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Terminal Value

The 15 Mistakes Leaders Make that Prevent Them from Reaching Their Full Potential with Trent Clark


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Janine Bacani


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We have Trent Clark with us today from leadershipity.com. That’s l-e-a-d-e-r-s-h-i-p-i-t-y.com, and we’re going to be talking about the 15 mistakes leaders make that prevent them from reaching their full potential. And a lot of you’re probably wondering, where did he come up with the number 15 from? And the answer is that there are 15. It is in transpirative leadership that we’re going to be discussing because what a lot of leaders will do, usually not consciously, but unconsciously, they will fail to fulfill these requirements of leadership and really stop themselves short from being able to reach out and achieve all that they can be. Trent, please introduce yourself. 

Trent Clark. How are you doing?

Doing outstanding. All right. 

Thanks for having me. It’s good. 

No problem at all. No problem at all. Let’s just kick things off and talk about the 15 ities.

Yeah. So quick background on me as I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’m a longtime coaching professional baseball, which is why most people know me as I coach for the Detroit Tigers, I coach for the Cleveland Indians, I coach for the Los Angeles Angels in the three World Series. So I got the big Bling on today for that one. As I’ve coached a ton of organizations, I’ve noticed with leaders that we want a lot of things from them, and we have a lot of high expectations for our leaders. Unfortunately, we’re good at some of those things and not so good at all of those things. Right. So we kind of broke that out into the pyramid of leadership to talk about accountability for leaders, for sure. 

And one thing I would note is that there should be high expectations on leaders because leaders, they’re almost always the most highly compensated people, and the leaders at the highest level are compensating exceptionally well. And so as they say, right, with great power comes great responsibility. There should be high expectations for people who are in positions of leadership. 

Yes, I think that’s right. What I like to say about leadership is it should be earned, never given. Right. But we’ve seen that how that’s backfired in organizations before, right? Where it’s, hey, let’s get them up. They’re going to be great. They really haven’t earned it, but let’s put them in a position to see how it works out. Yes. I find that to be a pretty backwards approach to thinking, and we do that based on popularity or looks or degrees or whatever we’re basing that on. And sometimes it’s intelligence, and all those are good things, except there’s a holistic approach to leadership that I think is really important. 

Got it. Okay, well, let’s see. So we’ve been keeping people waiting. Let’s release to 15 ities And then start unpacking everything. 

Yeah. So let’s talk about that first base. That first base is the first five. The first five base is so important because what happens is it’s really based on morality authority. So morality and authority. So we have the cornerstone of integrity and then the other cornerstone of humility. And obviously if someone the opposite in the factor of a poor leader is someone without integrity right. Who doesn’t do what they say. I mean, it’s a huge stopper for leaders and it can’t really happen today and yet it’s a really tough thing that happens all the time and we catch it on social media a lot. Sure. The humility side is probably something that people have gone away from. It’s coming back because we’re realizing that arrogance doesn’t serve as a leader. Even though confidence is always in season. Arrogance without the lack of humility is a problem for organs. The three other ones in that firm foundation are spirituality, stability, quality

On a spirituality, I just think people having an engagement around something that’s bigger than themselves, something further than that, is really important.

I really like that that’s in there because one of the great myths that I consider a part of my life mission to dispel is this notion that there’s a difference between your work life and your personal life. That was a big thing in the way a lot of that had to do with the whole Bill Clinton debacle. And if any young people listen, google it, you’ll read plenty. But there was this fiction that developed that, OK, well, it doesn’t matter if my personal life is a dumpster fire as long as I do my job well. That’s all that matters. And what that means, if you have a big disconnect between the one of the two, or if you’re keeping big skeletons in your closet in one or two of those areas, it is going to impact the other one. Eventually you can only fake it for so long. Eventually the dam will break and it will be an enormous mess. And so the reason why I like that bottom layer of the pyramid is because it says you are a whole person and don’t try to pretend that you aren’t. 

