all of their contracts, so they don't send them, something will happen. Again, and a car accident, something will happen, so that they come back and range. And that's the upper limit problem is that something that brings people back in range is often pretty intense. And then it will feel almost like a ping pong game, that they'll sort of bounce out, bounce back, bounce out, bounce back in a way that's uncomfortable.
Rather than, what Gay Hendricks and what I work on with my coaching clients, can we recognize when you're approaching that threshold of things feeling like, oh, gosh, can I maintain this? Because it's too good to be true. And to start to integrate at that level, thinking about it more like a staircase rather than a sine wave.
Yeah, they're the, if someone forced me to summarize this idea of the upper limit problem, you know, quote, I would totally steal it from an author named Morgan Housel. And he said, a lot of people seem to have unnecessary level of stress. And when their life is going, well, they make up imaginary problems to fill the void. To me, that's basically the upper limit problem. And it seems again, like simply surfacing a level of awareness is really the key here and I probably should have highlighted this in the book. So I'm gonna butcher this to a certain extent, but I think what Gay said in his book was when you start to feel a negative emotion, ask yourself like, what positive thing might be trying to present itself right now, you know something to that effect. And just going through that what seems like a very simple exercise has, in my experience, shown me that oh, I'm upper limiting myself right now.
Yeah, I think that's a great access to it. I noticed for myself also, when something starts to feel really great. So for instance, I just facilitated a retreat. It was fantastic. And I watched myself as I felt connected to the people on the team, there had been a bunch of breakthroughs in ah-ha's. And I could feel almost like, Oh, this is amazing experience. I was like, Oh, let me take a few deep breaths. And this may sound crazy, but let me do 15 minutes of completely mindless, almost annoying email, so that I could reground myself and let the retreat be as awesome as it is. But also come back a little bit more to Senator before I drove my car. Because what I wanted to watch out for is if something amazing is happening, I don't want to get a speeding ticket as a way to come back to normal. I want to like, do it on purpose, so that I can integrate the experience. I'm curious if you've ever gotten a party or a speeding ticket when things were like awesome.
Oh, indeed. Yeah. I mean, don't tell my wife about them. I experienced this the other day. This is going to sound very self indulgent. But after many years of kind of humming and hawing, my wife and I finally got a hot tub, and we put it in our backyard. And I went in it for the first time ever with my daughter yesterday, who's four years old, and she was having the time of her life. And this was an instance of me upper limiting myself, I sat in the hot tub, we've been wanting this thing for two years, I looked at the fence in our backyard, and I was I was worried about privacy. I was like, ah, this isn't as private as I wanted, you can kind of see through the fence slats. And I noticed because the book was fresh on my mind was I'm upper limiting myself, instead of allowing myself to enjoy this moment with my daughter that I've waited two years for, I'm finding a way to come back to this state of vigilance that my mind seems to be more comfortable with.
What a perfect example, for all the parents out there. I think the upper limits problem is really evident with young kids. If you've ever been like at a birthday party or like a get together with kiddos, and they start to have so much fun, you can feel the energy start to rise, starts to rise, starts to rise, starts to rise, and then reliably somebody gets hurt. And then there's a bunch of tears. It's the it's the upper limits problem in really just stark display. And one of the games that we started playing with our daughter when she was young is we would have all the kids freeze. And if they could freeze and take three deep breaths, they could actually play for much longer before somebody got hurt or there were tears.
I love that, I'm definitely going to take that. Okay, let's transition to kind of bucket of Questions number two, which is germane to substantially every leader listening to this, which is disagreements and dysfunction within the management team. One of my favorite books is written by Patrick Lencioni. I think it's called the Four Obsessions of An Extraordinary Executive.
That's after Five Disfunctions of A Team.
That's right. He, he seems to have a bit of a structure with his titles. But basically, he said, an extraordinary executive, your number one obsession is creating a cohesive leadership team and maintaining a cohesive leadership team. So when we were at Stanford, one anecdote that you shared really stuck with me, you talked about a situation where you mediated a pretty emotional disagreement between two members of a leadership team. And one of the tactics that you used was to have them switch roles and argue the other person's point of view, I found that tactic fascinating. So can you just tell us a bit more about why you like this tool? And maybe if there's any other tactics or tools of a similar spirit that leaders might employ to mediate these types of disputes that seemed to be inevitable?
