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081: Bill Dann: My inadequacies led to him being crushed

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Bill Dann Show Notes

Bill Dann was working for a native Alaskan run organization. The Board of Directors put a lot of pressure on Bill to replace himself with an Alaskan native, since it was the purpose of the organization. Bill hired a young leader and unfortunately he was put into a situation that he was not prepared for. He got creamed. Bill has never forgiven himself for that. Listen to Bill talk about the lesson he learn and how it can help you to move onward and upward faster.

Bill was born and raised in Los Angeles, California as the fourth of four kids whose father was an attorney in the motion picture industry.
After High School Bill went off to the University of his Forefathers, Cornell. There he obtained both his undergraduate and then graduate degree in Business and Public Administration with an emphasis in Health.

While at Cornell, a recruiter from the Indian Health Service encouraged him to fulfill his military commitment by serving on a “nice warm Indian reservation”. Which ended up being Alaska. After 2 years, he was offered an opportunity to go to Nome, Alaska for 3 months to start a corporation whose purpose was to demonstrate new models of health care delivery and to give Alaska Natives greater control over their lives. It lasted more than 3 years.

There Bill created an organization made up of workers, many of whom were new to healthcare and to work. It was truly a challenge. This led to a lifelong fascination with how to get individuals and organizations to be all that they can be.

After teaching management for six summers at the Boston University School of Public Health Bill was convinced that his experience in Nome had taught him universal principles about why and how people. So in 1981, he started a consulting firm which became Professional Growth Systems which continues today as his principal activity.

As the author of Creating High Performers – 7 Questions to Ask Direct Reports, Bill’s commitment as both a consultant and a writer is to enable individuals to achieve their full potential and fulfillment from work.

Bill currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his beautiful Siberian Yupik bride Jenny of 40 years. He also has one son and now two wonderful grandchildren.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @arcticwill and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet 

“Work is a major source of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in our lives.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet

“Everybody has their own definition of work-life balance.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“You’re not going to be successful in your personal life if you’re not feeling successful at work.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“We’re driven by factors focusing on numbers without understanding the elements to get them.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“Strategy is important but execution will trump strategy.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“A well-executed inferior strategy will outperform a great strategy not executed well.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“The most challenging things in our lives is relationship.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“It’s rare that we’re able to get to a situation where we’re really honest with one another.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“Leadership is two domains – strategy and how do I get the best out of my people.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“It’s the responsibility of the employee to show up with motivation.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“There are two types of (people) problems – won’t do and can’t do.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“The people with won’t do problems will try to get it defined as can’t do.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“People in leadership positions have trouble with confronting the truth.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“If you’re choosing not to perform at your highest level, are you really happy about that?” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“Most job descriptions are of little value; they don’t serve a leadership function.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“People deserve to have clarity, coaching and the training they need to be successful.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

“Respect for other people and belief in them is not sufficient, you have to train and coach them.” -Bill Dann Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Bill Dann was working for a native Alaskan run organization. The Board of Directors put a lot of pressure on Bill to replace himself with an Alaskan native, since it was the purpose of the organization. Bill hired a young leader and unfortunately he was put into a situation that he was not prepared for. He got creamed. Bill has never forgiven himself for that. Listen to Bill talk about the lesson he learn and how it can help you to move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

Don’t be intimidated by those with a lot of authority or a lot of success.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

How to effectively hold people accountable.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Respect for other people and belief in them is not sufficient, you have to do the hard work of training and coaching them.

Secret to Success

Respect for other people’s point of view and ideas and not having to have the solution be my own.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

A strategic planning tool that brings people together and holds them accountable.

Recommended Reading

Managing Corporate Lifecycles – Volume 1: How Organizations Grow, Age & Die

Creating High Performers: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports

Contacting Bill

Website: http://www.professionalgrowthsystems.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-dann-4037b8

Twitter: https://twitter.com/arcticwill

Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.


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Click to access edited transcript
081: Bill Dann: My inadequacies led to him being crushed

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynotes don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee- engagement, customer-engagement and customer-centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll help your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more.

Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show that when I had the opportunity to read his book the clarity and simplicity of his teachings are really something that could be leveraged by almost everyone. Bill Dann was born and raised in Los Angeles, California the fourth of for kids whose father was an attorney in the motion picture industry. After high school Bill went off to the university of his forefathers—Cornell. There he obtain both his undergraduate and then graduate degree in business and public ministration with an emphasis in health. While in Cornell, a recruiter from the Indian health service encouraged him to fulfill his military commitment by serving on a nice warm Indian reservation it ended up being in Alaska.

