Episode 11: The Intention Imperative with Mark Sanborn

In this episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast, Jenn Dewall talks to Mark Sanborn. Mark is the president of Sanborn and Associates, which is an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international bestselling author, keynote leadership speaker and noted expert on team building, customer service, and change. He’s the author of nine books, including the international bestseller, The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, and it has sold more than 1.6 million copies worldwide. In today’s episode, I am going to be talking to Mark about his newest book, The Intention Imperative: 3 Essential Changes That Will Make You a Successful Leader Today. Enjoy.

Full Transcript Below:

Jenn DeWall:                      Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall, and today I am going to be interviewing Mark Sanborn, and he is going to be talking about our latest book or sees me his latest book, The Intention Imperative. Mark, thank you so much for joining us on The Leadership Habit Podcast.

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, thanks and I have loved my association with Crestcom over the years. It’s gratifying to know that a lot of the ideas I’ve recorded are being taught wherever Crestcom does business.

Jenn DeWall:                      Yes. And we are so happy, and you’ve influenced and inspired so many of the leaders that were participants in our program. And so we are so grateful for what you were able to do to help improve and create stronger leaders internationally. So, Mark, we’re going to be talking your newest book, The Intention Imperative and out of curiosity for our listeners that may not be familiar, what is intentional leadership and how did this become the topic or focus of your book?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, for the past 30 plus years, I’ve worked in leadership development, and one of my goals has always been to write little books about big ideas or to take big concepts and make them easy to understand. And that means that you go to what I call the irreducible minimums. I’ve always been curious and often been asked, you know, what’s the one thing all successful leaders have in common? And for years, I honestly couldn’t answer that because I’ve worked with so many leaders that did it so differently. They had different styles or personalities or approaches, but I started to realize that there was something that all unsuccessful leaders had in common, and that was that they were either unclear about what they were trying to accomplish or they were clear about what they were trying to accomplish, but they weren’t doing the right things every day to accomplish it.

Mark Sanborn:                  And so this got me to thinking about what I have come to call the intention imperative. And that is being crystal clear about what you’re trying to achieve and taking the right action every day to achieve it. Now that sounds very simple, but I’m a big fan of simplicity. Occam’s razor said– the theologian said– make things as simple as possible but no simpler. And that’s what the intention imperative is because there are really only four kinds of leaders. You know, if you don’t have a vision and you’re not taking the right action, that’s really no leadership at all. But if you have a no vision and you’re taking a lot of action, and believe it or not, there are some leaders that just, you know, they’re busy but they’re not focused, that’s what I call wheel-spinning leadership. Now, if you have a very clear vision, but you’re not taking the right action, then that’s enthusiastic leadership because you can see it, but you’re not going to achieve it. It’s only when you have the vision, you’re taking consistent action to achieve it, that you’re really an intentional leader. And that’s really the premise of the book

Jenn DeWall:                      Vision with intention- and you’re right. I mean, we see that all the time within leadership that they may have that vision in front of them, but they don’t necessarily combine that with the intention. And so it doesn’t move that move the needle to where they want to go and grow.

Mark Sanborn:                  It’s a, what I call the triumph of operations over objectives. You know, sometimes we get caught up in what we’re doing, even if what we’re doing isn’t creating the right success. And there are other things that happen. You know, sometimes, a leader will inherit somebody else’s lack of vision. You know, they have a very unfocused agenda, or maybe they get distracted, you know, problems distract us and also opportunities to distract us. When I work with entrepreneurs, one of the biggest challenges they have is sticking with an idea long enough to see it come to fruition. Because along the way, as they’re, you know, implementing these ideas to create their new service or their new product, something they think is better comes along, and they switch gears. So there are a lot of factors that can derail leaders from being both intentional in what they’re trying to do and then taking the right action to do it.

Jenn DeWall:                      I love that response. Just talking about those distractions that can impact leaders. Mark, how do you assure personal intentionality?