Yeah, the story I told at Stanford was about a team where one person was arguing that it was a good time to raise money. And another person on the team was arguing that it was absolutely the worst time to raise money. So sometimes the specificity of a story lets people drop in, like, oh, wait, wow, we've had that conversation. I like the idea of having people argue the opposite point of view, as one flavor of a commitment that I practice a lot, which is just could the opposite of my story be as true or truer. And when there's a polarity when there's an argument between two people, typically the other person is embodying that opposite story.
And so I really like having people switch perspectives because it gives you such direct access to arguing the opposite. I think the reason that this tool works is because when we're in stressful situations, or when folks are overwhelmed, it's much more common to start to become more and more certain that we're right. But as I'm stressed about how I'm going to navigate something like my way feels more vehemently like the right way. And this notion of just breaking that certainty, then opens up more possibilities. So one other tool that I quite like is when there are disagreements, just to put the facts on a whiteboard, or in a shared doc.
And facts are typically pretty boring, like, here is the number, or here is the term sheet, or here is the data set. And then we see how many possible interpretations or action plans we can come up with. And the big idea is that by starting with creativity, again, we're just opening up possibilities. We're giving people more avenues that they could pursue, so it doesn't become binary. It's either right or wrong, or good or bad, or mine or yours.
So this is an accidental kind of Patrick Lencioni tangent here. But the other book of his that I love that you just mentioned is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. So continuing with this theme of dysfunction. So in his book, for those who haven't read it, he mentions Five Dysfunctions of a Team. And in the context of his book, he was focusing on a leadership team of a company. So in order they are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and finally, inattention to results. So in your experience, is any one of these five are a particularly frequent cause of dysfunction at the leadership team level? And if so, why do you think it's so common? And what might we begin to do to address it?
Yeah, the way I've read Lencioni's book is that the dysfunctions build on each other, meaning that you can't have conflict skillfully if you don't have that foundation, or the baseline of trust. And so that's the place that I have most teams that I work with start, because I believe that if you don't have that foundation, if you don't have trust, you actually can't do any of the other things. I think one of the reasons that that gets missed is because so many teams don't place their attention on it. And so, as I add the trust equation that I like, which I think started with Stephen Covey is reliability, plus credibility, plus intimacy, divided by self orientation.
So more specifically, credibility, which is your competence, like your believability, you know, what you're talking about your expertise, plus reliability, which is your trustworthiness, which I fondly refer to as your say/do ratio. When you say you're going to do something, how often do you actually do it? And plus intimacy, which is this notion of character. Some of it's like, do I trust that you'll hold confidentiality? Do I trust that you're approaching this with positive intent? Do I actually know your context? That's the one that I think gets missed self orientation, which is this notion of divided by self orientation is, is the person in it for themselves? Or are they in it for the team or for the organization?
Personally, I think that people get a chance to show their credibility, reliability, and self orientation in day to day decision making. But we skip the practice of knowing each other as humans, particularly in remote first environments. So I love exercises, like, share a fork in the road moment for you. Not anything that's I'm going to read about in your LinkedIn profile, or share a person who shaped your path. And I can't tell you, I mean, I'm going to tell you, like the power of knowing the story of someone's grandmother, who fought for them to be able to do something that their parents said they couldn't. All of a sudden unlocks a human in a way that just knowing that they're really brilliant at modeling or finance or whatever it might be, doesn't let you know and connect with.
Yeah, yeah, I love that. Just to complement that one exercise that we did as a leadership team. Of course, it took me like five years to wise up and actually do this. But at a leadership retreat that we had we did what I think we call the Life Timeline Exercise where you graph your life as like a line graph and obviously, the upward movements or positive things in your life. The downward movements are less pause Have things in your life. And I learned more about my management team and having them walk me through their line graphs for 10 minutes each, than I did in five years of knowing them.
