Recognizing How You Show Up as a Leader with Stephen Shedletzky
Intro: Welcome to the Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.
Matt Blumberg: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg, co- founder and CEO of Bolster, and I'm here today with Steven Shedletsky, otherwise known as Shed. Shed is speaker, he's a leadership coach. He's an advisor and he's an author. His latest book is called Speak Up Culture: When Leaders Truly Listen, People Step Up. Shed, it's good to see you again.
Steven Shedletsky: It's good to be here with you, Matt. Thank you.
Matt Blumberg: Yeah, absolutely. So I have not read your book yet. It is on my Kindle. I love the title and subtitle. They speak volumes to me. And what I'd love to do is just ask you the question that I think is almost the essence of the book and probably the essence of your leadership coaching practice as well, which is how leaders get in their own way without even knowing it or how leaders show up when they don't think about how they're showing up. So we'd love to just hear you riff on that for a couple minutes.
Steven Shedletsky: So there's one thing, there's many things I've noticed, but one salient thing that I've noticed about leadership development as an industry, as a practice is every single leadership development program that I've been a part of as a participant that I've spoken or facilitated in that I've heard of, it all starts with a module on self, leading self, self- awareness. And here's this thing, you never show up one Tuesday morning, bing. You have self- awareness and you never have to work on that ever again. It's part of the beauty of being human is even on our deathbed, we're learning things about ourselves and others. And so a thing that's so hard for a leader is A, your whisper is a shout and your tiptoes are stomps. For founders, when you're, Matt, a founder of a 1, 2, 3 person team, you're Matt. As soon as your CEO founder of a 20, 60, 75, 200, 3,000 person organization or team, you're not Matt, you're the CEO or founder. And we're biologically wired to offer you deference because we're human. And so I think leaders have to work really hard to, of course, look in the mirror themselves. You can have tools like assessments and StrengthsFinder and Hogan and Berkman and all these things as well as external mirrors, coaches, confidants, peer groups, friends, colleagues, others who provide you feedback on how you show up. So you can build that muscle of self- awareness.
Matt Blumberg: Yeah, for sure. I say this all the time when I'm talking to other CEOs that self- awareness is like it's the key to everything. It's the key to self- management. It's the key to understanding others. It's the key to influencing others and empathy.
Steven Shedletsky: And teamwork.
Matt Blumberg: Teamwork. So I'm totally with you on that. I love the language you just used. The whisper is a shout and the tiptoe is a stomp.
Steven Shedletsky: A stomp. Yeah.
Matt Blumberg: And that's so true. And I guess the question is how do you teach that? Or if not teach it, how do you get someone to appreciate learning it and looking for it?
Steven Shedletsky: Are you saying in terms of a leader to realize their whispers are shout and-
Matt Blumberg: Yeah.
Steven Shedletsky: Yeah. I mean, it's so hard because you're the only person who you spend all of your time with. But again, I think this is where the feedback from others of, " Hey, does the room change when I enter?" For you as a leader to ask not just one question or take information at face value, but to ask open- ended questions and to be silent. And when you hear news that isn't fun news to hear, isn't good news, is hard news to hear might be inconvenient, might be bad news. You cannot punish that messenger. You have to reward them for taking the risk of being truthful with you. I mean, this is the premise of my book Speak Up Culture is there's no such thing as a fearless leader. If a fearless leader exists, that's the one who's going to get you killed. Fear is important. Fear keeps us modulating our risk. And so the role of leadership is not to be fearless or to create fearlessness. Again, that can be dangerous. The goal is to create less fear. And when the people around you feel that it's safe, psychologically safe and worth it, that it'll lead to some sort of positive outcome or impact for them to take the risk of speaking up, sharing ideas, feedback, concerns, disagreement, admitting mistake, that that is actually rewarded and leads to better outcomes in the organization, you are more likely as a leader to be dished truth rather than people kissing up to you.
Matt Blumberg: Yeah, 100%. What's interesting is how much of it is about the two- way street of information. Knowing that your whisper is a shout, you have to be really careful about when you whisper and where you whisper. And quite frankly when you shout, because sometimes you need to shout too and you need to do that so that people hear you in the right way. But your point, which I think is a very, very good one, and it sounds like the point of your book is that you need to do that in order to hear what you need to hear, not just to communicate what you need to communicate.
Steven Shedletsky: Yeah. What's the quote? I forget who it's from, but the greatest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has occurred. And to spend extra time, here's what I'm attempting to communicate. Can you repeat back what you're hearing to ensure that we're aligned and on the same page? And indeed, sometimes you do need to shout, but I don't think we need to yell. I've been parts of cultures where senior leaders only yell at subordinates sometimes. That's not a spectrum, that's binary. If you have a culture where you yell at or diminish, even if you do it once, the people around you are waiting for it to happen again, even if it may never happen again.
Matt Blumberg: Yeah. All right. Shed, thank you for being with me today. Steven Shedletsky, author of Speak Up Culture: When Leaders Truly Listen, People Step Up. Thanks for joining me.
Steven Shedletsky: My pleasure, Matt. Hope it helps.
Matt Blumberg: All right. Take care.
Steven Shedletsky: Cheers.
Today’s guest is speaker, leadership coach, advisor, and author Stephen Shedletzky. He’s here to discuss the idea behind his latest book, Speak Up Culture: When Leaders Truly Listen, People Step Up. Tune in for this value-packed conversation about self-awareness, teamwork, and honest feedback.