Mark Sanborn:                  You know, I wrote the book for leaders at an organizational level- departmental-, it doesn’t matter how big or small your company is. If you’re an entrepreneur, these principals will apply, and I profile five very different companies in the book and proved that point. However, at a very personal level, I created a journal about a year ago called The Extraordinary Living Journal, and every day there are certain sections to fill out, and one of the most important sections each day is what I call the trifecta- and the trifecta in horseracing means you pick the top three horses in the order that they finish. You picked number one, number two, and number three. There’s a huge payoff, by the way, I’m not a horse racing fanatic or a gambler, but there’s a huge payoff if you can, can make that win.

Well, the “trifecta in focus” is most leaders start their day more reactive than proactive. They go in, and they know there are things that need to be done, but the loudest person or the biggest interruption captures their attention. That trifecta is when you write down the three most important things you want to accomplish that day in rank order. The reason you want to rank them is because you don’t want to go for the easy low hanging fruit. You know, maybe number three, you know, you could get done but you never then start work on number one. So you start with your highest priority. If you accomplish that, then you go to the next and then finally to the third. And by being clear on what you’re trying to accomplish each day, you moved from simply being busy to being productive, and you are no longer at the whims of whatever happens because you have a very clear agenda of what you’re trying to accomplish. And that’s what I would call intentional leadership at a very personal level.

Jenn DeWall:                      That’s a great example of something that leaders can do today, right? You gave an example of writing down what is most important to accomplish in a given workday and then prioritizing or ranking that one and two and three. I love that that’s a simple and easy action that someone could do tomorrow as they’re walking into work.

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, I recommend that effective leaders do it every day before they start work. It doesn’t take that long. And by the way, I know right now there are a few leaders going, well that’s, that’s great if you’ve got simple little tasks, but we have these big ongoing projects and initiatives. Well, then you have to use a technique of chunking. And that is where you chunk down the big project into a, you know, bite-sized pieces and maybe the most important accomplishment of the day be meeting with the, let’s say, lead engineer on whatever this new initiative is and getting a progress update. So it’s not about achieving big goals in a single goal. It’s about having consistent chipping away at the stone of procrastination so that you eventually achieve the big project or the big goal and tiny bites.

Jenn DeWall:                      That’s great. How, so we talked about, or you just answered how you can assure personal intentionality, but how do you, how do you assure organizational intentionality?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, it begins with the leadership being clear and then communicating two things. Number one, what it is that the big agenda is, you know, what it is we’re trying to achieve. And then number two, making sure that people are doing the right things to achieve it. You know, very often, we have strategic planning retreats. They often happen in the fall or towards the end of the year, we’d go to an ice offsite, and they hire a facilitator, and he or she helps us produce a 25-page document we make into a PDF and then distribute to everyone on our team, and few people read it. Most people don’t, and then they instantly go back to doing what they did yesterday. In other words, if you don’t refocus your team, you repeat your past performance, and that’s the reason why intentional leadership can fail when it isn’t communicated all the way down to every individual in the organization.

Mark Sanborn:                  We know what we’re trying to achieve, and we know what we need to do as leaders, but one of the jobs of leadership is to get the people doing the work, focused on doing the high priority and the right things and you will always perpetuate past performance. If you don’t refocus people and say, you know, in the past you did this, but if we’re going to accomplish this new initiative, this new goal, you’re going to have to change your behavior and allocate how much time you do these things each day. So that’s how you make sure that you translate it down all the way to the, uh, lowest levels in the organization.

Jenn DeWall:                      I love that. It’s all about that reframe. How do you get people to recognize that strategic goals have evolved and that if they modify their behaviors just in this way, they can better support the accomplishment of that goal? I love that. It’s another opportunity to clarify those expectations for people because that is a place where, especially a lot of the millennials that we happen to work with, they want that understanding of what they’re working for and how their job ties back to that big picture. And so this looks like an opportunity to just really help everyone be intentional into that strategy. Whereas right now, sometimes people don’t always get that opportunity or they may not have that same visibility. So they don’t understand how they influence it.

Mark Sanborn:                  For anyone listening to the podcast and thinks this is maybe not concrete enough, here’s an easy phrase. You’ve gotta go from the what to how. Everybody needs to know what, but then they need to know specifically how if you ask somebody to do some things and they don’t know how to do it, or they, they can’t do what needs to be done, it doesn’t matter how motivated they are, they won’t succeed. So I like to get people refocused on if this is where we’re going, how do we get there? So it’s not enough to know the “what”. You’ve got to also help people with the “how”.