I love that exercise, I will say if you do it bring a box of Kleenex, because many people will surprise themselves by an emotion that shows up. I think that's great, because at least for me, emotion, just it gives another dimension, it helps people be 3D, I think about it almost like in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, where it's black and white, and then we add color. The emotion just adds color.
Totally, I was totally surprised. I was not at all prepared for this. But of my leadership team, I think there was like maybe six of us at the time, I think at least four started crying. Yeah. And I was just completely unprepared for that.
Part of that for me, Steve, is that I noticed, tears show up when what a person saying feels really true. Like it's not actually about sadness, or anger or overwhelm it's truth. And that exercise really helps people land in truth.
Love that. Okay, so we talked about the the roles of the archetypes that you introduced in your book. And we talked about the hero, where I actually want to focus is the villain. So just for people who haven't read the book, it's the victim, the villain and the hero. So for today's purposes, like I said, I want to focus on the victim role, mostly because I imagine some CEOs listening to this have like a victim type on their leadership team that they're trying to figure out what to do with. So maybe you could tell us like, what is a victim persona? And what might leaders do to actually deal with someone on their team who fits this archetype? Like, is there a way to change these people? Or should they just start looking for the replacement right now?
Let's give all three roles, a very brief definition, and then we'll focus on the victim. So the villain role is really about blame. Finding there is a problem here, who did it? Which could be pointing that finger of blame out, could be pointing that finger of blame in, like the inner critic. The hero, as we mentioned earlier, is all about creating temporary relief, if it actually created sustainable results, great, keep it, but the hero creates temporary relief, we jump in and fix it just for now. But it doesn't actually last. The victim sees the world through the glasses of life is happening to me, or I am at the effect of, and this can be very personal, where it's like I'm at the effect of Steve and his management style.
Or it can be at the effect of a department. I mean, there's just nothing I can do, legally, it is always just blocking you at every turn, or can be at the effective like macro economics, like see it, there's just nothing I can do here. Have you seen interest rates. And so the frame around a victim, if that person's on your executive team is you'll really notice their helplessness and their feeling of less than. And sometimes it's dramatic the way that you know, I was doing it, but often it's very subtle. There's just nothing that we can do here. And they say with certainty, where it's almost so believable that you'll miss that it's victimhood at work.
So for me, the coaching around a victim has a couple of different pieces. One is you can't make a victim change that actually puts you in the role of hero, like it's my job to make this person different from who they are, at least temporarily. That said, you can coach them. So place one that I would get really curious is what's your role? And so we could go back actually to the unconscious commitments piece. If you wanted to teach me how to have a victim just like Joe on your team? How would I engage with them? What would I believe about them mostly want to find your part to make sure that you're in 100% responsibility before you go to coach them?
So is this basically touching on the concept that we ourselves may be inadvertently creating victims on our own leadership teams?
Correct. And I don't know that I go so far as like you are creating them, but you're definitely participating in that dynamic. So how can you find your part in that dynamic? And then it's a piece for you as their manager or leader, CEO. Can you live with the consequences of them, living with whatever they create? So what I mean by that is, can you let them fail or can you let them get stuck or can you let them be helpless to really see can they turn it around before you jump in and rescue them?
And in your experience, I don't know how to phrase this question. Do most victim archetypes kind of work their way out of victimhood if given the opportunity to do so?
I would say some do and some don't. But you won't know if they're capable if you keep jumping in to rescue them. Because if you're willing to not jump in and rescue them, then you could ask a question like, hey, if you had power in this situation, or if you were me, in this situation, what would you do? And so giving them access to what if they took them took their helplessness glasses off, and engaged, sometimes you can use even the language of hey, if you were a creator, rather than a victim, and people will bristle, and like it's kind of on purpose, you want to kind of shock them with the language, then they might know what they would do differently.
And then finally, I will sometimes ask, hey, like, let's just describe the situation and what they're doing. And then ask, how's this working? And 99 out of 100 times, they'll be like, oh, no, this is not working. Oh, could you share with me three options, you could see to do something different, that might work? And if they can start to see optionality, they can start to coach themselves out. If you end up in an infinitely recursive loop, where you ask them, Hey, how's this working? Not working? What option could you see to do something different? Nothing. This is impossible, I'm stuck, then start thinking about a transition plan.
