Episode 60: Being A Good Guy, Breaking With The Bro Code With Janet Crawford [The Amiel Show]

Janet-Crawford

Are you a man who wants to support women and under-represented minorities in your organization?

In short, would you like to be a good guy?

If so, then you may wonder How exactly can I be a good guy?

The answer may surprise you.

It is not enough to track numbers or avoid discrimination and other offensive behaviors—much less sexual assault, which many of us are now discussing due to the U.S. presidential race. (Here is my take on the election.)

There are a series of positive steps you can take that go well beyond avoiding harm.

Some actions won’t pose risks for your public identity or career. Others require breaking from the Bro Code.

This week, Janet Crawford is back on the podcast to share her insights and practical tips for everyone who wants to be a good guy.

Janet is helping lead this conversation in Silicon Valley. Among all the executive coaches I know, she is the most knowledgeable about how the brain works and why this matters for leadership and unconscious bias. In episode 1 of this podcast, she talked about leaders’ brains, emotional literacy, and power.

Janet is unique because she not only works with organizations but also stays up to date on the latest brain and social science research. In fact, in just the past two years, she has updated her own views. For example, if a man sees a woman apologizing when it seems unwarranted, what can he do that will be helpful? Janet’s thoughts have changed—and, after listening to her, so have mine.

I can’t think of a more timely topic. If you find this conversation to be useful, please share it with colleagues and friends. That will help a lot.

Highlights:

  • 10:00 Biologically, the experiences of women and under-represented minorities is very different
  • 19:00 African American women are better prepared for bias than Caucasian women
  • 24:30 CEO of AT&T sets a model for candidly sharing vulnerable stories
  • 29:00 Proactive steps to make it safe to take risks and innovate
  • 35:00 Sponsorship is very different from mentorship
  • 39:00 New research on how the power hierarchy influences behavior
  • 46:00 The leader sets a norm for civil behavior
  • 51:00 What is the Bro Code?
  • 57:00 A woman’s brain changes when a man stands up for her
  • 1:04:00 Breaking from the Bro Code is courageous
  • 1:09:00 It’s not about infantilizing women

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There is an overt Bro Code and a subtle form.

–Janet Crawford  Tweet this quote

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Episode 58: My Stand On Trump and Clinton [The Amiel Show]

Last week’s post, Executive coaches are normalizing a demagogue: It’s time to stop, created quite a stir.

Thank you for your comments, questions, and encouragement.

I’m taking a risk using my professional platform to discuss politics, so I’m grateful the message has landed for so many of you.

This week, I have more to say. I recorded a solo riff yesterday so you could hear it during the week when we all are making sense of the first Clinton/Trump debate.

After you listen, drop me a short note and tell me what you think, OK? And if you choose to respond to my call to action, let me know what you do.

Highlights

  • 1:00 I read excerpts from the post
  • 9:00 What’s the point of developing leaders if we don’t speak up now?
  • 15:00 Imagining a choice that truly would be challenging
  • 17:00 My call to action for leadership coaches, trusted advisors, and leaders
  • 23:30 None of us have clean hands
  • 26:00 Our country has not gone mad, and a liberal Berkeley sociologist visits Trump country

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“Why devote my life to developing leaders if I’m not going to speak up now about Trump?”

–Amiel Handelsman   Tweet this quote

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Executive coaches are normalizing a demagogue. It’s time to stop.


This will ruffle feathers.

The field in which I work, executive coaching, faces an identity crisis. We claim to stand for better leadership. It’s part of our core promise to clients. Yet we often get mired in mushy talk about style, treating people as one big horizontal typology. So we blind ourselves and others to what leadership is most deeply about: not how a person talks, but for whose benefit.

Unfortunately, the “style” view of leadership dominates the field. This blinds us to history: tyrants and demagogues have ruled human civilization for centuries. More importantly, by ignoring morality, we shirk our responsibility to clients and society by ignoring the tyrants and demagogues in our midst.

I know we can do better.

Let’s start with this year’s U.S. presidential race.

It’s not about “Feeler” versus “Doer”

Clinton is a “Feeler,” whereas Trump is a “Doer.” That’s the opinion of a seasoned executive coach quoted last year in Inc. “No style is better or worse than the others,” she says. “And Doers can be extremely effective leaders.”

Pause the tape. Is this the biggest distinction between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Feeler versus Doer. Is this what we want to say when given a public platform?

Really?

I glanced at this coach’s web site. Her team includes people I know and respect. Her company runs women’s leadership retreats. She undoubtedly is familiar with the history of men getting hired over better qualified women and the dangers of cruel, autocratic leaders of any sex. So, I’m curious: why did she choose to focus on differences in style? Perhaps she was quoted out of context. Or maybe she criticized Trump’s moral character, yet the writer chose to omit this.

Either way, I think this coach let herself be used to normalize a dangerous demagogue. Normalizing. That’s what happens when we place a person like Trump into soft, familiar categories. He’s not an egocentric, deceptive bully who aims to dominate and humiliate others. No, he’s a “Doer.” Just like many readers of Inc. Just like you and me.

Is this the best we can do as a profession? Have we spent so many hours staring at 360 assessment instruments that we’ve forgotten about human history and moral character?

I hope not.

It’s not about “Collaboration” versus “Inspiration”

Yet the signs continue to come. Yesterday, I got an email from friends of mine linking to an article they just published in a major business journal. It’s about the election. It focuses on…yes…style.

Ugh.

They draw a distinction between “collaboration” (Clinton) and “inspiration” (Trump). “An effective approach,” they write, “balances directive and inclusive traits.”

Friends, it’s six weeks before the election. A impulsive and vindictive man is in position to have his hands on the nuclear codes.  He will be talking with, and probably lobbing insults at, leaders of other nuclear weapons states. Is this all we leadership coaches have to say about Trump? That he is inspiring and directive?

Really?

When my friends see this post, I imagine what they’ll say: “Amiel, chill out. We’re not going to vote for him. And we noted his low score from PolitiFact for truthfulness. We’re just taking advantage of a great learning opportunity. People can’t stop talking about the election. Shouldn’t we shed some light on what it means?”

Yes, but not that meaning. The core leadership lessons here are about character, not style. Moral fiber, not verbal communication.

It’s about levels of moral development in a nuclear age

What is the fundamental difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? It’s not about horizontal typology–the way they roll. It’s about levels of vertical moral development: who they are willing and unwilling to roll over.

A quick primer on moral development. Lawrence Kohlberg of Harvard first articulated the theory, and Carol Gilligan applied it to women. Both outline three broad levels of moral development. As kids, we are egocentric. Then, most of us progress to ethnocentric. We identify with people who are like us. Finally, a minority of us progress to worldcentric. We identify with everyone. The higher the level, the more people we include in our own self-interest. In other words, the very meaning of “self” broadens as we develop through these levels. To summarize:

  • Egocentrism is about me
  • Ethnocentrism is about us, i.e. my family, my tribe, my race, my country
  • Worldcentrism is about all of us, i.e. all families, tribes, races, and countries.

“Me” to “Us” to “All of us.”

Hillary Clinton is not just a smart, experienced, and hard-working person. She embodies a worldcentric view. This doesn’t mean she is without flaws. It means that she can do real leadership work in spite of her flaws. For example, she has a penchant for privacy/secrecy that has hardened over time. But did this keep her from succeeding as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State? Not if you listen to the views of Republicans when interviewed about her while she was in office. They gave her high marks on her performance and universally agreed on her capacity to listen.

Where would you put Donald Trump? He’s been widely criticized for racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, so he’s ethnocentric, right?

I don’t think so. Donald is all about Donald. He is egocentric. Most of his outrageous and offensive talk is for the sake of himself. His poll numbers. His adulation from crowds. And, God forbid, his victory in November.

Trump lives to dominate and humiliate others, even those, like Chris Christie, who are his allies. (Take note, Vladimir Putin). He can’t stop talking about himself: his buildings, his money, his crowds, even his genitals. He lies so often to appear dominant that many people no longer notice. He even interprets terrorist attacks through the lens of his own pride (“I predicted it! Now my poll numbers will go even higher.”)

Even the man’s charitable foundation isn’t about serving others. David Fahrenthold, a reporter for the Washington Post, has done tenacious reporting about the Trump Foundation. Every few days he turns up new evidence of Trump’s egocentric corruption. The latest: Trump used hundreds of thousands of “charitable” dollars to pay his legal bills.

So is Trump ethnocentric?

No, because he has not yet developed that far.

He is an egocentric demagogue in position to be Commander in Chief.

Nuclear weapons are not profit and loss statements

Why does this matter? Because the stakes are high.

The President’s most serious responsibility doesn’t involve profit and loss statements. It involves nuclear weapons. Losing your cool in diplomacy can have enormous implications. Forget the nuclear codes for a moment and consider the impact of words. What if the person Trump insults isn’t a reporter but the head of a nuclear weapons state?
Maybe my friends and the coach quoted in Inc weren’t thinking about this. We’ve gotten so used to seeing Trump on talk shows that we forget this is about the Oval Office.
The New Yorker just published a piece imagining Trump’s first term. Read it, and you’ll find all this talk about “style” to be trifling.

Take a smart stand

So, fellow leadership coaches, it’s time to stop describing Trump as a “Doer” who brings “Inspiration.” Please, no more of this tepid talk!

Instead, let’s take a stand that we are uniquely qualified to take. Let’s speak out as leadership coaches about the real difference between these candidates. How and where you do this is up to you. No need to sacrifice your career or friendships–most of the actions you can take will affect neither.

For an example, check out the open letter about the election that over 100 leadership coaches have signed. For many, it was a courageous act. One East Coast coach said, “NEVER would have done this via my professional network previously. MUST do so in this circumstance.”

We can do better.

Episode 53: Talking To Irrational People With Dr. Mark Goulston [The Amiel Show]

MarkGoulston-P2

“Mark’s clarity is uncommonly illuminating, sometimes painful, but always helpful.”

That’s what the late leadership thinker Warren Bennis said about this week’s guest on the podcast, Dr. Mark Goulston.

The word that comes to my mind in describing Dr. G is chutzpah, a Yiddish terms for audacity or fearlessness.

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Now, here’s the thing about chutzpah: it’s an amoral concept. You can use it for good or for ill.

Dr. G uses it for good. After two decades as a crisis psychiatrist, he now advises leaders on how to get through to people, trains police and FBI hostage negotiators, co-hosts (as “Whitey Locks”) an all-Black radio show, is the Resident Big Brother at Business Women Rising, and was the subject of a PBS special, “Just Listen with Dr. Mark Goulston.”

This is a man you want on your side.

Think of Dr. G as the Harry Houdini of relationships. Houdini specialized in sensational escapes from insanely challenging physical situations. Dr. G can help you escape from insanely challenging emotional and political situations.

And, even better than Houdini, he can help you avoid many tricky situations to begin with.

Join me as we have a rich conversation about his latest book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life.

Highlights

  • 10:00 Mammals get stress ulcers. Reptiles don’t.
  • 13:30 Identifying people who suck the energy out of you
  • 18:00 Dr. G “listens into” Amiel
  • 23:00 Bullies and Dr. G’s tense encounter with F. Lee Bailey during the O.J. Simpson trial
  • 33:30 Warren Bennis on being a “first class noticer”
  • 41:00 Important, critical, urgent
  • 43:30 Handling “toxic deflectors”
  • 49:30 Putting irrational people in charge–the road rage incident
  • 52:30 Getting out of impasses: tips for Feel-Do and Think-Do people

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Never expect people who suck the energy out of you to not do that

–Dr. Mark Goulston  Tweet this quote

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Episode 52: The Rise And Fall Of Blackberry With Jacquie McNish [The Amiel Show]

Jackie McNish

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On Tuesday Blackberry announced it was discontinuing the Blackberry Classic smartphone.

I never owned a Blackberry, but my wife did when I first met her 13 years ago. Although she never treated it as a Crackberry, it did seem to follow her everywhere.

The Blackberry ruled the universe for many years. And then one day Apple released the iPhone. The world hasn’t been the same since.

But what really happened at this upstart Canadian company based in the small town of Waterloo, Ontario? Who were the people behind the company’s atmospheric rise and ultimate fall? What choices did they make? How did they relate as leaders and human beings?

This is the subject of last year’s highly touted book, Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry.

Jacquie McNish, one of the book’s coauthors and an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter, joins me this week to talk about the amazing human story behind Blackberry.

Highlights

  • 7:00  Who were the two CEOs–and how did they come together?
  • 14:15 Inspired by the Art of War
  • 19:30 A revelation about technology while holding a screaming baby
  • 22:45 Refusing to play the Wall Street and Silicon Valley games
  • 28:30  Dinner with Palm’s CEO, “Topper”
  • 32:45 A patent battle stresses the CEO’s relationship
  • 36:20 A devastating trauma and betrayal
  • 42:45 The Apple/AT&T agreement changes the rules of the game
  • 53:45 Waterloo, Ontario: a tech startup ecosystem

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Blackberry’s CEOs were connected at the hip in business dealings.

–Jacquie McNish Tweet this quote

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Episode 39: Elizabeth Doty On Making Only Promises You Can Keep [The Amiel Show]

Elizabeth Doty is on a mission to focus leaders on their most critical commitments. In Episode 39 of the podcast, this seasoned consultant, author, and frequent contributor to Strategy + Business joins me to ask:

  • What if we were to take our commitments to each other so seriously that we made only the ones we knew we could keep?
  • What if companies recognized that the reliability of their promises to customers and society was central to their success?
  • What if teams stopped waiting around for new leaders to define direction and instead said, “Here’s a proposal for the next three months. Can you support this?”

I think you’ll get great value from this invigorating, high impact conversation. Please share with your friends!

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Highlights

  • 5:00 “The company made me a liar.”
  • 7:20 When businesses drift from their promises
  • 13:30 Why scapegoating CEOs or “rogue employees” doesn’t improve outcomes
  • 16:30 Creating shared maps of different parts of the system
  • 18:00 The peril of new leaders ignoring existing commitments
  • 27:00 The measurable benefits of companies keeping commitments
  • 33:00 A “no harm” diamond company commits to a simple rule
  • 41:00 What teams can do during leadership changes instead of waiting for direction
  • 46:30 Why keeping your head down is risky
  • 48:00 The power of “irrational generosity” during downward spirals
  • 52:30 A hopeful story about promises, money, and career trajectories

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There is an art in crafting commitments and being clear what we’re committing to.

–Elizabeth Doty   Tweet this quote

A recipe for stalling: change your leaders often or put your strategy into question.

–Elizabeth Doty   Tweet this quote

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Liberating structures, a concept introduced by Bill Torbert
Strategy maps—articles by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in Strategic Finance and HBR

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