page title icon 280: Vince Molinaro – Helping Leaders Be the Best They Can Be

Vince Molinaro Show Notes Page

Vince Molinaro experienced a defining moment early in his career when he saw a respected colleague and mentor succumb to cancer that she believed was the byproduct of a stressful, toxic work environment. That was a defining moment for him, and as a result, he has made it his life’s work to boldly confront mediocre and unaccountable leadership.

Vince Molinaro grew up in an immigrant household in Hamilton, Ontario – a working-class steel city, located outside of Toronto.

His family instilled the values of hard work, humility, and doing what is right in any circumstance.

At the age of 27, Vince also realized he was an entrepreneur at heart and launched his first consulting business focused on helping leaders be the best they can be and step up when it matters most. While running his business, Vince completed his graduate degrees and conducting pioneering research on holistic leadership.

Today, Vince is a global leadership adviser, speaker, and researcher on leadership accountability. As the founder and CEO of Leadership Contract Inc., Dr. Molinaro travels the world, helping organizations build vibrant leadership cultures with truly accountable leaders at every level.

He has traveled and worked in 25 countries and 80 cities, and he and his team continue to call out the global leadership crisis today and thoughtfully lays out the strategy to address it head-on. His unique combination of provocative storytelling, evidence-based principles, and grounded practicality has leaders at all levels stepping up to fulfill their obligations to drive the success of their organizations.

His research and writing on leadership accountability are featured in some of the world’s leading business publications. He is a New York Times best-selling author and has published several books, including Accountable Leaders (Wiley, 2020), The Leadership Contract (3rd ed., Wiley, 2018), and The Leadership Contract Field Guide (Wiley, 2018). He has also co-authored two other books:  Leadership Solutions (Jossey-Bass, 2007) and The Leadership Gap (Wiley, 2005). He also shares his insights in his Gut Check for Leaders blog and through the Accountable Leaders App available from the Apple and Google App Stores.

Vince, his wife Elizabeth and three children live near Toronto, Canada.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @VinceMolinaro get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“Accountability is personal ownership, your ability to step up, your ability to own your role, and your ability to have the courage to do the difficult things.”  – Click to Tweet

“The new game begins before the old one ends.”  – Click to Tweet

“Transformative technologies is leading to the reinvention of work.”  – Click to Tweet

“Sometimes you need a crisis to move you quicker.”  – Click to Tweet

“The learning never stops. You need to be prepared to go back to the basics.” – Click to Tweet

“Resilience is important, but resilience is not enough. We also need a real deep sense of resolve.”  – Click to Tweet

“We need to set the bar high for ourselves and for our teams.”  – Click to Tweet

“Have the courage to have tough conversations and make difficult decisions.”  – Click to Tweet

“When leaders wimp out they become mediocre.”  – Click to Tweet

“Mediocrity is a slippery slope. Even if you allow just a little bit to seep in in how you lead, you’ll wake up one day completely mediocre.”  – Click to Tweet

“How you see the problem is the problem.”  – Click to Tweet

“Be gentle with the people you deal with everyday because everyone has a burden that they’re carrying that you don’t know about.”  – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Vince Molinaro experienced a defining moment early in his career when he saw a respected colleague and mentor succumb to cancer that she believed was the byproduct of a stressful, toxic work environment. That was a defining moment for him, and as a result, he has made it his life’s work to boldly confront mediocre and unaccountable leadership.

Advice for others

Speak the truth as you see it without holding back.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

A part of me that tries to overcomplicate things.

Best Leadership Advice

Have the courage to go after the issues that other leaders are afraid of going after.

Secret to Success

Have the courage to go after the issues that other leaders are afraid of going after.

Best tools in business or life

Humility around the fact that leadership is a tough role.

Recommended Reading

Accountable Leaders: Inspire a Culture Where Everyone Steps Up, Takes Ownership, and Delivers Results

Man’s Search for Meaning

Contacting Vince Molinaro








Show Transcript

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay. Fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because we have somebody on the show today who’s going to help hopefully me clarify an important point, uh, on something that I, I just have an issue with. Vince Molinaro grew up in an immigrant household in Hamilton, Ontario. We’re working class steel city outside of Toronto. His family instilled the values of hard work, humility and doing what is right in any circumstance. Vince experienced a defining moment early in his career when he saw a respected colleague and mentor succumb to cancer that she believed was the byproduct of a stressful, toxic work environment. That was a defining moment for him and as a result, he has made it his life’s work to boldly confront mediocre and unaccountable leadership. At the age of 27 Vince also realized he was an entrepreneur at heart and launched his first consulting business focused on helping leaders be the best that they can be and step up when it matters most.

Jim Rembach (01:00):

While running his business, Vince completed his graduate degrees and conducting pioneering research on holistic leadership. Today, Vince is a global leadership advisor, speaker and researcher on leadership accountability. As the founder and the CEO of leadership contract inc. Dr Molinaro travels the world helping organizations build vibrant leadership cultures with truly accountable leaders at every level. He has traveled and worked in 25 countries and 80 cities and his he and his team continue to call out the global leadership crisis today and thoughtfully lays out the strategy to address it head on his unique combination of provocative storytelling, evidence-based principles and grounded practicality. Has leaders at all levels stepping up to fulfill their organizations to drive the success of their organization. Well, his research and writing on leadership accountability are featured in some of the world’s leading business publications. He is a New York times bestselling author and has published several books including accountable leaders, the leadership contract and the leadership contract field guide. He is also a coauthor of two other books, leadership solutions, and the leadership gap. He also shares his insights in his gut check for the leaders blog and through the accountable leaders app available from Apple and Google app stores. Vince and his wife Elizabeth live near Toronto with three lovely children. Vince Molinaro, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Vince Molinaro (02:31):

Yes, I am. Thanks for having me.

