Welcome to another insightful episode of Peak Performance Leadership, where we explore the strategies, approaches, and insights that drive individuals and teams towards peak performance. In this episode, our host Scott McCarthy engages in a compelling conversation with Jeffrey Spahn, a seasoned leader and author of several books on leadership. Together, they delve into the concept of “We The Leader,” discussing the significance of curious conviction, purpose-driven leadership, and the art of fostering collective flow within teams and organizations.

Meet Jeff

Jeffrey Spahn is the founder and president of Leading Leaders Inc. For more than 20 years he has coached, researched and analyzed top business and their teams. Jeff’s journey into innovative leadership was sparked by experiences of collective zone or flow as a high school and collegiate athlete. His business degree from the University of Michigan and doctorate from the University of Chicago ground his practice in sound scholarship. Beyond his formal education Jeff found himself in a workshop with a group of researchers from MIT on genuine dialogue grounded in the thinking and practice of the physicist David Bohm. From here he went deep into the training at the renowned Second City school of improvisation. Above all, through working with clients including industry leaders such as Capital Group, Steelcase and Encova he forged the unique organic diversity, equity and inclusive operating system called We the Leader®.

Jeff’s most recent publication is the book We the Leader published by McGraw-Hill backed by science, endorsed by Marshall Goldsmith – the only person awarded the Top #1 Leadership Thinker twice – and includes a chapter from the CEO of a global top #15 company. Board memberships have included GoProdigii, a multi-sided technology and business services company that serves purpose driven entrepreneurs, Omnia Institute for Contextual Leadership and The Chicago Moving Company, a modern dance enterprise. Jeff relishes experiencing live improvisational jazz, swimming in natural waters, practicing yoga, and playing tennis. 

Timestamped Overview

During this interview Jeff and I discuss the following topics:

  • (00:30) Exploring We The Leader: Jeffrey Spahn introduces the purpose of “We The Leader,” emphasizing its role in enabling teams and individuals to consistently achieve a flow state, centered on leading projects, teams, and engagements together.

  • (05:12) Embracing Curious Conviction: Scott McCarthy discusses the importance of embracing a curious conviction and its role in unlocking consistent collective flow, highlighting the significance of being proactive rather than reactive in leadership.

  • (09:45) Purpose-Driven Leadership: The conversation delves into the importance of determining a common purpose for organizations, moving beyond mere profits to focus on making a positive impact in the world.

  • (13:20) Rethinking Business Purposes: Jeffrey Spahn and Scott McCarthy explore various business purposes, including supporting movements, serving the community, customer-focused objectives, and the role of profits in commerce.

  • (17:45) Sustainable Business Practices: The episode underscores the necessity of sustainable business practices beyond profit-driven models in the current landscape, drawing attention to companies with broader purposes experiencing success.

  • (21:10) Meeting Human Needs: The discussion navigates towards the essential aspect of consistently and effectively meeting human needs and desires, emphasizing the core of purpose-driven leadership.

  • (25:30) Curious Conviction Methodology: Jeffrey Spahn outlines a methodology for learning to lead and follow simultaneously, touching upon the significance of understanding and meeting individual needs within a team.

  • (29:15) Prioritizing Well-being: The aftermath of leadership failing to prioritize individuals’ well-being is addressed, shedding light on how it has led to negative organizational cultures and the “great resignation.”

  • (33:00) Leading Oneself: The importance of leading oneself forms a fundamental aspect of the conversation, with a focus on the significance of conscious responses and personal leadership.

  • (37:45) Organic Operating System: The concept of “consilience” emerges, highlighting the integration of various ideas and energies, where leaders integrate leading and following to create something new within the organizational ecosystem.

  • (42:20) Fostering Collective Flow: The purpose of hierarchy is discussed in creating conditions for collective flow, wherein diverse perspectives and skills unify to drive optimal outcomes.

  • (47:00) The Puzzle Metaphor: Spahn uses the puzzle metaphor to illustrate the process of diverse individuals contributing their unique pieces to form a cohesive whole within a team.

  • (50:30) Connecting with Jeffrey Spahn: As the episode concludes, Scott McCarthy graciously thanks Jeffrey for his invaluable insights, and listeners are encouraged to share the episode and explore Jeffrey’s work further.

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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 [00:00:00]:
So imagine this. You’re working on a project, but you’re not the expert when your team members is, yet you can’t seem to get them to buy in and lead it. Today, on episode 213 of peak performance leadership podcast, that’s exactly what we’re gonna tackle. Are you ready for this? Alright. Let’s do it. Welcome 1, welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership podcast, a weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you hit peak performance across 3 domains of leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team, and leading your organization. True.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:51]:
This podcast couples my 20 years of military experience as a senior Canadian army officer with world class guests bringing you the most complete podcast on leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our website at moving forward leadership.com. And with that, let’s get to the show. Yes. Welcome. It is your chief leadership officer, Scott McCarthy. Thanks for tuning in to yet another episode of the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast. And welcome to you whether that’s your 200 and 13th episode you’re listening to plus all the other ones or your 1st time tuning in, it’s great to have you here.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:40]:
Today, we are gonna be talking about we, the leader. And I know that concept may be a bit different to you, so I’m gonna give you just a tidbit so you can kinda bite into it right away and know where we’re going and what Jeff, the author of the book, we, the leaders, talking about here today is basically how everyone in your team is a leader and how you as a leader is also a follower. So it’s the entire team atmosphere today. Jeff, now that I started talking to him, I might as well dive into a little bit about his background. He is a researcher, executive educator, entrepreneur, executive coach, storyteller, speaker, over 20 years of experience in this realm, author of multiple books, including the magic of mutual leadership, how to lead and follow simultaneously, and as well as the we the leader. And, of course, these published articles such as leading leaders, the art of peak performance, leading leaders in the boardroom so you know that more strategic level of leadership. And, You know what? Whole ton more which would just take up entire episode just introducing him. This episode, Jeff and I talk about, you know, what it means the weed of leader, how to determine best common purpose for an organization, how to get team members onboard with that common purpose, curious conviction.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:16]:
What the heck is that and how did do we go about establishing it? Why you bring a piece and not the whole as a leader. And then finally, how to establish a team where ego is released and how to deescalate conflict because there’s nothing better than a little bit of conflict. Right? As you guess, Jeff is a rock star guest, and he brings a lot to the table that you’re gonna get out of today’s episode. Before we do dive into hitting play on this interview, I do wanna remind you we do have the leader growth mastermind, which is now live, we got a bunch of people in there doing some amazing things amazing things. Absolutely blown away with them lately of what they’ve been achieving. So if that’s something that’s been on your books, on your mind, or you’re going, hey. It’s the 1st time I hear about this. What is that, Scott? Go to moving forward leadership.comforward/mastermind and check out more info there.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:24]:
And before the last thing before I hit play on this interview, I wanna give shout out to Michael. Michael, thank you for your email and letting me know that I’ve been making a technical boo boo and not recording in stereo, basically, my recording software settings change without me realizing it. So for a while now, I’ve been recording these intros in mono. So, Michael, again, I thank you for your email. It is greatly appreciated. But nonetheless, that is it for me. So why don’t you sit back, relax and enjoy my conversation with Jeffrey Spann all about we, the leader. Jeff, welcome to the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast, sir.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:21]:
So good to have you here.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:05:24]:
Scott, it’s great to be here. I’m very much looking forward to our conversation.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:29]:
Me as well. And it’s funny before I hit poor, you actually wanna flip the mic on me to start this podcast off. It’s a first time I’m gonna allow it. Let let’s roll with it. So what do you got?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:05:44]:
Yeah. Well, you know, I read on your website about your approach to leadership, and I’m very curious about the notion of Leading yourself, leading your team, and leading in the organization, and What they each mean individually, and then how they intertwine with each other. Either they’re mutually enhancing and worked For each other or maybe they’re mutually exclusive and work against each other? I’m just I I I’d love to hear their backstory.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:25]:
So the I’ll I’ll I’ll do the Coles notes version, the the quick summary version. But, effectively, I started this podcast off as a a hobby. And please, god, don’t go back and listen to episode 1. It’s completely night and day from today. But the moral of that story was, I I, you know, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was just rolling with it. And as I got more into the interviewing space, I started listening and hearing, you know, essentially 3 different themes. And and add to that is one of the questions I often like to ask my guests is, you know, about failures and how to, you know, they have come overcome failures or case studies that they’ve, you know, consulted on, etcetera, have overcome their failures because what I was finding was, as I study leadership failures in the real world, they were aligning with these 3 different themes, I e, you know, effectively leading yourself, leading your team, in leading your organization.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:24]:
So if you go there, there are lots of examples of leaders who failed leadership because of burnout. Right? Not taking care of themselves

Jeffrey Spahn [00:07:34]:

Scott McCarthy [00:07:35]:
Or stagnation. And I will tell you, one of, you know, a company that I still follow near and dear to my heart, and I’m going full disclosure. I’m actually a shareholder of this company is BlackBerry. Then research emotion. And one of the reasons why that company failed was because the leadership, the co CEOs, stagnated. That’s why Apple got the edge on them. They had market share. They had it all, but they stagnated because they thought they had it all.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:08]:
They didn’t realize that you know, they didn’t ask themselves what was next. So that’s kind of, you know, leading yourself. So what does leading yourself actually mean? It means, you know, taking care of yourself, your mental health, your physical health, your well-being, how to how you learn, how you interact with different people, you know, effectively taking care of you, the leader. And the reason for that is it’s the exact same reason why we go on an airplane and the captain says in the in case of, depressurization, oxygen mask will fall down. Put your mask on first before assisting others. So you as the

Jeffrey Spahn [00:08:44]:
leader Exactly.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:45]:
Right? If you Yeah. Don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:08:51]:
That’s right.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:52]:
You you can’t. And and here’s a guy who’s coming from a military background where our ethos is based off of mission, soldiers self in that order. So in fact, I’ve actually flipped the script on that and say, no. I’ve got to take care of myself because if I don’t, I can’t take care of others. Now that being said Right. There’s always a balance. You can’t you’d be you can’t take care of yourself to the point where you are actually, you know, being greedy. Right? You gotta be humble.

Scott McCarthy [00:09:25]:
So that is that one. So then it was leading your team. So if I look at, you know, leading and leadership, you’re leading people, you’re leading individuals, the Janes, the Salas, the Joes, the Jeffs, the Scotts, etcetera. Each one of these people have different needs, different wants, different desires. So how do you onboard them? How do you first screen to make sure that is the right person for the job that you need to be fulfilled, how do you properly onboard them? How do you train them? How do you build those different people into now a cohesive team Well, actually, still understanding that each one of them have different needs, wants, desires, end states, etcetera. Right? So how do you go about doing that? And that is effectively leading your team. And and, again, back to the failure theme, there’s all kinds of examples out there of, you know, leadership of leading the you know, failing the leading in their teams, and I would argue that this is part and partial to the great resignation now because leaders out there before didn’t care about their individuals. All they care about was the outcome.

Scott McCarthy [00:10:31]:
Right? It was about the outcome, the end results. You know? Run them to run their people through the ground. Don’t care. Work the extra hours. Right. Your your your great aunt just died? Don’t care. This project needs to get done. Needs to get done now, etcetera.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:10:43]:
Yeah. I’m not taking care of myself, and I’m not gonna let you take care

Scott McCarthy [00:10:48]:
of yourself. Exactly. How many times, you know, have I heard the saying, well, I’m not doing that to you because I never got that when I was going up. And I’m sure that is not a just a Canadian army saying. Right? So That’s leading your team. And then finally, the last domain leading organization is, you know, it’s that institution bit. So every company, every organization is an institution. Heck.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:15]:
Moving forward, leadership is an institution. It’s an institution one, but it’s still an institution. I have a culture. I have a brand. I have expectations that people expect from me, expect from, you know, the company per se, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So if we go ahead and we look at that, well, how many failures out there of culture? Hello, Uber. Like, do I need to say anything more? Right? So that’s leading your organization. Now to ask your you know, do they you know, are they separate or are they linked, they’re absolutely, intrinsically linked because it’s it’s impossible.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:52]:
It it’s impossible to not lead you know, you cannot lead yourself, but eventually that will impact leading your team and leading your organization. If you don’t have proper stress relief, you’re gonna lash out on your team. And then suddenly

Jeffrey Spahn [00:12:07]:

Scott McCarthy [00:12:08]:
It becomes an accepted way to act in your company. And now you’re inflicting that on the culture of your organization.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:12:18]:

Scott McCarthy [00:12:18]:
And it can go backwards too. Yeah. Yeah.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:12:24]:
Wow. That’s very, very fascinating and well well thought out. Thanks for, Thanks for letting

Scott McCarthy [00:12:30]:
That was about, you know, a 150 episodes and about a 100 interviews worth of thought that it took to get there. But, effectively, this is now the basis of moving forward leadership slash the podcast, peak performance leadership because

Jeffrey Spahn [00:12:44]:

Scott McCarthy [00:12:45]:
What we strive to do here is hit peak performance in those 3 domains because then, as a leader, you’re, like, operating. You’re operating. And when you feel it, you’re on fire, and it’s like Go time, baby.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:12:58]:
Yeah. Yeah. You you get you get into that flow space, and it it it’s intoxicating.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:04]:
Absolutely intoxicating. So Yeah. But now let’s hear from your side. When when I say we the leader to you, what does that mean exactly?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:13:15]:
Wow. Okay. So, what I love about that, we the leader, is that you have the plural and you have the singular, and you have them both together, are, describing or being the title of an operating process. And an operating process that is built upon Bringing opposite energies together for for, an upgrade in innovation. And so it it it’s a leadership process, that is built upon our differences, and the emphasis is We create from our differences. And so the idea of the we or first, I’m gonna start with the leader And pick up where where I heard you you go in terms of the first section is me, the leader. And I’m the leader of my own life. And, actually, I am totally unique human being, And I’m the only person who has my genet we have lots and similar in common, but only person has my genetic makeup.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:14:33]:
The only person that has my ancestry, the only person that has my experience as a child, as a as a adolescent, as an adult, The only person who can choose for me. And so in that sense, I am the leader of my own life. And if I can give that up to somebody else, but I’m I’m inherently the only one who can choose for myself And know what I think and feel in the moment and express that. Nobody else can actually know that. They might guess it, but they they don’t know it the way that I do. And so there we have the uniqueness, the diversity that comes forward in leading oneself. And, that is the, one of the key pillars of getting into the collective flow of space. I’ll pause there, and and then I can go on if you’d like.

Scott McCarthy [00:15:29]:
No. It’s it’s super interesting, and I really enjoy that, you know, that, you know, me aspect, I focus a lot on leading myself and, you know, that domain. And actually, if you look at my website, And I actually tag each every single episode by which domain or domains it touches. And leading yourself Mhmm. Is by far the most used tag on my podcast episodes, because if you can’t Right. Then it’s gonna fall apart. Because

Jeffrey Spahn [00:16:02]:

Scott McCarthy [00:16:03]:
As John Maxwell says and I’m not a guy for quotes, but John Max this one fits in well, so I use John Maxwell. Everything fall, rises and falls on leadership. Yeah.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:16:14]:
That’s right.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:14]:
And in in that is the leader themselves.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:16:18]:
Right. Exactly. And then how how does one lead your their own lives? And I take the notion of if I’m reacting to another person or to a circumstance, unconsciously. I’m not leading my own life. I’m being led by my circumstances and somebody else. But if I’m if I’m re my responsibility if I develop my ability to respond, Not reactively, but respond from my own center and my own choice, then I’m leading my own life. And then that becomes the foundation for leaders to lead projects and teams and and and organizations. And then the the 2nd piece here is the common purpose of the leader.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:17:13]:
And the common purpose is one way to think about the an organization or even define an organization is a group of people Gathered around sharing and following a common purpose. And that and that equalizes everybody. The the The the new hire and the the the most senior in the organization. Everyone is gathered around a common purpose, And that equalizes everybody. And so we have everyone as a follower of the Common purpose of the organization getting to the organizational piece, and then we have everyone as a leader of their own life. And so the organization from this framework is a community of leader followers. People who are All the time, leaders of their own life and all the time followers of a common purpose, and so we’re leader followers. And in this context of, equality, hierarchy, the purpose of hierarchy is not Just command and control when it’s necessary, but it’s to create conditions for that collective flow so that we individually And together can get into that flow space.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:18:34]:
And that’s the purpose of We The Leader is to enable teams and organizations and Individuals to get in that flow space on a consistent basis, so it’s more the norm rather than the exception. And then the 3rd pillar is we the leader. So I’m I’m trying to answer, you know, respond to your question. So the question isn’t how do I lead you or how do you lead me? But the question is how do does a community of leader followers Lead projects, lead teams, lead engagements together. And then that’s the question, how how do we do that? And the fundamental aspect to that is this notion of of, cure bringing a curious conviction And inviting others to bring a curious conviction. And I remember when I first said that a few years ago, the CFO of a major financial Company. Wait. I know how to be curious in one moment, And I know how to bring a conviction in another moment, but how do I bring a curiosity and a conviction at the same time in the same action.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:19:53]:
And I said, that’s the question. Because from my experience and research, That’s what unlocks consistent collective flow. It enables us to get explicit about sometimes what we do implicitly So we can choose it over and over and over again. So that’s kind of the summation of the The the we, the leader, and what comes to mind when I say that.

Scott McCarthy [00:20:21]:
That’s that’s awesome. Wow. There’s so many good parts in there. I really like the, you know, avoiding the reaction. I always say be proactive, not reactive to to my teams, to people I coach, to the members of my, my, Mastermind community, it’s always better to be proactive vice reactive because, you know, being proactive means you’ve thought about it. You’ve analyzed the situation or whatever. You’re you’re taking whatever steps are available to you to get ahead of whatever problem that you’re facing. And that in turn enables you to avoid stress, avoids that blow ups that you could talk to, etcetera.

Scott McCarthy [00:21:02]:
Right? Yeah. Right. The common purpose for an organization, which, I I I love, you know, us in the army, we call it the mission. How should leaders out there, one, go about, you know, determining and and I don’t think you know, especially for businesses, profits is not it anymore. It can’t be just That common purpose is not gonna be profits anymore. So, you know, the business leaders out there are listening, like, you know, what is my common purpose gonna be? So, one, how can they go about determining what that best common purpose for the organization should be, and 2, you know, what’s the best way to get people on board with it?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:21:46]:
Right. Wow. I love those questions. So I did research, Several years ago, on the purpose of business, some 20 years ago, and and, you know, it wasn’t popular then. And but I had the opportunity to meet some of the top executives in Chicago and and across the country. And, I came up with, 5 common 5 ways to think about the purpose of a of a company. And this was through interviewing people. I I remember interviewing, Somebody in Britain, I forget the name right now, but they had a company.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:22:30]:
And the purpose is that of that company was to make money To support a Buddhist movement. So their their their mission, that was it. And they they were they were providing jobs, But that was that was primarily it. So their purpose was the community. Right? And then you have the purpose of the customer. Right. And then then you also had the purpose of the company, developing the company itself. And then you have the purpose of commerce making money.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:23:03]:
And so these, what identified as the the different ways of thinking about and categorizing the common purpose. And as you mentioned, in today’s world and the leadership of the business round table and the leadership of of investors, you know, what they want and what people are asking for now in terms of ESG and And diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s it’s becoming more and more about making the world a better place in one form or another. And then, depending upon the the focus of the company and what the company offers, that can be the purpose. But I think there are legitimate forms all the way through. In my and I wrote an article, capitalist manifesto, Reimagining business in the 21st century, and the notion was basically, hey. Profits are a means and a measure of accomplishing a broader purpose. We gotta have profits to keep going, I you know, One way or another. And so they’re positive.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:24:13]:
They’re necessary. And, and they’re also a measure of the impact one’s having. But they’re not the perps not not the purpose. And, at least even back then, There was major research in Good to Great and other books that companies experience exceptional long term fine Financial success had a purpose other than making money.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:43]:
You know, this day and age, I would even suggest focusing on profits is gonna sink your company. Right? It it it’s it Yeah. And if you

Jeffrey Spahn [00:24:55]:
I mean, 20 years ago, that would have been you wouldn’t even said it.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:00]:
Right? But but here’s here’s here’s the, you know, the counter to that is if you focus on a purpose, you could become the richest organ you know, richest company in the world. So if you look at, like, Amazon, you know, Jeff Bezos, Jeff came you know, Jeff’s, like, one of the richest people in the world, but they solve the problem. They they solve the huge problem. In fact, you know, Amazon, I would argue, was probably one of the reasons why we we’ve gotten through the pandemic as well as we have.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:25:37]:
I mean, can you imagine? Yeah. Yeah. Right?

Scott McCarthy [00:25:39]:
The ability to have anything at your fingertips to buy when to go outside and interact with the world is a health risk. Right? Now I’m sure people will argue about the minimum wage issues and the drivers. I’m not I’m not gonna go down that route. But just looking at it from a purpose standpoint, you know, you’ve turned that into one of the richest companies that ever has ever existed. Yeah.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:26:09]:
Yeah. Right.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:10]:
Now earlier you’ve mentioned

Jeffrey Spahn [00:26:12]:
I would like to see those I would like to see those delivery folks get paid more. I’ll Tell you that much. Well yeah. And and I’m I’m right behind your point.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:20]:
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s a that’s another conversation for another day.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:26:24]:
Yeah. It is.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:24]:
But it’s just the the moral of, you know, you know, going behind that purpose. And the the purpose, you know, and the purpose for Amazon is speedy delivery of basically anything and everything. Yeah. Having having having anything a buyer would want at their fingertips.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:26:43]:
Meeting that human need.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:45]:
And then what you would need. Right?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:26:46]:
So What people want and what people need and and, Doing it consistently and effectively.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:53]:
For sure. Now you you mentioned curious conviction earlier, And that that spiked my curiosity. So, 1, what do you mean by that? And, 2, you glazed over the nugget of how does one go about establishing that?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:27:09]:
Right. I did glaze it with a nugget. I’m trying to Generate some curiosity. So, yeah, the The the thing I love about The Curious Conviction is that I see that as the methodology For learning to lead and follow at the same time. And that is the practice then of this evolved community Of leader followers. Right? So, okay, how do you lead and follow at the same time? And I’ll just share with you 3 Three simple steps. And I I’m a little hesitant because through the book, we kinda walk through these processes And and build a foundation for each one, but it really comes down to this. The first step is to believe in consilience.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:28:03]:
Now I wanna talk about those 2 words. 1st, consilience. Consilience is a word taken from evolutionary biology, And it basically means the jumping together of different ideas, different energy for something new. Think of procreation, the jumping together of 2 opposite sex to create something new. That’s a fundamental principle that human the impulse of life itself. And in the book, I go through and show how Oh, that’s in chemistry and physics and in biology. It’s present in aerodynamics. It’s a a prevalent dynamic, but it hasn’t been in leadership.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:28:50]:
And so the the notion is the we, the leader, is not Just an innovative process for enhanced innovation. It’s also a an innovative leadership process That jumps together leading and following, and they’re doing both at the same time to create something new. So there’s a double dimension around the content. You say yes, I say no. We can try to debate it or we can Articulate our our convictions with curiosity and find a third way. And so, I noticed in your response to the simultaneous, quiz, you know, that you took and sent back to me That, you often have a you often look for what’s emerging in a conversation. That’s different Then trying to win the conversation. It you’re you’re you had a 55 there about, okay.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:29:55]:
Hey. What’s emerging in this conversation? And that’s a key component of bringing a curious conviction. So the first thing is To believe in consilience. And to believe doesn’t just mean intellectually, but to act on it. To be able to act in a way so that When you and you say something that threatens me instead of me reacting from that threat, I’m able to step back and take responsibility for my re response. And and then I I I’m able to reframe our differences as an opportunity to be innovative, As an opportunity to create. So that’s that’s a mindset.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:43]:
No. I I I like it. I like it a lot. And, That’s cool that, you noticed that I had filled out your, your online form there. For the for the listener out there, you you mentioned So why don’t you just quickly go over what it is and what it’s meant to do quickly so that they have an understanding?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:31:00]:
Yes. Yes. And I I can give reference to it at the end. Well, the the the purpose is not to categorize people. I I I kinda you know, I have a hesitancy about some of these quizzes and assessment guys. Okay. You’re this type person. You’re that type.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:31:16]:
It may be you tend to be more this way than that way, but the key is becoming aware of where you are, And then having the from that awareness is be able to move in the way that you wanna move. And so that’s the purpose of the of the, of the quiz. And, and then it introduces some of the the notions of a like, of a curious conviction. And, that was one of the questions. How often what how do you see yourself in terms of experiencing a curious conviction? So the the that’s that’s the first point, believing and and being able to act upon this belief that, wow, we can Create from our differences. We innovate from our differences. It’s not just some concept out here. It’s The actual evolutionary impulse of life itself.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:32:10]:
We can’t exist without it. And, and then the We The Leader brings that into not only the content of the conversation, But the identity of each of us as leader and followers, 2 seemingly opposing things at the same time. There is energy there. Just think about the Battery. Right? If you got a battery and there’s 2 positive ends, you’re not getting any energy if there’s 2 negative end. But if you got a positive and a negative, Boom. You’ve got charge. And that plays out in conversations.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:32:45]:
That plays out in relationships. And it creates Being aware of that and being able to hold that space creates creates the context for consistent collective flow. So that’s 1. Believe in consilience, and then bring a piece, Not the whole thing. Because you don’t have the whole thing. Bring your unique piece, what you uniquely think and feel, And bring it with conviction and passion. But realize it’s only a piece. It’s not the whole thing.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:33:20]:
And that other people have other pieces that are unique and vital and different. And so it’s not about debating and winning the conversation or convincing others. It’s about conversing And and and welcoming opposing points of view. Not just tolerating And, you know, not just including, but celebrating the difference. And and a lot of times, now we can get back to leading one’s own life. Right? Because If I’m reactive and I just feel threatened and I don’t know it, I can’t do this. But if I’ve Develop the awareness to observe myself, and in that space, make fresh choices, I can develop that inner capacity to Notice my threat or my fear and not act upon it and, and actually be able to Integrate and transmute that energy in a positive way because we bring a piece, not the whole. Is that making making some sense?

Scott McCarthy [00:34:28]:
Absolutely. I I I love the bring a piece, not the whole because, you know Yeah. That’s that becomes micromanagement when you bring the whole. Yeah. You You know?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:34:38]:
Yeah. You don’t have the whole.

Scott McCarthy [00:34:39]:
You don’t have the whole. So

Jeffrey Spahn [00:34:42]:
I mean, It it used to be that leaders thought they had the hole and they had good reason because, we didn’t experience the complexity and the rapid change of life. But now, you know, you I think about your, operation planning groups. You know? You got people there from different all across because they’re all have vital pieces and nobody has the whole. And together, you you can find ways to Discover the hole, and then everybody is committed and enthused and knows what to do.

Scott McCarthy [00:35:19]:
I got a I got a little bit of a funny story regarding about the piece and not the whole

Jeffrey Spahn [00:35:24]:
share it.

Scott McCarthy [00:35:25]:
So, I’m a graduate of Canada’s Royal Military College K. So, you know, equivalent to you guys at West Point down there, Annapolis Valley, Colorado Springs. And, literally, I think the day after graduation or handing in equipment that stays there at the college, I didn’t need anymore because I was graduate. And, as we’re in line handing this stuff a fin, there was a sergeant there, and he’s like, and because we’re all now commissioned sick lift tenants. He’s like, my last word to you, you don’t know shit. I said the the exact words. And and I was like, Okay. He’s like, you don’t know shit, and you’ll never know shit through your whole career.

Scott McCarthy [00:36:10]:
And it’s And it’s basically, you know, army mouth for what you just said is that you bring a piece now.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:36:17]:

Scott McCarthy [00:36:17]:
Do I know nothing? No. I don’t obviously, I know things For sure. Right? But the moral of the stat story is that no matter what situation you go in, you gotta go in with a bit humility because you don’t know it all. You bring your part to the table. And as a leader, sometimes that is, you know, some kind of expertise, like you said, with my operational planning groups, I bring my logistics background to those things. Other times when I’m working with my team, I’m bringing the decision making experience aspect to the table. Mhmm. But they, which are like movements, supply, maintenance guys, operational planning folks, blah blah blah, they’re bringing their expertise to my table, and then I my piece is, okay, I need to to, you know, deconflict, prioritize, make some decisions, bring some experience to it, and say, okay.

Scott McCarthy [00:37:10]:
Have we thought about this? Have we got that angle? Has this been checked off, etcetera, etcetera.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:37:15]:
Yeah. So Wow. A couple beautiful examples there of, of of bringing the peace. And It another way to think about this, Scott, a a a metaphor is putting a puzzle together. Okay. If we if we if we’re sitting around the table and we say a puzzle has 50 pieces and there’s 5 of us and we each have 10 pieces. Right? So what we do is and they’re blank blank side up. So we Got our 10 pieces, and we turn that piece over, and we look at it.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:37:52]:
You know, it has a distinctive color and shape, and everybody’s looking at those pieces. And then to put the puzzle together, we bring it out into the center between us. Right? And we let it go. And then we start to see how these different unique pieces start to fit together. And it can get frustrating Sometimes if we don’t step back and see the wider picture. And then eventually, we’ve got a puzzle. We got a picture of, Okay. Here’s where we’re gonna go forward.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:38:26]:
Now what didn’t happen is important here. Nobody took their piece and stuck it in their pocket. And nobody got their piece and said, this my 10 pieces, this is the whole puzzle. If they did, that puzzle’s not getting put together. So we bring that to your operations planning meeting or what the the situation you just described with your team. And so I don’t come in with thinking my piece is the whole puzzle. Right? Just like you just demonstrated. And at the same time, you don’t just sit back and hide your piece Thinking I don’t really have anything to contribute here or the last time I got shut down and no one listens to me anyway or I’m not that smart or experienced.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:39:15]:
No. You bring your piece forward. In this case, it was the decision making capacity and the experience. And and it’s that move of I bring my I I bring my thoughts forward. I assert my thinking and feeling and my perspective, of my convictions and passion, and I let it go as a piece. And then I look for other people’s pieces, particularly those that are different Because there is the innovative opportunities.

Scott McCarthy [00:39:48]:
Love it. I absolutely love it. Jeff, you know, when we get these different pieces, and by pieces, I mean, people, and they bring their pieces. And you’ve talked about it a number of times, and that is often you know, it’s the dichotomy. Right? The almost conflict. You know? Different points of views and stuff like this, but that does result in conflict. Does result in sometimes a lot of ego. So with that, you know, how can leaders out there, best ensure that, 1, their team members check their ego at the door per se, and 2, resolve the conflicts that arise with teams in these times.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:40:30]:
Right. Okay. The checking the ego at the doors. You know, I’ve heard, military examples that People put their stripes at the door before they go in to debrief, literally, but take the stripes off. And and we do that with the we the leader process by saying everyone is different, unique as I’ve already said. Everyone is equal as we we talked about with the common purpose, And everyone is vital. Every everyone is vital, and everyone is included. So everyone is diverse, equal, and vital.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:41:14]:
That’s the mental framework of Of we the leader. The mindset of who I am and who you are as leader followers. And so that is just foundational to Who we are. And and then a curious conviction is a way we express that on a consistent basis. And so, having that mindset and being held accountable to that mindset Undermines that ego and my need to control and my my fear of letting go and and really being open to What’s evolving here, not what I think is in only in my best interest.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:57]:
Makes absolute sense, honestly. Just by going through the whole process, you’re gonna naturally 1, you can’t you can’t even start thinking in the context of we, the leader, if we cannot drop our egos or check them out the door. Yeah. You can’t even start

Jeffrey Spahn [00:42:14]:
that process. So And and what what I see sometimes, Scott, and I I bet you’ve seen this too in in teams and in individuals, is that sometimes, I see folks wanting to emphasize the curiosity and make room for other people. I hear some some leaders saying, oh, I’m not gonna say anything. I want room for everybody else. Well, I understand that can be a step if you’re a dominant purpose Person, but we can’t stop there because everyone’s trying to figure out what you think and feel anyway. And that’s just an example of hiding your your pieces. But you but the leader needs to find a way to bring their pieces forward as pieces and not the whole, and that’s where the curious conviction comes into play. On the other on the other hand, we know of leaders, and we’ve probably been those leaders ourselves who have the conviction And want to dominate, but don’t have the curiosity.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:43:12]:
And so the the there’s a need for both of those because that’s what’s real. That’s the that’s the authenticity and that’s where the energy is. We’re equal, different, and vital. And As we learn to relate to each other in that way through a curious conviction, we tap into that collective, consistent collective flow, and that that’s actually where the magic is.

Scott McCarthy [00:43:40]:
You know, I love that we are all equal. Right? I come before my extremely hierarchical background, the day you show up, you’re given a rank, and you’re you’re told your place on the totem pole per se. But when when you say we are all equal, I don’t see our rank structure disappearing per se, but rather, we are all equal in the sense of what we’re bringing to the table. So the, you know, the experience and the expertise that the different team members bring to the table is just as important as my abilities as the leader to either, you know, draw that out or prioritize or make the decisions or deconflict different issues, etcetera, etcetera. That is just as vital because without those different pieces, just like you said, the puzzle, which ironically, my wife is a big puzzler, and they’re sitting 1 to my right on her puzzle table in our office, you know, so a yank start yanking a couple pieces that are apparently, you know, quote, unquote not equal, well, it falls apart. It’s no longer complete. So Yeah. Oh, I I really love that.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:44:54]:
Yeah. And, you know, the thing about this, Scott, is is the the notion of the uniqueness of everyone and everybody’s different. And then in their diversity, everybody’s equal. And in their diversity and equality, Everybody’s vital. That is an organic operating system for DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is so popular and necessary in today’s world. And it it creates a context for culture and the habits of unconscious bias and the other DEI premises. But so often, DEI efforts fall short Because they don’t have a context and a culture that nurtures it day after day after day after day By realizing that diversity, the equality, And the vitality of everyone all the time. Everybody all the time.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:46:00]:
And the hierarchy serves to bring that structure to enable that to happen. And it’s not about command and control. It’s about creating a context for consistent flow to take place.

Scott McCarthy [00:46:17]:
What a powerful message to start begin to wind the showdown. Wow, Jeff. I feel like we could talk all night, sir, on this topic for sure. Yeah. But, unfortunately, all good things do come to an end. Before I hit, you know, in on the record here, I do got a couple last questions for you. 1st being a question I ask all the guests here at the podcast. As according to you, Jeff Fan, what makes a great leader?

Jeffrey Spahn [00:46:48]:
A great leader practices a curious conviction consistently, And I I just described what that is. And and that, I think, is the the component that brings together so many different things, including the capacity to lead oneself. We you can’t really bring that curious conviction if we’re in a reactive state. And the thing I’ve seen that I find so fascinating, God about this curious conviction is in some situations, it’s easier than others. But when it’s contentious and then there’s Threatened, people feel threatened by the change, it can be very challenging to do it. And I’ve seen people in the context of a common understanding and commitment to practice a curious conviction excel. And then they go to another team where that’s not happening, and it just goes flat, if not downward. And so it’s it’s important to have that context, that structure, that supports, and those agreements that support the effort of a curious conviction.

Scott McCarthy [00:48:05]:
Awesome, sir. Absolutely awesome. And the final question of the show, how can people find you? How can they follow you? Grab a copy of the book? Shameless plugs all around. It’s all about you now.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:48:15]:
Yes. Yes. Yes. We the leader. W w w dot we the leader.com, and there’s actually a new assessment there that you might be And then Scott, it’s based upon the one that you took. And but this is the website for the book. You can take the assessment if you want. If you don’t, just Move down and you will, be able to purchase the book on Amazon, as you referred to earlier.

Scott McCarthy [00:48:46]:
Awesome. And for you, the listeners always, the links, they’re easy to find. They’re in the show notes along with Jeff’s socials. You just go to moving forward leadership .comforward/213, and they’re all there. Jeff, my friend, thank you for coming out and spending time with us today.

Jeffrey Spahn [00:49:04]:
Thank you, Scott. It’s been been a lot of fun and and enlightening.

Scott McCarthy [00:49:11]:
And that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the peak performance leadership podcast. But you know what you could do to truly support the podcast and know that’s not leaving a rating and review? It’s simply helping a friend, And that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them if you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate their performance level, whether that’s within themselves, their teams, or their organization. So do that. Help me. Help a friend win win all around and, hey, you look like a great friend at the same time. So just hit that little share button on your app, And then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it.

Scott McCarthy [00:50:01]:
Finally, there’s always more. There’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be, whether that’s for yourself, your team, or your organization. So why don’t you subscribe? Subscribe to the show via moving forward leadership.com forward slash subscribe. Until next time, we don’t boss, and thanks for coming out. Take care now.