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Leading change with GRIT and communicating with integrity

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Laurie Sudbrink

Successful change management is the result of navigating people through resistance. Laurie Sudbrink makes the case that leadership must come from a place of GRIT: generosity, respect, integrity, and truth.

Laurie shares that GRIT is more than a formula; it takes the form of empathy, vulnerability, taking part in the change, understanding emotional responses, and taking conscious actions based on your beliefs.

About Laurie Sudbrink

Laurie Sudbrink is the President and Founder of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, which specializes in improving workplace performance.

She witnessed weak leadership and communication breakdown over 15 years of working for a major company. Not surprisingly they eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Determined to save other corporations from imploding, she launched and grew a 7-figure training business that has helped fortune 500 companies, US state departments, and the US Navy get their sh*t together.

Losing 2 brothers to suicide pushed her to spread the importance of deep listening, fearless transparency, and non-judgmental acceptance.

She’s the bestselling author of Leading with GRIT Inspiring Action and Accountability with Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth.

Laurie is on a mission to improve lives through leadership.

Transcript

(transcripts are auto-generated, so please excuse the brevity)

Laurie Sudbrink: When we look at Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth in that way, it results in that sustainable success, that sustainable GRIT. We can keep going because we’re not sabotaging ourselves, we’re really aligned properly in respecting ourselves and others.

Bill Raymond: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. Today, we are joined by Laurie Sudbrink, president and founder of Unlimited Coaching Solutions and author of “Leading with GRIT.”

Introduction

Bill Raymond: Hi Laurie, how are you today?

Laurie Sudbrink: Hi Bill, I’m great. It’s such an honor and privilege to be here. Thank you.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, I’m really excited for the conversation. I’m also excited to learn what GRIT means.

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah.

Bill Raymond: I know it’s an acronym, but we’ll get into that. But before we get started, could you share a little bit about yourself and your background?

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah, sure. I started my business in 1999. But I want to go before that and talk a little bit about my upbringing. Because it has to do with what I’m passionate about. I was raised in a very large family, 13 brothers and sisters, and some of us might remember The Brady Bunch. We used to call ourselves, “The Crazy Bunch.”

Laurie Sudbrink: And I was the middle child. And as you can imagine, I’m always trying to get everybody to get along and, you know, do all of that. And we were raised with grit. We were raised to be tough, tenacious, push through, make things happen. And in that, I learned to really keep going and work extremely hard.

Grit Starts to Get in the Way?

Laurie Sudbrink: And that worked well for me for quite a while. And then I noticed that it started to get in the way a bit. For example, when I was very young and I was a single mom, I was taking classes and working full time. I was lugging my daughter to classes with me. I mean, you get the picture, right? And I was just so hyper-focused on getting perfect grades.

Laurie Sudbrink: I was really neglecting, sadly, my, probably my daughter, my social relationships, definitely my health. At the end of every semester, I ended up sick and I just finally saw the pattern. It was with the help of a good coach, but he helped me see that. And it was like, wow, I’m doing this to myself. That grit that got me so far was now getting in the way, because I wasn’t really thinking of everything in my life. I was just hyper-focused on that one thing. And I noticed this later on in my career, when I first became a supervisor, too. I started to do the same thing. I started to just really hyper-focus on work, work, work, and my career at the expense of some other very important things in my life.

How the Book Came to Be

This is really important to the work that I do, because I notice this in executives, in directors, in managers even, and in individuals, definitely in the workplace. And this grit, grittiness, this toughness was causing collateral damage. And so that’s really how the book came to be.

Laurie Sudbrink: I had um, been doing this work for quite a while and we, just a real short story, staff and I were in a room doing some brainstorming on, you know, putting a name to this and putting a formula to it. And we had these words all over the room. It was, um, the whiteboards all over the place. And I remember seeing generosity, respect, integrity, and truth, but I saw the GRIT acronym and I was like, GRIT! And I just kind of yelled it out in my, I remember my team saying, what about GRIT? You mean John Wayne, True Grit? And then we got laughing, talking about movies, and so it was just, so it was like this really wild, crazy brainstorming, but that is how it came to be because it was the perfect explanation and roadmap to help people lead a successful life and lead a successful company.

Laurie Sudbrink: And so I won’t unpack GRIT yet, but I just wanted to give you that little background because that’s how the book came to be, as really, I wanted to put this down into a book so that people could just take it. I mean, I can’t do this in every single workplace everywhere for every person. And I was like, just, if you read this book, it’s guaranteed to shift your thoughts and beliefs about things which make taking action and that behavior so much easier.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, thank you for that, that’s a great story. Wow. I had a brother and that was already enough for me. So I’m actually, I don’t know how you did it but yeah, congratulations on surviving.

