Relationships at Work - Your Honest Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blind Spots.

What We Need to Know About Our Leadership Styles

April 23, 2024 Russel Lolacher - leadership and workplace relationship advocate Episode 152
What We Need to Know About Our Leadership Styles
Relationships at Work - Your Honest Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blind Spots.
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Relationships at Work - Your Honest Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blind Spots.
What We Need to Know About Our Leadership Styles
Apr 23, 2024 Episode 152
Russel Lolacher - leadership and workplace relationship advocate

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with leadership development expert Summer Davies on what we need to know about our leadership styles and how they can impact employee engagement.

Summer shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • Importance of leadership style adaptability.
  • Critical roles of self-awareness and feedback.
  • The different leadership styles and their impacts.
  • Recognizing leadership effectiveness.
  • The need for continuous adjustment.
  • Reconsidering how leadership is selected for promotion.

And connect with me for more great content!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with leadership development expert Summer Davies on what we need to know about our leadership styles and how they can impact employee engagement.

Summer shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • Importance of leadership style adaptability.
  • Critical roles of self-awareness and feedback.
  • The different leadership styles and their impacts.
  • Recognizing leadership effectiveness.
  • The need for continuous adjustment.
  • Reconsidering how leadership is selected for promotion.

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today, we have Summer Davies and here is why she is awesome. She's a leadership development expert through her consultancy, The Leader Shop with more than 15 years experience helping new and frontline leaders develop the mindset and tactical skills they need to lead with impact, confidence and empowerment.

Oh, and did I mention they also have to love what they do? She's also an adjunct for the faculty member for Sea Change Resources LLC, a team and organizational leadership training and coaching firm. Oh, she's got a bit of a past as well. She's the former global senior director of leadership development and talent pipeline management at MARS. They're a big company. Google them if you never heard of them, but I'm happy to have Summer here now. Hello, Summer.

Summer Davies: I'm delighted to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

Russel Lolacher: Okay. Summer. We start off every episode the same. You're no different. Sorry. No special treatment here. What, is your best or worst employee experience?

Summer Davies: Oh, I love that question. And I could definitely go down the road of my best one. I think everybody's got that one. I love my boss. They were so amazing. And I do have that story. She was so amazing, but I'm going to tell you my worst one, because I think it's really useful. I had just moved on to a new global team.

I was really excited about it. It was my first step into a global team. I was definitely. Big fish, little pond. I was the one going into the scary place. And the person who hired me was just so exciting and engaging. I was really excited to work for him. And on my first day, they announced he was moving to a new role and they'd hired his replacement and that person was there. And they'd done all this amazing work to kind of capture his, his impact and how valuable he'd been. And, and then this moving kind of lunch where he stepped out and then she stepped in as the new manager of the team. I'd never met her before. Most of the team were really new to her, too.

And there was a like a really beautiful picture that they kind of captured the journey of the team and all these things that we do and she literally ripped it off the wall, crumbled it up and said, Well that's done. We're gonna do things differently now. And basically working for her went like that. Over the next year or so that I worked for her, it was just one of those visceral moments where you're sitting there thinking, Oh, this isn't what I thought it was gonna be. And maybe I've made the wrong choice, but I'm already here, right? Like I'm in it. And so that was, to me will always be one of those, wow, it's hard to recover from that. And it's really hard to trust this person just based off this couple of minutes introducing herself to the team in such a dramatic way. So yeah, that was my, that was my worst one.

Russel Lolacher: Pretty horrible. That's pretty horrible, Summer. What a first impression, too. And I'm sure she thought in her head, Wow, fresh slate. We're starting over as a dramatic thing with no respect for a legacy. No respect for the relationships already established. Sorry, I literally put my hands over my mouth. I was so in shock by that. So from your knowledge of the organization, again, we're not naming names here, but from your knowledge of the organization, did it feel like it was means justify the ends. Because that person was obviously put in a position because they were there to do a job. They weren't there necessarily because, Hmm, is this the right culture fit for this team?

That didn't even seem to be a consideration at all.

