About the Episode

Join my friend Patrick Lyons and I on “Balance, Not Burnout” this week as we dive into the nuances of seeking support and fostering personal growth. Journey with us as we break down the walls of ego, and fear, to explore the strength in vulnerability and the power in asking for help. We’ll guide you through strategies to help you overcome these barriers and reveal how to spot your potential mentors.

Discover the advantages of collaboration and learn from others’ journeys. We’ll discuss the importance of a culture that encourages continuous learning and growth. Our conversation will also cover the fine line between valuing others’ insights and maintaining your core values. Stay tuned until the end as we share insights on building reliable support networks, and effective ways to constructively receive and use feedback.

Patrick Lyons

An executive coach, business consultant, speaker, writer and host of The Frustrated CEO podcast, he’s been problem-solving and bridge-building to transform individuals, teams and organizations for over 25 years.

Visit Patrick-Lyons.com to learn more about Patrick and Culture by Design.

Episode Transcript


You’re listening to Balance, Not Burnout, a podcast helping leaders rethink the speed of their business. And I’m your host, Mark Williams. Join me as I explore the power of a more intentional, balanced approach to leadership. Thanks for listening.

Welcome to Balance, Not Burnout. This is Mark Williams, and I am super excited for today’s episode. I’ve got a friend and a colleague and someone that we’ve worked with now for about five or six years at brokers International. Mr. Patrick Lyons from culture by design. Good morning, Patrick. Good morning, Mark. Thanks for having me. You bet. So Brokers International have been working with you, Patrick now for about four or five years. And I don’t know if you remember, but we originally contracted with you to help us with our strategic plan. And that has morphed a lot. So if you don’t mind, sharing a little bit about what you do and what your expertise is in. Yeah, you bet. So I summarize what I do into one word, and that is execution. My job is to help my clients, businesses execute better. And I do that by working with them in in three primary areas. First is that strategic alignment that you just talked about, which does include a strategic plan, but it’s broader, it’s making sure that we’re having the right conversations, and that that leadership team is tightly aligned around the plan. The second area is on developing next level leaders so that as a leadership team, you can trust the next level to carry the torch to be able to execute that strategic plan. So it’s leadership development, it might be teamwork, it might be one on one coaching. And then that last, that third area is building culture by design, building, strong, high performing culture. And the reason I play in those three spaces is I’ve think we’ve figured out that that those are the three things that you need, if you want to execute your strategic plan as you need leadership alignment, any good strong leaders at the next level, and then you need people who are willing to go above and beyond the day to day to execute. So that’s what I do. Awesome. And for the past 10 years, Patrick has been working with many organizations of all kinds of sizes. And today, specifically, Patrick, I’d like to talk a little bit about seeking out input and coaching, which is exactly why I wanted you on the show. So to share with everyone, like I said before, we contracted with Patrick to do some strategic planning. And once we got to know Patrick, and realize all that he could bring to the organization, we actually expanded that. And for the past four years, Patrick has helped us, for example, do a employee survey every year, and not only administer the survey, but administer and coach us on what to do with the results of that survey, and how to communicate those results to our employees. And then what next steps and follow up are involved. And that has also led us to have Patrick do some executive coaching for us as well. So I thought Patrick would be the perfect, perfect guest to talk a little bit about seeking out input in coaching. So I’d probably start off Patrick was saying what is what do you think the benefits of having an outside set of eyes look at your organization? That’s a good question. I think I’ve learned through the years, you know, even and this works for all of us, even myself, when I’m immersed in something every day.

It’s hard to see it’s hard to see the whole picture. And maybe the analogy that comes to mind is, you know, when I set out to go to the gym or lose weight, and I’m doing the the daily things every day, but I’m looking in the same mirror. It’s hard to see that the cumulative change, it’s hard to see the progress. And sometimes I have my own sacred cows, right. When I look at my organization, it’s it’s hard to expand my thinking beyond Well, this is just how we’ve always done it or we do it this way because it works. So having that outside perspective having like in the in the gym analogy having a personal trainer or someone who can a help you see the whole picture, the bigger picture be helped you see what other possibilities and I think See, help help you see the progress and encourage you and help you through the the inevitable obstacles and the challenges that you’re going to you’re going to encounter anytime you’re trying to do something new.

I’ll tell you it for me personally, I love feedback. I believe feedback is a gift. But sometimes it’s really difficult to hear. I would ask you with all the years that you have been coaching and providing feedback. It’s really important for someone to understand their deficits, but it’s also tough to hear and it’s tough to be honest with ourselves. How do you get that message across to someone to for them to be willing to look at what they don’t do? Well,

I think you you said you lead with it in a question. And that is understanding that feedback is a gift feedback is your friend, you know, I often will will tell a manager or a leader of people, that honest feedback for your people is the greatest gift you can give them, it’s more valuable than their paycheck. Because if if the performance isn’t good, and you’re not sharing that, and it’s and it’s not improving their paycheck is at risk, right, the paycheck potentially goes away. So that feedback is the greatest gift you can give them. So if that’s true, why would it not be the same? For me? The analogy I was using is it’s like getting home, at the end of the day, and looking in the mirror and seeing spinach in your teeth, or noticing your zipper was down or something like that. Right? And the first thing you think of is, oh, my gosh, how many people saw

that? Yeah. Why didn’t someone tell me?

Right? Why didn’t somebody tell me that that was there. So as hard as it can be to hear that, right? When somebody goes, Hey, you got something in your teeth, or hey, your zippers down? While it’s maybe potentially embarrassing at the beginning, you’re also grateful. That cool, now I fixed that. And if you think of performance feedback, whether it’s professional, hey, you know, there’s we’ve got these areas that we need to grow and develop. Or sometimes it’s personal, where it might be behavioral, like, Hey, did you notice that you roll your eyes in a meeting? And here’s the impact that that’s having, regardless of whether it’s personal or professional. If you think of it as spinach in your teeth, it’s uncomfortable to hear. But what am I glad that’s not there anymore?

Yeah, I do want to tell you a personal story. And this happened to me years ago. And for those of you that don’t know me very well, I’m an incredibly opinionated person. And of course, my opinions are always right. That’s not to say that someone can’t change my opinion, but I have very strong opinions. And generally speaking, I pretty much stand by them. Well, about 25 years ago, early on in my career, I was in a meeting with all of my peer group, we were wholesalers that worked for an insurance company, we were in a room talking about ideas about how to generate more sales. And we were bouncing ideas around. And a gentleman sitting next to me came out with an idea. And I looked at him and I said, that isn’t going to work. That’s a horrible idea. And we kept on in the meeting, afterwards, my boss at the time, asked me to stay in the in the room, everyone laughed, and she said, you know, Mark 99% of the time you’re spot on with your thoughts and your opinions, but boy, you have horrible delivery. And she said, you know, the first thing you did with with so and so was to tell him his idea was bad. And she said there’s ways to say it and ways to say it. And of course, if someone told you your idea was bad, the first thing it’s gonna happen is you’re gonna get defensive. Yeah, she was 100% Spot on. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that conversation. And to this day, honest to goodness to this day, there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t pause at some point in time and think about how I’m going to say something, not necessarily what I’m saying, but how I should say it, it was the that was truly the best, one of the best feedback gifts I’ve ever gotten. And so how does somebody ask for honest feedback? So in your work, if I were to come to you and say, Hey, I really need feedback, how do you make sure you get honest feedback. And from WHO?

Well, humility plays a huge factor into it. Just being able, I hate to say it, but it’s kind of a, it’s one of the most foundational, I don’t know, facilitators or aspects of being able to ask for feedback is really preparing yourself. Yeah, it’s being genuine and authentic. It’s like, Hey, can you help me? Can you? How am I showing up? What, give me your honest feedback on that, on that performance? Or on that, you know, on that meeting, or on that presentation, that a whatever it might or just in my performance in general. So humility plays a huge factor in it, because I do, I do think there are a lot of times where people ask for feedback, but they’re really not there. They really don’t want to hear that constructive feedback. They’re kind of fishing for compliments. And so to your point, asking for honest feedback, and it really, I think, means preparing yourself, or whatever you might hear, in fact, actually, this is Mark, I learned this 20 years and I coached this, I give this to everybody that I work with. It’s the greatest line I ever learned. And I learned it in a marriage class 20 years ago, and it stuck with me, I learned that if I want Dana, my wife if I want her to tell me when she’s not happy, and I don’t but I do you know, like, I need to hear that. You know what I mean? Like I don’t want to, I just want to assume it’s great, but I need to know When she’s not, so if I, if I want to know, then anytime she tells me anything that is where it might sting a little bit where it might, even frankly, even if I don’t agree with it, or if it’s if it’s raw, in my mind is wrong, the greatest thing to say in that moment is, thank you for telling me that, and then shut up, you don’t have to defend yourself, you don’t have to explain yourself, it’s just thank you for telling you that, in fact, then take a pause and say what else, because often the first piece of feedback someone gives you, it’s kind of like they’re dipping a toe in the water, they’re not going to tell you the the biggest issue they have or the biggest opportunity that they see, most of the time, they’re going to dip a toe in the water, see how you take it. So if you just if you lead with if you if you follow that up with thank you for telling me that, what else in their mind, they’re like, Okay, that went well. Okay, here’s something else. Here’s the next thing. And here’s the next thing. And you don’t have to respond to the feedback in the moment, you don’t have to answer that you don’t have to have a plan. In fact, what I will then say to Dana very often is okay, I don’t know what to do with that. But give me a couple of days. Let me chew on it. Let me think about it. And I’ll come back with an answer or response or some ideas. And I find my answers are always better 24 hours, 48 hours later, than they would be in the moment where you said earlier, like the defenses go up, and I just want to explain it away or make it your falter. So I think humility, creating safety in that that’s what that does that that line, thank you for telling me that makes it safe for the person to not only give me more feedback in the moment, but then give me additional feedback next time. And I think if you if you if you just really nailed those two things, the humility and the safety that you create, for people to give you honest feedback, I think you’re you’re well on your way to Well, I think to getting better by just having other people help you see your blind spots.

Yeah, I would agree. And I think that feedback often needs to be done at the time in which things are happening. And I’ll give you an example. Years ago, I did a lot of presenting in front of agents and our sales, our sales force. And I had a boss who I would consider a fantastic, fantastic presenter. And I asked him to sit in the back of the room on three or four separate occasions and critique my public speaking ability. So I really valued his feedback. And I trusted him, I need and I also needed the feedback exactly as it was happening. So not only did he take notes, four pages of notes, and about an hour and a half of mentorship later, I really valued that time. If someone’s in the workplace, Patrick, who should they tap on the shoulder to give them feedback? And what’s the appropriate setting or or situation in which to receive that feedback?

I think that’s a, it’s a great question. And I think it it, I don’t know that one size necessarily fits all, if you have an obvious mentor, someone that you look up to, particularly in the areas that you are trying to improve, right. So to your point, public speaking, if there is someone in the organization that is a fantastic public speaker, that’s an obvious person to seek out and, you know, lead with if they’re an obvious mentor, but it doesn’t necessarily even have to be so don’t let the fact that you don’t have a strong relationship with somebody keep you from seeking them out. If if they’re strong in the area that you’re that you’re wanting to grow and develop. But then it’s just a matter of, again, showing humility and openness and communicating that if it’s not somebody that you have a relationship with, and you just have to make sure they understand your humility and your openness and your willingness to really want to learn from you, you know, if it’s an obvious mentor, then the relationship is already established. But there are you know, you can you can even look outside of mentors and people who are strong in an area that you’re looking to develop. Sometimes there are already peer groups that you can plug into. And that might look like you know, for for next level leaders in the organization, you know that how do we maybe that already exists? There’s a team of next level leaders that meet regularly and how do I plug into that? Sometimes that doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start it. And it’s just a matter of pulling together the right people to say, hey, why don’t we coach each other? Why don’t we learn from each other? Let’s get together and talk. But the important part of that then isn’t when I’m with these people, I’m going to um, you know, it can’t be from a place of bravado, like, Alright, I have to show up and make it seem like I’m all together and I’m killing it. It’s Hey, how do you guys handle this? What are you Do here’s what I’m doing, what feedback do you have for me, and that can be a safe place when in a peer group setting when you’re all coaching each other. So when I think about inside the organization, and then your guess the last thing would be your immediate supervisor, hopefully, if you have, if you have a strong relationship there, seek that person out and and just be specific, hey, like Mark the example you use, I want to grow, I want to get better in my ability to speak in the room. So do me a favor, I know that you know, when we’re in those settings, watch for it, critique it, you can even get specific. Watch my body language look for confidence, listen for inflection tell me is these are the areas that I want to grow in? And then what else am I missing? So to me, those are three obvious ones, within an organization that you could seek out probably today or this week, if you really wanted to find somebody internally and get that feedback from

