Episode 29: Moving an Expert Leader to Strategic Facilitator

Petra Platzer Headshot Mar2017.docx.jpg

Many leaders were brought up to believe they had to have all the answers and rescue their employees when they were stuck. We often call this “heroic” leadership and it sets up the leader as the rescuer. This scenario can create resentment for both the leader and the followers. It can also lead to burn-out for leaders and disengagement for followers. Please join Jeff Smith and Petra Platzer as we the journey from expert leader to strategic facilitator. We will outline the new mindset for leadership in today’s organizations, highlight case studies from our clients and close with tools and tips for implementation.


Petra Platzer, PhD, President of Integrative Partners, LLC is an executive coach, leader, teacher, and facilitator with over 15 years experience driving positive outcomes in cancer bioinformatics, genomics research, leadership development and organizational culture change. Previously, Petra led the Serving Leader Development at Cleveland Clinic by leveraging her expertise in shared leadership and team dynamics to serve as a trusted and effective partner with her stakeholders. Dr. Platzer is passionate about transforming leaders and their teams and focuses on healthcare organizations who are undergoing complex change and transformation. She serves as Co-Director of Georgetown University’s Health and Wellness Coaching Program and is faculty in Virginia’s SYNC – Transforming Healthcare Leadership program. Petra holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics, is an ICF-credentialed coach, a co-inventor on a patent, and has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals.


Jeff: Welcome we are so happy you could be with us today. You’re listening to Illuminating Leadership and I’m your host, Jeff Smith. Today I have Petra Platzer on today. Petra, you want to say hi before I do the introductions?

Petra: Hello.

Jeff: I was so excited. Petra and I have a done a lot of work together and this topic is really exciting to me. Lots of times we get notes or phone calls during the show so to reach us during the show call 1-866-472-5788. If you didn’t catch that, they’ll say it in the next break.

If you want to email me during the show, it’s Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com. Our website’s VoltageLeadership.com. You can like me on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. Connect with me on LinkedIn at Jeff Smith Voltage Leadership Consulting or you can follow me on Twitter @JMUJeff.

Today what we’re talking about is moving from an expert to a strategic facilitator and Petra and I will start to define that here in a moment. Why don’t we first introduce you to Petra. Petra is a Phd. She’s got the obvious path from you know Phd in molecular biology and genetics to coaching so we’ll have to explore that as we go through.

She is the President of Integrated Partners. She’s an Executive Coach, a Leader, a speaker, facilitator, and really a great teacher. She’s got over 15 years of experience driving positive outcomes in cancer, bioinformatics, genomics research, leadership development, organizational change culture. Previously Petra and I got to know each other working on the Serving Leader Development Program at Cleveland Clinic.

She was instrumental in driving that kind of change, getting worldwide leaders to change, grow their skills, and really put people at a new spot. She also serves as a co-director of Georgetown University’s Health and Wellness Coaching Program and is in faculty at Virginia Synch where she is helping to transform health care leaders as they go through leadership program and coaching and things like that. Again Petra, welcome to the show and she is also an avid runner and married to Jay and lots of other great things. Petra, so happy to be have you here with us on the show today.

Petra: Thank you so much, Jeff and it’s always good to be with. It’s great to have a conversation and since you did that nice intro I wanted to start with a thank you because I have a real appreciation that you have this platform for us to share this kind of thinking and have conversation.

Jeff: Well great.

Petra: Thank you.

Jeff: Yes, absolutely. Maybe tell us the listener just first before we dive in to the content the path from a Phd in molecular biology and genetics to working with coaching and leaders and developing people and organizations. That’s a pretty dramatic path. Tell us about that.

Petra: Right, yes I—you might imagine that I do get that question once or twice so how do I do now with I’m doing based on where I started and like you said it might not look obvious, but as I’ve sat and reflected, it’s pretty clear to me how I’ve ended up here. Because when I launched into cancer research, it really had to do with a huge curiosity around understanding how our cells are wired and how they communicate and how they can result in a dysfunctional pathway that leads to cancer and ultimately to lots of suffering. As I was moving through scientific career and the trajectory like for lots of us in removal up in the ladder of responsibilities and one day I found myself as the co-director of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. At this point two pivotal things happened.

