7 Keys to Caring for Your Team As You Pursue Your Vision #69

Warwick Fairfax

May 25, 2021

How do you maintain the delicate balance between pursuing a vision that you are passionate about and treating well the men and women who are sharing that journey with you? Crucible Leadership founder and BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host Warwick Fairfax unpacks practical tips to follow in this conversation with co-host Gary Schneeberger. From keeping your ego in check … to focusing on the process, not on chasing an outcome … from making sure team members know you value them as much as you value your vision … to walking the talk so they believe it, they lay out a roadmap to both bouncing back from past crucibles and avoiding future ones.

Highlights

  • Why the episode is all about alignment (4:24)
  • The key need for leaders to pursue a vision with a team (9:17)
  • How do you balance your vision and the care of your team? (12:54)
  • Step 1: Value your team (13:23)
  • Step 2: The mission and your team are equal partners in your vision (16:22)
  • Step 3: Check your ego (20:01)
  • Step 4: Focus on the process, not the outcome (27:35)
  • Step 5: Be willing to apologize (36:59)
  • Step 6: Recalibrate (40:03)
  • Step 7: Walk the talk (41:29)
  • Lessons from John Fairfax’s legacy (45:25)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Gary S:
We’ve all heard people say, don’t take your eye off the ball, but here’s the truth, right? Sometimes you have to take your eye off the ball and put your eye on the ballplayers. You have to keep in mind that yeah, the ball, the vision, the game is important, but you need the ballplayers to get you the Victory. That friends can be a whole lot easier said than done. If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t be dedicating an entire podcast episode to the need to balance your vision as a leader, with caring for the team that helps you accomplish that vision. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, your co-host of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership.

Gary S:
Today Warwick and I talk through his most recent blog about just how you maintain that delicate balance between pursuing the values you hold most dear and treating well, the men and women who are sharing that journey to a life of significance with you. From keeping your ego in check to focusing on the process, not on chasing an outcome. From making sure team members know you value them as much as you value your vision to walking the talk, so they believe it. We lay out Warwick’s roadmap to both bouncing back from past crucibles and avoiding future ones.

Gary S:
Listener what we’re going to talk about today, this is one of those episodes if you have been listening for a while, we’re working, I don’t have a guest, it’s just the two of us knocking about with Crucible Leadership concepts. The idea behind this one is, and again, it’s always fun. I say it all the time what it happens. We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to call it. When we don’t know what we’re going to call it, it’s great because we’ll know what to call it when we’re done, but you already know what we called it before you clicked on it, because it’s done for you. It’s happening for us. This’ll be fun. This will be discovery for both of us.

Gary S:
We’re discovering what the show’s primary thrust is going to be in terms of what we’re going to name it. You already know that because you saw it when you clicked. But the idea behind it is that you need as a leader to balance your task, your vision, and the people who you have called to you to carry out that vision. There’s a balance required. If it’s out of alignment, not to get too personal, but I have a bad back. Sometimes my back’s out of alignment. That’s not good. If your vision and your relationship, your care of your relationship with your team is out of alignment, out of whack, it can because some problems. That’s what we’re going to walk through what the problems can be and then where we like to live in the solutions. That’s a fair summary of where we’re at. Right Warwick?

Warwick F:
Yeah, it is. Often we just think of visionaries that trying to get this grand cause accomplished. Sometimes what can happen is, you’re so focused on your vision, accomplishing your goals, that people can fall by the wayside. It’s often not because we intend to hurt anybody or ignore people. We just get really focused on the vision. The funny thing is that, the more passionate you are about the vision, the more you think that your vision really matters can help a lot of people. It’s almost the more dangerous the situation can be. Almost the more likely if you’re not careful of treading on people, ignoring them or hurting them, which is ironic.

Warwick F:
Because for some people you’re all about making the world a better place, but in the process, you can tread over people or crush them in the process. You don’t intend to, but it can happen. And so that’s really the core thought about this podcast.

Gary S:
And it’s interesting that we’re talking about vision, because what you just described can be a different kind of vision, which is tunnel vision. You can get tunnel vision sometimes as you pursue a vision. You can focus so much on the vision that you forget to put energy, effort, attention, affirmation, into the team that’s helping you carry out that vision. One of the things as we’ve talked about, what we’re going to cover here. One of the phrases that popped in my head, we’ve all heard people say, don’t take your eye off the ball, but here’s the truth, right? Sometimes you have to take your eye off the ball and put your eye on the ballplayers. You have to keep in mind that yeah, the ball, the vision, the game is important, but you need the ballplayers to get you the victory.

Warwick F:
Exactly. You do need both. The interesting thing is, you often think about in terms of the business and accomplishing goals and how a lot of these hard headed business men and women, they can run over their people as they try to achieve their objectives of 20% earnings increase over X amount of time. And that’s all true. One of the things I think about which we’ve, beginning to talk about is, if you’ve come out of a crucible and maybe you’ve had a personal tragedy, maybe an injury, professional crisis, maybe you have this vision that you don’t want anybody to go through what you went through, this vision that you feel like the world needs. It may be literally lives may depend on the success of your vision.

