303: Dave McKeown – Moving from Execution to Excellence


Dave McKeown Show Notes Page

Dave McKeown was about to speak on one of his first workshops when he was faced with the dilemma of not having enough money to pay the hotel bill. Not wanting to borrow money from his girlfriend (now wife), Dave put together his very first webinar where he was able to earn enough money to cover for his hotel bill. From that experience, Dave learned to always invoice his client 50% upfront and that whatever challenge he faced, there will always be an answer out there.

Dave McKeown (Mick-Yo-n) grew up as a middle child with an older and younger sister in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

With a sense of adventure and exploration, when David was in big trouble he quickly tried to turn the tide so Davey could avoid conflict.

He could find his adventure on the pitch playing rugby, playing guitar or reading a good detective novel.

Upon graduating high school he spent two years doing voluntary work in the US, India, and Australia before studying business at The University of Glasgow in Scotland and The University of Hong Kong.

After another stint of voluntary work in Malawi, Dave started his career as a Consultant at Accenture back in the UK.

His sense of adventure kicked in again, however, and he quickly moved to become the COO and then President of Predictable Success, a boutique consultancy focused on helping complex businesses achieve scalability based then in Massachusetts.

Whilst at Predictable Success he also ran Inc. Consulting, a joint venture with Inc. Media which helped companies on, or aspiring to be on, the Inc. 5000. achieve consistent, scalable growth.

As Founder and CEO of Outfield Leadership, Dave now speaks, coaches and trains on moving from execution to excellence. His goal is to help organizations build a culture of real, authentic but ultimately results-driven leadership.

He has shared his leadership strategies at the Inc. 500 and Growco conferences, Bank of America, for the British Government, Entrepreneur’s Organization, Bamboo HR and countless others. And has worked with leaders at Spectrum Health, Renewal by Andersen, Akamai, NYSE and many smaller, fast-growing organizations.

Dave is the author of The Self-Evolved Leader, the host of the podcast ‘Lead Like you Give a Damn’ and writes a weekly column for Inc.Com.

Dave now lives in Southern California with his wonderful wife, Paris and awesome Staffie, Maggie.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @davemckeown get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“My focus is to help those on my team, achieve our shared goals and in doing so to help them become the best version of themselves.” – Click to Tweet

If you are faced with a challenge, there’s always an answer out there.”Click to Tweet

So long as you’re prepared to look both internally at what’s important and true to you, there’s always, a way to get over whatever the hump is.”Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Dave McKeown was about to speak on one of his first workshops when he was faced with the dilemma of not having enough money to pay the hotel bill. Not wanting to borrow money from his girlfriend (now wife), Dave put together his very first webinar where he was able to earn enough money to cover for his hotel bill. From that experience, Dave learned to always invoice his client 50% upfront and that whatever challenge he faced, there will always be an answer out there.

Advice for others

There would be a global pandemic in 2020, and do everything you could to stop it.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Managing attention.

Best Leadership Advice

Keep more windows and doors open than you close when making decisions.

Secret to Success

The ability to get up every day and just put one foot in front of the other.

Best tools in business or life


Recommended Reading

The Self-evolved Leader: Elevate Your Focus and Develop Your People in a World That Refuses to Slow Down

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

Links and Resources

Dave McKeown’s website: https://www.davemckeown.com/

Dave McKeown’s book: https://www.selfevolvedleader.com/

Dave McKeown’s book (Amazon): https://amzn.to/2Igy4bx

Dave McKeown’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davemckeown/

Dave McKeown’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/davemckeown

Fast Leader Show on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/FastleaderNet

Fast Leader Show on Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/364qAA2

Fast Leader Show on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FastLeaderShow

Fast Leader Show on Twitter: https://twitter.com/fastleadershow

Fast Leader Show on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fastleader.net

Show Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because you know, we have somebody on the show today. Who’s going to talk about something that has accelerated maybe not in the way that you expect Dave McKeown was, or he actually grew up as a middle child with an older and a younger sister and Belfast Northern Ireland with a sense of adventure and exploration. When David was in big trouble, he’d quickly tried to turn the tide. So Davey could avoid conflict. He could find, you could find David on the pitch playing rugby, playing guitar or reading a good detective novel upon graduating high school. He spent two years doing volunteer, volunteer work in the U S India, Australia before studying business at the university of Glasgow in Scotland and the university of Hong Kong. After another stint of voluntary work in Malali. David started his career as a consultant at advent Accenture back in the UK, his sense of adventure kicked in, however, and he quickly moved to become the COO and then president of predictable success, a boutique consultancy focused on helping complex businesses achieve scalability based then in Massachusetts, whilst at predictable success, he also ran inc consulting, a joint venture with inc media, which helped companies on or aspiring to be on the inc 5,000 achieved, consistent, scalable growth as founder and CEO of outfield leadership.

