Discover and develop new ways to increase team collaboration, boost morale, enhance productivity and inspire accountability, even during stressful times...
Today's guest, Steven Gaffney is a leading expert on management, honest communications, and high performing teams focused on increasing business growth, productivity, and profits.
Steven works directly with top leaders from Fortune 500 companies, associations, as well as US government and military. To get "the unsaid said", and create high trust and high performance teams that can drive sustained growth and revenues.
Andrew Hryniewicz 0:07
So hello everyone and a very warm welcome to another edition of The Destiny Awakening Interviews.
I'm Andrew Wayfinder Hryniewicz and I'm joined today by Steven Gaffney, business and communications expert, speaker, author and advisor.
So a very warm welcome to you, Stephen. And where are you hanging out today?
Steven Gaffney 0:25
In Georgetown, Washington, DC.
Andrew Hryniewicz 0:27
Oh, great. Good for you. So how's the weather there today?
Steven Gaffney 0:31
It's great today and great yesterday. It was so cold and during the week, you know of Memorial Day weekend, except for monday, so yesterday was beautiful.
Andrew Hryniewicz 0:41
Steven Gaffney 0:42
How about you?
Andrew Hryniewicz 0:43
Well no, we're similar. We probably had the coldest May in like 100 years. But now it's starting to get warm and sunny. So we're happy. As I usually say that if you want amazing weather, you don't live in England.
But we have other reasons for liking it here. So getting on to your work and your experience.
Steven Gaffney is a leading expert on change management, honest communications, and high performing teams focused on increasing business growth, productivity, and profit.
And research shows that about 80% of workplace problems and dysfunctions come from the lack of open, honest communications.
So Steven works directly with top leaders from Fortune 500 companies, associations, as well as US government and militaries. To get the unsaid, said, and create high trust and high performance teams that can drive sustained growth and revenues.
He's the author of three books, "Just Be Honest", "Honesty Works", Be A Change Champion", and co-author of "Honesty Sells".
Thousands of people credit Steven's speeches, seminars, TV and radio appearances, as well as his books for making immediate and lasting changes in their organisational and personal life.
So thank you, Steven, for your time today. And we're going to be looking at the topic of "Consistently High Achieving Teams". And Steven is going to unpack that by answering six questions.
So the time starts now, first question, Steven, who is your ideal client, and what's the transformation your work helps them achieve?
Steven Gaffney 2:24
Well, my ideal client is economic buyers who run a "P & L", you know, profit and loss. In other words, they're the people in charge. That's really it, whether they're in charge of a particular organisation, in charge of a company, in charge of a government entity, in charge of an association. Whatever it is, they're always in charge.
And they're running the "P & L", because the work I do impacts the profit and loss of a company. And people often don't think that. But when it comes to communication, and teamwork, it all comes down to the bottom line.
I mean, and we could talk about where it gets in the way and all that stuff. So anyway, that's, that's who my ideal buyer is.
Andrew Hryniewicz 3:00
Okay. And what's the transformation? What's the before and after for them?
Steven Gaffney 3:04
It's a great question. So what I'm all about is and all the work I do is how to create a consistently high achieving organisation. So a couple of things about this consistently high achieving organisation.
First of all, I don't use the word "performing". And the reason why I'm not a big fan of high performing teams, high performing organisations is because the word "performing" could be confused with "hard work".
And let's face it, we're not paid on hard work, we're paid on results. Nobody says, "Steven, you worked really hard with us, you didn't produce any results", But you know, it's all about results, right? I'm paid on producing results and the objective.
Well, the same thing with organisations, right. It's always about things.
I had a client of mine, who was talking about implementing a diversity and inclusion, you know, a big initiative, and I said, "That's excellent, you should do that. Make sure it's tied with the overall success of the organisation, rather than having HR do that. Right?"
And there's nothing wrong with HR, but it's about coming at it on how it impacts the bottom line. So everything is about how to do that. So that's one thing about performing, and I use the word "achieving".
