70. Leading Imperfectly with James Robilotta

Episode 70: Leading Imperfectly with James Robilotta (Summary)

Do you find small talk painful? Do you find it hard to connect with colleagues in our email-driven world? Do you want to have better conversations with employees but don’t know where to start? Well, don’t turn that…iPhone screen? Today we’re talking about asking better questions to create better connections. It’s all ahead now on Boss Better Now.

Links:
To learn more about James Robilotta, visit his website Jamestrobo.com.
To learn more about Joe Mull, visit his website ​Joemull.com​.
To hear more from Joe Mull visit his YouTube channel​.
To learn how to invite Joe to speak at an event, visit ​Joemull.com/speaking​.
To check date availability or to get a quote for an event, email ​hello@joemull.com​.
For more information on the BossBetter Leadership Academy, visit Joemull.com/academy.
Email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.
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Transcript – Episode 70: Leading Imperfectly with James Robilotta 

 

Joe:

Do you find small talk painful? Do you find it hard to connect with colleagues in our email-driven world? Do you wanna have better conversations with employees, but don’t know where to start? Well, don’t turn that…iPhone screen? Today we’re talking about asking better questions to create better connections. It’s all ahead now on Boss Better Now.

Jamie:

You’re listening to Boss Better Now. This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Now, here’s your host, speaker, and author, Joe Mull.

Joe:

Welcome back BossHeroes to your weekly dose of advice, humor and encouragement for bosses everywhere. Whether you’re listening during your commute, at work during your lunch break, on the treadmill, while cooking dinner, or while walking your dog. I am so glad you’re here, especially because today is the day that I get to introduce you to one of the most charming, watchable speakers I know. We are gonna be joined by Mr. James T Robilotta. Now James works with corporations, colleges, associations, and individuals on authentic leadership. As a speaker, author, coach, and podcast host, James is out there in the world talking about how talking about imperfection increases, trust, innovation, and morale on teams. He has a master’s degree in counseling. He is the author of the book Leading Imperfectly, and he has more than 16 years of experience in improv comedy. Certainly, that’s part of what makes him so good on the stage. James is also the host of the captivating podcast Diner Talks with James. If you’ve ever stayed up late with friends at a diner and had that experience where no one wants to leave because the conversation and the connection are just so fantastic. Well, James turned that into a podcast, so make sure you check out Diner Talks with James, wherever you listen to podcasts. But now here to talk about curiosity, connection, relationships, and retention, please welcome my bearded and bespectacled friend, Mr. James T Robilotta. James, welcome!

James:

My man, Joe Mull. What it do? <Laugh> How are you, sir?

Joe:

I am great, man. We’ve been talking about having you on the show for a long time. I am so glad you’re here today. What’s happening in your world, my friend?

James:

Brother, life is great over here. And not in that cheesy way like I’m supposed to say this, cuz you have me pinned against the wall and told me to make everything sound great on your podcast. <Laugh> But like in a way that it really like it’s well, I’m in a really cool place right now. I’m excited about where my business is. I have a toddler, baby – I dunno where I don’t know when they turn from one to the other – Who just started walking and is just a one-man wrecking crew around the house, which is really exciting to watch him discover things that he can play with and that he shouldn’t play with. And my wife and I are doing really well too, man. So yeah, life, life right now is, is in, in good, a good place.

Joe:

I’m so excited for you. I remember the, the first walking days, that’s when you have like 37 of the same video on your phone where you’re like, oh, I took a step. I gotta get it on a video and then you get another and they get a picture and you’re scrolling and you’re like, wow, I’ve got 37 pictures and videos of the last five minutes and it’s totally cool. And that’s what you’re supposed to do. Is that what your phone’s looking like right now

James:

Makes for a good stop motion. If you connect them all together,

Joe:

Are you gif-ing the little one? Are you making, are you making the memes? Are you doing the gifts or it’s all, it’s all private on your own phone?

James:

Predominantly private on my own phone. At some point in time, there will be plenty of public embarrassment.

Joe:

<Laugh> Well, we’ll have you back whenever you’re ready to share. <Laugh> Well, I am so glad that you’re here, my friend. I know that as we said in the introduction, a lot of your work is focused around vulnerability, around teaching leaders how to embrace their imperfections and that, that actually turns them into better leaders. I, I would just love the, to hear first the story of how you got into that work.

James:

Yeah. So, you know the concept of a reverse role model <laugh> and.

