L3 Leadership Transcriptions:Preparing for Executive Leadership with Dr. Leslie Braksick, Co-Founder of My Next Season

By November 19, 2018Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Dr. Leslie Braksick, Co-Founder of My Next Season.  It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Leslie, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.


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Leslie Braksick: 00:00 If you need to sell yourself, there’s probably some gap in your profile that someone’s not being honest with you about, so if you’re not getting a job, you think that you should have the question, shouldn’t be assumed that you’re perfect for it. The issue should be you probably are missing some feedback about some improvement area that if you had, you probably would advance further.

Doug Smith: 00:21 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 211.

Doug Smith: 00:37 Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s episode, you’ll hear talk from our recent L3 speaker series event in which we had Dr. Leslie Braksick share on the subject preparing for executive leadership. It was an incredible talk. You’re gonna love this, and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve actually interviewed Dr. Leslie Braksick for the podcasts and episodes 189 and 190, and so if you listen to this and enjoy this and haven’t listened to those interviews, I encourage you to go back and listen after this episode, but if you’re unfamiliar with Dr. Braksick, let me just tell you a little bit about her. She co-founded My Next Season to provide a bridge for leaders navigating important transitions in their careers and lives, and you’ll hear her talk about that in her talk.

Doug Smith: 01:21 Prior to launching My Next Season, she co-founded the Continuous Learning Group, a management consulting firm specializing in strategy execution for fortune 500 companies. She is also a prolific business writer. Leslie recently coauthored the book Your Next Season, advice for executives on transitioning from intense careers to fulfilling next seasons, and her other books include preparing CEOs for success. What I wish I knew and Unlock Behavior Unleashed Prophets, Developing Leadership Behavior That Drives Profitability in Your Organization. I encourage you to check out all of those books as well and I will include links to those in the show notes and Leslie currently serves on the Board of Princeton theological seminary and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She’s just an incredible leader. In our interview, I was just blown away and I knew we had to have her speak at an event and she did not disappoint at all. Get your pen and paper out because you are absolutely going to take a ton of notes.

Doug Smith: 02:13 She broke her talk into three different parts, part one. She just focuses on leadership as a whole. Part two, she focuses on her advice to progress to executive leadership. And in part three of her talk, she just gives advice on law, on life and she has five points under each of those categories and all of them are amazing. So again, get ready for this. You’re going to absolutely love this, but before we dive into Leslie’s talk, just a few announcements. I am so excited to let you know that we are hosting our first annual L3 one-day leadership conference on Friday, March 15th, 2019 at the Marriott in cranberry township. Twenty minutes outside of the city of Pittsburgh. Our keynote speakers include Matt Keller, the pastor of Next Level Church in Fort Myers, Florida. Laura Ellsworth, the partner in charge of Global Community Services Initiatives at Jones Day. Dr. Chris Howard, the president of Robert Morris University and Saleem Ghubril who is the executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise.

Doug Smith: 03:04 They’re all incredible communicators. We also have breakout sessions, a panel discussion lined up and so much more and so you can learn more about the conference and register yourself and your team@L3oneday.com. Again, that’s L3oneday.com. I can’t encourage you enough to plan on attending plan on bringing your team. It’s going to be an incredible day. I also want to thank our sponsor, Alex, Tulandin. Alex has a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty, and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more about Alex@Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. That being said, let’s dive right into Leslie’s talk and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements

Leslie Braksick: 03:47 I’m delighted to be with you here today. When I asked what I was supposed to speak on. I, it was important to me to find out what would be of benefit to you all. And so what I’ve done is oriented my talk, Doug guided me to focus on issues of leadership and how to get to the executive suite and what makes for success and lack of success. So let me just frame this a little bit. I spent 26 years doing consulting work in the leadership strategy execution space, rescuing leadership development for large corporations, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Texaco, Bell, Atlantic, Nynex, big companies. And in that context, I did a lot of work on leadership development and succession and became sort of a student of that. So my first book was Unlock Behavior, Unleash Profits, which was very much focused on management techniques and how to lead and motivate people using the science of human behavior.

