Episode 344:

As agency owners, the work environments we create are a direct reflection of our leadership styles. In a trust-led environment, our people should feel safe to speak up, take risks, and take ownership of the work they produce. Trust is the cornerstone for strong communication, creativity, and the innovation that fuels our business. So, what happens when trust isn’t part of the equation?

Our guest for this episode of Build a Better Agency, Sue Dyer, is an expert on all things leadership. She wrote the book on trusted leadership (literally) and has seen firsthand how teams and even entire agencies tend to fall apart when the people at the helm aren’t leading with trust.

During our conversation, Sue and I unpack what it means to be a trusted leader, how agency owners can determine their leadership style, and what it takes to build successful organizations based on trust.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Agency Leaders

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What it means to be a trusted agency leader
  • Why trust is the cornerstone of success for any business
  • How to create a high-trust environment at your agency
  • Ways to help new team members adapt to a trusted environment
  • Why “fear-led” environments have wiped out so many businesses
  • How to determine whether or not you are a trusted leader
  • What to do in order to start becoming a trusted leader
“I don’t know any great leaders who aren’t also trusted leaders.” @sudyco Click To Tweet “A leader is someone who has followers when following is 100% voluntary.” @sudyco Click To Tweet “You cannot succeed long-term in a high-fear environment.” @sudyco Click To Tweet “The primary job of a trusted leader is to create an atmosphere of trust.” @sudyco Click To Tweet “People still believe that their people won’t do what they want them to do unless they use some kind of power.” @sudyco Click To Tweet “Values create attitudes, and attitudes begin to create behaviors.” @sudyco Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Sue Dyer:

Resources:

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build A Better Agency Podcast presented by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to mid-size agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money, and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want, down the road sellable, with 25 plus years of experience as both an agency, owner, and agency consultant. Please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey there everybody, Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Super excited to be back with you again today, this week with another great guest, to talk about how to scale and grow your business, and how to think about your agency a little differently, and how to be really the leader that you want to be, and how to groom other folks to be the leaders you want them to be. That’s going to be the topic for today.

At AMI, we have a couple different ways that we serve leaders inside agencies. We do a lot of things for agency owners, of course, but we also have some offerings for folks on your leadership team. So, first thing that we have is we have a peer group, we call it the key exec group. They meet twice a year in Chicago, and they’re basically a cohort of about 12 or three teen agencies. So 15 to 20 people in a room, same folks get together every time, so they get to know each other and become a support system to each other.

But they come together and for two days they share best practices, and learn from each other, and from us. And they don’t talk about financials for your agency, but they get into all the other nitty-gritty stuff, systems, process, people, all of that. And they come back fired up and understanding how they can help you, the agency owner grow your business the way you want to. So if you’re interested in that, you can find out more about that.

Let me try that again. If you’re interested in that for your team members, you can find out more about that on the website, go to agencymanagementinstitute.com and under membership, look for key executive, and you can read more about it and shoot us an email and ask questions.

The other way that we serve leaders is that we have some coaching around leadership and a curriculum around that. And so if you’re grooming a young leader to take over a department position, or maybe even grooming them to be your successor someday, we have one-on-one coaching for them that will help them learn how to be the kind of leader that you want them to be.

Anyway, those are two ways that we serve leaders. So, that tee in or that lead in for me is perfectly timed because my guest this week is a woman named Sue Dyer. Sue is a subject matter expert around leadership. She just released a book not too long ago called The Trusted Leader: Using the Partnering Approach to Become the Trusted Leader People Want to Follow, just hit number two on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

It’s a great read, and really insightful, and practical and just smart. And Sue’s also going to be with us at the summit this May. So I’m excited about having her on the main stage to share her knowledge about leadership and what a trusted leader looks like, and how we all can figure out, are we a trusted leader? And if there’s a gap in that, how do we close that gap? So, it’s going to be a great conversation, I have lots of questions for her. So let me introduce you to her and let’s get started. Sue, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Sue Dyer:

Thank you so much, Drew. I’m very happy to be here today.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, I am excited because this is kind of a twofer. So, we’re going to talk today, but you’re also going to be at the Build a Better Agency Summit, talking about leadership. And I just think that’s such a huge topic right now as people struggle to lead in this new world that we’re in the middle of. So I’m excited that they’re going to get double doses of you. So thanks for agreeing to do this today.

Sue Dyer:

Hopefully it’s good.

Drew McLellan:

Oh, I have no doubt it’s going to be good. So tell everybody a little bit about your background, and how you came to write the book, and then I have a ton of questions for you, so.

