You can read all the leadership books and listen to every podcast, but many of the tactics will fall short until you work on yourself. Adam calls this centeredness, and it’s the step he finds most important in learning to lead like a human.
On today’s episode of Lead Like a Human, you’ll meet Jim Marsden, Principal and Coach with Reboot. Jim has been a huge influence on Adam’s journey towards centeredness and will be giving us his insights on the topic.
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[00:00:00] welcome back to insights and employee engagement podcast from Emplify I'm Nicole MacLean, and I'm really excited to kick off our latest season. Now amplifies co founder and chief people Officer Adam Weber literally wrote the book on what it means to lead like a human as this season unfolds. We'll be discussing each step outlined in the book, equipping you with both aspirational and practical tips.
So let's dive in. The first step starts with you. You can read all the leadership books and listen to every leadership podcast, but many of the tactics you will fall short until you do the work. Adam calls this center, this and into the step that he finds most important in the book. Along the way, Adam, in this episode, you'll also get to meet Jim Marsden, principal and coach with reboot.
Now Jim has been a huge influence in Adam's journey towards centeredness and he'll be giving us his insights on the topic and [00:01:00] why it's so important to focus on, but let's start at the beginning. What exactly is centeredness.
When I think of centeredness, I think of things like being grounded and having a sense of being present, being with whatever's here before me, but also kind of leaning into it in a way where I have a sense of who I am and what I'm for in a way, not in terms of like what I'm for in terms of outcome, but.
Perhaps more of like the values that matter to me, or what's important about whatever's at stake in the moment when we're centered? I feel like we can be present and have a sense of calm, even if there's something pretty chaotic happening around us. And when we're not centered, even just saying that centered may bring up a lot of images, you know, like being more on my heels or I'm trying to get back to centered normal, grounded, or I'm.
I'm under pressure or I'm stressed out, I'm off balance. Having [00:02:00] a sense of calm when things are chaotic. Sounds like a duh, right? I mean, isn't this how every leader wishes they could show up and yet we all know it's just not the case. So why do so many leaders struggle with this? Part of what can have us out of center is a feeling that were actually, maybe perhaps over our heads or becoming overwhelmed.
That there's something more than what I'm either prepared for able to do. Leaders can be out of center when they're actually trying to live up to. A positive image they may have for themselves of the leader. They should be, they're kind of holding themselves accountable, but for whatever reason, they're not in that position.
And perhaps the image actually hasn't even been explored. So this, I find to be something that's quite natural that coming into positions or becoming a founder or a CEO, right from the very beginning and yet without making an explicit choice. I'm trying to live up to be the leader I'm holding myself accountable [00:03:00] to, and that can present a bit of an image, but I haven't had the space or elbow room, or maybe even the tools to even look at that directly to see, is it a good fit?
It's just what I've got. And it's often informed by how I grew up or who I admire or people I've read about. And I'm trying to follow with best of intentions, some kind of goodness. That's there that I'm holding myself accountable. Four, but as we tried to do that, that can actually lead us to be out of center or off balance.
If I'm not able to live up to that image, I can be out of black, out of alignment, a bit leaders having unreasonably high expectations on themselves is all too common. But how can leaders Regaine that alignment and become a more centered leader? The great practices become personalized, even though there might be some things that cut across what I do in helping folks too. Come back to the center. We actually ended up looking in a couple of different places and they can create a bit of tension. So [00:04:00] part of it is actually to be come more familiar or even the friend. What are the aspects or elements that when present, actually take me out of being center or have me more on my heels or maybe it's.
Maybe it's not so much that I'm leaving center, as much as I'm feeling like I'm overwhelmed or constantly stressed out or never adequate enough with leaning into that and coming to understand. So what is that? What do we notice? And look for patterns that might be here that are older than my position in this company.
And maybe even familiar, you know, as far back as growing up or being a member of the family, that is a part of, so we start to get to know that side while we also then start to explore things like. What are my values? What am I for? What actually matters here about this for me and that heads towards a pretty individualized understanding of things often in the beginning, if we start even just asking the question, so what is it that you would like that can feel like it's an easy question to ask?
What would you like? [00:05:00] But. Depending on the person's experience, they might be really trying to understand why are you here asking me this? Do I give the answer that I would give my investor? Do I give the answer? I feel like I should, if my employees were listening, so there's, there can be just a whole lot of noise that's in the myths.
