Every team needs resilient people if they are to survive all kinds of challenges and market changes. Without proper team building and leadership driven by purpose, gathering up the best people can be difficult. Sharing the secrets of how this can be done with Rodney Flowers is keynote speaker Mike Goldman. Together, they go deep on how leaders can determine their purpose by changing their perspective when it comes to failure and why the hardest moments in life provide a lot of room for growth. Mike shares the best techniques in picking the most valuable people to surround yourself with and the right balance of A, B, and C players.
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How The Right Team Building Strategy Can Produce Resilient People With Mike Goldman
I have my Mike Goldman in the studio with me and he is an award-winning leadership team coach and the number one Amazon Best-Selling Author of two books, Breakthrough Leadership Team and Performance Breakthrough. He speaks internationally to groups of business leaders such as the Young Presidents Organization and the Entrepreneur’s Organization. During his career, he has coached and consulted with clients such as Disney, Verizon, Chanel, Polo Ralph Lauren and others. I’m excited to interview him and have him on the show. Welcome, Mr. Mike Goldman, to the show.
Rodney, thanks for having me.
You’ve had such a colorful decorated career. I’m grateful and thankful that you decided to stop by my account and hang out with me for a while. I appreciate you doing that. It says a lot about you, having worked with such big names and made such a large impact in the world. I really appreciate your work. Titles like Breakthrough Leadership Team and Performance Breakthrough at a time where we’re still dealing with a pandemic. These are some hot topics that not only individuals, but teams and organizations are dealing with. Have you found that more people are seeking and wanting to check with you about your knowledge on the subject?
I work exclusively with CEOs and their leadership teams and what I’m finding is not just leaders but the folks I deal with, they are stressed and overwhelmed right now. The reason is one of two things and it’s almost like two ends of the spectrum. One end is, there are some folks that are struggling to survive. “I lost 40% of my business. Cash is bleeding out of my company. I don’t want to lay off my team. How do I hang on?” Maybe solo entrepreneurs that are trying to figure out how to keep it going. On one end, it’s people struggling to survive. On the other end, it’s people that are doing pretty well or incredibly well but they’re looking and acting on opportunities to pivot.
That’s something I’m doing in my business. I’m taking this, I’m going to look back and say, “That was a horrible time. My business is so much better because of the moves I’ve made.” That’s great. It’s exciting and I’m passionate about it but for a lot of leaders, if their head isn’t straight, that’s overwhelming to them to pivot in this world and do it in this claustrophobic world where we can’t leave the house. I find that I’ve got to be there a lot more for my clients and network. I’m happy to do that because there are a lot of great strategies people could use to wind up much stronger on the other side of all this.
Let’s talk about that. What you are finding is a common practice, given where we are, for leaders to help them overcome or see the opportunity. For some people, it’s even difficult to see the opportunity in all of this like this is doom and gloom. “You think I’m going to be better in six months. I’m barely surviving.” How do we even get to the place where we can see what’s possible for us in this?
There are two themes and we can dive deep on one or both of these. We’ll figure it out, but there are two big themes that jump into my head when you asked that great question. One is what about self-leadership, resilience and focus, which I know is an important word for you. I don’t need to have ESP to know that if you are overwhelmed, stressed or frustrated, I can tell you exactly what you’re focused on. I’m no genius and I’m no magician, but I know what you’re focused on. I’m 100% sure you are focused on what you don’t want. There is no way that you’re focused on what you want or what you have gratitude for. There’s no way you’re focused on either of those two things and you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated.Our goals give us direction and help us become better versions of ourselves. Click To Tweet
Number one is about focus and you need to build those brain muscles to recognize on when you are focused on what you don’t want. You’re focused on, “What if I lose my business? What if I run out of money? What if there’s a 2nd or 3rd wave of COVID? What if the social craziness going on gets worse?” If all those what-ifs are negative, you have to build some real muscles up between your ears to say, “I’m focused on what I don’t want. What do I want? What can I be grateful for it?”
I do that with my clients and prospects all the time. When I talk to prospects, especially for what I do in my coaching, they are often talking to me because they’re frustrated or overwhelmed by something. I start off by saying, “What’s going on? Why are we talking? I know you’re busy.” They’ll say, “My team leaves at 5:00 every day and I’m here until midnight. No one feels ownership like I do. I don’t know why no one has passion like I do. My clients are a pain in the neck.” I listen and I hear that frustration.
I asked them a very simple question. I said, “I heard all that stuff that’s pissing you off. In 6 to 9 months from now and the world looks better, tell me what that better world looks like. What do you want?” All of a sudden, their focus changes to what they want. They get more inspired and more creative. Number one is focus. Again, we can dive ten miles deep on that one as much as you want and these are in the Breakthrough Leadership Team book. Number two is all about surrounding yourself with the right team. It’s tough for all of us. We’re not all waking up every morning, smiling, and saying, “What a great day. What a great world.” There’s a lot of crazy crap going on right now.