Sure. I’ve also found that sometimes it’s not just the way we do things that I need feedback. In my career, I’ve seen a lot of people get promoted to management positions, who traditionally weren’t managers or had any type of management training. That’s not to say they couldn’t become or weren’t good managers. But it’s it’s a skill set, I believe, I believe there are things that you need to learn. And the longer you’re in that position, the more you learn, right, so like anything else. So with new managers, Patrick, I don’t want to take someone’s autonomy away, I still want them to be themselves. I want them to incorporate any type of feedback, but you’ve coached a bunch of our new managers. So give the audience two or three things that that you could talk to a new manager about, and how they incorporate that into their daily work. So that number one, you’re not offending them. And you’re giving them feedback that they can use, like, how do you how do you create that safe space? And and give me a little bit of snippet of how you would provide that feedback?

Tell me a little bit more feedback? How I would coach a manager or how a manager? I’m not sure I fully understood the question.

Sure. So I in my career, I’ve worked with a lot of new managers, people that might not necessarily had any type of management training, they did their job really well, the department grew. And because they knew their job really well, when they hired another person into the department, they became their manager, they really didn’t know how to manage. And so oftentimes, we want to provide them management coaching, and how to be an effective manager. I don’t want to take their personality away. I want them to incorporate some of this constructive criticism or advice, but I also don’t want to clip their wings, so to speak, how do you create that safe environment where you can give feedback to all types of different personalities, and make sure they’re receiving it in which the manner in which you’re giving it?

Got it. So two things come to mind first, and it was great when you said, right, I don’t want to clip their wings, I don’t want to I don’t want to, you know, want to change their personalities, I would even say not only is that spot on. But what you’re finding that employees value more today than ever is authenticity. So that you giving a manager give, especially a new manager giving a new manager permission to be themselves, and not necessarily trying to emulate anybody else or to I mean, certainly you can, you can watch a great leader and see what she or he does. But there’s still it’s still important, you can’t be somebody else, you have to be you have to embrace who you are. And you have to be okay with with showing that. So authenticity means being vulnerable with your people. Recognizing that’s not a sign of weakness. It may have been 1020 years ago. But I think now what employees value more than almost anything else, right up there with empathy is authenticity. But the second thing, to me, the second major piece of advice for a new manager is lead yourself first. It’s a major disconnect for employees when my words and my actions aren’t aligned. I think everybody can think of a leader that they’ve worked for that.

Do as I say, not as I do, kind of

yeah, as I say not as I do, and and we don’t respect those people. Typically we follow those leaders out of compliance right out of fear that if I don’t do what they say that I’m going to get in trouble, but it’s certainly not out of individual accountability or a high level of respect. And so as a new leader, sometimes there is the pressure to to I think like two things. One, there’s there’s either the pressure to come in and put my own stamp on things. And again, lead yourself first make sure that that that You’re modeling the values, make sure that you’re modeling that that individual accountability that you’re modeling, creating safety for your people that so you can’t ask them to take feedback, if you can’t receive feedback yourself, right, so you lead yourself first, the other end of the spectrum, sometimes a new leader will come in, and they’re almost like they want to be friends with everybody. Yeah. And that’s, I’d argue that’s in a different way. It’s almost as, as effective as the other end of the spectrum where you’re coming in, and you’re just trying to put your stamp on everything. It really comes down to building relationships. But then not being afraid to set a vision set. Of course, your people want that from you. They want to know, they want feedback from you. But as I said, you also need to make sure that you’re creating a space where you can receive feedback from them.

Sure. And that made me think of something I’m actually laughing to myself. We all know that person that thinks they do everything great. Right? A person that’s just difficult to give feedback to, and when you give feedback to them, they either don’t accept it, they’re not humble enough to receive it, or they don’t believe it. When you come across someone like that, give us a couple pieces of advice.

Oh, yeah, I’m so glad you asked that question. Because that literally came up in a conversation with a founder and CEO just two days ago, and I feel it comes up in so many conversations, because you’re exactly right. I’ve got somebody on my team, I need to give them feedback. Sometimes it’s again, it might be on on the technical aspects of the job, or it might be a behavioral thing. And, and so I give that piece of advice. We were talking earlier about but it’d be great if they just said thank you for telling me that what else but a lot of times you get defensiveness and and or you get some kind of resistance. And that defensiveness might show up, as, you know, they might become argumentative. They might try to make excuses for it, they might they might shut down, right? They may, they might go quiet and not say anything, they might start crying. That happens. These are very real things. And so what I always advise, it’s such a great question, Mark. What I always advise is, in that moment, pause the conversation about whatever the piece of feedback was, right? So if I’ve shut down, or I’m argumentative or becoming defensive, or I’m trying to make excuses or point the finger at somebody else, if I’m in that place, and you keep trying to now convince me otherwise, right? You’re you’re trying to you’re, it’s you’re screaming at a wall, right? You’re, you’re you’re meeting resistance. And so now you ratchet up your intensity, and I ratchet up mine. And before you know, it’s spiraled out of control. So when you meet that resistance, pause the conversation about the piece of feedback. And instead, this these are gifts, I, I think it’s the greatest gift and one of the greatest gifts that your employees can give you in that moment, is it’s an opportunity to now spotlight the behavior. So now you can say, okay, hold on a second, let’s pause the conversation about about you know, the presentation or the behavior or whatever it is. We need to talk about what’s happening right now. Right? I need you to stay open to feedback. Like none of us, I use this phrase myself, none of us is fully baked, none of us knows everything the day I think I know, everything is like the beginning of the end. So I need you to stay open to feedback. Because otherwise, you’re not going to grow and and we’re not going to get better as a team or as an organization. And that’s gonna be that’s gonna hold you back. Yeah. And so you’re you’re not trying to pretend or ignore their defensiveness or whatever the behavior is in the moment. You’re pausing the conversation and spotlighting it. And you’re just calling attention to it and that alone? Well, a lot of times a person doesn’t realize that that’s how they’re responding. Yeah. But spotlighting, it gives them the opportunity to say, Well, yeah, okay, you’re right, or I know, but, but now you’re focused on the behavior. And that’s a much, it’s so much more productive, to even if you never get back to the feedback conversation, like the original point of the conversation, spotlighting the behavior. Now you’ve that that’s if you can overcome that. That makes the next piece of feedback that much easier. And you know, if it happens again, you could say, hey, remember, we talked about this? I need you. But the importance there is that you as the leader, you’re not matching the intent, the intensity of the other person. You’re not getting defensive or angry at their response. You’re calmly spotlighting it and then having a conversation about that.

Yeah, that’s awesome. Oftentimes in my career, I’ve used sports analogies. I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world. But the analogy I would use with someone like that is even your best players, the best players in the world, Tiger Woods. LeBron, they have coaches. Yeah. And they’re willing to accept the game, right? So you went back to the behavior? Yes, we’re not talking about your personality, on an off the court on or off the field, however you are, but you’re talking about your ability. And if you truly want to be the best athlete, or the best manager or the best person in your role, you need feedback, because even the best players need feedback. So that’s kind of where I go, I think we’re saying the same thing is to focus on the behavior, not necessarily the personality, and hopefully they’ll get it.

