The Tensions of Leadership – Episode 02 Transcript


DURATION: 00:15:43

NARRATOR: You are listening to leadership on the ground Season 4 – The Tensions of Leadership. A tension is a gentle pull, a stretch that causes a strain or an emotional trigger that can cause a positive or negative reaction. When you are in a leadership role, you’re confronted with tensions constantly. What would you do with these critical moments that matters the most? In this series, we’ll learn how to identify and acknowledge these tensions, how to appropriately respond to them with our next move, and how to skillfully navigate through them when leading ourself, leading teams, and leading at the organizational level. This series is made possible by the international bestselling book— Leadership Rigor — Your guide for achieving breakthrough performance in productivity and now here are your host Todd Schnick and Erika Peitler.

TODD: Good morning and welcome back to our special edition series — Leadership on the Ground Season 4 – The Tensions of Leadership. As always, I am joined by my friend and colleague Erika Peitler. Erika, my friend, good to be with you as always.

ERIKA: Always good to be here with you, Todd.

TODD: Alright. Let’s get to it. I’m looking forward to today’s episode — Episode to the Tension and Leading yourself in crossing the knowing and doing Part 1 – Establishing your Leadership Voice. Going to be a great show. Before we go there, Erika, however, reminder audience, what is mean by the tensions of leadership?

ERIKA: Yeah, this is really going to be, I think, an exciting season 4, because we’ve been engaging in this ongoing dialogue regarding leadership being a skilled profession. So, it requires conscious discipline, it requires practice, and it’s all in this pursuit of performance and productivity. When in Season 1, we really laid down some skills about how do you become a consciously competent leader? What do you need to do? How do you do with the MYD to do it? And then we advanced in Seasons 2 and 3 and we started to talk about practices of leadership. How do you practice in real time? How do you establish rhythm for working at the speed of business and putting some macro structures in place? In Season 4 Todd, we’re going to change it up again and we’re going to look at these tensions that leaders face as they progress in advancing their leadership practice. These tensions are stresses. They’re pulls. They’re triggers. They are things that leaders must raise, wrestle with and resolve or else, they’re going to struggle, they’re going to get stucked, and they’re going to stagnate themselves and their businesses and so the stake are really high in Season 4.

TODD: Alright. Gosh, where to begin? At this stage of your career, you’re starting to think about leading yourself and you’re into this capability building phases. This knowing and doing gap. I think, people are really good at knowing and reading books on leadership and reading other material to understand what it — It’s the doing side, I think, people fall off. So, how do you get into this? I guess the question is, are you a passenger or are you a participant?

ERIKA: Yeah. That’s actually the question. So, this tension of crossing the knowing and doing gap, this is you on you. This is you choosing how you’re going to show up, what are you going to do and it really goes to this concept. As we said, establishing your leadership voice, we have things to say, we’re learning things as a leader, the question is, are we going to get it on the ground or we get in the game, or we’re going to take action or we’re going to be reluctant. This is a really important thing for people to learn as early as they can in their careers. You want to be able to start thinking about how are you going to play your version and brand of leadership and not be reluctant, not be hesitant to get into the game because a lot of decision start to get made very early on in your career around your ambition, how you’re showing up. I mean, do you have the potential to advance. So, the tension that you have to resolve is, “Are you going to play?”

TODD: That’s the first tension that we’re facing here. It’s this idea of crossing the knowing and doing gap from — I know what I think I’m supposed to do but actually doing and expressing yourself using your leadership voice.

ERIKA: Expressing it is really, really keen. When you think about it, what gets in the way, what’s the tension that you have to resolve when you’re hesitant in expressing yourself? It can be a lack of confidence. Am I really going to say something smart or is there something here that I really make a contribution to? Do I have the language? Do I even know how to put it out there? the discussions that’s going on in your head and you’re missing an entry point because you’re worried about when you have the language and the courage. It takes courage to cross the knowing and doing gap. You have to be willing. As we said in the introductory session, you can’t be willing to take a risk. You got to be willing to be vulnerable. You got to be willing to overcome your own resistance. It’s not easy and yet there are a lot of things that we can talk about today to help some of our young leaders and some of our experience leaders, remind themselves about how did they resolve this tension.

TODD: Back to this capability building, I think part of the problem is, I think when young who want to be leaders are in this phase, they’re focusing more in technical skills. That’s important but there’s more to it than that, right?

