The following is a conversation between Anne Morriss, Co-author of Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You, and Denver Frederick, the host of The Business of Giving. 

Anne Morriss, Executive Founder of The Leadership Consortium and Co-author of Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You

Denver: Have you read and studied and thought about what you need to do to be a more effective leader? My next guest suggests that a good place to start would be thinking a bit less about you and more about the people around you. She is Anne Morriss, Executive Founder of The Leadership Consortium and Co-author of Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You.

Welcome to The Business of Giving, Anne! 

Anne: Thank you, Denver. It’s really great to be here. 

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and then making sure that impact endures into your absence. 

Denver: So, Anne, how do you define leadership? 

Anne: The working definition we use is that leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and then making sure that impact endures into your absence. 

Denver: Do you think that people have incorrect notions and assumptions about leadership where they’re just missing the point?

Anne: I do think that’s a fair statement.  A lot has been written about leadership, so one of the questions we get is “Why bother writing more about it?” 

But one of the reasons we actually took up this project was that in our experience, a lot of people were walking around with the idea that leaders were the most important person in the room, and if you’re doing it right, then you’re really at the center of the action. We wanted to challenge that fundamental idea and say, “Listen, if you’re doing it right, you’re actually the least interesting person in the room.” And the leaders who get this right and have enduring impact wake up every day truly focused on how to set the people around them up for success.

If you look at the leaders who are really getting it done and making their society safer and bringing their economies back online, it’s the more empathetic leaders among us…it’s the ones who you can tell in the way they speak, in the way they act, in the decisions they make, and the way they have inspired their own people to change behavior, which is incredibly difficult…those are the leaders who are focused on others.  

Denver: So what difference do you see in the leadership of someone who is focused on themselves to become a better leader or, as you referred to it, a “mirror,” compared to somebody whose primary focus is the people around them, a “window?” What’s the difference you have noted? 

Anne: We are very competitive people — Frances and I; my co-author Frances Frei. And so, we are relentlessly focused on outcomes and would challenge anyone who disagreed with this notion to just compare the leadership outcomes of leaders who are all about themselves versus leaders who are truly focused on other people. 

One simple test if you look around is performance around this pandemic. If you look at the leaders who are really getting it done and making their society safer and bringing their economies back online, it’s the more empathetic leaders among us. And it’s the ones who you can tell in the way they speak, in the way they act, in the decisions they make, and the way they have inspired their own people to change behavior, which is incredibly difficult…those are the leaders who are focused on others.  

Denver: Human beings can be surprisingly unaware of their own behavior. So I’m sure there’s a lot of leaders who are listening to this saying, “Oh, it’s those guys over there. It’s not me.” But what are some of the telltale signs that a leader is too focused on him or herself, too self-absorbed?

Anne: In the book, we pause for a lot of Top 10 lists. So I think somewhere in Chapter one, I believe, there’s a Top 10 list of signs that it’s all about you. But one simple one is if anyone has ever said that “You are the star of your own show.” And of course, we are all guilty of that as human beings–is  periodically becoming the stars of our own show, but it’s a great metaphor, and we love this idea of movies.

I think Reid Hoffman first said it, but the fundamental mandate of a leader is to turn off your own movie and really focus on all of the movies going on around you. And we would go further and say, “Make sure that those movies are Oscar-worthy.” But that’s the idea, is to turn that focus from being self-interested to being other-interested, and the results are going to follow.  

Denver: That’s a great perspective, by the way.

Anne: The pattern is really clear.

Denver: You also talk about in the book how trust is the foundation of leadership. And I think that many people realize that, but they’re certainly unsure as to how they can improve their level of trust, at least in the short run. It seems like you’ve got to build trust over years and years and years. So, the question is: Is building trust as a leader actionable? 

Anne: Highly actionable, Denver.  We have a whole chapter on this. It’s one of the reasons we spent so much time on it. Historically, we’ve had a discussion about trust, and no one would reject the idea that trust is important in leadership. But it’s been this amorphous, messy, kind of esoteric concept. What is trust? 

And so, we really went after the literature. We looked at patterns in the work we were doing. We’ve spent a couple of decades working to make organizations better, all shapes and sizes and missions. We found that there was a clear pattern around trust, but it was really driven by three things. One is empathy — Do people around me believe that I’m truly in it for them? Second is authenticity — Do people believe that it’s the real me who’s showing up every day? And the third is logic — Are the things that I’m saying and doing, do they make sense given the situation that we’re in?