Who are you surrounding yourself with? If you’ve got $20 million or $25 million in revenue company or $5 million in revenue company or a $500 million in revenue company, who’s on your leadership team? If you’re a solo entrepreneur working from home, you’ve got a job, you’re an accounts payable clerk, who are you surrounding yourself with? This isn’t my quote but I’ve got to give Jim Rohn a credit and that is, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Your “team” could be your spouse, best friend, or vendor. Who’s your marketing vendor or who’s working on your website. It could be your clients. Who is that team you’re surrounding yourself with? I include in that, I am absolute self-development junkie. I tell my clients and I’ll tell you this too because if I go 90 minutes without recommending a book, you may dial 911 because I may be having a stroke or something. When I say, who are the people you’re surrounding yourself and your team, I’m also including, who are the authors you read a lot? What podcasts are you listening to? There are so many people we could surround ourselves that will either lift us up or knock us down. Those are two big things. Again, we can go 10 miles deep on both or either of these is what you focused on, what you want, what you don’t want and who you are surrounding yourself with.
I agree with both of those things. We’re going to speak to both of them. Before we get to the one that I want to talk about, I want to talk about you can’t get out what you don’t put in. I love your idea about the people you surround yourself with and the books you read because that’s all input. What you’re talking about is how you’re managing what’s going inside of you because what goes inside of you dictates what comes out of you. Productivity, performance, identity, values, thought processes, self-taught, all of it is what’s going there. I want to go back to the focus topic. For a lot of people, this is an area where they may feel, “I can’t help but focus on something because every day I wake up, this is what I’m faced with.”
I think that focus is driven from perception. I do want to go a little bit deeper because I want to help people manage their focus because I’m sure you and I believe in living from in here. I’ve said this before in many episodes. I live from in here, I don’t live from out there. I don’t allow society and the environment to dictate what I think, how I behave, my core values, all of that. Not even my perception of the world. I don’t allow that to dictate. I do it from in here. I celebrated the anniversary of my accident which to me started my self-development journey. I practice with that. I want to hear it from you, when you took someone who just got hit and now, my world is upside down. All I can focus on is what I lost. One of my dream back is I want things to go back to normal. I’m trying to figure that out but all I feel right now was lost. How do I shift my focus?
I’m going to a few techniques that I use, but everybody has their own recipes. You need to listen to my technique. You need to read a bunch of books. You need to listen to your podcasts. People need to do all these things and you come up with your recipe, but I want to focus on something you just said which tells me where your heart is. You said you just celebrated. How many people would look back at what happened to you back in 1993? How many people would celebrate that? It’s so beautiful that you said it. You said you celebrate it, so much of it are the words that we use. Do you say I have to go do this or I get to go do this?
We’re doing this on a Saturday and there’s a whole bunch of work I’m going to do this weekend on my business. I’m excited that I get to do it. I don’t add up the hours. I have no clue how many hours a week I’m working because I love what I do. The first technique that we can dive into is having a purpose for what you do. We hear that a lot. There are so many people like, “How do I know what my purpose is?” There are these lucky people out in the world that found their purpose and they live their purpose. I don’t know how to do that. I wake up in the morning, I take care of my family and I got to work, what’s my purpose?
I have a purpose. My purpose in my leadership team coaching is not to help companies grow. That’s what I do but my purpose is I want to impact as many people as I can to feel more fulfilled by what they do for a living every single day. The way I do that is I help create great leadership teams who create great companies where people could learn, grow and feel fulfilled every single day. I have a purpose and it’s a very focused-specific purpose. There are a whole lot of ways and different exercises to try to figure out your purpose but I’m going to assume that you’re reading this blog and you’re saying, “That’s nice, Mike. You’ve got a purpose. Rodney has a purpose. I don’t know what my purpose is. I’ve read a bunch of books. I haven’t figured it out.”
At the very least, if you don’t have a purpose, I’ll give you a purpose. Your purpose is to be the best version of yourself. If you keep that in mind, even if you never find that one specific thing you think you want to do to impact society, if you’ve got this purpose to be the best version of yourself, then what you’ve got to do and I’m going to give you something else you hear a lot. It sounds like a cliche and a lot of cliche sound that way because they’re true when people say them over and over again is it’s about the journey. If you know that your purpose is to have this impact on the world and at the very least if it’s for you to be the best version of yourself, to have an impact of the world. When you have a bad day, bad week, or a bad month, it allows you to pick your head up and say, “I get it. That’s part of the journey. I’m doing this in service of getting to a bigger place.”
One is have that purpose. If you can’t figure it out, it’s to be the best version of yourself and go with that. There may be no better purpose than that. The second technique that jumps to mind around purpose is, again, I’ll go back to using the word celebrated. My guess is you look back at what happened and right after it happened, it was, “My life is over,” or whatever words. When stories you told yourself went through your head, but you look back at that now and you say, “If that didn’t happen to me, I wouldn’t have done this with my life. Thank God, I’ve been able to do this with my life.”
When I look back at the toughest times of my life. I had a business years ago that failed miserably. $300,000 over three years out the window. I wasn’t rich when that started so I dug it a deep hole for myself. While it was happening, there was no purpose there. I was losing money and I was frustrated. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Why are all these people that aren’t as good as I am, they’re not as smart as I am. They’re successful and here I am, I’m a failure. I can’t make my business work.” I look back at it now and say, “There was no better MBA in small business than me failing. I absolutely love what I do every day. I’m successful beyond where I thought I’d be. I’d never be here if it wasn’t for that.”
That was the purpose of those three difficult years. Here’s the trick. If that’s what you’re going through, you don’t know what the purpose is yet because you’re going through it. It’s easy to let that paralyze you, frustrate you, depress you and stress you out or you could say, “I’m going to spend a few minutes. I’m going to sit down and I’m going to say, ‘I’m going to project myself out ten years from now.’” I’m going to make believe that in the year 2030, I look back at this time and say, “That was tough but thank God, that happened because if that didn’t happen, I never would have done X, learned X or have become X.” What might that be? Instead of waiting ten years to look back and say, “That was the purpose.” That was why I went through that because it made me a better man that now I’m able to do this. Why not take a leap and figure out what that purpose might be now. You don’t know what it is.Growth is important. If you are not learning and growing, you are dying. Click To Tweet
There’s no way to literally project yourself out ten years in the future, but your mind is what you focus on. Imagine it and you’re there. I promise you, when you start writing down and writing what you think that purpose might be, all of a sudden, your mind opens up to possibility. I’ve been saying from March 2020 when this COVID thing hit, what I’ve been looking in the mirror and saying, “What I’ve been telling my clients is I know that 6 to 9 months from now.” I’m not going to look back and say, “Thank God that happened.” People are dying. Businesses are closing. Let’s face it, this sucks, this is a horrible time. I hope by the time this is out and posted, times are better, but this is going to impact us for a long time.
I didn’t say I’m going to look back 6 to 9 months from now and say, “Thank God for COVID,” but I have been saying from the beginning that 6 to 9 months from now, I’m going to look back and say, “If that didn’t happen, I never would have made these pivots in my business.” My business and my life is so much stronger and powerful. I have so much more impact. That’s what I’m doing. I’m doing a whole lot more virtual and having more than I ever could have trying to be everywhere live and doing it without having to leave my family because I’m doing it on a laptop in front of me. I’m creating an online course that’s going to allow me to have way more impact than people who read my book.
All because I know people are now getting much more used to this whole virtual and Zoom thing. Purpose is such a big piece of it. The last thing I’ll say before I shut up and let you drive wherever you want to go deeper on this or make a right or a left turn is the other big piece of focus. The other technique that I want to offer up is something I learned a number of years ago, called the Locus of Control. Locus is a fancy word for point or center. Locus of control means what are you focused on in terms of your control. Do you have an external locus of control which means stuff happens to me? The world happens to me. That’s an external locus of control or do you have an internal locus of control? Which is my life is about what I do and when I’m in control of. I happen to the world, it doesn’t happen to me.
Again, when you are stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated, my guess is you’ve got an external locus of control. You’re saying this COVID thing out there is impacting my life. My pain in the ass employees is impacting my life. My family is doing this. My clients are doing this. It’s about the world happening to you. If you can catch yourself and say, “Where’s my locus of control right now?” You might laugh at first and go, “That guy in the podcast said locus of control. I wonder where my locus of control is.”
If your locus of control is external, I want you to snap your fingers and ask, “How can I turn this to an internal locus of control?” Instead of saying, “Why do people on my team keep coming to me with the same questions over and over again?” That’s an external locus of control. If you said, “How do I turn that to internal?” It might be, “How can I communicate with my team better? They don’t have the same questions over again. How come no one cares about my business as much as I do? How come everybody is leaving at 5:00?” It’s external locus of control. Internal locus of control might be, “How can I instil more of a sense of ownership on the members of my team?” You get creative ideas. As long as the problems out there, it ticks you off. There are no creative ideas. To take an internal locus of control, now you get creative. There’s a whole bunch more, but those are a few tips that might help.
This is good because I know a lot of people are feeling like they have lost control. They’re not in charge. My response is you are still charged. Since you are still charged even though you don’t feel you are in charge, you have to take charge. That means take ownership of where you are right now. That’s the thing. When something from out there happens to you, you seem to detach your ownership to your charge, purpose and responsibility, all of these things. It’s not my fault. I can’t operate in this environment, and changed the game on me. I can’t do what I originally set out to do. I beg to differ on that because it coincides with purpose which you talked about initially because I had a purpose and that purpose was to be a very impactful football player and create a successful life.
My purpose at that time for me is what I wanted and what I wanted for my family. It was a purpose and a purpose is a very powerful thing. After I got hurt, that wasn’t causing the pain. It wasn’t the accident. It was like, “I can’t fulfill my purpose now.” When you take someone’s purpose away, you take the life out of them. You can take a person who’s broke up, seemingly in terms of physically and they’re broke. They don’t have the money but they have purpose. They have a lot of life because they have purpose. They have something to live for. They may not have much but they have something to live for in terms of their purpose and they seem so alive. If someone has everything but don’t have purpose, then there’s no life.