Leslie Braksick: 04:49 I then began to specialize probably the last 15 years of that in the csuite succession space. So I’m not by design, but I’ve found myself in being asked to prepare, identify and prepare succession candidates to develop the process and to work with the board in particular, on the first time CEOs and, and that led to a CEO Study I did in 2011 where we interviewed 27 sitting CEOs, Johnson and Johnson, Bank of America, Chevron, Bechtel, Pepsi, so large corporations and what they wish they had known before they became CEO. So in developing a program for CEO successor candidates, um, I did a benchmark study of what was out there both in graduate programs as well as in some of the bigger consulting firms. And I, because I was coaching those individuals, I knew that the real issue is that we’re keeping them up at night where it really the ones being talked about a lot of those programs.

Leslie Braksick: 05:53 So I sat out and I interviewed those who were sitting CEOs about what they wish they had known and what tripped them up. So that was published in 2011, it’s called What I Wish I Knew, Preparing CEOs for Success. So that was kind of what I was doing happily. And, and then I was invited to a retirement celebration of, for a person named Steve Simon. Steve was vice chairman of Exxon Mobil. I was down in Dallas. I was the only non-Exxon person at his retirement party. And as I went through the receiving line, Steve, I went to shake his hand. I hadn’t seen him in a while and he said, Leslie, this is the worst day of my life. I am so miserable. And I thought, oh my gosh. I knew Steve’s wife Susie adorable. He had beautiful daughters, a court, great family. He had everything.

Leslie Braksick: 06:47 He was the picture of health. He worked out every day, extremely disciplined leader, extremely disciplined eater, exerciser. So I was like, he’s just like Les, I’m just so unhappy. So I left and he reached out, just know, call me. So I was Steve’s coach when he was the head of refining and supply than I had been as coach until he got to more senior levels. And then we just were more social relationship. So, Steve called and he said, you know, he reiterated his, his extreme unhappiness and, I said, well, aren’t you a Duke Grad? Then you go to a college of Engineering, Pratt School of engineering. He said, I did. I said, oh my God, they’d kill to have you on their board of advisors just call them and I’m sure they’d love to have you. And so about a month later he called me. He said, I did what you said, come now on the Pratt School board of advisors.

Leslie Braksick: 07:39 He said, but they meet once a quarter. So what should I do the rest of my time? And so I was busy with my day job of running the company at the time and being a mom and all of that. So I sort of tried to help, but I really didn’t have anybody to refer him to. It wasn’t like a life coach issue. It wasn’t an executive coaching issue, I really didn’t know who I could send him to. And so I, you know, I sort of forgot about it. I guess and got on with my day and then, um, about a month and a half after that, I got a call from one of his daughters that Steve had passed away. He had a massive heart attack without any preexisting health issues and, and it rocked me because I felt like there was no one that was really focused on this whole issue of executives in transition.

Leslie Braksick: 08:32 So I decided to practice what I preached. I hired my successor at my former company. I left there in 2011 and, excuse me in, in 2014 and I started My Next Season, which is the company I’m now with. We’re in our fifth year of operation. And so what we do now is focus on executives and helping them transition. Our tagline, when we launched the company was transitioning from productivity to purpose and really helping them find their calling for their next phase of life and to realize that through placement and boards or activities, helping them get rebranded and so on. So that’s what I’m doing now. And, and so what I’m going to share with you tonight is a really bucketed my comments into three categories. What are observations that I’ve made about leadership and what it really takes to be an effective leader.

Leslie Braksick: 09:27 What does it really take to get to the executive suite and what do I see as different, what keeps people from being successful at that level? And then reflections on life. And I have five points for each of those. So, I tried to keep it tight and concise and a thought that might be helpful. So on issues of leadership, you know, my first point really is that one’s career is only linear when you look in the rear view mirror, a lot of people spend a lot of time imagining what their career should be and what their next job should be. And, it’s really, I don’t think it serves them well and it would not be my advice. It’s, it really only is logical in the review mirror. It’s not logical when you’re looking out front. And so my observation would be to really focus on,  you know, progressing in your career versus building a resume and be much less concerned if it’s the right job and the job you should be progressing to from a leader.

