E108: Ed Utley Shares on the Generative Leadership to Thrive Series Episode 1

Ed Utley - Generative Leadership Intro


leaders, generative, companies, people, leadership, coming, Dave, place, trust, important, work, part, started, led, cohort, world, employees, workplace, teams, years.


Dr. Dave, Kayanna, Ed Utley

Kayanna  00:07

Let's talk about it.  Talk, talk, talk, Let's go deep. We all have something to share. KnolShare with Dr. Dave


Dr. Dave  00:14

Thank you for coming on the KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast. This is your first time here, right?


Ed  00:20

It is. Yes, it's my first time. Dr. Dave, I'm super excited to be here. And, and that you I feel honored, you asked me.


Dr. Dave  00:26

Hey, you and I have spent what a year and a half working together delivering some cool stuff. And, you know, you and I have been doing some generative leadership, you know, activities together, right, even with building, you know, a cohort course together, which was really cool. So, I just want to always just acknowledge you and say like, Hey, you know, what, the way you treat people, the way you make people feel, and I know, you hear this, it really matters, right? It makes a big difference. So, you know, kudos to you for being generative in the way you approach other human beings. Yeah, man. Thank you. So let's just jump in, let's jump in, you know, since we know each other, and you know, we don't have to go through a lot of formalities. And so when we talk about generative leadership, and you and I've had these conversations, you know, how does that differ from traditional leadership styles like, transactional leader?


Ed  01:29

Oh, man, it's like, it's different as daylight to darkness. Right? They're like, so opposite poles, that it's I mean, that's all I can really explain it is, is, you know, we've got this traditional mindset, which for the last couple, 100 years, the industrial revolution is kind of how things happened, right? And it was just someone at the top saying, Do this, do it this way, by this time, or else, right. And those leaders, typically, if they had, you know, stockholders, or whatever, they were, you know, they're obligated to obviously turn the profit and make that happen. And that's their number one priority. Whereas generative leadership comes from a whole different place, you know, which we're going to unpack here, which I'm excited about. Yeah, I'm


Dr. Dave  02:18

really looking forward to that. Yeah, those transactional leaders, those authoritarians, who sometimes want to tell us what to do, how to do it, what's best for us? In the workplace? And some people not in the workplace. But let's in practical terms, what does it look like when a leader practice generative leadership daily? What do you look like it?


Ed  02:44

Well, I would love to take the emphasis off of Edie and just say, I'm super thankful for some of the mentors that I've had in my career, through the different industries that I've had the privilege to, to be a part of. And this generative leaders that I've had a chance to learn from mentored by they were people that that they weren't these up and down roller coaster, you're not sure who you're gonna get that day, right? Are you going to get the evil, vindictive leader? Are you going to get the one that changes priorities every other day? Are you going to get that person that's, that's, that's got you, you they understand you, right? It's the kind of person that not only are they visionary, but they deeply care about the people, they don't look at, you're an employee, they say, Hey, you're an investment part of this, we're doing this thing together, they might be out front is the title and, and have that thing, but you definitely feel like you're part of you feel like you're in that place moving with them. And that leader has that ability to set that to set that on how they lead and how they treat the people. And people feel, you know, they feel like they like they matter. Like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. That makes a huge difference. least from what I've experienced and seen through my career.


Dr. Dave  04:04

Yeah, and it does matter, right, in terms of feeling that you people see you and they value you and they welcome you and to, you know, your workspace in the work that you're doing for the organization for your teams. So, you know, generative leadership as it takes work, because that's something that's easy to do. So what are some challenges that that people experience when they're going through this journey of maybe transitioning into being a generative leader?


Ed  04:39

Oh, man, it's I'm here again, I think you're gonna plan on unpacking this over time period. But it's, it's such a it starts with this mindset, right? And it's, it's about really, as a person trying to kind of like look inside yourself and say, as a leader, what do I see myself as what's important to me what's valued? We'll be on just making money in a profit. Where do I see myself fitting into this bigger place that we call Planet Earth? You know, about several billion of us all share together? And where's my place in, in making this a better thing than I found it as, right? Where can I play my part in that? So I think it starts with this inside reflection on yourself, and then starting to look outward and say, Okay, now, how can I, so maybe I seek out people that are doing that thing, leaders that have been have already set that trail for me that I can learn from, you know, ask get coached, it's, it's, it's really, I mean, because I would think is the way leaders are today, and a lot of them get ousted out in places because they didn't hit a certain objective or whatever. It's trying to find that balance. And Dr. Dave's as you know, with the different experiences you and I have had working in different companies. There's the, you know, everybody says, they've got this culture, and then you and I've gotten into these places where it's like, oh, wow, they say this thing, but they're really not doing this. Right. And, and in a lot of places, I can see it being very hard for for those leaders to really be able to do that, just because maybe they're being held by a board of directors that that are given them much room to be able to focus on other things besides just turning the profit. Was that was I off on that? Or?


