Kindness, Dignity and Respect: Your Leadership Superpowers #77

Warwick Fairfax

July 27, 2021

Do you have a good handle on the values that guide your life and work? The character traits you admire in others and try to manifest yourself? Or do you find such talk “airy-fairy” – nebulous nonsense with no practical application to your business and your relationships?  Listen in and discover how dialing into your values and treating others with kindness, dignity and respect as a result is far from airy-fairy – it’s critical to team morale (including your own) and the robustness of your bottom line. BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host and Crucible Leadership founder Warwick Fairfax discusses with cohost Gary Schneeberger seven key tactics to make sure you are not unkind in your interactions. What begins in the moorings of your values branches out into such wise pursuits as living your legacy today, serving others and a higher purpose and knowing when and how to apologize. Putting these insights into action will aid you in moving beyond your crucible … and living and leading with significance.

Highlights

  • Why it’s common to leave kindness, dignity and respect behind in pursuing our careers (5:10)
  • How values drift is like mission drift (7:53)
  • The effect on the bottom line — not just team morale (11:12)
  • The additional challenges COVID-19 restrictions bring to treating team membersd with dignity and respect (13:17)
  • Point 1: Get rooted in your values (17:32)
  • Point 2: Take an inventory of how you’re living by those values (25:28)
  • Point 3: Consider your legacy (30:23)
  • Point 4: Seek significance (39:25)
  • Point 5: Serve others and serve a higher purpose (46:26)
  • Point 6: Apologize (51:08)
  • Point 7: Treating people with kindness, dignity and respect can enhance success (54:59)

Transcript

Warwick F:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership. How do you get back from the cliff of where you’re chewing people out and you’re not treating people kindly? It’s really getting rooted in your values and it could be from a faith or philosophical tradition, but I think it’s good to ask yourself, “Well what is it I believe in?” Maybe it’s kindness, dignity, and respect. Maybe it’s honoring people, maybe it’s generosity. Maybe it’s listening to people, valuing people. We all have values that are deeply rooted. Try to understand okay, what is it I believe in? It’s easy, it may be obvious to say but when you’re running a million miles an hour, how often do you think “Gee, and what are my values? I don’t have time to think of these airy fairy ethereal philosophical things. Stuff’s got to get done.” So values, I don’t know, not everybody even knows what their values are.

Gary S:

So what about you? Do you have a good handle on the values that guide your life and work, the character traits you admire in others and try to manifest in yourself? Or do you find such talk as Warwick said, airy fairy, nebulous nonsense with no practical application to your business and your relationships?

Gary S:

Hi I’m Gary Schneeberger, cohost of the show and the Communications Director for Crucible Leadership. On this week’s episode you’ll discover we hope, that dialing into your values and treating others with kindness, dignity and respect as a result is a far cry from airy fairy. It’s critical to team morale, including your own and the robustness of your bottom line. Warwick and I take a deep dive into his latest blog in which he unpacks seven key tactics to make sure you are not to use a technical business term, an unkind jerk in your interactions. What begins in the moorings of your values branches out into such wise pursuits as living your legacy today, serving others in a higher purpose and knowing when and how to apologize. Taking his seven points to heart and putting them into action will aid you in moving beyond your crucible and living and leading with significance.

Gary S:

The subject that we’re going to talk about is the subject that Warwick covers in a recent blog on his website, on the website for Crucible Leadership, crucibleleadership.com. You can find the blog. As I always say when we have these episodes, if it’s not there already, it will be there shortly. So check it out, look for the blog. If the blog is not there yet come back often and it will be there shortly. But the subject of that blog and the subject of our discussion today, here’s the headline for the blog, want to be a great leader, show people kindness, dignity, and respect. I love sort of the last line of the intro of Warwick’s blog and this’ll be our jumping off point for our conversation, but Warwick poses this question to the reader of the blog. So how do we avoid becoming an unkind jerk in a very technical, business term?

Gary S:

How do we avoid becoming an unkind jerk, or if we are somewhere on the road to becoming one, what do we do? And that’s we’re chuckling at the language there, but the reality is very true Warwick that it is not just possible but sadly comments when we’re moving along in our career that we sort of leave kindness, dignity, and respect behind in pursuit of our goals.

Warwick F:

It’s very true. I mean, life is hectic. There’s a lot of pressure. We live in very pressure filled times, divided times COVID, people working from home, everything our lives are turned upside down. And even without that as we rise in organizations, our bosses are more demanding. Typically, you get paid more, you get expected to work more. There’s no free lunch in the corporate world. And our bosses, shareholders, boards, they feel pressure. Pressure flows downhill, and it flows to wherever we are in the organization chart, be it high level, mid level, lower level. And as the pressure intensifies, the demands to get things done, we might think of ourselves as kind people that treat people with dignity and respect. But the challenge is as the pressure intensifies it’s like this stuff’s got to get done. I don’t have time for nice.

Warwick F:

It’s got to get done. If it doesn’t get done maybe people need to be chewed out a bit. It’s not a conscious thing, but it’s just we don’t operate as our best selves under intense pressure, or at least it’s much, much harder. And so it’s easy to think, “Oh I’m a kind person. I treat people with dignity and respect.” Well, maybe, maybe not, maybe not always. And so that’s why I sort of hesitated as I got into this, because those are some of my highest values. Treating people with kindness, dignity, and respect is not just the task, it’s task and people. I’d say even me I mean maybe especially me, maybe all of us. We’re going to have moments when it’s like, “Really, what just happened?” If we’re self aware enough, if we’re not then stuff happens and we don’t even realize it. So the point is that this can be all of us, especially as the pressure mounts as we rise in organizations. Yeah. It’s almost inevitable that we will have this tendency.

