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Honest Communication for Leadership Excellence with Steven Gaffney

Your team’s truest potential comes to life when you cultivate an environment of emotional safety.

In this episode of Executive Evolution, our host, Craig Anderson is joined by Steven Gaffney, President and CEO of Steven Gaffney Company, to share invaluable insights into the heart of effective leadership. Steven shares how creating a culture where communication thrives can prevent the debilitating build-up of issues within your business and offers powerful personal anecdotes, highlighting how speaking up and addressing the unsaid alleviates stress and strengthens teams.

Join us as Steven shares his masterclass for those looking to improve their leadership skills and drive meaningful change.

After You Listen:

Key Takeaways:

  • Cultivate an emotionally safe environment to foster open communication and address problems before they escalate
  • Encourage leaders to elicit unfiltered feedback and make accountable decisions without primarily seeking consensus
  • Mentor and coach future leaders to promote leadership development and drive continuous innovation within the organization

Things to listen for:

  • [02:09] Lightning round with Steven
  • [07:25] Moods have an impact on productivity and interaction
  • [14:00] Seek help and support during tough times
  • [19:55] Seek input, but be accountable for your final decision
  • [19:50] Therapy can help a business excel
  • [19:55] Seek input, but be accountable for your final decision
  • [27:37] What advice Steven would give to her younger self
  • [30:18] Craig’s takeaways

Steve’s Transcript:


[00:00:00] Craig P. Anderson: While we are in this room, we can disagree, fight, and get it all out. But once we leave, we are all in. Welcome to Executive Evolution. I have over 25 years of leadership experience in corporate America. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, and I created this podcast so that you won’t have to. When we had meetings in my last business, when we actually built out our new space, one of the things that was important to me was to put the leadership team’s offices in the center of our space with a conference room in the center of that.
And there was an idea that that was the space where we would meet, where we would work through the issues that were in front of us. That we made sure when we disagreed, we did it there and not out in front of our teams, because if we’re out in front of our teams disagreeing, we undermine everything that we agreed to in that meeting.
As a matter of fact, we had a list of meeting rules, [00:01:00] and one of those meeting rules was that, Every decision we made in that room, even if we had 75 percent agreement, we had 100 percent commitment when we walked out of that room, one of the dangers is having meetings after the meetings are going out to your team after a meeting like that and telling them a message of, well, I didn’t agree with this, but this is what we’re doing.
So here we are. Undermines everything you’re trying to do to drive change and drive success in your organization. By the way, if you would like to get my 10 rules for better meetings, we’ll drop a link in the show notes that you can go out and grab that today and start changing the way you do meetings in your organization.
My guest today is Steven Gaffney. Steven is the president and CEO of the Steven Gaffney company. He works with leaders to help them build open, honest communication with their teams. And how to have effective conflict resolution. He is also an author and has most recently written the book, Unconditional Power.
So let’s get in and talk with him about how we can drive Executive Evolution.
[00:02:03] Craig P. Anderson: Steven, welcome to the executive evolution podcast. I’m so glad you could join us today.
[00:02:08] Steven Gaffney: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:02:09] Craig P. Anderson: Oh, absolutely. See that I, I’m excited to talk to you. Cause you’ve got such a broad and varied background.
You’re an author, you do training, you do so many different things, working with leaders. And as we work here to try and help new leaders. Become better and avoid some of the mistakes. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for you to give them some insight into things they should look out for. So great to have you here, but as you know, we like to open up with the lightning round and hit you with a couple of questions and see where we go from there.
So are you ready for that,
[00:02:38] Steven Gaffney: I’m ready. Bring it
[00:02:40] Craig P. Anderson: All right, let’s go bring it on setting aside your own book. What is the best leadership book you have ever read?
[00:02:47] Steven Gaffney: One of the books love, maybe not the most, but or one of the top would be switch how to change when change is hard. And what I love about that book, is it’s all about how everyday people or mid level folks can actually make a [00:03:00] huge change in their companies and organizations, because quite often what people are thinking is.
And what difference can I make? I’m only one person here or I’m mid level manager. I’m not in charge of this. People are filled with all kinds of excuses as to why they can produce the results. And the answer is there’s so much that can be done that everyday people can do in all different positions. To produce huge changes.
So what I love about that book is it’s filled with examples like that. And then a lot of our work that we do is all about the tools on how to make this stuff happen.