Joe:

OK.

James:

That’s, that’s how I got into that work. OK. Cause I had a, I had a supervisor during my first professional job ever first job ever with benefits and all that kind of stuff, fresh outta graduate school. I had a, a supervisor who was, I would say the opposite of an authentic leader. If there was ever a problem, it was not her fault. And everything never took responsibility for anything, was quick to pass on the blame, was quick to explain her way out of things as, just as opposed to I think, I think great leaders take responsibility. And so she missed the mark on that and it caused a fascinating gap in communication and rapport with people around her because if, if you never doing anything wrong and I do a whole bunch of stuff wrong, then if I try to communicate with you, all I’m getting in return is shame, right?

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

James:

When you, we, as humans, can’t learn things from people who are perfect. We can only learn things from people who are imperfect. But she tried to teach us through perfection over and over again. And it just the way that the individuals around her, on her team and in the community around us just didn’t connect with her as well.

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative> And isn’t it interesting how, you know, if you could go back in time and talk to your younger self and knowing what you know now you’d probably have a conversation about how, like it’s not really as much a character flaw as maybe this person’s just leading out of fear and they’re so afraid to show their flaws to those folks, but look what it’s costing her. Right. You could actually create some empathy for that supervisor around that conversation. Is that right?

James:

Yeah. For sure. If I wanted to be a good person, I could absolutely do that for her.

Joe:

<Laugh> but you’re like, no.

James:

I’m kidding. Yeah. I Def I definitely could. Yeah, no for sure. Cause I mean, right. Like I was, I was a hot shot, fresh outta grad school. Right. Like I was walking around, waving my diploma and be like master’s degree, okay? I think I got it. Right. And so there was a cocky edge, which of course all my cockiness was to cover up my insecurity.

Joe:

Right.

James:

Cause I was worried I wasn’t gonna be good at my job also. And I didn’t wanna mess it up and I didn’t wanna step in the crap. And so so yeah, I think when you have competing people who are protecting themselves, their insecurities are, are high and their walls are higher. Then empathy sometimes goes away for a little bit of while cuz you can’t get outta your own way.

Joe:

Absolutely. So the next chapter in your story then, so you went from having that experience with this supervisor to then becoming a subject matter expert in leading imperfectly, in vulnerability. What is it about that subject matter that has driven you to become an expert to make that the center of the work that you do? Here now as an adult?

James:

I think, I mean ultimately what we’re trying to do first off, I’m a leadership nerd, right? <Laugh> and the great leaders build strong teams that trust each other, that are loyal to each other. And, and so this became a huge platform of mine because this is where I thought, as a leader, you could build the most trust. You could build the most connection by being an authentic leader by being that example of, Hey, this is a place where people try and sometimes we fail. Sometimes we win, but no matter what we got each other’s backs and we grow. Creating a space like that, where we lead with love instead of lead with fear to come back to some of your words.

Joe:

Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.

James:

Is I think paramount you know, when we think about leadership, it is, it is a combination of team performance and team dynamics. And if we ignore either side of that on one side, maybe we grade, you know, if we ignore team performance, we have great team dynamics and people care about each other. We know a lot about each other, maybe too much, but we know a ton about each other, but we’re not necessarily getting stuff done. We’re not holding people accountable. We aren’t necessarily moving the needle. And on the other side of all we care is about team performance. Then people never see themselves in the bigger picture. They never understand where they fit in. Why would they show up for each other? Why would they have each other back? It’s all competition. It’s a lot of fear, a lot of micromanagement control issues. And so great leaders are this beautiful mesh of caring about team performance and team dynamics recognizing you can have one without the other. And so that takes authenticity and vulnerability for the leader. Cuz they can’t be someone who’s just drowning in control issues, but they also can’t be someone who’s drowning in insecurity issues where they need everybody to be their friend. They gotta find that their own balance in the middle of there too.

Joe:

So I love this idea that we’re shining a light on that. It is a leader’s job to get good work out of people, but it’s also a leader’s job to get to, to help the team get along. Right. That’s the team dynamics and the team performance let’s do good work together, but we, we gotta get along and we gotta have camaraderie. We gotta build relationships. We talk about that a lot here on this show. So what is some of the kind of foundational habits or routines that you really encourage leaders to embrace to get good at one or both of those dynamics?