Jim Rembach (02:33):

Thanks for being here, fans. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Vince Molinaro (02:41):

Well, you know, it’s a given the world we’re in right now. Uh, the passion that I’ve always had on helping leaders be the best they can be is what drives me. Because given the experiences I had early in my career, uh, I learned that leaders can have a tremendous impact on the lives of their, which in turn influences the lives of customers that companies and organizations serve. And I’ve led, I’ve been fortunate to be led by great leaders who I really admired and found how I just intrinsically stepped up to want to please them, want to have them feel proud about my contribution and want the really drive our success. And I had the flip side. I worked with leaders who weren’t as great, mediocre, sometimes downright awful. And I can, you know, I knew what that felt like at a very deeply personal level and the impact it had on my performance and my morale. And so to me it’s really simple. It matters more now. It matters even more given how our world has been offended. And that’s what drives me every single day.

Jim Rembach (03:45):

You know? And as you’re talking, there’s so many things that kind of, uh, you know, taking little notes down that I want to chat about. Uh, but before we get down into that, for me, I had mentioned something about something that I struggle with that I’ve been, it’s just been an issue for me for, for quite a while is that concept of the word accountability and accountable. Because oftentimes when I hear that word, I’ve, I have come to create this bias associated with it. And the bias for me has vivid imagery about somebody’s hands being in a choke position around somebody’s neck. Sometimes it’s mine. You know, sometimes it’s me doing it. Right. Cause you talked about how it influences an impact of my own behavior because for me, I do get immersed in the environment. I, I am in, and I know I’ve been in some of those environments where it’s like, gosh, I’m, I’m one of those people now. Um, so help us understand what is accountability.

Vince Molinaro (04:40):

It’s such a great, uh, you know, it’s a great point that you make during, because I think there’s, um, you know, a lot of confusion about what it means. And we have developed kind of this implied definition that I don’t think works for us. Um, you know, and before I kind of give you the definition, I’ll kind of give you a story that I didn’t realize it at the moment, but my very first, uh, part time job was at a men’s clothing store. I bought it when I was 16 at a time when the industry was very traditional. And a manager, Gary of that store, took a bet on me. You know, I, he said, you’re too young. Uh, I can’t see at work, but I convinced them somehow and he gave me a shot. And what I found about his style is he led through example.

Vince Molinaro (05:22):

Um, and he didn’t dictate what we needed to do. He just kinda, you just saw him and you wanted to rally around him. So he had a sense of personal accountability that he didn’t have to demand it from us. He inspired it, right? He got promoted to our flagship store, the largest store that this company had. And in came Steve, his replacement and one of Steve’s famous sayings was, don’t do as I do. Do what I say. And that was so contrary, you know, so different than how led, and I found myself, even though my job hadn’t changed, feeling completely different, he tried to really communicate that there was a different standard for him than there was for everyone else. He didn’t need to be accountable, but he expected everyone else to do to do so. So you can imagine how successful he was. It didn’t work.

Vince Molinaro (06:15):

Now I didn’t realize that lesson, but as I did this work over on, you know, over the years I look back and kind of go, Oh my goodness, the seeds of leadership accountability were there in those early experiences. So I use the term leadership accountability because it has to start with leaders and it has to start with a sense of personal ownership for your role to really understand what it means to be a leader and to embrace that it is to set the tone for others so you can inspire that in other than you don’t ask someone to do something, you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. Right. And it’s to have that courage and that resolve to do some of the difficult things that leaders need to do. Now, here’s what I’ve also learned through my global travels is for example, I’ve spent time in Spain and Latin America where Spanish is the primary language and I’m in those countries and the people sort of realized, you know, Vince, we don’t have a word for accountability in our language, but yet we have it as a problem in our organization.

Vince Molinaro (07:13):

So how do we build it when we don’t have, we’ve been way of thinking about it and describing it. For example, I spent time in Italy where, where they said their term, they accountability for them is really about who’s to blame when something screws up. Right? And there’s an element of that, right? There’s an element of that to accountability. So for me it just comes down to personal ownership, your ability to step up, your ability to own your role, your ability to have the courage to do the difficult things we have to do as leaders.

Jim Rembach (07:44):

So you, you mentioned, and this is an important point and you already brought it out, um, the difference between the, the leadership, uh, accountability from an organizational perspective and that self-leadership responsible, and you call it a dual response. Um, so when you start talking about that dual response, you start getting into, you know, the, the new game, you talking about the new game and then it begins before the old one ends. What, what does that really mean?

Vince Molinaro (08:10):

Well, you know, um, we’ve always, uh, my teams and I have always worked with organizations that were at some kind of an inflection point. And, and that means there was a shift in their industry. Uh, they were launching a new strategy. Uh, they needed to come together after a major M and a event. And they really need to figure out that the kind of leadership that they had was not going to be the leadership they needed in the future. And in the, in the book accountable leaders, I really as looking at the future that that was coming, this was all pre COBIT of course, but looking at the future that leaders were going to be, uh, having to lead. The one quote that really jumped out at me was, you know, Clayton Christianson’s quote around the new game begins the old before the old one ends.