Sue Dyer:

Yeah, so for 40 years, I was a leader and a thought leader in the construction industry. And I used it as a living laboratory to figure out how to create and lead teams of diverse people in a manner that actually creates success. Because it seemed like in order to be successful, you had to have the gods with you, the weather with you, the sun and moon aligned. And then maybe if you were really lucky, you’d be successful.

And I thought, there’s got to be more to it than that. So after 4,000 projects with the beginning, middle, and end and working to create a model that creates predictable results, I actually ended up creating five models and one of them was called a Trusted Leadership Model. And that’s what I wrote my book on, and we were lucky enough to hit number two on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List so-

Drew McLellan:

That’s awesome, congratulations.

Sue Dyer:

Thank you.

Drew McLellan:

So, you came up with five models. What made the other models not right, and the Trusted Leader Model right?

Sue Dyer:

The reason I wrote this one first and put this one as the first thing, because every single project or business that I worked with, I would not be able to get the kind of results I knew would be possible, simply because the leaders didn’t know how to create a high trust environment. And they didn’t have the mindset that allowed for that to happen.

And so I thought, well, the very first thing you have to do is get that right. If you don’t get that right, then your business isn’t going to be high trust, no matter how much you try to work on it down in the project level, client level, organizational level. You’ll of course be a lot more successful, but not as successful as you could be, not extraordinary. So I thought, that’s the first place. So it’s about training your brain to think and act like a trusted leader, to know, to learn how to create a high trust environment.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. What I think I’m hearing you say is that the other models weren’t something you tossed, it’s that they’re more advanced.

Sue Dyer:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

And that this is the starter kit to being a great and amazing leader is you start by becoming a trusted leader.

Sue Dyer:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

And then you get to advance to the other models.

Sue Dyer:

Yes. In fact, I would say, I don’t know any leaders that are great leaders that aren’t trusted.

Drew McLellan:

In other words, you have four more books in you and you’re going to keep coming back on the podcast to teach us how to keep getting better at this leadership thing.

Sue Dyer:

Yes. Yes. It all starts with what’s between your ears.

Drew McLellan:

Yes, as it often does, frustratingly, right?

Sue Dyer:

It does.

Drew McLellan:

It’d be so awesome if it was about what other people had to do, yeah.

Sue Dyer:

Well, that’s later on.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, okay.

Sue Dyer:

But it still comes from what you’re doing. What you do is a reflection in your business, it just always is. And so the first thing is to learn how to create the intentions and the values which I call the partnering approach, that actually sets up the business because people follow you. My definition of a leader is a little bit different than most people’s.

Drew McLellan:

Can you tell us?

Sue Dyer:

My definition is that a leader is someone who has followers, and following is 100% voluntary. So people don’t follow you if they don’t trust you. And right now, my book could not be more relevant in the world stage as you watch Putin and Zelensky.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Sue Dyer:

Because you have a feared leader who doesn’t know what’s going on because people are afraid to tell him what’s going on, and has just decided that the more power to, the more power he can make anything happen. And then you have Zelensky who’s a trusted leader, and he is in with his people, and trying to create an environment of trust worldwide. And it always has predictable results. That’s one of the things I’ve learned, it always has a predictable result.

Drew McLellan:

Huh. It’s fascinating.

Sue Dyer:

You cannot succeed long term in a high fear environment.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So, I think trusted leaders, one of those things where if you add every leader, and you said, “Are you a trusted leader?” There we go, “Absolutely.” I don’t think very many leaders go, “No, my people do not trust me.” So what is a trust… How do I actually know if I’m a trusted leader? How do I know in what we’ve been talking about, how do I know if I can just ignore this and wait until the next book comes out, or that I have some work to do? And I would guess everybody has some work to do, but how do I know where I am in the spectrum?

Sue Dyer:

Yeah, I would agree with you that it’s sort of like love, is there enough of it? And when do I know if I have enough? But it is also very easy to measure where you are with the trusted leader profile that I’ve created. So, it is a profile where you fill out some questions, and then you will get a report on your profile and it will give you a few things.

The first thing it’s going to give you is, there are five styles from feared leader to trusted leader. So I’ll show you what style you are. And then you’ll also get a number. What number along the continuum are you, between one and 15? So you can see it exactly where you are. What is your trust level? And it’s really interesting to also do this profile with your entire team, because you can then see, well, where is our team at? And why do you feel this way? Why is this going on?

Then you’re also going to get two graphs. And the first graph is your primary style. And this is the way you’re actually leading. These are the norms you’re creating in your business. And then you’ll get graph two, which is your secondary style, and this is your perceived way of leading. This is your perceived style.

Drew McLellan:

My self perceived way?

Sue Dyer:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Drew McLellan:

All right.