Leslie Braksick: 10:26 And, and just simply, you know, beyond your must haves and what you need to do financially, geographically, obviously you have your certain parameters, is to really find what you love and be great at it. I have never seen someone who is the top of their group at whatever it is, whether it’s programming, sales development ever be laid off or let go. And more often than not they are, they are promoted. Companies want great performers. And so, you know, it’s very important that you love what you do because otherwise, your performance is going to show through. And, and so, I would say I see an awful lot of obsession about what I should be doing and what’s the next job. And my first observation is that career development, it isn’t linear, on the, on a going forward standpoint. So, so just focus on really what you love, related to that.

Leslie Braksick: 11:24 Number two is that it, it really isn’t all about you, contrary to popular belief, it’s very much around what you can do for your company. And so, I get asked for coaching and advice of young people a lot and my advice to them is be 100 percent focused on how you can add value to the organization, and your piece of that will become, become real. And so if you are, if you need to sell yourself, there’s probably some gap in your profile that someone’s not being honest with you about. So if you’re not getting a job, you think that you should have the question, shouldn’t be assumed that you’re perfect for it. The issue should be, you probably are missing some feedback about some improvement area that if you had, you probably would advance further. So if you want to be a leader and be positioned at a higher level of leadership than what you have right now, show and communicate and demonstrate how you can add value to the organization because that’s really what they’re measuring.

Leslie Braksick: 12:29 Leadership and leadership progression on networking is important. But it doesn’t trump performance, so just be a high performer, great at what you do, and the rest will follow it. It, it is very helpful to know people. You might gain yourself the opportunity but you won’t last if you can’t deliver. Even if you’re well connected to people, unless of course it’s a family owned business and you are a family member, then that negates everything I just said. Third, you know, leading is just one leg of the stool. I think I, I have heard and read people kind of bifurcate leadership and management and I think that’s an error. I have never seen a great leader who wasn’t also a great manager. And there are jobs that require greater leadership skills than managerial skills, but the pathway to get there is through management. And so it’s an artificial separation in my observation to, to sort of try to think of that as a binary comparison, you know, do I work in the business or on the business?

Leslie Braksick: 13:39 You need to do both and you need to do both well. If you want to get to a senior leadership level, it’s my observation that effective management really is the essential platform for great leadership. Fourth is you’re really only as good as the people around you, so you either have to change the people or change the people so that you’re the capability of the people around you will be your rate limiter or your rate enabler, but you got to change the people or change the people. So, the greatest way to do that is, first of all, change the people, right? Be a great coach and a great developer of others. It’ll make you a better parent, it’ll make you a better manager and leader. But the first capability that every person should have and hone and develop is to just be really, really good in particular at constructive feedback because constructive feedback means you’re pointing out where the person can improve and you’re helping them to be better at it.

Leslie Braksick: 14:44 It’s not negative feedback. Negative feedback is just pointing out what’s wrong. Constructive feedback is the pairing of where an opportunity for improvement could exist in how they can get there. It is the single greatest capability for leadership progression is being someone who can really coach people and help them raise their own game. Functional expertise matters. You know, there’s a lot of myths out there that you don’t need to be great. You just need to be a great manager, but you don’t really need to know the business. It’s false. It’s not true because if you’re good at your function, you’re going to be so much more value to the company, so it’s an and not an or. So be great at your function and work on your leadership skills and your value to the company is far greater, but this idea that you can be a manager and not really know the business very well, I think is a falsity and I don’t recommend it.

Leslie Braksick: 15:36 You know, if you have one of the things that I’m, one of the more frequent things that we see is people struggle to let people go, you know, so as the change the leader part, which is the coaching and constructive feedback or there’s the change the leader changed the people part, which is the letting people go. So what your hr people tell you is true document, document, document. And I can tell you that in 28 years of working with thousands of leaders, I have never heard the words I wished that I had waited longer to let them go.

