The Future of Leadership Development in Today’s New Economy with Ryan Estis

Leadership is shifting. It is more than just a pandemic that is changing how we lead. The future of leadership development requires us to adapt. My guest today is Ryan Estis. Ryan is one of the top professional speakers on the topic of leadership and Sales Leadership. We talk about the future of leadership development. Ryan looks at the need for adaption in today’s work environment. Join me in this interview to discover the truths about the future of leadership development.

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Target Audience: Ryan Estis is the CEO of Ryan Estis and Associates. It’s a learning organization helping companies navigate change and improve business performance. Delivering 75 live events annually including conference keynote speeches, incentive meetings, corporate training seminars and executive strategy workshops. Live events are supported by original research and online learning. Focused expertise supporting leadership development, sales performance, change management, and customer experience.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Ryan Estis
A lot of reinvention and innovation is going to be required. And for the leaders and organizations that can be nimble and adapt, I think there’s going to be a real opportunity to thrive through and on the other side of this as part of what happens in a crisis, right. It’s kind of an accelerated cycle of disruption. So I think those are some of the things that that leaders need to do. And I also think there’s an opportunity to really kind of leaders need to ask thoughtful questions, you know, how can we as an organization emerged stronger through this? How can we as an organization, learn through this challenge, and be more resilient and be a better business on the other side of it? And I really do think this is a defining moment. It’s the decisions you make and the action you take right now. over these next 12-18 months, they’re really going to define your future opportunity to succeed.

Intro [0:51]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs the fastest-growing privately held companies I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [1:08]
What is the future of leadership that looks inside your company? Do you think about what leadership means and how you’re leading in this next era of the new economy after COVID? We’re still in the midst of dealing with the uncertainty of what’s going to happen inside of our culture, our workplaces there, you know, work from home or combination? Or how do we engage with each other? How do we shape the culture? We need to have leaders more now than ever got a chance to sit down with a buddy of mine, Ryan ss, who is a really renowned speaker on the professional circuit. He’s been doing this for over 10 years talking with the mid-market companies, enterprise-level companies about leadership, mostly in sales leadership, but real leadership at its core. Today we unpack this whole concept of what do leadership looks like? In this future, when you think about leadership, do you know exactly what you need to shift? What are the changes you need to make? Well, we go through three of those challenges, specifically, and deep today with Ryan Estis. If you haven’t already accessed the training about taking your team to the next level, creating a team of a players, make sure you go to Ford slash training, you’ll learn the three mistakes that keep you from creating the team that you want and scaling your business. All this comes from founders and CEOs of fast-growth companies. Make sure you get that training now. It’s absolutely free Now, here’s Ryan Estis.

Gene Hammett [2:37]
Ryan, how are you?

Ryan Estis [2:39]
Great, Gene, it’s good to see you. How are you today?

Gene Hammett [2:42]
I am fantastic. You’ve been on the show before we’d go back friends, colleagues, you’ve advised me and some speaking topics that have really transformed the way my message gets out in the world. So I’m glad to have you here on the podcast.

Ryan Estis [2:58]
Well, it’s great to be back See all your success and, and reconnect ma? I’m excited for the Congress.

Gene Hammett [3:04]
Well, when you think about this big question, I want you to really ponder this. We’ve been through some uncertain t through all this with there’s still a lot going on after COVID. And schools are just now getting back into full force, if you will, some virtual some not. But what do you think are the most important aspects of leadership in today’s new world?

Ryan Estis [3:29]
Yeah, I think first and foremost, this is something I’m fond of saying it’s put people first performance and profitability will follow. So this is a time that is uncertain and people are looking for leadership for decisiveness and confidence in the future and hope and, and strategy and tactics and personal and professional support. And so, the job has changed and when there are crisis and uncertainty, it can affect the psychological health, safety, and well being of your people.