Dr. Dave  06:25

No, no, that's great. Because, you know, to follow up is that when things when when the train is coming off the tracks, right, and the wheels are coming off the tracks, that, you know, that's where you start to see sometimes people start shifting from the generative way of leading and, and falling back into being transactional falling back into being authoritarian. And so that's a challenge, right? And it's those leaders who are able to push through who stand you know, with the wind blowing in their faces. And you know, and everyone has gone abandoned abandon, and they're standing there, no, no, I'm going to care for my people. I'm going to help them to get better, we're going to move things forward. So yeah, yeah, of course, brother,


Ed  07:18

kind of real life example. Back in 2020, when this COVID Craziness hit the world and everything kind of shut down. Nobody had ever seen anything like this, right? We've been on this planet for a bit of time. We've never seen anything like this. And everybody's trying to figure out okay, what do we do? Well, the organization I work for the our CEO, a guy name Curtis Hite, you know, we had just all of a sudden, all of our major customers were all these giant companies were being effective, like Trent, like airlines, and cruise world, I mean, just technology companies, all these things. And they're just stopping spending and all these things. And so instead of our leader coming and just be like, we just got to cut heads, he came out to, you know, a couple 1000 old employees and started doing these weekly, kind of like, open conversations online, because everybody was at home, and just start saying, Hey, here's what we're gonna do. very open, very honest. We don't know, obviously, you don't have a crystal ball, where this thing's going. This is the things we're doing. This is what and so much so that because of the vision he laid out, and coming from heart is a good person, that a huge percentage of people inside of the company, reached out to him and said, Curtis, cut my pay, cut my pay, take money out of what you guys pay me so that we can help these other people in the company that right now they just lost their billable job, because I don't want to see them get cut. And it was such a huge outpouring. But it started I think, because of where his heart was, which is we want to stay in business, obviously, yes, to continue to fight another day. But it was a place that he came from genuineness and openness. And I think that that really kind of gave a lot of us at the time I'm building a house. Dr. Dave, as you remember, that's a really bad time to be building a house. And I just started that. And I'm like, Oh, wow, I might not have a job. We might not, you know, we might be under a bridge or whatever. But the case was is because of the way he led from that place of generative leadership. It gave this piece and it wasn't just a bunch of words. This was action that Ben followed up. And it was powerful. It changed my life.


Dr. Dave  09:36

And I remember you telling me that story. And I'm so glad that you're sharing it here with our audience. When we think about the organizations, how do organizations stand to benefit when leaders adopt a generative approach?


Ed  09:52

Well, here again, I think it changes everything, because it comes from that person that starts with a base of trust. Right. And trust is kind of the basic human element that all of us have to kind of form a thing on that we either trust or we fight or flight, right? Or we interact or we don't. And so that leader building that trust coming from heart coming from these things, it changes the way I think, then the way the culture runs, right? Because then they start to set up their leaders, and less directing them and start including them as partners, or respecting them that they have the abilities. And that just starts to trickle down, down to a lot of the places were you and I deal with Dr. Dave, which is around, you know, teams, you know, highly, we're trying to build these high performing teams, because that's where work gets done and executed. That's kind of like the, obviously, it's the most important part of a company, whatever it is trying to build that product, right. And so having those people that are high performing, why do we get high performance? Well, it's a whole bunch of things, you know, but it's it, it's an alignment, that they believe they trust, that they have the abilities and they've been given that room to succeed, and leaders above them, support them to do that. Right. And that goes all the way up to the C-level. And you know, that old saying attitude reflects leadership. I think that's a huge place that is so powerful to me when we talk about gender of leadership is, is it the people at all lines of the business, they feel like what they're a part of the not just gathering here for a paycheck. They're like, here, heart and soul, this thing's a part of them, they take it personal. It's not just oh, I'm here for a job. And I think that's the whole difference with a generative leader, and especially in you. And I've talked in the past about engagement of employees, right, and the problem there, and half a trillion dollars a year is lost to companies. I think we've discussed because of employees feeling disengaged. And that goes, Why do they feel disengaged? Well, maybe there's some leadership that it's not generative.


Dr. Dave  12:00

Yeah, I can completely concur with that. But also, when we look at, you know, leaders having some levels of challenge to just to walk in this way, you know, how can lead us to develop generative leadership skills? Because it takes work? It really does. It takes a lot of work to get there. So give me your insights on that. Oh,


Ed  12:25

how do they get there? But I think it comes from, you know, how they approach you know, again, back to what is a leader, right? Is it? Is it about giving directions? Or is it about helping people around them become better people, right, investing in those people looking for building creativity in an organization, not just what they can offer. It's providing some kind of grounding in and source of those leaders, they become very aware and formed by, you know, just different things around the organizations without having to feel like they have to be controlled or right. And, you know, it's just that their ease with themselves. They know who they are. They're not continually trying to get their own ego out there, that they're the leader. It's, it's from a place of humility, right. It's that the leaders eat last, it's been comfortable saying that servant leadership is I want to serve I want to make people eat taken care of, I want them to have everything they need to succeed. Right? Yeah.