The other word that's often missing or not put in there is "consistently". Because it's about not just achieving a goal, as an organisation reaching a goal. It's about consistently doing it.
Why is it that some organisations can consistently do it?, And some kind of go up and then they go down, all of which we can talk about. But it's really about consistently high achieving organisations, and all my clients are that way.
And they're usually number one in their field, like Lockheed Martin, which is the number one defence contractor in the world. Barrick Gold, which is the number one gold producer in the world is a client of mine. And Marriott, which is the number one hotel chain in the world.
They are clients of mine, so they're either number one and they want to stay number one. Or they're organisations that want to be number one. It's always about reaching that... but consistently high achieving organisations
Andrew Hryniewicz 5:01
Those are really, really powerful distinctions.
So question number two, what's the biggest challenge they're facing then when they come through the door for you?
Steven Gaffney 5:10
Well, really it's how to do that? And so... I mean, we could talk about a lot of different things. But if there's one thing I want everybody to remember "The number one biggest problem is not what people say. It's what they don't say. It's what they leave out."
So the objective, always the core fundamental principle is how to get the unsaid, said... I mean, just think about how often have you thought, well, "I wish you would have told me", "If they had just told me I could have done something about it."
Well, where executives, CEOs and people like that, what they experience is often getting surprised and blindsided by issues that they should have known about, like losing a big client.
And they found out that the client wasn't really happy for a while, but it didn't bubble up to them. And it's a major client that they should have been on top of, maybe they lose a recompete.
Or they're thinking they're going to get a client, and everything looks good. But then they find out that there was something in the way that they didn't realise till after the client, potential client, went in a different direction.
But often what happens is operational issues. And so, you know, it starts off as a small issue wasn't handled well. And then that, by the time the CEO or the executive finds out about it, they're getting blindsided. And they think, "Oh, why didn't I know about this?" Because we could have done something about, which is actually a big takeaway.
If we look at it, like the biggest problem isn't what people say, it's what they don't say. Our objective in our life, and even in our relationships at home, is how do you create that? And get that feeling where people can really get that unsaid said.
And let's face it, we all hold back. And why do we do that? I can talk about how we do that. And what we can do differently. But it's getting the unsaid, said is the most important thing.
Andrew Hryniewicz 6:51
Okay. So that I think actually almost answers question number three, what's the number one insight you would share to help people right now? And sounds like that's it?
Steven Gaffney 7:00
Well, that's the insight. So then if we look at, "Okay, what do we do", right? People say, "Hey, well, what do we do about it?"
You know, where I am getting blindsided? Or, you know, I had a gentleman come up to me on a break in a session... he said, "I wish I had heard this. I found out, my wife now wants a divorce. And we've been married for 25 years".
The biggest upsetting thing besides that divorce is he didn't even realise his wife was unhappy. No, it's so often we lose a great employee, and we find out that they leave us we're like, "what?"
And so what do we do about this? How do we get the unsaid said? There's two, there's many techniques I teach. But two in particular, I wanted to say it so people again, can walk away with immediate things.
One is create that "emotional safety". So there's a lot of work about psychological safety, but I'm not a big fan of the word "psychological safety", because that's cerebral. What it is, is emotional safety.
So the number one reason why people hold back is fear. So if we create that safety... people, when they feel safe, they'll share. Because it takes much more psychological energy to keep something inside than to let it out.
So a good example of that is people often say, "Well, no, I do create that". But have you ever had experienced this, Andrew, where somebody says, "Hey, I'd love your feedback, please give me feedback. I'm very open to it".
And then you give them constructive feedback. And they flip out. Next time they ask you for feedback, what do we all do? We go, "I'm not going there".
I always teach people... I go, "I bet you, there's some people in your life who have actually trained and conditioned you to lie to them. And you know that it's not good. But you like don't go there, right?
So what we need to do is, by our reaction, and all sorts of thing, is create that safety. Where people feel like, they can say something. And when they say something we don't always like, we don't get upset, we don't get defensive.