And so, we break it down to those three trust attributes. We call it the trust triangle. In the book, we have a diagnostic to figure out in situations where trust has broken down, which one of these three attributes — empathy, logic, authenticity — are getting wobbly? We actually call it “your wobble.” Also, to underscore the idea that these things are usually temporary.

Most of us are trusted most of the time. You’re listening to this podcast. If you have the luxury of listening to this podcast, then chances are good that you’re trusted most of the time. But we all also wobble on trust, and typically, there is a very personal pattern for what your wobble is likely to be. So, we help you figure that out and then talk about ways to address it. 

Denver: Well, let’s talk about one of those. Let’s say my trust quotient has been falling because I’m a little wobbly on the empathy front. What do you advise me to do in that case? 

Anne: Empathy wobble in our experience is the most common. It’s very common among action-oriented, achievement-oriented people who are also very analytic. So a lot of people probably listening to this podcast again may have an empathy wobble. It’s really about making the choices that reveal your natural empathy because in most cases, people have it, they’re just having trouble communicating it. 

One of the biggest empathy killers that we’re all walking around within our pocket are our phones. This thing has destroyed more empathy in the American workplace than anything else. So, our first piece of advice for empathy wobblers is to put your phone not only down, but away and out of sight because these things are just so seductive. But the minute I pick up my phone, I’m communicating to you, Denver, and everyone else around, that I am more important than you, that my needs are more important than your needs.  And so that’s a very simple one. 

Denver: Plus the fact I already got it. I got your presentation in the first minute. I’m a little bit faster than everybody else, so I can actually do this because I explain it to those people who are a little less gifted than I. 

And you make a great point in the book: Frances, when she was working at Uber, the phone again came into play. But what was even more bizarre and alarming is that people were texting each other in the meeting itself, which is just unbelievable. 

Anne: I know. We were revealing our age and how outraged we were by that behavior. Apparently, it’s very common in Silicon Valley among young companies with millennial workforces, but we could not believe it when we saw it. People not just texting in meetings, but texting each other in meetings about the meeting and about other people in the meeting. So that’s another excellent reason to put down your phone and just to have a policy, like “Here’s the norm.  While we’re here together, I promise you this meeting is going to be productive. We’re going to keep it focused. We’re going to keep it short. But while we’re here, all technology should be off and away.” 

That’s even harder, of course, when we’re all on Zoom. It takes a lot of discipline and a commitment of the whole group to operate that way. But I can tell you it’ll make those meetings go much faster, which is also one of the challenges for empathy wobblers. We hate meetings. Of course, we get it faster than everyone else, and then we just have to endure the rest of it.  We call it the “agony of the super smart,” or ASS is a simple acronym to remember. 

So for people who really want to go after an empathy wobble, a meeting is another great laboratory to really push yourself and not just put your technology away, but as soon as you get bored in that meeting, as soon as you’ve gotten the concepts or made your point or do the things that you want to do that keep your attention, to really push yourself to stay with the group and help everyone else around you get the ideas.  And beautiful things happen. Not only do you reveal your empathy, but in many cases, you can shorten that meeting. So, hang in there and help the people around you. 

Denver: Well, I think the thing that’s going to shorten the meeting the most is that if you can’t get to your phone, you’re just going to want to end it so you can get back to your phone.

Anne: Right. Exactly. Harness that addictive tendency. So you can get back to your phone and get your fix. 

Denver: That’s right. You speak about the cost of inauthenticity at work — when a person is not bringing their full self to the job and an effort to maybe fit in. How does that cost the individual, and how does it cost the organization?

Anne: We could have written a whole book on this one, and we may end up doing so. But the absence of authenticity comes at a huge cost, both to the individual and the organization, Denver, as you suggest. I think that the cost to the organization is that “I am not getting access to all of the talent and ideas and capabilities of the people who are showing up.”

If you look at the engagement data, even this was pre-pandemic, looking at the engagement data, it’s shocking … 

Denver: 30%, maybe. 

Anne: 30% on a good day, your people are feeling engaged in the workplace, which means that you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to tap into everything else they have to offer and that they’re getting stuck on bringing to work. 

So whatever you can do to enable authenticity, what we would call authenticity, and really facilitate people bringing their whole selves to work can have a tremendous impact on productivity and all the metrics that you care about.  Again, we’re not talking about feel-good, nice-to-have soft stuff. We’re talking about ways to really improve outcomes, whatever your mission is; and engagement is huge, and a huge barrier to engagement is authenticity. 

