Season 3 Episode 9
July 25, 2023

Human-Centric Leadership

Nothing is better than a great leader, but also nothing is worse than a poor leader. It takes humility and kindness to lead well, and a great leader must learn the importance of putting ego and insecurities aside for the greater good. Enter the million-dollar question: Are great leaders born to lead or can they be taught and rise to the occasion?

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Nothing is better than a great leader, but also nothing is worse than a poor leader. It takes humility and kindness to lead well, and a great leader must learn the importance of putting ego and insecurities aside for the greater good. Enter the million-dollar question: Are great leaders born to lead or can they be taught and rise to the occasion?

“Help Me Help You”

  • {00:05:15} “How I think about leadership is that you can be a leader no matter your role or your rank or whatever it is. There are leadership qualities and then there are titles that indicate you're a leader of the company.” - Orchid
  • {00:07:40} “There are leaders who only do things to further their own ego or further their own career. And then there are leaders who genuinely believe that you can only succeed if you work as a team.” - Orchid
  • {00:10:20} “I have had a handful of leaders who were so insecure. I think, in hindsight, that's what it was. The ego thing is the surface level, so it comes across as ego, but really upon further reflection, it's insecurity at the foundation.” - Ingrid
  • {00:12:13} “Leadership acknowledges the power that is within the leader who knows how to lead more people toward a better outcome.” - Ingrid
  • {00:18:24} “You're not sitting there trying to draw blood from a stone. You are there to mold someone already somewhat capable but who maybe needs guidance and coaching and feedback.” - Ingrid
  • {00:20:21} “What I learned was, "Oh, it's actually not about what I need. It's actually about what you need. It's about what you need to be able to do your best to support the team. And it is my job to get you what you need.’" - Orchid
  • {00:33:36} “Everybody wants to be the people manager for the Dream Direct report, the person who anticipates your moves, who is so smart, so motivated, does all the things. But the reality is that that's not most people I know. And even those people that I just described, you need to help them with all these things that they're carrying.” - Orchid

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Ingrid: [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to Infinite Shelf, the human-centric retail podcast. I'm your host, Ingrid Milman Cordy, and I am here with... {drumroll} Orchid! Hey, girl.

Orchid: [00:00:33] Hi. Good morning. Good morning. It's always nice to start my day off with you, honestly.

Ingrid: [00:00:38] Same. The feeling is so mutual. Except it's three hours earlier for me. {laughter}

Orchid: [00:00:43] {laughter} It's like, really early for you. I've already gotten a coffee and gotten the car washed and stuff, and you're like, "Hi."

Ingrid: [00:00:49] You got your car washed?

Orchid: [00:00:51] Yeah.

Ingrid: [00:00:51] I wash my car once a year. Is that?

Orchid: [00:00:54] Well yeah, that's because you're in California though.

Ingrid: [00:00:57] I'm in Seattle. But I guess it's turning into California with climate change.

Orchid: [00:01:03] {laughter} Ok, fine. It's the West Coast. You're on the West Coast and in the Midwest it's just like you just wash your car a lot.

Ingrid: [00:01:11] There's nothing better to do?

Orchid: [00:01:12] Well, there's no drought. So you're just like, "I'm gonna use all the water from the Great Lakes." Yeah, and we're actually in Michigan. It's a fun time of year called Fishfly season. I don't know if you've encountered these things.

Ingrid: [00:01:26] No, that sounds scary.

Orchid: [00:01:27] So fishflies. They are these insects. They have no mouths. They don't bite or anything. They only live for like 24 hours, but they basically swarm everything. So they cover everything and then they die very quickly and they just become food for fish and birds and stuff. So it's Fishfly season.

Ingrid: [00:01:47] How long does this last?

Orchid: [00:01:48] Probably about a week.

Ingrid: [00:01:49] Oh, okay. Thank God. Yeah. I'm thinking like the locust...

Orchid: [00:01:51] I don't know why they're called fishflies. Yeah, a little bit. But when you walk on them, they're crunchy and then they smell like fish. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:02:03] Okay.

Orchid: [00:02:03] So that's why you get your car washed.

Ingrid: [00:02:07] Oh, yeah.

Orchid: [00:02:13] So stay in Seattle, folks.

Ingrid: [00:02:15] Oh, my God. Don't come to Seattle. But also, Seattle is low key, like the best part of the country right now.

