What is leadership? with Rick Corcoran

Nov 04, 2021

Repeatable Revenue Podcast #001 - with Rick Corcoran

Summary:

Welcome to our first official episode of Repeatable Revenue podcast! Joining us today is Rick Corcoran, a longtime mentor and friend of Ray's. A former international HR executive, Rick has spent the last 18 years working with executive teams as an organizational development and leadership consultant.

Topics Include:

  • Ricks transformational trip to Nepal

  • The power of leadership to transform companies and communities

  • Organizational Leadership

  • Self-awareness and empathy as a leader

  • Cultivating vision as a leader

  • Introvert versus extravert leaders and leadership styles

  • Self-development as leadership development

  • Developing the art of storytelling

  • Why singing is an essential skill all leaders should develop

  • Must-have resources for any leader

  • And other topics...

Resources Mentioned:
No Asshole Rule - https://amzn.to/2WfWNzL
First, Break All the Rules - https://amzn.to/349vN9B
Rick's website - http://www.rjcorcoran.com/


Website: www.rayjgreen.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/raymondgreen



Transcript:

RJG: Welcome to the show, Rick.

Rick C.: Thank you. Good to see you.

RJG: Yeah good to see you too. So I think the standard way of going about these interviews is you kind of build-up to a great, like a really great climax question, but I really want to start out of the gates with the question that I really want to know, and that is, you've coached and consulted some of the most influential and powerful people in Washington.

And how does a guy that used to call his neighbors and ask if it was the dump rise to that level of success?

Rick C.: Well, you just get different numbers. It's easy, right? Everybody's got a dump, a dump good to go to for sure, right?

RJG: Yeah. I have it on good authority that this was this and calling the neighbors and asking if the refrigerator was running. I want a good authority, this was the thing.

Rick C.: Yeah, I was very assertive as a kid. It's too many stories to go into at this point, but I take your question in the spirit of talking about leadership and, as you all know, I have had a really good career, a rich career working with a lot of very talented people.

And it's the luck of the Irish. I wound up at the right places at the right time, but there is for me, Ray, a moment or a time that I think really goes to the very core of your question. And it's a profound part of my career and, I'd like to tell you that story and then come back and sorta unpack it in terms of what it meant and why I believe it's something that your listeners may be interested in.

And if we could maybe play this clip, it's a clip of Anita Roddick who in 1991 was part of an American Express commercial. Anita Roddick is the founder of the body shop started in Brighton, England in 1976 and, it was my great fortune to go to work at that company in 1998. So if you watch the clip, it'll be the place from which I will begin my story.

RJG: Okay, let's run it.

Commercial: We are large companies in India, 900 shops. What's interesting about our products is the method that we have of making them. And this wonderful route I found is to look at ingredients that are grown in the majority world. Find out ways that we can set up trade initiatives and then use these ingredients is what we call trade all day.

I travel alone. I'm in bizarre place. What I use for that is American Express.

American Express is welcomed at the body shop. I know other places that are good for you.

Rick C.: So what you have just seen as Anita Roddick talking about this concept of community trade fair trade, which has been at the hallmark of that company since its founding in the 1970s.

Basically, it represents the idea that in doing business different from the norm, one goes around the world and looking at different groups of people in their practices around skincare and health in ways that can inspire products that are made by her company. The body shop during my tenure there as the director of human resources, starting in 1998, where I served in the board of directors, it was my privilege to work with her and the team in terms of leading this company that began with the definition that we do things differently here.

There was a meeting of the board of directors and our international franchise partners in Singapore. And on the way, home flying back to London, 21 of us stopped in Katmandu Nepal to visit one of the 31 community trade partners, in the world. And it's the get paper company. Geet the get paper company was founded in 1986 when a bunch of locals had an idea about creating a business of recycling paper and using different vines and materials that have grow in the area to create something that didn't exist before.

That might be of interest to people around the world. Coincidentally, Anita Roddick and her daughter were visiting in Katmandu at a time when this idea was generating in help these people, these locals come up with this idea to create this business. And she committed that if you create paper product and put it into the form of gift boxes.

My company will buy those gift boxes from you for the holiday season in the retail industry. It's obviously a very important profitable time. And so we will take the output of your business you sell to us, we will buy from you and they agreed to do that. And that relationship had existed for about 12 years.

As I become a part of the story as a member of the board of directors, I spent most of my time in England, but whenever I had a chance to go out into the world and to meet our customers and, franchisees and suppliers, I took the opportunity. So this trip to Katmandu was a visit along with other members of the company to visit with the people who make the gift boxes for our company.

The day that we visited was a holiday in DePaul and it was called get holy and for whatever that means, I don't know religiously, but people would go and they would throw red dye and Ray red paint on each other. And that was some kind of a symbol symbolic reason for being. So we were there and we were participating with these people on their holiday and their celebration.

And what's interesting is in all the community trade partners around the world, the focus was on women entrepreneurs, women employees, female opportunity. So my experience coming into this manufacturing area, which is three Quonset cuts on top of a hill, most of it is open-air old-fashioned equipment, but running and recycling paper.

And the observation was that the women doing this work were impeccably dressed, clean. They brought their children with them to work, not because of the holiday, but every day they bring their children to school. In the get paper company, as well as their children are there. When the medical community comes in to provide medical care for these people.

So the company they're working for it not only makes paper and sells it. It takes care of their family, their children, and their health. And in working in this company, it's not just themselves. They are committed to social change and responsibility. So they have a reason for being about helping other people in Nepal who are less well off than they are.

That was their businesses designed, supported by, and inspired by Anita Roddick 12 years earlier for me, the answer to your question, Ray is during that visit, as I am listening to the stories observing what's going on, the children of the employees would come up in their eyes were sparkling.