Vince Molinaro (08:54):

And to that’s so, so nicely captures the real dilemma that leaders have in a world that’s being disrupted, that’s being changed at a rapid pace where your own success maybe creates a sense of complacency and you stop seeing how things are evolving and changing and shifting and not responding quickly enough. And you can see story after story of great companies who no longer exist because they missed how the game changed. And so it really means for us as leaders to be perpetually focused on understanding the change being on top of things and changing before you actually need to change.

Jim Rembach (09:35):

Okay. So now you bring up a really important concept. So you know, a lot of leaders talk about situational type of leadership, right? And that you can’t do the same thing when you have moments of crisis as you would when you are not in crisis. Well, arguably you can say we’re always in crisis now. Uh, however, you know, we have forced transformation that has occurred and there’s not going back. I mean, there is no going back. Um, it’s not going to be the, you know, what normal used to be. It’s now permanent, you know, new, normal. Some things may have the opportunity, if you think about it in a continuum perspective, to go back other things, it’s not going to happen. So when I start thinking about accountability and context and I now have a different situation, when you start referring to that, what does, what does that mean from a leader perspective? Because now you talk about Mo, you talk about modeling. There ain’t no modeling this new stuff. I mean, so what do I need to do?

Vince Molinaro (10:31):

Well, the first thing is really understanding how the context has changed, right? Is, is to really try, you know, you know, we’re using the term new normal. Um, I kinda like using the term new reality because I don’t know what’s normal yet but there, but we need to understand what are the new realities where we’re grappling with in terms of, you know, industries that have been upended in terms of new rules and how employees are going to work, whether it’s going to be completely virtual or a combination. Uh, how do you lead in that environment? So there are new, new emerging realities we have to understand. So that that notion of the context is what defines leadership as something I’ve always believed in. Then you’ve got to really think about, okay, so what does this mean in terms of how the expectations of me as a leader have changed?

Vince Molinaro (11:21):

And then am I up for it? You know, and, and my, the book that’s kind of a foundation to this new book, accountable leaders called the leadership contract is we’ve signed up for something really important as leaders. But when something in your context changes dramatically as it is now, you have to really think about it. I just had a conversation this week with it, with a colleague in an organization where a CEO had been in place for about three months, started earlier in the year and this was sort of going to be his last hurrah, you know, a illustrious career. And then this happened and within three weeks of covert he resigned. And his reason was I didn’t sign up for this. He just didn’t, he realized in himself he didn’t have what it was going to take to lead through this period of time. So one could say, well, why would he do that? In many ways he was honest. He realized what his organization was needed and he wasn’t the person, he didn’t have the emotional fortitude. And I think all of us as leaders need to pause and reflect on how has the leadership contract changed for me. What are going to be the new expectations of leadership? I think there’s gonna be more complexity. There’s more challenge, there’s more opportunity. Uh, but we can’t assume everyone’s going to, everyone in a leadership role is going to be up for that.

Jim Rembach (12:38):

And so what do you say that, you know, you talk about in the book that there’s five elements, uh, being part of the emerging context for leaders. And you talk about transformative technologies, geopolitical instabilities, revolutionizing work on delivering diversity and repurpose, uh, in corporations. So when, when, when you start talking about that, I, I, I think about this particular a speech that was given by Teddy Roosevelt back in 1903 and back then he was talking about one of the biggest issues in the U S being immigration

Vince Molinaro (13:17):


Jim Rembach (13:17):

still a hundred plus years later dealing with the same issue. And when I think about these five elements, I’m like, well, heck, they, you could arguably say that those issues were being dealt with by leaders a hundred years ago. So how has the context really changed since?

Vince Molinaro (13:31):

Well, I th I think it’s, it’s, I think those, those broad categories have always existed. I think what’s in those categories is what’s changed. So, so if you think about, you know, like it’s fascinating, all the conversation and, and these are not five distinct categories. They, they really do intermingle, right? Transformative technologies is leading, you know, to the reinvention of work, right? Uh, which is causing employees to think about, well, what’s the purpose of a corporation? Um, you know, even, you know, as, as Cobin broke out, the first thing I did is think about, Oh, how does, how does this global pandemic play out against these five categories? And I kind of go, well, luckily we’ve got this kind of technology that’s allowing us even to be able to do remote work. The transformative technologies now that have been in place are now being accelerated.

Vince Molinaro (14:21):

Look at healthcare. Virtual visits now are becoming more of a commonplace. Well, we always have the technology to do it. Why didn’t we implement it sooner? There was a lot of talk about that, but sometimes you need a crisis to move you quicker. Um, geopolitical, uh, instability, I mean covert is a completely geopolitical issue with what’s been happening in China and other parts of Europe and countries that are helping each other out or not helping each other out. And, and even within countries how you have things very regionalized, you know, the whole what work is being redefined as we speak. Uh, covert is impacting the inequities that exist in our society around those who are less fortunate will suffer, unfortunately greater than those who are privileged. And we’re asking ourselves, what’s the purpose of a corporation and how can corporations be a big part of the solution moving forward?

Vince Molinaro (15:15):

So you’re absolutely right. Those five broad categories have always been the big things leaders have had to deal with in their context. I think what’s changed is what it means now and how they’re all kind of coming together at the same time at this pivotal moment. And we’ve got to be aware of it as leaders sometimes and I write about in the book is there’s even research that reflects it reflects it. Too many leaders are just kind of with blinders on, heads down, just focusing on execution and not being aware of some of these broader issues that they’re dealing with within their industries, within their countries. Uh, within the places they do business.

Jim Rembach (15:52):

Yeah. Well you ask, I think talking about that geopolitical and universal type of know issue and focus, a question that you hear all the time is, you know, so why do we not have better leaders?