[00:03:30] Craig P. Anderson: Well, it’s so fascinating because it’s senior leadership, executive leadership, all the great ideas in the world, but where all those things fall apart is when they don’t get it communicated to the key levels of the organization that are actually doing the work. So I love that idea that, that’s really where it can happen is the middle levels of leadership are really powerful.
If they understand what’s going on and it’s been made clear to them.
[00:03:52] Steven Gaffney: let me give you one thought right away is if everybody forgets everything out of what we’re going to talk about, the most important thing I want to give them right up front right now, [00:04:00] the biggest problem in all relationships and all work situations, and even in home life is lack of honest communication.
But what I mean by honest communication is not about the truth or lies, it’s about what’s not being said. The biggest problem, essentially, is this. Not what people say, it’s what they don’t say to each other. And if we can get that unsaid said, we can fix almost any problems. So it’s important for middle level folks to top level folks and everyday folks to make sure that we get the unsaid said.
[00:04:32] Craig P. Anderson: I love that. Yeah. The meeting after the meeting is the death knell of whatever you just
[00:04:37] Steven Gaffney: Yeah,
[00:04:38] Craig P. Anderson: in the last meeting.
[00:04:39] Steven Gaffney: well, we do a lot of work with, you know, effective communication, obviously. and we have 12 essential elements of a consistently high achieving team. We do so much work in this manner. I’ve distilled 12 of them. And one of them is have a consistent communication business rhythm. And how do we know we need to work on having a consistent communication business rhythm is when [00:05:00] people feel out of the loop.
I didn’t know. I’m surprised, blindsided, whatever. We have to look at Our way and our rhythm of communicating and fix that so we can fix that at all different levels. But obviously when you’re working at the top, it’s easiest because if you get the top of the organization working well, it’ll usually flow down to the rest.
But again, wherever we’re at, we can only change ourselves.
[00:05:22] Craig P. Anderson: Perfect. Okay. Next big question. You work with a lot of leaders, both as your own, and you look at a lot of leaders, who is the leader that you most admire, who you think really gets it right most of the time?
So the two leaders I love to use as great examples of great leadership and my favorite are Gandhi and Martin Luther King. And the reason why I choose those two as examples is because neither of them held political office. Neither of them were in charge of a country or something major, but they wielded a tremendous amount of power and influence.
[00:05:53] Steven Gaffney: And change the world, our world, respectively. And so it’s a great example because it goes back to the earlier [00:06:00] point. Sometimes people are filled with excuses. Why I can’t make a difference. I’m only one person here, but Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the principles they instilled and did are great examples that we can all make a huge difference.
If we focus on the one person. We can change and do something about, and that’s ourself. If we change ourselves, we can change other people. So I love to use Gandhi and Martin Luther King. We talk about other reasons why, but primarily because they’re great examples. And the reason why I also bring this up is quite often you read books and you see, great leaders like Winston Churchill.
It’s a huge favorite, He was the prime minister. Now I’m not discounting what he did. It was. Phenomenal. Right?but what I like about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, it comes back to, it’s a great example that we can all make a difference if we really work on ourself and think, what am I going to do about the situation?
[00:06:51] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah, no, I agree. And I’ve even had conversations within businesses where people say, well, I don’t have a title. I can’t, make anything happen and say, no, you can [00:07:00] make things happen, right? You can point out. You can be the example. You can set the standard. You can set the goal. There’s so many things you can do and, and really that works the other way, right?
the bad leaders in the organization who don’t have titles, but who are always running things down and saying it can’t happen. They can bring a whole team down, even though they’re not in charge of the
[00:07:17] Steven Gaffney: Yeah. , that’s so true. Well, and that’s a big reason why I wrote the book, unconditional Power. the reason why I wrote this book and it just came out is it’s all around how. Important. Our mood is to our productivity. And let’s face it. We can allow other people to bring us down or we can allow other people to inspire us and we can bring other people down.
And we can also,bring people up and inspire them. And so mood really matters. And I’ve identified three different moods and it deals directly with what we’re talking about.
The first type of overarching mood is a powerless mood. And that’s the feeling where we say, what difference can I make? I’m only one person here.
And let’s face it. We’ve all felt powerless [00:08:00] at times. Again, that’s not a great place to be at, but we’ve all felt that way at times in our life.
But the second type of mood is the biggest one where I see many people fall in this trap of, which is conditionally powerful. And that is we recognize we have power, but what we’re saying is I can only do something about it.
