Using Power Skills to Develop High-Performing Teams with Dr. Ruth Gotian

Dr. Ruth Gotian is known as a “mentor’s mentor” and she is a contributor for both Forbes and Psychology Today. She has spent decades researching the most successful people of our generation in order to understand what they do when the world isn't watching, that has ultimately put them in an elite class. She has uncovered their habits and practices and I am so excited that you are here today to share these secrets with us.

Inside This Episode

  • The Top 4 Traits of High Performers
  • Why Nurture Beats Nature
  • Key Attributes of High Performers
  • They Key to Creating Momentum
  • The 4 Types Of People You Need In Your Corner
  • Why You Need to Build a Team of Mentors
  • Support Others By Being A Sponsor
  • The Need for Power Skills to Enhance Team Work, Leadership, and Performance
  • The Key Skills for Virtual Leadership
  • How Mentorship Is Changing During the Pandemic
  • The Connection Between Empathy, Loyalty, and Performance
  • Managing Expectations and Under-promising, Over-delivering
  • Developing the Mindset of an Astronaut
  • The Secret To Developing a High Performing Team





John Ryan
You're listening to key conversations for leaders. This is episode number 20. Welcome everybody. In today's episode we'll be discussing using power skills to develop high performing teams with Dr. Ruth Gotian. In this episode, we're going to be covering the top four traits of high performers, the need for power skills to enhance teamwork, leadership and performance and how to develop the mindset of an astronaut and much, much more.

In times of great change, we need great leaders, those willing to step up to take responsibility to create a vision and inspire others to join them in fulfilling that vision. A key part of that is having conversations with yourself and those who lead that's what this show is about better conversations for better leaders. Hey everybody, and welcome to key conversations for leaders. I'm your host John Ryan and today we have a very special guest, Dr. Ruth Gotian, Ruth go town is known as mentors mentor. She is a contributor for both Forbes and psychology today. She has spent decades researching the most successful people of our generation in order to understand what they do when the world isn't watching. That it ultimately is put them in that elite class. She's uncovered their habits and practices. And I'm so excited that you're here today to share these secrets with us. Thank you for being here. And welcome to the show.

Ruth Gotian 1:25
Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited.

John Ryan 1:28
Awesome. Me too. I've been looking forward since we connected. So Dr. Ruth or Ruth or whatever you prefer to be called.

Ruth Gotian 1:34
There's only one Dr. Ruth!

John Ryan 1:36
Oh, I know.

Ruth Gotian 1:39
And I just want to tell you that we have a lot in common, and I've met her and we've discussed this we are both Dr. Ruth we both got our doctorate from the same institution. We both got it at around the same age and we're both bilingual in the same languages. The same two languages, but only one of us is a trainer. Sniper, so your audience members can Google that.

John Ryan 2:04
Okay, I will leave that as a mystery for them to ferret out. That's thank you for clarifying that. We'll go with Ruth for now, I think I'm not sure who the sniper is, and I don't want to get in trouble. So I know that you've been really for the last decade, if not more than looking at identifying the traits and behaviors of successful people. What is it that that you look for and what have you found?