ERIKA: There really is. I think one of the most common phrases that I hear a lot and really as coach trying to help people get this out of their head. A lot of people literally say and believe that their work will speak for themselves. Their work will not, I’ve seen a lot of work Todd but none of the work speaks. Only you can speak for yourself and that concept of leadership voice really, really keen. Don’t assume that your work will represent itself. You want to represent your work but more than that, you want to be engaging and influencing with your stake holders, right? So, when you cross the knowing and doing gap, you start to engage your participant and you’re using your leadership voice. You’re really starting to immediately demonstrate, even you capability around altitude. You’re not just doing the work but you’re managing the stake holders and influencing them and understanding how you can help shape their point of view on things. That’s what we’re talking about in terms of overcoming this tension.

TODD: And altitude is something we obviously talked about in depth in earlier seasons of the show. I mean, how do you get off the ground? I always say that this is a skilled profession. I mean, yes, there’s no doubt about it. It requires confidence in the right language and the courage which it actually express that leadership voice. How do you actually take off?

ERIKA: I think that’s a really important question to ask. I think it all goes back to,— you have to decide that you’re going to be a consciously competent leader and you’re going to prepare for the actions that you’re going to take. You know what your work says. You know how you brought it to bear and you know why it’s important. But, sharing your thoughts and being mindful about sharing your thoughts, that’s a decision that you make before you even get into the meeting, before you get into the room. So, how do you get it off the ground? You make the choice that I am going to speak in this meeting and I’m going to raise the points that I think are really important. I want to make an impact. We’ve talked about intention and impact. I want to have an impact but I want to have the right impact. So, I want to think about before I even get into that room, how do I want people to experience me? How do I want to make people feel? I want to resolve the tension of crossing the knowing and doing gap by saying I know I’m going to cross it. Here’s how I’m going to cross it and here’s the experience that I’d like to create while crossing it which is super empowering.

TODD: Well, you have been saying consciously competent leadership from the beginning of this whole series. I’ve never understood it better than I do right now because this is where that really hits the road. I mean, mindful leadership here is everything.

ERIKA: Absolutely. Mindful leadership is, it’s resolving the tension. Remember I’ve said that it’s you on you. If you’re going to choose to be a consciously competent leader, if you’re going to choose to be mindful, tension resolved. I’ve made the choice and now I’m just going to go and execute it and my intention and my impact are going to be aligned with my choice because I’m going to think about my language. I’m going to be calling upon my own [INAUDIBLE 07:39] I’m going to decide to tell the truth or save the hard things that need to be said in the room. I’m not going to be silent. I’ve chosen not to be reluctant. I’m going to be a participant. That’s half the battle. That really is half the battle and obviously, making sure that you can find your entry point in that meeting is key too, but first it’s you on you.

TODD: Alright, Erika and I will return after the short break. We’ll be right back.

NARRATOR: This episode is brought to you by the new international bestselling book — Leadership Rigor. This ground-breaking book will turn everything you think you know about leadership upside down. Leadership Rigor explores how to achieve breakthrough performance and productivity through leading yourself, leading teams, and leading at the organizational level. Author Erika Peitler outlines for her readers how to become change-ready leaders. Change-ready leaders are capable at embracing challenges with agility and optimism because they have the tools, models, and language to assess structure and facilitate solutions. Leadership is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Take the rigor challenge and ask yourself, “Do you want to lead mindfully and skillfully?” or “Do you want to subject your teams and organizations to your unstructured thoughts and approaches?” The choice is yours. Will you rigor it? You can purchase Leadership Rigor on Amazon or by visiting

TODD: Alright. Todd Schnick back with Erika Peitler. So, you mentioned entry points right before the break. We’ve talked about that in depth in previous season. Again, I think this knowing and doing gap, I mean, it’s one thing to know and identify an entry point. That’s a critically important skills. You have to build and see them when they present themselves, crossing that doing into the doing gap with those you actually take advantage over, right? Go deeper on that.

ERIKA: Exactly. So, this entry points, yes, we talked about them before. You got to be able to seek them out, see them, and sees them. This is one of the things that I think leaders struggle with the most when they’re trying to first establish their voice. They get the tension, they get the question that kind of go in their head, the trigger, “I think I want to say something”. ‘I think I have a contribution to make.” Is there an entry point that I can take. How do I let people know that I want to get involved in the game using your body language leaning in, not raising your hand like we are in school but moving a hand forward like I’d like to get into this conversation are all part of taking the opportunity that really sees those entry points and it’s that crossing that knowing and doing gap. It’s like letting people know “I want to put something on the ground here”. And it also relates to our heart wiring, right? So, we talked Todd about with the introverts and the extroverts. Are you an introvert?