Warwick F:
Sometimes when you feel so strongly about things, you can be so focused on the vision in your words, tunnel vision, that you can ignore people on the way. You can be short with them. You can say, well, unless perfection is achieved, you need to get off the bus. You make one mistake you’re out, because lives depend on this, right? It could be literally lives depend on it. And so that’s where you can be so tunnel vision, so focused on the vision that I don’t know that it’s worse in a nonprofit, but it can be more tempting to justify your bullheadedness, your charge ahead, damn the torpedoes mentality and ignore people on the way.

Warwick F:
Ironically if you’re in some nonprofit, you would think you would care more about people and you should. But sometimes when you’re so caught up in the vision, that’s probably the main point. The more caught up you are in your vision, the more important you think it is, the more dangerous it is. The more if you’re not careful, the more tendency you might have to walk over people, it’s ironic and sad.

Gary S:
Right. Because right, if you’re in a nonprofit, you’re not doing it for the money by definition, it’s a nonprofit, you’re not doing it for profit and you’re doing it to help people. Right? The whole idea is we’re doing great work. Some people will say we’re doing God’s work if it’s a Christian nonprofit. Some people will say we’re doing great community work, whatever that is, because the mission that has such significance, to use a Crucible Leadership word. You can ironically, as you said, forget that you got to treat the people on your team right, while you’re taking care of the people that your nonprofit is serving.

Warwick F:
One of the things that I think we’re going to get into is, it’s not an either or position, it’s not people versus task, people versus mission, no matter how important the mission or vision is. It’s a both end. No mission or vision is so important that it is worth mistreating people, firing them unnecessarily, walking all over them. It’s just never worth it. Obviously as a person of faith, I think there’s a lot of scriptures on there. There’s a few, there’s one scripture really talks about basically zeal is good, but make sure it’s serving the Lord, which basically means zeal is good, but make sure you keep it in context and it’s not all about you, which we’ll also get into.

Warwick F:
Probably a favorite one of mine is, there is a scripture on Mark that says, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” More broadly it’s, what good is it if we accomplish the mission at the expense of the team and treading all over them? To me it’s not worth it. And as we’ll get into, ironically, if you treat your team properly, you treasure your team, honor them, that you will have more chance of success, not less. And so it’s basically no vision, no mission is so important that it’s worth treading all over people. It’s just isn’t, and that’s at least my position, if you will.

Gary S:
It’s interesting that we framed this up in the beginning as a conversation about the balance between vision and team. There’s another balance that’s underneath that. I spent a lot of time before we started recording, poking around Harvard Business Review, trying to find some articles that support some of the stuff we’re talking about or talk about some of the stuff that we’re talking about. It’s very interesting, you say often Crucible Leadership makes a key point about the need for leaders to pursue a vision. It’s critical coming out of a crucible to have a vision that you can make reality and that to have a team to do that is also critical.

Gary S:
It’s also interesting that vision’s important to leaders, but vision’s also important to teams. Harvard Business Review did this fascinating study, an ongoing project, serving tens of thousands of working people around the world, and then asked them a simple question. What do you look for and admire in a leader? Not surprisingly they said honesty was number one. Number two was a sense that he or she is looking forward. Right? That’s all about a vision. Teams, right after honesty in leaders, teams, the people who work for you as a leader, they want you to be forward looking. The need to balance is for the health of both the team and the leader. That makes it really high stakes poker, if you will, doesn’t it?

Warwick F:
It does. Really you want to set a vision and as we’ll get into you want enfold your team in that vision. I think more and more people today, I think of Chris Tuff, who we had on the podcast who wrote the book, Millennial Whisperer. He said, millennials, they really, they want authenticity, they want vulnerability, but they also want to feel what they do matters. They want to do work that matters. Yes they want to get treated fairly and paid a competitive rate. It really is a both and. If you want to accomplish your vision, you’ve got to enfold the team. Yes, you want the right people on the bus with the right skills. They have to perform, work hard, that’s all a given. You want to honor your team, but it’s a mutual contract.

Warwick F:
They have to have the skills and the desire to make this vision happen. But bottom line it is a both and. It is task and people from really two main standpoints, the vision, what happened with, unless your team is on board and it’s my proposition that no vision is so worthwhile that it’s worth running all over people. That’s never a vision that’s worthy of accomplish. It certainly won’t help you lead a life of significance or as we talk about a legacy that you can be proud of. You don’t want that eulogy, Fred or Mary accomplished a great vision, but the body count was huge. You don’t want that to be your eulogy. Do you? Who would want that?

Gary S:
Right. They’ll be weeping at that eulogy, but it will be for a different reason.

Warwick F:
Right. Exactly.

Gary S:
I’ve just created Warwick. I’ve just created the first Crucible Leadership, Beyond the Crucible product, a bumper sticker, we can create. Vision needs a team and a team wants a vision.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. Amen. Absolutely.