So I have really been looking into these high achievers because I've worked around them for decades. And there really are some things that stand out, which is why I decided to really take a deep dive and look into it. And I have looked at successful physician scientists, Nobel laureates, people like Tony Fauci, who everyone's hearing about now former Surgeon Generals, astronauts, Olympic athletes, whole crew. And they really have four major things that they all do. Now the key is you have to do all of them simultaneously. So it's very obvious. They're all intrinsically motivated. They have found their passion, they have found their purpose, and they go for it. This is what they're all about. They would do it for free if they could. And that's really the most important part, right? Because they always say, when you find your passion, you're never working a day in your life. They are so curious about it. It's not about the Nobel it's not about the award. It's not about the big salary. It's not about going into space. It's not about the Olympic medal. They are so passionate about it, and you it comes through when you talk to them. So that's first, right if you're doing it for a diploma, degree and award you're going to burn out or fail out. So you have to find what you're passionate about and be intrinsically motivated for it. You also have to have this super, super, super high level of perseverance. Which means if you fall in a race, if your experiments don't work, if there is a pandemic, if your funding doesn't come through, if your book deal doesn't come through whatever it is, they realize that those bumps in the road are going to be there no matter what. But there is something on the other side of that. So they have this determination to get through it over and around it under it, they get to the other side, no matter what, right, they are all about actually getting to the other side seeing this as a learning experience. So that's the high level of perseverance. The other is they learn an informal means. So it's all about the absorbing information at this rapid pace constantly, and everyone does it differently based on their learning style. So it could be their reading or those tuna podcasts, but they're also talking to people. They're absorbing information from people and it's not about sitting in a classroom. adults don't usually Sit in classrooms, it's those informal conversations in the coffee break room around the water cooler at the gate at the airport, when we eventually can get back to that they are having those conversations all the time. And that's what's so important. They will get that information from people who are senior to them, Junior to them. And at their level, they are not afraid to get more data more Intel. And then finally, they remember their roots. They remember their core, and they get back to that core every single day. So people like the physician scientists, they are still designing and executing their own experiments very often. They have a whole team but they are embedded in that process. The athletes, they're still doing the drills that you would see in a junior high gym, right, the same skills because those are the basics. Those are the core. So if you have those four things being intrinsically motivated, a really super high level of perseverance learning through informal means and getting back to the basics. Obviously, there's layers to each one, but those four are the big, the top four, the awesome foursome, if you can do that, the awesome foursome,

The awesome foursome, do they have to be there simultaneously, you know, ping pong around? I think what's exciting about that is you put them in operational terms like behaviors, they actually are habits, behaviors that you can do. It's not something that you're born with. So the nature versus nurture, do you tend to leaned on that this is a skill set that can be nurtured.

Ruth Gotian 6:38
This is 100% can be learned because there actually was a difference in the data based on gender based on race ethnicity, based on if their parents were in the same field or not. So a lot of them had that right. They were able to have those career discussions around the dinner table, but a lot of them did not. right but they were still still able to learn it and get to the other side and they you know, were grittier about it. But they had when they found those opportunities, they actually absorbed them. So sometimes they had to work more solo, sometimes they had to work with other people and absorb what they can, where they can, how they can, and they never stopped never.

John Ryan 7:20
Excellent. So what habits in addition to those four right there that you think that successful people do on a consistent basis that separates them from people who are not necessarily the higher achievers, as you kind of mentioned,

Ruth Gotian 7:36
all of these things have various layers to it, right? So one of them of absorbing information from wherever they can and learning by informal means. That means that they also had mentors. They also had a team of mentors, which is why I advocate for that so much. They had coaches, right. All the big entrepreneurs, all the big CEOs, they have coaches and all of them have mentors as well. mentors is for the whole career coaches for a specific skill for a specific timetable. They all have that, because they all see feedback not as a critique, but as an idea for enhancement. And they are craving that so, so much. So they all have those mentors. They all have coaches. They all have long term goals, but they are also focused very much on the immediate goals. What is the next goal that I need to do? So if you look at the Olympic athletes, the goal is not the Olympic medal. First, it's to win in states then it's to get to nationals and it's to get to worlds and it's to get to, you know, Olympic trials. And it's, you know, the Olympics. There's so many goals along the way. So they look at the next goal and what do I need to do to get to that next goal and what am I missing and what do I need to get more of and what do I need to pull back and they all have people around them, usually their peers who hold them together? accountable. And that is so critical, so critical,

John Ryan 9:04
so that the awesome foursome needs to be done simultaneously. Are you also finding that they have like, for example, the athlete? are they thinking about that long term goal and the short term goal simultaneously? Or do they, once they figure out where they want to go to they let go of that long term and only focus on the immediate steps.

Ruth Gotian 9:22
So the long term is far out in the distance. It's, you know, it's it's nice to have there's not a plan for the long term goal. There's no plan to get the Nobel there's no plan, really to get that, you know, go into space, but there are so many things that you can do to set you on that path, because there might be a new long term goal, right. So when you go and interview some people say, Where do you want to be in five years? 10 years? That's a silly question, right? Because the job may not even exist yet. But what is your next immediate goal? That's what you need to focus on. And if you want, maybe the one right after, don't worry about the big, long term. Call because that may change.