Vince Molinaro (16:07):

Well, I think, I think it’s a couple of reason, right? Um, a couple of reasons. The first is that context keeps shifting and it keeps raising the expectations, right? So that’s one. One is about context. Um, the, the, the second, um, is that how we’ve, how we’ve really approached, uh, putting people in leadership roles has been a very consistent story. And it’s really about, we’ve had this history of putting great technical performers into leadership roles. And I’ve heard this over and over again in all my conversations and all my speeches where I asked people around the world, uh, so tell me how you first got into a manager or leadership role. And you know, the first answer is, well, if I’m going to be honest, I got in by accident. My manager came to me one day and said, Hey, I got this job. I need you to do it.

Vince Molinaro (16:59):

Go ahead and there’s no development, no support, and you kind of figure it out on your own. And now all of a sudden you’re, you’re responsible for a team. Uh, you’ve, you’ve spent your whole career driving your success individually being measured on your individual performance. Now you’re being measured on team performance. How does that work? I’m not sure how to do it. So you figure it out. Some are able to succeed, some struggle and some don’t, don’t succeed at all. Uh, the other, the other one is, um, the people that we pick, we’re the best sales person, the best engineer, the best analyst, the best teacher. It doesn’t matter what the, you know, what the area of technical expertise is. When you Excel in your performance, we go to those people and say, you’re so good at this job. Now we’re going to give you this job that’s completely different.

Vince Molinaro (17:43):

And by the way, it involves managing people and we going to pay you more and we’re going to give you the cooler titles. And so you feel entice, obviously, and you want to, you know, make your boss happy and you say yes. So those roles without really appreciating what it is, and that’s not to say there aren’t people motivated to be leaders, uh, that, that’s great. But the story is pretty consistent, right? That that’s sort of the game plan, you know, that that happens time and time again. And then the third part is how we’ve gone about developing leaders has been really, really traditional and, and it’s, you know, I remember working with a client once and it was the first, uh, conversation and this senior executive said, you know, we, we need a core leadership program. You know, that, that’s a, I call it the carwash model where you just had this vision of just putting leaders through this program, like a carwash at that, at the end they would all come out, you know, shiny and new and, and, and, and impeccably clean. Uh, these brand new leaders. Well, it’s, it’s a little bit naive that that is how we do it. But yet that’s how it’s done. Even even to today, I think we’ve gotten more sophisticated. But now the challenge we’re going to have is how do you develop leaders in a virtual world? How do you develop them as they’re dealing with increased pressure and scrutiny? And those are questions we still got to figure out.

Jim Rembach (19:01):

You know, you bring up, I mean, as you were talking, I’m like, Oh my gosh, that, that, that storyline is played out at all levels too. Cause I mean, you see even at the frontline level, so I, I mean when I call center coach, we have a virtual leadership Academy that’s a blended learning program where there’s, you know, defined pathways of development. There’s micro courses, there’s live, uh, interactive courses, there’s community and it’s, you know, it’s broad based because everybody does learn differently. But one of the things that I do find that’s, that’s quite interesting is oftentimes, and the studies show this, and you mentioned it yourself, is that somebody is put into a leadership role then. And if they do receive any type of development whatsoever, on average it comes three to four years after they were placed in the role. That’s the problem.

Vince Molinaro (19:53):

Well you know, and what’s fascinating is when we’ve got in, you know, we’ve had, we have programs for frontline leaders that really give them a core skills they need to be successful as a frontline leader. Well often the people making the decisions for those programs are the senior executives, right? So we’re in there, you know, in a, in a sales meeting or a conversation. And I can’t tell you how many times the senior executives kind of, you know, sheepish sheepishly kind of say, is there any way I can get this program cause I never got these skills. And there they are as senior executives, really smart, smart people, leading massive companies. Without those basic skills of giving feedback, coaching, really listening to people. And you kind of go, well, why isn’t leadership stronger than it needs to be? Well that’s kind of what we’ve inherited. You’re absolutely right.

Jim Rembach (20:40):

Oh, that’s too funny because when I first started the Academy, it was all about emerging. And that frontline leader and I started having people enroll that had these senior level titles like what’s going on. Right. I didn’t, I did not target you people. Right. I did not even consider that. And so I started asking questions and I got three responses. One is, uh, well I was never on the front line. I don’t even know what these people are really supposed to be doing. Um, another is, well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the frontline and I need to, you know, refresh and uplift my skills. Yeah. And then the other one is, well, if I’m expecting you know, these folks to go through this and to learn and develop, then I need to, I need to know what that’s all about so that I can inspect their performance answers. But I just never considered it.

Vince Molinaro (21:26):

Well, and I love, I love just that, that perspective, right. Because the, the other perspective that you see a lot of is, you know, people in senior leadership roles thinking that all of that is beyond them. It’s like, well, that’s for everyone else, but for me. So the fact that you saw that, I would admire and applaud those individuals to kind of say, yeah, there are reasons why I need to go through it that are personal but also important for the business. So that I think is really healthy when someone can, you know, can kind of say that, you know, I even worked with a hospital, a chief of staff, um, physician who decided that he was kind of gonna go back, um, to, to practice, um, kind of, you know, do surgeries and practice, uh, his, his skills as a physician that he has long been away from as an administrator because he wanted to set the tone to everybody, all the physicians in this large hospital. It’s a group of hospitals that the learning never stops and that you need to be prepared to go back to the basics. And that’s, you know, very few, very senior accomplished leaders, you know, have the humility that to do something like that. So I get charged by leaders like that, who, who want to set that kind of tone.

Jim Rembach (22:34):

Yeah. And that’s a great point. Uh, and, uh, Doug Conan who was on the show talks about one of his principles being, you know, learn or die. Yeah. I mean it’s, it has to be something that is gone going every day. So therefore, and you talk about this in your book, the resiliency component. So when you’re forced into a situation like we are as far as force transformation, you’re going to be more resilient if you have that foundational backup.

Vince Molinaro (22:59):

Yeah. And then on that one, I just released a new book this week on adversity and what I’ve also talked about, you know, resilience is important, right? Then it’s, and it’s defined as that ability to bounce back. So we, you know, we understand that that’s commonly understood, but I’ve always felt, certainly as I lived through my own leadership roles and the adversity that I faced, I quickly realized resilience isn’t enough. Um, you know, you keep bouncing back over and over again. I use the analogy of, I don’t know if you had this as a kid, that, that kind of bozo the clown punching bag toy that, you know, you kind of hit it and just keep coming back up and over a period of time that can wear on you. And what we need in addition to it is a real deep sense of resolve. And I think that’s what we’re going to need to draw on over the next little while as we’re coping. Uh, you know, the world that we’re in right now is that just that sheer determination, uh, to bring people together to lead them through this and come out the other end, hopefully in, in a, in a better place, uh, hard to see that now given, you know, a lot of the tragedy, tragedy that people are experiencing. But ultimately that’s what we have to do as leaders.

Jim Rembach (24:04):

Yeah. And we will persevere. I mean, it will happen. And in the book you, you really focus in on the first part of the book, uh, on that whole individual element and component. And we talked about that being one of the areas to focus in on. And then you start getting into, okay, well I, I, let’s just assume that I have, uh, the skills and the characteristics and all of that. And so then how do we create community? And so you talk about which I think we can all resonate with five characteristics of mediocre leaders. And I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on that because we know those are, in other words, they blame, others are selfish and self serving on still in mean, you know, inept and incompetent and they not lack initiative but are willing and want to focus more on the five behaviors of truly. Um, and again, there’s that word I still have to get over advanced accountable leaders. Um, so run us through those five.

Vince Molinaro (24:54):

Well, the first, the first is it begins with holding yourself and other ones to high standards of performance. Right? Now one might say, well that’s obvious. Yeah, a lot of this stuff is obvious, but it’s not in practice. And I’ve got the research in the book that demonstrates that. No, that’s the foundation. Right? You know, a lot of people now are talking about, well how do you lead in a virtual world when you don’t see your workers? And I always like asking what’s really changed? You’ve got to drive results. Yeah. You’ve got a plan. You’ve got to drive. Yeah. Mmm. Okay. You may not see them every day, but they still got to drive those results. So what are your standards now? Have they changed? Have they have to be more because of the conditions, but nothing’s changed. It’s always about the, excuse me, it’s always about the high standards that we need to set the bar high for ourselves and for our teams.

Vince Molinaro (25:48):

That’s, that’s what we’ve learned where it starts. And this is all based on research that we’ve done, you know, globally. The second, and it ties directly to, um, uh, the research as well in my work with the leadership contract is having the courage, you know, to have tough conversations and make difficult decisions. And we see this over and over again. When leaders wimp out, this is where they become mediocre. We have a lot of people in leadership roles that avoid the hard work and a lot of the hard work is always around people, right? They’re not giving cabinetry back, they’re not managing poor performers aggressively. And now the complexity is how do you do that when people are working remotely and you don’t have as much line of sight to them that that’s the new challenge for leaders. The third is, and this is tied to the standards, but it’s about bringing clarity to people is, is their ability to communicate the strategy to everyone.

Vince Molinaro (26:43):

But it’s not just kind of, you know, reading a bunch of slides and saying, you know, here are our pillars. Here’s our strategic pillars and here’s our objectives. It’s really helping translate what the strategic comparatives are for the team and for every individual. So I know how I fit in contributing to the overall success of the company. Right? That becomes important. The next one is really interesting and really needed now is that they express optimism about the future and in the company. So that means that you are personally excited to be in the company, right? Um, that kind of excitement oozes out of your pores in a very genuine and authentic way. It’s not, you know, phony RA type of speeches is, is that this is the place and I think it’s really important that you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re not excited, if you look to the future and you’re not optimistic, you got to really question whether you need to be in that leadership role at that moment in time because you’re not doing yourself or your teams any favor around that.

Vince Molinaro (27:44):

And the, and the fifth one is really tied back to our earlier conversation around the context is that there, they certainly have their heads down executing on priorities, but they balanced that with kind of looking externally to see what’s coming so they can anticipate things and they can pivot when they need to. So those tend to be the five behaviors of truly accountable leaders that kind of really set themselves apart from the rest. And in the book I share research that really shows that these leaders really exist in industry leading industry, leading performing companies. And you can just see how different they are from the mediocre leaders in poor or even average performing.

Jim Rembach (28:27):

So as you’re talking about that, and I think about these statistics and I’m looking at those organizations that are not in that top tier, you know, how are, because nobody wants to self admit that, you know what, I’m just one of the mediocre ones, right? I mean, nobody’s going to do that. Yeah. So, you know, w what is, what is going to have to happen in order for that realization to her and changes start to happen so there, or I can get to the top tier.