James:

I think one of the first things is, you know, I think about the, one of the stressful parts of leadership is growth conversations and feedback moments. Right? But these are critical. We know that. And, and so one of the things that I talk about is courageous feedback where it’s not just about, Hey, come into my office over here. You did this wrong, you did that wrong. You gotta work on this, get outta here. You better be better next year. You know what I mean? Get outta here. Take a walk, right? Like, you know, those, those, once those annual reviews where we rake somebody over the coals and you know, it’s, it’s not, it’s not productive, but we only check it with them once, as opposed to courageous feedback is recognizing that questions lead to story, story leads to connection, connection leads to trust, trust leads to loyalty. And so a lot of times courageous feedback starts with us asking questions, learning, Hey, what were your goals? What were you trying to accomplish? Tell me about, you know, the mindset that you had or, or what you believe the task at hand was, cuz that allows the leader to know first and foremost, do we have a clarity issue or do we have a competency issue?

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

James:

Cause those are handled two very different ways.

Joe:

Yeah.

James:

Um and then from there, I encourage leaders to share a story.

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

James:

You know, it’s so funny that I called you in here to talk about the fact that you didn’t get this done and it affected X, Y, and Z because I did the same thing when I started here six years ago. It’s so crazy. The same, very similar scenario where I didn’t get this done. And I didn’t realize it affected this team and the ripple effect, etcetera, et cetera. I got really embarrassed once I learned how it all went down. But fortunately, I had a leader that cared about me and saw that it wasn’t intentional, just what it was, and, and they had some grace for me and, and I’m, I’m grateful for them cuz it allowed me to grow. And I see myself in you right now and in this moment. And so I wanna talk through some of this stuff with you and share that story, build that connection, build that rapport, allow that humanity to seep in. I understand that the gray area of leadership is complicated and annoying, but I also know that leadership would be a lot easier if people weren’t involved. <Laugh> But alas people are gray, right? Like, and, and the beauty of leadership, the art of leadership is understanding the nuance of the individual who is in front of you. And so by sharing that story and trying to build that rapport, when you then provide that feedback it is a great asset into building that team that you’re trying to build and setting the person up for success as they move forward. So that’s one area that I often, you know, talk to leaders about that is critical for how we can apply authentic leadership into the work that we do to carry both team performance and team dynamics with us.

Joe:

I love it, man. And I love the idea that stories are a kind of language, right? That, that we have to actually be intentional about using story, to talk about others, to talk about ourselves, to talk about impact, to build those connections. And that it’s just, it’s easy to fall into the pattern and the habit of sitting down and saying, here’s what happened and here’s what I didn’t like, but to be able to ask for a story so that we can better understand we talk on our show a lot about you know, leading with curiosity, we’re gonna get to that in a minute, cuz I know that’s a big area for you. And, and just asking people, Hey, you know, like you showed up in a way today that didn’t really make sense. And, and didn’t really vibe with who I know you to be. What’s that about? What’s going on? And inviting that story. Um but then I loved the example you gave where you used a story, not just to communicate, but to share imperfections. Hey, when I was younger in my career, I made a similar mistake. I got this kind of support. And so don’t sweat it. Let’s talk about it. You know, talk about marrying together these two ideas in such a perfect way of communicating with story and sharing our imperfections and not being afraid to have an imperfect accent, like the one that you brought, which is actually way better than any accent I would try. So I give you credit for that too, my man.

James:

<Laugh> For sure. Yeah. No, the little things we do for each other out here, Joe. Don’t worry. I got your back.

Joe:

We’re here to educate and to entertain. No doubt.

James:

Yeah. <laugh> Always.

Joe:

Well, let’s talk about curiosity because I know that this is a central pillar to the work that you’re doing. It’s a centerpiece of what you’re gonna be talking about as one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming BossBetter Virtual Summit. So give us a little taste, man. What do we need to know about curiosity and the role that it plays in us becoming more authentic leaders?

James:

Yeah. So, you know, in that in that, in that kind of rundown that I just gave you, you noticed a curiosity was at the forefront, right? Again, questions lead to story, story, lead, connection, connection, trust, trust to loyalty. The foundation of building teams that are loyal is curiosity is asking questions. And so when it comes to curiosity and the role that it has to play in leadership, I think there’s two facets of it. I think there is the skillset of curiosity, which is the part that we often think about the idea that we’re going to ask questions, ask better questions as you highlighted in the opening. But then there’s also the mindset of curiosity of are you approaching your team, individuals on it, yourself, with curiosity on a regular basis. Are you catching yourself and catching patterns that you potentially are in with people around you and recognizing that now those patterns aren’t always serving you? Though they may be efficient. Are they effective? And so I think by analyzing curiosity from both of those places, we create better communities in our workspaces.