Right, right. So my management team briefly worked with a coach of sorts. And one of them, he said something to us that I will never forget. And I've even applied this in my marriage, personal relationships, etc. He said, At the root of most interpersonal problems lies the difference between agreements and expectations. Now, you know, those are his words. However, I know that you spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about the concept of explicit versus weak commitments. And I kind of feel like you guys are talking about the same thing. So can you maybe tell us a bit more about what this all means? And how we might practically put this observation into practice on a day to day basis?
Yes, the language that I have grown to really love is that of a clean agreement. And the ingredients for a clean agreement are who and a specific who. So Kaley will do what? And again, specificity really matters. This is not like, well, somebody on the legal team will do a contract. You know, it's Kaley, we'll do a first draft for redlining. Right, like, that's a really clear who will do what, by when? And again, not to like as soon as possible, but the specificity of by Friday at four. And then people can say yes or no to that. So who will do what by when the the what I will sometimes add in at what level of fidelity. So anybody who's familiar with the 30, 60, 90% done, sometimes that gives people another framework to be able to say like, is this a rough draft or a final copy?
If we can get in that level of specificity, then the person on the other side can say, yes, I can do that. Or they can negotiate a piece of it, hey, I'm not going to make four but I could make 7pm, does that work for you? And that gives people a lot more clarity around priorities. So a person could say, is this so important to have done Friday by four that we want to bump this other project that we're working on? The reason to me, this is so important is I don't know about you, but the number of team meetings where I've left, and I will ask all the people who were in the meeting, hey, are you clear what you're going to do is your next step from this meeting?
And if I single thread ask them, they're like, oh, yeah, sure. I'm like, Cool. Tell me what that is. And they tell me their list. And then I say, um, what three things do you think other people are doing? And they tell me that list, they do not match, like, not even close. And so this practice of closing with a clean agreement reduces drama substantially. Because then I also know, oh, shoot, I'm not going to be able to keep the agreement that I made. Let me go preemptively clean that up, rather than having us play like a rotating game of babysitter and like, chase the deliverable.
And I think once you get familiar with like the difference between agreements and expectations, you start to see it everywhere, kind of like the upper limit problem. So this will sound like a potentially trivial example, but I think it's a good one. I tend to do so taking this to a personal level. I tend to wash dishes a lot more than my wife does. And for a long time, I was pretty resentful, kind of like silently waiting for her to chip in and get back to a 50/50. And one day we actually talked? So that was an expectation. We never talked about it. It was simply my expectation.
One day a couple of months ago, we talked about it, we acknowledge that I do more of it than she does. But she does a lot more of other things than I do. So we came to an agreement. Yes, Steve, you are going to do more dishwashing. But while you're dishwashing, I'm getting both the girls ready for school. And simply when we came to that agreement, I mean, what used to be our number one source of argument we haven't argued about since.
Yeah, it's amazing how clear roles personally and professionally and clear understanding exactly as you're saying around expectations and or agreements, just frees up so much energy. I will say it's funny that you mentioned back to 50/50, that my side hustle is that my husband and I wrote a book about marriage called the 80/80 Marriage. And it essentially says, if we're trying for 50/50 fairness, the probability that we experience resentment is extremely high, because it requires us to keep track. Whereas if we can hold a mindset of radical generosity, so there's appreciation, there's contribution there's revealing, then we can have the conversation about rolls around expectations, you still need to have the conversation about the role. But the mindset of generosity versus fairness helps that conversation go much better.
And a perfect segue to my next question, which is about your book, The 80/80 Marriage. So a year or two, I don't remember when it was probably a year or two ago, I told 200 entrepreneurs about the unique challenges that entrepreneurship and leadership might place upon a romantic relationship. And two findings, like screamed out at me, A, entrepreneurs don't know how much to share with their spouse. On one hand, they want to keep them engaged. On the other hand, they kind of want to protect them for lack of a better phrase from the stresses and worries and burdens that they feel. And similarly, I polled all of their spouses.