Gary S:
Those two things go together. We can put that on the back of our cars and move along. All of this discussion, this has been preamble for a discussion on how you do that balancing work. How do you balance the task, the mission versus the people? This is a subject that you have written a blog about that either will be at crucibleleadership.com by the time this podcast comes out or will be there shortly. You can check at crucibleleadership.com to see if it’s up there. If it’s not up there, when you look right now, it will be up there soon. But you unpack in that blog, Warwick, seven ways to balance task and people. It’s not, as you said, an either or, it’s they’re altogether, how do you keep it in alignment so you don’t have the painful effects of someone with a bad back? Right?

Gary S:
That you’ve got an alignment so it’s all working out well. Your first point is perhaps the best one to start at, because if you don’t do this, the other six aren’t going to fall into place and that’s, value your team. Why is that so important as we look to balance mission and the team that’s carrying out that mission?

Warwick F:
Part of it is what we were just talking about in terms of legacy, is that no vision, no matter how important it is, is worth sacrificing your team. That’s really just a value judgment. Yes, as I’ve said, you want people that are a good fit, that work hard, that buy-in to the vision, and you want them all to be committed, but just saying victory at all costs, that’s just never a proposition that’s worthwhile. You have to ask yourself, well, what are your values? Is it really victory at all costs, no matter how many people you have to hurt? Very few people would say that. When you build your team, just think, well, what’s really important to you and just make this fundamental decision that I am going to value my team, as the saying goes, I’m going to treasure my employees. I want what they think matters. I want them to feel important.

Gary S:
Right. This idea of, and I didn’t pull any of these articles, but there’s lots of, it’s interesting that a publication like Harvard Business Review, which focuses a lot on research. They have a lot of research that I found this morning on not only how you show appreciation in the workplace as a leader, but why it’s so important. This idea of feeling valued. We all know what that’s like. We all know what it’s to not feel valued by leadership. And that can depress you in both senses of the word. It can make you sad and it can depress your energy and enthusiasm for the job. I’m going to do job description and get by if you don’t feel appreciated. But it can also, when you do feel appreciated, it lights a fire under you.

Gary S:
It’s not that traditional you’re in trouble connotation, right? We’re going to light a fire under that guy. No, it lights a fire under you in a positive way because of positive things that are occurring. That really is the starting pistol for what we’re talking about, is this idea of valuing your team. If you start there, if your team knows that you value them as much as you value the vision. And sometimes you show that you value them more than the vision, not long term necessarily, but there are times that you pause, let’s put a flag in the vision and let’s focus on the people. That leads into your second point that you’ve unpacked in the blog, is that it truly is the mission and your team. They are equal partners in your pursuit, right?

Warwick F:
It is. We had somebody on the podcast a little while ago, Bryan Price, who is a West Point graduate former army officer, and currently leads the Buccino Institute at Seton Hall University. He said in the military, they talk about mission first people always. And obviously in the military lives are literally at stake in terms of how well a mission is conducted in the enemy they’re against. And so it must be a both and. That’s almost the ultimate where lives are in the balance. The irony is, as I think we’ve been alluding to is, if you really care for your team, make sure they’re on board and they are heard, and they are listened to and they contribute to the process and have input into the vision.

Warwick F:
Which I think as we’ve also talked about before, that’s a very brave move to allow your team to have input into the vision. One of the analogies we talk about in the book, which will be coming out later.

Gary S:
There you go. Coming out when, the word?

Warwick F:
October.

Gary S:
And the book that Warwick referred to it was his book called Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance. Out on October 19th. Available where all fine books are sold and even some not so fine books, but Warwick’s is a fine book for sure.

Warwick F:
And so one of the stories we talk about in that book is in Florence, there’s the Michelangelo’s statue of David. And so the analogy we use in Crucible Leadership is when you have a team, you’ve got to be willing to give them the hammer and chisel and say, okay, I’d love your input. If you ask for input, you got to be willing to take at least some of it. And as we also often say, if it’s 80% of your vision with 100% buy-in, it’s better than 100% of your vision with 0% buy-in. And so ironically if you allow your team to contribute to the vision, they will be more bought in and your chance of your vision happening is much greater. And so when we talk about it’s not vision or team, it’s basically unless it’s vision and team, there’s no vision, the vision won’t happen.

Warwick F:
Even if you’re somebody that doesn’t care about people, and if you don’t, you probably shouldn’t be a leader. But if for some incredible reason, you’re a leader, well think of it from your own selfish self interested point of view, which is, if you want your vision to happen, you’ve got to get buy-in from your team. It makes business sense, mission sense. It makes sense in terms of values and honoring people. It just makes sense on every grid you can think of. That’s why I just love what Bryan Price said, it is indeed mission first, people always, it always has to be both.

Gary S:
Right. And if, as you said, when you first brought that up from Bryan, if that is a phrase, is a goal in the military where lives are literally at stake. And if it’s mission, first people always in that serious situation, how much more so when lives usually aren’t at stake in what we’re doing in our leadership. I am going to take a page from my journalism background and ask you a leading question now, which I think will be an on ramp into point three of how to balance task and people. And that is why Warwick do you think that many leaders, some leaders just aren’t that good in showing appreciation, bringing the team along, building a team to help carry out the vision? Why do you think that’s so hard for some leaders?

