Thinking Out Loud – Ep: 09 – The Expert, Manager, Leader: Part 02

Welcome to “Thinking Out Loud” with Dr. Joe Currier!  Here, we’ll be regularly sharing Dr. Joe’s latest groundbreaking insights.

In this episode, we mention Dr. Joe’s book, The Power Advantage, where he breaks down the “Right Hat, Right Voice” principle even further.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew J. Mason:

This is Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. Episode nine, the expert, the manager, and the leader part two, right hat, right voice. Welcome to thinking out loud with Dr. Joe Currier. My name’s Andrew J. Mason, and this is the show where we hit the pause button on life, head to the locker room for some life changing halftime inspiration and then zoom back in and grab the tactics direct from Dr. Joe’s playbook to pull it all together when we’re on the field. Part one of the series was all about defining the three roles of expert, manager and leader and the unique sequencing of behaviors that define them. Now that we knew the three roles, each of these roles has a healthy way of being expressed. A right voice, which is partnering with someone and leaning into our influence and a wrong voice, leaning into our authority and domineering and controlling someone with our title and psychological size. This is a framework that Dr. Joe thoroughly unpacks in chapter 12 of his book, The Power Advantage. As you’ll soon hear, it’s a fantastic model, so please go check that out. Here’s Dr. Joe with more.

Dr. Joe Currier:

I value all three roles of a traditional team. What I refer to as hats, the expert, the manager and a leader. However, while I respect and support the roles of an expert and manager, I also believe that product, process strategy and expertise do not build level two and level three relationships. You can build leadership through all three roles. I recently read in the Harvard Business Review a statement that said, “Today’s managers are tomorrow’s leaders.” The more I read, the more concerned I became that what they call leader is just an effective manager with a higher productivity quotient. That’s not leadership. It’s important to combine the right voice with the right hat. Relationships based on mutual trust, understanding and respect are the vehicle of passionate power performances. A great first step is to foster the right hat with the right voice principle. How? By effectively promoting the three traditional operational roles through a fourth transcending voice, that have a partner. I break down hat and voice into two alternatives. Right hat, wrong voice versus right hat, right voice.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The former operates on three dominant levels, the latter, right hat, right voice operates on three partnership levels. On level one, what I call the dominant expert, the dominant expert primarily uses concrete database communication around X’s and O’s of a task, grounded in strong business fundamentals. A dominant expert tends to be all head but little heart. Expert means I know it all. I use knowledge as a way to control and dominate. I know more than you and you need me. That’s the message that the dominant expert sends, but this can also backfire by lowering the psychological size of others, which in turn causes them to react. Yes, I know I’m using strong language and examples here to make a point. On level one, the partner expert, which is right hat, right voice it also primarily uses concrete database communication around X’s and O’s grounded in strong business fundamentals, again, the KSAs, however, partner experts are acutely aware to avoid using their expertise as I know more than you.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Instead, expertise, which is what I do, not who I am, expertise is my opportunity to serve you in your effort to achieve your personal and professional goals. How can I help you and partner with you? On level two, a dominant manager. Dominant managers dictate policy to employees in a dialogue that is data based and strategically directed toward building their authority. Dominant managers, right hat, wrong voice, operate through the self-defeating realization that it’s my way or the highway. An employee’s role is to listen, when I say jump their best bet is to ask how high? Dominant managers measure success by outcome and pay no attention to one’s sacrifice and effort. Direct reports meet the dictated standards or face the consequences. Dominant managers invest in transactional versus transformational leadership.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Two terms by Joe Erman in his book Inside Out Coaching and I will define these later on in the podcast. On level two, a partner manager. A partner manager builds collaborative relationships through open dialogue that is strategically directed towards both peak performance and personal satisfaction. Partner managers use the win model, W-I-N. Something I learned from coach John Harbaugh when he first took over as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Coach says that win means what’s important now. How do we, notice the we, the pronoun, how do we serve the mission, unify the bond as labor partners and build both personal and professional satisfaction? Again, do you hear the pronoun? We. Partner managers invoke Covey’s fifth habit, seek first to understand then to be understood. They also create healthy tension, not distress. Healthy tension through clear rules of engagement, what I call straight talk between partners. On level three, a dominant leader defines success by numbers and deadlines.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Branding and spin are weak substitutes for a lack of vision, inspiration, diversity, inclusion and empowerment. With this right hat, wrong voice there is minimal transparency that creates insecurity as to an employee safety and value to the “leadership” and I put leadership in quotes here, it’s not really leadership. Employees are as good as their next event and the question is, what can you do next for me? Level three, partner leaders. Whenever reasonable, they use influence not traditional hierarchical authority. They use influence to create a shared vision. The mission and vision are aligned as much with who we are as what we do.

