Teamwork Makes a Vision Work #5‪7‬

Warwick Fairfax

February 23, 2021

Visionaries who are also mavericks, who prefer to conquer what needs to be conquered as a solo expedition, often find themselves foiled by crucibles that could have been overcome had they taken a team approach. Crucible Leadership founder and BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host Warwick Fairfax unpacks why some leaders reject the aid of a team as they pursue their vision while others embrace tackling a mission together — and why the latter are usually more successful than the former. Yes, pursuing your vision with a team requires more patience on your part and a willingness to share the credit and let others have a substantive say in the goals you’re going after.  But the benefits of camaraderie, the right mix of skills needed to get the job done and valuable input that can actually make your vision better while helping make it a reality are more than worth it.

To learn more about Crucible Leadership, visit www.crucibleleadership.com

Highlights

  • The importance of teamwork to bringing a vision to reality (2:18)
  • Why leaders are often loath to pursue vision with a team rather than going it alone (3:59)
  • When teamwork works, victories happen (7:59)
  • How FDR embraced pursuing vision with a team (10:51)
  • Step 1 to building a good team: change your attitude (14:49)
  • The role ego plays in wanting to pursue your vision alone (16:12)
  • The critical importance of hiring for character first, job skill second (17:36)
  • Why team members need humility (18:53)
  • The importance if “soft skills” in team members (22:51)
  • The need for a team with a diverse set of skills (25:44)
  • Lessons in team-building from Abraham Lincoln (30:30)
  • Lessons from arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on hiring well (34:10)
  • The stakes for leaders when it comes to building a good team (39:02)
  • Warwick’s experience in the selecting board members for his church (40:12)
  • Why a leader needs to be the chief endorser for his or her vision (42:32)
  • How team-building helps you avoid a crucible (45:28)
  • The necessity of being patient (50:11)
  • Warwick’s final thoughts (54:30)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership. You’ve got to realize you’re going to have to share the credit. But after all, is it about the vision or is it about your ego? And you pretty much have to choose. If it’s about your ego, then give up the vision because the chance of it succeeding, it’s not impossible, but it’s pretty low. So check your ego at the door. Learn a bit of humility and say, “Look, if this vision is so important, I just need to have a bit of humility and realize I might need to hire some great people. Some of whom might be better, quicker, faster, smarter than I am.” But what’s wrong with that, if it will help you accomplish the vision? The only reason it’s wrong is, if you’ve got a fragile ego, well, if you’ve got a fragile ego, then get a stronger ego, and if you can’t do that, give up and don’t try to accomplish the vision.

Gary S:
Those are some pretty direct words from Warwick on this week’s episode, but they are critical words if you want to make your vision a reality in the wake of your crucible, or to avoid a crucible. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. What Warwick and I talk about today is the essential role, the indispensable role really, a team plays in you accomplishing the mission or goal for which you are charting a course. You’ll learn key tips like the aforementioned need for humility. Plus the value of selecting a team based on character, and not just job talent. Surrounding yourself with individuals who have the skill sets that will best serve your vision and why you need to be patient and not rush the process or skip vital steps along the way. If it’s true, as you’ve likely heard, “That without a vision, the people perish, then without the steps laid out here, your vision will likely perish.”

Gary S:
What we’re going to talk about today, listeners is I don’t know, maybe it’s a subject that you are a little wary of and it is… Here’s the title I’ve come up with as an organizing construct for what we’re doing. Without a team, a vision is just daydreaming. That’s what I came up with on the top of my paper right here. That’s what I wrote down. Warwick, why is that if it is, I hope it is. Why is that a good summary of the importance of teamwork to bringing a vision to reality?

Warwick F:
Typically to get a vision, to get a dream to happen, you can’t do it alone. It’s tempting to want to do it alone, but nobody has all the gifts, all the skills, all the experience to make a dream, to make a vision become reality. And so pretty much in the vast majority of cases, if you don’t have a team, your vision as we say is dead on arrival, it won’t happen. And so that is the cold, hard reality. How much does your vision matter? If it matters to you a lot, rightly or wrongly from your perspective, you are going to need to consider having a team. It’s not really an option in the vast majority of endeavors to not have a team for that vision to happen.

Gary S:
Now you use the phrase cold, hard reality. That’s not usually used for things that are sunshine and puppy dogs, right? That phrase is normally used for things that can be arduous, that can be difficult, that can involve friction and headbutting and those kinds of things. Why did you choose those words? Why are people especially leaders, why are they loathe sometimes to not just embrace a team, but create a team to help them enact their vision?

Warwick F:
It’s an interesting question. Think about the profile of a typical visionary. They’re typically passionate, determined, surrender is not an option. They’ve got perseverance, but very often they want to do it themselves. They’re impatient. When you have a group of people, it can take so long, endless meetings, endless discussion. The team doesn’t get it, after all it’s not their vision, it’s your vision. Visionaries are like, “I just want to do it myself. People are just annoying. They just get in the way. I just want to get this thing done. Let’s just go, let’s make it happen.” People can be a pain in the neck, a drag, it’s just get out of the way, people are the enemy at times.

Warwick F:
I mean, I’m overdramatizing a bit, but the typical founder just the whole team thing, it can certainly make things longer. Why would I want to do that? Now, sometimes they’ll grudgingly do that, but it’s kind of kicking and screaming. It’s not like, “Oh, joy. I have to have a team, right?” It’s like, “Oh, joy. I need to go to the dentist.” Well, if you need a filling, if you don’t go to the dentist, you’re going to be in pain. So ultimately it’s like, I may be afraid of dentists, I may not like them, but I’m going to go because what choice do I have? Pain or solve the pain? But you don’t go, “Oh, joy. I’m going to the dentist. It’s the highlight of my day.” So typically leaders feel about getting a team the way they think of going to the dentist, it’s a necessary evil.