John Ryan 10:02
Okay, so immediacy, really because that's where the results are. That's where the rubber meets the road. Would you mind taking a moment in defining the difference? Because you mentioned about the mentors for the entire career, the coaches for specific aspect, how do you look at those two roles as as how are they similar? And how are they different?

Ruth Gotian 10:22
Sure. So there's actually four different types. There's a role model, a mentor, a coach, and a sponsor. So a role model is someone you look up to, even though you may never meet them. So you might want to be a keynote speaker you will go look at on YouTube, who's a great keynote speaker and they're things you may wish to emulate from what they do. Great. The mentor is someone who helps you over your career, they help you you have to come in with a goal and a plan, right? I want to be vice president. I want to be a you know a lawyer. I want to be an associate professor, whatever that is come up with the goal. Come up with the plan. And then the mentor helps you refine that plan. So okay, if this is your goal, here are the things you need to do here are the people you need to meet, and they help make those connections and they help make that happen. So for example, if you're an academia, you want to be Associate Professor, you need to have a national reputation you need to publish, you need to give keynotes, etc, etc. Okay, you need to publish Well, it's hard to come up with a project while on your own if you've never done one, but maybe I can connect you to someone who's working on that. And you can work together with them, learn from them, get your name on a paper, and then you're going to start developing your own. Here's a call for conference proposals. Maybe you want to submit the work that you just did, right? So they will help you do that. Or they take you to a conference, who here Do you want to meet or hear the people that you should meet, to help you hear other perspectives about your goal and milestones to hit and how to go about them. So A mentor really is long term, it's over your entire career coaches for something very, very specific for a finite period of time. So it could be you want to work on your presentation skills, or you have a TED talk, you may wish to hire a speaking coach, or someone who can help with storytelling. Or maybe you want to have an executive presence. Or perhaps you want to get over your imposter syndrome and really get out of that starting gate. So a coach can really help you with that. They can help you develop your leadership skills, because we don't usually learn that in school. And then finally, a sponsor is someone who talks about you when you are not even in the room. They are the ones who are promoting you and putting your name forward for promotions, awards, prestigious committees, all of that stuff. So it's a role model, mentor, coach and sponsor. Ideally, you should have all four they don't all need to be the same person though. Another awesome foursome.

John Ryan 13:00
I'm seeing the connection. I love it. It's balanced. So with those four, they don't have to be the same person. Can they

Ruth Gotian 13:06
be? They can, but they don't need to be. That's a lot to ask of one person.

John Ryan 13:12
Yeah. Oh, no question sounds like they have to be in the room as well if they're gonna be a sponsor, so that mentor might be someone who's not necessarily even in your industry, perhaps someone has been there before, or has some attributes that you the value of that sponsor. And, and even the mentor I in my world and train development, you know, coaching is a big part of that. But sponsoring and mentorship in the corporate world are people is that one of the things that people really need to do more of is actively seeking, mentorship and sponsorship.

Ruth Gotian 13:43
Absolutely. You have to have a mentor you have to have a team of mentors who can help you and the more diverse the team, the better. So you want people senior to you, Junior to you at your level. And you also want them from different industries as well because if you just Have people from your own industry, you're going to have blinders on. Because this is the way that we do it in education or this is the way we do it in medicine. But if you can get people from legal and business and military and education, all of these fields, you're just going to get all these other perspectives. Now, in terms of sponsorship, just like anyone could be a mentor, I don't care where you are on the hierarchy. You can be a senior mentor to someone, a junior mentor or a peer mentor, but you can also be a sponsor. And to be a sponsor, all you have to do is amplify their voice. And maybe you can be junior to them as well and still be their sponsor. So if they published a paper, if they got an award if they had some sort of achievement, if all you have to do is let other people know about it, you can bring it up at a meeting. You could give out a congratulatory remark with the link on social media. You can get your picture taken with the person and say, congratulations, Jane Smith on winning the such and such I know you know your topic. Well. Blah, blah, blah. That's all you have to do. That's all you have to do, and you get their name out there. And if you can do that for people who are often marginalized and overlooked, bonus points to you.