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah. I had one daughter after that many siblings, so.

I understand. So yeah, I actually really enjoyed your book and I will say, you said the word “read” there. I’m an audio person and it is available in audio book. And we’ll get to that a little bit later, but I really appreciated. You actually read the book, which it was kind of interesting because now I’m talking to that person I’ve been listening to for the last few days.

Laurie Sudbrink: Yes, yes. I decided to do my own audio. Yeah.

Bill Raymond: And you did a great job. I really liked the book, I I appreciate it. And you know, there’s some great quotes from all the philosophers, like Robert Mondavi and Bob Marley’s in there too.

Handling Change

Laurie Sudbrink: Oh, thank you. One of the biggest themes is to be able to handle change. One of my chapters in that book is on change and to be able to look at change differently.

Laurie Sudbrink: You know, again, going to your thoughts and beliefs about it, is one of the most important things and, you and I both know of course, Agile in Action, you know, you are about change. And it really is though one of the most important roles of a leader, is to be able to not only embrace change, but to take action, drive change, get other people to change with less collateral damage.

Change Management

Bill Raymond: I would like to hear how you think of change management, either for an organization or for a person.

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah. Change management to me is helping to reduce the amount of resistance to change, right? It’s helping people navigate through those feelings and emotions and the why behind the resistance, because resistance is really a way for people to protect themselves. They’re trying to protect themselves against those changes that are going to happen in their job, their work behaviors, their performance measures, even power and status at certain levels. And people get really comfortable doing something and then it takes effort to make a change. So the more that people believe that their current habits and their patterns are going to be impacted, the more resistance we see.

And so a leader’s job is really helping people to see, you know, that it’s beneficial for them in some way. How does it impact them, get them involved in this so that they can be a part of the change and not just have it thrown at them. That to me is change management, is really kind of an immersive everybody’s involved kind of system.

Bill Raymond: I remember I was going through a very large change project. Actually, it was my very first large change project. And you know, I was young, just kind of finishing some academic level work. And I kinda got thrown into this multinational project. The plan was to implement software, but that software meant that maybe people would lose their jobs.

Bill Raymond: And I had a huge blind spot there because I’m just thinking, technical implement the software. And I couldn’t understand why everyone kind of hated me as I was traveling around meeting them. And I realized that I wasn’t in any way recognizing their roles and, and how that might affect them.

Bill Raymond: Even though there was a concept at some point, that maybe their roles would be changed or replaced, it never really did happen. So that kind of makes me happy. But at the same time, that was a big blind spot for me.

Recognizing Change is Happening

Bill Raymond: I don’t know if you have a story or something you can share, you know, how you can recognize that change is happening and how your behaviors can affect that?

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah, and thank you for that story, because I think all of us can think of times when we had an awareness that we didn’t recognize what somebody else was going through with that change. We’re so focused on driving the change or doing our job, that it’s hard sometimes to step back and think about, well, how are people going to accept this change? The biggest resistance is that they’re not accepting the change itself. It’s not that the change initiative is bad, right? It’s that they just are resisting because of those reasons I just talked about earlier, they don’t want their habits, their patterns, their status, any of that to change.

Laurie Sudbrink: And the thing that popped in my head when you were talking, Bill is, I was working with a very large hospital and one of their goals, one of their new goals was to reduce readmissions.

And so right away, the CNAs, the LPNs, the charge nurses that they knew this meant more work, they knew it meant a disruption in what they were used to doing. And they knew it just, you know what I was hearing, the buzz was, “more changes from the top,” you know, that kind of thing.

Laurie Sudbrink: And I was working with this hospital and they wanted me to help with how to do this with this group. So I said, let’s back up. I want to look at your last employee engagement survey. And the biggest complaint that I heard on that survey was a lack of listening to them. The nurses, actually, one of them commented, I remember the comment was something like, I hope you start listening to us or something like that. And it was like, whoa, you know? And so I’m working with this group and it’s CNAs and, you know, a group of different levels of nurses, the RNs, the LPNs . One of the initiatives we were working on, was they, it, it was uh, to prioritize the patient’s understanding of the discharge instructions. Because what they found was, the readmission was happening because patients weren’t understanding discharge, and then they weren’t doing the right things, and then they were ending up back in the hospital.

Laurie Sudbrink: And so the thing that I heard about the listening and stuff right away, I was just like, okay, we’ve got to get them involved, engaged, right away, so that they feel like they’re a part of it.