Joe:

Could you give us an example of what one of those patterns might be? What’s a pattern that a leader might find themselves in and they may not notice at first, but if they’re starting to pay attention, if they get intentional, if they try to recognize what their habits and routines are, what are some examples of some patterns we might be able to spot that we then might need to change in order to be better?

James:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, and there’s good patterns and bad patterns, right? And in our brains, let’s recognize this, our brains are brilliant. They are incredible pattern-generating machines. And because of that, we’re able to do things very efficiently. But if I told you tomorrow to put your toothpaste on your toothbrush in the opposite direction, you’d be looking at the thing, like, what do I usually do? How did this go away? You know, like I told you to eat your cereal with your other hand, you’d be like, I don’t even know if this one reaches, you know what I mean? Like <laugh> and so our patterns are fascinating and they’re also really helpful, but when it comes to the way that we supervise/manage/boss/lead, whatever the proper term is for you in your particular scenario. But when it comes to that, there’s also good and bad patterns that we have with people, because I know there’s someone who you work with, who, when you see them around the office, if you’re back in person when you see them, you’re like, oh my gosh, look it it’s Margaret! Margaret’s the best! And she’s awesome. And I know we’re gonna talk about this and it’s gonna be awesome. And she’s probably gonna share an idea with me, cuz she’s always thinking and it’s always so great to see Margaret. She makes me feel really happy. And then we also, you know, break each other’s backs by talking about how, you know, our fantasy football teams are doing. That’s great. Can’t wait to see Margaret. But then you also got Phil. Freaking Phil. Where’d this guy come from? Who hired this guy, right? Every time you see Phil, you know, Phil, every time you see Phil around, you’re like try to duck behind the corner. Like maybe he didn’t see me. Because you know the pattern that you and Phil are in, whenever you talk about Phil is gonna complain about this or he is gonna be Johnny excuses or he is gonna be whatever right. Or he is gonna com is just, there’s just an energy about Phil. And, and both of those individuals, you are in patterns with. One of those patterns is great and it helps you. And one of those patterns is frustrating and it takes away from your cultural, your you’re, the culture you’re trying to create. Both patterns deserve disrupting.

Joe:

Yes.

James:

Because on one hand with Margaret, if we break our pattern with her and we disrupt it, maybe there’s something deeper we can talk about. Maybe we only ever talk about the good things with Margaret.

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

James:

But we don’t actually know what’s going on in her life. Or maybe there’s something deeper happening at work, or maybe there’s other stuff bubbling because we just put on this voice and this show, whenever we talk to each other.

Joe:

Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.

James:

So sometimes we need to disrupt the patterns, even with the people we love, but we also need to disrupt the patterns with freaking Phil because Phil probably has some stuff going on in his life too.

Joe:

Yep.

James:

Maybe Phil doesn’t know the ripple effect of the way the attitude he brings into the office. Maybe Phil doesn’t understand the way he showed up. Maybe Phil’s got some, maybe there is a place in Phil’s life that we need to understand and have some empathy for. And so a lot of times that disruption needs to look like, Hey, let’s go grab a coffee. Hey, let’s grab an ice cream. Hey, let’s grab lunch. Hey, let’s go something a happy hour. Let’s get out of our normal setting, see each other in a new place and let’s try something a little bit different. But that’s, that’s what I’m talking about. When I say the different kind of patterns that we’re in with people

Joe:

Yeah! And re and recognizing – they’re such beautiful examples, James thank you for that. And they’re recognizing that both of those habits do harm, right? Both in terms to the rest of the team and to the environment and, they prevent us from being as effective as we could be. And it’s hard to think, well, how is me having such a positive relationship with Margaret? So how could that be harmful to my team? But you know, if there’s a perception of favoritism there, or there’s a perception that others are connected with the leader in a way that I’m not, that’s harmful to Margaret, that’s harmful to the boss. That’s harmful to me as the employee, it’s harmful to the morale of the team. So it’s a beautiful example. I also have to thank you, cuz I feel like you probably just gave me my fantasy football team name for the upcoming season. We might be the freaking Phil and Johnny excuses. I feel like that’s a winner right there going for the title belt. Perfect.