Ryan Estis [4:00]
So, right now leaders need to take care of people. So put people’s first performance and profitability will follow. That’s one thing. And I think, you know, leader leaders need to we need to be adaptable, right? We have to be able to be flexible, adaptable, adaptable, this is very disruptive. business models are changing. So, you know, this is a time where I think a lot of reinvention and innovation is going to be required. And for the leaders and organizations that can be nimble and adapt, I think there’s going to be a real opportunity to thrive through and on the other side of this as part of what happens in a crisis, right. It’s kind of an accelerated cycle of disruption. So I think those are some of the things that that leaders need to do. And I also think there’s an opportunity to, to really kind of leaders need to ask thoughtful questions, you know, how can we as an organization emerge stronger through this? How can we as an organization, learn through this challenge, and be more resilient and be a better business on the other side of it, and I really do think this is a defining moment? It’s the decisions you make and the action you take right now, over these next 1218 months, they’re really going to define your future opportunity for success.

Gene Hammett [5:12]
Well, I don’t think I would disagree with any of those. Let’s break those down a little bit. I want to really give the audience something to go with. I just share with you my research of fast-growth companies. I’ve said this many times on the show have asked many leaders this, the impossible question is something that I came up with, to help people understand the leaders really what’s really important in today’s world, and it goes something like this as a leader of a fast-growing company. What’re more important employees or customers? I know you have a specific, specific, you have an I’m getting tongue-tied. You have a very specific thought on this because it relates that people first but putting employees first what does that mean in today’s world?

Ryan Estis [5:54]
Well, I think it means you get hyper obsessed about talent, that you do things to attract, engage, retain, and maximize the potential of your people. And I do think that’s the priority and it becomes first because ultimately over a period of time, right, that becomes the sustainable advantage. As markets change, and business changes and cycles evolve, really, the inherent value worth of the company is embedded in its people. You could say, well, it’s in the technology. Well, it’s in the innovation, where do those things come from? You know, critically, they come from the minds of people that are passionately engaged and committed to the cause of moving the business forward. So I and by the way, I want to see that and add that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, more than one thing can be important to a business, right, so they’re both hyper important. There are two areas that have an absolute obsession. But this idea that put people first right become an incubator for a level talent unleash the absolute maximum potential and power of your people, get them closer to your best customers build high value high trust relationships, and those people will take the business places you could have never imagined was possible.

Commercial [7:26]
Now, Ryan just talked about a level of talent. Do you believe that you create a level of talent? Or do you believe that you have to hire A level talent and just develop them along the journey? Well, if you give up developing those B and C players, you’ll probably never have the kind of business you want. Because a players definitely want to be around other players. They will leave if they’re not really challenged and not supported in their roles. They get frustrated very easily. So you want to surround those A players with people that are emerging as other a players and your job. As a leader is to have the conversations and to be able to develop the leadership development structures and invest in those employees to take them to a player’s. Now I’ve mentioned this training before, but if you want to make sure you get the training about how to develop a players, make sure you go to back to Ryan.

Gene Hammett [8:17]
Here’s a question that goes with that. Ryan, a lot of people want to hire the best and that we all want to hire the best we want to invest in the right people. But how do you as a leader, engage people that maybe aren’t the level players, but actually get them to rise and play the game at the higher level?

Ryan Estis [8:35]
Well, look, I think ultimately, that’s the challenge because we of course, we all want to hire the best but you know, hiring is a risky business. And most organizations don’t always get that right. And I think I think you know, poor hiring decisions. Those are some of the biggest costs to a business. So the opportunity really is is to move people up, right and it’s an investment that really is an investment in people. So you know, we Leader leadership development, right? That’s, that’s a big one. There’s, and you could link to this in the show notes. You know, I wrote this ebook called to adapt and thrive. And we’ve got the eight, eight drivers of engagement that we talk about in our research. And a big part of what people want is they want confidence in leadership and confidence in the future success of the organization.

