Leadership in the Workplace: Advice for Employees and Managers

Episode 22

Episode overview

Leadership comes naturally for some, but for others it requires an extra level of effort and focus. Fortunately, everyone has the opportunity to develop great leadership traits that will allow them thrive and stand out at work.

48 minutes

View transcript

How to demonstrate leadership in the workplace

  1. Know the difference between a transactional leader and a transformational one and from there, decide which one you want to be. Do you want to micromanage your employees or give them the opportunity to thrive through the skills you saw when hiring them?
  2. Those hard decisions that you don’t want to make but have to make are necessary in leadership. Don’t let these situations linger because it doesn’t benefit you or anyone else. Don’t be afraid of failure. Admit when you make a mistake and be vulnerable with your employees. You can still strive for perfection while knowing mistakes are inevitable.
  3. Listen to your employees. Give them the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns, while also operating autonomously and bringing their own ideas forward.
  4. Ask permission to give feedback. Unsolicited advice is never received well, so take a different approach with your employees through your tone and delivery of the question. They will be more willing to listen and learn from your advice.

Additional resources

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.

Ricky Baez

About Rick Baez

Efrain “Ricky” Baez Jr. is a published human resources professional specializing in strategically aligning HR competencies to business goals with a down to earth, common sense approach. Ricky is a four- year veteran of the United States Marine Corps and holds a Masters degree in Human Resources (MHR) from Rollins College and an SPHR certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ricky is also a faculty member for the Master of Human Resources program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.


Ricky Baez 0:00
Hello this is Ricky Baez and you’re listening to the Hire Calling Podcast.

Pete Newsome 0:11
Welcome everyone and thank you for listening to the Hire Calling Podcast. I’m Pete Newsome, and this is your source for all things hiring, staffing and recruiting. Ricky, we’re back for another show, how are you today?

Ricky Baez 0:22
I’m doing good, sir. Had a great weekend. How about you?

Pete Newsome 0:26
It was good. It was good. We had a birthday, my fantasy teams won, FSU won, the Bucs won, a lot of winning this weekend. So, it was good.

Ricky Baez 0:35
Awesome. So, birthday. I did the same thing on Saturday. It was my niece’s birthday, and I took them to Kobe steakhouse here in Orlando, and I didn’t realize this. It was my son’s first time going to Kobe’s.

Pete Newsome 0:51
Okay, that’s an adventure.

Ricky Baez 0:53
Oh, to say he was mesmerized is an understatement. I mean, I’ve never seen, he’s eight years old, I’ve never seen him so into it. And then, you know, the chef does that thing when he throws the egg in the air, catches it with his hat, and then it shows up in his pocket later. He was so mesmerized. He tried to climb over to find out where it was. I’m like buddy, I had to grab him back because that hot grill is there. Half the time I was trying to pull him back as he was just so into it, the best money I’ve ever spent. Way better than a circus.

Pete Newsome 1:29
There you go. Good fun. That’s good stuff.

Ricky Baez 1:31
It was. So yeah, had a great weekend. Yes.

Pete Newsome 1:34
I like it. Well, my number three turned 16.

Ricky Baez 1:37
Oh nice.

Pete Newsome 1:40
He’s not driving yet, apparently, he didn’t have the same sense of urgency that I did about that, where I don’t even think he’s going to be able to get his license for another few months. Because you have to have your restricted, I don’t know if it’s a full year I think now and so yeah, he’s got a few months to go. It’s weird, none of his buddies seem to be too eager to get their license either. I think we make it too easy for them, driving them around everywhere.

Ricky Baez 2:06
I’m noticing that these days. I’m noticing that a lot of people within driving or restricted driving age, they act radically different than I did at that age because I could not wait for me to get my license. I could not wait for me to be on the road and I’m talking to a few of my nieces which are at that age, oh yeah, my mom takes me. Okay, fine.

Pete Newsome 2:30
Yeah, it’s definitely a change but I’m not complaining. I mean, it saves, you know, any pressure to get him a car or worry about him on the road so listen if he wants to slow roll that I’m all good with it, that’s for sure.

Ricky Baez 2:48
You’re good with it and your insurance company’s amazing with it too.

Pete Newsome 2:55
Happy birthday all around, here we are doing another podcast.

Ricky Baez 2:59

Pete Newsome 3:00
And today, we’re not even going to try to pretend that we just stumbled across this topic. I put up a blog last week, that has to do with leadership in the workplace. And you and I were talking about that and you had a couple thoughts on how to be a leader in the workplace, in addition to what was already included on the blog so we are each going to talk about a few points today and I will let you go first.

Ricky Baez 3:26
Excellent. Well, you know, this is a topic Pete that’s near and dear to my heart because I am a firm believer that and I know people are going to cringe when they hear this. There are no bad students, just bad teachers, right, and there’s no bad employees, just bad leaders. So, this is something that I really do believe in, I really do care about because it really ties into how influential somebody is. So, when I saw this and I’m like, Oh, this is perfect, especially right now, when you’ve got the great resignation, all these folks that are leaving left and right.

Ricky Baez 4:02
It’s really good to kind of come back and start taking a look at every leader’s tool belt, what kind of tools they have in their tool belt. And if we have a leader that hasn’t taken a look at their set of tools in the past five years or ten years, then you’re in for a rude awakening because you have to update those tools constantly. So, I’m looking at the blog, and you know, it talks about being a mentor and taking, you know, asking for feedback, taking a course, you know, to improve yourself and doing the right thing.

Ricky Baez 4:36
But I wanted to talk about the different kinds of leadership out there. And to me Pete, there’s no bigger definition about being a leader than just being influential because to be a leader is to be influential. It’s to influence. And then it took me back to when I was talking to my students a few years ago, but the difference between a transactional leader and a transformational leader. And I think people, I’m not sure if a lot of leaders out there really know that difference between being a transactional leader and a transformation.

Ricky Baez 5:11
So that’s the one I want to throw out there. My first one is A. knowing that difference and B. choosing which one you want to be. So, if you could just bear with me, I’m going to explain that difference right now for people who don’t know, because you can easily Google this, right? So transactional leadership, this is a leader that comes in, they tell an employer what to do, they tell them how to do it, right. So, they say, I want this done. And I want to done ABC way. And it’s an exchange, right? I’m telling you to do this, you’re going to do it, and I’m going to check later. Yeah, you’re overseeing the work.

Ricky Baez 5:48
But the difference to that is the opposite of that is the transformational leader. This is when somebody comes in, and they say, you know what? I want ABC done. Now, I’m using layman’s term here, I don’t care how you do it, just take care of it and I’ll come back in a week and I’ll see how you are. If you have any questions, give me a call, let me know. That shift in mindset, what that does to the employee, versus the transactional leaders, like my boss wants me to do it like this in this specific way, versus the transformational one, when the employee says, holy crap, my boss has trusted me to do this with my talent my way as long as I get the outcome that he or she is looking for.

Ricky Baez 6:32
So, to me, it’s really important to fully understand those two things. One is a little bit micromanaging. Now, sometimes you do need that, right. Sometimes you do have to micromanage some people in some situations, but not 100% of the time. But if you’re constantly putting your employees in a situation that they get to use the skill set that we hired them to do, then that is when you transform that person from an employee, quote unquote, into somebody who’s really invested in the bottom line of whatever goal the business has, because the leader is putting that employee in a position of making the difference off the bottom line with their particular skill set. So that is my first one. I don’t know if that makes sense or not for everybody listening.

Pete Newsome 7:13
It does, I think that is a great goal to have, right, as a leader to give your employees the opportunity to thrive and to, you know, apply their own creativity, way of doing things. But, you know, I wonder how much risk there is in doing that, you know, where not every employee wants that responsibility. Because that could be a pretty big burden to put on an employee.

Pete Newsome 7:51
So, I would suspect that along the way, you have to still pay close attention to how it’s progressing. Right? If it’s an assigned task, for example, how well that’s going. Any thoughts on how to manage that? Because while intentions are great, the outcome may not be what’s desired.

Ricky Baez 8:15
Yeah, I do have an answer for that, right. And I say this in all my classes, Pete, you need two things to be a leader, people skills and a backbone. If you don’t have either one of those two things, either go out and get those skill set, or if you don’t want to get them find something else to do, because this job’s going to be really hard for you then. But the backbone. It’s not just a word, the backbone, it really is a mindset. Because the risk there is, is that what if the employee doesn’t do what he or she is supposed to do?

Ricky Baez 8:44
Well, that’s the risk. Right? Now, it all goes back to hiring, right? Because I want to make sure that I hired the right person for the right role at the right time. What does that mean? That means that I’ve got to make sure that I don’t let the time this position has been empty dictate what kind of person I’m going to have in there. I got to stick to my guns and my strategy about what kind of skill set that I want. If I do my due diligence to bring this employee in for the right reasons, at the right time, at the right job, then that worry of maybe having a risk is significantly lower.

Ricky Baez 9:26
Because the person you put in that position is somebody who you can trust to actually move that needle from A to B. Now, do mistakes happen? Absolutely. And do you sometimes have to, especially in those critical projects and those projects that are a little bit out there and intricate, yeah you do have to get your hands a little bit dirty to make sure that they’re still going in the right direction, but that should be a byproduct, not the actual goal. Right?

Ricky Baez 9:55
Because once you start going here or there, yeah, you got to kind of nudge him back into place and you nudge them back into place. When I’m training a new leader, I keep telling them, don’t you ever micromanage your employees because you’re just wasting your time. Right?

Pete Newsome 10:08
Well, so it sounds like, you know, to some degree, you know, what you’re suggesting is, it’s easier to be a leader, if you have the right employees to lead.

Ricky Baez 10:20
Is it easier? Yes, it is easier. But being a leader is hard. So, it’s more hard than easy, but people don’t do it just because it’s easy. So yeah, it would be easier if we had the right employees, but here’s the thing, Pete, if I don’t have the right employees on my team, then that’s my fault as a leader. Because A either I brought them on, right, and that was all me.

Ricky Baez 10:50
And maybe they told me a story that sold me on that skill set, but as soon as I realize that’s not the skill set, okay, bye. Then it’s up to me. And that’s not easy to do, right? Because depending on what kind of project you got going on, and what kind of other ingredients you have in that pot, that makes it really, really hard. But that’s what being a leader is all about, though.

Pete Newsome 11:11
So, making the right decision up front and then making the hard decision if and when necessary?

Ricky Baez 11:16
Early. I think you said it, I learned an awesome phrase that I used the other day, I learned it from you. Didn’t you say bad news early is good news?

Pete Newsome 11:28
Bad news early is good news, yes. I say that often.

Ricky Baez 11:31
Yes, so you said that a couple of, well actually, it was a couple of months ago. Right? And I’m not going to get too far into it. I was having a conversation with my wife a couple of weeks ago, and I used that same phrase, it did not go well for me Pete.

Pete Newsome 11:50
That is probably not a good idea, using the phrases that I use at work on your wife.

Ricky Baez 11:56
It did not go well for me at all. But yeah, you know, as far as having a bad employee or a bad situation, you know, once you find out that news about whether they’re not doing good, or are they salvageable? That’s something different, but the earlier you find out about it, the earlier you handle it, the better position your team is going to be. Right?

Pete Newsome 12:21
Yeah, it’s a good thing to bring up because it goes without saying, or perhaps it’s necessary to say, that one of the things that’s necessary in leadership is to make those hard decisions that you don’t want to make but have to make. Or to get rid of an employee who you like, who you enjoy being around, but is bad for the business is probably one of the hardest things to do as a leader or as someone who’s in that position to make those decisions. I know I’ve struggled with it greatly over the years, you know, but on the other side of it, I’ve never regretted acting.

Ricky Baez 13:08

Pete Newsome 13:09
Once getting to that point. And I think that’s an area that I’ve needed to work on in my own leadership skills and development over the years, is not letting those situations linger, because it’s not good for anyone. If you ultimately know where it’s going end, once you identify that an employee is not a good fit, you’re not doing them a favor by letting it that situation linger.

Pete Newsome 13:15
In fact, it’s the opposite, you’re doing them a disservice because it doesn’t give them the opportunity to advance elsewhere in their career where they could thrive, where they could have a happy ending. And you know, but in the moment, those are challenging, you know, decisions to make, to say the least, right?

Ricky Baez 13:56
Well, that’s what makes this job hard. That’s what makes that role so hard, right? And that’s when you need that backbone, because you are going to, look, you’re going to have to have difficult conversation with people you don’t like. The hardest part is having those difficult conversation with people you do like, especially letting go of an employee due to performance who used to be up here, and you guys could choose to go to lunch all the time and it’s difficult. And it takes practice.

Pete Newsome 14:24
I will tell you this is a story I’ve brought up before to you, but the single hardest situation I’ve ever been in, in my professional career was when I was promoted from my peer group. This is going back quite a few years, to a management role. And that was a struggle because not everyone was happy in that situation. One person in particular thought that job should have been theirs and this was someone who I considered a friend.

Pete Newsome 14:58
I did go to lunch with, just like what you described, and suddenly it was an adversarial relationship overnight. And that is its own set of challenges and I had to grow up a lot. I mean I was much younger, professionally, but that was a big evolutionary step for me in leadership is to realize you have to rise to the position that you’re in. And just because someone was your peer, in the past, there becomes a difference, and those differences are real. They’re very real, it was painful.

Ricky Baez 15:37
I had similar experiences where I really had a hard time with that. When about 15 years ago, when I first got my own team and I was having a hard time with that, because I got promoted into a situation where now I’m overseeing a lot of my former peers. And my senior director told me something that stuck with me, stuck with me a long time and she said, Ricky, you know, it really is on you to let them know, that it’s boss first, friend second, and you have to train them on how to live that expectation at work.

Ricky Baez 16:13
That’s number one. Number two, if your friend puts your job in jeopardy, because he or she is putting your friendship over what that relationship is like, then they’re not a real friend. And that one hit me Pete, that one hit me and I’m like, oh, my gosh, she is 100% right. Because me as a friend, right, if I got a buddy of mine, he gets promoted. Right? And if I start gaffing off and not doing what I’m supposed to be doing making him look bad, just because I think we’re friends and he’s not going to hold me accountable, then what kind of a friend am I?

Ricky Baez 16:50
Right? If I’m putting his career in jeopardy, and she told me that and ever since then, for 15 years that has been how I’ve been operating, and it has been one of the best advices I was ever given. And I took it to heart.

Pete Newsome 17:02
That’s a good lesson. Mine was much more straightforward, it was clear that we weren’t friends anymore.

Ricky Baez 17:10
You know what, their loss then.

Pete Newsome 17:14
But yeah, like any challenging situation, the goal is to take something away that allows you to be better equipped the next time. And so, let’s use that as a segue into a point that I wanted to bring up which is, you know, don’t be afraid of failure, as a leader. And yeah, I like to think of it as being vulnerable. And it’s something that I think about a lot I talk about quite a bit too because not everyone, that doesn’t come easily for everyone.

Pete Newsome 17:56
You know, you have pride, you have an ego. A lot of people have a tendency, and maybe most people have a tendency to not openly acknowledge mistakes to avoid, you know, getting to that point. And, to me, a leader should have the opposite traits. You should be quick to acknowledge when you make a mistake, you should be quick to, you have to be willing to make a mistake. And so that’s why I put that in the blog, because it’s something that I see as a necessary thing to possess. Because to be a leader, you have to be trusted.

Pete Newsome 18:41
And so, if I don’t trust that you will tell me when you make a mistake, then I don’t know that I can trust you at all right? Because we know that that’s a part of life, it’s a part of business, it’s a part of having a relationship, not everything’s going to go well, all the time. We know that. Even though we strive for things to go to go well, it’s not practical. And so, you have to be willing to openly and quickly, you know, admit when you’re wrong. And when you’ve done something that was a failure. And I think it’s unfortunately, not a prevalent thing. I don’t know if you disagree with that, but I think people struggle with that.

Ricky Baez 19:32
I know people struggle with that Pete, so I do agree with that. Because, you know look, I was in the Marine Corps a long time ago, right. And I was there for four years. And let me tell you when I went through there, Pete, from 95 to 99, back then that is an organization that did not tolerate mistakes. And I mean did not. God help you if you show up to formation two sec late. I mean, God help you.

Ricky Baez 20:02
The Gunny doesn’t want to know, the Sergeant doesn’t want to know why you were late, you’re in trouble because you’re late. Right? But, you know, I take a look because I’ve got some buddies that are still in and they tell me all the stories about the type of Marines that they’re leading. And it’s a new military, a new structure. When they encourage giving the opportunity to learn from mistakes, but you got to be careful, because look, if I make a mistake at work, Pete, the worst that can happen is okay, maybe we lose some money fine. In the Marine Corps, if you make a mistake, people die. Right?

Ricky Baez 20:36
They die so it’s two completely different environments, but I guess what I’m saying is that the best way where a leader can learn the most valuable lessons is through failure. And if they allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to be okay, and not look like a perfectionist enough, to where you’re able to fail. But Pete, here’s the part that some people forget. And you learn from that failure. Right? You have to learn from it. Because if you keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again, it’s no longer a learning opportunity. It is not a disciplinary action happening.

Ricky Baez 21:19
Right, now it’s something completely different. And if you as a leader, live that mantra, and you build a culture of trust with your team, and you do the same thing with your team, you encourage, I don’t want to see you want to encourage failure, you want to encourage them to have the critical thinking skills to take calculated risk appropriately.

Pete Newsome 21:39

Ricky Baez 21:40
I think I said that right.

Pete Newsome 21:41
Yeah, well I do want to separate a little bit. You mentioned as an example, and I don’t think this was intended to be an example of you having anything to do with leadership. But when you show up late, right, that’s almost to me inexcusable.

Ricky Baez 22:00
It was a horrible example.

Pete Newsome 22:01
Versus making a mistake. Right. Well, you had to do your Colonel Jessup, you know, moment. People die if they make a mistake. So, it’s crazy how often references from A Few Good Men apply universally.

Ricky Baez 22:17
Amazing movie.

Pete Newsome 22:19
It is, top 10 for sure. But you have to first be accountable and responsible and reliable as a leader. Now, that really, it has to be in place all the time. But making mistakes is different in my mind, right? Making a mistake because you went, you know, 100% in the wrong direction you got off track, versus hey, I was lazy and didn’t show up on time, or I wasn’t attentive enough, or it wasn’t as important to me because that is where you know, actions speak so much louder than words. And if you can’t show up on time, then no one’s going to trust you as a trader. So, I know you weren’t using that as an example, but I did want to clarify that because that’s not a leadership, a forgivable thing.