Gary S:
I mean, here’s another thing that undergirds these teams are by definition filled with people. People are by definition folks with opinions and views on how to do things and the larger your team, and by large, I don’t even mean 8,000 people. If you’ve got five or six people on your team, you’re going to have five or six different opinions about pretty much every aspect of that vision. And I think one of the challenges, one of the roadblocks to creating a team is this idea that as we go through things, we’re going to go two steps forward, one step back, or one step forward, and two steps back. We’re going to butt heads. We’re not going to see eye to eye.

Gary S:
We’re not going to get along and we’re not going to move the ball down the field. Which is an interesting metaphor, because in order to move a ball down the field in a football game, you got to have a team, right? I mean, one person out there… Tom Brady, as we’re recording this episode, Tom Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl. But Tom Brady hasn’t won a single one of those without a team. We can have a separate podcast if he’s the GOAT or not, even Tom Brady needs a team to make his vision a reality.

Warwick F:
It does, but for all those would be Tom Bradys, it’s like the problem with the team is, I’m throwing to a particular route and the receiver is on the wrong route. So it gets intercepted. I mean, what a pain? I was hoping people would block right, but they didn’t block right, and I got sacked. So it’s like, even people that want to be, would be Tom Brady’s. It’s like, yeah. You know what happens? It sounds good in theory, Gary, but I’ll get sacked when the receiver will go the wrong route and I’ll get intercepted. That’s what team means, if anyone wants to be cynical, you need it, but you don’t want to get sacked or intercepted either.

Gary S:
Right. Before we move on into some of the tips on how to create a team, we should stop and camp out a little bit about, what does success look like with a team? I mean, if you can’t make a vision a reality without a team, what does it look like with a team? I brought up Tom Brady and he’s won seven Super Bowls all with a team. But a couple of quotes that I pulled together that I thought were extremely interesting, and here’s football again, not that I want to camp out here all day, but Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach of my Green Bay Packers said this once, “Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, and a civilization work.” If you prefer to move out of the sports arena and get into the leadership business space, here’s something Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.” Exactly what we’re talking about. “The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objective. It is the fuel that allows common people to obtain uncommon results.”

Warwick F:
Absolutely. I mean, those are great quotes. I mean, a great team will be comprised of a diverse set of backgrounds and the skills who, as committed, if not more committed than you are to the mission, it’s really a case of one-and-one equals three. That’s what a team does. It’s greater than the sum of its parts. So picture you have a team that’s even more committed than you are to the vision. They’re all on the same page that the diverse set of skills and things that just go like it’s autopilot. I mean, there’s a beauty of a team when it works well. I mean, I can think of probably my favorite sport to participate in growing up was rowing or crew as they say here. And I rowed in eights, obviously eight people in a rowing shell.

Warwick F:
And I remember one time when I was rowing for my college at Oxford, Balliol College, and the boat I was in was probably they were little bit more talented, maybe a lot more talented than I was, but when you’re rowing with seven other people and you’re rowing in complete unison, the boat is flying through the water. It’s steady. It’s just a beautiful thing. Obviously, when you’re not rowing together and the boat’s going side to side, and it can be a little painful, but when you’re all rowing in unison, I mean, to me, I often think of rowing as the ultimate team sport, because if one person’s not rowing hard, it makes everybody else’s job so much tougher. So it’s a feeling you never forget when you’re in that zone so to speak, as they say in sports, where everything is in complete harmony, and it’s just graceful, it’s movement and you’re all functioning as one, that’s the feeling of a great team.

Gary S:
Yeah. And we haven’t talked about this beforehand, but it just popped in my head. One of the things that you write about in your upcoming book, Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance coming this fall from Morgan James Publishing, one of the things you write about, one of the people you write about there, you talk about historical figures and their successes and the things that they learned through their crucibles. And there’s one that sticks out to me. And we haven’t talked about this in advance, but with all that Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, you talk about Louie Howe one of his advisors. And to me, that’s an example of Roosevelt people think he’s this like grand, he did it all by himself. And nobody really does anything by themselves, but Louie Howe was very critical to Roosevelt’s ability to achieve the successes he achieved in his presidency.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. As listeners probably know, in the early ’20s Roosevelt got polio, which is very rare even back then for an adult. And his legs pretty much were paralyzed. He could move very ungainly with these massive heavy braces. And it seemed like his political career was finished. This was an era where if you had polio, it was like a life death sentence. You meant to just sit at home while the rest of your years away, somehow it was a shameful thing, even though clearly it’s not your fault. But with the help of his wife, Eleanor and Louie Howe, they helped him realize, you know what, life’s not over. Louis Howe helped Eleanor go around the state of New York speaking. And she was more of a introverted, shy person, but very determined woman.

Warwick F:
She kept his name in the political press circles and Louie Howe was just master behind the scenes campaign director and really helped Franklin Roosevelt become governor of New York and then ultimately president. But, yeah, he had an amazing team Louie Howe and Franklin’s wife, Eleanor, that really believed in him and his mission, certainly without Eleanor but without both of them, nobody would really have heard of Franklin Roosevelt, other than somebody that was on the ticket of a Democratic candidate that lost in the early ’20s, but he wouldn’t have become president.

Gary S:
And it goes back to what I said is the organizing construct for this conversation, without a team, a vision is just a daydream. Without those folks that you’ve just talked about, his wife and Louie Howe, Franklin Roosevelt was a daydream. Maybe he wanted to be president, maybe he wanted to rise to… But he could not have made it happen. And I think it’s safe to say, right? Anybody, any person that we could think of who’s achieved greatness has a team underneath them.