If this happens, if that happens, hence conditional power, we recognize we have power, but it’s dependent on other things. At least that’s how we have it wired in our head. I can do that, Craig, as long as. You give me more money or as long as I have more time or as long as I have more resources and they’re legitimate conditions.
But the problem is we’re placing a lot of our power outside ourself and allowing those conditions to control us. The third type of mood is the desirable mood and that’s unconditionally powerful. That’s where we recognize, again, there’s legitimate conditions, but we spend a hundred percent of our energy on what we’re going to do about it.
And so, you know, Sometimes we feel powerless. Quite often [00:09:00] people get wrapped up into being conditionally powerful. And then there’s the unconditionally powerful state. The book is all about recognizing how important that mood is to productivity. And then what can we do about ourself to get ourself in an unconditionally powerful state, as well as to get other people in an unconditionally powerful state.
And that’s what the whole book is about. And there’s many strategies of which we can cover in here as well.
[00:09:24] Craig P. Anderson: yeah, we definitely will as we get into some of these things for new leaders, especially. All right. So before we jump into that one last question for the lightning round in 10 words or less, Steven, how do you define leadership?
[00:09:37] Steven Gaffney: Leadership is to me about making things happen.
it really is. It’s making things happen and getting it done through other people. That’s,one of my favorite things and I probably talk about it too much is. We take those individual contributors who can make things happen and say, well, now you go do it and we’re not going to show you how, but you got this, you’re in charge.
[00:09:57] Craig P. Anderson: And now they have to do it through other people and they’re just [00:10:00] mind blown. And it’s such an important thing to be able to
[00:10:02] Steven Gaffney: So So one of my philosophies in life is that any interpersonal issue, any leadership issue, any soft issue like communication and things like that can be broken down to formulas. My dad is an engineer by trade And I never really thought I was like him until I realized that I take an engineering approach to human relationship problems.
And I believe that whenever there’s a problem, you can break it down into a formula that if you do that formula, most of the time it’ll work, maybe not a hundred percent, but it can work if we know the formula. So I think there’s certain formulas, steps, critical elements of leadership. And one of the most important critical elements I’ve found is to create an emotional.
Safe atmosphere, You read many of the books and they talk about creating a great vision and doing a lot of things that granted are very important. But think about this. If we create emotionally safe atmosphere, in other words, so people feel safe to bring things up. And [00:11:00] I don’t use psychological safety because I think it’s, people will speak up they feel safe to bring it up, whether or not it’s cognitively correct. In other words, they can say, well, I know it’s safe to bring things up, but they need to feel safe to bring it up. Here’s the interesting premise. If I create an emotionally safe atmosphere and people will speak up, I’m going to be a great leader because I don’t have to get everything right.
If I lead by fear, people are not going to tell me when it’s a bad decision. And if we can lead the whole company downhill or lead our friends downhill or our own little team downhill. But if I created an emotionally safe atmosphere and people can speak up and I say, look, this is where we need to go.
People might say, I don’t agree. And then I could say, why? And I might learn things and then adjust things or pivot or change things entirely. So if I don’t create an emotionally safe atmosphere, I have to get everything right. But if I do, it takes a lot of the pressure off even vision. Think about this.
If I’m lousy at saying what the vision is for my company or the vision of my team or own more [00:12:00] my area and people feel safe, they’re going to challenge me and say, I don’t understand what you’re saying. But if I create fear, I’ve got to get everything right. So I think one of the most important steps in the formula of great leadership is emotionally safe atmosphere, creating that emotionally safe atmosphere.
[00:12:17] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah, no, I love that idea because that is just, as you said earlier, where the communication doesn’t happen, everything starts to fall apart. And when you’re creating that atmosphere where communication is valued and that whole, like, don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions. So I don’t have a solution.
I just really have a problem and I need your experience and help. But when you create that kind of lack of safety to say, well, I’m going to get in trouble if I bring a problem, I don’t bring problems. There’s just a lot of things that start to pile up when you don’t create the right atmosphere in your business.
[00:12:44] Steven Gaffney: Even when you look back at this whole getting the unsaid said, right? Cause that’s the whole key is getting the unsaid said is so important in our. Just this morning, I was talking to a client of mine and he was dealing with another peer of his [00:13:00] another executive and felt like that other executive is under a tremendous amount of stress is like he said, I’m worried about it.