They were well-fed, they were in school. Many of them, not just one or two, many of them spoke English. The second, most impoverished country in the world, children are speaking English to visitors from the west. It was amazing and it was inspirational, but there was a moment in the moment came when I looked at the other side of the fence on the perimeter of the property, where there were children watching us up against the fence whose eyes were dead, they were hopeless.

They were not a part of the get paper company yet, they were part of Nepal. Those children's eyes had no hope in them, but on the other side of the fence, there was hope and the hope existed because a woman, 12 years earlier, when visiting in Katmandu met with like-minded people in Nepal and created this company created a reason for being created an economic sustainability, viable organization, generously taking care of the families and created hope.

That was one of 31 community trade organizations then in, in play in the year 2010 effect, that forever caught my attention. So when, what is the purpose of business? What is the outcome on your last day of life? What are you most proud of to have been a part of an organization that believed in that did it and created opportunities for other human beings, is a tremendously powerful experience because of the leadership of Anita Roddick.

A little tiny five-foot, two woman with frizzy hair, with big ideas, a tremendous amount of courage and concern for the world in which she lived. It's a moment I will never forget and, I applaud myself with the moment things I usually break down and cry. It was that powerful for me.

RJG: It's a powerful story. How do you like when it comes to take Anita? So she kind of a visionary, big ideas and in a mission, the measure of leadership tends to be on what you achieve, like how you take what's in your mind and that big vision and make it a reality and, so you have, some people are extroverts, so people are introverts and, Anita, if you're not charismatic if you're not gregarious.

What advice would you give to somebody that kind of hears some of the stories of bolder leaders or more outgoing leaders and says, well, maybe that's not me, maybe I don't have leadership. Is that the measure or is there something else from your perspective?

Rick C.: I think there are two parts and, the answer to that question, first of all, is that when Anita began this company, she did it out of desperation.

She was practically starving, she had an idea and she created it, from whole cloth. So to speak by virtue of concocting stuff in her kitchen, taking different fruits and vegetables and mashing them up, and basically figuring out that they're good for the skin. And she was able to sell them along the way.

So she had, from the very beginning, a belief around business can be more than just making money. It can make a difference in people's lives, but it wasn't a germ of an idea in the beginning and they grew and she grew up the business. And because she had a big mind and a big heart, her dreams got bigger and bigger and she had more influence.

So when I am making myself a part of this story, I mean, she was world-renowned. She had been on this American Express commercial, I believe she was on 60 minutes at one point in time. But your question Ray is what, not everybody is a negative run, not Everybody is as brave and as smarter as lucky perhaps that she was.

And I think the answer is that if you open your heart if you open your mind in a really appreciated understanding leadership like we're doing here today, you begin and sort of look at someone not that they're better or worse or different, but you become inspired by what they're doing. You notice her courage, how articulate she is, her sense of humor, her sense that there are no boundaries that we can't figure out what to do as long as we do it together. And we share the values around the decency of the human being and so forth. So you open yourself up and you allow yourself to be almost like a magnet pulled into the aura of that person and why you don't attempt to be them.

You attempt to model some of their, if not all of their behavior in small steps, I don't need to be as articulate as her, but I need to be brave, I need to be thoughtful, I need to tell that story and the ability to be around someone like that. And it doesn't have to be that famous a person, but I've had a number of people that I worked with, who I tremendously admired.

And I just listened, I asked a lot of questions, I asked myself questions, who am I, what do I stand for? And then to begin to think about how do I do me in a way that is brave? How do I be bold? How do I let go of my own limitations and risks? How do I laugh at myself genuinely? They make it okay to be fully human.

And if you're open to that, gosh, it can make a huge difference and, I think I was open to it. I think I was luck the luck of the Irish, I happened to be there at a time when these things were happening and I was open to learning from it, and in many ways it changed my life. I'm very proud of that time and it was a very, very heady inspirational experience.

RJG: So you've, the body shop is a great example, but I, I know, several of the other organizations that you've, you've been involved with in the consultant and, I've heard some of the work that you've done on organizational leadership and ETQ. I guess one of the things I like.

So the standard definition aside, when you think of leadership within our organization or within a team or group of people, how do you define leadership? Like what is it to you?

Rick C.: That's a great question. If you go to Amazon today and you put in leadership under books, you've got 90,000 choices.

I mean, how good is that? Right? Where do you even begin? All right. So, from the school of hard knocks, I have a PhD from the school of hard knocks, right? This is how I look at it. That leadership is a bit the relationship amongst, having the vision, this is where we're going. The second I would called empathy is that, does anyone want to go with me in that direction?

And why should you, why should anybody want to go? And the answer is because they believe what you believe is. So, yes, I want to go here. Yes, I want to go with you and they want, vice versa if he wants to go together. And the final one is doesn't require, again, any kind of sophisticated education, you gotta care, you gotta care about the people that you're inviting to go on the journey and they know you care.

How do they know you care? Because you show them you care and you don't just tell them you show them. So the vision, the empathy, the clarity of values and beliefs. This is what I stand for. And I will care for you on that journey. I will hold your hands. When things go poorly, I will celebrate you when things go well, I will laugh with you and I will cry with you on this journey to.

I've seen that in organizations, I've seen that witness on the battlefields of Gettysburg when we use Gettysburg is a classroom around leadership and, as much as I try and make it more sophisticated than that, and sound more intelligent than that at the end of the day, it is my experience, over the course of my career, that those three things are the hallmarks of what leaders do.

Some people do them very well. Some people don't, some people do some of that well and miss out on others. When you're weak in one area, you find someone that complimented the help you to complete the leadership experience. It's always inevitably more than just one person and, even in my story and with the body shop, like you can talk a lot about Anita.

I didn't talk about her husband and Gordon and about the hundreds and thousands of other people that shared her leadership going forward. So it's not a solo experience leadership and I don't know. These individuals who wrote the book and they have all the answers, I don't buy it, I don't think it's true.

I don't think it's true either.