Jim Rembach (01:31):

Dave now speaks coaches and trains on moving from execution to excellence. His goal is to help organizations build a culture of real authentic, but ultimately results driven leadership. He shared his leadership strategies at the inc 500 and GrowCo conferences bank of America for the British government entrepreneur. Pre-entrepreneur his organization, bamboo HR and countless others. He has worked with leaders at spectrum health renewal by Anderson [inaudible], the New York stock exchange and many other smaller, fast growing organizations. Dave is the author author of the self of all leader, the host of the podcast lead like you give them, give a and writes a weekly column for inc com Dave. Now Linda lives in Southern California with his wonderful wife, Paris and awesome staffy. Maggie, Dave McKeown. Are you ready to help us get over the hump? I

Dave McKeown (02:24):

Am Jim, thank you so much for having me

Jim Rembach (02:26):

On and I’m glad you’re here. Uh, now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but if you could share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better. Sure.

Dave McKeown (02:35):

Happy to. Um, currently in probably the last 10 years, I, uh, work with leaders and leadership teams to help them elevate their focus, develop their people and get more dumb. So I work on helping those leadership teams create compelling strategic plans, and then I help the individual leaders in those teams develop the mindset, the skill set, and the behaviors necessary to put that into practice and to build a positive culture whilst doing that

Dave McKeown (03:06):

Well. And when you say it, it sounds pretty darn simple,

Dave McKeown (03:10):

Really simple. Anybody can do it,

Jim Rembach (03:14):

But you know, you, you, you talk about, um, in the book, you mentioned something about us experiencing a more significant leadership gap than we’ve ever had before. If you could please give us some perspectives on that.

Dave McKeown (03:29):

Sure. Happy to, uh, in the work that I’ve done over the last 10 years, um, both through my own experience in seeing how leaders view themselves versus how everybody else in the organization views them and the research that underpins it, that a bunch of much more smart and intelligent than me people have done. It’s becoming more and more clear that how our leaders perceive their degree of effectiveness, um, is much larger than what the people in the rest of the organization view. Um, it’s almost akin to asking a hundred people if they think that they’re a better than average driver and 99 people will say yes. Um, it’s just, you know, it’s just statistically not possible. And so we’ve got this leadership blind spot in our organizations where our leaders think they’re doing a better job quite frankly, than they are. Um, and that has been true over the last 10 years. Um, and I think it’s accelerated even more quickly over the last six months. I think the, the, uh, mindset and the behaviors that we need from our leaders, um, that gap between what they have and what we need is getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Jim Rembach (04:40):

Well, it may be, this is what you’re referring to, but, you know, and hopefully you can help us understand that, um, you, you talk about leadership currently being in limbo. Well, where’s limbo.

Dave McKeown (04:52):

Well, if you look at the, um, just a construct of leadership and what we define as being a good leader, a lot of the models that are still in practice are, and from the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, where there was this model of the leader, kind of being out in front, this notion of leading through acts of heroism, this notion of being certain in where we’re going and everybody else falling in line behind them. Um, and it’s, it’s kind of derived from a number of places, one just leadership, best practice. But also if you look at where a lot of our models for quote unquote, great leadership comes from, it’s either sports, the military or comic books, and they’re all, um, just filled with stories of daring, do of heel marries of saving the day at the last moment. And that’s translated over to our workplaces and given us this sort of, or belief that that’s what a good leader is.

Dave McKeown (05:59):

It’s all about saving the day for our team and being the hero, but we’re realizing and understanding that that model, isn’t a scalable model. You can’t save the day, every single day, you’ll get exhausted, you’ll burn out. Um, and your people will just ultimately end up in a position of disempowerment. So we know that the older models aren’t working, this sort of, um, model of certainty and heroics, we know that there’s some new place that we need to get to. And again, I alluded to it. I think that the last six months have really accelerated that for us, where leadership is way less about the leader and way more about the people and turning your team into a set of leaders of, of heroes in empowering them, um, in leading through compassion and empathy and vulnerability, which are starting to creep into our models, but are not quite there.