Jenn DeWall:                      That’s great. So, in your book, The Intention Imperative, you talked about three major shifts that leaders need to make to be successful. What are they?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, I think they’re the three most important shifts in a world of work today. And these aren’t just in the US- I would suggest in my work and observations if they apply internationally as well. And the first is the shift from motivation to inspiration. Uh, motivation is important, but it’s not enough. Now here in the United States, 84% of millennials say they’d rather do work that matters than receive professional recognition. And that speaks very loudly to this idea that people want a purpose in their work. They don’t want to just do things and get paid for them. And by the way, motivation provides you a motive for doing something, whether it’s a salary or a bonus or a perk. I say inspiration is motivation to the power of purpose. It’s where you link the motives that you have to the higher calling that your organization serves.

Mark Sanborn:                  I just recently had the pleasure of speaking for a Saint Jude children’s research hospital, their leadership-one of their leadership program commencements. And when you look at what’s being done in healthcare, and then you couple that to how they were able to provide services free of charge to children with serious cancer and how they have over the years dramatically increased the survival and success rate of that treatment. You know, that’s a far more powerful motivator than simply saying, you know, I work in the cafeteria or I’m in janitorial or I do maintenance, or I’m a researcher. You know, we all have motives for what we do every day, but when they’re tied to a much higher calling, a bigger purpose than ourselves, then we’re inspired.

Jenn DeWall:                      Right. And which is what I believe so many people want to feel inspired and that connection with their work so they can feel that their time invested there is that they have that return, and maybe that return is just that feeling of doing something great. Maybe the return is doing something bigger than they ever thought they could. What about the second, the second major shifts that leaders have made from structure to culture?

Mark Sanborn:                  Yeah. There are very few words more discussed in business than the word culture. And there are very few concepts less understood. You know, structure is the shape. Your organization, it’s your org chart. It’s for how things get done. But culture is really the, uh, the at flavor or the style of how things get done. Culture is a combination of everything we think and believe that results in what we do and accomplish. And it’s very pervasive. It covers so many things, but ultimately it’s about having everyone on the same page, not just in terms of the job they do, but what makes the culture, their tribe, their, their organizational membership. What makes it unique? And a lot of organizations today, they have a culture by design. It can be toxic, it’d be positive, or excuse me, they have a culture by default. You know, it can be a, it can be toxic or positive if they’re lucky.

Mark Sanborn:                  But what I talk about in the book are the levers that you use to design and create the right kind of culture. And one of my favorites is that when we hire people, we often only hire for function, but not for culture. You know, if you have three people that you’re hiring for your accounting department, you could just hire on who’s the best accountant. But what if the best accountant is that kind of person that you know, goes against the grain of what the accounting departments about the accounting departments, very service oriented and they’re very enthusiastic. And this hotshot accountant is a very negative person who wants to be left alone. If you hire for function only, you end up with someone that takes away from your culture. And so you’ve got to keep culture in mind, not just function when you hire.

Jenn DeWall:                      So it goes back to that. I think it’s, you know, I’ve heard this a few times before, but just hire for that. Um, I think it is actually from something I learned from you, which is, “hire for attitude and train for skill.” Does that sound right?

Mark Sanborn:                  Exactly. And that doesn’t mean that skill isn’t important, most skills can be taught. But attitudes, very, very difficult to teach. And if you hire someone who is positive and receptive and hardworking and enthusiastic, even if they don’t have all the skills they need to be successful, you’ll be able to teach them and they’ll be able to learn them in fairly short order. If you hire somebody that has the right skills but doesn’t have the right attitude, you’ll never see that person fully engaged and you’ll never enjoy the benefits of those skills. And if you’ve ever tried to, as a manager or a leader, if you’ve ever tried to change someone’s attitude, I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m saying that it’s so difficult and frustrating that most people give it up,

Jenn DeWall:                     Right. It’s time-consuming and you know, it may, they may just cut their losses and either decide to let them go or sometimes I’m sure that they let them stay and then they have that adverse effect or consequence on the team.

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, you know this, there, there are some cliches that are valid. Cliches become cliches because they’re largely true and probably most of your listeners have heard this old bromide, you know you have to hire slow and fire fast, but the reality is most organizations hire fast and fire slow. You know, they’re anxious to fill a slot or a position and they don’t take the best candidate. They take the best candidate who’s available at the time. And then if that person doesn’t Excel or doesn’t do well, instead of cutting their losses, they say, wow, we just, I would hate to go through this hiring process again, the onboarding costs, time and money, we’ve just got this person settled into their role and maybe they’re not doing a great job, but let’s hope against hope that we’ll be able to, you know, to bring them around. So you should hire slowly and fire quickly. But most organizations just do the opposite.

Jenn DeWall:                      That’s such a great line to remember it. For anyone that’s listening to this that does hiring, knowing that just taking your time to find that right fit, we’ll be the best thing that you can do for yourself because it can avoid having to fire someone down the line. So I know I went a little bit on a tangent there and well, let’s go down to that. That third major shifts that leaders make the shift from experience to emotion.

Mark Sanborn:                  Yeah. You know, my friends Pine and Gilmore wrote the book, The Experience Economy. It’s one of my favorite business books of all time. And they talked about how to go from, commodities or products and services, to the bigger picture. And that is how to create the right kind of experience for your customers. And I respect their work greatly. I’ve learned much from them. But in my own work, I’ve noticed that in my mind there’s something even more powerful than the customer experience. And that is, uh, the, the customer’s emotions, how they feel about the experience. And I like to kinda summarize it by saying, make me your goals should be every day and your interactions with customers or clients is that at the end of the interaction they would think to themselves, you know what, I’m happier. I did business with him or her than I was before I did business with him or her.

Mark Sanborn:                  In other words, you’ve created, and it’s a simple, and it’s only one of many emotions, but you create a very positive emotion. Because happy customers, happy clients, they buy more. They’re easier to service. They tell others, uh, you know, good things happen when people have a positive emotional state. The problem is most businesses do not design and deliver or emotion. They design and deliver for experience. Now it’s possible to have a good experience and still not be happy because you might have had a good experience, but it might not have been the experience that you want it. Now. The cynic would say, well then it wasn’t a good experience. Know that the company might have provided a really good experience, but you didn’t leave happier. You left disappointed. I mean it’s like getting a good meal and the food’s really good, but the service is really slow. And so it’s, it’s about how people feel at the end of the transaction, how they feel at the end of the interaction that matters most. And in the book I talk about what are the primary emotions that we should be trying to create. And by the way, this applies to the people that we lead, people that work with us, not just the people who do business with us.

Jenn DeWall:                      What one of the three shifts that leaders have to make, do you feel can be challenging or the most challenging for a leader?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, all three of them. I mean, some leaders will just naturally be predisposed to, to make some of those shifts easier. But I don’t want people to think in a vacuum, you know because I say that culture is the engine. Inspiration is the fuel and positive emotion as the product. So these aren’t just three arbitrary changes. They’re interrelated, are interconnected. And so you really need to look at all three because I don’t think you’re going to inspire your employees at a negative culture. I don’t think you’re going to create a positive emotional response from customers if you’ve got unhappy employees, so they all three have to fit together and the good news is it’s impossible to be perfect in all three, but it’s very easy to improve in all three and that’s what I tried to do in the book. I don’t just talk about what to do. I get very specific how to inspire others, how to stay inspired, which if you’re a leader is a challenge. I talk about how to elevate the experience to deliver positive emotions. I talk about the five levers for creating and maintaining culture. So this isn’t just an abstract. While these are interesting ideas and we’d be good to do this. I talk very specifically about how to do it.

Jenn DeWall:                      And I love that you provide that how, and especially even how to inspire when maybe you’re not feeling inspired because that’s a challenge that yes, many leaders face that some days, sometimes some years are great, but there may be some different goals or events that happen where we start to lose their luster. And it sounds like people could really use this to help to build this up for themselves as well as their team.