Vince Molinaro (28:57):

Yeah. Well, you know, the, the, the, you’re, you’re absolutely right. Um, we don’t want to admit it publicly, but you know, I think, uh, my sense is most people know if they’re in a leadership role and they’re struggling and they’re mediocre, they kind of know it. I can tell you 100% with a hundred percent insurance, everyone else around you knows it. Right. And, and, and so there are no surprises, but, but you have to understand, it’s not necessarily about them. So this is where the organizational piece comes in. Because what I find is a lot of times when you confronted in, in sessions with leaders and they sort of admit it, have the courage to admit it. You know, they don’t, they’re not making excuses, but they’re kind of saying, well, the organization hasn’t really made it clear what it means to be a leader.

Vince Molinaro (29:39):

And so they have to set expectations. And I talk about how you do that through a, a leadership contract for the company that says, here are the four or five or six things we expect of our leaders. And you and I’ve seen a shift just by doing that because now leaders say, Oh, I get it now. Okay, I can work towards that. But without it, you know, some leaders can kind of pick it up, but a lot of leaders don’t. So, so, you know, they, that’s why I think a dual response is necessary then, then you have to find, do you really want this role? I, I share a story in a book where one person based out of, uh, just outside of Chicago, uh, attended a speech. I did really like the ideas. And then I met up with them about a year later by accident when I was back in Chicago and he’d said, you know, I took those ideas and I went to our CEO because he had a CFO who was his best friend and had worked in the company for a long time.

Vince Molinaro (30:30):

He was loyal to him, but he was absolutely mediocre in his role and, and he didn’t want to address it at all. And this, and this guy I talked to kept pushing the CEO. Finally they had a conversation with that, with the CEO, CFO, and he said, it’s the finances that drive my passion. I don’t want to manage at all people. And because of his loyalty to the CEO, he took the job, but he had no passion for the people side of it. So they rejigged his role and made him a pure financial guru. And that gave him, not that he didn’t like people, he wanted to mentor the whole finance. And accounting team, which they shifted his role, brought in a kind of a real CFO that managed the team and the other things. And it was a win win, right? So, so it doesn’t mean that it always has negative outcomes. We just have to have the courage to confront it when it surfaces. I think we need to have the self courage to identify when we, when we’re slipping, right? So go in and has a great line about mediocrities as it’s a slippery slope, right? If you, if you just start even allowing a little bit to seep into how you lead, you’ll wake up one day and be completely mediocre, not even know it. And that’s the problem.

Jim Rembach (31:43):

Well, and I also think too, that, um, when you start thinking about, you know, the younger generation and this whole sensitivity issue, um, I think some people think that you can do this, you know, in a purely blissful and encouraging manner. I mean, in order for change to happen, friction is required. It’s required. So, and we see it now. I mean, this is forced friction. So man, you know, it’s either, you know, change or, or go extinct. I mean, it’s, I mean, it’s okay.

Vince Molinaro (32:14):

Yeah, and it’s a great point because I think what people misunderstand sometimes is, is the, um, the notion of if you’re having a tough conversation with someone, right? Uh, you know, people are a little bit uneasy, you know, Steve jobs, whatever you want to say about him, you know, his brilliance coupled with his harsh leadership style, you know, someone once asked him, why are you so hard on people? And he goes, well, if I’m not, then I’m actually being, I’m kind of protecting myself and I’m not doing them any favors. But if you think about kind of being really tough with an individual, if I think about the people in my life who had the courage to come to me, to sit me down and say, Vince, we’ve got to have a talk in that moment. We hate that experience as humans, we’ve all had that.

Vince Molinaro (32:58):

But when I think about it, it’s like, wow, they cared for me enough, right? To say, I have to sit down with you because I care about your success and you’re on a path here that I don’t think will make you successful. Right? And yet, because it’s so much easier to say, well, I don’t give a crap about that person and not say anything. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it over and over again. We’re a leader just by surprise, gets fired, and then starts hearing about the reasons that nobody had the courage to come, you know, have full disclosure. And they realized, why didn’t anybody tell me? Right? I could have tried to work on something. Right? To me, that’s a real shame to do that. So I think we’ve got to shift our, our mindset around those standards and not have the fear and realize that, that, that real toughness comes from a place of caring about someone caring about their wellbeing, caring about their success. Because we all have blind spots. We don’t see it. All right? So that’s kind of my perspective on it that I think a lot of us need to reframe, um, and not be so hesitant or afraid about these conversations we need to have.

Jim Rembach (34:05):

And as he were even talking about that organizational, you know, expectation setting, envisioning to me that has to be in there.

Vince Molinaro (34:12):

You’re absolutely right.

Jim Rembach (34:14):

Okay. So when I start thinking about all of these factors and all, you know, let’s think about the outcome elements, I of course just because of what I do and where I am and how I feel, I start thinking about the employee and the customer experience. We talked about that translated property, right? So what does all this really mean for the customer?

Vince Molinaro (34:34):

Well, I think, I think it’s, it’s sort of, you know, there’s this research that I think Sears did years back, you know, that kind of, they were able to kind of track, uh, you know, the impact of engagement, employee engagement on the customer experience, right? And customer loyalty. And at the time afterwards, I think some of that research was criticized for being a bit faulty. But regardless of that, you know, there, there are some times just ideas that just make sense. Right? And that to me is one of them, right? Is, is, is that if you look at, and I share some of the research, I, I I didn’t do it. A large firm did that looked at the connection between the leadership experience and the employee experience. So if employees see there’s top level of leaders are working well together, their personal sense of engagement automatically goes to 72% though if they see their top leaders not working well together, lots of conflict, lots of dysfunction, their engagement drops down to 8% right?