Dave McKeown (06:55):

And so we’re, we’re sort of stuck in this place, this limbo that you said, which is the old ways aren’t working, they’re starting to crack at the seams, but we’re not a hundred percent sure of what the new model looks like. And yet at the same time, we’re, um, requiring our, delete our leaders to deliver more and more with fewer and fewer resources. Um, we’ve got a world that refuses to slow down. Um, but yet budgets are getting slashed where we’re requiring our leaders to pull more and more out of their people. And there’s just this sense of overwhelm and burden placed on them because they they’re, they’re stuck in this place of, they don’t know which way to go.

Jim Rembach (07:32):

Oh gosh. Okay. Cause you were saying that there’s some, there’s so many ways that we can unpack that, but I want to really talk about what you refer to as the four fallacies. Cause you’ve mentioned some of those in there, meaning that the four fallacies of leadership and that is overemphasis on the visionary leader, which he talked about reliance on heroics and then focusing in on singular outward behaviors, uh, and then development through osmosis. So if we start talking about that limbo, when we start talking about, you know, the, the forced acceleration, um, you know, we’ve got to get to some truths about what it is you say, we’re not really quite sure how can we get to the truth on what we need.

Dave McKeown (08:16):

Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. I think the first thing is we’ve got to take stock of some of those fallacies that you mentioned. So let’s just dig a little deeper into some of them, the overemphasis on, on the visionary leader. Um, if you think about the stories in the media of those leaders that are lauded and put out in front as great leaders, you think about people like Steve jobs and Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, and they’re all very visionary, very old entrepreneurial, almost to a character flaw faults. Um, but that at time and time and time again is the model in our media of grant leadership, um, which is fine. And yes, some leaders naturally have that tendency to be more visionary, to be more entrepreneurial, but whenever you put such an extreme caricature of it at the centerpiece, what you get is this distorted understanding of what great leadership looks like.

Dave McKeown (09:09):

And so what it does is it forces people to either be more visionary, take bigger risks, and you end up with situations like the fire festival and, um, uh, Elizabeth Holmes at Aronoffs where you’ve taken this notion of visionary Venus and this ability to ban people to your well, and you end up in this place of just unethical business practices and all they’ve done is said, you know, I’m just, I’m just following the role models that you’re putting in front of me, or you’re essentially discounting a great majority of other leaders who are neither necessarily naturally visionary or entrepreneurial, but can be a very good leader. And so I want to reclaim that for a great number of leaders in the workplace. They say, you do not have to be the most innovative, most visionary person to be a fantastic, great effective leader. In fact, in many cases you’re not.

Dave McKeown (10:02):

And so we can reclaim that truth, first of all, um, secondly, then that focused on heroics, which is all about saying yes, and then figuring out how to deliver and you couple that with the visionary side of things, and you can get a bit of a recipe for disaster saying yes, and then figuring out how to deliver it. Isn’t leadership, that’s throwing spaghetti at a wall, seeing what sticks and then hoping that your team clears up after you. Is there a time in our organizations whenever we need, um, acts of heroism? Absolutely. They’re usually two great times whenever we need that one. When you’re trying to get a business off the ground, uh, number two, where people are feeling right now is whenever you’re in a period of crisis, sure. We need some acts of heroism, but to build a long-term scalable business, you can’t build it on heroes because you can’t hire a thousand people that turn up as Superman and you’ve got to build it on something else.

Dave McKeown (10:52):

So we’ve got to reclaim that. Um, uh, the I’ll talk about the third and the fourth one quickly. The third one is that we have a tendency to, to, um, a lot of the leadership models are all about shifting behaviors. So we say, if I can just get better at managing my attention, or if I can just get better at delegating, or if I can just better get better at having difficult conversations, I’ll be a better leader, but the reality is great. Leadership comes from within, and we can’t just put a near of pant over our leadership and say, I’ve got some of these skills and therefore, a better leader. It takes more reflection about who you are and about being a better leader or wanting to be a better leader for that seat in and of itself. There is, um, um, there is greatness and just wanting to be a great leader for being a great leader, sick.