Gary S:

And it’s interesting that I hadn’t thought about this. We have not talked about this beforehand. I hadn’t thought about it until you just said what you said about as we rise up and pressure mounts and things can change. You’ve talked in other episodes, you’ve talked about mission drift and the dangers of mission drift, how you have this vision for what you want to do in your business, a vision for your life of significance. And as you pursue it, you can get off course. And even just a degree a day or a week, or whatever can take you pretty far from where you want to go. It’s true what you’re saying I think also about personality drift or leadership drift or kindness drift. You can think you’re going there, but you can make little compromises as you move along, as you move up that ladder, and that can lead you to a place where you go, “Oh, geez. I have become what I never wanted to become.” Right?

Warwick F:

And that’s really almost your worst nightmare. I mean, as we talk about kindness, dignity, and respect, I would term it as values. So really kind of what we’re talking about here is values drift. Mission drift is bad. Value drift feels significantly worse because values sum up what we believe in, who we think we are. We’ve talked about who we are and what sums that up and our soul in other podcasts and blogs. And so when you start drifting from your values, you start drifting from everything we think that we are and everything that’s important in life. And so when you’re not who you believe is really important to be, that’s pretty sobering. If you value treating people with dignity and you somehow demean somebody without even thinking about it, because it’s like “Look, I needed this yesterday and you’re giving it to me day to today. It’s not done right. Why did I hire you? What the heck’s going on here?”

Warwick F:

I mean I’m going to get chewed out by my boss without even saying, “Gosh, normally you do good work, but what happened?” Maybe they’d say, “Well, stuff has been tough at home. I’ve got some kids that are sick or maybe I had a death in the family.” You might not even know because you didn’t ask and you just chew them out without even thinking. Then of course found out later the full story, then you feel horrendous, but it’s very easy to treat people in a way that’s not in line with your values. Which is, it may not be soul destroying, but it’s soul damaging. Especially if you start doing that a lot. And what you don’t want to have happen, is people around the water cooler, which obviously doesn’t happen as much these days or your dinner table or parents, cousins, whatever, say you know, “I remember John, I remember Mary and they was so nice in high school and college, but I feel like they’re different now. What happened? It’s so sad.”

Warwick F:

That’s not uncommon and you don’t want to be the subject of that kind of it’s so sad conversation.

Gary S:

Right. And it’s true that it doesn’t just affect morale of folks on your team. And obviously when morale is affected, when people who work for you, who work with you don’t feel valued, feel dismissed, don’t feel like you’re treating them with kindness, dignity, and respect, their work can suffer. And your bottom line as an entrepreneur, as a leader, the bottom line of your organization can suffer as well.

Warwick F:

Right. I mean, people don’t mind working hard if they believe in the mission of the organization and they believe in the leader. At least not for a season, maybe not 24/7 but if you start not treating people well, and obviously you start moving out of alignment with the mission, people are going to start saying, “Well, what’s it all for? I don’t need this. Life’s too short. I just worked till 10, 11 o’clock for four or five days in a row to get the proposal done, and I didn’t hear a thank you. I didn’t hear a, sorry things are so tough. I didn’t hear anything. It’s like really? I just get chewed at, because I missed a paragraph somewhere or I forgot to include something and 99% of it was great. And I get chewed out for the 1%? I mean, seriously?”

Warwick F:

People who can the best and the brightest people have options. They’ll leave, they’ll say, “Forget this. Life’s too short. Let me go and work for somebody that’s a human, rather than some robotic automaton that just cares about the task. Who needs it? I’d like to work for a human, not a heartless robot.” So it absolutely can affect you.

Gary S:

Yeah. And very quickly the next transition here, we’ll get into the specifics of your blog and the point by point way that you look at how you both guard against abandoning kindness, dignity, and respect, but also how you can of course correct in the midst of it. But before we do that, one the things you hinted at it earlier when you talked about COVID. And in COVID times you said something about the water cooler and there fewer times. And I think I found this fascinating story that was just done by Harvard Business Review, in May of this year just a few months ago. And as we talk about the importance of showing kindness, respect, expressing dignity toward those on your team. This bit of advice of research wisdom from the Harvard Business Review in terms of COVID and what that’s done to make this even more important, I think is a good place for us to start or to add this in before we start getting into your point by point.

Gary S:

And this is what the HBR article said, “The transformation of the workplace into scheduled online meetings has led to another source of deprivation, the removal of serendipitous encounters.” I love that phrase. For many people hearing a colleague say, “Thank you so much,” in the hallway or a manager telling you “Great job,” after a presentation were a highlight of office life. Now, these seem like traditions from another lifetime. Here’s the takeaway point, without water cooler interactions, casual lunches and coffee breaks with colleagues, we don’t have the same opportunities for social connection as before. Without them, it can be much harder to find joy in your work. So what can we do about it? Harvard Business Review asks and you respond, even though you weren’t necessarily working off their story in your blog. And point one in your blog in talking about recapturing kindness, dignity, and respect in the workplace is to get rooted in your values. You’ve touched on that a little bit, but let’s dive a little bit-

Warwick F:

Yeah, no, I think that’s a good point. Just want to touch on what you said because it’s worthy of just noting what was in that Harvard Business Review article. I mean, what can happen is normally in the pre COVID world you might drop into somebody’s office and say, “Hey, how’s it going? How’s the weekend?” Talk about the kids maybe. I know we talked off air big NBA final you’re a Bucks fan “Hey, how’s it going?” Well, that will be a normal water cooler discussion. Key game now, you know game six but without that, you might not get to what people think is chit-chat. But as you know Chris Tuff who wrote a book, Millennial Whisperer, millennials I think even more than millennials, they want many things, but one of the things is human connection.