One was that my ascension into this leadership role was part of an org restructure and the reality for me was that okay I knew how to lead a project and I’d even managed some teams, but this level of leadership was really new. What I found was one of the things that I prided myself up until that point was this was a funny little tagline. You know I prided myself in never pulling an all-nighter. As I moved into this leadership role, suddenly that sentence changed. I fell into the trap that happens to so many of us, which is just overworking, having just huge levels of responsibility, taking it on myself and so I found a leadership coach to help me because I realized this was new.

That was one of the pivotal things and the other was something that you mentioned, which was Cleveland Clinic had embarked on an overall culture change initiative. I was the research representative that got to go through the serving leader development program. As I went through that a light bulb went off for me and it was like, “Wow!” Okay so I’ve always been interested in signaling and here I got to see the signaling among people is really how we can look at the health of the system. When we as leaders and as people inside of an organization however that signaling goes is what impacts and results in the effectiveness of what we’re trying to accomplish as an organization.

That launched me in a path of figuring out the next step in my career, which was okay now I’m going to look at signaling among people rather than inside the cells. I shifted over to the work that you mentioned doing at the Cleveland Clinic around serving leadership. When I was—I had an opportunity to speak about this work in Singapore. What I saw there were health care systems and everybody was really in the same question. The leaders there had the same question of how do we do this? That really catapulted me into saying, “Wow, okay this is a really larger question.” I committed to doing this type of work and so I got a leadership coaching certification and this is now what I do. Get to talk with leaders and systems.

Jeff: That’s awesome.

Petra: That’s how we got to meet. It’s a natural pathway I know.

Jeff: What I’m looking forward to is you know we both work in health care a good bit as well as other types of organizations. You know one of the things when we’re talking about prepping for the show is this sort of this heroic leadership right and you know I’m the one in charge and it can be good to be sort of this expert and be able to put the cape on and be a super hero and all of those. As you pointed out, it also leads to some overwhelm, some burnout and things like that. As you think about maybe the heroic leader, you know what is a heroic leader and what do you see you know in heroic leaders out in the workplace?

Petra: I’d love to take credit for this term and it’s something that I learned about from a book called Power Up. The title is transforming organizations through shared leadership. That’s what introduced the topic to me as in my own journey as a leader and realizing that this idea of heroic leadership and dot org structures can facilitate that. The concept of well the—I’m the one on top and so more of a commanding control kind of mindset that it’s I’m the one who has control and has the power. It’s more of having power over people and so that can result in the mindset of really these are the things I have to do myself. I have to make sure that others are doing this, but it’s still that idea of I’m and if you think about it in literature that’s where heroic is coming from. I’m the hero of the story. I’m the one who’s going to make it work and so that puts on a lot of responsibility. The shift then you can see you’re setting up.

Jeff: Yes, no let’s go there so you know part of what we talk about here is this heroic and our title we often as an expert and we’re suggesting a shift over to this strategic facilitator so this first segment will go ahead and get all the definitions out of the way and then we’ll start to unravel like okay so what do we do differently, but when we talk about strategic facilitator you know I really like that term that you’re using. Can you help the listeners understand what you mean by strategic facilitator?

Petra: Sure and to your point around giving the definition perhaps it would help to start backwards with a—what do I mean by expert?

Jeff: Yes, that would be great.

Petra: In that case it really is if you think about most of our leadership journey and the one that I described, as individual contributors gained expertise and so as we moved up in our leadership trajectory that expertise is what put us to the next level of management, next level of leadership. We were the experts at the tasks. That’s really what I mean by the expert leader and the expertise is what got me here. Alright and so the shift and the meaning of a strategic facilitator so the contrast here is to facilitate in a—the achievement of the outcome. It doesn’t mean necessarily doing it yourself, but facilitating the outcome happening.

That’s the facilitator part of the definition and strategic that can mean different things as well. In this case it’s meaning strategically how you’re leading yourself as well as how are you leading for the organization. I think one of your previous guests, Lee when he was talking about the coaching culture one of the sentences he used really fits nicely here, which is “Leader is the coach translating the strategic intent of the organization.” That’s where.