Sue Dyer:

You think you’re leading with graph two and how you’re actually leading as graph one. If there is a gap, a difference, significant difference, you can see that. And of course, that’s first place you need to look at, how do I reconcile these? And then beyond that, you can see between the continuums on the 14 different elements where you fall, and you can see where they’re different, sorry, you can compare paragraph one and graph two. And it gives you pretty specific things to work on.

Drew McLellan:

If people want to… So if I understand it right, I’m self grading myself, right, I’m not asking my team.

Sue Dyer:

It’s a self assessment, yes.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. Where would someone go to take this and [crosstalk 00:11:13]-

Sue Dyer:

Yes, you can go to my website, which is sudyco.com/profile S-U-D-Y-C-O.com/profile. And right now it’s free and I’m making it free to your people, it’s going to be not free here in the very short period of time.

Drew McLellan:

Well, yeah, when you have a Wall Street Journal Bestselling novel or book, you don’t have to give it away for free anymore. So, on behalf of my readers, thank you for letting them continue to do it for free. So we’ll include that link in the show notes.

Sue Dyer:

Perfect.

Drew McLellan:

Folks, for those of you who are on the treadmill or driving, do not try and remember it or stop and write it down or text it. Do not text it to yourself while you’re driving. I promise we got you covered in the show notes. Okay. So, I’m going to take this profile and I’m going to learn that perhaps I’m not as trusted as I would like to be.

Sue Dyer:

You may also find that you’re more trusted than you think you are in certain ways too.

Drew McLellan:

Interesting. Okay. This seems like a really stupid question, but why is trust such a cornerstone in your opinion, around leadership?

Sue Dyer:

Well, this is what I’ve seen happen. So, let’s just go to the two diverse polls, right? When you work in a feared leader atmosphere, what happens is that the leader really drives everything through fear and then fear is around punishment. So you don’t have to be there more than five minutes before you begin to realize that if I don’t do what I’m told, exactly how I’m told, punishment will be involved.

And I don’t want to be punished. I like my job, I’ve got a mortgage, I’ve got a car payment. I’m going to do what I’m told. But I feel as though I am being forced to do something in a way I don’t really think is best, and I certainly wouldn’t do it this way. And so coercion begins to grow and be the norm of how the whole team operates. And for anybody who I have to lead or reports to me, I coerce them into doing what I want. So everybody does exactly what they’re told to do. And that’s how the entire business or each team operates.

What happens over time is that everyone just settles into this and they start complying. Okay, you tell me what to do, I’ll do that. You tell me to do that, I’m going to do that. And you’ll begin to see, teams like this will tell me things like, “Well, meetings, we don’t have meetings, what’s the point? There’s nothing to talk about. We don’t talk.” So conversation gets very stifled, nobody really tells anybody anything, nobody’s going to stick their neck out and say, “Something’s wrong,” or “I have an idea.”

Drew McLellan:

So, no early warning signs from your team because they don’t want to get into trouble.

Sue Dyer:

You’re not getting that. And so a problem always pops up sometime, right? Big problem pops up, nobody is going to tell anybody about it, nobody is going to share an idea, nobody’s going to say, “There’s an opportunity here.” No one’s going to tell each other. So it always, always leads to you the failure of whatever you’re working on, and I have seen it wipe out over and over and over the entire business, over and over and over.

Drew McLellan:

I would also think it would contribute to turnover, like that doesn’t sound like-

Sue Dyer:

For sure.

Drew McLellan:

… an awesome place to work, right?

Sue Dyer:

If someone had a chance to move somewhere else, they’re going to move, absolutely. So, that’s why I created the model to move more towards the trusted leadership side where you work there and you feel… The primary job of a trusted leader is to create an atmosphere of trust. And so, you start working there and pretty soon, you’re talking to the leader, you’re talking around, hey, I feel like, okay, I don’t know this person very well, but I feel like I could trust them. So at least I start out that way. And I feel like I’m choosing to be a part of this. I’m choosing to lead, I’m choosing to be here, and so does everyone else. And-

Drew McLellan:

I’m choosing to take risks, I’m choosing to speak up, I’m choosing to say ideas that feel half baked, but maybe somebody can help me bake [crosstalk 00:15:46] right?

Sue Dyer:

I’m here by choice. And so everyone feels that way, so pretty quickly you begin to feel coercion. And that sense of we’re a purpose, we’re in this together, we’re going to make this happen. And so from there, that really creates commitment. And commitment to the leader, commitment to each other, commitment to whatever we’re trying to achieve. And I really know that the business is going to be really successful when say things like, “We’re committed to doing whatever it takes.”

Now, you’ve created the right atmosphere that allows for creativity and innovation to occur, and I’m just going to tell you, it’s impossible, impossible to have innovation without this atmosphere. Now, every problem is an opportunity. You can find ways to do things differently, you’re going to share ideas, you’re going to share problems, you’re going to share what’s going on.