Warwick F:
I think at the root, it’s ego. Sometimes-

Gary S:
That’s the third point in the blog listeners.

Warwick F:
Exactly.

Gary S:
Check your ego. There you go.

Warwick F:
The E word, ego. Sometimes you have a vision and that’s maybe in the world, it’s a new invention. You see there’s a market made and it’s boy, you really in love with yourself. This piece of technology is going to revolutionize the market. You just feel this is my ticket to the big house, to the nice house, the boat, the lifestyle, all your dreams will be achieved. Even in the nonprofit world, maybe this thing you’re founding can provide clean water in parts of Africa that don’t have it. Maybe it’s a new low cost filtration system or something. It could be for-profit. It could be non-profit. But in either case, you can feel this is important and I’m pretty hot staff.

Warwick F:
Even when you don’t mean to mistreat people, when it’s all about you, we can end up getting short. We can maybe cut relational corners, we can get impatient. It’s like, these folks are letting me down. Maybe I need to cycle through a few dozen senior team members until I find somebody that doesn’t make a mistake, because it’s one strike and you’re out. Because this is too important either because this is going to make me tons of money and if we wait around the competitor might strike. We can’t afford people that only work 23 hours a day. It’s got to be 24 hours a day minimum and no mistakes. They have to say yes to every idea I have because after all I’m never wrong and they’re always wrong.

Warwick F:
Taken to its extreme, ego can be a huge problem of having both team and vision and ego, frankly unchecked can also prove the death knell with business. It’s ironic that when you think about small businesses that become successful, very often, they stall out at the small to medium category, because the founder has so much ego, which can be good for drive and the sense of getting stuff off the ground. But then they can’t bring in professional managers because typically the founder is an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs are rarely good general managers and general managers aren’t always good entrepreneurs. You can’t have all the gifts. Smart entrepreneurs say like, I’m still going to be the visionary.

Warwick F:
I’ll be out there promoting it, selling it, advocating it, but I’m going to leave somebody else to run it a day-to-day. Well, why doesn’t that happen more often? The ego gets in the way, it’s extremely common. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

Gary S:
There’s a great Harvard Business Review article that I found, the headline of which summarizes exactly what you’re saying. Ego is the enemy of good leadership and it lists, it says straight up that overcoming that, getting beyond that temptation to live in ego is as Harvard Business Review puts it, it requires selflessness, reflection and courage. They gave three tips. I want to read these three tips because they’re pretty short, but they’re good. How to help you overcome, A recognize if ego may be a problem and two overcome it. One, consider the perks and privileges you’re being offered in your role. Some of them enable you to do your job effectively, and that’s great, but some of them are simply perks to promote your status and power and ultimately ego.

Gary S:
Consider which of your privileges you can let go of. It could be that reserve parking spot, or it could be a special pass for the elevator. The second point, support, develop and work with people, you touched on this Warwick, who won’t feed your ego. Hire smart people with the confidence to speak up. The last one, I just love everything they say in this third tip on how to sidestep, overcome ego being a challenge for you. Humility and gratitude are the cornerstone of selflessness. Make a habit of taking a moment at the end of each day, to reflect on all the people who were part of making you successful on that day. This helps you develop a natural sense of humility by seeing how you are not the only cause of your success.

Gary S:
End the reflection by actively sending a message of gratitude to those people you identified. Practice those things, and it’s hard to blindly walk with ego being your driver. Isn’t it?

Warwick F:
It really is. It reminds me of a book by Jim Collins, which we also talk about in the book. Good to Great. He did a study based on a number of companies that had 15 years of, okay returns to the stock market followed by 15 years of fantastic returns. They were all driven leaders, but they were also humble. When you ask them keys to success, says well, I just have a great team. It’s almost like I just get out of the way and let my team do their thing. It’s not quite that simple, but they’re all humble. And so great leaders, they do check their ego at the door. They’re not afraid of hiring people that are better, quicker, smarter than they are. And why wouldn’t you be? If you’re all about success, why does it matter if your team is better than you?

Warwick F:
Ironically you can’t be good at all things. Maybe you have somebody that’s fantastic at marketing, sales, manufacturing, research and development. You can’t be the expert at all those things. Nobody can be, but in their field their bound to know more than you will. If they don’t, you’re probably hiring the wrong people in terms of their particular field of expertise. It just makes sense. Ego does get in the way of success. Ego tends to trample on people. I don’t know that people wake up in the morning saying, how many people am I going to chew out today? It’d be like, policeman don’t wake up saying, okay how many people can I give traffic ticket to today? Maybe they do. I’d like to think they don’t.

Gary S:
My dad was a cop, he did have quotas he had to hit, but I don’t know that I don’t know that he woke up thinking that.

Warwick F:
But you don’t want to think how many people can I fire today? It’s like, you’re fired, I just love that. Yeah, you’re fired. It’s like, really? That can’t be your attitude to life. Ego gets in the way of success. It makes poor business and organizational sense. So you definitely got to check your ego at the door if you want to be successful.