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, I think so, and I certainly hope so. And I think people need to realize both emotion and inspiration are not all or nothing. You know, they’re cumulative and we’re all disappointed every day. But what we hope for is that we have more pleasant surprises and happy moments than disappointments. And so we, we kind of net out to the positive side when we do. And even when we make mistakes and serving customers, even though they’re temporarily unhappy in a kind of crazy way, that creates an even better opportunity to make them happy again. So I’m not a Pollyanna. I know that leadership can be and often is very challenging and frustrating, but by doing some of these things, you stack the odds in your favor so that the net balance will be more inspiration and more positive emotion in a better culture than if you hadn’t taken on the challenge.

Jenn DeWall:                      Mark, what do you think are some of the challenges that people have? Like why aren’t they doing this today? Why aren’t they going from motivation to inspiration or structure to culture? What do you think is holding them back from making that shift?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, there’s all this awareness, and that is that most leaders, you know, they’re in the trenches, they’re busy running businesses and organizations and serving employees and customers. What I get paid to do in my work is to think about and to observe and to study and to research what’s going on in the world around us. You know, if a leader had as much time to think and study as I did, they would probably come to similar conclusions. But what I’ve done is I’ve said, look, I’m going to, uh, you know, I work with anywhere from 50 to 60 different clients a year and I’ve been doing that for over 30 years. I’m going to take what I’ve been able to observe and learn and, and teach you. And hopefully when people read the book, they’ll say, you know, I didn’t think about that, but it makes sense.

Mark Sanborn:                  And that’s where you go from lack of awareness to awareness. Then the next thing is, is you’ve got to be willing to put forth the effort. And that means you have only so much energy in the day and you’ve got to design your day in such a way that you’ll know what’s highest priority, what matters most, and what will produce the biggest bang for your buck. And so you’re going to have to think a little bit about, okay, how am I going to do these little things that will make a big difference, uh, because the application is always a little more difficult and challenging than the, than the simple aspiration.

Jenn DeWall:                      Absolutely. I appreciate that. Like that feedback and that just that insight, knowing that tiny little steps. Right. Again, it sounds so easy, it sounds so simple, but it is looking at what are the ways, what are the small actions that we can take to change our long term, our end goal, to actually make a lasting and a long-lasting change. Exactly. What was your greatest aha moment as you were doing research for this book? Did you have any personal aha moments where you’re like, this is it like after you’ve been in this leadership throbbing space for, you know, over 30 years, what was the aha moment for you?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, there were two big aha moments. The first was where the concept of book crystallized. I have four colleagues. We did some, uh, consulting and business development together for a few years. We called ourselves five friends because five of us were great friends for many years. And we, we worked with some, uh, businesses to help them grow their businesses and increase their success. And I’ll never forget. A couple of years ago we were to a two-day meeting in Phoenix and we were just going around the room and asking these business owners and leaders, you know, what are the biggest challenges you’re facing? And it dawned on me that they lacked clarity either in what they were trying to do or how to do it. And I thought, you know, every and there were people in diverse businesses and occupations and, and yet the problem was the same. And that’s when it struck me that this was the irreducible minimum clarity and effort is intentionality.

Mark Sanborn:                  But then the second thing that struck me is I fleshed out these, these three shifts because I flushed out what it meant to be an intentional leader. I targeted five very, very successful organizations. Savannah Bananas, it’s not even a minor league baseball team. It’s a summer college league and their players don’t get paid. They actually stay in the homes of people in the Savannah, Georgia community. And, and they played games against other college teams. And the Savannah Bananas have sold out now 70 consecutive games when most minor league baseball teams have a hard time doing that. And I talked to their owner, Jesse Cole and studied what he did and they say, you know, we throw a circus and during the circus of baseball game breaks out. And so they really understand how these principles apply to entertainment. And then I spoke with my friend Dr. Nido Qubein at High Point University, one of the most successful, fastest-growing universities in the United States today, the premier life skills university in the United States.