RJG: Right? Self-made people whenever I hear it and you look back, it's almost an insult to the people that supported them and helped them and taught them. I mean, sometimes even the lessons, the wrong way, right? You're learning from people one way or the other, there are many self-made leaders that I know of.

Rick C.: No, I mean, I look at some of the mistakes that I've made in my life and my career and, I think those are some of the more profound moments of learning, humble, big slice of humble pie. Right. When you screw up, but just look back and you say, I'm learning.

I'm okay. I learned from that, it's a quick story on that in the UK, I was during the course of one of the transformational events over the time that I was there and, in the UK, you have to meet with employees on the, on their councils and everything that you'd need to do has to be approved by a council in effect.

And in the process of managing one of the transitions, I'm an American in the UK running this transformation team, I made a decision unilaterally. We're not going to consult them that it's such a no-brainer. It makes no sense, right? Well, I was wrong, all hell breaks loose and, we meet with the employees every two weeks, three shifts a couple of hundred people at a time.

And I screwed up and everybody knows the yank screwed up. He was disrespectful to us and I knew it and never, right. So at one of those meetings we had, I stood up and I said, "no, I need to talk with you before I get into the content, I wanted to say this to you, I apologize, this is what I did, this is why I did it, it was wrong, I will never do it again and, I'm over it. I'm moving on. But I want you to know I'm humbled by how much I screwed up and I won't do it again in I ended". So it was an interesting moment for me in that I could have rationalized, I could have tried to bullshit my way through it.

I could have ignored it. But I stepped into the arena, I took responsibility in what I learned is when you're working in a culture, different from your own, you should respect that culture and not cut corners and, I should've known better, I didn't, I apologize, I forgave myself and I moved on. What did you mean when you said I'm over it?

RJG: Like, what did that mean?

Rick C.: I forgive myself. I don't care of all the people who are watching this conversation today. You're all screwed, I don't care what you're all making mistakes and, if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough to be honest with you though. But when you do it, particularly if they're big ones and this is really not that big of a mistake, but it was public, right?

Forgive yourself, get over, the last thing you can do is waste your time. I have this idea in terms of blame, right? You blame yourself. So you turn around and you look backwards and you spend all that time thinking I should've would've, could've dumped something which does nothing to move you forward. So turn your head around, forgive yourself and plants.

And then what you take a look at are what are the offers, promises, and requests that are necessary to move forward in terms of our work, my work together blame is the language of the week, including blaming yourself, get over it and move on into the area of possibility.

RJG: How do you balance that with arguably one of the challenges, like if you're not great at leadership, like one of the challenges is you're not probably not, self-reflective maybe not empathetic.

How do you balance, like the feet, that feedback, like your suggestions with like, Hey, don't blame yourself, don't you don't need to ruminate on this forever with not being self-reflective at all. There's something in between, right?

Rick C.: Well, if you're not self-reflective of all, you might want to get a different job, to be honest with you, you don't have to be great at it, but you can't be blind in terms of doing this because you are going to make mistakes.

And then why should anybody follow you? If you're not owning those mistakes and you'll hide things, I mean, people will go the other way and they should. How do I get more? Self-aware is a different question. How do I come to appreciate the gifts that I have my limitations, my liabilities? There are programs that I went to with the national training laboratories. I've done a lot of work on EQ understanding myself. I think you begin to realize that you are a project and as people mold things, you're molding yourself going forward and, this is a part of a journey that you're on.

And I don't think you're ever done, I don't think I'm not done, I don't think God, unfortunately, Anita passed away, but during her time, she was never done, she was a constant state of development. So I think it's appreciating the importance of self-awareness and that you do have an impact on people and you have to own that. You have to own the way in which you do it in the, and as I did apologize when you screw it up, but just keep on going, keep on trying.

 And finish that story, I had a lawyer from the UK come up to me after my presentation and, he said to me, Rick, nobody, who's a director in the UK ever apologizes in public.

And I said, "well, I just did".

I own that, I own that moment in that behavior and, to pass it off as well, no one does it. Nobody apologizes strikes me as a sign of cowardice and, in what did it cost me nothing and, I think my stock went up in front of those people, this guy, he had the guts to own up and he's not going to dwell on the past.

He's going to help us because the future was what I was helping architect for them. So it all works out. It's interesting. It makes me think that when you're in that leadership role, you sit, you're looking this way, you need to think about what you look like from 360, the whole of you.

I tell the executives that I work with all the time CEOs and others. When you're at work, you're never off the stage, you're never, you're in the Job, you're in the restaurant, you're in the cafeteria, you are never off stage ever and, the moment you think you are that no one's looking, you're going to screw up.

You're going to say something, they're going to misinterpret that. That's why it's tiring to be an executive, to be a CEO is very fatiguing. A lot of the guys and gals that I work with the common denominator, especially in today's world, they're all exhausted. They are exhausted, they're getting pulled them, pull every which way.

So you have to be, self-aware take care of themselves and understand that they're never off of duty.

RJG: And what advice. So if I came to you and said, this is exhausting, I'm onstage, I'm having to do this, I'm always executing. What advice do you give that person?

Rick C.: You got to manage you, right? You get off stage, you spend time with your family, you physically take care of yourself, you work out or whatever it is that you need to do. It's such common sensory that how can you lead an organization of people or a department, if you can't manage yourself into to allow that, to not a sense of selfishness, it's a stealth, it's a sense of commitment to others.

That I will be the very best that I can be when I'm with you here and I will manage that accordingly. And no, no, no regrets, no apology, that's how I have to do it and, everybody does it differently, some people read they exercise, they walk, they do all kinds of things.

RJG: The self-leadership is like the first step in, in leading others. When you earlier, you were talking about the leadership definition and you mentioned vision, empathy, humility, and we've talked about this a little bit before the mission piece and, I even, I kind of go back and forth on this because I have tremendous respect and admiration for people.

