Links from Episode
- Jocko Willink – Extreme Ownership (Book Link to Amazon)
- Bob Iger – The Ride of a Lifetime (Book Link to Amazon)
[00:00:00] Kevin Dieny: Hi, welcome to the Close The Loop podcast. I’m your host, Kevin Dieny and we’re gonna be talking about what makes a great business leader. Today, I’ve got Ronn Burner with us again, to discuss all this stuff about leadership. So welcome, Ronn.
[00:00:14] Ronn Burner: Thanks, Kevin, happy to be back.
[00:00:16] Kevin Dieny: So I guess the first thing that jumps out at me here is like, what are we talking about? When we, you say leadership? I think everyone understands what we’re talking about when someone says we want a leader, but in terms of the basics here, what are we talking about?
[00:00:32] Ronn Burner: I think leadership is you, you don’t want your team to be, less than focused, I guess. So when there’s a leader, there’s somebody to lean on and then they know how to, um, they know that they’re going in the right path down the right direction and they’re not left, twidling their thumbs or doing circles because there’s a directive, there’s an objective.
[00:00:54] Ronn Burner: There’s a goal. A leader should, hopefully is establishing and what the goal is, and it’s understood. And then the actions to achieve that goal. And then, the obstacles preventing you from achieving that goal. So then when that is out on the table and an open communicated discussion and conversation, um, that’s really how I think of leadership.
[00:01:15] Ronn Burner: I mean, there’s many, many, myriads and attributes that go along with it. But I think one of the most important things is establishing the goal, the actions that we’re gonna get there and, the obstacles that you were gonna face. And in addition to that, that sort of transparency and openness and that full on communication where there’s really no decisions in a vacuum, but it’s also, everybody is fully aware of.
[00:01:38] Ronn Burner: Of all the pieces in place to get to that goal. But I think as important as all of that is putting responsibility on somebody’s plate, on each person’s plate, because now they feel like they’re contributing in a meaningful way. Now they feel like they’re part of it and they feel like they matter. And that’s really important for leadership is to make your team feel like they’re important.
[00:01:59] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, I really like that. I think, of leadership as someone who’s able to organize the resources, which is like people, the assets, let’s say the skill sets, the trucks, the business, the patients. Able to organize everything that’s just sort of sitting there in a business and put it together in the right way so that it’s going to generate revenue or profit, uh, for that business.
[00:02:26] Kevin Dieny: And I think leadership can exist, along the entire hierarchy. So someone who’s not necessarily over or has managing someone definitely need leadership skills, because I think leadership requires managing up and down. Meaning as the, the lowest underlaying employee, you’re sort of under the tutelage and leadership of somebody else. But you have to manage them as well as, you know, manage what work your tasks are assigned to do.
[00:02:56] Kevin Dieny: So I think leadership is something that’s valuable for people who are at all stages of a company up and down to, to get right. That’s, that’s kind of how I’m look, how I think of it.
[00:03:07] Ronn Burner: I think that’s a great, great perspective and a great point because leadership really is going in both directions and that’s showing your team and that’s building a rapport with your team when you’re willing to essentially go to bat for them. When you’re, I always say gripe upwards. Like when I have people on my team, I never gripe down.
[00:03:27] Ronn Burner: I never complain. I never go downwards to them. I’m actually in a, in an odd way, more respectful and more engaged with people on my team than I am upwards. When I go upwards, it’s almost like, I don’t wanna say you’re going into it with a fight, but you’re going in there trying to, for lack of a better word, you’re fighting for the cause or fighting for what you would like to, to happen for your team, whether it be adding additional resources or, or just a strategy, whatever it is.
[00:03:54] Ronn Burner: So that ability to, speak to your superiors in a way that should try to achieve the goal and try to understand where they’re coming from. But also pitch to them why it’s important to you and your team. And then go back to your team, even biting the bullet. Taking accountability is another huge leadership thing, is taking accountability for, if things aren’t going as well as your department had hoped in the quarterly reporting and things of that nature.
[00:04:20] Ronn Burner: Then the leader taking it on their shoulders saying, you know, that falls on me because I didn’t put my team in a position to succeed. Whether that be the case or not. Taking that approach, is respected above your role as well as below your role. What’s your experience with that?
[00:04:39] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, I….
[00:04:40] Ronn Burner: Because I know you, I know you are doing that. You have people on your team and you have people you report to, to, so you are a very good candidate to answer that.
[00:04:47] Kevin Dieny: There’s people above, to the side, and below, right? So the people below are like your subordinates or people who are, dividing the work you would have to do alone, if they didn’t exist. And then the people to the side are other departments, right.
[00:05:01] Kevin Dieny: Having to coexist with other departments that have different functions. And then going up yeah, through the leadership. So you, you also did mention something very interesting, which is the characteristics of leadership, right? Like of what makes a great leader. So we’re talking about what makes a great business leader.
[00:05:17] Kevin Dieny: I think you could probably make a laundry list of characteristics, right? Like a honest, kind, nice respectful, accountable, responsible, someone who listens. I think you could list a lot of characteristics. So I think a lot of times I’ve been in experiences where I’ve been under experienced leaders.
[00:05:39] Kevin Dieny: In some of my earliest jobs. I remember people being so much older than me, that they had so much experience when they were leading me that there were things about it that I took for granted. And then later had younger leaders, less experienced leaders, and I could see that there’s definitely some differences and some leaders had attributes and characteristics that I liked and other ones had.