Leslie Braksick: 16:23 I have never heard those words spoken. In 90 some percent of the time. I here. Why did I wait so long? I wished I had acted sooner. So your success is going to be accelerated or decelerated by the capability of the people around you. You’re only as good as your weakest member, so you got to either coach them well and help lift up their performance or be prepared to get your hr partners to change them out because it is a game of talent. If you want to progress, you’ve got to help the team around you progress and you and, and hopefully you can do that through coaching and development, but sometimes you need to change out people and be great at that. I’m coaching a new CEO right currently and in my sort of intake session with him, he said, it is my goal that every person I’ve ever fired wants to have dinner with me within a month or two of being let go.

Leslie Braksick: 17:19 He said, I cared that much about wanting that to happen well. I want them to see it. I want to treat them with that much respect, that much, acknowledgment of what they’ve done well and that deep of an understanding of, of where this is an opportunity for them to develop. So point number four, it’s just, you’re only as good as the people around you. And the fifth is, you know, your direct reports are going to learn your priorities, by watching you. So what they see is what you get. So you have to be very mindful as a leader about where you’re spending your time because you may say one thing about the priorities, but if they see you spending time focused on another thing, they’re going to follow what you do, not what you say. So, you know, obviously be very clear and articulate about your priorities, but really allocate your own time in accordance with that

Leslie Braksick: 18:11 because really at home, at work, you communicate who you are, what you stand for, by where you spend your time. You know, we all know that what gets measured gets done. So it’s just a factual thing. So if you, if you want your children to be involved or you want your organizations to be involved and not for profit kinds of things, they need to see you engaged in that way. If they, if you want them to be coaching and giving good feedback, you need to be the walking example of that. If you want them to not send emails on the weekend because you’re really trying to encourage work-life balance, don’t send emails on Saturdays and Sundays. You can’t do all that and tell them not to do it. They’re gonna follow your lead, you lead by example, and they’re going to do exactly what you do.

Leslie Braksick: 18:54 So just be mindful of that. If you want others to follow, then behave in a particular way. It’s the greatest example for that. So those are my five reflections on leadership. So in terms of progressing to the executive levels, you know, the most common failure point for executives for leadership development is when they go from being a senior level management to a group executive. So that is where we see the greatest fall off. So when you think about progression and leadership development, people’s careers, they go at a pretty linear rate, you know, from a person to, you know, supervisor to a manager, to an operating manager. But where the fall off in success happens most often is when they become a group executive, they go from managing business plans with clear outcomes and measures to leading through influencing others. And so you’re leading through other leaders at a group executive level.

Leslie Braksick: 20:03 And so it is, you make fewer decisions. Your success is because you’re championing others in their outcomes. And I call that out because if you want to be a group executive, I go back to the prior point on the importance of being a great coach and developer of people because you really have to figure out how to lead through others because you are not making the decisions as a group executive. You make fewer decisions than you do is a line operating executive. It’s actually harder, a harder role even though you have less direct accountability and less, you know, direct influence from a numbers standpoint. But that for has long been, where people begin to fail again in executive development and leadership development. And it’s really because it’s all about influencing and leading through others. And it puts a lot of dependence on communication skills.

Leslie Braksick: 21:04 The second on executive development is really that decorum, grabby toss, it matters. Executives become icons for their companies. They are the spokespeople that representatives of the brand, so I don’t care what people are saying now, but how you dress and how you come across and your, your manners and your social skills, they matter and at the executive level. You will not, and I’ll tell you, I have, I have rarely seen in almost 30 years. I have rarely seen a promotion to an executive level where those skills were not already part of the repertoire of the individual. So you’ll see people get promoted where they’re expecting certain things to develop. I see a lot of CFOS develop where they’re just still developing, you know, group in a finance or they might be developing IR skills or you’ll see a head of hr still developing and maybe how they do comp or how they work with the board.

Leslie Braksick: 22:08 I have never seen an executive promoted that was really overtly lacking in basic social skills needed at the executive level. So you do have to dress the part, you have to act the part. If it’s an area of weakness for you, there’s places you can certainly coaching, but even the old-fashioned Dale Carnegie, there are places where you can actually develop those skills. They matter, they still matter, they’ve always mattered. Things like being gracious, sending thank you notes, sending sympathy cards. These are all things that lead you to show up on people’s radar screen as an executive because you become the brand of the institution. And so you have to interact calmly, capably, confidently, respectfully with those senior to you. A key testing point of that is with a board of directors, oftentimes operating executives are brought in to present to a board of directors and they’re invited to have dinner.

Leslie Braksick: 23:10 That is a huge opportunity to showcase yourself. So don’t stay quiet or modest or shy because you are being evaluated in that setting. It’s not really that they wanted you there for dinner. It’s really because they’re all staring at you and evaluating you. So just dazzle them, just dazzle them, dazzle them with your engagement and your eye contact. And your firm handshake and you’re engaging conversations, ask them about themselves, tell them about you, tell them about the business, you know the business better than anyone. So when you’re with those people who are in those very, very senior jobs that are slightly intimidating, just be your, be your best to you, you will impress them because nobody knows the business better than you. You wouldn’t be at the level you’re at if you weren’t that great and just use it as an opportunity to practice those skills.

Leslie Braksick: 23:57 But it is a factual manner, executive Progression, I would say, um, requires you to be comfortable and if they see that you’re nervous interacting at that level, you’re not going to get the promotion. So you’ve got to get over that nervous part, even if you’ve got the capability content-wise to earn the right for the promotion. So just work on those skills because I believe they, they still matter. Third, you know, performance and advancement are still inextricably linked. What got you there isn’t going to keep you there. So you have to learn new ways of operating and achieve business performance and results wherever you are, if you want to stay. So you may get the opportunity to have a promotion or to work at a senior level, but unless you can deliver the results that will be short-lived, especially if you’re in a publicly traded company situation.

Leslie Braksick: 24:49 I really encourage people to think, you know, be outside in, in your understanding of how things are happening in your business, but the inside out in your leadership actions. So what I mean by that is in the outside in, what are our customers saying? What are our competitors doing? What are the analysts talking about with respect to our company? You should know your company from if you’re in a not for profit, what are the donors saying about us? What are the people that are using our services saying about us? Your understanding of your organization should be outside in, but your influence should be inside out. So you should be leading the people that serve those customers that serve work with those clients. So that they are clear and unencumbered and their ability to make a difference and to really contribute meaningfully to the bottom line.

Leslie Braksick: 25:48 You know, intention and effect aren’t the same thing. So people may be very well intended, but the effect of their actions may be very different and you need to live in the world of effect not intention. So it’s very easy to say, well, what I really intended was for people to be excited and motivated about this new acquisition. Will the effect might be fear. It might be concerned about loss of job, it might be that they’re going to be more jobs that are going overseas. It might be fear that I’m going to have to relocate to keep my job. There might be some real effects of that announcement that may be different than what you intended it to be. But as the leader in a particular, as an executive leader, we live in the world of effect, not intention. And you only know that by getting the outside in perspective.

Leslie Braksick: 26:36 Does that make sense? And then finally, you know, in terms of executive leadership, I would say, resiliency and grit are critical to getting there and staying there, as, humility, most, successful executives have failed at some point in their careers and they’ve learned from it. They’ve repurposed those learnings and into sort of a more successful career. They have grit. Life is hard, leading is hard. Corporate work as hard and you often have to persevere under difficult conditions, whether it’s, we’d just, every day we wake up right to some new difficult condition that we have to lead under. That could be a natural disaster or an unforeseen human disaster or some market shift. It’s just a way. And your ability to navigate that in terms of being resilient and having grit is critical at the executive level because you have to be the pumper who pumps others up.

