Episode 82: Clean Leading

I once had a boss who hyper-focused on one person until firing them, then another, then another. 

Someone would land on her “bad” side for one reason or another, and then her brain observed what the team member did and said, creating further evidence to prove the initial thoughts.

All of our brains do this – think a thought and then create evidence to back it up through our feelings, actions, and results.

The problem is, we don’t stop and question our brains on whether it was a thought or FACT, before taking action.

How unfortunate for the team member on the receiving end of the criticism and firing. And also for the leader who causes themselves so much pain and suffering.

This is why leaders need what I call “Clean Leading”.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Coaching yourself first before you coach others
  • Focusing on what you can control and the difference between feeling in control and controlling
  • Shifting out of victim mode and into coach mode


Featured on the Show:

Hello there. I wanna tell you a little story back from my corporate days about a leader and a big mistake that I saw them make over and over again. Eventually, I saw that there was a pattern. And since then, I've noticed it among other leaders. And even when I work with entrepreneurs who are growing their teams, I see this happening today. It's very easy to do. We all do it because we're all humans. We just may do it in different ways or with different, you know, aspects of our life.

But today, I wanna talk specifically about how I see this done with your team. So here's what happened. I had a boss who hyper focused on a single team member and constantly criticized them or thought to themselves, even if they didn't take the feedback to the person, thought to themselves that that person just wasn't meeting standards, and there was so much hyper focus on that 1 person until eventually she'd fire them. And the problem was it wouldn't be the end. The cycle would start over, and she'd begin to hyperfocus on another person until she let them go, and then another, and then another. There was actually a running joke that whoever sat at a specific desk would be the next wanting to go. It's almost as if she moved people closer to her to keep an eye on them, but then she'd let them go. That just gave her more visibility and more evidence into what they were doing wrong.

Now we talked about this on a recent Mastermind call, And a client of mine had a name for this that was hysterical, and I wanna share it. She said that this was having a BEC. And I was like, okay. Like, she typed that in the comments. I was like, you're gonna have to tell us what that means. What do you mean, BEC? And she said, it's a bitch eating crackers. Now she had to go on to explain, and so I'm gonna do the same for you. She said, it's when you don't like someone, and it doesn't matter what they're doing.

They could be over minding their own business, just eating some crackers, and you're just like, look at her. She's such a bitch. Just over there, look at the way she's eating those crackers and, like, just finding things to be wrong about them. Okay? I thought that was hysterical, and in part because I've seen it over and over again just in life, right, with humans with women. But in this case, again, we're talking about team members. And it's not so funny when you're on the receiving end. And to be honest, If you don't realize you're doing this, then it's not so funny, even for yourself. It creates so much pain and suffering, so much suffering for yourself.

And so how do you know if you're doing this? Well, I want you to think about the person that does something that frustrates you or annoys you or that you just don't agree with. And I want you to think about something specific that they did recently or said recently. Okay? And I want you to think about how you reacted to it, what you thought. And then I want you to think of a different person, someone you love, someone you adore, someone who, No matter what they do, you can't do anything wrong. Whether it's a child or your favorite employee or anyone, I want you to think about this person, and then I want you to imagine that they did or said the same exact thing. Do you have the same thoughts or feelings? The funny thing is I actually asked that question to one of my clients, and she was so frustrated, obviously frustrated with 1 team member. But when I asked about another team member doing the same thing, who I knew that she loved, she said she would just laugh it off. And that's how you know if you have that different response that there's something going on with your thoughts about a person and that you're likely finding evidence and using things that they do or say to really create that evidence to prove your thought.

The problem is the thoughts are not facts. Your thoughts are not facts. And when you go find that evidence to prove your thoughts, you're building a case against someone, except it's not a case built on facts. It would not stand up in the court of law. So before you give someone feedback, whether good or bad, by the way. This doesn't just have to be something bad. Even that example of, like, someone you love. Like, have you ever heard, like, the, you know, golden boy, or favorite child, or whatever.

Like, it can be good too. You can have a bias towards someone good that they can't do anything wrong. So this could go either way. So before you give that feedback, good or bad, to a team member, you really need to separate the thoughts from facts, and what this means is that you need to do what I call clean leading, clean leading. So let's dive into what that means. What is clean leading? What do you need to be thinking about? How do you know if you're clean leading? So, first, clean leading is all about coaching yourself first so that you're separating those facts from your thoughts and feelings. You're not going to take action to give someone feedback unless it's based on facts. If that's coming from your thoughts or it's coming from your feelings solely, You wanna go back to the facts and make sure that you're giving feedback based on what actually happened, not just your opinion or perception of it.

This is so important because what that means is before you react in the moment, you may actually need some time to step away and to process something. It's so easy to react in the moment and give quick feedback, again, good or bad, but oftentimes, unfortunately, we're team members. The bad feedback, the difficult feedback is done in the moment and is not received well because the way that leaders communicated in the moment is by sharing their thoughts and feelings, which because they aren't true, the team member discounts because that's not their intention, if you've ever heard that. Well, that wasn't my intention. That's because you're sharing something that is your opinion of their motivation behind it versus just looking at the facts of what actually was said or done. So coaching yourself first. So, again, that means separating facts from your thoughts and feelings. So what you're gonna do in order to do this is think about what happened, and make sure that after you kind of brainstorm everything about what happened, you go back and you remove everything that was just your opinion that you can't prove, that everyone who saw it, everyone who heard it couldn't agree on and just go back to the facts.

Okay? And then think about what you want to believe about those facts, and I encourage you to assume the best. Okay? So first, you've cut yourself. 2nd, and really connected to this, is you focus on what you can control. And spoiler alert, it's not your team member that you can control. This is where I start to talk about or teach clients about the difference between feeling in control versus being controlling. Feeling in control comes from ownership of your thoughts and intentionally choosing what to think versus being controlling, which is the action that you're taking, trying to get a result, often coming from a place of fear or impatience or just mistrust, frustration. So you're gonna focus on what you can control, which is only yourself, only you, which is why that coaching yourself first thing was so important. So before you ever have a conversation with a team member, you're already regrouping in your own mind to figure out what actually can I control and what can I not control so that when you go into a conversation to lead someone, you're already detached from the outcome? You're there focused on, yes, you can communicate expectations, but not trying to force them to meet them.

They have a choice, and there are consequences of those choices, but you can't Force them to do what you want them to do. You're going to detach from that outcome and show up from a different place, from a clean place. You have clean thoughts because you've separated out what you can and can't control. 3rd, you're going to shift from focusing on how this impacts you, and you're gonna shift into curiosity and compassion. So what this means is, even though you're going to take ownership of your thoughts and what you can control, which is looking more towards you with your thoughts, you're going to, in the conversation, really focus on them from a place of, again, curiosity being compassion, which means you're going to not be the victim. You're not gonna show up selfishly harping on the impact to you, how this is annoying and frustrating and all of that. Now this is different than stating the facts about how their behavior is impacting the company. There's a difference, right, between the facts behind the impact versus being a victim to it.

And we've gotta separate that and approach this conversation, again, detached, but seeking to really understand where they're coming from. You have to separate your own intentions, your own hopes, and desires, and really go into it just focused on uncovering their thoughts and how that's driving their feelings, their actions, and results, so that you can coach them. You wanna help them see their thinking, and you want to help them take ownership over their own results. But the only way to do that is to lead from that clean place, not muddying the waters with all of your own selfish desires. You want to really make it about them, and how they can improve. Once you're detached and you know that your own feelings are in your control, Now you're going to hold space, you're going to compartmentalize, and really focus on helping them. This is clean leading. It's doing the work, which isn't always easy, to really coach yourself first and show up to a conversation, not selfishly with some intention or motive behind it, but to just help them, to coach them, to show them their thinking, to help them see how they can step into their own power, and take control of their results, good or bad, without, again, muddying those waters and really spilling all of your drama into the conversation.

This is something that you're going to work on as long as you're leading. It's never something that you just master and you're done and check the box. You have to intentionally focus on this every single time you have a conversation with team member, to give them feedback, again, good or bad. You need to look at your motives behind it and make sure You've coached yourself first, so you show up ready to focus on them. You've taken care of yourself, and now you can focus on them.

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