Dave McKeown (11:38):

Uh, and then the final one is that we just have this notion that, um, leadership just happens by osmosis. You know, we read a book or we go to a seminar or a training session, or, you know, we, we talk to somebody and all of a sudden we’ll become a better leader. We don’t this rigid, um, um, discipline that by practicing leadership. And that’s just nonsense. You’re not going to become a better leader just by listening to it. That’s akin to saying, Hey, if I just watch LeBron, um, a number of times, I’m going to be a better basketball player. No you’re going to get on the court and you’ve got to practice. Um, so for, so for me, those four things really have hindered our leaders, uh, in today’s, um, organizations. And I think we can turn all of them on their head and we won’t come with the truth because you know, who knows what that is, but we’ll have a version of, it will have a color of it. We’ll have a flavor.

Jim Rembach (12:30):

I love that. And then for me, I always like to add probably which what I would lobby to be your fifth one, uh, where it’s, um, you know, having leadership development, you know, take place by just overall gravity or trickle down effect, meaning that, Hey, let’s spend all the money up here with these executives and then it will find its way down to the frontline. No, it doesn’t.

Dave McKeown (12:50):

It doesn’t, that’s just, that’s just nonsense. Um, yeah, you’re right. I mean, yeah, we’ve got to work there, but we’ve got to ensure that it’s it’s it is going Dawn’s right. The organization and you know, you, I’m sure you’ve seen it in the number of surveys. The first time managers and supervisors and leaders have no management training. Like what a, just a complete abandonment of your people to say, Hey, well done, you were great at your job. We’ve given you a promotion. You’re not in charge of these people. And you know what, I’m sure there’s some great videos on LinkedIn. Here’s a book it’s like what a travesty, you know, develop those frontline employees. And first time managers, leaders, and that’s where your cultural change will, will, will come. Um, you’ve got to tackle it for

Jim Rembach (13:31):

Both ends. I love it. Okay. So, and maybe there’s this, those, these fallacies, uh, as well as some other things are leading to what you were referring to as the circle of mediocrity, tell us a little bit about them.

Dave McKeown (13:45):

So what happens in, in I’m sure that most of your listeners out there are very familiar with just this sense of feeling that everything in our organizations needs to have happened yesterday. Everything is super urgent. We just live in a world where we’re just faced with crisis upon crisis, upon emergency, upon, um, fires that we need to put our customers that are unhappy, things that are going wrong. Very few of us work in organizations where things just move at a snails pace. And, you know, there’s, there’s not a lot that to do. And when we operate in that world where everything happens so quickly, I think our leaders coupled with this sense of needing to be the hero have, have developed this negative behavior where a problem comes in, or somebody’s got an issue. And we either just tell the person who’s reporting to us, what to do, or we’re still, we do it for them.

Dave McKeown (14:46):

And it makes sense where that comes from because we in a fast-paced world makes it’s going to be so much more effective, so much more quicker. If I just tell you what to do, I know the answer anyway, go do it couple that with the fact that we’re really being promoted and rewarded through our entire life, um, through knowing the right answer, whether that’s in school, whether that’s your first job, your first promotion, it’s all about what you knew and what you’ve done and how you’ve added value. And so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s obvious where that’s come from, but at some point it becomes a liability and here’s where it becomes a liability. You do that often enough and your people develop a sense of learned helplessness, where if I know that Jim’s always going to solve my problem for me, it’s the first thing I’m going to do.

Dave McKeown (15:30):

Whenever I have a problem, go to Jim and say, Hey, what do you want me to do? You tell me what to do. I just stop thinking for myself. I’ll maybe do the thing, but you’re going to tell me what to do. And so I just developed this sense of learn helpless, help learn helplessness, which over time then disempowers me. And then it frustrates the leader because they become a bottleneck and they then start to look at their team and think, geez, why doesn’t anybody do anything for themselves here? Why does nobody think for themselves here? Why am I the only one that’s doing it? I don’t think to what you got to say, well, buddy, you’re not completely responsible, but you’re partly responsible for it. And so it’s, I call it the cycle of mediocrity because we’re not doing bad work, but we’re not doing our best work. And we’re certainly not developing our team. There’s no growth in it. We’re getting through the day, but that’s really all we’re doing. We’re just getting through the day and surviving and just keeping our head above water.

