Goldrich, Jordan. (2019). Workplace Warrior: People Skills for the Bullshit Executive.
Austin, TX: Greenleaf
Note: Many passages are direct quotes. Most are in italics.
Jordan Goldrich shares what he has learned and his approaches to coaching some difficult executives. This starts with a quote from Marshall Goldsmith in the Foreword, “He shows us that we can be strong without being bullies.”
The No BS leaders do want to accomplish goals for themselves and their company. They do believe they have high standards and want to maintain them. Completing a goal at the expense of the relationships can be hazardous to the leadership of the executive and the company.
Jordan shares his experience as a therapist and consultant. Having a goal of feeling good about yourself can get in the way of succeeding with commitments. It is a both/and not an either/or. Success and fulfillment will be based on focusing on what you can control.
When Goldrich received negative feedback from his superior he said it was like a slap in the face. He began a self-examination by using the words of wisdom in Viktor Frankl’s book Mans Search for Meaning. Frankl was a survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camps. Bill’s Note: I highly recommend reading Frankl’s book. There are many deep lessons for life within the cover.
Here are some of the most meaningful points Jordan got from reading Man’s Search for Meaning:
• ‘He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear with almost any how? (Quote is from Nietzsche.)
• “It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions.”
• It does not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
• When we are no longer able to change a situation—just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer—we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Goldrich also mentions the work of Simon Sinek (2009), Start with Why. Here are a couple of questions:
• Did I control in this situation?
• Is there anything I could have done to achieve a different outcome?
In coaching and leading we want to treat people with respect. That does not mean letting them off the hook for their actions. In addition, there can be a cultural component to leadership. If you were raised in a family that was confrontive and/or loud others may find this threatening or abusive.
TYPES OF NO-BULLSHIT EXECUTIVES
• THE WARRIOR – Using the term to mean someone who is laser-focused on commission and achieving optimal results.
• SCIENTIST – The scientists core values are knowledge, competence, and mastery. Their ‘why’ is about understanding how the world and world works. Include solving highly complex problems, either for their own sake or to be in service to others.
• THE ABRASIVE EXECUTIVE – despite their human imperfections may be same or similar to those of the warrior, the scientist, or some combination of the two. Their self-esteem is often connected with being the best. Abrasive can be expressing frustration, impatience, and have impact on the organization and the people around them. This can be as harmful as that of bully who gets pleasure from creating pain, despite the difference in intention.
• THE BULLY – True bullies differ from the abrasive executive in the frequency and intensity of their behavior and in their intent to do harm. The behavior is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. Health harming is a key component, leading to lost time, higher medical costs, and employee turnover.
The best warriors in the world are not abrasive; they are tough. As a pro bono executive coach for The Honor Foundation (THF), who worked with the Navy SEALS, he realized that the Navy SEALs ethos identifies the mindset and abilities of true warriors. Below is Jordan’s summary of some of the abilities and attitudes of the SEALS abstracted from their ethos.
• Uncommon Desire to Succeed
• Forged by Adversity
• Uncompromising Integrity
• Lead and Be Led
• Humble Service
• Leadership by Example
• Defend Others
• Protecting Your Team
Goldrich makes a great point. Notice how many NBA or NFL teams fall apart when their star player is injured? They did not have a great team; they had a great player and a supporting cast. The athletic teams, surgical teams (Gawande 2007), and the airlines have solved this by making sure that anyone on the team can give feedback or information without fear. Psychological Safety is key in high performing organizations. See Edmondson (2019) the best research I have read.
Here is a great quote in the book – Arnold H. Glasgow wrote, “A good leader takes a little more share of the blame, a little less than his [or her] share of the credit.” p.35
Here is another great quote Jordan included – Kurt Lewin: “If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.” p.52
The bottom line of all this is that the most effective leaders use both hard and soft power. At times, goal-focused leadership and driving for results with relentless accountability are absolutely required.
In 2016, a New York Times Magazine article called “What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team,” Charles Duhigg presented the background to Google’s research team called Project Aristotle.
Software engineers are encouraged to work together, in part because studies show that groups tend to innovate faster, see mistakes more quickly and find better solutions to problems. Studies also show that working together tend to achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction. p.57
If a company wants to outstrip its competitors, it needs to influence not only how people work but also how they work together. discovered ‘“Some teams had a bunch of smart people who figured out how to break up work evenly, said Anita Woolley, the study s lead author. Other groups had pretty average members, but they came up with ways to take advantage of everyone’s relative strengths. Some groups had one strong leader. Others were more fluid, and everyone took a leadership role.
Abeer Dubey said, “we had lots of data, but there was nothing showing a mix of specific personality types or skills, or backgrounds’ made any difference. The who part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.
“As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared:
1. On the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon
the researchers saw was equality distributing conversational turn-taking. As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well, Woolley said, ‘but if only one person or
small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.
2. The good teams all had high “average social sensitivity”—a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions, and other nonverbal cues.
Five key characteristics of enhanced teams.
1. Dependability: Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.
2. Structure and clarity. High-performing teams have clear goals and have well-defined roles within the group.
3. Meaning: The work has personal significance to each member.
4. Impact: The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.
5. Psychological safety: We’ve all been in meetings and, due to fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas.
Studies have shown that people who are willing to apologize and admit mistakes are not only not viewed as weak; it; they are actuality perceived in a better light.
Charles Darwin is widely misinterpreted to mean “most able to conquer others.’ English philosopher and social scientist Herbert Spencer said, it is most adaptable. Those who can adapt to their environment are most likely to survive. It isn’t the strongest who survive, but the most able to change.
Charles Darwin said that the most important instinct for the survival of the human species is sympathy. P.63
Survival was also driven by sensitivity to one’s family group or tribe.
The best-performing teams have one thing in common: They create environment where it is safe to be yourself. P.64
There is a saying in the soft line of martial arts thinking: “After the storm, the oak is broken, and the willow remains standing.”
Compassion is the wish that others not to suffer, accompanied by the urge to help end the suffering of others.
Empathy is the ability to experience enough of other people’s feelings to know what they are feeling. Too much empathy, called empathic distress, can be as problematic for interpersonal relationships as too little.
The first step in making change is deciding what to do because it the right thing to address. You take action because it is right, not convenient. Michael Josephson, Institute for Ethics reminds us, “What is right is not always easy and what is easy is hardly ever right, but the right choice today will improve your life tomorrow.”
Goldrich also talks about polarities. See www.polaritypartnerships.com for more information. The key point is that these are not problems to be solved. Both sides of the polarity are needed for high performance. Examples are:
• Reduce cost/improve quality
• Serve the organization/serve the customer
• Serve the team/take care of yourself
Here is Jordan’s message: Holding people accountable while treating them respectfully as human being may seem like a polarity or a paradox, but it is not. both can be one together. Doing only one creates negative results.
Cheryl Dolan and Faith Oliver, writing on HBR.com, pointed out bullies, especially bullying bosses, are unaffordable p.92
According to Robert Sutton, Stanford, writes in the ‘No Asshole Rule,’ the TCA (total Cost of assholes), while difficult to calculate, is very expensive—in time, money, and workplace wellness, for more research to back this up, visit workplacebullying.org. p.93
Note: This really blew me away (Bill). In his book ‘The 7 Secrets of Neuron Leadership,’ my colleague Bill Reed says, “According to numerous research studies, including one conducted by the London School of Business and Management, delivering information in a story format increases retention by 1400%.
The best story format is the age-old three-act play made famous by Shakespeare.
Goldrich relates this to neurotransmitters in the brain.
Act 1, whether I’m telling a story to sell a customer or to inspire my team, my goal is to get someone to like me. In doing so, I stimulate dopamine.
Act II, my goals is to get them to trust me. To do this, I need to first increase tension to gain attention by stimulating cortisol production.
Finally, Act III, I want to increase GABA production, which has a calming effect. I cannot get them to logically believe me.
Sinek says, “People don t actually buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” P.107
The ‘why’ is responsible for behavior and decision-making, but it has no capacity for language.
FEEDFORWARD a term coined by Marshall Goldsmith focuses on what actions and behaviors your stakeholders want to see from you in the future? FeedForward is a form of market research.
Here are a few of my questions:
• What do I need to do to achieve the results I want?
• Is this worth doing?
• Do the actions I must take meet my moral and ethical standards?
The challenge for most leaders is to tell the truth and maintain positive relationships when they disagree. In many ways, the success of your leadership is determined by your ability to give powerful but respectful and compassionate negative feedback
Dealing with Abusive Bosses? Check out Laura Crawshaw’s recommendations on p.173. Laura (2007) wrote, ‘Taming the Abusive Manager.’ It has great strategies for dealing with abusive behavior in the workplace.
The appendix has valuable tools to help leaders in their development. A list of those follows:
Appendix A: Self-Test: Are You Abrasive?
Appendix B: Seven Steps of a Full Apology
Appendix C: Professional Development Goal – an example
Appendix D: Impact Feedback compared with Authoritative Feedback
Appendix E: How to Select an Executive Coach
Jordan Goldrich is a certified SCC coach. Jordan’s contact information is below:
The link to Jordan’s podcast is Schedule Podcast: http://bit.ly/3cnDm1k
Crawshaw, Laura. (2007). Taming the Abrasive Manager. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Edmondson, Amy. (2019). The Fearless Organization. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
Frankl, V. (1959). Man’s search for meaning: an introduction to logotheraphy.
New York: Beacon Press.
Gawande, A. (2007). Better: A surgeon’s notes on performance. New York: Picador.
Goldsmith, M. (2007). What got you here won’t get you there. New York: Hyperion
Sinek, Simon. (2009). Start with Why. New York: Penguin.
Shameless Self-Promotion. Bill is certified in WHY.OS, Polarity Partnerships, Stakeholder Centered Coaching, and has been a member of the Brainy Bunch for 25 years.