Gary S:
That’s point number three. Point number four logically follows off that. And that is focus on the process, not the outcome. And I say that logically follows from what we just discussed, because what we just discussed was the idea of the outcome could be, okay, I’ve got to fire you. I’ve got to hold you accountable. I’ve got to focus on the process, not the outcome. What were you thinking when you wrote that, Warwick?

Warwick F:
Really, it probably goes with ego. You can get so focused on your vision. So manic about it, that it’s got to succeed. It’s got to succeed immediately. Focus on the process might be as good to have a clear vision. It’s good to have a well thought out strategy and you want to have a great team, but you also want to take it a day at a time. You can’t control the results of what’s going to happen. Maybe the economy goes South, maybe the competition’s there, government regulation, there’s all sorts of things in life that can alter the outcome that you desire, the outcome that you want. If you have a good strategy, you have a good team, and really the issue is, what’s my goal for today, for next week, for next month?

Warwick F:
Typically to achieve anything great there’s a process and it can take forever, but don’t be so fixated on the result that you ignore the process, because if you ignore the day-to-day process, well the result and the outcome probably won’t happen. Stay in the now. Have a plan, have a strategy but stay in the now.

Gary S:
This is the moment of every podcast. It doesn’t happen on every podcast, but every podcast it happens on I love, because this is my chance to maybe embarrass you a little. By saying what you just said Warwick, in all honesty and seriousness, what you just said is a good description of what happened in your life after your takeover bid for the Family Media company failed. It was not an overnight process that led to that book that you held up. There was a lot of years, this was in 1990 when the failure took place and your process took a while. Is that fair?

Warwick F:
Yeah. Sometimes you don’t even know what the steps are like, as listeners know I got a job in a local aviation services company in Maryland doing business and financial analysis. Went to an executive coach that did mid career assessment, that said I had a good advisor, a reflective type that maybe being executive coach would be good. All these were way points, but I just, I didn’t quite know where it was going to end up, but I just followed the path. But even this book, this book is 12 years in the making literally. As listeners know, in 2008, the pastor of our church here wanted me to give a talk about basically what I went through and because it’s church, well, I felt God was teaching me through it. Somehow it resonated with people, weeks and months after, even though, I was the only ex media mogul in the church that day, but somehow it resonated.

Warwick F:
Well, okay. So then it took me a few years to write it, because imagine spending time writing about the most painful experiences in your life, in some cases, some of the most dumbest decision. After two or three hours a day, I was done, I needed to recover for the rest of the day before I went to the lion’s den. Let’s relive that pain again. But even once I’d written it, to get it published, chatted to some folks in Australia and for a variety of reasons, maybe it was too close or they wanted more sensational, it didn’t quite work out. Came over, was looking to get it published here.

Warwick F:
That was a whole process. It’s like, well, you need a brand. Okay. I guess, brought in some great brand branding people from, in Denver SIGNAL.csk and yourself from ROAR in terms of public relations and helping me fine tune the book. It was step after step after step. Even the most recent story just over this last year, we signed a book deal with Mount Tabor Media, and Morgan James, almost exactly a year ago, but then we had to condense the book a bit, maybe 20% or so. I had an editor assist me with that. And then you and I went through it page by page, refining it.

Gary S:
More than once, we went page by page several times.

Warwick F:
Oh yeah. And then it’s like, okay, great. Well then we need a book cover. We had somebody who was an expert in cover design and then interior layout, had somebody advise us on that. And then what images do we want? It’s just step after step after step after step. It almost seemed endless. But you just got to say, well, in this case, this mission, this book, this is too important to short circuit. Just the cover, we went through numerous versions to get the right one, and to get the back cover and to get the right quotes, which you, Gary helped with a lot just to help figure out which ones. Good things are worth doing well. And so don’t tread over people and don’t short circuit the process. If you short circuit the process out of impatience and I like to feel I’m actually pretty impatient, good things don’t happen.

Warwick F:
If you value the mission and the vision, follow the process, a step at a time. It’ll be annoying because each step will seem like it takes forever, but it’s worth it. It absolutely is worth it. You’ll have a better product, a better executed vision than if you don’t try to live in the now and live each day.

Gary S:
Right. And the way that you’ve worded this in the blog, and I’ll go back to the way I introduced it, focus on the process, not on the outcome. Let’s apply that. Let’s put that framework over the story that you just told about your own journey. If you at any point in the process leaped forward to the outcome, you wouldn’t hold in your hand what you hold in your hand, you’d hold something in your hand, but it wouldn’t be as good as that is, as focused as that is, as excellent as that is. I want the listener to really grasp this idea. You come out of a crucible, you have a vision, you’re moving to execute it. You have a team there. Take the time to be able to, Warwick says it a lot on this show. Almost every episode he’ll talk about what’s one small step you can take to do X, Y, or Z.

Gary S:
Focus on the process. Focus on those small steps. As Warwick just described, some of it was, hiring a branding firm. Some of it was hiring an editor to help him condense the book and rearrange the chapters a little bit. Any of those steps skipped or rushed would have affected the outcome. So focusing on the process not the outcome ensures a better outcome.