So, when you look at the challenge of authenticity, Frances and I disagree a little bit on this, but what she would argue is that about 50% is the responsibility of the organization, 50% the individual. I might give the individual a little more accountability for showing up fully, and that’s incredibly difficult to do. And I’m an authenticity wobbler, so this one is a really big challenge.

Denver: Am I getting the real you right now? 

Anne: You’ll never know Denver. Is she, or isn’t she?

I think figuring out for you that the imposter syndrome falls into this category, where you’re underestimating your own ability, figuring out what for you is going to enable your own confidence and complete self to show up. And for some people that means doing the work to make authenticity more viable for other people, so really doing this diversity and inclusion work.  

For other people, for me, I used to do a lot of presenting to venture capitalists.  In a previous life, I was a CEO of a startup in the healthcare space. And when I started that, for me, there was a lot of showing up in boardrooms where I was the only woman, the youngest person. I didn’t have a biotech background. So, I brought a lot of insecurity in that space. 

And when I started those presentations, maybe the first 50 I did, I had a huge authenticity wobble. I was hiding behind this mask of what I thought my audience wanted me to be, and I was pretending to be this other person and was having a really hard time getting traction and building trust in that room. That’s a room and a dynamic where you have to build trust, particularly early stage where there are no metrics. It’s all about the connection with the people in the room and the shared vision and trust and belief and commitment to a better future. So, I was struggling a lot in the beginning.

And what I started to do was actually put pictures of my son into the presentation because my son, who has a rare genetic disease, was the inspiration for the company. So, I just put a few images of him — in some cases, the investor didn’t even know that was him — but it reminded me to show up. It reminded me of my humanity and dimensionality, and reminded me that that other person I was pretending to be was not who these guys wanted. They want to know who I am, and that’s the conversation we needed to have. So those kinds of triggers that you create for yourself can also be very helpful.

Denver: That’s really brilliant, stuff like that. It’s pretty easy to be inauthentic with a whole group of people you’ve never met, but when you’ve got a picture of your boy right there — you can’t do it. 

Anne: Totally. On the 100th floor in Midtown Manhattan, it’s very easy to lose your authenticity.

Denver: Right. And, Anne, what’s behind a logic wobble? Is that a lack of rigor or is it something else often?

Anne: In most cases, the rigor’s there, but we’re just not revealing it. So, in situations like that, with logic wobbles, we really push people to flip the way they communicate and really use a headline-first approach where you give away the punchline right at the beginning, and then layer your evidence underneath that punchline. We call it “flipping the triangle.” We like triangles. So start with your point, then move on to the evidence. That has a nice advantage if someone steals your ideas in the meeting, you’ve already laid claim to them. So it has a lot of upsides. 

Denver: And it’s also the only thing they’re going to remember very often. Sometimes when you have all the caveats, and you go into all the explanation in terms of how you analyze the problem, the time you get to the payoff and the answer, they’re long gone. They don’t even remember what it is. So when you start with that, then you can hedge in terms of “well, in certain areas, this may not be the case or whatever.”

There are many, many paradoxical aspects of being a leader. You want to be a tech-savvy humanist, or you want to be a globally-minded localist. You suggest that leaders set high standards for people, but they also have a deep devotion to their success. Talk about that and the power and the sweet spot of that combination.

Anne: Thank you for that question, Denver. We labeled this idea “love,” which was intentionally provocative.  We started out calling this chapter “tough love,” which really captured the tension. A lot of times leaders feel like there is this built-in tradeoff between revealing a total devotion and commitment to their team, and then also holding them accountable with very high standards and demand for performance. 

Another pattern we saw is that the leaders who are really thriving and creating environments where people are succeeding time and time again, they are able to hold those two alleged tension points at the same time. So rather than seeing those two as contradictions, they’re really saying, “Listen, I can reveal deep devotion and also high standards at the same time.” 

And historically, we actually go all the way back to the ancient Romans for this idea, and they called this idea “justice.” So, they called high standards “severity” and deep devotion “fidelity,” and the combination of the two “justice.” So we talk about it as “justice” and updated it into this modern notion of “love,” but it’s really about demanding both at the same time. And that’s really the sweet spot as you suggested. 

Denver: And someone who has found that sweet spot has been Lisa Su of Advanced Micro Devices. Tell us about her.

Anne: Thank you for that question, Denver. The AMD story is a really exciting story. It’s one of the most exciting turnaround stories in the last 10 years. The company was near bankruptcy, and Su came in and led it to truly exceptional performance. And one of the ways she did it was through a rule she called “The 5% Rule,” which was the commitment to get 5% better at everything they did every time they did it.

We see it as a beautiful example of leading in justice and leading in love because it revealed extraordinary standards for her team — a relentless commitment to excellence, but it also wasn’t 50% better or 80% better or some standard that was absurd. It revealed that she understood what was possible for her team, but she was also pushing them to their limit every single day.

Denver: And another one of your Top 10 lists in the book are 10 Ways to Set Higher Standards Tomorrow. Give us just one. 

Anne: We threw in these Top 10 lists because people…depending on where you naturally land in this 2 by 2… so I’m a fidelity dweller. I want to be totally devoted and not hold you accountable for everything, like “Good try, team.” That’s my natural bias, and I have to really push myself to the upper right on the standards front. 

One way to do that is to explore group goals. So if you’re having trouble holding one person accountable for their performance… to make it a group commitment to excellence and a group commitment to getting better and say, “Let’s bring the team together and say, ‘What are we going to get better at?’ And then let’s get together again next week and see how we do.” So that’s a simple one that can break through the emotional barriers to excellence.

When we talk about leading in your absence, we’re really talking about leading at scale, like how do you influence the discretionary behavior of people you may never even meet but are really the ones making the calls about how to bring this strategy to life?

 Denver: it’s a good successive approximation to getting you there. In the book, you discuss a time when it really isn’t about you. And that would be the chapter titled “Absence.” I mean, you’re not even there. And there are two powerful leadership levers you discuss when you’re not there: one would be strategy; and the other would be culture. I’m going to ask you a question about each, if I can. 

First, strategy. People in the organization, they often do not understand the strategy well enough to inform their decision-making. How can leaders more effectively communicate that strategy, not just to the leadership team, but across the organization?

Anne: We see this a lot, Denver, where strategy is a discussion that happens among the most elite leaders in the organization in this — in the rarefied air of a boardroom or a CEO’s office — but then very little work is done to get the message out to the people who really need to hear what that strategy is, which is the people on the front lines and the people making decisions in your absence. When we talk about leading in your absence, we’re really talking about leading at scale, like how do you influence the discretionary behavior of people you may never even meet but are really the ones making the calls about how to bring this strategy to life?

So, one place we push people to look is to just think about simple communication tools.  And one that’s surprisingly effective in our virtual era is written strategy books or booklets, and it’s almost provocative to use paper right now, which is also why they can be really effective. So even though you’re not in an office building, consider mailing your team some beautiful, quick document. 

We’ve seen people use cartoons. We’ve seen people use beautiful images, almost like a mood board that comes to life in a book that makes the strategy very, very clear. It should be easy to repeat, easy to understand, really make the case for: What’s the change mandate going forward? How are things going to be different? What’s the logic of the strategy? Really putting it in terms that people can understand.

We talk about  Shark Tank in the book as a really interesting laboratory for thinking about strategy ideas because people have to come on the show; they have to make the strategy of their enterprise very clear, not just to the judges who may not have a background in a similar industry, but also to the studio audience. And if you can get your strategy like Shark Tank-worthy, then you know you’re on the right track. 

Writing is the greatest tool for human thinking that we’ve invented.

Denver: I like Shark Tank because it reminds me of Annie Duke’s book Thinking in Bets. There’s really no biases coming in among those judges. They’re looking on how they can maximize their money, and we always can say it’s a good idea or a bad idea and have our own opinions. But when you put your money on the line, you pretty much are going to give you the straight, honest truth. And I think a Shark Tank is just a perfect example of that.

And when you’re talking about paper before, you reminded me of what you also talked about in terms of Amazon, that they don’t use those slide presentations, but they’re usually double-page six-, seven pages of writing out a strategy. And that really forces you to think when you have to actually write sentences and paragraphs.

Anne: Absolutely. I continue to believe that writing is the greatest tool for human thinking that we’ve invented, and you see Bezos embracing that in a lot of ways. His letters to shareholders are beautiful examples of communicating strategy to your whole stakeholder ecosystem.

But their Amazon ritual, strategy ritual, which is: we’re now many, many years into this and you can just, again, look at the outcomes and come to your own conclusions. But they’re very structured, six- or seven-page memos. Everybody comes into the meeting; they’ve read the memo, technology off and away, and then they really debate the ideas. And the person presenting has had to go through the discipline of laying out their ideas in this very structured… using this persuasive written model, and it really leads to great strategy decisions as we all know. 

Denver: I’ve done a lot of slide presentations in my life, and I know how you can cheat on those. You know what I mean? And just talk fast and move the slide. Can’t do that. 

Anne: No. A lot of damage has been done.  We’re big slide users, but it does… there’s a lot of room, and you can get away with a lot that you can’t in a paragraph.

Denver: Right. No shortcuts in a paragraph. The other is organizational culture, and that really helps guide discretionary behavior. And the latter part of the book, Anne, I really found to be wonderfully prescriptive.  You’re really laying out things both from the academic research…but hands-on experience, the kind that Frances had at Uber, and you put that all together, and you present the Culture Change Playbook. What are some of the elements of that? 

Anne: And I’ll just add, Denver.  If “love” and “belonging” and those words turn you off, read the last two chapters first, Strategy and Culture, and then come back to the beginning of the book…

Denver: There you go.

Anne: …and let us take a swing at some of these other ideas.

The Culture Change Playbook really came out of work that we’ve done trying to change the cultures of organizations very quickly. So, Frances was well-known for turning around the culture of gender at HBS with her colleagues, with the team of her colleagues, in a very quick amount of…and when I say quick, I mean less than a year. So that’s really where we started to push on the ideas. But a key element is to, first of all, figure out what the problem is that you’re solving, and collect baseline data around the metrics that you care about. 

So at HBS, for example, there were demographic patterns in achievement among students, and also sentiment– so how students were feeling about the experience. And those two, those are really powerful and they’re actually incredibly transferable outside of the Academy, and we use them in lots of organizations and companies where we work. Achievement, which you can use, like: How much are people paid? How quickly are they advancing? What’s the promotion rate? Achievement, and then also how people are experiencing the workplace. So achievement and sentiment. 

Collect the data. One of the provocative pieces of advice we give next is to not necessarily share the data. And in the age of transparency…

…what we found is if you share that data too soon, then you get really pulled in into lots of unproductive discussion… so reveal that data at a time when you really have an optimistic way forward, and you can pull people along. 

Open it up. You were the architect of the pilot, but you’re not going to be the architect of the whole solution. So, bring the rest of the organization along with you and figure out how to scale it, and how to make those solutions even better. 

Denver: Counterintuitive.

Anne: …a lot of people don’t like this advice, but what we found is if you share that data too soon, then you get really pulled in into lots of unproductive discussion around what it means, what to do with it. 

Pull a trusted group together; look at the data; reach some reasonable conclusions, and then start running smart experiments. So start piloting solutions to the problem; use the original metrics. See if you’re moving the needle, or if you’re not, keep going until you are moving the needle. Then reveal both your proposed solution and what we call the “devastating data” at the same time. So reveal that data at a time when you really have an optimistic way forward, and you can pull people along. 

And then finally, open it up. You were the architect of the pilot, but you’re not going to be the architect of the whole solution. So bring the rest of the organization along with you and figure out how to scale it and how to make those solutions even better. 

Move through it systematically, but keep the end point in mind, which is that you’re not just welcoming people in spite of who they are. It’s not just about getting to the point of parity; it’s really about tapping into their unique perspective and strengths…really celebrating them because of who they are. 

Denver: Well, that makes sense to me because I do get the sense sometimes if you reveal that devastating data right away, the narrative can end right there, and you never get beyond the story. And even if you get beyond the story, nobody will remember it beyond the point when that data went out, and that will then pretty much drive the conversation from here on out.

Let me stick with culture for a moment because there’s a lot of concern right now about diversity and inclusion. And I think a lot of leaders at least understand diversity, but they have a much greater challenge in creating an inclusive culture. What path do you suggest that they follow in order to achieve that? 

Anne: The first piece of advice we would give is to simply begin. A lot of people get intimidated by how political and emotional the topic of inclusion can be, and part of what we do in organizations is just bring like can-do energy to this problem and say, “Let’s just break this down into its component parts.” 

What we say to leaders all the time is, “Listen. You have solved extraordinary challenges in your career.” This is a conversation we had in Silicon Valley all the time, “You’re disrupting entire industries. You’re sending people to the moon. But you are paralyzed in the face of inclusion challenges unnecessarily. So let’s just bring that same audacity to the challenge of diversity and inclusion.” And often that mindset shift can be the unlock. So just get started… so that’s the first challenge.

Another thing we would say is that safety is not enough. The metaphor we use is the inclusion dial that starts with safety and then moves up to making sure people feel welcome, making people feel celebrated, and you really have to move through those phases. And until you make sure that every single person feels safe in the workplace; until you deal with issues of harassment… now, it’s issues of public health; until you solve those challenges, then you can’t really move on to the challenge of making sure that they’re bringing their whole psychic selves to work because you’ve got to make sure that they’re safe first. 

So move through it systematically but keep the endpoint in mind, which is that you’re not just welcoming people in spite of who they are. It’s not just about getting to the point of parity. It’s really about tapping into their unique perspective and strengths. And so not just welcoming people in spite of who they are, but really celebrating them because of who they are. 

And that’s when companies really start to see the competitive advantage that comes with true inclusion, where you’re not just getting a diverse bunch of people in the room, but you’re really tapping into the special sauce that can happen when people really bring their unique perspectives to the table.

Denver: I like that a lot. Tell me if I’m wrong about this, but I look at a lot of these challenges that you lay out in the book like changing culture and building trust. And historically, they have been described in a multi, multi-year fashion. And it seems that both you and Frances are looking at these with:  Lo!  if you do this intentionally, and you do it with the energy and the passion, you can see results much, much faster than have been discussed historically. Would that be a fair statement? 

Anne: Very fair statement — a controversial statement, but a very fair one that totally reflects our world view. We would say it’s not that meaningful change can happen quickly; it’s that meaningful change can only happen quickly. And that if you really want to turn something around and change something as kind of messy as culture in many ways that really affects both mindset and behavior, you have to get in there with full commitment, and you have to move fast. 

There’s this element of kind of new-sheriff-in-town energy that is actually required for culture change, and if you make it incremental over years and years and years, there’s just so many ways that the change process can be disrupted and hijacked by well-intentioned people trying to preserve the status quo because there’s a lot to protect in the status quo. But our advice is to really move with a deep sense of urgency, both moral urgency and competitive urgency.  

Again, we’re here to unlock better performance in organizations. Inclusion work happens to line up with our value system, but really where we started is from the standpoint of:  How do we make organizations better, and how do we do this quickly? And inclusion is a huge unlock for value, and that’s one of the reasons we spend so much time on it. 

Denver: Now, that makes sense. Because if you’re trying to change a toxic culture, you have some pretty cynical people there already who are saying, “Here we go again.” And if they don’t see results fairly quickly, they’re going to start rolling their eyes, and it’s going to be another launch going nowhere, and that will not work. 

You are the Executive Co-founder of The Leadership Consortium. Now, there are a good number of leadership institutes out there, Anne. What sets this one apart from the others?

Anne: Thank you for that question, Denver. We’re really trying to set women and people of color up for success as senior leaders in an organization, but we’re doing it not just by being experts at the front of the room. We do collect fantastic experts to teach, and it’s fundamentally a teaching and training experience, but we’re also bringing leaders from many, many different companies together in one virtual room. And so much learning occurs, not just from the people in the front of the room, but also from each other. 

So our core experience is something we call The Leaders’ Program. Emerging leaders from wonderful organizations all around the world show up and go through a three-month experience and just learn a tremendous amount about what does it mean to take on the mantle of senior leadership.

Denver: Fantastic. Let me close with this, Anne. The one-time mayor of New York, Ed Koch, was famous for asking his constituents “How am I doing?” never “How are you doing?” And that is the default thinking of so many leaders thinking about their own performance, and we know how hard it is to break deeply ingrained habits. So what exercises, drills, hacks, or advice do you suggest to leaders who find themselves slipping back to focusing on themselves and not those around them?

Anne: Well, Denver, of course, they should read our book, Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You.

But the other thing I recommend is to really build a “Team,” and we say team with a capital T, which is to surround yourself with a small group of people that you regularly check in with, who are in touch both with your audacity and your insecurity, and to really push you and hold you accountable.

We suggest recruiting from outside your organization. It helps to have peers. If you’re a CEO, there should be some CEOs on that team. But really regularly check in with your team to keep yourself honest, and keep yourself on the road to impact and what you derive the most meaning from from working, which is we would argue, setting other people up for success.

Denver: The book is Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You. It’s gotten rave reviews, and all leaders and aspiring leaders would do themselves a favor by picking it up. 

Thanks, Anne, for being here today and sharing these insights. It was a real pleasure to have you on the program.

Anne: Thank you, Denver.  It was so energizing to have this conversation with you.=

Listen to more The Business of Giving episodes for free here. Subscribe to our podcast channel on Spotify to get notified of new episodes. You can also follow us on TwitterInstagram, and on Facebook.

Share This: