My guest for Episode #80 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Tim Spiker, founder of his company The Aperio and author of the book The Only Leaders Worth* Following: Why Some Leaders Succeed, Others Fail, and How the Quality of Our Lives Hangs in the Balance.
For over 20 years, Tim has been helping individuals and organizations do one thing: lead better. He delivers keynote speeches and creates unique and customized learning experiences to effectively change the way people look at leadership in the short term, as well as guiding long- term developmental journeys.
His company The Aperio is dedicated to crafting better leaders not by sharing secret tips, but by helping them find the leadership potential within themselves – even when doing so is HARD!
In this episode, Tim shares a “favorite mistake” story about getting stuck in a high-pressure Multi-Level Marketing sales pitch when he was a graduate student. Why did this meeting, and what was said, then pique his interest in studying, understanding, and improving leadership?
Other topics and questions:
- What does the word “Aperio” mean with your company name?
- What is the “who* not what principle”?
- “3/4 of effectiveness as a leader is who you are, not what you do”
- What are the four steps of empathy?
- The book — what does the asterisk next to Worth mean?
- How do you choose a leader worth following? Mistakes people make in choosing to follow leaders?
- What are the effects of poor leadership on relationships and health?
- Implications for hiring or promoting?
- Rationalizing bad behavior or thinking you HAVE to be a jerk to be successful (Steve Jobs?)
- Why do leaders want to do new things without changing how they are?
- Leaders reacting to mistakes? How should they?
- Humility in leaders is a magnet… trust
Scroll down to find:
- Video of the Episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 80 Tim Spiker, author of the book, “The Only Leaders Worth Following.”
Tim Spiker (6s):
Talk about having a mindset of self forgetfulness, a willingness to see and admit faults, and an eagerness to learn from and acknowledge them.
Mark Graban (21s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes, because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. For show notes, links, and information about Tim's book and company. You can find all of that and more by going to markgraban.com/mistake80, our guest today is Tim Spiker.
Mark Graban (1m 2s):
He's the founder of his company called The Aperio and he is author Of a book titled The Only Leaders Worth Following. So before I tell you more about Tim, Tim, thanks for being here. How are you today?
Tim Spiker (1m 14s):
I'm great. I'm looking forward to visiting with you and the audience.
Mark Graban (1m 17s):
Yeah, so there's a lot we can talk about today, but let me tell you a little bit about Tim first for over 20 years, Tim has been helping individuals and organizations do one thing lead better. And I think that's something I know I'm interested in that I think a lot of the audiences as well, Tim delivers keynote speeches. He creates unique and customized learning experiences to effectively change the way people look at leadership in the short term, as well as guiding longer term developmental journeys, important stuff, his company, the Appirio is dedicated to crafting better leaders, not by sharing secret tips. So I guess we won't expect that today and that's okay, but by helping people find the leadership potential within themselves, even when doing so is hard and yeah.
Mark Graban (2m 2s):
Personal development changing, I mean, changing leadership organization, leadership styles in an organization is difficult. Would you agree? Just random question first off, it starts by looking in the mirror. That's hard enough.
Tim Spiker (2m 14s):
I mean, that's, that is the, that is the number one thing that we challenge people to do as honestly as they can. It is you probably won't do something more difficult and courageous if you do it genuinely than really look in the mirror.
Mark Graban (2m 30s):
So before we talk more about some of your observations and lessons around leadership, Tim, we're going to dive right in his usual. Can you tell us a story and what's something back from your career that you would consider to be a favorite mistake?
Tim Spiker (2m 44s):
Okay. Well, my, one of my favorite mistakes actually led to the career I'm in and the writing of the book. So I'm extremely thankful for this mistake today. And yet in the moment I was like, what? So here's where that story begins. I was about to begin graduate school and I was waiting tables at a, at a restaurant coming to the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri here in the center of the United States. And I had a colleague invite me to an open house or a marketing company, and a couple of things that were going on for me at the time I had planned that marketing was going to be a major focus for me in graduate school.
Tim Spiker (3m 27s):
And so that was appealing. And I also made the assumption that there will probably be a free meal involved in this. And I was, I was at a time in life would a free meal was extremely appealing. So between marketing and free meal, I was there. The reason that this falls into my favorite mistake category is that I should have been a little more curious and ask a few more questions about what a marketing, what an open house is from our marketing company, because I got there. I figured there'd be a little bit of a presentation about three minutes in. I figured out what an open house for a marketing company is. And this was the mistake part.
Tim Spiker (4m 7s):
I was actually sitting in a recruiting meeting for a multi-level marketing company, and I know that many people have been blessed by that world. I've got nothing against it, myself. However, I had exactly zero interest in selling water purifiers to my family and friends. And so I had, I had a moment there. I took a seat in the middle of the room. I'm not going to make a scene or stick it out. And I decided to stick it out and that I'd wait for the break. And I grabbed the sandwich and get out the door at that point in time. But that is when I was really, that was when my interest in leadership really got peaked, because what happened after that intro is they started talking about what a horrible experience it is to be an employee.
Tim Spiker (4m 55s):
They started talking about what a drag it is and how people don't invest in you and they don't care about you. And I just sat in that seat in the, in the middle of the room, mark. And I didn't hear anything else that was in the presentation that the teacher became like Charlie Brown's teacher to me at that point. And I just thought it doesn't have to be that way. It could be that somebody says, what is it, Tim? What is it like to work for mark? My answer could be it's the most incredible blessing in my life. I can't believe how much more accomplishing, I can't believe how much I'm growing and developing. It's amazing how it even is positively influencing my, my relationships at home. Like that could be the answer, but it sure wasn't the answer that night, that night, everybody responded with doom and gloom and weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Tim Spiker (5m 43s):
It was awful, but I left, I did leave at the break. By the way, when I had the break, I did grab a sandwich. I did get out the door, but that was the night that I decided that I'm going to go learn as much as I can about leadership. I had some underdeveloped, naive thoughts at the time, but I just started interviewing as many people as I could. That was 20 years ago. And you just follow all the breadcrumbs and dominoes that eventually led to the research and the writing of this book. So for all, for everything that came after it, my favorite mistake is the fact that I didn't ask more about what an open house for a marketing company is, because if I had known, I never would have gone and I wouldn't be in this career today that I'm so thankful for it.
Tim Spiker (6m 29s):
Mark Graban (6m 29s):
Well, there's a lot of really interesting points to draw out from your story there. So for one going into it, you thought this was about the possibility of a full-time job, is that
Tim Spiker (6m 40s):
Right? Well, you know, I think that many times you're like, Hey, well maybe at least an internship, like maybe as I start my graduate studies who knows this at a minimum, I thought I would learn something about marketing. So yeah, there was some of that perhaps future possibilities in a very different way than it turned out. Yeah.
Mark Graban (6m 57s):
And, and you said you were invited by a friend or a friend told you about it. Were they already part of that, that sales, that multilevel, they were okay.
Tim Spiker (7m 7s):
It was a fellow server at the restaurant where I was waiting tables. And so yes, she was, she was already involved thus the invitation,
Mark Graban (7m 15s):
But you know, thinking back to grad school. Yeah. I can totally appreciate the offer of a free meal sandwich or otherwise that's right. Yeah. Well, we'll help draw you in, but you know, I think it's interesting to me, you had such unexpected outcomes. You've probably had such a unique outcome of anybody else in that room who was probably thinking about it on the level of, do I want to get involved in this or not? Am I going to stay until the end or can I get out now? I think it's really fascinating. You have that observation. So part of their pitch was basically saying, Hey, you know, being an employee is terrible or it could be, so this is a path out
Tim Spiker (7m 57s):
Was part of the presentation that night. And there was, there was wholesale agreement in the room that night that being an employee that actually following somebody was a bad, bad thing.
Mark Graban (8m 10s):
And that, I mean, that's, that's really sad. I'm not doubting it. I'm not saying people shouldn't feel that way. It's just, it just makes me a little sad.
Tim Spiker (8m 18s):
Yeah. It's very sad. But
3 (8m 20s):
You know, for me, it turned out to be a trigger point to, to wake up to a word and a concept that has, has had a hold of me ever since that night. Yeah.
Mark Graban (8m 30s):
Well, I mean, your, your trigger point was less of a time investment. I won't go into detail about it, but my first job out of college, I was working as an industrial engineer in a general motors plant. And my key takeaway from that first year was this kind of desire, this idealistic idea that people shouldn't hate coming to work because that's what I was surrounded by. Oh, wow. In that first year, salaried hourly, it was, it was like, they, I, I sometimes use the analogy that it's like, you, you walked in the door and you checked out a little dark cloud that would float over your head all day and you've returned it before you leave. Like if you were in a good mood when you were walking in, leave that, leave that in a locker or something.
Mark Graban (9m 12s):
So I, I appreciate that motivation that however you want to frame it, it shouldn't be terrible to be an employee. How do we create companies, environments that can actually be beyond that terrible actually fulfilling and adding something to people's lives. So on, on the more positive side of that, maybe, you know, we talk about the book. I want to talk about your company and the book. Let me ask actually first about the company, because maybe that's part of the sequence you started the company, th th the name, the Appirio. Yeah. I'm sure the listeners might be wondering, well, what's that mean? What's that word?
Tim Spiker (9m 48s):
It's a Latin word. The reveal to lay bare to uncover the work that we do is primarily around helping organizations and individuals see some very important, but relatively unheralded truths about leadership. That's the uncovering part. So we spend the bulk of our work doing that, thus the thus the period.
Mark Graban (10m 13s):
So when you work with organizations, are you helping uncover behaviors or tendencies that people may want to become more aware of so they can work toward changing those behaviors? Is that part of the
Tim Spiker (10m 27s):
Process? Yeah. In an essential sense, it is. What we're able to do is we're able to bring in some research that I was a part of and then other, other similar parallel research projects to help people see some things about leadership that just don't get very much airtime. And so what we do is we essentially show them the research and then just over and over and over again, we come back to people's real life and we say, okay, let's talk about what you've seen. And what we help them see is that it's not a research project in some far off land or from some far off lab or somebody is crunching numbers, but it's actually been a part of their life previously.
Tim Spiker (11m 9s):
It just didn't necessarily have a name. So we want to give it a name and an explanation, and now we can do something about it. And so that's in terms of the uncovering process, we want to share with them research, but we don't want to leave it at that. We want to help them see how that research has played out, where they have been living and leading as well.
Mark Graban (11m 32s):
So when you talk about not to sharing tips or tricks, this isn't about stealing copying tactics from other some admirable high-performing company. It's is it fair to say it's more about looking within
Tim Spiker (11m 45s):
It is, and that gets, that kind of gets to the guts of the research and message. So do you want to do, should we dive into that at this point, please? Okay. All right. So in the simplest form, what we accidentally found is that three quarters, or if you want to be really technically accurate, 77% of our effectiveness as leaders comes from who we are not what we do. So I'll say that again, three quarters of your effectiveness as a leader comes from who you are, not what you do. And we stumbled into that reality, which is one of my favorite parts of the story we weren't looking for, that we were actually, I was working with a boutique consulting firm.
Tim Spiker (12m 27s):
We had statistics on personality, natural ability and leadership performance, and our clients would ask us for, you know, what's the, what's the connection point. What's the magic mix that gives us a better chance of finding a more exceptional leader. And we were running that data to look for that. And we found absolutely no correlation at all. There was nothing, but because SPSS software does what it does. It looks for correlations in places you're not looking. And so what my colleague Vanessa Kylie found is that if we just looked at our leadership assessment by itself, there were eight aspects of leadership that we were measuring. So think of it as a pizza, if all eight are equally important than any two slices should be worth 25% of the variability.
Tim Spiker (13m 15s):
And what we stumbled into is that just under 70% of the variability was driven by just two of those slices. She re ran the data years later with 10 times the data point. And it went up to 77% one day as I was looking at this data, that's when the kind of the idea landed on my head, on my head. So to speak a bell went off. I realized that those two areas that were worth so much more of our variability in our assessment, those were uniquely about who the leader is as a human being, the other six were about what the leader does. And that's when the revelation kind of revealed itself, that who you are, has a massive impact on how effective you are as a leader.
Tim Spiker (13m 58s):
And so we get to this, we get to this idea of the do not what principle that we've been talking about here. And so getting back to where you jumped in, in terms of looking within, we want to help leaders better see accurately who they are, what, you know what we mean? When we say the who of leadership, we have a very specific thing that we mean by that, and to help them enhance that, who, because that will make them better in everything else that they do as a leader.
Mark Graban (14m 26s):
So I'm going to ask you a couple questions about punctuation, I guess, there in the book, it says the who, not what principle, there's an asterisk. Yeah. After the who, what, what what's that asterisk mean?
Tim Spiker (14m 39s):
Well, what'd you say throughout the entire book is that we have that asterisks because it essentially represents a footnote and this kind of gets back to the uncover and lay bare piece. And so what you see there, you know, on every other page at the bottom is this who, not what principle that's printed, which is three quarters of your effectiveness as a leader comes from who you are, not what you do. The reason that we put the asterisk everywhere is to refer back to that footnote, because these are the things that frankly, that are relatively speaking in the world of organizational life, hidden and forgotten. We don't talk about them. Even if you look at an article recently, take HBR, for example, I mean, obviously they're an incredible, it just put out incredible content time.
Tim Spiker (15m 25s):
After time, after time, after time, they have written quite a bit recently about empathy, and that's a very hu oriented topic. But as you dig into those articles, what you will see time and time again, is that most authors stop just short. They will only speak about the skills of empathy. And I would just suggest this to the audience. And
Mark Graban (15m 50s):
Then that's more of the dues like, yeah, how do we do empathy?
Tim Spiker (15m 54s):
Yes, yes. But I'm not against doing empathy well, but I would suggest, do you want to be empathized with somebody who's checking the four steps of empathy or do you want to be empathized with somebody who is connecting their heart to the emotion that you're feeling the steps can help us get there? I readily admit that, but articles that we find in the various traditional publications around organizational life and business, they almost always stop at the skill level. They don't have the deeper conversation. And frankly, I think that's the conversation that we need to have. I know it can be offensive and scary and somebody might say, well, what business do I have talking about that?
Tim Spiker (16m 38s):
Well, the answer is your business ought to be talking about that because it impacts three quarters of your leader's effectiveness. So it should be your business to talk about that. It goes much deeper than skill. Yeah.
Mark Graban (16m 51s):
And look, there's probably somebody out there right now, writing a book titled the four steps to empathy
Tim Spiker (16m 56s):
Or something like that. And I,
Mark Graban (16m 60s):
You know, I, I, I've seen this in a lot of organizations where I really appreciate the thesis or the, the, the main point you're bringing across leaders will always look for tactics. What does that other, what does that other organization do that word? Right? That word comes up. I've seen in so many settings when an organization is trying to adopt a new leadership style or culture. So my second year at that general motors plant brought in a new leader, great leader world of difference. It wasn't even so much about what he did, but to your point, it was more about who he is and how he was with people.
Mark Graban (17m 42s):
And I've seen in settings where I, some of my listeners who share a similar professional background to me will see leaders read a book about the things they did at this other hospital. And then they'll literally create a checklist about, well, I'm going to go and do a team huddle for 10 minutes every day. And like, when that, and people sit, stand there, staring at their shoes for 10 minutes, not a whole lot really is accomplished. Or if somebody actually does have a point they're like, Nope, 10 minutes, times up might not be how or who they are at that other organization. So I think a lot of times new do this is going to be very badly stated new, do with the same who probably doesn't lead them on.
Tim Spiker (18m 23s):
Yeah. I mean, I, I'm not down, you know, it's funny. I, I, I have said to many people like the tips, tricks and tactics conversation is not one that I want to be a part of, probably a more thorough statement around that is I don't mind tips, tricks and tactics at all when they are in the hands of a well-developed too. But when people don't worry about how well developed they are internally, the tips and tricks and tactics will never work. It's a, it's a, it's a hollow, it's a hollow effort. People see through it, they feel a difference. And then in many cases, the leaders themselves get disillusioned because they'll be like, well, that didn't work.
Tim Spiker (19m 3s):
I guess that other authors research is no good. Well, maybe you didn't do the foundational work to put those tactics on top of if you asked me to pick between great tactics and a really well-developed human being, I'm going with the really developed well-developed human being every time, because they'll figure out some of that other stuff it's about that. The tactics going to get you a marginal improvement. I'm not saying that doesn't matter, but it's not going to get you the guts of what you need. And so that's, that's why I get a little, a little bit out of shape when we get way too focused on the tactical stuff. Yeah,
Mark Graban (19m 42s):
No, I, I, I can understand and appreciate that. Our guest again is Tim spiker. His book is the only leaders worth following. There's an asterisk there with the word worth similar thing. Is that something that's footnoted throughout the book when you use that phrase?
Tim Spiker (19m 59s):
Exactly. And so on the, you know, the cover of the book, you note that it's next to the word worth, because what we're trying to suggest is what makes somebody worth following and what makes them worth following is this under the ground, hidden behind the scenes thing about who that person is. And so, yeah, that asterisk is just meant to point to that. Who not what principle over and over and over again, because what do we normally do as footnotes, like right past it, right? I'm not coming back to that. I'm not going to, I know there's, there's a bunch of end notes in the book. I don't expect that anybody reads them, but they're there if for the few people that want to. So we just keep emphasizing that this, you know, behind the scenes thing is actually where the bulk of the bulk of what makes something great lives.
Tim Spiker (20m 49s):
And so we just, we just put that asterisk is even in it's even in our company logo. So it's everywhere. Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Graban (20m 56s):
So it seems like this idea of understanding what leaders are worth following based on who they are. Then it seemed like there would be implications then for a job seeker or somebody even looking to switch within a company into a different role under a different leader. Maybe, you know, this is a difficult thing to figure out through an interviewing process. Or do you have any thoughts on how we can get a better sense of who that leader is? Are they worth following so that we don't stumble into something and realize, well, this isn't a meeting.
Mark Graban (21m 36s):
I can just leave early. Like, you know, I'm committed to this job and I don't want to quit. I don't want to quit right away. Maybe that's the right thing to do sometimes. But what, what are the implications for not the leaders who are trying to be better leaders, but let's say for somebody who's trying to figure out, do I want to follow
Tim Spiker (21m 51s):
This leader? No, I love this question because, you know, it's part of the reason why we wrote the book is to help. Not only leaders become better leaders, but also to help us choose better leaders to follow. And in the end, what that requires us to do is we have to look for who we can't just look at them resume. We can't just hear about the department. That's, you know, there, there are any number of things that might create a department or an organization's results in a given year or two or three. But the real question, if we can get at it, and I realize it's tough is, but if you're, especially, if you're moving internally, like I would do everything that I could to interview two or three people that worked for that person.
Tim Spiker (22m 32s):
And then ask who based questions, for example, when things don't go well, tell me what this leader is like when things don't go well, or when pressure is hot, is this a, is this an inwardly sound leader that brings, brings calm to difficulty? When things go off the rails, is this a leader who is manically looking for other people to blame, or is this somebody with some humility that owns, they contributed to the problem? You know, and so internally, if you're looking to, you're thinking about making a move, it's a great practice to ask who oriented questions of the people that work for that leader to get a sense where, because here's the other thing, you know, the sub the, the subtitle on the book talks about the fact that leaders have a profound impact on our lives.
Tim Spiker (23m 24s):
So it's, you know, why some leaders succeed, others fail and how the quality of our lives hangs in the balance. I know we want to achieve and accomplish and progression our own careers, but I think it's really important to not miss the fact that the leaders that we work for have a profound daily impact in most cases on our quality of. And so, you know, I've worked for great leaders and horrible leaders and, you know, to make this point, I should probably bring my, my wife onto the, onto the podcast here and say, Hey, talk about what it was like to live with me when I was working for that horrible leader.
Mark Graban (24m 4s):
Okay. All right. I thought this was a surprise, like during the camera a little bit, that would be, that would be a fun thing to do on someone's podcast. Sorry, go ahead.
Tim Spiker (24m 14s):
He endured hours, hours, and hours of me trying to process, how do I survive working for this leader? How do I do it in a professional way? How do I not lose my mind? And of course that doesn't even take into account the emotion that she's feeling married to the person who's really struggling to do this time, which creates a whole different thing. And so we can't forget that in the, in the midst of a business and organizational life where we want to produce results and we want to, we want to stay gainfully employed and bonuses and all of that, that the leaders we follow really have a big impact on our quality of, of, of life in most cases.
Tim Spiker (24m 55s):
And gosh, I hope that we're thinking about that as we're deciding who to follow. Yeah.
Mark Graban (24m 60s):
Yeah. I mean, I think back to, again, my days at general motors, I undoubtedly some people forgot to return the dark cloud on their way out the door. I'm sure they took it home with them. I took it home. I wasn't, I wasn't married at the time, but you know, my wife who listens to these episodes, I, I, I picture her listening to this and thinking, you know, without going into the details. Yeah. There's times where, where I've brought home a dark cloud and it wasn't fun to be around. And we all, sometimes you'll go through phases of that where our work is less enjoyable than it is at other times. But, you know, building on your point, I think it's not just the effects on relationships, which are of course so important.
Mark Graban (25m 42s):
I've seen research that talks about the impact on physical health. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Stress levels, heart attacks, longevity. I mean, there's, I've, I've seen it.
Tim Spiker (25m 53s):
Yeah. Elevated cortisol levels are not good for the body over long periods of time. So, yeah.
Mark Graban (25m 58s):
And so I think, you know, it comes back to this question of, you know, if somebody would say, look, I I've got no choice here. I've got to drive for results. I've got to act this way. Here's the phrase that to me is a bit of a, a red flag or a trigger it's
Tim Spiker (26m 13s):
Just business. Like, well, no, no,
Mark Graban (26m 16s):
This is affecting people's lives. It's not just business.
Tim Spiker (26m 20s):
I mean, if anybody ever says it's just business or it's not personal, oh, get ready. Something horrible is about to happen. I mean, that's, yeah. That's, that's, that's the cue. And it also it's if somebody says it's just business, you know, okay, you're playing a short-term game, you're playing a short-term game. All the things that we talk about, our long-term leadership success, who do I want to, I get a choice about who I'm going to hitch my wagon to. And that involves not only the bottom line, but also these other things that we're talking around development and quality of life. And so the it's just business crowd.
Tim Spiker (27m 2s):
They can, they can justify I get it. And especially when you're, if you're in acquisitions, if you're in the deal game, I get that mentality. But even in that space, you have an organization and you have people deciding whether or not they want to follow you. You just have to decide what are you really about? And I say this to people, occasionally, look, if your primary goal in life is to be an exceptional leader. That's great. If you're primarily, if your primary goal in life is to elevate your social status and to fill your bank account, you can do that. Just don't conflate the two, because they're two different goals. Now, most of the time in business, the exceptional leader also produces an exceptional bottom line results.
Tim Spiker (27m 47s):
You not needing to make a choice, but it's a harder road with more introspection and more looking in the mirror and more working on who you are. And so if you're like, look, I'm after status and money, and I'm going to call it leadership. I just want to say, just say you're after status and money. Like don't, let's not pretend that this is about leading people. Let's say that let's call this, call this what it is, and you can be settled in that. And the people around you can make an informed choice. So I know I sound a little bit of a smart Alec when I say it that way, but just because there's plenty of people who have been poor leaders who produce dollars, we cannot, there's no co there's not a causality there.
Tim Spiker (28m 30s):
You have to be really careful. And so let's just, let's just be honest about what it is that we're after. Yeah. I, you
Mark Graban (28m 36s):
Know, I'm not going to name names, but you can think of leaders in the tech space, some of whom are no longer with us and some of whom are alive where people will point to their behaviors and the success that they or the company had as a way of them, let's say, as a startup CEO saying, well, I need to be like that. Yeah. And I think that really gets people off track if they it's kind of, it's not just rationalizing, let's say the, the, the, the bad leadership behavior. It's almost saying like, well, they're, they're, they're, they're, they're, they're confusing correlation and causation. They're thinking like that. What we might say, well, that's bad leadership that didn't lead to good results. It's, it's the unknowable thought experiment of maybe they would've had even better results.
Mark Graban (29m 19s):
If they were a different type of
Tim Spiker (29m 20s):
Leader. You know, we, we have I'll name names. We, we have the greatest example of this in Steve jobs. So Steve let's go, Steve apple, 1.0, most people have read that story. He becomes wildly rich by almost anybody standard say very few people on the planet essentially gets run out of his own company. It was such a quote unquote, great leader, but they didn't want him around. And so there's, there's a great book about this called becoming Steve jobs. And of course, I love that title because it gets to the inner story. Steve goes to next and Pixar, and then boomerangs back to apple.
Tim Spiker (30m 5s):
And something happens to Steve through that experience with next and Pixar. Now, when you say what didn't happen, Steve did not become mother Teresa. He did not, he did not go from one extreme to the other, but Steve did change as a person. And when he came back to apple, he had all of the, all of the intellectual and strategic genius that he always had. But what showed up a little bit more was a little bit more curiosity and just a little bit more empathy and just a little bit more humility. And I'm saying a little bit, because I do not want to paint Steve jobs 2.0 as a state, he was not right, but there are many stars.
Tim Spiker (30m 48s):
Yeah, no, he, there are still stories, right. Still broken relationships, but he was a more well-developed human being at that point in the first time. And still, when you look at the results, Steve jobs, 1.0, apple, 1.0, like, okay, wildly rich and really successful. He shifted a little, a little bit, the second who he was. Yeah. He was an apple becomes the most valuable company on the planet. So you kind of have, and Steve jobs, unfortunately, not a fuller story because of his death. And again, for the attempts time, not as Saint, but when you have as much power and influence as Steve jobs and your who shifts better just by 10%, it's like Warren buffet making 10%.
Tim Spiker (31m 35s):
It's not like me taking, making 10%. It has a much bigger impact when the person at significant influence and power makes that shift apple. The first time to apple, the most valuable company in the planet has a hugely influenced by Steve jobs. 1.0, becoming Steve jobs, 2.0 and in Steve's life. I think we see the who, not what story play out very clearly. Even at the financial level, we get to see, I think in, for him, it's not the unknowable thought experiment. If you read through becoming Steve jobs and you get to see what happened and that small shift in who he was, his skills did not get better between.
Tim Spiker (32m 20s):
I mean, he learned a few new things, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't primarily about that. And now apple became what it became. So I think Steve is a, is a wonderful example of the who, not what principle in action.
Mark Graban (32m 33s):
Yeah. And I think in a slightly different way, Jack Welch, who's also longer with us. Y I, I'm not, I'm not a huge Jack Welch fan. There are many who emulated a lot of the do like things. I think that were really destructive. Like you've got to fire the bottom 10% and things like that. But now, if there was a Jack Wells 2.0, it was in his retirement when he was writing. And I I've seen him actually in, you know, in his later years for one kind of disown the fire, the bottom 10% thing that do. But he talked about basically, it's reminding me of your, who, not what principle.
Mark Graban (33m 16s):
Right? So something Jack Welch wrote and talked about basically a two by two matrix is the leader or the salesperson or whatever. Are they getting results or not? Are they behaving the right way or not? And Jack Welch was advising people, even if he didn't do this, when he was in his career at GE is saying like, we can no longer tolerate people who are driving results with the wrong behaviors. If someone has got the right behaviors and isn't driving results, they're coachable. That's right. And you can help them. I think that's an important lesson, even if he didn't always practice.
Tim Spiker (33m 50s):
Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. As people move along later in life, you know, one person might look at them and say, oh, they're getting soft. Another person might look at them and say, oh, they're getting wise. You know, look at you, look at the second story and come to a different conclusion with lots of different things. Well,
Mark Graban (34m 9s):
So, so one of the questions I want to ask you, Tim, you talked earlier about, you know, trying to interview learn about a leader that you might work for. And I love you brought up the, the, the, the question or the example, what happens when things go wrong. So that ties in, I think, to the theme of this podcast of creating an oil. When, when, when there's a quote unquote mistake, what, I mean, how would you want to see leaders respond? W w what sort of, who not necessarily the do what, what leads to more effective leaders and better results.