[00:06:00] Kevin Dieny: Uh, other attributes I liked and things that I didn’t like. Man, is there like a, a leader out there that encompasses all the great things or is it always like a little bit of give and take? So the question I’d have to throw it back to you would be, do you think leaders are born? Or can, and simultaneously can someone just pick up a book and be, become a great leader, you know, pick up a book on leadership.
[00:06:23] Ronn Burner: Right, you know, I don’t know the answer to that, but I would say that certainly that your personality, I I’ll say this. I do think that anybody can develop and become a good leader. I really do. At the end of the day, a good leader has goals in mind, but they’re also, it’s, it’s the person skills.
[00:06:44] Ronn Burner: It’s the human skills that make a great leader for me. You can have all the knowledge in the world. If you can’t convey that message in a way to get people to go to bat for you and you go to bat for them. That sort of, comradery, not only are they not gonna run, it’s gonna breed complacency, which you don’t want.
[00:07:01] Ronn Burner: And it’s gonna build a potentially a toxic work environment. And all of those things are bad so that the human skills, are very, very critical. So I think that people can be born leaders. And I think we’ve seen that in, you know, the people that are successful are born leaders, whether they are able to convey their, their message in a way that’s, not a brisk tone.
[00:07:23] Ronn Burner: Cause I think to being direct is very important to be a leader, but it’s also direct with an understanding and an empathy. Like it’s, you’re direct in your matter of fact as to avoid confusion, but you’re not direct in matter of fact, to be a jerk and call the shots and make decisions in a vacuum. Some of the leadership qualities I think of.
[00:07:41] Ronn Burner: Certainly knowledge is there and you made a great point, experience. I continue to learn and I continue to make decisions based on when something presents itself. As like saying, I remember this similar situation happening in my past, either to me or I have made a decision reflecting on my team. And that experience comes into play later where, okay, I’m gonna handle it a little bit differently.
[00:08:04] Ronn Burner: Some of the traits I think of is, is be thoughtful, be fair, be optimistic. What do those things have to do with running business? Right, but for leadership, those intangibles are, I think, paramount.
[00:08:17] Kevin Dieny: I think there’s something really interesting too, on this, in, in this paradigm of characteristics. And that’s that I think a lot of times a leader has both the qualities that make them a great leader and may have qualities that. The things that define them as leader might also be their weaknesses and the reason and what I, what I mean there is, if you are let’s, let’s just take one trait.
[00:08:38] Kevin Dieny: Let’s just take kindness. If you are exceptionally kind, like too an extreme, at some point, the kindness can be a weakness. And that’s because sometimes different people are gonna learn, not always by kindness. So like people need to learn, you don’t have to be mean. But if you take any characteristic trait and I think if you pull it to an extreme, I think at some point the extreme traits become problematic.
[00:09:08] Kevin Dieny: If you don’t have those traits, meaning they’re, you’re very low, let’s say on the scale of kindness or honesty or optimism, there are also a weakness. So there’s like a, a point along the curve of kindness and optimism and stuff where those things are beneficial. And then there’s areas where if you are a little too much of this or that, it creates an environment that’s not optimal in every situation.
[00:09:32] Kevin Dieny: And every business is gonna be different. You could have subordinates that, tough, mean, gritty guys, and for them, they, you know, they respond to, and they, and he becomes a cohesive team through a certain type of leader. And that same leader in a different environment, something else, less the opposite of that, it wouldn’t necessarily work so well.
[00:09:52] Kevin Dieny: So I think it’s think it’s hard. Let’s say to put together the right characteristics you need to be a leader for your specific team. And so I think. You’re gonna be a, the type of leader you are, and you’re gonna be able to gain traits over time. Like you said, I think people can become better leaders. And I think you’ll refine yourself based on the environment you’re in.
[00:10:17] Kevin Dieny: So wherever you’re working, you’re gonna become the better leader at that environment. Hopefully, I think simultaneously you could learn bad traits that may work, temporarily or from the short term, but could create an environment where no one really wants to work with you, or it fosters like a bad situation in the long term.
[00:10:38] Kevin Dieny: So trading long term for short term is always a problem in a business.
[00:10:43] Ronn Burner: You’re right, yeah. You definitely nailed it with the balancing act. That’s why all leaders aren’t great leaders is the ones that are, are able to balance all those things that you mentioned. I always say, and I probably said it numerous times on this podcast, it’s the whole Keep It Simple Stupid mentality.
[00:10:58] Ronn Burner: So even when it comes to leadership and it, when it comes to that be, and too kind as an example, It’s like everybody needs to understand the goal. And when we’re constantly talking about here is the goal. This is a business, this is fine, we’re gonna respect each other. I’m gonna listen to you. I’m gonna be honest with you.
[00:11:15] Ronn Burner: I’m gonna be curious, I’m gonna ask questions, all of these things, but at the end of the day, accountability matters. And that’s why I say put things on their plate because I think human nature is nobody wants to drop the ball. So if one person has one task, on their plate, then they’re probably going to do that.
[00:11:35] Ronn Burner: And also it empowers them to feel like they’re contributing in a way that they can speak up in meetings. It just breeds this sort of a collaboration because everybody’s role is important and everybody’s role matters that that being said, it is a business. The leader can be kind as can’t be, but we have a goal here.
