The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

May 1, 2017

Are You Worthy of Followers, Part 2

“Are you worthy of followers?” It’s the same question as, “How good a person are you?” It begins with self-awareness: you need consistent, honest feedback – from those who know you best – about what’s in the way of people choosing to follow you at work and in life. Plus, Jim & Steve outline nine other qualities leaders need to be follower-worthy.

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Voiceover: It’s a Northwest Lifestyle weekend on KOMO News. Now, a show for anyone who is or has a boss. This is The Boss Show, with Jim Hessler and Steve Motenko.
Steve Motenko: Today on The Boss Show, Part 2 of Are You Worthy of Followers, because we contend it is the essential question, tantamount to the question, “How good a person are you?” and we guarantee if you listen and act on what you hear today, you will be a better person.
Jim Hessler: And who are you?
Steve Motenko: Oh, thank you for asking. Nice to meet you. I’m Steve Motenko. I’m The Psychology Guy. I’m an executive coach and personal development coach, and quite polished radio host right here in the Seattle area.
Jim Hessler: Absolutely. I’m Jim Hessler. I’m The Business Guy. I’m the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development and the author, along with Steve, of the book Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face, which is part of what we’re pulling from today for our show content.
Steve Motenko: Yeah, so the book, we decided to do a series of Boss Show episodes on the essential leadership growth concepts from our book. We hope that they offer you some value, some things to think about in terms of how you can be a better leader. As we said in Part 1 of this episode, Are You Worthy of Followers, leadership is not about positional authority. We often say that on the show. We always say it in our leadership workshops. Leadership is about the quality of your influence on another human being, and yes you do have influence on another human being. It points to the critical nature, the critical importance of this question, “Are you worthy of followers?” I’ll ask you through this show as I did in the last episode, and you might want to download that from our website, By the way, the show, if you aren’t already a subscriber, is on iTunes, on Stitcher, and SoundCloud. You can find us pretty much everywhere.
Jim Hessler: Everywhere that’s worth being.
Steve Motenko: Everywhere that’s worth being, because that’s where we always are.
Jim Hessler: Exactly.
Steve Motenko: Yes, if you’re in our presence then … Never mind. So Part 1 you can find on our website or those other platforms. Part 2 we’re going to get into six other qualities that are critical for you if you really want to be worthy of followers. The first four that we covered last time, socially skilled, connected, fully present …
Jim Hessler: And passionate.
Steve Motenko: … and passionate. Hopefully you’re rating yourself on those things, but also think about someone who is a leader in your mind. It can be a family member, it could be your dad, it can be a current or former boss, it could be Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, somebody that you see as a leader, and think about how they line up among these qualities that we will talk about today and the ones we talked about last week.
Jim Hessler: Yeah. It’s a good list. It’s not a complete list. There’s probably 10 other things you could add, but make a list. Figure out what it is about you that would make somebody want to line up behind you and go to battle with you. It’s a great question.
Steve Motenko: Yeah. Yeah, add some things that you would add to this list.
Jim Hessler: And it’s not about money. It’s not about how much money you’re offering them or how many stock options. It’s, Why would their heart and mind want to be part of what you’re creating?
Steve Motenko: Because as we said last week, and as we say in our book, “Followers choose leaders.” It doesn’t work the other way around. People have to be willing to be influenced. Let’s get into quality number five, which is self-aware. Jim, if I had written the book …
Jim Hessler: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. But you didn’t.
Steve Motenko: But I didn’t. I edited it. That’s something. I would have put it first, I think, because to me it’s the leading edge. Look at the qualities we’ve talked about so far. Socially skilled, connected, fully present, passionate. You could say, “Oh, I’m great on all those. I’m very socially skilled. I am always fully present with people. I have a lot of passion.”
Jim Hessler: And say so with a complete lack of self-awareness.