Laurie Sudbrink: So instead of going in and telling them, okay, we need to do this, this, this, and this, we got everybody together and we said, let’s brainstorm ideas for this. First let’s back up and say, do you think this is true? Do you think this is a problem, do you think that we do need to work on this in some way? And unanimously everybody, of course it is, of course we don’t want readmissions, of course this is an issue. As soon as they started to brainstorm, it was hard at first. I remember they were kind of thinking of all the things that they’d already thought of and really, going back to not trying to do anything more, you know, it was kinda like, let’s not make this too hard.

But the more that we laughed and had fun and had a really safe environment to be heard, allowed them to vent, we had different, you know, flip charts up. And we had some that were like, this is the venting flip chart. This is the ideas flip chart.

Laurie Sudbrink: And I didn’t do it in a traditional brainstorming where, you know, only good ideas, and you can’t say anything negative instead. We just, we put them on different parking lots, so to speak.

Laurie Sudbrink: And what I saw happening is they were laughing more, they were loosening up and they were starting to feel safe about being able to bring up all of the issues and somebody was listening to them, and somebody was hearing them. And we did have some of the leaders in the room as well so that they could hear all of this.

Laurie Sudbrink: And what they came up with really, was very simple. It didn’t take them a lot, but they wouldn’t have done it. I think they would’ve resisted, had the leaders came in and said, listen, I need you to create a sheet with instructions for these people, and I need you to verbalize this more simply. But yeah, this is exactly what they came up with.We knew, the leaders and myself, what we wanted to see. And we were ready to lead them, but we didn’t even have to.

Laurie Sudbrink: We took a little, little more time probably than it would’ve, probably a lot more time, actually, maybe like three times as much time as it would’ve taken to tell these people what to do, but it, there was no resistance. They jumped in, they volunteered. And so that investment upfront had huge payoffs and dividends later because it was theirs, you know?

Laurie Sudbrink: And they actually went to thisdegree of putting the one-sheet instructions, like colorful and stuff. And then they said, a lot of people are going to lose it, let’s make sure we mail it or email it to them afterward, depending on what kind of communication channel they have. So the whole thing was listening and having them involved as early as possible. Now, they probably should have been involved earlier with this, but we did the best we could with the time that we had.

Listen, Acknowledge, Follow Up

Laurie Sudbrink: So it did take some time to get them to warm up to it. One of the best things you can do is, as early as possible, get people involved and really listen to them. I use an acronym called LAF, L A F. It’s called Listen, Acknowledge and Follow up or follow through. And if we can listen, acknowledge and follow up, that’s the formula that people are going to feel validated.

Laurie Sudbrink: They’re going to feel like, yeah, I’ve been heard. Even if I, you can’t do what they want you to do. Just coming full-circle with that loop helps people build trust and helps them to really embrace, and be a part of the change that’s going to happen.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, it’s interesting. When you go to certain places, I’m thinking about a rental car facility, for example. You know, you go and they’re like, do you want the rental car insurance? And I’m saying, oh, well, no. And then they say, well, I am told that I have to tell you that if you don’t get that insurance, then you know, any horrible thing could happen and you know, then you’re not going to get it, and they put a little fear, uncertainty and doubt in you. But you know what? You also see, you see these blank eyes, these people that are like, they’re telling me to say this, and it does not work for me. This is not how I communicate.

Bill Raymond: And so I could imagine if these individuals receive this message from on-high, maybe they would’ve just asked someone on their spare time to type up something a little bit more wordy, that everyone could use as a template, as opposed to everyone saying, we’re all bought in.

Ask, Don’t Tell

Bill Raymond: And also I love that message that you said where they said they even created follow up messages. So it actually turned into something that they owned as opposed to just this task that they had to complete because someone told them to.

Laurie Sudbrink: Oh, I love how you wrapped that up, because that’s exactly it. They owned it, they felt it was theirs. And by bringing them into the process and letting them feel like they were a part of the solution. Obviously, throughout this, they were seeing and hearing and sharing how it was going to make their job easier. It was all going to help them as well, so it was a win-win-win. But they needed to come to it together, not be told that. And as you and I both know, great leaders ask, they don’t tell. If we’re telling all the time, that’s too easy to resist. If we ask, we bring people along.

All About Empathy

Bill Raymond: I guess a lot of what you just talked about was just empathy, you know, recognizing the people that you’re with and recognizing that they have a hard job and now they’re being asked to do something else. So let’s figure out how to make this easier for everyone.

Laurie Sudbrink: Oh, my goodness, it’s so true. Everybody doesn’t naturally have empathy. It’s one of those things, some people have more of it, some people have less, but it is without a doubt, something we can develop. And so if you find you know, you are somebody listening right now and you’re like, okay, I don’t feel like I have a lot of empathy. There are definitely ways to learn to get more empathy. You know, emotional intelligence is a huge topic right now, and Daniel Goldman wrote a great book on emotional intelligence, just some simple activities like,you could watch TV, you could turn off the volume and you could just try to guess like, what the emotions are somebody’s feeling and then take it to the next level and go, well, what if that were me? How would I feel? And so that’s one little exercise where you can sit and do some people-watching somewhere. And of course, don’t let them know that you’re staring at them or anything, but just try to think about it, be aware of it and then try to put yourself in that person’s shoes. And you can exercise that muscle.

