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ET-100: In the Leader's Chair: An Essential Conservation on Effective Leadership

With Mr. Dale Gauthreaux

ET-100: A conversation with Mr. Dale Gauthreaux

and your host Wayne Brown on May 07, 2024

Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. Dale Gauthreaux

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. 

Today is a special milestone for the show as we’re celebrating our 100th episode, and therefore, I’ve decided to catch up and enjoy the occasion with my good friend Mr. Dale Gauthreaux back in Atlanta, Georgia. Well, I was there in person a month back this time, unfortunately, it’s only a virtual visit.

So, who is Dale? Aside from being a past colleague, a friend, and someone that I like to think sits on my own personal board of directors, and you’ll understand more about what that means when you listen to our conversation. But additionally, Dale specializes in helping leaders and organizations address performance and engagement challenges.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…most recently I have stepped out of the day-to-day corporate life and much like you trying to use a little of my gray hair, and some of that, and some of those learnings along the way to help leaders and teams be the best that they can be. And if I can help them learn something without having to learn it through trial and failure then we all, then we’re all at advantage. So I run my little organization called Forge Leadership. And part of the reason behind that name is I believe that most of our leadership capabilities are really forged into day-to-day work and living of life. And so sometimes that’s a painful process for some of us, and other times it’s not as painful, but it’s still a growing process and it’s in the doing of the work that we become our very best. I love that you said people and leaders in the roles that they serve in…”

Today’s Guest: MR. DALE GAUTHREAUX

Through consulting, training, and coaching, Dale helps leaders develop the capacity and the capability to accomplish their organization’s goals. A student of organizational culture and effectiveness, Dale brings over 30 years of experience in organizational effectiveness, leadership development, strategy, and culture transformation. His experiences span manufacturing, sales, healthcare, financial services, technology, education, and nonprofit organizations. Dale lives and learns in the Atlanta area and enjoys frequent visits to his native Louisiana to savor the food, music, and culture of his second home, New Orleans.

Team ET, please join Dale and I as we tackle the topic of leadership from various angles and the impact that it has had on both of our careers together with plenty of insightful suggestions about how you might approach it in your role. 

Remember, wearing the badge of leadership is just one of your identities and beneath that facade, we are all people first.

Final words from Dale:

“…What a fantastic question. And I would not in any way, shape or form position myself as a futurist. I certainly admire the people who do the work around futurists around envisioning and answering your question in a much more intelligent manner that I’m about to make an attempt at. I think some of what we are, well certainly is, not just technology, but changes in our environment, changes in terms of natural resources, changes in a variety of things are gonna require us to continue to rethink how we do life and the challenges of leadership are going to remain there, around how do we help people create systems and create processes and create organizations that are going to serve, those organizations, the individuals in them and dare I say, the greater good of society? 

Those have been age old questions, right? I don’t think those are gonna go away. I don’t think artificial intelligence or any technology is going to take those things off of the plate of leadership. I think we are going to continue to wrestle with what has been the questions from the very beginning. I’ve got Bernard Bass’s handbook of leadership on my shelf here, and it’s four inches thick. And it starts with all the chapters on the great man theories, and they were great men. And thankfully today we’ve gotten off the man part and we’ve become much more inclusive. Probably not as inclusive as we need to be yet but I think we’re gonna continue to wrestle with some of that, because I still see pockets, at least of in political life and business life, et cetera, people being heralded as being a great leader because they are in some way the idea person.

And they came up with this idea. And in some ways, some of these people have very compelling ideas and interesting ideas. And ideas that are making a lot of money. I don’t always classify them as great leaders necessarily. So we’re gonna wrestle, I think continue with the great person model versus the behaviors and what are the behaviors of leadership. And that’s where… It’s always fun to spend more time because now it opens the door. We’re essentially beginning to talk about behaviors to doing things that can influence other people that have nothing to do with your title or your place in the organization. I… Interestingly, I read an article a number of years ago, and the author posited the idea that there’s no such thing as leadership, that it’s a social construction, like many of our words. And so, after I read that, I stepped back and I thought, well, if he’s correct, and there is no such thing as leadership, what is this thing that we have been… Created…”

0:00:04.8 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. Today is a special milestone for the show as we’re celebrating our 100th episode, and therefore, I’ve decided to catch up and enjoy the occasion with my good friend Mr. Dale Gauthreaux back in Atlanta, Georgia. Well, I was there in person a month back this time, unfortunately, it’s only a virtual visit.

