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Unpacked Podcast

Unpacked with Ron Harvey Embracing the Spirit of Leadership: Overcoming Fears and Fostering Success

December 18, 202325 min read

What if the secret to overcoming leadership fear and fostering success was as simple as embracing the spirit of a fifth grader? Join us on this journey as we sit down with leadership consultant, Jim Saliba, and unravel the intricacies of leadership. With a focus on the significance of persistence, we delve into how resilience and agility are born out of this trait. Jim also helps us dissect the four common fears leaders face - incompetence, appearing foolish, failure, and harsh judgment. We shed light on how these fears can obstruct optimal decision-making and innovation within any organization and share insights on how to overcome them.

As we traverse further into the realm of leadership, we discuss the role of leaders in organizations, highlighting the importance of coaching, and how implementing leadership training can make a real difference. Jim shares his expertise on nurturing talent within an organization and the challenges leaders face in striking a balance between daily tasks and a long-term vision. We explore how to build a potent leadership team, effect change without resorting to micromanagement, and the value of trust.

In our final segment, we converse about the concept of agile leadership and the value of frequent check-ins. Jim stresses the need for leaders to prioritize the organization as a whole to avoid destructive silos. Hear about Jim's personal journey, his passion for the cancer society, and his insights on practicing self-care and accountability. We wrap up this riveting discussion with Jim offering two compelling reasons your company might need his expertise in culture and leadership development. Make sure to tune in every Monday for more insightful conversations from leaders around the globe.


Ron Harvey: [00:00:00] Good morning. This is Ron Harvey, Vice President and the Chief Operating Officer of Global Core Strategies and Consulting. We're a leadership development firm based out of Columbia, South Carolina. And our whole mission, if you will, is to add value and make a difference. And oftentimes that's just helping leaders become more effective.

At the thing that they're called to do. We truly believe leaders are called into their roles and they're responsible for taking care of the people that report to them and that are counting on them. We love doing it. Executive coaching team building talent development. And meet the leaders where they are.

We truly believe leaders make a difference in organizations. But what we've learned in our time is having a microphone or platform that leaders get to share who they really are and how they got to where they are. And that's what we do unpack with Ron Harvey. I'm always excited that my guests that come on.

Take the challenge of not knowing the questions in advance and being in real time with us. So I'm honored to have, you know, all the way from the West Coast in California, really joining us. Jim Saliba is with us, and he said, Let's [00:01:00] do this. Let's figure it out. So excited. Have your bio have information.

But I want to pause and ask you to share with our audience. What do you want us to know about you that we may not find on LinkedIn? Or how would you introduce yourself where we know who you really are? 

James: Well, thank you for having me on and inviting me here. I'm excited to be with you today, Ron. I guess what's not in my bio is that I am originally from the northeast Long Island and I moved here to the West Coast because I think the I.

T. world, which I grew up in is divided in two pieces. One is very much the internal. IT departments that make businesses run, and I believe that's really big on the East Coast with financial companies and insurance companies and so on. And the other side of that is product, delivering product, the technology that we use, the software, the hardware, and I love the product side of [00:02:00] it.

And that's it. I feel is mostly here on the West Coast. So that's why I came out here in 2014. Although our world is changing and a lot of stuff is starting to happen in the middle now, right? So it's interesting how the ecosystems of our country change and it builds businesses and schools and communities around it.

And that's what I love. about the world. It's not just going out and doing a job. You're part of a huge fabric and it takes real leaders to make that fabric work. 

Ron Harvey: Yes, Jim, you're spot on and it changes for leaders and it's so important for leaders to be agile to be adaptable because it's constantly And so you're in the West Coast now, and you're a guru leadership.

You've had a phenomenal career based on the information you shared. You've led a lot of organizations. What has been one of the biggest lessons you've learned in the leadership that you still use today? [00:03:00] 

James: Oh, how to pick one that there are so many of them there. Um, the thing that comes to mind is I have a plaque here that my wife gave me, and it's talks about persistence.

It's not necessarily talent, it's not necessarily knowledge, it's persistence and just keep on going. Because when you go out and do something as a leader, it doesn't always work right away. You have to change and mold it and try different things. I say experiment like a fifth grader. When I was in fifth grade, right, we had the science fair project with your poster board and the hypothesis on top, right?

