Being a team leader can be one of the best experiences of your life. Jeffrey Davidson of Leading Great Teams LCC says that honesty and appreciation are what leads teams to greatness. Jeffrey knows being a leader, you need to have a boundary between your team members, but at the same time he came to appreciate them, got to know them, understood what their strengths were, what their weaknesses were, where they want to grow, and how he thinks they could grow. What we need as human beings is a good leader with a good team to constantly share honesty and appreciation with each other, that constant dialogue and the satisfaction of knowing they did a good job. Learn from Jeffrey as he shares some proven techniques and wisdom on how you can lead your team to be more successful.
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Leading Great Teams To Success with Jeffrey Davidson
Jeffrey Davidson is engaging, thought provoking, and sometimes gets so excited you think he forgot to breathe. Jeffrey has been exploring the boundaries of world-class teams for many years as a recognized expert in strengthening leaders and building teams. He has worked with hundreds of teams, taught thousands, and consulted with multiple Fortune 100 corporations. Jeffrey and I talk about how we need honesty and appreciation to lead our teams to greatness. Welcome, Jeffrey.
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here.
I find this to be such an important topic and it fits right in with the kinds of things we do here at Heartretpreneur. What led you down this path of world-class teams?
It started off when I was young and I read and studied about leadership. In my early 30s, I became president of a small sales company. We had about 27 people and about $20 million in sales. I was terrible at it. I came to realize that reading and studying is not the same as leading. I gave it all up. I went into consulting and a client, a friend, asked me to build a team of analysts. They taught me how to be a team leader. It’s one of the best experience of my life and I want to share it because it makes such a big difference.
[Tweet “Reading and studying is not the same as leading.”]
I have to thank you for that because for many years I worked in corporate America. I was President of a national healthcare company. We completely lacked teams. We didn’t have a way to strengthen our leaders. We didn’t have a way to build teams and it wasn’t even my forte. I didn’t know much about it. I learned how to do that after I left corporate America. If I only had known how to do that then, it would’ve been a different experience. How did you come up with honesty and appreciation as what leads teams to greatness?
It came from the relationships from the people I was leading. They became friends, not just employees. I know that you need to have a boundary between the leader and the staff member, but at the same time, I came to appreciate them. I got to know them. I understood what were the strengths, what were the weaknesses, where did they want to grow and how did I think they could grow. Those aren’t the same things. Sometimes they want to grow in an area and I’ll say, “You think that’s good, but you’d be great over here. Have you ever thought about that?” It’s that constant dialogue between what are our needs, what do I want, what do they want, and fitting into their life picture. I can only do that when I get to know who they are and I’m honest about where they are and what their next step is. You can’t have a good relationship if you’re not honest with each other. It’s impossible.
My three words that I talk about in Heartrepreneur are honesty, integrity, and transparency. I talk about that all the time. I talk about authenticity as well. I was President of National Healthcare Company and we were going to lay-off a huge amount of people because Medicare law had changed. I wanted to have a team meeting and I wanted to start talking with my directors and my managers and tell them what’s coming down the pipe and figure this out. My company said, “No, you can’t talk about that.” I didn’t listen. That’s who I am. I talked about that and those teams became so much more productive. Instead of the massive lay-off, we had a minor lay-off because people were able to step up to the plate and deliver more. That’s where I learned that honesty makes the world of difference.
Honesty goes in the big picture you talked about. It’s also in the small things. So many organizations doing annual performance review, that feedback, that conversation, that dialogue is the water of the sunlight and the nutrients for employees. If you only talk to them once a year or when there’s a major crisis, but only after the crisis has passed and they had no input, it’s like you’re starving that precious plant. It’s like you’ve locked it in the closet and say, “Glad you’re doing well. I’ll see you in a year.” When you come back a year later, a part of them is dying inside because they didn’t get appreciation for the work they did right. They didn’t get honesty about how they could have been better. That is what we need as human beings and a good leader with a good team to constantly sharing that with each other
I can remember when I was working for a company early on in my career and I was pretty new. I wasn’t the best at what I was doing. What got me excited was that the team leader was constantly appreciating me, recognizing me, acknowledging me, and honoring me. It had me work more and harder and wanting to understand how to contribute. I’ve always found that if we come from a common ground of saying, employees come to work. My belief is they want to do a good job, they want to be great. Our job is to help them be great. If we help people do that, that’s how teams can be more successful. What do you think about that?
I say a version of the same thing. My version is when I wake up in the morning, and everyone I know when they wake up in the morning, and they’re getting ready to look in the mirror, they say, “I want to have a good day. I want to contribute today.” Their intention is righteous and noble. They want to contribute and make a difference. Often, especially in a big corporation, we see someone and say, “Did you see what he did? He did that on purpose.” He did it with good intent, but we misinterpreted that behavior. We need to be able to have a conversation to say, “In this situation, I saw you do this action. What were you intending to do there?” You’ll get the response and say, “I think that very differently.” You could have a real conversation and get real feedback, real appreciation for what they want and where they want to go. It all starts with that honesty and appreciation for what their intent is.