Steve Motenko: Complete, total confidence and a complete lack of self-awareness. None of this matters unless you are aware of how you are perceived. Self-awareness is not just awareness of your own internal monologue. It’s awareness of how you are perceived, because as we said in the last show, we are all creatures of belonging. We’re hardwired that way, and if we don’t know how others perceive us, we can’t possibly know how follower-worthy we are.
Jim Hessler: Some of our worst role models in our society are these sports figures who get on and say, “I don’t care what anybody thinks of me. I’m just going to do it my way, and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem.” That’s a bunch of crap. In order to be a leader of other people you absolutely have to care how they feel about you. Absolutely.
Steve Motenko: And you have to know how they feel about you.
Jim Hessler: Yes, and be honest about it.
Steve Motenko: Exactly. We’ll encourage you to find out, to find authentic ways of finding out how you’re perceived. We’re laying out today, and also last week, the 10 qualities that we see as making you worthy of followers or not. Before the break we started talking about self-awareness and the fact that self-awareness is the leading edge. None of these qualities matter if you don’t know how others perceive you as embodying those qualities or not.
Jim Hessler: Or if you don’t care.
Steve Motenko: Or if you don’t care. Exactly. We encourage you to get authentic feedback. It’s not easy to do sometimes. You can use the 10 qualities in our book to send out to people and ask how you rate on them. You can use any other set of qualities that matter to you, but it’s really important either in conversation with people who will tell you the truth, or once in a while at least in some sort of a maybe written survey, especially if you’re a positional leader-
Jim Hessler: Well, and in our book Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face, there is a very user-friendly 360 assessment document with some very clear questions to ask. It can hurt to hear some of this stuff. Sometimes you hear stuff you don’t want to hear, but you got to hear it.
Steve Motenko: Part of self-awareness is relating appropriately to both your strengths and your weaknesses. Jim, you wrote in the book, or we wrote … You wrote it, I probably rewrote it. That’s how it works.
Jim Hessler: Yeah, exactly.
Steve Motenko: “Acknowledging our strengths isn’t about bragging, and acknowledging our weaknesses isn’t about making excuses. It’s about our honest journey of growth as human beings.”
Jim Hessler: Yeah. People get hung up on being negative if you are willing to be honest about your own weaknesses and say, “You know, I didn’t do a very good job preparing for The Boss Show today.” Some people get real upset at that sort of language like, “Oh no, you’re being too hard on yourself.” To me it’s just be honest.
Steve Motenko: Can you say things like that factually and plan a course of action to kind of remedy those things that aren’t working well without it taking the tone of beating up on yourself to the point where it actually holds you back from growing, from becoming better?
Jim Hessler: Right. The completion of that comment would be, “I did not do a very good job planning for The Boss Show today, and the reason for that is I didn’t block off enough time on my calendar to do the preparation.”
Steve Motenko: Yeah. I’ll go back to this notion of relating to your strengths and weaknesses in an appropriate and authentic way, because there are inappropriate ways to relate to them where you’re inappropriately bragging about your strengths, which doesn’t do anybody any good, it just shows you insecurity, and inappropriately beating yourself up around your weaknesses.
Jim Hessler: Yeah, and I also want to really warn against just giving yourself simple labels, which actually end up being kind of victim language, like, “I’m not a people person.” I’ve heard people say that. “I’m not a people person.”
Steve Motenko: Yeah, what does that mean?
Jim Hessler: Or, “I’m just not good about details.” Well, I acknowledge that I struggle with details, but I’ll tell you, there’s some details I have to be really good at in order to run this business. Just don’t give yourself an out. When you acknowledge your weaknesses, acknowledge the cost of those weaknesses compared to what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Steve Motenko: And what’s important in order to remedy those weaknesses given what you’re capable of, given what your team needs from you, given what life your relationship needs from you, all of that takes a lot of discernment. The next one, number six on our list of qualities that make you worthy of followers or not, is motivated. Jim, when you chose that one, what do you mean by a leader being motivated?