And the method and did it work or didn't it work? That's how we should be leading through life. And that gets us, as you said, agile. So persistence. Builds that resilience [00:04:00] and keep on going. Keep on trying. 

Ron Harvey: Yeah, Jim. It's amazing that you bring it up. I talk about it quite often is Kids will try things a lot faster than adults.

Because they don't have this fear of it's going to go wrong and I'm gonna look bad and I'm gonna like I'm incompetent. Kids are like, okay, so I messed it up. How do I fix it? 

James: Yes, there's no fear. Well, I'm glad you mentioned that word fear because I talk about that in leadership all the time. And I have what I call the four fears of leadership.

The first one is fear of incompetence, what we often call the imposter syndrome.

Yes. You know, it stops us from doing things. It kills confidence, but the bad thing that it also does that we have to realize is that when we delay decisions and things like that, it builds a culture. below you. And this is going to build a culture of indecision. So if your [00:05:00] projects keep going, whiplash, let's put this one on pause.

Okay, let's do the other one till we make a decision and back again. This could be because of imposter syndrome. The second one is the fear of being foolish. Saying something, doing something, and I'm afraid that somebody is going to call me out, right? So this creates a whole different culture, one of resistance to change, one of conformity, and it just kills innovation and creativity in your organization.

The third one is fear of failure. And we probably feel this at one time in our life or another. There was a statistic that I saw one time that 70 percent of the world population feels this at one time or another. And I see this often in the technology [00:06:00] organizations that I've been involved in over the years.

And it creates a culture of blame. Because we detach from decision making, we push it away to somebody else, just so when it doesn't work, I have a finger to point to and say, well, you know, Ron decided to do it that way. So, right. And the last one is about being vulnerable, a fear of being vulnerable. And this creates a culture of Mistrust because people can't be themselves.

People can't be authentic. So trust never gets built. 

Ron Harvey: Wow. So phenomenal for things that people really fall into the trap around fear and it exists in every organization at one time or another. What role do leaders play on their gym? To help people deal with either one or all four. I mean, because it does happen.

So when you're thinking from all of your lessons learned leading organizations, [00:07:00] let's unpack for a second. So we told him the four that exists. How do leaders help people navigate either one of those or all four of those? 

James: Well, first, leaders have to find it in themselves and get past that. They can't help somebody else get past it until they start getting past it themselves.

So that's number one. And number two, I always feel once you find it, once you see it, then you can start making it better because you could see yourself falling into it. You could see yourself when it happens. So getting a mentor or a coach or a sponsor that you open up and say, I'm working on this. When you see me falling into this.

Let me know. Yes. So this way you can change your behavior. And again, be persistent because it's not going to happen overnight. Knowledge is not changed. Knowledge [00:08:00] just starts to change. 

Ron Harvey: Wow. Okay. So another moment that knowledge does not, it starts to change. So phenomenal. So when you think about it, Jim, I mean, in the work that you do, 

so you're in New York, you're in California. Yeah. Is leadership still leadership regardless of where you are in the world? 

James: You know, I would have to say yes, there's many different styles that we can talk about, but I worked with organizations, especially in tech all across the country including the middle of the country in Texas and so on.

And it's the same fears and the same problems. And we do the same thing back in the sixties. We called it the Peter principle. They called it the PETA principle. I wasn't quite ready for it yet. But anyway that was, we get promoted past our effectiveness. But today we see it all the time. People get promoted [00:09:00] based on their technical skills.

Things that I can do. I can write code, right? But once I start moving further up the ladder, those technical skills is great knowledge to help the business run. But I need leadership skills and our organizations are not really great at training and coaching and building leadership skills. And that's why so many companies get their top leadership from other places.

They bring it in rather than building a leadership pipeline within their own organization. 

Ron Harvey: yes, you see a lot of organizations bringing people in their top level leadership. If you're running an organization, how does an organization develop people internally, knowing that's the case and you kind of want to reward people that are already there, that are technically sharp, how do you start developing talent in house?

Because there is a shortage of the workforce. CEOs and executives, there's going to be a turnover between generations here real soon.[00:10:00] So the more mature people in the organizations are going to soon be retiring. How do you help organizations develop internally for the most effective leaders? What can they do?

James: Well, they have to build a real program to make it happen and I see what happens a lot. We do training. We send somebody at somebody out for training for three days, right? And they're immersed in that training class and they come back and wallah, thou shall be a leader, right? And it doesn't work that way.

In fact, a lot of statistics show that unless you start using what you learn right away, that You're going to lose it. 70 percent of it within just a few weeks. So that's why I always put coaching and why I became an executive coach and start helping people. It is taking what we've learned no matter where they learned it from me or [00:11:00] someplace else and start putting it into practice.

into practice. I put a book out there called the Six Step Leadership Challenge, and it doesn't come out with a new leadership theory on how to be a multiplier, how to be a better leader, being authentic. But it's more about how you take those things, put it into a plan, and actually move your Training your leadership development forward and running it just like a project, but, you know, coming from an agile world and software development, that's all about iterations and little by little and experimenting.

Like I said, and it just integrates all those pieces in. 

Ron Harvey: Wow. how do people find your book? Where can they find it? If someone's listening to the podcast. You know, so the six steps and leadership challenge, where did they find the book? 

James: Well, certainly you can find it on my website at James Saliba dot com.

You could find it [00:12:00] there, but it is also on Amazon. 

Ron Harvey: Yes. Yes. Yeah. And most people, you know, Amazon everybody's shopping Amazon today. So yeah, if you want to go to Amazon, you can find the book but definitely you can go to Jim's website and find it as well. So thank you for that.

So when you think about leaders today, With so many challenges, what are the top 3 things we see where there's gaps for us as leaders, regardless of whether we're in corporate America entrepreneur. Regardless of where we're working at, what are some of the top challenges you see surfacing to the top for leaders today?

James: I would say the top thing that we get problems with leaders is that it's so easy to get stuck into the day to day activities down in the weeds. We can't see the big picture of what's happening. I think many years ago when a leader came in, it was. Good to be either a good visionary defining the [00:13:00] future or good at operating the details from day to day.

I think today things move so fast. You need both. Now you can't be perfect at both. So, but you need to be strong in both and you need to build the right team to make that happen. This is another thing that I work with. Leaders is building their leadership team. So many people come into an organization.

The team is already there. They have to move it. They have to change it. They were brought in to make change. How do we do it without micromanaging? How do we change the culture without just breaking everything and bringing in new people? 

Ron Harvey: it is very difficult is real for every organization that when leadership.

Is changing, how do you ensure that you don't break it all the way completely and you inherit a team, have a military background and the military has this phrase of change of [00:14:00] leadership is a non event and what I mean by that is. When you and I change out the team should still be very effective and be able to carry forward and I shouldn't be the 1 thing that it only functions if I'm there.

So they wanted to make sure we, did well enough where they can do it in our absence or in our change out because you change every 2 years. Make sure you can make sure that the leader is not the sole source of things getting done. 

James: Well, it's building the right team and putting the right processes together and codifying those processes.

So that if someone steps out, somebody else can come in. Building a team is not just making that team run. Well, it is if, as you said, if I step away. Will that team continue running in the whole software agile stuff that I've done, we would build scrum teams and things like that. And whenever I coached one of those teams, [00:15:00] one of the first things that I wanted to know is if that scrum master, the person that helps coach and, did it run the day to day activities, if they went on vacation.

What would the team do with somebody else step up? Would they go back to their old ways? And soon as I see that, if the scrum master goes away and the team can continually run and somebody else steps up. Then I know that that culture is now dialed into that company. 

Ron Harvey: Wow. So it's a culture too, as well. So if you're watching and listening, like what culture are you creating?

And if you're not paying attention to it, it's getting created. It just is not intentional, but culture does exist. 

James: Culture always exists. And. It depends on we were talking about fear if I'm building those fears in and I'm building a culture of blame. I'm building a culture of pointing fingers and things like that.

[00:16:00] It's happening because of reaction to how things are going on and leadership and how the company is running. So we have to be really careful and Think about the culture that we're creating. I think uh, about 20 ish years ago, we started talking about emotional intelligence. And to me, that's very one on one, right?

How I talk, how I make you feel, how I bring you along. Culture is the other bookend to that. How do I make my organization feel and run? And without those two You need them both to really have your team, your organization, your company run well. 

Ron Harvey: Phenomenal. I totally agree with the most intelligent individual level and bringing it to the culture of the entire organization.

So when you think about a leader and you're [00:17:00] doing coaching you're working with leaders. How do leaders build trust? Because it seems like we're at an all time low where people are not trusting their supervisors or managers or their organizations for that matter. How do you, two questions, how do you build trust and how do you rebuild it when it's been broken?