Warwick F:

They want purpose, but they want to feel like people care about their lives. But when you’re in the wired world that we’re in now with Zoom meetings, what have you, it’s easy to feel like hey, we just got to get stuff done. We don’t really have time for the chit chat. Hey, how the Buck’s doing. How’s the family? Because you might find out things aren’t going so well. Maybe there’s a family member that’s sick. Maybe kids are having challenges at school or on the sports field. You don’t get any of that human connection, which is part of what builds a spirit of dignity, kindness, and respect. And kind of one other thing before we get into that, the first one, where this whole blogs and podcast started is easy to think, oh other people are jerks or they’re not nice, or they don’t treat people with kindness, dignity, and respect.

Warwick F:

That other person maybe you. It’s easy to think it’s always the other guy, the other person. And so that was sort of a really, if you think about your own life, it’s sort of sobering. Don’t be so quick to accuse others of what you maybe yourself. People who live in glass houses and that whole aphorism.

Gary S:

Absolutely.

Warwick F:

Yeah. So just really getting to that first point is, so how do you get back from the cliff of where you’re chewing people out and you’re not treating people kindly? It’s really getting rooted in your values and it could be from a faith or philosophical tradition, but I think it’s good to ask yourself, “Well, what is it I believe in?” Maybe it’s kindness, dignity, and respect. Maybe it’s honoring people, maybe it’s generosity. Maybe it’s listening to people, valuing people. We all have values that are deeply rooted. And so just try to understand, “Okay, what is it I believe in?” Because it’s easy. It may be obvious to say, but when you’re running a million miles an hour, how often do you think, “Gee, and what am I values?” It’s like, I don’t have time to think of these airy fairy ethereal philosophical things, stuff’s got to get done. So values, I don’t know. Not everybody even knows what their values are, but that’s the first point is who are you? What do you believe in? What are your values?

Gary S:

And it’s not just airy fairy. I mean, that’s a great adjective to describe it, but those values and what is at the end of acting on those values affects the bottom line. Again from this Harvard Business Review article, they write this, “Being recognized at work helps reduce employee burnout and absenteeism and improves employee wellbeing. Gallup finds year after a year in its survey of U.S. workers receiving a compliment words of recognition and praise can help individuals feel more fulfilled, boost their self-esteem, improve their self evaluations and trigger positive emotions, decades of research have shown.” So these things that emanate from your values, treating people with, going back to our three organizing construct words, kindness, dignity, and respect. Those things aren’t airy fairy in the sense that when you do that, here’s study after study, after study, after study, after study, after study, that says, “These are the things that motivate your teams to work hard for you and work well for you.”

Warwick F:

Absolutely. And a lot of people write about corporate culture and we need to improve corporate culture which sounds fuzzy, but people spend lots of time and money on it. Really another way of talking about corporate culture is what are the values of the organization? And ideally you work for an organization whose values are in line with yours. If they’re not, why are you there? Especially if it’s really out of alignment. If you value kindness, dignity, and respect and you’re in some organization that is ruthlessness, ambition and greed or something, it may not be a good fit. They might not articulate that on their mission statement or value statement, “Hey, we’re about greed and you know,” but it may be evident there. But let’s assume in there’s some kind of alignment you have to lead out of what your values are.

Warwick F:

You can’t lead out of somebody else’s value. So yeah, you want to create a positive, sustainable corporate culture where people are motivated, if people feel downtrodden and mistreated, they’re not going to work hard for you. They’re not going to give it the extra mile. They’re not going to give you that game-changing suggestion. It’s like “Why should I give this jerk that I’m working for this suggestion? It will probably just help his career. He’ll give me no credit. I mean, what’s the point? I’m just going to do my job, punch in and punch out at the end of the day. And so long as I do my job, that’s all I care about. I’m not going to go the extra mile. There’s no way. For this guy? No way.”

Gary S:

And I’m going to actually like call them out by name here. I had a boss I worked at Focus on the Family. I was the vice president of communications there. And my boss was Jim Daly, the president of the organization. And I used to say about Jim, there are some bosses that you can work for and I had worked for them in my career up until that point. There’s some bosses that you wouldn’t necessarily follow into I would say. There’s some bosses I’ve worked for I wouldn’t follow into an ice cream store if ice cream were free. But I would say I would follow Jim Daly into a burning building simply because he said, “Let’s go.” And that was all rooted in the kindness, dignity, and respect that he showed me and he showed others, and he showed the constituents of Focus On The Family. I mean, his character led to that kind of loyalty and I’d like to think led to good work out of me as I walked that out.

Warwick F:

I mean, that’s such a great example. And you think about it, wouldn’t you want your team, your employees to say what Gary just said, that they would walk into a burning building just because you asked? It’s that kind of mentality that says, “Hey, we got this bid coming up, we got this deal. There’s challenges in the marketplace. We’re really going to have to step up our game for the next few months.” You want people saying, “Great, tell me what you need me to do. I’m in. Just because of who you are, I’m in. What do I need to do? Okay, it’s not exactly my job description, but I think I can do it. No problem. What do you need me to do?” As somebody once said “The answer’s yes, what’s the question?”

Gary S:

Right. Yeah. Another way of phrasing it.

Warwick F:

And that’s what with you and Jim Daly, right? “Hey, I’m really gonna need you to step up here.” Gary, you’d say “Great. The answer’s yes. What do you need me to do?”

Gary S:

Absolutely. And it’s still like that. If I still have to, if I still have the opportunity to do something for him, I would still do it. So I would say this as we wrap up this section on values, you use the words and I love the phrase airy fairy, but really it’s Heavy Chevy, right? I mean your values, because they have impact on your bottom line, they’re not airy fairy at all. They’re Heavy Chevy.

Warwick F:

And just one thing on this, not only does it have impact on the bottom line, it has impact on your career. Okay?

Gary S:

Amen.