That’s what hurt the most is I didn’t have the purpose. I felt like I couldn’t fulfill it. It wants until I took that time out. I went into the huddle, I seemingly stayed there for about a year pouting and complaining about the situation until I realized that I had a greater purpose than the original purpose and that’s what drove me to the point of recovery. It lit a fire that still rages. It’s very hard to explain. When you have that purpose, it doesn’t matter what comes your way. Understanding that whatever comes your way, COVID, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, you still have this purpose. We spend time, in my opinion, having that pivot for me because that was a year that I wasted.
I realized that now. We spend that time feeling loss and everything that comes within. This is horrible. You can’t help but feel that way. At the same time, the quicker we can get through that and get back to the purpose because we might not be able to fulfill the purpose in same way. We may not look the same as we originally intended, however, we’re still charged with hope and the purpose may change. We can modify the purpose because we have a higher awareness, but we never know how to modify it or gain that awareness. If we’re focused on, as you said, what we don’t want or we focus on the fact that I just got hit instead of focused on how I’m going to get up.
I also think people mix up goal and purpose because if you believe you’re going to feel happy and fulfilled by reaching your goals, I got to break the news to you, it’s not true. Many years ago, right after I spent three years digging my family into a deep hole, losing $300,000 in a business that didn’t work, I’d be driving in my old Nissan Altima, I’m looking around, and I see people in their BMWs and Mercedes, it would make me angry. I work harder than them and I’m smarter than them. They’re driving this car and I’m in this beat-up Nissan Altima, what’s going on? For some reason, I don’t mind admitting to this even though it sounds very superficial and statusy but I had hooked up success with being able to afford the nice car. I needed to buy a BMW. My business became successful, I started putting money away, and I bought my first BMW. On my way home in that car, when I should’ve been, “That was my goal. I’m now making some money. I now have a successful business. I’m in a BMW, how cool is this?” This wave of depression hit me.
After talking to my coach, what I realized is I can take 1 or 2 minutes and pat myself on the back from being able to afford a nice car. It’s not a big deal. That doesn’t change my life. What’s next? What you realize is if you don’t meet a goal, it makes you feel bad. Once you reach a goal, you say, “It’s not what I thought it was.” When you start getting close to the goal, you got that next goal. I got a BMW 3 series, but I should really have a BMW 5 series. I’m not saying those goals. I think goals are important. They give us direction. They help us be the best version of ourselves. If you don’t have that bigger view of what your life is all about, that’s not reaching goals. That’s why you see many “people who look successful,” millionaires, movie stars and entrepreneurs who have made tons of money, they’re suicidal. They’re miserable because they breached all their goals but there’s nothing bigger that’s driving them. You’ve got to have that bigger thing that’s driving you.
What is the definition of success for you?
To me, the definition of success is a feeling of fulfilment. That didn’t have to do with how much money you’ve got. Number one, it’s a feeling of fulfilment that you are getting out of bed and excited for the day every day. Number two, it’s having an impact. I’m going to say three things. It’s that feeling of fulfilment. It’s having some impact on the world as you said. Initially your purpose was you were going to be an impactful football player. You also said that was about you. If your life didn’t make that right turn, you may have become an impactful football player but you might’ve said, “Is this all that is. This was my dream but I’m not sure I feel any different or any better.” That didn’t impact of the world, it could be impacting your family. It doesn’t have to be you are an international leader but it’s fulfilment, impact, and growth. Growth is so important. If you are not learning and growing, you are dying. I believe that.
That’s why I’m a self-development junkie. The day I stopped learning, growing, trying to be better, and do more is the day I’m dust or underground or whatever I am. You’ve got to have an impact, growing, and that makes you feel fulfilled. I don’t think success is about reaching your goals or having a certain amount of money in your bank account. It’s growth and impact and those things give you that feeling of fulfilment and success.Success is not about reaching your goals alone but having a sense of fulfillment. Click To Tweet
Life is a wonderful teacher. For me, I’ve decided that everything is like in every experience and opportunity, good or bad especially the ones that I feel are bad because those are the ones that challenge me the most. When the challenge shows up, my perception and my story that I tell myself that helps me get through those things is there’s something for me in this. I want to make sure that I’m in tune and I’m aware of where is it I need to spend some time growing and developing to get over this because this is for me. When challenges show up for the world and for individuals in their own individual worlds, that’s a wonderful technique to have because I believe in cliche statements, anything is possible.
We are overcomers. We can do anything. All things are possible. I believe that with the right mindset, obviously it doesn’t happen for you so what’s the variation, what’s the discriminator. The seeds of the perception, mindset, focus and a number of other things, but approaching life and the challenges of life with the idea that we are learning as we go through this. We are evolving. Every game that you play, you can take something from it. There’s something that you learn from that. You’ll never lose. You either win or you learn. That’s a very powerful concept. I think the same thing goes for the game of life.
