Cracking the Code of Leadership

with Alain Hunkins

Alain Hunkins helps high achieving people become high achieving leaders.  Over his twenty-year career, Alain has worked with over 2,000 groups of leaders in 25 countries. Clients include Wal-Mart, Pfizer, Citigroup, General Electric, Microsoft, among many others. In addition to being a leadership speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach, Alain is the author of CRACKING THE LEADERSHIP CODE: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders, which was endorsed by leadership luminaries Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, and Marshall Goldsmith. A faculty member of Duke Corporate Education, Alain’s writing has been featured in Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, Chief Executive, Chief Learning Officer, and Business Insider. 




TEDx Talk 

Book: CRACKING THE LEADERSHIP CODE: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders

Inside this Episode:

  • Can you really “Fake it ‘til you make it?”
  • The Importance of Performing as a Leader
  • Why only 23% of employees think their leaders lead well
  • How We Inherit Our Leadership Style
  • The Need to Get Out of Industrial Age Leadership Practices
  • The First Step to Cracking the Leadership Code
  • The Future of Leadership
  • Why Organizations Need to Become More Human-Centered
  • The 3 Secrets of Effective Leaders
  • Why We Need to Start with Connection
  • The Difference Between Knowing and Doing in Regard to Empathy
  • Embracing Emotions in the Workplace
  • Overcoming the Bias of Self-Affirming
  • Why Leaders Need to Actively Manage Perceptions
  • The Real Business of Leadership
  • A Powerful Question to Ask to Transform Your Culture

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John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 43. Welcome everybody. In today's episode, we'll be talking about cracking the leadership code with the land pumpkins, we'll be covering why only 23% of employees think their leaders lead Well, the three secrets of effective leaders and the real business of leadership and much, much more.

John Ryan 0:24
Leadership is about vision. It's about creating a vision and sharing that vision with others in a way that inspires them to walk with you towards its fulfillment. Along the way, leaders encourage motivate, guide and even challenged people to bring their best each and every day and it's all done through conversations. That's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders.

John Ryan 0:46
Hey, everybody, and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host John Ryan, and today we have a very special guest, Alain Hunkins, Alain helps high achieving people become high achieving leaders. Over his 20 year career Alain has worked with over 2000 groups of leaders in 26 countries. Clients include Walmart, Pfizer, Citi group, General Electric, Microsoft, among many, many others. In addition to being a leadership speaker, consultant, trainer and coach, Alain is also the author of cracking the leadership code, three secrets to building strong leaders, which was endorsed by leadership luminaries, Jim kouzes. And Barry Posner and Marshall Goldsmith, a faculty member of Duke corporate education, Alliance writing has been featured in Fast Company Inc, Forbes, Chief Executive chief learning officer and Business Insider. So welcome to the show Alain great to have you here.

Alain Hunkins 1:36
Thanks, john. I'm really excited to be here with you today.

John Ryan 1:39
Thank you. I wanted to start by asking, you know, what really originally sparked your interest in leadership?

Alain Hunkins 1:46
Hmm, great question. So for me, john, you know, I think I first got interested in leadership because I was a high performing kid, you know, and it seemed to me that, you know, as I got more into wanting to do more around performance, that leaders made a difference. And what I found over time was in, you know, all the research is backed up on this, too, is that leaders don't just make a difference. You know, they really, they are the difference in terms of people's ability to stuff. And so it was around being a high performer, it was also had to do a lot, I grew up in a really mean, I guess, while getting real personal pretty quickly here. I grew up in a unusual household, I'll say, so I grew up in New York, that's not unusual. I grew up single mom, not unusual, raised by my mother, my grandmother, my mother, my grandmother are both Holocaust survivors. And so that trauma of that experience, totally impacted how they lived and how they raised me. And I was very aware of that, as I went off to school, having a remember that little nursery rhyme like one of these things is not like the other one. Right? So what I found was home was very different from everywhere else. And so for me, getting interested in how do we form leaders create culture, right, that's what leaders do, I mean by who they are, and what they do. And so for me, I was trying to make sense of these different cultures.

