Dr. Dave Stachowiak | Podcasting, Servant Leadership, and Creating Boundaries to Avoid Burnout

John Corcoran 9:59

And it’s And for you, you’re seeing it I imagine amongst your leaders who are managers who are managing people, so they’re stressed, they’re dealing with these things, but they’re also having to figure out how to navigate it for the people that they are overseeing as well.

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 10:16

Yeah. And this, and this is super, like an interesting space to me or like, how do we get better at navigating this. And I’m just now starting to see some of the books coming out. In fact, we have, we’re gonna do a couple of episodes on it, hopefully later this year on, the people have done a lot of research on burnout and stress management. And so I don’t have a lot of good answers yet. Because I think this is new territory. I mean, burnout isn’t new. But in this context of working virtually, this is new territory for a lot of us. But I know one of the things that I’m starting to think more about just for myself, and I’m inviting our clients to think about it more is, how do you start to put in some boundaries? How do you not only do that for yourself, but also encourage that in your organization of Bill, let’s, let’s agree that email goes off at 6pm. Or that we’re not going to do, we’re not going to do the texting in the evenings, or whatever version of that feels right? For me, every organization is different. Every organization has a, you know, different culture. But I think every leader, every team has the opportunity to think about boundaries in a new way. And to do that, to really actually help people to find some of that structure that we’ve really been missing, especially as the first few months of the pandemic. You know, we were kind of all like in this chaos, responding, you know, React mode, and we’ve lost some of those traditional boundaries. And that’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

John Corcoran 11:45

And how do you create those boundaries? If you are reporting up to someone higher on the food chain? Who isn’t the one creating those boundaries? Or maybe doesn’t respect them or struggles with them then themselves?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 12:00

Yeah, that’s always a hard thing, John, managing up and getting someone to see that perspective. I always try to approach that from the business case. And it sounds silly, but so many. So many executive leaders do tend to be folks that think about, they tend to be logical thinkers, they think about numbers, they think about data. They do, I think, by and large, want to do really well by people. And it helps them to sometimes quantify how we can do better? That’s an easier entry point, sometimes then having a conversation. Like, I think people are really stressed out right now. And I think that that’s a hard thing for a lot of leaders to like, especially at the executive level to start like, Okay, I get that. I sort of know that. But I don’t know what to do with that.

John Corcoran 12:57

But in some ways they can relate in new ways. You know, it’s not like, you know, a 60-year-old CEO whose 25-year-old employee is pregnant and is out on pregnancy leave, they don’t know how to relate to it. In this case, there are so many things that are relatable, or they’re universal at no matter what stage, no matter what gender, no matter what our age is, no matter what stage of life we’re in. Yes, I do think that is true. No, I will say, you know, oftentimes resources make a big difference to you know, and that they do. Yeah, for sure. And there’s definitely a gender disparity, which is a huge issue. You know, I was there and all the things that

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 13:41

we’re all dealing with it. Yeah, yeah, it absolutely does. But to your point, we’re all in this together in some way that we aren’t often, when those things come up. We all have a common narrative around this, which is both in some ways, make some things easier, but also, in some ways make some things harder. Well, you know, where there’s the tendency, I think, sometimes like, Well, you know, we’re all working a lot of hours. Yeah, we all are struggling with this right now. Yeah, I’m working from home too. And to and to miss the opportunity for an event, the theme on what we could do differently. So back to the like, how would I purchase with a manager? I’d start with the business case. You know, I might feel if I have someone who is, you know, we are for whatever reason, we are working crazy hours, people are texting at all hours, people are emailing at all hours. Because the boundaries aren’t there. I’m, I’m probably not going to start that conversation with an executive leader who doesn’t seem like, it’s not kind of seeing the people side of that. I’m probably not going to start with the people’s side of that. I’m not going to say you know, people are stressed, they’re frustrated all that. I’m probably going to start that conversation with something more like, you know, one of the things I’m noticing over the last couple of weeks Is that we’re not, we’re not getting the same numbers that we were on, you know, whatever the metric is, and here’s the number I’m noticing that’s shifting. And here’s something that I think that might be a cause for that is we’re spending a little bit too much time on communication that we’re spending too much time processing, here’s a suggestion I have, let’s make this change and this and make this piece of movement on this, whatever that is. I think for the person who has not seen it, that’s a, that’s a more likely entry point, to say, Okay, yeah, I’m gonna make a business decision that you and I know is also going to make people’s lives better and actually reduce stress. At the end of the day, it’s sort of like, it’s less important what drives the decision and more important that the decision gets made. So if I can influence the business case, I want to go down that route. And I often invite people, you may feel really strongly about something, you might be angry and frustrated, and at wit’s end, and bringing that emotion into a lot of managing conversations, most of the time is probably not going to serve you well. So it’s not that you’re saying, Hey, I don’t have that emotion. It’s that you put it in a box for a half hour and go have the business conversation first. And then when you come out of that conversation, you open up the box and take all that back out, right. But if you can start there, I think that that’s a helpful entry point, that it makes it more likely for that person to be able to see it.