Ricky Baez 23:20
You’re right. You know, but I like to bring it back to the culture of trust. So yeah, that that may not have been a good example in there. But boy, do I have a story for you later on about that. Yeah. So, it’s all about building that culture of trust, Pete, and, you know, I’ve learned throughout the years in the last team that I had, whenever I bring a brand-new employee on, I do my regular orientation, the rookie way.

Ricky Baez 23:46
Take him out to breakfast, you know, the first couple of days have a conversation about what is expected of them of the role, but I wanted to walk away from our conversation with this, that if you make a mistake, and you know about it, I need to hear from you first, number one. Number two is don’t be afraid to take those mistakes. Don’t be afraid to step out on a limb, because we don’t learn unless we try different things. Right?

Pete Newsome 24:10

Ricky Baez 24:11
But I hired you on my team, because you have great, to me, emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills are tops, right? If you have good emotional intelligence skills, and then you have good critical thinking skills, you’re going to take calculated risk, right? If you take calculated risk, and we fail, let’s take a step back, you tell me about it, let’s look into it. That way we can learn from it and figure out a strategy that way it doesn’t happen again later on.

Ricky Baez 24:39
And what that did Pete, at first, the first six months if somebody starts, they tell me everything. Because they’re like, I don’t want to get Ricky mad. You’re not going to make me mad, it’s okay. But they start figuring out what kind of things I do want to know, and they realize that’s how you train them on what kind of information they give you, what kind of culture of trust you have with the organization.

Ricky Baez 25:02
So, they start telling you all these things and you start getting into a tempo, into this groove that builds this trust and this loyalty that never existed before. And folks, I’m telling you, if you try that out there, have that open relationship, those heart-to-heart conversations with your employees, you will be surprised how vested they’re going to be in the bottom line.

Pete Newsome 25:22
Yeah, you know, a leader is not, does not need to be perfect leader does not need to be infallible. And you know, what, I think back to the example I gave of when I was first promoted into a management role as a young professional, I got that wrong. I thought that I needed to not show vulnerability, I need to show strength and confidence and authority. And the reality is, I had already showed those things through my actions to get promoted into the role and that’s why I was there.

Pete Newsome 25:59
And I didn’t need to show those things other than by example and continuing to portray the traits that got me there in the first place. And I look back now and think, Boy, I would have handled that completely differently. But the recurring theme from this conversation so far is, it’s the mistake is not, you know, it is valuable if you learn from it. Otherwise, it’s just a mistake. So that is always the important thing, look, you can make a mistake that can cost you your job. And that can seem awful.

Ricky Baez 26:41

Pete Newsome 26:42
But you could still be better for it in the long run

Ricky Baez 26:44

Pete Newsome 26:45
So, you know, the goal is still bad news early, if necessary, it’s good if there’s going to be bad news, get it out there early. But don’t be afraid to make a mistake. But don’t make one out of apathy or laziness, right? Make one because you were trying to improve a situation, you were trying to make the workplace better, and whatever that means, in your particular situation. But fear is not a good way to operate. You know but be vulnerable. I think we need more of that in the workplace, for sure.

Ricky Baez 27:29
So, vulnerability and not being afraid to fail. Pretty much that’s the same thing, it is.

Pete Newsome 27:36

Ricky Baez 27:36
I’ve got it. I got one. Empowerment. And oh, Pete, I can talk about this one forever. Forever.

Pete Newsome 27:46
Well, we’ll lose people quickly if you do.

Ricky Baez 27:48
I know, I guess I tend to go down that rabbit hole. So, I’m going to mention to two thought leaders in the leadership space, that’s Simon Sinek and Tom Peters. Tom Peters, what I learned from him, and I saw this, not a TED talk, I saw him in an interview a long time ago and he says, the most important words in an employee employer relationship is, what do you think?

Ricky Baez 28:16
And that hit me. That really hit me. In a meeting, instead of telling people what you think, or what needs to happen, listen to what they have to say, listen to all the issues that your team is going through from their perspective. Don’t give your perspective because you’re the expert in your own perspective. But you’re doing yourself a disservice as a leader, if you don’t give your employees an opportunity to voice their concerns, to voice their opinion from their lens.

Ricky Baez 28:48
So, if you stop and you ask them, what do you think? Here’s what that does. The person who always thought that he or she was never impactful in any meeting, all of a sudden, oh, my God, they care what I think. That’s what that does, right? And that empowers them. The other one is Simon Sinek. And Simon Sinek says something at a TED Talk years ago that really stuck with me.

Pete Newsome 29:13
You’re going to say, Simon Says, right now? Okay go on, I had to.