0:00:35.2 WB: So who is Dale? Aside from being a past colleague, a friend, and someone that I like to think sits on my own personal board of directors, and you’ll understand more about what that means when you listen to our conversation. But additionally, Dale specializes in helping leaders and organizations address performance and engagement challenges. Through consulting, training and coaching, Dale helps leaders develop the capacity and the capability to accomplish their organization’s goals. A student of organizational culture and effectiveness, Dale brings over 30 years of experience in organizational effectiveness, leadership development, strategy, and culture transformation. His experiences span manufacturing, sales, healthcare, financial services, technology, education, and nonprofit organizations. Dale lives and learns in the Atlanta area, but enjoys frequent visits to his native Louisiana to savor the food, music, and culture of his second home, New Orleans.

0:01:38.2 WB: Team ET, please join Dale and I as we tackle the topic of leadership from various angles and the impact that it has had on both of our careers together with plenty of insightful suggestions about how you might approach it in your role. Remember, wearing the badge of leadership is just one of your identities. And beneath that facade, we are all people first.

0:02:01.9 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:17.8 WB: Welcome Team ET. This is our 100th episode. A small milestone maybe, but amazingly fast, in terms of how quickly this has all come around. And I was looking back over our guest list at the people that have joined us on the show. And for me I can still recall each conversation as if it was yesterday. Maybe some of you can recall some of your favorites. We’ve been truly blessed with many incredibly gifted leaders who, by the way, are amazing people behind their professional facade or the identity that they portray. But I know that I’ve learned so much, hopefully you also have. And I thought today it would be great to bring a close friend and a past colleague onto the show to have probably somewhat of an informal chat about leadership itself and life in general. And I’m guessing we’ll probably be covering a lot of ground, therefore. So Dale, welcome to the ET Project. Thanks for joining us and helping celebrate our second anniversary. I’m pretty excited to catch up again. How have you been?

0:03:28.6 Dale Gauthreaux: Absolutely… First of all, congratulations, Wayne. What an accomplishment. A lot of work, a lot of effort that has gone into building this project and sustaining it to get to this milestone of a 100 episodes. So thank you for letting me join you for this. I think this will be a lot of fun.

0:03:46.8 WB: Oh, man. I’m, I’m looking forward to it. As you know, we caught up recently when I was over in Atlanta and we hadn’t seen each other. I think we said probably about six years or something. Incredible, right?

0:03:58.3 DG: Yeah. Something of that.

0:04:00.9 WB: Yeah. So maybe we can kick off a little bit about you and who you are, what you’re doing, your backstory, so to speak. Where are you…

0:04:11.7 DG: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, my career has really been around leadership, even as I went through graduate school and was studying communication at a point in time before we were calling it leadership communication. It was really… My interest was looking at how do leaders of organizations use their communications to communicate vision, to communicate direction, to communicate strategy and really to ultimately build a culture. And I argued at that point that communication in many ways is the currency of leadership. I’ve had great opportunities to continue to grow and learn, working in a number of multinational organizations as well as some US-based organizations. And all of that work really around leadership development. And most recently I have stepped out of the day-to-day corporate life and much like you trying to use a little of my gray hair, and some of that, and some of those learnings along the way to help leaders and teams be the best that they can be.

0:05:19.6 DG: And if I can help them learn something without having to learn it through trial and failure then we all, then we’re all at advantage. So I run my little organization called Forge Leadership. And part of the reason behind that name is I believe that most of our leadership capabilities are really forged into day-to-day work and living of life. And so sometimes that’s a painful process for some of us, and other times it’s not as painful, but it’s still a growing process and it’s in the doing of the work that we become our very best. I love that you said people and leaders in the roles that they serve in.

0:06:02.9 WB: Yeah, yeah. There’s a… I would say a large misconception that once you wear that badge as a leader your identity around everything else that you are in your life diminishes or disappears. We are running a leadership program at the moment where we touch on that question, you know, what is your identity? And how many identities do you have? And I think leaders, in many cases they get a bad rep, because in their professional career, they play a certain persona. But when they step outside of that arena, they’re people just like all of us, right?

0:06:42.0 DG: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, gosh, so much. We could probably… Even right there, you’ve probably just hit on about another hour, hour and a half of conversation for us to talk about identity. Because, I think, you know from my own experience that’s a huge piece of growing as a leader is embracing what does that mean for me? What does that mean for my organization? Getting clarity around what does that mean in terms of alignment of my values and my purpose, and what do I want to achieve in life? What are my interest and goals and abilities and all those things? And how does that all come together for me? And sometimes I think we overcomplicate it, yet at the same time, it is a… It can have a fairly complex element to this notion of leadership, and how I bring it to bear.

0:07:38.2 WB: Yeah, for sure. I’m guessing we’re gonna go down many rabbit holes during this conversation, but before we jump off who you are and your background. If you look back over your career, Dale, is there anything that really jumps out to you, like a memorable experience or a moment in your career that sort of shaped the direction and who you are today? Is there anything that comes to mind?

0:08:06.4 DG: You know a couple of things. Great question. Thanks for the question. I think some of my very early experiences, and some of this was in… Still while I was either in high school and or college where other people saw things in me that I didn’t even necessarily see in myself around my own leadership capabilities. And sort of reached into that and pulled me forward and pulled me along and mentored, and coached. That was very shaping of me as a human being as well as ultimately has shaped a lot of my efforts to lead. And I’ve led very small teams of two or three people, and led organizations with upwards of 75 to a 100 people. So I kind of run that gamut in terms of leading teams and… But some of those early experiences of people believing in me.

0:09:04.0 DG: And I would say the other experience has been, a couple of instances in organizations where I was, and again, it was sort of a little bit of a someone saying something that I didn’t necessarily see. But I was hired into a couple of situations where I was told, this is the job. This is what we need you to do. And then in fairly short order I get called into a superior officer’s office and they say, well, we know that’s what we hired you for, but here’s what we really need to happen in the organization. And those were, if I go back to my earlier comment, those were sort of forging moments for me, because they required me in some instances to retool and equip myself differently. Adapt a different… Adopt a different mindset as well as those capabilities. And those are invaluable, I mean, really, really hard experiences sometimes.

0:10:07.2 DG: You know, being asked to be a major component in leading a large reduction in force in an organization, not easy work, but really important work, and work that required me to look deep into myself to say you know, how do I bring the best of myself to other people in what is a difficult situation for them? And that took some self work, that took a lot of who I am and looking deep into that, for me at least. It wasn’t just a checklist exercise on a, with a clipboard and a checklist. So those are some of the, when you ask that question, those are some of the things that jump out as, first of all, those mentors along the way. And then I would say second of all these experiences that were really growth experiences, some of them knocked me back on my heels a little bit to grow as a leader.

0:11:08.6 WB: You mentioned mentors, and I’m wondering, was there anyone in particular, or maybe not, but did you have anyone that really inspired you and sort of caressed you throughout that early stage in your career?

0:11:24.9 DG: Yeah, sure. Especially early on. I had a couple of, actually a couple of my college professors who really took an interest in me and my wellbeing and spoke some wisdom, and encouraged me to go on and pursue graduate school, and things of that nature that… They became shaping of me intellectually, socially, spiritually, psychologically, in a lot of ways. And then as I’ve grown, a number of years ago, I adopted, Jim Collins’ idea of having your own personal board of advisors. And now if any of them happen to watch this now, they’ll know. Because I’ve… I’m a believer that you don’t have to tell them that they’re on your board. You just set yourself up to dig wisdom from them.

0:12:15.3 DG: And I’ve always had a group of three to five individuals that I didn’t ask them to be my mentor. I just expressed to them that I’m interested in your career and what you’ve grown and learned. And we get together and a couple of instances, a couple of times a year in some instances, about every six weeks to a quarter. And invariably I just ask what’s going on in your job and your company, and what are the challenges that they share. And then they turn to me always and say, well, what’s going on with you? And it becomes really, without calling it mentoring, I’m certainly approaching it as a mentee to seek and learn. So yeah, I’ve been… I’ve tried to be very intentional around that. And I encourage every professional I know to do the same thing.

0:13:02.6 WB: Absolutely.

0:13:04.5 DG: People like to share their experience in learning, and like I said, I don’t tell them they’re on my board, because then I would need to fire them at some point, and that’s not gonna be good. So instead I would just try to build a collegial relationship with them, where I can learn and grow and make myself vulnerable so that they can speak into my life as well.

0:13:27.3 WB: It’s such an important point. I also follow the same path throughout my career. And on average, we talk about in this program about your fact, on average I’ve had maybe four people around me, whether you call them accountability partners or collaboration partners, or part of your personal board of directors, that… It’s such a valuable association and resource. Life is too challenging to go through by yourself, right? It’s… You need other people around you that can be there when you need a shoulder, or that can be there to offer their insights and their input.

0:14:10.7 DG: Yeah. Leadership is a team sport, right? It’s a team sport.

0:14:14.1 WB: Absolutely. How do you as you’ve gone through your career that one of the topics that’s always put out there on the table is that personal balance or that balance between personal and professional careers. How have you dealt with that yourself?

0:14:33.1 DG: There have been moments where I’ve not dealt with it well. If I’m totally honest. You know, it… There’s always a… I have found, for me personally, there’s always a tension, and the tension being, to what degree are these just the seasons of our life that we’re moving through, and some seasons having more intensity around work and less around pleasure perhaps. And then if I look at it over the entire lifespan that it all balances out. I think I’ve moved though, in my own journey at some… At various points along the way, I was seeking balance. And that implies that there’s some way that I can put two weights on one side and two weights on the other, and thus I get balance.

0:15:28.6 DG: And yet the reality is in our work lives, especially if we’re going to be leaders in organizations, there are… There’s probably going to be more demand on our time and energy and focus than we could ever really balance. Like given 60 hours a week to work, or 50 hours a week to work by accounting the mental space that it takes up, there’s no way I can find another 50 hours to give to my children.

0:15:56.9 WB: Yes.

0:15:57.8 DG: So, I think as I’ve matured and I’ve tried to shift that perspective to thinking more about life-work integration and finding the moments in which I can disengage from wherever I need to disengage. And by the way, I think we… That’s really hard for us because we carry the most effective distraction devices ever created in our pockets, right?

0:16:24.6 WB: Yes, absolutely.

0:16:26.0 DG: And which makes it really hard. But I’ve tried to, and I would say that the big piece, the big issue for me though, around that, it has been the issue of intentionality and being my very best to be present wherever I am. You’ve heard the expression, I’m sure, be where your feet are. And I try to remind myself of that, and be present for whatever circumstance I’m in. One other insight I wanna offer, as I participate in executive coaching, one of the things I talk about with leaders, and I wanna share this with any listeners who might be leaders. We’re both old enough, I think, to remember when a leader went on vacation, they were a little bit hard to get in contact with. And for those of us who are practitioners of leadership development, that was one of the best things that could happen, because they had to appoint responsibility on an interim basis to someone further down the chain in the organization.

0:17:30.5 DG: And that person is on the hook now. They’re responsible, they’re accountable, they’re having to play the role in a way that they didn’t have to play it before you went on vacation. And now with our devices, it’s real easy for a leader to go on vacation and not disengage, and not provide that developmental opportunity for the other people in the chain, or in the hierarchy of the organization. So I’ve just been adamant when I coach senior leaders in particular, like, you need to disengage. We can find you. I mean, remember the time when we used to go to a movie and we would sit for three hours and nobody could reach us? I mean it was impossible to reach us. It wasn’t so… It wasn’t that long ago before this was reality. And it’s not always just about you. Guess what? You know what? If the place is burning down, we can probably find you, even if your phone is turned off and you’re needed in that much of an urgency. But we need to give those opportunities for other people who… It’s a forging moment to be accountable and responsible while your boss is away. And so it’s just one of my practices that I try to continue to preach every chance I get. Especially the senior leaders, even though we can stay in contact, you shouldn’t.

0:18:53.9 WB: Yeah. I can imagine there’ll be a lot of listeners saying, heck, if only I could do that life would be so different. And we had a guest, I think probably just a couple of episodes back who speaks about digital detoxing and exactly to your point, the ability for us to switch off from time to time when it’s possible. Even some of us sleep with our phones beside our bed. We wake up in the middle of the night, the first thing we do is we reach to see what emails have come in or what messages we’ve received. It has become such an attachment. My wife, who’s… Is somewhat younger than me, and she’s one of those generational people who has the phone as an attachment to her hand. I’m a little bit blessed, I guess, in that regard that I can go either way, so. I can still go to the movie and not have the phone on. So I enjoy that part of my life right at the moment. But I’ve been where you’re talking where we probably take on the image where we believe we need to be contactable every second, and that feeds us in some way, right? So…

0:20:18.0 DG: It serves us well.

0:20:18.5 WB: Yeah.

0:20:19.0 DG: It serves us well, at least historically. And yeah I mean, we could spend the rest of the time just talking about, there’s a lot of research around the neurology and our neural processes and how they operate in the role of that drop of dopamine that we get when the text comes in, or the…

0:20:45.1 WB: Absolutely.

0:20:46.3 DG: Cortisol shot when we see a certain person’s name pops up, all those things that really are not just transactional. They’re physiological for us.

0:20:57.3 WB: Absolutely. Yeah.

0:20:58.8 DG: All of those things that I think we need to pay attention to in more meaningful ways, but… They’re not going away.

0:21:08.7 WB: It’s not…

0:21:10.4 DG: And I think for me, the reality is if I don’t manage it, it’s gonna manage me and just because the way they’re designed, advertisers know how to use our feeds. And anyway, we could go on and on. But again, I think that’s one of those opportunities and one of those issues, it’s another thing in life that keeps us as leaders from being as present as we need to be.

0:21:42.2 WB: Absolutely. Yeah.

0:21:42.5 DG: Nothing more destructive to a relationship or conversation than when a person picks up their phone and looks at it in the midst of the conversation.

0:21:50.6 WB: Yeah, for sure.

0:21:53.0 DG: And I’m guilty of that. I’m not, please don’t hear that I’m perfect around any of this but I hope that’s what we’re all striving to be better at in terms of our leadership and our presence.

0:22:05.8 WB: You have triggered a thought around, if you were to give some advice to, let’s say, a young leader just starting out in their career, they’ve moved into the role, apart from this attempt to disconnect from devices, disconnect from technology, anything that you would say to them in terms of how to approach this part of their journey?

0:22:43.6 DG: Every time I train and/or coach early stage managers, people moving into leadership roles, leadership responsibilities, I think I always start by talking about getting clarity. First of all, clarity with myself and who am I. And we talk about family of origin and what are the things that you learned in your family of origin that have have shaped how you’re going to lead? And it’s everything from, some of us were grown up in households where you were expected to just speak whatever you thought the truth was without any fear, direct, clear, et cetera, all very positive and then others, especially here in the southern part of the United States, were taught, some of us were taught things like, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Right?

0:23:50.4 WB: Yes.

0:23:53.6 DG: Again, not anything wrong necessarily with either of those approaches, but then you get into an organization and you’ve got not just those two approaches, but you probably got a dozen different approaches to communication. And it’s all things that we brought out of our family of origin. So I try to first of all, tap into, what are those things that you learned very early in life? What were the early failures? What were the early successes? How did you define success and failure early in life? What are your values? To what degree are those the same or different than your family? Just getting clarity around you. Go back to your opening comment of who you are as a person. Because I think when we talk about authentic, impactful leaders, as we begin to peel back the onion of what makes them that it gets to a lot of those characteristics of them as a human being.

0:24:54.8 DG: And then I ask questions around, do you have clarity about what your interests are, what your abilities are? What’s your goal in life? Longer term goals. Started using a tool called the Highland’s Ability Battery, which really taps into what are my natural abilities? Not whether I am performing or not performing, but what are the things that for me, are easier to do than other people? They take less time, less energy, less effort. And we all have some of those things and we all have some things that we learned to do well, performance-wise, but they do take time, energy, and effort on our behalf. So trying to help leaders get their heads wrapped around some of those things so they’ll know what they can lean into as a strength in their leadership.