Change Thresholds

Laurie Sudbrink: But when you talk about empathy, I think how important empathy is to consider change thresholds, right Bill, because people have so much change going on in other parts of their lives. There’s just so much we can handle. And we need to understand this about people, right? And change thresholds are going to be different for each person. How much change I can handle can be completely different than how much change Bill can handle. So knowing our people is really important and understanding that there are change thresholds. This is not the only change in this person’s life, right?

Different Levels of Change

Bill Raymond: And there’s probably some steps of change as well, some different levels of change that we need to go through personally and with our colleagues. Do you have any that you might share?

Yeah. In fact, in my book I share the five steps of change. And so I’ll give you the short of it here. And you can use this for any kind of change that you’d like to implement. Say you want to quit smoking or lose weight or get a better attitude or change something in your department or your organization. These five steps are a great roadmap to get there.

Step 1. Self-awareness

Laurie Sudbrink: And the first step is self-awareness. Most first steps are, right? It’s like, what’s going on with me? Where am I right now? So you might have to be aware of my resistance or somebody’s resistance to change, or if I’m the leader and I’m trying to roll out some change, I might need to be aware of what I’m doing or not doing to help this or hinder this. So it’s really about self-awareness at that point. The awareness could come from someone else. Somebody could tell you, maybe it’s your significant other there and they’re like, you know, your, your pants look a little tight there, or you know, something like that and you’re like, wow, you know, and it doesn’t feel good, or maybe a boss tells you something, some feedback. And the awareness is kind of like that, it’s that ability to be aware without a lot of judgment and taking it personally and stuff. Just being objective and being aware is really important at that level.

Step 2. Desire

Laurie Sudbrink: Then we go to desire. That’s the second step. It’s the, “what’s in it for you,” for example, to make the change, right? Why? Why is this important? Sometimes we’re motivated more by pain than by pleasure, so we might need to talk about what might happen if we don’t do it, you know, or what will happen if you do do that? I know for me, I use the five steps of change definitely when I wanted to get healthier in my life. And when it really hit for me, the awareness and the desire was when my dad was passing away of cancer. And I realized at that moment, my real “what’s in it for me,” I wanted to be healthy for my grandchildren. I wanted to be there and have fun with them. That was a real desire for me.

Laurie Sudbrink: Now, a kind of superficial desire that I’d had in the past was, oh, I want to look good. And it didn’t last, I’d go up and down with my weight, you know, that kind of thing.

Laurie Sudbrink: And so we need to find something that is really meaningful for us, that desire.

Laurie Sudbrink: If we don’t embrace that, we’re not going to make the change.

Laurie Sudbrink: So that’s why earlier, when I said, leaders need to help people see what’s in it for that person, see the why behind it, that’s their desire. And it helps them to make that change. So that’s the second step.

Step 3. Knowledge

Laurie Sudbrink: Then we need to know how to do it. That’s knowledge. The third step is the knowledge, and there’s so many places we can get knowledge. We need to find out how to go about this. And you can get people involved in that. We can brainstorm, like the example that I gave. You can find a mentor, have a coach, get a great book on how to do this. You can search the internet for almost anything, just make sure that it’s something that’s valid, reliable, and it works for you.

And that’s the thing with knowledge, there’s so many different ways to lose weight, to quit smoking, to become a better leader. There’s lots of different ways out there. It’s finding what fits for you, what’s going to work for you.

Step 4. Taking the Action

Laurie Sudbrink: And so then the next step, which I find, for myself included, and most people that I work with, this is the one where it’s the hardest. It’s taking the action. There could be a gap there. And the biggest reason that I have found, Bill, is it’s some sort of fear, fear that I have to change my habits, fear that I might fail, fear that I might succeed. There’s all these underlying fears. So it’s important to break it down and set up a plan that’s doable for you, and take those steps and move forward and just keep moving forward and not beat ourselves up when we don’t move forward fast enough. You know, being patient and making sure that we have some way to help us stay on track with that.

Step 5. Perseverance

Laurie Sudbrink: The last step, is perseverance.