So the more we can actually kind of settle that and come to explore what actually does matter. What would I like? Why am I doing the work that I'm doing? Getting a cleaner sense of purpose can actually help provide some grounding. And then if we bring these two together, both the sense of what I'm for and the groundedness along with what has me really stressed out or where do I really feel like I'm so distant from being centered.
If we come to know both of these even further there, we can actually understand the whole system that's in play, not just trying to get more of what we want, but understand everything that's here. And I feel like that's part of being human. We can understand all of it. The key here is to understand what triggers you and can cause you to get out of balance.
When you can name these things, [00:06:00] it can help you become more self aware and take actions to help you get more centered for Jim. He shares a couple of specific practices that work for him that we can all learn from. One is spending time in nature. And that is something I do try to do quite regularly and I've got some help.
So my dog loves to be outside. And in many ways, uh, he brings me out to nature more than I might bring him out because I know his health is also dependent on it and mine is to not lead with mine. So I'm grateful for that when I'm out, it's not just. Taking Otis for a walk it's, it's really being out. And I often wander off trails to just follow what is catching my attention. I go out and I feel like I'm doing more listening that I'm actually trying to do something or get something done, or even I'm not so much even trying to go somewhere or go a particular distance. I go out and listen. And. This for me just feels like revitalizing. I'm able to just tap [00:07:00] into and feel and see some things that might be surprising.
There may be something in the grass. There may be a tree I haven't seen before, or, you know, one of the things that's happening now with the. Time of day is as the sun starts to go down the way the wind is blowing through the meadow on a Hill, that's near us. It just the, the goals and the yellows and the green backdrop are really pretty special just to see the whole field move. That's helping me get grounded. It helps me to, to see a bigger picture that holds the smaller dramas of the day, you know, within it. So that that's probably my. My biggest one, but there's another practice that I do pretty regularly. And my wife and I do it together sometimes it's to Nate. Well, we appreciate from the day that we've just had, and it could be appreciating a person could be appreciating it, experience and interaction could be a moment that happened.
But there, there are a couple of different things that I find to be really, really helpful that relate to centerdness with gratitudes [00:08:00] is if we learn how to really express our gratitude, we come into discovering our own voice because it's not just, I'm grateful for it. It would be whatever language or words come out that really acknowledged and correctly, or uniquely express the gratitude or appreciation that you're you're feeling.
And to be able to do that. Over a period of time, you come into your voice and you actually, I find when you're naming what you really appreciate, there's an intimacy. That's there. Like we come together and I see it and I'm acknowledging it. And now we're together and I am bigger than just myself. It's because of this, that happened today and it could have been. Uh, you know, a simple exchange with someone who had helped me with my groceries, you know, at the checkout center, it doesn't need to be hugely monumental. It just needs to be something that you've noticed or that I've noticed and being able to name it and use the language and words that show up in the moment just helps to affirm [00:09:00] what matters to me that I care about this.
I care about them, or however that was, and that, that too, I feel is more affirmation. During our conversation. Jim touched on the topic that we spend a lot of time talking about on the show burnout. Now this has been on the hearts and minds of so many right now. So what can we learn from centerness and how can this help us with burnout?
Here's Jim. Sometimes when I'm working with folks who are experiencing a fair amount of burnout, and even sometimes when there's a bit of a numbness or depression that may be present or a heaviness that seems to be there oftentimes where the client or the friend I'd start. Sharing is here are the things that are overwhelming and it's as if to say that I'm doing too much and that I don't have time.
I don't have time to take a breath to reenergize to get a different perspective. What I feel is a bit of a false friend is to keep that. In the domain of how much work that I'm doing. And instead where I [00:10:00] get to be really curious when I, especially when I hear the word burnout is in my experience with many of the folks that I work with burnout for me is often the starting point of there's actually something that I'm doing that is actually out of alignment with who I am or who I'm really trying to be.
So rather than head towards time management or what are the things that might be delegated or, you know, sometimes those things can help for sure. Yeah. But when there's a pretty severe case, there's often something that's deeper. That's out of alignment. And that too then is another way of becoming out of center.
So if we can come further into exploring what is it again that I'm asking four or what actually brings me alive? Where do I find my vitality and what may be in the work that I'm doing or something in the environment, or maybe even a recent past conversation? Is there something that is, is still niggling at me?
And sometimes it's like that, that kind of question where it's not posed in a logical way, it's posed in, is there something that's actually trying to get your [00:11:00] attention or is having a feeling kind of whacked or out can tell me about that experience? We actually can start to see something where you can get clues about where is their centered and where is there something that is.