Dr. Dave  13:33

I love the reference to Simon Sinek book. Leaders eat last. That's that's a really important perspective to take. But also you, you know, what are some tangible things that you've done to develop your generative leadership skills?


Ed  13:50

Oh, that's been a journey of a lot of years. And I don't know if I ever even in the past until you and I started, really, you started working on start educating me and help me understand, oh, generative, right. And coming from a place of abundance mindsets, and things like that, which which is, is changing another one of those things change in my life and, and how you look at things as a leader. And I think it's starting to ask yourself those questions, you know, do I come from a place of seeing life is good and abundance? And do I see goodness in people? Or do I come from a place of scarcity where I see, you know, I gotta get what's good for me. I got to take care of me first, and then we'll see what's left for other people, or I got to get to the top of the hill, and I'll knock whoever I got to do to get to there. I think it's me asking those questions. What kind of person am I? And what kind of person have do I want to become? Right? And I think that's for me, that's been the journey that along the way isn't like 52 years is, is asking myself, am I the person I want to be? Am I becoming that person? What thing is about myself, could I do better? Right? It's it's having, it's having friends like you that are able to speak into my life and reflect, hey, here's some blind spots you might want to think about, you know, not not out of making me feel bad, but actually helping me. Because, yeah, I can only see one thing in the mirror, right? I can't see. I need someone to help me with with these. I got a lot of blind spots.


Dr. Dave  15:22

Yeah, it's just being that the honest, open transparency that we all need. As you're working with upcoming leaders, and I know you do work with them, you know, what advice would you give to them to aspire them to be a generative leader?


Ed  15:41

Well, I think it depends on the kind of the personality of that particular person, where if you're dealing with, I've seen leaders where they're just like, Hey, show me the data, show me the data that says that, if I become this thing, it's going to impact maybe my bottom line, right? So there's those people that say, Yeah, businesses that have high trust, they are 24% more profitable, because their people can innovate quicker, and they can get things out to market faster, versus companies that have low trust, you know, take longer, and it cost him more to get things to market. So those kinds of people, you can come from that place and lay a case for why those things are important. There's other people where it's just like, hey, where can I begin? And maybe it's just with, well, here's some different books that could be helpful as Simon Sinek. And some of the other great stuff out there that that is available, it's it's, you know, recommended to them, maybe they get involved in some kind of a leadership cohort of some sort, that they're getting a chance to meet leaders, from different industries, different companies outside of their own. So they get a chance to hear different viewpoints around with those struggles of those people, and then learn something from that, that can be another powerful way that they can step into things. It can be, you know, coaching them along, as far as so what do you see yourself doing as far as leadership next year? Or in five years? Or, you know, what do you see? What do you think you could do as a leader? To make a difference to be to make something larger than yourself? If that makes sense?


Dr. Dave  17:20

Yeah, it makes sense. I was thinking when you said, Show me the data that was thinking to show me the money? Yeah, show me the money.  you know, thinking of Jerry McGuire, you know, yeah, trust badge. Trust is important, right, that that's a thing that helps to reduce, as they say, that tax that limits innovation. Yeah. can I share an example. Yeah, of course.


Ed  17:49

back a couple years ago, at a finance company, I was working, doing some some coaching with one of the vice presidents, they're kind of working through some of this stuff with him. And what an amazing guy, he was just, he had all the characteristics when we talk about of generative leaders is the humility, coming from a place of now smart is anything, being able to be that visionary of creativity, but also, you know, heart equals amount of hearts, and then also the hands of trying to get his team's to believe in themselves and give them everything they needed. And so it was really, it was so fun, just to watch him. truly embrace this and dislike, jump on top of it, it was like, oh, man, yes, I want to know more about this. I want to be that person, you know, and his heart and the way that he led his team, he had such high respect from the people on all the different teams. Because he had established with them, hey, we're all in this together. It's not that, you know, yeah, I have some responsibilities that influence different things with your career here. But I'm coming from a place of I want to see the best in you. And my job here is to make the best out of you, I can for you to be better, obviously, to help them build great stuff, but to just be a better human being. And that was so fun for me to get to see. It wasn't just his words, it was like he was hungry. He was hungry for information. And I would just like the more I could get him, the more he would just gobble it up. And that was fun.


Dr. Dave  19:24

Man, that's awesome. That's awesome to see individuals grow and make progress, you know, in life and just in their journey, right. So when we start looking at the evolving dynamics of the corporate world and societal shifts, you know, how do you see the role of generative leadership, transforming and in the coming years?