Jeff: Oh Lord, Petra I got a leave it with Lee and you’re quoting him. Oh Lee, you are falling over in love right now with Petra.

Petra: I thought I might be strategic of me. That’s what I meant with gratitude to you about this platform because all of these concepts, they do interweave and overlap. The connecting of that concept of that’s the leader’s role as a strategic facilitator is to translate the strategic intent of the organization and facilitate the outcome through others.

Jeff: We’ve got about one minute before we take a break here. Is one better than the other or are we going to need both sets of skills? Do we need to understand what it is to be an expert and then move over strategic facilitator or is one better than the other in your mind?

Petra: Wonderful question and it’s as you know with the polarity thinking, it’s never about one or the other. It’s understanding and expanding your toolkit to know when to leverage the different skills to have the outcome that you’re really looking for. It’s having the ability for all of this and knowing when to use what.

Jeff: Well that’s probably a good place to stop for now. What a great introduction Petra. I am looking forward to continuing the discussion. Listeners, we’re going to really start to boil it down and say, “Okay so how do we make this shift? What are some of the ways that we can distribute our power and learn more from the folks that we lead.” It’s time for a break so we’ll talk to you in two minutes.


Jeff: Welcome back and I am here today with my friend, Petra Platzer and one of the things that I enjoy about this show is it reconnects me to friends. Petra and I at break, we were just talking about races and running together and we’ve gone on several long runs together. It’s joyful being able to work with experts, but as also friends. Petra, you know before the break we’ve been sort of talking about experts and strategic facilitators and you know we’re going to keep this to understand how we make these shifts. One of the things that struck me is maybe we need to understand expert and recognize what it is to be an expert. What does that look like? What are the behaviors of experts so could you start us on that path first?

Petra: I think that’s a really a great place because a lot of the clients that I work with and this is what I experienced myself was the you know what I’m doing isn’t working. I am exhausted. I am overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do differently. When I’m working with leaders right now one of the things we do is figure out okay what are some of your developmental goals and cognitively, many leaders say I know I need to delegate. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how to do it.

Jeff: Me too. I don’t know how. I can’t figure out how to start. Okay good.

Petra: If you find yourself in that question that is a clue that okay I’m on—I have this muscle well-built and then you know so it’s recognizing and some of the ways you can find this out is asking yourself or if you hear yourself when others, when your superior, when others are around you are saying, “Hey, delegating might really help you get more sleep or be able to get to this meeting that you keep missing.” If you ask yourself this question and then you hear yourself saying, “Yes, but I can do it better.” That’s one clue. Okay and another one that I hear frequently is the “Well they already have so much to do. I don’t want to give them more so I’ll just do it myself.”

Jeff: Yes, I call that the pre-rescuing. You never gave them a chance to prioritize or maybe that have been something they wanted to do, but you look down and you kind of go into that heroic mindset of oh I better not. They’re so busy and so you become that hero of the story. I think that’s great, yes.

What else do you got?

Petra: The other is well I don’t and this one is harder to acknowledge to ourselves, but the kind of thinking that says, “I don’t think they can.” You know so like let me just complete that thought, which is I don’t think they can do it to the level that I would want it done. Which again is coming into that expert mindset and when that comes up, that is something that we can—there’s a wonderful resource around to understand if maybe what’s at play is the idea of holding on to having to do things perfectly. One resource that I found really has been useful for some of my clients is a book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection.

Jeff: That’s great I haven’t read that one. I’ve read some of her other work around. You know vulnerability and things like that so I really enjoy her writing so what was that again? Brene Brown and it’s The Gifts of Imperfection. Yes, I love it.

Petra: Yes, yes and one of the elements and there’s several guide posts there and one of the elements that I’ve found just leaders saying to me that, “Ugh this is the one that hits for me is the idea around self-compassion.”

Now that you’re in this leadership role and we want to do the best. We are committed to the organization and we want the best to come out. There’s a difference between striving for the best and striving for perfection. One is very constructive, and one can be destructive.

Jeff: You know I’ve got a couple other guide posts that I’m just going to offer up for experts to be aware of and Petra’s given us several great ones. You know another one I think is if you notice that you’re defensive around feedback and you think that sort of she alluded to this earlier, Petra did about that your way is the right way and you’re a little quick to defend your thoughts. Continuing this question, do others measure up to my standards? You know it was kind of interesting, not with the standard is needed to do the job, but my personal standards so if you kind of walk around with some standards in your head that are maybe beyond what’s required by the performance review, maybe in the specifications by the customer, but you have these standards walking around your head.

Then you’re probably in expert mode. It’s also if you can sometimes find yourself maybe being dismissive of others because they’re not an expert. I see especially in technical fields whether it’s you know physicians to programmers to CPA to an architect. Well the other person, they don’t do it quite to the standard or to the right way that I want it done. That makes it hard for them to, back to your point, delegate and to grow others. You know, do you see similar things in your clients?

Petra: That’s where we spend a lot of time talking around that and the shift is letting go because that’s the part that was rewarded and led to this role of leadership. It’s understanding that, yes that’s what in Marshall Goldsmith language, that’s what got you here, but it’s not what’s going to get you there. It’s understanding that you are now in a new sandbox.

Jeff: Tell me more about that letting go, that’s kind of tough. I love Goldsmith, but I was successful because I was this awesome IT developer or this fantastic position. Now I’m leading others and you want old me to let go. The thing that I have worked on 15 years and master my craft? Come on Petra let go, you’re crazy. I think you’re smoking crack is the technical term.

Petra: That is quite technical and that’s honestly why this isn’t as simple as you know you go to a class and suddenly this light switch goes on and it just happens. It is a shift in your mindset. It is having to think about well part of your identity and who am I and what is my role and mission now as leader? That’s part of what title is talking about. It’s starting to give the okay that yes you were an expert to come into this role and now in this role for you to be expert, it’s expert at being a strategic facilitator.

Jeff: That’s great language. I was with a chief medical officer yesterday and that was just to her point literally you know it was almost like you in our coaching session. She’s like, “Jeff you know when I was” (I won’t say the type of doctor she was originally), but when she did that she’s like, “I understood what I was supposed to do.” Even when I sort of moved up to the chair, it was you know contained.

It was kind of I knew what I was supposed to do, but now I’m a chief medical officer for a large system and my days are confusing and almost never ever –everything gets done. You know I start to talk to her a little bit about this strategic facilitator role and I really talked about shaping a container where the right conversations could happen. The people on her team, the physicians, vice presidents that they could come in and have all the tools, resources and the type of culture that they could achieve their best work. It’s more of creating an environment as a strategic facilitator and not always having to do that work. She got it, but she’s like, “Oh this is going to take a moment. I’m not going to make this transition, overnight am I?” I’m like, “Oh no, this is going to take a moment.”

Petra: Yes. Absolutely and I really like that concept around the container and yes, that’s nice.  Back to your question around what is the letting go?

You know that’s been the—with your example of a new what I was doing up until a point, the starting out in a new playground where you don’t know as much about what you’re doing that can feel disconcerting and you want to hold on more to what you do feel comfortable and strong at.

Jeff: I’d be curious about your thinking a bit here. I know I’ve gone through this in my own career. At first, we’re pretty good at delegating off our weaknesses you know so I was never really great at sitting down doing budgets and that detail-oriented kind of thing. That wasn’t that hard for me to delegate, but as I started my own company, I was good a facilitator and teaching in the classroom and even some of the coaching assignments.

There are others in my organization that could do that, but those were my strengths and learning to delegate that away, boy that was hard because back to your point my identity was wow, I’m a good facilitator. I’m a good coach and I’m also the face of my company and suddenly I’m going to give that to other people? You know it almost was like I was in competition sometimes with my direct reports even though I hired them, I wanted them there. My own self-worth was kind of tied up and learning to delegate those strengths and letting other people represent what is my department, my organization in my case you know my company. It took a moment to get there. I got to tell you, Petra that wasn’t easy.

Petra: I think that’s one of the underlying things to really understand is that this is a shift. This isn’t a switch and it does take time and that’s why having self-compassion while you’re in the learning journey is huge. Sometimes it will work, sometimes you’ll say, “hm, that one didn’t go so well. What did I learn from this?”

Jeff: How about any other examples on the letting go? What I think we’ll do here is we’ll wrap up sort of this part of it and then we’ll pick up in a moment on the how do we make that transition to strategic facilitator. You know so I love this working on some self-compassion, this Gift of Imperfection book. I think those are great. What else can they be doing to learn how to let go a little more effectively?

Petra: I would say one thing that I’ve heard back from some of my clients is the what you mentioned around you know hey I’ve become the master and it’s letting go of the master at what. That you’re replacing that at what so it’s also having the understanding that we’re in a continuous learning journey you know as we are moving up in leadership because it can feel like well I reached the top. I’m supposed to know now because I’ve gotten to the top of my path. The reality is once you get to this step, you’ve just started a new ladder.

Jeff: Fascinating. You know I think a couple of things that I recommend here is this is the value of a coach. This a value of a thinking partner, a mentor so that they can help you sort of navigate this and be able to think through. You know what are the possibilities? And being able to really start to say what’s that next spot. I recently took one of my clients through sort of the competency model of the C suite and really asking them to start to say, “Okay from where you are as a Vice President, you’re trying to get to that C suite, what are some things that you’re going to leave behind? What are some things that you’re going to have to pick on that journey?”

Letting them sort of understand that there are things I’m going to have to leave behind and how do I invest? Made it concrete for them and we were able to sort of write down two or three things that we we’re going to work on over the six to nine months. I’d also you know get that maybe a competency model as well as a discussion with a mentor/coach. How about you Petra any other suggestions before we go to break?

Petra: I’m so glad you mentioned those because those are great. Having somebody to speak to and a mentor and folks that you are noticing that are doing this well you know reach out, talk to people. Start to understand what’s their journey and getting the input. The last point being exactly what you said. As you were adding things onto the plate, your plate is only one size. Some things must come off.

Jeff: Yes, yes. The start-stop-continue is a great exercise for that as well as you know again reading things like you know the gifts of imperfection by Brene Brown, excuse me. Just you know taking the time to say, “Alright this is what I’m going to work on.” What we’re going to work on right now is taking a quick break, so we’ll be back in two minutes to make that shift over to strategic facilitator. See you in two.


Jeff: Welcome back and we are so glad you could be with us today. I know you come in from all over the world. I got some notes from Canada, Abu Dhabi, and Denmark in the past week as well as even from Harrisburg, Virginia and Nick Langringe. Thanks for giving me shout out from JMU.

Today, I am with Petra Platzer, Petra is—she has her Phd, is an executive coach, a leader, teacher, facilitator, and all around just amazing person that does a great job coaching her clients. We’ve been talking about the shift from expert to strategic facilitator. We’re halfway through the show. Petra will be with us throughout today. Petra, let’s pick back up now—okay we’ve recognized our self as an expert. We’re starting to let go a little bit, but how do we make that shift into that strategic facilitator space? You know what are some of your best practices or ideas about getting people there?

Petra: We also talked about the shift takes time and so the first step is recognizing and honestly committing to the fact that you want to make this shift rather than I need to make this shift. It is deciding that I want to make this shift.

Jeff: Yes, we talk a lot about deficit base seeking and versus asset based thinking, right?

You know someone could be making me make that shift, but we really want to be in that creative space of, “I call it waking up from the zombie zone.” Like where you’re going through life and it’s like life’s kind of going on and you kind of have this gentle tug of like I need to do something different. A lot of people don’t get out of the zombie zone. They kind of finish their career you know not kind of in a zombie zone versus what we’re suggesting is you hear that tug and you’re like, “Hm I really want to change and go fun. How do I get better and take it to the next level?”

This is that waking up and to your point it will take more than a minute and you have to want to do it because it will take a moment to do this and you’re going to try new behaviors.

Alright so I’ve got the want. What’s next?

Petra: You have the want the next is to have a clear description of what is it you want? To say strategic facilitator is a way you’re operating, but what is the actual outcome that you want? Usually I work with clients because originally the definition of delegate might look something like I’ll give them stuff off of my plate so that I can do other stuff. Okay so it might look like that. Now as a strategic facilitator in that mindset, I want to develop the team and those around me so that we are accomplishing this outcome. It’s this understanding around, it’s now sharing the responsibility rather than it’s all my responsibility.

Jeff: Ah yes and look at that so you can really that move from that heroic spot to shared leadership, right?

I love the language there of you know wanting to develop others so that we can achieve you know our shared desired outcomes. You know that’s really great and I can see myself coming alive in a coaching session with you, Petra about that. That’s good so now I’m starting to accept that mindset. What else is going on for me?

Petra: Now that you’ve defined okay, so this is—I want to develop and have others taking on stretch assignments, doing things above in order for us all to get there. The next thing is really to check in with yourself of so how am I holding the people around me? Do I look at them as capable? To what the point you made earlier about are they able to do it as well as me? That’s a different question than asking yourself. Do I think they can do this? Rather than the evaluation as well as me.

Jeff: That’s awesome. I’m chuckling, I was with John Hagmeier this morning, Crass Commercial Coming, we are launching our book June 15th so we were doing the video shoot for Mark Dean and all of that today and so I was interviewing him, and this is really when the company took off was he no longer had to be sort of the hero. John’s a big personality and come in and save the day too. You know are others capable and he could look around and say, “Not only were they capable, they took it to a new and different place.”

His role shifted from having to be the expert in the technology and knowing school systems to really being the facilitator of hey I got—I’m hiring the right talent. I’m giving them enough direction, but I’m also giving them enough latitude to go solve their own sets of issues and it took him he says a good year. He was kind of a law CEO for almost a year because he wasn’t quite sure of his role. Once he redefined it, he saw that how capable people were and that there still was a role for him to bring in building relationships, to talk about the organization to the community to go secure funding. It was just a new of challenges that he really grew into, but he first had to change that mindset that you talked about.

Petra: Yes, that’s a great example.

Jeff: How about you? I’m sure you’ve got case studies. You know do you have a client that you’re thinking about that has—is on this journey from the expert to the strategic facilitator.

Petra: Honestly most of my clients are somewhere on this journey. It’s funny because I was just thinking of when you said CEO, for the next element you know once you hold them, they’re capable. The other element is around do you trust?

That was something actually that just recently the other week in a meeting with the sponsor who was the CEO and my client, we were having a conversation around his goals, around delegating. I was really impressed when the CEO and said you know I see delegation here on the list, but I don’t know anyone who can delegate well to a team they don’t trust. How do you feel about trust with your team? I thought that was insightful. In his own leadership journey, he said the first thing that he does when he moves into a new role is to focus on team building.

Jeff: Yes that’s an insightful leader you’re working with you know I wish they were all that good.

Petra: Yes. I did do a little dance!

Jeff: Sometimes people think as coaches that you know we can be a little serious or people think that we don’t celebrate and all that kind of stuff. I love the little dance picture. You know, when you have that break through with a client or their leader says something like that. The client and I, we come back and high five or I come home and talk to Beth and say, “Boy! This client, they had this awesome breakthrough today.” A little inside baseball there, we do a dance as well and high five and all that kind of stuff.

Anything else in that shift over to strategic facilitator that would be well helpful for us to know?

Petra: There are two other elements and I think you mentioned one earlier, which is around feedback.

When you are facilitating something one of the questions is well how is it going? Often when we are still in this expert mindset and we are the hero as in any hero story we know our intention is good and we know that we are trying everything in our best to have good results. The question is well what does your feedback say? How does your team feel? How are you getting feedback around them? When you’re in this mindset around strategic facilitation, it’s important for the effectiveness of everything to really have a feedback process live not just an annual, but to say how things are going, is this working, and have that kind of an open conversation throughout the process, again, as part of the shared responsibility.

Jeff: We’ve talked a little bit about this in a previous show, but you know I really love the after-action review.

Like at the end of a meeting, end of an off-site, end of a project so that it doesn’t build up over the course of the year. I will tell you that sometimes I can be a little thin skinned or defensive myself around feedback, but the after-action review really helps me get laser focused and know that intent is for us to all get better and so I would just encourage folks. You can look it up. We won’t go into a whole full blown on it today but look up an after action review and use that as a process. That has really helped me make that—this transition to that strategic facilitator.   Awesome.