Tim Spiker (34m 46s):
So this is, this is actually a really relevant question to something that we work with our clients on all the time, when we're digging to the issue of humility, we talk about having a mindset of self forgetfulness, a willingness to see an admin fault and an eagerness to learn from and acknowledge others. I'm going to take that middle one, a willingness to see and admit fault. When, you know, when you know what hits the fan, when things have gone poorly, the most exceptional leaders that we want to run through walls for, they ask themselves, what could I have done better?
Tim Spiker (35m 29s):
Even if that mistake is three levels away from them, they first look back to the mirror and say, okay, what wanted did not get translated was, was my strategy wrong? Maybe my strategy was right, but my communication was wrong, maybe, but those were both fine, but my, I didn't spend enough time helping people really catch the whole vision. Like you could go down a line, you can question a number of different things, but the point is they're questioning their own contribution. First. Now I'm not suggesting that when things go wrong, leaders need to artificially pretend that they had the mallet in their hand, that broke everything 100% of the time. Okay. So I don't know whether your contribution was 2% or 98%.
Tim Spiker (36m 13s):
It could be either one what's more important than that is that you own a hundred percent of what you did. And yes, you know, the old phrase, the buck stops with me as a leader. What we see rampantly in our world today is nobody taking ownership, which is devastating leadership. It is absolutely. I mean, not only is it crushing leadership now, but we're providing examples for others of exactly what not to do. Humility is a really amazing quality in leaders. It is like a mag and we trust people more. And that's where, that's where all this comes home to risk by the way, and who not, what it's about trust.
Tim Spiker (36m 55s):
When we trust people more, we bring the want to, as opposed to just the half to, to the work. And so when things go wrong, if you want to begin practicing those ideas of, of what it really means to be an exceptional leader, you will lead by example and say, here's what I could've done better. Here's where I made a contribution. And if you're really amping it up and you're not sure you ask your team, Hey, what could I have done better? Now, if you've been beating your team with sticks for years, you're not going to get much response in that moment. Silence doesn't mean that you didn't contribute. It might mean that your team is scared to tell you the truth.
Tim Spiker (37m 36s):
So that's a, that's a different story. If you can lead the way, here's what happens. I'm going to say all of the things we in equal, because if I have been metaphorically beating my team with sticks for years, this may not happen. But what happens often is if I have the humility to own my contribution. So many times the other team members start to see, oh, wait, this is about finding the solution. This isn't just about how do we blame people? You know, what, what did I do that I could have done better? And now you're modeling over time. Don't do it once and think that's enough. You're going to have to, you're going to have to actually be humble over time, not just try it on one day, but then you're inviting other people to own their contribution.
Tim Spiker (38m 22s):
And now if we do that over and over again, Mark, if we have humility that owns contribution, and we do that as an organization in many ways, what we've just defined, that is a high speed learning. And so I go to that level because everybody wants a high speed learning organization, but they're not addressing how, who creates that. And so I don't have to explain why high-speed learning organizations have a strategic advantage. This is why, who you are actually ends up showing up in the end results. So that's a, I'm drawing all those things together, but that's, those are the connection points between the who and the types of organizations that would lead.
Tim Spiker (39m 4s):
Mark Graban (39m 5s):
Well, thank you, Tim. Thank you for connecting those different points. And, and I it's it's it's so I think, you know, everything you said there is. So in keeping with the themes that, that we explore and sort of advocate for here on the podcast. So I really appreciate all the insights that you've shared here with us today. So again, our guest is Tim Spiker. His company is The Aperio. You can find them online theaperio.com and I'll make sure that there's a link to that in the show notes. And again, the book is the only leaders we're following with the important subtitle, why some leaders succeed, others fail and how the quality of our lives hangs in the balance.
Mark Graban (39m 46s):
That's, that's such an important font. And so powerfully stated. So Tim, thank you again so much. Thank you for being a guest today, mark.
Tim Spiker (39m 54s):
I really appreciate it. Thanks for the opportunity.
Mark Graban (39m 57s):
So again, the Tim Spiker for being our guest today for show notes, links, and more information, you can go to markgraban.com/mistake80. And I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me they've started being more open and honest about mistakes and their work. And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me email@example.com. And again, our website is myfavoritemistakepodcast.com.