[00:11:52] Ronn Burner: That’s what the job is. We have to do the job and you have to be accountable. So, and then again, a good leadership along those lines is flexibility. Sometimes, maybe deadlines or the ask is more than we thought. So things, so deadlines have to change or adjust as long as there’s open communication. And you want your, the people that are reporting to you, you really want them to have confidence and comfort in, in reaching out to you, knocking on your door, coming up to you without the fear of saying uhoh, uh, oh, I, I have to answer for not being able to do this.
[00:12:27] Kevin Dieny: Something that I absolutely agree with in what you’re saying there is that one of the leaders, primary jobs, when they first come into being a leader or a manager or into the role, maybe they’re coming from outside and stepping into a leadership role. I think one of the penultimate things you’re supposed do is.
[00:12:44] Kevin Dieny: Is figure out how this company wants to grow because you really have to own that growth, you really have to own that role. And that means that if something goes wrong in your sphere it’s on you, even if it’s like on one of your subordinates or one of your team members errors. So the responsibility rolls up.
[00:13:04] Kevin Dieny: In a sense. And if you’re getting a step into a business and you don’t know how it functions, you don’t know why it’s working the way it is. I don’t think you’re gonna have team members that follow you very well, even they won’t understand. If you have a hard time understanding, then they’re really gonna have a hard time understanding.
[00:13:19] Kevin Dieny: And when things are too much and then you pass them onto the team and the team of gives you the feedback that maybe it’s too much. Then you have to both learn like what’s coming at you from the top and what’s coming at you from the bottom. So I think that great leadership skill comes first with.
[00:13:37] Kevin Dieny: Like owning, owning that role and what that entails and that, that could take some time figuring out how everything works. You’re trying to get, you know, everything understood like, okay, what services does this company offer? How is it, how does it want to grow?
[00:13:47] Kevin Dieny: What is it trying? What area of the business is trying to grow in? How, how best can and this company grow and really understand, I guess the business itself first. Because then it’s, then it comes easier to explain to your team or to figure out your goals or to put objectives and stuff together.
[00:14:03] Kevin Dieny: What exactly are you gonna do next? Like, okay, here, you’ve just taken a look at the game board and now what’s your next move gonna be? I think you have to first look at the game board and own, okay, this is where I am. This is the first, when it came before me put these pieces down, or this is what the company’s working with.
[00:14:17] Kevin Dieny: You have to work. I think in that sphere first.
[00:14:21] Ronn Burner: I agree. And to that point, the next step in that point, I think one of the most important things for a leader is. No matter where I am when I’m the person I’m reporting to, I hope does this for me. And I hope I do this for anybody that reports to me is put your people in a position to succeed. That alone will show that you’re a leader because it, again, it empowers the, those people that are working for you.
[00:14:43] Ronn Burner: It empowers them and makes them feel important. And that value that feeling that they’re respected and that they matter. It’s so very important. And then it’s just little wins. You’re putting ’em in a position to succeed, and now they’re respecting you, and now they’re willing, willing to go the extra mile for you.
[00:14:58] Ronn Burner: And not only that, it gives them initiative that makes them more proactive. It makes them contribute more and then the machine just gets better. And now they’re getting more things added on their plate because. Yet again, uh, something popped in my head and that is that leadership needs to surround themselves with a good team, with good people. And good people comes from feeling like they’re respected because then they’re gonna do things for you.
[00:15:22] Ronn Burner: And then they’re gonna feel like you’re one cohesive unit, and, and that’s important. So I agree. You, you nailed it.
[00:15:28] Kevin Dieny: The conflict that I think arises in leadership naturally is probably one big reason, that I’ve heard that people don’t want to be leaders. So dealing with conflict and that’s usually interpersonal, uh, could be departmental. It could, but generally it’s gonna come down to, you know, there’s a conflict, but it’s gonna be resolved by talking it out by figuring it out, communicating, uh, it’s not gonna be like a court case.
[00:15:54] Kevin Dieny: You know, you’re not gonna be able to necessarily pull all your evidence and state your case to a jury. And then some, you know, impartial, party’s gonna decide. In leadership, it’s working with somebody else or two other people or another department or something. And you have to make your case.
[00:16:09] Kevin Dieny: And a lot of times that involves conflict and does involve a little bit of give and take. And that is a little, scary that’s to say, that is a little bit like jarring to think of. Okay. I, I don’t just have to come into work and do the work I want to do. Right, I’m like, if you’re a painter, it’s like, I just wanna paint.
[00:16:29] Kevin Dieny: Now, you’re like, well, you’re painting, but you’re also gonna have to resolve conflicts and, and stuff. And then it’s like, ah, why would I give up the, the part of the job I like the most for a whole bunch of stuff I don’t really like that much either. And staying away from conflict, as well, is a huge issue.
[00:16:47] Kevin Dieny: If you just let the teams run rampant, it’s sort of like a farm with no fences. Like the animals just running crazy all over the place. I don’t think it, I don’t think it runs a business very well that way.
[00:16:57] Ronn Burner: No, you really have to nip it in the bud and conflict is such a like broad term because of what kind of conflict are we dealing with? Is it internal people not getting along, is it having to do with the subordinate whoever they report to, that sort of power structure. Or even if it’s a parallel situation, because like, you know, the sales and marketing who should be making the decisions, like what, what is conflict necessarily mean?
[00:17:18] Ronn Burner: But that bottom line is, as far as when I look at conflict, it’s, it’s always. Nip it in the bud, but confront it head on, like, this is a direct conversation. And if it, for example, if there’s a confrontation or if there’s some sort of conflict that happens on my team and, and maybe it’s with me, maybe it’s with my leadership skills.
[00:17:39] Ronn Burner: I don’t want it to be handled in a meeting publicly. I don’t want to go down that route. I don’t want anything to happen because you don’t really have all the details and you don’t really know what’s going on. And you don’t also wanna, you know, it’s always this big thing of respond versus react, cuz it’s really easy when somebody says something sharp to say something sharp back and that doesn’t help any situation.
[00:17:58] Ronn Burner: Plus you lose your integrity as a leader when you do that or it’s your ego taking over you can over where you wanna show everybody whose boss. When the dust settles a little bit later in that day, have a conversation. I let ’em come into the office and vent, just vent, whether it may have nothing to do with me, but whatever it is, that’s a problem if, if venting is even required, but the point is, is to let them explain themselves.
[00:18:22] Ronn Burner: So you understand what the actual conflict is, what the problem is. And then once you have that information in, in a cool setting once you understand it. And then tally in the respecting of the differences and your empathy for the situation, um, whatever the case may be, then you can like move forward appropriately on, on what is best for the situation or the business in terms of just basically mitigating that sort of conflict from festering or growing any further, just, just nip it right then in there if possible.
[00:18:52] Kevin Dieny: I think also what you’re describing as a leader, You, you may not ever have all the information you need to make every decision, right? So you want to be the kind of leader who makes the best decisions every time. Cause a lot of what you do as a leader comes down to decision making.
[00:19:06] Kevin Dieny: So when you don’t have a lot of the information, that’s a risk. So if you just chalk it up to, you know, the more risk that exists in a decision, the harder that decision is probably gonna be and the implications or consequences of making decisions, where you’ve. You know, you don’t have all the information is high, so that’s where ego comes in.
[00:19:29] Kevin Dieny: Right? Like you mentioned, that’s also where confidence tries to shy away from, letting the whole team, see how much risk there is. You balance all that a little bit because you know, it’s hard, it’s hard to, to do this if you just react. So I think the best way that, you know, it can create an environment where.
[00:19:50] Kevin Dieny: That you’re creating and cultivating a great team, which you said is really, really important, but no, team’s gonna be free of conflict. So how do you create a great team and foster that always knowing that there’s always gonna be conflict. And I think you. You do have to be patient. You do have to try to assess as much risk as you can and lower it.
[00:20:10] Kevin Dieny: You do have to convey some confidence, but knowing that you’re gonna make mistakes and fail along the way you kind of have to, you can’t set it up, like you’re the God of, of leaders and that everyone is, has to take your word on it. You’re dealing with a lot of stuff.
[00:20:26] Kevin Dieny: So really I think that skill in managing everything I just said, right. Assessing the risk being patient, knowing that you don’t have all the information, being confident, but being able to fail. I think all of that could be probably summed up in like being able to manage your priorities. So is it like an absolute priority right now that you call someone out, that you lay someone out publicly.
[00:20:50] Kevin Dieny: Where are the priorities with this? And if you can always fall back on what is the priority here like that we’re trying to accomplish? Is this conflict gonna cause us some serious harm, then it becomes a higher priority. But if it’s not a super high priority, I think it, it may be warranted to take a little bit of time to figure that out.
[00:21:08] Kevin Dieny: Like you said, wait till the end of the day, wait until dust is settled and, and evaluate it at that point and let people, like, sometimes just someone saying it out loud, they realize how silly it is, you know?
[00:21:21] Ronn Burner: Exactly right. And they’re a little bit too emotionally involved because of whatever happened at that moment. Everything that you just said, I agree with, and it was very, it occurred to me that another really important element in all of this is the consistency. Just the leader should be very, very consistent.
[00:21:38] Ronn Burner: So handling these type of things should be, you know, you’re on. You’re under the spotlight, basically. So a leader knows when there’s conflict and when these things happen, how it was handled one time, months ago, and how different kinds of conflicts were handled. As long as you’re pragmatic or, or consistent in your approach to handling and resolving situations.
[00:22:01] Ronn Burner: Again, it goes back to the team just trusting and building a really good morale. Whether, they agree with your final decision or not to know that they can approach you with it, to know that you’re going to be fair and consistent. I think helps and it, and it really does breed a comfortable environment for everybody involved.
[00:22:20] Ronn Burner: And the last thing you want is things to fester, a lack of communication in any relationship at work or otherwise, tends to create a festering thing. And then now we’re getting more emotions involved and then these little conflicts can become much larger conflicts. And then it goes back to the priority spectrum that Kevin just mentioned. Something that would, that probably was a pretty low priority.
[00:22:41] Ronn Burner: Somehow has now moved up a couple notches and become a larger priority because it became a larger issue unnecessarily.
[00:22:47] Kevin Dieny: I really like this and taking this in a different direction here for a second. And that is if you had a story. To any of this. Right?
[00:22:55] Kevin Dieny: Cause we talked about a lot of things and I don’t think everyone has a story about every single thing we’ve talked about. But if anything jumps out without like completely bashing a prior leader but uh, if you had an experience either where you were the leader or you were the subordinate or you were, you know, working in parallel or whatever it is, um, where leadership, you know, was involved.
[00:23:20] Kevin Dieny: And you learn something or you saw something and you had a good takeaway from it, uh, about leadership. If you had anything that came to mind, as I’ve said, all this?
[00:23:29] Ronn Burner: Oh, boy. Do I strike you as somebody who may or may not have been involved in confrontations with my leaders, over the years? I guess, I guess the thing that sticks out to me is when I’ve had conversations, with people, I never think of my, my leadership towards others.
