Welcome back to another episode of Peak Performance Leadership! I’m your host, Scott McCarthy, and today we have a truly insightful guest joining us. His name is Brad McLain, and he is here to share his expertise on transformative leadership and the power of embracing risk and failure.

In this episode, Brad emphasizes the importance of taking a holistic approach to leadership, going beyond simply checking off tasks on a to-do list. He delves into the social and emotional aspects of leading a team, highlighting the difference between fitting in and truly belonging.

Brad explores how the dynamics of a team can have both positive and negative effects on performance and well-being. He strongly believes that by supporting and engaging team members socially and emotionally, leaders can unlock improved performance, enhanced creativity, increased retention, and ultimately, achieve greater overall success.

Throughout our conversation, Brad urges leaders to prioritize the social and emotional component of the team experience, creating opportunities for individuals to share their stories and collectively shape their narrative. He argues that understanding risk on physical, intellectual, and emotional levels is essential for effective leadership.

Join us as Brad uncovers how transformative experiences start with discomfort and taking risks, and why leaders must strategically design risk invitations to facilitate growth. We’ll explore the psychology of risk, the importance of narrating discomfort zone experiences, and how narratives can impact identity and lead to profound change.

Brad also introduces his Elvis framework, which includes seven tools for experienced design leadership, and explains how transformative experiences can lead to increased performance, innovation, employee retention, and attraction of new talent.

We’ll dive into society’s aversion to risk and the detrimental impact it has on personal growth and success. Brad shares his insights on the importance of embracing failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, along with the biases that exist and how leaders can customize risk invitations based on individual identities and values.

Throughout the episode, he provides valuable guidance on how leaders can transfer control from themselves to their team members, fostering transformative experiences that drive growth and create positive change.

So get ready, because this episode is packed with valuable perspectives and practical tools that will help you become a more effective and transformational leader. Let’s jump right in with Brad McLain on Peak Performance Leadership!

Transformative Leadership Time Stamped Overview

  • 00:04:23 Research defines transformative experience as identity-altering.
  • 00:08:57 Transformative leadership through experience design: a summary.
  • 00:11:32 Lack of leadership training in most companies.
  • 00:19:01 Psychology of risk and embracing failure.
  • 00:23:43 Leaders must analyze failures and transfer control.
  • 00:29:44 Holistic approach to leadership includes emotional involvement.
  • 00:36:25 Create meaningful experiences, hire experts for their differences.
  • 00:39:36 Great leader sparks self-propelled identity growth.

Guest Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about Brad’s resources be sure to check out the following links:

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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:01]:

Right, sir. Welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here today.

Brad McLain [00:00:05]:

Thanks, Scott. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to the conversation.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:09]:

So, today, we’re talking about transformative experiences. I’d like to dive in just to set the framework for this conversation with, like, what’s a transformative experience in the first place, especially from your standpoint? Anyway.

Brad McLain [00:00:23]:

That the $1,000,000 question. That’s the question I started asking in many different ways about 20 years ago, and actually put a really fine point on it. I sitting at the National Science Foundation here in the States, listening to program officers, talk about the proposals. They were trying to decide what to fund and what not to fund. in the context of, science and science research and education. And, one of the program officers said, if I hear the word transformation one more time, I’m gonna pull my hair out because everybody’s promising. This will be a transformative program, and so make major changes. And the definition of it was so squirrelly as to basically not have a definition at all. that conversation stuck with me. And, as my life went on and I had some significant experiences that I wanted to understand, as a person, but also as a social scientist, I realized I needed a really good researchable definition of what a transformative experience actually is. And I came up with this in my in my research definition, a transformative experience, whether it’s tragic or triumphant. is always a learning experience that changes our sense of self in some way. That is a learning experience that has an identity impact affecting who we think we are or who we want to become. If we don’t have that identity impact, You know, it’s not transforming us in a meaningful way. It might be an extraordinary experience. It might be incredibly triumphant or tragic or anything in between, but unless it has that identity impact, it’s not, in my book, a transformative one.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:09]:

Got it. So it’s kinda like along the lines of, I always like to use this example of the, you know, the obese person who has the heart attack but survives and then also only starts, you know, becoming the fittest person you’ve ever met in your life.

Brad McLain [00:02:24]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really apparent and physical transformation, but it’s a reflection of an internal transformation. always the way that we see these things in people is that their layer, there are many layers to a transformation. and they unfold over time, you know, we could think of them as ripple effects, or it’s what I call them in my book designing transformative experiences, bake time. over the bake time as the thing gets, more and more cooked, it means different things in our lives, that experience that transformed us initially. may, have other transformations in store for us as we grow older. And in fact, many times people don’t recognize that they’ve had a transformative experience, except in the rear view mirror, you know, many years later, looking back, say, oh, that was a threshold moment for me. That was a critical juncture. I might not have known it or fully realized it at the time, but it was. And in other cases, we do know it, right, at the time. It’s powerful. It’s bounded. It’s, it’s right there in the moment, and we know we’re having it. these things range across that whole spectrum.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:36]:

So we’re obviously here talking to leaders and at my podcast, I talk about, my 3 domains of leadership. And the first one is you just kinda hit on it, and that’s leading your self, like, either individual leader, the person, how they take care of themselves, how how they grow themselves, etcetera. The second domain is leading your team, i. e. the individuals within the organization that make up the different teams where there’s sales, marketing, counting, whatnot. And then the final domain that we talk about is leading your organization. The the institution of the organization per se. So whether that be Bell, Rogers, AT and T, have whatever have you. Right? So I’d like to hit on transformational experiences, especially in the team aspect right now, but we can definitely we can definitely talk about all across all three. And for the leaders out there, they want to the teams to grow. They’re hungry. The people who are listening to podcasts are hungry. They wanna develop. They wanna stop this imposter syndrome from themselves, but as well, they wanna motivate their teams, get them fired up, and so this How might they start using these transformational experience transform real experiences, sorry, to better both themselves and their teams in the end?

Brad McLain [00:04:57]:

Yeah. That’s that’s a great question. And I and I love your framing with those 3 tiers because in my work with companies large and small, We’re definitely, going in at the individual and the team level. The organizational level is impacted or driven by the identities of the people they employ and the way that those teams work together. And in in many ways, the culture of a team is is synonymous with the identity of a team. You know? And it’s always fluid and dynamic. And as I, you know, got into researching transformative experiences over time, about 15 years ago, started shaping it into a leadership strategy. You know? and that leadership strategy is called experience design leadership. You know? besides just trying to make transformative experiences, which like the holy grail of experienced design leadership let’s recognize that as leaders of teams, we are, in fact, experienced designers We are designing experiences by default, usually, but maybe by design, by intention, for ourselves and, the people who work with us on our teams within for us. When we recast ourselves as experienced designers on top of whatever other leadership ideas we have, suddenly a whole new toolbox of psychological tools and experience design, identity, narrative, all these different things that I talk about in the book. become available to us. And it recasts our role of who leaders are and what leaders can do. So what kind of experience am I generating from this work? Instead of seeing my team as just a group of people working towards a common goal, I began to see my team as an experience. And I, being the leader, the lead designer of that experience. but also I’m co creating it with everyone else on that team. And that’s what we might call culture. Right? So That’s the the first step in applying this this view of transformative experience design to a leadership task. And now that Spilling out from that is a number of different fascinating tools that, are not common in the leadership toolkit that we all arrive with you know, when we take on a new position or a leadership position in our in our work.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:20]:

You got my interest peaked now. What are some of those tools? And and then you said you’ve you hinted that they’re not normally found. So Why why are they not found commonly?

Brad McLain [00:07:32]:

