Delivering Delight with Avi Liran

Avi Liran is the CDO at Delivering Delight. CDO stands for Chief Delighting Officer. Delivering delight is what we explore in this episode of Le Podcast on Emerging Leadership.

Avi Liran has been a CMO several times, an entrepreneur, a trade commissioner, an investor. He admitted in the podcast having lost all his money 3 times.

Here is how Avi answered when I asked: “How are you?”

Like every day, I am blessed and grateful.

Avi Liran

There is a lot to learn about that answer and much more in this episode, you will learn:

  • How a simple day to day question can transform your perspective,
  • How to be a delightful leader and why it matters to you!
  • How authenticity could make your decisions better,
  • Why it matters that you know why you do what you do,
  • How to ask something from someone,
  • Why it matters to listen carefully to what comes after a NO answer,
  • How to deal with toxic people,
  • How your engagement level is your brand,
  • And much more!

Listen to the episode here:

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References, mentioned in the podcast:

Here is the transcript of the episode

Alexis:

Hello, Avi. Can you tell us a little bit more about you?

Avi:

Bonjour, Alexis. Hello from Singapore. A little about me. Well, I was made in 1962 in Tel Aviv. My parents had a radio and a sofa. Since I like to sing, I think I know where they made me. As an Israeli, I’m a little bit aggressive and creative. I was an officer in the army, an economist, MBA in entrepreneurship and marketing, and I was a CMO of two companies.

Avi:

Afterwards, I joined the government. I was a Deputy Director in the Foreign Trade Administration. Then, I went to be the trade commissioner in Singapore. Created two funds between Israel and Singapore, then worked with Singapore Telecom to invest in nine companies in Israel. I made lots of money three times. Lost it all in the dot com in 2008 and another time that was pretty embarrassing to come to your family and say, “Oh. We made so much and we lost it all.”

Avi:

In 2006, I got a book that is called Everlasting Optimism that made me laugh and changed my life course to go and add value to other people, because I realized that I’ve been through so many things and I still managed to keep my spirit, make other people delighted. I say, “Why not we going to go and have a delightful workplace, where people are going to wake up, and they’re going to be able to lead their teams to success?”

Avi:

We started to research it, because when we started the first workshop, people started to change. We were crazy about it. How is it possible?

Alexis:

That’s quite impressive. I will have a lot of questions about all that, coming after that. First, how are you today? Seriously?

Avi:

Like every day, I feel blessed and grateful.

Alexis:

Okay. You’re delivering delight and you are blessed and grateful. There’s something that is missing for me. What does it take to be a delightful leader?

Avi:

Well, I think the first thing is you need to be authentic. The last two and a half years, we’ve been embarking on the research about first time leadership. We interviewed 220 leaders in 37 countries, in six continents. More than 50 percent of them are ladies, because when we thought about leadership, we were under the impression that you need to be likable in order to get promoted, in order to be successful.

Avi:

What we found is that, if you ask any good leader, “Do you want the people that you promote to be likable?,” they actually said, “Absolutely not,” because they may compromise on making tough decisions. They may be pleasers, which will make them do the wrong decisions, because they’re going to go for short term.

Avi:

Interestingly, instead of that, they say, “What we expect them to be is authentic.” That is the first prerequisite. People want you to be you. People don’t want you to be fake. People don’t want you to be Bill Gates. People don’t want you to be Steve Jobs. You are the version of yourself and you are entitled to have a bad day.

Avi:

Researching about positive psychology and happiness, the first thing that I could tell you about being a delightful leader is, for yourself and for others, sometimes happiness is the ability to be sad and being able to be supported or supportive to people that are sad.

Avi:

That’s the beginning of where we start. Be authentic. That’s the first ingredient. In my program, there are two parts. The first part is the why of becoming a delightful leader. Then, I take you and I bring you to explore your values. I’m going to ask the audience, “Do you know what are your values?” Surprisingly, when I ask this questions, nine out of ten people need time to think. They can’t tell me immediately, “Number one. Number two. Number three. Number four. Number five.”