Communication becomes open, honest, transparent, and they will create solutions to things. And so, because this team is working together, they make improvements. And that leads to the growth of the business, the growth of even the entire industry often. And they just do extraordinary things. And so, that’s [crosstalk 00:16:59]-

Drew McLellan:

I was talking to Carla Johnson, who also is going to be speaking at the summit. And she wrote a book called RE:Think Innovation, and we did a workshop together which was brilliant, she’s just brilliant. But actually, she was asking me, who else was speaking at the summit? I had dinner with her last week and so I said that you were going to be there. And she was like, “Oh, that’s great. Because people can’t do what I’m going to teach them until they do what Sue teaches them.” So she agrees with you that innovation cannot happen without trust.

Sue Dyer:

It’s peanut butter and jelly, yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, so true. And I would also assume, well, let me back up. How many organizations percentage-wise do you think are an organization built on trust with a trusted leader in place? Is that a common thing or an uncommon thing?

Sue Dyer:

I think it’s still quite uncommon. In fact, I was giving a speech and this was an international group. And in the questions I actually got asked, “Are you saying that fear and intimidation is a bad thing?”

Drew McLellan:

Wow. Out loud, they asked that question.

Sue Dyer:

Yeah. Well, I just like… I still get those questions and people still believe that their people won’t do what they want if they don’t use some kind of power.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Interesting. So-

Sue Dyer:

I still think it’s the norm, and it costs the economy and the businesses trillions of dollars because we have five university level research projects that have been done on my models. Which shows that you get about a 10% savings in cost, time, 12% improvement in satisfaction, and then of course about the same in innovation and all those are additive.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right, that’s a huge… So, what made me think of that question was I… I was hearing you talk about what it looks like to be a trusted organization, build on trust, with the trusted leader. And I was thinking, so what that means is every time we hire someone, odds are, they’re coming from an organization that is not built in trust. And so, we’re not starting at ground zero, we’re starting at a negative number. They walk in being distrustful and anticipating that our environment, no matter what we said in the interview or whatever is going to be like their last environment, even if they’re hopeful that it’s different.

How do you onboard someone into a trusted environment as a trusted leader when you know they’re coming from a very different place, because there’s so much movement right now with employees and things like that. It just seems to me that every time you would sort of hit the status quo of everybody’s trusting each other, and they’re pulling the wagon in the same direction, and then you add somebody who isn’t wired that way right now, because they’ve been trained to be distrustful in a distrusting environment or a fear based environment. How do you help them acclimate to an environment where trust actually is real?

Sue Dyer:

I probably have two answers to that. One is that what I have seen is that the high trust leader, high trust environment attracts the best of the best, and keeps the best of the best. So people select to go to that business because of the environment and the leadership. So then it’s not a mystery they’re going for that purpose. And then you better be consistent with what their expectation is.

And then the second thing is if they’re not, and they just happen to be lucky and get a job up there, what I’ve seen is that there’s definitely a learning curve for people to trust it, but it doesn’t take that long, but again, it has to be consistent. So it’s not something that can be faked, it has to be consistent. And then the onboarding places that I’ve seen did a really good job was by allowing, have someone that’s sort of their buddy for a while, and introduces them around, and they talk to enough people who say, “Yes, this is real. Yes, this is really how it is. Yes, this is what we’re doing.” And even eventually, the most doubting of Thomases begin to say, “This is cool.”

Drew McLellan:

Right. Yeah. I like this, I want more of this. What does it look like? If I’m… Actually, you know what, let’s take a break and then I’ll come back and ask, but my question was, let me finish my thought and then we’ll take a break and come back. I wonder if people can tell if they are in a trusted environment, not if they have a trusted leader, but if the trusted leader’s leadership style or attitude has permeated the organization, how would I recognize a trusting, an organization built on trust?

Let’s take a quick break and then come back and dig into that. Hey, I promise we will get right back to the conversation, but I wanted to make sure you knew that we have two AE Bootcamps coming up, two live workshops. The first one is the Advanced A Bootcamp. That’s going to be for folks who have five years or so of experience being an AE in an agency. That’s going to be in Chicago, June 16th and 17th. And you can register by going to the AMI website and going under the, how we help in finding the workshop tab, and you’ll find the Advanced AE Bootcamp there.

Again, it’s two full days of learning and sharing. So the AEs not only learn from us the instructors, but they also learn from each other throughout the workshop. So we get Rev reviews and it’s a great way for your AEs to really level up and become a leader inside your organization. So again, June 16th and 17th for the advanced AE Bootcamp, and then August 1st and second, the regular AE Bootcamp. So that’s going to be for folks with less than five years of experience, account coordinators, project managers, AEs, anybody who is new into their career, and still trying to figure out what the AE thing is all about.

Honestly, it’s about helping them understand that they need to move from being an order taker to helping grow your client’s business and growing the agency’s business. Again, August 1st and 2nd, also in Chicago, hopefully we’ll see some of your folks there. All right, let’s get back to the conversation.

All right, I’m back with Sue and we’re talking about how to be a trusted leader and build an organization that is built on trust. And the issue was, before the break she was talking about, when you do that, you get a 10 to 12% bump in efficiency and price savings in terms of getting your work done.

You get a 10 to 12% bump in innovation and in retention and all the other things that we’ve been talking about. So, right before the break, hopefully you weren’t gone so long that you forgot, but just in case. Right before the break, I said, “Well, how do I know if I walk into an organization, either as a potential employee, or even as a customer, how do we wear that trusted organization on our sleeve so people can see it and believe it? What does it look like?”

Sue Dyer:

Well, I think there are several answers to that depending on the size of the organization. But I think the first place I would look is to see what are the values of the organization? Do they have those somewhere? And then asking people, do they really live by these? Because in so many organizations, they’re just words on a piece of paper or a poster-

Drew McLellan:

Oh, wow.

Sue Dyer:

… or on the website. That’s not the case when I’ve seen high-trust organizations that they really are that way. The second thing would be complete total transparency. When you see that, you know that there’s trust. It’s a declaration of trust, the fact that you’re just open, and honest, and share exactly like it is. So those are two good things, but I also believe that it’s… you can see it in when they have a belief in their people and are caring for their people. So it goes back to the partnering values about you can’t fake caring.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Sue Dyer:

So you care about your people, you care about each other, you care about your customers. I think you can see that as well. But I think that if I would look at the values, because values create attitudes and attitudes create behaviors. So that would be why I would first place be looking at is, what are the stated values? And then asking people, is this just stuff on a piece of wall, or and are these values even ones that foster trust?

Drew McLellan:

Well, can you give an example of how this actually is what it is? Can you show me how you’ve lived out this value?

Sue Dyer:

Yeah. Do you want me to say what [crosstalk 00:25:52]-

Drew McLellan:

No, I’m saying that would be the question you would ask me.

Sue Dyer:

Yes, because I have one organization that they created their values and in every say single conference room, there’s a poster with those values. Then they have a committee that for each of the values, that every year they have different people from all over the organization, that work on how are we going to increase this value in our organization this year? So, it depends on what the values are, but I’m a big believer in partnering style values so that they’re high-trust values. But if different businesses might have a little bit different words they use, but they mean the same things.

That’s how I would look at it. I would look at what is it? It’s like I remember going to the post office one day, and standing in line for 45 minutes. And then just as I was the next person, there were four windows open and they all closed. And there was about 25 people behind me and there’s a huge poster. It was giant like 72 by 72 inches about how customer service was their number one thing. And so-

Drew McLellan:

Except during lunch.

Sue Dyer:

Except when something happens. It’s living by those values and people can see them talk to people. People will tell you, it’s not a mystery. When we did research on trust from this executive suite down to the people that are pushing a broom, we asked what’s the level of trust in this business? And the only difference was 0.001. Between the top and the bottom, everybody knew the level of trust.

Drew McLellan:

Wow, wow.

Sue Dyer:

It isn’t mysterious.

Drew McLellan:

And yet I think we probably think that it is, right?

Sue Dyer:

Yeah, it’s not. No, people know. You don’t have to be there very long, you figure it out.

Drew McLellan:

So you’ve had a lot of-

Sue Dyer:

You can also see how siloed businesses are.

Drew McLellan:

Right, that’s right. So, you’ve had a lot of people go through the profile, a lot of leaders go through the profile. Where is the most common place where we think we’re trusted or the most common way, where we think we’re trusted, but we’re actually not? Where’s the biggest gap, do you think?

Sue Dyer:

Actually, the biggest gap is in coercion.

Drew McLellan:

So talk to me about that.

Sue Dyer:

That’s where I see that between coercion and cohesion. So I see a lot where people think they’re creating a coercive team. And my research shows that if without cohesion, you can’t get any momentum. That’s the component that creates momentum. So think about it when you’re in a pool and you push off the side of the pool, you have to have something to push off against. That’s what the cohesion does for your business.

But they’re trying to be trusted, but in fact, they’re still rather cohesive. They’re coercing people to do things the way they want them to do, not empowering them. The opposite of that might be lack of empowerment, not trusting them that they will do what you want them to do, which then would create the cohesion.

Drew McLellan:

If I’m a leader, do I not recognize I am coercing people, or I think it’s good?

Sue Dyer:

I don’t think they do. That’s the conclusion as I’ve watched hundreds and thousands of these is that they don’t really realize it. They may, at the highest level thinking that I’m trying to create trust or I’m trusted. But when it comes down to the actual helping employees feel empowered and doing, trusting that they will actually perform or do what they want them to do or need them to do, in their own way, that trust isn’t so great.

Drew McLellan:

So when you say in your own way, that suggests that… I think of coercion as like, I’m putting a lot of pressure on someone to do something. I’m making them feel uncomfortable if they don’t do as I ask, which I would think I would know I was doing that. So are there other conversions of coercion that perhaps we as leaders misinterpret and don’t see as that?

Sue Dyer:

Yeah. What I see the biggest problem that comes from that is an inability to get a decision or make a decision.

Drew McLellan:

Interesting. Okay.

Sue Dyer:

So, you’re working along and you’re doing your thing, and then you have to stop and wait for a decision. Or you don’t even know who the decision maker is. How do I get a decision? Or you get a decision and that decision doesn’t stick, so you got… That’s the biggest thing I see.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think that does happen a lot in agencies, where a leader comes back from a conference, or a meeting, or a thing, and or they read a book, or they’re all whooped up about something. And so they lay down the gauntlet, “We’re going to do this, whatever this new thing is.” And the employees are all like, “Okay, I’ve heard this so many times before, so we’re going to wait a week and see if he or she actually sticks with this, because this decision they’ve made, this is fluid.

And so I’m not going to read the book, or I’m not going to study up, or I’m not going to prepare the report because they’re going to forget all about this in a week or 10 days.” And I think we actually do that quite often. I wouldn’t have thought of that as coercion, but that’s really interesting.

Sue Dyer:

Well, one the principles of the partnering approach is people don’t argue with what they help to create. So if you’re a leader and you have this great idea, or you learn something that is transformative, and you want to bring it into your business and embed it into your business, you had better create forum for the team to co-create how that’s going to happen. You can’t tell them. You have to allow them to help co-create it and then they will own it, because the problem on the feared side is no one takes ownership.

Drew McLellan:

Interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about the partnering approach, because I know you spent a lot of time developing that, and talk about it extensively. Give us an idea, give us an overview of that, and then some of the core tenets.

Sue Dyer:

So the partnering approach is has two parts to it that create a high-trust environment, and the first one is the 10 partnering principles. And this is really the principles that help you create the intentions as a leader, that you want to bring to your business because your intentions are what play out. So they give you those tenets that you need to put in your brain to think about like, okay, if I’m going to bring this back to my people, I’m not just going to tell them about it, we are going to do something. We’re going to experience this together, we’re going to explore it, we’re going to create it, and we’re going to co-create what we’re going to do.

And maybe it’s a pilot because they’ll also say… Remember open and honest, they might say, “Well, is this just a fad, is this really going to stick?” So they would be open and honest and share those things so that then you would create, well, what would we do to start to see if this could work? Or how would we do it? But they create it and then they own it. So that’s just one of the tenets, but there’s 10 of these. And I’m a big believer in that how the leader’s brain goes is how the business goes. And so you have to train your brain to use these 10 principles to set up [crosstalk 00:33:53]-

Drew McLellan:

What is the most violated of the 10 tenets? That’s 10 tenets.

Sue Dyer:

Let’s see, what would it be? I think probably the last one, understand all interests.

Drew McLellan:

So tell us more about that.

Sue Dyer:

I think a lot of, especially people that are entrepreneurial, which I’ll raise my hand.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Sue Dyer:

We think I thought it up, it must be good. Instead of understanding that I need to understand my people, I need to understand the customers, I need to understand the whole value chain of how this is going to-

Drew McLellan:

The whole 360.

Sue Dyer:

I need to understand all of that before I create something. But as entrepreneurs, we don’t usually do that.

Drew McLellan:

Because we think it’s such a great idea that of course, we just forge ahead.

Sue Dyer:

Yes. Well, it’s like, okay, I’m sitting here in my office and I’m looking at you. If someone was across the street looking at the office here, they’d see one thing. If they were in a balloon and above me looking at 10,000 feet, they’d see another things. And then we spend all of our time talking about who is right.

Drew McLellan:

Right. As opposed to we’re all in different places.

Sue Dyer:

And we have a different picture of what could be possible if we actually listen to each other. And I think that’s the biggest thing we don’t do.

Drew McLellan:

It feels like as business starts going faster, and faster, and faster, we allow less time for that understanding and conversation. We’re so rushing to get to the finish line, that we don’t want to [crosstalk 00:35:25]-

Sue Dyer:

I think you’re absolutely right. It’s true. But I also think that if you create the culture, it happens organically. And what I think a feared atmosphere versus a trusted atmosphere, the biggest, biggest, biggest difference is that you can absolutely trust your life that there’s a collective wisdom in your team. And that wisdom will teach you, and tell you, and direct you, as to what you can do, and they will take you into extraordinary, extraordinary things. Things that you think right now would be impossible, will become possible. And that is what has made me so excited about it for so many years.