Yeah, actually, there’s John Vogel, or one of one of your leaders at brokers often says, make the problem the problem or make the issue the issue and not the person. And it’s, it’s, it’s simple and yet profound. It’s like, Hey, this is not personal. But I think it’s okay. You know, when you give me feedback, I think it’s natural for somebody to become defensive. Because none of us I mean, it’s, it’s awkward, very few people are, immediately go to that place of thank you for telling me that even when Dana tells me it, I can still become defensive. Sure, it’s more of the mindfulness, it’s the reminder, Hey, I can’t go with my first reaction. So it’s okay. If somebody becomes defensive. That’s a teachable moment, as I said, those are gifts. And the irony is that a lot of times that that anticipated defensiveness is why a leader holds back from giving you feedback. Whereas to me, like, embrace those poor behavior moments, those are gifts, those are coaching opportunities to that’s how, that’s how we grow as a as a team, our relationship grows when we have that conversation and come through it better on the other side of No, sir. I embrace those. And I encourage managers to embrace it as well.

So getting back to balance, not burnout. Yes, if I want to balance my career, and not burnout. Why do I need feedback?

That’s a great question, too. I think so. To me, burnout comes from, this is my opinion, when I feel like either I’m stuck, I’m stuck. And I’m not growing. I’m not progressing. I feel overwhelmed. I feel overloaded. I’m, I mean, a variety of ways. And to me, I think it’s almost where we started the conversation, which is when I’m in it, it’s really hard for me to see the whole picture I can we all become very myopic, when we’re in chaos. And I think of burnout as a form of chaos, or it’s professional chaos for me. So when I’m in that place, you know, if I could figure it out myself, I would have I wouldn’t be in that place. Yeah, I think that’s where you can seek out. Sometimes it is, it’s a it’s a boss, it might be you know, might be a spouse at home, it might be a coach, but somebody to whom you can say, here’s what I’m feeling like, I think it’s acknowledging this is where I am. I don’t like it now. What am I missing? Or how did i How did I get here? Not so that I can blame myself or blame somebody else but so that I can understand what do I need to do to change it to fix it? So I think just acknowledging burnout, I think though, I’ve never met anybody who’s burnt out and happy about it. Either, right, it’s a it’s a place you end up that you didn’t go willingly it just kind of happened. So feedback can help you figure out what do I need to do to get out of this?

Words of Wisdom by Patrick Lyons, from culture by design? The last question I asked every guest it’s Saturday morning, you have no responsibilities you can be with whom you want, you can do what you want. Describe for me your balance Saturday morning,

my balance Saturday morning. So that would be one of ideally, ideally balanced for me is making sure that I get enough time with my with my family. My kids, we’ve been blessed to have five kids. I would say all five of them are hilarious. They’re just funny and and in different and unique ways. So I can think of those like a Saturday morning brunch at a restaurant where there’s just laughter You know, we’re all poking fun at each other. But with love and and you It becomes, you know, like a competition to see who can who can top the last choke and so there’s just a lot of lack or sometimes to the point of tears. That’s what, to me that’s that’s the counter to balance. That’s the counter to burnout. That’s my balance. And I feel like when I don’t get that, that I do start to feel the burnout. That’s the one of the first places I go as I need to spend more time with my, my mundane is hilarious, too. So a lot of laughter in our family.

Laughter always does the trick. Amen. Yeah. Well, Patrick, culture by design, if you’re interested in employee engagement, employee morale, executive coaching, strategic planning, you name it. It’s culture by design. And Patrick Lyons. I can’t thank you enough for being on the show today. Thanks again. And I hope you have a really great week.

Thank you. You too. It was a pleasure.

Thanks for listening. If you think bounces is important as I do at work and all throughout your life, help the show out by subscribing and leaving a five star review following me on social media. Or please share the podcast with someone you think would appreciate it. If you have comments or questions, connect with me on LinkedIn and join the conversation there. Thanks for sharing your time with me today. And until next time, this is Mark signing off.