And so people might be sitting there saying, "Well, what do I do? I've been that way". Well, the first step is apologise, right? So, emotional safety. And there's a lot of ways around that.
The second is "rewarding honesty". I see this all the time where companies will put out employee surveys, and we want to know what you think. And then they don't do much with the information.
And what happens is employees feel like it is safe to speak up, it is safe to share things. But nothing's ever going to change, nothing's going to make a difference. It doesn't really matter.
So we need to reward people for their honesty, getting the unsaid, said and one of the ways to do that is to show what you do with that information. Even if you don't use everything, show that you'll use something.
A good example of this is, I had a client of mine who is a general. And he said, "You know, we asked the war workforce for ideas, and they gave us a lot of ideas, but now they're not giving us many ideas."
And I said, "Well, what do you..." You know, and he was using those ideas, some of them anyway.
So well, how did you let your employees know? And it was over the phone and actually he went dead air which, you know, another... He didn't have a good answer because you know, that's a really good point.
We don't do a good job of letting people know, the impact of their ideas and feedback. So it's really important in some way, shape or form is to reward people for their honesty.
Even at home, let's face it, you know, people go "Oh, thank you for sharing... Yeah. Okay". But no, what do we do? Versus "Wow, that's really helpful. And now see I need to do this." So rewarding honesty and emotional safety.
Andrew Hryniewicz 10:23
Right. So in your own development, what was the most impactful concept, book, programme, experience? Well, what was the thing that sort of was like your, major lifetime "Aha!" moment,
Steven Gaffney 10:37
God there's been so many. But one of the ones that comes off the top of my head, is what I wrote back in the first book called, "Just Be Honest". And it's a distinction between "what we notice, and what we imagined".
I learned this from Dr. Brad Blanton, who wrote a book called "Radical Honesty", but basically, and I can show you, it's real simple. But I just like, it's the distinction between what we notice in our life, and what we imagined.
Pardon my handwriting.. Notice are the facts. Imagine is all of our thoughts, opinions, and evaluation. Well, here's the thing. What happens is people noticing, like, you know, I might notice, I noticed that you have a dark shirt.
And I imagine you like the dark shirt. Or I could notice that you have a dark shirt on, I imagine you're very fashionable. But what happens is people don't draw that distinction. And they act as if their opinions are facts.
And so this comes up all the time, or somebody will say, "Well, this person disrespected me". And I'll go, "Well, wait a minute, what actually happened". And it's in the first book I wrote about "Notice Versus Imagine".
But the big insight that came out of this distinction was to actually take people through an exercise, in which they realise that most of what they imagined is wrong. It's not correct with people, most people go and say, you know, "I'm really open that I might be wrong". They're not really open.
But I take people through an exercise and in the book, it shows how to do this exercise. And, and it's all about... And they realise that 50 to 80% of the time, what they think about on a daily basis is just flat out wrong. It's incorrect.
Well, people go, "Well, that's not exciting". Actually, it is. Because when we realise that we don't have the answers, we start to talk to people. We start to give people the benefit of the doubt. We start to engage.
Just this weekend, a friend of mine was telling me about a situation. And that was really upsetting with another buddy of his and he said, "What do you think I should do? I said, "Call him, talk to him". "I don't know if I need to", I'm like, "Of course you do. You're all in your head about this."
And people and employees, they stay in their head, but when we realise that 50 to 80% of the time, we're wrong, we realise we need each other. I need your feedback. I can't operate in my life without that. I need people around me, because I realise I'm probably way off base.
And that's how we learn and we grow. And if you think about it, the best people to be around are people who realise... are humbled with how often they don't know. And don't know the answer and experience that. That's probably the biggest insight.
Andrew Hryniewicz 13:18
Yeah. That reminds me of, you know, one of the big... I think it comes from Buddhism. My meditation teacher used to say, you know, "The conditioned mind attacks and defends, the unconditioned mind gets curious".