Laurie Sudbrink: And of course, we’re going to fall off the horse, right? We’re going to make a mistake, we’re going to trip up. We’re not going to be absolutely perfect. And so that perseverance is about being able to just get back on track, make sure that for example, in a company, you’re trying to implement some change, make sure that you have debriefs and feedback loops and opportunities for people to talk. What’s working? What’s not working? What do we need to do differently and get back on track with things? And so those are the five steps of change. They’re guaranteed to work if you use them. I recommend writing those down somewhere or, I have a resource library. We could always put it in your show notes, I didn’t tell you this ahead of time, but I have a resource library that I’m happy to share. It’s free stuff, and the five steps to change are in that resource library. They’re also in the book as well.

Laurie Sudbrink: If you have this in front of you, it helps you remember. “Make sure I’m aware.” And then, “what’s in it for me?” That desire. How am I going to do it? The knowledge. Take the action and then keep going, that perseverance.

Bill Raymond: Oh, that’s great. Thank you. It’s interesting, I was just thinking about this because, you know, we’re in this time of really significant change right now. First we had the pandemic start and all of a sudden, shockingly, there was more work for everyone to do. In my mind, when the pandemic hit, everyone was going to lose their jobs.

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah.

The Great Reshuffle

Bill Raymond: But for the most part, I mean, yes, I know restaurants got hit hard. I know that there’s a number of areas that were very much hit hard, but you watched stock prices skyrocketed, companies were hiring and things like that. And then there was this sort of great thing where everyone just said, what was it?

Laurie Sudbrink: Well, some people call it “the great resignation”. Is that what you’re talking about?

Bill Raymond: Thank you, yeah.

Laurie Sudbrink: I call it, “the great reshuffle.” I don’t think people are really resigning, I think they’re finding something else.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, and

Laurie Sudbrink: that’s absolutely what’s happening. I was just talking to someone who said that their friends just decided to retire early and open up a hotel. Yeah, it’s not like I’m quitting, you know?

Bill Raymond: Right, exactly. So “the great reshuffle,” I like that. And then all of a sudden, now we have inflation and companies are laying people off. And of course, you and I have kind of been through that. Certainly, I’ve been through the times when inflation was, I was scared. I went through the dot-com bubble.

Bill Raymond: And I just remembered how some organizations handled it over others. I remembered one of the first organizations I worked with, they just said, listen, times are tough, you all need to just sort of either get work done or you know, we’re letting you go.

Bill Raymond: And then you had the other organizations that had this awareness, this desire, this knowledge, and they said, look, we are probably going to have to let people go, and I’m so sorry about that. But listen, we have a strategy. We have a strategy to work through this, and we have a strategy to get out of this, and this is what we all need to focus on. And this is where we need you to put your attention. And that all went up, it went through emails, it got communicated during meetings.

Bill Raymond: And that’s what I think one of the things that I kind of took out of what you shared here was, to go through those steps helps you be a better communicator, but also, we almost call them steps, as in when you start at the bottom and you work your way to the top, they’re done. No, you have to keep going up and down those steps.

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah, you keep looping around those steps. Yes. I love the way you said that Bill, and yeah, it does. You’re absolutely right. The communication and the encouragement and the being truthful, being as transparent as you can be,to gain people’s respect and trust through this, the reality of what’s happening.

Even in the second example that you gave, it wasn’t like, yay, we’re, you know, we’re getting laid off, but it was like, we’re sorry, this is just, this has to happen, but we’re going to do the best we can and we’ve got a strategy, and that gives people confidence and it gives them hope.

Bill Raymond: One of the things that I’ve seen and you probably have too in your 30 years of business, it’s like, you see things turn around, you do see things happen that you didn’t think were going to happen. I’ve seen that so much with change initiatives and early on, when I worked at a company, I remember they were going to have a big layoff and they didn’t want to tell a bunch of people because they were afraid they’d start to, you know, opt out and just disengage and stuff. And they did change their mind and had a good conversation about it and said, Hey, we’re going to do everything we can. And it actually did come back around and they didn’t have to lay off hardly anybody. So it was like, you know, it’s better to have that positive energy and focus and realism. Of course, it’s not all about just being positive, but it’s doing the best you can with what you have, and treating people the right way, instead of your first example, you know. It’s like, buck up or get out, you know. It’s like, no, that doesn’t work. Yeah, people will just be worried about their jobs, they’re going to be angry at the way their company’s treating them, and then they’re going to be so worried about their jobs, that they might also throw other people under that proverbial bus, so that they can stay in their job, as opposed to saying, oh, we all need to work together now and get this thing back on track. And yes, we have the strategy, let’s all work towards that.

Bill Raymond: There’s a whole different way in which your organization will work through that. And I think the best ones and the ones that last, are the ones that care enough about how they communicate.

GRIT

Bill Raymond: We have moved through quite a bit here, but we still need to talk about GRIT. And I really want to get into that topic with you because it is how you framed this entire book. And I’d like you to talk a little bit about that. So maybe what you could do is just start by, if this works for you, identifying the GRIT acronym for us.