Yeah. And can you imagine like faking 810 hours a day, five, six days a week? I mean, this is where you spend most of your waking up. 

That’s why a lot of us become entrepreneurs, is because when you feel like you’re faking for eight to 10 hours a day, five to six days a week, that’s hard to maintain. 

That’s right. So the other two stability and quality. We know the lack of quality, what that looks like, and then you see someone who like, I like the current dumpster fire. When people create a dumpster fire of a life and a lack of stability in their own lives and their own body and what they’re doing in their finances or personal lives and stuff like that, we lose stability in that. We just can’t have it as a foundation. Those five things are pretty critical. 

Got it. Okay, we’ve already covered five. Let’s move up to the next layer of the pyramid. 

Second four are really we’re talking about a firm foundation. We get those five, we build on that. And really, the second four are really about the people that we want in our organization and the people we need to be as leaders. And this is really important. With flexibility and reliability are kind of the main stage of this section because we’re going to look at four, and it’s an acronym that I call card. And what I like to say, Doug, is that if you and I are playing cards and I’ve got all the aces, I win. I like my chances. I want aces. And so the card that I want, that is an ace for me, is coachability so important in today’s environment where things changing so fast, it is absolutely essential that we have lifelong learners that are like, oh, well, I studied that in college ten years ago. I don’t need to do that anymore. Whoa. Things change, software changes. Coach ability is so important. The lack of coach ability shows up in hey, yeah, but yeah, but I don’t need to do that. Yeah, but you guys should do that. I don’t need to yeah, but my other coach says I don’t have to do that. Yes, but the other account manager says that’s not the way we need to go. Yeah, but I studied that five years ago, and that’s not the way we did it. The yeah. Butts tend to be uncoachable. Adaptability is the second, and that’s so critical right now, and someone who can pivot and roll with things that happen. But it’s not just about rolling with it. It’s really about building essential skills around you that you have something to adapt to. I use the baseball guys, so I use the example of an athlete who’s a home run hitter, and then all of sudden, A, they never work on bunting, and all of a sudden it’s the World Series and you need this player to bunt to move the roller over in the most important situation yet. As a coaches, we didn’t give them any of the skill set. We didn’t practice that regularly. So we’re like, oh, let’s adapt now to something you should know. But I haven’t really practiced it right, so that’s something that adaptability, we have to keep developing. 

I need to let my inner nerd show because all of a sudden I’m thinking back to the early 90s movie Mr. Baseball with Tom Selak, where he plays the over the hill home run hitter and then who ends up getting shipped off to Japan because he gets displaced by the young slugger, and then he’s still trying to be a big shot over there, and at the very end, they end up winning the game because he does a sacrifice bunt. 

Yes. Adaptability. He had to learn how to be a team player and learn those essential skills that of course we’re supposed to have, right? Aren’t those supposed to be fundamental skills we learned? And of course we do learn them, but if we don’t practice them, it’s hard for me to even ask you to adapt to something, Doug, that you haven’t done for ten years and told her, hey, why didn’t you just pivot over it? You did it back. Wait, that was 20 years ago. Come on. Right? Responsibility. The R and the card, right? Hey, I will own that. I will is a big word of responsibility. Hey, we need someone to do this. I will. I will take that on. I am going to meet that expectation. So if I have someone who the coach ability has it, the adaptability, the responsibility, and they do that again and again for us, Doug, we have that dependability now, right? Got it. We have got that card. And if we see people that are good sometimes, but then sometimes they’re not, and they’re not dependable, like, oh, I would have done that, but last night there was a Friends marathon on and I couldn’t stop watching. Like, wait, what? Like, if I can’t count on you each and every time, sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. That’s not really going to show up too.