TODD: I am a very much introvert which is why— because back into our conversation on confidence, language, and encouragement. The reason most people don’t take advantage of entry point and that they don’t have comments to do so, they don’t know what to say. They have an idea but they don’t what exactly have to say and they don’t know if they had the courage to actually say it. That’s were most people with entry points.

ERIKA: Yeah. So, let’s talk about that, right? Because the biggest piece here is on your heart wiring. If I’m an introvert, I need to be really thoughtful before I get into that meeting, I’m going to be looking for this entry point and as soon as I see him, I’m going to take it and you got to be prepared for that, more so that an extrovert. An extrovert is going to be seeing a lot of them and must have to exercise more self management and not taking advantage of all of them. But, if I am an introvert, I want to go after them. Also, depending on my heart wiring, I don’t want to go into the weeds and I don’t want to be too much of a big picture player. So, my ability to be able to seize my entry point but also use the appropriate language and the appropriate amount of time to make my point, make an impact and then get out of the conversation is really key. I like to have people mentally rehearsed. What is going to be some of the language that you’re going to use to cross that knowing, doing gap. I’d say, try to have three phrases written down on a piece of paper. So, you walk into the room. I’d like to add a point here. I think there had been some great points made. I’d like to build on the point you were making, Todd. I’d like to offer another perspective or I’d like to challenge what we’re talking about. Mentally rehearsing, maybe even physically practice, saying those different points so that you can build your confidence and your courage from when that entry point comes. It is a waste of talent if you have great ideas in your head but you don’t resolve the tension of crossing that knowing-doing gap. Half the game is making the choice upfront, second hold is getting in there with the entry points and the language and just landing it.

TODD: You’ll never be a leader if you don’t get that language out there and the key there— This guide and how to initiate this thing, I want to add something, I want to build on this. I want to offer in that perspective. I want to challenge. Those are the keys. When we hear this all time when they say, when you come to a meeting and be prepared. This is what we’re talking about, right?

ERIKA: Absolutely. It’s as simple as making the choice before you’re in the room and having a few of those little crisp nuggets of language, so you’ll go to upfront language to see that as an entry point. That’s it. You have that, you have all the other stuff inside of you that you probably don’t even give yourself enough credit for and recognize. That’s it. That’s when it comes to crossing the knowing and doing gap. Decision in my head, me versus me. A couple of points on language and you’re stoked. You’re there.

TODD: I suspect that everyone around that table is facing those same challenges or same demons. Most of them won’t have the courage. They wouldn’t have the confidence. They won’t figure out the language to do it. If you do, that’s when you become a leader.

ERIKA: Absolutely no question.

TODD: I wonder if there’s any value here on top, when we stop on introverts and how they can get their voice and speak up on meeting, because a meeting with other people is painful for an introvert. Is there any value talking about extroverts going to far in being too confident and too courageous and trying to dominate? Can they hurt themselves?

ERIKA: I think they can and I think that they do because I think that they take too many entry points and sometimes they can derail and dominate. I think that’s crossing the knowing-doing gap probably in a negative way. So, I think that you should be really thinking about establishing your voice in a balanced way and extrovert’s needs to focus on the bottom lining. I tell you a great thing that an extrovert can do to help their introverted colleague, tho. When you start to cross the knowing-doing gap and you have more of that confidence and you have more of that courage, you might put up a lay-up and invite a colleague and say “Hey Joe! I know you and I had this conversation last week. Why don’t share with the group what you were telling me about because I thought you’d make a fantastic point. You create that entry point for your colleague. That’s a great way for an extrovert to use some of that extra energy to bring a colleague into the fray.

TODD: Hey, don’t look now but there’s a consciously competent leader right there doing just that. So, very, very cool stuff. Alright. Gosh, that’s all the time we had for today. Erika, should anyone have any questions, how they can contact you and learn more?

ERIKA: Yes, bring me your questions. We’d love to hear from you. You can email me at You can follow me on Twitter @erikapeitler. We’d love to hear from you, continue the dialogue and bring your questions.

TODD: Alright. Thank you for that. So, join us next week for episode 3 — Again, the Tension and Leading yourself in crossing that knowing and doing gap Part 2 — Utilizing your leadership voice to influence. So, until then and on behalf of myself and my co-host Erika Peitler, thank you for listening and we’ll see you next week on Leadership on the Ground Season 4.