We talk a lot about Jeff Bezos in his shareholder letter, many years ago that can have almost predicted exactly what Amazon would become. But, if you're leading a team or you're leading a business and you're uncertain of what the future's going to hold that. His vision, like being able to predict the future, or how do you define, how do you define vision? Especially in uncertainty and when you can't predict the future, how do you cultivate that vision as a leader?

Rick C.: I think when you have ambiguity, as you describe it here, where I would encourage people to go is to stop looking on your, in looking here, what do I stand for?

What do I believe? What is essential in my life? What boundaries do I have? Do I need for me in order to be fully present, fully human and harness that sort of whole hug yourself and say, God, I'm really well equipped to move forward into this direction that's very, very foggy, I don't really know, but what I know I have the resources to observe, to ask questions, to ask for help, to fail quickly and recalibrate because I trust me and I trust, I know myself on this journey.

If you don't do that, you jump into the ambiguity and you're always wobbly, is this too much? Is this too dangerous? Am I going to get hurt? What about me? What do they think if I screw up?

And no one cares you really don't. So you harness that and then you take into the ambiguity, you take small steps, perhaps.

The idea that someone's going to jump off the edge, maybe they get lucky and they don't kill themselves, that's great news. But a lot of times you jump blindly and you wind up with not a very good outcome.

So that's the smoke clears. There's a model that you and I've talked about in terms of transitions, endings the neutral zone, and new beginnings, endings are sad, so when something ends, it's fine. We're hurt, we're lost, you go into the neutral zone in the neutral zone is the foggy part that you just talked about.

But what you don't do is you don't stop, you just keep moving, exploring, never stop success, failure, whatever. And all of a sudden things begin to brighten up a little bit and you move into that space going forward. So vision is that I have an idea that may not be totally clear, but I'm going to be patient with the ambiguity.

I'm going to ask a lot of people for help and thoughts and just keep moving and, eventually, it begins to open up. Certainly, that was the case I believe with Anita, she had an idea and she kept moving and things opened up and she took advantage of opportunities and she built, a world-class business but we can't, we talk about Anita and Bezos and those are exceptional people.

And most of us aren't going to be like them, but we can be brave, we can be creative, we can be curious, we can welcome others into our areas, we can be playful. I think this idea, particularly in today's world, where there's a lot of debate about these, Steve Jobs and Bezos and whatever, and they're special.

Ray you're special, we love you, Ray, you're a joke, you're a special know. We all get that, be realistic, be brave, and get someone to help you. I love that of the people that I work with, they always look around and see, well, who is there at least one person that a leader has that will close the door and come in and tell them to their face they're full of crap, in a lot of times they don't that's too dangerous. People don't want to come in, but great leaders that I work with, they all have at least one somebody who will come in and tell them the way it really is. And they need that. My experiences, these leaders who are facing this ambiguity that we're talking about, they're doing the best they can, but they don't have definitive total answers.

They're figuring it out as we go. So the notion around being comfortable with that and relying on it, someone else will guide me as I need help, as I will guide others. We're in this together that's a sign of strength, it's not a sign of weakness or you don't know where you're going. All of us that have worked for other people, when you're working with someone who's out there and they're bloviating right.

Are we not supposed to know their bloviating? Are we supposed to be so stupid that we can't figure out? They don't know what they're talking about. Yeah, they think, they're a genius because I went to Harvard, give me a break. It doesn't work that way.

So when I talk about that 360 thing, it's looking around and saying, how am I being perceived?

How am I doing me? In a way that's authentic and, genuine people should want to follow me because I'm telling them the way it really is. Even if it's painful, even if it's, even if it's painful, they come to trust that I'm going to tell them the way it is in the moment I compromise on that because I can get a little bit too frightened my brand and my stock goes down a bit in their eyes. When you screw up on it.

RJG: And if you don't have people that don't call you on your bullshit than that, it actually, it hurts your credibility in the long run, because that means there are other people sitting in the room that know you're full of shit and, no one can actually say it.

So the, I just imagined from a leadership standpoint, you want people to tell you're wrong. So you can quit saying that thing and, correct it and move on and boost your credibility, I imagine.

Rick C.: Yeah. I think leadership is lonely CEO leadership in particular, it's a lonely place.

You're getting hammered by the board, you're getting hammered by your team, you got different ideas, people's expectations are all over the place and, you're trying to navigate through what is in the best interest of the whole organization. Now we'll use a couple of society, societal demands on top of that, it's even more complicated.

So it is very fatiguing and you want help, you absolutely want to help. So yeah it's the courageous man or woman that says to their team. I can't do this alone, I can't do this alone, I will, was it, there's a famous line that says I will carry the injured, but I'll shoot the stragglers,

So we all have to get on board here and, go through.

RJG: One of my favorite stories as a CEO sitting in a room. I was concerned that people wouldn't give me feedback cause I can be very strong minded and opinion opinionated and, so the priors are going to one, this one particular meeting, I looked at a guy that worked for me, we actually shared an office and I said, "Hey, I need you to disagree with me in the next meeting we go into like, I both for your development because you're quiet and everyone knows you're a really smart person. So I want you to disagree with me, just pick something and let's have a debate in front of everybody else because this person and I were much more comfortable and some of the other people were fairly new to me" and he said, "okay yeah, I can do it". And so we went into this meeting and I started talking and somebody else who I'd worked with previously too, but somebody else said, "Ray, you're full of shit. No, you're absolutely foolish". And we ended up debating and fighting and arguing and, we got to a bunch of better places.

I said, "well, damn like you would've thought I scripted that part", but it was off the cuff and, got called out by somebody else. And then, the person that I asked to disagree with me, it was like, okay, do I still do it again?

But one of the things I want to ask you about is on a, you said something earlier about asking for help. And I have I've said before, if I could give my, both of my sons a super power, it would be to unabashedly, ask for help. Like when you don't know, just say you don't know, find somebody that does, you will like, you will accelerate your learning.

