February 19, 2023


95. The Impact of Leading with Enthusiasm

Hosted by

Brendan Rogers
95. The Impact of Leading with Enthusiasm
Culture of Leadership
95. The Impact of Leading with Enthusiasm

Feb 19 2023 | 00:49:30


Show Notes

In this episode, my guest is world-renowned empowerment coach Donna P. Dahl, M.Ed.. Donna is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Donna Dahl Empowerment Coaching International. She’s a leading executive strategist who employs neuroscience-based coaching to disseminate skill development, empowerment, and engagement. She was named to the 2022 Top 20 List of Empowerment Coaches in the world and her work as a coach is being highlighted in a variety of publications online and in print. She is the author of several books including Lessons I Learned from the Tortoise, a five-star rated book designed to challenge the reader to consider mindful change.

You’ll hear Donna explain enthusiasm (which she defines as “Christmas pudding” with lots of different things in it), she discusses enthusiasm in a work environment and how it can be both positive and negative (if it’s not authentic), she shares some personal stories around the topic, relating to her role as a coach, and her “100% success rate.”  

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Discussion Points

  • Donna’s interest in enthusiasm - it’s personal for everyone
  • Dealing with enthusiasm as a leader
  • Passion vs. Enthusiasm
  • Can enthusiasm be taught? It can definitely be faked.
  • Measuring, quantifying, encouraging and developing enthusiasm
  • The recovery from a serious car accident - more compassion was a result
  • Successful outcomes from Donna’s coaching
  • Defining enthusiasm - “It’s like Christmas pudding.”
  • Enthusiasm and high performance
  • Positive feedback has made Donna a confident leader
  • 3 Key Takeaways: 
    • Leaders choose enthusiasm over apathy
    • Leaders have weekly performance one-on-ones
    • Leaders generate enthusiasm in others



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Episode Transcript

Brendan: Welcome to The Culture of Leadership. We have conversations that help you develop and become a more confident leader. Have you ever considered how enthusiasm impacts your leadership? This is my conversation with Donna Dahl, where we talk about exactly that, the impact of leading with enthusiasm. In 2022, Donna was named in the Top 20 Empowerment Coaches in the world. She's the author of Lessons I Learned from the Tortoise, a five-star rated book designed to challenge people to consider mindful change. As a leader, are you mindful of the presence of your enthusiasm and how it impacts on your leadership? If you answered no like I did, this episode is for you. This is The Culture of Leadership podcast. I'm Brendan Rogers. Sit back and enjoy my conversation with Donna. What got you into this topic of enthusiasm? Donna: I think that there are a number of variables that impact upon our performance, that impact upon our decisions, and that we don't necessarily acknowledge them or give them regard. I call them unquantifiables because we don't measure them. We can sense that they're present, but we don't necessarily give them measurement. For instance, if someone is upset, we can simply say that they're upset. We don't necessarily say they were upset on a scale of 1–10, it was a 7½. We find though that with respect to enthusiasm, it colors our decisions. Whether we have a personal value with respect to enthusiasm or not, picture yourself going to a meeting where you have identified yourself as the candidate for the next election, you're running for an office, and you show up at the front of the room, you're shuffling, your eyes are toward the floor, you're not particularly wanting to engage with eye contact anywhere, you're modeling with your hands, and (generally speaking) communicating to the audience that this is not a very comfortable place for you to be. Picture (on the other hand) another candidate who was there, who was energetic, standing upright, smiling at the audience, looking like they just can't wait to dive in. Who's going to have a better chance of perhaps winning the nomination, of being elected? No words even had to be spoken. The presence was affected. I'm reminded of shopping for a car and having a salesman meet me at the door of the dealership. They're practically dancing on the tips of their toes. The first question that comes out is, what color do you like? I turned around on my heels and walked out. Enthusiasm can be something that is ordinary, pleasant, and feels normal. Or it can be something that is dysfunctional, something that is so over the top. If we talk about the tortoise and the hare—I wrote the book, Lessons I Learned from the Tortoise—if we think about the hare coming into the forest and saying to the tortoise, I'm the fastest in the forest, and bragging about it every day, every day, every day, I think that the tortoise ended up becoming a reluctantly, enthusiastic individual because he chose to challenge the hare to the race and must have known full well that maybe it was just something that blurted out of his mouth, that he never really intended to say it. But now that he said it, he was going to keep his word and show up for the race. We can have reluctant enthusiasm as a mid-range bell curve kind of enthusiasm and an over the top kind of enthusiasm. I think as a society, as a population, as a culture, we have expectations about each of those depending on the environment, depending on the situation. Brendan: You used that word, quantifiables. What's the quantifiable or what's the measure around that example you gave, where the salesperson was overly enthusiastic or inauthentically enthusiastic? What's the gauge meter of that? Donna: I think it's personal. I think that you bring your experience to the situation. Someone else might have found it to be super welcoming, wanting to please the individual, engage, and go after what's this all about. To say how I regard enthusiasm, how I value it, or how I quantify it, will, I'm sure, not be the same as it is for you. Brendan: In a leadership context, why is enthusiasm so important, in your opinion? Donna: Like begets like. Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm. If I'm the leader and I don't demonstrate a certain degree of enthusiasm for the work that I do, is it fair for me to expect those people who are working under me to also be enthusiastic? If I'm not enthusiastic, how can I expect these other people to be? I'm reminded of a situation where in this work environment, the new kid on the block, the youngest, the newest employee, was so overly at the top enthusiastic. When it came time for volunteering, he was the first to say yes. If extra things needed to be done, he was the first to say yes. It didn't seem to matter what it was. He was enthusiasm plus. What was happening in the work environment with everyone else in the situation was that they felt as though they were being either left out or railroaded into being equally enthusiastic, even if they didn't want to be. After a while, the workplace became very dysfunctional because it was turning out that only one person was ever going to show up to volunteer to do the pieces. It took several months after the employee was let go in order to reestablish a comfortable working environment with people who were left. Can it matter? Yes, it can. Again, whether it's over the top, under the middle, or somewhere in between, it's sure to have an effect. Brendan: Once again, the example you gave of that person, that individual, if you've got somebody who's very enthusiastic and volunteering for things and all that stuff, is that a value misalignment in that the rest of the team just don't share that level of enthusiasm? They still may be enthusiastic to some level, but sharing that extreme level of enthusiasm, can I say? Donna: I think there's a role for leaders to play with respect to monitoring enthusiasm, that comes from being able to have private one-on-one conversations with everyone involved so that it's possible to explore individually. What are you enthusiastic about? What would you particularly enjoy doing? Is there something that you have been wanting to contribute, that hasn't come about or evolved just yet that maybe we might be able to bring into being, so that when we respect each person on the team, each person on the staff, and give them a chance to shine in their own right, then it can move things away from ego or trying to overcompensate with a self-indulgent kind of enthusiasm, and bring things into harmony. I think the role of the leader is to create that harmony, and as well to create a space to achieve along with the appropriate recognition and reward. Brendan: Donna, is enthusiasm just another word for passion? Donna: I think in the sense that we talk about passion, we talk about aligning that with purpose. We may be passionate about doing something, but that passion usually stays in a lane. If we're passionate about feeding the hungry or if we're passionate about making a difference with respect to climate change or whatever issue we have, could it be a passion for the company, perhaps? Yes. But even so as the leader, I would want that person's passion to be molded, directed, and supported appropriately, so that leadership has the ability to manage as opposed to being managed by the enthusiasm. Brendan: With that said, can you be passionate about something but not enthusiastic? Donna: I think so. Brendan: Can you give us an example? Donna: Yes. Just because you have a passion about something, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to let it show on the outside. There are those of us who just love to wear our labels on the outside. It doesn't matter whether it's the right label for athletic wear or fashion wear, we'll choose the label. There are others who would prefer, for instance, to practice something like philanthropy without having their name attached to the gift. Brendan: I have to flip the coin as well then. With enthusiasm, so we can be enthusiastic about, can we be enthusiastic about something and have this level of enthusiasm, but doing something we're not passionate about? Donna: My mind turns to the tortoise. I think it's possible that he might have been passionate about keeping his word but wasn't necessarily enthusiastic about participating in the race. He showed up. I think that sometimes we can make mistakes. I think sometimes, enthusiasm is disguised as something else. For example, somebody who shows up for work every day, 10 minutes early like clockwork, and it takes the leadership, it feels so good to have somebody always consistently being a person who arrives on time or before the hour. Is that coming to work early or an expression of enthusiasm? If you ask that person, it might be that, well, my ride comes to pick me up every morning, and that's the time that I'm going to be there every day just because that's the way my transportation works. It has nothing to do with enthusiasm. Brendan: It's such a great example. It's an absolutely fascinating topic for me, which is why I wanted to have you on. If we think about what you've just said, how does a leader leading a team get a handle on genuine enthusiasm of somebody within their team? Donna: As a leader myself, I would want to have one-on-one conversations with each person to find out how they feel that they are a valuable member of the team, how they feel that they are making a contribution. Is there an area that we have been overlooking in terms of their personal skill set? I think of somebody who has brought, perhaps, a former career of graphic arts to the position, but that talent has not been utilized in terms of developing marketing materials for a particular program that's going to be launched. How sad. If that person would like to make that contribution, let's make it happen. Let's be a part of the solution moving forward. Why? Don't we want to have employees that are loyal? Don't we want to have employees that are satisfied, that are feeling they can achieve something, and be rewarded, recognized, and acknowledged for what they do? If we do not identify each person and the value that they bring to the company, how can we expect them to stay with the company? Brendan: I love how you linked it back to the one-on-ones. It makes perfect sense to me again. If a leader is having a one-on-one with a person in their team, and through those really great open-ended questions, they're learning more and establishing, maybe the person's not as enthusiastic as what they would like, what's the next step that a leader can start to take to help potentially move them into an enthusiastic level around what they're doing? Donna: I just go back to the one-on-one. What if that person is having a struggle at home? Maybe there's a family member who's not well. Maybe there are some financial difficulties. Not everybody is able to park their troubles on the tree outside the door and enter in complete freedom. We all have baggage. Must we require that everybody shows up to work every day ready to operate at 100%? Maybe the best thing for that person would be to have the rest of the day off. What a concept. A day off to take care of yourself, to come back when you're feeling better? How old is the story that says, one bad apple spoils the barrel? It's hard to sometimes keep up the enthusiasm of a team when one person doesn't feel ready to be there. It doesn't seem appropriate to treat human beings as though they're robots, all you need to do is flick a switch and oil a few joints, and away you go. We're not like that. We're human beings. We have feelings, and we have things that are going on outside the company. I keep reading over and over again on places like LinkedIn that when a company values its employees, the employees will take care of the company. I really believe that. Brendan: Can you teach enthusiasm? Donna: Can you teach people to act? Brendan: You probably can. I don't think you can teach me to act, but you probably can. Donna: We are actors on the stage of life. Could someone come to the workplace feigning enthusiasm? Of course. I think that, eventually, pieces of us that aren't authentic reveal themselves over time. Perhaps initially, maybe enthusiasm is the demonstration that there's something that they believe they need to do in order to pass the three-month probationary period. Again, how closely is the leader going to participate in the growth and development of each member of the team? Brendan: Just to clarify, I think you answered and heard me. Can you fake enthusiasm? I love what you said there. Can you also answer this question? Can you teach enthusiasm? Donna: I wouldn't be afraid to give it a try, Brendan. I would like to add a codicil that when displaying enthusiasm, it should reflect something authentic about you. Whether you're enthusiastic about participation or whether you're enthusiastic about camaraderie, I would like to think that everybody's been enthusiastic about something somewhere along the way. Whether it's learning how to ride your new two-wheeled bike or whether it's making a trip to the store for an ice cream cone, I think we've all experienced enthusiasm but at different levels in different environments. Brendan: If you got alignment of enthusiasm within a team in an organization that a leader is leading, what impact does that have in a workplace environment? Donna: I like the question. I think that homogeneity could be of assistance at times and might be a nuisance, a problem at other times. When I'm looking at team development, for instance, I would enjoy having members of the team inform me as to whether they thought their approach to being a team member was more like that of the tortoise or more like that of the hare. We examined the qualities of the hare, we might think that that's someone who has a vigor about them, has a spontaneity about them, or has a strong belief set about them. We might think that the tortoise is someone who needs a little more time in order to come to a decision or who does things methodically, slowly, carefully, and deliberately. If we had only tortoises on a team, I don't think that that would be effective because we might never get to the finish line. But if we only had hares on the team, we might never stop to think about what next steps could be or might be. There are lots of tools out there to measure different personality types on different teams and so on. I'm saying, I'm not sure that we could do better necessarily than examining our way of being in relation to the tortoise and the hare, and how those two components can complement each other when it comes to getting the job done. Brendan: Just to clarify that from my side and for our listeners, what I'm taking from that, Donna, is that the tortoise and hare are a great contrast, absolutely. But just because a person might be a certain personality style—let's take more of that influence style in the DiSC side of things—as opposed to somebody who's maybe that steadiness type, I, the tortoise, it doesn't mean that an I type, because they may outwardly seem more enthusiastic about stuff. Because that's along with the personality, it doesn't mean that they're any more enthusiastic than somebody who is maybe classified as more of a steady type personality. Is that right? Donna: Yes, that is right. If we take a look at one aspect that comes out of using the Myers-Briggs as a personality assessment, I'm reminded of people over the years who have said to me, I'm stronger on being an introvert than an extrovert, and I like to have more time to think about the answers to things. I wish that when we're going into discussion at a staff meeting, they would give me the questions in advance, so I would have a chance to digest them, mull them over, and develop my thoughts, because I don't feel comfortable answering things spontaneously at a meeting where the questions feel to me to be like a surprise. Brendan: Donna, I hope I get this right. My read on you is that you're more of a quantifiable person. If that's the case, what has got you so enthusiastic about enthusiasm when it's so unquantifiable? Donna: It takes all kinds of personalities to meld together, to build a staff, to create a strong team. Sometimes it isn't the skill level that makes the difference. Sometimes it's the enthusiasm that makes the difference. Sometimes it is the fact that you've got straight As in your final year in university, but maybe it's the fact that you seem to be able to listen to all the sides and come up with something completely different in the middle. If we're going to be quantified in the workplace and not treated as human beings, I think we have a problem. Brendan: How hard do you find, if at all, talking with business leaders, CEO-type people, around the power of enthusiasm when it isn't quantifiable or it's very difficult to quantify? Donna: First of all, do we value enthusiasm or not? If enthusiasm doesn't rank on your Richter scale, then let's talk about what you value instead. If enthusiasm shows up, how do you deal with that? Because it may not necessarily be aligned with what you value. The values of the CEO, the person in charge, the values as identified through mission statements, vision statements for the company, the values that the individual brings to the worksite. In this day and age, new hires are more and more paying attention to how their own value system matches with the values that the company has identified as being its core values. Values is the place to start, not necessarily the enthusiasm, plus, minus, or otherwise. Nonetheless, if the CEO isn't enthusiastic about his own company, how does he replace his enthusiasm in order to create energy in his workforce? Brendan: How does he? Donna: He or she will have to explore what are the talents that are being utilized. What are the talents that are being underutilized? What are the talents that are needed in order to successfully keep a company, to sustain and retain all those things from the past, to be in the present and be able to generate a positive ROI, as well as looking toward the future? How is that going to play out in order to create that three-legged stool that has balanced in all directions, past, present, and future? We are also reminded of some of the work from Seth Godin where he talks about the early adopters. Enthusiasm can show up with early adopters. Why? In fact, there are companies out there that are creating innovative products, who are looking for early adopters who say, that's wonderful. Oh, we just created a brand new way of slicing bread, or we just created a brand new idea for revolutionizing the smartphone. And the early adopters jump in. There are hundreds in line on the first day of the latest iPhone release. They're the early adopters that companies rely on, these enthusiastic people, to be the first in the market to try them out and then tell the world about how wonderful they are. Brendan: Once again, a great example. My head jumped back to personality types in that example. Is there a personality type that is more enthusiastic for longer, generally, in your own experience? Donna: I have no idea. I have absolutely no idea. Brendan: Neither do I, Donna, which is why I'm asking you. Donna: I don't know how I would link that to personality because I think we're all motivated by something, whether we're motivated by a larger paycheck, to have more freedom, to be the first. We have ideas about what our identity is, how we operate within that identity, and what we can do. There are people who refurbish old cars just because they can. They have the knowledge, the skills, the time, and the talent to do that. Somebody else would come along and go, it's just a piece of junk. Brendan: Donna, let's just go to your personal story, if we can touch on it. You had, from what I understand, a fairly significant car accident many years ago. You don't necessarily need to go into the details of that, but I understand the recovery was quite extensive. What part did enthusiasm play in you getting to where you're at today through that recovery process? Donna: Good question, Brendan. My belief in myself was first and foremost. Committing to take action aligned with that belief was integral. Not to mention