Dr. Joe Currier:

With the right hat, right voice partner leaders create an interdependence and healthy tension that allows for both a dedicated commitment to serve the mission and allows for individual entrepreneurial recognition and rewards. They make every effort to build their partner’s psychological size by showing their respect and appreciation for both their effort and the outcome. In all three roles, dominance diminishes the spirit of partnership. Transactional professionals are primarily focused on their individual needs and they view winning as a means to an end, to advance their career and the recognition that they believe they deserve and they desire. Whereas the transformational leaders and coaches change the lives of the men and women they serve, while transformational experts, managers and leaders take pride in their success, their primary motivation is to help others, their partners on all levels to create a life worth living.

Andrew J. Mason:

Well Dr. Joe, we go through each of these roles, this expert manager and leader through the right hat, right voice and the right hat, wrong voice and we all know this to be true when we see it in other people. And this is one of those things that’s so obvious when you look at somebody else and you say, “Man, they’re not treating other people like humans.” And the flip side of this is it’s so hard to see it in the mirror. I mean, I’ve never seen a manager come up to me and say, “You know what my problem is? I am just too domineering.” And why do you think this is that we can’t see this problem when it’s us? And how do we get past that? Can you maybe speak to that a little bit?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Yes, I can and it’s going to relate to the right hat and the right voice and that is the question of vulnerability. The further you go down in rank, which is around the expert level, moving up to the manager to eventually quote the executive or the leadership role, the more is the question around vulnerability, can you afford to open the kimono? And we talk about the kimono paradox and that is how much should a person know about me in order to help deliver better service, better partnership and frankly create more authenticity? So that’s one of the million dollar questions. And frankly, my experience has been that experts often hide in their expertise. They’re uncomfortable and they’ll ask the question, what’s this got to do with business? When one tries to move into their private or personal space.

Dr. Joe Currier:

When you move up to the manager where they are like the top Sergeant, the question is the fear that I will diminish my authenticity and frankly, my power and authority when one gets to see me in my bathrobe or in my current life and that’s the question. Whereas when we move up to leadership, that’s where I think we really have the greatest challenge because the visionary, the one who sets the goals and the missions and has the highest level of authority the question is, do they bring the highest level of authenticity? As the kids say, “Do they walk the walk and talk the talk?” Can I trust you? Because you are the message and that’s a challenge, so that’s one of the beginning ways of responding to your question and that is the challenge of vulnerability and some of that is a cultural norm that is a discussion for another day perhaps.

Andrew J. Mason:

Dr. Joe, what do you do when you find yourself in an organization where it is so obvious that there is that lid on the leader and they’re leaning into their authority all the time instead of their influence and having a meaningful relationship. Is there anything that can be done for them?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Yes, yes, yes and I have it for you. If you look at traditional business models it looks like a pyramid. It’s very broad at the base with all of the expertise and the worker bees, et cetera, it moves up to a smaller piece in terms of the sergeants, the managers, the ones who take us from good to great in our performance and at the very top is this thing called leadership. Great leadership and great leaders in particular use an inverse pyramid, it’s put on its head. They give the power and authority deeper down into the organization and less themselves. They work and they operate out of influence. Now, what does this look like? Who is the most important person in a school system? The superintendent or the teacher or assistant teacher? And the answer is the teacher or the assistant teacher.

Dr. Joe Currier:

God bless the superintendent and yes, they control and have the highest rank, but they’re not producing the product, which is healthy, knowledgeable, confident children. Therefore, great leaders, great superintendents in this example, drive the power and authority down to the roots where the teachers and the assistant teachers and all of those great workers who are surrounding the children where they can make better choices in the moment. That’s where the confidence of great leaders come in. Were again, as President Reagan, I think I noted earlier, said, “Look, my job as a leader isn’t to do great things. It’s to get other people to do great things.” When a leader does great things, in a sense, they are not leading in a sense heroism is about expertise and managing within that expertise. The inspiration and the great leadership comes when you can reverse the pyramid and send the power and authority down and use your influence, why? Because it makes sense, because I care. As my good friend, Dr. Les used to say, “Joe, people don’t care how much I know until they know how much I care.”

Andrew J. Mason:

Thank you so much Dr. Joe, and we are going to keep going in part three, there’s so much more to even explore here. Like we mentioned in the beginning, you can find everything that Dr. Joe discussed today and a lot more in his book, The Power Advantage and we’d love to hear what you think. And we’d also love to hear your thoughts. What does this trigger for you? Now you can leave a comment on the YouTube channel or leave us a review on iTunes. We look forward to chatting more and until next time, this was Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier, leadership transformation, growth, acceleration.