Ryan Estis [9:24]
That’s especially true right now. And a big part of that is communication, right? It’s leaders investing in time and energy with their people. Now you do executive coaching, I do executive coaching also. And it’s so interesting, you’ll hear a lot of CEOs say things like, you know, our people are our most important asset or people are our priority. And then you’ll ask an executive or whether it’s a sea level leader or a mid-level manager, why how much one on one time are you devoting on a day to day basis to spending time with your people? And invariably, there’s a disconnect between what executives say oftentimes and what they actually do. And you’ll hear this why I don’t have time. I’m too busy. Actually sorry. That time is the job. That’s what being a leader is. It’s spending time taking care of your people, investing in people, developing people, removing barriers for people, guiding people, coaching people, giving people feedback that is, in essence, a major proponent of the job. And obviously, in this virtual world, we’re living and there are some challenges inherent to doing that. But that’s what’s required. So it’s, it’s investing the time.

Gene Hammett [10:44]
I hear it all the time. They will say I’m not surprised. And it will completely be you when you really challenge them and you look at their calendar. And if you’ve had a chance to look at a CEOs calendar,

Ryan Estis [10:54]
oh, that’s this. Yeah. Tell me what your priorities are. That’s question number one question. Number two is that’s great. We go over these are your eight priorities people’s always one of the top one or two, then it’s handy or calendar. Let’s do the audit of the last three weeks. And where are the disconnects between what you said and what you do?

Gene Hammett [11:14]
And that is really the telltale sign. So you know, actionable step, if you really want to audit yourself, go back and look at your calendar and see specifically in the one on ones because you mentioned leadership development this age. I want to ask you one more question before we go into adaptability is shift development is not an easy thing. But I think a lot of companies think that they’re developing their employees by giving them those hard skills, right? They get a certification in some kind of technology or they get something that will help them be more marketable, but they’re not investing in leadership development the way they could be. Do they make excuses around what are your thoughts around this leadership development in today’s world?

Ryan Estis [11:56]
Soft skills are the hard skills and we need to invest exponentially more resources into training and development. So people covered it needs it. It’s mandated the jobs more challenging than it’s ever been. More and more organizations get stalled and don’t reach their full potential because of gaps in leadership. And what you said is absolutely true. But I do a lot of work with sales organizations, and I see it in sales all the time, we take the top couple performing reps in their territories, and because they’re rock star sellers, we think they’ll automatically be great sales managers.

Ryan Estis [12:35]
So we thrust them into that job was very little development and preparation. And those are two entirely different jobs. And that doesn’t translate necessarily all that well without the support or development. That was my trajectory. Personally, I was a really good sales rep. I got pushed into a management job because of stellar performance and flunked initially failed miserably and had to figure out You know, that really began my journey as a student of leadership and leadership development? What is it? What does it take? You know, how do people respond and under understanding some of that psychology and human behavior to become a better coach and support people’s?

Commercial [13:17]
Now hold on for a second, did you hear what Ryan just said, let’s put a spotlight on this quote, “the soft skills are hard skills”. Now, what he really means by that is, the hard skills of the world have traditionally been the technology skills are the things that you can actually kind of see. Leadership is really hard to see. And you have to be there, you have to experience it, you have to feel it. But the soft skills like listening, communicating, and all the other things that go into a connection that we feel in the meaning that we have with each other. Those are the hard skills of today. I would rephrase that a little bit and say soft skills are the money skills of the future because when we learn to work with data are we learned to work with programming are we learned to create interfaces are we learned to smooth out the supply chain, whatever those things are, they’re very important to the job. But how we communicate with others is even more important how we engage with these workers, how we create the connection around this is essential to leadership. Don’t lose sight of that. Back to the interview with Ryan.

Gene Hammett [14:26]
Well, I wish I had some numbers on that because it’s so true on how many people are talented at sales, but that gets thrust into something and they ended up failing miserably. And I appreciate you sharing your own journey there. Ryan, when you think about adaptability was number two on your list in today’s world of really improving leadership. How does a leader engage people to see why adaptability is so important but more than that, how do we really create the kind of rituals that allow adaptability to be something natural within our organizations?