0:25:42.8 DG: And they’ll know what is gonna be a potential challenge to them. And part of why I do all of that is because I also then pivot to saying, you’re gonna be leading a team, and the first thing you’re gonna need to bring to this team is clarity. Who are we? Where are we going? How are we gonna get there? What do I need you to do in this journey? How are you gonna be rewarded for that? How are you going to be evaluated for that? And here’s… Clear on what I’m gonna provide in the journey at, with us as a team. That’s the first order of business. I would say for a manager or a leader, wherever you are in the organization, the scale and or the content of that clarity might be different, if you’re in that senior suite it’s clarity around strategy, clarity around our mission, vision, and values, clarity around here’s how we’re gonna treat each other as an organization and what we’re gonna build as a reputation for our organization.

0:26:42.2 DG: But for me that has… It has been an evolution, if you will. But that’s typically where I start the conversation around who are you, what are you bringing, what do you… What are you hoping to accomplish along this journey? I typically remind people that, at least in the US the average lifespan of the American male is about 79 years old and women live a little longer, early eighties. Most of the research shows, you begin to subtract wherever you’re at on the journey from 80 years old, and you realize it’s a pretty short life and the degree to which you can get some clarity, and then with clarity, intentionality about what do I really want to achieve? And again, now it comes back to I wanna manage my life plan and be intentional around it, versus those things just happening to me not to say we shouldn’t be opportunistic when the opportunities present themselves but let’s start with a plan. Let’s start with a goal.

0:27:51.0 WB: Yeah for sure. And to circle back to an earlier comment you made about your personal board of directors, one of the things that I would add to your list would be to advise young people to find that person or those people that can go on the journey with them, that… Because there’s no way that any individual in my mind, at least in today’s world, of the ever changing environment has the capability to be all things to every situation. And you need that support, so yeah.

0:28:31.0 DG: And I’m very fortunate I have children in their twenties, so I’m able to pick their brains from time to time about just what their perspective is on life and work and whatnot. But I would add, if you don’t have that luxury of those people already in your life, seek out one of them, that millennial or Gen X or Gen Z or whatever they’re called now on your board to help provide some perspective around those things.

0:29:05.5 WB: Absolutely. That’s an interesting point. So I think when you and I first met you were just coming out of your career in academia or at one of the universities, and I’m guessing that as somebody who is lecturing in that environment, you’re surrounded by young, ambitious minds. I’m wondering what that experience was like and how that also shaped you as much as you shaped them.

0:29:40.4 DG: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know how much I shaped them. They were certainly always shaping me. I think when I look back on my university academic opportunities, the two things that come to mind are, first of all, being able to work with some undergraduate students. And I continue to be amazed at the intellect and in some ways for some of them, the commitment to their passions and just a lot of things, I saw undergraduates who were entrepreneurial and they were not… Some of the historical, traditional entrepreneurs would be dropping out of the education system because it would get in the way of their entrepreneurism but certainly I saw some who balanced both of those. And those were inspirations to me. A number of instances where I would think, gosh, if I was only 40 years younger, so those experiences absolutely.

0:30:51.6 DG: And they were grounding and they were interesting. And as fashions change and things change, it would always be interesting, music and culture, movies, things of that nature. It was not an unusual experience for someone to mention something. And everyone in the class would laugh and I’d be like, what are you talking about? And… But the other experience that was also very rich for me was my opportunities to teach in MBA and executive MBA programs because now it was taking and I didn’t consider myself nearly the purveyor of information. I felt like I was much more of a facilitator of a conversation because now we took those relatively young people in most instances, who had now stepped away from that academic learning where people had been pouring into them, and they had gone out and tested and proven some of it true, proven some of it false in organizations.

0:31:53.4 DG: And now they’re coming back. And the opportunity around questions like leadership, especially to get a group of 40 or 50 people in a room from 40 or 50 different organizations, 40 or 50 different business models, 40 or 50 different philosophies of leadership, 40 or 50 different marketing plan, all of this, you bring that into this environment and the richness of being able to serve as a coach, if you will. I know you do work in coaching as well, and the challenge in coaching is always to try to find the really good question, right? Because the inside of the knowledge is not within me. It’s in the other… Within the other person. And same in those MBA situations as well. It’s like they’ve got far more knowledge around marketing strategy or fiscal policy or pick the business topic than I have but then bringing them together and creating an environment where they could challenge one another, challenge each other’s thinking and create a refining fire, if you will for their learning and their leadership. So both working with those undergraduates, but also those work with graduate students was really enriching experience for me.