Summer Davies: Yeah. I think that's really what it was. It was a lack of self awareness, which is something we see often, especially in more senior leader roles. And really her intent was to say exactly as you said, Hey, we've got a clean slate and we also have big work in front of us to do. I've been tasked... She knew she'd been tasked with some really big things to get done. It was going to take a lot to get those things done. And I think she was kind of trying to set the tone there. And missing the boat as far as what is the impact on others and how might others receive this level of introduction. And that's something I see in leaders a lot is that they just haven't taken the time to consider how might this land with a group of people.

And what are the other elements at play in this group that I might be unaware of in the way that I'm interacting. So that was, that was definitely the case for this person.

Russel Lolacher: What a lovely segue into our topic today, too. So we're talking somewhere today about leadership styles. What I've learned quickly over the span of doing this show is defining things matter. So before we get any further, I want to sort of dig in to your definition of what a leadership style even is, because we say leadership all the time and then just assume we know what that means.

So what in your experience is a leadership style?

Summer Davies: Yeah, in my experience, this manifests in a number of different ways. So this can be a combination of behaviors. Most often, that's what we can boil it down to. It's does this individual do things that are as tactical as ask a lot of questions, practice active listening, offer quality direction, quality feedback.

And those things sound really simple, but often leadership style is just a combination of how do they pick and play all those different types of things as a leader. And then they overlay personality with this, which is just a natural part of how somebody is, but it's how do they intentionally blend those other behaviors along with their personality and most individuals have a leadership style.

So if they are more of a coach type person, which a lot of people would like to label themselves as, and they say, I'm a coaching leader and then they, they apply that style in all instances, and that might be their style. Some folks are more directive leaders and they say, you know, I, I prefer to give direction.

I have a preferred way I like to see things done on my team, and so that is my style, and they tend to be quite directive. So oftentimes it's that kind of behavioral stuff going on in combination with personality.

Russel Lolacher: Are there, and I'm immediately thinking of the person you gave as an example of their style. What would that style be? What would you call that?

Summer Davies: Commando, maybe? Maybe that's not the right word. Wait, but this is, this is that more directive style who has a little bit of myopathy around, here's the task to get done. And I'm going to set direction and, and have the expectation that folks are going to follow me along the path. So that would be an extreme of an individual who is extremely directive and very decided on what good looks like, what a good outcome is, and what are the steps it takes to achieve that good outcome.

Russel Lolacher: So I'm thinking either one of two things. One, that was a leader who has tried that style before and it worked for them, or they were trying something brand new and I've not been a leader long, so I'm going to do what I've seen done before and think that's what success looks like. How do you know what your leadership style even is?

Summer Davies: This is one I, I run up against with managers who say, well, I don't know what you mean when you say that? I, I don't know what my style is? And then they will start to pull buzzwords that they think are the cool way to lead right now, like whatever is in trend at the moment. And so sometimes it really does take for leaders a bit of time to come back to a really pivotal question many folks miss answering for themselves when they first become a leader. And sometimes that was a long time ago, which is why do you want to be a leader in the first place? Why are you making the choice, whether you think it was a choice or not, to lead people? And what type of leader do you want to be?

What type of impact do you want to have on these individuals? And many folks can't answer that decisively and answer that in a way that really resonates with who they think they are, who they want to be. So that takes a little bit of work. And then once we've got some clarity on that, it takes some honest self observation.

And sometimes it takes some 360 feedback to get some other people's perspectives to say, What, how are you actually showing up day to day? What are your behaviors day to day? When faced with problems or complex knots to untangle, whatever is facing you, how do you truly show up? What are those behaviors that you're having?

Are you asking questions and being more of a coach, or are you giving orders and giving direction more often? And it may depend on the circumstance, which one is appropriate, but it's really useful to do some self observation over time to see. Okay, how am I actually showing up in these moments? And really look at both the moments when things are going great, how are you showing up?

And the moments when things are going not as great, how are you showing up? And what are your actual behaviors like?

Russel Lolacher: So do you see this more as for lack of a better metaphor, a Swiss army knife where it's not your leadership style is X. But here in this situation, it could be a Y. Here, it could be a C here. It could be a T. And they're just sort of tools to add to your toolkit. Wow. I'm into metaphors today. That really help you sort of... because there'll be that, that directive leader, and they're so blinded by thou shalt that they don't have that adaptability, they don't have that resiliency. So, and I never even thought of that before. Cause I was sort of thinking I'm this kind of a leader, but that might not always be the case in every situation.

Summer Davies: I love the metaphor of a Swiss army knife. And I think it's really useful because if we think about it as well, you, you, you have your core of who you are and you should absolutely be clear on that and continue to embrace the pieces of that, that you want to be in the world, right? And you gotta have some tools that you can whip out in the right moment, because not every moment needs the same tool. So to be that type of resilient and flexible leader to say, in this moment for this individual, I need some direction. But over here in this moment, I'm going to need to step back and be more of a coach or more of a guide and a mentor, or whatever the case may call for.

And that ability to flex in between is where we start to see those leaders who build really effective, highly efficient, highly productive, highly innovative teams, because they're unlocking what those individuals need. And that's what's truly the magic of being an effective leader is when you can start to figure out how to do that in a way that still stays true to yourself.

When I start to see leaders who maybe go down the dreaded micromanager role or something like that, it's because directions not necessarily a bad thing. It's just bad when you miss, misuse it just like a Swiss army knife, right? You don't always need the tweezers. So you gotta find the way to flex between those things so that you're applying the right tool or the right approach in the right moment.

Russel Lolacher: I'm more of a lack of toothpick guy, but I completely get what you mean by that.

Summer Davies: Right. Right. You know, you know, in absence of a toothpick, the knife tool, not a good substitute, equally damaging. So I think it's a, I think it's a beautiful metaphor.

Russel Lolacher: It really plays to with what you were talking earlier about, nobody ever asked the question, what kind of leader you want to be? And that's a great conversation to start with, but it's also incredibly self centered because there'll be a lot of leaders that go, I want to be this kind of leader! But you're like, yeah, but your team, much like your example earlier, is not wanting that kind of a leader. So unless you're going to be able to adapt and shift... and that's why I kind of want to ask the question is how has leadership style changed? Because it has, I remember my parents and the, you show up, you go to work, you go home, you do what you're told. Or even in early in my career was it was the, if you don't want to show up, somebody will replace you.

That was very much the leadership, especially in the service industry. I don't know why restaurants were so like, you can be replaced leadership style was such prevalent there. So how has leadership changed, especially with things like the pandemic, especially with people demanding change of leadership?

Summer Davies: Oh, this is such a relevant conversation right this minute because of where we are, right? We've kind of settled after the pandemic, I hope and we're starting to, to look and see what does the next 10 years in, in work look like for us and answer some of those hairy questions. Interestingly, I think we're starting to have a bit of a societal shift here that demands a richer conversation.

We have structures within organizations that were put in place 100, 150 years ago during the Industrial Revolution, and we haven't really changed the conversation about how do we promote? How do we select the right types of leaders to lead our organizations which need to solve more complex problems than they've ever had to solve before?

When we think about the rise of even things like A.I., the demands for organizations to be innovative, to be able to be productive and to be able to do more and more complex things over time is greater. So we need more out of our teams, which means we need more out of leaders, which brings us back to this.

We've got to select people in a little bit different way. So this is the long way to answer your question, which is right now, most organizations select leaders who are the best individual contributor. If you are the best accountant, it's very likely they are going to promote you to be the leader of the team of accountants.

And I am not an accountant, but as far as I know, the skill set that it takes to do great accounting work is not the same thing that it takes to get the best out of a team of people who do that. So being able to start to have a conversation about, we need more from leaders so that we can get more from teams, so that we can rise to the challenges that are facing our society today.

Then we need to be able to answer that question early on so that we make sure we're putting those right people in those leadership seats and then helping them be able to define who they are and what type of leader they want to be early on and then equip them with those skills. Get them that Swiss Army knife early on so that they can get what they need out of those teams so organizations can meet the challenges that they have in front of them.

So It's absolutely evolving and the need for that evolution is starting to get more and more important as we start to say, well, what is our future going to look like as a society and within organizations? What does that look like? We can define it if we take this opportunity to do that.

Russel Lolacher: It's the Michael Scott problem from The Office, right? He was the most amazing sales guy ever should not be in charge of other human beings, but because he rose to the level of his incompetence that was as good as it was going to get. But unfortunately he was hurting the culture in being in that position.