Mark Sanborn:                  And I found as I interviewed him, he was doing all of these things that I talked about how the words he used to describe what he was doing rung true and familiar to what Jesse Cole with the Savannah Bananas said, and Salzmann at Acuity Insurance said, or what the husband and wife team of Erica and Steven Johns at this little landscape company in Illinois called Envisioning Green. What they did and what Texas Roadhouse did consistently-  be that the best in category in their restaurant’s space. And it struck me. I didn’t prime people. I didn’t tell them, you know, Hey, I want you to talk just about these three things. I found out that anecdotal evidence very powerfully came together to support the conclusions. Statistical evidence is important. Sometimes it can be misused or it can be overvalued, but anecdotal evidence, this powerful tool would be too, because you get to see what leaders who are doing it day in and day out are doing and how they’re doing it. So it was great fun for me to combine that insight I had working with those business people and entrepreneurs with the observation is that I believe from the very successful in these five disparate kinds of businesses and organizations,

Jenn DeWall:                      Savannah Bananas sounds like a great time. I mean that. I love that. That’s one of your examples. I love the diversity within your examples that as anyone that would pick up your book is able to find those commonalities and ways that different business areas are finding success using these principles and making these shifts.

Mark Sanborn:                  Are you ready to read the book and say, well, that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a small business or that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a service business or that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a manufacturing business. I use this diversity of examples to show how truth is transferable. The truth, the principle doesn’t only how you apply it, whether it’s an academic or entertainment or insurance, or in the restaurant business or the landscape business.

Jenn DeWall:                      And I think your message is so powerful also because it really does. You know, it focuses on that intention, which intention implied gives us meaning. But intention is something that also can take away ambiguity, which we know is one of the reasons that people will leave their jobs if they don’t feel like they understand what’s expected of them. And so I love that you can use these principles to apply it for a plethora of organizational challenges, whatever you may be faced facing, whether that be engagement or whether that be turnover. How else do you think that you’re like, our, our listeners could use your book. How else could it help them?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, intentional leadership then, right? Well, reduce frustration. Uh, reduce confusion and boys’ wondering what to do, why they’re supposed to do it, why what they’re supposed to do. This week was different than last week. One of the signs that an organization lacks intentional leadership meetings often in with big decisions being made that are contrary to the last meetings, big decision. And I’ve served on boards where in the last few minutes of a meeting someone wanted to revisit what should’ve been a, uh, a solid foundational piece of the business. And all of a sudden it was up for grabs. And that translates into the confusion and the frustration, the disappointment that you talked about when people don’t know what’s expected of people, if they had a choice between succeeding and failing, they choose to succeed. Most people do not fail intentionally unless they’re doing it maliciously unless they feel like they’ve been aggrieved and they haven’t been treated well. And then they might try to sabotage the work of the organization. But if you operate from the premise that most people want to succeed, I know I do. You do, Jen. Then the question becomes how do we help people succeed? And this is, this is one book and there are a lot of books, good books are written every year, but this is one book that says, by being intentional, you’ll help people in your organization as well as yourself. The more successful.

Jenn DeWall:                      So this is something for you where up wherever you are, I guess in your and your journey as a leader. And yes, it’s our job as leaders, as managers, regardless of what our position is, is to assume positive intent, to assume that most people want to succeed and that if we’re not helping them get there, it’s not necessarily always the case, that they’re not worthy of it, that they don’t have the skillset, it’s that we may need to try some different techniques to help them be successful.

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, and I don’t write about politics in the book. I, I follow politics closely, but I do not believe it is my calling, nor my brand into that really messy spectrum right now where people are so mean spirited and uncivil. But I will say this interesting. We elect politicians based on what they say they’ll do, but we don’t get to see if they’re successful until after we’ve given them the job. The reality is a lot of political leaders, their intentions to get elected and they say and do things to get elected that may or may not come to fruition after they’re in office. And we as voters have to learn to recognize what the true intentions are of the people who are elected to office. They make promises in advance. We don’t get to vote again for two or four years depending on what kind of office they hold on, whether or not they fulfill their promises. So I would say it’s kind of a side note. Look at what the real intention of someone is and radically in the current political system before liter can try to do anything they have to get elected. So that becomes their primary intention. And regrettably, sometimes a few of them make promises to commitments they’re unable to keep.