After two years he was offered an opportunity to go to Nome, Alaska for three months to start a corporation whose purpose was to demonstrate new models of healthcare delivery and to give Alaska natives greater control over their lives, it lasted more than three years. There Bill created an organization made up of workers many of whom were new to healthcare and the work it was truly a challenge this led to a lifelong fascination with how to get individuals and organizations to be all that they can be. After teaching management for six summers at the Boston University school of Public health, Bill was convinced that his experience in Nome had taught him universal principles about why and how people work.

So in 1981, he started a consulting firm which became professional growth systems which continues today as his principal activity. As the author of creating high performers seven questions to ask direct reports, Bill’s commitment as both a consultant and a writer is to enable individuals to achieve their full potential and fulfillment from work. Bill currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his beautiful Siberian Yupik bride Jenny of 40 years. He also has one son and now two wonderful grandchildren. Bill Dann, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Bill Dann: I’m ready and excited.

Jim Rembach: So am I. I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Bill Dann: My current passion is what we described in the bio, I’m still on an industry to find ways to unlock the potential of individuals at work. I feel that work is how we spend the majority of our time, it’s a major source of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in our lives and my mission is for people to feel as fulfilled with their work as possible. If we focus on that then the organizations will be successful and prosper as well.

Jim Rembach: Yeah, I definitely see that the lines—for the longest time I’ve been talking about your work life and home life and I had a guest on the show a little while back who had said, “You know what, it’s just life.”

Bill Dann: Exactly.

Jim Rembach: And you need to bring the best of both of those things to wherever you may be.

Bill Dann: Yeah. There is some challenge in finding balance between the two and everybody has their own definition of that but you’re not going to be successful in your personal life if you’re not feeling successful in your work and vice versa.

Jim Rembach: That’s for sure. When I had the opportunity to review the seven questions that you have in the book and we’re not going to list them all here because that’s why people continue after the podcast. When I look at the concepts, the constructs of the questions I had taken those and adjusted them a little bit and use them in a performance review process before and I can tell you that when I have done that the reactions that I got were so much strange, meaning that the folks who I had the opportunity to review and had those conversations with had said, “I’ve never had a review like this before” it’s just totally foreign them. So, when you start looking at the seven questions which one would you say that people say no to the most?

Bill Dann: Probably, one of the most often people say no to is, I don’t really have clarity about what’s important to you. I know it’s in the job description but because of mixed messages or because we haven’t really have that communication I’m not really clear about what pushes your buttons and what’s really important for me to do or not do in order to be successful in your eyes. I don’t know what your personal standards are.

Jim Rembach: So when you started thinking about what you were just saying I think that could be multi-faceted. Meaning from as an individual, me being an employee, that my boss isn’t connecting with me or the company isn’t connecting with me but then also me as an individual I really don’t understand the purpose and sense of direction and when really achievement wat potentially going to occur.

Bill Dann: Absolutely.

Jim Rembach: So when you look at it from those different angles, what do you think that organizations struggle with the most? Is it over all outside in or is it the inside out piece?

Bill Dann: I think it’s the inside out piece. I think they find it easier to focus on what their strategy, how we’re going to grow and much more difficult to focus on how do we optimize execution there. And how do we develop a culture that enables that to happen. And we’re driven Wall Street, we’re driven by all kinds of factors that are focusing on numbers without really understanding what the foundation elements are to get to those numbers. Strategies are important but the execution will trump strategy, meaning that a well-executed inferior strategy, when I perform a great strategy there is executed well.

Jim Rembach: That’s a really interesting point because I think when you look at the biggest struggle that most organizations have it’s really not in the planning components, it’s really not in the developing of the strategies and know you could arguably say it’s not even in the areas of innovation more so it’s in the areas of execution.

Bill Dann: Exactly. Well, I think the most challenging—the biggest picture here is the most challenging thing in our lives is a relationship whether it’s your personal life or your work life. And it is rare that we’re able to get to a situation where we can be really honest with one another and explore why it we’re not succeeding. I was coaching a client team yesterday, leadership team, that’s trying to evolve to the CEO implementing a chief operating officer concept and she’s having a real challenge letting go. She feels like she’s lost her team, she lost her sense of importance, she’s not showing up well and the COO said to me, “You know, we need to sit down and use the job descriptions you really get in to this.” And I said, “No, you need to explore the relationship, what are the buttons that are being pushed trying to make this change and how to we get through those? And until we find out the root causes of those that’s in the DNA of who she is, what we put on papers going to matter, we’ve already put it on paper and we’re not abiding by it. So, we’re all scared to go there, we’re all scared to have that kind of communication which is what the seven questions are trying to address make it easier to start that dialogue.