Laurie Sudbrink: We’re not talking about the old school grit here and, you know, old school grit to me has two problems. It’s when we’re only focused on being tough, then we run the risk of alienating people, running over people, ruining relationships. And secondly, it’s exhausting. We can burn out. And so that’s where my GRIT came in, and I like to have fun with it and call it “true GRIT.” You know, this is the true GRIT, capital G R I T.

Generosity

Laurie Sudbrink: And so generosity is so that you can give and receive. It’s a feeling of abundance. It’s a feeling that there’s enough time, there’s enough people, there’s enough focus, there’s enough to go around.

Respect

Laurie Sudbrink: Respect is so that you’re mindful and objective about things. You respect where people are, you respect the differences, you respect that you don’t know everything.

Integrity

Laurie Sudbrink: Integrity is so you’re aligned and you’re authentic. It’s not that you’re perfect, but you’re genuine. And we talked about that just a little while ago.

Truth

Laurie Sudbrink: And then truth is so that you know yourself and you accept yourself.

Laurie Sudbrink: And while that acronym is Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth, and those characteristics stand really strong on their own, what I’ve done Bill, is I’ve inverted that acronym and started with Truth because it all starts inside. You know, GRIT, starting with Truth provides the roadmap to creating sustainable change and success without collateral damage. When we start with the truth on an individual level, you could look at, who am I? What are my thoughts and beliefs? What am I passionate about? What are my strengths and limitations?

Laurie Sudbrink: DISC is one of the tools that we use in the workplace to help people understand that everybody has their natural tendencies, strengths, limitations, all of that. It’s a, safe way of taking a look at who I am as an individual, one piece of who I am.

Laurie Sudbrink: So truth, is all about being able to look at ourselves objectively and accept ourselves. And so I just want to say for the organizational level, it would be the same thing, right? It’d be able to look at the organization. Do a SWAT analysis. What are the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats? That would be like the truth of the organization.

Laurie Sudbrink: The next level is going to integrity. Integrity is the action on your truth. So on an individual level, if I say, health and wellness are really important to me, but yet I go home and like lay on the couch and eat Snickers bars all night, that’s not being in integrity, right? I’m not aligned with what I say is important to me. So it’s the action of your truth and it’s not about being perfect, but it’s about doing your best, aligning yourself to what you know is important.

Laurie Sudbrink: If you know you need to make some change, it’s about identifying what are those, maybe two-degree shifts you need to make in your thoughts and beliefs, your thinking, your actions so that you can make that change. That’s integrity.

Laurie Sudbrink: And then respect, it starts with self-respect. Well, if you know, and accept yourself and you align your actions to what you say is important, you already are showing self-respect, that you respect yourself.

Laurie Sudbrink: And it takes self-respect in order for us to really be able to genuinely respect other people. I respect that I don’t know everything about your truth, you know? I respect that people are different, the DISC styles. I respect and appreciate that, and I welcome those differences.

Laurie Sudbrink: Once we have respect for other people, generosity flows naturally. So we’re aligned properly and we’re giving in a way that’s authentic. It aligns with who we are and it takes a lot less effort. We feel more abundance rather than scarcity. So we actually want to have those one on ones and give feedback, because we know we’re helping the person, because we know how important it is. We ourselves are whole enough, our cup is full, “it runneth over.” We can give to other people, you know, we don’t feel like, oh, I don’t have enough time to do that and I’m so stressed out.

Laurie Sudbrink: So when we look at Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth in that way, it results in that sustainable success, that sustainable GRIT. We can keep going because we’re not sabotaging ourselves, we’re really aligned properly in respecting ourselves and others.

Bill Raymond: Yeah, that “sabotaging yourself” thing resonates well with me. this is prior to having listened to your book. You share some really great personal stories in it, but I know that when I was. kind of going through a moment in my career where I just felt like I wasn’t always getting that respect that I thought I deserved. And I started really listening to, this is going to sound horrible, but I’m going to just say it, you know, I started listening more to people that I did not have a lot of respect for myself.

Laurie Sudbrink: Mm-hmm.

Bill Raymond: And I noticed some traits in them that I had, and it was very difficult, and I, you know, I, I, I, I hate to say this because of course, I want to respect everyone, so I don’t want this to sound like, I’m blowing them off or something like that. It’s just, you know, in my head,there was something there that I just couldn’t connect with, and I didn’t feel likeI could fully trust working with them sometimes. And I started to realize they were doing some of the same things I was doing.

Bill Raymond: So for example,I have a way of communicating where, if I’m put on the spot, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is some sort of a joking quip.