And what was interesting is all of their spouses had the same problem. They don't know how much to ask their spouse about their work, because on one hand, they want to show them that they're curious and interested. But on the other hand, they don't want to force them to like relive the stressors of the day. So that was kind of the clear finding in my, you know, very crude, very limited study, I guess, to what extent does this dynamic show up in your own research? And how might couples better strike this balance?
The finding is common. And I think it's, it's exaggerated for sure, with CEOs with entrepreneurs. But I think it shows up in most relationships that we want to know our partners. But what we really want to know is what's happening for them, that means something to them. So mostly, we don't necessarily want to know the like, and then I went to this meeting, and Joe said this, unless it's significant. And so in the 80/80 marriage, what we talk a lot about is this idea of revealing, and asking different questions that if we ask, how was your day, we're for sure going to trip on, like, how much do I share? How much do I ask, how far do we go? Whereas if we can ask a different question, like, hey, where did you feel surprised today?
It invites the partner into reflection, and then they can share about the experience that was meaningful to them, rather than just feeling like now I'm going to overwhelm you with whatever the experience is. That said, I think that partners want to know, what they are stressed about. Mostly, because then there can be a follow up question that is some version of how can I show up in a way that's loving or supportive for you? And it might be, then they get to make the requests like, gosh, it would be so soothing if you would be willing to listen to this whole thing and be my thought partner in it. Or it's, gosh, what would be so soothing is, let's go for like, let's take the dog for an extra long walk tonight. I just want to I want to leave this stress on the trail. Let's talk about something else.
Yeah, yeah. How about this concept of being more explicit in what you're looking for? So if you're venting, as an entrepreneur, let's say, in some instances, you might be looking for help, right? ideas, concepts, help, like tactical advice. Other times, that's the last thing on earth that you want, and you kind of just want someone to sit there and listen to you vent. How do you recommend couples get more explicit about when a given person wants either A or B?
It really is being explicit. I'm laughing a little bit because I'm a professional coach, but I will sometimes accidentally start coaching my partner. He's like, nope, don't coach me and like right, sorry, taking that hat off, back to back to meeting your wife. So I think it's if you can as the entrepreneur preface with, I just need 10 minutes to vent, then your partner knows what to do. If you forget, ideally, your partner can ask, hey, do you want me to jump in and help problem solve? Do you want me just to listen? What's most soothing here? And there's a YouTube that I've watched called, It's Not About The Nail, which is absolutely a parody on this conversation.
But it's about like, the premises, one of the partners has a nail in their forehead, and they're complaining about their headache and like, snags in their sweaters? And the partner is like, do you want me to take it out? Or do you want me to just like be present with how much it hurts? And then like, just be present with how much it hurts or like, okay, but it's restraining the problem solver in all of us that I think gets tempted to jump in. That's the real work.
Yeah, yeah. Okay, Kaley, we have arrived at our last question today. And it's going to be a bit more of a personal one. I don't know if you agree with this statement. But it's been said something to the effect of we teach what we most need to learn ourselves. So if you were to zoom out on your career and experience as a CEO, Coach, what are some of the most important things that you've learned about yourself? And what do you think is the thing that you most needed to learn?
I think that the reason I am so passionate about this work is because it did save my marriage. And so specifically learning about my patterns, and how I would see my partner through various filters, and hear his words through various partner through various filters. I think that really had me get passionate about what filters is everybody using about themselves? And how they engage in the world? Are they using with their partner, whether that's a co founder, or whether that's a life partner? And by seeing those filters, can we take them down so that we can actually have more authentic relationships? That's something that I feel passionate about, and I'm always learning about myself.
Kaley, it has been a total pleasure having you on, I promise, I don't say this to everybody. This has been one of my favorite conversations. And I feel like I could talk to you for another couple hours about this. But I won't subject you to that. Maybe one day we can do a round two. But thank you so much for being generous with your time and your insights. We really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for the gift you give this community and for having me be part of it. I really appreciate it.