Ep036 Fierce Leadership, Radical Transparency, and Deeper Human Connectivity with Susan Scott

TalentGrow Show episode 36 Fierce Leadership radical transparency and deeper human connectivity with Susan Scott and host Halelly Azulay

Susan Scott, best-selling author and leadership development architect, explains what fierce conversations are, why it’s important that we have them (a lot!), and a common obstacle we all face and how to overcome it when having these types of conversations – both at work in your personal lives. In our conversation, Susan also talks about how to be open and more transparent and invite this kind of openness from others (and what some of us might be doing to hinder that). She explores why she thinks careful conversations are almost always failed conversations. We also discuss the concept of radical transparency, which Susan advocates, and the difference between fierce leaders and other leaders. And of course, Susan shares one actionable suggestion that will help you upgrade your leadership and will make a HUGE difference in the quality of your conversations and your relationships. You should really begin doing it, today!

“We are all navigating our lives one conversation at a time. Our careers, our companies, our relationships, our lives are succeeding – or failing – gradually, gradually, gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time.” ~ Susan Scott
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What you'll learn:

  • Why having a ‘curly career line’ is not only common, but good (3:10)
  • What’s Susan suggestion for how young people should choose their college major and why? (3:46)
  • Why is it important to have tough conversations – what Susan calls “Fierce Conversations” (which is the title of her first book). (5:37)
  • Great quotation: “We are all navigating our lives one conversation at a time. Our careers, our companies, our relationships, our lives are succeeding – or failing – gradually, gradually, gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time.” (5:37)
  • What is the definition of a fierce conversation? (6:08)
  • What’s a common obstacle for all of us to having better conversations? (6:38)
  • “No one person is right all the time about everything.” (7:50)
  • Why being strong and being right can be turn-offs rather than turn-ons? What should leaders of all stripes do instead? (8:05)
  • Why you should learn to cultivate genuine curiosity and be willing to disclose what you’re really thinking and feeling, even though it can be risky some times. (8:40)
  • Do you invite people to be open with you, and to push back on your thoughts and ideas? (10:26)
  • Are there prerequisite conditions for this much transparency? (Susan says it’s a common question but she suggests we don’t wait for the right moment…) (11:11)
  • How is trust built and lost? What does it require? (12:07)
  • Why careful conversations are almost always failed conversations? (13:13)
  • Why there is never a ‘spontaneous recovery’ from a bad attitude – and what should be done instead? (13:40)
  • What seems to be creeping up in every corner for Halelly? (14:40)
  • Why we can no longer compartmentalize our image – and why you should still manage what you put out into the world? (14:57)
  • What’s the core desire driving the overly-selfie-izing generation? Why does Susan think there is such a thing as over-sharing? (16:30)
  • Why it’s totally okay for an organization to have an expectation for employees to model its values – it’s not ‘anything goes’? (18:05)
  • How being more transparent can actually help you raise the bar in all your contexts (19:36)
  • Why should you “obey your instincts”? (20:10)
  • Why you should listen to the next TalentGrow Show episode after this one so you can ensure you make good decisions (especially so you can train your instincts) (20:50)
  • What is one of the differentiations between a fierce leader and a non-fierce leader? (21:40)
  • What’s the worst thing you can do to mess up everything once people are actually open with you? (22:16)
  • What is ‘radical transparency’ and how did Susan describe it in her excellent TEDx talk? (22:53)
  • What’s a mistake we make about radical transparency? (Hint: it has to do with you) (23:18)
  • What can you specifically say when someone confronts you with something that is very transparent and difficult to hear? (23:40)
  • What’s the thread that runs through everything that’s ‘Fierce’ and is the next frontier for spectacular, exponential growth and the only sustainable competitive edge (whether for your company, team, or you as a person)? (25:00)
  • What are the metaphors painting themselves in Halelly’s mind as Susan describes the core threat behind everything she does? (26:45)
  • What should we do about the mixed messages we get in our highly litigious, PC society? What should we NOT do about it? (27:43)
  • Why we have to stop tiptoeing around the overly-sensitive people in our lives? (29:00)
  • What’s Susan’s exciting news? (30:03)
  • What is an actionable tip Susan shares that will help you upgrade your leadership and will make a HUGE difference in the quality of your conversations and your relationships? (Please do it!!) (30:55)
  • “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career or a company, or a relationship, or a life, any single conversation CAN.” Treat them with their due respect and make them fierce! (32:00)  [Hey - that's a tweetable! Tweet it out now!]
Tweet: “While no single conversation is grntd to change the trajectory of a career, any single convo CAN.”  ~Susan Scott
http://tinyurl.com/hasmvgf
“While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career (or a company, or a relationship, or a life), any single conversation CAN.” 
[Hey - that's a tweetable! Tweet it out now!]

Resources

About Susan Scott

Susan Scott is a best-selling author and leadership development architect who has enabled top executives worldwide to engage in vibrant dialogue with one another, with their employees, and with their customers for two decades.

Susan Scott sets the company’s strategic vision and creates the culture through her ongoing commitment to ensure employees are engaged, communication is candid, and learning is continuous.

For 13 years, Susan ran think tanks for CEOs and designed and delivered training to peers working with CEOs in 18 countries. In 2002, Fierce Conversations — Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time, was published in 4 countries and, shortly thereafter, was listed on The Wall Street Journal and UPI best seller lists, and was one of USA TODAY’S top 40 business books of 2002. Her much anticipated second book — Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today was published September 15, 2009. In its debut week, the book was listed on The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times best seller lists.

Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show! This is Halelly Azulay, I’m your leadership development strategist and I’m excited to introduce you to episode 36, where my guest is Susan Scott. Susan and I talk about the term “fierce conversations” which she coined and wrote books about, and what it means and why it’s important that we have them. And also what is a common obstacle that we all face and how to overcome it when having these types of conversations, both at work and in our personal lives. Susan and I also talk about how to be more open and more transparent, and invite the same from others. There is something that a lot of us are doing that might be getting in our way. And also why she thinks careful conversations are almost always failed conversations. In fact, we talk about the concept of radical transparency, which Susan advocates, and the difference between what fierce leaders are doing and what other leaders are doing. And of course, Susan shares one actionable suggestion that will help you upgrade your leadership and communication skills and will make a huge difference in the quality of your conversations and quality of your relationships. And I think you should really begin doing it today, as soon as you finish listening to this episode! So here we go, episode 36. Let’s go.

Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist and I’m very happy to introduce you to today’s guest, who is Susan Scott, the founder and CEO of a company called Fierce. She’s also a speaker and a best selling author of two books, Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership. Susan, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.

Susan: Thank you Halelly, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Halelly: It is my pleasure to have you with us, and before we get started sharing your amazing insights with our listeners, I always like to make sure that we get introduced to your professional journey in a very short amount of time. Can you describe where you started and how you got to where you are today?

Susan: I can describe the trajectory and I won’t go into the details about how I jumped from one to the next to the next, because it’s too complicated! But I started out as a high school English teacher, became then a headhunter, and then the vice president of the headhunting firm. Then became a facilitator of all kinds of programs both for personal growth and for business, and then became the chair of two groups of CEOs here in Seattle that I ran for 13 years, and from that, that was really the primary launching pad for Fierce. So you know, life is very curly and you can’t straighten it out and nobody’s life goes in a straight line. Mine certainly didn’t!

Halelly: You know, I’ve found that to be so true with almost everyone I speak to, which is one of the reasons why I selfishly ask this question, because I just find it so fascinating to hear about these different trajectories and the meandering paths that lead people different places. And I hope to inspire the listeners to see that there are so many ways to reach your potential, and they are rarely something that you would have predicted going in.

Susan: Yes, and you know I think people sometimes are hesitant to commit, like I have two granddaughters going into college and you know, what should my major be? That seems to be a very intimidating choice, but I’ve said to them it doesn’t matter. Just pick something you’re interested in and give yourself permission to change your mind. Because people do change. I mean, nobody stays in a company for 50 years anymore, and gets the gold watch when they retire. It’s much more interesting to move as your soul requires you to do from time to time.

Halelly: Yes, it’s true. It’s always been true, but now it’s more possible than every. It’s more accepted.

Susan: Right.

Halelly: That’s fantastic. I love it. And good for you! What a great and amazing career you have built. I’ve come across your name before meeting you. I was really fortunate to have just met you recently in March when we both attended a professional conference. Both of us were in the learning suite and so we connected and I feel fortunate. And before that, I was very familiar with your work because it’s one of the most often quoted books and your company is extremely successful as a result of the body of knowledge that you have built, especially initially with your book Fierce Conversations. So we only have a half hour to talk and so we can’t cover everything that you have to share about the topic, but if you could summarize what you think is the most important lesson that people need to learn about having some of those conversations that lots of people want to avoid and that you’ve been helping people in the world have these conversations. What do you think is the most main lesson?

Susan: I think when we’re doing a training for our clients, the first thing we do is get across the very important “why” are we even talking about these conversations? I really want people to understand that we are all navigating our lives, one conversation at a time. Our careers, our companies, our relationships, our lives are succeeding or failing, gradually, gradually, gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time. So for people to even be conscious of that is very, very important. And most of us are not really conscious of that. And I think right now, a fierce conversation is, at its simplest definition, it’s one that we come out from behind ourselves into our conversations and make them real. But that’s not so easy, and we tend to sort of settle on beliefs and truths and then behave as if our beliefs and truths are real, and that can cause a problem. For example, an obstacle for most of us – and I include myself here – is that we’re in love with our own beliefs, our own practices, our own way of life, and we’re so convinced that they’re right, that they’re true, that they’re irrefutable, that we don’t entertain the possibility that our truths may have only an element of truth in them. Or maybe they were true once upon a time and they’re no longer true today, or they may be true in theory, but in reality they aren’t working. And I’m thinking specifically of the current political debate that’s going on in the U.S. that is very, very disturbing to a lot of us.

And I think that from the perspective of fierce conversations, when our version of the truth is cast in bronze and we suppress all evidence to the contrary by silencing those that we read or silencing those who see things differently than we do, we end up sinking into practice and habit and often are ultimately left contemplating the ashes of our downsized opportunity. Because no one person is right all the time about everything. And we wonder when the next turning point is going to come along and if we don’t recognize, we’re going to incinerate that one too. And the point I really want people to be considering today is that being strong and being right can be turnoffs, not turn-ons. I think that modesty is called for here. Humility. You may be great, you may know a lot of stuff, but you’re not that great. You don’t know everything. That’s true for all of us. So we need, for leaders especially, but just human beings, to become more open, more flexible, less egotistic, less hypocritical and we’ve really gotten to loosen our death grip on whatever we believe to be the truth simply because it’s how we want the truth to look.

So in a fierce conversation one of the objectives is to provoke learning, and that’s for everybody. And that means we’ve got to invite people to influence us by sharing competing perspectives. And that’s really hard! I’ve been avoiding discussions about who I’m going to vote for in November because I have such strong feelings and if I said exactly what I was thinking, I’d end up apologizing half the time for the other half of the things I said. There’s some topics that are so emotional for us that we almost have to avoid them, or we just have to be very aware of how strongly we hold our views and that other people hold very different views and learn to become curious about their thinking. And just say, “Tell me more about this,” instead of just jumping right in and making them wrong.

Halelly: So it sounds like one of your prescriptions is to cultivate curiosity?

Susan: Yes. And you know, genuine curiosity!

Halelly: Yes.

Susan: But we also have to really be willing to disclose what we’re actually thinking and feeling. Even if it feels risky at times. If I say what I’m really thinking, if I share what I’m really feeling right now, there could be consequences. It could make things worse than they are. It could be not a career-enhancing move, for example. And yet what I have found is that there’s something within us, just about everybody on the planet, there’s something within us that responds to those who level with us. Who don’t suggest their compromises for us. Who will say, “This is what I believe. This is what I’m thinking. This is what I’m feeling. And I’m just as interested in understanding what you’re thinking, what you’re really thinking and feeling. And I’m inviting you to push back on my thoughts. I’m inviting you to express ideas entirely different from mine, and help me understand how you see things.”

Halelly: Do you find that this is something that everyone can do in all of their conversations? Or are there prerequisites like a certain level of trust or a certain level of mutual respect or maybe certain conditions of safety in order to be able to be that transparent?

Susan: You know, that’s a common question that I get. And if we wait for just the right moment where we think that just the right amount of trust is there or the right amount of whatever is there and the sun, moon and stars have perfectly aligned and there’s the right music in the background, we’re just not going to have those conversations. I think we have to be, well, as Shakespeare would say, screw your courage to the sticking point, and come out from behind ourselves and model what it is that we want. Because trust is build one conversation at a time. It’s also lost one conversation at a time. And trust requires persistent identity. That means me showing up as myself, completely consistently, all the time, everyday, so that I’m not different depending on who I’m with. I’ll never forget this woman in one of my courses in the early days. She said, “I really used to try to present the images that I thought others desired of me, so I had my image that I would project for my boss, the image that I’d project for my colleagues, for my customers, I’d go home and the image I would project to my family. I’d be out in the community. The image I’d project to my neighbors, the image I’d project to my pastor or my rabbi or priest or whatever.” And she said I woke up one day unrecognizable to myself! And I think that can happen. When we’re being so careful and waiting for conditions to be just right, and I think we’ve got to be ourselves, including with our flaws, which all of us have, consistently, and with good intent. That’s very important, of course. And stop being so careful. I think careful conversations are almost always failed conversations. Because they’re just postponing the conversations that really want and need to take place.

One point I want to make, Halelly, is that fierce conversations, they do include the conversations you mentioned, the ones we’ve been avoiding. Maybe we need to confront somebody about their behavior, their attitude. And I certainly never witness this spontaneous recovery from a bad attitude or bad performance, so it does require a conversation. But a fierce conversation, since it’s basically about being real, and it wants to interrogate reality and provoke learning and tackle tough challenges and enrich relationships, it can be how we conduct the meeting, how we have the one-to-one where we’re just exploring the issues on somebody’s plate. It can be praising someone. It can be letting them know specifically what it is that we love about them or appreciate about them. All of that is fierce. Very fierce. It’s very real. And there’s not nearly enough of it going around.

Halelly: When I think about this – I actually have been thinking about this so much – it keeps coming up in ever corner, no matter who I talk to or what I’m reading. It seems to be coming up more and more. And I think it’s a result of the world that we live in where social media and maybe the millennial generation have opened up the floodgates … no, maybe not the floodgates, but it’s like the damn has been lifted that said you can separate your personal self from your professional self, or you can project a certain image or hide certain things. Like everybody sees us in our full glory now. Everywhere. And it’s very difficult to screen or filter out certain things to certain audiences. And so it’s like that coming to terms with it. You have to project one consistent persona everywhere and that’s going to be uncomfortable for people who maybe knew another way, another world. The people that didn’t know another world don’t know what the problem is, probably.

Susan: Well, when you say another world, what do you mean?

Halelly: I mean those of us who have been maybe in the workplace where you did keep personal things out, and you projected … like you came in and you had your suit and you chose very carefully what pictures you could put on your desk and no one knew very much about you besides what you chose to display in your workplace and you kept your mouth shut about your opinions and about certain things and so on. And now, your pictures are on Facebook, your pictures are on Twitter, your viewpoints about politics, about everything, everything is out and everyone – almost everyone – can see it. There are still people who try to keep it compartmentalized, but it’s like they’re just holding onto these threads that are not there anymore.

Susan: Right. Well, I will say that I still don’t understand why so many people think that the world is interested in everything that they’re doing! Do you have to post everything on Facebook and take a jillion selfies as they walk down the street? But in talking to some of the younger people in our offices – and we have a lot of them – they’re saying it’s really, there’s this desire to belong. A need to belong, and somehow posting yourself in someway on Facebook, you’re saying, “I’m here. I’m still part of the tribe. See me, notice me. I want to be in, not on the outside.” And that I get. I do think that there is such a thing as over sharing in the workplace. It’s like we do have work to do, and it’s funny. Here, we have a very playful culture and lots of laughing, lots of teasing. I mean, there’s all kinds of fun things going on. We’ve got a happy hour today, toward the end of the day, that is always fun. And, we have work to do. So, there’s the chitchat and the playfulness and the “let’s get to work,” but I don’t think there are too many secrets here. We know who is straight, we know who is gay, we know who is bi, we know everything. And we know who is voting for who and we just know these things. It’s not hidden and people discover very quickly that it is safe here to disclose who you really are, that you’re welcome. Whoever you are, you’re welcome as long as you model the values that are important to success within our culture. And model the principles and practices that we teach our clients.

Halelly: I love that. I think that’s a really good thing to point out. It’s not like anything goes and anybody can be anything. You can be yourself, but if you’re within an organization and within a certain team, there are shared values that you’re expected to uphold.

Susan: And we have terminated people who did not model those values. Herb Kelleher who was the founder of Southwest Airlines would tell new employees, “We can and we will fire you for a bad attitude.” You don’t get to stay here just because we’ve hired here. And even if you’re meeting your goals – if your attitude is bad and there’s something about you that just feels off, we’ll say goodbye to you and wish you well somewhere else. So we do need to pay attention to how we’re behaving in all of our lives. To your point, Halelly, our personal lives as well as our professional lives, because they’re pretty inseparable at times and we see who someone is over time. The whole person.

Halelly: Exactly. And I think what we’re agreeing on is maybe it’s raising the bar. You can’t be a jerk in your personal life, right? You have to raise the bar and actually step up and be transparent and aspire to be a great person in all of your interactions, in all of your conversations. You can’t be one way at home and one way at work, where work is like –

Susan: No. I mean, the real you, we’re going to get who the real you is whether you want us to or not. I mean, people have amazing radar, and we just pick up what the truth is about someone, pretty quickly. One of the principles of Fierce Conversations is obey your instincts. Don’t just notice them or pay attention to them, obey them. We’re getting these messages from this, our own private intelligence officer in our heads and our souls and our guts that’s sending us messages all day long and there is almost always something to those messages that we get. So even if somebody is standing in front of us and saying one thing and we get the sense that they’re actually saying they’re going to turn right and I’m pretty sure they’re going to turn left, we’re usually right. We don’t even know how we know these things.

Halelly: And in fact, the episode that will come out two weeks after this one is live is about decision-making and about how you should listen to your intuition, but you should also train your intuition. Because there’s a lot of mistakes you make because of thinking fallacies. It’s very interesting, that whole “trust your instinct but be careful” because it can lead you the wrong way.

Susan: Again, absolutely, going back to the first thing I was saying was we fall in love with our beliefs and our practices and we believe this is true and we’re not open to the fact that maybe it is or maybe it isn’t entirely true, then we can … we won’t even see the things that challenge our beliefs. We won’t even see them.

Halelly: We have that confirmation bias.

Susan: Yeah, we want to be right. One of the differentiations between a fierce leader and a not so fierce leader is that a fierce leader wants to get it right, not be right. A fierce leader wants to get it right for all of us, and that would mean inviting those competing perspectives, and really inviting it and modeling it and being completely transparent and inviting that transparency from others. And then when they are transparent, for God sakes don’t punish them, thank them! Even if you didn’t want to hear this today, even if you feel completely differently, if you’ve invited people to tell you what they really think and feel and they do, consider yourself very lucky and don’t mess it up by saying, “Well, yeah, I hear you, but …” and then diving right back into building your own case again. Which is what we do! All of us do. I’ve done it too. And then we wonder why, “Okay, there’s no trust here,” because we just taught this person that when I ask you to tell me what you’re really thinking, I don’t really mean it.

Halelly: Yes! Oh my gosh, that’s so true, and we teach people with our reactions, just as much as with our words and actions. I enjoyed your TEDx talk about fierce leadership.

Susan: And radical transparency.

Halelly: And that is just something that’s so interesting and it sounds like that’s what we’re talking about here.

Susan: It is, and that’s … people use the word, I’m hearing the word “transparency” more these days than I’ve ever heard it before. And we’re all attracted to authenticity, to transparency, and ye the mistake we make is that we tend to think about other people. That other people need to be transparent. That other people need to be authentic. We don’t recognized where in our own lives that we are not being transparent. We are being inauthentic. And so it’s very important to model what it is that you say you want. And then behave with grace and genuine appreciation when someone steps over that risky line and says, “Okay, you asked, here’s what worries me.” Even maybe to say something like, “Thank you. I know that took guts to say that and I really appreciate that you said that. Say more about it.”

Halelly: Great. That was exactly what I wanted to ask you, like what do you specifically say when someone confronts you or says something and that was a great example. Thank you for sharing that. That took guts.

Susan: Thank you for saying that. Tell me more. Keep talking. You know, say more about that. And mean it. You can’t fake curious.

Halelly: No, right. Genuinely curious. Genuinely interested. Thank you for sharing that, I appreciate it. Before we wrap up, we’re going to share a very specific and actionable tip, but I want to ask you two quick questions before that. Your company actually does not only offer training and consulting on how to have fierce conversations, but a whole slew of other related topics that help people become – it looks like – better leaders, which is a focus we share in common. So of all those is there a favorite that you have or one you think precedes all the others?

Susan: I want to share with you the thread that runs through everything that’s fierce, and that is that ultimately, at the end of the day, I believe that the next frontier for spectacular growth, whether it is for an individual human being or for a team within a company or for a company itself, that next frontier for exponential growth and the only sustainable competitive edge lies in the area of human connectivity. And that occurs or fails to occur one conversation at a time. So, for example, if we aren’t really, truly connected to our employees and they aren’t connected to one another, we have low employee engagement. If the people that are working directly with our customers and our clients aren’t really connecting with our customers beyond just what it is that we do and the price that we charge for it, then we’re very vulnerable as a company, because our competitors just have to come in and offer something similar for less and those loyal customers are gone. If what we’ve got going with our employees is an exchange of time and talent for a paycheck, then we become a source for headhunters rather than a destination, and people are easy picking. It’s easy to move somebody out of a company who doesn’t have anything more going for it than, “I come here everyday and do what I do and they give me a paycheck.”

So, you know, really what we’re doing is we’re teaching people, whether we’re teaching a course on negotiations or on generations or on accountability or on team conversations or confrontations or feedback or whatever it is that we’re teaching, it all comes down to connecting at a deep level. And I’m telling leaders, I’ve been telling them for several years now that if you want to become a great leader, or a great human being, you must gain the capacity to connect with the people better important to your success and your happiness at a deep level or lower your aim. So that’s what fierce is mostly about, and that's the thread that runs through everything that we do.

Halelly: That’s great. I love it. I kept feeling like there’s metaphors painting themselves in my mind as you were speaking, about sort of connecting fabric, in order for there to be a seam it has to be tight and otherwise there’s a big gaping hole in between it, or like a sieve with holes and water flowing right through it. It just makes sense. It holds it together.

Even though we’re almost out of time I have to share with you a quick story and see what you think about it. Recently I was flying to a client engagement and the woman next to me on the airplane, I engaged her in conversation and she was a psychiatrist, but she said her daughter is an employment lawyer. And so as we were talking about our work and this kind of topic came up, she said from her daughter’s perspective, what she’s hearing and what she’s starting to suggest to her patients is to not share too much, because everything can now be taken into a lawsuit or everything can be … people are so over sensitive, so when you try to be real and when you try to connect in the workplace, there’s so many mixed messages that are coming out because we have a litigious society and maybe overprotective of everyone and sort of that whole thing of safe space and P.C. and we’ve beat out of people their willingness to be real. What do you think about that?

Susan: That’s right. I think that it’s true that we’ve become that way, and the solution to that is not to be careful about what we say. There are always going to be people out there just looking for a reason to be offended, and people who are super sensitive and get their feelings hurt all the time, and we let those people run the show. And it’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. So we’ve got to stop tiptoeing around the person who is easily offended or very sensitive or takes things the wrong way. We just need to come straight to that person and say, “Let’s sit down and talk about this. I want to talk through this. I really truly need to understand what you’re trying to say or what you’re concerned about, and we need to hear each other.” Because I’ve known teams and companies who were totally under the thumb of one completely messed up human being, who had everybody taught that, “Don’t talk to me, don’t say stuff like this to me or you’ll be sorry.” And that’s just sad. So we can’t let those people run the show. And yet a lot of organizations – and families I might add – are doing exactly that.