John Corcoran 16:39

What else are you observing amongst your leaders that you’ve been working with over the last year that they’ve been struggling with?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 16:48

It’s interesting how many things have not changed also. One of the things that struck me as we were three, four months into this is how COVID didn’t come up in a lot of conversations. So it was contextually always there. Of course, there was always a mention about, you know, like what’s going on with the virus locally. But it’s also really interesting to me how much hasn’t changed? The things that came up in our academy groups, and then with our listeners, I don’t often get questions about how we handle this situation, specifically COVID. So COVID may be a part of it. But the question is really about delegation. Or it’s really about how do I have career conversations with someone? Or it’s about how do I set good expectations? They may be disguised as a COVID question occasionally. But really, it comes down to still the central thing that I think most leaders are always learning and trying to get better at is core management, core leadership skills. Interesting.

John Corcoran 18:05

What is your business has evolved quite an amount over the years, the academy, tools, first tell us what the Academy is.

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 18:14

The Academy is a year long, it’s a year long experience with participant leaders who work personally with me over a year to get movement and traction in their leadership development. It is very much not like a traditional curriculum. We are much because so many of our clients are well educated. I’ve gone through lots of leadership training in the past, we don’t really focus much time there at all, we spend our time on problem solving and movement and behavior change. That’s really the focus of the work is to get traction with the things that people already know most of the time, but just haven’t done as consistently as they want.

John Corcoran 18:54

And what have you learned now you’ve been through multiple versions? you’ve, you’ve run it for a number of years now. Yeah. What have you learned in that time? 

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 19:05

Yeah, I mean, the thing I’ve learned and keeps being repeated is just how much things don’t change as far as some of the core leadership skills that I mentioned a moment ago. But the other thing that I’ve learned is to actually have change, have behavior change, be small. And I learned this back, you mentioned Dale Carnegie and introduction, John, I learned this back at Dale Carnegie. One of the things that I discovered as a Dale Carnegie instructor, is we would do sessions with books and oftentimes they would be separated by a week. And the invitation the action was, take what you learned in the session, go out and Carnegie was brilliant. He said go out and apply it to one person, try it one time between now and next week and then come back and tell the class what you did. was very action oriented, very behavior oriented and The people who would go out and try this skill that they learned with a bunch of people or everybody would come back and they kind of felt like they’d have, sometimes they’d have a good story to tell, sometimes they make some movement, but they often didn’t have like a big breakthrough. The people who would literally do what we asked, as Carnegie instructors, and would go find one person, and try it one time, would come back and they tell these amazing stories. And then the weird thing was, they did start doing it in other places, too. It’s like, they hadn’t intended to do that, but it just started naturally happening. And I find it happens so many times it’s like, okay, it’s not just a fluke, there’s something behind this. And it turns out, like, and you look at the research, and especially some of the amazing research that’s coming out on habits now, from James Clear, BJ Fogg. And if you just get really specific, and then get focused on one thing, how much traction you can make, how important consistency is. So one of the biggest things that I’ve changed my mind in the academy is I really the thing I am coaching people on the most is to try to, is to do less, because they come into our groups, and they’ll say, Hey, I really want to work on my coaching skills, and I want to work on being a better storyteller. And I want to delegate more effectively. And they come with two or three things they’re going to work on, and they’ve got it all mapped out like what they’re going to do over the next couple of weeks. And that’s where I kind of launched myself in usually trying to get really directive like, one, pick one. And pick one you can do in five minutes, a day, no more. Because if you try to do something that’s going to take you 15 or 20 or 30 minutes a day, you’ll do it on day one, and day two, and day three, and then the motivation level starts to drop, like we like BJ Fogg says, We overestimate our future motivation. And so, day 17 day 43, you’re not still doing. So that’s why a big part of our academy process is asking everyone to make 90-day commitments, but it comes down to five minutes a day, taking a five-minute daily action. On those days you feel like doing more great things. But on these days you don’t have five minutes to create momentum and create consistency. And the people who really latch on to that it’s amazing to see what they can shift in 90 days.

John Corcoran 22:32

But BJ Fogg his whole thing is Tiny Habits, I think, yeah, that’s his thing. Right?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 22:37

Yeah. Yeah. And, and that I’ve totally changed my mind on as someone who’s kind of, like an achievement is on my Strengths Finder, as pretty high. And achiever I think they call it and so are a lot of folks who are in our listening community. And so we’ve sort of gotten to where we are by taking on a lot by multitasking by doing a lot of things well, and that works for a lot of things. But when it comes to behavior change, it turns out, that doesn’t work so well. And so the getting really specific and clear on one thing and getting traction and momentum, turns out that that works way better than trying to do 13 things at once. As far as professional development.

John Corcoran 23:20

Yeah, I think probably the most. It’s interesting as our organization, Rise25, has evolved and changed. And we’ve grown a lot and added a lot more team members, I’ve had to grow as a leader, you know, it’s amazing, you really, you have to change and evolve. And one of the most impactful thing I’ve done the whole year, and it didn’t come because I thought I need to do it again, because other leaders told me the need to do this was just sitting down and having one on one conversations with different team members focused on them and focused on how we can make their lives easier and make this a great place to work. And, you know, it had such a great impact on us just taking the time to do that. It really helped me to change by putting the focus on others. Does that sort of thing? Is that the sort of thing that you recommend doing?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 24:12

it? Yeah, I mean, putting our focus on others. What, what a great place to be intentional about as a leader, the term that’s been tossed around over the years servant leadership, right, yeah. But if we can really approach it from the service of others, and I love what Pat Lencioni says about that. He says, Well, what other kind of leadership is that? Is there no, like, that’s the way it should be. Right. And, and, and I love that because ultimately, I mean, yes, leadership starts with us, like we need to lead ourselves well first. But the heart of leadership comes from here to serve me because I want a good title or, you know, a fancy office or whatever. Or am I here because I really want to do right by others and the people who’ve made the choice to, mostly I say, mostly because none of us entirely are in one place or the other, right. But if we can mostly be in a place, where we’re driven by the desire to serve others, and, and get to a place of being useful and helpful to people, then the other thing is to take care of ourselves. It’s like you and I talked about right before it. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning this before this conversation. John, as you know, who’s listening to this episode? What’s your audience care about? Because we could have a lot of great conversations that you and I would be, like, have a ton of fun with, but wouldn’t necessarily be contextually relevant to our audience. So from, like, the question, I’m always trying to challenge myself with this, what can I do to serve the person that’s in front of me right now? And if I can serve them, well, then that’s going to ultimately serve me? Well, I don’t need to worry about that. That’s a lagging indicator. The leading indicator is how do I go out and serve and be as helpful to this person today, as much as I love that I’m

John Corcoran 26:13

always struggling with what our leading indicators are. So that is one that’s actually not there. So I need to make sure that I don’t know how you quantify them and the number. But I love that you said that, that just focusing on the person right in front of you. That’s great. We’re running a little short on time. So I want to ask three questions here at the end. So first, my big passions that I love doing are creating content, and also relationship building and helping others to build better relationships, aka networking. It’s what we’re doing here. It’s what I get to do for a living. And so you get to do it for a living. Yeah, what tips do you have for anyone who’s listening to this, about how to combine those two things and things that you’ve learned through doing your podcast over these years, creating a lot of content and building a lot of great relationships? What advice do you have for others who might be listening to this?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 27:08

It’s interesting, you say the word combine? And, um, I think this will answer your question. I think a lot about intersections. For a while was I’m a manager, and, and in a business role, and I was a decent employee, I was a decent manager. I wasn’t world-class, I never won the awards, really. I won some sales awards at Carnegie, but I never, you know, no one was gonna hold me up as an example of amazing management or write books about anything I did for sure. And, and then, at one point in my career, John, I had not 100% decided, but I was pretty sure I was going down the direction of academia, and teaching, and I got my doctorate and was doing a lot of part-time teaching for years. And I was good at that. But I wasn’t great at it. And I was, I was a great teacher, but I would, you know, I would have been a, I would have been a good professor. I’m, what I’m doing now is the intersection between the two. So the people who are coming on the podcast, often are people who are at the forefront of research. I mean, the professors, the researchers, the leaders out there who are just absolutely like, stellar on something that they’ve, they’ve, they have something to teach. And then there are the people listening by and large, who are amazing managers, most of our audience, like I’m just, I’m in awe, every time I talk to people like how amazing they are, and how much they’ve integrated from what they’ve learned on our show, and others in the books they’ve read. And I think like, gosh, I wasn’t anywhere close to that, when I was, I was a manager. And I was like, decent at both those things, when I tried to dabble. Me being the person at the intersection. That helps those two groups talk to each other. It turns out, I’m really darn good at that. Because I know enough of the academic language, and kind of the way the researchers approach things. And I know enough about what it’s like to be in that world. And the intersection between the two is what’s been huge for me and actually being able to serve both of those parties. Well,

John Corcoran 29:37

and I think by the way, Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator talks about that notion of you know, you can be good at this and good at that but if you combine the two you can be the greatest at something is great at

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 29:50

Oh, that’s great. I didn’t know that. I’m gonna go try it. Yeah, I mean, and some really amazing things have happened with this. I’ve had two people on the show who you know We’re in the president’s cabinet in the last couple years. I mean, it’s really been remarkable how well that’s worked. And for me, it’s been all about intersections. And, and I guess the thing I, I’d say, to everyone listening is we do when we make career transitions, we make business transitions. I think often our tendency is to kind of wipe the slate clean, start a new start fresh, and we forget all those years of experience we’ve had doing something that maybe we didn’t do great or we weren’t stellar at, but that experience that perspective, oftentimes combined with something else, or maybe just shifted slightly, can be huge on what you do next. And you’re leveraging that time and those relationships and those talents I think, is huge.

John Corcoran 30:44

Yeah, for sure. Alright. Second, last question. I’m a big fan of gratitude. So if you look around at your peers, your contemporaries, however, you define that others in your industry, other trainers, other leaders, other podcasters, maybe who do you respect? Who do you admire?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 31:00

I really respect people who are just out there doing the work, who love what they do, who are passionate about it, and aren’t. Yes, they’re running successful businesses, but that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about serving people. Well. A couple of examples of that. My friend Kwame Christian, a couple of years ago, or several years ago now started the negotiate anything podcast, he runs the American Negotiation Institute. And he brought his just speaking of someone who’s leveraged another talent he had came as a lawyer, legal background just like you, John and took that talent. And that success that he had, and really turned it into something really unique of teaching people negotiation skills. And he is now working for some of the biggest brands out there. He’s just killing his business. It’s amazing to see him for just the transition, the growth they’ve had in the last few years, and also the heart he has for serving people and that’s been huge. And I love that he’s doing that work. Another example is my friend Christopher Furio. He started he was spent his entire career working in coffee was a barista for years it’s been in management coffee shops have won the all I’m gonna mess it up the world latte or there’s like, it’s super cool, like all the ecosystem that’s around the coffee world and took that took the passion of all those things, working in coffee shops and excitement and put it into a podcast called Keys to the Shop and now is working with coffee, coffee shop owners all over the place and helping them to get better. And then he’s killing it. And it’s really amazing to see. And then one other person I’d mentioned that I don’t know. Well, she’s been on the show is Minda Harts. Minda is the author of a book called The Memo. And she is out there confidently and unapologetically making the case for black women in the workplace. It is a demographic that so many of us have ignored or not paid attention to. And I’ll put myself in that category to John over the years. It’s embarrassing to me how few people of color we had on the show in the early years. And she is out there telling a very personal story about her experience, but also is bringing along a ton of black women and also allies who care a lot about what was all doing better on race and diversity and inclusion, not only here in the States, but around the world. Her work really, I mean, it really inspires me that she’s out there so courageously doing the work. So those are three people that come to mind. Those are great, thank

John Corcoran 34:01

you. All right, last question. Let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars or the Emmys. And you Dr. Stachowiak, you are getting an Award for Lifetime Achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. And so what we all want to know is how do you think you know, in addition to family, friends, who are the colleagues or the friends or the mentors, or the peers, or business partners, professors who are the people that you would acknowledge in your remarks,

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 34:24

all of those people, but the person specifically, I think I would mention, perhaps not all by name would be every boss I’ve ever had. I have been so fortunate. I’ve had some amazing bosses throughout my career. I’ve also had like everyone, some not so great bosses.

John Corcoran 34:42

I would hope so I was like, Okay, come on, please. Right. I’m not the only one right.

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 34:51

So and then I’ve had a lot in between right, but I’ve learned something from everyone. And there are still things I use today. That someone did that was not good like 15 years ago, and I think I don’t want to do that I don’t want to be that person. And I’ve been really struck by how many of our listeners have told me over the years that, and they have an even better way of looking at it than I do, like having a bad blog boss. You know, yeah, it’s a frustration, but in some ways can be a blessing looking back, because of all the things you learn not to do. And of all the mistakes you see them make. And I think that when any of us find ourselves in that position, where we’re working with the client we don’t want to work with or the boss that we didn’t want to have. That’s an opportunity for us to like, really clarify for the next relationship. The next organization we go work for, what am I going to watch for that helps me to find what’s going to work for me, the person I want to work for, the person I want to serve. And that’s something that has served me well over the years, for sure. 

John Corcoran 35:55

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Well, Dave, this has been great. We got to do this a lot more frequently. I always enjoy talking to you. Where can people go to connect with you, check out the podcast, learn more about the academy, all that kind of stuff?

Dr. Dave Stachowiak 36:07

Yeah. Thanks, John. It’s been a pleasure. The best place to go is just coaching for leaders on whatever podcast app and it’s coaching for leaders.com everything else.

John Corcoran 36:16

Excellent. All right, Dave, thank you so much. Thanks, John.

Outro 36:20

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com. And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.