S5E32: Way Off Base: The Death of Ego in Modern Leadership with Peter Margaritis

“The collective knowledge outside your office far exceeds the collective knowledge inside your office.” Peter Margaritis

We all have an ego. Some egos are underdeveloped, others are well developed, and yet others are overdeveloped. Overdeveloped egos can, in some cases, ultimately transform into full-blown narcissism. Conversely, when a person’s ego becomes overdeveloped, they can begin to operate from the perspective that the world revolves around them.

More often than not, narcissistic leaders stop listening to those around them, which ends up creating toxic cultures. CEOs who make everything about them and disregard the advice from their teams are doomed for failure. Listening to understand is one of the critical components of leadership, yet it’s just on the side because of an overdeveloped ego.

Leaders who lead with an improv leadership style have a foundation of respect, trust, and support for their organization and people. These leaders know how to suspend their judgment, be active listeners, and be present and adaptable. They also believe and ultimately understand that leadership is the positive effect you have on another person. In improv leadership, you praise a teammate in public and only criticize them when appropriate and in private.

S5E31: From Birdies to Serving Clients with Anne Gannon

“Accounting is all about how hard one works at it, and it is a skill more than it is something that someone is born with.” Anne Gannon

In today’s episode, I welcome Anne Gannon. Anne is a certified public accountant who specializes in providing a monthly accounting and tax service that works for the business owner, not just the accountant. What makes Anne unique is that she is anything but your stereotypical accountant. After all, she spent her earlier years chasing the dream of professional golf. The time spent traveling the country playing golf had an impact on Anne, but she quickly realized that all the entrepreneurs and members of the hospitality industry she had met along the way were being underserved by their accountants. In 2016, she founded the Largo group, a firm specializing in over-delivering for entrepreneurs and business owners.

There are a lot of similarities between sports and being an entrepreneur or business owner. You have to keep looking forward, not dwell on the past. The one good thing in business as an owner is that you can control your business and improve it daily. If you can see a path forward, then you can make it happen.

When the pandemic happened, things were not very clear for a large number of businesses. The business owners that made it through had to change their mindset because some models just didn’t work anymore. Businesses had to listen and pay attention to their customers. They had to be more data-driven and not so bottlenecked into thinking they know what their customers want but realize they had all this data where they could find out what their customers wanted and answer.

Everyone in accounting should try to teach accounting as it makes you look at it differently when trying to communicate to people who don’t understand it. When you have to teach accounting, you realize that not everybody speaks that same language. It’s taught well in school, but there are a lot of things that they leave, and also, it is taught by a lot of people who haven’t failed in the public accounting world.

Accounting is all about how hard one works at it, and it is a skill more than it is something that someone is born with. If you really work hard and train yourself, you can teach yourself accounting. A lot of times, when people don’t get it right away, they get discouraged.

Accounting is not an option. If you’re going to run a successful business, you have to understand the fundamentals. When training non-accountants, it’s good to start slowly and then get people to open up about how much they understand.

With technology, providing that extra level of customer service to clients is important. To improve your communication, start with your favorite clients so as to focus on what it is that these clients love about you.

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S5E30: Peter Margaritis: Flipping The Script: Making It All About Them and Not About You (Part 2)

“Great leaders inspire and motivate through empathy, not ego, agenda, and emotion.” Peter Margaritis

It can be hard to teach leaders to flip the script when it comes to being more empathetic and even vulnerable if those leaders are wearing thick protective armor over their humanity in the workplace. Two-face, empathy-devoid leaders take pride in their distance. But unfortunately, their aloof and impersonal workplace behavior starts degrading relationships, and then projects begin to fail.

Self-absorption creates a toxic work environment. Empathetic leadership creates an empowered workplace, and one person’s behaviors and attitudes can impact many. A very effective way to increase empathy is by replacing assumptions with a sense of curiosity that opens us up to empathy. You achieve this through conversation and questioning to reveal what lies beneath the surface of the other person’s issue or perspective. Curiosity is a good thing. It helps us ask questions and gather more facts and information, which eliminates unfounded assumptions. The more questions we ask, the closer we get to the root of any issue, and once discovered, we can help devise a plan to help solve the problem at hand.