Jim Hessler: Well, sometimes I like to just play with words, and a motive is your reason for doing something. When I talk about motivation, I mean you have a why at the middle of what you do. You have sense of purpose. You have something you want to accomplish, something that’s important to you. It’s related to passionate in some sense, which is one of the other qualities, but it’s also this quality of being intrinsically motivated, not be a victim, to always be in what David Emerald calls a creator mode, to always be thinking how you can be the change you want to see in the world, right?
Steve Motenko: Yeah, David Emerald, author of The Power of TED. We’ve had him in the studio. It’s a great read about taking that victim motivation, which is extrinsic, and turning it into an intrinsic creator motivation. We’re talking about the 10 qualities that we have laid out in our book Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face for making you worthy of followers, or not so much. This is Part 2 of that show. The episode Part 1 you can find on our website You can find all our past shows there as well, and you can contact us. Let us know what you think of the show, what you’d like us to talk about. Anything you want to tell us about, we’re here to listen, because we’re trustworthy. Actually that was a really bad segue but-
Jim Hessler: Hey, nice seg … No. Just very elegant, Steve.
Steve Motenko: Thank you. I don’t know what trustworthy has to do with listening, but actually we could easily build that bridge, can’t we?
Jim Hessler: Of course.
Steve Motenko: That’s number seven on our list of qualities to make you worthy of followers, trustworthy. I don’t even remember if we say this in the book, or if it’s come out since in our conversations or our workshops, or if it came from my other work, but I think of three kinds of trustworthiness. It’s really important I think because people mean different things when they talk about trust. It’s really important to talk, like if somebody says, “There’s not enough trust in our team or in our organization,” it’s really important to know whether it’s the kind of trust that’s, “I don’t trust your competence.”
Jim Hessler: Right. Well, I think a good way to start this is to say you can be completely honest in every conversation and still not be trustworthy.
Steve Motenko: Not be trustworthy. Yeah, say more of that.
Jim Hessler: Well, I mean, if you always speak the truth but you never follow through. If you always speak the truth but you never make deadlines. If you never fulfill your promises to each other.
Steve Motenko: Right. If you always speak the truth but you don’t have the competence, you don’t have the chops to do the work that you’re hired to do, then that becomes a trust issues, even though you’re just the nicest person in the world. We’ve kind of danced around them, but think about these three different kinds of trust. There’s trust of competence. There’s trust of commitment or consistency, in other words the follow through piece. Will I do what I say I’m going to do?
Jim Hessler: Accountability would be another word for-
Steve Motenko: Accountability, and organization ties into that.
Jim Hessler: Yes it does.
Steve Motenko: Because you can’t be accountable if you’re not organized. Then at the deepest level there’s trust of character, in the simple things like not gossiping, simple things-
Jim Hessler: Not lying.
Steve Motenko: … like being compassionate. Yep, and not lying.
Jim Hessler: Not sharing secrets.
Steve Motenko: Right. Different kinds of trust. They’re all important. How do you stack up? If you take a look at those three for yourself and you’ve got the self-awareness, or you’ve gotten the feedback to fuel your self-awareness on those, maybe ask yourself the question, which of those do I need to work on most? The character piece? Do I have trouble being compassionate? Do I have trouble telling the truth when it’s a hard truth? The competence piece? Are there trainings I need to get better at the work that I’m responsible for doing? Or the commitment piece? Am I following through on what I said I’m going to do?
Jim Hessler: Yeah, it’s a good way to split that word because I think when most people think of trustworthy they’re thinking of just the kind of honest or dishonest. I even go back to self-awareness. If you lack self-awareness, I think that makes you in a sense less trustworthy.
Steve Motenko: Absolutely. Oh, absolutely.
Jim Hessler: Because you’re not honest. Not being self-aware may in some sense come from not being honest with yourself.
Steve Motenko: Right.
Jim Hessler: Right? This trust issue, it does start with you.