So how do we know we're being effective with the particular leadership style that we're providing, changing, shifting to? How do we know it's working or maybe not working so we can pivot?

Summer Davies: Yeah. And I love, Michael Scott's my favorite manager when I'm talking about examples. And I think it's important just to call out with him and with many other managers, I don't think Michael Scott's a bad intended person. He's a well intended person who doesn't have the skillset. So that's really important.

And when we start to say, well, how do you know if you're Michael Scotting all over your team? There's some, there's some good indicators that you can start to look at. We can look at the big things like turnover. If you start to see big upswing, upswings in regrettable losses on your team, meaning people that you are not promoting to bigger and better roles. They're, they're moving on regrettably from your team. That's a pretty big indicator, but there's smaller little hints that you can see those early flashes that can show you. One of the ones that I will tell leaders if they're saying, gosh, I don't know if maybe I'm starting to shut down my team. Maybe there's not psychological safety on my team.

Maybe whatever might be happening. Just get your journal and for a day or two, start recording how often do you answer questions? Somebody comes to you and you give them the solution. And how often do you ask questions and facilitate their creation of the solution? If you find that you are answering questions, you are providing the solution more often than you are facilitating the creation of the solution, you might be in trouble.

That might be an indication that that's going on. That could then also lead to things like drops in innovation. If you look at your team and you say, gosh, they used to come up with the best ideas and now that I don't know what happened. You might've happened to them. If you start to block that creativity with your behavior, that could be an indication that that is what's going on.

I'm not saying empirically that that is what's going on, but very often drops in innovation, drops in productivity, increases in workplace safety incidences. People are getting hurt at work more often. All of those could be indications that we've got a leadership behavior problem.

Russel Lolacher: I'm never going to get the term Michael Scotting all over the place out of my head for a while, but... So how do we, how do we correct this before it happens? So for instance, and I love going back to your example at the beginning. What was missing in the job interview that we didn't ask the leadership question around style.

We always ask about productivity. We do ask about how did you handle this particular situation, but we don't get into style. So where, where can we better show up in that initial conversation in hiring?

Summer Davies: You know, I find situational based interviewing is really, really useful where you can go to somebody and say, tell me about a time that you set direction and your team didn't follow it. What did you do in those instances? Tell me about a time that you unlocked creativity that was better than you could have come up with on your own.

Those types of provocative questions where you can say, help me understand how you've applied these skills. with your team in the past. And if you have somebody who can't answer those questions with an actual example, not a hypothetical or a made up story about what you might do, but an actual example, that can be an indication that you've got a skillset gap going on there.

And that person may need more development before they're ready to step into that role. If they can't articulate actual examples of those types of behaviors happening.

Russel Lolacher: Now I want to fast forward a bit because you did mention off the top how it seems like executives seem to be the most impacted with lack of self awareness. We don't start off that way generally in a lot of organizations because we're given a lot of feedback over and over again. But that feedback seems to be more and more diminished the higher up we go into these organizations or the lack of listening to that feedback as we go up in the organizations. So, for self awareness, which I still think is one of the biggest superpowers you can have as a leader. How do you work that into understanding your leadership style to understand what's working?

Summer Davies: Well, this is a, this is a really, this is a tricky one, right? Because often what we have is leaders who have been able to manage their way up to a more senior level role without having developed these skills. It is hard sometimes to convince them that now, indeed, you need to go back and develop some of these skills, which might be seen as more foundational.

Now, oftentimes, what individuals do is they get really good at building up the skills that mask their skill deficiency. So maybe they're great at managing up, or maybe they're great at executive presence, or maybe they're great at some of these other things that can help kind of mask some of these things.

And they continue to move up until they get to a place where it's not such a big deal, and yet we start to see that organizational impact trickle down because when we've got senior leaders who are disengaging, their teams will be disengaged, and then we see that moving all the way through the organization.

So helping them understand the impact of their behaviors is tricky, but it's not impossible. And I come back to very tried and true, well delivered feedback. Helping them understand. I like the SBI model, situation, behavior, impact. I find it's really useful, especially at those levels, because now we're not getting into arbitrary conversations about oh, we think you don't have self awareness, but rather saying in these moments, here's how you're impacting the people around you.

And here's how that impacts the larger organization, and here's how that may impact your career long term. So, finding, what is it that is the motivator for them and helping them understand how their behavior is then impacting those motivators? That's usually the best way to start tipping into, into that self awareness. And then I think back to the Michael Scott example is the other really important one to keep in mind with these individuals is, most of them unless you're dealing with an actual sociopath which they're out there... but it's rare. Unless you're dealing with an actual sociopath, they're not bad intended, they're not intending to go around having that impact on others. So remembering that their intention is probably good. It's just a misalignment of behavior and, and probably a lack of awareness. So going with a bit of empathy about, gosh, that, that might be really hard for them to experience some awareness coming into their peripheral if that hasn't happened before. So, you know, continuing to remember, I think this person is good intended. I don't think that they mean to be having this impact. And so I'm going to go with that empathy when I give that feedback. That can be a really powerful game changer when you're trying to bring someone along in that way.

Russel Lolacher: And I can't stress enough the importance of listening to those that are directly reporting to that leader and getting the feedback from them. I mean, you hear the 365, that's certainly want to do it, but leaders have to hear from the followers. And it's not only the leader has to hear that, their leadership ecosystem needs to hear that.

I don't, I don't think we put enough effort on the followers. We just look at results. We don't look at how those leadership styles could be cracking those cultures, that could be creating splintered new cultures. They're being created in defense of that horrible leadership style, perhaps. So what are your thoughts on how to handle it when it comes to embracing feedback from employees and the best way to go about doing that.

Summer Davies: I think that our culture will start to demand this more and more, but before we get there, you know, in the interim, we've got some senior leaders who may need some help being able to open up to those types of perspectives. I find storytelling is really, really helpful. Helping them understand the impact via story, if you've got somebody who can start to bring that to life and say, let me help you understand what it, what it feels like with the experience is like on your team or in this organization. And here's a story I have of that particular example, or of an idea that could have gone missing because of the culture we're creating or of the lack of productivity we're creating because of the culture we've created here.

So crafting that feedback into a bit of storytelling can be a really beautiful way to invite somebody along with you in a less aggressive approach to that, that crack into their self awareness.

Russel Lolacher: How frequently are you adjusting and tweaking and trying to figure out what leadership style should be working or not working?

Summer Davies: Effective leaders are doing this constantly. It's a constant dance in conversations to, to understand what does this individual need based on this particular task? This goes back to old school, Ken Blanchard situational leadership stuff, right? This is classic, constant negotiation, and that's what relationships really are, right?

They are a constant dance with another individual to build trust and to work with each other and to work off of one another based on what you're getting. And so really effective leaders are just, they're doing this all the time. And I know sometimes that can sound exhausting, but in fact when you start to get it, it is exhilarating because now you're building off the energy of another individual and now you're starting to really lead and that's the cool stuff.

Russel Lolacher: But I'm sure you've heard it. I'm sure you've heard the excuses of when am I going to fit this in, Summer? I've got 17 meetings today. I'm not going to be able to readjust, reassess, and tweak my leadership style. I'm barely going to see my staff for the next three weeks. How do we tackle resistance? Like it's not that they're not wanting to learn.

It's not that these leaders are ill intended. It's that their own workload is preventing them from being effective.

Summer Davies: This comes back to that clarity around what type of leader you want to be and truly the end of the day is if you cannot make time in your busy schedule, if you cannot own your own calendar and make the hard decisions and the hard call around how you're prioritizing yourself, how on earth can you expect the people who work for you to do it?

And then, then it becomes a decision about, you know, how did you get here and what are you going to own to change that going forward? Because if what your expectation is that you're, let's say you're a manager of managers, the managers who work for you are making time to do that to get the most out of the frontline employees that you need. If you can't do it, they definitely can't do it and won't do it. So it's really about making those hard decisions. Leaders make hard decisions. Pure and simple.

Russel Lolacher: So let's get particular in the time we have left. I want to get particular about types, the styles of leadership style. You've mentioned two coaching which is obviously become very popular, whether that comes with a certificate or not. Also the direct leader, which does have its place as well. What are other types of leadership styles that we could be adding to our tool kit?

Summer Davies: I think coaching's sister is mentoring and sometimes we think these two things are the same, but indeed they are different. A coach is an individual who is asking the questions to draw out, if you go back to like pure John Whitmore, the beginnings of coaching, right? We're asking questions to draw out what's already in the individual.

We're not adding in extra knowledge or skill set. We're drawing out, we're enabling the conditions in which for them to be able to solve the problem and answer the question, what ever it is.. Mentoring is the sister to that. Where we're having that type of conversation, but mentoring is putting in, so maybe you're sharing your experiences.

Maybe you're sharing your stories. Maybe you're saying things like, when I was faced with a problem like this. Here's how I solved it. Or here's an experience of a time that might be relevant here. You're not solving the problem or giving direction. You're sharing your experience. This comes from Greek mythology, right?

Mentos was doing this to put in information. So those two are kind of sisters, but they are distinct styles. And sometimes what can happen is leaders will lean on one being a mentor or being a coach more than another and they won't shift when they say, Oh man, I can ask questions for days. This person does not have the answer.

I need to share a story of a time when I've been able to do it. That might help them come up with their answer. We talked about the directive style where we're saying, this is what we need to do. can be really, really valuable. If somebody is learning a new skill, they don't know what they're doing, they need you to tell them how to do it, right?

Also can be detrimental if we're overusing it. And then we sometimes see what I would call as a cheerleader style of leader who's kind of on the side, really pumping people up. Also really valuable, but that is actually sometimes when misapplied, it can be a form of abstaining. So you are not giving any information.

You're not doing any leading, really. You're cheerleading and cheerleaders are valuable sometimes. And so sometimes we see some of that type of leadership going on as well. And then I would say on that kind of more negative side, sometimes we see a true, pure abstaining leader who says, I trust my people. I'm going to get out of the way. That can be beautiful if you really do trust your people and they really do have the skill and you really do need to get out of the way. It can also have a shadow side, right? If they don't have that skill set, if they aren't able to answer those questions, that can feel really scary to be on that team.

So I think each one of those styles has really a lot of use and a shadow side. So you just have to be a little careful about some of those different styles and, and choiceful about when you're going to apply them.

Russel Lolacher: How has, and you touched on this earlier with AI, but I want to talk more specifically about remote work. How has that impacted our ability to shift our leadership styles because we're not necessarily getting the facial cues or the, you know, all those things like, Ooh, this style is not working. I got to shift gears.

We don't always have that in front of us to know that we need to shift gears. And I'm trying not to crash to dig into the metaphor a bit more here, Summer.

Summer Davies: Yeah. Oh, man, it does make it so much harder. And I'm a big fan of remote work. I think it opens up possibilities for organizations and individuals that we've never been able to, to approach before. And I'm really excited about what it's going to mean for the future of work. And it does make it a lot harder as a leader because you just can't always see, you know, what's going on with somebody.

They can have a filter on. They can turn their camera off. There's all of ways for us to to lose that connection. So as a leader, it becomes even more important to think into how do I ask the right kind of questions? How do I look for those additional cues? And how do I role model some of that so I can be present?

There's a study that came out about six months ago from Microsoft that shows how alarming some of the multitasking behaviors are. And they saw, I don't have the numbers right in front of me, but they saw something like in the high seventies percent of people are actively multitasking on TEAMS meetings, meaning they've got another window open while they're, you know, while they're talking to somebody else, they're actively doing other work.

And we know this is true because you've seen somebody in their eyes flicker to, you know, the Facebook ad that they're looking at or whatever they're doing. So finding ways to say, how do I really get this person engaged in the conversation? Make sure that they've carved out the time to be present and I've done the same, carved out the time to be present with that individual so that I can do my very best to try to tap into those cues and follow up with those powerful questions and be brave enough to say, Hey, we just had a conversation, I want to make sure you got what you needed from me. I, you know, I want to make the space for you to let me know if you needed something and I didn't get it for you or gosh, I gave you, I gave you some direction there. I gave you some feedback there. I just want to follow up and make sure, did that work for you?