Halelly: That’s true. Thank you for that perspective. I tend to agree with you. All right, well, what’s one exciting thing that’s on your horizon? What’s got your attention nowadays in a quick summary?

Susan: I’m just finishing rewriting Fierce Conversations and the revised edition will come out next May and I’m really excited about it because I have learned so much since the book was published, almost 15 years ago, or will be 15 years when it comes out. So much I’ve learned from clients and just being alive a little bit longer. There are new topics, even like when and where to use technology and when and where not to use technology, which is a topic I get asked about all the time. So I’m really excited about that.

Halelly: Great. Can’t wait for it to come out and read it. That’s awesome! So Susan, I appreciated all of your insights and your time and before we tell people how to stay in touch with you, what’s something very actionable that you think listeners could do right away – this afternoon, tomorrow, this week – to upgrade their leadership skills?

Susan: Well, one of the principles of Fierce Conversations is be here, prepared to be nowhere else. And in our conversations, I mean, if anybody listening to this podcast, Halelly, would just do that when they’re with somebody – whether they’re on the phone or face to face or whatever it is, to be with that person in that conversation, prepared to be nowhere else, just giving somebody the purity of your attention for however long that takes would make a huge difference in and perhaps also giving yourself a secret rule that you’re only going to ask questions once the conversation has started. You’re not going to make any declarative statements, you’re just going to ask questions to draw somebody out. Those two things, you know, really being fully present, listening, listening, listening, asking, asking, asking, could be more powerful than most people understand.

Halelly: Yes. And so simple and so hard to do and so important and actionable.

Susan: And so important because while no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career or a company or a relationship or a life, any single conversation can, and we don’t always know when somebody walks in the door and says, “You got a minute?” that this could be one of those conversations.

Halelly: Great. I love it. I think one of the biggest lessons from your work and from speaking with you today is that conversations, each of them is a universe unto itself and extremely important. Treat them with the due respect they deserve.

Susan: Exactly. Because you’ve gotten to wherever you are in your life, one conversation at a time, and you’re going to get to wherever you want to go in your life – or don’t want to go in your life – one conversation at a time. So I’d like people to make them fierce and get where they want to go.

Halelly: Excellent. Fabulous and awesome. Thank you. So, I hope that people will now be clamoring to know more about you and to learn more from you, so what’s the best way for people to stay in touch and learn more about you?

Susan: Well, we have a wonderful website. It’s just FierceInc.com. And there is a place right there on the homepage to sign up for our newsletters and our surveys and our suggestions and everything that we’re doing, and of course we’ll announce when the revised book comes out and all that kind of thing, but there’s lots of really helpful suggestions that come out from time to time.

Halelly: Great. Good, thank you. Well, I will of course link to that in the show notes as well as to your books and include your bio. Susan, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you and I appreciate you. Thank you for coming onto the TalentGrow Show and sharing with our listeners.

Susan: You are so welcome.

Halelly: Thanks for tuning in. I hope you take action on Susan’s advice and I hope that you check out the show notes page where we have links and information about everything that we’ve shared, which is TalentGrow.com/podcast/episode36. Sharing this with others will help me reach more people with this message and more people take action on such important advice as this. So thank you for considering sharing this episode or the podcast in general. And of course, by leaving a review and a rating on iTunes, you help more people discover it through the organic search function on iTunes. So I appreciate that. Have you grabbed the free tool that I’ve created for you? 10 mistakes leaders make and how to overcome them. We all know you don’t want to be making these 10 mistakes – are you? Go check it out, grab the free tool, and that way you’ll also be able to stay in touch with me through my weekly newsletter which is always fast, very upbeat and definitely useful.

So thank you for tuning in. I appreciate you listening to the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist and until the next time, make today great.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.


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