Vince Molinaro (35:33):

So companies have been struggling trying to fix employee engagement per year. So you don’t need to bring in foosball tables and enhance, you know, it doesn’t matter now anyways cause it doesn’t look like we’re going to have offices anymore. So you don’t need to worry about that. So now the engagement challenges become even more pronounced. But the leadership experience drives the employee experience, which in turn drives the customer experience. And we all feel that as customers, right? You go, you go into a store, you order something online, you can tell what kind of state that employee is in. And I bet you if you ask, so how are you being managed? They’ll tell you and you, but you, but [inaudible] optional service, exceptional performance, I can tell you behind that are a great group of accountable leaders that are creating the conditions for that to happen.

Vince Molinaro (36:25):

So that, that to me is, is that the other benefit of course is, you know, you talked about the generations, you know, if you think about what has been the impact, what I have learned is, you know, I’m kind of the early lead gen X tail end, Bieber boomer. I don’t connect to both in some ways because I’m at that early stage. But you know, boomers put up with the worst leaders, they wore it as a badge of honor. Gen X aspired for more. Um, well couldn’t quite figure out. Millennials came in expecting to work for great leaders and if they didn’t get them, they left. I think they just walked out. Gen Z is coming in. I think they’re going to be the most interesting generation because they’ve had the most leadership development of any other generation coming in because leadership has become so prevalent as a topic in the last five to 10 years. So I look at my own kids who have had more formal leadership development. The concept of leadership has been ingrained in their head already. I think they’re just going to come in and just naturally lead because that’s what they’ve done. And their ability to work together is actually quite interesting. So we’ll see how it all plays out. But, but that’s the generational slant on all of that. But at the bottom line, it’s great leadership experiences translate to great employee experiences, which translate to a best customer experience. And that’s a winning formula for any company.

Jim Rembach (37:51):

Well, most definitely. And when I think about all of this, I mean there’s just so many factors and I mean it’s the, the, the, the, the, the circumstances, the risk levels. I mean it’s just totally heightened, but so you need a whole lot of inspiration behind you in order to really tackle, you know, the issues that we have today and really move things forward. And one of the things that we look out on the show to help us with that, our quotes, is there a quote or two that you liked that you can share?

Vince Molinaro (38:18):

Yeah, well, you know, I think, uh, I’ll, I’ll probably do three right now if that’s okay. You know, so the first one we talked about is that one around, you know, uh, the new game begins before the old one ends. And to your earlier point, we have been thrust into the new game right now, right? It, all, all of the things that have been happening have been happening pre coven. Now it’s just boom, we, we’ve kind of accelerated and now we need to respond. Um, I love a quote. Uh, you know, the seven habits book from Stephen Covey has a ton of them, but you know, he had this one quote that always stays with me because it’s about my accountability in any situation. And he says how you see the problem is the problem. And I love that line if you kind of think about it.

Vince Molinaro (39:01):

And then the final quote is, is I think sort of an old Yiddish term that says, you know, sort of be gentle with the people you deal with every day cause everyone has a burden that they’re carrying that you don’t know about. And, and, and I think in today’s world particularly, we need to find this balance of driving performance cause we have to but also bring a bit of compassion because people are dealing with a lot. Um, you know, whether it’s homeschooling or caring for elderly parents trying to drive performance, figuring out this whole virtual world. And so we need to know that. That’s, you know, that’s kind of the context we’re in right now.

Jim Rembach (39:40):

I most definitely now to get there. Um, and you and I have kind of talked about this off mic. Uh, we all have, you know, issues that we’ve had to address, learnings that we had. Uh, and we talk about getting over the hump. Is there a time where you had had to get over the hump that you can share with us?

Vince Molinaro (39:57):

Well, the two very quickly. The first one was very early in my career. I worked in a large public sector organization and you referenced it in my bio where, um, a woman named Zinta who wasn’t even my manager, she was two levels removed from my direct manager, but saw something in me, gave me an opportunity. Uh, we had an organization that did really, really important work. We helped some of the neediest people in our society get their lives back on track through financial assistance or retraining programs or going back to school. So the, the, the meaning and the purpose of the organization was compelling in someone coming just out of, you know, uh, my undergraduate program. I was excited to, to have a role like that. But then I was struck by just the feel of the place. You know, I remember entering the office the first time, all I see was, see all I saw was the sea of beige old desks.

Vince Molinaro (40:49):

Uh, you know, really tattered walls and the people kind of resembled the environment, nice people. But they showed up every day as zombies, just kind of going through the motions, committed, you know, to their customer after their clients that they serve. But there wasn’t a lot of energy. And, and she approached me one day saying, um, I think, I think you want to make, have an impact on this place beyond your job. And I said to her, I said, yeah, I do think that I see opportunity. And I didn’t even know how she knew that about me cause I’ve never shared that publicly with anyone. So we set up this small committee, we put some things in place and we started to see changes happening. You know, this doll app, you know, environment of apathy started having more vibrancy, more, more, you know, it was fun.

Vince Molinaro (41:30):

And I started to realize, wow, one manager have an impact. Well, a few months later, unfortunately Zinta was diagnosed with lung cancer, had to leave immediately to start her treatments and all of a sudden everything ground to a halt. The changes we put in place didn’t sustain themselves. Um, a few months went by, I heard she wasn’t doing well. I went to visit her and in that visit she shared with me her experience as a senior manager and kind of pulled back the curtain on a culture that I was unaware of as a frontline employee. This toxic management culture, the infighting, the bickering, the gamesmanship, the politics. And she said, you know, I’ve always taken care of my health. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life. I have no history of lung cancer. My family, I am convinced that this disease that I’m fighting as a result of spending my career in this environment.