Ricky Baez 29:19
Alright, I wasn’t even going that route. But yeah, Simon says this.

Pete Newsome 29:23
That’s all I could think of, I had to get it out. Okay go.

Ricky Baez 29:26
So, Simon Sinek said, he said, you know, in every meeting you have with your employees, the worst thing you can do is talk first, that’s the worst thing you can do. The best thing you can do is speak last. And the reason for that is that people may know you personally, but most people are afraid of your title, and they’re afraid of your name tag. So, if you speak first, whatever idea you may have, nine times out of ten, you’re going to have other employees that are not going to want to go against what you’re saying.

Ricky Baez 29:56
And they’re going to go along those lines, right, with the exception of a few. So, you’re never going to get the real true picture of what’s happening. Versus if you ask them, here’s the problem. What do you guys think? Let everybody talk, let everybody give you their opinions first, and then you say yours, whether it’s different or not, it doesn’t matter, but you’ve got their real true opinion. You do that, very often, every now and then, what’s going to end up happening is employees are going to feel comfortable to speak up, they’re going to feel empowered to speak up.

Ricky Baez 30:28
And that is what you’re looking for. You want employees who are not afraid to tell you when it is hitting the fan. Because if you create an environment where they’re afraid to tell you that, you’re going to be blind to a lot of indicators in your business to where it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt that business. So, to me, it’s taken those blinders off. And one last one with empowerment. And this one, I’ve said this before in class, and I’ve said this before in other HR conference, that people look at me weird. I like to give my employees an opportunity to screw me over. And here’s what that means. And people are like, what are you saying, Ricky?

Ricky Baez 31:06
Here’s what that means. If I hired the right person, for the right job, for the right reasons, for the right skill set, I trust them to do a job. I do. And if I have, just an example, if I have a presentation that I need to give to the executives, I’m going to go to this employee and say, Hey, so and so I need you to put this together, you’re going to present to the executives, I want ABC, start working on it, I’ll see you in a week, let me know how you’re going. Now, one or two things are going to happen. Either the employee is going to say, oh my god, I can’t believe I’m in charge of this project.

Ricky Baez 31:43
I cannot let Ricky down and they’re going to knock it out of the park, Pete. That’s number one. Number two, the employer is going to say, whatever, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s going to embarrass me in front of everybody. Now, that’s a risk, right? It is a risk. But guess what, now I know who that person is. And now I know to take action. And bad news early is good news. And I found out right now what kind of person that is, I’m going to get rid of you.

Ricky Baez 32:09
If I give you this opportunity to screw me over and you actually do, it’s never going to happen again, not here, right? So, it takes guts, it really takes a backbone to be able to have that kind of mentality because you’re putting yourself out there in front of the executives in front of your bosses. You’re putting yourself out there, right, at the mercy of your employees.

Pete Newsome 32:34
So, are you suggesting in that scenario, do you believe that, given the responsibility that the employee clearly knows is placed upon them in that situation, if you’re not checking in, if you’re not involved, if you’re not going to see this presentation until it’s given to the group, right, publicly?

Ricky Baez 32:58
Oh, I’m not saying that.

Pete Newsome 33:00
You’re not saying that? You’re not getting that far?

Ricky Baez 33:01
Oh, no, Pete. No, no, no, no, no. I’m not going to micromanage you on how I want this done. But I’ll leave you to your own devices based on the goals and vision that I gave you. Now, am I going to check in on you every couple of days just to see that you’re on the right path? Absolutely. Are you going to present that to me a day before, two days before, to make sure you get everything right? Absolutely, that still is going to happen.

Ricky Baez 33:27
But nonetheless, they’re doing it, right, they’re going to present it, they’re going to get out there in front of everybody. Now, if two days before you present to me, I’m like, Oh, my God, this is horrendous. That’s my fault. And I have to fix that, right? Because I either didn’t give good guidance, I didn’t give a good coaching, or I wasn’t checking in frequently to kind of nudge them into the right direction, so I have to take ownership of that.

Pete Newsome 33:53
Sure. I like it. I mean, I think that makes sense. And I can tell you, as the owner of a business for over 15 years now, there’s nothing more valuable to me, then when an employee takes ownership of something, you know, on their own and without being asked, that takes something forward. So, it’s a little bit different than what you just described, but similar as well in that you want to give people the opportunity to operate autonomously and to bring their own ideas forward.

Pete Newsome 34:36
And that’s, you know, in a business our size, it’s critical because, you know, it’s been years since I’ve had outside work experience. So, you know, I’m kind of in this bubble now, as I’ve been for, you know, almost 16 years where the only way I’m going to learn and evolve, and that is to say the only way my ability to help the business grow and evolve, is to have outside expertise, outside ideas, new ideas, unique things that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

Pete Newsome 35:12
And I can tell you that, and you know this, that I crave that. The business needs that. And too few people are either, I don’t know what it is, either willing to do that or just lack the desire to bring ideas forward to solve problems other than identify problems, right? Like there’s different levels, there’s identifying a problem, there’s a identifying a problem and a solution. Like that’s the next best thing. Bring me, you know, don’t just tell me a problem, right? Because I know when there’s a problem.

Pete Newsome 35:57
And then if you’re going to tell me there’s a problem, come to me with a solution, if you can, but ideally, tell me about it after you’ve solved it. And I can tell you, when I think of leadership, and the traits that I’ve identified with different employees over the years, none are greater than those who fall into that scenario. And, you know, I don’t know, if perhaps, we at times don’t set the stage correctly for that, do we not impart that knowledge onto our employees when we talk about it?

Pete Newsome 36:34
I know that we do. But I still think it’s an uncomfortable place for a lot of employees to say, gosh, am I going to call the baby ugly, so to speak? And the message that I would want to give to every employee is, yeah, you do, because no one wants to be the Emperor with no clothes.

Ricky Baez 36:56

Pete Newsome 36:56
And that’s something that over the years that I’ve seen is either lacking at times, or just a godsend, you know, for employees who are willing to step up and take accountability. And to me that’s what, you know, because I can grant you power as a leader by putting you in a position of authority, right? But you can be an even more effective leader, without the title and we all hear this, right? You operate, what’s the phrase? You know, operate as if you’re in the job you want. And to me that is the way to do it, by looking for solutions, taking those steps, before someone asks you to do it.

Ricky Baez 37:51
Got it. I think its dress for the job you want, isn’t it? Isn’t that the phrase?

Pete Newsome 37:56
Just part of it, but I think there’s more to it than that. Because it’s not about dressing the part, it’s about acting apart. And I think if employees want to stand out, no one has to tap you to be a leader for you to actually be one, you do it through your actions, you look for those opportunities. And I think of, it was just a small thing, but it was so impactful.

Pete Newsome 38:26
Years ago, we had a relatively new recruiter who happened to answer the phone of a new client, an important call that came in, and whoever should have, and the call may have even been for me, you know, and I wasn’t there at the time, or whoever the call was for, the person wasn’t there. And they just said, how can I help you? Such a simple, straightforward question. And they took it and ran, no one asked, and it probably wasn’t, truth be told, necessarily even the right thing to do, this employee was so new.

Pete Newsome 39:04
But they had this inherent trait of wanting to solve, you know, avoid a problem that’s better than solving one. They wanted to handle whatever it was, and they did. And I remember hearing this story later in the day and it was it was a top then moment for me in business, quite frankly, that this person and I promoted this individual within days, maybe weeks, but soon after, because it just stood out. I got this call. I asked if I could help and then I actually helped and solved this person’s, who called in without involving anyone else and told me after it was done, and I’m like, Man, that’s just, you can’t teach that, right?

Ricky Baez 40:00
You cannot and you know, that reminds me of Tony Shea. You know, the founder of Zappos, who did pass away. Do you know the story with him and the conference in San Francisco? What happened with him?

Pete Newsome 40:13
No, not about this specifically.

Ricky Baez 40:15
Well, you know, Tony, right? Tony Shea, okay. So Tony Shea was the CEO of Zappos a long time ago. I read about this about 10 years ago, he was at a conference, right, way before Amazon bought Zappos, right? And he was at a conference and he’s telling people about his company, that they sell shoes. And everyone was like, so what, you sell shoes. What’s so big about that? And he’s like, no, well, we care about the service, the employees, and the customer.

Ricky Baez 40:41
Now, obviously, a pair of shoes from Zappos is about 25% more expensive than you going to Walmart or somewhere else, but he was making a killing. Anyway, he was having drinks with a lot of other CEOs and the other CEOs just didn’t believe him about how his employees are at servicing. And he’s like, you know what? I’m putting my reputation on the line, here you go, here’s my 800 Number.

Ricky Baez 41:03
Go ahead and call and ask them anything you want. Right? So okay, I’ll take you up on that offer. One of the CEOs called and somebody answered, and instead of the CEO asking for shoes, he’s like, look, I’m in a conference in San Francisco, I try to find a good spot for pizza, can you help me out? Now this was at a time before smartphones were relevant, right? Before anybody can actually Google it.

Ricky Baez 41:28
And the guy on the other end without skipping a beat, sure. What’s your address? And looked it up and did this and that and helped them without asking why. Are you going to buy shoes? Nothing. And they were impressed. That is why people are willing to spend 25% more on shoes. Because you’re not selling a product. You’re selling a service.

Pete Newsome 41:48
Love it, that’s great.

Ricky Baez 41:48
Well, yeah, so same thing. So that’s awesome. Love it.

Pete Newsome 41:52
That’s a great story.

Ricky Baez 41:53
Yeah, that one sticks out.

Pete Newsome 41:55
So, look for opportunities and that’s the point I want to make there. And I think with that, do you have any? Do you have any others? Did you hit your points? I went through the ones that I wanted to highlight from the blog.

Ricky Baez 42:08
Well, I got one last one. One last one. And it’s called asking permission to give feedback. This one is big with me. And I learned this exactly about seven years ago from a gentleman by the name of Keith Anderson, and I’m calling him out by name because he was an executive for training and development. And he taught me a lesson that I’m like, I’m taking everywhere. He said, you know what, Ricky? If you give somebody feedback, and the feedback is unsolicited, they’re already on the defense.

Ricky Baez 42:42
They’re on that defense. But if you approach it like this, instead of saying, hey, you know what, I heard you on that call, you messed up, blah, blah, blah, they’re on the defense, they’re not going to take that feedback. But what if you do this. If you hear what happened, come across that employee later, I’m like, hey, you know what, you got a quick second? Hey, I just heard you in the call, you were doing a great job. I’ve got some great points that can help you close that deal a little bit quicker. If you’re okay, can I give you some points that can help you out? Can I give you some feedback?

Ricky Baez 43:17
Now, the person who doesn’t know they did something wrong, they’re going to be like, Well, I want to know what that feedback is, absolutely. You have their undivided attention Pete. And you give that feedback. Now, I don’t know how true this statistic is, but he told me, if you do that, there’s a 75% chance more likely that they’re going to take that feedback and run with it rather than you telling them without asking permission to give that feedback when the defense was up.

Ricky Baez 43:43
And they were looking in the back of their mind, all the different ways why you, the person giving that feedback, is wrong because you don’t understand the entire story. Versus asking for permission, they’re open, they’re willing to listen, and they’re going to incorporate that into the next call. I’m not going to say life changing, that’s a little bit overdramatic, but it was an impactful moment for me.

Pete Newsome 44:05
So, a lot of that has to be in the tone and.

Ricky Baez 44:10
Oh, yeah.

Pete Newsome 44:10
Delivery of the question, right? Not, Hey, can I give you some feedback?

Ricky Baez 44:15
Hey, you suck, right? I can’t do that here.

Pete Newsome 44:19
But I like that. I’m going to think about how to incorporate that myself. Because you’re right, if you just start launching into whatever it is, you know. Now, I assume that most of the time that happens, the feedbacks not going to be overwhelmingly positive. So, you know, because everyone’s going to welcome that. But I think that makes a lot of sense, is that you do want to set the tone, for you know, what’s going to happen next and let the person know that you’re doing it in their best interest, right? Because that’s the whole purpose of feedback, and consistent with what we keep talking about, which is mistakes are okay, provided you learn from them, provided you improve from them.

Pete Newsome 45:07
And that really ties everything together for me is that, you know, leadership is about being open. It’s about, of course doing the right thing yourself, but also setting a stage for, you know, for mistakes to be okay. Right? I mean, because if you strive for perfect, and you expect that, well, let me let me say it differently. It’s wonderful to strive for perfection. But you have to accept that perfection is not reality. And you’ll be okay with that. That’s the point. Be it be okay with it. And you know, act accordingly.

Ricky Baez 45:48
That’s right. So yeah, that tone is key. It definitely is key, but let me tell you Pete, I have been incorporating that, it works beautifully. It really does. And it changed how I talk to my employees. And it changed how I coach, my mentees and how I teach my students so yeah, so that was my last point.

Pete Newsome 46:08
I like it. So now I know when you come to me and say, Can I give you some feedback, I know what’s coming next.

Ricky Baez 46:14
I gave away my tricks, man.

Pete Newsome 46:16
Yeah, I know, I’m learning.

Ricky Baez 46:19
You’re listening. Awesome.

Pete Newsome 46:21
Well, cool. All right. Well please, if you are interested in reading the article that we published on this, it’s on our website 4cornerresources.com, under our blog section. We would love to hear from you if you have other thoughts. We know that this is not all encompassing, and we certainly are open to sharing more on a future podcast or answering questions. As always, please email us hirecalling@4cornerresources.com.

Ricky Baez 46:56
And as always, click like, subscribe to us. Find us in your favorite podcast platform. Let us know exactly how you feel about the show. Like Pete said, send us an email. Let us know if there’s any kind of questions you want answered or any topics you want to hear us talk about it. We’ll definitely do it. We’re here every week. So, we’re looking forward to hearing from you. With that said, thank you very much. Drive safe and goodnight, folks.

Pete Newsome 47:26
Thanks for listening.

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