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Things To Think About Podcast Transcript

The Cat Came Back

Stacy Casson 00:02

Welcome, everyone to the Things to Think About Podcast. I am so excited I have a special guest for you all today. Joining me is Kevin Steele. Kevin is known for providing authentic international leadership. So he's on a global stage, and helping design effective global support strategy. He has been tireless in cultivating efficient international support programs and valued customer experiences for over 20 years. So Kevin is obviously a child genius. He is a big picture thinker, a detailed tactician, he even knows Power BI, (I am so excited about that) is a transformative presence in innovation driven change agent focused management styles and solving problems. And I know Kevin for his incredible kindness and empathy. So welcome, Kevin, to the program.

Kevin Steele 01:05

Awww, thank you for the excellent man you just make me feel welcome.

Stacy Casson 01:11

Oh, thank you. Well, I think that's good, because some of the things that we're going to talk about today and try and solve together is helping people with the idea of how can I help? I think when I met you, that has always been the focus. And I think as leaders, sometimes it's really challenging, thinking about, when should I help? Why should I help? Am I enabling through help? So help sounds nice on the surface, but it can have other connotations to it.

Kevin Steele 01:50

I think the other thing is people's perspective, I think even leaders perspectives of leadership sometime means I'm supposed to be the one making the decision and telling people what to do. But you don't you only get as far as you can see, by saying what you're going to do if you're not talking to your people and saying how can I help you? What do you need? And it isn't just about what do you need to fulfill the mission of the business? It's what do you need to be fulfilled? To be safe? To be... I don't know happy? How can I help? That's that's the question. I ask people. How can I help? Because if they're in a good mood, man, they'll it's just sum it up by that often quoted, if you want to go far, or if you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far go together. But you have to be talking to people and asking that question of how can I help?

Stacy Casson 02:50

Okay, I love it. So this podcast, we usually have a story format. And we talked about a curious cat. So this cat works. Maybe it works in in the forest. It's a it's a wild cat. But everybody likes this cat. It's, it's a savvy cat out there and people like to talk to the cat in the woods. And the cat has been trying to deflect sass and snark, that's been happening in the workplace. So currently, in this situation, there's been a communication breakdown with the other animals in the forest. So some of the the skunks have been really passive aggressive, the bird cartel or the bird in I can't think of the right word in my brain, but the the flock of birds

Kevin Steele 03:45

The murder of crows? laughs Stacy - (laughs) the Murder of Crown. Kevin - The Crows have become murderous

Stacy Casson 03:50

Their, they have been complaining that they've been victimized. So the cat is really trying to navigate and bring these forest creatures together because the forest is on fire. It hasn't reached them yet. But they need to work together to be able to solve this situation. So what are things that you see in communication? That is a challenge when when we're trying to help? What are some of the issues you've seen in your?

Kevin Steele 04:19

Well, the one thing that really stands out as in this picture, this cat is is not just like size he's dodging the sass and snark and for me, that's like, you have to be open to letting people talk to you give you like he's coming to them with the message of the forest is on fire. We have to you know, take care and be prepared and get out of here. Help me and if they're responding if people are like oh, that's not really happening it's passive aggressive, or just they don't trust him. You know? How many crows Do you know trust a cat? Well, you have to be able to see what's coming that sass that snark and be able to say I'd step up because that is a natural reaction of any animal is to, like, it's a defensive mechanism. And it isn't some thing that you project back at people. Notice that he is not like turning that back on him. He's just sidestepping, he's gonna, he's gonna keep moving forward. He's gonna keep strong with message and he's going to want to identify when people you know, get let people get that out of the way. It's okay. If it's every soldier's right to complain, you know, kind of thing, but, but it's the point of as a leader, as a person who's delivering the message in the in the vision and instruction. Let it go. That isn't the important thing right now, what a distraction would that be? If he says, oh, you know what I got to do right is take my eyes off the forest fire and address that sass and snark. He's got to let people talk to him. Gotta let his compatriots talk to him. And he's got to turn around. And he's got to say, okay, you know, we've said that we still have this thing to deal with, who's going to help put out the fire? Who's going to help people evacuate? Who How do we do those things? And so you have to, you have to do it with a certain of air and grace and compassion to people. Because when you, I don't know about you, but when somebody comes to me, and they're panicked, or I feel like maybe they're panicked, because, oh, we've gotten my hair's on fire, the forest is on fire, whatever it is, yeah, have to take it with, like, our default response is, very defensive. So hopefully, I look at this picture of this cat. And I'm thinking he's doing the first thing right, which is he's not reflecting sass and snark back at the people. He's just sidestepping it, let it happen, Sidestep acknowledge it's there. He doesn't get in the way. He doesn't take bullets. He's not saying oh, you hurt me so that he's just like, I gotta set this aside, to be able to move forward to actually be able to get to the root of things and help.