Well, because I know that one of the things that I’ve always struggled this way is that in this realm is that I’m not the kind of person who will, you know, I won’t whiff on something because there was a Friends marathon. I will fall down on something because I tend to sign up for about two and a half times as much as I should reasonably be able to do. And so that’s actually bit me in my corporate career because some people said, you know, we found that you’re not very dependable. And I’m like, well, but I’m doing like two and a half people’s worth of work. Yeah, but dependability is very important. So that’s one of the things that I had to find is that you also have to discipline yourself because people will not take into account all the other stuff that you’re doing. They’ll only say, did this one thing that I’m focusing on get done.

Yeah, I think there’s a book that’s called Noah’s a great word, right? Yeah. And I like to tell people who over commit and there’s lots of leaders right, that do it. We’re like, hey, I’ll take on the world, baby. And saying yes to everybody is saying no to someone. And typically in the leader world, that’s significant. Other, my children, you name the things that are closest to your heart and you’re like going, oh, wait a minute, man, I’m doing all this for who like to get right. Exactly. Yeah. So that dependability will strike you even though your heart is in the right place. I want to take on more responsibility and help and be an adder here. Just backfires in that way sometimes. 

Got it. All right, let’s keep rolling. 

Yeah. Next level is really all about how that leader shows up. Oh, and the last one on the card, I like leaders to ask themselves, hey, are you a card? Ask yourself, am I a card? Am I showing out? And modeling coach ability, adaptability, responsibility, dependability. Hard to ask your teammates to do it when you’re not doing it yourself. 

Yeah, exactly. 

So that next level is going to be how I present as a leader. And this really starts coming into how I interact. And it’s our ability to create simplicity and clarity in our teams. And the three big ones are authenticity. Am I an authentic, genuine person? Like, do I do what I say, say what I do? Can you trust that what I’m telling you is true? Or do I tell Doug one thing and then with this person, I show out a whole another way in a very disingenuous way? So that’s going to be very important.

 Visibility is absolutely a critical factor for a leader. That consistent visibility of I’m here, I’m doing the work, I’m available to you. Those things become so important as a leader.

And the opposite is, hey, things are running great. I’m going to be at the golf course entertaining clients. I’m going to be doing this really important stuff. But there’s never any disability as a leader.

 Yeah, got it. 

The third one is vulnerability, and that kind of comes back into our accountability as leaders, as, how do we show out? Are we willing to say, hey, I made a mistake? Are we willing to show the fact that I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve stepped in it before to talk about hard things. We want our teams to be able to say and talk about hard things. And the leaders that show themselves, like, in a facade that, hey, looking good, never doing anything wrong, not a hair out of place. That’s a world that people can’t model and they can’t get behind anymore, and they’re waiting for that person to fall. The one moment where I was like, oh, look at that. I caught you and the hair is out of place. Wow. If we don’t allow space for that with our team’s problem. 

Well, and one of the ways that I found that kind of thing manifests a lot is that especially in various kind of corporate structures I saw throughout my career, my wife seemed in her career is that what will happen? Is it’ll be either some kind of reorganization or there’ll be some kind of bad news. Everybody knows it’s there. But basically what leadership does is they talk about presenting a unified front, which basically means there’s bad news. We’re going to sit on it and pretend that everything is okay instead of just telling people what we know and then letting them know, okay, hey, we’re working on it, but this is where we’re at because what ends up happening is any stability that you create ends up being artificial because whatever’s going on is going to get out eventually. And that was always at least the way I operate it is whenever there was any kind of bad news or any kind of news period, I just tell it to my team and say, hey, look, I’m going to tell you exactly what I know. I don’t know where we’re going to go, but as soon as I know it, you’ll know it.