Alain Hunkins 3:11
And I think I've been trying to make sense of how culture and the different dynamics that cultures operated in, and how leaders impact those dynamics. I think I've been trying to make sense of that ever since that's what led me really into studying human psychology, I studied theater for a while actually went to graduate school and acting, so which is holding up the mirror to your own behavior and learning how to play a character and take on whether it's the physical or the vocal mannerisms, another character, so really getting into the interest psychic and interpersonal aspects of what it means to get things done. And that then took me into organizations. So it kind of an odd way to get to where I am. But that's everyone's got their own story.

John Ryan 3:54
It sounds like a winding path. Like many of us, so many of us go go down. How important do you think is because a lot of times you look at leadership, we try to think of the external behaviors, and you're mentioning the mirror and the introspective and interest psychic, you know, factors, how important is the mindset piece versus the behavioral mechanical piece?

Alain Hunkins 4:16
Very competitive both To me, it's in both hands, right? So it's funny because when I was an acting school, there's two major approaches to thinking about becoming a good actor. There's this inside out or like the method acting approach, right? This whole idea of like, understanding the characters, psychic biography and where they come from, and then being able to connect with the emotions and then there's the whole outside Ian approach, which is much more about you know, get the right shoes and the costume and start to walk like the character and inhabit from the outside in. So for me mindset is that inside out approach, right, so understanding that and the other side is fake it till you make it right, which is just act as if and just take on the behaviors because that's going to inform So to me, the end answer is yes, it's a both and

John Ryan 5:02
I love it. Can you can you fake it till you make it in a leadership role? Does that really work?

Alain Hunkins 5:09
Oh, I love that question. Yeah, you know, can you fake it? I think that leader in terms of faking it, you know, maybe faking it is not the best way to describe it, I think you do step in with a certain sense of, I don't know exactly how this is gonna work. I don't know exactly what I'm doing. But I trust that I have enough to make this happen. So I don't think it's necessarily you like, Oh, I'm gonna fake this because it's not about me being an imposter, much in the same way that when people would talk to me when I was acting, they say like, Oh, so you're just really good at fakery? Like no actors are actually keen on being authentic and studying, how do you become more authentic?

Alain Hunkins 5:50
Now, it's interesting, because we do it in a completely contrived environment, right? There's a script. So I'd say with leadership, you don't have the same kind of level of script. But what you do have is we are on we are performing the fact is all the people that you lead are watching you, and they're wondering what to do because they're taking their cue off of you. And so how do you understand you need to inhabit this performing art? Because it isn't just, you know, the email that you send, it's every single little, you know, we're all familiar with the idea of the employee or the customer experience, right? All those little touch points, say something about you and your brand as a leader. So how do you want to show up, it's really for you to figure out?

John Ryan 6:37
Well, I love that you bring in that idea of authenticity. And that's probably a better way to say that, or at least in this context. And of course, we've all seen good acting, we've all seen bad acting, we've seen good leaders, bad leaders, use that and found in your research that 20 30% of employees feel that their leaders are actually good leaders. Why is that number so low?

Alain Hunkins 6:58
Yeah, shocking. 23% of people think their leaders are effective. I think the number is so low is because crappy leadership is tolerated. Let's face it, because in most hierarchical organizations leaders are they're on top of the chain. And for most people to call out bad leadership would be seen as a career limiting move. I can't call it right. So I have that feedback. But I don't share that feedback. And leaders are in a position of, well, I have the job, I have the title, I'm going to pay myself what I want or give myself whatever perks I want. And if you don't like it, don't tell me about it. And so that we basically don't call leaders on it, they don't ask for the feedback. And so things keep hanging out in mediocrity until it's too late, which is why I think we end up with this 23%.

John Ryan 7:55
So that power of the position enables that lack of effective leadership skills to continue. How does that trickle down throughout the organization? Does the next generation say well, now it's my turn to do those types of things as well?

Alain Hunkins 8:09
Well, yeah, so nteresting. And I'll bring this up through a story because that I think about like, the fact is, there's still so much even though we'll say that, you know, the industrial age has been over for 50 years, there's still so much Industrial Age type leadership that is going on. And all this brings us to life with a story that happened to me that I think really epitomizes this. So I've got two kids, my son, Alex is 16. My daughter Moran is 13. So this all happened about 10 years ago, they're six and three, and the two of them as kids or do or want to do, they're in the living room, and they were playing getting goofy and getting really loud. And I have to confess, john, I got a little bit triggered. I walk in the room without even realizing it. I go over to them and say, Would you to stop behaving like children? I'm telling you this story for children. Number Number Number one, I realized that is a completely ridiculous thing to say to a couple of children. But the real reason I'm telling you this story, john is because when that happened, I was in shock, because the words came out of my mouth. And if you had this experience, the words come out of my mouth, and I realized those words, would you stop behaving like children? I said the exact same words that my mom used to say to my brother and me when we were kids, right booth like I just parroted this. And I think it's why I bring this up. Because why do we lead the way we do because we copy the behavior good or bad? Unless we stop and question it and really work to change it. We end up replicating what we know. And yes, we talk about leaders needing to be different. And being able to connect with empathy and to communicate with clarity and collaborate with a sense of purpose. And people get that in conception. But if you've never seen it modeled, it's really hard to do something that you've never seen and you haven't experienced which is why I think there's still this huge gap between what people desire in leader in the workforce and what's actually happening.

John Ryan 10:04
So that introspection and the willingness to do that, right, that seems like that would be the key. If the the top brass, the top management are doing that, that's going to create a culture of questioning and improving and sharpening the saw, as it were. And also, you're saying that the nurture part. So the fact that we come from an environment, maybe we heard it from other people, other leaders, and we adopt that ourselves just intrinsically? Can you also unlearn what you learned from those environments? Or are we stuck with our leadership skill set that we have?

Alain Hunkins 10:34
Now? I totally think you can unlearn it, and to unlearn it, right? So it takes it starts with self awareness, right, which is the first baseline competency of emotional intelligence. So self awareness to me, you got to look in the mirror. And let's face it, the challenge with looking in the mirror when we are adults with egos, and if we are corporate professionals, like but I'm I'm I'm Look how far I'm an executive vice president, versus looking in the mirror and being willing to go, yeah, you know, what, that part could use some work. And not just like, with the growth mindset, as opposed to a it's not so good. This is the part you know, if people are fixed, have that fixed mindset, they tend to look in the mirror and they shut down. Like, I don't want to look at that. We're like, I'm fine the way I am. Goodbye. Versus, Oh, that's interesting. You know, I always like to think of you know, do remember Star Trek, the original Star Trek with, you know, Dr. Spock looks like fascinating. Like, to me, it's like, how can we have that curiosity of fascinating about ourselves and our own journey, as we are continuing on? So yes, it definitely old patterns can be unlearned, and new patterns can take their place. And it takes a level of humility that is rare, which is why I think the numbers are still so low.

John Ryan 11:55
In your book, you know, cracking the leadership code, you talk about how things are changing, that the old rules of leadership really don't apply. So I think you probably know, by 2025, it's predicted that 50% of the workforce is going to be millennials. Is that next generation? Are they more willing to have that humility and look inside then? Then? older generations?

Alain Hunkins 12:17
I think so? Absolutely. I mean, I love what I'm seeing with Gen Y, Gen Z in the workplace, in that they grew up. So here's the first thing that changed is that they grew up in a world where showing up to work and someone saying, well do this because I said, so they're like, excuse me, who are you like that doesn't that was never part of the equation. Back one of my clients is one of the big four consulting firms. And like, historically, in consulting firms, the business model was you hire a bunch of smart people, and they call it churn and burn, right? Like they knew they worked really hard for a few years. And that would be this trickle attrition effect, they'd work them 6080 hours a week, just they'd be on the road doing these engagements. And then some would stay and they'd get promoted. But what they found was when the millennials came into the workforce, I'm not going to go work for you, I have no interest in working 60 or 80, to get ahead, to get a corner office and be like you in 30 years free, I'll move in with my parents again, right, I put up with this. And so the equation, they basically suddenly supply and demand, the supply of the employee changed. And so they have started to change.

Alain Hunkins 13:26
So many things that we talked about now in the work in the workplace, such as being able to bring your whole self to work, like what we're doing around diversity, equity and inclusion. And what we're doing around emotional intelligence, or what we're doing around mental health in the workplace. These were conversations that were so on the fringe 15 years ago, that are now completely mainstream, which thank god this is happening, because it's, what it is, is we're realizing we cannot pretend like we're living in an industrial age, we're living in an age where we need to humanize the workforce. Because if we think about what what is knowledge work, it is around solving problems, because if it can be outsourced or automated or digitized, it probably already has been. So what's left is essentially human work. And so for humans to perform human work at their best, that knowledge work at their best, they need human centered organ organizations and cultures that support their own humanity.

John Ryan 14:28
So in that, that human work, we really need to get down to the brass tacks of what it means to be a leader. And you know, of course, in your book, you talk about the three secrets to being an effective leader. Can you share with us you know what those skills and those secrets really are?

Alain Hunkins 14:41
No, they are secrets. No. Yeah, I can tell you for sure. Yeah. So this is it. This is the core to me, the core of human centered leadership comes down to these three secrets which are connection, communication, and collaboration. The fact is connection is all about adding Core leadership is a relationship between two human beings. So first you have to connect. And then once you do that, how do you create this this communication? How do you create shared understanding, and shared understanding is so critical because it becomes the platform on which we take all future action. And then once we have that shared understanding, then we can move into that action, which is collaboration, what are we trying to accomplish? And what are the best ways that we can work effectively together to achieve the outcome that we are saying we want to work towards? So it's connection, communication and collaboration

John Ryan 15:35
in your work and working with people in the human work that we're doing? Where do let's say existing leaders and emerging leaders really get stuck in terms of the the connection, the communication and the collaboration? Where's the biggest sticking point for them?

Alain Hunkins 15:49
Oh, it's everywhere. But I'd say the biggest I mean, one of the biggest sticking point, like let's start with connection, right, so, because I think, and I put these in this order for this reason, because each one sort of transcends and includes the next right, so yeah, you really can't communicate until you've connected. And you really can't collaborate until you've communicated and connected. And they're all interdependent, right. So I'm not a, it only fits this way, kind of model guy. That being said, I think connection is so critical. And I think, where so many of us and I include myself in this fall short. So, and I write about this in the book as well is that one of the keys to connection is building relationships based on empathy.

Alain Hunkins 16:32
Right? So an empathy I define is showing people that you understand them, and you care how they feel. Now, we can all sit here and listen to this and go, yeah, I get that that's human, that makes total sense. But the studies would say that, you know, 92% of CEOs say my organization is empathetic, however, 50% of the employees in those companies look at the same CEOs and say, No, you're not. Right. So there's this gap, right, the big knowing doing gap. So what are the things that get in the way of us, for example, being empathetic at work? Well, one of the biggest has to do with showing people that you care how they feel, actually takes patience, right? And you think about, I mean, how many organizations have things like drive for results, or bias for action as a prescribed core leadership competency? We don't have empathy, slowing down and listening to people when you need to listen to them as a core competency. It's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. And so what ends up happening is we get what we value and what we model.

Alain Hunkins 17:37
And so yeah, the fact is, part of leadership wisdom is you got to know there's a time and a place to go fast. And then there's the time and the place to go slow. And we need to have the wisdom to know the difference between those two things. So that is an area that people fall short. And as well. And the other thing is, I think a lot of people just really aren't comfortable with the full range of human experience. And the fact is, when we are working with people, 810 hours a day, five days a week, they're going to bring their full range of human experience to work. And we can't just go up like, no, that's not like, for example, emotions in the workplace. Now, I'm not saying that we're going to be group therapists, but for example, going through the year 2020. How are you doing today? Like, maybe fine, I'm fine. How are you? isn't the right answer, right? Because that is just the placeholder for can we not talk about this, that mean, we're not really going to talk about real stuff. And what people are seeking, in a place where they spend the majority of their waking hours is they want a sense of purpose, they want a sense of meaning. And if we can't provide a place for, for them to be genuine or real, they put up this mask and by the way, Deloitte did this study a few years ago, and that 61% of American employees feel the need to put on some kind of a shield or a mask to cover themselves because they don't feel safe being fully themselves. Now, what does that say about us? And look, john, if you had two different job options at one company a and Company B, let's say similar work similar pay but one was a place where you felt safe or comfortable being fully yourself and just couldn't relax more into that would you choose a Overby? I mean, it's a kind of a no brainer question. Right? No brainer.

Alain Hunkins 19:22
Yeah, no, right? No brainer. So these are some of the issues that we deal with when we're trying to become better connectors communicators and collaborators

John Ryan 19:32
You're so right about the values and no one says let's slowing down and let's let's talk about our emotions as part of our values for our for our company. Isn't there also a bias to think that everything's fine from the top down? Like you said, he talked to the CEO Yeah, I have an empathetic organization. Don't we have a self affirmation bias to think that we're operating at that level?

Alain Hunkins 19:52
Oh, we totally do. I mean, we have self affirmation bias about so many things mean we another great studies like you know, 85 percent of senior managers and above say, Oh, I am definitely I tell people, and I'm grateful to them on a regular basis, and only about 20% of employees are saying that they receive gratitude from their higher ups on a regular basis. You know, and I think this speaks to the human condition of, we live such a rich life internally. It's like we have these feelings for people that we haven't told them that. And we somehow think that because we feel this, that they must somehow imbue this, that there's this osmosis that goes on. And, you know, I think leadership lesson number one, is understanding the gap between intention and perception. The fact is, when it comes to relationships, it isn't about how I totally believe that as a leader, you want to be caring, and that in your heart of hearts, you are caring, and you're sensitive and thoughtful, and you're emotionally intelligent to yourself, in your own mind.

Alain Hunkins 20:59
However, intentions are not reality. intentions are what you say. But you know, it's how do people perceive you. And then as leaders, we are in the managing perceptions business. Now, I'm not saying we should try to game the system and be something that I'm not, but I need to not judge myself through my own lens, I need to actually get real time valid, accurate feedback from the people I'm leading, and then base my leadership strategies on how's it working for them? Because ultimately, I'm in the service business, right? Because when my people are thriving, I'm doing great. And if I haven't figured out a way to help make them thrive, I'm falling short in my role.

John Ryan 21:43
It seems like that's the the tricky part, I would imagine is getting that honest feedback from the people that you are serving, because of because of the mask issue that you you talked about other any suggestions, or just just take time and developing that relationship and the connection, like you said, going to the three secrets, to create that kind of relationship where there's authenticity and honesty?

Alain Hunkins 22:05
Yeah, it's it's more than time to? Yes, yes. And it's more than time, because the key to get that feedback is that people will only be as vulnerable with you as you model for them. So if you want that feedback, you need to go first, you need to say, Hey, you know, john, I am working on being a better listener. I've gotten that feedback from other people. So I'm wondering, is there anything specific that you have for me that things you see that I'm doing, and also I would appreciate, if you notice something that I'm doing that I could be doing differently? Or even things I'm doing? Well, if you can bring that to my attention, because I really want to work on that. And then it's up to me, actually, to follow up with you whether it's in a few weeks or a month or two, a john, have you noticed any difference, and I have to be vigilant about my own learning and development.

Alain Hunkins 22:59
And because when I do that, as a leader, I have totally just flipped the hierarchy and noticed that in this conversation, because suddenly, I am now asking you to be my teacher in some ways and say, Hey, john, I'm not perfect. I'm not as good as I like to be at this. And so many people who are in the hierarchical higher up role, are uncomfortable with going low status, because they think it's somehow speaks like I if I do that, how am I going to be seen, they're going to think I'm no, there's this weird, weird belief system, that somehow when you got to this role, that you're now perfect. And you're supposed to be able to do everything like this, all these confusing mixed message. I mean, we could spend hours unpacking the threads of how twisted these messages that so many of us have. Because I mean, I think a lot of us get them in our initial organization that we're part of, which is our family systems. I mean, I don't know about you, but I can count on one hand, and this is a generational thing to going back to Gen Y and Gen Z. You know, I can count it. I'm a Gen Xer, I can count on one hand the number of times that my parents would actually apologize to me about something like it wasn't like parents apologize to children. But like, what, I don't apologize for it. But now, that is not the way I certainly raise my kids, like know if I screw something up. Because it's seeing people as people as opposed to these roles that we play, like I'm in charge, you know, I'm the daddy. That's why I mean, that motivates people about that much, right? Not Not too much. Right? And we're like it's I would say is like what you'll get at best when you tell people that you have to do something, at best, you will get compliance until they don't have to, like if it's kids, it's teenage years, and then you have rebellion. Right when you have employees, then it's Oh, better job offer sia, I'm out the door. Right? Because what is what is the compelling reason for me to stay? Unless you have one? I'm not going to stick around.

John Ryan 24:56
I love the idea of servant leadership. I think it goes the idea of the difference. Between, like, as you're saying that compliance versus real commitment. And it sounds like love the empathetic relationship and bringing in the servant leadership conversations actually not only increases connection, but increases of course communication collaboration, which really creates buy in, how do these strategies, you know, impact motivation and loyalty? Oh, and it's

Alain Hunkins 25:25
the amazing thing is that we, you know, we talk about all this stuff, and for me and the research in the book, and I've gotten, you know, 30 pages of footnotes was, this isn't just some kind of Kumbaya, nice thing to do. This is what actually delivers results. If you look at like, let's say, trust, for example, you know, Watson, Wyatt did this study. And they compared low trust organizations to high trust organizations. And they looked at the over time total shareholder return, right, so this is profitability, turned out that the high trust organizations outperformed the low trust organizations by 286%. Right. So these are stunning numbers. So, to me, if we think about the reason to do all these things, and then how we ultimately collaborate effectively, it boils down to understanding what are the most important elements to be present for people to get their human needs met.

Alain Hunkins 26:20
And so the way I see it is when basically, there's four basic human needs that we all need to have met in a workplace for us to be able to perform at our best, we all need to feel safe, both physically safe and psychologically safe. We all want energy, we want a place that energizes us, you know, we don't want to sit through three hour horrible death by PowerPoint meetings and just fall asleep. Right. So their safety, energy, we all want a sense of purpose, that what we do matters, that we connect to that purpose that it's bigger than ourselves. And the fourth thing is that we all want a sense of autonomy or ownership, that I have some freedom to do what I want, in the way that I do it. And when you have those four elements together, boom, it's like lightning in a bottle. And so I think, as leaders, we have to recognize, looking at if you think of the principle of design thinking, What am I doing to design the workplace environment? I'm not just speaking physically, but I'm thinking about kind of the whole psychological cultural environment. What are we doing to design cultures, so that people are getting all four of those needs met? in huge amounts? So they go, Oh, my gosh, no, I am a big believer when I talk to people I say, so you know, whether I'm coaching leaders about their businesses, or individuals and saying, Okay, what is it that you offer, that when people come away from this, they go, Oh, my gosh, this is so good. I can't imagine not coming back for more.

Alain Hunkins 27:48
And so as a leader, what are you doing to create a workplace culture that is so good, that people can't even imagine leaving because it's, they're getting something that they're not getting anywhere else? And whether you know, if we think about for example, being super present with somebody else, you know, if you go to coaching school, one of the key competencies from the International coaching, Federation's is presence. Well just think for a moment, how many times in the course of a day when you show up and have an interaction one to one with somebody else. And it could be even on zoom like we are right now. But like, you're like right now, like john, I can tell you are very present and locked in on what I'm saying. Like, I can count the number of those in the course of a day on less than a hand usually, or summons that present to me. So are you able to do this as a leader, and these are skills, you can cultivate, you can cultivate your presence, you can cultivate your connection skills, your communication skills, your collaboration skills, there are things you can do to make these better, so that people net net come out going, Wow, this, I wish I had more of this in other parts of my life, so that people keep wanting more. I'm a huge believer that no matter who you're leading, you're leading volunteers. And if you had that mindset, that I'm leading a group of volunteers, how would that shift things for you? Because you know what, people are volunteering, their volunteering, not just their time, but they're volunteering, their effort, their energy, their discretionary effort, their levels of engagement, their willingness to say good things about you people volunteer all of that every day. So it's important for us to consider how would I think about my role differently versus Oh, I'm the boss

John Ryan 29:34
Yeah, the volunteer perspective is a game changer because you because it is it's a they are volunteering their time and energy and it goes back to the idea of the employer value proposition I love the year like they're the customer you're trying to figure how do we make them want to come back? You know, when get wings in Wayne Gretzky so famously said that, you know, he focused on where the puck is going now where it is to be successful. Where do you see things going? Five to 10 years. From now along this path, because I think this totally makes sense. I think this is absolutely where we're going as a culture.

Alain Hunkins 30:05
Yeah, I think what we're gonna see, you know, people are asking me about this with especially coming on the heels of 2020. And how, in some ways the future of work isn't the now of work now. It's like the future is here. I think what we're going to see moving forward, is we're going to, you know, technology will continue to move, whether it's in leaps or increments, and it's certainly here to stay technology is not going away. One thing we're going to see moving forward, though, is the workplaces that do well are the ones that were can reprioritize to the point where they're able to take technology and have it be in service to humanity, rather than the other way around. I think a lot of people still I talked to people who are just buried in, you know, every day is getting through three, four or 500 emails I get, it's like, I'm an email processing machine, like, how do I like how do you get off of the hamster wheel of feeling like you are a slave to your technology?

Alain Hunkins 31:00
I think we're gonna see people being much more, you know, with, as we're seeing now with remote work working from home, is that people are going to be focused much more on a results only work environment where we're not going to be these clock watching, like, why are we watching the clock that is an industrial age mindset, you should be paid for the value you create, and the results you're delivering, not for the hours that you spend, I think we're going to see more transparency around salaries. And now as people share that stuff, and talking about value, there's just a lot of things that are going to shift. And fundamentally, what's going to stay the same, I think are the core human principles, you're going to still need to connect, you're going to still need to communicate to create understanding, and you're going to still need to collaborate, I don't think those things are going to change a bit, I think they're going to be dressed up in different clothing. As we move forward. You know, you know, for example, engaging and facilitating a live training is different from facilitating zoom training, but there's certain principles around ownership and engagement and purpose and keeping things moving and interaction that are exactly the same. It's just using the technology as an intermediary. And so some of that's going to be different. And some of it's gonna be the same.

John Ryan 32:15
You know, for all three of those, you know, connection, communication and collaboration, you know, like in key conversations, we believe that the conversation is one of the fundamental tools for creating change. Can you share with us, you know, what's a conversation either personally or professionally, that may have had a big impact on you, personally, or your career?

Alain Hunkins 32:32
Wow. So early in my career, I was volunteering for a not for profit that actually focused on leadership development, which is ironic, ironic, as you'll hear in the story. I've been a volunteer for three years. This is in New York City. When I was living back in New York, I was in my mid to late 20s. And I've been there for three years. And the executive director stepped down. And I thought, Okay, I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring. And I've had to step up to be the new executive director. But you had to get voted, there was an election by all of the active members of the not for profit chapter. So I thought, I'm a shoo in for this job. No one else is going to sign up for this. And it turned out one other guy signed up, this guy named Gary and Gary was an I've been around three years, I've done a ton of stuff. And Gary was new. He had come from the construction industry. We've been around for about four months. And I thought there's just no way he's going to get this. So it's now election night, and we show up and the votes are all cast and the ballots are all counted. And I quickly hear they say, Oh, yeah, final, final vote count 33 to six. My first thought is yes, I crushed it. And it turned out in a moment, second, it was actually Gary that got the 33 votes, and I got the six. I was devastated. I was like I How did this happen?

Alain Hunkins 33:43
So I'm just completely blown away. So the conversation I want to tell you about was the conversation I had with Gary, about a month later after I could lick my wounds enough to go meet him for lunch. And I didn't know Gary that well. And I kind of half jokingly said, So did you expect to get all those votes? He said, Of course I did. What do you mean? He said, Yeah, I went around, I talked to people I actually met with people one on one, I meet them for coffee, or just meet, meet up for lunch and say, first to get to know them, and just ask why they've been involved with the organization. And then ask them what their vision was for moving forward, why they liked it so much, and what they would change if they were the executive director. And then I told him, I'd be running and asked if they would support me. So basically, Gary had had this whole thing planned out and he asked people for for the votes. So the things I learned in that that conversation that shifted me One was that first of all, leadership is a relationship. It isn't an idea, right? Because I've been living in this idea world of Oh, I of course, again, we talked before about the gap between intentions, my intentions were I was awesome. But no one else has been seeing me in that way. So Gary had reached out and connected and communicated and collaborated with all these people.

Alain Hunkins 34:57
And the other thing that I learned from that too, is You know, all I've done good work over the three years before, but I grew up with a mindset that good work should speak for itself. And you shouldn't go around and market yourself like, like that's, that's, that's being too braggadocio. And just you don't do that. And something I learned from Gary in that is that part, as a leader, you also have to be a good marketer. I'm not saying sleazy, I'm saying, good, like, just letting people know, and, and dropping things in along the way, so that you stay visible. And I think that's just important for your own brand is How do you stay visible? Because it is amazing. And especially in this remote digital work from home world? How easy it is to be out of sight, out of mind. And so how do you stay top of mind and let people know that you're available to help them and to serve them? So that is a story in a conversation that definitely impacted the rest of my journey.

John Ryan 35:52
Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing that, Alain. What's the best way for people to stay in touch and find out more about the work you're doing around leadership and the other programs that you're offering?

Alain Hunkins 36:02
Yeah, sure, probably the easiest place to find me is because my name is a little tricky to spell is go to the book website, which is is spelled exactly the way it sounds that'll take you right to the book site that connects to my way, main web page as well. While you're there, you can download the first chapter of the book and have it a preview. It's very story driven, and fun. And then also, that'll connect to the rest of my website. And I'm doing all sorts of interesting things right now, on throughout 2021 and beyond. I'm offering these 30 day micro learning 30 day leadership challenges which take a lot of these principles and apply them in an asynchronous online format in just five minutes a day. So there's all sorts of information there. And people can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And because you've listened this far, you are now part of the end of the podcast Club, which means if you have any questions and want to reach out to me directly, I'm going to share my direct email address which is, and I do respond to all people who are now part of the end of the podcast Club, which you can also put on your LinkedIn profile that you're part of my end of the podcast club club.

John Ryan 37:11
So cool. Cool, actually, with your permission, I'll put those links in the show notes as well, for those who are looking to find those nuggets. Thank you so much for being here and sharing all your wisdom and so excited to have you here. And thank you so much,

Alain Hunkins 37:23
John. Thank you. My pleasure.

John Ryan 37:25
Excellent. And for those of you listening and watching until next time, develop yourself empowering, listening to key conversations for leaders with your host john Ryan. If you enjoy the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. And if you'd like to connect with me and other like minded leaders, I invite you to join our Facebook group called Develop, Empower and Lead where I deliver free live training every week. If you go to www.developempowerleadcom It will redirect you right there. Hope to see you there soon.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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