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Leadership In Action:  Confidence, Clarity, and a New Leadership Platform After Lead by Design



Jo Underwood is the owner, with her husband Steve, of Mighty Ducts, Wyoming’s only certified duct cleaning service. Jo and Steve took Crafted Leadership’s Lead by Design class in September 2018 and immediately began applying the skills learned to their business to positive effects. Nancy interviewed Jo to hear her of the skills in action.


Talk about how you are using what you’ve learned in Lead by Design

Before the course, I would drain my energy trying to have coherent, conscious communications with my employees. I was interacting at 150% responsibility, as Steve was not as interactive with employees, and I did almost all of that. This course has changed EVERYTHING. It brought Steve to a place where he’s more interactive with employees, and in such an intelligent way following the course — being mindful with his communication and actions — and as a result, my load has lightened.


Finding and keeping employees with a true work ethic is a challenge right now. Now I have a new platform and skills with which to address my employees. I am bringing them to a place of 100% responsibility with me.


An example of the skills in action

Recently I asked my guys to run to town to work on a new construction job after they finished the job they were on. They did not do it. The next morning I messaged them at 6:30 a.m. and said I needed them to be in at 7:30 a.m. And the conversation I was able to have with those two guys using my new skills was unbelievable.


When I woke up that morning at 4 a.m., I went into stories about them and what had happened. Then I remembered what Julianna had said: to look at the situation as if a camera was recording it. From there, I was able to peel away from the story and focus on the facts.


So when I spoke to my technicians, I was able to stay out of emotions. One of them has a lot going on in his life and kept wanting to bring drama into it, and I said, “I appreciate this, I hear you, tell me how that relates to this situation?” He could not, so I suggested we stay focused on what we needed to focus on, and I went through the situation from the previous day. I started from the perspective of 100% responsibility, shared the story I made up, then made a new agreement and then claimed 100% responsibility myself. I said judging by the results, I hadn’t done my job correctly. The results were they thought it was okay to park the truck and leave when I asked them to do a job. I then stepped into my ownership and laid out expectations for every job. It was so easy to have that conversation.


Creating a new work culture

I have a new office manager starting, and I have all these new tools from Crafted Leadership to use with her. My approach is to create certain ground rules but to offer free reign to be creative in getting the work done. I feel very good about managing that way in today’s environment. These tools have opened the treasure chest and given me a way to use other tools I’ve learned, as well and put them in a framework. The framework is priceless.


Will you tell the story of your daughter and the truck?

That was one of my “aha” moments in the class. My daughter’s car had been totalled in the hail damage and she was using Steve’s truck. We had problems with one of the modules on the truck, and I had concern about it being roadworthy. I mentioned my concern to her, and she took it anyway to go to a wedding west of Laramie, WY. She got part way to the wedding venue, and the truck broke down. She ended up missing the bride getting dressed. It was so much drama.


When this happened, Steve was working a commercial job, my son was in Colorado, and I was sitting in Cheyenne, with all these stories going through my head, such as: she’s missing out on the wedding festivities, it’s going to be so much work to fix this and so forth. Once Steve finished work, I started planning how to solve the problem — calling a friend to borrow a flatbed, planning to take my car up because it’s strong enough to pull the work truck down.


And then it hit me. This was before the class started, but I HAD taken my EQ assessment as part of the preparation for the course. One of the results of that assessment was that I needed to prioritize self care over my strong drive to plan.


I realized, if I’m going to practice self-care in this situation, I’m going to stay home. I’m staying out of it. So I stayed home, took a nap and watched the Rockies play. It was amazing! And then in class, I learned about facts vs. stories, and I looked back at that situation from the perspective of a video camera. I looked at the facts and didn’t put a story into it. And this was perfect, absolutely perfect. Though I can be a person who harbors resentment, this new skill helped me drop resentment, and in this situation I didn’t have any.


Another example — using the upper limit problem to resolve a conflict

Because I’m applying 100% responsibility to myself, I have been trying to make better choices about my food options. Not because of society’s idea of how I should be, but from a place of honoring myself. Steve and I went to the final Rockies game of the season, and we had a great time. A woman came by selling a stick of bananas and strawberries with chocolate drizzled on them.


I looked at Steve and said, “I’m having that.”

He said, “Are you sure?”

I said, “I’m positive.”


So the woman came over and said, “Do you want the one with bananas or do you want the one with brownies?” And I looked at Steve and he laughed, and I laughed, and I said,“I’m going for the brownies!”


Two brownies, three strawberries. I was okay with that. I didn’t have a lot of other stuff to eat, and I thought I’d make it up later. It was a joke between us. Then, post game, we were standing in a long line waiting for the bus. I have some feet issues, so I don’t like to walk long distances. And we were parked in the B lot, far away. So we’re standing there and Steve looks at me, smiles, and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to walk? You could walk off those brownies.”


I was immediately offended, it hurt my feelings, I went to shame for a minute. I stepped out of line and started walking and didn’t stop. I walked all the way to the B lot.


Steve was saying, “Honey, come on, it was a joke, I didn’t mean to upset you.” I didn’t make a scene, I didn’t talk.


But then I was able to reason with myself and suddenly could see this as an upper limit problem. We had had such a fun day, and this was an upper limit problem that I wasn’t going to let ruin my night. We got into the car, and I said, “I know you didn’t mean anything by that. I let it hurt my feelings, and that’s my problem to deal with, and this was just an upper limit problem.”


And because he also took the course, Steve knew what I was talking about. I said, “I’m not mad, I’m not upset, I’m actually fine.”


I think he was relieved, because I think he thought he screwed up. And two days later we were joking about the brownies. That type of awareness for me is gold.


When we were younger, in that situation, I may not have talked to him for a week. But I don’t do that anymore. And the more I learn about conscious communication, the better I am about talking myself through stuff and having a different understanding of situations.


About using agreements in a new way

I think what I learned in Lead by Design about making agreements was one of my favorite takeaways. It has enabled me to sit with my technicians or even my kids in their 20s, and be clear and concise about what I’m saying. To sit with my guys who didn’t finish the job, and reflect that we had a broken agreement, and have them acknowledge that, that was very powerful. I love being able to finish a conversation with getting a clear agreement. I understand what the ask is, and they understand. There’s no muddy water.


What the tools mean to her as a business owner

In addition to what I’ve mentioned, other gifts are to be able to coach my staff, receive feedback from them, and for them to hold ME accountable as much as I hold them accountable.


Having the tools to nip stuff in the bud before they become an issue: priceless.

These tools are helping me have confidence in listening to myself, guiding my staff at work, guiding clients in my coaching business, and showing up 100% every day.

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