Warwick F:

I mean, what kind of performance approval are you to get from your boss? Well, get stuff done, but this person’s team hates him or her. Okay? They’re leaving in droves. I mean, how in the world in a sane organization, let’s assume that they’re somewhat sane and they somewhat care about the bottom line. Why would you promote that kind of person? I mean, it’s like they’re I don’t know if the word is pariah, but it’s like this, somebody that everybody runs away from. I mean, why would you promote that person? They’re a culture killer, a bottom line killer. It’s just nuts.

Gary S:

Right and even though employees right now yet aren’t talking around water coolers as much as they used to, they do text, right? Everybody’s got one of these and the same kinds of things that this boss was X, Y, and Z, or treated me this way, those conversations still take place. They just maybe don’t take place around water coolers-

Warwick F:

They can go viral, social media, you know bad news travels fast. And in the era that we live in the social media, bad news travels even faster and even louder. So, absolutely. Yep.

Gary S:

So our second point, your second point, once you get rooted in your values, a logical follow-up from that is to take an inventory, assess how well you’re doing at living according to those values. And that gets to the point that we made earlier about the potential for values drift. Here are my values. Here’s what I believe in. Here’s, what is most important to me. Now, do a deep dive on yourself and find out am I living that out every day?

Warwick F:

Absolutely. For those in businesses and organizations think of it this way, you might say, “Well, what’s our mission? How are we doing towards the mission? Let’s make it more concrete. Here’s our five-year strategic plan. How are we doing in meeting and achieving the objectives in our strategic plan?” Every vaguely well-run organization does it. Here’s the plan. Are we meeting our plan? Are we accomplishing our objectives? That’s what you do. If you don’t do that, it probably won’t be there too long. I mean, that’s just basic corporate 101 stuff. So this is pretty similar is okay you say, you have these values, well that’s great. But how are you doing living that out? Obviously you think it’s important because it sums up almost as we said, in another podcast your soul, your most deeply cherished beliefs and values, but how are you doing?

Warwick F:

And so for that you can ask coworkers, friends, family. It’s not an easy thing to, get an answer to but if you hear people say, “You know what? Fred, Mary you’ve been under a lot of stress recently and it’s just tough. Look, I get it.” That’s a nice way of saying you may be missing the mark. It’s not that hard to decode. And so you can ask the next question. So kind of what are you seeing and maybe ask for some suggestions about what can you do to be a better self? Maybe ask people for help at home or things that would reduce your stress. I mean, there are things it’s like “Well, I’m happy to help but you always tell me I’m good. I’m good. I’ve got it.” And sometimes it’s like, “I’ve not got it. I’m falling apart. I can’t do it all.”

Gary S:

One of the things that I’ve not all the time, when I first started out in my career, evaluation time was please tell me more, tell me more, tell me more of what I’m doing well because I needed that affirmation. At some point in my career I kind of know what I do well, what I always found most valuable is what are those things I can improve on? And that’s a slightly different thing than saying what I don’t do well. What can I improve on and how can I improve? And that goes to your point about asking other people, don’t just tell me what I’m not doing right. Tell me how I might be able to do that better. Tell me how what I’m doing is effecting you in a negative way and it’s affecting the company in a negative way. Those kinds of evaluations can be true lifeblood for you to sort of walk out this living by your values.

Warwick F:

Yeah, I mean, it’s so good. I remember one of the other people we had in our podcast, Sheila Heen, she has written a book on how to receive feedback. A lot of people write books on how to give it but receive. And you’re really talking about some of the themes that she’s talked about in her book, but one of the things that relates to another thing we’ve talked about is if you get your whole sense of inner self-worth and self-esteem from your job, and somebody tells you, you’re not doing it too well, or there’s stacks of things you can improve in and that’s hard to take. And so if you want to receive feedback well and ask the question, what are areas I can improve in it, let’s say that touches on value. Well I think people are a little scared of you.

Warwick F:

One of the people we had in our podcast, Cathleen Merkel, she was in her 30s, a hard-charging driven person and her woman boss said to her, “Cathleen, you scare people.” Well, that was horrifying because she thinks of herself as a good person, which she is, but that led her to make some changes in life and a bit more balanced life, a broader perspective. So I think it’s a very good point to ask “Okay, what can I improve on?” But some self work ahead of time would be, “I need to stop getting so much of my self worth and self esteem out of my job. Because if I do, you will tend not to want to hear the feedback and you will find ways to dismiss it.” If you want to receive that feedback so that you can live in line with your values, try to start decoupling your sense of self worth from your job, if that makes sense.

Gary S:

Absolutely. It makes so much sense. It’s a perfect bridge to point number three from your blog which is, consider your legacy, right? We’ve talked many times on this show about you don’t want your legacy to be how many zeros were in your bank account. You don’t want your legacy of how you remembered to be this success, that success. I’ve shared on those podcasts the three top musical artists in their genres, Johnny Cash in country, Frank Sinatra in jazz standards and Elvis Presley in rock and roll have on their headstones zero numbers of how many gold records they had, right? Johnny Cash has a Psalm on his Frank Sinatra’s which I’ve been to says the best is yet to come at the top. Elvis he talks about being a son and a father. So this idea of considering your legacy helps you as you say, what do I want to be thought of, be remembered for? It helps you move beyond what you were just talking about. Your identity only comes from your work.

Warwick F:

Yeah, it’s such a good point. I mean, really legacy is related to values because you think that at your funeral somebody is giving you a eulogy, some family members. Afterwards they’re chatting maybe outside of church or outside the cemetery and just saying, So what do we think about … And you start talking about them, about happy memories, a variety of things that might make you laugh and cry a whole series of things. Well, what you want the conversation to be is I don’t think you want to say, “Well, they was super successful. Had the nice house, the nice car, the nice boat. They were CEO. Yeah, they were very successful.” And then there’s a pause and there’s nothing else, right? It’s like, really? For most of us, it’s like, “No, no, no, I’m more than my achievements. I’m more than my success, whether it’s business or athletic or artistic.” And you want people to say, “I love that person. They were a good person. Hey, they weren’t perfect because who of us are? But you know what, they were loving. They were kind.”