[00:23:46] Ronn Burner: I never think of it in those terms. I always think about how people handled it, that I admired. So basically my leaders, and then I try to apply that when, when I can, if I can. The conversations I’ve had with leaders with really boil down to they, they listen to me, they were authentic. They really were listening.
[00:24:04] Ronn Burner: And they really understood what I was saying, whether they agreed with me or not, they could see where I was coming from. And then they just handled it in such a, they didn’t put their foot down and say, I’m the boss, and this is how it’s going to be. They thoroughly, listen to me and understood what I was coming.
[00:24:19] Ronn Burner: And then they just tried to explain to me like, look, you know, we have to do it this way, or, you know what I have to do here almost like I answered the question for them cuz they’re like, you know how to I have to handle this, right. And it’s like, okay, you’re right. So I’m a little, I might be a little bit out of line here, but you got the message that I was trying to get a cross.
[00:24:38] Ronn Burner: Right, like, yeah, I totally understand. But so I feel like the leaders that actually cared to understand what I was griping about or what the conflict was. I don’t know, I just work is work and jobs are job. And whether you’re fighting for getting a new resource that you would like, a new tool to add to your, your marketing stack, right?
[00:24:59] Ronn Burner: Those things or a new employee, or you need more help, or the deadline’s not there, like as long as there’s open communication and they are willing to listen, cuz I could. I think the reason that sticks out as something that’s so important is because conversely, when I’ve had these concerns we’ll call them and I have approached people about it.
[00:25:17] Ronn Burner: And when they’re like, you know, tough or that when their response is so terse and it’s almost like they didn’t even hear what I had to say or their unwilling to let me finish. That’s just sends me into a spin. And then now as an employee, how, how hard do you think I’m gonna work for you? Like you just ticked me off and you just disrespected my own opinion in such a way.
[00:25:40] Ronn Burner: It’s like, I’m gonna do the bare minimum. I’m gonna do my job, but I’m not gonna run through a brick wall for you because of the way you just treated me and something that was important to me.
[00:25:49] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, yeah.
[00:25:52] Ronn Burner: What about you? I love to hear your thoughts on this.
[00:26:00] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, I mean, I, I have a lot of examples. One of the ones that, that really stands out to me is, making my point that we needed something, we needed to do something. And that conversation, the answer sort of being like, No, and, it’s not the right time.
[00:26:15] Kevin Dieny: And, and those two together are always like, okay, well, there’s nothing thing I can really do about time, you know? So I’ll just keep coming back. So it was one of those things where another department was fighting for something they wanted too. And it was my understanding from our leader that, that my ask and their asks were a fairly similar, ranking.
[00:26:38] Kevin Dieny: And then they got theirs and, and I didn’t get mine. And I asked about that, kind of bluntly, right? Like what swayed the decision that changed the timing for theirs or for mine? And the answer was, oh, they were just a little bit more forceful. And if you had been a little more forceful with your ask and I was like, huh.
[00:26:59] Kevin Dieny: At first, I was like, yeah, I guess I could have, but then the more I thought about it, right? Maybe this happens to a lot of people. The more I thought about it, the more I was like, Hmm, it’s more like a culture at this point. This culture that this environment, that this leader is trying to create, to me, is one where the squeaky wheel is always gonna get the grease.
[00:27:22] Kevin Dieny: And you could always knock on someone’s door and tell them every day. But at some point it just sort of gets annoying.
[00:27:27] Kevin Dieny: Right. And, uh, the timing thing to me was like, okay, not right now guessing something has to change for the next time the timing comes up. So every time, like there was any opportunity, I brought my case up. It wasn’t like there was no. I wasn’t doing that. But the way that it was communicated to me was being more forceful about the ask.
[00:27:46] Kevin Dieny: I was like, Hmm, this then this organization is creating an environment where it wants the teams to be more and more and more forceful. And the most forceful people are just gonna get their projects, get their asks, get the things they need and that, and in that case, I was like, this could be a really good leader for that type of personality.
[00:28:04] Kevin Dieny: But I am not that type of personality. And so I was like, I don’t know if this environment is ideal or even is even like a healthy environment for me to be in. This is a kind of leader where I’ve recognized may not necessarily be the best leader for me.
[00:28:19] Ronn Burner: Right, well, you that’s the leadership deficiency for one thing, because that’s not a, to me it’s a poor way to handle it, obviously, but it also doesn’t speak to the goals at hand. I mean you for sure, cuz we’ve worked together, for years and, and I know your personality and I know you’re very matter of fact, and I know that you always can have proof of concept with things.
[00:28:40] Ronn Burner: So if you wanted something, you came very well prepared with proof of concept and what the benefit could be. So for the leader in that situation to have two separate asks and, and not weighing the value to the organization as, as being really the, the tipping point, whichever one’s gonna win out, um, and then get boiling down to the loud one because I’m personality wise.
[00:29:05] Ronn Burner: I’m the, the loud one, I’m the squeaky wheel for sure. And you’re the very pragmatic, very well organized. I called you a mad professor because you always had these amazing ideas. So well thought out and so prepared. And I would just go be the squeaky wheel saying, I want this, I want this, I want this kind of a thing.
[00:29:22] Ronn Burner: So for that leader, To not, I, I keep going back to the organization, like what’s going to benefit, what is success gonna look like with option A and what does success look like with option B and how does that get us to our grand, um, ultimate goal? So very interesting, I would have not had all that very well either.