Avi:

The second interesting thing, that nine out of ten will tell me integrity, or honesty, or trust as the first or second value. Nine out of ten will stop at three. The reason is, they have so many other values to bring, and only two left.

Avi:

The first thing I’ll encourage you, if you want to decide to be a leader, you need to know, “Why do you do the things that you do?” That’s where your values are. Also, I must say that where your beliefs are. If you believe that people are good, you are going to behave in a different way than if you believe that everybody is bad. If you believe that everybody needs to earn your trust first, or you’re a more trusting person, or somewhere in the middle. This will affect your why.

Avi:

The second thing that they do over there, is I ask questions about your experience. Who were your best leaders? Who were your best peers? Who were your best employees? I ask you to draw the adjectives and try to portray what kind of leader did you enjoy the most. Interestingly, chances are that that is who you want to be, so other people will follow you.

Avi:

We have many exercises to really try to find, “What is your leadership credo?” Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to lead people? The delightful leaders that I’ve met, thousands of them, have something in common. They are not looking for what is there for themselves. They are looking, as delightful leaders, how to create success for others. That is something that is common to all the delightful leaders that I’ve met.

Avi:

The second part of the program that I lead is about the how of delightful leadership. How do you become a delightful leader? I can expand later on.

Alexis:

When you ask the question, “What are your values?,” I paused for a second. That reminded me of an exercise that we did with Chief of Staff, that was identifying our values and see where the connections between the values that we had. Interesting what you said, because we all needed some time to answer that question. That was not one person needed some time. That was all of us. I’m not surprised with the nine out of ten. Who do you look up to as a leader?

Avi:

I’m inspired by everything. I have a tendency to be very jealous of successful people. I use the energy of jealousy in order to learn from them. For example, when I was doing research, I found a gentleman named Chip Conley. He was the founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre hotels. Later on, he became the Chief Commercial Hospitality Officer of Airbnb, as a modern elder. He was responsible to let them understand what hospitality means.

Avi:

I saw what it did and I tried to get to connect to him, because I wanted to learn from him. I managed to pass his secretary and they were very nice. He finally gave me five minutes of his time. He said, “If you want to meet me, come to San Francisco.” I bought a ticket. I flew to San Francisco, stayed in his hotel for one hour to meet him.

Avi:

That hour became a relationship of mentorship. He came to Singapore. I arranged for him to perform for my clients, who learned immensely from him. Then, I managed to read all his book, learn about his program, watch him delivering, understanding.

Avi:

One of the things that I would recommend, just think about who impresses you. Just try to get to them. Don’t take no as an answer. About no, this is something very Israeli that people may wish to know. Number one, a lot of people would like to give you what you want. You just need to get to them. Number two, when you go to ask someone to help you, come as a giver, not as a taker.

Avi:

I managed to get gigs for cheap, that made thousands of thousands of dollars for him, that he saw that I’m not a taker. I’m not there to get something just from him. Have a new relationship with the word no. When you receive a no, whether you’re trying to sell something, whether you’re trying to get something, no usually has something after the word no. No, which means not now. No, because I’m busy. No, because you need to upgrade yourself before you come to me. If you listen to the things after the no and upgrade yourself, you can retry.

Alexis:

It made me think about something that one of my friend’s told me last week, I think. I was trying to ask him something. At some point, he paused and he said, “Okay. I’m interesting with what you are saying, but you know what? One thing that could be helpful is, when you want something, ask it directly. You spoke for five minutes to explain to me all the rationale behind what you wanted to do. I was listening. It was interesting, but I trust you. I don’t need all that. If you need something from me, ask directly. It’s okay. If I need to know more about it, I will ask you. Don’t worry.” I said, “Oh. Okay. That’s interesting.” Why I do that?

Avi:

You mentioned a very human phenomenon. When people feel that you want to ask something, they don’t want you to go around the bush, because they don’t like to be manipulated. They could see through you.

Avi:

Interestingly, one of the features … We have more than 30 features of how you become a delightful leader. What I do is, I make an analogy to the mobile phone operating system. I call it Delight Operating System. I ask people to imagine that they could switch on and off options on their phone, like flight mode, or flight mode off. I say, “Flight mode or delight mode?”

