102: Michael Beck: I saw the impact of caring about people

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102: Michael Beck: I saw the impact of caring about people

Michael Beck Show Notes

Michael Beck was the executive director of a 500-person law firm. But his operating philosophy of listening to people’s concerns and eliciting their input was not matched by the attorney’s in the firm. After butting heads with the micro-managing and dictatorship, Michael decided he could make a greater impact in a different way.

Michael grew up on Long Island in Oyster Bay, New York, along with his two younger sisters. He had two loving and supportive parents. But although his father was successful, he wasn’t a good communicator and wasn’t very good with people. Because of that, Michael really didn’t learn to communicate well, nor did he understand people very well. It really held him back in his career and his effectiveness as he entered the business world.

After graduating high school, he attended college at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, a Master’s in Structural Engineering, and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School. He then began his quest to find fulfillment and success!

But things didn’t exactly go as planned. Although he was smart and well-educated, his limited people skills caused problems and limited his success. He was a pretty poor leader.

Then he started working for an entrepreneur in the restaurant business and they soon became partners. His partner seemed to be able to talk with people effortlessly and Michael began learning how to be a better communicator. Michael studied Social Styles and soon gained the ability to “read” people, changing how he communicated to better connect with just about anyone. After many years of working with numbers as an engineer and then a financial executive, he discovered he liked working with people more than he liked working with numbers. He considers himself a “Recovering Analytical”!

He found that he enjoyed understanding people and helping them succeed. He worked for a number of poor leaders and observed what they did to upset people and cause discontent. By learning what not to do and honing his own people skills, Michael became a much more effective leader.

He also discovered that he saw things differently than most people. For a long time in his early career, he tried to fit in, but ultimately discovered the power of thinking differently and being his own person. He discovered the importance of being true to one’s self.

Michael finally became an executive coach about 17 years ago, where he found his passion, his fulfillment, and his success. He’s continued to improve his communication skills, his ability to persuade others, and his passion for making a difference in the world. He’s become a student of human nature and human dynamics. It enables him to help his clients be better leaders and to treat people better.

Along the way, Michael has earned a Black Belt in self-defense, ranked 118th in the world in a rowing competition, and has become a competitive dart player!

Michael currently lives in Portland, OR where he enjoys the great Pacific Northwest. He enjoys being out in nature, and likes to hike and camp. Besides his work and his outdoor interests, Michael regularly pursues his other passion – cooking! He hosts an international cooking group where each month everyone brings a dish they’ve prepared from the featured country.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @Michael_Beck to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Unless you practice it, you can’t get better at it.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet

“You have a choice to imitate poor leaders or resolving not to.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“I don’t care how smart somebody is, everyone has blind spots.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Many times we can’t actually see what we are doing wrong.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“As long as you recognized you screwed it up, you’re making progress.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Embody what you really want to be.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Analytical people, by their nature, don’t reveal much about themselves.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Allowing people to get to know the real you makes you far more effective as a leader.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Revealing a bit about yourself, people respond to you much more.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Good leaders bring out the best in people.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Bringing out the best in people drives results.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“The main job of a leader is to bring out the best in people.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“A great leader brings out the best in folks.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Great leaders don’t produce much; it’s everyone else that does.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“When you hire somebody, they’re highly engaged.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“The brunt of engagement falls on the shoulders of the leader.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“The ability to grow professionally and personally drives engagement.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Eliciting excellence is the essence of exceptional leadership.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“People respond best when you allow them to be professional and responsible.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

“Appreciate the importance of treating people like people.” -Michael Beck Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Michael Beck was the executive director of a 500-person law firm. But his operating philosophy of listening to people’s concerns and eliciting their input was not matched by the attorney’s in the firm. After butting heads with the micro-managing and dictatorship, Michael decided he could make a greater impact in a different way.

Advice for others

Appreciate the importance of treating people like people.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Moving from being solo to a team of sharp experienced professionals.

Best Leadership Advice Received

People respond best when you allow them to be professional and responsible.

Secret to Success

My ability to see other’s perspectives and change other people’s perspectives.

Recommended Reading

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Eliciting Excellence: Bringing Out the Best in People

Contacting Michael

Website: http://www.michaeljbeck.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mjbeck

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Michael_Beck

Resources and Show Mentions

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

 

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

102: Michael Beck: I saw the impact of caring about people

 Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynote don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee engagement, customer engagement and customer centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll help your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today that I resonated so much with his pain. Michael back grew up on Long Island in Oyster Bay, New York along with his two younger sisters. He had two loving and supportive parents. But although his father was successful he wasn’t a good communicator and wasn’t very good with people. Because of that Michael really didn’t learn to communicate well not did he understand people very well. It really held him back in his career and his effectiveness as he entered the business world. After graduating high school he attended college at the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering a Masters in structural engineering and an MBA in Finance from Wharton school. 

 

He then began his quest to find fulfillment and success, but things didn’t exactly go as planned. Although he was smart and well-educated his limited people skills cause problems and limiting his success, he was a pretty poor leader. Then he started working for an entrepreneur in the restaurant business and they soon became partners. His partner seemed to be able to talk with people effortlessly and Michael began learning how to be a better communicator. Michael studied social styles and soon gain the ability to read people, changing how he communicated to better connect with just about anyone. 

 

After many years of working with numbers as an engineer and then a financial executive he discovered he liked working with people more than he liked working with numbers. He considered himself recovering analytical.  He found that he enjoyed understanding people and help them succeed. Michael finally became an executive coach about 17 years ago where he found his passion, his fulfilment and his success. He continue to improve his communication skills, his ability to persuade others, his passion for making a difference in the world. Along the way Michael has earned a black belt in self-defense. Rate a 118th in the world in a rowing competition. And has become a competitive dart player. Michael currently lives Portland, Oregon where he enjoy the great Pacific Northwest. He enjoys being out in nature and likes to hike and camp. Besides his work and his outdoor interest, Michael bravely pursues his other passion, cooking. He host an international cooking group where each month everyone brings a dish they prepared from the featured country. Michael Beck, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Michael Beck:    You bet. Thanks so much, Jim.

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given our listeners a little bit about, but can you what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better? 

 

Michael Beck:    Wow! You know, I think it’s really important to be passionate about things. Like you just explained I have a passion for cooking, it’s a great creative outlet you show people you care. I’m actually passionate about the work that I do. You know, a lot of folks do work and they find it draining, I find it energizing, and so, I’m passionate about it.  I’m passionate about helping people understand people, and be better communicators. And you know, I like helping people do what I did which is learn to be better with people. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And I’ve mentioned it a moment ago that you’re story resonated with me because I—as I was reading and learning more about you it was too easy to reflect upon myself going through and being what you had said clueless.

 

Michael Beck:    I didn’t even know that I was being poor that was the sad part, right? And people would say some things to me and I’d be in complete shock like, why are you so angry all the time? Or if you care about people, and that wasn’t my nature at all but that’s how I was coming across. Looking back, frankly, I’m a little ashamed by it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah, I could say that for me too I’ve had people say to me, I even have to be very careful even today that I don’t come across in the ways that I don’t want to be perceived. And unfortunately our eyes point outward and we often don’t see those things and we do need people around us that can be our confidant and who can tell us the truth and that we can take and hopefully do something with it. But in today’s society there’s something that is been really seen as a very negative light and if you look up the definition of it it really talks about innocence and that is the word ignorant. If you look up the word ignorant it talks about innocent, unknowing, however, in this society that we have today it has been seen as a very bad thing to either call somebody ignorant or to say that yourself you are ignorant about something, it’s a weakness instead of being a potential opportunity to build strength.

 

Michael Beck:    Well, you’re absolutely right. I think whenever anyone in this day and age the term ignorant is absolutely a negative connotation and not an opportunity at all. Frankly, it’s just the reflection that some mores over time change their meaning. So, where ignorant may have been, let’s say a neutral term right now, not so much. And I think we’re about to change that just cause we have a new insight at least the origins of the word. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Now that’s a good point. I was also reading your book, you had mentioned something that to me was really important point that I think we need to discuss and that is—as you were going to your transformation process you talked about reading a lot and observing a lot I think to me the real differentiator is you talked about practicing. 

 

Michael Beck:    Well, It’s good you brought that up because I talk and I see and I meet so many people who they’ll buy books and they’ll read and they’ll go to programs and courses but  practicing they never actually put it into play, they never implement any of it unless you practice it you can’t get better. Over my career I’ve worked for a lot of poor leaders and you have the choice of either using them as a model and then imitating them or observing what they’re doing and resolving not to do that, not to be that kind of leader. So, I think for the first years I mirrored them and then after I realized I didn’t feel good about any of that and felt that there had to be a better, more positive, more expansive way to lead and decided that what they were doing was ineffective and it turned out I was right. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So when you start talking about going through and practicing something that you either read about or you experience about, how did you go to the practicing process?

 

Michael Beck:    Part of it, it kind of relates back to something you said a few minutes ago and I wanted to comment on that cause it’s a good fit with what we’re talking about now. I don’t care how smart somebody is, how much education they’ve had, how many years of experience they’ve had everyone has blind spots. It can’t always see what you’re not getting. So one of the challenges with practicing better leadership is typically it’s about breaking old habits and starting new ones but many times you can actually see what we’re doing wrong, right. Like you and I talked about earlier our careers were clueless we didn’t even know we needed a change and that’s part of the problem. But if you can become aware of the habits you want to change, cause I do this with clients all the time, is when you have a new perspective and you want to develop a new habit you have to be mindful of the kinds of interactions and opportunities that arise where that’s pertinent. And then even if you screwed up, as we typically do cause we do it habitually, as long as you recognize that you screwed it up your making progress, as long as we don’t recognize it then nothing happens. So, when you recognize that we haven’t done something quite right we can either, and I’ve done this I stopped right in the middle of a sentence and say, “You know what, I have to apologize. I keep doing this and I don’t want to that’s not me.” And then I begin down the path of the habit that I really want to reflect. The other is even if I’ve done it wrong out of habit and then after the person leaves, I go “I did it again.” I will actually go back after and I’ll say, “Look, I’ve got to apologize. This is the habit I’m trying to break. I’ve done it this way and here’s how I really feel and think it should be done, so I want to apologize to you.” And that’s a good way to start building a new habit, you will embody what you really want to be.

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that. I started thinking about as you were describing that a very important word that has come up with a different folks that I’ve had the opportunity to meet with over the course of the past couple years just doing the fast leader show and that is intent and being able to convey and communicate openly what your actual intent is because otherwise people are making their own interpretations on your behalf.

 

Michael Beck:    Well, I need to talk about that a little bit because it’s a brilliant observation. In your intro you referred to my term as a recovering analytical. An analytical people by their nature tend to be very close to the vest. They don’t reveal much about themselves, they don’t pry in to other of other folks and I learned over the years that actually allowing people to get to know the real you makes you far more effective as a leader than putting this suit of armor on keeping everybody out. So, I’ve learned that revealing a bit about ourselves allows us to be real and relatable and people respond to us much more than if we pretend that were perfect.

 

Jim Rembach:    You talk about eliciting excellence in others, how do you actually do that?

 

Michael Beck:    So, years ago I got reflecting on leadership. You read a lot of books about how to be a better leader and promoting better leadership but I never actually read anything about why better leadership does make a difference so I thought about it for a long time and to me good leaders, what makes them good leaders, what makes the difference is that they bring out the best in people and it’s that that drives results and therefore the leader becomes a great leader. So, I use the term eliciting excellence it’s bringing out the best in people. I think that’s one of the main jobs of a leader. Yes, there are other aspects to leadership like good strategy in the decisions but a great leader brings out the best in folks. If you think about the whole corporate structure leaders don’t do much work they don’t produce much it’s everyone else it does and therefore the only way the work gets done is when people do great work, so, eliciting excellence. So you ask, how does that happen? it’s really very interesting, when you hire somebody, have you ever hired people in your career?