James: I think building trust starts out simple. Do what you say you're gonna do. Yes. Right. If I say I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it. Yes. Be transparent and authentic. I believe in measures and being metrics, but I don't hide them. I want everybody to see them top, bottom, back and forth. This is what we're working towards.

This is I'm helping you. I'm trying to be part of this and be part of. Clearing the runway for your people. We talk about servant [00:18:00] and I think that's a big part of it for me. How do I serve my team? No matter what my position so that they can get their best work done. I mentioned the word multipliers before there's the book called multipliers.

I happen to be rereading it right now or actually listening to it. I. Yeah. I listen to books and it just brings out a number of things for me of how leaders can act with people. How leaders can be accidentally diminishers, as she calls them, to stop people. And As she talks about I, and I'm doing my walks and listening to it.

I'm like, Oh, I do that sometimes. Oh no, I do that sometimes. It's no matter how great of a leader you are, you're human. And in the [00:19:00] stress of things happen. Call it out. Yep. I'm bad. I shouldn't have done that. I really should have done this and let people see that you're human and let them fail. Let them point out their failures and let them help them understand how they can fix it.

And don't just tell them and. You as a coach know exactly what I'm talking about. Ask the right questions. She had a challenge exercise in there to go in to a meeting and don't make any statements. The challenge is all you can do is ask questions. You'll be surprised at what you can do. 

Ron Harvey: Yes, I will say absolutely.

We can get much better asking questions. And so I want to unpack something that you [00:20:00] said you mentioned clear the runway. Can you help people understand what you mean by clear the runway? And how do they do it? 

James: Okay. So an agile world, there's a lot of things happening all the time. So checking in very frequently to understand how things are moving is not just a status report.

It's What is creating resistance for my people? What is slowing them down? Often when we talk about this, people say blockers. I don't like that because then we waited until we're totally blocked. What's slowing us down? What's impeding us? What's resistance? I want to know that so that I can clear it up.

before it becomes a blocker. Is it that it's slow decision making? Well, then I need to make sure that the decisions are happening fast enough that I'm not stopping people and swapping [00:21:00] projects around. If it's that another team has a dependency that you need to get done first, well, what's their priorities?

I see this all the time that Different parts of the organization are dependent on each other, but they have their own different priorities, so we stuck in. I can't move forward because this department didn't give me what I needed, but I'm low on their priority list. So what's the priority of the organization?

Are we all working to make this organization deliver the highest value we can deliver at this time? 

Ron Harvey: Yes. Yeah. Which is a huge for you. Leaders of you listening, is it about the organization or about your department? And those silos can be very destructive. I mean, really, really great information. You know, one of the things I do on this, I do what I, call rapid fire. Impromptu questions to see just for fun, just to learn a little bit more about you. I never [00:22:00] know what it's going to be or what the comparisons are going to be, but I would love to do the rapid fire with you and see how you respond to them.

Yes, let's try it. Let's see what it says. Everybody, so let's go. Mountains or beach. Awesome, train or airplane, 

James: Airplane. I want to get there wherever I'm going. 

Ron Harvey: Okay. So Italian food or steak. 

James: Oh, that's a hard one. you know, my wife is Italian. We've been canning our own tomato sauce for 40 years.

We get bushels of tomatoes. So I'm going to go with Italian, but you can have, but you can have steak on the side, apple

Ron Harvey: pie or pound cake, 

Apple pie. Okay. I love pie. You love pie. Awesome. I love pie. [00:23:00] sourdough bread or a bagel? 

James: Oh, come on. I'm a New Yorker. Come on. Bagel. 

Ron Harvey: Yes. Yes. And that was in the green room. So I learned that really quick about, you know, he's over on the West coast now. So that's changed for you.

the last If you could do anything in the world and money wasn't an issue, travel wasn't an issue, you had all the resources, what organization would you help? Oh, 

James: that is a hard question. What organization would I help? 

Ron Harvey: And as Jim is thinking about it, for me, it would be the Cancer Society. 

James: You know, I've been there.

I did a lot of work with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I was a Cycling coach for about eight years. And when I first started doing stuff with them on Long Island, we were about [00:24:00] 900, 000 raising funds on all their programs together a year. But after the eight years, they were up to 5 million. It was a great organization.