John Ryan 15:12
So almost everyone should be looking Who can I sponsor asking that question? How can I be an advocate for people whose voice is not being heard? And to amplify that from a personal responsibility? Are these is the sponsorship, for example, is that a formal relationship? Or

Ruth Gotian 15:30
no, which is why anybody can do it. Anybody can do it. And I think social media just opened up a whole new world for that. Right? You can just sponsor and you don't even need to know them very well. Right? You can just be tracking their work and say, Oh, this is impressive. This is impressive. More people need to hear about this.

John Ryan 15:49
So in a way on on LinkedIn, I see an article that I like, that's out, hey, it's not getting as much views as it really should get. Let me post it repost it out Comment, hey, you gotta check out this article in a way that's embodying that role of a sponsor

Ruth Gotian 16:05
exactly right and what you did, even if it's getting a lot of reads, you are throwing your support behind it, which also means you're throwing your support behind that person, which now means your whole network is going to hear about it. Now, what's important is if you do that, make sure to tag the author, link to the article or link to the award if you could, or the picture or whatever it is, and make sure you tag it, so it shows up on their timeline as well. And that's how you throw your support behind that person.

John Ryan 16:34
Fantastic. I love that. You just lower the bar of what it needs to do make it so easy and doable that we can do it today. In fact, we should do that. It's whenever you listen, this podcast go sponsor someone today.

Ruth Gotian 16:45
That is right. And that's always my goal. My goal is always to provide actionable tips that people could implement immediately. Because we don't we can't make this a dream because if it's a dream, it's never going to happen. It's too big. But there are things people can do right now. Today, even while listening to the podcast that they can implement immediately and change someone's life,

John Ryan 17:07
in a way you're you're providing mentoring. So we're already implementing these ideas and virtual mentoring, virtual mentoring exactly right. And connecting that mentoring idea and getting that team of mentors, mentees above below at the same level, because that goes back to the original force. And that you mentioned of the third one, absorbing knowledge at the fastest rate you possibly can, which is fantastic. Which is that one of the core skills I know you have this term called power skills. Yeah, people really need to develop to becoming an effective team leader. Can you is this one of the skills or is this a separate concept to what those are?

Ruth Gotian 17:43
Well, so the power skills, you know how people always talk about soft skills? I hate that term. Because soft skills are so hard for so many people. So I'm not calling them soft skills anymore. I'm calling them and someone else I think came up with this. I'm just using it. Yeah, I call it power supply. Because if you can embody these skills, there is no end to what you can do. And this has to do with teamwork. This has to do with leadership. This has to do with communication. I mean, they're all all kinds of things. There's having an open mindset, there's having empathy, there's five, five key ones that I talked about in, I think, in the article that you you're referencing, but that's why I call them power skills, because they really will help you go forward.

John Ryan 18:30
I love that branding. And let's keep that going. Let's expand I want to sponsor that tier. But if you look at the research, you know, as I'm sure you have as well, on emotional intelligence, yes, these are not soft implies weak, these are not weak skills. These are actually critical skills that help effectiveness and engagement and loyalty results, community, all those things really come into play. So I love that branding. Is there anything that You would that comes to mind for you that in your research that people really need to be bringing in, in this environment right now specifically, where we're disconnected, working from home different places, maybe even hybrid in some communities too.

Ruth Gotian 19:14
I think this is the time where empathy is key. Right? What might work for you might not work for me, you could be going through a tough time, I might be doing great. Just because we're on the same team doesn't mean we're going to experience the same thing. So to me, empathy is paramount. Because if you can do that, everything else will fall into place, but you have to have that that key power skill.

John Ryan 19:42
So in that power skill, imagine of effective and empathic listening and really listening to not just what someone says but the tonality. You could probably pick up on how they're doing and I'm guessing you would say if you hear someone else who's not doing well then a pause the conversation Get on that person have that and become a mentor in them.

Ruth Gotian 20:02
Right? So my colleague, my friend, Christopher Littlefield, he actually came up with the concept of whenever you have a zoom, ask people on a scale of one to 10 how are you doing? Right? One is terrible. I can't even get out of bed. I can't deal with another day of this. And 10 is fantastic. Like truly fabulous. And have everyone at the start of the meeting, put in a number. Anyone who has a seven or below as a leader, you need to follow up with them after the meeting. Figure out what's going on. Is the homeschooling too much is being confined at home too much. Are they you know, do they have to take care of elderly parents? Is there someone immunocompromised? Do they not have the bandwidth issues to deal with everything? You know, what is the issue, but have that conversation but if you don't know to have that conversation, then you're just guessing based on what you're making assumptions,

John Ryan 21:04
What a really simple idea to do to get a baseline of where people are at. Because mostly, it can change someone's trajectory during this difficult time. And if it's just a leader led conversation, even if it's zoom, you can't necessarily see everyone's faces. You can't pick up on that self identified number. And plus you're putting on a face. So checking it ahead of time, and then taking that next step of reaching out. And just how can I help?

Ruth Gotian 21:33
Right. And, you know, in the American culture, we definitely separate our home life from our work life. Right? We don't know everything about everyone's family members, we don't know about everyone's living circumstances. So we're making assumptions we really don't know. And here's the opportunity to open that up a little bit.

John Ryan 21:59
Because you're right. separation is gone. It is work life integration for sure. Are there any things that you would think of that mentors should be doing right now to assist their mentees?

Ruth Gotian 22:11
I think the mentoring during a pandemic has to be completely reimagined. So the way we were doing things before is not the way it can be right now. So sometimes, the next goal is not what you can even focus on. And the plan for that goal can't be focused on either. It's what needs to be done today or this week, and how can I help with that? And maybe this is too much for it. You have too much of a cognitive load right now, would you prefer if I reassign that or put a pause on that? Or instead Would you like to help me with something that I am working on? I need someone to help me with this small piece and sometimes those small pieces could really be helpful because there is a sense of accomplishment, but what they have do is just too big and too global and too overwhelming at that point. So it's sort of lowering the bar, but it's sort of just being flexible about it. It's not that you're lowering the bar of the quality of the work. It's the quantity and the rat race that needs to be reimagined

John Ryan 23:20
in his part of the idea behind that, like, obviously, to create momentum and create inertia. But at that point, like you said, bandwidth, there's a lot of stressors everywhere. And if their bandwidth if they're not getting progress towards that goal, then obviously, let's put that on pause. Yes, do what the athlete does, let's focus on the most immediate goal, and also make that goal small enough that there's a sense that I can do this and create that positive win because that's what we need right now. It sounds like

Ruth Gotian 23:48
Absolutely, it's a small wins and you know, just like those athletes, you know, if they twisted their ankle, that doesn't mean they're not working out anymore. They're just working out different parts, right? Right, they're still in the gym, they're still, you know, having the mindset. They're still, you know, reviewing their their past races. But it's just about what can you focus on now? What can you do right now. And at the beginning and the end of all of this is make sure everyone is physically and mentally healthy. Because you cannot do or accomplish anything. If you don't have those bookends, that is what's so critical. So if you know your team is healthy, and the people that they're caring for healthy, then you can work on everything else. And you know what, maybe the productivity will go down. But you will have such loyalty from those employees that that productivity as soon as they can get over this hurdle, that productivity will come right back up.

John Ryan 24:47
You mentioned accountability earlier. And that's what a coach can do a mentor a leader can do as well. Is it different now that like accountability in terms of like heart And hey, you got to get this done by this day. And here are the consequences if you don't like, it seems like things have to shift in that area as well.

Ruth Gotian 25:08
Right? I think they absolutely do. But you know, some things are time sensitive. Sure, right. If you're working in payroll, people need to get paid. Mm hmm. There are deadlines for that, right? That can't wait, that can't wait. But are there other things that are not as time sensitive as we thought it was? And I think that's what this pandemic is having a lot of people do a reset to think about that about what they value what they want, and how they wish to go about it. So the accountability is also to yourself and to others, right? What can I give? How will I hold true to my word, I think it's always best as to over to under promise and over deliver. Absolutely under promise over deliver and if You can do that. You're good. You're good on your word.

John Ryan 26:03
So managing expectations. And and also, when you make that commitment, like you said the integrity, follow through on your word and make that happen. Absolutely. Sounds like you probably also say, if you need help to let someone know early rather

Ruth Gotian 26:15
than later, absolutely, but you can't be that person who's always asking for help.

John Ryan 26:19
Right? Then right, you're not doing your job.

Ruth Gotian 26:23
Exactly, then you then you over promised and under delivered. Now, they're not opposite. So know what you can handle. Make sure you do that. And you know, instead of saying I'll get it by Friday, if you can do it by Monday and know it's going to be a super job, do that and say it's Monday. Okay. Is that a reasonable deadline?

John Ryan 26:41
Excellent part of setting setting boundaries and communication and flexibility. You know, one of the things I love about your work is that you looked across the board, you're not just looking at scientists or athletes, but you know, even as you mentioned earlier, astronauts can can you talk a little bit about some of the insights that you gathered from studying astronauts.

Unknown Speaker 27:03
They are the most incredible human beings. I mean, talk about laser focus, and there's no choice, right? Because if they're not laser focused, somebody can die. So they really put a lot into it. And I spoke to a number of astronauts who spent significant amount of time in space and really to figure out, you know, how did they do that, first of all, how did they get there and how did they maintain cohesiveness and you know, it's very similar to our lives now you're working from the same places you're living. So for them, you remember we talked about intrinsically motivated and perseverance and they are laser focused on the task at hand. They have almost every minute of their life in space is prescribed, but they had enormous training to get to that point, enormous training. And they put together high performance teams and the training was in these really extreme conditions. But they did that because you know, it's train hard fight easy, right? So if you train hard and fight easy, it just becomes that much better. And they didn't complain about it because they knew, that's what they had to go through in order to get to their goal, right, which was getting in that spatial and going out to space. So that was Remember I talked about the bumps in the road, and it's on the way, right, these are some of the things that they needed to do in order in order to get there. So they really focused on everything they needed to do. They were very focused also on separating between work time and downtime. can't really do that even even in space, between work time and down. time when you're with the same people all the time. And when you are living and working in the same area all the time. Well, you can't work 24 hours a day, right? They had very specific lines of demarcation. This is my private space. This is where I sleep. This is where I read, this is where I communicate with my family. And this is where I work. Right? Where they sleep. They didn't do work. Now, one of the one of the astronauts was a commander of the entire crew, she was the first female commander.

Ruth Gotian 29:40
And she said that one of the things that she focused on was, everyone had to eat together. Because if you eat together that really builds the team. So they were not individual people. They actually worked as a team and they realized that everyone brought in something very unique. To the group, and they were something they were a key factor to the success of the group. They couldn't do it without them. So that's what it is. It's laser focused and really a High Performance Team.

John Ryan 30:16
You know, I love your parallel to where we are right now we're teams, we're at the same time we're isolated. Did the idea of introversion extroversion come up in the astronaut work and any tips or suggestions for the extroverts out there right now in the pandemic or going nuts, you know, a little bit,

Ruth Gotian 30:36
Right. So, some of them were introverts, some of them were very much extroverts. The extroverts definitely used humor quite a bit to, you know, to help with the stress of the situation. And I think that that was really great and they remembered their higher purpose of why they were doing this, and I too am an extrovert and The beginning was was kind of tough, right? Because we're so used to being around other people and we get our energy from other people. But I think even as extreme extroverts have learned to work within this environment, so some of the recommendations that I gave for extroverts was have that background noise on. So the extroverts can work in the in Starbucks and in hotel lobbies. And we use that background noise as our white noise. Because if it's too quiet, it's very often it's hard for us to focus. So either have the TV on in the background, or have the radio on or Spotify on in the background or podcast on in the background just where you're hearing those conversations happening, because that will help. You can also have you know, zooms they're not just for work. Now, I don't know that I'm going to give this advice now that we're so many months into it, because I'm coming A zoomed out. But at the beginning, having zooms with friends having zoom with family, not every night, but on some sort of rotation really helps normalize things. So and that's also great from a mentoring perspective. So I have a weekly zoom with this group that I'm a part of. We met at a conference, we only started these, these virtual happy hours during the pandemic, and we just became such a tight group and we're learning from each other every week, which is fantastic.