But I, it doesn't happen enough, especially in organizations because there's this fear of not acting like you don't,, I don't know the answer, there's a fear of vulnerability and asking for help, especially for the CRO or CEO of this company, people are looking to you for answers.

So am I, where people are gonna lose faith in me, if they see me not having the answer. So there's a vulnerability associated with it.

What would you give to a leader that's sitting in a scenario like this? What advice would you give them to overcome that concern? Or is it a valid concern? What's your take on that?

Rick C.: I think it's a human, it's a human concern. I'll give you a quick story that I'll come back and try to answer the question. I was doing a presentation to an employee group in Japan, and I was coming from the corporate headquarters in Paris, and they were all English speaking, Japanese people.

And I did the presentation and I said, at the end, are there any questions? And nobody asked the question. So I persisted, I knew I wasn't that good in the presentation. So are there any questions? And I must've gone three times and, then I said to the one person who I knew who had been in HR and said, "Mary, what do you think?", and she sheepishly got up and she answered, she asked something silly, sat down. And when the meeting ended a colleague of mine who is a Brit, who hadn't been working in Japan at the time, he pulled me aside and he said, Rick, in the Japanese culture people will never answer or ask a question in public.

The lab, if they have a question, I'll ask you afterwards. But in that culture, you never call anyone out and they will never step in to that arena now and, I was a senior vice president that was a big deal in that company and, this was a relatively junior person that gave me the feedback, but whatever it was about me, it was safe for him to come in and say, Hey dude, you sorta blew that one.

And I did know, right? I didn't know what I didn't know, but this guy saved me for the rest of the trip where I stopped doing it. And I learned, so this notion around, learning, asking for help, not knowing is really just a, I think a sense of being open to you don't have all the answers, and who doesn't like to be asked to help.

How powerful is it when the boss asks you a question or what is the intrinsic reward for someone to be recognized by the executive, move, offer it or ask for help or whatever it doesn't cost you anything, but it opens up the sense of, we all are human. We all have questions. We all have needs, and ask for them to, somehow as we get older and go up in the organization, we get infused with ourselves and workings.

And there's a point at which we almost take ourselves out of the game because we're so vested in us, in the trappings of the leadership in my office is bigger than their office and, that kind of really stupid stuff that the people you're asking to follow you look at that and they say really, really, as opposed to coming down now, I don't mean come down for a second, but to recognize that you're as human as anybody else, and you've got these needs and.

Don't ever allow yourself to lose that. I think ultimately that's, you're paying a very high price.

RJG: Yeah. I tend to look at asking people for help is like learning at scale. There's only so much that you can do as a person than a number in a given number of days.

 So the best way to scale learning is go just to consensually latch onto what other people have done, because I can't read enough books, I can't listen to enough podcasts, I can't go to enough classes to learn everything that I want to. So just tap the expertise of people that have already done it for you.

Rick C.: Jack Welch famously said when he was in his heyday, a GE steals ideas anywhere he can find them. It doesn't, he doesn't care where they came from, as long as they resonate and they make sense, go make it your own, it's a gift here, it's a gift, they'll take it.

RJG: Yeah. I swear, I think this is your definition from, and it had to be 10 plus years ago and it's resonated with me on introverts and extroverts. And it was the definition was, and tell me if it wasn't you, but it was that an introvert can go be charismatic and can be outgoing and you do the schmoozing, but it takes energy.

It exerts energy when they're done, they need to recharge, they need to reset and an extrovert, they get energy from that activity. So it's not necessarily the traditional quiet versus outgoing or any of that. You can do both, but it's kinda what it does to you internally.

And when I think of when I think of leadership and, how is leadership different for an introvert or for an extrovert, or is it.

Rick C.: At the end of the day, whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, you need to have the vision. You need to make a compelling for people to follow you and you have to give a shit about them.

Okay. The definition of introvert and extrovert has really nothing or little to do with everybody else. It has to do as you correctly defined how energy is yours. I'm an introvert borderline, but I'm an instrument. So when I do a presentation in front of a couple of hundred people, I liken it. I think I'm good at it and, I am brain dead at the end. The last thing I want to do is to go out to dinner with five people after a day's worth of work, I want to go room service by myself and, don't call me, leave me alone right there.

 I have a brother who's younger than myself for years, he's an extrovert, he works a group, he's very articulate, he's very skilled, he wants to go out with the entire group afterwards, he wants to sort of revel in his genius and, have everybody buy drinks and, without that, he feels empty. So to me, it's the classic definition, if, while you're not next to where you can lead that isn't true, that is not true absolutely, not true.

So it's an abuse of the classic definition, which is why I don't like Myers-Briggs because this gets confused all the time. You're an I oh, but you're so nice and, you have a personality. How can you DNI? Well, because you bore the shit out of me, that's why, so yeah, I don't, whenever I have people who are like made you will, introverts, I'm more inclined to talk to them about what they are.

Honestly, as opposed to what they think they aren't, you're never going to have all the answers, all the tools. So take the skills you've got leverage those. If you're funny, if you have a really good sense of humor, use it. If you can't tell a funny joke, then don't try, charm people or whatever it is that you, your gifts are, know what they are.

That's part of the self-awareness issue, knowing what your, what you have in your toolkit and optimize them in on some issues where you can, you need to learn another language and do the best you can to learn the language. But it's hard, I never got the low-end in French, I never got fluent in British English.

It's a whole different world, so I didn't worry about it, but I just didn't. I had other gifts, they were more important than my linguistic skills.

RJG: It's funny that I think the more we talk, the more I realize, because you, and I mean, we've worked together and we've been friends for a long time.

I realized how many of my leadership lessons have come from sometimes from exercises directly that you've done in one in that always stuck with me was the workshop that we did with the team in the gist of it was, I can't remember how you built up to it, but it was, you essentially asked everyone who the leader was in, in the room and it was, and in this role, I managed, I oversaw the team that was there, but the lesson that we all walked out with was all of you are leaders, every person, like every person on this sales team, like you're either lead, you're leading your customers, you're leading each other, you're leading Ray you're leading. And that's that always stuck with me.

What is your message to somebody that's, maybe in a sales role, aspiring into leadership or something, how do you help it resonate to that person? You're already in a leadership role? What advice do you have to for that person?

Rick C.: There is a relatively famous Harvard business school article called in praise of followership. And what they talked about is that all the great leaders in history, many of whom have different styles had at least one thing in common, what is that? Followers. So what Kelly argues in that article is that the traits of a good follower, someone who listens, someone who follows directions, someone comments gives insights and so forth, are in effect the same traits of good leaders.

So when followers is a good leader, is by not Baptist. I can't think of a leader in the world who doesn't, isn't also a follower. Jeff Bezos is eight following, right? Different times, different places. The president of the United States has to follow to a large degree to constitute and, to the legislative branch and the judicial branch.

So this concept of it's either, or is fallacious, that there is a harmony. So to your question Ray about someone's looking to grow into leadership is my advice would be take a look at you as a follower. Are you a good follower? Do you deliver on your promises? Do you set reasonable objectives? Do you create opportunity for others? Are you kind to others? Are you fair with others? Even if you're following. And then it, I'm inclined to believe Kelly's hypothesis that I do think that it, we've all worked with people. God, he was my best number two, a great follower.

And oftentimes he or she is your replacement. So the way you get into it is to follow well, learn about leadership, learn about yourself, practice the art of leadership, which is around language, inspiration, creativity, self-deprecation sense of humor, those kinds of things that the great leaders typically have their reference lab and the practice asks for help ask to stay with your example, ask for an opportunity to lead.

Ask could I lead this project? Could I lead this sales meeting? Would you allow me to run the sales meeting and mentor me through it? You say, "well, oh my God, what are you signing trying to take away you serve your leaders power". Well, if that's your intent, you're sort of an idiot.

That's not going to work, but you may tap into your leader's point of view that's how you develop talent. You create opportunities for them to grow and, if I'm the healthy leader and I've got a subordinate who does that to me. I say, of course here's how we're going to do it and, then I tell all the people who expect me to lead.

When I'm sitting on my ass, watching this guy, I tell them why I'm doing it. This is career development in real time, right in front of you, I own it, I'm a CEO, I own it, I endorse it and, I'm going to watch Mary step into the arena and take a, you dress in front of all of you in front of me in that's what leadership looks like in terms of developing town.

That's why she follows me because she knows I care and I care in public and you can all watch to see what happens, how that is so powerful when those moments happen. Now, the leader on his or her own volition may not think of that may not see that as I just described it. So if you ask and they say, well, that wouldn't be appropriate or no, or while you're not ready.

They will always know you ask. So when someone says, what about Mary have any courage? I don't know. Let me tell you she stepped into the arena, okay. And in my experience, when I've had things like that and people do it, they get it out on the, they get the standing ovation from their peers. Not that they did anything that was just so unheard of, they had the gods to do it.

And that's what they stood up for it and flooded the guts to do. What does it cost? Nothing.

RJG: Now you said earlier in one of your stories, the example of HR people don't do. What was it don't say, sorry or don't admit that they were wrong. What's, but that's the space where leaders go, they go into that space.

 That's business, you've said it before businesses unusual. It's that's if you're doing things the way that they've always done, that's not necessarily leadership. Like that's more, it's more on the management side of things. Like keeping the gears, turning and making it efficient.

But, when somebody says, that's not what HR people do, when you look at them, you say, well, they do now, like that's leadership, right? Be going into unchartered territory is the risk or is something that leaders do by definition, right?

Rick C.: Yeah, absolutely. The sheds a lot of shirts that should you should.

I had a client in Washington and one of the new managers came and said, my only role is to make my boss look good. Now the fact that my boss may have been an asshole is irrelevant. My job is to make him or her look good and I will sell right off the chair. I said your job is to work together, to meet the needs of your members on behalf of the advocacy in Washington.

That's why you exist, not to tee up or policy anybody's shoes over here. And this person thought I was talking trash, like what? Rick, you must be terribly naive, you must not understand Washington in my feeling was no, I understand it quite well, thank you. I don't know how far you're going to go when your reason for being is to make this person look.

And if you do your job, well, your boss will look good. That's but it's not the core reason for doing so whether it's in HR or in sales, I think it's an issue of clarity of purpose, why are we here embracing that in your thoughts and your behavior, there's nothing better than working for a company that you aligned with and belive them.

So I worked for Dannon yogurt. I mean, I loved making a healthy habit for life, which is what we did in my 13 years there. I love working for the body shop because we were talking about values and in a healthy way of living and, when I made pencils for the first 13 years of my career and a family owned company, I wasn't making pencils.

I was helping children learn how to read and write that's what I did every day. So whether I was the HR topic, meat, I loved the purpose then. So if you think about leadership, I mean, have you created a sense of purpose for the organization? Are you living into it? And people can grow their careers by the past and share passionately together that we're doing something very worthwhile.

That is just so contagious. It's so dynamic and you sleep well at night and you go home then you talk to your kids and you know what, daddy, what are you doing? Well, I help make this product that you love so much called yoga and, then go tell their friends, my daddy makes healthy products.

It's just, it's amazing, it's just great. Conversely, if you're in an environment where you don't believe you don't care, you're not proud of what you're doing. There, maybe you're a mercenary, maybe they're paying you a lot of money to be a mercenary and, I suppose that's a strategy for some people, but it certainly wasn't for me.

I loved and was very proud of the organizations that I work for and the people with whom I worked and proud of what we did and what we do for that matter.

RJG: It's, it reminds me of the story, the janitor at NASA, what are you doing? Helping put a man on the moon?