Stacy Casson 07:02

Right? No, I agree. And I love your interpretation of that. So the next thing we come into is some of the problems. And so for the for those of you here we have some inspiration with little picture cards. This one is from the Affirmators! At Work. And in this picture, I see an octopus holding all different kinds of things. And I think as as leaders, we are juggling so many priorities, workload, people's feelings, our own feelings. And it's challenging sometimes I can't speak for you because Kevin, you're perfect to me, but I know me sometimes. When I am overwhelmed, I just jump straight to the point and I forget that I'm dealing with a human being and I have to backtrack and go whoa, whoa, I'm I'm so sorry. Hey, how you doing? you know, let's How am I doing? and make sure that we're both in an okay space to have the conversation. I mean, what are some of the challenges you see when we're trying to help but also trying to accomplish a goal?

Kevin Steele 08:11

There's there's the problem of taking on everything. It's a it is good to ask questions. I think when you're curious and then they you know, it's funny because we're have a cat is telling everybody Hey, the forest is on fire but he's curious. And basic curiosity killed the cat I'm glad he got out of the way the fire forest fire so far. But when I think about dependability, and I see this octopus with everything has meant that it reminds me of time, so I'll go to bed. And literally, I woke up in the next morning, and all I've done is dreamed about the work that I've got on my plate. What a miserable sleep, those are always the worst sleeps. That is it isn't just for leaders. This happens to other people. And I really wish that people have they have more good good nights than bad nights. But for me dependability is being able to ask the questions you need to ask, understand of all the things I'm holding How much is this my how And this isn't like a toss it off on somebody else? It's a question of what can I What's the most important thing that I have in my hand that needs to get done that I need to be the one doing? Is there somebody else out here on the other things in my hands if there's somebody else out here that I trust or that I need to develop my own trust in that I can hand this job to this task to this concern that I have and say Hey, can you can you investigate this can you do this part of dependability is not only being able to do what you say you'll do, but also be able to show especially in leadership, be able to show trust and so that you're willing to even if you don't like if you don't have a strong relationship with somebody because you need to develop that. Part of that is knowing that you have trust in them. And being clear about what you need to accomplish and handing them a task, showing them that you trust them to be able to accomplish the task, and that you're not just setting it to them and saying, Okay, get back to me when you're done. Like, if you need help, come to me, but at the end of the day, this is, I'm going to give this to you. Dependability isn't about taking everything on. You have to know when to say, Yes, I can do that, yes, I can have somebody else do this, or no, that's not something you can prioritize. And so one of the one of the things that a lot of people forget, when they talk about dependability, it isn't just my word is my bond, it's that I know that I take on the things that I can handle, and that my team can handle. And that creates a sense of trust and dependability. When you also know where to draw your boundaries and draw boundaries for your teams.

Stacy Casson 11:05

I love that. So I think when when you were talking about empowering others, I think we're so on the right mind set and wavelength I immediately saw this cat, looking at the other animals, especially the disgruntled crows, and they're uniquely situated to go and assess how big is the fire? Where is the fire? What are we dealing with? Because sometimes before you solve a problem in my line of work, we have to define the problem and a problem well defined is a problem, half solved. So how amazing is it that if you were a disgruntled crow, that the leader is like, Listen, you all have this amazing and fantastic skill set. I need you to go and investigate the depth of the fire and report back to me. Can you do that? Everybody is relying on you to do this. Is there anything we can do to help? Are there any concerns? I'm assuming that because you can fly high, you you wouldn't necessarily be in as much danger as an animal on the ground. But please let me know if I'm mistaken. And if I was a crow, I would feel like wow, maybe this this leader isn't that horrible. They're trusting us with something really important. And I love the idea that dependability cuts both ways, because I'm definitely guilty of taking everything on little red henning it. Yeah. And I'm learning more that when you have that communication, and build that trust with your team, it's much easier to ask them to do things and to delegate. And once you build that rapport, and they see that you are somebody they can rely on, you're somebody that they can have honest two-way conversation with the world is our oyster on that. So the next thing is what would help in this situation of how can I help? And Kevin we got the bravery. This is a nerve wracking situation, the cat is dealing with a fire and also trying to solve some personnel issues, and making sure that everybody has a task so we can protect ourselves and hit the production of the forest keeping it safe and, and a welcoming forest, you know, where people have a home to live and food to eat and the water isn't poison. So what comes to mind to you when you think of bravery in this idea of of how can I help?