the unwavering belief that my husband had in helping me to gain back what I had seemingly lost. I've worked very hard to regain, worked with respect to speech, with respect to memory, and so on. It has enabled me to take steps forward and I suppose, in some ways, reinvent myself but still be able to build on my background in psychology, in neurolinguistics, in mediation, in journalism, and in writing. I may progress every single year that I've been coaching. I've now written six books, in the realm of self empowerment. I think that having gone through that journey has helped me to be even more compassionate than I might have ever been about not necessarily expecting everybody to work at 100% every single day. It just doesn't happen. Brendan: What's driving your enthusiasm today in the present day? Donna: Because I can. Brendan: So it's a choice? Donna: I could just shut down my computer and say goodbye, we're all done, that would be that. But the day that one of my friends—we were at a conference—said, I'd like you to meet another friend of mine, and he introduced me as a coach's coach. My life changed from that day forward. I think there's no greater compliment, there's no greater recognition than the recognition that comes from one's peers. The words that I have been given, the feedback that I continue to receive from the work that I do, keeps me here at my computer, coaching and continuing to write. I'm so thankful to be able to have sufficiently redeveloped my skills in order to make a contribution. Brendan: With all of that, can you just give us an example of what a success story looks like in your journey of serving people, helping people? Donna: When I think about success with respect to my clients, their success is what they are seeking. It's not what I decided. It's when they reach where they wanted to reach, when they achieved what they wanted to achieve. It's not up to me. One of my first questions in coaching is, how do you hope that what the work we do together is going to make a difference for you? What changes are you seeking? It's all about them, it's not about me. Because I'm able to use my system in a very individualized way, I think it makes all the difference. I can say that in 17 years of coaching, I have a 100% success rate. Brendan: It's a pretty good strike rate. Donna: I'm humbled and honored to have been chosen by the various clients that I've had, that I still have, to have had the opportunity to work with them. It's very rewarding. Brendan: Donna, you're a very steady type person with a really pleasant personality. Have you ever been mistaken for not being enthusiastic? Donna: Yes. I've learned recently that the use of the smile is something that was not necessarily revered or regarded as positive until several hundred years ago. I don't know whether that's true or not. I'm not sure that they have records that necessarily go back that far. I wish I could have the quote that spoke to that. But to think, at some point in the evolution of humans, that the smile was not relevant. I found myself at one point in a work situation where I was actually graded on not smiling enough. Is a smile an indicator of enthusiasm? Perhaps, but I'd also like to think that my focused attention on you in conversation, maintaining eye contact, hearing your words, being authentic with my response, doesn't necessarily require me to smile, to show my regard. Brendan: It would seem like a normal interview process for me to have asked you more at the top of the show, can you define enthusiasm? But I wanted to unpack some of this stuff first before I ask you that question, because again, this is fascinating for me. How do you define enthusiasm? Donna: Enthusiasm is part of a whole bunch of things. It's like Christmas pudding. Brendan: Great time to mention Christmas pudding. Donna: It's like Christmas pudding, it's got all kinds of stuff in it. It's got joy in it, it's got happiness in it, and it's got a sense of calm and comfort, simply because I think there's a feeling of being safe to be comfortably enthusiastic around people. It's so nice to see you, do you mind if I give you a hug? It's something that we want to feel when we're in the company of others. It's the opposite of feeling rejected. When someone reaches out and warmly takes your hand in theirs and maybe even places a hand on top, there's a level of enthusiasm that's demonstrated without having said a word. Brendan: That's what it felt like to me, that enthusiasm is defined differently for different people. It seems to be such a unique thing. But from a leadership perspective, which is the lens we always look at in the culture of leadership, a leader has a responsibility to engage, to meet regularly—I, you, drummed in on. I was hoping you would drum in the one-on-one process, which is exactly what you did, the importance of spending that quality time with each other, understanding that, and then you can get a read on what enthusiasm means to that person. Is that fair to say? Donna: Yes. It's very fair to say just because it is so individual. My enthusiasm may not be in complete alignment with yours, but that doesn't mean I can't accept it, can't applaud it, or acknowledge it. It doesn't mean any of those things. It just says it's okay. It's okay simply because the lack of enthusiasm can be such a downer. While we don't necessarily need enthusiasm to be there every single day for every single thing, we might choose to want to work alongside another person for a period of time while our own enthusiasm is a little bit in the tank. How about you and I work together today? Because I think I just need a little boost. Brendan: If I'm a person who has a discernment streak, critiquing streak, if you want it to call it that, can be seen as a little bit negative around things, maybe devil's advocate type, just because I do that, does that mean I'm unenthusiastic about something? Donna: I wouldn't even park it in the same category. Performance culture is one thing. There's a lot of contention these days about whether or not people who are employed should be evaluated or have performance reviews. I think that there's a way around all of that. Something that I picked up from my travels. In one country where we visited, people who access medical care keep their own charts, keep their own records, and keep their own documentation with respect to their care. They're responsible for looking after that themselves. A very different system than the one where the medical authority retains the records. What if I took that example and said, would it be possible? By the way, I've done this. It's so beautiful in how it works to put employees in charge of their own performance feedback system. It can be the company template, but when employees take the responsibility, it's going to feel a whole lot less, like receiving a failing report card. Let's face it. Ever since you started school, your entire universe has been evaluated with a report card. With every test you wrote, with every quiz you did, the comments would come back and say, Brendan could do better, Brendan did better last semester, or things that you really didn't want the teacher to write. How sad. How sad that the comments weren't empowering. What if you would have been able to steer your own ship to be evaluated based on the things that were important to you? How's my writing? How's my spelling? How's my contribution in class? How's my social world? Do I get along and play nice with others? Brendan: There's so much to unpack on a topic like that. I have to resist, but what I do want to ask, because that to me feels like a completely standalone episode in itself and fascinating topic as well because I'm definitely on board with you. Back to the point and linking it to enthusiasm, once again, are you using that old-fashioned performance review process and rejigging that as a form of generating enthusiasm and people can be more enthusiastic about their journey? Donna: Absolutely, because when you get to participate in how you're viewed, how you're being measured, and how you're being seen, you get to man your own oars in the boat. Brendan: This is not rocket science, Donna. Donna: No, it's not. Brendan: Why do we spend so much time in society teaching people rocket science and not teaching people this stuff in our institutions? Donna: Sometimes people look for things to be complex in order for them to matter. You're saying it's not rocket science. It's about people. It's about relationships. If we don't need people in the future, if all of the functions of the company are going to be handled by robotic systems and AI tools, then fine. All we need is electrical engineers and the like. Regardless of how the world evolves from an innovative point of view in that direction, there are still going to be people who have needs to matter, needs to achieve, needs to play nice with others, needs to congregate, communicate. It's no surprise to me that two of the factors that are coming out as being the most prominent in terms of needing attention in 2022 are confidence and communication. I would like to think that my approach, my process, my system of dealing with improving confidence simultaneously with communication, be that communication internally or communication externally, makes all the difference in terms of how well we feel regarded, how well we feel recognized, and how well we feel that we bring value to the table. Brendan: A direct close question, not always the best for interviews, but is enthusiasm a fundamental requirement for high-performing teams, high-performing leaders, high-performing people, in whatever they're doing? Donna: I think it has to be there to some degree and everyone, not necessarily all the time. But if enthusiasm begets enthusiasm, enthusiasm becomes the energizer. We all know that every once in a while, the battery in your vehicle needs to be replaced because the energy has drained out of it completely. Let's keep the battery working by regenerating it with enthusiasm. I spotted enthusiasm here, I spotted enthusiasm there. Mary Poppins said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Let's get the energy in there part of the time because, can you feature a boardroom with a dozen people sitting around the board table and nobody's energized? Brendan: Not the greatest looking boardroom, I'd imagine. I know Donna through some of the research I did on you. I think you said something like you're not a person who gives advice. I can't remember what you said on the back of that, but I'm going to ask you to give some advice if you can indulge me, the listeners, and watchers. If somebody is enthusiastic about something they're doing, and again, let's talk in the lens of business leaders, business owners, those types, they are enthusiastic about the work they do, but they've been drained of enthusiasm, what do they need to do? What's some advice you'd give them to recharge their battery, so to speak? Donna: For some, that's going to be a reach. If leaders are looking at a vacuum in the realm of enthusiasm, I strongly encourage them to ask the tough questions. What killed it? What would it take to reignite it? Let's not beat around the bush. Let's call a spade a spade and get it done. Brendan: What you just answered reminds me of, it's not that you give advice, it's that you challenge. That's exactly what you've done with those two questions. Fantastic. Love it. Can I ask you about a mantra that I also read about you? It's your mantra or mantra that you used. Challenges inspire us to take giant steps long before we might ever become giants. What does that mean to you in the context of enthusiasm? Donna: Pretty much all of my public school life was a time where I was bullied. It's interesting how tears still come forward just thinking about that. I was always reminded about the tortoise and the hare. If the tortoise could create the plan, stick with the plan, carry out the plan, the tortoise could make it to the end of the race. Nowadays, when given the opportunity, I speak to groups. I work with a board of a not-for-profit. Its primary purpose is in dealing with anti-bullying. I say, challengers inspire us to take giant steps long before we might ever become giants. If those of us who are bullied allow the bullies to have the win, then I think that we're taking the wrong side of the challenge. Challengers can be positive and may not always be so positive, but what is the positive thing that we can take away from that? Perhaps that's another piece in my puzzle that says, it's okay to treat all the people on the staff like human beings, that have varying levels of energy, varying levels of enthusiasm, different things going on in different days. We just, as leaders, want to be mindful of what is happening and want to be able to create an intervention that will have a positive outcome. Brendan: Donna, I think it's very appropriate for me to ask you the final question. What is the one thing that has helped you become a more confident leader? Donna: It's the feedback that I have gotten across so many different avenues in one case. A partnership invited me to work with their entire team in the last hour of a Friday afternoon. I said, well, okay, if I do this, you have to be in the room. Really? Yes. I showed up to do the one hour presentation. One of the partners said to me, where's your PowerPoint? I said, I didn't bring one. Oh, well, we always have somebody have a PowerPoint. I didn't bring one. We'll have to work without it. We spent the next hour together. I waited a month. Then finally at the end of the second month, I got a note back that said, thank you, Donna. We've just had two consecutive record months of sales, and I've had to hire five additional staff. It's feedback like that, Brendan, that attracts me to stay in this forum. My husband threatens that people shouldn't be allowed to go and have coffee with me. They should have to pay for a coaching session prior to the coffee date because change is sure to take place. Brendan: Donna, you are a small, slight woman in stature, but I definitely believe you would pack a punch in a boardroom without question. You are a fantastic coach to so many. Thank you very much for sharing what you've shared today and unpacking this very, very interesting topic around enthusiasm and how that relates to leaders. You have a great wiseness and calmness around you which I love and I so appreciate. I appreciate you being such a fantastic guest on The Culture of Leadership today. Donna: Thank you so much for inviting me, Brendan. My pleasure. Brendan: Understanding enthusiasm and how it impacts your leadership is a key element of self-awareness. Being self-aware is a critical foundation for leaders. Do you remember a time when your enthusiasm made a difference? Can you recall events where enthusiasm impacted your decision? Have you considered how you would respond to someone who was presenting in an overly enthusiastic manner? Take some time to reflect on these questions to help you better understand your own levels of enthusiasm and how it impacts you. These are my three key takeaways from my conversation with Donna. My first key takeaway, leaders choose enthusiasm over apathy. Like most things in life, it's a choice, and you have full control of that choice. To be a high performing leader, you have to be enthusiastic. Leaders make a conscious choice to be enthusiastic about their life, work, and everything they do. My second key takeaway, leaders have weekly performance one-on-ones. They're not just aligning expectations each week. They also provide a great enthusiasm check-in opportunity. Don't undervalue this type of meeting. The best leaders are consistent with their weekly performance one-on-ones. My third key takeaway, leaders generate enthusiasm in others. They know how to get the best out of their people. They have to help create and find their enthusiasm. One example is getting people to own their performance, growth, and development journey. This is a fantastic way for leaders to generate enthusiasm in others and achieve great results. In summary, my three key takeaways were, leaders choose enthusiasm over apathy, leaders have weekly performance one-on-ones, and leaders generate enthusiasm in others. What were your key takeaways from the episode? You can let me know at thecultureofleadership.com, on YouTube, or via our socials. Thanks for joining me. Remember, the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation. Thanks for listening to The Culture of Leadership. You can access the show notes at thecultureofleadership.com. If you enjoy the show, please follow, rate, and give a review on your favorite podcast platform.

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