I agree. Back to focus, there was a study done a number of years ago. I don’t know if I’m going to get the numbers right but you’ll get the idea that every second, we’ve got about two million bits of information coming at us. Now this study was done many years ago. If it was two million then, it’s probably twenty million now. If we have a whole bunch of billion bits of information coming at us every second, our brains have the ability to process 186 bits per second. It’s something like 0.0001% of what’s going on around us is what our brains can perceive. That’s why if I ask you to quickly look around your room and find everything that’s the color red. If you reading, do that. Look around your room, look for everything that’s the color red.
Now, come back around. Look straight ahead. Think of everything you saw that was blue so you’re looking around the room again. You saw the stuff that was blue but that’s not what you were looking for. We’ve got this thing in the base where our brain meets our spine. There’s something called the Reticular Activating System, the RAS for short. It’s like a Google Search for the brain. It tells us what to focus on. You were focused on looking for what’s red. When you think about the fact that what we focus on is only 186 bits out of two million, you realize we’re creating our reality. The reality for you is very different than the reality of someone standing next to you looking at the same thing and experiencing the same thing.
You do get to choose your reality. To your point, you could look at a “failure.” You could look at something difficult in your life as woe is me. Why does that always happen to me? That’s just one more reason why I’m never going to get what I want. If that’s what you’re focused on, that’s what you’re going to get. If you’re focused on what bad thing is going to happen to me next? We got COVID, social uprising and hurricanes. What’s next? We’re going to get hit by an asteroid. You’re looking for that next bad thing. Trust me, if you’re looking for that next bad thing, you are absolutely positively going to find that next bad thing. If you look at it and say, “Another lesson I need to learn in my life,” which I know it’s hard to do when you’re all frustrated and pissed off. It’s your choice what you focus on.
Are you going to have an internal locus of control or an external locus of control? You’re going to focus on what you want and what you don’t want. This is going to sound crazy to people. I learned this from a teacher and a coach that I’ve worked with over the last number of years. You get to choose not only your present and your future, you get to choose your past which sounds crazy. How can I choose my past? My past already happened. Rodney, what word did you use? You celebrated many years since your injury in 1993. You’re choosing how to view your past. We all have the ability to choose how we view our past and we can choose our past to something that’s going to hold us back, “I’ve never been any good at X,” or you could say, “I’ve never been any good at X yet, but I got my whole life ahead of me.” You can choose your past, your present and your future, and it’s going to change your life.
What I love about this game-changer mentality, this way of thinking that can become habitual. It can become a way of life. We started the conversation talking about not only individuals but teams, how can we build this type of culture where this is how the team operates when we are dealing with challenges and obstacles? Honestly, Mike, we’re all in this field of adversity. If you’re living, you are dealing with it. You can choose to be a player, in the stands, or on the bench and not play that often, you just sit back and watch or you can be one of those people. I believe that people that are reading this blog, they’re one of those people that like to get in. They roll the sleeves up and they get into the game. Because we are all needed, we’re all connected. We all have something to contribute to this game. We’re all dealing with adversity. How can we instill a culture within the teams that we work with directly to help us move forward and be powerful, peak-performing leaders in the game?
Number one, it starts with picking the right team. Surrounding yourself with the right people. I’m going to say that in about five seconds but there are books written on finding the right people for your team. I’m going to assume for a moment because I want to focus on culture. Let’s say you’ve got a good team around you. When I think about culture, to specifically answer your question, I think about the three Vs. In my book, I talk about the three Vs of culture. The first V is values. Having a set of core values that drive who you are as a person, company. Who you will attract to your organization, who you will repel from your organization? Companies have core values but it’s a plaque on the wall and it’s something that looks nice on their website.
Core values are what’s best, right, most noble about who you are as a group, organization and company. You live it every day. You are committed to firing anyone. I don’t care if it’s you’re the best salesperson. If they are repeatedly blatantly violating a core value, they’re gone. If you allow that to happen because they’re selling a bunch of stuff, your core values are a joke. They aren’t just a plaque on the wall. The first V is about having a set of values and it’s not 27 values. It’s 3 to 6 values that say, “Here’s who we are. This is our personality as an organization. These values are going to anchor our culture. They’re what makes us great. They are behaviors.”
The second V is vision. This gets back to the purpose we keep talking about. The vision is everything from purpose which for some may never change, others purpose may change throughout your life, or throughout your life as a company. If your purpose has changed in every other day, you have the wrong purpose. The second V is about vision and it’s about having that North star. I am never going to wake up one morning and say, “I have now impacted the world. Everybody feels fulfilled by what they do for a living.” It’s not going to happen. Your purpose is the North star. You’re never going to wake up one morning and say, “I am now the best version of myself. I can’t get any better.” It’s a North star, you’ll never reach it, but it drives your direction. Part of vision is that purpose. Here’s my book recommendation. Jim Collins wrote a great book called Good to Great. If you run a business, a part of a business, or you’re grieving and you haven’t read Good to Great, shame on you.
Go read that book right after you read mine. Before that, he’s got a book called Built to Last which is also great. He talks about something called the Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a BHAG, which is not a North star because the North star, you’re never going to reach. I think of a BHAG as a flag on top of a big ass mountain. You’re not sure how you’re going to get to the top. Back in 1962, three years before I was born, John F. Kennedy is saying, “By the end of the decade, we’re going to put a man on moon.” How are we going to do that? No one has ever done that before. You need that flag on top of a mountain. Back in the 1960s, a little no-name company called Nike. Their Big Hairy Audacious Goal was to crush Adidas and they did.
What is that 10 to 30-year flag on top of a mountain for you? A little shorter because that flag on top of the mountain is a long way away. What’s your three-year vision of your business and your life? I have my clients write what I call a postcard from the future. Write a postcard that’s three years out giving thanks to all the things you’ve accomplished over those three years. The first V is values. The second is vision. The third is vulnerability. The third is all about being willing to say, “I don’t know the answer. I made a mistake. I need help.” Be willing to give and receive tough feedback from the people around you. It’s important now because for those leaders that think they need to put their superhero cape on and be perfect for everybody else and say, “I don’t know about you in this COVID environment. All this social unrest, hurricanes and global warming. I’m doing great. I don’t know why you’re having tough with it. This is the best time in my life.”
You may think you’re being strong for your people, but if you’re not showing vulnerability, your people think they need to be superhuman as well. They’ve got problems just like you do. I’m not saying take your webcam and get on Zoom and show your team that you’re crying like a baby in the corner, all curled up. Take the superhero cape off because there’s this vulnerability loop that happens when you show some vulnerability and say, “I’m not sure I know how to do that. I need some help.” “I’m sorry. In that meeting, I screwed up, I treated you with disrespect and I feel bad about it. How could I make it up to you?”
By you showing that vulnerability, people are then going to trust you more and show vulnerability to you. You’re now going to trust them more and be more vulnerability. It’s this beautiful cycle going up of a team that trust one another and collaborates. Trust is the foundation of any great team whether it’s family, friends, formal team or sports team. Trust is the foundation of that stuff. I go back to those three Vs, values, vision, vulnerability. Your focused on proactively creating those things, you’re going to create a great team.If you are focused only on failure, then that's what you will get. Click To Tweet
You talk about in your book something called the Breakthrough Leadership Team. What exactly is that?
Breakthrough Leadership Team is a team of A-players. It’s not just you can have a superstar team that doesn’t play really well with each other. It’s a team of A-players that has a culture of collaboration and fulfilment and the three Vs that we talked about. It’s a team that is learning and growing together. If it’s a business, it’s a team that is seeing top and bottom-line growth consistently. It’s a team that is providing learning, growing, fulfilling environment for their team members and employees. It’s a team that’s having a true impact on society. Again, you’re not going to wake up one morning and say, “I’ve got it. I got a breakthrough leadership team,” because as soon as you think you’re getting there, you’re getting close to your goal, you’re going to move the bar and raise the bar.
That’s a beautiful thing. There’s a difference between goal and purpose. Having that Breakthrough Leadership Team is so important. I’ll keep talking in companies’ language because of two ideal with but there may be nonprofit organizations dealing with this or people that are part of organizations. For me, I can tell you and I’ve been doing some form of coaching and consulting for many years. That doesn’t make me any smarter than anybody else. It means I’ve seen a lot more than most people. I’ve worked with a lot more companies and leadership teams is you cannot have and I have never seen a sustainably great company without a great leadership team. You can have a mediocre leadership team, if your goal is not to be sustainably great.
If your goal is, “We’ve got a great idea. We’re going to milk this idea for a year and then sell it to Google for a billion dollars.” You can get away if you’ve got a genius idea, a genius leader and an okay leadership team, you can do that and sell to Google. For the 1% of the 1% of the 1%, that’s your goal, go do it. Have a great leadership and company. Don’t worry about having a great leadership team because you’re going to sell to Google. For the other 99.9% of us that want to build something sustainably great year-over-year, it’s got to start with that breakthrough leadership team. You can’t, as a leader, white knuckle this and think you’re going to be great by you being the smartest person around the table. That gets old and you’re going to get tired and burnt out really quick. You need a breakthrough leadership team to get to that top and bottom-line growth, that fulfilling environment and that impact on society.
Many companies want to get to that place. They want to create that team and they find it challenging. What are some of the mistakes or maybe the biggest mistake that leaders make when they’re building this team?
When I wrote the book Breakthrough Leadership Team, not only did I rely on my years of experience but I interviewed a bunch of very successful CEOs that I knew that my world of coaches, they put me in touch with some of their best clients. I had the best and brightest. I asked them that question, Rodney. These are successful folks with great teams. I said, “What was the biggest mistake you made in growing your leadership team?” All of them, but one, and frankly, I don’t remember what that one person said. In all my interviews, all but one had the same answer for what their biggest mistake was. It was some combination of either hiring the wrong person into the leadership team or letting the wrong person stay on the leadership team too long.
When you asked me how I define a breakthrough leadership team, I started out saying it’s a team of A-players. I strongly believe while in a company, there may be room for some B-players in your company or organization. On your leadership team, you need either all A-players or if you have any B-players, they better have the potential to be A-players within the next six months. Here’s why I say that. A-players hire other A-players, B-players tend to hire C-players. Don’t check my math on that because I know that doesn’t work. B-players are mistakes A-players make every once in a while or the B-players get lucky. Frankly, B-players are a little afraid of hiring people that are stronger than they are because if I hire somebody smarter than me, what’s that going to mean for my job?
B-players don’t always recognize A-players, but A-players want to be around A-players. What happens is either organizations don’t have the effective, repeatable hiring process to know who an A-player is, let alone hire them or I’ll tell you the bigger issue. The bigger issue that I see in my clients, I have a process I put in place to get rid of this very quickly is people realize they have low B or C players on their leadership team and they tolerate it. That’s the biggest mistake you make. You got to remember, if they’re on the leadership team, they’ve got a team of C-players working for them. Even if they get lucky every once in a while and they hire an A-player, have you ever been an A-player working for a C-player. You’re going to either leave quickly or you’re going to become a C-player yourself.
Either they don’t have the right hiring processes in place and they got to work on that, there’s a great method called Top Grading. There’s a great book called Who: The A Method for Hiring by a guy named Geoff Smart that you ought to get. If you haven’t got it. My second book recommendation. It’s about the hiring process but here’s what I think it’s about more often. It’s not having a process to assess your talent and make the tough decisions. I do it with my CEOs and with their leadership teams, I do a quarterly talent assessment with all my clients and the process is in my book. The talent assessment basically is assessing every quarter based on core values and productivity, both of those things. Who am I? A-players, B-players, my C players, and what I call my toxic C-players.
Without getting too detailed into it, you wind up with some number of C-players or toxic C-players that are hurting your team. I asked my leaders a very simple question, “You’ve got Joe on your team. He’s a C-player. Are we coaching or are we cutting the cord?” Everybody deserves coaching. I’m not a bastard. I’m not saying if you’re a C-player, you got to fire your ass right away. I’m going to ask that tough question. Rodney, if you’re on the leadership team and you say to me, “Mike, I believe Joe is worth some coaching. We’re not going to cut the cord on Joe. I know he’s hurting the team right now, but I’m going to coach Joe.” I’m going to say, “Rodney, what are you going to coach Joe on?”
“I’m going to coach Joe on to better collaborating or whatever it is you can coach him on.” “Beautiful, Rodney. You’re going to coach Joe,” but here’s the tough love I’m going to give you. You know we do this Rodney. Every quarter, we come back and do this talent assessment. I’m going to tell you if Joe is still a C-player 90 days from now. If he’s still here and he’s still a C-player 90 days from now, Rodney, you might be our C-player. That hits people hard. Coach him but how many times have we seen on organizations C-players that are around not 90 days, but 9 months, 12 months, or 24 months, people are trying to coach them. They’ve given up coaching them but they don’t have the guts to fire them, cut the cord, and say they don’t work for the competition. I say, “Coach him but you got 90 days.” That’s tough love. If you do that and you make that a habit, you’ve got an amazing leadership team when you’ve got that accountability.
This is a very interesting conversation. A couple of things I want to insert here. The basis of your theory, your premise and in your philosophy, you just explained to us, it’s based on seeking talent from the outside. I want to know how we build that team from within because I believe in good leadership development programs. I believe in the company creating a solid leadership program that will produce A-players. You know that that’s where you’re going from day one. You meet that criteria within a certain timeframe then we start talking about either a performance, improvement plan or cutting the cord. If you bring in people from the outside the corporation, in my opinion, is it taking responsibility for creating those A-players to buying them. What are your thoughts about that?
It’s a great point. One of the things that I do with my clients and I talk about in the book is you have got to what I call proactively structure your leadership team. In other words, I’ve got a structure of my leadership team. I’m a $2 million organization. I am not only the Founder and CEO, but I’m also the Head of Sales, the Head of R&D and the Head of Human Resources. I’ve got a marketing person working for me and operations person. We’ve got this very small organization. Let’s say over the next three years, I plan to grow from $2 million to $10 million. In $10 million, I’m going to need a very different structure on my leadership team. I may not be able to play the role of head of sales anymore as the CEO because I don’t have that bandwidth.
There is a process that I use to project out that business quarter-by-quarter over three years and to plan out what are those changes to my leadership team. I look at it and say, “Given my growth plans, three quarters from now, I’m going to need a head of sales. As the founder CEO. I’m not going to be able to play that role anymore.” I’ve got the time to start grooming from the inside or looking on the outside if I don’t have anybody inside. To your question, I’ve got the time to start grooming from the inside to build that person because that’s the culture you want. Its people are learning, growing, and able to move up in your organization. One of the crazy arguments I get when I talk about having a high percentage of A-players, all A-players on the leadership team and having like 60% to 75% A-players in the organization, I get pushback from leaders saying, “We have to have some B and C players in our organization.”If you're not showing vulnerability, your people may think they need to be superhuman as well. Click To Tweet
If we have all A-players, everybody is going to want raises and promotions. We can’t afford that. I give them two answers. A simple and easy answer and then a better answer. The easy answer is, “You might have somebody on your team who’s an A-player accounts payable clerk. That’s been doing it 30 years and she may never want a raise. She may want raise but she may never want a big promotion. She’s happy being an accounts payable clerk.” I get that but here’s the better answer. The better answer is, if you have got a leadership team of A-players, you’ve got 75% A-players throughout your organization. You’re cutting the cord on your C-players. You are going to be growing so fast and profitably that the least of your worries is going to be, how do we promote people and how do we pay more money? You’re going to have room for everybody to grow and grow from the inside is important.
If you’re not proactively structuring your leadership team, you know you need a VP of sales and you need them tomorrow, that’s tough to grow somebody from within. You’re going to look from the outside. Chances are, you’re going to make more mistakes when you bring somebody from the outside. When you’re proactively structuring your team, you can start grooming people from the inside because, to your point, that’s ideally what you want.
Mike, great conversation. How can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you or purchase your books?
It’s out on Amazon, buy my book, it’s called Breakthrough Leadership Team. If you love my Bronx kid moved to New Jersey accent and want to listen to me for seven hours, you can get the audible version. My website is Mike-Goldman.com. On there, you’ll see some information about the book. You’ll see something I call my breakthrough ideas blog, which I update weekly with new videos and new ideas. The best way is to go to blog on Mike-Goldman.com. I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and all that stuff. You can find me there.
Thank you for your offer about the book. I would love to dive into myself. I may want to bring you back on the show because I want to talk about your philosophy around leadership development. Building from within versus seeking talent because I think that’s an interesting topic. A lot of corporations may be dealing with that, especially in nowadays environment where we have a larger talent because of telework. We can solicit talent from anywhere in the world now for a lot of positions. It’s interesting to see how things are going to change within corporations and the decisions that leadership is going to make as it relates to hiring, different positions that are going to become available, and the ones that are going to go away as a result of this environment. I would like to have that conversation with you and get some insight from you one day. Before we end the show, we always like to ask our guests very important question and that is, how can we bounce back from adversity, dominate our challenges, and consistently win at the game of life?
It goes back to so much of what we said around focus but the additional thing that I’ll focus on in answering your question, it’s more of surround yourself with the right team, is I will tell you in many years as a business owner and entrepreneur, there have been three times when I was anxious from quitting. When I was near tears and if I’m going to be honest, in tears saying, “I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the mortgage. I don’t know how we’re going to do this.” I have a wife who could have been any moment said, “Cut the crap and find a job.” She was supportive and said, “You’re doing the right thing. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to figure it out. You have got to have those people around you that are supportive.”
You are not going to consistently win at the game of life. You’re going to have some bumps and bruises. If you consistently win, you’re going to get too cocky and the house of cards is going to crumble down. You need some of that adversity but you need those people around you who could pat you on the back when you need it, who kick you in the butt when you need it. It’s about those five people you surround yourself with. I’ll go back to that one because we talked a lot about focus. If you don’t have those right people around, find them. Get a coach, join a mastermind group, find some better friends, upgrade your neighborhood of people around you. You need those folks because they’re going to inspire you to live your life you need to live.
Mike Goldman, thank you again for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure.
Rodney, it’s been great. Thank you for having me.
There you have it folks, another successful episode of the show. It’s another value-packed episode. There’s so much in here to discuss and I love the major takeaway. We have responsibility as individuals to make sure we have the right core values, and we’re challenging those core values, our focus is in the right place and we’re perceived in our obstacles and challenges the right way. More importantly, making sure you have the right people around to hold you accountable to all of those things. That’s the key. What I love about having a team is you don’t have to go at it a lot. We talked about how teams are so important. The people around you are so important. We’re all connected and we all have a role to play. Allow someone the opportunity to play that role in your life and you do that for them. That’s what winning is all about. Until next time, peace and love.
- Breakthrough Leadership Team
- Performance Breakthrough
- Good to Great
- Built to Last
- Who: The A Method for Hiring
- Breakthrough Leadership Team – Amazon
- Facebook – Performance Breakthrough
- LinkedIn – Mike Goldman
- Twitter – Mike Goldman
About Mike Goldman
Mike Goldman is an award-winning leadership team coach and the #1 Amazon bestselling author of two books, Breakthrough Leadership Team and Performance Breakthrough. He speaks internationally to groups of business leaders, such as the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO). During his 30+ year coaching and consulting career he has worked with clients including Disney, Verizon, CHANEL and Polo Ralph Lauren.
His insights have been featured in Forbes and Chief Executive Magazine and he is widely regarded by CEO’s as the expert on building great leadership teams. As a coach or speaker, Mike is on a mission to help CEO’s grow their business and have more impact while creating a more engaging, fulfilling environment for their team using his Breakthrough Leadership Team approach. Mike is a life-long learner. In fact, he often tells his clients that he if he’s gone ninety minutes without recommending a book, they should dial 911 because he might be having a stroke.
He’s is a certified Gravitas Impact, Five Dysfunctions of a Team and 3HAG coach, as well as an NLP Master Practitioner and Master Hypnotherapist.
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