Kevin Steele 13:42

Interesting in the card that says you are being awarded a hearty, hearty dose of bravery. And I'm thinking man bravery, and I'm thinking courage. And you know, people say courage isn't. It isn't a lack of fear. It's the ability to move forward and do the what needs to be done even in the face of fear. And, and it's it reminds me just from from a leadership perspective. And I don't know about you, but I have had my fair share of bad bosses. And I've been very lucky and blessed to have a healthy dose of good leadership, good bosses, good managers, whatever you want to title you'll want to give them but the thing that I've learned over the time, and this was before I spent, I've been in support and services for almost 25 years. And the first 17 or so of those. I was not in management. I was not in leadership and somebody saw something in me and I'm really grateful to them. The thing that I learned is, it's easy to be a good leader, it's effortless to be the bad one. You just don't do anything. And when I ran them, that is the thing I would repeat to people. I tell people, and it's my saying. It's the thing that I believe. And people are like, well, it's actually not easy to be a good leader, you have to make hard decisions. So I'm, yeah, but it's actually easy, because knowing what the good decision is, knowing what the right decision is, the honest, the ethical, the moral decision is... usually, or what you can do to shore up a hard decision. That's easy, that's almost comes very natural to people they know what it is, it does doesn't mean that the actions and the work that they have to take is easy. It's usually very hard. But knowing what it is, and having the courage and bravery, to go forward with that, and to do those things and to communicate openly and with kindness, to listen with curiosity. The people who are concerned about the choices that need to be made and the pace you're going to the leadership, that's, um, that's actually pretty easy. It's just the work itself is hard. It's when when a leader says, Oh, I know that this is the right thing to do. But I'm going to have to deal with a lot of pushback, I'm going to have to make hard decisions, I'm going to have to actually put leadership into action and lead people and I'm not sure I can do that. So it's easier if I take the thing that requires a lot less action on my part. Right. So it's easy to be a good leader it's effortless to be a bad one.

Stacy Casson 16:47

I love that so much. And I agree with you once you know the right decision, or the best decision because there's always trade offs. The way forward is very clear, and, and straightforward. But it is challenging to do that, in my I'm not going to tell on any other people. But in my own life, I've been trying to make changes and progress. And it I've just never been getting anywhere. And I really took the time to the Future Caine actually challenged me sit with yourself, you know her catchphrase, and reflect on why you keep sabotaging yourself. And the biggest truth I had to embrace was that I am the one that is most likely to break my boundaries. It's not external people. I am the biggest person breaking my boundaries and being brave enough to admit that and understanding, okay, you keep making these self deprecating jokes. But it doesn't move you forward. Because I've been putting off the truth. And once you once I recognize that it's been very easy to move forward with the next steps in my life, but it is a lot of work. So easy in that yes, I know where I need to go. But yes, it does take work. And that's why leaders are leaders. And it's a different skill set. Right? So our cat has gotten the intel from the crows. And now they probably need to come up with a plan. Some of the things are within the realm of control of the animals, and maybe some things are not so what can we do to get the best outcome. And for this one, we have Advocacy. And there's another, another animal with a with a flip chart. So I just envision the cat holding meeting. And all the animals are gathered together figuring out, okay, the fire is coming from this direction. The wind is currently in our favor. So we have a little time and what is our plan so it doesn't jump the I don't know the river or the ravine or something? I don't know what's going on in this forest. (Chuckles) But what what do you think would help the situation for the best possible outcome? And we got Advocacy?