Jim Rembach: Yeah. And I think when you started talking about that I started thinking about that I started thinking about something that’s really important for us on the show. When you start thinking about finding that strength, finding that focus and the purpose so that you can execute, you can move forward, we look at leadership quotes quite often because they can do just that. Do you have a quote or two that you can share with us that’s important to you?

Bill Dann: I guess I like to begin by saying—one of the things I think that leads to confusion is that leadership to me is wailings having it leads to confusion is leadership to me a really two domains there is where we’re going, what’s the strategy and what are the rules that we’re going to apply, so that’s kind of the general in an army context, what’s the mission and what (inaudible 8; 58). And then there’s the other side of leadership which is really supervision, which is okay, I’ve got that all defined now how do I get the best out of my people. And sometimes we get those things confused and use it under a single word called leadership but they’re very, very different elements and I think having that understanding’s important. In the book I talk about something that I got from Ken Blanchard which is that there are really two kinds of problems that people have at work one is the can’t do problem, where I don’t have the information, the skills, the authority, the resources, to achieve what you want me to achieve or what I want to achieve. And the second is a won’t do problem where I’ve got all of that but for any given reason could be something related towards not related to work, I’m not motivated to go make that to happen and I’m not performing. And what I found working with supervisors is it they’re really struggle with how to decide what kind of problem it is and to stop beating themselves up for what is really the responsibility of the employee which is to show up with motivation. So I think that’s the first thing, the quote I would cite is that there’s two types of problems the—won’t do and can’t do and if you don’t have clarity about which kind of problem is you can’t solve it.

Jim Rembach: That’s one thing that stood out to me as well. I recently had a conversation with somebody about the whole “can’t do, won’t do mindset. And I often find, at least for this particular person who I had this discussion with, is that they took and flip, what they were saying was can’t do from their “won’t do” file. And so it’s like, No, No, No, you can’t do it, if you’re choosing not to and most of the things that are sitting there in your can’t do file, really I won’t do’s.

Bill Dann: And you’ll find that—I’m talking about this on the book, the people with won’t do problems will try to get it to find this can’t do because they don’t want to take responsibility for their own interaction.

Jim Rembach: For me I can—okay, so I don’t have the patience a lot of time for people who are just crippled by won’t do’s but unfortunately sometimes those people are in very key and important roles with the organization because of their technical aptitudes and capabilities. What can an organization do to get those people to move?

Bill Dann: I think you’ve got to first of all confront the truth and I this is what’s difficult for people in leadership positions they really have trouble doing that. And then begin an honest discussion I mean the reality here is that if you’re choosing to not perform at your highest level are you really happy about that? Likely you’re not. So, let’s get to a common goal. I want you to be all you could be at work for your self-esteem would it make sense that you want to be, you use to perform really well not you’re not choosing too, and let’s find the root causes and see if we can find a solution. Sometimes those root causes are temporary it could be something happening in their personal life and sometimes those root causes can’t be turned around and there needs to be a wake-up call for that individual where they get counseled, this clearly is no longer the right fit for you. It’s not that you’re bad it’s you’re not happy so you’re not happy, we’re not happy, we need to solve this together. The problem is that we set up supervision as a judgment relationship, my job is to sit in judgment of you and that dynamic is just a bad place to start from. If we begin with—look, we’re partners and you’re finding success at work and are finding success at our market, so how do we work together to accomplish that? And if we’re not how do we solve it?

Jim Rembach: I think those are some very good points, thanks for sharing. One of the things that I talk about is servant teamwork because it seems more in tuned and aligned with where we’re going as a society today. And really that collaborative model that you’re talking about in that in the workforce we often find and we’re now having a generational issue. Where a lot of kids who are getting in to the workforce have essentially been cuddled and catered too much their lives in the whole societal shifts in regards to getting the participant trophy. They won’t come and bring those things to work and we’re having supervisors as leaders to do more of that tough love, parenting, and those discussions. And when you start thinking about what I have to do in my work day when I’ve got things piled on top of me that I have to do having those discussions I got time for that. So, do you see a shift having to take place in regards to, you talk about a job description a moment, are job descriptions going to have to start shifting and changing and permit and allow for more of these discussions to take place so the companies can move forward or are we just going to continue to get ready to drive over the cliff and have people just start bailing who could potentially do these things at work but they don’t have time and so they feel frustrated.