And what I loved about being involved with it was. It kept me healthy because I went out every Sunday and I cycled with the team every season. We started with a new group, started at 8 to 10 miles, added on a little bit each week. And we got people to be able to ride a hundred mile century ride while building a fundraising for the leukemia society.

And one fun fact. When we as a country started doing cancer research, the very 1st 1 leukemia and that's through that is why there are so many breakthroughs and many other cancers. 

Ron Harvey: Wow, thank you for sharing. So, what [00:25:00] are the things I want to impact before we get ready to wrap up on here? Jim, how do you help leaders?

intentionally better self care.

James: They have to find their way to hold themselves accountable as a coach. You and I get to to do that. Yes. And it's about holding them accountable to the things that they say that they're going to do, not to the things I want them to do. Yes. And there are times You probably see the same thing. They say they're going to do something and they push it off and push it off and push it off.

And we get to say, what's going on here? You want to do this. Why are you putting stuff? In your way. Let's get to the next layer down. So it's all about I have to leave myself before I [00:26:00] can lead others. I need to hold myself accountable before I can hold others. 

Ron Harvey: Yes. Yes. So leaders will be listening.

The 1st person to leave is ourselves. And then you get to extend that outwardly to other people because, you know, you model what it is. So, Jim, phenomenal conversation. Great job with the rapid fire questions. And so. if people want to invite you as a guest for a podcast or people want to leverage your services, whether it's as a coach or whether it's bringing a value add for leadership development for the organization, how do people reach?

What's the best way to 

James: reach you? Well, you can reach me by emailing me, Jim at James Saliba dot com, or you can find me on LinkedIn. I go to my LinkedIn virtually every day. And I, Talk. And I chat to people. In fact I make a list of people that I go to and I check every day for their posts and I comment on and so on.

So if you want to be on my list that I help engage your LinkedIn, let me know. 

Ron Harvey: [00:27:00] Yes. I mean, that's super important. Thank you for saying that because we have to get better at promoting other people at the same time while they're helping us. So thank you for doing that. so one of the questions that I have as we wrap up for us.

If a company is trying to figure out do they need to call you, if they need your services, what are two reasons that or something that may be happening in the company probably should reach out to you? 

James: I want to go faster. I can't tell you how many leaders that I perspective clients that I talked to who say, well, I can get this from reading a book.

Yes, you can. 100%. But people get stuck. People get stuck in the weeds because there's a lot of work to do. Having a coach, a mentor, a sponsor adds rocket fuel to your leadership development, whether it's you, yourself, or your team. 

Ron Harvey: Yes, absolutely. If you want to go faster, absolutely. What are the [00:28:00] three things that you would leave for everyone that's listening?

What would you like to leave them with? How would you close today? 

James: Okay, we talked about fear. Don't let fear stop you. Recognize it. Embrace it. Push it forward. Persistence. We brought that up. I love this plaque. Every time I'm stuck and I keep it on my desk, it reminds me to be persistent. And three, we did talk a little bit about transparency and authentic.

Be yourself. I think years ago we had to have this virtual suit of armor when we wanted to work. It's about being yourself and that builds more trust than anything else. 

Ron Harvey: Yes. Thank you so much, Jim. Phenomenal conversation. Thank you for the transparency. Thank you for the fun while doing it. Thank you for pushing through the fear of not knowing what I was going to ask and I didn't know either.

I didn't know how you were going to respond. But I wanted to [00:29:00] keep it real. I wanted to keep it behind the curtain, like, Hey, let people see how we actually show up. And so for everyone that's listening you know, round of applause to Jim for joining with us again, Ron Harvey. Vice president, chief operating officer, global core strategies and consulting.

You can find this on our webpage, or you can find us on LinkedIn. We release a podcast every single Monday with a different leader from around the world. And we always will unpack real things that all of us are dealing with and trying to figure out how to navigate. So until next time, thank you for joining Gemini.

And hopefully everyone that's listening hopefully that things are going well. And if you need access to us, please feel free to reach each one of us at any time. Thank you for joining us.

James is a 30+ year veteran in the Software and Technology industry. He shares with you his years of experience and winning ways to become a successful leader, while becoming 'unstuck' from the overwhelming challenges that hold us back from complete success.

Jim Saliba

James is a 30+ year veteran in the Software and Technology industry. He shares with you his years of experience and winning ways to become a successful leader, while becoming 'unstuck' from the overwhelming challenges that hold us back from complete success.

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