Yeah, I think that’s huge. That to me, what you just described there is good transparency. I hear a lot of organizations and the team members say, wow, I don’t think the leaders here are being transparent because we just found out about something that they didn’t tell us. We do have to recognize that leaders often know a lot more information than the rest of the team. Right. They are entrusted to a lot of information and sometimes there has to be a very timely feature to like, hey, some new information has come in. We do not want to disclose this to the team till we have a week to digest it, set about it. And even if we don’t have an answer at that point, there is that time where we have to go to our team and just let them know, like, hey, we’re pondering this. This is going on. We don’t know what we’re going to do yet and we’re okay with that, but we want you to know that this is happening. Hey, let’s keep it hidden, is a real problem. And when I do feel like people find out information, sometimes that’s kind of outside their scope and they find and go, wow, I think I should have known about that. Well, sometimes that’s true and sometimes that, hey, we didn’t feel like that was important for you to know. Right now, it’s being managed by the team that’s actually responsible for it. And we’re trying to also make sure that we all are focusing on the things we have to do. All of us have a role and responsibility here and we want to make sure that we’re managing our roles and so sometimes people get hurt about that. But communication is really key in that. Right. 

Got it. Yeah, I know. I completely agree. And I think that the thing that this is all really coming back to, to me is really that it comes back to that. Putting your whole self into a leadership role and understanding that. Because there are 15 boxes and we haven’t even gotten to the last three yet, but there’s a lot of boxes. You’re never going to do all of them, all of them perfectly. But it’s like as long as you’re continually pushing to improve both yourself and your team, that’s the way that you’re really going to get there. It’s when you have this kind of false pretentious front where you’re trying to act like a bigger deal than you really are. I think that’s where you unfortunately, that’s the kind of thing that’s gotten people promoted in the past, but that’s what ultimately ends up imploding organizations. 

Yes, I think a recognition and awareness is first, I think it’s very fine and okay that you’re not fabulous at all 15 and I’m not great at all 15. And so what I have to recognize is that I would like to be better at quality, but my life is fast. I do a lot of things very quickly at a high level. I’m considered more the visionary in my company, which means the visionary gives up a lot of quality along the way. And I don’t think that’s by design, but I do think that happens. And if I don’t recognize and make awareness of that, I have to know that I have Nissa, Brian and Tammy Jean on my team and they are responsible for quality because Trent cannot be I’m the wrong person to be ahead of quality. It’s not my best role. And so does that mean I don’t care about quality? Of course not. Does that mean that I don’t know what quality looks like? Of course not. That means I have a role and I have this, but I have some people that I got to lift up, and if it’s responsibility, I listen. Doug’s on my team, and he’s charting our traps and tracking our course of our tasks to make sure that as a leadership team, he’s holding us responsible. I charged him with that because, quite frankly, I’m not going to do that as well as he does it. And I got to pick up an area. As a team, we come together just like I may be picking up and letting you know, like, hey, I have permission from Doug. Hey, I get siloed sometimes and I go working hard and sometimes I may not come off as a guy who is ready to listen and be coachable, you have permission to let me know, like, hey, Doug, this is trying to give you a little help here. Are you willing to take a listen? Because I think this is a pretty good coachable moment. And you’re like, oh, I gave him permission. That’s like, hey, this is really good. Let’s grab coffee this afternoon for 15 minutes. I’d love to hear your idea. And all that is like, hey, I got to hear it. I got my head down. I need to look up for a minute and I need to take that thing, hear from her team and try to just give me a general reminder that, hey, I can do that sometimes. And it doesn’t mean that you’re never coachable. It just means that, hey, I need sometimes I get locked in and I miss it sometimes. Exactly. As we look at these last three, the next two are really about the team. Got it. It’s really about creativity and community are so important with your team. And so we need diversity. And I think that shows up in a lot of different ways that shows up in we silo by education, we silo by geography. I hire people from the Midwest because I’m Midwestern. We silo people by color. We siloed people by male, female. We siloed people by creative experience. We siloed people by their height. I see a lot of leaders who silo diversity by going, well, I want someone with my kind of experience and thinks like me. And I’m like thinking, that’s crazy. I always say, like, hey, Doug, if you think just like me, one of us isn’t needed here. And since I own a joint, it’s probably you, right? That’s not good for me because I need someone to look at this from a different lens, from their different educational experiences, from their different backgrounds. All those things that they bring to it is a total value add to a team. When you win a world championship, you tend to win that with 25 players from probably nine to twelve different countries, five or six different languages, and all sorts of gambit of economic impact, social economic impact, educational diversity and background from third grade education to doctor level students. Right. You’ve got all these things. But it has to come down with that other factor of this team, which is unity. How do we create unity as a team? And I see so many organizations that really don’t create that theme of what our organization does, that serves this community. What is our purpose, and how does my role and responsibility contribute to that? And that is so important that when, you know, like, we have the most fabulous yoga club and organization in the country, and our only goal here is to create peace of mind, understanding and stress relief for our clients. So it frees them up to be the efficient person they want to be. The person taking out the trash at the office should understand how them doing that creates that value for their end user. It allows people to do their job, to have a clean environment, to go to work and market this business, to sell what we’re selling, to work and make decisions and ideas without walking in going, well, I guess everyone’s got to wash the tables down because someone ate here yesterday. No. We all have a role in what our organization serves and our purpose and how that happens. And I see a lot of organizations god, that 50% of the organization doesn’t even know the purpose. Yes, I’m working because I’m an accountant and I do this. Hey, do you know how your contribution serves your clients because you’re so good at this? No, I have no idea. That’s crazy. How do we get unity out of that? I don’t know. 