I believe that people are good. I believe that people want to do good. I also believe that, sometimes as human beings, our behaviors aren’t exactly the way they need to be. It’s so wonderful if someone can tell us from a place of honesty and love, “Let’s look at the behavior.” I wrote a book many years ago called Stop Managing Start Coaching. My belief is you can’t manage people, you can manage behavior. What’s your thought on that?
All we see are behavior. It’s so easy to misinterpret. You don’t know what their intention is. I personally believe their intention was good, but how do they mean to do it? I once coached a person on the team. He was one of the most destructive team members I’ve ever worked with. I got to know him a little bit and then I took him out for lunch one day and I said, “In the meetings you behave like this. What’s going on? Why do you do that?” His response was, “Early on in this project, we made a wrong decision. This is the only way I know how to behave to get us to rethink our decisions.” Even though we all thought he was a curmudgeon, his intention was, “I’m trying to save this.” You can only talk about behavior, you can’t assign an attitude. We don’t have the knowledge to do that. We can talk about behavior and we can say this is good behavior, I love to see more of that. You’ve got the chance to be great, let’s do that. I love the idea that focus on behavior because that’s the true actions.
I can understand how you feel and I also get to understand how we can better communicate this. If companies, no matter what the size, if we know what good looks like in our company, how everyone want to be treated, then we can talk about behaviors.
For me, it’s the build upon expectations. So often we bring a new person in and we aren’t clear enough with their expectations. They are promoted to a new roll, but we aren’t clear on their expectations and then they’re not meeting whatever else expects of them. They were never trained in the first place. The one-page job description isn’t clear on everything. What behaviors do we need to do? How many times a day or week do we need to do it? How should we act when we do it? If we’re not clear on these things, we’re going to flounder.
That’s another piece, and I’m glad you brought that up, is clarity. Give us an example how you’ve assisted a company, one of your success stories.
I was working with a client. We were talking about what the purpose of this team was and how they were trying to make it a bigger difference in the whole organization. I said, “When was the last time you shared the vision? What was the purpose of this team and how was it supposed to interact?” She said she shares it all the time. I said, “I’ve been here for months. I’ve never seen it.” We started going through old PowerPoint decks to find it. It has been quite a while since she had shared the vision with the entire team. More than half the team was new. They’re getting passed down versions and they’re guessing based on what we’re saying and based on what we’re doing. We planned it. We talked about it at the next team meeting. It became an hour and a half conversation. Out of that came great things. The leader thought everyone should know this, why aren’t they behaving that way? Everyone on the team is, I don’t even know how to align.
[Tweet “You can only talk about behavior, you can’t assign an attitude.”]
This is not uncommon in my experience. Would you agree?
You’ve given us so much value today. How can people connect with you? This is a wonderful opening conversation. I look forward to having more conversations with you in the future.
Thank you Terri for giving me the chance to share. I have a special website for people who are podcast listeners, GreatTeamsLtd.com/more. I’ve got a couple of free resources for people. One is asking your people, do they even understand what this common purpose or meaning is? Another is, how do you share feedback with each other? Another is getting to know each other. All tools to help you get to know and work with your team. From there on my website, you can find my social media links or my phone number, my address, whatever you want. Start off with using a couple of these free tools just to help you in your team please.
Thank you so much. How generous, you’ve given us such wonderful free resources. You have definitely given us a wealth of knowledge and I love your style, Jeffrey.
Thank you. That means a lot coming from you.
For the audience, thank you for tuning in. Jeffrey Davidson gave us so much value. Grab some free resources, connect with him. If you’re enjoying the show and we hope you are, subscribe to the show, that way you will not miss any of the shows. If you dig the show, we love your five-star ratings. We also love when you share the show on social media. Keep enjoying here at Heartrepreneur Radio. We’ll see you next time.
About Jeffrey Davidson
Long ago, when Jeffrey was young, he didn’t do much of his school work. Instead of studying he was reading. His favorite genres were science fiction, spy novels, and leadership. The pattern continued in college, where he spent more time leading student groups than he did on classwork. Jeffrey led so many groups the Dean of Students asked him to teach Student Leadership Development. By the age of 35, Jeffrey had been both director at a start-up and president of a multi-million dollar sales organization. Despite his reading, the teaching, and different roles he wasn’t a good leader. None of his teams came close to reaching their potential. In frustration he gave up on management and became a consultant. Real leadership began when a client asked Jeffrey to build a team of analysts. He started by hiring good people. And keeping an unrelenting focus on learning and improvement. Within 2 years the team was the envy of the organization. Eventually, Jeffrey realized he hadn’t taught people how to be a good team. The team had taught Jeffrey how to lead. Jeffrey took his hard-won knowledge and went back into consulting, rescuing high-impact projects. In every instance there were at least two problems — and one of them was always teamwork. During this time he started sharing his ideas around team building. Soon other consultants started asking questions and he became a coach’s coach. Now Jeffrey is ready to share his tested ideas with you and your team. If you are ready for your leaders to move their teams to responsive, execution-minded high performers, then welcome!