John Ryan 32:31
Nice. So you find a balance on the zooms as well because people are definitely getting zoomed out. Yeah, as they as they say,

Ruth Gotian 32:38
Yeah, nobody calls each other anymore.

John Ryan 32:41
Though that's been true for a while though, right? But it was and you never you never have to say who is it right? That's right. Because you always if I don't know this number, I'm not gonna not gonna answer it. So maybe we can have some phone calls as well. So get away from the zoom. Go out for a walk. Yeah, man. can go for go for a walk and all those kinds of things. And

Ruth Gotian 33:02
you can go for a walk and talk on the phone with a friend. Correct? Yeah, often what I do?

John Ryan 33:07
That's that's a really good point. Yeah. Excellent. So the laser focus of the astronauts and in their training years, you know, decades sometimes in the making making that happen. I imagine they embody some of the things you talked about in terms of the the goal setting mindset. Mm hmm. Yeah. Can you talk a little bit more about what that is?

Ruth Gotian 33:29
So they had a goal on their mission. And everyone had a very specific job, and they were there to do that job. So I said, well, they told me that mission control actually set out what they were to do, and I think it's, you know, minute by minute hour by hour of what to do and what needs to be accomplished that day. And they said, there's so much work to do. When you're up in space. You don't have time you just you can't let your mind wander. Because you're responsible for this, there's no one else they have their own things that they need to do. So their goal is to really get that done. And they have to have extreme confidence that they're able to get it done. So they've been training for that.

John Ryan 34:15
So competence, confidence, focus, discipline, all those things have got to be there, which I think comes back to the intrinsic motivation. The focusing on the goals, you said, immersion, do they

Ruth Gotian 34:28
know how to work as a team, team, team performance, know how to work as a team and also, nothing's above them, nothing is beneath them. So what does that mean? You have to fix everything yourself. When you're in space. If the toilet doesn't work, you got to fix it. The food gets stuck to the wall because there's no gravity, you got to take it down, right? So you have to do everything and they have nothing's above them. Nothing is beneath them.

John Ryan 34:57
I assume that's important. characteristic that you found with leaders in general is that they're willing to do the work. They're just not a slave to the work at that moment.

Unknown Speaker 35:07
That's correct. And and the other thing is that they do and you see this with astronauts, and you see this with athletes, everything's a competition. Everything is a competition. And it's not necessarily with each other The competition is with themselves. I want to have a faster time than I did the last time I did this, right? If I'm training, if I'm running, if I'm canoeing, whatever it is, but also for the mundane tasks as well. They also make it a competition, how quickly can I unload this? Or how quickly can I set up that? And it's a competition with themselves to do it faster than they used to do it? Are they aware of that game?

John Ryan 35:50
Just naturally is inside of them and what they do, that's right, that's gonna make it more fun and enjoyable to I imagine.

Ruth Gotian 35:56
They're very competitive people. So They thrive on that. I mean, can you imagine if they play pick up basketball with that's like, I mean, it's just because they are just infused with that passion for it. Some people like to live under that kind of they thrive under that pressure, right pressure was a good thing. Stress is a good thing. up to a point, if it's too much, it's debilitating, but just enough actually pushes you to achieve. So for them, that's what they thrive off of.

John Ryan 36:30
Can that level of self competition, if we can call it that? Can that be cultivated in a team?

Ruth Gotian 36:38
Yes, absolutely. So but you need a really strong leader and facilitator to do that. And this goes back to that power skill, right? Because most people don't learn how to do that. Right. I have a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership. I know how to lead teams, but a lot of people you don't get trained to do that. So They have to actually learn that some of them some of the astronauts actually learned some of these leadership and power skills before ever going into space. But that definitely is a learned skill. And I think everyone should learn it.

John Ryan 37:15
I think it makes it more fun. And it gets you back into that constant immersion of growth and how can I get better and connecting to your passion as well? what's what's one thing in dealing with so many leaders that obviously the best the best exhibit, but maybe the average leader doesn't embody what's maybe one or two traits that you think that would be really important for an emerging leader, a newer leader to really sort of focus on to to become a better mentor, mentor, and coach.

Ruth Gotian 37:45
First of all, find someone who can teach you and that could be you are observing them from afar. They're a role model. Have someone you can confide in someone you can learn from them. So even the leader needs their own mentor and their own coach, start with that. Because when you have this soul crushing stress about this team that's dysfunctional, they can help you take the blinders off and find new ways to attack that problem. So that's, that's critical. And I think as new leaders, they also need to really level up their communication skills. So over communicate at the beginning, because people don't know you. They don't know your style. They don't know what makes you tick. They don't know what you like. They don't know what you dislike, so overcommunicate at the beginning, and I would definitely start with that. So I actually I, I teach about leadership development, and we talk about what are the things that the best leaders do? And then the next step of the process is how often Do we see leaders do it? Always, sometimes never. The always column is almost always empty. But the sometimes and then never is way too full. So my goal when we do these leadership development workshops is to get people to move those ideas over to the always column, or as always as possible.

John Ryan 39:21
What a simple metric. It's so true. I love that. You clearly have incredible knowledge and a lot of passion for high performance and leadership. Is there one topic that you feel like is the most important to you and near and dear to you?

Ruth Gotian 39:36
Within leadership? Yeah, I think it's embodying Adult Learning and Leadership together so that we can produce more high achievers, because the high achievers perform at 400% higher rate than an average employee. So we are always focused on developing our pipeline. I'm thinking we need to develop more high achievers And that is really what I focus on on developing those types of people because people have it in them. They just don't know how to tap into it. And leaders don't always know how to get that out of their employees. So that's what I'm hoping

John Ryan 40:13
to do. If I were to understand what you're saying. So instead of focusing on the front end, let's say the pipeline, if you focus on the core, the leadership team itself, that development, that growth, that motivation, the inspiration is going to trickle down. And the impact you have on your clients and your communities is going to be going from

Ruth Gotian 40:32
there. That's right. And don't ignore the high achieving employees in your organization. Because if you ignore them, they'll be gone. So you need to develop them as well and develop them as leaders.

John Ryan 40:46
Well, the 8020 rule, right, so should you focus your attention on developing the top 20% the bottom 80 I think we're kind of getting in that direction and maybe this is too big for this. This conversation.

Ruth Gotian 41:01
Yeah, so I just wrote an article about that very topic. As I just mentioned, high achievers produce 400% more than the average employees. But what happens in most organizations, if you have your annual performance review, let's say on a scale of one to five, if your three your average, you hit the benchmarks fabulous, you're under the radar. No one pays you any mind. If you don't meet the benchmarks, if you're below a three, then they're on you like a rug, right? They have classes you should go to they have a performance improvement program. They have supervisor training, I mean, there there are all sorts of things that you should do. What happens if you get four or five, you blow those benchmarks out of the water. Well, you're ignored again. So what happens is if you're ignored again, then you're not challenged. And if you're not challenged, you're going to leave the organization. So what happens is these high achievers leave the organization, and then the organization is left with, at best an average employee.

At worst or the reality they're left with the duds.

So why not focus on the high achievers and develop them? Right.

John Ryan 42:20
Brilliant. It's so simple Yeah, I mean, otherwise, you're just gonna have a talent Exodus over time, because they're not getting the attention that they deserve as well.

Ruth Gotian 42:32
Which is what's happening. Yeah. Wonderful.

John Ryan 42:36
Doctor, go down. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your passion and your insights. What is the best way for our listeners to get in touch with you to stay connected and stay up to date with your work?

Ruth Gotian 42:47
Sure. So my website is Ruth That's our UTHGT i a n calm and all my social media, LinkedIn, Twitter. Instagram. It's just my name Ruth Gautam,

John Ryan 43:03
Thank you so much.

Ruth Gotian 43:04
Thank you.

John Ryan 43:05
To connect with Ruth. Go ahead and visit her website , or you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter, links will be in the show notes. Until next time, develop yourself, empower others and lead by example.

Thanks for listening to key conversations for leaders with your host john Ryan. If you enjoyed the show, please let us know. Give us a rating or write a review. If you have a question, send me an email to And if you haven't already been stopped by for a bunch of free content and resources.

John Ryan

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

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