James:

Perfect. That’s it. I expect 10% of your winnings.

Joe:

All right. <Laugh> Nevermind. It’s a terrible name. Okay. We’re gonna actually, we’re gonna actually move forward with curiosity because we come now to the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

Joe:

The Camaraderie Question of the Week is a segment we have here every week on our show. My friend, I prepped you for this a little bit so I didn’t catch you off guard. We know that bosses build camaraderie on teams by helping employees find things in common with each other. That’s why every week here on our show, we give you a question, dear listener, that you can use at meetings at huddles on those long zooms, where everybody’s in the Brady bunch boxes. We can use these questions to facilitate connection and build camaraderie. So our question this week, James in honor of your terrific podcast is as follows. Describe the restaurant or local haunt that you and your friends frequented the most in high school or college. Where did you go? And what did you order? I kick it to you, Mr. James

James:

Brother. You know, this is a, a fun bond that you and I have is, is theater. Is singing.

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

James:

And all that kind of stuff. And after every concert, after every performance, after you have the spot that you rolled to, right?

Joe:

Yep.

James:

Um and so for us, that was the Airport Diner in Long Island, New York. I don’t watch your mouth. And <laugh> so now the Airport Diner, you know, it’s a proper diner. If there are more mirrors than you knew existed <laugh> and, and that’s what this place was. And I’m, I fancy myself a booth. I fancy myself a big old chocolate milkshake with some, some whipped cream and some sprinkles on top rainbow sprinkles, get outta here with those other sprinkles,

Joe:

Uhhuh.

James:

And yeah, and then I also get a, probably a stack of pancakes or something like that. You know, it’s all the food you shouldn’t be eating.

Joe:

Nice!

James:

But you are with your friends and it’s whatever. So but you slide into the booth and you just have these long conversations and you, we were always that crew also, that was like, do you mind if we slide over another table and we’re making like this long centipede type table <laugh> I don’t know why we bothered connecting. It’s not like we talked to the people on the other end, but anyway, that’s what that’s what we did brother. And the Airport Diner, sometimes it was Applebee’s for half price appetizers.

Joe:

Yes.

James:

And you know, what, whatever it was that was, that was the move for us

Joe:

I was gonna ask, you know, when you see the movie in your mind of that memory how many people are crammed in the booth? Are you sliding the extra chair over, but then you made me see the movie when you talked about sliding the other table over. So how many people, when you’re rolling in like that, how many people are like, is it party at 12? And the, and the hostess is like son of a beep you know, like, like how many people are rolling in together and what time of day? Like, or what time of night, or what time of early morning are we going for pancakes in that milkshake?

James:

Yeah, for sure. So yeah, it was anywhere from six to 20, typically <laugh> somewhere, somewhere in that range depending on who had homework, depending on who, you know, violated their own curfew and couldn’t come out or whatever <laugh>. But yeah, anywhere, anywhere from six to 20 of us, and it would always be it would always be after 11 o’clock at night, typically closer to like one in the morning. And we had a whole, I’m not gonna get into the naming structure of this cuz in high school, you don’t know what’s triggering and what’s not. And so, but we had a whole triggering of like, if you like if you never came out at NA, like if you didn’t come out, you said, Hey guys, I can’t make it tonight. We called that fetus time because you never came out <laugh> but then if you, if you came out for a little bit, if you only came out for a very little bit and just like spent a little bit of time, that was baby time. And then there were other times appro named after that, that, like I said, we’re not gonna get into it. But we had a whole series of, oh, you’re going to bed now. Well, we know what time that is. And so, yeah, and so we would spend, we would stay out till, you know, three in the morning, four in the morning and just, you know. It was so funny because none of us were, we weren’t drinkers, we weren’t, we weren’t doing drugs. Like I hung out with the nerds.

Joe:

Yep.