So asking those questions that sometimes it's easy to hide from because you might not want to know the answer. And having the leadership courage to say, I'm going to take the extra step to check in with these folks to make sure that they know I'm paying attention and making sure they get what they need.

Russel Lolacher: And maybe this is me flexing on my communication nerdery, but is it out of the realm just to ask them what kind of style they might need in that moment? I.E. Hey, you know what, I I'm trying to get something from you. It's not working. Do you mind if I shift into more of a mentor capacity, especially in that remote setting where you can't see those cues? Is it okay to just be bold about it?

Summer Davies: I would say if you've got the courage to do it, do it. And maybe you don't even need those, those words. If that doesn't feel normal in your conversation, just to say, Hey, I want to make sure you're getting what you need. Do you feel like you have the answer here or can I, can I offer something here? Or, you know, I, it seems like you might have an answer.

You're holding back a little bit. Let me step back. Let me shift a little bit and let's start this conversation over. Let's take this conversation a different way. Absolutely. And that may catch some folks off guard when you first start shifting that. And it does show a level of vulnerability that is likely to build trust.

If you're coming from a genuine place there, it's a really good way to build up that relationship and start building trust with that individual to say, Hey, I think what I'm doing for you is not working, let's try something different. And, and see how that works. That it's a powerful way to start shifting that relationship.

Russel Lolacher: How does diversity, inclusivity and equity take a hand into this because we may be doing this from a Western approach in our leadership styles, but we're becoming more global organizations all the time where we're dealing with teams that are from the East or, or others that may not be looking at leadership in the same way we do. What advice would you give around D. E. I. B.?

Summer Davies: Yeah, this is a, this is an interesting one. And I find that the, the diversity, equity, inclusion conversation is shifting, particularly in the last six months, we're seeing that organizations that were invested and interested in this conversation before the pandemic are still invested and interested in this conversation and those who picked it up, you know, in 2000, 2001 are starting to drop off.

So there is some. very clear organizational trends going on in this space. And I would say at the end of the day, if your goal as a leader is to drive inclusivity of thought, you're going to win every time. So if you've done the work to drive inclusivity or diversity or, or any of these different types of really important initiatives on your team, the goal now is inclusivity of thought. And that's finding ways to create the psychological safety so that people can speak up and say, gosh, I see it different. Or, hey, you keep making meetings for this time and I live in Dubai and that's right when I pick my kids up from school or whatever the case may be creating that space so that that inclusivity of perspective and thought is welcomed and encouraged. That's really the game changer and that requires some thoughtful questioning and some thoughtful space opening for your team that may not have been as important 5 or 10 years ago.

Russel Lolacher: Are you hopeful about all this? I asked this because we've gone through so much change lately. We're asking an awful lot from those that have been around a long time and may not be as resilient or may not want to be as embracing of change because truthfully, I've been through enough change. I don't have to learn another leadership style now. Are you still hopeful that we're in the right direction or do you think we've taken a few too many pauses lately?

Summer Davies: Oh man, I am wildly optimistic. at the moment. I think we are headed into some really cool spaces. We're able to do things that we couldn't even conceive of five years ago, let alone 10 years ago, I think we are starting to get to a threshold in our, in our society where we're having these types of really important conversations in a way that we never have before.

And when it gets right down to it, we're humans. We can do anything. We've done amazing things. Humans are amazingly resilient. And yes, we've been through a lot in the last five years, the last three years. And we made it through it. Most of us and are mostly stronger for it. And I think that that just keys us up to just do unbelievable things in the future of work.

And I am wildly optimistic about what that might look like.

Russel Lolacher: We just have to figure out which Swiss army knife leadership style is the best way forward.

Summer Davies: It's great. We've got our Swiss Army knives and AI. What can't we do in that scenario?

Russel Lolacher: Oh, thank you so much for this, Summer. I've got the last question I ask, which is what's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Summer Davies: Learn to give better feedback. Figure out a way to give powerful, empathetically driven feedback, and you will see a tremendous shift in your relationships at work.

Russel Lolacher: That is Summer Davies. She's a leadership development expert and the lead for her consultancy at The Leader Shop. Thank you so much for being here, Summer.

Summer Davies: Thank you so much for having me.