Jim Rembach (16:24):

Okay. So that’s, you’re talking, I’m sitting here and I’m thinking about this experience and, uh, I’m of course not going to name any names, but, um, I happened to be sitting, uh, and audience just happened to catch it of somebody else’s zoom call that had 65 people on it. Okay. And I heard this leader who was facilitating this discussion and he ends up asking this question of who knows the answer to whatever the, his question was. Right, right. So he’s sitting there waiting for somebody, the 65 plus people to chime in crickets, nothing. And he asked it like four or five times, and then he goes, okay, I’m going to have to pick on somebody. And then it’s just so much going on. I’m sitting here busting, almost busting out, laughing. And like I said, I wasn’t on the call. I was, it, I was on the other side of the room behind the wall. And I just happened to hear all this going on. But to me, I mean, it is what you’re just talking about. Those people are so afraid. They want the answer to be given. I need to, I need to. So there’s multiple contributing factors to all of this,

Dave McKeown (17:33):

Uh, very much so. Um, and there’s all about behavioral stuff. And then there’s a really small micro, but equally important one, which is an Elvis. He wasn’t privy to the call. So I don’t know, but it’s just the way you phrase that question. If somebody says, who knows the answer to this, it’s so easy for you to go. No. Whereas if you just ask, ask the question, then, then at least people’s brains start thinking. And, um, it, it’s such a minor skill that so many leaders don’t have, which is the ability to ask good questions in a way that, that evokes a response. That’s not yes or no, because the answer is always going to be whatever it gets me out of this meeting faster, if it’s yes or no, I’ll answer whatever that is to get me out the door. But if you ask me an open-ended question, that requires me to think for myself, the fastest way for me to get out of this story is actually to put my hand up and say, here’s the answer so we can all

Jim Rembach (18:22):

No kidding. Yeah. Seven minutes of my life could have been given back. Right. Yeah, exactly. Okay. All right. So, um, you also talk about resetting perspectives in all of this, uh, and you say to reset our perspectives on leadership and you refer to internal characteristics and external behaviors. So how can relate, how can we relate these internal characteristics and these external behaviors to impacting the customer experience?

Dave McKeown (18:52):

Got it. So what we’re talking about here is we’re having an understanding that those older models of leadership that we’ve talked about, aren’t working specifically, that we want to break out of that cycle of mediocrity towards something new. So we’re painting that picture of what comes after the limbo. And, um, as I’ve seen it there, the, the leaders that are able to break out of that cycle and move towards what I call the cycle of excellence in embodying a number of internal characteristics like that you mentioned, and then a bunch of external behaviors. And both of those are important because if all we do is focus on external behaviors, there’s no true, true transformation. If all we focus on is internal characteristics, then there’s no output. So what’s the point. Um, and so we can go through what those are in a minute, but if, if we recognize that we want to move towards something else, well, what is it?

Dave McKeown (19:43):

Well, I call it the cycle of excellence, which is the opposite of the cycle of mediocrity. So instead of jumping in and saving the day, um, what w what we do is we give more time for our people to solve their own problems. So instead of leading through heroics, what we do is we help our team set, uh, a series of common goals that they can work towards and build shared accountability around those. So that when there’s a problem, we push it back on our team and say, what do you think, what are your options? What are your choices? What do you want to do that? Then in turn develops them rather than empowers them. It removes you, um, as the bottleneck, and then over time that that development, um, transforms into deep empowerment and then ongoing accountability. And so, if we’re talking about the customer experience, what we’re doing is saying that if we could, if we turn this into a customer facing interaction, if you have an issue or a problem with an organization and what they’re doing, and you’re constantly kicking up a, um, a stink of Bardot and, you know, rightly or wrongly, I’m not judging that, but if you can’t get the answers from the people that you’re interfacing with, and it all, it always has to escalate well, that’s probably most likely because there’s a degree of heroic leadership happening in that organization.

Dave McKeown (21:07):

If you interface with an organization and you’ve got a customer issue, and the person that you talk to has the ability to solve your problem, the ability to help you walk through that, then we’re operating in an organization. That’s moved more towards the cycle of excellence. They’ve set some shared goals, they’ve set some shared parameters, there’s a process in place to solve issues. And the people are empowered to do that without having to say, Hey, I’ve got to talk to my supervisor, I’ve got to talk to my manager. So that’s how we, we make that transition to impact, um, the customer experience does that.