The word improv looks a lot like the word improve. It’s a powerful reminder that when we master improv, we improve relationships, teams, organizations, products, and careers. Improvisation is all about empathy for business leaders and provides an excellent foundation to empathize with others. First, as a leader, you must be a great listener and fully present during every conversation. When ego, agenda, and emotion are infused too strongly in a conversation, the conversation halts and negativity is nearly always an immediate result.

Great leaders inspire and motivate through empathy, not ego, agenda, and emotion. Developing the kind of empathy to improve your leadership in this way can start with an improviser mindset. People still find it difficult to understand that a leader’s emotional intelligence, of which empathy is a crucial component, is more critical to the organization than the leader’s technical knowledge. The truth is that technical skills are more accessible to learn than soft skills. To get promoted in today’s business world, you must master your interpersonal skills, which are hard to master. Mastering the soft skills is easier, thankfully, with an improviser mindset. The better you treat and understand the people you serve, the more empowered and loyal the stakeholders become.

S5E29: Best Practices are dead batteries. Let’s talk about next practices with the workforce with Karl Ahlrichs

“As a leader, you have to know your people and be aware when their behavior changes.” Karl Ahlrichs

In today’s episode, we are joined by Karl Ahlrichs. Karl specializes in helping professionals make order from chaos. He’s a national speaker, author, and consultant presenting on people issues in all industries and is often quoted in the local and national media. Karl’s experience is ideally suited for times of organizational change, as he pulls up on risk management and organizational development theories to replace best practices with next practices. He owes much of his communication mastery to working as a writer and editor in daily media, to the on-the-job writing experience, and to the process of becoming a published author.

Karl Joined Gregory and Appel insurance in 2010 after serving as the founding partner of Exact Hire, bringing his HR operations diversity and belonging in learning and development skills. Karl’s affinity for design, composition, and learning started at a very young age by taking and examining 1000s of boring pictures with the goal of improving his craft. In 2003, he was named the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Human Resource Professional of the Year for the state of Indiana. He is also on boards of several organizations, including the Maryland Society of CPAs.

What motivates high performers only comes from a quality relationship with a boss they respect, and that only comes from intentional conversation where the boss appears to listen to them. Money is a very small part of why employees quit.

Leadership requires somebody with communication skills. However, there is a heightened hunger for empathy, where the leader shows their team that they’re invested in them as people, not just employees. Empathy goes beyond attention and means being willing to say, ‘I feel your pain without being judged or called out.’

The topic that is never discussed enough is mental health. When a person is in pain, all they can think of is the pain. When the person is not in pain, they can think about anything and everything. As a leader, you have to know your people and be aware of when their behavior changes. When someone has a mental health issue, they exaggerate their core behaviors and become more of what they are.

When your people exhibit extreme behavior, pull them into privacy, make good eye contact and ask if there is anything you should know. Leaders should also ensure that they look after their own mental health so that they can be prepared and tuned in to their teams’ mental health.

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S5E28: Learning to Listen to Avoid Tone-Deaf Leadership (2nd expert)

“Every single day in our role as leaders, we encounter situations where empathy would serve us and others well.” Peter Margaritis

There are dozens of remarkable leaders and scholars singing the praises of empathy in the workplace. For example, in his book, Geoff Colvin, the Fortune Magazine Senior Editor, argues that as workplaces evolve and leadership models change, the most important skill that leaders must possess is empathy. Similarly, an article published in the Harvard Business Review after a survey of 6000 leaders, Jack Singer and Joseph Folkman, revealed that women leaders were more decisive as compared to their male counterparts when it came to empathy.

People use the terms sympathy and empathy in overlapping and interchangeable ways, but there’s a distinct difference. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel, not what you think they feel. It involves grief and pain when and because someone else is feeling it. Every single day in our role as leaders, we encounter situations where empathy would serve us and others well. Sympathy, on the other hand, means understanding someone else’s suffering. It is more cognitive and keeps a certain distance.

Even if it is hard to show empathy, you must be vulnerable and authentic and put your ego aside. It’s about making a human connection and not just pushing the conversation to a conclusion so you can get on with your day and get back to work. Being vulnerable is putting yourself out there for others to see. It takes courage, and it takes time. Being vulnerable is a sign of being human, authentic, genuine, and honest, and by being vulnerable, you create a stronger human connection.