[00:29:44] Kevin Dieny: Well, you dialed right into the, like the crux of it, right. Which is the goal or the outcome should sort of take precedent. And that’s where again, having the priority be the goal, right. Not having ego be more important than let’s say, uh, goal or something, but at the same time, you know, balancing relationships and you do need to set boundaries as a leader.
[00:30:04] Kevin Dieny: I think there’s. I think that there is a definite need for coming at a situation and making sure that, you know, some relationships, some team members may need a certain type of fostering or nurturing than others. And some may need more or less of that, but you’re also, as a manager, as a leader ethically, it is your responsibility, you know, to make sure that there’s like a certain boundary there.
[00:30:31] Kevin Dieny: At the end of the day, if a team member isn’t performing and then you give them help, you give them support, you try, you get, you put resources there to help them.
[00:30:40] Kevin Dieny: Cuz you believe that they have that potential and they decide that that’s not for them. You have to be willing to. Cut that off. Meaning when the relationship sours, you have to be able to recognize that it’s not gonna be able to be cultivated. And then you have to be able to end that, and that is for the benefit of that employee and for you.
[00:31:00] Kevin Dieny: So as, as far as conflict goes, firing, letting someone go is probably ranked up there with one of like the hardest conflicts you may have to face as a leader.
[00:31:10] Ronn Burner: Right, it really is. That’s also another reason why those boundaries are very, very important. I do still believe in an open door policy. And I, it’s not always practical. It depends on the organization and how many people are there and how many people report to you. But I definitely subscribe to a weekly one-on-one.
[00:31:27] Ronn Burner: I think they’re important because that’s an opportunity for the people that are reporting to you to vent. Even if it’s an only a 30 minute, it is just kind of a, once you figure out the cadence and the, like that type itinerary of what to expect on a week to week reporting basis. Sure, there’s still the, the group, the group marketing meeting, or the group meeting for the organization.
[00:31:46] Ronn Burner: That happens probably weekly, but even the one-on-ones I think are beneficial because that’s a little bit of a, of a safe place, so to speak for grievances or conflicts to come out right there. So now it’s on your radar a little bit. Not only that it goes back to putting, you wanna put them in a position to succeed.
[00:32:03] Ronn Burner: So you’re talking about what they can do next and where they’re at. Um, I think if, if the. If your structure, if your organization is set up in a way where you can do weekly one-on-ones I think they really are beneficial. And again, some weeks it might not even be necessary to talk for more than 10 minutes, because everything is dialed in.
[00:32:19] Ronn Burner: So well, um, that’s fine, but just so it’s there and just so they can come in, and talk about their successes for the week. Not necessarily even their complaints, but they talk about their successes and they can also bring up some potential obstacles or I call it critical path. Some things that they can see that may be coming down the road that could prevent them from achieving their goal.
[00:32:41] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, I think a lot of businesses of different types, may think like one-on-ones, what the heck are you talking about? Cause in some businesses it’s much more structured and built into the organization than others. But even just a manager going to the job site or when I worked in a restaurant like the manager taking over the role or a shift or something.
[00:33:01] Kevin Dieny: It’s assumed that they’ve come up through that and done that and they know what it, what it looks like, but how this specific team works together well may require some oversight.
[00:33:12] Kevin Dieny: Or may require some conversations that I think may only, you know, come from being in the thick of it. So I think you, I think that’s really a really solid, really interesting like point you make. And, and then to go off that is this idea that if the leader is shouldering all this responsibility, they own success and they own the failure of their team.
[00:33:35] Kevin Dieny: Then that, that to me also speaks of stress. How does the leader suck in all that stress like a sponge and still not want to ring their own neck at the end of the day or the end of the week. So how do you balance the work and life and health of, of that with all the duties that are required as a leader?
[00:33:59] Ronn Burner: Well, the way I do it is probably not recommended for others. And what I mean by that is I, at this point in my career, I’m pretty steadfast at, I believe in separating work from home because work can affect your personal life and, and, and conversely personal life can affect your, your work performance.
[00:34:17] Ronn Burner: And that’s not good. We want healthy both. Right? So what I do, what I’ve taught myself to do, for example, even when I walk my dog, When I go out for walks for a mile or two miles with my dog, I don’t even take my cell phone. I literally do not take myself, ever. People are always saying how you can’t take a picture and all these things.
[00:34:34] Ronn Burner: I just want that, that element of detachment, for that period of time. And that’s my personal life. So work wise, what I do is when the work day is over, I shut the computer off. If, if a working from home or in the office, I shut it off. So when the work day’s over and I, I refuse, I can be reached people, have my telephone number, and if there’s emergency, I can be reached, but.
[00:34:54] Ronn Burner: As far as having my emails, going to my cell phone, my personal phone, not gonna happen. And when the work day is over, because I’m a father as well. So I have a family life I have to deal with. And I know Kevin, Kevin has several more kids than I have, and that’s a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot going on.
[00:35:11] Ronn Burner: And when the day is over, I’m focused on work during the, and when the day is over, I shut work off and whatever happens, at 4:00 PM. Throughout the later in the night, I’ll, I’ll see it. When I come in at five in the morning, I’ll see it all and I’ll handle it right then it, it doesn’t need to bleed in for me, that’s the way I am able to do it.
