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Feb 8, 2018

On today’s episode of Just the Tips, Dean and I welcome Jeffrey Davidson, a man who has really become a leader in the leadership space. One of the greatest fears of entrepreneurs and small business owners, spoken or unspoken, is adding to a team (or even creating a team to being with). Whether you’ve led a team for a long time or you’re coming to it brand new, leadership is so much more difficult than all of the books and videos would have you believe. If any of this sounds familiar to you, you’re going to want to tune into this episode, where Jeffrey dispenses invaluable advice.

Becoming a bad boss, by being afraid of becoming a bad boss

Jeffrey told us about how he’d studied leadership in high school and college and early in his career, but as is so often the case, he found it very difficult to take what he’d read about and apply it in real-life situations. When he was in his early 30s, he was promoted to be in charge of a large sales team. And he told us about how he hid in his giant office with his Palm Pilot, because he didn’t know what to tell everyone. As he said, he knew bad bosses could micromanage or treat people badly or behave in any number of ways that would upend the team. So he knew how to not be a bad boss, but had no idea how to be a good boss.

Being a leader doesn’t mean having all of the answers

After that, Jeffrey landed on consulting as a way to avoid being a boss again. But eventually a former colleague asked him to come on and help hire and train some analysts. And as Jeffrey stuck around longer and longer, he was eventually brought onto the team. And as he told us, one of the light bulbs that went off that really helped him become a better leader was to start caring about the people. Once he started genuinely opening the floor to other people’s ideas, and learning what they like and how they want to grow, he began to foster a real team at the company. Sometimes, as a boss, you feel like you need to have all the answers. But in reality it’s about fostering a culture where other people are able to provide the answers you need. There’s lots of wisdom that Jeffrey shares in this week’s episode of Just the Tips.

True leadership avoids “corporate propaganda”

I had to ask Jeffrey how you get people to buy in, and feel like what they’re doing is contributing to something larger. And he threw out a really fascinating phrase: corporate propaganda. As Jeffrey says, he cringes when he goes into an office and he sees writing on a whiteboard, or hears a manager say something like, “We’re going to have best-in-class service,” etc. He says that it becomes more about sloganeering than actually pinpointing the service you’re providing or the problem you’re trying to solve. He pointed to one company whose mission or motto was that they wanted everyone on the team to feel like they were a part of a family. And while that may not be customer-focused, Jeffrey says that sort of sentiment as a north star can go a long way.

True leaders have a plan

One of the trickiest things about leadership is really assessing whether it’s functioning properly and if not, where the breakdown is. Jeffrey walked us through his approach to determining what’s happening with leadership, and his first question is: “Do you have a plan?” And that one question can identify a whole host of problems: The plans are vague, people don’t know what the goal is, there’s no common definition of success, etc. If there’s one person who knows how to treat a problem in leadership, it’s Jeffrey. And if you’re new to leadership or you find it’s harder than you imagined, you’re going to want to hear this episode of Just the Tips.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:25] How Jeffrey grew into a leadership role
  • [5:45] Jeffrey’s initial downfall
  • [8:08] What was the big change in Jeffrey?
  • [13:41] How to help people feel like they have purpose in their jobs
  • [17:35] How David changed McDonald’s
  • [20:10] Leaders need to give meaning and clarity
  • [24:12] How Jeffrey assess leadership
  • [28:10] Where to find Jeffrey

Resources & People Mentioned

Music for “Just The Tips” is titled, “Happy Happy Game Show” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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