Bill Raymond: If everyone’s really deep into a conversation, I always want to loosen the room with a joke. But what that means is that people were looking for me to speak and instead, I’m making jokes. The other thing that I, I noticed quite a bit is, I kind of grew up doing this, having my own self-deprecating humor. And to me, it sounds funny and people laugh and we have a good time, but I noticed other people that were also using self-deprecating humor. You laugh and you have a good time, but then you’re like, oh, I feel so bad for that person, I wonder if they really think that. And I realized that I actually started to get a lot more people interested inlistening to me and understanding what I had to say, and I felt like I was getting more respect when I pulled a lot of that out.

Bill Raymond: Of course, that’s who I am as a person, so I can’t remove it all. But you know, if I thoughtfully do that, I did find that I was getting a lot more communication and getting a lot further in my personal career growth, the areas that I wanted to succeed.

Laurie Sudbrink: Bill, I love that. And thank you so much for sharing that story, because I think every one of us can relate to that. What I have learned myself is, the things that bother me the most in another person are usually something that I’m doing or I, you know, we’re mirrors for each other if we’re really aware and look at that and be honest with ourselves.

Laurie Sudbrink: And it’s interesting when we start to look inside like that and start to wonder, what it would be like if I did something differently? And yeah, you said something important, it is who you are, but it’s also who you’ve learned to be, you know? And so the five steps of change for example, helps us learn to be however we want to be.

Laurie Sudbrink: And one of the important things that we didn’t talk about yet, that I think is really critical, is being able to visualize that future condition, right? So we’re talking about change and say,I want to stop interrupting people and talking over people at meetings. That was definitely something I was guilty of doing to try to get my point across and overpower, because I’m a DI on the disc style, if anybody listening knows what that is, but that’s a type A. I need to first see myself the way I want to be, believe that I can be that way, and then, that’s part of the self-awareness, that visualization.

Laurie Sudbrink: And then why is it important? Well, I want people to respect me. I want people to listen to me. I don’t want people to cringe when I walk in the room, those type of things.

Laurie Sudbrink: And so being able to visualize that, yes, you can be that person and we can learn and unlearn some of the things that we’ve been conditioned to do to protect ourselves in some way, right? I see a lot of people do that with sarcasm, you know, something will get heated up and then I’ve seen leaders do this, managers do this to employees, and have a kind of funny, sarcastic remark where the person is left, kind of like, okay, so I don’t get to talk about this and you’re just making light of it, and now where do I go with this? And it’s very confusing for that employee, they don’t know what to do with it because the manager was uncomfortable. They didn’t know how to handle that, you know?

Laurie Sudbrink: Those are all opportunities for us and the more aware we can be and see what we want to change, the more opportunity we have to do that, right? To me, it’s about changing our thoughts and beliefs first. It’s about shifting that because our actions follow our thoughts and beliefs. And so shifting that, the why behind it is so important because that will give us the energy, the passion to show up every day and work on it and enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be a hard thing.

Laurie Sudbrink: I know that a lot of my worth, especially early on, when I first became a supervisor and a manager, I would work so extremely hard just for that recognition, that acknowledgement. It was like my drug and I probably was a workaholic if you were to diagnose it.

I definitely ruined relationships. I lost a fiance over it, working so hard, and to me, my excuse was like, this isn’t work, it’s a networking event, I love doing this, you know, that kind of stuff.

Laurie Sudbrink: And it really took that pain, I guess, for me to go, all right, you know, I need to really step back and go, what is important to me in all areas of my life, not just one area of my life? And prioritize those areas of my life and then align my actions to that, the GRIT model. Respect myself by doing that, but also respect that I’m going to fall off, I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m going to persevere and keep working on it. And so GRIT definitely helps us to prevent, I mean, the acronym, GRIT, to prevent that collateral damage by helping us really be more well-rounded, look at ourselves objectively and set out to make the change or, or create the life that we really deserve to live.

Bill Raymond: I appreciate all the stories that you shared. We have a podcast called, Agile in Action, why are we talking about all this? Everything that we talked about here means that we get to be better in our careers and we also get to work great together with teams. And that’s really what we’re talking about here, is that every one of us, when we go to work every day, we want to be happy. And if we can use some of these tools and we all do it together, then we can actually be in a better place.

Bill Raymond: No one wants to turn on that computer in their guest bedroom or whatever, and get onto a Zoom meeting for four hours, and just not like anyone that they’re working with and feel bad about themselves. These are the tools that we can use so that we have that better relationship with ourselves and with work.

Tips for Leaders

Bill Raymond: I am curious though, because we’ve been kind of talking a lot about almost ourselves here. If a leader in an organization is listening to this right now, are there some tips, some ideas that you can share that maybe would help them start to take these concepts on in their organization?

Laurie Sudbrink: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I want to comment on the agile in action and the relationship between agility and empathy. It’s directly correlated, and so one of the things of course, what we already talked about, is to work on your empathy, ** **practice empathy, seek out some resources if you need to and get some help with that, because that will build trust and people will be more likely to follow instead of resisting. Get the elephant out of the room. Talk about things, communicate openly. If you sense something is up, if you even have an idea that it’s up, create a safe space for that, share your own vulnerabilities in a way that teaches a lesson and helps people to grow from that.

Laurie Sudbrink: So you don’t want to go in there as a leader and just vent, oh, I can’t stand this change either, can you believe they’re doing this again? You know, that’s not the kind ofconnecting and sharing vulnerabilities, but you might say something like, you know, I know how you feel, I can remember when I, we had this change that was coming down the pipe and, ugh, it was just more work that I had to do.

Laurie Sudbrink: You just “feel, felt, found” and you help them to see, yes, you’re real, you know, you can empathize with what they’re going through and here’s what I found. And you give them some ideas of how to rise out of that. And just helping yourself to be more present with people is huge.

Be Present in the Moment

Laurie Sudbrink: One of the best things that a leader can do is work on being present in the moment for short amounts of time. One of my favorite activities is when you’re brushing your teeth, most people brush their teeth at least once a day, and so when you’re brushing your teeth, try to just stay focused in the moment. That’s practicing presence.

Laurie Sudbrink: Now you can brush your teeth walking around the house. I think of everything when I’m brushing my teeth, that’s not the point here. The point is taking an activity that you do that you don’t need to think about and making yourself be present in that activity. Because what that does, is it builds the muscle of being present. And so when you need to go from a busy hectic day and hone in and listen to somebody and be present, you can turn and you can make eye contact and you can do that for 30 full seconds. 30 full seconds of being present is amazing to a person. That builds trust, less resistance, helps them with change.

Laurie Sudbrink: So I would say the last thing would be, start to have regular, really good quality one-on-one meetings. you do not reschedule these, you treat them as a priority because when you reschedule them, you’re telling people they don’t matter, they’re not as important. So it’s very important to keep a good schedule with this. Of course, it’s going to happen every once in a while, just don’t make it a pattern. And then make sure that we know the person well enough, like their DISC style for example. If you know somebody’s an extrovert and they want to talk a little bit in the beginning, let them talk a little bit. The Ds actually just want to get right down to it. So you get in the meeting with them and you start talking about work and then you end the meeting with, so how is your wife doing, how is Johnny doing with the golf? You know, what’s going on with this? And you make a connection with them and really make it a point to make a connection in that one-on-one meeting.

Laurie Sudbrink: And make it genuine, be genuinely curious about your people. In fact, I have a, a template that I’d be happy to share if you want in the show notes for um, how to have effective one-on-one meetings, Bill.

Bill Raymond: And I’m happy to share that. Yes, absolutely. We can put that in the show notes. Thank you for all of this great conversation. I really had a great time talking to you today.

Closing down

Bill Raymond: And I would like to know if anyone is listening to this podcast right now, and they want to maybe talk to you about these topics, can they reach out to you?

Laurie Sudbrink: Oh, I’d love you to reach out to me and you know, I’m very active on LinkedIn, so I’d love you to follow me there. Feel free to private message me if you feel more comfortable doing that on LinkedIn, and mention Agile in Action Podcast in there, so I know where you’re coming from, because I love to make that connection and relate to you in that way.

Bill Raymond: That’s great. And so that’s Laurie Sudbrink, and we’ll make sure that your LinkedIn profile is on the agileinaction.com website. And of course, Laurie’s website, unlimitedcoaching.com will be on there, and your book, “ Leading with GRIT.”

Bill Raymond: And also you’ve mentioned a few different resources as we’ve been talking, The Five Steps of Change, DISC and a template for effective one-on-ones. We’ll also work with you, Laurie, to get all of that information compiled as well.

Bill Raymond: Laurie Sudbrink, this was a great conversation. Thank you so much for your time today.

Laurie Sudbrink: Oh, thank you, Bill. It’s been my pleasure and I love the work that you’re doing. Agility is so critical and keep up the great work. Thank you.

About the Agile in Action with Bill Raymond podcast

This business-focused podcast focuses on an audience that is passionate about making positive change in their organizations. The podcast presents interviews with leaders and practitioners who work tirelessly to modernize how teams work.

The Agile in Action with Bill Raymond podcast is sponsored in part by Cambermast LLC, an agile consulting firm that helps customers bridge the divide between business and technical leadership to improve team effectiveness.

Hosted by: Bill Raymond

Executive Producer: Reama Dagasan

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