Steven Gaffney 13:35
Oh, that's really great. And unconditioned meaning, like openness.
Andrew Hryniewicz 13:41
Steven Gaffney 13:41
Yes. That's really great. Because when you think about it, most people aren't that open. You know, I love to tease people when I'm doing speeches and stuff in sessions, I'll say, "Okay, how many of you consider yourself open minded people?"
Of course, people always raise their hand and I go, "I have an easy test. It's very easy. Tonight, find a radio station or TV station that has somebody you politically disagree with, and see how long you can listen to them".
I'm not saying even agree, I'm talking about listening. Most people watch the same old stations that give them the same old feedback, read the same old publications, the same kind of feedback, that's very consistent with really how they believe.
But I think the most open minded interesting is when you meet people that have a totally different perspective. And so most people really can't pass that test, because they'll shut the TV off, or they'll say "I can't listen to that person".
But why not? Even if you even if they're... let's say way off base, it gets you thinking. Or what if some of what they have to say is true? And what we do, is we just write off. And so we build on this environment, often in which it just gives us feedback that we're often right, instead of we can be way off base.
Like... so one of the signs to look for in a healthy relationship is that there's "debate". Like that's a really good sign. Like I often say to people, you know, "How often are you in heated debates with people?"
It's good. And I think conflict is good. Not resolving conflict is bad, but conflict is good. So it's just interesting about how people build their life and how they operate.
Andrew Hryniewicz 15:14
Okay, perfect. So question number five, what free resource would you like to share with the audience to help them with these?
Steven Gaffney 15:22
Glad you asked. And I thought about this in anticipation of this. So if they use what we learned, if they cover this, I'll actually make this easier. If they share what they heard on this, and they send me an email, I'll send them the very first book.
The book I just talked about, "Just Be Honest", I'll send that to them for free. It'll be the electronic version, but I'll send it. So that's the free resource I want to give people because I want people to share this.
Because I think when we pay it forward, we all make a difference in the world. All they have to do is email and say that they, you know, and say that they shared this.
Andrew Hryniewicz 15:56
Okay, so email to vote yes.
Steven Gaffney 15:58
That would help. Right. My email address is [email protected]
But an easy way to do this is if you go to our website, justbehonest.com, that's justbehonest.com the name of the book anyway, justbehonest.com.
But if you go to the website, it'll say contact, and then send us that you listened to this interview, and that, you know, share it with others. On what you've learned, and then say you want the book.
So that's all they need to do. There's a little context, so justbehonest.com.
Andrew Hryniewicz 16:29
Okay, great. Well, that will be in the show notes.
So the last question, Steven, what should I have asked you that I didn't ask you?
Steven Gaffney 16:37
Hey, these are all great questions.
I think, so let's say off the top of my head, what's a kind of a current challenge, I think organisations face, which I don't think they're ready for is a retention issue.
So, and this deals with kind of an, I think, an interesting way of looking at stuff what we've been through.
So COVID created, what I call a period of fear. That most people lived in a some state of fear of business, or what's going to happen, or unknown. But there's a lot of fearfulness.
But now, we live in a period of freedom and flexibility. And we've gone from a period of fear to freedom and flexibility. In other words, people are looking at their life in so many different ways.
And they're saying, "What company do I want to be with?", "Where do I want to go with my life?". They did that during COVID, but that was out of fear, but now it's out of opportunity.
So I think organisations are now experiencing and beginning... If not but they will, "retention issues" because people will start to reevaluate. So you've got to do everything you can to make sure you attract and retain high performers, high achievers, right. And people who you will want around. Freedom and flexibility.
And it's a great opportunity because, as an organisation, you can capitalize on that because other people will might want to move, and you might be able to capture excellent talent, too.
Andrew Hryniewicz 17:56
Okay, great. Well, that's perfect, Steven. Thank you so much for your time and your insights today.
Steven Gaffney 18:03
Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai