The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast

71 The Pitfalls of Bad Bossing with Dr Jim Salvucci

July 08, 2024 Dr Nia D Thomas Episode 71
71 The Pitfalls of Bad Bossing with Dr Jim Salvucci
The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
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The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
71 The Pitfalls of Bad Bossing with Dr Jim Salvucci
Jul 08, 2024 Episode 71
Dr Nia D Thomas

Welcome to a new episode of the Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast! In today's episode, Nia Thomas hosts an insightful conversation with Dr. Jim Salvucci, president and CEO of Guidance for Greatness. With over 30 years of experience in higher education and the corporate sector, Jim shares his wisdom on self-aware leadership and the pressing need for leaders to step up in their management positions.

The episode delves into the prevalence of bad bossing in the workplace and the transformative power of self-awareness in leadership. Jim shares his experience of bringing visibility and transparency to a faculty council, leading to a positive cultural shift. The conversation also addresses the concept of gaslighting in the workplace and emphasizes the importance of preventing it.

As the dialogue unfolds, Jim Salvucci reflects on his own leadership journey, from his early days in the Boy Scouts to becoming a dean and vice president in higher education. He emphasizes the need for disciplined leadership and the distinction between bosses and leaders. Furthermore, the discussion explores the "Picard Yoda Leadership Continuum," drawing insights from Star Wars and Star Trek to dissect effective leadership styles.

Nia Thomas brings a personal touch to the conversation as she shares her experiences and insights, adding depth and relatability to the engaging exchange of ideas. Both Nia and Jim highlight the value of practical experiences and real-life leadership wisdom in a world saturated with leadership literature.

Join Nia and Jim as they unravel the intricacies of leadership, communication, and the powerful connection between teaching and leading. 

Read Dr Jim Salvucci's articles here

Access the Guidance for Greatness website here

Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...

Rate and Review
Once you've taken a listen please leave a rate and review on your favourite podcast player. A little word from you means a big deal to me!

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Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to a new episode of the Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast! In today's episode, Nia Thomas hosts an insightful conversation with Dr. Jim Salvucci, president and CEO of Guidance for Greatness. With over 30 years of experience in higher education and the corporate sector, Jim shares his wisdom on self-aware leadership and the pressing need for leaders to step up in their management positions.

The episode delves into the prevalence of bad bossing in the workplace and the transformative power of self-awareness in leadership. Jim shares his experience of bringing visibility and transparency to a faculty council, leading to a positive cultural shift. The conversation also addresses the concept of gaslighting in the workplace and emphasizes the importance of preventing it.

As the dialogue unfolds, Jim Salvucci reflects on his own leadership journey, from his early days in the Boy Scouts to becoming a dean and vice president in higher education. He emphasizes the need for disciplined leadership and the distinction between bosses and leaders. Furthermore, the discussion explores the "Picard Yoda Leadership Continuum," drawing insights from Star Wars and Star Trek to dissect effective leadership styles.

Nia Thomas brings a personal touch to the conversation as she shares her experiences and insights, adding depth and relatability to the engaging exchange of ideas. Both Nia and Jim highlight the value of practical experiences and real-life leadership wisdom in a world saturated with leadership literature.

Join Nia and Jim as they unravel the intricacies of leadership, communication, and the powerful connection between teaching and leading. 

Read Dr Jim Salvucci's articles here

Access the Guidance for Greatness website here

Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...

Rate and Review
Once you've taken a listen please leave a rate and review on your favourite podcast player. A little word from you means a big deal to me!

Nia Thomas [00:00:06]:
Hello, and welcome to the Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast, where we discuss self aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe. I'm your host, Nia Thomas. Join me as talk to today's guest.

Nia Thomas [00:00:18]:
Today, we're joined by doctor Jim Salvecci, who is the president and CEO of Guidance for Greatness. With over 30 years in higher education in the corporate sector, Jim specializes in helping leaders clarify their mission, tap into their inner wisdom, and take precise action. His leadership coaching enables clients to lead with more conviction and less effort. Jim's journey began as a professor and college administrator, mentoring 100 and improving educational qualities and effectiveness. He then transitioned to the corporate world where he continues to help leaders align their vision, values, and actions with their organizational missions and culture. Jim, it's brilliant to have you here. So tell us about this 30 year career.

Jim Salvucci [00:01:03]:
Yeah. Nia, thank you for having me on the knowing self knowing others podcast. Yeah. It's it's wonderful to be here. I've been following you for a while, and so I think we have a little mutual admiration going in terms

Nia Thomas [00:01:14]:
of You certainly do.

Jim Salvucci [00:01:16]:
30, yeah, 30 years of higher education, 30 years at universities and colleges in the US. You know, I've always been a leader, so I'll talk about it from a leadership perspective. I mean, when I was a kid, I was a leader. I was in Boy Scouts. I was thrust in the leadership positions way before my time. I really messed up, but, you know, I learned a lot. I was a boss at age 18. I had employees.

Jim Salvucci [00:01:41]:
Can't say I was a great leader, but I wasn't bad. I I, you know, did that throughout my life. Eventually, I got into higher ed, became an English professor, and worked at a number of different schools. I got a doctorate at University of Toronto, and I got a job outside of of, the the city of Baltimore at a small university, and I decided to really get into faculty leadership. And so as part of our faculty governance system, led that a couple of times, helped us get reaccredited. We have different reaccrediting bodies, regional reaccrediting bodies, within the United States, and I I led that charge, did quite a few things as a faculty leader. And then 1 day, I was asked to become a dean.

Nia Thomas [00:02:24]:

Jim Salvucci [00:02:25]:
I was asked to become the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Nia Thomas [00:02:28]:

Jim Salvucci [00:02:29]:
Which is great, except for 1 thing. There was no school of Humanities and Social Sciences. Oh, okay. The founding dean of the School of Humanities, which is a little bit different. I realized that putting together a school is easy. It's nuts and bolts. This goes with that. That goes with this.

Jim Salvucci [00:02:46]:
No big deal. What's hard is getting it up and running and keeping it running. That requires leadership. So I also realized that my whole life, although I've been a leader and not a bad 1, pretty effective, I was what I call gut leader. Right? I led for my intuition, for my instincts. I didn't really understand leadership. I didn't think about it. I didn't study it.

Jim Salvucci [00:03:08]:
And I realized I needed to up my leadership game. And a typical way of doing that is to find a mentor, find someone or or a model, and you turn to your bosses first. Well, my boss was not a leader. He was a boss, and I make a strict distinction. His boss, the president of the institution, was definitely not a leader. And I was like, okay. Well, not a luck there. So I looked at my peers.

Jim Salvucci [00:03:32]:
They were kind of flailing around. I imitated them for a while. That didn't work out so well. Found myself micromanaging and, you know, be becoming a perfectionist and a workaholic, all the things I I always decried. So I pulled back, and I realized that I needed to start learning how to lead, and I need to treat leadership as a discipline. My first discipline is English. My second discipline became leadership. I studied it.

Jim Salvucci [00:03:56]:
Started reading about it, going to conferences, going to training, speaking on it, writing on it, and applying what I learned. Made a lot of mistakes, learned from my mistakes. I also learned that you can learn from other people's mistakes. I call that learning from the negative paradigm. Right? Don't ever ignore the bad stuff you see. The systemic stuff, the, people's behaviors. You look at that and say, well, how can I do it differently? I don't like that. I don't like how my boss is treating me.

Jim Salvucci [00:04:22]:
How could I do it differently? It's not usually the opposite. Right? It isn't just do the opposite. It's usually something a little more subtle than that. Did that for a while, quite a few years, and then got a position at another university as a vice president. I was the provost. Chief academic officer, second to the president, and had a wonderful president, really fantastic, the best leader I ever worked for by magnitudes. He was there for that 1 year my 1st year, and then he he retired and brought in somebody else. Next thing you know, everybody's gone.

Jim Salvucci [00:04:59]:
Okay. Moved on to another school and had a not so great experience as a vice president and decided to leave higher ed altogether, And that was around, 2020. So it was around the time of the the COVID lockdowns and whatnot and realized I was applying for jobs and realized this was not for me anymore. I just did not like what was going on in higher education, and I realized the kind of leadership I was presenting was not welcome. So I thought about, well, what what did I do, as an administrator that I really loved? And I love being an administrator. What did I do? Well, the 1 thing I really, really loved was working with young people and helping them become great leaders.

Nia Thomas [00:05:39]:
Got it.

Jim Salvucci [00:05:39]:
So that's what I decided to do, and that's how I found it Guidance for Greatness. That's what I

Nia Thomas [00:05:43]:
do. Amazing. And it's interesting as you say this idea of positive role models or positive descriptions and the negative. And that's definitely something that that I talk about through my research is that people will often describe things as what they want them to be and what they don't want them to be. And it gives you a really helpful frame of reference in terms of these are the boundaries within which I work. So you you you'll never have the definitive explanation or the the manual that tells you everything, but it gives you that helpful framework of, don't wanna go beyond these boundaries. I don't want to become what I don't appreciate or don't what I don't like in the world of leadership, and these are the things that I do want to to to emulate. And I think that's that's interesting that people often explain what they want and what they don't want as a as a way of describing.

Jim Salvucci [00:06:33]:

Nia Thomas [00:06:34]:
You say that the only way to rid the world of bad bosses is to master the skills of great leadership. Tell us what bad bosses are, and tell us how we get rid of them.

Jim Salvucci [00:06:45]:
Yeah. So first off, the the phrase bad bosses is is somewhat redundant. The the the technical term I'm an English professor. The technical term is it's a semantic pleonism, where it's just like this this double meaning. It's saying it's like saying tiny little. Yes. All bosses are bad. It's in my formulation.

Jim Salvucci [00:07:07]:
Okay. Because bosses are not leaders. Very few bosses lead at all, and even fewer are great leaders. Lots of leaders, even great leaders, will never be a boss. Those 2 terms have nothing to do with each other. So I make a distinction between bosses, which is just a title, really, and leaders. A a really great manager is going to probably be a leader. Someone who's a director has a position of that sort is going to be a great leader.

Jim Salvucci [00:07:38]:
Bosses just don't don't hold up the the stuff. Our world is rife with bad bossing, and we even aggrandize it. We say things like, oh, you know, he he tied his shoes like a boss or whatever. You know? These silly phrases. You know? So he bullied his shoes. What does that mean? You know? This doesn't mean anything to me because being a boss is not a positive thing. And when we when you see it that way, you realize that what we have to do is we have to get people who are in management positions, who have title positions, who are in these leadership positions to step it up and actually be the leaders. 1 of the reasons I pushed that idea of the the negative paradigm is because so many people get into a management position.

Jim Salvucci [00:08:25]:
They haven't been trained. The models they have are very poor.

Nia Thomas [00:08:29]:

Jim Salvucci [00:08:29]:
And they tend to default to the models even though they don't like what their own bosses have done, and they too become a boss. Bosses beget bosses. Leaders beget leaders. So it behooves anyone moving into that position to sort of step back and figure out how to do it differently. And there's lots of resources. I I I'm 1. You're 1. Right? There's lots of ways of figuring this out, but the trick is don't replicate what you don't like.

Nia Thomas [00:08:57]:
Absolutely. I talk a lot about experiential learning, and you're right. If if you're seeing a a leadership style or a boss style that you don't want to emulate, Get yourself some experience and find a coach, find a mentor, find some training to give you that experience and and give you a different perspective. Yeah. So what do you think is the role of self awareness in creating good leaders? Because obviously this podcast, what we're very interested in is self awareness and self aware leadership. Where do you think it fits?

Jim Salvucci [00:09:30]:
Yeah. So, you know, that knowing self business is is critical. You have to know who you are. You have to know what your values are. You have to know how you behave, which is eve in in many ways more important than values. Doesn't it matter ultimately what your values are? You could be a bad person inside if you act great on the outside. Who cares? I've never seen that personally, but we usually see the opposite. Right? People are like, oh, I'm I'm a good person on the inside, whereas the outside, their behavior is very poor.

Jim Salvucci [00:10:01]:
You need to be aware of your behavior, how you come across other people, and and the first thing you need to do is you you need to lead yourself. You often hear people say that. You start with leading yourself, and what that means is becoming self aware. It's exactly what that means. Becoming the type of person who knows where they come from, what their values are, how they're challenged, what their weaknesses are, and constantly wanting to improve. It it's a constant leadership, like anything good in the world, requires constant maintenance, constant attention, and you need to get better at it. It's about learning.

Nia Thomas [00:10:37]:
I like that idea of maintenance. So I I talk about a superhighway because it's a an endless journey, and sometimes you need to pull off to the side of the road and give your vehicle a bit of maintenance. So maybe that's that self awareness vehicle that you need to make sure it propels you along. So I I first came across Jim, and listeners and and watchers, you won't know this, but I first came across Jim through, what he writes on Substack, and and it's great. If you're a fan of Substack and you're a fan of of reading newsletters, I definitely suggest you go and head over, and I'll make sure that there's a link in the show notes. Something that you wrote recently in 1 of your articles, Jim, was about being transparent, not invisible. Talk to us about that because I thought that was really imaginative and really descriptive the way you brought those 2 things together.

Jim Salvucci [00:11:28]:
Yeah. Thanks. I yeah. So I I came up with that idea, that phrasing when I was a faculty leader way back when. I was in charge. III it was a 1 year term for election for our faculty governance system. We had a faculty council, And this faculty council was particularly weak. It was relatively new.

Jim Salvucci [00:11:48]:
It was designed to be weak. We didn't have much say in anything. I was 1 of the original members, and I was not liking the path it was going down. We met in a conference room, and there were, like, 14 of us crammed into this conference room. We're supposed to be open to the public. God forbid a guest showed up. They just got sort of stared down until they left. Not very welcoming.

Jim Salvucci [00:12:12]:
We met at a time when no 1 was on campus because there were no classes then, that kind of thing. It's really inhospitable. And so we were completely invisible, and nobody knew what we did. We'd only existed a few years. We've been doing some very positive things, but really nobody knew about it. So I started thinking about the idea of what if we made ourselves much more public. We actually put ourselves in a used you know, we met in a space that was welcoming. We designed it so it'd be welcoming, and we're much more visible.

Jim Salvucci [00:12:43]:
And I realized at the same time that by doing that, that would force us to be much more transparent. And it's it's a little bit of a paradox. You know, in the physical world, it's it's that's not possible. Right? The more visible you are, you know, you you can't be transparent and more visible. Absolutely. But in in the in the in the world of leadership, that's most certainly the way you wanna be. You're exposing yourself. Transparency is about exposing yourself, being vulnerable, being open.

Jim Salvucci [00:13:12]:
I talk about radical transparency, the idea where you just put yourself out there, warts and all, and and have people help you cope with it. Tell them what your weakness. I used to do it as a teacher. I'd come into a class and say, I don't really know this thing. Let's talk about it. You know? So the students knew where I was coming from. It was just a very open way of being. Well, that's a form of visibility, not invisibility, and that's where that idea comes from.

Jim Salvucci [00:13:35]:
What I did was I I opened up just in terms of this faculty council. I we started meeting in a very public room in the middle campus, big room, and I set up tables so that they were v shaped, and the audience would sit in the open legs of the v, and the council would sit on either side of the table because the council was a deliberative body, and we need to see each other to be able to talk. And and then we we set up chairs for an audience. Then I started serving food. That really got people there. Yeah. First, I did that out of pocket, and then, eventually, I begged a a little budget off the administration. And eventually, they moved it the the the the administration actually set up a time where classes didn't meet.

Jim Salvucci [00:14:13]:
No clubs met nothing. And once a month, the only thing that happened was faculty council. That was years after I I'd stopped being the chair. And boom, all of a sudden, many more people were there, but it just transformed the culture of the council. It became much more relevant, much more important. People understood what it did, why it did what it was doing. It couldn't escape. It couldn't hide.

Jim Salvucci [00:14:34]:
You know, it it it was just a a wonderful thing all around.

Nia Thomas [00:14:37]:
The transparency gives you greater visibility. You're absolutely right. That paradox. I, I'm reminded of a chief executive in in an organization that I I've long since left, and he was known as the invisible man. And, absolutely, we had no idea what went on in the in the the secret offices of the c suite. He was invisible. He was not transparent. And in in terms of describing exactly the opposite of what we want, that was it.

Nia Thomas [00:15:08]:
So, yes, let's not be invisible leaders. So tell me, how can we be top class gaslighters?

Jim Salvucci [00:15:17]:
So so you're definitely referencing 1 of my particular articles. I wrote it a couple years ago on April Fools' Day, which is my favorite day of the year. And then III think I'm just gonna run it as an annual thing every April fools. And it was called how to be a gaslight, or or no. I'm sorry. So you wanna be a gaslighter. That's what it was. I've long been really interested in this concept of gaslighting in the workplace.

Jim Salvucci [00:15:42]:
Part of it comes from AAA long piece I wrote on bullying in the workplace or just bullying in general called the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bullies. And, very satirical piece. I I used to teach satire. Sorry. It's the way my my brain is wired. I like it. And so the gaslighting piece is kind of in the same spirit. So I write it from the point of view of someone who has been gaslit his whole life and now has decided to join the other side and is, you know, putting his observations out there so other people would be excellent gaslators.

Jim Salvucci [00:16:16]:
And it talks about the history of the term and whatnot. But and so I make a distinction between there's 3 modes of deception, really. There's there's lying, there's bullshitting, and then there's gaslighting. And they have similarities, and they have differences. Liars are always very aware of the truth. There's a a philosopher named Henry Frankfurter who wrote a book called On Bullshit, and he talked about lying and and bullshit and the difference between the 2. It's actually I used to give it to my students to read for classes, for, like, rhetoric classes and things like that, and they'd always be upset because they they thought it was a joke, and it was a very serious philosophical text. And so liars are always hyperaware of the truth.

Jim Salvucci [00:17:02]:
They just try to subvert it. They try to do the opposite of the truth. Bullshitters, on the other hand, could care less about the truth. Sometimes they use the truth to their advantage. And then gaslighters are very similar to bullshares, but the difference is the gaslighting is, like, long term, and it involves lying. It involves bullshitting, but it's a much longer, more in-depth project. Bullshitting could be, you know, a 1 off. It could just be something somebody says.

Jim Salvucci [00:17:28]:
It's sort of a tactic. Gaslighting is more like a strategy. Right? You want to get something done. So what I suggest if you wanna be a good gaslighter is first off, you find a cause, like a long term cause, and then find a target. Sometimes the target and the cause are very closely related. You you might just wanna gaslight a particular person, and you find a cause after you find the target. Doesn't matter the order, but you do them in in you know, together. Then you might wanna try a little bullshit.

Jim Salvucci [00:17:56]:
Just try it out with them. Just kind of see if you can fool them. And if that works, great. Now you're on your way. You can see you can you can keep going. And then you also wanna decide if you wanna get other people involved. If you do, you never discuss the conspiracy openly. You just kind of, you know, keep it under wraps.

Jim Salvucci [00:18:16]:
And then finally, what you do is you just go in and you make someone feel insane. You make them lose their mind.

Nia Thomas [00:18:25]:
Yep. Yep.

Jim Salvucci [00:18:26]:
And you make them feel like there's this cognitive dissonance, And the the term actually originates from there was a play and then then a couple movies called Gaslight. And the basic plot was a man marries this woman, and he wants to get at some jewels that are hitting in the attic of her house that she inherited. And he marries her in order to get to the jewels. This is not a very satisfying plot line, by the way. And he get and so what he does is he plays with the gaslight to to like, he he flickers it up and down. This is before the electric lights. Flickers it up and down to make her think and he and he denies that it's flickering to make her think she's going insane. So that when he's rummaging in the upstairs, she doesn't you know, she he tells her, oh, there was no noise upstairs.

Nia Thomas [00:19:10]:

Jim Salvucci [00:19:11]:
Yeah. So it it from a plot point of view, it's a terrible plot. But the idea is she starts to feel like she's losing her mind. She can't trust her own judgments, and he's fooling her the whole time all to get her his hands on these jewels that are somehow hidden in the attic.

Nia Thomas [00:19:27]:
That's, frightening. And I I had an experience of being gaslit, and it took me 6 months to realize that that that was the definition of behavior. And I and I think you're absolutely right. It makes you question your your sanity, your competence, your capability. And I was lucky I had the opportunity of of somebody, tapping me on the shoulder and taking me away and saying, I need to tell you about this individual because it happened to me. And they were a very senior person and and it was really a light bulb as opposed to a gaslight. And, absolutely, gaslighting is that strategy that you you describe. And it is long term and it's subtle and it's very dangerous.

Jim Salvucci [00:20:14]:
Oh, yeah. And gaslighting in the workplace is a disaster. It's a form of bullying. It's 1 of the techniques that bullies use. There's several, but that that's a big 1. You're lucky that someone helped you out of it, and that's how usually if somebody else has to show you the light because you're you're caught up in it. Yep. If you can see it my so my last position 1 of the reasons I left higher ed, my last position was the president of the institution was a gaslighter.

Jim Salvucci [00:20:39]:
She was gaslighting me. And 1 day, she did this thing, and I just thought, my god. She's gaslighting me.

Nia Thomas [00:20:46]:

Jim Salvucci [00:20:46]:
I was her number 2, and she was just, like, making up this thing, and I started resisting and that she did not like that. 1 1 thing about bullies is you cannot really fight a bully who is your boss. I know how to fight bullies. You can't fight a bully who has the power. You can't fight a bully who's a teacher. You can't fight a bully who's, like, a police officer. Anybody who has the pow any, you know, sort of an absolute power over you, you can't fight. But, it's the same thing with gaslighting.

Jim Salvucci [00:21:11]:
It's a very dangerous thing to to fight them. I did fight her, and it was it it didn't go well. Let's just say that.

Nia Thomas [00:21:17]:
It it's really tough, isn't it, when you are having that that challenge upwards? Right. If there's anybody listening or watching and they think that maybe they're being gaslit, please talk to somebody because it it doesn't matter what level of seniority you are. It can happen to anybody at any time because it is so subtle. You may not notice it until you are so far down the line that you really do think it's you. So please reach out to your mentors, your, confidence within your workplace, and please talk about it because it is so damaging and it's so important that we do our utmost to prevent this.

Jim Salvucci [00:21:56]:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Nia Thomas [00:21:58]:
Something else that I've read of yours was about the Picard Yoda Leadership Continuum. So tell us, Jim, where are you on that continuum?

Jim Salvucci [00:22:07]:
Oh, clearly, I'm on the the card end of the continuum. So, yeah, this is the Star Trek versus Star Wars. This this came from, there's a a commas in New York Times who really fabulous commas writes on on tech named Tara Swisher. And she just had this little digression about, you know, Star Wars is sort of about bang bang, shoot them up, good versus evil. And Star Trek, she said it's like a an intergalactic Bennington commercial. And, you know, and and it but everybody sort of it's sort of egalitarian, and everybody's trying to get along, and they're always trying to convince the bad guys not to be bad guys anymore. They're just trying to kill them. And I and I was thinking about that, and I realized that, yeah, they're they're actually 2 very different views of the world and 2 very leadership different leadership styles.

Jim Salvucci [00:22:54]:
And probably the most important positive leader in the Star Wars universe is Yoda. Right? He's considered the great teacher, and everybody wants to be like Yoda. Yoda's a jerk. He's a lousy teacher.

Nia Thomas [00:23:06]:

Jim Salvucci [00:23:06]:
wow. Okay. Is he? He's very rude. He's very self centered. He's very, you know, individualistic. He doesn't really care about anybody else. He's just worried about himself. That's very true of pretty much all the Jedi.

Jim Salvucci [00:23:18]:
In fact, I noticed when when the Jedi get together, they band together, they tend to all die. They only they when they work in small groups or by themselves, that's when they succeed. This is not leadership. These are not good examples of leadership, and everything in that world is black and white, up and down, hot or cold. You're either on the dark side or you're on whatever the other side's called. Right? And, you know, and I it it's so it's not a realistic world. Whereas Star Trek, for all its its fantasy, is much more realistic. There's a lot of subtlety.

Jim Salvucci [00:23:52]:
Sometimes the good guys do bad things, and then they have to figure that out. Sometimes they convince the bad guys to stop being bad guys. You know, over time, you see, you know, enemies who are suddenly now allies, just like in the real world. Right? Just like the way that's the way the world works, but it's sort of idealized in that it is much more egalitarian, hence the the sort of Bennington rack and the and the everybody dresses alike. But the you know, it it is a much more a much richer world. And 1 of the reasons I thought about that is because for years, I'm a big sci fi fan. And for years, I watched Star Trek the next generation reruns and all this. And I used to think Picard is actually a fantastic example of a leader.

Jim Salvucci [00:24:35]:
He's fantastic. He, you know, he's the captain. Anything he says goes, and yet he brings in other voices. He doubts himself. He makes mistakes and apologizes, makes amends, all these things. He's a good leader. He tries to be as transparent as possible. He's in a military structure, and yet he's a transparent leader.

Jim Salvucci [00:24:55]:
He tells people, and sometimes he even practices radical transparency. He explains exactly what's going on in his his internal workings. This is a great leader. This is a really great leader. Yoda, not so much. He's just a bossy little guy who tells you what to do and you're supposed to do. And if you don't, well, whatever. You know, it's it's just a very different paradigm.

Jim Salvucci [00:25:16]:
So I am very much in the Picard camp.

Nia Thomas [00:25:19]:
Wow. Well, I hope that we're not gonna be boycotted by the Star Wars fans that are listening. But I have to say, I I'm not much of a sci fi fan, but I have been watching the the latest version of the the Picard. I think it's Netflix or something or other, and and it was quite good. But I will definitely be watching that through completely different color spectacles next time I watch that. 1 of the directions of my self awareness compass is listening, and inherent in that is communication. What are the 3 keys that you talk about to an an unlocking really effective communication?

Jim Salvucci [00:25:54]:
Yeah. Yeah. Listening and communication are they're part of the same they're 2 parts of the same thing.

Nia Thomas [00:25:59]:

Jim Salvucci [00:25:59]:
So Aristotle has 3 elements that go into rhetoric, pathos, ethos, and logos. I'm not gonna go into that. It's a little bit obscure, especially in this day and age, but I look at I look at 3 other elements that are related. 1 is when you wanna communicate, you need to have a message. You need to have something to say. That seems obvious, but think about all the people who talk and never really say anything.

Nia Thomas [00:26:25]:

Jim Salvucci [00:26:25]:
Right? And that message has to have value, and that value is driven by your values. If you're a good person, right, if you have values, if you're a principal person, you behave with values, your message will have more meaning. I give the example of the boy who cried wolf. Right? Little village, there's a shepherd boy on the hill with everyone's sheep. 1 day he gets bored, he screams, wolf, and everyone comes roaming because they think a wolf is attacking the sheep. They get there, and he's laughing. He thinks it's funny. They're not too happy.

Jim Salvucci [00:27:01]:
Same thing happens the next day. Again, they're not happy. 3rd day, Wolf does show up. Well, guess what? The villagers don't see him as someone of value. They don't see him as someone who has values. They don't see his message as being valuable. He yells wolf, and they stay down below in the village because they think he's lying.

Nia Thomas [00:27:20]:

Jim Salvucci [00:27:21]:
That's a perfect example of a me a a meaningless message, and a valueless message. So you have to have a message that is meaningful, that is valuable, that people need to hear. Yeah. And you also need to have an audience, and that audience has to be somewhat known and somewhat receptive. Now it's hard to control the audience, but you need to have someone you're speaking to who understands what you're saying and you understand where they're coming from. Part of that understanding where they're coming from is listening. You have to know you know, you want to listen to the audience as much as possible. Now that's not always right now, I'm not I can't listen to the audience of this podcast, obviously.

Jim Salvucci [00:28:00]:
But, you know, I have a certain sense if somebody's listening to this podcast, they're coming from a particular point of view, and I can surmise what they're thinking. And what they're probably thinking is, I can't believe this guy dissed Yoda. But the the the thing about listening is it's not just listening with your ears. It's also observing observing people's behavior. Right? If someone is not paying attention, you can tell. Alright? So that is part of that that audience building. And the 3rd element is related to the other 2, and that is clarity. You need clarity.

Jim Salvucci [00:28:33]:
Often forgotten. Clarity trumps everything. It is the most important element because you can have the perfect message and the perfect willing audience, but if you're not clear, what's the point? You might as well just give up. I and I'll give you example of that. I I use my poor wife as an example. We used to be part of a neighborhood association in the city of Baltimore, and we were very active leaders in that. And she would send out these text messages, And she was an an attorney, and she would do them you know, she's a very busy person, so she would do them very quickly. And she would send out this gobbledygook.

Jim Salvucci [00:29:09]:
And I I have I had to say to her, I'm sorry. I don't have no idea. I'm married to you, and I have no idea what you're trying to say here. This makes no sense at all. You just sent this out to 15 people, and they're all now scratching their heads. Uh-huh. And she had a valuable message, and she had a receptive audience, but because she she wasn't clear, it meant nothing. And, eventually, I convinced her that she needs to take 2 seconds and proofread her text message before she's in.

Jim Salvucci [00:29:35]:
And she started doing that, and everything is okay. But that's a really, you know, crude but obvious an obvious example of a lack of clarity, but we see that all the time. People shoot off they they think I don't have time. So think about this. You're gonna send a message by email or text or Slack or whatever, and you shoot it off quickly because you don't have time to compose it. Right? You don't wanna take the time to proofread it, look at it. Yeah. Other people are getting it.

Jim Salvucci [00:29:59]:
They're looking at it and going, I don't know what this means. So several things could happen. 1 is they could just ignore it. Right? They devalue your message. Yep. The other is they misinterpret it. Another 1 is they come back to you for clarification or they go to someone else for clarification. None of these is exactly saving time.

Jim Salvucci [00:30:18]:
Mhmm. Right? And by the time you get the whole thing worked out, how much time do you waste it? So in order to save 2 seconds, you wasted however much time or made massive mistakes. Yeah. Clarity is that important.

Nia Thomas [00:30:31]:
And it really does does beg the question of of how many times have we sent emails when we should have just left them in the drafts, put on it, and come back. And I think as leaders, that is really important, especially if you're sharing quite difficult messages to make sure that you have that audience message and that clarity.

Jim Salvucci [00:30:53]:

Nia Thomas [00:30:53]:
Absolutely. So we we touched on this a little. You say that every leadership problem is a teaching opportunity. As I mentioned earlier, experience and experiential learning are elements of my self awareness compass. So how can leaders really harness problems and make them into learning opportunities?

Jim Salvucci [00:31:14]:
Yeah. Actually, what I say is every leadership problem is a teaching problem, which is even more in-depth. Uh-huh. So, yes, every leadership problem is a is a teaching opportunity. Right? You can learn you can always learn from your challenges. Right? There's always something to learn, and there's something to be conveyed. But even more importantly, every leader is a teacher, must be a teacher, and every teacher is a leader. In fact, I have yet to find a difference in terms of, what they do, how they do it, their approach, their attitude, their mindset between great leaders and great teachers.

Jim Salvucci [00:31:53]:
I have never the only difference I could find is title. Teachers usually don't have a leadership title. Otherwise, that's it. They're the same.

Nia Thomas [00:32:02]:
Do you think teachers are aware or they really no. I can see

Jim Salvucci [00:32:08]:
that they're still listening

Nia Thomas [00:32:09]:
and not watching on YouTube. James is shaking his head. No. You know where I'm going with that question.

Jim Salvucci [00:32:13]:
They do not. No. They are not aware, and that is a crying shame. I think it affects education. I think if teachers thought of themselves as leaders, they could be better teachers. If they really thought of that in-depth and vice versa. If leaders thought themselves as teachers, they'd be better better leaders. I 1 time was working as a consultant at a small school, and I did a presentation, with a bunch of administrators.

Jim Salvucci [00:32:40]:
All of them had previously been teachers. And I asked them I gave them a prompt. I forget exactly what I asked them, but it was a prompt to get them to to write about the the qualities of a great teacher. And then I separately had them work on the qualities of a great leader, and we started listing them. And as we're listing them, in the middle of it, they suddenly said, oh my god. They're exactly the same. Yeah. They were exactly the same.

Jim Salvucci [00:33:06]:
Yeah. You know? And so I I think that awareness among teachers is critical because when you think of yourself as a leader, it gives you AAA different perspective on teaching. You're not just pushing content. Right? That's not a good teacher. Right? That kind of a teacher is not a lead. Somebody just stands in front of a room and lectures is not a good teacher, and they're not a good leader, but someone who actually brings out the best in students. 1 of 1 of my favorite definitions of leadership is from Dwight Eisenhower, and he said that what a leader does is a leader gets other people to do what needs to be done because they want to do it. Well, that's exactly what teachers do.

Jim Salvucci [00:33:46]:
They get teach students to learn because they want to learn, not because they have to.

Nia Thomas [00:33:51]:
I think that description is very helpful, that teachers are leaders and leaders are teachers. And I really I think you're right. I don't think we think of ourselves as leaders, teachers, teachers, and leaders, but maybe that would really help us think about the impact that we have on children, those we work with. And, interestingly, I, at the end of June, I will be gifting my books to my old school because my teachers made such an impression on me. So my history teacher, my English teacher, neither of of whom are still with us, sadly. But I'm gifting my book as a way of saying thank you for starting me on the journey to appreciate writing, to appreciate English, and my history teacher who taught me how to write essays. And and really that's how what started for me. So you're right.

Nia Thomas [00:34:39]:
There was such leadership there that I never recognized. And and now looking back, I think you're right. Teaching, leading, leading, and teaching.

Jim Salvucci [00:34:47]:
That's wonderful.

Nia Thomas [00:34:49]:
What topics are emerging for you in the leadership space? What what has got you interested, and and what do you think you're gonna be writing about in the next 12 months, 18 months? What's out there for you?

Jim Salvucci [00:35:00]:
Yeah. Self awareness is becoming bigger in the leadership space, or it's returning maybe. I think that that's really key. So that that idea that you know who you are, how you behave, why you behave those ways, and how to how to improve. I think that that self improvement is is critical as well. I'll be honest with you, Nia. I'm not real thrilled with the leadership space. I'm a little bit cynical about it.

Jim Salvucci [00:35:27]:
I think a lot of it is, you know, people they they're they're saying good things. I I don't disagree with them. But I'm thinking if I'm a leader, I'm in a in in a management position, and I'm reading this, how do I make this work? Right? And some of it's hyper practical. Do this, do that, do the next thing. Right? And that's not really how the world works. And some of it is sort of pie in the sky, vague, you know, be a certain way. And if you're not that way, how do you become that way? I think that's what we need to see more of, and that's what I'm always trying to get at. That's why I focus on that negative paradigm so much.

Jim Salvucci [00:36:03]:
You know, looking at bad behavior and trying to figure out, well, what what's a different way of doing Because that's how we actually experience the world. We don't experience the world through lessons. We experience the world through mistakes. Right? It's correction of things. You know, that's how we really approach the world. If everything's going great, you don't really notice. Right? If every day is sunshine and lollipops, well, every day is sunshine and lollipops, but when it rains all of a sudden, you notice that.

Nia Thomas [00:36:29]:

Jim Salvucci [00:36:30]:
Right? True. And so it's and if it rains every day, you're miserable. Right? So I don't like to dwell on the negative, but I think there's so many lessons that we can derive from what goes wrong rather than what goes right. So rather than look at the the top this and the top that. That that's 1 of the reasons I like your your podcast because you often interview people who aren't, like, you know, some highfalutin, you know, big name person. You're interviewing real leaders in real leadership positions, applying it day to day. That's very practical. That's very good.

Jim Salvucci [00:37:06]:
You know, when you read you think of a book like Good to Great. Your famous book, everybody's read it. It's a good book, has a lot of great lessons in it, but it's derived from all these CEOs, some of whom went on to fail. Most of those businesses are out of business, that he was folk you know? And so it it's not the the the world the world isn't just all these top people. A lot of the people in the middle echelon also have a lot of great wisdom, and that's where I look to for leadership wisdom.

Nia Thomas [00:37:35]:
I'm really glad that you brought that up because that is something that's really important to me. It's about people who talk the talk and walk the walk. So I'm really interested speaking to more people who are in the leadership space within their organization, within their company, who can talk to me about what it's really like to be leading in their organization. Because you're right. You have top tips to do this, but actually, in the real world, I can only do 2 of those those things because the rest of them don't really suit my organization. So, yes, most definitely, I'll I'll I'm interested in having that conversation about what it really feels like to be a leader. And that's something that I I'm very interested in, and I describe myself as what I do is a director of a children's charity, and how I do it is self aware leadership. And I really want to maintain that that practical experience, that hands on leadership so that I can talk about it rather than commentating it on it from from a distance.

Nia Thomas [00:38:33]:
And so that that's a really interesting element of our conversation. Jim, thank you so much for joining me. I've I've really enjoyed our conversation, and I'm gonna continue reading what you write on Substack and and looking forward to doing that. As I've said, listeners and watchers, we will make sure that there are links in the show notes so that you can do the same. But for now, Jim, thank you so much for joining me.

Jim Salvucci [00:38:54]:
Thank you, Neil. This has been wonderful.

Nia Thomas [00:38:56]:
Thank you for joining me on today's episode where we aim to develop self aware leaders around the globe to generate kinder, more respectful and creative working relationships through reflection, recognition and regulation. Head over to my website at to sign up to my newsletter to keep up to date with my blog, podcast and book Looking forward to having you on my learning journey.

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