 

Jim Rembach:    Oh, yes. 

 

Michael Beck:    Alright.  So, you know this when you hire somebody if you hired and done a good job they’re enthused, they’re excited to be there and you’re thinking about what used to make a difference, they’re fully engaged. You don’t need to do anything to those folks to get them engaged, they’re highly engaged. So, what happens then is leaders screwed that up and people become disillusioned or unhappy. There’s that saying that “People join companies but they quit bosses” that’s true, and so that’s what happens. So the leaders responsible for the engagement, yeah, each of the individual workers have their personal responsibility for staying engaged being engaged, but I think the brunt of it falls on the shoulders of the leaders. So how do you elicit excellence? You become a great leader. When you think about how people respond to leaders, a good way to start is actually thinking about what causes disengagement, what causes people to become disillusioned. Typically the things like being disrespected, being treated like a child, being micromanaged, not being valued in other words not being asked for their opinion about anything, those are the things that start making people feel disillusioned and unhappy unappreciated. So, the opposite is true, the way you keep people engaged the way you bring out the best in folks is to respect them and value their input and their insights and treat adults like adults and treat people like people instead of like things and show them appreciation. So when a leader does that it brings out the best in folks. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And so for me listening to you talk and reading of the book on Eliciting Excellence, I found myself kind of understanding that a leader is really most effective when they protect the actual engagement that is just inherently there when somebody starts their new role. So I need to have two things come together I need to protect their engagement that currently exist there and then have them build some of the skills and competencies so that they’re making an impact and in getting that reward as well. And so I see that really being aware and mindful of that energy that already exists is really the best place to start to elicit excellence in people. 

 

Michael Beck:    I agree. I think it’s a great point, Jim, and also I think it ties in really tightly with the idea of treating adults like adults. In other words, to me one of the ways you treat an adult like an adult is to give them autonomy to expect them to be a responsible and professional and when you do that you get to hold them more accountable. And when you do that you can get people full rein, be professional, and learn better skills come up with better ideas, if you don’t know something ask. It allows people to flourish. One of the things that really drives engagement, after all the other basics are met, is the ability to grow professionally and personally and that’s kind of also you’re talking about is allowing people to grow and attain new skill sets.

 

Jim Rembach:    Really what we’re talking about here—obviously because of the transformations that you went through and even for myself there’s a lot of energy and passion in all of this, one of the things that we focus on the show is quotes to help with that energy and passion. Is there a quote or two that gives you a lot of extra energy?

Well, the quote that I always keep in mind and it seems to be, whether it’s intentional or unintentional seems to be echoed throughout all my work is that eliciting excellence is the essence of exceptional leadership. It’s about bringing out the best in people. I’m always thinking how can I bring them up to be their best? It’s not about pounding on folks commenting about how I work with my clients. It’s not about belittling them or driving them or holding them accountable, none of that’s necessary, if I can help them aspire to be the best they can be, they’ll be rock stars.

 

Michael Beck:    We talked about our own transformation, we don’t always do a good job of these things and we have humps that we have to get over to really help elicit excellence in others as well as ourselves. Is there a time that you can remember where you’ve learned that valuable lesson and it helped you move onward and upward faster that you can share? 

 

Jim Rembach:    There are probably several examples but the one that came to mind when you ask that was—I’ve had (16:37 inaudible)career and one of my lifetimes I was executive director of a large law firm, 500 personnel law firm, and the way the firm typically runs is that the attorneys sort of regard the administrative staff as purely support function and that the rock stars were all the attorneys. I was in charge of the administrative end of things and what I did naturally, I mean I did it naturally for myself, I manage by waking around, so I walked around quite a bit talk to folks, try to engaged them more solicit their input and hear what they had to say and what their concerns were and no one had really ever done that before, and the response I got was pretty strong and consistent, in the time I was there I get voice mails and emails from people thinking me, but the attorney’s still didn’t operate that way. And oddly enough at the end of the day, and that was one of the things that ended my tenure there is difference in operating philosophies, and so that was a hump that I, I don’t know if you call it a hump but it was an aha moment, where I really saw the impact of caring about people and treating people like people as opposed to treating them like things.

 

Michael Beck:      So I dare to say that you probably had, during your tenure there, where you bump into folks that were responsible for the lawyer behavior, whether specific lawyers or the partner in charge of all of those folks and you tried to voice and communicate that particular issue. What happened in that conversation? 

 

Michael Beck:    You know that was a good insight on your part. They like to micromanage everything. They were at the top of the heap in their mind and so we butted heads still they wanted to dictate however thing was done and didn’t want to relinquish any authority at all and so ultimately that was the demise of the relationship, that’s what happened. And it was one of the factors that started driving me towards becoming an executive coach because I felt I could make a greater impact from outside of an organization. 

 

Now not meaning to be petty in any way but I know for me I often reflect back and I’m like, “Oh, what happened with that organization and those people?” So, what happened?  

 

Michael Beck:    I actually have the highest regard for that law firm, they’re great law firm and I have no ill feelings towards them, it’s sort of that culture that’s ingrained I think in the high-powered attorneys and I haven’t followed the careers I know the managing partner who had moved in there actually passed away so things have changed somewhat but as far as I know they’ve grown as an organization, as law firm. It’s so funny because they have lots of people that work for them under that scenario, under that culture, it wasn’t a good fit for me that’s all I know. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a really good point but it takes a while for us to come to that realization.

 

Michael Beck:    It does. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You talked about working with a lot of clients, and you talked about a lot of these passions everything from the rowing, the professional dart—competitive dart throwing, when you start looking at all these things that you have going, what’s one of your goals?

 

Michael Beck:    Well, my passion is my business as opposed to an additional hobbies. And of late I just have made a decision to move from being a successful solopreneur to building a larger company. And so that’s what’s going on right now and it’s about to take off, things are coming together really nicely. So, it’s very exciting time in my business.

 

Jim Rembach:    And the  in the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

 

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Jim Rembach:    Alright here we go Fast Leader Legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Michael, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Michael Beck are you ready to hoedown?

 

Michael Beck:    As long as I don’t have to talk as fast as you. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Michael Beck:    Good question. Like I spoke of a minute ago, moving from being a solo to team of sharp experienced professionals. And the challenges that it requires me to allow them to be the smarter person.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Michael Beck:    Well I think it comes from the book, Drive, and people respond best when you allow them to be professional and responsible. In other words, giving them autonomy, treating adults like adults.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Michael Beck:    Well, I think it’s my ability to see others’ perspectives and my ability to change people’s perspectives accordingly.

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you recommend to our listeners?

 

Michael Beck:    Can I  recommend more than one?

Jim Rembach:    You sure can. We’re also going to put a link to your book, Eliciting Excellence, on the show notes page as well. 

 

Thank you. So one of the books I strongly recommend is called, Leadership and Self-Deception it’s by D’Arbinger Institute, that’s where I got the insight of treating people like people. The other book I just mentioned is, Drive by Daniel Pink which is what I called treating adults like adults giving autonomy. And then the third book would be my book, Eliciting Excellence.

 

Okay Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today show by going to fastleader.net/Michael Beck. Okay Michael this my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Michael Beck:     I think that the answers probably one you might guess. Remember I spoke about back then I really treated people poorly as a leader back then. And so if I had to take just one skill back that I have now, I’ll take back take back my appreciation for the importance of treating people like people. And it makes a difference because people respond to that instead of being regarded as things that can be discarded.

 

Jim Rembach:     Michael it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you? 

 

Michael Beck:    Oh, absolutely. I’d love for them to visit our website. My website is michaeljbeck.com. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Michael Beck, that you sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 

 

END OF AUDIO

 

 

2019-11-28T00:21:24-05:00January 4th, 2017|Podcasts|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Michael Beck January 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks for a great interview, Jim! We really hit on some important topics that can make a HUGE difference with leaders at all levels.

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