Ryan Estis [15:03]
Right? I mean, first of all, it requires a mindset. So so I think you have to have this mindset that you’re going to disrupt yourself before the competition, the marketplace does it for you. And what I think that part of what that means is, in today’s world, you really have to, you really have to act be simultaneously you have to execute and perform given today’s current, you know, hyper disruptive reality, which is challenging in and of itself. But simultaneously, you also have to continue to have the discipline to iterate and innovate the business forward, right to take intelligent risks to make investments to anticipate where our customer is going to be a year from now or five years from now. And so part of what I challenge, particularly in sales organizations, companies to consider is, you take this moment in time, you know, what, what are your customers and we were just sort of talking about this Before we started recording, what did our customers need pre COVID? Right?

Ryan Estis [16:04]
January, February when things were firing it was all systems go in this 10-year run-up in the market, what are our customers need and value? How is that changed? What do they need in value right now, at this moment? And then how is that going to inform what our customer is going to need the value from 18 to 24 months? And based on those things, how are you iterating your business forward? So just from a purely practical standpoint, the way I think about this is I always need to be conducting three little experiments in my business, there tests right and every experiment is not going to be a homerun success. Some of them are going to fail miserably, right. But I’m testing and iterating I’m learning. I’m getting real-time feedback, data set intelligence, so I can continue to evolve my business forward in lockstep with what my customers need into the future, not just good business. And the other thing is from an adaptability perspective, you have to be close to your customers. Now I’m a big proponent of having a client advisory board, you know, and having those kinds of relationships and conversations where customers will tell you where they need you to go or where they want you to go into the future. And I think that can really help a business. You want to be innovating in lockstep with what your customers need the most. So that’s so those are some ideas. I think, in practical terms of the way leaders can think about it.

Gene Hammett [17:29]
When you think about adaptability, I want to go back to that one on one question. One of the things that I asked leaders to do, and maybe you have a different approach to this, but of one of the things that have been really profound in my business is saying, you spend 8090, sometimes 98% of the time talking about the work. When do you talk about how you work together? When you talk about things like adaptability and as a team, or as an in a one on one conversation. They’re not having those conversations very often. Do you see that in your world as well as something’s missing? They think it’s all about the work.

Ryan Estis [18:04]
Sure, it’s the speed of business, right? I mean, most executives today are over, over-scheduled and overwhelmed. And so there’s fatigue, that setting in this pace that we’re working is is exhausting. I joke, with the executives about the double shift, right. And this was really, in some ways a pre-pandemic joke, but it was, you know, whatever your standard workday was [7:38], maybe to you know, 5,6,7 o’clock, then you take a break a little bit of family time, and you go back for the second shift. I mean, you know, the average I want to another question, I love to ask executives to do the calendar audit how many emails you get a day, and it’s common for people to get 250 emails in a day.

Ryan Estis [18:45]
You’re just our bandwidth. So what this idea of we’re going to connect and we’re going to check-in, and we’re going to talk about, you know, do a pulse check and are and where we are in terms of our adaptability. Some of that’s a lost art. But again, it’s you know it, let’s go back to the time. I’m afraid you talk about one on ones, what gets scheduled gets done. So you know, you should have one on one scheduled every week in your calendar if you’re managing a team, right? And that’s the time where you have those conversations where you can ask questions like, Hey, are you okay? Are you doing through nine means Hold on a minute? Are you really okay?

Ryan Estis [19:26]
Let’s we’ll get to the work. Just let me know how are you doing? I feel and you go, is there anything you see that we should be doing differently right now? What like, if you were me, what would you be thinking about? And you can have that real kind of authentic, deeper conversations? Or what do people feel supported? And like they’re contributing and chew, you’re getting great feedback and ideas, and maybe looking at your business from a vantage point that you don’t see invaluable, but you have to take the time and sometimes it’s a choice. Do you want to do a coffee talk every morning? At 7 am, four days a week with four people, or do you not want to do that show up in your office at 830 and start your day kind of leader you want to be, that’s just a choice.

