Welcome to The Work Place, where we talk about the cultures we work in, and how to make them better for everyone. I’m Andrew Scarcella.
This episode, we’re talking with Pete Shepherd of Human Periscope about the trickiest concepts of leadership—how to develop better leaders, and what it really means to be a great leader in times of crisis.
Stick around after the interview for Tangible Takeaways, where we break down the big ideas from the interview into bite-sized morsels you can use to shape your own workplace culture.
Pete Shepherd is the founder of Human Periscope, where he helps people see things they can't so they can change their corner of the world. He’s a coach, speaker, and fellow podcaster who has worked with CEOs, best-selling authors, founders, and senior leaders from the likes of Google, Slack, GBG, and Westpac. He also serves as Head Coach at Seth Godin's online leadership program: the altMBA.
His podcast is The Long and the Short of It, a podcast for curious people, which he co-hosts with Jen Waldman. And not that he needs a plug from us, but pop on over and give it a listen.
Pete was interviewed by me, and his easy-going charisma was the perfect match for my laid back smart-assery.
Now it’s time for Tangible Takeaways, where we take big ideas into the heart of a category 3 hurricane at just under 10,000 ft. in a NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter equipped with four Allison turboprops a full suite of weather sensors, including C and X-band radars, GPS dropsondes, thermometers, barometers, hygrometers, anemometers, and a cassette tape of Rafi’s greatest hits in case the pilots get scared.
1. The first is that leadership takes practice. Especially when it comes to soft skills. You know, your empathy, your collaboration, your curiosity, your humility. But as Pete says, practice for leaders isn’t like practice for, say, cricket wicket-keepers. It’s not about drills or wind sprints. It’s about asking questions and listening, really listening, to the answers. Because the best leaders know they don’t know everything, but they do know that by putting in the work to learn from their teams and understand what they need to succeed, they can drive results far better than if they led by decree. As Coach Pete says, ask questions and hold space. Ask questions, hold space. Practice, practice, practice.
2. The second is to cultivate sonder. In your work life and your life life. Sonder is that profound moment when you realise that everybody else around you is living a life as rich and as vivid as your own. The person next to you in traffic. The person walking their dog in the rain. The person on mute in your Zoom call. We’ve all felt it. It’s a striking reminder that no matter how different our lives are, we are all the same. Our interior lives are our own. But they’re also a shared human experience. We’re all stuck in our heads, trying to get out. Maybe that’s a little frightening, but I see it as comforting. It’s a slice of pure empathy, a la mode.
3. The third is that if Pete is a human periscope, I’d like to be known as the human telescope. Great for staring into the night sky and contemplating the beauty and terror of the great expanse, filled only with nothingness and unfathomable fireballs, as you internalise the utter unimportance of yourself.
As always, this episode was written by yours truly—with original music and sound design by Daniel Foster Smith.
The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in workplace culture and recognition. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud™ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.
If you want your organisation to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to octanner.com/sea/.
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