More of me more of the way I'd like to be coming forth. And where is there actually something that's pushing against that or competing, and then come to that place of what agency might I have to bring things further into alignment. It often what happens in those places is if I can make some adjustments where I'm doing more of the work that I feel is mine to do not just work that I can do, but my mind to do, I can be working really hard to have to do many, many things.
And it's not actually depleting my energy. There are times, and we've all experienced this, you know, where, where I'm doing work. That's just energy building, but it needs to be of alignment. And if it's not, then if it's not for an extended period of time, burnout can happen.
As we wrap up today's conversation. Adam shares the impact Centre Nessus has on his life. [00:12:00] When you live outside your wholeness, when you're operating in your life, disconnected from yourself, what are you missing? What is happening in life that is unseen. What relationships are you damaging? What is still invisible to you?
That's really, the biggest change is just one of the coaches I've worked with before. He says he calls it like being in on the joke, like being in on the joke of who you are so that you at minimum are just aware of how you're impacting those around you. So practically for me, I think what it. What the practice of centerdness provides this consistency as a leader, there are natural highs and lows, and sometimes in different seasons, those can feel really high and really low.
And I think what it has done for me is it's just, it's allowed me to think clearly in the midst of those really chaotic seasons, having to make bold, tough decisions that are business impacting and people impacting decisions. And [00:13:00] those daily disciplines and that commitment to connecting with yourself and giving yourself space to think, and process have been critical to me because it's helped me to really process and think and make those decisions with a bold confidence.
Hm. The big insight centerness is about being your authentic self. We've been hearing a lot about authenticity lately, but this is more than just the latest HR buzzword when truly lived out. Authenticity is a revolution to leadership. Authentic leadership to me is about being your true self at work. It's not being a disconnected or fragmented person.
One of the things I shared on a previous episode is this correct. We live our whole lives as this one type of person, but then when we show up to work, we flip a switch and we become someone else. An authentic leader has a whole person that is connected in all facets of their life. And so I think an authentic leader is vulnerable.
They're empathetic. I think they're [00:14:00] transparent. They still have to make hard decisions. They still are going to be put in situations where maybe the employees don't agree with them, but an authentic leader is willing to peel back the curtain, share their decision making process with some transparency and some empathy to how it impacts others as well.
Your true self at work. Too many people treat management as if it's a role that they're playing. It truly is like flipping a switch as Adam points out. But what happens is that leaders start to treat their employees like characters in a play versus the fellow humans who want the same things that you do, growth, meaning inspiration recognition.
When you take the time to bring your true, authentic self to work, you set the foundation for so many things, psychological safety, trust, productive conflict, investing in others. I mean, the list goes on and this is why centerness has to be at the foundation of your journey and our first step in the series.
[00:15:00] Right? Adam, I think it's so easy for a reader, especially when you're reading a business book is just to open it and go, where are the answers like, where are the practical tips? But the hard truth is that leadership is just, it's more than that. It's more complex than that. You simply cannot implement someone else's playbook and be a successful leader. What you can do two is learn from the wisdom of others, but if you yourself are not willing to put in the work to become the very best version of yourself, you might be able to be a manager. You might be able to hold a job. But you cannot be a leader that is the actual secret to high performance teams.
By the way, a leader is a person who is committed to becoming the best version of themselves, who is in motion, who is in process. And it's a person who is willing to challenge other people to do the same. And that is how you create high performance teams. [00:16:00] You inspire the best and you encourage people in their own development to become the best version of themselves. That's why this matters is that there's no tip. It is the tip is be a part of the journey, yourself, be a participant as you're listening. I hope that you're feeling inspired to do the work, to become the best version of yourself. And we want to be right here with you to empower and encourage you on that journey.
We've seen firsthand the power you can unlock when you do. One of the things we haven't talked about yet that I think has been really important to me is not doing this alone. I think friendship. And mentorship is a really critical part to this. Who do you have in your life that you can open up to authentically about how you're doing and about how you're growing and what you're learning.
And if you don't, if you don't have that, I really encourage you maybe. And maybe even take this chapter just as a foundation and just with another, maybe there's a new leader. Who is also beginning a journey like this and say, Hey, would you be willing [00:17:00] to have conversations with me with some frequency so that you have someone who's doing this with you? Thank you for joining us on this week's insights. Don't forget to subscribe and to get your copy of lead, like a human available for preorder on Amazon. Next week, we move on to step two, activating your company purpose.