Yes, the place where I think that’s actually okay. So I’m going to make a comment on both fronts, I think on the diversity part. I like the way that you unpack that because there’s a tendency to look at diversity in terms of, OK, well, I just need people who all look different that way. I check the diversity boxes. Yeah, right. And what you really need, diversity is really about people who think different because you don’t get the benefits of diverse views if everybody thinks the same way. And so it’s really about diversity of thought patterns. And so I think if there’s one thing to take away from this conversation, that’s it. But anyway, secondly, moving on to the unity piece, the thing that I’ve noticed is that especially for job functions that are in the support tier, it’s like if you’re talking about accounting, finance, information technology facilities, right? Things that are like if you’re talking about sales, that’s pretty easy to connect, to connect to a specific thing that you’re doing. Right. You’re talking about operations, fulfillment, that’s pretty easy to connect. But when you’re talking about these support rules, I think that’s the easiest place to kind of fall into the unity of this because the support rules are really easy to forget about and it’s very hard to make a direct connection outside of well, yes, you’re doing accounting and it helps the company stay afloat. Yeah. Okay, what else? What else you got for me?

Yeah, the reality is that you don’t have to dig so deep to realize how far that touches. Right. Because if we didn’t do this, I mean, I can do it if then statement, right? If the books weren’t balanced, then we don’t have the cars paid and we can’t go out and service the clients. Right. If this is done, then that if this, then that. If you could look at the five major roles that you’re serving are the five major responsibilities that you’re serving in your role, and you can tie an if then statement to that purpose almost every time. 

Got it. I think that’s a good thought to bring forward. Okay, so drum roll. The last item, the last pitfall for well now, it was expressing the negative in the show title, just to be more provocative. But what we’re really talking about is the 15 things that effective leaders should do, or the other way around would be to say, the 15 potential traps you should avoid. Last one, please.

Drumroll. Yeah, right. So the final at the top of the pyramid sits what we all want, which is productivity. And we are measured on what we accomplish, what we’ve done, how well the organization does. And everyone has a KPI of what productivity looks like in your organization, how many clients we’ve served, how much money we make. I mean, there’s all a bunch of easy KPIs that we can look at. But at the end of the day, productivity is going to be gaged on how well you do this together and create value. And I often look at pro sports teams are very good about. Good teams recognize that productivity is very high. And what they’ve done very well at the professional level that most people don’t see out of proteins is that they are doing absolutely hyper learning at the 400 class level. Because what’s happening is you’re taking the best in the world and you’re putting them all there together. So the best in the world got there somehow, and so they’ve had all this coaching and experience and they’ve had some of the best. And so instead of going, well, we don’t need to listen to Doug, but we’ll listen to everybody else. Well, wait a minute, Doug got here too, somehow. Who coached him at this level? What did he learn along the way? And then we take the best of all that and we start really wide and we go narrow, narrow, narrow. So we get a very clear purpose around how we’re going to do that. And then our productivity just launches and it starts flywheel effect and it starts turning and it’s just like, whoa, you can’t stop this train. It’s just moving at hyperspeed. And that’s when you’re releasing the productivity level at the best. When all these 14 below. When you lose. Every time you lose a cog in that chain. That pyramid and something drops out. Especially on the foundation. Right. When you have no integrity and no humility in the organization. You’re trying to build up the productivity. It never gets there because you can’t build a house on a poor foundation. Right? And this is the top of the house, this is the pinnacle is productivity. And it has to be built on these foundations of those 14.

