Speaker, author, and successful businessman Michael Brody-Waite shares his steps on how to remain true to yourself while leading a company. (Oh, he also has a Ted Talk with almost 3,000,000 views and he is an Inc. 500 Founder).
When Michael Brody-Waite introduces himself he has many impressive titles to rattle off: co-founder of InQuicker, former CEO of Nashville Entrepreneur Center, author, TedTalk star.
But, he never forgets to add ‘recovering drug addict’ to that list.
“If this drug addict can do what I’ve done, anybody can,” said Brody-Waite. “It’s not a testimony to what I’ve done, it’s testimony to what anybody can do.”
Now, Brody-Waite takes the lessons he learned in recovering from addiction to leading a business in his book “Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts”. In this episode, host Elliott Noble-Holt and Brody-Waite dive into why authenticity is essential to leadership and how to focus your energy on what you can control.
Practicing rigorous authenticity
Everyone wears a mask. That’s something Brody-Waite learned as an addict. But, the best leaders need to ditch the facade and embrace authenticity.
It’s much easier said than done. Brody-Waite says many people struggle to lead with authenticity because we’re taught from such a young age to ‘fake it until you make it.’
Becoming our most truthful selves requires a lot of unlearning.
“We’ve been trained to wear masks,” said Brody-Waite. “In a world where we’ve solved so many things, now what we’re really suffering from is a lot of intellectual and mental challenges. And we’re all hiding them because we’re thinking we still have to worry about the cheetah picking us off of the herd and that’s not really the deal.”
Part of leading with authenticity is being truthful about even not-so-great parts of yourself. As a leader, it can be hard to admit any shortcomings. But it’s important to be able to reveal that you don’t know everything — and then put your pride aside to seek help.
“I’m aware that I don’t have all the answers,” Brody-Waite said. “It’s always the process of surrounding myself with like-minded people that share my values. It’s about being willing to share with them my deepest challenges without obscuring them in any way.”
Once you start to behave authentically as a leader, you allow those around you to be themselves as well. In business, Brody-Waite says it’s important to surround yourself with people who are willing to be totally honest with you.
With truthful and sincere communication, you can expect feedback that actually helps address a problem. When you establish authenticity in the workplace, you no longer have to beat around the bush to get the answers you need to succeed.
“By having people around me that are willing to tell me exactly how it is and share my value system, I have the freedom and the safety net to execute things,” Brody-Waite explained.
Surrendering to the outcome
It’s ingrained into business leaders to think about outcomes. But, Brody-Waite has learned that this emphasis leads to a lot of energy going into things out of our control — leading to wasted time and exhaustion.
To avoid this, Brody-Waite encourages leaders to focus their attention on what they can do.
“As leaders, we’re taught to obsess over the outcome. We’re taught to control the outcome. We stay up late at night worrying about the outcome,” said Brody-Waite. “But we waste 50% of our energy on things we can’t control instead of doubling down on things that we can.”
When leading a business, it’s vital to be able to separate what you have control over and what you do not. Bosses should use this information as a tool for decision-making.
By asking “What can I actually change?” leaders can find an actionable next step for problems.
“The manager that has their head on the pillow late at night going ‘God, this employee is really keeping me up at night’ is focusing on things they can’t control,” said Brody-Waite. “The manager that’s engaging in ongoing constructive criticism and performance management, that is focusing on what you can control.”
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