Positive Leadership

The Best of Positive Leadership and Others

July 25, 2022 Jean-Philippe Courtois
Positive Leadership
The Best of Positive Leadership and Others
Show Notes Transcript

In the last episode, we focused on being more positive with ourselves. 

This week, it’s all about improving our relationships with others. 

Why is this so important? Because by having more positive connections with those around us, we enable both ourselves and others to thrive, especially when we are in a leadership position. 

As leaders, we have the opportunity to help others to dream more, do more and become more. 

That's why this episode is filled with tips from some of the world's top leaders and coaches -  like Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll, Microsoft EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer Kathleen Hogan, Michael Bungay Stanier, Professor Herminia Ibarra, and my own manager: Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella.

JP: Life I believe is all about energy. A good leader is someone who lifts up those around them rather than draining them.

Kim Cameron: If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, become more. That means you're a positively energizing leader. 

JP: So, how do you help people unlock their greatness? 

Herminia Ibarra: You know, what is it about you that is real, that makes you believable. Of course there's walking the talk, but there's even more than that. Who are you as a person? Can I connect to what you're trying to do? 

JP: This is the Positive Leadership Podcast. I'm Jean-Philippe Courtois, JP. I'm passionate about Positive Leadership. And as a member of the Microsoft executive team, I've got decades of leadership experience.

Satya Nadella: And what does it mean to be a leader? And what does leadership excellence look like? It's sort of one of those things where every day, I know I've learned a ton, quite frankly, from you.

JP: In this episode, I'll be sharing my own life lessons and those of other leaders to explain how you can generate positive energy to improve the wellbeing and performance of your own team.

But first, thanks so much to those of you who have written a review or been in touch with us on LinkedIn with a comment. Shelly Masters, as an example says that the Paul Polman episode was one of the best things she's listened to so far this year. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Shelly. While Sharon Hildebrand found the Akhtar Badshah episode really inspiring. His insights into how companies need to create movements and not organizations really landed with her. I always love hearing from all of you from my listeners. So please keep the questions and comments coming and take the time to give us a review on Apple Podcasts. It really helps the way we build and we can shape the show in a better way for all of you.

Herminia. Good morning and welcome to the Positive Leadership Podcast. 

Herminia Ibarra: Thank you so much. Hello, Jean-Philippe. 

JP: So great to see you in person!

Herminia Ibarra: After all these years.

JP: Herminia Ibarra, the Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behaviour at London Business School. The relationships we have with the members of our teams, she says is fundemantal to our success. She's the author of Act like a Leader and Think like a Leader, and she's got such a great advice on how to step up to big leadership roles and increase your positive impact. 

Herminia Ibarra: And, and what happens is we grow up in our careers leading and doing in a particular way until it's no longer what's gonna make us successful. Because the situation changes. The classic is you're a functional expert. Yeah. And you become a general manager. Yeah. Yeah. And the problem is not so much that you can't acquire those broader leadership skills or become more of a communicator or delegate a bit more. Yeah. The issue is the way you've done things is who you are. It becomes you.  It's your competence. It's what you're rewarded for. And it becomes how you see yourself. And it's very hard to move away from who are oh, yes, yes. Right. And so people get stuck in that and they think, all right, who do I wanna be? Or what's the answer? And let me figure it out in my head. When in fact what you need to do is take lots of smaller, maybe counter to who you are, actions. Things that are against your nature, outside your comforts zone. You force yourself to delegate, or you force yourself to focus more on the people side of things. And over time. You get better at it when you get better at it, you like it more when you like it more, you do it more and eventually it becomes the way you think.

JP: It was Socrates who said “You are what you do repeatedly, so your excellence isn't an act, it's a habit.” And going out of your comfort zone can be uncomfortable - at least to begin with.

Herminia Ibarra: We talk a lot about mindsets. Yep. You cannot change a mindset directly. Your mindset is the product of your experience. What has worked, what hasn't worked. Yeah. So the only way you change it is you give people new experiences or you push them to do new things that eventually change their minds. So it's not about, uh, acting without thinking. I would not advise that to anyone. Yes. But it, it is really about acting your, your way into a new way of thinking.

Michael Bungay Stanier: When I'm leading a team, um, you know, I don't want to, I don't wanna hate the people on my team.

I don't wanna diminish them and belittle them. Absolutely not. But what I do wanna do is unlock their greatness.

JP: Michael Bungay Stanier is a bestselling author and number one thought leader on coaching. 

Michael Bungay Stanier: So I want to do a few things. I want to remember that they're human beings, not just cogs in the machine that I'm manipulating, but maintain a human to human relationship.

Now, sometimes that means pushing them and challenging them and saying, you know, not, not quite good enough, you need to do that better. Um, that doesn't mean that I'm not on their side, cause I absolutely am on their side. It means that, um, we all grow through a combination of stress. And growth and mistakes and then release and support and learning and recuperation, embracing mindsets, believing that people's abilities can be developed through dedication to how to work means knowing when to ask the right questions.

So I will often when I'm working with teams that I'm leading, you know, have conversation about what's going well, what are you celebrating? How is this a, what are you learning? And all of that is in service to them. And also trying to find, uh, the, the work that is thrilling and important and daunting for them thrilling, it lights them up important.

It has a bigger purpose, daunting. It stretches them and helps them grow. And if I can do all of that, if I can, um, Have a relationship that is an adult to adult relationship, give them goals that will stretch them worthy goals and kind of be more coach-like to help them learn and grow. Then I'm showing up in the way I would want to be as a, me, a manager and as a leader.

JP: But what about if you want to change something big? Like an organization. What would be your kind of key advice at the top, right, to implement cultural change in an organization, in the right way. What is the, not a magical recipe, but what would be the…

Herminia Ibarra: I do have a magical recipe. I do!

JP: That’s even better. 

Herminia Ibarra: I do. And I give it to my students for free.


Okay. It's the idea, plus the process plus you. The idea, the process and you. So the idea is just articulate clearly what you're trying to do and why it's not, I want a growth mindset culture. No, it's, there's an opportunity we wanna go after. Right. And that's what's required. Yes. 

The process, you know, it's where do you start? How do you, how do you get a sense of urgency that now is the time that we have to move? You know, it's so interesting in Microsoft you were so profitable, even though the reputation had gone down, even though you felt that you were not innovating. Yeah. How do you get urgency when you're doing well? How do you get a group of people around you who are gonna be role models?

We're gonna get things going, even though the system is still completely stacked against you. How do you communicate it? How do you, um, What are the things that you change first? Yes. What are you going to, you know, what are gonna be those quick wins that show to people we really mean itt?

JP: Yeah. And I'd like to elaborate a bit on that because you've been also defining and explaining a concept of outside. So can you tell us more about that concept of outside? What is that? 

Herminia Ibarra: When we get to these, what got you here, won't get to there moments, reflection doesn't help that much because it's not in your past experience.

And so what you need is just fresh perspective by doing new things and interacting with different people and getting their feedback and prioritizing that over self-reflection.

JP: I can remember vividly actually back in 2016, when I got this mission about transforming the entire sales force. What I decided to do was actually to visit like dozens of Microsoft subsidiaries in the world, meeting with hundreds of customers, partners to ask about this new reality we were going into as a company. To become what we call at the time, Satya, mobile first cloud first organization, uh, with a new mission.

And that gave me so much, not just inputs, but insights into the need for the change. This is the way they see the company. And perception is reality as customers. This is the way our people feel the change that is happening or not happening in the right way. Yeah. And that gave me the energy and the clarity to pick a few things, a few bets to get started with the change.

So I, I, I, I love the outside because I think to me it's always about outside in first, outside in to, to get outside in, to get, to get the, really those mindful, I would say a next steps to, to accomplish uh, as a business.

Changing the culture in an organization takes so long, Herminia says, that people need to have a hope…

Herminia: Something to hang on their faith, that this is gonna continue to move forward.

JP: And that's when it will be looking to you as the leader, the inspiration.

Herminia Ibarra: The kind of who, who wants to be led by you, you know, what is it about you that is real, that makes you believable?

JP: I'm so lucky in that my manager at work, Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella, is that kind of inspirational leader.

He doesn't just talk the talk. He walks the walk.

For him, being a leader is a privilege and also a state of mind.

Satya Nadella: Right? It's not like, oh, I need to be in a leadership position to be a leader. Uh, it's a, it's sort of an approach. And I would say there are three things that at least come to me, and that's something that we have tried to even build more muscle around at the company.

One is leaders have the innate capability to come into difficult, ambiguous, uncertain circumstances and bring clarity, right? You never meet someone and say, oh, that person is a leader if they come into a situation where it's confusing and create more confusion, right. Leaders don't do that. Leaders create clarity.

The second attribute of leaders is when you meet a leader they create energy, right? And they, you know, and across the board, they create energy by not saying, oh, I am great, my team is great and everybody else sucks. That's not leadership. Leadership is about creating energy across all constituents required in order to go after a mission.

Um, the other thing, and the pandemic has been an amazing example, right? Pandemic was a tail event none of us could anticipate. Leadership is about being able to solve overconstrained problems. Right. I can't wait and drive success in spite of the constraints. That's leadership. Um, and you can't say I'm gonna wait for perfect sun and weather and, you know, conditions in order to do my best work. I mean, that doesn't happen. 

Uh, and so to me, bringing clarity, creating energy, and driving success, um, are really the three attributes of leadership. And, you know, I, I I'll acknowledge that it's a high bar, uh, for all of us. And every day I like to sort of say shine the light on, did I bring clarity? Did I drive energy? Did I create success and unconstrain uh, the problem so that it can even be solved? 

And I think those are things that I think, uh, at least I've come to recognize. 

JP: Bring clarity, creating, and driving success. Three clearly articulated goals we would do well to keep front of mind. 

Good morning, Pete. 

Pete Carroll: Hey, you got your colors on!

JP: Yeah, I'm not sure the, the listener will see the, but yes, for all of you, I'm wearing a very Sea Hawks Jersey today. 

In elite sports, it is the job of the coach to show people that they are getting better. And you are constantly building and reminding and supporting the process. 

Uh, Pete, let me, let me start by really congratulating you on, on the great opening game, uh, game, just against the Colts that you've been winning.

Pete Carroll is the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and an NFL legend. He's created a number of routines to help his team work together better, including one called Tell the Truth Monday. 

So could you share with us if you are in the lockers, what did you, what did you discuss with the team and what was the truth about on Monday?

Pete: Yeah. We do have a routine that we do and, and we're trying to be uncommonly consistent of what we do. So we need to have, you know, kind of our, our, our staging and, and so Monday is Tell the Truth Monday, and it's a meeting to, uh, to bring everything into focus and to get everybody on the same page so that when we, we leave the last event, we, we move together into the next, you know, the next challenge that we have.

And then, so that's why we, we all say, you know, I messed up here. I could have done this. I wish I would've thought of that. And in hopes that the players are comfortable and open to do the same in the meetings that follow.

JP: It is a meaning where the coach talks about what went well and what didn't go well, an demonstrate accountability.

It helps create a feeling of security where people feel it's okay to take risk and find their limits. 

Pete Carroll: You, you have to make it a safe place for people to operate. And, and so they need to feel like they belong, to need to show that they, that they have support and then allow them to, to go to places that they wouldn't go if they weren't feeling comfortable, if they weren't feeling supported and backed up and all. That's a really important part of it. You're, you're constantly, you know, building and reminding and supporting that process. And so that's, uh, that's how we go about it, you know? And the, the, the key to all of that JP is, is for us to stay on track is to care.

JP: That's something that's come up again and again, in conversations I've been having. If you want people in your team to thrive, you need to really care.

Kathleen Hogan: Now care doesn't mean you're somebody's best friend. Yes. You don't have to go out to dinner with them, but it does mean caring about them as a human being and helping them navigate so that they can do their best work at Microsoft.

JP: Kathleen Hogan is Microsoft Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer and a colleague of mine on the senior leadership team. 

Kathleen Hogan: You think about our managers, helping people navigate kids at home, mix shifting their work, having to take time off because a family member had Covid or worse. Um, the role of the manager caring, I think, has been so, so powerful for us.

JP: There's been a lot going on, a lot of learning and practicing during the pandemic and actually even beyond the pandemic, right now. And uh, can you tell us the, the way you've seen some of those best practices in terms of caring, coaching, modeling, coming together, and, uh, what, what has inspired you in terms of, uh, some of the best behaviors you've seen?

Kathleen: Uh, you probably remember the day where I said in the SLT, we had done the hey, check in and I said, I'm gonna come back on Monday. So nobody think I'm gonna quit. But today, right today, teaching math sounds really good. And usually I'm pretty positive in terms of Positive Leadership. And so I think I, uh, people like whoa. 

And I remember Satya calling me. We usually sync in person, but he was, he called me and I could tell he was in his car about leave. And he said, Hey, I just want to con- are you still in the office? Yeah, for some reason he thought I had left. I said, no, no, I'm still in the office. And he said, oh, I'll come up. I said, no, no, I'm fine. Yeah. I, I honestly said that just cuz it was a tough week, but I'm fine.

Hung up the phone five minutes later he had, he was, he was in my office. 

JP: He was there.

Kathleen Hogan: And he clearly had turned around, parked the car and it was important for him to just come up, spend 10 minutes, talk about, zoom out. Yeah. Yeah. You know, at the end of the day, let's see, you know, what, what is our purpose and the progress that we can make?


Yeah. And, uh, and those moments matter. 

JP: Yes. Those moments absolutely matter. As Pete Carroll told me, when the culture is right, you can literally feel it. It is how people greet each other. How they interact on a regular basis, just walking down the hall and to do that, you have to care. 

Pete Carroll: You have to care about how you come across. You have to care about how you affect the people that you deal with. And so it, it all begins with respect and that's why we, we go back rule number three in the programs is, is be early. Well, that's all about respect. That's about how you respect, um, who you're dealing with. And do you care enough about the people you're dealing with to organize your life and prioritize your, your actions so that you're available for the people you're supposed to be around. And, and you're there ready for them. We wanna have fun doing what we're doing, you know, JP, we, wanna enjoy the accomplishments. And we also wanna enjoy the coming back from when we don't accomplish what we want.

You know, we take all that seriously too. And it doesn't take us long to bounce back, you know, and that's why I think we can show that we've been uncommonly consistent over the years. And that that's a real important part of, of, of the makeup of, you know, our environment here.

JP: I had a great dialogue with Barbara Fredrickson, uh, you know, she, she wrote a couple of books, but particularly one where she defined, or she redefined, love, in the book called Love 2.0. And she's putting aside the conventional take on love, you know, coming from your family, your spouse, partner or soulmate, which of course is, is a well understood definition of love, but she's also describing love as a micro moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being actually.

And the more you experience it, the more you open up and you grow, becoming wiser, more in tune, more resilient, effective, happy, and healthier and wiser, including with foreigners that you may bump into the streets. So what is, what have been those micro elements of love maybe, or one or two you’d like to share with us almost as a conclusion, Kathleen? That gives you some, um, that gave you so much, uh, positive energy and continue and help you to continue to grow your positive mindset.

Kathleen Hogan: You know, honestly, being with you, Jean Philippe today is a micro moment of love and having this shared history together and having been through all of these moments together, work moments, life moments, you know, we've been on this journey. And so getting to see you in person today, to actually see you. I think you're great at doing a podcast. It's not easy. I'm trying to make sure I'm answering the questions, but I'm like, wow. Keeping up as a podcast. So this is a moment. 

Um, and if I were to just say, gosh, thinking this last week, we, as you know, we had our board meeting and, um, it can be small moments. I, I remember sitting down at the board. And in between myself and Amy Hood… Amy Hood is our, our CFO. We're the two female leaders, uh, on the SLT. And we both had to present and we just sat down and before the meeting stopped, she looked at me and she just put her hand out and we did a fist bump. Right. And that's a micro moment of like, I get it right.


Yes. We're, we're in it together. Uh, we're getting through this week and, um, you know, those can be those micro moments too.

JP: Care for those you lead. Treat them as human beings. But don't be afraid to challenge them as well. Take a good look at the way you are communicating with your team and ask yourself if you could be doing something better. Bear in mind the goals to bring clarity and create energy, and soon you'll find yourself driving success.

In the next episode, I'll be looking at lots of practical ways about how you can find your personal purpose. 

Cheryl Dorsey: What is that problem that you cannot turn away from? What, what is your problem to own? 

Michael Bungay Stanier: If you are feeling overwhelmed by the big thing that you've taken on… know that you are an extremely good company because every other single person who has taken on a big goal is feeling exactly the same right now. They go, oh my God, what was I thinking?

JP: On the Positive Leadership podcast with Jean-Philippe Courtois, JP. And if you have enjoyed this episode, please do leave us a comment or a rating.