Petra: That is wonderful, and the one other thing is to delegate, it means you are making requests of somebody. You’re asking them to make a commitment, so the other elements really are around commitment management and making effective requests. You are developing and giving people the opportunity to look in to things. The shifts now are instead of telling somebody what to do and perhaps micromanaging and hopefully not and just saying, “Well this is how it should look.” When you are strategically facilitating, you are setting the vision of here’s the outcome I’m looking for and not managing the way somebody goes around doing that.

Jeff: That’s really good. There’s such a big move from commanding control over to the spot. I love the two-way feedback process that will be going on between the leader and the subordinate follower, peer whatever, you know that there’s really going to be feedback following back and forth in commitment management. I love that.

Petra: The thing around commitment management is often we think we have a commitment from somebody when we say this is what we need to do and there’s a head nod. Now it’s okay, here’s the result that we are looking for. It’s being very clear on the who, what, when and making a clear request and then somebody making a commitment and saying, “Having the ability to say yes I will do this by then,” or “No, I cannot do this,” or renegotiating.

Jeff: Alright so Petra we covered a lot of ground and yes we’ll come back and a recap, a real quick one on this I love the book. I know we’ve both used it Winning with Accountability by Henry J. Evans is a great one if you’re learning about how to make commitments and delegation. Winning with Accountability is a great resource. When we come back from break, we’ll give some more tips and tools, so we’ll talk to you in two.


Jeff: Welcome I am here today with Petra Platzer. Petra and I have been talking about the shift from moving from an expert to a strategic facilitator and we’ve been talking a lot about delegation and why is it important, how do you let go of things? We’re going to wrap up the show today with just some discussion about some of our tools and tips. Just so you know, we’ll continue this discussion next week with Jennifer Owen-O’Quill on. I’ll talk about that a bit at the end of the show. You know Petra, one of the things that I think people worry about is you know it’s got to get done. Does that mean that I’m responsible for all the work that gets done below me? Do I physically have to do the work below or am I just accountable for that? Maybe we can start with that and then we’ll move into some delegation tips.

Petra: That is a wonderful thing and if the listeners take away one major message from this entire show it’s this idea that as a leader, it’s not that you are doing everything. It is that you are accountable for the result that you and your team are achieving. That is the fundamental shift.

Jeff: You know what’s interesting is that may make some people even more scared you know because I’m still accountable, but I’m not the one responsible so why would I give that over to people again? Remind me?

Petra: So if—so this could a self, it’s a pulse check for yourself. If you are feeling that you have too much on your plate that you are overwhelmed, that it’s the amount of complexity that’s ahead, that you are spending your time on the tactical and the things that are strategic for the organization are not where you’re able to spend your time. These are all signs of, “hmm, there could be a different way that could be more effective for everybody.”

Jeff: Yes, that’s funny. The Vice President that I was working with yesterday literally said, “Jeff I can’t tell you the last time I had time to think.”

My job is to be thinking where we’re going to be in market two and three years from now and I just using Scott Eblin’s term, “I’m so wracked and stacked day in and day out when do I think?” We’re really working on that mindset shift and we’re going to be working on her delegation skills so that we can figure out. It’s this conversation about what is she uniquely qualified to do? Like what are her unique gifts and responsibilities so that she can figure out what to keep and what to delegate.

The position she sets in the organization, when it comes to figuring out resources and figuring out where this tragedy is going to go and what markets that they’re moving into in the next two or three years, that is her responsibility. She has a gift to do that. Now getting all the marketing materials out each month in and month out, there are others on the team that could that and when she’s at her best. She doesn’t get trapped with that, but she goes back to the other thinking, but when it gets busy and overwhelmed, she’s over there checking in on you know what stuff is on Google Ads this week, etcetera. It is it’s still a shift for her at this point.

Petra: What you just said was what she is uniquely qualified to do that others cannot, those are the responsibilities. The rest is the accountability.

There is a distinction between what are my responsible for doing myself and what am I accountable for that we get done?

Jeff: Petra, I’m going to put you on the spot here. I’ll recap a couple of things I heard today so I love this sort of idea of you know Brene Brown’s book about the Gifts for Imperfection. You talked a little bit about Power Up. I threw in Winning with Accountability. You know what are some other maybe tips or tools for folks that are trying to get better at this shift to strategic facilitator, this shift to delegating more. What suggestions do you have for us to continue our learning journey?