[00:35:29] Ronn Burner: Obviously that doesn’t work for everybody. Some, some people where I have so much responsibility that that’s not practical, but the point I would try to stress is, is try to find a way to separate the two, because you need to be healthy in your personal life. You can’t let one affect the other. You can’t let one bleed into the other because it’s just once that start of manifestation and frustration and stress levels start rising and rising, rising, it just continues.
[00:35:56] Ronn Burner: It doesn’t, it doesn’t alleviate itself without you putting forth the effort to do so. How do you handle that?
[00:36:02] Kevin Dieny: I, I was gonna say, uh, very similar. I, I was gonna make the joke of serenity now. Like if you just suck it all in, it’s gonna blow. It’s a Seinfeld joke, but the, um, yeah, the longer you let a conflict go, you do have some control over it. So when we said earlier, being patient letting go to the end of the day, that might be what’s needed for that moment.
[00:36:24] Kevin Dieny: But a pattern that exists of repeated, recurring conflict that, you don’t address, it’s just gonna add to more stress. And if it’s become something where look, you don’t have the authority or the capability to address that this is the way of life. This is the way it is. You know, I think there always has to be that assessment done by each individual person.
[00:36:44] Kevin Dieny: Like, is it worth it? Is there anything that could be done? And if not, okay, this is the way life looks. And maybe this is looks for this role so then what do I have to do to balance this out? Think of it, like this is a heavy backpack, you are going to have to wear while we are trudging around.
[00:36:59] Kevin Dieny: So is there something you can do to let that off, right? Take it off. And if you find activities that are only letting out like a portion of that stress. I don’t think it’s gonna be suitable for you.
[00:37:10] Kevin Dieny: And I’ve seen people completely change their careers in environments that were just comp like the money was great. The money was there. Would’ve helped their family. Would’ve helped. I don’t know a lot of things. Right, but just the work or the time was just too much.
[00:37:24] Kevin Dieny: And they switched their career, their life, their leadership, like they start, they were at a top and then they went to the bottom because it of what it did to them. And I think that that is a really hard individual choice to make.
[00:37:38] Ronn Burner: Yeah, the grind is hard. You want to avoid the grind just because it, it wears on you. It really it’s a, I call it the rock over a rope. It doesn’t seem like it’s doing much, but eventually that rock cuts that rope and then whatever’s on the other end, just drops off. You definitely have to find that balance, find that, um, thing, go for a run, all these things.
[00:37:59] Ronn Burner: But separate the two, because I always say it’s not, there are no emergencies. We’re at work. And now listen, sometimes there are, I guess, quote unquote emergencies, but for the most part, everything’s going to be fine. We gotta fix it. Identify the problem, remedy the problem. That’s just a key element to any business.
[00:38:19] Ronn Burner: But try not to take it home with you and just you, you really do have to find that separation that compartmentalization. At least I guess I’m saying that you really do, but I should be saying it for myself. I know that I really need to separate and compartmentalize the stresses of work with the stresses of life.
[00:38:34] Ronn Burner: And I don’t want them to merge with each other in any way, shape or form.
[00:38:39] Kevin Dieny: I would say a tip here from dealing with this myself is if you can recognize situations that provide a lot of feedback, they usually open the door for changing them. Meaning if you work with another person and they give you a lot of feedback, like this is working, this is not working. I like this. I don’t like this.
[00:38:58] Kevin Dieny: That sometimes is the bridge you’re gonna need to potentially change a conflicting pattern or conflicting situation. If you work with someone who’s like not giving you any time a day being terse you mentioned. Isn’t giving any feedback. Is a different leader altogether, or is underneath you or above you.
[00:39:14] Kevin Dieny: If you’re not getting the feedback you need. Which would then help you change the pattern? That’s a, that’s a very problematic situation. And I usually give them the least effort and the least energy because I, you know, I think you gravitate towards situations of, of better feedback, because then you’re gonna be able to learn quicker or become more adept at it.
[00:39:34] Kevin Dieny: Be more flexible with, you can take more chances with it. You can move things along more progressively the faster, quicker, more feedback you’re getting from any situation. So I guess to summarize all this, I have some notes here. So we’ve talked about quite a lot.
[00:39:49] Kevin Dieny: I think one, it’s, it’s fair to mention that maybe not everyone’s a born leader. Maybe some people are, but it is something that everyone can become better at. And I think a lot of times that starts in a business with figuring out the business. How it wants to grow, what the role is, what your team looks like, what resources you have around you. What the game board looks like, so that you can figure out your next move.
[00:40:11] Kevin Dieny: Another thing that we talked about was setting clear, very objective goals, quantifiable goals, clear goals. Knowing that that’s gonna be aligned with what the business needs, right. So that you can, you have the ability to explain that to your team. If they’re not understanding it, then you know, they’re not gonna go away, go very far with it.
[00:40:31] Kevin Dieny: The third thing was cultivating the right team, which I, we didn’t talk too much about, but it’s very hard to do, but I think that that, revolves around, experience. Seeing who’s the right fit, seeing who is a good member of your team. Who’s, you know, not everyone on the team is gonna be great all the time, a little bit of give and take there.
[00:40:50] Kevin Dieny: And then finally the knowing that the entire goal that you’re after is your responsibility, as a leader. People may screw up, you know, your teammates screw up. But that’s on you because it was your job to make sure that they would know enough that if they did screw up, they could recover. Or that they wouldn’t screw up or that the screw wouldn’t be so bad or maybe the screw up actually ended up being good.
