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The Big Question

A hand is raised amongst a crowd of out-of-focus raised hands

J: Welcome to Slingshot25’s Shotcast a series of bite-sized podcast that will feel like an espresso shot to your brain. I’m Jackie.

C: And I’m Courtney.

J: Something we’ve been thinking about is, a question actually, it’s not so much something we were thinking about as Courtney, you may recall that just a short while ago we were doing a presentation at a large group meeting. And someone in the crowd who is just a good friend of ours that we’ve known for a number of years, his name is Sean. He asked us a really great question. 

C: He’s so smart, he asks hard questions.

J: So Courtney and I were talking about what we always talk about I was talking about leadership and of course, Courtney was talking about change. He asked in all the years that you’ve been doing this, what if we learned? 

C: Emphasis on ALL the years that you’ve been doing this.

J: How has our thinking changed from where we started to where we stand today? Brilliant question – and then his part two, because he’s a good part two-er. Would love to share with our listeners the question as we answered it yeah so if it’s alright with you. Courtney, I’ll start.

First, so in terms of leadership I think the thing that has been sort of distilling itself to me through the decades of dealing with leadership development learning about it practicing. I’m seeing the effects of it is that leadership development does not come down to teaching leaders techniques. We get a little excited about distilling things into techniques like defining things as steps one, two, three. If you say this, or you approach it that way, that is all you need to know. 

C: Anything that boils down to an acronym like when you say technique, if I think about you know your feedback model STAR. So, keep going now.

J: That’s right you’re bringing up a really important nuance to this. Which is there’s nothing wrong with technique like STAR, which in that case by the way for those of you don’t know what star is let’s go ahead and describe. It’s a way of giving feedback with the Situation or Task that’s the St in STAR. And then the a is what action you took. And then what was the result, and that’s the “R.” So, that’s a technique and it’s not a bad technique. 

But what I’ve learned about leadership through the years, is you have to go deeper than technique. You have to go way deeper than technique. You’ve got to get down into what I call this substantive level and look at the skills of empathy, the skill of humility, the skill of curiosity, and the skill of believing in others. If you don’t start from that much deeper space of actually seeing people caring about people and getting out of your own way in terms of your thinking, then all of the techniques in the world are not going to make you a great leader.

C: And I think you just hit on it when you said in terms of your thinking. Those models sort of leave people the impression that if you just use this model you don’t have to think. and they opposite is actually what we believe, like we only care about how you think. And then how you have the conversation will sort of unfold itself from the right direction.

J: Yeah so and I would say that that sets us up to what’s next in terms of leadership like what we see the future of leadership is all about and that is just more of this we don’t need Leaders with more Technique. We need leaders who think differently. And that thinking differently the way they show up has to be firmly centered around Humanity. It’s all of those deeply human skills that’s the future of leadership.

C: Yeah very good – so the thing that came into mind for me and it took me an extra beat to come up with this. which is why I went second answering both times. The thing I think is changing a lot that I get really excited about is what’s happening in the workforce. There is a very big shift going on and we’ve talked on this podcast a lot about people wanting to be in jobs. People choosing to leave jobs. How they fit. 

And we’re hearing a lot about as people are there’s a whole chunk of the workforce, you know, five to ten years from retirement. They’re working in really tough environments and they’re asking themselves is this worth it? And you know if they’ve had good jobs they have good savings, like they’re saying you know what I might just go ahead and retire. Or I’m going to go look somewhere else, I’m going to do something different. And as those people leave the workforce they’re leaving not because they don’t have skills, not because they don’t have contributions to add, not because they don’t care about what they were doing. It’s just too hard. in an environment that I think I said the conference I’ll say it here like the environment sucks. 

And so you play that chunk of the workforce, like exiting earlier than they would have and then you look at the other end of the workforce where the young people coming into the workforce are saying you know what I want I want to learn. I want to grow. I want to mentor. And I want someone who’s done this before to teach me. And so they’re looking at organizations and saying I want to work in organizations where those people are in the workforce. They’re part of it. and then they’re there with a generous mindset and they want to help me. And so if you have if the top part of the workforce is leaving early and the bottom part of the report the younger part is not having what they want in it – meaning other people who can teach them things. 

That tells me is for the first time ever having leadership development programs, investing in building your l leader so they create an environment or people can be successful is now business imperative. Because you need people to work for you. Will work for you there are attriting too fast they’re hard to retain there are to higher and if the thing that’s causing people to leave is that they don’t like where they work it’s too much energy. It’s wearing them out we got to fix it and the only place you fix it is to invest in leadership care about having leaders who know how to create a place where people be accessible and so for me it’s like I spent 20 years trying to convince people that leadership is important that change is important. And now I think maybe the first time it’s having an insane impact on an organization’s ability to perform.

J: I think I’ll wrap us up Courtney with something we say a lot and I think it’s apropos here- which is change gets you into this mess all of those changes that have been swirling around us in the world right now is getting us into this into this place and how to move forward so change will get you into that mess, leadership will get you out of that mess. 

I think that’s all for this episode of our Shotcast but we always have much more to say if you want more, drop us a line at Until next time 

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