Kevin Steele 19:22

Well, what I love is because the animal here does not seem to (illegible) me and you have I'll just call it a hyena. And looking at this, this flip chart, and actually it looks like he's trying to explain a horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, Hey, why the long face? Kind of joke, it picks up. You know, the problem with jokes is if you have to explain it, it's not funny anymore. But the thing for me is you have different animals advocating for the abilities and needs of each other. So he's got the leadership, he's bypass the snark. He is been brave and worked with people he's brought in. He's delegated and shown is dependent on compatibility as a leader, and the crows, so we've got all these people here together these animals of the forest, but they're here, they're also looking at each other and saying, how do we help each other? It isn't just one every crow for himself, every hyena for himself every, you know, deer for themselves, every cat, it's advocacy. I love this as I am my own best advocate. And we can say that like we are each other's best advocate as well. And that is a thing of leadership is that advocacy is a critical part of leadership is usually a critically missing part of leadership, because we don't advocate for others. If we're not advocating, we're not leading well. But I am my own best advocate, when I have an idea I share it when I have a need, I speak up about it, when I tell a joke, and none of my co workers laugh and make sure to repeat it and then explain it in a CP, draw a diagram. So everybody gets it, which is where this whole thing gets to. But it's that idea of, we speak up for ourselves, we advocate for ourselves. But we also need to be able to advocate for each other. And I've seen this, I don't know about you, but I've seen this as a leader, or manager, when somebody comes in says, Hey, you may not be aware of this, but we have this concern floating around and somebody is affected by this external thing. But it's making it hard for them to do their life, I don't necessarily need to my first question out of my mouth, it's not going to be oh well who's been affected? I already know, they've come with the desire to advocate for someone, whether or not it's themselves in disguise, or another member of their team. And they're just trying to respect their privacy, they're coming to advocate for the team for the team members. And I love that because usually, if you're willing to do it, for one, you're willing to do it for others. And if they know that you're willing to do that, they'll do it in return. Advocacy is the gift that keeps on giving. As long as you're willing to do it. And be there. So now that you know, what's happening with the forest, and where the fire is and where it's spreading and where the best route to safety is. And who can help put out the fire. And who can help to get people to safety. Net out. That's where advocacy comes in. Because people can talk about each other's strengths, talk about the needs and the weaknesses, and say how do we help? It isn't the idea isn't to say who's going to be best at what. It's also going to be about who's going to need help that they can't provide? Who can provide that? And so like the this is the next part of communicating and creating effective supply chains of support, and your your your escape plan.

Stacy Casson 23:02

Yeah. And you know, it's funny when you were talking about that too, be about maybe what's impacted upstream and downstream, there might be some people that think the fire is great, because fires and forests are kind of a natural house keeping. And it is disruptive. But sometimes we need those fires in our life as well to clear out some of the underbrush. So it's also how can we take these challenges, and use them to also provide a win win situation? Because it's not just Ahh! fire bad. It's when you look at the systems holistically. Okay, yes, the fire is damaging, and it's going to impact us as a whole. But we also need some of these the results of the fire. So how can we also ensure that our environment is okay, as well as our people? So I love the fact that you're talking about advocacy, because sometimes it's not easy to bring up an unpopular opinion, especially when everybody is focused on hey, this big fire is coming. And it's so hard to be the one that says, yes, the fire's coming, but we have this to consider and think about. And it's really scary. That's where that bravery comes in to bring it all together and starting from the beginning with communication, having the ability to communicate, and building these relationships. So when you speak up and say, Hey, have you thought about this? People will be like, you know, the mouse has a point they've always find these roads or thoughts that we hadn't thought about. And we do need to make that a part of our plan, when we're trying to address this fire together. So Kevin, do you think these animals are going to have a happy ending?

Kevin Steele 25:08

I think so. I think they've got the right group of people. And at the end of the day, it isn't a story that's just about the cat. Yeah, I think if the story had just been just about the cat, then then Yeah, somebody would have ended up hurt in that fire, if not multiple people, but because they were able to sidestep the sass and the snark and be able to say, well, this is what's important. And I need you to help you to help on this. And this is what I'm going to do the show their dependability and bravery in the faces of hard decisions and the destructive forces, and then came back and were able to create an environment where everybody was advocating for each other, and creating a healthy fire action plan, there's going to be a lot more people saved and, and safe than hurt.

Stacy Casson 26:02

I love it. Kevin, thank you so much for being part of (Kevin - yeah this was wonderful) is there any way that people can reach out to you if they want to learn how to fight their fires? Or what are what should people reach out to you for?

Kevin Steele 26:19

You can find me on LinkedIn, under Kevin Steele, my LinkedIn profile is And if you're just want to know a little bit more about me my writing, you can go to Like Sports, medicine, but support. So That's my personal page. When I have time I write write there. I haven't had as much time recently. And that's nobody's fault, but my own so

Stacy Casson 26:49

Well, be sure to send me those links. And I'll include (I will), in the show notes for people that want to check you out. And Kevin team, I'm giving him a gentle nudge. Kevin might be coming to a podcast near you if he follows his curiosity in the podcast world. So just a gentle nudge. No, no pressure, Kevin, I would I would love to hear what you come up with. And for me, team. I'm Stacy Casson. I am also known as The Clarity Concierge. You can also find me on LinkedIn. I never know what my LinkedIn thing is. It's Stacy Casson, and I'll put it in the show notes as well ( Kevin, I want to thank you so much for your time and I hope you all learned more about the intricacies ins and outs of help and I hope that this helps you to be a more effective leader. Thank you, and tell a friend!

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