Drew McLellan:

So there are the 10 tenets. You said there are two parts. So first one is the 10 tenets, what’s the second part?

Sue Dyer:

It’s six partnering values. Values are a cluster of beliefs. So it’s what you believe to be true, what you believe to be important. These are what you believe. And this is how you translate the mindset to your people. Because remember I said, beliefs turn into attitudes, and attitudes begin to create behaviors. And so if you want your people to behave in a high-trust manner, you embed the values.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So are there specific values around this, or are you saying-

Sue Dyer:

No, there’s six values. So the first one is trust, of course.

Drew McLellan:

Sure, right.

Sue Dyer:

The second one is fairness. So the underpinning of anybody feeling trusted is that they feel like they’re being treated fairly. And no matter what happens, I’ll be treated fairly. That’s what creates that. Transparency-

Drew McLellan:

It’s interesting, I have a lot of conversations with agency owners as they’re talking about their employees. And I’ll say to them, “You know what, here’s the deal. We equate equity with fairness and they’re different. So you don’t have to treat everyone the same, you just have to treat everyone fairly. And in fact, you don’t treat them fairly when you treat everyone the same because you assume they have the same needs, wants, concerns, fears, whatever, as opposed to look, I’m going to treat everyone fairly and that’s going to look different for each of you because you are individuals.

Sue Dyer:

Yeah. Almost all the conflict that happens in business is around somebody feeling like they’ve been treated unfairly.

Drew McLellan:

Interesting.

Sue Dyer:

So then there’s transparency, well, which we’ve talked about.

Drew McLellan:

Sure thing.

Sue Dyer:

Open, honest, good, bad, ugly. We tell each other or we’re open, we share, and then that’s what opens up the possibilities, which is really so important helpfulness that you help each other, that you want to help your customers. I’m a big believer and you got to love the people that you serve, you got to love the people that you work with, and you got to help them.

Drew McLellan:

You too.

Sue Dyer:

Then collaboration is another one. And collaboration won’t happen if there isn’t high trust. And collaboration allows for synergies to occur, and things to evolve and grow, and then respect. Respecting each person, respecting that they’ll do what they say they’re going to do until they don’t. So, these are the six that I have found. And of course, there’s levels for each one of these tools. You start out somewhere and then you grow into depth of it.

Drew McLellan:

As I’m thinking through our conversation and I’m thinking about people taking the profile, and how we started the conversation, which is people we’ll probably, either think they’re more or less trusted than they really are though. We don’t really have a great sense of where we are in the trust barometer, if you will. So as we wrap up our conversation, I think I’m thinking, okay, if I just took the profile and I didn’t do so great, and I want to be a trusted leader, what do I do next?

Sue Dyer:

Well, I would say you could get my book.

Drew McLellan:

Sure, of course.

Sue Dyer:

It’s a 99 cents for a Kindle version.

Drew McLellan:

Spring for the book.

Sue Dyer:

I don’t think anybody cannot afford that. And I’m about to launch in May a new course, which will be five modules that will walk you through the course of the book in how to train your brain. At the end of the book, it really talks about training your brain by using one of either the principles, or one of the values every day embedded into what you do. And so I created a journal. This is 90 days of practice for training your brain to create a high-trust environment. That would also be another thing you could do.

In the course, we will walk you through in much more depth and specific to you in your business, what you’re doing. So we walk you through… it’s five modules and the last one is training your brain. And then it also has a weekly group coaching. So you can bring your questions. We’ll do hot seats, we’ll do things. So that course will be out in May.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. So we’ll include links to all of those in the show notes. So here’s my takeaway, I guess as we wrap up is, if we want to be a trusted leader, regardless of how we score the profile, we can learn how to be a trusted leader. Everyone can achieve that goal.

Sue Dyer:

I have had people who it’s taken me 10 years for them to realize that this is what you need to do. Most people once they realize that this is the key to them being really successful, then they’re willing to put in the work. But it doesn’t just happen by magic. It does take training your brain and how you think.

Drew McLellan:

Again, your perspective is, it is about how you think and begin to think differently that translates into your attitude, which translates into your conversations and your behaviors, that over time heal whatever distrust is in the organization or between you and someone else. And that is something you can fix and make better, right?

Sue Dyer:

Yes. It not only heals, it will create this strength that no one will be able to compete with you. That’s what I’ve seen over and over. You will create a competitive advantage that everybody will go, “How do you do that?”