Petra: In addition to the resources that you named, some of this is the self-reflection and talking with a mentor or a coach, but some of the questions to check in on with yourself is really to start with what your comfort and discomfort level around delegating is and sharing the responsibility. Like you said for some people that might sound like. That’s worse than me doing all of this.

That check in is okay that lets you know something to check into because you’re not going to be able to just shift and do the task without understanding what’s getting in the way? What makes you uncomfortable? Another thing is to really check into what elements create trust for you? What is it that you need to feel trust in others?

Then looking at those around you to see are those elements present? If not, what are ways to start having conversations to build trust and being transparent so that your team is able to have open and transparent work and responsibility conversations to create the trust needed for this type of shared responsibility.

The other thing I would really say is okay now you’ve got all the concepts. Start thinking what’s a safe place to experiment?

Start making little experiments and figuring out well sometimes it’s around well that the risk is too big if doesn’t go great. Start finding mini experiments where you feel it’s a tolerable amount of risk to see what’s possible.

Jeff: I’ll go back to my early example of budgeting. When I took over a department or moved to a new area, I wouldn’t do budgeting. I wouldn’t ask someone to learn budgeting when we only had three weeks. I normally put it a year out so that we would have time together and as we got closer and closer, they were carrying more and more of the responsibility, but I didn’t throw that on them at the last minute where failure was large. It was, let’s learn together over the course of this year and when we were dividing it up sort of in monthly chunks it was doable. I think this requires some planning and thinking ahead as well.

Petra: Which comes back to the, it’s being strategic. It’s getting yourself out of the weeds of doing and saying, “Can somebody else be doing this so that I can pull back and be strategic, take that time to slow down and think?” Back to your other example and create these opportunities and experiments.

Jeff: I can just hear some of my listeners saying, “But you don’t live my day. I don’t have time to think.” That goes all the way back to our original comment too though that this doesn’t happen overnight. This isn’t a shot you got you know at the doctor’s office and you’re suddenly a master at this. This is truly a journey. Therefore Petra and I are here while we’re going to continue this series is we want to be able to help support you and really you know to make this kind of transition is a good six to 12 months of really working on yourself and noticing. Then a year and a half later you realize, “Oh I can’t remember last time I did some work.” It happened. You know I wish there was an easy finish line you know kind of like a race Petra, but it’s not quite like that is it?

Petra: No, it isn’t and it and coming back to that metaphor around races I mean nobody starts saying, “Okay I’m going to go run a half marathon” and can do it from day one. You start with okay I’m going to go for 20 minutes and I’m going to build that muscle and then when that gets easier then I’m going to extend the time. It is this chunking and that’s why I said one of the first things is to consciously decide this is what I want to do because I understand the result is going to give a better outcome than what we have now.

Jeff: Ah fantastic so let me just tell you about next week. Jennifer Owen-O’Quill will be back with us. She’s going to be—what we’re calling next week’s show is Share the Load, the Give and Take of Deliberate Delegation. We knew we had Petra on. We’re going to get down into some really—the practical how do you look at your calendar? What do you delegate off? We’ll get specific next week so please join us back next week. Petra it’s just been a joy to have you on the show. It really, great insights and so thanks so much for coming on the show and I’ll look forward to our friendship continuing through the years so thanks for being here.

Petra: Thank you so much for having me, Jeff. It’s been wonderful.

Jeff: Absolutely so during the week, you know if you want to reach out to us, multiple ways to get us. You can follow me on Twitter @JMUJeff. You can connect with me on LinkedIn at Jeff Smith Voltage Solution Consulting. You can like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. Also our website is Voltage Leadership.com. If you want to try to email me, it’s Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com or if you want to call us during the week it’s 540-798-1963. We’d be happy to help you with your shift on this journey or helping you with your leadership needs. You’ve been listening to Illuminating Leadership. I am Jeff Smith. I’ve been Petra Patzner this week and we hope you learned a few things this week. In the meantime, take care have a fantastic week and we’ll talk to you next week. Bye now.