Avi:

One of the settings of becoming a delightful leader is the power to ask. I suggest to people, ask for what you need. Let me do an experiment with you. Alexis, would you help me now? I would like to ask you to give me a raving round of applause right now. Would you do that for me?

Alexis:

Of course. With great pleasure. I would like to try that. I will do my best to do it. Of course, it’s just me.

Avi:

Fantastic. If you’re listening to me at home, please do that as well. Okay. Now, why did you do that?

Alexis:

Because you asked.

Avi:

Exactly. Now, if it was so easy to ask and receive, why do people don’t ask for what they need?

Alexis:

I don’t know. They are afraid to be rejected. They are afraid of receiving a no.

Avi:

Why do most people don’t ask for what they need, if it’s so easy? When I ask this question, someone in the audience will say, “Because we are afraid.” Then I ask, “Why are you afraid?” Then the answer is, “Afraid of rejection.” I would say, “That’s okay. You’re going to be rejected many times in your life.” That’s, again, the relationship that you have with no.

Avi:

A very interesting story, when I worked with Marina Bay Sands, we work with them for seven months. When we started to work with them, they got a very bad review. 140th place on TripAdvisor. Within seven months, they went to 36th position. At the end of the first workshop, a gentleman called Evo, who was one of the top managers, arranged for us a banquet. It was a fantastic party with champagne and everything. It was really fantastic.

Avi:

Then, he wanted to buy the book of Everlasting Optimism. We asked him, “Why would you like to spend your own money? Why don’t you ask your boss to buy it for everyone, so you don’t have to buy it?” He immediately went to the boss, he asked, and he got it. He was so enthusiastic, because he immediately applied the power to ask.

Avi:

Next to him was Sonja and Michael. There was a refrigerator of Coca-Cola. Sonja looks at Michael and says, “You know how many times I asked to get this Coca-Cola fridge for my team?” Michael say, “But you didn’t ask me.” She said, “Michael, may I ask you to have this fridge?” He said, “Yes. This fridge is going for your team.”

Avi:

Sometimes, people are so happy to give it to us as much as we are happy to give to us. If you are a parent, many times people are just waiting for the kids to ask them for advice, ask them for something. A lot of people are waiting to give you what you want. At the same time, the engine of delight will be very helpful for you, because when you deposit so much things inside, people will love to give you whatever you wish for.

Alexis:

Maybe it doesn’t feel as real. It doesn’t feel really possible for everybody, because sometimes you really deal with people that are really toxic. That could be a toxic colleague, or a toxic boss, or a toxic customer. It doesn’t fit that picture that you draw just before. How do you deal with that?

Avi:

I’ll give you a theory and a story. In one of the chapters in my book, I talk about your universe. I ask you to draw your solar system, and put on your solar system, you are the sun of your own solar system. Alexis is the sun of Alexis’s solar system. Avi is the sun of Avi’s solar system. I’m a planet on your solar system and you’re a planet on mine.

Avi:

I ask people to decide what are the orbits and name the orbits. It’s family, and close friends, and less close friends, and colleagues, and so on. We have rules for each one of these orbits. I ask you to write down, “What are the rules? What are the expectations that you have from each one of the orbits?”

Avi:

Then, I ask you to put the people that are most important to you and place them on the orbits. If there is a mismatch between the expectation that you have, with the orbit that the person is, sometimes what you need to do is to take that person and put them on a more remote place. On that remote place, you have less expectations. You’re going to give less and you’re going to be much happier.

Avi:

You need to, first, align your solar system. What you’re talking about, about toxic people in our life, I make an analogy for them that they are black holes. When you see someone is a black hole, you have to be careful. Either you place it a very remote orbit or, alternatively, first you can talk to them.

Avi:

To your question about toxic bosses, I hear this a lot, and I will give you an interestingly unconventional answer. I usually suggest to leaders to deal with people with empathy, compassion, and kindness. However, not always it works.