Leslie Braksick: 27:43 You have to keep the rest of the organization going. It doesn’t mean that you don’t acknowledge that the situation isn’t bad. It just means that you effectively lead through that, you helped to create optimism and energy and, you know, and people appreciate humility. I was coaching an executive at a company, he was president of a division and he was the, one of the final two successors for CEO succession. And I thought this is such a slam dunk. I mean this guy was out of central casting for CEO ship. I mean, he looked the part, you know, he was handsome. He ran like six miles a day. He had always gotten business results. He integrated every acquisition, ever did perfectly. I mean this guy was like, I’m telling you, it was like a no-brainer and the other guy was kind of crusty and could be sort of difficult, you know, knew the, knew the business really well, but you know, person A was beloved by the people.

Leslie Braksick: 28:41 He was everyone’s favorite executive. The other guy was people cover intimidated by him. So anyway, I thought, I don’t know why they’re having me do this assessment because I know what they’re going to choose. They’re going to pick a person A. And I was meeting with the executive vice president, I’m his boss and he informed me that they were going with person B and I just about fell out of my chair. I was shocked and I said, why? And they said, you know, Brian has never failed at anything and we’re going into some very strong headwinds on the business. We’re going to have to sell off a couple of our divisions. We’re probably gonna have to close a couple of factories and, and relocate them in other parts. And I don’t think he’s ever had he, he knows how to grow a business, but I don’t know that he knows how to take costs out of the business and I’m not sure he knows how to lead through adversity.

Leslie Braksick: 29:35 And you know, I think this other person who then went on to be CEO of the company, you know, he said he’s done that, he’s done that well and who’s kept in and they went with him and I was shocked. I mean this guy was, I’m telling you, it was like straight a’s, straight a’s, straight a’s, straight a’s. And it was solely because he hadn’t failed at anything and they didn’t know if he had the capability to lead and to lead through failure and adversity, which they knew they were facing. So I always tell people that, you know, are failures, you know, are pain points in our life are really, such opportunities if we allow them to shape us and make us better and don’t, don’t be afraid to share those. Don’t be afraid to openly learn from those and express those to others because it helps people learn from them. And I’ve seen this was, you know, a fortune 50 company and I’ve seen big decisions be made with that is the, is the variable most pointed to. So resiliency, grit, and really failing well, are really critical to executive leadership.

Leslie Braksick: 30:47 My last section is on life. So and then I’m just going to take questions. So my five points there. Number one is there are no do-overs, so just be intentional in how you spend your time and with whom. In my transition work now, I can’t tell you how many people I sit with and we sit with who wish they had done something differently along the way. I had one client who, after he retired his went home and his wife told him that she wanted to get a divorce and he said, you know, I meant to get to my marriage. I really intended to get to that and I just never did, you know, and he was a sincere as he could be about it, you know, I just, he was crossing time zones and crossing oceans and fulfillment of his duties and he just said I, I knew it wasn’t right and I really meant to get to that and I just never did.

Leslie Braksick: 31:47 And there are many people that we have coached and counseled who are transitioning, who have had not exactly the same scenario but similar scenarios because they weren’t attending to the things that matter the most. So there really are no do-overs. And I think that we just need to be extremely intentional in how we spend our time and with whom we spend our time, which goes back to sort of my point number one about the career, you know, if, if you aren’t having fun and you aren’t loving what you’re doing and you know, look for other opportunities, I recognize that there’s financial constraints or geographic constraints and other things that keep us places. So I’m in no way suggesting leave a job when you don’t have one, but don’t feel like you need to be stuck because none of us know how long we have on this earth and

Leslie Braksick: 32:40 there are no do-overs. Secondly, there’s no quota and tragedies or difficult life events. You know, it would be really nice if we could sort of check that box, you know, when, when you know what happens and say, okay, that’s mine, right? And we check that box and we have fulfilled our quota. But as we all know, it doesn’t work that way and that’s really where our faith becomes so critical. But also relationships become so critical, the single largest longitudinal study ever conducted by Harvard was on the issue of longevity and what, is the variable that most contributes to longevity? I think it’s in its 185th year of,  you know, of researchers analyzing it and, and they, it’s controlled, it’s controlled for gender, nutrition, race, exercise, everything. They just, every variable and the thing that continues over and over again to be the defining variable is people that are in a relationship that have a relationship with another person, not a marriage.