You know, I think a lot of people, you know, for 1st of all, we have a lack of leadership training in most companies. Yeah. And we tend to get pushed into these leadership roles based on our performance on somebody else’s teams. but also we lead in the way that we’ve been led. Whatever conscious or unconscious models we’ve had for leaders, in most cases, it has a heavy dose of what’s called commend and control style leadership, you know, a hierarchical top down version I say you do. I articulate you achieve, you know, that kind of of mode is very common. Even when it’s not explicit, It’s there unconsciously as the as the idea of who leaders are and what leaders do. I gave a talk many years ago as a TEDx Talk on the framework, of my research that explained how transformative experiences work psychologically. and, it always starts with with a discomfort zone experience. So this involves risk or a place where we or the people who work for us have a low sense of agency that they can do something or that they can succeed at a task we might assign them for a project or a goal. Right? And so we need to be strategic, not reckless, about the kinds of risk invitations we make as leaders. How often do leaders think about what they do in terms of risk invitations? They might think about task assignment or stretch assignments or things like that. but in terms of the individual who’s getting that risk invitation, how can I craft it as a leader to be especially pro growth? and impactful for that identity that’s our set of identities that a person is bringing, not just their talents, but who they are and who they want to become it requires that I, have to know something about who’s on my team. Right? So there’s the risk invitation. Then they have to make a risk decision And then there’s a risk outcome, which may be total success, total failure, but usually something in between. And as a leader, I have to be prepared to facilitate growth no matter what that risk outcome is if I’m dedicated to my people. So discomfort zone experience is like one requirement that that leaders have to have, a knowledge of, and that requires some knowledge of the psychology of risk. The second one is that we translate all of us our experiences, all of our experiences into narratives, It’s how we make meaning of our lives and our work, right, extension. And so narrating those discomfort zone experiences those risk invitation becomes an important part of leadership because it determines the outcomes. in many ways, of our leadership efforts, those risk invitations, those discomforts on experiences. How can I structure meaningful narration with and for and and alongside my direct reports. Right? How many leaders pay attention to the narrative that people are constantly making. Now that’s gonna happen by default again. Unconsciously, we’re hardwired to do this psychologically. But what happens if we, as leaders, actually, intentionally design structures to support positive pro growth narratives into the work that we do, both individually and collectively. Now the third part is when those narratives, some of them, to become powerful enough important enough to me as a person, as a leader, or a direct report. When they become powerful enough to impact to my identity narratives. Those special narratives, I keep carefully guarded about who I am, the stories, about who I am, and who I want to be. Suddenly then I have the gateway to transformative experiences. A leader who understands that those narratives impacting an identity narrative can lead to identity change. That’s the stuff of legendary leadership. That’s the stuff that makes those leaders we’ve all had, hopefully, we’ve all had, who empower us, who push us beyond our limits, who make us do and grow beyond what we thought even ourselves were capable of doing. Those people that we always remember and treasure and emulate You know? And maybe those leaders didn’t even know exactly what they were doing themselves. Usually they I found they’d do it on intuition. But when we learn these skills, discomfort zone experiences and risk narrative and meaning making and then identity impact. As leaders, we get to learn these skills as a different way of leading a new view of leadership, if you will. That’s just some of them. That’s the general framework. of of my methods. I actually was was giving me a TEDx talk on these things once and people came up to me. This is great. how do I apply this to my leadership? How do I to motivate my employees? How do I inspire my students to write a better script or book, make a better museum exhibit, whatever it was. How do I enhance? How do I motivate? How do I inspire? And I had no answers. I was like, I was like, I had a great framework, you know, theoretical social scientist. I was like, look. What a good boy am I? but I had no, drive for the practical tools of it. And I went away into my cave for 3 years to research what are the practical implications of this? And later on, out came what I call the Elvis framework. Elvis, I figured if you’re gonna have an acronym, Let’s make it memorable. Right? Elvis is, the experiential learning variables and indicators system. I know it sounds very academic, but at its heart, is that framework I just described, but also 7 tools in the Elvis Toolkit. that leaders can learn in order to lead in this way, this experienced design leadership way, and increase the probability that their direct report can have, transformative experiences. And when they do, we find that it increases performance. It increases innovation. It increases retention of employees and the attraction of new talent to teams because it becomes a place where people can do their life’s work. And that team leader can be a person who can empower them to do their life’s work instead of looking at that team or that company as a stepping stone to something else. it’s a pretty powerful psychological step.

Scott McCarthy [00:14:07]:

No doubt. And I really liked the part you talked about. The practicality, right, practicality of it, because that’s what leaders need. They need something tangible that they can take and, you know, apply. So all the theory is great, but if you don’t know what to do with it, It’s it doesn’t really go very far. So I had a good I did omit. I had a chuckle at the whole Elvis thing when I saw it. It’s like Elvis, really? of course, everyone thinks that the music star singer, right, legendary Elvis.

Brad McLain [00:14:41]:

Yeah. But, well, we could also think of some famous Canadians too. Elvis Stoco comes to mind. Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:14:47]:

Oh, true. Good old Elba Stoco. That’s a good point. So can we break down and, like, you know, probably give some tidbits on each one of these, for the leaders out there so you get a taste of what they should be doing across the board there.

Brad McLain [00:15:01]:

Yeah. for sure. You know, and they’re kind of I wouldn’t say they’re ranked in in importance, but there are a few at the top of the list. that seem to be very important as it covered in the book. how to meaningfully and strategically construct discomfort’s own experiences All has to do with the psychology of risk. And so risk is the first tool in the Elvis toolkit. And, we just don’t do risk. very well in our society, in most societies across the the globe. In fact, and we’re taught not to do it well. In fact, we’re we’re hot. We’re socialized to be risk averse. You know, there’s an entire industry that’s built up around this psychology for risk management. So how are we gonna manage the risk? usually in terms of financial decisions or insurance or things like that. But there’s a lot of good psychology behind it, you know, that show us not only how we, avoid risk, but also how we treat failure. They kinda go hand in hand. and in most cases, failure is treated as something that is to be hidden, to be discouraged, to be avoided. And when it happens, let’s make sure that, we minimize it, you know, and mitigate it and and put it behind us as quickly as possible. Rather than the alternative, which is when when failures happen, we treat them as treasured jewels. Yeah. This is something I can learn from. This is something I can grow from. and not just me, but everyone who is involved or or is watching me, or helping me. Right? That’s a pro growth attitude or what Carol Duque, would say is a growth mindset after her famous, book called mindset. There was a fixed mindset which treats failure in a in a very hidden and secretive and shameful way. And then there’s a growth mindset that treats it as an opportunity to learn. And we know we learn more from failures than we do from successes. but it’s attached to this this shame psychology so much that it’s hard to do it openly without a leader who understands and promotes it. I understand I’m gonna create an opportunity for my direct reports to take risks And that’s good, but I also need to set up structures and framework for supporting them with whatever degree of failure and success that is the outcome of that risk. So that’s at the very top of it. And so in the book, I go over all the different biases we have against risk the ways we avoid it consciously and and very unconsciously in many ways and what leaders can do to use that psychology. to, customize risk invitations for the different people they work with. One thing we know about risk, one size does not fit all. What’s risky to me might not seem risky to you at all. And this is a big trap for leaders, by the way. They wanna be models and role models for their direct reports. However, they they often fall into the trap of affirmation bias is thinking what I what I think of as risky or as a golden opportunity may not be that at all. for you who are coming in with a whole different set of identities. So I need to understand, the identities, personal, as well as professional of the people on my team in order to craft, like an artist, my craft, risk invitations that will help them grow and help my team grow.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:27]:

Excuse me. I can’t agree more with a statement you set up front there and that we’ve come a a risk at 1st society. And it’s it’s, you know, we see it all the time, and I loved how you framed failure. And we should be, you know, celebrating failures. To me, when we talk about failure, it’s like you did something. You pushed it at limits. And you found where the limit was because you went beyond it. Right? So right? Now alert from it. Okay. There’s the limit or that doesn’t work. but up until this point, it did work, or this was the benefits until that point, etcetera. Now, okay. How do we mitigate so we get the outcome that we’re looking for? But so many people. It’s like, oh, you failed. Like, shame on you. And — Yeah. — as a leader, I one of my my values I actually embrace is transparency. I love talking about my failures in the past to my team members. Why? Because they’re not failures if I can turn around and say, hey. This is what I did. This is how I I messed up. Did these were stakes I made. And then my team members go, okay. And then when they’re faced with a similar situation, like, oh, Devost did that when he was in my situation, maybe I should do something else and get the right outcome. Right. Right. That’s how we

Brad McLain [00:19:43]:

take — — models a way of thinking about failures that analyzes them. and squeezes the juice out of them, you know, for our nourishment. And that’s something that good leaders have to do. Now a second part of this goes right hand in hand with it. is the second element in the Elvis took it, and it’s control. You know, the locus of control, who has the control? The leader issuing a risk invitation is is presenting an opportunity to a direct report to take a chance. to grow beyond who they are. And that means transferring control from the leader to the experiencer. Yeah. This is giving control away. And in for in order for that to happen, a leader has to give themselves permission to do this. And the experience or the direct report has to have external permission from the leader to take control, but also internal permission from themselves to assume that control. And this is very dicey kind of thing. We know that transformative experiences, move from the leader control to the experience or It might not happen all at once or very quickly. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it’s very gradual. Like if we’re working with younger children, for example, it needs to be more gradual for working with you know, rock start up, talent, high potential people that can be more sudden and welcome in that case. But in all cases, there’s a transfer of control from the leader to the experiencer in order for transformations to happen. Why is this? It’s because transformative experience has always come from within us. We ask people about to ask thousands of people in my research. What was your most transformative experience? And they very often describe an experience to me that seemed to come from the outside. External to them. It’s something that happened to me over which I had very little control or decision. You know? But you ask a few probing questions more. How did it change you? Yeah. Then we realized The locus of control was actually internal. Whatever might have happened to them, externally, they had no control over. They had control over how they responded. the response to the risk invitation and the meaning making narrative that spilled out of it over time. you know, from that experience. As I always say, sometimes life gives us invitations. We can’t refuse, but we do get to decide how we RSVP. to that invitation. And so this story, the narrative that comes out of the experience is always internal. That’s why leaders have to give control away. because they can’t dictate someone will have a transformative experience. We can design the optimum conditions. We can open the door And we can have arranged everything inside, you know, the lighting, the pictures, the decor, the music, and the ambiance, that they will probably have a transformative experience if we do everything right. but we can’t force it on. So this transformative experience, they have to come from within. And that takes a leader who is divorcing themselves from that command and control style mentality to empower their direct reports. That means giving them agency, giving them freedom, giving them permission, and even requiring them to stand up and do it. Now the interesting thing here also is we know that some people are gonna have an easier time doing this than others. just by who they are, but also by, what groups they belong to, marginalized group members, whether we’re talking about age, race, gender, class, ability, all the different things are gonna have a harder time with, being offered risk invitations. They don’t get offered them as much because of unconscious biases that leaders often bring and they themselves may feel a degree of of stereotype threat or imposter syndrome as you brought up where, they don’t feel that they can succeed in a majority group environment. and so it’s gonna be harder for them. A leader has to understand who am I making this risk invitation to and how can I help them assume control of the experience, more so. It’s gonna be a moving target depending on who you’re talking with and understanding of go back to understand who the identities of your team members are is a crucial step for for employing these tools of Elvis, at least these first two risk and control.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:08]:

What I’m hearing from you is the leader needs to check your ego at the door. Right? Because if if you keep your ego, you’re not gonna be able to release that control. And if you don’t release that control, then the your team members aren’t going to be able to have that as you elkly explain, that transfer transformative experience internally. You know, it has to be internal to them. If you try to control it, it’s never gonna be part of them because it was yours. Yeah. So you gotta check your ego

Brad McLain [00:24:40]:

at the door right here. Yeah. We we have to recognize we are co creating these experience. Experience design leaders know we are co creating these experiences. I might be the leader or have that role. but there are times when you’re gonna lead. Yeah. And there’s times when I’m gonna follow, and it’s gonna be a dialogue back and forth between us. you know, not just us, but everybody else on the team as well as we co create these experiences together, which is challenging, but it’s also very good news. because it means that if you don’t like the way something’s going, there are many levers to pull and many pathways for changing it. that require me to speak up or have an environment where I feel comfortable speaking up, and having that dialogue as a normal operating procedure by virtue of the leadership perspective that I’m bringing.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:31]:

Awesome. So we hit a couple of the, you know, parts of l of the Elvis framework there. I’d love to hit a couple more which you you think would be important for the audience to listen to here today.