Drew McLellan:

How do you not have that kind of turnover, or lose your best people, or when people [crosstalk 00:42:10]-

Sue Dyer:

Or how did you get that account?

Drew McLellan:

… more money.

Sue Dyer:

How did you get that account? How are you able to get those people to do those things for you. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing stuff and fun.

Drew McLellan:

Pretty awesome. Hey, this has been a great conversation. I have all kinds of other questions, so I’m sure that we will talk again. And I’m excited to hear about the more advanced levels of leadership that you have for us, coming down the road. I’m sure after you just wrote a book and it just hits the Wall Street Journal bestsellers list, you see it a little break.

Sue Dyer:

It’ll be a little while.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right. I always feel that way too. When I finish a book, it’s like, “I’m never doing this again.” And then after a while, you’re like, “Oh, you know what, that’ll be fun. I’ll do that.” And then you’re halfway in it and you go, “What am I doing? Why did I say I would do this again?” It’s a cycle, right?

Sue Dyer:

Yeah. Well, we also do trust workshops, which is really about the second book, which is about the trusted team. So once you’ve created this mindset, how do you really bring it to the full team? And so that’s the trust workshops.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. This has been great. If folks want to learn more about you, if they… I know they can get your book. All the places books are sold, but if they want to learn more about the course, and subscribe to newsletters, and follow you, and keep learning from you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Sue Dyer:

Go to sudyco.com and you can sign up for our emails. And you can also find me on LinkedIn and Instagram. I’m @suefdyer on Instagram. I think I have about right now, 60,000 followers there, and I’m on LinkedIn a lot too. So, Sue Dyer on LinkedIn.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. This has been awesome. I can’t wait to see you at the summit. So I look forward to that and I look forward to letting you inspire and challenge the audience to showing up as a trusted leader, because it makes perfect sense why we would all want to be there. And so I think you’ve carved the path for us, so thank you for that.

Sue Dyer:

Thank you so much. It’s been such a joy to be here with you.

Drew McLellan:

It’s been fun. Yeah, thank you. So I’ll see you soon.

Sue Dyer:

See you soon.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. All right guys, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. So if nothing else, have the courage to go and do that profile, even if you don’t show it to anybody else. Begin to explore how trusted you are, where the gaps are in your trust. No matter how trusted you are, I suspect there’s always room for us to be even more trusted, and to grow in that.

So go take the profile and set a course for yourself to enlarge the way you show up in terms of trust, and inspire your team. For many of you, we’ve been talking a lot about scaling. And the only way you scale is to have trusted leaders underneath you, who can then lead the rank and file. So if they’re not led by a trusted leader, you, then it’s hard for them to be come and learn how to be a trusted leader. So, I think the first step to really growing your business is to assess where you’re at and get better at it.

Again, the link is in the show notes. So go and take that profile and begin to set the course, to become an even more trusted leader in your own organization. And I suspect it translates to all aspects of your life. So if you’re a trusted leader in your organization, you would be a trusted leader in your family and amongst your friend peer group, and on the boards that you serve and all of this, because you would show up consistently that way in all the places. So, well worth the effort, I think.

So, a couple of things before I let you go. Number one, as always a huge shout out to our friends at White Label IQ, as you know, they are the presenting sponsor of the podcast. So, super grateful for them. They do White Label PPC, and dev and design. And you can learn more about them and how they serve the AMI community, and the podcast audience with some special discounts, and good things like that at whitelabeliq.com/ami.

And last but not least, I cannot let this episode go without saying to you, if you don’t have your summit ticket yet and you want to learn how to be a trusted leader, and you want to hang out with Sue and people like Carla Johnson and Drew Davis, and all the other amazing speakers that we have, now is the time. Because again, remember have a cap of 300 people and we are getting dangerously close to that cap.

So I want you to have a seat at the table to learn from all these amazing speakers, who by the way, aren’t just coming in to speak and then take it off. They’re going to hang out with us and they’re going to be around for you to talk to and learn from, throughout the conference.

So, head over to agencymanagementinstitute.com and in the upper left corner, there’s on the navigation bar, it’s BABA Summit for Build a Better Agency Summit. Click on that, you can register. You know how it goes, the price is going to keep going up. So grab your ticket before it gets more expensive.

Come join us, come get inspired by other agency owners. It’s not just the speakers you’re going to learn from. You’re going to learn from people you’re sitting next to, you’re going to teach the people you’re sitting next to. It’s a very cool two days and I want you to be a part of it. So come join us.

And in the meantime, you know what’s going to happen. I’m going to be back next week with another guest. In the meantime, if you want to track me down, easiest way is email [email protected], and I’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening.

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency podcast. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid-size agencies. Don’t forget to subscribe today, so you don’t miss an episode.