Steve Motenko: Yes it does. It’s fun for Jim and I to have this conversation because it all hearkens back to our book Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face, which we actually don’t talk much about.
Jim Hessler: No, generally. We’ve been talking about it more these last few shows, but generally we don’t pitch it. It’s a good book.
Steve Motenko: We encourage you to look at these 10 qualities. They are not the be all and end all 10 as Jim mentioned earlier in this show, but they’re great guidelines. You may have others that you want to choose to focus on more. We’re at number eight and it is accountable. If you want to be worthy of followers, if you want to have positive influence on anybody, you’ve got to be accountable. Jim, what did you mean when you came up with that?
Jim Hessler: Well, it really does flow from the kind of contractual trust we were talking about, but it also means that we’re honest about when things go well and when they don’t go well, and we’re willing to have the tough conversations that we need to have around accountability. Accountability is a huge theme in our leadership workshop program, and we find that most organizations we work with have some pretty fundamental weaknesses when it comes to accountability. A lot of it comes from the fact that we are just uncomfortable as human beings being perfectly honest with each other about expectations, and when those expectations are met and when they’re not met. You and I I think do a good job with that. Without accountability I don’t think we would have the quality of relationship that we have, but we hold each other accountable. It’s so important. It makes use better as people.
Steve Motenko: The notion of accountability is so important that we’ve dedicated an entire “plank” to it in our Leadership Platform, which is the name of our model. An entire chapter of the book is on accountability. Jim, I wanted to ask you about something you put in the book. “When something goes well,” this is kind of time-honored advice for managers. “When something goes well, someone else did it, and when something goes poorly, it’s your responsibility.” You know what? I don’t like that.
Jim Hessler: Yeah, I know you don’t. Yeah.
Steve Motenko: Oh, have we had that conversation before?
Jim Hessler: Yeah we have. Yeah. I think maybe it is simplistic. I think my intention was that we don’t throw other people under the bus when things go poorly. This is actually related to one of our other planks, which is around systems and processes, and that is that when something goes wrong it’s easy to look for blame. Blame is not accountability. Accountability is how did this happen? What can we do differently next time? Also it’s just acknowledging that it didn’t go well in the first place. It’s easy to just blame, but when something goes wrong, it’s your responsibility just means you have a responsibility to dive into it and be curious about what happened in a way that shows that you’re taking responsibility for what happened, because presumably this is something you can influence and act upon.
Steve Motenko: When you truly take that approach of curiosity toward something that goes wrong, then you’re treating failure as an opportunity to learn as opposed to treating failure as an opportunity to beat somebody up, including yourself.
Jim Hessler: Yep. So hold yourself accountable. It’s hugely important if you want followers to really hold yourself accountable.
Steve Motenko: If you find your organization kind of riddled with accountability issues, you really might check out plank 10 in our book Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face, because it spells out in a very pragmatic way how to create greater accountability in your teams and your organizations.
Jim Hessler: Number nine is challenging. We are at our best when we work for people who challenge and support us, so this challenging, this number nine on this list of things that make you worthy of followers is about being that person who helps other people to become better, and challenges them sometimes in a fairly direct way to do more or do better than they’ve been doing.
Steve Motenko: Right, and that directness is hard for most people. It’s a lot easier for most people to be supportive than it is to be challenging, especially in a bold and direct way, and say, “Hey, you are not living up to your potential as I see it.” There’s a pro and con embedded in that message. The pro is, “There are great things possible for you,” and the con is, “You ain’t cutting it yet.” The leader has to be capable, dedicated to doing both. We’re on number nine which is challenging. Jim, I don’t remember if it was your phrase or my phrase in the book, but I’m thinking it was yours. You said, “The leader is an evangelist for human potential.” I love that idea.