Brad McLain [00:25:44]:

I said, are all important, in my view. Right? And I always I’d say, and even have a chapter in the book about the holistic Elvis is that rather than thinking of these things as a checklist of things I need to, attend to. which is a powerful way to go. The real value is a holistic approach where I combine these, elements, these elements of a transformative experience, and therefore, it make it possible for the sum to be greater than, the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts. Right? So when I do risk and control together, I get more, benefit. I get a I get a dividend from that. Another one that leaders don’t often pay enough attention to is social and emotional involvement. You know? the idea of a a person who’s belonging in that team versus a person who feels that they’re not. And in this case, Renee Brown has a great phrase that I that I’ve loved and echoed in my workshops for years now is that, fitting in is being accepted for being like everybody else. belonging is being accepted, for being different, being who you are, differences in all. You know? And that’s a sense that I actually can be seen and all my identities can be brought or at least most of the most important ones and be validated and accepted by my team members rather than having to conform, modify code switch, or anything else that I might do, right, to try and fit in. This this as a leader to be attentive to that social and emotional component, the cohort, you know, can be positive. Talk about this in the book quite a bit and a leader can structure a positive cohort effect where we amplify each other. but it can also swing negative, especially when we don’t attend to it. And a negative cohort effect is something we’ve all experienced where we’ve got complainers. We’ve got an overbearing leader, perhaps. We’re always feeling under pressure or afraid to screw up or walking on egg shells. All of these things are indicators of a negative cohort effect where instead of increasing our energy and our capacity together. It’s draining us of our energy and and our our spirit for doing the work. the wholeheartedness we might otherwise bring to a job or to a team is dissipated when I have a negative cohort effect. So I’d say, you know, leadership experience design leadership is asking, what is the social and emotional component of the experience I am helping lead here for my team. Research is very clear on this. When we feel supported and socially engaged and validated, our performance goes up. our creativity goes up. Our retention goes up. Our bottom line goes up. All of these things. And yet, we call it a soft skill in the leadership community. you know, as opposed to the harder skills, which are often prioritized. but it’s underlying great teams and performance. It also models those leaders were grooming for tomorrow. Right? How do we attend to that social and emotional component? And it has to do with that narrative element I was talking about earlier. How do we as leaders structure opportunities for individuals to narrate their experiences on the team? and to do that narration in concert with each other. There’s an individual narrative I’ll create as an individual contributor on that team, but then there’s a collective narrative that the team will have. one of my favorite questions to ask teams when I go and work work with them on workshop. And I do this even at the biggest you know, tech companies and fintech companies I usually work with. Even at the biggest companies, I always work with them on the team level. so that we can zoom in on those, subcultures of the different teams. And the three questions I love to ask, the first two are obvious. What are we doing? Why and how are we doing it? And then the third one, the most important one, who are we becoming while we do it? Yeah. Suddenly asking that question and giving room for that dialogue invites people into a space that is social and emotional. that is narrative in nature and invites them to reflect individually as well as collectively on forging the kind of narrative for their team. that they want. You know, what is the narrative of your team? Is is the same as asking, what is the culture? Or sometimes I’ll even ask, what’s the risk culture? of this team. And they’re surprised to find out that the leader thinks completely differently than the individual contributors or direct reports, you know, and there’s these big gaps in CASM. that once filled in, unlock a potential, of a team that was unrealized, even unrecognized beforehand. So a long way to say social and emotional components. Huge part of risk, by the way, because we talk about risk in terms of physical risk. Like your your example is someone who lost a lot of weight. but there’s also intellectual risk. There’s social risk. And, yes, there’s emotional risk. And they’re never divided up into those nice sort of categories. They’re always mashed up together, and they fall under that social and emotional, element, most often. Now that’s how we experience risk and uncertainty in a very emotional way. That’s why we have cognitive distortions about risk. that we have to recognize and overcome. Leaders who get that are gonna be leaders who get their people a lot more.

Scott McCarthy [00:31:06]:

Wow. There’s so many good stuff in there. Like, wow. So much good stuff in there, and I feel like we’re just really scraping the surface. Hey?

Brad McLain [00:31:15]:


Scott McCarthy [00:31:16]:

it’s just to be getting it ultimately. What I’ve really enjoyed was that quote that you mentioned, you know, belong or fitting in is when people, you know, accept you because you’re you’re wiped them, but belonging is because they accept you for who you are. I really enjoy that that differentiation. I’ve never heard that one before, actually.

Brad McLain [00:31:37]:

Habitops is a great round. yeah, she comes from a background of social work and the psychology of shame, but as as many years now, of course, transformed it into a a leadership, program that that she’s, really expertly done. And and all of us working in this space of leadership coaching and leadership psych psychology, recognize, you know, bumper sticker wisdom, sometimes is cheap and easy, but once in a while, you get a gem like that that just captures and synthesizes a whole field of research so simply and memorably and powerfully that we can use as leaders, you know, in the same way as like, you know, let’s recast ourselves as experienced designers and all of a sudden, our team our work, our careers, everything looks a little bit different. You know? And — Yeah.

Scott McCarthy [00:32:25]:

Brad McLain [00:32:25]:

really, we’ve moved the goal posts instead of just trying to achieve our quarterly revenue numbers or our budgets or our processes or our policies, whatever we might be tasked with doing. Suddenly, now we are, saying I want to create an experience that will be meaningful to people. And I have the tools, not just pie in the sky idea of doing this, I have the tools to do it. And I’m I’m changing myself into an experienced design leader. I want people to have the experience of belonging instead of striving and failing to fit in, you know, and and conform. there’s another great quote that Steve Jobs reportedly said. You know, it’s like We don’t hire experts to tell them what to do, right, to have them conform to us. We hire experts to tell us what to do, you know, which is we want their differences. We want their expertise. We want their skills. We want their identities in order to change us. in some way. Change what we do, why, and how we do it. And, again, who we are becoming while we do it. And so there’s another gem of a bumper sticker that I just love. you know, we hire experts so they can tell us what to do. And that’s what we should do as leaders. You know, like you said, check your ego at the door. hire your team members, not just because you have the rock star top talent that you you just brought on, but hire them for their contribution at the team level. It’s the basic of team cognition that we need different voices from different viewpoints, different worldviews, different experience, different identity backgrounds, in order to, get that diversity dividend, you know, that that comes in all of these. Right? I always say to people when we’re talking about inclusion, It’s not enough to hire diversity. You might have great programs for doing it. If you don’t activate that diversity and create an experience on the team where that diversity can be voiced and contributed, then you’ve wasted your time in many ways. and that person who is coming from a diverse background or perspective is not going to feel that sense of belonging. They all feel a pressure to fit in. Instead, And, we won’t have created a very good experience for them. As an experienced designer, we would say that was been a negative experience more than a positive one when, of course, we want the opposite.

Scott McCarthy [00:34:42]:

Yeah. There’s certainly lots of, examples of that floating around for sure. And, speaking with bumper stickers, I’d like to point out, you you’re definitely right in how things can change when you come across 1. I ended up with the bumper sticker this or tagline for the show of, lead don’t boss, which which, yeah, there’s a starter on that one.

Brad McLain [00:35:07]:

Yeah. And this is — — that. this

Scott McCarthy [00:35:11]:

has been a fantastic conversation, my friend. I feel like we could probably go for hours. I think we’ve just microscopically touched the surface on this whole topic. but we do have to wrap up here. before we wrap up, I do get a couple of last questions for you. the first question is a question I ask all the guests here, and that’s according to you, Brad. What makes a great leader?

Brad McLain [00:35:36]:

A great leader has that impact on you, what I call self propelled identity growth. Someone who unlocks something inside you. And their impact on on your life doesn’t stop when you leave their team or their company or their classroom. It’s something that continues to unfold over time. A great leader recognizes their job is to generate self propelled. identity growth, in the people that they that work in their spheres. That’s what I would say. And, of course, being biased as I am, I think experienced design leaders are the most likely to be able to do that.

Scott McCarthy [00:36:17]:

I’d like the, long term effect theme there. I really like that. final questions show how can people find you, follow you, be part of your journey? It’s It’s all about you now.

Brad McLain [00:36:28]:

designing transformative experiences.com. Same title as the book is the title of my company where we do workshops have online tools, keynotes, presentations, companion content to the book, and, of course, pathways to find out more about us and and the work that we do. designing transformative experiences.com, and, you can get the book wherever books are sold.

Scott McCarthy [00:36:53]:

And it’s easy for you all. Just go to lead dump boss.comforward/269269 and the link is there in the show notes. Brad, again, thank you for taking time. Air schedule, being flexible. We did have to reschedule this one at the last minute, so appreciate you and, appreciate you coming to

Brad McLain [00:37:10]:

talk to us here today. Appreciate you, Scott. Wonderful conversation, and I look forward to the next one.