James:

Right. But we just stayed up late having cool conversations. We drove around, maybe we messed with some street signs here and there, but you know, we were, we were the good kids and the kind of trouble that we got in is very laughable. So,

Joe:

And, and that is very much the same story that I lived. It’s funny how that there’s some symmetry there. My, restaurant is a place called Eat N Park. So for folks who are listening, who are in Western Pennsylvania, maybe Eastern Ohio, little bit of smattering of West Virginia mixed in there, Eat N Park is a regional restaurant chain. It’s if, if anybody remembers El Bees I don’t know that they’re or Big Boy. Right? They’re kind of along those lines. Good food kind of diner atmosphere. Well, Eat N Park for years had a midnight buffet and it was like the only place you could go where you would get a salad and breakfast food and fried chicken. And it could be all on the same spread. And in high school, when we were, would finish, just like you said, the concerts or the musicals, we’d all roll into Eat N Park afterwards and take over the place. When I went to college, there was an Eat N Park there. And so when, when our friends would gather, we’d go to that midnight buffet and it was the same thing. We weren’t big drinkers or partiers or anything like that. We would just go there and we would just pile up the food. Like, cause when you’re in college, you’re a bottomless pit. Right. And you’re like $8.99 for the buffet? I could sit here for three hours. Let’s go! Right. And you get in there and you’re like four pieces of chicken and yeah, I’m gonna a salad. Okay. Skip the salad. I’m gonna, I’m gonna have three cups of soup, some muffins. There was always muffins on that buffet, some killer muffins. And the truth is muffin. And you know, this, my friend, no food tastes as good as that food at that age, in that moment in your life. Even now you could go back to that diner that you talked about with all the mirrors and you could order that same stuff and you’d be like, yeah, I mean, it’s good, but it, it just not the same.

James:

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah. That’s accurate. <Laugh>, that’s very accurate. <Laugh>

Joe:

And that’s the Camaraderie Question of the Week. Well, thank you for playing along my friend. I wanna go visit that diner that you talked about. Well, in the meantime I wanna make sure that I get to ask you at least one or two more questions. If you have time to stick around. You have time to stick around?

James:

For you. Yes.

Joe:

That’s love. There’s so much love there. <Laugh> All of the work that you’re doing with so many folks, I know you speak to college students a lot. You work with organizations, you speak at a lot of association events, all the work that you’re doing around vulnerability and imperfection and leadership. I’m interested. How has the pandemic influenced the kinds of conversations you’re having with folks? What has happened or what is happening that is pandemic related that, but that it also ties into the work that you’re doing around imperfection and leadership. Where are you going with that? How are you responding to the world we’re living in right now?

James:

Yeah, you, I I started doing a program called Leading Through Uncertainty and it is a it’s basically taking the concept of authentic leadership and applying them to leading in an uncertain world. And leaders put so much pressure on themselves to know everything, a lot, especially new leaders, right. Like I gotta take the team on my back and carry him to the promised land. Right. And like your team doesn’t need saving your team needs you. Your team would much rather hear you say, yeah, this is hard. Yeah. This sucks. Yeah. This is annoying. Yeah. This is frustrating. But let’s work through it. As opposed to like, let me figure it out and try to take, take everybody’s pain.

Joe:

Right.

James:

Um but new leaders in particular and, and all leaders do this to a certain extent feel the need to shield their people from negative emotions. Uh but that’s not a reality. So in the middle of the pandemic, what I noticed is that I found that there was more authenticity, more vulnerability than in previous seasons of leadership.

Joe:

Yep.

James:

Uh and whether that’s just because I now know what the inside of your living room looks like <laugh> or I now see your cat as it tramples across the keyboard.

Joe:

Right.

James:

Or there’s kids in the background, there is, there is forced humanity in the middle of this pandemic and that forced humanity brought us a little bit closer together.

Joe:

Yeah.

James:

Um right. We’re not, we’re not getting all this dressed up. Half of us are wearing pants. Right. And like just those, some of those moments, we’re really beautiful, I think for leadership and, you know, you can’t build teams over email, but you can build teams over zoom. You can build teams from a distance. It does take a little more intentional work, which is why I love your camaraderie question. And that idea of giving people fun ideas to talk about humanity in the middle of what the heck is going on in this world.

Joe:

Right. Right.

James:

Um and so that’s really where I noticed that it benefited a lot. Was it also allowed leaders to drop their shoulders?

Joe:

Yes.

James:

And recognize that they too were allowed to think that this was hard. They too were allowed to think that this was annoying. This is stupid. This is going on longer than anybody anticipated.

Joe:

Yeah.

James:

Um that they don’t have all the answers. But one of the most powerful things a leader can say is, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m excited to work on it with you.

Joe:

Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.

James:

Right. And, and that, that moment, I think, has happened a lot as people had to pivot yeah. In their worlds.

Joe:

And I think we’ve had to coach people to say that out loud because I think they think it, and then they don’t think they have permission to say it. But to be able to say to folks, Hey, you know, I, I’m kind of running outta words of, of how to encourage you right now, but I just want you to know that I care and I’m here and we’re gonna get through it together. And just helping people feel seen and appreciated in the moment is, is part of that. So making that explicit and giving, giving leaders, as you said, the permission to just do that and have that be enough. I think that that’s so powerful and it’s so important. Well, I, I know the folks who are are listening right now are considering being a part of our BossBetter Virtual Summit on Tuesday, June 7th. And James here is one of our fabulous keynote speakers. You’re gonna get the voices. You’re gonna get the humor. You’re gonna get the energy. You’re gonna get to see that beautiful bearded face because James is doing a program called, Do You Even Know Me? How Curiosity Sparks Loyalty and Retention. So James, when you’re done with that session at our virtual summit on June 7th, what are the problems that our BossHeroes listening today are gonna be better equipped to overcome after they hear from you?

James:

First and foremost I think they are going to be able to understand that we were lied to when we were younger, when we were told there’s no such thing as a bad question. <Laugh> There is. There is indeed. I mean, there, there are just, there’s just, there’s better questions.

Joe:

Yeah.

James:

Uh how about that? But I think, you know, knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them is really powerful because that’s how you can start to drive story, right?

Joe:

Yeah.

James:

Our one thing I say is that our, our stories lie in our whys and our futures lie in our hows. And so asking better questions that build better rapport and, and in turn stronger teams is, is one powerful step. And like I said, we’ll talk about the skillset. And we’ll also talk about the mindset of curiosity, cuz at the end of the day, the goal is to create community where you work and community, a place where people are seen, heard, and respected. You wanna create a place in your workspace where people feel safe, the safer we feel, the more we share, the more innovative we think we can be. And the more we can follow an improv concept called “yes, and”

Joe:

Right.

James:

Where we’re building and dreaming together. And so when we apply curiosity to that it, it, the skillset, you mean the mindset of curiosity to that, what they’ll really be able to walk away with is understanding the patterns that they are in with some of their people and how those patterns are hurting them from creating cultures of community. One thing we’ll talk about is how assuming is easier than learning.

Joe:

Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

James:

Um and how that is. That’s hard for us sometimes because just cuz it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s right. And so in leaving this in leaving this individuals will be thinking about, am I approaching my team members with curiosity? Am I encouraging my team members to approach each other with curiosity so that we can learn more about each other? And it’s not just client number 473 with the same damn problem where we bury the answer deep on our website. I can’t believe they didn’t find it instead. That’s Mar that’s Michael calling for the first time and he sees us as a resource. And that those kind of moments are what we’re trying to create. Same thing with the people on our teams.

Joe:

Well, I can’t wait. I literally cannot wait. I am bursting at the seams to hear from you at this event. So for folks who are listening, if you want to be a part of it, we have created a discount code where BossHeroes, listeners of our podcast here can actually get tickets to the virtual summit for 50% off. Just go to BossBetterVirtualSummit.com. Use the discount code PODCAST You’ll get to hear my session. You’ll get to hear James’ session. You’ll get to hear two other incredible sessions. You will get to ask James questions live and have him share his expertise in his perspective with you along the way. So one more time that is BossBetterVirtualSummit.com with a discount code PODCAST. Now, James, if people wanna learn more from you, if they wanna follow you, if they wanna get in touch with you, what is the very best way for them to do that?

James:

Yeah, brother, I am James T Robo. James T Robo all over the internet. JamesTRobo.com. James@Jamestrobo.com is the email address and JamesTRobo all over social media. And so let’s hang out friends. It’d be fun to get to meet you and get to know you better.

Joe:

And my sincere thanks to you, my friend for take for taking the time today to do this. I’m so excited that we got to hang out in that the people who have been hearing my voice for a long time, finally get to hear your voice. So thanks for being here my friend.

James:

Joe, it is an honor to be in your circle. Thank you brother for trusting me.

Joe:

Likewise. All right, BossHeroes, that’s our show this week. If you like what you heard, we’ll ask you to share the show on your various social media channels on your LinkedIn, on your Twitter, on your Facebook, tell people you like it. You may end up connecting another BossHero to a show that they like that they get encouragement from, that they get support from. So if you like it, please share it in the meantime. Thanks for listening and thanks for all that you do to care for so many

Jamie:

This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Remember commitment comes from better bosses. Visit JoeMull.com today.

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