Warwick F:
Let me give you one specific example. Over the last year, one specific step. We went to Morgan James a year ago, the book was about a hundred thousand words, which is not terrible. But they said, look, our preference would be to have it, based on their experience, it’ll be a better book, a tighter book if we can get it somewhere around 80,000. Now, they said to me, we’ll publish as is. We like it. We think it’s good. But we found a good editor, but getting it to 80,000 was going to take, I don’t know, couple months, maybe it was more, I forget. It was somewhere around a couple months. Now I could have said, I’m not willing to wait, let’s just go.

Gary S:
Right. I’ve been waiting 12 years. I want to go now.

Warwick F:
They said, yes. Why not take the win? They said they were willing to publish it. But my attitude was, look, I grew up in newspapers, an 80,000 book is almost always better than a 100,000 book. You cut out the fat, the wastage, if you will. Why would I not want it to be a better book? If it takes a couple months and more rereading and more tinkering let’s do it. But that was a conscious decision. Don’t say yes to the 100,000 just because somebody’s going to say yes. But when they give you good advice and these are experts in their field and it’s like, it will be a better book if we can get it to 80. Thank you. Great. Let’s get it to 80.

Gary S:
Yup. You’re saying that in the context of the journey that will lead to in October, the publication of Crucible Leadership, the book, but it applies to any crucible anyone’s gone through as they build a vision to come back from that crucible and a team to carry it out. Focus on process, not the outcome, point four. That was point four. Point five, here’s another one that’s hard for leaders sometimes, be willing to apologize.

Warwick F:
Here’s the thing is, if you’re a passionate person about your vision and every visionary leader that I know is. If you’re not passionate about the vision, what in the heck are you doing? Just don’t do it. But you have to be passionate about your vision. And pretty much every visionary leader I know that is. Problem with passion is sometimes you get so passionate that you can get short with people. You can get impatient, and unwittingly you can start treading on people, causing problems. And so when that happens, you have to be willing to apologize. You’ve got to be willing to say, you know what, I messed up. I’m sorry. You’ve just got to be willing to do that, because I think your team is going to understand, they are passionate too. But inevitably you are going to make mistakes.

Warwick F:
You’re going to say things you shouldn’t say and accidentally tread on people. When that happens, apologize. We’re human, it will happen, it’s inevitable. Apologize and then you can move on. Don’t apologize and people might start leaving, especially if you do it too much.

Gary S:
Right. Going back to the first point that we talked about here, value your team. That’s one of the ways you show that you value your team, is apology. A real heartfelt apology, not what I call a Janet Jackson apology. If you remember during the Super Bowl a decade or so ago, Janet Jackson had her wardrobe malfunction. And she said, I’m sorry if anybody was offended. That isn’t an apology. She should have said, I’m sorry I did this. Not that.

Warwick F:
One of my pet peeves is the sorry if. Because sorry if means, I did nothing wrong and you’re just overly sensitive. I’m sorry if because you’re so sensitive and weak skinned that it hurt you. That’s almost worse than no apology. No sorry ifs. It never works. It’s salt in the wounds. It’s not a good idea.

Gary S:
And there’s no way to go through life without, we bump into each other in life, right? Figuratively and literally. We all are going to encounter situations where we have to apologize. My dad, I said earlier was a cop. My dad taught me this thing about car accidents. You’re always at fault in some way for a car accident. Even if your car is parked on us on the side of the road and somebody hits you, the cop will give you 3% of the fault because your car was parked there. In other words, it’s hard to go through life, and if you think you’re one of the people that can go through life with never making a mistake that needs an apology, sorry, you are as Fonzie would have said, not apologizing correctly on Happy Days, you are, wro, wro, wro, you’re wrong.

Gary S:
You will encounter situations where you have to apologize, do it, honestly do it with integrity and do it fully, not halfway and not falsely. The sixth point in your blog that we’ll talk about. You talk about recalibrating. After all these five other points have happened, what do you mean by recalibrate at that point?

Warwick F:
Sometimes it can be because you’ve just riden other people and you need to apologize. Sometimes it can be, you’re ego driven, you’re not following the process. You’re not consulting your team. What that means is, it can be you know what folks, I was so focused on the vision, I thought, man, if we don’t get to market soon, we’ll lose our opportunity. We need to get moving because this non profit, maybe it’s something will save lives in other countries. Whatever it is you need to say, not only I’m sorry, but here’s what we’re going to do different. I’m going to consult you more. I want your input more. I want you to feel heard. We talk about creating safe places, well you want to create safe places where people can really feel that they’re valued and their input is important.

Warwick F:
It’s one thing to apologize. But as we’ll get into the final point is, you’ve got to recalibrate and let people know that things will be different and then tell them what is going to be different. That’s absolutely key.

Gary S:
The last point, point seven. The perfect number seven. Point seven is, walk the talk. On all of these things, if you added them all up, as you see them on the blog, when you go to crucibleleadership.com and you see the blog on this subject listener, take those first six steps, add them all up, at the end of the day, step seven is the linchpin. Step seven is the coda. Step seven is the glue that holds it all together. Walk the talk. Unpack that a little bit.