[00:41:12] Kevin Dieny: It falls on the, the leader to take responsibility for the team. And I, and I wouldn’t say that that’s micromanagement, I would say it’s more just proper management, better leadership in general. So those are some of the, the big high, oh, and the last thing we just talked about stress, uh, doing all this is gonna create stress, so you’re gonna need an outlet.
[00:41:28] Kevin Dieny: Right, so having all of these things in mind, I think, is what makes a great or a better business leader.
[00:41:38] Kevin Dieny: Is there anything else you wanted to add, Ronn?
[00:41:40] Ronn Burner: You essentially said this, but I always think of it, as I mentioned this earlier goal action obstacle. The, the things I would say from my vantage point to take away from this is goal action obstacle and put your people in a position to succeed. They kind of work hand in hand.
[00:41:55] Ronn Burner: The goal action obstacle when everybody’s on the same page: understanding what you want to do, understanding what you need to do to achieve it, and understanding what’s gonna prevent you from achieving it. When you can overcome those things, and then that allows everybody to be on the same page. It allows you to put your team in a position to succeed so they can have their successes.
[00:42:12] Ronn Burner: And that’s a pretty cohesive work environment, and a collaborative effort and, um, the results, the results shine through when everybody is. You know, enjoying their job and happy to, to work on as a team and, and come into your office and fill you with all kinds of, conflicts.
[00:42:33] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, yeah. I, I think if someone’s thinking, okay, where do I start with all this? There are good books that may give some good outlines and good ways to help. I mean, we’re talking, there’s characteristics of being a great leader. There’s patterns, processes. There’s, you know, there’s a lot here. So do you have any books or any resources you’d recommend?
[00:42:52] Kevin Dieny: I mean, we’re not, not the, either of us are leadership experts, but we’re talking about this topic. So was there anything you’d wanna recommend to anybody?
[00:43:00] Ronn Burner: I am of gigantic Disney fan and Bob Iger of course ran the company for 23 years. And last year, maybe two years ago, he came out with a book called A Ride of a Lifetime. And I tell you what it, I have the hard copy and read it. And I got the audio version and the audio version, he’s actually reading it.
[00:43:21] Ronn Burner: So you’re hearing Bob tell his story. But one of the things that really, really, made me love the book and listen to it repeatedly, is he talks about leadership. He talks about how he handles situations. The book starts with a young child was snatched by an alligator on the shores, at Disney World.
[00:43:39] Ronn Burner: And that that’s a, obviously an awful, awful story. He starts the book like that. And immediately you feel the empathy for him and, and for the family, as he talks about how he handled that situation. Not only publicly, but to the family. And then the whole book is it talks about his ride and his story, but throughout he talks about leadership. And at the end of the book, The final chapter, he really talks about the pillar success he had at Disney, which is phenomenal as well as like 10 leadership qualities that make a good leader.
[00:44:07] Ronn Burner: And, and I mentioned a lot of them today by saying things like optimism and things of that nature. That’s on his listen. He explains to why. And I absolutely adore that book and I’ve read it it for business purposes, constantly. So that ride of a lifetime by Bob Iger, I think it came out two years ago.
[00:44:25] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, his name is etched everywhere because of how much Disney has exploded. And I would say, there’s a book I read recently, that’s really fascinating. Came through our family. Everyone really loved it, and it was recommended to us. It’s called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink.
[00:44:41] Kevin Dieny: He’s the, you know, ex Navy seal. He wrote a really cool book. Definitely would recommend that to like listeners. He also has a podcast. I think it’s called. I don’t it’s Jocko Podcast. I think that’s what it’s called. You could find it that way.
[00:44:55] Kevin Dieny: And he talks about, leadership from, being in the seal team, which is a very interesting take on leadership. And, uh, when, when your team fails, you know, People die. So very, very high stakes leadership examples. And it makes a very interesting case on that. It’s amazing how much like the, like the topic of leadership has so many things, you know, aligned with it no matter the size of the organization. So it’s really interesting.
[00:45:19] Kevin Dieny: Ronn, is there any way you want people to get in contact with you?
[00:45:22] Ronn Burner: You can find me on LinkedIn. Ronn Burner, R O N N Burner. Or Twitter @fakeronnburner. Um, hah hah.
[00:45:33] Kevin Dieny: That’s awesome. You’re not the real Ronn Burner, huh?
[00:45:40] Ronn Burner: I did that when, when Twitter first came out, remember there was all those like real accounts of fake accounts. I just thought it was funny. And it’s been 20 years now, 2000, like 2005 so I’ve been at Twitter adopter since the very early years. And here’s a funny, another leadership thing I should add.
[00:45:55] Ronn Burner: Leadership also. Well, it’s funny that we talk about Twitter because leadership is also knowing what decisions not to make. And Disney agreed to buy Iger, agreed to buy Twitter. And they agreed on it and he slept on it. And the following morning, he woke up and said he couldn’t sleep that night and said it doesn’t match our brand.
[00:46:15] Ronn Burner: Twitter’s just not a Disney brand. So the following morning he canceled it. So the, the, they bought Twitter. And canceled. He, he pulled out of the deal the very next morning, and that was all a wise decision. Like, know what decisions not to make is also part of leadership.
[00:46:30] Kevin Dieny: Man, this has been really awesome, really great topic. And I love the last little bit there. The twitter thing, it’s a cool story. Thank you everybody for listening to this. We’ll be back again next time. So hope you got a lot out of leadership and that you’re more encouraged to be a leader.
[00:46:45] Kevin Dieny: Thanks, Ronn.
[00:46:46] Ronn Burner: Thanks, Kevin.