 It's the, it's a mindset, it's a perspective. It's, and it's a choice you can make on how you perceive where you're at and what you're doing. So that you hit on this a little bit, in terms of your, so you just get promoted into this leadership role management role, and you're at an organization that doesn't, isn't necessarily investing all of the resources into development.

So it's kind of left on you to go develop your own leadership chops. What game plan or what recommendations or what advice do you have for somebody that finds themselves in that role? And they're trying to, self-develop their way into leadership.

Rick C.: I would begin as I alluded to a little bit earlier, looking at myself, who am I? What am I believe? What are my core values? What am I non-negotiables? who am I? On who aspires to lead? Chapter one, chapter two, I would read, I would look for models in civil society and, they exist not only in your work, but in your church, in your community, in your schools, look for people that others follow in, observe their behavior observe.

Like what do those leaders talk about? What makes them inspirational and just find models of people whose behavior you can identify certain attributes that make sense to you, and they resonate within yourself, this would make sense. Third, have the courage to practice, work on clarity of thought, clarity of speech.

Storytelling is really important part. I could have opened our conversation today, we're able to let me up, I worked for here and, there and, there and there and, they're like the numbers that could have done that or I could have told you a story and I'm willing to bet that you may be more likely to remember my story than what year I started working for Dannon yogurt, as an example.

So numbers informed stories compelling. So you begin to develop the art of storytelling in what is the story? What is the story of someone's your proposal, why they should follow you and to practice them? The fourth thing that I would suggest if you're really serious about it, and if you can afford it is to find experiential learning programs that are out there that allow people to dig into what I'm talking about and then practice, practice, practice in a safe environment.

So national training laboratories, headquarters and, Arlington Virginia to me is the premier organization that allows it's quick example. I've done a number of programs there. When I was negotiating labor contracts, I was too timid in one sense, not being bold enough in knowing how to bluff. So I took a negotiation skills program three days, and it's not, it's about the skills of negotiating proposals counterproposals and I realized in a safe environment that I wanted to learn how to lie. So in one of the exercises I commandeered the leadership of the group and my sole purpose was to manipulate the mislead and to divert people's attention, to get to the objective I set for myself.

And if I had to lie cheat and steal, I would do so intentionally and, I told nobody. This is what I was doing and, I wanted to see what I looked like and sounded like when I'm lying. And I was blown away by the experience, ritual reasons. Number one, I was really good at love by self image at all. So it scared me a little bit, but the other part was self-awareness that I know the triggers that would suggest to me that lying may get you to your end result and I said, because I asked the first question, lying is not who I am, I'm almost too transparent in a negotiation.

That's probably not smart all the time, but I'd rather live with that, then not be trusted because I lied. So that's an example of where I took a learning experience. I optimized it in a safe enviroment and then I, at the end of the exercise ID brief with my, the people I had just to be used and told them what I was doing and why I did it.

And then the feedback I got from them about you are so convincing when you told me that black was white, I believe that white was really white, not black, that kind of thing. And so I laughed and said, I got to watch me, I can't allow myself to be duped into that way of being so whatever the equivalent is of people who think about growing into leadership, take risks like that, learn about yourself.

As I said in my little still Eloquii and near to go volunteer, to lead something, ask for permission to step into that arena and ask for help and people will give it, and they'll be proud of you. Leaders want to be proud of their followers that step up then. But a lot of tide weren't you timid? What if somebody thinks I'm brown nosing? blah, blah, blah.

In my advice to people who are curious about that is to ask yourself, what is my intent. If I make a request of someone and it's self-serving and if in your heart of hearts, you're trying to draw attention to yourself, look at me, I'm smart, let it go.

Don't do it. But if your intent is fair and clear and in the best interest of everyone in the story, then do it in good faith and, don't be shy about wanting to grow in this story. It's a great question, what is your intent? What is essential in your life? Those are really powerful questions to learn, to ask yourself often.

And it will keep you calibrating as you move down this path, oftentimes of the unknown. When you're confronted with things that are dangerous to do, if not wrong to do you let them go by this game I play with myself when I get real jobs, doing serious things. If I do X, Y, and Z, and it's in the wall street journal tomorrow, what are my children thinking as they read the story and boy that, that put you back on the right track, if you care about your kids and your reputation of what is essential in your life.

So as I listened to myself, talk, I me, so much of this thing on leadership really does exist in your head. Who am I? What's important to me? How observant am I in of myself? Do I really care about others? In a meaningful way, am I willing to open the Komodo and to make myself vulnerable in the best interests of our relationships here?

That's the key behind it. What is the key to have all the leaders have dealt with and seen a, these, more than 40 years of working 50 years of working now, it's they are human beings or opened in daycare and they were braised in that bravery is so contagious.

RJG: Bravery, and it's by definition, leadership requires courage. Like you're because people are going to follow ideally, and you're going to go into places that unchartered territory sometime, but I've always thought about is maybe, a wacky thought, but I've always thought about in terms of leadership and people that want to promotion.

I have asked people if I gave you the promotion without the tittle, still at the same authority, you still get the pay raise and you still get everything else, but if you don't have the title, like how would that feel? And what I'm trying to get at and, in doing that as if you're just looking for the appearance, looking for the title, if you're just looking for the perceived authority, if you're just then to me, that speaks to what, what may not be the actual care.

And when you're talking about leadership, like the actual genuine care for the organization, for the team for whatever it is, but that's something other than me in the stage that I'm on and the position that I hold over people and, the title thing has always been a unique way of getting to that.

Do you think that's a sort of dumb practice or what are your thoughts?

Rick C.: I think it's not unreasonable that people would want the recognition that comes with being promoted and delivering on those entitles are certainly one way to do it. The leader's challenge is someone looking for that. If all they're looking for is the title, and I don't want to do the work right then that would suggest that their intentions are a little bit cockeyed, but it's an interesting technique in what it signals to the person, to whom you're speaking is that a value system around the importance of work in the creation of results is what defines us.