Warwick F:

That’s the kind of, basically you want people to be talking in the eulogy and in the cemetery afterwards, you want them talking about values basically. Those key memories. And so then if that’s what you want, consider living in light of that today.

Gary S:

Right. So this is too good to pass up. So as you well know, and this actually proves two points of what we’ve been talking about, what I’m about to say Warwick, and you know what I’m going to say, that’s why you’re laughing. Listeners, my father passed away at the end of May and his funeral was just this past weekend. And I have family that lives, I’m in Wisconsin, my stepmother and my step siblings live in Florida. So we did a Facebook Live streaming thing of his service. And I gave the eulogy. So point number one that we talked about the water cooler is not there, everything’s on Zoom. How do you know that the people that you work for, how can you give them encouragement?

Gary S:

Well, you watched the live stream of my dad’s memorial service Warwick, which was incredibly touching to me. And you sent me this text afterwards, which said, “It was very moving, full of moments that made you laugh in moments that made you realize what a great dad your dad was.” You later said, and this gets to the point of what you’ve just been talking about, how do you want to be remembered? It wasn’t us being able to talk graveside about it, but it was us being able to talk on text. You said this, “I never met him yet after your eulogy, I felt I know him, both his eccentricities and what made his kids so proud of him.” That there is a real time example of living for legacy. Right? My dad was a police officer and he did indeed, at his ceremony as you noted as well he received from a police honor guard in my hometown he received a folded flag. It was very moving, but that wasn’t all he was.

Gary S:

And what I tried to capture in the eulogy was the way he lived his life and the funny things he did and the kind of odd things he did and that he wasn’t perfect. And all of those that jumble of things in his 93 years that made him, him. And that’s what you’re saying when you say live with your legacy. Look at your legacy. If you’re not treating people with kindness, dignity, and respect, think about your legacy. How are you going to be remembered? Are you going to be remembered as that jerk who did that? You don’t want to be there.

Warwick F:

Just to take this one step further, because I think this is such a great example. Because again, I’m sure your dad wasn’t perfect, none of us are. But when you think of your dad’s values and what you most remember about him, that boy he really lived that. What are the two or three things you’d say that exemplify who your dad was as a person, his values and how he lived it out, would you?

Gary S:

And one of the things I said in the eulogy, and I also wrote in something that I got published about it. One was, he was not afraid to say, I love you. And many men of his generation as I said, he was 93. He could show love, but my dad put words to it. “I love you.” And he said it from the time I was in short pants and that was enormously important to my emotional wellbeing growing up in the relationships I’ve had as a child right now in my marriage in my step parenting my step kids. That was an incredible value that he had. Another one was he wasn’t perfect, but he also apologized for his imperfections.

Gary S:

And that’s I’m jumping ahead, there’s a point up ahead where you talk about that. But he was, “Okay, I’m sorry. I did it that way.” That it was a common thing that happened to him. My brother and I went to visit him in his home in Florida last January, January 2020. And it was right before the pandemic. And my brother had did something that he was very kind of ashamed of, and that wasn’t a good thing. They got into kind of a spat. And my brother then apologized and was very remorseful and my brother said, “I’m sorry I acted like a jerk basically.” And my dad said, “Stand in line, I’ve been doing it my whole life.” So it was that ability to forgive, that ability to have grace for people was another thing that was huge about him.

Gary S:

And another thing that stuck out, you asked for two or three, I’ll give you three. The other thing was, he always signed cards to me himself. So many men in particular will have their wives sign. My mom and then my stepmom would have signed dad and mom or dad and Laura, he always signed it up until the last one I got in February of this year, my 56th birthday card. He signed it at age 93. That means something. That shows that he cared enough to be pulled away from whatever he was doing and do that signature himself. So yeah, those are three things that live on in his legacy that he’s remembered for.

Warwick F:

So as we just sort of summarize this, this is such a great example. Think of the legacy of Gary’s dad, Dale Schneeberger. That wouldn’t be a bad legacy to have the fact that people feel that his family I’m sure, friends, coworkers, that he loved them. That he was willing to forgive, that he was able to apologize. Think of that. If that was your legacy, I think you’d be thinking I’ll take that. That’s pretty good. I’m more than take that. And I’m sure you would, I’m sure your siblings would, friends, any of us would. So when you think of a life well lived, I mean, he was a policeman in Wisconsin. He wasn’t CEO, but what would you rather, the CEO who’s striving for money and power and nobody liked, or Dale Schneeberger? Whose legacy would you rather have?

Warwick F:

I think any sane person would say, I’ll take Dale Schneeberger’s legacy any day over some corporate CEO who’s all about greed and power. So think about what do you want your legacy to be? And that’s a pretty good example of a life well lived. So yeah. Is that okay?

Gary S:

And I think it’s a good bridge again, you’re building great on-ramps for the next points Warwick. It’s a good bridge to the next point in your blog. And that’s number four, which is seek significance, right? The idea of a life that’s not rooted in only your achievements. Is not rooted in what you do for a living. It’s a life of significance. And I would argue and I argued that in my eulogy, which was a Herculean effort. It was 93 things about my dad. So there was a lot of stuff in there-

Warwick F:

Because he was 93.

Gary S:

Great, because he was 93. So I did one for every year. But that all adds up to significance, living a life of significance. If you live with legacy in mind, it’s almost impossible not to live a life of significance, it seems to me.

Warwick F:

Absolutely, well said. So really we talk about all the time. I mean, it’s one of the key things, maybe the theme I’d say of Crucible Leadership is as you bounce back from your crucible moments, those times of setback and failure, you want to live a life of significance. A life dedicated to serving others and fulfilling a higher purpose. What do you want your legacy to be? That is a good clue to go back to understand what does significance mean to you. And I think for most sane people, it does not involve power, money and success. Not that success is wrong. You can be successful and significant. But it’s more living in line with your values. What do you want your life to count for? What do you want to be remembered for?