0:33:20.1 WB: Right. And maybe a very broad question, but where do you see leadership heading in the future? Like, we’re in this moment in time [chuckle] in my eyes at least, with technology, making so many advances and changing, business changing the way that we as individuals exist, the life for a leader. And that’s not even thinking about whether we’re working virtually or we’re working in this environment that we didn’t have maybe definitely not a decade ago. It has really become a new challenge for leadership in my mind. I’m just wondering where do you see it going? How does the leader of today and tomorrow coexist with these changes?

0:34:20.5 DG: What a fantastic question. And I would not in any way, shape or form position myself as a futurist. I certainly admire the people who do the work around futurists around envisioning and answering your question in a much more intelligent manner that I’m about to make an attempt at. I think some of what we are, well certainly is, not just technology, but changes in our environment, changes in terms of natural resources, changes in a variety of things are gonna require us to continue to rethink how we do life and the challenges of leadership are going to remain there, around how do we help people create systems and create processes and create organizations that are going to serve, those organizations, the individuals in them and dare I say, the greater good of society?

0:35:24.1 DG: Those have been age old questions, right? I don’t think those are gonna go away. I don’t think artificial intelligence or any technology is going to take those things off of the plate of leadership. I think we are going to continue to wrestle with what has been the questions from the very beginning. I’ve got Bernard Bass’s handbook of leadership on my shelf here, and it’s four inches thick. And it starts with all the chapters on the great man theories, and they were great men. And thankfully today we’ve gotten off the man part and we’ve become much more inclusive. Probably not as inclusive as we need to be yet but I think we’re gonna continue to wrestle with some of that, because I still see pockets, at least of in political life and business life, et cetera, people being heralded as being a great leader because they are in some way the idea person.

0:36:30.0 DG: And they came up with this idea. And in some ways, some of these people have very compelling ideas and interesting ideas. And ideas that are making a lot of money. I don’t always classify them as great leaders necessarily. So we’re gonna wrestle, I think continue with the great person model versus the behaviors and what are the behaviors of leadership. And that’s where… It’s always fun to spend more time because now it opens the door. We’re essentially beginning to talk about behaviors to doing things that can influence other people that have nothing to do with your title or your place in the organization. I… Interestingly, I read an article a number of years ago, and the author posited the idea that there’s no such thing as leadership, that it’s a social construction, like many of our words. And so, after I read that, I stepped back and I thought, well, if he’s correct, and there is no such thing as leadership, what is this thing that we have been… Created.

0:37:41.4 WB: Yes.

0:37:45.5 DG: And plenty have come along and said, well, it’s influence. And it’s ability to influence other people. And the greatest test of that is the ability to do that without authority and… Because then you clearly know that it’s not compliance.

0:38:01.1 WB: Yes.

0:38:03.1 DG: It truly is a commitment that a person is making to you and your ideas and your ideals around who we can be as an organization, what we can be as a team, what you can be as an individual contributor in this organization. And ultimately, the way that we serve, as an organization in our communities and our industries in the world at large.

0:38:33.6 WB: Excellent, Dale, as expected, a great conversation, really good to getting in contact again recently. And hopefully I’ll get back over there sooner. We’ll be able to catch up again. I think I will give you my shout this time, so.

[laughter]

0:38:50.3 WB: We’ll definitely do that. I’ll make sure we put some links on where people can find you in our show notes. And yeah, look all the best for the direction you’re going at the moment. I know you’re looking to pivot at your young age at this moment, so.

[laughter]

0:39:07.7 WB: You and I share some gray hair, so we’re around the same era. And thanks for being on the ET project, it has been a real…

0:39:19.2 DG: Thank you. Thank you again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the invitation. I love being in partnership with like-minded individuals who, like I said, we can challenge each other, we can support each other. We’ll learn from each other and I love doing that with you and I have enjoyed the relationship over the years and I look forward to continuing it.

0:39:42.0 WB: Well, thanks Dale. All the best.

0:39:44.4 S2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent Development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com.

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