Gene Hammett [20:10]
Yeah, very powerful.

Commercial [20:13]
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Gene Hammett [20:45]
We’re gonna wrap this up with the final point you talked about this ask more thoughtful questions. So let’s define what a thoughtful question is. I know you gave an example. But let’s define it first.

Ryan Estis [20:56]
Yeah, I think a thoughtful question is One that engages somebody at their place of higher a higher need, let’s say. So it’s a deeper question. It’s not a surface level question. But my favorite example of this my favorite example of how to elevate the quality of your life.

Ryan Estis [21:15]
First of all, ask open-ended questions, right? Don’t assume, ask open-ended questions. And maybe the most important part about this is then listening. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. Really? Listen, Master, the art of active and perceptive listening, leaders, our listeners. And if you’re really listening, you’ll understand then how to ask to follow up questions. Right, les, tell me more about that. Well, that’s interesting. Why do you feel that way? Wow, Gene, what gives rise to that position? Can you take that level deeper for me? What do you what are you seeing to give to, you know, and you build on and really give people that’s how you manage kind of an effective conversation.

Ryan Estis [21:57]
It’s the old Stephen Covey rule of communication. seek first to understand, then be understood. Right. But all of that starts with asking effective, open-ended questions that engage the heart and mind of the subject matter. And look, I, you know, these are my opinions. But you’re a master at this. I mean, so I think that’s one of your great strengths is you ask really thoughtful questions, you prepare your questions in advance. And I think that’s an example here. Notice you showed up prepared, you know, me, you’ve been engaged in my work recently that prepared for today. So when we had our 20 or 30 minutes, you knew exactly what you’re going to ask me? How many leaders show up to their one on ones with that same level of thought, discipline, commitment, and preparation? Take a page from the playbook today from a few questions in advance, you’ll have more effective conversations.

Gene Hammett [22:50]
I’ll add to this because I want to make sure this is really sharp for those listening in, you know, these thoughtful questions aren’t complex. Sometimes they’re very short. Simple, right, right? It’s why is that the case? Or why would you believe that? or What are you afraid of? Those questions or, you know, what you’re trying to do is not just push the work forward but connect with those people. And I appreciate you bringing that up. I had no idea where you would take this, this big idea of where we’re headed in this leadership development world. I think I’ve shared this with you before, but I wrote an article about two years ago, through an interview that we did together. You basically said managers are a dying breed. So I titled it, put it on ink magazine. It’s the number three article across all of the things I’ve ever written. But it and that’s really cheating because the other two are like a combination of all these leadership books that I did reviews on. So it’s a bunch of people. This is the number one article where it’s really about the core ideas about managers are a dying breed. We need these instead, which is leaders.

Ryan Estis [24:00]
That’s Yep, that’s right. I mean, look, we leaders are the leaders of the people that are committed to making the future happen. They haven’t compelled an inspiring vision of the future. They inspire people to join them on this journey. And that’s the type of person that people want to follow. And I know that’s true for me, and I think it’s true for most.

Gene Hammett [24:17]
Well, Ryan, as always, your insights around, you know, where we are today. And your ability to share something new and really engaging is always unparalleled. So thanks for being here.

Ryan Estis [24:28]
Appreciate it, brother.

Gene Hammett [24:30]
I just love having interviews with people like Ryan, who is so excited about what they’ve got to say and the research is well-founded and deep and insightful. When you think about your leadership. Hopefully, you’ve taken some notes on today’s episode with Ryan, because I think what he talked about putting people first very important, adaptability essential. And you know, asking better questions is a part of leadership. When you think about leadership and you think about growth, make sure you think of Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. We’ll see Next time


Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

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