Warwick F:

And really seeking significance is probably another way of saying live your legacy today. Your legacy and your values are built up of small steps of minutes and hours and days and weeks and months. It’s what you do today. We’re all going to have times where we fall short and not our best self. I mean, that happens to me regularly, even yesterday. It happens all the time to me that we’re not as, hopefully not all the time, but not more often than I would like that I’m not living in light of my values and yeah, I’m sorry I blew that. Forgive me. One of the things I find is apologizing, and we’ll talk about this in a couple of points, apologizing to our husband or wife is one thing. Apologizing to your kids, somehow that’s harder, but I’ve done it.

Warwick F:

And it’s like grit my teeth and you know what, I’m going to do it. And it does get easier and fortunately they show grace, which is a beautiful thing. But you want to live in light of your legacy. You want to seek significance because at the end of the day, we’re only here for a breath. I mean in terms of millennia, we’ll live 70, 80, 90, a 100 maybe if you’re lucky, but most people will never get above that. We’re here for a breadth in terms of the millennia that’s gone past and will come. You want to be remembered well, and to be remembered well, you’ve got to seek significance at least in our opinion.

Gary S:

Again, we haven’t talked about this beforehand, but as you’ve just said that and it says from your blog you wrote “Success is illusory and can be temporary.” So true significance. But someone who fits the bill of someone who had both success, grand success, but lived with significance is someone you know of very well. And that’s your great, great grandfather John Fairfax, the founder of the family media company. Right at the end of his life. What was he most remembered for? In your book right here, Crucible Leadership coming out on October 19th in your book you talk about the way that his employees, because of the way he treated them, how they were touched and moved by his death. And it wasn’t all of his grand, all the money he made and all the papers he acquired that they remembered. It was the way he treated them the way he treated people.

Warwick F:

It’s so true. Yeah. He died in like 1877. So yeah, Victorian era and his employees said “We have lost a kind and valued employer.” Okay. A kind and valued friend or something like that. It’s like, that’s not 1800s kind of talk. This isn’t the age of touchy feely. This is the age where you got a paycheck and you were happy to get a paycheck and you weren’t talking about corporate culture and all that kind of thing. It was just if you get a paycheck and can feed your family and kids and got a roof over your head, you considered yourself fortunate. Yeah, he lived his legacy. He was a person of great faith. His wife loved him dearly.

Warwick F:

His kids loved him, his employees. He was an elder at church. He built a successful business, Sydney Morning Herald, and then more than that. But he lived his legacy and as I think of his legacy, I haven’t exactly lived out the business side. Obviously as listeners would know, with the whole $2 billion takeover that didn’t work. But in terms of his faith legacy and how he treats people, you better believe that is animating and motivating for me that if I could get like 10% of how he lived his life, I would consider my life well lived because he’s as a businessman of faith, I feel like it’s almost the gold standard. It’s just awe inspiring about how he treated people and his sense of values. And I mean, there’s a lot of stories that we could go on, but he would pay people back when he didn’t have to. He was bankrupted by an unscrupulous lawyer for a story he wrote in a paper in England. Judge ruled in John Fairfax’s favor saying the story was accurate. The lawyer kept suing him and eventually bankrupted him.

Warwick F:

He goes back I don’t know, a couple decades later or something long time later, he repaid his creditors. As everybody knows, when you’re bankrupt, you don’t have to repay your creditors, you’re wiped a claim. But not only did he do that, he repaid this guy who had passed away, his widow for their court costs. I mean, who does stuff like that? That’s just to me almost nuts, but his sense of generosity and forgiveness was awe inspiring. So yeah. Great example of somebody that is living a life of significance at a level that almost seems like it’s impossible to reach, but it’s always good to have goals to aim for.

Gary S:

Absolutely. The fifth point is to serve others and serve a higher purpose. Tied a bit to the fourth point, is there anything additional you have that you kind of want to add to that?

Warwick F:

Yeah. I mean, one of the things I say in here, I got this from Bryan Price at Seton Hall and leads the Buccino Leadership Institute there, he was a U.S. Army and he said they have a motto which is mission first, people always. And so really, you want to accomplish the goal and obviously in the military, their mission, you don’t succeed. It’s a matter of lives and national security. But I think you can achieve the mission, but you can also serve other people. And if you don’t have a cohesive team, well you probably won’t achieve the mission. So it’s really we define significance as serving others and serving a higher purpose. So I’d say serving others I think is understandable. It’s not about you, it’s about other people, but serving a higher purpose, it could be related to your faith, some philosophical tradition, but what do you really think life’s about?

Warwick F:

And maybe it’s a faith, it’s a religion, it’s a philosophy, but whatever you think life’s about, then you want to serve that purpose. Maybe you think that the world is a place that needs to be preserved in terms of nature and the environment. And we need to have a planet that’s cleaner than the one that we grew up with. Whatever your higher purpose is, live that higher purpose today.

Gary S:

Absolutely. And that is again, so many of these points listener focus on this idea of how do you capture showing people kindness, dignity, and respect. How do you do that? There’s three or four points in a row here about the importance of significance. About the importance of those things that are not of pursuing those things that are not temporal. Pursuing those things that are not maybe headline grabbing. About pursuing those things that are investing in other people, defining a life of significance. And here’s this point that we just went through is serving others and serving a higher purpose. That is the key. If you do that, I would argue, it seems I don’t know how you can lead a life of significance and to go back to the words you used in your blog, and be a jerk to people, right?

Gary S:

I mean it’s like one will blot out the other. If you’re truly pursuing a life of significance and you’re keeping track of your values and you’re making sure you’re not engaging in values drift, I think you will end up in that life of significance. However, that does not mean we’re perfect all the time as you’ve said. And I was going to say that at least at the sixth point, sometimes you’re going to get it wrong. Sometimes your wires are going to get crossed and you’re going to be in a position where you’re going to need to apologize.

Warwick F:

Absolutely. One other thing just occurred to me on serving others, you often hear people say like, “Life’s tough right now. Competition is tough and we just need to work harder, cut some corners in the sense of I’m not treating people as well as I’d like to, but the stuff’s got to get done and I don’t have time to babysit people.” The point is, really getting back to the mission first people always don’t justify this just because times are tough. It’s COVID, the economy’s tanking. Life’s tough at home. All of which are real. Okay? Sometimes the home life can just derail us and that’s understandable. A divorce, life, tragic things happened, and it may be understandable but no matter what’s happening to you, it never justifies how you treat other people. Don’t use that as an excuse. It’s a cop-out. It’s understandable, but don’t justify whether it’s stuff happening at home or stuff happening above you, corporate goals, it does not justify demeaning people.

Warwick F:

It does not justify being nasty and unkind. Nothing ever justifies that. So quit using that as an excuse to why it’s okay to not serve others and treat them kindly. Which gets to the next point.

Gary S:

There’s a connective issue to the next point. Number six, apologize. I’d argue that’s a lost art in our culture to some degree.

Warwick F:

It is. We live in a culture whether it’s politics or business or the media entertainment double down, triple down, never apologize. Because, apologizing is a sign of weakness. Well wrong, apologizing is a sign of strength. It means you admit that you’re not perfect. You admit there are days when … I mean why is apologizing hard at times? Because we have this image of ourselves as this perfect good person. And so when you have to apologize, you have to admit maybe I’m not as nice and as good as I would like to think. Maybe I’m not living my values. Maybe I’m not perfect. And so when you have, if you have your self esteem wrapped up in your values, I mean I believe self-esteem it should be from a faith perspective wrapped up in the fact that we’re child of God or just by the fact that we’re human, we have innate sense of worth. But you’ve gotta be willing to say, you’re sorry.

Warwick F:

Here’s the sad fact is we all again blow it and make mistakes. I don’t care who you are because given a certain stress and given a certain set of circumstances, sometimes you might think it’s tailor made to set us off. Whatever you do, don’t do A, B, C, and D to me. If you do that, I might lose control and get angry or say an unkind word. We all have our trigger points. That’s going to happen, it’s inevitable. So when that happens, you’ve got to be willing to apologize, and I’m not perfect in this, but try not to do the sorry if. I’m sorry if. Especially if it comes across as well, you’re way too sensitive. I did nothing really wrong, but if you’re such a baby and are sensitive I’m sorry, if that hurt you. Hopefully if you are really a big boy or a big girl, it wouldn’t hurt you, but since you’re not, I’m sorry if. Okay.

Warwick F:

That may be what’s being received. So a full-throated unqualified apology, I’m sorry. And don’t just say, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry for what? I’m sorry because I did A, B and C. That’s the ideal, no ifs, and be specific.

Gary S:

And to add to that, please forgive me. Right? I mean that is important to say. I’m sorry and then ask of that person, please forgive me. That is again, another act of relational humility as you’re doing that, that helps. It’s hard to do what I call a Janet Jackson apology, right? When she had her wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, she said, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended.” She didn’t say, “I’m sorry I did what I did.” And that’s what she should’ve done. It’s hard to do the if apologies, if you say “Please forgive me.” When you say that it is, it’s a very humbling thing. It’s a very humbling position to put you in and you will find over and over and over again, overwhelmingly people will indeed forgive you.

Warwick F:

Yeah. It’s almost a lost art. You’re not always going to live your values, but if you’re somebody that tries to live their values and you apologize back to Gary’s metaphor of running into a burning building. You will run into a lot of burning buildings for a boss that tries to live their values, doesn’t always succeed, but when they mess up, they apologize. You’ll be like, “Sign me up. Okay? I want to work for this guy. I want to work for this woman.” So that will breed tremendous loyalty because sadly it’s so rare.

Gary S:

Right. And the connection here we go to number seven, it’s you do that and it builds great personal capital, but it can also enhance financial capital. Your point seven, treating people with kindness, dignity, and respect can enhance success. You asked the question, how can that be? And then unpack it in the blog. How can that be Warwick?

Warwick F:

Think about it, who do you want to work for? An unkind gruff take no prisoners kind of boss that will fire you in a millisecond if he can find some person that’s better than you. Could care less about you as a person, never ask about your family, about your parents. It’s all business, all work and never gives you any praise, and at the least smallest mistake, you’ve got 99 things right, you do one thing wrong and they just chew you out. People are going to leave that person. They’re going to especially those I say the best and the brightest, the people that have the most options, they’ll leave. And so yeah, you want to work for an organization whose mission you care about. You want to feel like it’s being well run and financially stable. All of those I think are a given with most employees with most team members, but a lot of things you want to work for.

Warwick F:

You want to work for a person, a vision that’s helpful, but you ask people, they want to work for somebody they respect, they admire. And a big part of respecting and admiring somebody is how they’re living their values. Are they treating people kindly? Do they listen? If your CEO happens to walk into your cubicle and just says, “Hey, how’s it going? How’s the family?” If they remember your name and ask just some personal thing, you’re like how in the world can they know who I am all the way down here in the organization? It matters a huge amount. And so those kinds of leaders, whether it’s your boss or several layers above you, that creates a culture where it’s you model for those around you how people should be treated and then others start doing that.