Jenn DeWall:                      How do you like, how can we tell if someone is being authentic with their intentions or what type of tips or advice would you get? For someone to determine the authenticity of someone’s intention.

Mark Sanborn:                  I’m married to an HR director and I’ve learned a lot from her and Darla, as I said, you know, past performance is the best indication of future performance. Not, not current promises or current commitment, but past performance. Now it, that doesn’t always mean that past performance will translate into a new sphere. Again, about when it comes to politics if you take somebody that comes out of a, a nonpolitical background that’s been very successful, they may be challenged to learn the political process. In other words, the skills that make them successful in business or philanthropy may or may not transfer right away. But for most business organizations, look at what someone’s done in the past and find out that secondarily how they’ve done it. A, an important nuance is that, uh, you know, nobody achieved great success by themselves. And when I looking at potentially hiring somebody, one of the ways I find out, you may have heard me say this and some of the Crestcom training, if they’re a team player I asked them to describe as something that they achieved, they’re very proud of.

Mark Sanborn:                  And that, tell me how they did it. And then when I listened for is the repetitive use of the word wheat, I’m very leery of the person that says, well, you know, I was the quarterback of the football team in high school and we won the state championship and I threw for more yards, blah blah blah. Because he is basically discounting the other 10 players on the field that enabled him to succeed. So I’m always looking not just for what people have done in the past, but how have they done it? Have they destroyed relationships, have they burnout out others in the process or have been been a good team player.

Jenn DeWall:                      I love that. And it’s a great tip for just how we actively listen in interviews. How does this person provide that example? Are they an I or are they a week? You know, going back talking about the culture and trying to find that right culture fit. It sounds like that’s something that our readers can use that ties right back to the firm structure to a culture mindset or mindset shift that our leaders need to make.

Mark Sanborn:                  Yeah. And I think we need to understand that impressing people is a head game, but influencing people’s behavior game leadership isn’t just about what people think of you, although that’s obviously important as it comes to credibility. Ultimately leadership is about influence and that is our people better because they perform better and achieve more, are their lives better. And that’s really the difference between impressing people and influencing people.

What is Your Leadership Habit?

Jenn DeWall:                      That’s our goal to influence. And I know that you have influenced many people by talking about your book today, The Intention Imperative. I just have to wrap up by asking you the one question that we close every single one of our podcasts with. And that is- what is your leadership habit for success? Or to put it another way? What habit do you do consistently, repetitively, that you think you attribute your success to?

Mark Sanborn:                  Well, that’s a good question because I just wrote a blog and actually recorded a video version of the blog called “Rise Early and Play Fast” and I’ve observed the most successful people tend to do two things when George W. Bush gave the eulogy for his dad, George H.W. Bush. He said, my dad liked to play fast. He liked to golf fast, like drive his boat fast, because he wanted to fit as much into each day as he could. He wanted to get onto the next activity, the next project. And of course, this is one of the great leaders of the last hundred years that he was speaking of. And then my friend Harvey Mackay who wrote Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. He’s in his eighties, and Harvey says, I can’t sleep fast enough. He said I get up in the morning, excited because I got things I want to do.

Mark Sanborn:                  Dr. Nido Qubein gets up at 4:00 AM in the morning, and he reads for two hours before he goes on a walk. That’s how he prepares to go in, into work. So that’s what I do. I get up early, and I play fast. I, uh, I am an early riser. Now that doesn’t mean I deprived myself asleep. I’m a big believer that you have to have enough sleep to be healthy. But I get more done by rising early in playing fast than I do by staying up late and taking it easy. So that’s my favorite leadership habit of the moment. Rise early and play fast.

Jenn DeWall:                      I love that. Well, Mark, thank you so much for joining us on The Leadership Habit Podcast. I really enjoy talking with you today. Thank you for tuning in to today’s podcast episode with Mark Sandborn. I hope you really enjoy hearing all about his new book, The Intention Imperative. To purchase Mark Sanborn’s new book, you can go to intentionimperative.com, Amazon,  or follow the link in our show notes Thank you for listening. Until next time.