It's not titles. The titles may come if you will, to round out the experience and to provide you the status that you've learned. So as a technique, you might want to have that soliloquy with them and say, we will address the title, once it's obvious to everyone with whom you're working, that you're capable of working at this level.

So it's the cherry on the cake that you have earned, which makes it even more valuable than just giving it to you, perform performance, performance, commitment. It's an interesting way to deal. Talking about courage and, I want to just share a thought with you because I'm terribly intelligent and I'd say inspiration from Harvard in many places around the world.

There's a, one of my favorite friends are the Irish tenors and they have this song called the ILF hopes and dreams and, it's a story about the Irish immigrants coming to Ellis Island in the 1890s. And there is a part of the song that is beautiful and signed by the tenors, the Irish tenders.

But the story is zoned any more from Ireland who comes when she's only 15 years and, in the words are courage is the passport, when your old world disappears, there's no future in the past when you're 15 years. So this concept of courage is the passport when your old world disappears.

Stepping into that unknown, there is no future in the past when you're 15 years. So you come and you create that future where you are a step at a time. You can bring with you is any more did for culture from Ireland as a 15-year-old girl, she was the first person on L Simon, it's a great story, hello, I love it.

RJG: Would you perhaps have enough courage to try to sing that for us?

Rick C.: On the first day of January 1892, they opened Dallas silent and they let the people through the first, across the threshold of the aisle of hopes and dreams was any more from Ireland who was all of 15.

RJG: That's the only, we're going to clip that, and that is going to be the trailer for the show.

Rick C.: Well, I'll tell you if you're interested in that. If you like the Irish tenors, the aisle of hopes and drains. It's the first song on the album and, when they sing it, the three voices are singing.

And if you have Irish blood, you're going to tear up, I guarantee you. It's amazing.

RJG: Okay. It's incredible. Last question here. So what's one, no more than three, what are one, two or three resources like must reads like staples for anyone veering into, I want to learn more about leadership book, podcasts, anything.

What are your big recommendations to go tos?

Rick C.: Yeah, that's fine. That's hard, the no asshole rule by Robert from, help me. Robert professor, Robert Sutton from Stanford University wrote a fabulous book called the no asshole rule and, I think leaders need to understand that assholes by definition strangle organizations and, so he talks about, and how to design that and how to manage through it.

That's one of them. There's a book by Marcus Buckingham is a little bit dated, but it's still being highly relevant. It's called first break all the rules.

RJG: Love that book.

Rick C.: It's a resource that funds from the Gallup 12 questions. It's based upon the research that they did for them, Marcus Buckingham is one of the authors and it's just so practical advice to people we're thinking about leadership.

Anything about Lincoln believing it's, I'll even get more specific, there's a new book out. I think it's called honest Abe, it's a historical novel about the four years of the Lincoln presidency and it's historical novel. So it's based upon events that actually happened but the dialogue obviously is made up and it's written by a historian and it gave, and I'm a big fan of Lincoln has been, have been for a long time.

But it gave me an insight in terms of what the man did and how he suffered during the course of the war and how so many people let him down general McClellan and all people let them down in ways when he never lost his eye on the prize. He never compromised when it would have been an easy solution to end the war on a compromise, but as opposed to maintaining the integrity of the country.

So probably anything about Lincoln, but this is an easy read, it's relatively new. And it just inspired me to be really inspired about a guy I've always cared about and, I'll end on this book. So when I finished graduate school, was broken and started my career. My wife made for me a burlap sign with my favorite quote from Lincoln and, she'd cut out colorful letters. So you that you're too young to remember them, but that was a big deal back in the seventies and, the quote was from Lincoln Institute to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men and four, I bet the first, I think when I went to Paris, I left it in the United States.

But for the first 20 years of my career, that burlap bag sat behind me in my office and people would come in and they want to bitch about something was wrong, their bosses, an idiot, somebody hurt them in while they're talking to me, there's to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men incredible.

So when I would get to the point of not vocation now, what do you want to do with your problem? I would oftentimes didn't say a word.

RJG: Yeah. That's incredible. That was a great, great quote, but great, great way of presenting it, like in terms of displaying my values and what I want, what a great, great action.

Well, I appreciate you being on the show, especially this inaugural kind of kick-off of it and, I will tell you, even as you're talking the emotional intelligence stuff, the Marcus Buckingham, the no asshole rule, and just in this whole conversation, I realized, holy shit, like a lot of what I think about leadership has come from working with you for 15 years.

Like it's really incredible and, I appreciate all, everything that you've taught me and now. They having a show to help, share it with other people. So I'm tremendously appreciative of your experience and wisdom and willing to share it in the candor and fun in which you, what you deliver it. So, I thank you.

Rick C.: One final thought to you and your listeners, is this a company without money can borrow it. A company without leadership is bankrupt.

RJG: It's gold. Yeah, it is. Where can, if people want to find out a little bit more about Rick Corcoran, where can they go? Where do you want to send them?

Rick C.: I have a website it's a RJ, Corcoran and associates.com. However, I haven't updated it since 2008, but it does tell my story about how I, what I did, how I got to do this and, it does have a section which you might find interesting in terms of values, what's essential, what I think I stand for. I didn't update it for the years because people who want to work with me would never find me on the web.

It's all by referral and, so I got lazy and I just didn't update it because I didn't need to, and I didn't start.

RJG: Lazy or efficient, like no sense, and updating a thing that's not necessary for that for the business.

Rick C.: So, I'm in a point now where I'm not looking for work, so I leave it there for vanity reasons. If nothing else, it used to be important, look at my website.

RJG: Well, I appreciate your time, appreciate being on the show and we will kick it off here.

Thanks, Rick.

Rick C.: Continued good luck with that what I think is a fabulous idea. Well done.

RJG: Thank you, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

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