Well, and the reason why I like that construct is because I think there’s a tendency for a lot of people, a lot of us, I’m going to say us, because I fall into this trap too, to think of productivity as, OK, well, it’s the work that you do if you need to be more productive, just work harder or work longer hours. But that’s actually not the case. Productivity is not the work you do. It is the, as I would say, sellable output that gets done. As in, like, if you’re talking about a support role, it’s the meaningful work output or it is the revenue producing output that gets done. So what that means is anytime you have a miscommunication, that means everybody has to stop, stop what they’re doing, reconnect, restart, that is a drag on productivity. Anytime that you have a project that goes back down one way, you have to stop, back up, do it over and do it right. We used to call that do dr, do over do. Right? Every one of those is a drag on your productivity. And so what most people do is they don’t take that into account and in their mind, they think of their team’s productivity as much higher than it actually is. Now, This isn’t to bag on people and say, what’s wrong with you? What it is is to say that a lot of people think, okay, well, you know, we can’t be any more productive. We’re all maxed out. Actually, you can probably be quite a bit more productive because the way that you become far more productive is by making sure that all those foundational elements are in place so that you don’t have to go back and redo things constantly. 

That’s right. Yeah. And I would say one of the things you talked about as a construct towards revenue, I think a lot of productivity is in efficiency of savings, whether that’s cost, whether that’s time. And one of the things that’s a huge one right. Where we lose a lot of productivity is in poor communication. And so all of a sudden, yesterday, doug and Trent both worked on the exact same thing to get to the end of this project from one to four, when either one of us could have done it right. But we just lost the value of Doug working 3 hours on something else or Trent working 3 hours on something else because they were both working on the same things because we just simply didn’t communicate who was doing what and what our role and responsibility was. And that when organizations do not start upfront with being very clear. I love Bill Belichick’s statement. I know we’ll have a great team when everybody on the team knows their role and their job and they’re doing it. I know lots of people who know their job. They’re just done they’re only doing 70% of it or, you know, 62% of it. Like, that’s a huge gap in productivity. Right. And then the other side of this is I walk into organizations every day where people don’t know their job, and I see people still walk up to someone like yourself and go, hey, Doug, I’m in my second year. What do you need me to do today? Wait a minute. You come to Doug’s office every day, and I say, what do you need to do today? You have to know your role and responsibility, because that lack of let me tell you what to do every day. There’s probably some value on focus, but it is just inefficient all the time that people can’t work autonomously on what they’re supposed to be doing. 

Got it. All right. Well, hey, so we’re getting close to time, but I’d like to give just a minute to allocate for the last one or two thoughts before we sign off for the day and let them know your website one more time.

Yes. We’re at leadershipity.com. Our aim is our athletic influencer marketing firm where we do a lot of nil work for college athletes and influencers. That’s aim4nil.com. And you can find me on all the socials Trent Clark or leadershipity or Aim4Nil and I love to hear from you. So reach out to me. LinkedIn big network there and love to hear from you. 

Outstanding. Hey, Trent, really appreciate your time today. 

Thank you so much for having me. Doug. Hope the audience enjoyed that little bit and got something out of it. 

Alright.

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