Warwick F:
Absolutely.

Gary S:
There are very few mavericks who don’t have at least some people behind them who are helping them along the way.

Warwick F:
That’s so true.

Gary S:
So you’ve put together in a recent blog, some tips, some guidelines for people, for leaders to navigate how to create a team. It seems to me, one of the ways to avoid some of those conflicts we talked about early on, and you just hinted at it a little bit. One of the ways to avoid those conflicts is to get the right people on the bus, as Jim Collins would say. You want the right people on the bus, in the right seats. And there are ways that you can go about compiling a team that can both help your vision become reality and also help you from going crazy in the process. Right?

Warwick F:
Absolutely. I mean, there are some key things you need to look for in a team. I think as you’re doing that, the first thing you need to do is really change your attitude. And we’ve talked about this a little bit in our discussion here, but you need to stop the whining, stop the complaining. Or as we say in Australia, stop the whinging, which is like whining squared. It’s worse than whining, whinging. No whinging. It’s like, “Okay, I know it’s going to take longer. You’re going to have to talk about the vision a gazillion times, and they’re not going to get it initially. So you can have to talk about it more and engage them.” And we’ll talk a bit about how you do that in a moment. But, yeah, it’s going be a pain in the neck and it’s going to be difficult, but ultimately it’s worth it because there’s a difference between succeeding and failing.

Warwick F:
And if you really care about your vision, then you know what? You just got to suck it up and do what it takes to get the right people and get them all engaged. So really, before you start hiring people, change your attitude, okay? Quit whining, quit whinging, quit complaining, and realizing this is going to make your vision succeed. So if there’s one thing that you should never remember as you’re doing this, is your vision important or not? Do you want your dream to succeed or fail? It’s a binary choice. It’s yes or no. If your vision is that important, suck it up, change your attitude and get your head in the game, so to speak and realize you need a team. So that’s the first thing, change your attitude.

Gary S:
Is there a little bit of maybe in some cases, ego that pops into this, the reason for not wanting to have a team, I used the word maverick a little while ago. Is there this maverick go it alone, independent, do it myself, I don’t need anybody. Can ego play in there and is that part of what you have to suppress and change in your attitude?

Warwick F:
Yeah. I mean very insightful point. Absolutely. You’ve got to realize you’re going to have to share the credit, but after all, is it about the vision or is about your ego? And you pretty much have to choose. If it’s about your ego, then give up the vision because the chance of it succeeding, it’s not impossible, but it’s pretty low. So check your ego at the door. Learn a bit of humility and say, “Look, if this vision is so important, I just need to have a bit of humility and realize I might need to hire some great people. Some of whom might be better, quicker, faster, smarter than I am, but what’s wrong with that if it will help you accomplish the vision. The only reason it’s wrong is if you’ve got a fragile ego, well, if you’ve got a fragile ego, then get a stronger ego, and if you can’t do that, give up and don’t try to accomplish the vision.

Gary S:
Do some ego pushups and that will help build your ego muscle, not in the way that we tend to think of it, which is an overactive ego, but to have a more elastic ego, one that can bring other people into the team, into the vision. And that leads logically, Warwick, to your second point.

Warwick F:
Yeah, absolutely. And so this is where you could read 10 different leadership books and they will say this point, but it’s very rarely done. So it’s not always you have in management something in which all leadership management experts agree, but which typically doesn’t get done, which doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. There are a lot of things in life in which experts disagree, not this one. And that’s what this is. And that’s basically, you hire for character and attitude and alignment to the mission first, skill second. So basically if you had to boil it down to its most critical character first, skill second. Now, typically what happens is, let’s hire the person with the most experience and Ivy League degrees. And look, there’s nothing wrong with Ivy League. I mean, I did, my undergrad as listeners know at Oxford and got my MBA from Harvard Business School.

Warwick F:
So I’m not against education, but just because you went to the so-called right schools and even if you have experience, which is obviously helpful, it’s character, that’s the most important thing. And so people might say, “Well, what do you mean by character?” And so what I mean by that is, part of it is what Jim Collins talks about in Good To Great level five leaders. Yes, you want people that are driven and determined, but you want people who are humble back again to the ego. You might have to check your ego at the door or your team does too, because you cannot get on with a team if everybody wants to be the prima donna and have the lights shine on them all the time. So you want them to be driven, but they need to be humble.

Warwick F:
They need to be team players. They need to want to learn from others. If they say they’re going to get something done, they will get it done. There are certain key characteristics that you want. And here’s the thing is, some people talk about hire for character or hire for attitude, train for skills. Why do people say that? Because skills, at least if you have some degree of natural ability or some degree of aptitude, if you are good with numbers and are detail orientated, if you train somebody in accounting, they can usually get it. I’m not talking about training somebody that hates math and is not detail orientated. That’s probably not a good use of time. But assuming there’s some degree of natural aptitudes, let’s assume there’s some degree of training, rather than hire the best accountant or the salesperson who has this great degree, who are the people that you feel like have the right aptitude, the right character?

Warwick F:
That’s really the most important thing. And it flies in the face of what people do. Why? Because if you’re an HR manager or a line manager and you say, “Okay, who did you hire? Well, I hired somebody with 20 years experience at GE or X, big company. Their undergrad was at Cornell or Dartmouth or somewhere.” Okay, great. And so some other person might say, “Well, I didn’t hire that person. I hired somebody with five years experience at a smaller company. And they went to a state school in Nebraska.” If that doesn’t work out, what happens? You passed up the Ivy League person with 15 years of experience with GE, for somebody with a smaller company that went to some small college in Nebraska, really?

Warwick F:
That’s the problem. If it doesn’t work out, it’s like, well, look at the pedigree. How can you… So people are risk averse and how in the world do you measure character? I mean, I described it, but it’s not quantifiable. Therefore, it feels risky. And people hate risk. So that’s why people might say, I hear what you’re saying, but… That’s the problem.

Gary S:
I found an article from… speaking of Ivy League schools and speaking of Harvard. The Harvard Business Review wrote an article a few years back on eight ways to build collaborative teams and among the eight factors that they listed that lead to success go right to the point that you’re just talking about. Their fourth point was ensuring the requisite skills for the team to be successful. And here’s what they wrote, the folks who wrote this article. Human resources department that teach employees how to build relationships, how to communicate well and how to resolve conflicts creatively can have a major impact on team collaboration. So there you’ve got HR departments who aren’t looking at the location or the pedigree of the university, or the education as much as what are those “softer skills”, those relational skills, those being able to work together skills, people who can find that, that is a huge determiner in how successful a team will be.

Warwick F:
It is. And it reminds me of Daniel Goleman’s work in emotional intelligence. There’s a lot of notoriety the last 10, 15 years or more. And he talks about these softer skills, like the ability to persuade, but the ability to listen, to empathize, those are critical components when you have people on your team that want to listen and they want to compromise in a good sense. They want to find, okay, where’s the win-win in this with other team members. They can empathize with others. It’s extremely hard to teach those skills. You either wired that way, or it’s linked to your innermost values, people’s innermost values and wiring tend not to change. Try to train people for values. It’s not impossible, but training people for skills is infinitely easier than values and inherent wiring.

Warwick F:
Yeah, I think more and more people realize it’s important. What it really comes down to is you got to have some guts, some courage to do what you know is right. And take some risks in hiring people that may have a little less pedigree, a little less experience. They have the raw talent, but more than the talent, they have the character, the attitude. It’s funny, I came across this in the paper today, speaking of Tom Brady. Okay? I’m sure you’re familiar with this. So here’s his scouting report, his NFL draft evaluation about Tom Brady. “Poor build, skinny, lacks great physical stature and arms strength, lacks mobility, and the ability to avoid the rush, lacks a really strong arm. Can’t drive the ball down field, does not throw a really tight spiral, system type play who can get exposed if forced to ad-lib, gets knocked down easily.” That’s the scouting report. I think from memory, I think he went in the fifth round or something.

Gary S:
Yeah, fifth or six round. Yeah.

Warwick F:
So if you look at that, it’s like, “Well, okay, case closed.” But what’s this missing? Some of that’s true. I don’t think he’s the most mobile quarterback in the world, but what’s that missing? It is missing his heart, his character, his work ethic, his ability to learn to grow. I mean, the way he keeps himself fit, physically and nutrition is off the charts. He’s what? 43 or something?

Gary S:
He’s 43. You’re right.

Warwick F:
So, why would you hire Tom Brady? Well, not based on the scouting report, right? You would never draft the guy based on this, and it’s not all wrong, what this is saying. It just misses stuff. It misses his heart and his determination. And that’s why he’s as great as he is. Do you want to be the one that misses a potential Tom Brady on your team, because of some superficial evaluation that misses the heart? No.

Gary S:
Right. And yet it is true. And I think the third point that you bring out in your blog about the importance of teams and how to construct them, it is true that you do need people who have, as you put it, a diverse set of skills, skills are important, you can’t ignore them. So, what’s the key about finding a diverse set of skills in the folks you put on your team?

Warwick F:
Well, first of all, you got to recognize that you need it. And I know it may sound obvious, if you’re in a organization, yes you’re going to need engineers, manufacturing types, research and development, marketing, sales, finance, you’re going to need a broad range of skills. But sometimes what happens is, if you’re a can-do person that wants to get something done yesterday, some of these people are going to be like chains, you’re going to have an accountant saying, “Well, I’m not sure about the cost analysis here. It’s looking a little dubious.” You’ll have marketing and sales saying, “I’m not sure if the market really wants that product.” The engineer is like, “I’m not sure we can design a product that will actually function properly. Certainly not at a cost effective price.”

Warwick F:
So it sounds good. But inevitably, depending on your personality, typically people with diverse skills have diverse personalities. The type of personality required to be in marketing sales and an accounting or engineering is radically different in almost all cases. So you first got to realize some of these people are going to be annoying to you, but they’re doing their job. Let them do their job even if it’s like, “Oh my gosh, here we go.” Wait, because the engineering folks saying, I don’t think we were quite ready yet. Sometimes they will be overly cautious, but sometimes it’s like you know what? Maybe it’s not ready. If you’re building a car, do you want the wheels to fall off. If the engineering saying, “One of those parts seem a little brittle and the tests don’t look good.” Well, maybe you might want to wait.

Warwick F:
I mean, imagine if you flying an airline, you are not going to ignore the safety folks saying, “Yeah, we’re all worried about that engine. It’s causing some problems more often than it needs to.” So I think part of it is recognizing you will need a diverse set of skills. And the other thing comes back to humility. You’re going to find people on your team because they have skills that you don’t, that in their area, you might feel like, boy, I’m a moron. I’m an idiot compared to them in their area. And that’s okay. You cannot be the expert at everything. Park your ego at the door, assemble a team who know more than you do in their area, because collectively the sum of all those wonderful people will be a set of skills and capabilities that will be mind blowing.

Warwick F:
So it sounds obvious, but people don’t tend to like to hire the best and the brightest in their areas. In part because of ego, and in part because their personalities will be different and you will get annoyed. You will get frustrated. Inevitably, you know you’re going to get frustrated, certain people with different skillsets that you know you need them, but it’s going to be frustrating.

Gary S:
And for listeners who are also viewers, who are watching this on YouTube, you may notice on my sport coat I am wearing six lapel pins and to Warwick’s point about a variety of skills and they can be annoying. And sometimes there can be headbutts. These are six lapel pins of The Avengers. You’ve got Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Black Panther. You got strength, you got speed. You got stealth, you got smarts. You’ve got all these different things going on. And the unit, The Avengers, is greater than each individual member. But boy, if you’ve seen the movies and read the comic books, they can fight. They end up saving the earth, but they get bruised themselves from themselves sometimes in getting there. And that is true sometimes of many teams in the real world.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I mean, they needle each other. I mean, I don’t know if it was The Avengers, but wasn’t there a superhero movie where they had like a civil war or something between them?

Gary S:
Yep. That was The Avengers. Captain America and Iron Man, they’re at the top of my lapel pin. It’s right here.

Warwick F:
Yeah. On opposite sides of your sport coat, funnily enough.

Gary S:
Yeah, I planned that.

Warwick F:
So you don’t want to be like that movie. You want to realize, “Okay, come on. We don’t need to have a war. We’re on the same team, we have different strengths, but let’s harmonize here.”

Gary S:
In your experience Warwick, do you have an example of what you’ve been talking about here for the last few minutes plays out? Do you have an example, be it personal or historical that you could point to that can help listeners understand in real time, real terms, how this way of compiling the team works?

Warwick F:
Yeah. I mean, obviously there are ones in history. You think of Abraham Lincoln, he had a team of rivals who were… They were so-called a team of rivals because they were his opponents for the Republican presidential nomination. And they each thought that the better man hadn’t won. So initially they didn’t respect him, but because he felt like they were the best people for the job, he assembled a very diverse group of people who were on his cabinet. So committed was he to the team that I remember one of them, Samuel Chase, I believe was treasury secretary. And the guy was really good treasury secretary, but the guy had a massive ego and he just did whatever he could to undermine Lincoln. Eventually he went one step too far.

Warwick F:
He kept submitting his resignation as some political ploy to try to get more power and eventually reluctantly Lincoln accepted it. But then what he ends up doing is nominating him to be chief justice at the Supreme Court. And this is a guy that did his level best to undermine Lincoln, but Lincoln said, “He’s the right person for the job.” And so that’s was remarkable, but it wasn’t easy, but he assembled a diverse group of people, irrespective of the opinion that they had of him because the country and in the throes of Civil War at the time he assembled them, probably about to go to war. He needed the best people, whether they liked him or not. So that’s really taking team and putting your own personal agenda aside, just at the ultimate level.

Gary S:
Yeah. And that is again, one of those situations where if he had not done that, what we think of Abraham Lincoln, the greatness we see in Abraham Lincoln, those are behind the curtain greatness things that we don’t tend to think about. That’s why the book Team of Rivals is so interesting because it opens the gates on those things that we don’t hear about all the time in the history books or in the movies, where they have the… I mean, movies are all about the hero, right? And I mean, going back a few podcasts ago, the idea of heroic leadership tends not to work. As we discovered with our guests, Joe Badaracco, heroic leadership tends not to work. And in fact, this communal team leadership is the way that things get done that last. I think that’s the safe thing to say.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. And if you want to read one single book about a historical figure and how they were able to assemble a team, it’s Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s written as a historical book, but it’s a great book. There’s a lot of lessons for leaders. And what’s the pay off? After he died, these people, that were his rivals, not only were they in tears, but they were praising him as the greatest leader they probably had ever known. I mean, that was… How do you turn people that disrespect you, think you’re this country bumpkin from Illinois, which was way out in the middle of nowhere in 1860, to this deep level of respect? I mean, that’s an amazing transformation.

Gary S:
And another book that comes to mind as we’re talking about these things is actually a book that was the focus of just about half of our podcasts ago, podcast 25, 26, which was ironically the first of two episodes we’ve done that we’re two partners and both of them ended up being because we did another one later, that was also about an Arctic explorer that went around Antarctica, go figure. The book I’m thinking of is Nancy Koehn’s book Forged in Crisis. There are some elements in her chapter on Arctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton that talk about some of the very things we’re talking about here, how do you hire people? How do you find people to be on your team that are going to lend the greatest opportunity for success to your efforts? And she unpacked some things about Shackleton that are a little bit different than what we might expect are the “wise decisions” to make in bringing people on board, literally.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it was a incredible discussion. It was podcast 25 and 26. And really her book is interesting. I mean Forged in Crisis, it deals with some great leaders, it deals with Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer that we’ll explain here in a little bit, Abraham Lincoln, the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who Lutheran pastor in Nazi Germany that died for his opposition to Hitler. Rachel Carson, that many think is the founder of the modern environmental movement. But Ernest Shackleton was interesting because he was driven in the early 1900s. Think of the space race in the 1960s, US Soviet Union. Well, there was this race to be the first to discover the north pole or south pole between a whole bunch of different countries. And Ernest Shackleton had this vision of being the first to cross Antarctica from one to the other.

Warwick F:
So he leaves in late 1914 and by 1915 he gets stuck in this ice floe basically. He unfortunately was impatient enough that when all the experts said, “Don’t go, the icebergs, the ice floes were as big as we’ve ever seen them.” He decides that he was just going to press ahead anyway. So he gets his team stuck in January, 1915 in an ice floe. And they’re there for about 18 months or so in this ice floe. Finally, he escapes in a small boat and in about August, 1916, he finally rescues his people and he rescues all of them. So, what were his hiring practices, because clearly they’re going to need it. They don’t know it’s going to be this bad, but they’re going to go through a lot. So what kind of people did he hire? And here’s where he didn’t…

Warwick F:
Yeah, he wanted skills obviously, but he really hired for attitude. He was so thorough. One of the things that Nancy Koehn, the author of that book says is that he had 5,000 applicants for 27 spaces. And he was looking for attitude. He would have them do an audition, sing a song, or do a dance, do some play acting. And he was looking for healthy, pragmatic, optimistic people. And he told them, he didn’t sugar coat it. I mean, he said, “It’s not going to be easy.” It’s reported that he placed an ad in the London Times that said this, “Men wanted for hazardous journey, long days, long nights, cold days, danger all around, safe return uncertain. Honor and glory in case of success.”

Gary S:
Yeah. Sign me up.

Warwick F:
So it’s like, “Hey, you got a pretty good chance of dying, but maybe you’ll get some glory who knows?” But he was looking for this pragmatic, optimistic, can-do attitude. Well, if you’re in the middle of… stuck on a boat in Antarctica and it’s absolutely freezing, gale force winds, having people have a pragmatic optimist spirit can do, that’s the difference between life and death. If he just went out and, okay, these are the people who have maybe been on the most polar expeditions and then all about whatever it takes, but they have a crummy attitude, they’re defeatist. I mean, I don’t know if that’s possible to have that, but maybe some better than others. They may well have died. So in this case, hiring for character and attitude was the difference between life and death for him and his team, literally. So I mean, it was really remarkable what he did in 1914 when he was hiring people.

Gary S:
And that’s what we’re talking about for what listeners are going to face in their leadership responsibilities. Probably not literal life and death, but it can be life and death of your company. It can be success of your division. It can be the impact of the nonprofits you lead or the neighborhood association that you run. And these things that Warwick is talking about, these teamwork overlays, how do you pull a team together? These insights will prove invaluable again, not in a literal life and death situation, but it is the difference between in many cases, your vision becoming a reality and your vision being just a daydream, never getting out of your head or getting out of your head and then getting high centered somewhere along that path. I mean, that’s fair to say.

Warwick F:
Absolutely, Yeah. I mean, I can think of a more contemporary example of really hiring for the right personality. I’ve been fortunate to be on the elder board of my church and the board of my kids’ school and was involved in governance in both organizations. And in hiring people for the boards of both places, yes, we were looking for a diverse group of people and experiences and talents, but we were also looking for attitudes. And so we had them fill out this application. And certainly one of the questions in both is, do you believe in the mission of the organization, you could be a wonderful human being, but not really be on board with the mission. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, if you don’t believe in the mission of the organization, then forget it.

Warwick F:
But then we also said, so are you the kind of person that has to be right all the time? Because there’ll be times in which maybe there’s a decision between investing in project A or project B. It’s not a moral issue, typically where there’s disagreement. I mean, it can happen, but hasn’t in the organizations I’ve been involved in, and you might be the only one that believes project A should be invested in and everybody else believes project B. Okay, well, you got to park your ego at the door and say, ” Okay, maybe I lost out on that one, but it’s okay.” Be willing to listen to your fellow board members, speak your truth. Absolutely. We want people that are going to be wallflowers and stand up for what they believe in. But we don’t want people who are ego driven that have to dominate and control.

Warwick F:
And so we specifically look for that. We ask for examples for these things. We even ask people that know them, give us references and we ask them, so tell us about this person. So we spend a lot of time on character and attitude, and what’s the result of being in the vast majority of cases, almost all I’d say, we have had terrific board members on who are collegial, speak their truth not wallflowers, but yet are willing to work together and don’t have to be the prima donna. So even in this state, you don’t have to be Lincoln or Shackleton. It can work today. Those are two non-profits that can work in your non-profit, your team, your board, whatever it is, it is possible to hire for character and attitude.

Gary S:
And the other thing, as you’re hiring for character and attitude, as you’re bringing a team together, the fourth point that you make in your blog is you as the person who is assembling this team, you as the leader, you need to be the chief evangelist for your vision. So as you’re looking to build a team to bring your vision to reality, while that’s going on, while that work is happening, while that team you assembled is moving things down the track, you’ve got to maintain your role as the leader, as the evangelist for that vision. Don’t you?

Warwick F:
Absolutely. And so you might be asking in case I got this diverse team, and a lot of good different skills, and a good attitude. So what do I, as the founder do, do I just sit there and see everything happen on autopilot? Well, no. Your chief job is to be the chief evangelist, the chief visionary. It’s your vision after all, as the leader of the organization. If you have no vision, then I would question why do you want to be the leader of the organization? Step down, let somebody else have a go. But assuming you actually have a vision and some passion, which is required to lead anything anywhere, anytime, do not pass go, kind of thing. Then your job is to get everybody on board with that vision. And so it’s not just a matter of, well, I gave one speech once five years ago.

Warwick F:
Isn’t that enough? No, you need to constantly give that speech, but not only do you need to give that speech in that talk, you need to ask people. So how do you see that vision working out in your area? In engineering, in sales and manufacturing, in your department, in your division, in your group? How does that work? Ask them. If they say, “Well, I have no clue.” That’s obviously the wrong answer, but there are many right answers. And so you’ve got to enfold them. And the other thing as I write about in my book is, if somebody has a good idea, it’s okay for that to be a contributor to the vision. As I say, 80% of your vision with 100% buy-in is better than 100% of your vision with 0% buy-in.

Warwick F:
So it’s okay, again, I use this analogy, the Michelangelo statue of David in Florence, which we were fortunate enough to actually see for the first time, a few years ago. You’ve got to be willing to give the hammer and chisel to your team members and let them contribute to the vision. Because if it’s 80% of your vision, it’s still a win. So part of it is constantly communicating your vision. And the second part of it is making sure that your team knows what it means to them and can contribute to it. All that creates buy-in. You have to have your team bought into the vision and unified. If you don’t have that, you’re in trouble. It’s like sand in the gears. The car’s not going too far.

Gary S:
Right. And let’s pause just for a second and put the big tent of Crucible Leadership around this discussion. All the things that we’ve been talking about listener, are ways to avoid a crucible or ways to potentially avoid. You can’t control all outside forces, but if you don’t have a team, the way that Warwick has described it, if you haven’t assembled them, hired for attitude and a little bit of skill, but complimentary skill, any of those things gone wrong if you’re not conveying the vision that your vision to them, and you’re not becoming an evangelist for it, and you’re not reinforcing that, all of those things can lead to going back to Shackleton, getting stuck in the ice. And that can lead to a crucible happening as you’re trying to move down the road of taking your vision from your head to the reality of making it happen.

Gary S:
So from a Crucible Leadership perspective, this discussion is great for leadership in general, but it’s also extremely important for Crucible Leadership because it’s one way that you can’t ever inoculate yourself completely from crucibles, but you can put some things in place to help you avoid them. Or if you hit them like Shackleton did, when he hit the ice, he was able to overcome that crucible because he had applied these lessons of bringing together a good team.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. I mean, life is tough. Crucibles are going to happen to you, but you don’t need man-made, woman-made, people-made. You don’t need human-made crucibles. You can make your own crucible. You can build your own iceberg that can sink your Titanic. It’s possible to do that, but why would you do that? And so, if you don’t want to hit the iceberg and sink your ship, well, make sure you hire people of character that don’t have some vendetta or some agendas saying, “I have a big ego, at the first chance I get, I’m going to stab you in the back and see if I can remove you as leader.” If you’re working with some big organization, it’s quite possible, they’ll talk to your superiors, they’ll befriend them, just like you’ve seen in the movies or Shakespeare for that matter.

Warwick F:
And they’ll say the classic lines of “Joe or Mary, they’re great people. I mean, Joe is really is a great person. I feel like that may be past it a bit. Maybe they’re not quite up with the times”, and little bit by little bit, they’ll throw some shade against you. Happens in, I’m sure superhero movies all the time. Those subtle things that the best villains are ones that smile, but say the subtle nasty things behind your back. So you don’t want to hire those people. And you don’t certainly want to turn people into that, which you can by ignoring their comments, not listening to them. So yeah, you can make icebergs if you want to. And here’s the thing from the other side, and in Crucible Leadership, we have this perspective, your vision often comes out of your own crucible.

Warwick F:
Maybe you’ve had a devastating failure or setback could be not your fault. And it’s like, I don’t want anybody else to go through what I’ve gone through. And this vision is, as I’ve said, in a different context, burning a hole in my heart, I want this to happen. If your vision has come out of your crucible, the last thing you want to have is that vision derailed. So if the vision is that important, if it’s has its origin in your crucible, which in my experience often is the case, it’s too important to fail. Therefore, park your ego at the door, hire the right people, be the chief evangelist of your vision. Listen to them. So from a crucible leadership perspective, don’t make icebergs where there are none, don’t make crucibles where they don’t have to be any. And if you’ve gone through a crucible, isn’t it this whole thing you’re doing this vision too important for it to fail? That’s why these things are so important.

Gary S:
Because we’ve been talking about teams. And because I’ve used this as an excuse to talk about The Avengers, and I got to wear my Avengers pins today for the show, rather than say, it’s getting to be time to land the plane, the captain’s turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. I’m going to say, Nick Fury has said it’s time to begin landing the Quinjet. It’s time for The Avengers to be on the ground and go fight whatever nefarious things are happening. So we’re getting to that point where it’s time to do that. But there’s one more point Warwick in your blog that I see as a book end to your first point, right? Your first point was you need to build a team. And sometimes ego gets in the way, sometimes the worry of head butting and tension and problems get in the way. The other thing you have to remember on the back end of it is to be patient, that is also critical. You can stop it before it ever starts, and you can stop it before it finishes, because you’re impatient and you rush it. Right?

Warwick F:
Exactly. I mean, that’s one of the most important things as the founder, as the visionary, you have to be patient. I mean, visions can take time. Maybe you didn’t have the right team members. Maybe it’s not the right time in the marketplace. It takes time to get a team on board, be it unity around whatever aspect of the vision that it is. You’ve just got to be patient. I think in my own case, you talked about Crucible Leadership and the book it’ll be coming out later this year. Well, the vision was birthed in 2008. That’s like more than 12 years ago, at my church where I gave some sermon illustration. My pastor wanted me to, and I talked about my experiences and what I learned in the family newspaper business, and my mistakes and failures and what I felt like since it was a church, maybe God had taught me, or I just learned in general.

Warwick F:
And when people felt like, gosh, they could relate to this in some weird way, which is strange. Because there weren’t too many media moguls in the congregation, but anyway, the vision was birthed is the point. Well, it’s taken more than 12 years to get to the point where I’m going to have a book published. And we don’t have time to get into all the details, but it took forever. Over the course of last few years, I’ve assembled a great team who have branding, marketing, public relations, communications skills, book cover design skills. We’re just going through a period now, we’re trying to just nail down the book cover. That’s not easy. It’s really difficult.

Gary S:
No. As someone involved in those discussions, I can testify to that.

Warwick F:
But we’re getting there and you just got to be patient because, I mean, it won’t be quite at this level. I don’t think because, I’d like it to be. But I think of Thomas Edison and the light bulb, he tried 1,000 different filaments before, I think it was a cotton thread or something with something coated on it. I mean, it’s like sometimes genius happens just because you’re Mozart and you wake up one day and boom out comes a symphony. But even in creative areas, in many, if not most cases, greatness or even things that are good come out of just persistence and hard work. And a lot of discussion and fine tuning.

Warwick F:
So, all I have to say is, and look it’s taken me more than 12 years with this book and it’s been worth it. The team, where I’m now, the endorsements I’m fortunately gratified to be getting, it’s worth it, but be patient. Your vision is too important. If your vision is that important, have the courage to be patient and assemble the right team, with the right attitude, get them on the same page, be the chief evangelist, but be patient. Your vision, your dream is too important. Be patient.

Gary S:
This is a perfect confluence of circumstances for me to say what I’m about to say. So you mentioned endorsements. And there have been some great endorsements for the book that people will be able to see both in the book and as we roll out the book and promote it when it comes out in the fall. We talked earlier about Nancy Koehn’s book Forged in Crisis. And you said that there were other things you could say about the book, but you didn’t want to get into… We don’t have time because Nick Fury has told us to land so we can go save the world. But I will say this as the PR guy on the team, one of the endorsements, listener, we hope you’ll become reader. One of the endorsements is from Nancy Koehn herself, from the Harvard Business School. And she said of Warwick’s book, Crucible Leadership, Embrace your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance.

Gary S:
Nancy Koehn recommends it with these words, “Nuggets of leadership gold.” Now, if I were going to do it, I’d say that’s the end and let’s get out. Let’s end the show and direct people to review the blog to get all of these tips, wind up for them, but I’ll give you as always the last word before I summarize.

Warwick F:
Vision is hard. It’s hard to make it reality. And I’ve known certainly in my own life with my book or even school or church board. I remember one time, I had this vision of governance was important in one of those organizations and the president of the board at the time, was like, “Yeah, not really seeing it at the moment.” And I was convinced this was absolutely critical, so I was like, “Okay.” Well like a year or so later, he’s like, “I think we need to do governance study and bring in take governance to the next level.” Okay. Well, it requires patience. Whether you’re on a nonprofit board or whether it’s a vision you have, it requires patience. And if it’s that important, park your ego at the door, get the right people with the right skills and the right character.

Warwick F:
Who want to play as a team, who want to learn from others. They don’t have to be right all the time. Consciously and subconsciously, I’ve tried to do that with my own team at Crucible Leadership. And we have all those things, people who are driven, who believe in the mission, but who can park the ego at the door and don’t have to be right at any given front. And we have discussions. We come to consensus, we have all those things. Well, that doesn’t happen by accident. I wanted people who were driven, who believed in the mission, but I wanted people that will play nice with each other. If you had a big ego, trust me, you would not be on this team. And frankly consciously looking for it. You get great benefit out of that. Talented people who can park the ego at the door that passionately believe in the mission. Your vision, and your mission deserves that, don’t compromise on that. Find the right people, be patient and more than likely good things will happen.

Gary S:
Well, we began this conversation listener with me saying the organizing construct for what we were going to talk about was this idea that without a team, a vision is just a daydream. I can say being part of both this podcast and part of Warwick’s vision to bring Crucible Leadership to life and his book to life that he has assembled a team. He definitely has checked his ego at the door. I don’t know how many times I have said to him in phone conversations, “Well, as George Bush used to say, you’re the decider you can decide to do what you wish to do.” And Warwick gets insight, gets opinion, seeks the counsel of those he’s brought on board. And that leads to the vision that’s in his head is not a daydream. It’s a reality. And you’re going to see it in October of this year, when the book comes out. First part of the tangible vision of Crucible Leadership, or maybe the next part.

Gary S:
Perhaps the first part was the website. And somewhere after that, is this podcast Beyond the Crucible. And speaking of this podcast Beyond the Crucible, listener, as we park for this week, Warwick and I do have a favor to ask you. Please, if you have enjoyed what you’ve heard, just click like on the podcast app that you’re listening to this on, share it with friends. This looks really good on social media. It’s got a nice logo with Warwick’s face on it. It’s very nice. I actually have a T-shirt made of it that I wear sometimes, never on the show, but I do wear it sometimes just because I’m proud of the show.

Warwick F:
Funnily enough, I don’t wear it.

Gary S:
To be clear. It’s the only T-shirt there is that has been made. I own it. And Warwick is way too humble to wear his own face on a T-shirt. So click like, subscribe, please, and share it with friends. Because the more people who know about this show, we just found out yesterday that the show has begun to chart on Apple iPod charts in the US, and Australia, and Japan. And a lot of places, it’s not charting in the top five, but it has begun to chart. It’s gathering momentum. You can help us continue with that momentum. And until the next time that we’re together, listener, thank you for spending this time with us. If you remember nothing else about this show, remember that your crucible experiences can be difficult.

Gary S:
They are life-changing in many cases, they certainly were for Warwick. They certainly were for me, but they are not the end of your story. They weren’t the end of Warwick’s story. They weren’t the end of my story. They’re not the end of your story. They can be in fact, the beginning of a brand new story that will be the most rewarding part of your life, the most rewarding story of your life. Because when you get to the page that says the end in that story, you will have arrived at a life of significance.

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