Dave Teubner is CEO/Owner of Warehouse Twenty One, a full-service marketing agency. Dave sat down with Nancy Kepner and Julianna Christie to discuss how conscious leadership and Crafted Leadership are making a difference in his life and in the company.
How Dave came to work with Crafted Leadership
I would say in all honesty I didn’t know I needed Crafted Leadership. We were introduced to you by a friend. We had some dysfunction in the team, and she saw it because she was such a part of our team. She and I were talking about how to push this team to the next level of collaboration vs. turf war, how do I break down divisions and alliances, how do we create cross-functional teams, how do we ease relationships that struggle in my leadership team or otherwise? She helped connect you to me because that’s what you do.
Crafted Leadership’s soft skills aren’t so soft!
I think businesses sometimes think of soft skills as soft skills, versus real intentions and strategic requirements for excellence. So people pooh-pooh these skills, but it's usually because they’re afraid of it, too.
The nice thing is, your stuff isn't so soft! You're not afraid to challenge us and say, "I'm going to reflect back to you how I'm seeing you.” My struggles with some people are real. It’s powerful to have you name something I’ve felt with another person, and to put us on the spot and jar us a little. You put me on the spot – not everyone will do this with the CEO. Not everyone will tell the CEO that he has a hero complex and that it might be getting in the way of how he manages and treats people. That feedback racked me and changed me. I never would have thought of it. I didn't see it.
You come in and see these patterns, and you don’t make them wrong or right, but you point out they are very real. You can't address these things about yourself until someone labels them and you see them for yourself. Until things are named, there's no awareness.
Because you're willing to get firm and get real and you don't care who it is you’re talking with, and because you do it in a very kind but honest, reflective way, people can’t walk out of the room with you and not feel something. And it’s really when you go home you feel it. And it feels good. That’s life work for you. You’ll take it with you everywhere; I'll take with me.
Business owners don't have to be afraid this is just soft work. It's going to get pretty real. It may even make you uncomfortable. But your approach is, in a kind, constructive way, to say you're paying us for this and you better be willing to be uncomfortable and tell your truth.
Investing in conflict resolution training vs. “just deal with it” approach
I’ve always been one for, if you have an issue with somebody, go talk to them about it. Don’t bring it to the street, bring it to the source, have the courage to work on that. I would push people to go talk to others.
But I didn’t realize that people may not have the skills to have those conversations. And even though that’s my passion, I didn’t know how to coach or direct those conversations. So I was probably exacerbating the problem by telling people to just go deal with it. I would say to someone, “Go talk to that other person,” not realizing that person didn’t have the skills in which to go and talk and not create more conflict.
Honestly, as a CEO, [directing conflict resolution] puts me in a role that I’m not equipped for or would rather not take on.
I’d rather have a third party that’s really gifted in helping people learn to talk to each other. That’s what you’re doing.
How Dave uses Crafted Leadership to support leadership development
It’s been really nice to have you do workshops with a bigger group. It made people feel uncomfortable – and I don’t mean uncomfortable like I want to get out of here, but you engaged with a few people, put them in front of each other, and we watched them get sweaty with real issues. All the while you reflect back to them, coach them. Being introduced to things that make you uncomfortable, there’s something in that right there. That’s the kind of training we should get closer to.
The big team training work was good – the whole group got a taste of the culture – and those implementations were important. But the 1:1 consult times we bring you in for are especially important because it’s where the rubber meets the road. There are relationship conflicts happening, and we are dealing with them every day. It’s competitiveness, it’s ego, it’s lack of clarity, it’s all these things that make us all human.
I’d rather you than me work on these skills with people. I like that we have these consult options for these leaders to choose for themselves to hash out a conflict or take something to the next level with your coaching. People ask for these sessions with you, and they’ve asked for them as an individual and also for support with somebody that they might have some challenges. I’m in love with those consults.
The payoffs of investing in training and coaching
People might not know to invest in your training and coaching. To get this kind of a professional coaching, it pays off because it decreases drama. It’s self-awareness work that people need to be doing for themselves, but they might not invest in it for themselves. But the company can, and we do, and I love that people are signing up for consults with you, and I’m not having to know what they're talking about. I just know they’re developing the skills to handle issues directly and developing themselves into better leaders.
Another powerful gift is our group has a common language and skill set that we are using and implementing.
Our work with you is starting to change how people are communicating, kicking off meetings, or even having a conflict together. They’re starting to have skills. You've distilled those skills down to pretty simple quadrants that people can wrap their brain around and practice. I feel like we’re just at the infancy stage.
The tools: facts vs. stories
Fact vs. story has proven to be a powerful teaching for me. I love this idea of what’s a story, the story in my head versus what the camera would record, because I’ve always spoke to both as truth. As in, my perception of the story, that’s what you’re going to get from me. Before, I didn’t check much with anybody. I just flooded them with my story and then perceived it to be real because it was very real to me.
So to separate that perception from what the camera caught was really valuable. So, then I could start really challenging stories, or people would start challenging me. [Our COO] Pamela does it all the time: “Dave, is that a story or what would the camera record?”