Jim Hessler: Yeah. The best thing to hold anybody accountable to, back to that word, is to their own potential, to some vision of themselves as being more better, more capable, more confident, more productive than they are. I guess the best example I ever had about this is I have a friend here locally, Mark. I just had lunch with Mark yesterday. I remember I ran a meeting, a pretty big deal meeting, and out in the hallway after the meeting he walked up to me and he said, “Jim, I don’t think I saw your A game today.”
Steve Motenko: Ooo, ouch.
Jim Hessler: Well, but there was-
Steve Motenko: Did you agree?
Jim Hessler: Yeah, it was immediately.
Steve Motenko: Oh, okay.
Jim Hessler: I thought it was really effective. Here’s why I think that was a really good piece of feedback. He presumed that I had an A game. That’s what was so brilliant about that feedback.
Steve Motenko: So he envisioned your potential.
Jim Hessler: Exactly. He pointed me towards a vision of myself as something better than what he saw in the room. That was so much better than him coming up and saying, “You know, I have three problems with how you ran that meeting.” He just said, “I don’t think I saw your A game today.” That really worked for me. I don’t know if it works for everybody.
Steve Motenko: Yeah. Some people would get defensive about it, right?
Jim Hessler: I don’t know. Yeah.
Steve Motenko: If I gave you that feedback every time we do a workshop together, would you call that passive-aggressive?
Jim Hessler: Well, if you did it every time, yeah eventually.
Steve Motenko: Yeah. Okay. You’d see through me?
Jim Hessler: Yeah, but I think when you hold somebody capable of doing more than they’ve done, when you express your confidence in their ability to do better, I think that’s the best way to be challenging. I see something in you that I haven’t seen yet, or that I’d like to see more of.
Steve Motenko: And I want to support you in getting there, and also challenge you because your life is not fully lived unless you do get there, or unless you’re working on getting there.
Jim Hessler: Yeah, and it’s not necessarily what I want you to be or what I want you to do, but I just want you to know I take exquisite pleasure in watching you do well. This is I think-
Steve Motenko: The hallmark of a great leader.
Jim Hessler: The hallmark of a great leader is somebody who takes this intense, passionate joy in the accomplishments of other people. I think that’s why the challenging piece is so, so important, because it says, “You know what? I want for you what is possible for you.”
Steve Motenko: The last on our list, the last quality on our list of being worthy of followers is organized, which is not actually a personality trait so much as it is a skill, but we thought it really critical to add to this list.
Jim Hessler: It made the list because I just have observed over the years how painful, and difficult, and emotionally grinding it is to work in a disorganized environment, or to work for a disorganized boss. There’s a huge emotional component to the level of organization in your business. If it’s disorganized, it’s stressful and it’s awful and it’s not fun, and that’s why it’s on the list.
Steve Motenko: Once again as we said when we were talking about self-awareness, don’t let it be an excuse. If you don’t come naturally to organization, or organizedness, cultivate it. You can get better at it, and everyone around you will appreciate it.
Jim Hessler: We have a book called Land on Your Feet, Not on Your Face, and it’s really foundational to being a good leader. It’s a good book. It’s solid. The things we’ve been talking about in this show and the previous show are concepts taken from the book.
Steve Motenko: It applies by the way not just to entry level leaders, but to everyone up the leadership hierarchy. You can apply it to your position and your role.
Jim Hessler: I would argue you can even apply a lot of what’s in that book to your family life and your life as a whole, not just your life at work. Go to Amazon, order a copy of the book. It’s a good book. It’s well worth your time and it’s not a difficult, grinding read. We won’t spend the whole book telling you what great guys we are. The book is really designed to add value to you in your life.
Steve Motenko: The Boss Show is produced by Path Forward Leadership. Our sound engineer today is Chris Young.
Jim Hessler: If you missed any of the show you can get it in its entirety online at, and you can go there to subscribe to the podcast or to contact us.
Steve Motenko: And also to order the book for that matter. Thank you for listening.
Jim Hessler: And don’t forget, rule number six.
Steve Motenko: Rule number six.

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