Ed  19:50

Yeah, that's, that's a great. That's a great question, Dr. Dave, and that's one that I know that you've ponder a lot and we've had great discussions around. You've got Awesome insights, I can't wait to hear you know, you, you weigh in on this. But when you see that today, especially when you look at Gen Z and the other gens there that are coming into the workplace or in the workplace, they have they, it's so powerful for them, it's not just hey, I want to make a paycheck, they want to make a difference in the world, they want the world to be a better place. And so they're looking for companies that they can go bring their talents and resources into to partner with, that are companies that are also looking for these things, right. And as we move into the future, I think the companies that the ones that least that you can see today, that innovate the quickest, the ones that are getting the best products out on the market that people are utilizing, or come from companies that are generatively led. And you see them outperforming. And I don't mean just numbers of sales, but I'm saying just in the way that that people talk about that company, man, it's a place you want to be a part of, you know, it becomes like this contagious thing, you want to be a part of that thing. Because something special is happening in there. I think that as we move even further in the future, that's going to become even a more powerful force, not only out there in the marketplace, but for attracting really good talent, really good people that are that are coming along now. Well, you'll have to if you if you want to be succeed, and really take your company somewhere, it's almost like gonna be me, you're gonna look and be like, Oh, you're like most companies from the 1800s, you know, you told someone on an assembly line, just to push a button, and nobody's gonna want to go work at a place like that. Right? Yeah, those companies will struggle, I think, to stay in existence. So that's how I've been taught, and I think it is.


Dr. Dave  21:47

But yeah, I think it's rather important for us to, to lead differently and create the wonderful space for people to thrive, for them to be able to bring their great talent to the workplace, because that's what we're paying them for. Right? We're not paying him just to be there. And for us to tell them how to do stuff. We want to make sure that they bring those great skills that they have to the forefront as well. It's really important.


Ed  22:12

I love how Simon Sinek talks about how the end of the day, creating a world where at the end of the day, people leave work, coming home feeling fulfilled, happy, which then allows them to be better, you know, partners, better parents, better people in their in their communities. From feeling what you just talked about it their workplace, having that that where they work matters, right?


Dr. Dave  22:37

Yeah, for sure. Hey, but um, anything else you would like to share, you know, a breath of wisdom that you would like to share with our audience, about generative leadership? Ah,


Ed  22:54

I would say it's one of those things that it sounds real nice. And as I talked about, it sounds kind of like Fluffy, fluffy bunnies. And just especially if you're not in that. But I would just say, to just start, again, start your walk as far as looking in the mirror, asking yourself, what is you know, having your purpose, right? I've a friend of mine, many years ago, asked me if I had a statement, my own purpose, why statement? And I'm like, a why statement? Yeah. Why would you Why statement. And I'm like, anyways, I'd to think about that. And so I wrote this one, and it's mine. And you write your own, inspiring others to unleash their superpowers to bring light to the world. That's my thing. When I get out of bed in the day in the morning and put my feet on the ground, it's What can I do? Not that I can do it for people. But what's a way that I can inspire? Or help somebody to see something? Maybe they don't see in themselves, right? And then what can they do with that to make the world a better place. So I would just start to say, maybe ask yourself those questions, and then start reading around some of these topics. And just look, again, look for some kind of a cohort or something that's not even necessarily maybe inside your company, but something outside of that, I know, there's, there's some good resources out there. I know a guy that I'm kind of talking to, and he might even have some good opportunities and some things that can be super helpful there too. So it takes courage to it takes a lot of courage. And I'm not gonna say it's easy. I spent a lot of years in, in an industry, automotive industry where most of that was not generative leadership, most of that and at that time period was very traditional command control. And, you know, times that I brought up these kinds of concepts back then, I was basically told Yeah, if you want to do that, you need to go off to like Silicon Valley or something because that doesn't fly here in this industry. And, and so it takes courage. And sometimes it may even They require you to evaluate the place you're at and say, Is this the place? I want to be a leader? Is there a place that kind of aligns more with my values and my purpose in what I want to do in the world? So you never know.


Dr. Dave  25:13

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for, for sharing those great insights, you know, you and I get together, we could sit on the phone for hours talking about a lot of goodness, you know, about this world. So, you know, thank you for coming on the KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast. And, you know, I just look forward to us having more generative conversations.


Ed  25:37

Absolutely. And I appreciate you inviting me Dr. Dave. It's, it's truly, I'm humbled. Thank you. Of course.


Dr. Dave  25:44

So if I didn't invite you who who else would I invite?


Ed  25:49

You've got a long list of people that


Dr. Dave  25:54

I know my friend. Good. So we'll talk soon. Sounds good. Take care. Yeah.


Kayanna  26:10

We all have something to share. KnolShare with Dr. Dave