And I said, well. Why don’t you pick up the phone and talk to him? He’s like, well, I’m not sure it’s my place. I don’t want to bother him because he has so much on his plate. I said, well, why don’t you say all of that? Why don’t you pick up the phone and say, just want you to know, I’m a little bit worried because I know you got a lot of stress on.
Is there anything I could do to help? You don’t have to share anything, but I’m there for you if you want. And I just want you to know I’m thinking of you. And he said, you know, that’s a really good point. And the reason why I discovered this point was I’m a cancer survivor. So I went through a bout with cancer.
I’m completely fine. But when I. Went through cancer.lot of the people I thought would call me didn’t and some of the people who I never thought would call me did and I got irritated with the people who didn’t. And I’m like, why wouldn’t they call me? Don’t they care? And then I realized when people don’t know what to say, they don’t say anything.
And so it wasn’t that they weren’t caring. They just didn’t know what to say. And then quite often [00:14:00] people are going through and suffering through some difficult situations. They don’t always ask for help. They should ask for help, but they might rationalize. I don’t want to burden anyone else. So what’s the answer?
Getting the unsaid said. If the person thinks, well, hey, let me pick up the phone and see how you’re doing. And, you know, just say, I want you to know I’m thinking of you and I’m there for you. That would be great. And if the person who is going through a lot would just speak up and not suffer in silence and say, listen, I just want you to know, I, I’m going through some tough times and, you know, you don’t have to do anything, but I just want to give you a heads up.
That’s what there, or would you mind do me a favor or, you know, if you could help me this way or whatever, but we all do this thing in life. And I see this with new leaders, everyday leaders. People throughout the world that I’ve interacted with, they suffer in silence. They don’t know when to bring up something.
They don’t know when to ask for things and they don’t want to burden people. And the trick to the whole thing, the answer is just get the unsaid said it can change our life dramatically.
[00:14:57] Craig P. Anderson: I love it. so let’s dive into that because we want [00:15:00] to talk about new leaders. Right? So I’m new into this leadership role, and I have all those problems that you’re talking about. They promoted me. So they think I can do it. I’m not going to answer any questions. Oh, my God. I got promoted from within my team.
So now the people that were my friends. Are now my employees and they treat me different. I’m dealing with imposter syndrome. All these things that go on and you’re working with a lot of leaders. So when you look at new leaders, Steven, what are the things that they should try and focus on to kind of deal with their internal battle?
And become more effective and drive to some of these things that you’re talking.
[00:15:35] Steven Gaffney: So leadership is a team sport. We need the team. So the first step is to get all that unsaid said, not from a position of weakness and necessarily, but you could say, listen, I know many of you We’re my peers and now I’m, you got this new leadership role. I’m not sure I have all the answers and I need you all and we need to work together.
That’d be a great start. And then what we want to do is really look at those team dynamics and [00:16:00] get it to be what I call a consistently high achieving team. And I use on purpose, the idea of consistently high achieving team versus high performing teams. Because the word performing can be easily confused with hard work.
And have you ever said to somebody, listen, I want you to do something and say, what do you want me to do? I’m working hard. That’s not the problem. It’s about achievement, right? And let’s look at what the results were producing and then how to do it consistently. So we’re not burning people out. And so what I always recommend with leaders is leadership is a team sport.
So don’t do it alone. You want to look at your immediate leadership team. And the bottom line is we got to get everybody together and going places. So there’s 12 essential elements of a consistently high achieving team. And the very first one is to know your North star PGS, which stands for purpose, goals, and strategy.
In other words, rarely simply put is I got to know where I want my team to go. Quite often. The reason why people aren’t leading well is they don’t create that [00:17:00] emotional safety that we talked about earlier, but they also, Haven’t gotten in their head where they want to go, or they try to run it by consensus.
And leadership is also something where you got to make the tough decisions. So I always coach people you’re in that role. You take responsibility and accountability. What do you think needs to get done? Just yesterday, I was on a call with a potential client and he said, okay, this is really great. I want to work with you.
but I’m just go, I want to go back and ask my leadership team. And I said, do you think it’s a good idea to move forward? He said, yeah, we got to do something like an offsite or whatever. I said, what are you going to do when you ask your leadership team? If they, what are you going to do? If they say, well, we don’t think it’s a good idea. And he said, we’ll ask them why. And I’ll say, well, okay, then what? I mean, what are you going to do it? They really don’t think it’s a good idea. I said, because ultimately you are accountable to producing results. So it’s fine to ask for feedback, but you’ve got to make that decision and always be aware that whatever question I ask, I have to be prepared for the answer, because on the flip side, if you ever had somebody, Ask you a question and they’re not really open to [00:18:00] the answer.
So I always coach leaders and people ask questions that you really mean. Don’t ask a question that you’re not okay with only one right answer, right? Cause otherwise people get resistant. So even the North star PGS, okay. Want to get the feedback, but where do I think the team needs to go? And I often say to people, when you get promoted, you’re being promoted because You’re going to be responsible and accountable to ultimately getting that result produced.
Ask for feedback. You definitely need the team, but you’re going to have to make the hard decisions.
[00:18:30] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. And, and that’s so interesting. I think new leaders today struggle. I don’t know if it’s culturally or what’s going on, but they always want that consensus and consensus falls apart as soon as you get one other person in the room with you. Right. So now you’ve got six direct reports and I, and I’ve just moved into this role and I want to do well, how do I get my head space?
To the point to say, Hey, I’m actually in charge. I’m going to make a decision. I’m not going to make an uninformed decision, but [00:19:00] I might risk pissing some people off. How do you help a new leader get over that
[00:19:04] Steven Gaffney: a client of mine says is I love it. is consistency breeds mediocrity. And when you think about it, It does, right? If we’re always running thing by consensus that we might get a lukewarm movement on something or we might move incrementally, and that’s not going to be enough, but it is important to get feedback.
So here’s what I recommend. What I recommend is ask everybody for feedback. And incidentally, it’s important the way we do it. What I mean by that is if I say, look, I’m thinking we should go in this direction, Craig, what do you think? And I’m the boss. You might be, well, how comfortable am I? It sounds like Steven already made the decision.
So why go there? Right. Even though I completely disagree with him. But if I say this, look, I have ideas of where I want things to go, but I’d like to hear everyone’s feedback unfiltered or not tainted by me, what would you recommend? And I go around the room and I ask people, I’m going to get a much better opinion and [00:20:00] feedback and receive a lot better response.
And then I can, there’s nothing wrong with saying, okay, now I’m going to go back and make the decision, or maybe say, okay, based on this, what if we did this? But here’s the thing, when you really think that ultimately I’m going to be accountable as the leader, I’m going to have to make the decision. I’m not going to be able to use a rationale.
I can’t say to my boss,I wanted to go there, but I asked the team and they said to go in a different direction. My boss is going to say, I promoted you to be in that role. You’re accountable. So it’s about making the tough decisions. Somebody once said there are two types of leaders, leaders that want to be popular and leaders that want to be respected.
The problem is Leaders that want to be popular eventually become no longer popular and definitely not respected. Why? Because quite often, people that are nice, great. We want that. But if they’re seeking popularity, eventually people are like, We got to make the tough decisions around here. but if we make a decision and we [00:21:00] explain it, people might disagree, but they’ll respect at least the decision.
So ultimately it’s about accountability. Cause when I look back at my career and where I am at various times, I had to make the decisions then I’ve got to make the decisions now. I don’t know if that is helpful, but that’s what my thought is.
[00:21:16] Craig P. Anderson: No, I think it is helpful because yes, I really like what you said is, you can be popular as a leader. Or you can be respected and, you know, not everybody’s going to agree, right? I appreciate that people aren’t going to agree with my decision, but they have to follow the decision. But if I’m so worried about them liking me and, and as a young leader, that was my struggle, right?
I wanted people to like me because I had my own insecurities to work through, but it doesn’t work because if you’re making everybody happy, nobody’s happy. and certainly people are definitely a hundred percent, not
[00:21:49] Steven Gaffney: And in fact, people might say, well, how do I word it? Why not get that unsaid said, look, just want you to all know, I want you all to love me and be happy, but I can’t make you all happy. so I’m going to make [00:22:00] this decision. And I noticed I’m a little bit worried about making this decision. Cause I know some of you are irritated that I’m making this decision, but I want you to know, I feel very passionate and this is where we’re going to go.
So I have made the decision. I feel for you. I hope you like it. But either way, this is the direction. So just get that unsaid said, you know, an interesting thing I discovered years ago, which really has helped me. My grandfather lived till 99 three quarters in a day, almost made it to a hundred, but being around him, I realized that a lot of people will look back at their life and they’ll reflect back on their life.
So. Knowing that that can happen. Why wait? So this is what I often will say to people when you’re stuck in life and you’re not sure what to do. Should I go in this direction? Should I go in that direction? What should I do? Think to yourself? What would the 99 year old me? Tell me to do right now. And that’s what we need to do in the moment that gives us clarity
[00:22:57] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. No, you’re right. And yeah, it’s [00:23:00] what’s the long haul. So, so Steven, let’s pivot. Now I’ve gotten through the dangerous time of being a young new leader. Somehow I’ve made it to the point where I did build the respect. I’m now more experienced. Where did the challenges shift now that I’m more experienced and I’ve been around in leadership for 20 years?
How did the challenges shift for them in a higher, maybe a higher level role?
[00:23:22] Steven Gaffney: thinking we have the answers. And why I say that is it’s very easy as we develop to experience and things that have worked to suddenly get attached to it and say, I know how to make this work, but we live in changing times, obviously, and they’re changing and they’re only going to be more and more. Think about this a good year ago, we weren’t talking about chat GPT.
Now. Gen A. I. And you know, and all the things that are happening are dramatically changing the work environment. And so it’s not a fad. It’s a forever, right? It’s we’re moving forward. So I say this because the ways we’ve done things may not be the right things moving [00:24:00] forward. And so what I see is a trap is when we start to develop.
Oh, I’ve got the answers. And so I think a little bit of fear is good when people say I’m afraid. I’m like, great. That keeps you on your toes. If you don’t have fear, if you think, Hey, I got this, that’s when the problems happen. So not being attached to things and being willing to look at things and saying, does that still work today?
And a lot of that happens by looking at and having conversations with people. Internally, but it’s also important to work with externally, not necessarily only with a coach like myself. It could be just outside the industry. Quite often. I see that people suffer from incestuous thinking within an industry, and we cut across a lot of industries, most industries, because I want to keep things fresh.
I keep challenging myself. What’s really important? Where do we need to go? what’s really important that maybe wasn’t so true years ago. So I’ll give you the latest. The latest work we’ve been doing on top of the other work is [00:25:00] around how to be innovative daily in our job. So most of the way innovation is looked at is new products or services, but I think we need to be innovative every single day in our job.
And I’ve identified there are 13 barriers to innovation daily. And in fact, if they want it, they just can email us and we’ll send them the 13 barriers. But the idea is we need to keep looking at our work and it needs to keep evolving. So if we are not growing, we are dying as they say, you know, and it’s just the willingness to say, you know what, am I keeping things fresh?
you know, am I having a diverse workforce? And I’m not talking about the typical way of diversity, although there’s, that’s great. I’m talking about how diversity of thought, how often am I having debates in my meetings? Debate is good. Conflict is good. Not resolving debate, not resolving conflict is bad, but it’s good.
But we want to get that stuff resolved. So why am I bringing this up? Because I want to create an environment where there is some debate and discussion, because I’m worried that we can fall in a trap and say, I now have the answer, and that’s a [00:26:00] very dangerous way of thinking.
[00:26:01] Craig P. Anderson: Perfect. So Steven, two more questions as we wrap up for you. First one is I’m an experienced leader. I’m a senior leader in the organization. I have a bias that corporations companies don’t do a great job developing young leaders. What can an experienced leader do to start developing that generational leadership talent in their organization?
[00:26:22] Steven Gaffney: Excellent Excellent question. I think there’s a lot of ways to do this, but let me give one in particular. When you have one on one meetings. Is that a mentoring and coaching session or is it what’s been happening lately session? What I advise leaders to do is great leaders are great coaches. And then are they spending time developing future leaders?
And that has a lot to do with mentoring and coaching. So what does that mean? Why not ask people, what would you like me to teach you? what can I help you with? Or if I recognize a blind spot, being upfront with that person about that blind spot and say, I wanna work with you on this. I wanna help you [00:27:00] get promoted, I want to help you move forward.
And also it’s of asking people questions. Where would you like to be in your career? And I want to help you get there. All that to being said is developing. Future leaders has a lot to do with spending time and mentoring. And so we can create these mentoring programs and do a lot of different things. We can read the books.
We can take trainings like what I do and everything else. But how about this? Just instill a one on one meeting with the people that directly report to you at the very least and spend the majority of time mentoring and coaching them.
[00:27:32] Craig P. Anderson: Yeah. And set that example. So those people are then doing it throughout the organization. Okay. Last question. This can either be Steven going back to his younger self with a piece of advice that would make him a most effective leader as a young man. Or the most important piece of advice that you have for people new in leadership.
[00:27:52] Steven Gaffney: look, I can answer both actually pretty easily. what would I say to my younger self is don’t be so hard on yourself [00:28:00] and realize mistakes are always going to happen. The key is to learn from them at various times in my career. When I’ve made mistakes, I’ve gone through a period of where I’ve been down, you know, and that’s partly why I wrote the book, Unconditional Power, because about picking yourself up and moving forward, but recognizing.
we’re going to learn from it and that’s just part of life. I know that sounds so silly, like obvious, but it just took me a lot to learn. Yep. Stuff is going to happen and it’s going to keep happening, you know? and we got to learn from those mistakes. And the biggest piece of advice I would give people overall, though, reflecting on everything is to remember to get the unsaid said the biggest problem is not what people say it’s what they don’t say.
So our job is to get the unsaid said. Create that emotional safety. Also reward honesty. You know, when people give you feedback, do something with it. Don’t just shelve it, do something with it. But I’m going to leave you with something lastly, when it comes to getting the unsaid said, don’t be stingy with appreciation.[00:29:00]
So often people do appreciate their boss or do appreciate their employees or do appreciate people at home, but they just don’t say it. They don’t get the unsaid said, and nobody’s ever left a company that’s. I can’t stand it. People appreciate me too much. There’s just too much.
Thank you. And the reason we’re gonna divorce. Yep. Your honor. I want to get a divorce. There’s too much love and appreciation. I mean, so you can make an argument. You might do it too much, but people don’t do it nearly enough. Get the unsaid said with our issues, ideas, but also our appreciation of each other.
[00:29:31] Craig P. Anderson: perfect so steven lots of great advice today lots of rules and different ideas that you had If people want to follow you learn more about you get the book unconditional power How can they do
[00:29:43] Steven Gaffney: So easiest way is to go to Amazon and they can pick up the book unconditional power, but if they want to get the, 13 barriers to, and what to do about it regarding, so they can be innovative daily for them to email us. And the easiest way to email us is to go on our website. Just be honest.
com it’s just be honest. [00:30:00] com and you’ll see a contact us. If they mention your show, we’ll send that to them. So that’s all they need to do is mention your show and we’ll send them the barriers.
[00:30:07] Craig P. Anderson: Excellent. And we’ll drop all that in the show notes so people can jump right in and get it. Steven, thank you so much for sharing this great story about how executives can evolve into being really the great leaders that they aspire to be.
[00:30:18] Steven Gaffney: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:30:19] Craig P. Anderson: There was so much to glean from that interview with Steven today. He’s got a lot of great ideas about just getting things out, getting that unsaid said, as he repeated a couple of times and really building that open and honest communication with our team. So thanks, Steven, for all your insights. As always at the end of every episode, I like to break down the three key ideas I took away from the interview in the areas of confidence, competence, and calm.
In the area of confidence is setting the tone, that emotionally safe tone in your organization, making it safe for people to [00:31:00] disagree, to raise issues. When you create that, that’s got to come from you leaders. It can’t come from within the middle and then hopefully work its way up. It’s up to you. When you start to build that emotionally safe space so that ideas can be generated and disagreements can be had, you’re going to have more confidence because there’s nothing you’re going to miss.
In the area of competence, what I really liked about what Steven said was that great leaders are great coaches. Leaders today, even if you’re a new leader, that one on one is your time and your opportunity to coach. It’s not their check in to you. It’s your opportunity to coach them. You’ll pick up what’s going on.
But here’s your opportunity to mentor, to coach, to help guide them so that they can someday step up into a leadership role. And then finally, the area of calm. I like this idea of saying the unsaid. When we say the unsaid, everything is out on the table. And if we go back to that first point around confidence, making it safe to do so, but when everything’s out on the table, you don’t have to worry [00:32:00] about as a leader that you didn’t think of something or that there might be a piece you didn’t miss because everything Everybody’s putting it all out on the table.
And you also don’t have to worry about the dreaded meeting after the meeting, which tends to undermine everything that just happened in your meeting. So those are the key areas for you. Remember, you can go from being an accidental leader to the greatest leader of all time. All it takes is developing your confidence, confidence, and calm.
We’ll see you next time in Executive Evolution.