Avi:

Now, the first assumption that I have is that every person that I meet has pain, has experienced problems in their life, have been humiliated in the past, maybe have been abused. Maybe they have, at home, a kid that is suffering from severe autism or maybe there is someone that just passed away. Maybe they have a terrible health condition that they are not able to tell to someone.

Avi:

Once you make the assumption that whoever sits in front of you has a pain in their life, I’ve yet to see a person that does not have any pain in their life. Separation, death, loss of money, loss of friends. I didn’t see yet, the perfect person that doesn’t have pain in their life.

Avi:

If you could have the first three of empathy, compassion, and kindness, and you can manage with that to not get into a problem or a heated discussion, you’re a winner. Sometimes, the toxic people would be beyond repair and you will not be able to affect their life with your kindness. At that time, I think the secret weapon that I call it pity. The minute that I have a pity for a person, that person is not anymore in my level. It’s like looking at the drunk person. If a drunk person was going to tell me, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I don’t pay attention to that, because I know that that person is drunk. I classify that person that is drunk.

Avi:

Instead of taking the toxicity from that person, I just bend and let it go above my head. That’s basically helping me not to take it personally. Here is something that I put in my head as a mantra. It’s not about me. It’s about him. It’s about her. It’s her pain, not mine. She or he is trying to inflict their pain on me. Sorry, it’s not my pain. I will want to stay myself. I have a brand. I’m Avi. I’m kind. I don’t want to go and become toxic to the toxic.

Avi:

Having say that, I am enjoying making something that is called boundaries. Again, a lot of people think that making boundaries is to protect myself. I say no. Putting boundaries is to help everybody, because beyond the boundaries, there is a minefield. When you cross the boundaries of someone, you’re definitely going to go and explode. By me putting a sign, “This is my boundary,” if you’re going to cross that boundary, everybody going to explode. You’re going to explode and I’m going to explode.

Avi:

This is kindness, because when you don’t tell people where the boundaries are … Two stories. One about Major Biran. He told me I’m never going to be an officer. I’m going to be an officer over his dead body. I was frustrated. I really wanted to become an officer in the army.

Avi:

Then, one of the reservist guys, his name was Efi. He came to me and he said, “Avi, can you put your hand on your shoulder?” I did and he said, “Imagine that the pigeon has pooped on you.” Then, he showed me how he scratches it, and push it away from the shoulder, and take it out. He said, “That’s what you need to do as shit is being dropped on you. What you don’t do, Avi, and this is what you did. You took the shit in your hands and put it on your face, and then you tried to talk to everyone. I am shit. That is not helpful. Just take it away. It’s not for you. Anybody that would have walked there would get the shit. It’s not for you. It’s not about you. It’s about the bird. The bird has shit. That’s it.”

Avi:

That was extremely helpful when someone tried to insult me. I am a human being. Sometimes, I’m going to get upset and that’s okay, because I’m human. Most of the time, I will either use empathy, compassion, and kindness. If we have time, we’re going to talk about the differences. If that doesn’t work, I’ll use pity.

Avi:

Seriously, when you pity someone, you can’t get angry at them. They’re like a cripple. They’re like a child. You don’t go and judge them, and you keep your brand, and you keep who you are up.

Avi:

The second story is, after being CMO, where everybody listened to me, I have teams that I say, “A, it’s A. B, it’s B.” I got paid very well. I joined the government. I got 20 percent of the paid. I got employees that are totally disengaged. I got a toxic boss.

Avi:

By the way, I saw that engagement or disengagement is a choice. A lot of people say, “No. How you can be engaged when your boss is toxic, when the environment is like this?” I said, “You chose to be here today. If you don’t like it, why don’t you find another place? Make yourself the best talent that you can. Hunt for another job, but today you are here. Make it a great day. Be the best version of yourself. Get to learn something new.” It doesn’t make any sense to be disengaged, because you’re hurting your brand.

Avi:

What I managed to do is, I managed to interest my team, that was absolutely disengaged, to understand what they do, why they do, and the impact that they do. For example, we had the First Minister from India came to Israel. I told them about all the things and about the excitement. I taught them everything that I learned about India. They were so excited with me, because we were creating history together. Suddenly, I had a team that were much better.

Avi:

With my toxic boss, I ended up to be his boss. If you are handling people, believe in yourself and be your own brand, and you’re going to be able to overcome as long as you are there.

Avi:

One last story. On the first day of officer course, they throw us in the desert. Minus three degrees. The winter of 1983. We didn’t have good clothes. We didn’t have food. We didn’t sleep. They were really making us tired and exhausted, and they were bullying us as a part of the first week.

Avi:

Now, 78 of 80 were miserable. Two out of the 80 were extremely happy. Why? Because the same time will go if you suffer or if you enjoy. It’s the same no food. It’s the same no sleep. It’s the same harassment. If you keep your smile, and you help each other, you create comradery. The best time to get relationship is the time of tough time. You see who you are really in tough times. Not when everything is great. Some of my best friends are from exactly that time, when we had hardship.

Alexis:

I first saw you in a conference you gave at The World Conference. I had the pleasure to be invited by some of the organizers, Simon Jaillais and Jerome Bourgeon. I’m really grateful. I need to thank them. I hope I did. This was really an interesting conference.

Alexis:

I joined that conference and I’ve seen the mobile phone analogy. I was thinking, “Yeah. In reality, this is exactly that. This is exactly what I’m trying to say.” I’m trying to say that to myself and I’m trying to say that to others, that at some point, you’re making the choice. You cannot change the circumstances, but you can change how you deal with that.

Avi:

Actually, we are living great life. I totally agree with you. Thank you very much for the compliment. I try every day to learn new things, and to hone what I do, and see more research, so when I speak to you and speak to others, I can give them more example, more rigor, more research, more studies, so when I tell you, “This is what I suggest that you consider,” it’s based on measurement. It’s based on something that they see that really works.

Avi:

What I notice is that people that make these choices have three things that they always have. Number one, they make everybody around them more successful. Number two, they are true investors in other human beings. As investment means, there is a return on investment. They get 10 times fold more than what they give, because they sow seeds like farmers. From seed to tree, there’s a lot of investment, but the tree gives you so much yield. The best time to invest in people is when they need you. That, they’ll remember forever. The third thing that happens, when you make everybody more successful, when you invest in people, you’re also so much happier. People love to follow you. People trust you.

Alexis:

Beautiful. In a way, this is putting pressure on yourself to do things, but it’s something that you can do. That’s not something unreachable. That’s not, “I want to be like someone else.” You mentioned that before. That’s more, “Yeah. I can do something to help people that needs it around me. I always can do something that’s not something impossible to do.”

Avi:

What I found in my life is that, being likable, being loved, being trusted, being happy, when we set them as a goal, we’re going to fail and we’re going to miserable. If we’re going to do the right things, if we’re going to be loving, people will love us. If we’re going to be contributors, people will trust us. If we’re going to do it consistently and unconditionally, that will happen. We’re going to be likable if people will see that we are congruent and authentic. We deliver and we care for them. These are all results. They’re not goals.

Alexis:

That’s the consequence of what we are doing.

Avi:

Yeah. If you just focus on, “Why do you lead?” If you lead and you just want everything for yourself, you’re going to struggle, because all the time you need to feed yourself and to feed your ego. I have a theory about the ego that it’s very, very thirsty. When the ego wants to take is when you screw it up, but when the ego gives, you get everything.

Avi:

I want to change the definition of self interest. If you want to be successful, it is your self interest to delight other people, not the other way around. If you’re going to try to delight yourself … You know, I love Tony Hsieh. Rest in peace. The one that created the culture of Zappos. He became a multi-millionaire. He made a very happy company. He was obsessed with happiness, to the extent that he was not happy himself.

Avi:

That’s where I caution all the delightful leaders. Happiness is not pursuit. Don’t run after it. Create it for yourself and others, and invest in yourself, and make sure that when you talk about the how of delightful leadership … The first thing that I do with a leader is talk to them. Make them go through, “How are they going to understand their own well being and their own resilience?” The second is how they communicate effectively with clarity, and joy, and care. The third one, how to lead with positivity.

Avi:

With all of the things that we’re going through, there’s a lot of fun things that we do. There’s a lot of rigor of studies that shows you that exactly when you do that kind of a thing, you really get things out of that.

Alexis:

The WildCardConf was a conference organized for charity. I heard that you are doing also other things for charity purpose.

Avi:

I do it for me. I don’t believe that there’s anybody on earth, including of Bill Gates, that do this for others. When we do it for others, we are admittedly nourished. We are physically and emotionally wired for contribution. We are wired for giving.

Avi:

The minute that you are kind to someone else, you give a dosage of significance to someone else, what happens in your brain is the hippocampus releases oxytocin, which is the love hormone. It makes you feel loved. It’s the same hormone that the lady exudes when she delivers a baby. That immediately kick starts the reward circuitry in your brain releases dopamine, that makes you happier. You get a cocktail that comes with serotonin, that makes you feel a sense of belonging.

Avi:

What happens, three people enjoy. The giver, the receiver, and even the witness. What happens when I give to somebody else? I become happier with myself. I have higher self esteem about myself. I say, “Avi actually is a nice guy.” I see myself in a better light. My confidence goes up. My happiness goes up.

Avi:

I don’t give bullshit to other people that I do things for others. I actually do it for myself. I enjoy it. When you’re going to smile, when you’re going to get the value, when you’re going to get value from this podcast, I’m going to be extremely happy, because I felt I got a new friend. This is fabulous.

Alexis:

I was also grateful that you invited me to one of your module sessions. The one with Emily Chang. She shared about the spare room idea. The idea that you always have a spare room. If someone needs it, you can welcome them to your place. That was her thing to offer. Not everybody would want to have someone at their place, but she is able to do that. She can be a host, and she has a spare room, and she can welcome people and help them when they need to. That was her offer to the world.

Alexis:

I really like the way she framed that. Thank you. Thank you, Avi, for organizing that. It was really good.

Avi:

The one that is coming up this month, with Dalia, really absolutely gorgeous story of transformation. Lead Like a Girl. It’s a great thing for the months of the World Women Day.

Alexis:

Sometimes people will ask me that question and I cannot fake that I’m really having a bad day. How can I still be a delightful leader, delight the people around me, when I’m really having a bad day? How can I handle it?

Avi:

I got this question first time seven years ago, from a lady called Rawa in a HR conference. She was the HR director of the University of Dubai. I asked her, “Rawa, tell me. When you are on a bad day” … And I said, “When people ask you, ‘How are you?,’ what are you saying?” I opened it to the audience. The audience say, “Good. Okay.” Some of them even say, “Great. Fantastic.”

Avi:

I told them the different between what you feel and what you say is the energy that’s going to be evaporated from you at the end of the day. If you need to pretend that everything is great, you’re going to be exhausted at the end of the night. I ask them, “Okay. If I’m going to give you two words plus one, that every time you’re going to say them, you’re going to feel better, the people around you are going to feel better, and you’re going to be authentic, and you’re going to be able to tell everybody exactly how you feel, while uplifting them.” If I’m going to tell you that, would you be happy, Alexis?

Alexis:

Yeah. Of course. Of course, I would be happy.

Avi:

What I would like to ask you, and the audience that is listening, I would ask you to put your hands next to your eyes, as if they were blinders for horse. You put them for the horse to see only the way straight. You can imagine, as you put your hands there, that when you wake up in the morning, the only thing that you see is what is not there. You see your errands, the problems that you have, the things you need to solve, your schedule, your to do list, the people that harassed you, the people that are trying to get you, and so on. That is primarily majority of what happens now in your life, what you need to do. But is that really the life that you have?

Avi:

Now, what I’m asking the audience at this point of time, I say, “Every time you’re going to say yes, I want you to say it loud.” I will need your participation, Alexis, for that. At the same time when you say it, I’d like you also to move your hands one inch to the side and one inch up, every time you’re going to say yes. Are you ready?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Okay. Did you sleep on a bed?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Okay, so you put your hands one inch to the side and one inch up. You know that many people did not have a bed. Millions of people sleep on the floor. Do you have a place to live in?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Okay. Another inch to the side and up. Over a billion people don’t have a place to stay. Do you have running water?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Yes. You know that over a billion people need to walk more than a kilometer to get water. Are you living in a free country?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Yes. There are many people that live under oppression. Do you have a job?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Yes. Do you have people that you love and they love you?

Alexis:

Yes.

Avi:

Yes. The list go on and on. By this time, if you said yes to everything that I asked, you may have your hands like a Y from the YMCA song. They are open towards the sky. If you have all this, this is the reality that you live in. Not what you don’t have. This is the reality that you have at this moment. If you have all this, are you blessed?

Alexis:

Oh yes.

Avi:

If you are blessed, can you be grateful?

Alexis:

Absolutely. I should be grateful.

Avi:

What I ask you to do is take your hands, and put them in namaste position, and say, “I’m grateful.”

Alexis:

Yes. I’m grateful.

Avi:

Alexis, please ask me, “Avi, how do you feel on a bad day?”

Alexis:

Avi, how do you feel on a bad day?

Avi:

Blessed, and grateful, and sad. Blessed, and grateful, and angry. Blessed, and angry, and frustrated. I understand that 90 percent of my being is blessed and grateful. The 10 percent is a temporary negative feeling that I experience. I have no issue expressing that, because what it means as a leader is that I’m authentic. People understand that this is a tough time for me. I still understand the context of my life, that 90 percent is working.

Avi:

Today, I heard a story of a brave father that has to take care of a kid that is dysfunctional at age of 12. It’s amazing how much that leader helps the wife and the kid, and still manages so much. He is smiling and he feels blessed, grateful, and extremely concerned for my son. That’s okay.

Avi:

By having this blessed and grateful mentality, you’re going to be authentic. You’re going to be empowering other people to show the true feelings. You’re going to create this psychological safety for people to tell you, “I don’t feel good, but I understand that I’m blessed and grateful.” Then you can say, “You know what, Janet? Why don’t you rest for an hour. I’m going to take your duties for the next one hour.”

Avi:

Actually, it happened to me today, because Kim, who is my PA, she is on medical leave. What I asked her to do is, “Please don’t work. You need to rest.” Delightful leadership is exactly about that. Be authentic and put your money where your mouth is. It’s so easy to tell Kim, “We have so many things to do,” but I take over. That’s a delightful leadership. That’s investment. That’s understanding that other people have their days and so are you.

Avi:

Maybe a story within a story. I was one of the youngest basketball coaches in my country. Actually when I was 18, I could dunk, even though I’m just 186 centimeters. On the last leg of coaches school, we were trained by the deputy head coach of the number one team in Israel, which was also the champion of Europe, is Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Avi:

What he did, he made us all play on the first day of the camp from 8 o’clock in the morning until 12 at night. We were scrimmaging. It was crazy. We were so exhausted. The next morning, all of us had a smell of Bengay. You know the cream that you put when you have cramps all over?

Avi:

He told us on that morning, “We did it to you on purpose. We want you to feel how it is. When you’re going to be a coach, you’re going to be tempted to put your star to play from the minute the game start until the end, so you’re going to get the most points. You don’t understand that you’re going to kill that person. You’re going to make them injured. We wanted you to feel, so you’re never going to remember in your life. You are outside. They’re in the trenches. You are asking them to do things. You need to understand their limitations and you need to take care of them. They are your responsibility. If you’re not going to do that, they’re going to end up exactly like you now.”

Avi:

That was a lesson of leadership that I know … As a delightful leader, taking care of your team is your number one responsibility. Delightful leadership is a responsibility, not a privilege.

Alexis:

Thank you very much, Avi. That was a perfect way to end that discussion. Thank you for joining the show today. Thank you for listening to this episode of Le Podcast. Go to alexis.monville.com for references mentioned in the episode and to find more help to increase your impact and satisfaction at work. Drop a comment or an email with your feedback, or just to say hello. Until next time, to find better ways of changing your team.

Photo by Kenny Krosky 

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