Vince Molinaro (42:23):

And that hit me like a ton of bricks. That two weeks after she actually sent me a letter. That was a time when people still used to write letters. And in that letter she challenged me. She said, what are you going to do bins with your life? Are you going to be a casino? Are you going to be a consequence of a victim of this environment? Are you going to do something different? And two weeks after I got that letter, she passed away. And that letter was a trigger for me to think, you know, what’s my life really going to be a lot about? And, and I, I began to see a world that most of us didn’t, weren’t even aware of as employees. And I decided to leave. And that’s kind of been my mission ever since, is to, I had the glimpse early in my career of what it was like to work with a great leader.

Vince Molinaro (43:03):

I felt what it did to me, how I wanted to really, you know, work hard to, to make her feel proud of me. Um, and then that was gone. And so I’ve been, and that’s on a personal level, why I try to strive to do that myself. Not easy to do, but that’s kind of, you know, the game plan as, as a leader. So the next big crisis, fundamental, uh, there were other ones of course, but the button, it was the last global financial crisis. And at that moment in time, you know, there I think was a reframing. You know, as soon as we started to realize what was going to happen. And I had a really, really great team and I remember in one meeting I said, now we’ll see how good we really are. Uh, because we were pretty successful. We were building a dominant brand, you know, in our, in our space, doing some great work for our customers.

Vince Molinaro (43:53):

But now in the face of adversity, that was the test. And we were fortunate to meet that test. But I think right now that’s the opportunity. We can kind of get overwhelmed by everything that’s coming at us. But I think we look to our leaders to give us a way forward, to maybe reframe the current challenge in a more inspirational way. And I think that’s, I think the opportunity that we have. How do we reframe the current situation, not denying the tragedy that’s around us. Cause that’s, that is hard stuff. But at the end, leaders have to lead. And that’s where we have to find a way to lead our people through inspiration, through optimism, through bringing them together and, and putting that challenge out there. You know, uh, how good are we really? This is the test.

Jim Rembach (44:36):

Well, I am so sorry that she experienced that fate, but so blessed that it was a trigger for you and the fast lead Allegion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

Ad (44:48):

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Jim Rembach (45:07):

four slash better. Alright, here we go. Fastly deletion. It’s time for the home now. Okay, Vince, the hope they hold on as a part of our show where you give us good insights. Facts. 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 than small and narrow. Are you ready to hoedown I am ready, Jim. Let’s go. Alright. What is holding you back from being an even better leader to them? Right now

Vince Molinaro (45:38):

it’s the, the, the place where my business is, uh, now where I have to kind of build a lot of our solutions and do them as quickly as, as possible. What’s holding me back. It could be a knee, uh, uh, uh, uh, part of me that tries to overcomplicate things. So I have to really remind myself, keep it simple, keep the momentum going and get it done. Um, and when I find myself kind of embroiled in complexity, stop it.

Jim Rembach (46:09):

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Vince Molinaro (46:13):

Uh, the best leadership advice. Um, uh, I, I would, I would say it’s, um, it’s, it’s really around to have the courage to go after the issues that other leaders are afraid of going after. Uh, because if you do, you just create a team that’s open to confronting those issues as difficult as they may be. But having that courage and that resolve to go after things.

Jim Rembach (46:37):

And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Vince Molinaro (46:42):

Uh, well for me personally, it’s, it’s that, that conviction to strive to, uh, you know, given the work that I do, there could be a tendency to preach and not practice. And for me it’s, I think as I talk to my team is our special sauce, uh, is to practice what we preach cause our clients will feel it, will have more integrity in their presence. And that to me is a special element that differentiates us.

Jim Rembach (47:12):

And what is one of your tools that you believe contributes to your success?

Vince Molinaro (47:16):

Well, I think it’s, it’s a humility around leadership is a tough role that you never get there. Uh, you can’t be arrogant about it despite, or in spite of any success you’ve had in the past. So it’s really, uh, for me it’s the embracing the ideas of the leadership contract, making my decision being clear, my obligation, tackling the hard work and building the community. Uh, that’s what I write about it. But that’s what I do personally as well.

Jim Rembach (47:41):

And what would be one book you’d recommend to our Legion could be from any genre. Of course, we’re going to put a link to accountable leaders on your show notes page as well.

Vince Molinaro (47:50):

Uh, I’ve been, uh, rereading, um, uh, Viktor Frankl’s book in, in, in search of meaning.

Jim Rembach (47:57):

Okay. Fast leader Legion. You can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast Okay. Vince is my last time. They hold on question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. You can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Vince Molinaro (48:18):

I would say, um, I would say that to speak the truth as you see it. Um, and not hold back far more than I probably did and I’m pretty and I’m a pretty direct person, but I look back and go, I could have been even more direct and not be afraid of any re repercussions. And I think there’s a lot of employees that are held that whole back and they hold back insights and information that leaders need to drive success. And we need to unleash that.

Jim Rembach (48:52):

Vince, I had fun with you today. Can you please share with the fast leader Legion how they can connect with you

Vince Molinaro (48:56):

on LinkedIn? Uh, that that’s a, you know, where, where I can be found a happy to connect with, uh, uh, your, uh, your fans, uh, on that. And I’m certainly on, on Twitter. Uh, but LinkedIn is the primary as a source for folks.

Jim Rembach (49:12):

Vince Molinaro. Well, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The fast leader Legion honors you, and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.