Jim Rembach (21:39):

It does. And so I think you, you move all of this towards what you refer to as the three key elements of self-involved leadership. And you talk about vision, uh, which is to set that shared destination pulse, which is the build and, uh, and implementation rhythm, and then discipline to develop the key practices. If he could kind of walk us through them.

Dave McKeown (22:02):

Sure. At a real simple level there, our vision, where are we going? Um, implementation pulse, how do we get there and how do we track our progress? And then disciplines, how do we ensure that we, um, have the skills and the mindset necessary to get there? Um, and the key shift for me is that this isn’t, it shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. And it isn’t something that a leader comes and says, this is, this is, this is the operating system that we’re working in. It’s something that, um, is co-created with their team. And so vision is the first step. And no matter where you are in an organization where you are in your own career development, you and your team should have a vision for what your team is there to do what you want the world to look like. In three to five years, it may not be as big or as bold, as bold as the overarching organization’s vision.

Dave McKeown (22:57):

But you know that if you get your team closer to that vision, that, that, then that brings the organization closer to their overarching vision. And so I encourage leaders to spend some time with their team. Co-creating a vision. That’s not the leader’s vision, that’s the team’s vision. And the reason why I encourage that is because if you’ve got a vision that people have had input into, they’re going to be much more bought into the end result. And whenever you’re faced with a difficult time or a challenge, and somebody comes to you and says, I don’t know why we’re doing this. You can say, because the vision that we created, that you were a part of. And so these decisions that we’re making these, um, um, tough calls that we’re making, the, the fact that we’re going to have to put in a weekend shift to make X, Y or Z happen.

Dave McKeown (23:42):

It’s because it’s all related to this vision, which you are a part, you just get a greater likelihood that, um, you’ll have shared accountability and a higher degree of, of, of morale amongst the team. So set the vision with your team of where you’re going. Most leaders are, are relatively okay at doing that. The second one is the hardest bit, which is what’s your implementation pulse to make sure that you’re on track to achieving that vision. What are your annual goals that will, um, that you know, that if you achieve them this year, you’ll get closer to achieving that vision. Um, what, what are the quarterly milestones to get there? What do you need to do this month to, to, to hit the quarter? What do you need to do this week to make sure that the month is on track? And, um, that’s the missing piece?

Dave McKeown (24:27):

So most of us are pretty good at setting annual goals. Um, and then focusing on the day-to-day where we, um, uh, miss the Mark as the bit in the middle, uh, it’s the bit, that’s really the drum beat of implementation, where you can get together with your team on a monthly and a quarterly basis. And you have a clear understanding of where you are on that path to your annual goals. And you can have a robust, open discussion abide, high priorities may change what resources may need to shift, um, and that you make, again, those decisions collectively, because this is what normally happens. And I’m sure you’ve seen it. Jim at a team will set their, their goals, their strategic priorities for the year, and then a month later, if it lasts that long, the head honcho or whoever it is, comes in and says, no, we’re not doing that anymore.

Dave McKeown (25:12):

We’re going in this direction, throws a bunch of different priorities into the mix. And then everybody has to scramble like crazy to keep up those organizations that are truly agile, that are truly innovative, have a process through which they can make decisions around shifting priorities. So build your implementation pulse. And then the final one is there are five key disciplines that I see that any leader or any manager needs to develop in order to help steer that ship. So you can set your vision. You can set your pulse, that rhythm of hard to get there, but you do need a core set of disciplines to help navigate you and your team to, to that end goal.

Jim Rembach (25:48):

You also talk about, um, us having to change. Um, let me see how you put it. You need to change our view on leadership. New, say that you’d be hard edged. What do you mean by that?

Dave McKeown (25:59):

I about three years ago, got fed up of the, um, of people saying we should stop talking about leadership, being soft skills. They’re, they’re, they’re hard skills. And I agree entirely. I just don’t understand why we’re still having the conversation. Leadership is just a hard skill. Like any other thing that you can learn if you want to, if you want to be better at having difficult conversations, you can practice that the same way you can practice the code. If you want to be able to manage your time better, you can practice that just the same way you can practice cooking a recipe. Um, so I, I just said, let’s stop talking about them as skills. Let’s talk them about them as disciplines because there’s new diet that a discipline can be practiced, can be mastered that it’s hard. And we’ve got a view leadership as that. It’s not soft hard edge. There are very specific things you can do on a daily basis to get better at being a leader. If you have the desire to do it, if you’ve got a path to get there. And if you’ve got the, um, the commitment to put in the work on an ongoing daily basis,

Jim Rembach (27:00):

And to help with that in the book, you, um, put together a 15 week challenge towards the end of the book, if you could kind of tell us what that challenge is,

Dave McKeown (27:09):

The reason, first of all, that it put it in the book was, um, so I had this kind of mantra as I was writing the book, which was, um, somewhere between the philosophical and the practical life progress. And, um, you know, I’m sure you’ve read a bunch of books and you go, eh, that was interesting. Sure. You know, there were maybe two points in there that were just repeated ad nauseum, and it probably could have been a leaflet or a chapter or something. Um, and I, I didn’t want it to be that. Um, I also didn’t want it to just be a text book of here are the step-by-steps. I wanted it to be somewhere in between, and I didn’t want to write the book. And then a year later released the guide or the field book or the, you know, here’s how you put this into practice.

Dave McKeown (27:51):

You know, I think people do that just to sell more books. So the penultimate chapter, I just said, here is here’s your field book here is your workbook. Here’s your guide. And it’s a 15 week challenge. Um, uh, where you essentially like any other behavior or a skill that you want to develop, you set some care goals. At the beginning of the, um, of the 15 weeks. You put a series of steps in place to get there. I encourage you to build a and put together a group of people that will hold you accountable. And then you go, you go and practice. And so week after week, you look at your opportunity to practice. You define what your ideal outcome is. Whenever you go practice that you maybe list out some specific steps you want to take, you go do it. And then you review what worked well and what you could do differently next time. And I encourage folks that you run through it one time and you pick two or three things you want to work on when you get to the end of that, you pick another two or three things. And then again, and again, and again, and the reason why I keep it 15 weeks is, is that it’s, it’s short enough that I’ll keep people interested, but as long enough, that you’ll start to see some behavioral shifts and I’ll keep you motivated to keep going.

Jim Rembach (29:01):

Well, I, I mean, I think there’s a lot to be said about that when you start thinking about the transformation and the contextual piece of, of leadership and developing and, uh, building strengths. And I mean, it all fits. I mean, I see it. And I do think that that is where we should find some of the connections from an athletic field perspective.

Dave McKeown (29:21):

Yes, very much so. And, um, you know, I, I made that point about, um, the somewhat tongue in cheek notion of, of not letting that cross over. I think you’re right. I think whenever then it gets into, to actual hard work and discipline. Yeah. There’s a whole bunch of really great stuff that we can, that we can take from the world of athletics. Um, and, and I think practice and review and practice and review and getting some third-party, uh, observation on your progress is, is hugely beneficial.

Jim Rembach (29:50):

Most definitely. Well, all of this requires a whole lot of inspiration and focus. And one of the things that we look at on the show to do that are quotes, is there a quote or two that you liked that you can share?

Dave McKeown (29:59):

Can I sh um, share what a mine is that? Okay. So one thing that we didn’t talk about, which is the overarching mantra or mindset shift, um, that really drives all of this, and I’m just looking at it up in the book to make sure that I don’t miss. Um, it, um, so this is what I encourage any leader to adopt as their mantra. My focus is to help those on my team, achieve our shared goals and in doing so to help them become the best version of themselves. They’re two points in that building and achieving shared goals, and then developing into the best version, developing your team into the best version of themselves. And the reason why I think that’s so important and valuable is there’s no room for heroics in there. Um, because it’s all about your people developing as they learn and grow and solve problems and challenges and develop.

Jim Rembach (30:49):

Well, I would possibly say that being that middle child and going through a lot of those growth opportunities yourself, there’s been times where you’ve had to do that and you learn, we call it getting over the hump. Is there a time? And you can share it. Yeah.

Dave McKeown (31:03):

Um, I mean, very much so I’ve, I’ve got a interesting story when I first started out, um, on my own, I had, um, I was, I’d sold one of the first workshops that I was going to go deliver, and it was really excited about it. And, um, I had booked my flight to go there and I just started my, my business side, but, you know, I didn’t, I was just running off a few rooms and, um, I’d booked my flight to go wherever it was I was going. And I realized it didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the cost of the hotel bill. And, um, so that irked me a little bit. And I was like, Oh gosh, what am I going to do? And I talked to my now wife, my girlfriend at the time, Paris, I was like, what, what are we going to do to have enough money to pay for the hotel?

Dave McKeown (31:52):

And she was like, I can lend it to you. And I was like, nah, I don’t really want that. I want to make, you know, do this on my own. So I went off and thought about it for a couple of days. And I came back and I put together my very first online, um, uh, webinar learning opportunity. And I put it on a couple of people. It was probably something like $19 or $29 or something like that. And I sold enough of them to cover my hotel bill. And, um, so went off, did the session absolutely delighted with it. And I learned two things in that. Number one always invoice your client 50% upfront to make sure that you’ve got enough money to cover your expenses. And number two, that I think that if you are faced with a challenge, there’s, there’s always an answer out there. And so long as you’re prepared to look just both internally at what’s important and true to you and where you want to go, um, and you take advice, guidance, and support from other people, there’s always, um, a way to get over whatever that hump is. Um, and, and yeah, so just always look inside for what’s true and right for you, and then don’t block out those external voices. Cause I think they can be very helpful,

Jim Rembach (32:59):

Very much so. Okay. So when I think about this progression in this path, in this life cycle and this journey, uh, and where you are now, I mean, you have this book that’s now out, and I started thinking about some goals that you may have. Can you share one of those with us? I’m sure.

Dave McKeown (33:17):

Well, I’ll talk about it from a non-business perspective. Um, in that I think for a lot of people just where we’re at in terms of the situation with the global pandemic and the economic crisis, it’s, it’s caused a lot of us to take a moment to just slow down and reevaluate what’s important, uh, and write for us. And so there are two things for me, one from a business perspective is just really getting back to the root of what is the impact that I want to have. And, and what’s the, the group of people that I want to work with. Funny enough, Dan, from, um, the non-business perspective, I’ve been growing for six months and for somebody that has spent 10 years at three weeks out of every four on a plane going somewhere, it’s an interesting place to be. But what it’s allowed me to do is just get back to, um, you know, some basic routines and to get back into looking after my own physical and emotional health a little bit more. Uh, and so, you know, those two things together are kind of my focus. I really do see this period as an opportunity just to take a step back reevaluate what’s important and then move forward again.

Dave McKeown (34:26):

And the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best.

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Dave McKeown (35:33):

Attention, I think just at the minute, there are so many, um, things, our attention, and if I could do a better job of, um, just managing that for myself, I think it would be better.

Jim Rembach (35:44):

And what is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Dave McKeown (35:48):

Uh, I think I keep more windows and doors open than you close when you’re making decisions.

Jim Rembach (35:54):

And what do you believe is one of your secrets to helps you that contributes? Oh goodness. And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Dave McKeown (36:04):

Uh, just the ability to get up every day and just put one foot in front of the other.

Jim Rembach (36:09):

And what do you feel is one of your best tools they have to lead in business or life?

Dave McKeown (36:14):

Uh, I use a bit of software called Asana, which just, um, organizes everything that I need to do. And everybody that I need to talk to,

Jim Rembach (36:22):

What would be one book you could recommend to our Legion? It could be from any genre. Of course, we’re going to put a link to the self evolved leader on your show notes page as well.

Dave McKeown (36:30):

Yeah. The other, the other book that I’m, um, really fond off at the minute, it’s called the coaching habit by a guy called Michael Bungay Stanier. And it’s all about becoming more curious in your, in your organization. It’s very good.

Jim Rembach (36:41):

Okay. Pass their leads and you can find links to that. And other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/dave-McKeown, M small C capital K E O w N. Okay. My last question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and

Dave McKeown (37:09):

Probably a little cliche, but it would be the knowledge that there would be a global pandemic in 2020, and to do everything you could to stop it,

Jim Rembach (37:19):

That’s like picking the best stock, right? Oh, okay. Dave, I had a fun time chatting with you today. If you could please share with the fast leader leads and how they can connect with you.

Dave McKeown (37:30):

Sure. Happy to, uh, you can go to Davemckeown.com as you referenced. If you’re interested in the book, go to self evolve, leader.com. It’s also available on Amazon and I’m also active on LinkedIn and Twitter. We’ll be happy to connect with you in any of those places.

Jim Rembach (37:43):

Dave McKeown, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom in the past that we believed in honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.