Orchid: [00:02:24] Seattle is great. I have a great time there.

Ingrid: [00:02:27] I'm born and raised in New York City. I'm a total New York City, above all, snob. I will point blank admit that the second you meet me. But Seattle is a legit city with like, I'm staring at the lake right now. You guys don't come. It rains all the time in Seattle. It's hella expensive.

Orchid: [00:02:48] I've heard it's expensive.

Ingrid: [00:02:50] It's on fire. All the things you hear on Fox News or 100% accurate. Just don't come here. Anyway. Leadership. Segue of the century.

Orchid: [00:03:03] That was just such a seamless transition. How do you do it?

Ingrid: [00:03:10] I'm just very, very well media trained podcaster who just knows how to do that seamlessly. It's like me and Ryan Seacrest and that's about it.

Orchid: [00:03:20] {laughter} Really. That's who you picked?

Ingrid: [00:03:23] Yeah. Ryan Seacrest is my media lord.

Orchid: [00:03:29] {laughter} We'll have to unpack that sometime.

Ingrid: [00:03:31] There's no one smoother and suavier than Ryan Seacrest. There's just not.

Orchid: [00:03:47] Certainly not Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper during New Year's Eve.

Ingrid: [00:03:52] Oh, my God. When they both just got wasted. But come on, that was good TV.

Orchid: [00:03:57] That's more my speed. Yeah. Okay. All right. Leadership. Leadership. {laughter}

Ingrid: [00:04:05] No, but really, I think it's appropriate because we've spent, I would say, a considerable amount of time talking about really important things as it relates to, you know, this is the human-centric retail podcast and there are a lot of examples in previous episodes, if you haven't listened to them, talking about just communication styles. We talked about your work love language, which I think is important, and we should dive deeper into that and just figuring out these generational differences, some of the internal hurdles when you're trying to change things. And really if you're looking at Maslow's hierarchy of what is needed to make all of those things efficient, I would argue that the deep foundation of that is leadership.

Orchid: [00:04:57] I would agree with that. I think leadership, though I've noticed, gets really narrowly defined. A lot of people think that you can't engage in leadership if you're not a senior person on the team. And [00:05:14] how I think about leadership is that you can be a leader no matter your role or your rank or whatever it is. I think that there are leadership qualities and then there are titles that indicate you're a leader of the company. [00:05:29] So I think about those a little differently.

Ingrid: [00:05:31] Totally. I think that makes so much sense. And in fact, like in practice, what you need to do in order to actually become a leader is to actually be a leader before you're a leader. It's a requirement at this point. How many times in your career have you ever promoted someone into a leadership role without them having basically already been demonstrating that they're leaders? I can say confidently zero for me.

Orchid: [00:05:59] Or even, if I reflect on my career, and I've seen this tension happen of saying, "Oh, what you're asking me to do is out of scope and I'm not getting compensated for that." That's like on one end of the spectrum. But in terms of my experience, and I think yours as well, is that you don't get promoted into a job until you actually already start to take on duties of that job or at least indicate that you're able to do that. Very, very rarely. I think to your point, someone gets promoted into something where they haven't already demonstrated either attributes or ability or even started to do the work necessary to be successful in that next role.

Ingrid: [00:06:41] Totally, Totally. And even if it is just demonstrating the attributes or like the cognitive ability or the asking the right questions of someone that you would assume takes that role, totally. And so I am curious, what are some attributes, the good, the bad, and the ugly of leaders that you've experienced throughout your career that have shaped who you are and how you want to be as a leader, and what you actively avoid being as a leader?

Orchid: [00:07:20] That's a great question. I think that oftentimes you can learn just as much from bad leaders as you can from good leaders.

Ingrid: [00:07:29] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:07:29] So I will say some things that come to life is when you think of leadership, you think of someone senior, and then inevitably the idea of ego is involved. So [00:07:40] there are leaders who only do things to further their own ego or further their own career. And then there are leaders who genuinely believe that you can only succeed if you work as a team. [00:07:56] And I think a lot of people kind of explain it as servant leadership. Are you doing this for yourself or are you doing this to enable the team to succeed? And what I've learned is that it's such a difficult lesson because you get promoted for doing a thing well, and so you start early on in your career where you have control over everything. And then as you go up through management and start leading larger and larger teams, now you have to achieve the goal through others, and coaching others and developing others and teaching them and giving them context. And it becomes a little frustrating for a lot of folks who are really used to doing because, and I've fallen into this trap before too. I was like, Well, I could do this in like two hours, but if I were to give this to someone as a learning opportunity and have them do it, it's going to take probably two weeks because I'm going to give them time to research to do the thing. Then I'm going to give them feedback. I'm not going to go in and make the edits myself, but I'm going to give them comments and like, how many rounds do you go until you have to call it and be like, You know what? This isn't how I would do it, but it's not wrong, right? This is just another way to arrive at that situation. So I do think, what I perceive as great leadership is setting yourself aside and seeing the greater goal of saying, okay, you know, what is my job as a leader of this company? Is it to develop excellent talent? Is it to make sure that we're profitable to manage the PNL successfully, whatever that is? But I do think that great leaders put a lot of their egos aside for the greater good.

Ingrid: [00:09:40] Yeah, I super agree with that. I hope that if in a survey of people that I have led and certainly as I've continued refining my skill set as a leader, like today, like the people that I lead, I would really hope that they would describe me exactly the way that you just said in terms of servant leadership, right? And just like giving them opportunities to rise up. I think one of the things that you said earlier about you can learn a lot from bad leaders about how to be a good leader, I have had thankfully not that many, but [00:10:20] I have had a handful of leaders who were so insecure. I think, in hindsight, that's what it was. The ego thing is the surface level, so it comes across as ego, but really upon further reflection, it's insecurity at the foundation [00:10:40] that you could not be smarter than them. You could not have the answer faster than them. You could not solve the problem from a different direction the way that you just described than they would because that would be just massively insubordinate, not okay. They would expect you to have the answer or to think about it differently or to solve the problem, but then whisper it into their ear so that it comes out of their mouth.

Orchid: [00:11:14] Yup. Yup.

Ingrid: [00:11:14] And the amount of for lack of a better term, resentment, I think that that brewed within me of just being like, "I will never do that. I will never make someone on my team feel like they can't be smarter than me." In fact, every time I go to like, hire someone, if I'm not hiring someone that's smarter than me or better than me at something like I'm doing it wrong. And I think for me, that is a leadership change of the paradigm that may be used to happen before where the leaders would go to the meetings and they would do the presentations. And look, the reality is not everybody can be in every presentation. And so I think the assumption is that when you go in as a leader and you present work that your team has done, you say, "This is a team that I led." And I think [00:12:13] even leadership acknowledges the power that is within the leader who knows how to lead more people toward a better outcome. [00:12:22]

Orchid: [00:12:25] I couldn't agree more with that assessment. And to your point about insecurity, I see that happen a lot. When you reach a level of leadership where you have subject matter experts under you and so you do expect those people to know the subject better than you. They are smarter than you in that thing. I will say that as a leader, I believe my role to be providing air cover and removing barriers.

Ingrid: [00:13:35] Yes.

Orchid: [00:13:35] For my folks. In order to do great work. Because it's like if they win, we all win sort of thing. And I will say that to your point about leadership and insecurity, I see it actually come to life in a way of taking credit. So it really is a fine line. And I would be remiss if I didn't say that this was incredibly difficult, But how do you give credit where credit is due, where still demonstrating that you were a part of the process to help that person get there? Because I think what a lot of leaders worry about is that if they give that person too much credit, then the question from their boss starts to be, "Well, what are you doing here if they're doing all the work?" So how would you navigate that?

Ingrid: [00:14:22] I think it's valid and the way that I would look at it is hopefully that's not the one person that is on your team that is doing that. It's more about, let's say you have three direct reports, four direct reports. If all four of them are consistently delivering problems, solutions to problems, delivering new ways of thinking, delivering results at or above expectation, I do think that most more senior leaders are not stupid. They're going to see that you're taking this group of people who hopefully have some talent underlying and experience, and that's why they're there to begin with, but that are being challenged and surpassing the level of expectation that even they had going into for themselves, going into that role. And I think it's a pattern. Sometimes it's really obvious like, "Oh, that one person on your team is just smarter, better, faster than everyone." And yeah, actually one day they will have your job, but hopefully, it's because you got promoted because you were able to utilize those talents effectively and not make that person leave. Because usually, those talented superstar people, if they're not recognized, if they're not getting the credit that they feel that they deserve, they're out. And so retaining that person, being able to get the best out of them for those superstar people. And then for the other people, raising the bar just a little bit higher than they would have maybe raised for themselves. And then connecting that with the empathetic leadership, servant leadership, removing hurdles, sitting alongside them, problem-solving, but then letting them come to the solution themselves to me is just one of those things that inevitably becomes really, really visible about you as a leader.

Orchid: [00:16:29] Yeah. What I will say is oftentimes when you look at leadership roles, whether it's a job posting or maybe you're interviewing for it and just understanding it more, there's this idea of ability to run a high-performance team.

Ingrid: [00:16:44] Yeah, yeah.

Orchid: [00:16:45] And I think that actually yes, that's the overarching umbrella or it's the overarching theme of what you're trying to do. But there are so many different dynamics that go into it. Being able to identify great talent and to hire for it I think is a critical skill. I think being able to, to your point, retain, develop, and retain excellent talent is an important skill. I think setting the bar and being able to maintain the bar is a critical skill when it comes to a high-performance team and the thing that nobody likes to talk about, if someone is not working out or there's a role mismatch or you know that person is just not right, then it is also the idea of managing out.

Ingrid: [00:17:33] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:17:34] As part of running a high-performance team.

Ingrid: [00:17:37] Big time.

Orchid: [00:17:37] Because that person's missing the bar. What are your thoughts on that?

Ingrid: [00:17:40] I mean, that is part and parcel with leadership. You have to be able to know when to give the people, the potential underperformer, feedback, and understand where things are falling apart in the communication or in the request or whatever. And just like being really transparent with each other about like, "Hey, I don't think this is the outcome that I was expecting. Let's go into it and figure out why that happened." And then when that happens a couple of times and I don't mean like ten times, I mean like three. That's when you start having those conversations. And that's a part of leadership because [00:18:24] you're not sitting there trying to draw blood from a stone. You are there to mold someone already somewhat capable but who maybe needs guidance and coaching and feedback. [00:18:38] But the second that you feel like you're trying to draw blood from a stone, trust your instincts. And that's leadership, too.

Orchid: [00:18:48] And I think to your point, it is about transparent conversation. So some of my biggest lessons in leadership I've learned from my direct reports. So there was one woman who was a very, very junior account person. I think this was her first job. And I remember she came to me and she said, "I want to do more strategic projects." I was like, "Great. Here's one. You can go work on it." And she comes back and she was like, "I want to do more of that." I was like, "Great. I would love to give you more of that. But what I need from you is," and it was her job to set up meetings, you know, book conference rooms, all that stuff. I was like, "I need you to double-check your meeting invites, so there are no typos going to the client." I was like, "I need you to book a conference room well in advance of the meeting so that the creative team isn't scrambling five minutes before the meeting because there's no conference room." And she was like, "Well, I don't want you to judge my capability based on a couple of typos." I would also not want to do that. But here we are. And it was really interesting because I asked her, I was like, "What do you need from me?" And she said, "I need weekly feedback." Okay, this was years ago. And I was like weekly feedback. I was like, "I don't know that you do enough in a week for me to give you feedback. And like my initial thought, you know, as a very like green manager was well, I need feedback like once a year. This is like older millennial trauma speaking. But I was like, "I need feedback once a year. If you're not giving me feedback, it means everything's hunky dory," which we know that that's also not the truth, but [00:20:21] what I learned was, "Oh, it's actually not about what I need. It's actually about what you need." [00:20:26]

Ingrid: [00:20:26]  [00:20:26]Yeah.  [00:20:27]

Orchid: [00:20:27]  [00:20:27]"It's about what you need to be able to do your best to support the team. And it is my job to get you what you need." [00:20:35] And so I kind of had to reframe it because in my mind I was like weekly feedback. That's like a sit-down session and giving all this feedback. What I actually ended up doing was like giving almost micro pieces of feedback. So she would send an email, and then I'd send a reply back and be like, "Oh, like you did this really well. I would actually look at this." And so you actually just like build it back into your routine. But like from her, it was definitely my first case of being like, "It's not what about what I need." It's what you need to be able to be a strong pillar of the team.

Ingrid: [00:21:07] Totally.

Orchid: [00:21:07] And then I will say the other person was they were there like early in the morning, like first person in the morning and last person to leave. And they never quite got all the things done. And so I had to sit down with them and be like, "Hey, So the purpose of work isn't to be here all of the time. What's going on?" And you know, for him, he wanted to work to live. And he found that taking information from a lot of different places in aggregating it in one place was really hard. And I was like, "Okay, well, like as an account executive, you literally just described the job." And so he came back two weeks later and he's like, "Hey, I wanted to give my notice. Thank you for just not firing me. But he's like, "You know, I really did some soul searching and this really isn't what I want to do. I kind of want to do something else." I was like, "Great. Thank you for telling me. And I'm glad we had this conversation." To your point, I think those conversations are sometimes scary because you don't know what the answer is going to be, but it's like, wouldn't you rather know the answer? And then so you both can move forward?

Ingrid: [00:22:13] Well, exactly. And I think about that a lot with whether it is the action that happens as a result of identifying problems. There are two things that happen. One, you know, the immediate thought is, "Well, they're not right for the company. And so we're going to figure out a way to like manage them out." But two, is really "Maybe there's a better place in the company for you and where you want to be and what your skill set is and what you're interested in. And maybe you didn't know that when applying to this role," but even in smaller companies, there's plenty of maybe that account manager was really like, they're a graphic designer or they are a copywriter or something like that. And so just like having a transparent conversation serves everyone. It serves the individual because nobody wants to be in a job that they're not doing well, even if you're not caring about getting promoted or whatever. As a human, I genuinely think that we thrive off of having purpose. And so even in a situation where, like you described, they're a work to live kind of a person, even the part that they're doing work when they're doing it has to be somewhat aligned with their skill set, what they want to be doing, how they want to be spending their time. And even I could describe that as someone who is more of a live to work or a recovering live to work kind of person myself, that purpose really matters. And so being able to identify that for people and alongside people is a huge benefit to everyone, the person, the leader, and the organization. So definitely don't be afraid to have those conversations and you'll probably uncover things that either you're doing as a manager or a leader that needs to change. And you're totally right about that. Or you'll uncover like, "Man, this role is just isn't for you."

Orchid: [00:24:22] Totally. Do you enjoy being a leader?

Ingrid: [00:24:25] I fucking love being a leader. Like so hard. I don't know what that says about me on any like work astrology chart, but it's kind of my favorite thing to do ever. Like, I love, love leading teams.

Orchid: [00:24:40] What do you love about it?

Ingrid: [00:24:41] I love the assessment part. Like, "Hey, can this person do what I need them to do?" I love the varying personality and communication styles that I have to sort of switch in my brain depending on who I'm talking to. I think I find that to be mentally stimulating and interesting sometimes exhausting, definitely. But also I love that. I love, and this is probably part and parcel with that, it's like the psychology of it, understanding where someone is coming from and why they're feeling this way. And I know that they're saying this, but is that what they're saying? Do we need to go a little bit deeper like that part of it where I'm like mostly just their therapist? I love that. And some people find that really exhausting, but I really love that. And then I really love, like, my favorite, like, oh, this doesn't happen all the time, but like, when it does, it just like really, really rocks me so hard is asking something of someone that when I first asked them of it, they're like, "Absolutely not. There's no way. I have no idea how to do this. What? I'm terrified." And then they'll probably talk shit about me and say that I asked too much and whatever. And then. And then when they finally do it and they do it well, there's no better feeling in the world. And that's why I love leadership.

Orchid: [00:26:14] That's so funny. I feel like I have more... Okay. Tortured is not the word. I have a more complex relationship with leadership. I think I agree with all of the things that you just said. The hardest part for me is that, and leadership is a journey. I still think that I'm figuring it out. And I think it's when things go poorly, I take a ton of responsibility for that. Because if someone's success or failure is really, of course, a lot of it is self guided and intrinsic motivation, their self motivation. But I will always look back and be like, ah, like pick apart what I could have done differently. And there is the part that human beings are human beings and it's kind of like you can lead a horse to water sort of thing. And so when I read situations wrong or when I want something more for someone than they want for themselves, that hurts a lot, honestly. And so that's why I think I have a more complicated relationship with leadership. It is a privilege to be in leadership, and I know I've worked hard to be in the position that I'm at, but I will say that it doesn't come. It absolutely comes with its own challenges. And how do you manage that through a leader in order to refuel yourself so that you can show up for other people? I find that hard sometimes.

Ingrid: [00:27:56] And that's real. Like, those are real. No, for real, and it's very much like putting the oxygen mask on for yourself or for others and things like that. And so I think there are organizations in which leadership is easier. And when you yourself as a leader are not getting what you need, and I'm not suggesting that this is what's happening, but just in even my own personal experience, there have been times where my ability to be a leader was constrained because I wasn't being led in the right way and I wasn't being treated organizationally in the right way. So I think there's a lot of that to unpack in certain circumstances. I'm talking like pie in the sky, the reason why and look, here's the really cold, hard truth is that just because the way that we promote people and the way that we incentivize people to do good work is by giving them people to manage, which half the time I would argue half the time does not equal that you're a good people manager. You are good at your job and you're good at doing what is asked of you. What the hell does that have to do with managing people? And I think that's why we have so many bad people, managers out there because they got to where they got to because they are a great individual contributor and some of them figured out how to be good leaders along the way. And Mazel tov to them. But like a lot of times it's just people who are like really good at their job and then all of a sudden they like accumulated a bunch of people because that's the way that we give you kudos in like American capitalist corporate culture.

Orchid: [00:29:49] Yeah, you do so well at your job that they promote you to an entirely different job.

Ingrid: [00:29:56] Right. Yeah. And so I think that's at the core of, of a lot of, some of the leadership issues that we run into.

Orchid: [00:30:03] I completely agree. I think in a lot of cases you do get promoted into a role that is not what you set out to do, nor are you actually equipped for. So a lot of companies like Apple have a management track and an individual contributor track because I heard this story a long time ago, I think it's I don't even maybe it was a fever dream, but I'm pretty sure it was a story. But there's this guy at Apple. He has a PhD in lasers. He's responsible for lasering all of the Apple logos on all kinds of devices. That man probably shouldn't be a manager. If you have a PhD in lasers, you probably didn't get a PhD in lasers in order to be a manager. And so that's an example of someone who is at the highest level of individual contributor because you want to set them up for the thing that they are exceptionally good at. And I think that although not all companies, I don't think this change is going to happen overnight. I do know that at our agency, we talk about that quite a bit, which is what does a management track look like and what does an individual contributor track look like that allows you to continue to compensate that person relative to their experience, what they're bringing to the table without ultimately feeling like you're both trying to shoehorn them into a role that will get them more money and will get them the title, but is not actually the thing that they want, nor are they good at.

Ingrid: [00:31:28] I think that is so smart and such a nuanced approach, and I hope that it's kind of this combination of you can't do the job until you're kind of given the opportunity to do the job. So you almost have to create some form of... Some people will be 100% "I don't want to manage people. I'm not good at it. I'm a subject matter expert. Promote the heck out of me until you can't any more within this like thing that I like to do that I don't want to stray from." And then there are other people who I think are a little bit more generalist in nature in their skill sets. And hopefully, I think those people are people who either are generalists in their skill sets as well as good managers. And you kind of have to test the waters with them, maybe give them an intern or something along those lines and see what that looks like for them and for the person.

Orchid: [00:32:27] I'm sorry to all the interns who are basically guinea pigs for people who can be people managers.

Ingrid: [00:32:33] That is what being an intern is. Sorry. Also, like just the amount of damage that can be done to and from an intern with a maybe less than experienced leader is probably you know the. They're getting some solid work experience.

Orchid: [00:32:56] That's why we don't believe in unpaid internships anymore. They need to be compensated.

Ingrid: [00:33:02] Big time.

Orchid: [00:33:02] But yeah, and I think part of the challenge though, is that a lot of people don't know that they want to be a people leader until they're in the situation. I've certainly experienced that.

Ingrid: [00:33:15] Or that they don't.

Orchid: [00:33:16] Or that they don't, although I think it's some people don't realize it, some people think they do and then realize that they don't. And then some people like myself never actually make up their mind.

Ingrid: [00:33:30] You're like, I want to be a people manager for people that I like and that don't suck."

Orchid: [00:33:35] Well, the thing is [00:33:36] that everybody wants to be the people manager for the Dream Direct report, the person who anticipates your moves, who is so smart, so motivated, does all the things. But the reality is that that's not most people know. And even those people that I just described you need to help them manage their workload. You need to help them emotionally sometimes through maybe a tough period in the job or merging their job with their life or, you know, just all these things that they're carrying. [00:34:05] I think managing people is never sunshine and roses. Maybe there are bright spots for sure. But that's the challenge is that. I think a lot of people like to work on processes or operations because it's clean and people are messy.

Ingrid: [00:34:23] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:34:23] But that's kind of the beauty of it too. You are in a position of influence that is honestly a privilege to be able to guide people and to help them answer their questions and to really enable them to be the best version of themselves for the team and for the work that needs to be done. And I think we've talked about this before. The most rewarding moment is when someone doesn't believe they can do a thing and you coach them through it and they've unlocked this new thing that they're able to do and that's deeply satisfying.

Ingrid: [00:34:58] Big time. Yeah. So question then, and maybe a wrapping up question. Do you think that leadership can be taught? Obviously leadership can get, you can get better at it. But do you think you can make a leader out of someone who is inherently instinctually not?

Orchid: [00:35:22] Oh, this is like the billion dollar question.

Speaker3: [00:35:26] That's what I'm here for folks.

Orchid: [00:35:26] Because I've wrestled with this. There are times when I am very much in the great leaders are born camp because there is, and joking aside, I do think that there is a nature part of it meaning that someone who is astute, who is, I think very emotionally in-tuned with other people, empathetic, self-reflective. I think those are all characteristics of a great leader who can, if you already have those, I think that puts you a step ahead because people management is very relational. Now, if you don't have any of those things, I don't know. I think that if you are open and you have the desire to, I think people are capable of learning anything. Now, will you achieve the level of greatness like the Coach K's of the world or the folks who are like, you know, Phil Jackson, all like the heralded coaches of the world? I don't know. But I do think that if you didn't start life as being particularly in tuned with other people or understanding what leadership is, I think there are aspects of it you can certainly learn.

Ingrid: [00:36:41] Okay, Follow up question. What if your preschool teacher called you queen of the playground to your mother. And told your mother in preschool that all you did all day was boss everyone around you around, and you've continued to do that through your entire life?

Orchid: [00:37:06] Well, I think if we want to get nuanced, obviously you're asking for a friend of a friend.

Ingrid: [00:37:11] Asking for a close friend.

Orchid: [00:37:13] Of course. Of course. I think great leadership doesn't mean that you boss people around, right? Now, now, now, the thing that I like to hear sometimes is that or I'll describe someone's child as I was like, "Oh, that child is running for mayor."

Ingrid: [00:37:30] Yeah.

Orchid: [00:37:30] Meaning that kid is just not shy to go up to anybody and wants to meet with them and wants to get to know them, start a conversation. And so, I feel like that has more indications of a leader in the modern era than maybe a playground dictator.

Ingrid: [00:37:48] Like I was. Yeah, mean, I mean my friend. Yeah. No, I agree. And actually, there's been this is why this question is so interesting to me because there has been such a change. And hopefully, I would like to think, an evolution of how I communicate and build relationships because now, we were talking about leadership qualities and all of that. And I do think empathy in having this conversation a little bit more, the last parting thought that I have here is that at the foundation of everything, I think the best leaders, both when I feel like I'm being a good leader myself and when I'm being led, we're therapists. I'm literally a therapist to my team and even like my peers. I'm always the person that people are like in the middle of it. Like a teams meeting or something. They're like texting me like "WTF?" And I'm like talking everyone off the ledge unless I'm hyping them up to be on the ledge with me. But yeah, therapist is like right up there with those qualities.

Orchid: [00:38:54] Yeah, I agree. And I think those are the times where in the best moments I love being everybody's therapist. It is an honor to have them reach out and like really confide in you and ask for your opinion. But on the other hand, it really is this okay for me to be everyone else's therapist, I need a therapist. So, yeah, so the question is where do you get that support? Because you need it too.

Ingrid: [00:39:22] From my husband. Of course.

Orchid: [00:39:25] Of course. It's in the prenup.

Ingrid: [00:39:26] Yeah. And yoga. Well, Orchid, any final thoughts on leadership?

Orchid: [00:39:32] It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I'm just kidding. I'm kidding. No, I mean, I think at the end of the day, leadership is a privilege no matter how you slice it. And it is your choice on how you want to manage that privilege, you know, you do want to step into it. Do you just want the ego part of it? But at the end of the day, man, I do believe, and I think we believe in servant leadership.

Ingrid: [00:39:58] Totally. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but it is at the end of the day, a privilege and a privilege to co-host with you. Thank you so much for a great episode.

Orchid: [00:40:07] Thank you, Queen of the Playgrounds.

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