Bill Dann: What a great question. I talk about this in the book I think most job descriptions are of little value and the reason they have little value is their construct that was created in order that that I can evaluate of the worth of a given position relative to another position, they serve as HR or personnel function they don’t serve a leadership function. What’s missing is, what is it you expect me to produce? Not one of the activities I’m engaged in but what are the outputs you’re expecting from me? And how are you going to evaluate whether or not those are happening and without that clarity I think we set up the relationship for a lot of misunderstandings couple that with not really communicating what my personal standards are as a supervisor and you have people set up on the wrong foot. And the book is about how many times I did in learning a lesson from it that.

I was contributing mightily to people’s failure they were doing the best they can it was my inadequacies as a leader that was leading to the underperformance. You talk about when was your aha moment, that was the aha for me that I had to do I couldn’t simply lead by stating my belief in you. I believe you can do it. You can get there from here. They needed help to get there from here. My view at that time was that stepping in there to provide that was disrespectful, it was overly paternalistic, whatever you want to call it and the reality is that’s what people want from leadership thickly initially.

Jim Rembach: We definitely as leaders as even as employees have a lot of humps that we have to get over and I think you’re talking about your aha moment, but can you tell us the story that allowed you to come to that conclusion?

Bill Dann: Well, there was a point in my career where I was working for a native run organization and the board of directors put a lot of pressure on to replace myself and in management position in the organization will Alaska natives that was the purpose of the organization. And they push on me pretty hard and I got pretty aggressive and went and found a young guy out of California who was from the region, had good credentials and healthcare, seem very bright and I brought him into the situation he was all prepared for and he got craned and to this day I think about what ever happened to that young man who came home to live his dream of serving his people and my inadequacies led him being crushed. The professionals in the organization were not willing to give them a buy because he didn’t know how to do the job and I wasn’t willing to provide enough time to give him the tools to do it well. And I have never forgiven myself for that and that continues to be a lesson that people deserve to have clarity and they deserved to have coaching and they deserve to have a training they need to be successful, that’s the responsibility of leadership.

Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. I started thinking about that leadership can’t be catch and release.

Bill Dann: That’s a great one. (Inaudible 18:17)

Jim Rembach: I know you got a lot of things going on. You wrote this book, you talked about—when we had the opportunity to have some written dialogue earlier about a legacy and about teaching other people about the things that you’ve learned, you talked about your son and your wife, but when you look at all those things what are some your goals?

Bill Dann: Well, at this point, I’m in the late stages of my career, so my goals now are to mentor people who can do the same work that I’m doing and use our tools well to have the proprietary products that we’ve developed that we think are really state-of-the-art live on and I create a legacy—a successful organization that have used the tools to further the organizations and people within them.

Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

An even better place to work is an easiest solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guarantee to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better.

Alright, here we go Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Bill, the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Bill Dann, are you ready to hoedown?

Bill Dann: I’m ready.

Jim Rembach: Alright. So what do you think is holding you back from being even better leader today?

Bill Dann: The challenge I continue to struggle with is how to effectively hold people accountable.

Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Bill Dann: Respect for other people and belief in them is not sufficient you have to do the hard work of training and coaching them.

Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Bill Dann: Respect for other people’s point of view and ideas and not having to have the solution be my own.

Jim Rembach: What is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Bill Dann: We’ve developed a strategic planning tool that I believe is terrific for bringing teams together holding people accountable and managing the journey to success.

Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you recommend for our listeners and they could be from any genre?

Bill Dann: Well, I really like the book somewhat dated now by a German named Ichak Adizes called Corporate Lifecycles and it describes the phases of birth, life and decay and death of an organization. I think it’s got tremendous insights.

Jim Rembach: Okay Fast Leader Legion listeners you can find links to that and Bill’s book Creating High Performance: 7 Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports on the show notes page that you’ll find at fastleader.net/Bill Dann. Okay Bill, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you could only choose, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Bill Dann: It’s a great question I thought a lot about it and I think that I would take back the understanding now that we all put on our pants or skirt the same way. As a young man I was very intimidated by people who are successful. I couldn’t confront them, I couldn’t approach them as equals, and today I have no problem with that. And I think that being able to stand up for yourself and not be intimidated by those in authority or those that have a lot of success, I would love to have that at age 25.

Jim Rembach: Bill it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the fast leader listeners how they can connect with you?

Bill Dann: You can go to me on LinkedIn. You can also find me on Twitter and both those are available on our website, professionalgrowthsystems.com

Jim Rembach: Bill Dann, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the fast leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

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