Warwick F:
Yeah, absolutely. Some people feel like leadership is about great speeches. They give the one big, great speech and they expect life to change. Well, it’s not. It’s about living it out day-to-day. You’ve got to live your message. And so if you talk about, you know what, we’re going to do it differently. I want to hear your opinions. I want to make sure, maybe it’s not consensus, but I definitely want to hear your input. Somebody comes into your office and say, hey, look, boss, I just have this idea. I’m actually, I’m busy now, come back tomorrow. They come back tomorrow and you’re still busy. Or they offer an idea, and every single time they offer an idea. In fact, every single time, anybody in your team offers an idea over the next three months, it’s always no, but then you keep saying I’m open to your opinions.

Warwick F:
It just, as soon as one of you knuckleheads has an opinion worth listening to, I’ll listen to it. Until then, until you are able to find a brain and a clue, of course, I’m going to ignore you. In fact, I’m close to firing you. But as I said, I treasure my employees and your opinion matters. You’ve got to walk the talk. You’ve got to be able to listen to them. And really one of the final things we talk about in the blog, in that point is, you’ve got to trust the process and you’ve got to trust the outcome. Don’t be so focused on the outcome, that I want to achieve X goals for my business, for my nonprofit. It’s good to have goals and strategies, but sometimes plans change whether it’s the market, the economy or people’s needs change.

Warwick F:
And that’s okay. You’ve got to trust to, whether you’re a person of faith, whether that’s God, fate or the universe, what have you, that if you put your maximum effort in, you feel you’ve got a good plan and a good team. You’ve got to trust the process and trust whatever the outcome happens, because you can’t control the outcome. You can control your effort and your plans and the process and your team, but the precise outcome is not guaranteed. Good things do tend to happen if you’ve got a good team, a good plan and you thought it through, but don’t get so fixated on the outcome, trust the process, trust the team. That is a much better way to go.

Gary S:
The outcome, to say it takes care of itself is a bit of a misnomer because you’re following these seven steps. You’re going back to that initial Harvard Business Review story, I said of what employees want to see in leaders. The first thing was honesty, right? In addition to a vision. You put all those things together and that helps shape the outcome. The outcome doesn’t necessarily take care of itself, your steps, your one small steps that you talk about, your trust the process, the stones in the road as you walk that journey to get your vision into reality, as you walk that journey to take your vision for a book to reality, that helps shape the outcome. If you do it with consistency, if you do it with honesty, if you do it with humility, it leads to a better outcome. Doesn’t it?

Warwick F:
Well, it does. It leads to a legacy that you can be proud of. One thing we talked a bit about beforehand and just been thinking about is, John Fairfax’s legacy. That’s an interesting thing.

Gary S:
John Fairfax, just so we can set it right. John Fairfax is your great, great grandfather. John Fairfax founded the company that was John Fairfax Limited and then became Fairfax Media and had some other names. That’s the company that you launched the take over for that was unsuccessful.

Warwick F:
Indeed, the large 150 year old family media company. He was a person of faith. He was a great businessman, a great husband, a great dad, but there are some things that his employees said about him after he died. But before I get to that, I just want to give you an idea of, just a short story of why he was so beloved by his family and absolutely his employees. In 1841, not that long after he bought the company, Australia got into a huge depression. A lot of prices of commodities were down. A lot of people were laid off. And so while he tried to raise revenue, he told people that he would have to lower the wages of his employees. Now, obviously, in the middle of a depression, they weren’t happy. He basically told them, I have nothing but sympathy for what you’ve gone through.

Warwick F:
The price of bread and board is rising and there are mouths to feed at home. We wouldn’t suggest this under normal times, but these aren’t normal times. Unless we drain, unless we cut costs, both your job and ours will be in great danger. We believe the Sydney Morning Herald can grow and strong. It’d be a great paper and you’ll be proud to be back then, a Herald man. If you accept my proposal, I know in a short while, the depression, we’ll get past this. You’ll have a job and we’ll all do well. He was going to pull out wages pro-rata. It wasn’t like, that the owner gets everything. Basically he said, this is the only way we can weather the storm.

Warwick F:
They thought about it and they agreed. While a lot of other folks who are out of work, they still had jobs, a job is better than no job. And so what is the result of all of this? When he died in 1877, they praised his conscientious desire at the realization of a high ideal. They said that, we feel in his departure, we have lost a kind employer and a valued friend. How many employees say about their boss that he or she was a kind employer and a valued friend? It’s extremely rare. And just in terms of his legacy, picture this, if this was at your funeral. At the church he went to, Pitt Street Congregational Church.

Warwick F:
The pastor chose this text from 2 Samuel, in the King James it goes, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel? Wouldn’t you like that to be your legacy? Know that today that there was a great man, a great woman this day who has died. If somebody who’s a pastor is going to say that about you in church, they’re probably not going to define being a great man, a woman as how much money you’ve earned or how many titles you have or accolades, it’s probably going to be more because of your character. When I think about somebody being vision and team, the company grew to be 150 year old huge company, but he treated his employees well, and the company grew. It is both end and I think John Fairfax’s legacy is emblematic of really what we’re talking about here.

Gary S:
Not just as an emblematic, but it’s a roadmap. The story that you just told is a roadmap of everything that we’ve just discussed. I want to suggest listener that after I read what I’m about to read, I go through it, you rewind the podcast and listen and see if I’m not right. Because I believe that story that you just told about your great-great-grandfather encompasses all seven points that we’ve just been talking about. One, value your team, John Fairfax did. Two, it’s the mission and your team, right? He kept the team in mind, as well as the mission of having the greatest newspaper that he could have. Check your ego. There’s not a lot of ego in a leader who doesn’t take all the money for himself in hard times, he gives that money. He’s one of the team. He doesn’t put himself above the team.

Gary S:
Focus on the process, not the outcome, that whole letter that you described, he wrote to the team about, we have to take a cut in wages, that is process, not outcome. He suggested an outcome, but he emphasized process was going to get them there. Be willing to apologize, there may not be an apology per se in the midst of what he said, but he certainly, in some ways was apologetic about the fact that he had to cut their-

Warwick F:
He was certainly showing empathy.

Gary S:
Correct. Correct. His demeanor was empathetic and apologetic and I wish I didn’t have to do this. Number six, recalibrate, talk to the team and let them know that moving forward, it must be the vision and the team. He did that in that letter. Seven, I’ve heard you say it Warwick a dozen times, if I’ve heard you say it once, rarely, never have you seen more a businessman for Christ than John Fairfax. John Fairfax, walked the talk. What you just explained in that story emphasized that.

Warwick F:
The other thing since you mentioned that is, on his 50th birthday, his family gave him this huge silver centerpiece, which is still in the family. I’m sure they had to order it from England. They just basically, they admired and loved their dad so much. So sometimes these visionaries they ignore their families on the way up. The vision is so important. He did not. When they talk about the deep respect they, his children had for his character and his unchanging parental love. Talked about affection and esteem, John’s reply was, “Your gift is elegant and costly. Your letter is precious.” The gift was nice, but what mattered more than the gift was the love of his kids. That’s a life well lived when you can receive that kind of love and affection from your family. Doesn’t often happen for successful businessmen and women.

Gary S:
Right. And that’s a businessman who knew the value of balancing vision and mission with team and knew how to carry that out. To help listeners know where to move next. One of the things that you do in every blog you write, is that the end, you have questions for reflection. I thought we’d leave listeners this week with what I thought was a great first suggestion that goes in line with what you say all the time about, what’s one small step you can take? You say the first reflection question in your blog is, assess the state of your team. Are they committed to the vision and eager for the journey ahead? Or do they seem disheartened and ready to check out?

Gary S:
You talk also in the book, Crucible Leadership, out October 19th, you talk in the book about doing 360 evaluations and asking people who work for you, how you’re doing. Talk to the listener a little bit about if they take this first step, why is it important to assess where the team’s at and then move forward?

Warwick F:
Well, you certainly got to check your ego at the door. You’ve got to be willing to ask, what do you think of the vision? Well, you ask that question, they might say, well, I think it’s dumb. But you got to be willing to ask that. How do you feel about it? How do you feel your role is? Are you excited about it? They might say, I don’t know. It depends how much damage you’ve done, it might take a while to create a place where they feel it’s safe to be heard. But certainly 360s can be part of that. The wise leader, and 360 is basically meaning the people above you, people who are your peers and people who are below you. And so depending on where you are in the management chain, the smart leaders listen to that.

Warwick F:
Because if everybody around you says, Joe or Mary, they’re impatient, impulsive, and don’t know how to listen, they could all be wrong, but they’re probably not. Perception is reality. If everybody around you has a certain perception, the wise leader says it must be right, no matter what I think. Perception is reality. If everybody thinks I’m this hot headed person that never listens, I probably am. So then try and figure out what you can do different. This can definitely work if you’re willing to be humble enough to listen and really listen. And that can be a challenge frankly for many leaders. 360 degree feedback is useless if a leader will say, I know who that is. They never liked me. Even though it’s meant to be anonymous, I’ve seen that. It’s very discouraging. Assess the state of your team, but check that your ego at the door before you do that.

Gary S:
And that I’ve learned through decades in the communication businesses, when the plane lands and the final word has been spoken on a subject. Listener, thank you for spending time with us on this episode of Beyond the Crucible. As always Warwick and I would ask, visit crucibleleadership.com, poke around. There’s some great resources there. You can learn more about the book there when you go visit. I’m going to put that stake in the ground and say, that’s going to be already up on the website by the time this podcast comes out. If I’m wrong, it’ll be there soon, but I don’t think I’ll be wrong. I think it will be there for you. Remember until the next time that we’re together listener, a crucible experience can be painful. We know it is painful. Warwick has gone through them.

Gary S:
He’s talked about them often. I’ve gone through them. You’ve gone through them. Your failures and setbacks can be soul crushing in some cases, very painful. But remember this, your crucible experiences are not the end of your story. In fact, if you learn the lessons from them, if you apply those lessons moving forward, one step at a time. If you take that view of not the destination right now, but the journey. If you walk that journey with the lessons you learned from your crucible, the chapter that you’re writing can be the most rewarding and memorable chapter of your life, because where it leads you is to a life of significance.

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