Warwick F:

I mean, it’s probably not a perfect analogy. I think in tennis two of the top tennis players, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, they always have the sense of dignity and respect for people. And you can see that affects not everybody in tennis, but there’s this culture that it tends to influence. It’s like okay, if I want to be great like especially those two. And I think probably more than that, part of that’s not just being a good tennis player, but how I treat people. Am I gracious in defeat? So yeah, that kind of thing can make an enormous difference to the bottom line and to your ability to attract good people. There’s no secrets in life. I mean, my kids from their 30 to 20s, they go on sites like Glassdoor in which basically is a website that evaluates most companies in this country and elsewhere.

Warwick F:

And it’s like, okay, so how’s the organization? How are people treated? They have rating scales. Do you want to be on Glassdoor as the company that’s like, they chew people out, they treat people horrendously, run, leave. Don’t even think about applying to this place. Information’s out there. Don’t think that you that can fool people it’s out there. So you want to be successful. You don’t want to be one of those companies to be blunt that it gets a horrendous Glassdoor rating. What’s that going to do for you? You want a good Glassdoor rating if you want to get good people. So treat people with kindness, dignity, and respect. It makes not just a business, it makes moral sense. It makes business sense. Just do it.

Gary S:

Well just do it is in addition to being a slogan of a very famous company, is also what the captain has done now with the, fasten seatbelt sign and the plane is coming down for a landing. Before we get to the landing, I want to give you a chance to kind of sum up Warwick. But I want to add one thing to our discussion that I found from that Harvard Business Review article. As we talk about listener, the importance of treating people with dignity and respect and kindness. This just leapt out at me in this business article in HBR that they found in research, the Harvard Business Review found this, giving compliments can make us even happier than receiving them. That is the if for no other reason of the things that we’ve talked about here, if personal happiness and enjoying your work and having great relationships. If that’s important to you, giving compliments, being kind, those kinds of things can make us even happier research shows, than receiving such things ourselves.

Gary S:

That to me is a pretty big point. So where do you want to leave our listeners today Warwick before we go?

Warwick F:

Yeah, I mean, I just want to touch on two final points. One that you just mentioned. It’s so true. One of my highest values is encouraging. I have an aphorism if you will, if you see something, say something if it’s positive. And so I’ve been on a couple of non-profit boards and if I see somebody doing a good job, I’ll say, “Thank you so much for doing X.” And I’ll be specific about why I think that was so wonderful. And yeah I don’t do it to make me feel good, but it does. When you’re living your values, you maybe begin to have a bit more respect for yourself. You say, “You know what, today was a good day. Maybe yesterday I blew it. But today I actually said something nice. I did something nice for somebody.”

Warwick F:

It does make you feel better about yourself. We’re human. We want to respect ourselves. We know when we’ve messed up. So it does. And kind of one final thing is that if you want to treat people with kindness, dignity, and respect, part of it, and we haven’t touched on it much and we don’t have time to, but I’ll just briefly mention it. You got to do some self-care. And so whether it’s exercise, running, whatever it is, or walk in nature, getting in touch with your spiritual values, prayer, whatever it is. Maybe a hobby, painting, a creative thing, whatever it takes, you want to be able to do some self care so that when you turn up at work, you can be your best self.

Warwick F:

So that is some of that stuff begins at home is take care of the relationships you value, do some of that internal weeding and self care, so that it’s easier for yourself to show off the kindness, dignity, and respect. And so apologizing is good. What’s better is minimizing the number of times you have to apologize because you’re actually living more in line with your values. And so apologizing is important, but ideally, it would be nice if you didn’t have to quite so much. You don’t want to have to say “Well, I’m good at apologizing and my family and coworkers have forgiven me 20 times today.” That’s asking a little bit too much grace, that many mistakes in one day with one person.

Warwick F:

So yeah, it’s time to live your values, live your values today. You want to be a great leader, show people kindness, dignity, and respect, live what you believe today, it will make you feel better about yourself. And you’ll actually do better at work too. So it’s a win-win.

Gary S:

Bingo. Four point landing planes on the tarmac. Bravo. Well done. We’re going to wrap up today listener with as Warwick does in all of his blogs, he leaves the reader and I’ll leave you the listener with three points of reflection on everything that we talked about here today. Point one, how well are you treating the people around you, including your friends and family. We’ve talked about this a lot in a business context, but let’s move it out of the business context as well. How well are you treating the people around you including friends and family? That’s sort of reflection number one. Reflection number two, how well do others around you think you are treating them? That’s where the rubber can meet the road, right? You may think you’re doing X, Y, and Z, and you may be doing Q, L and P, reconcile those things by reaching out, talking to other, doing either in a professional context, a 360 evaluation or a 360 kind of assessment with friends and family.

Gary S:

And then the third point of reflection is what one thing will you do this week to treat those around you with kindness, dignity, and respect? You probably, we hope you got some ideas from our conversation today. If you didn’t write them down, if they’re not sticking in your head, go back, listen to the episode again and find one thing you can do today. You can do right now. Press pause on this podcast right now and go do that thing today. Because that, as we said at the outset, what we try to do at Crucible Leadership, our goal, our mission, our vision is to give you hope and healing to move beyond your crucibles and learning the lessons from your crucibles. Applying them as you go to lead a life of significance is the way that you do that.

Gary S:

So, listener until the next time we are together, please remember that your crucible experiences are indeed difficult. We know that. Warwick knows that, he’s talked many times about his crucible experiences. But, as he’s discovered and as our guests on the show have discovered week after week, after week, we’ve brought their stories to you. Your crucible is not the end of your story. In fact, if you learn the lessons of that crucible, if you apply those lessons, if you do things like we’re talking about today and treat people with dignity, kindness, and respect, it can in fact be your crucible experience. It can in fact be a rewarding time in your life. It can be not the end of your story, but the beginning of a new chapter of your story that can be the best chapter of your story. Because at the end of that chapter, the final period on the final sentence, on the final page of that chapter is one that leads you to, that brings you to a life of significance.

Leave a Comment