Leslie Braksick: 33:56 I’m not talking about marriage or not marriage, I’m talking about in a relationship, somebody that they care about and somebody that cares for them and that they know definitively that there are people that they care about and they know definitively that there are people that care about them. That is the only variable that has, that has been attributed to, to longevity. So, and happiness, so there they were looking at not just longevity but happiness. So it’s, that’s an interesting thing because when we think of, of really the first point about there being no do-overs, I think the bad things happen and, the only thing we can rely on really our faith and relationships to help us navigate those because just having it happened once doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen again. If you’ve listened to my prior podcast, you know, we lost our second child.

Leslie Braksick: 34:52 She passed away and I was, I’m 32 at the time and I remember thinking, you know, to that point, I was the youngest Ph.D. out of my doctoral program. I was sort of this hyper super overachiever, you know, I gave up my diet Pepsi. I only gained my 15 and a half pounds during my pregnancy. Like I followed the book and she was born with a cardiac abnormality which they repaired. And then ultimately they found another problem that was incompatible with life. So she died in my arms when she was about a month and a half old. And you know, you sort of think when you’re sort of wired, like I was wired, you think, oh, you know, what did I do wrong? What did I do wrong? Like I kinda, I kept a journal, know these type A, you probably have my number by now and I, I couldn’t attribute it and then you sort of realize, you know, not everything’s under our control.

Leslie Braksick: 35:50 And then as I got older now I know for sure over and over again, things aren’t under our control, but how we respond to them is very much under our control. And, to that end, you know, she lived her whole life at Children’s Hospital. I’ve been on the board of Children’s Hospital now for over 20 years. And you know, our, I’m a grandmother now and I took my daughter in law and my new granddaughter who’s been named after my daughter who passed away, to Children’s Hospital last week to give them a tour and show them the spaces there that are named after our daughter. And, to talk about the role. And this played a huge role in our family’s life and I can, I am assuredly a better person because of that experience. But I know there will be other things and there have been other things maybe not quite as unsettling is that.

Leslie Braksick: 36:42 But I think my reflections on life are that you know, things happen and the only way we’re gonna get through that is through relationships with people and through our faith. And so I think my biggest learning from that whole thing is how important it is that we show empathy to people at all times. When I used to come across a grumpy person, I used to think, get over it, like put a smile on your face. The sun is shining, it’s great, life is good, you woke up this morning and now when I come across a person that is not quite as cheerful, I think, you know, they’re probably doing the very best they can. That every person has the little pile in their life that they’re just trying to navigate through. And sometimes the pile wins and sometimes they win. But I treat every person, I believe really right now, every person has got their little thing and some days they win and some days it wins.

Leslie Braksick: 37:38 But if we treat people with empathy than I think that we can be our best selves and, and in that will come back to us. So that’s my, second reflection on life. I’m the third I would say is go toward problems not away from them, you know, time is your friend. So the earlier you know about a problem, the more time you have to deal with it. And so, if you shoot the messenger, people aren’t going to tell you the truth and then you lose critical time to fix whatever the problem is. So whether it’s your children telling you the things you least want to hear from them, or it’s your employee who’s going to tell you that there’s a problem with a major customer or if there’s a defect on the line or the prototype that you’ve invested all this money and isn’t working, you need to create a culture where people tell you the truth early and the way I try and help people think of it is separating the behavior of telling from the content of the message that you probably don’t want to hear.

Leslie Braksick: 38:46 So the behavior of telling you, you need to say thank you. Thank you for telling me. You know the first time you’re underage kid comes home and tells you they were drinking. You need to say thank you for telling me. I, I just appreciate your being honest with me. Then separately, you deal with the issue. Where did the alcohol come from and how much did you have and blah, blah blah. But if you shoot the messenger as last time, that is the last time that child is going to trust you and tell you that it’s the last time your employee is going to tell you what no one wants to tell you, which is are at risk of losing a big customer or that you’ve just shipped some product with defects. Who wants to tell the boss that. But if you separate the behavior of telling from the content of the message, you will always get truth-telling because people know you really do want the truth. You really do want to hear. And, um, so go toward problems. When you sense there’s a problem, go toward it, make it safe for people to tell you the truth and separate the telling the behavior of telling the truth from the content of the message.

Leslie Braksick: 39:49 I was at a, I’m on the board of Princeton Theological Seminary and we had a guest preacher. There are a few weeks ago at our board meeting Willie Jennings. And he said, a quote that has just been, I’ve been obsessing over since then. He said that hope is not a sentiment. It’s a discipline. And I was so helped by that statement, you know, hope is not a sentiment, it’s a discipline and it just struck me that I think we all have the opportunity to be disciplined and hope, which means that we actively care. We take actions to help others to be present, you know, we are active in our prayers for others and, we are actively present for people. But I was, I was really profoundly affected by that statement because I thought if I think about that hope is a discipline, then it pushes me to, in gratitude, right?

Leslie Braksick: 40:49 And it pushes me to, to think about gratitude and to think about prayer and to think about being present and being active. And so I think, I think that was very good advice. And, and it, it summarized what I believed in a much more succinct way than I had thought. And then five is really, I guess, one I’ve, I’ve mentioned already, which is really life is just a team sport and that relationships are key. So be the colleague, the friend, the sibling, the child, the parent, the friend that you want others to be to you know, just remember that your head and your heart share the same blood supply. And so this whole idea that you can really separate those is an artificial consideration. They, operate off the same blood supply, they can’t be separated and so you have to, you know, stay in sync with those two and really be very intentional but also be very present for others.

Leslie Braksick: 41:49 So that’s my final thought and I just wanted to say that, you know, my own observations are that the elements of leadership development and the elements of success is executives and the elements of life are really all the same and it really boils down to issues of actively caring, being present, being, you know, just be your best, you, know, humility, caring for others. It’s really very basic, but it’s also very hard to do on a consistent basis, especially when you’re under pressure. I’ve watched more leaders under pressure to misrepresent the numbers to make the quarter, to pull some product into, you know, a quarter so that they can show it in a quarter even though it didn’t come in that corner. Those are issues of integrity. Those are issues, and those challenges, those are things that challenge us to stay true to who we are. So there are all kinds of things like that that we face in business that are not easy, but I think if we stay true to our core and practice that both at home and at work, I think that we can be infinitely more successful.

Doug Smith: 43:14 Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to Leslie’s talk. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. You can find her notes, ways to connect with her and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes at L3Leadership.org/episode211. As I mentioned earlier, we have also interviewed Leslie for the podcast and if you haven’t listened to our two-part interview, I encourage you to go back to episode number 189 and 190 and listen to those. They’re just as incredible as your talk and,they will add a ton of value to your life. I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers, they’re jeweler, owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got her engagement and wedding rings through Henne Jewelers. And we just think they’re an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people.

Doug Smith: 43:54 In fact, they give every engaged couple of books to help them prepare for marriage. And we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler, checkout Hennejewelers.com. And as always, if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at l three leadership, you can sign up for email list by going to our website at L3eadership.org. And when you sign up for the email list, you’ll get a free copy of my ebook making the most of mentoring, which is my step by step process for getting in, cultivating mentoring relationships with leaders. As always, I like to end with a quote and unquote Gerald Brooks, who I quote often today. He said this, he said, if someone looks like an overnight success, then you didn’t see all their hard work. I love that. If someone looks like an overnight success, then you didn’t see all their hard work. Thank you so much for listening and being a part of l, three leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and I will talk to you next episode.