Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Key Relationships – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Key Relationships – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast


– [Craig] We’ve been
talking about the value of managing your energy. Today I wanna dive deeper into the subject with Dr. John Townsend, who’s a nationally known
leadership consultant, psychologist, and New York
Times best-selling author. His books have sold
over 10 million copies. You may know him from the
book called “Boundaries.” He’s got a new book out
called “People Fuel: “Fill Your Tank for Life,
Love, and Leadership.” Will dive into an interview
with Dr. John Townsend. – [Announcer] This is the “Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.” – [Craig] It’s great to have
you back for another episode of the “Craig Groeschel
Leadership Podcast.” You’re in for a massive treat today. I am a huge fan of this guy’s work. If you’ve been around
and read any good books, you’ve probably read one of his. If not, you’re gonna
certainly wanna get this one. I’ve got Dr. John Townsend with me. Welcome aboard. – [John] Thanks, Craig. – [Craig] I appreciate your
work through the years, and you’ve got a brand new book out called “People Fuel: “Fill Your Tank for Life,
Love, and Leadership.” Congratulations on a brand new book. – [John] Thanks. – [Craig] For people who are listening, maybe some people might say, “I’m not quite sure who Dr. Townsend is.” But the book “Boundaries,”
I’m guessing that was, was that probably your best-selling book? – [John] Yeah, that’s been north of about three million
copies so far, Craig. – [Craig] Yeah, that book has helped me, and so many people that I know
love the book “Boundaries,” and I appreciate your work. I’m curious, Dr. Townsend,
what got you interested in the field of psychology
and relationships, and then when did you make a connection about the interaction with
relationships and leadership? – [John] Yeah, I started off
as a clinical psychologist, Craig, and had a practice. You might know my writing
partner for many books, Henry Cloud, he and I had a
health system in the West Coast where we had psychiatrist hospitals, we had out-patient clinics, a lot of people in our organization. And on the way to doing that, I would be talking to
leaders and they would say, “Look, I’m not depressed
and my kids are okay. “They’re not on drugs,
they’re nice people. “But I really like your approach. “Do something for us
and our organization.” So, what I did is I took the
model, the clinical model, which is about helping depression
and anxiety in families, and kinda went in a Jim
Collins level of, okay, what would be optimization? What’s good to great? How can I get a good leader
to be a great leader, a great leader to be an optimized leader? How can we get a good
organization to be a great one, and a great one the be optimized? And the same principles
apply in relationships to help organizations and leaders thrive. – [Craig] So, here’s a
question I’ve often wondered and you might be the
perfect person to answer it. Are great leaders generally more messed up than normal people?
(John laughs) – [John] I study all these things ’cause I study leadership so much. When you look at the research, not really. It’s kind of a flat line. The difference is their messed up is a higher level of messed up than somebody who’s not a
great leader’s messed up, if that makes any sense at all, Craig. They have struggles, they have
struggles in relationships, self-image, struggles in confidence, struggles in staying in
focus, energizing themselves, but it’s kind of the same struggle. – [Craig] So, everybody’s messed up, great leaders just have a higher level of messed up competence. (laughs) – [John] Their problems are
just a little more complicated. I always tell leaders when
I’m working with them, “Look, you’re always gonna have
problems, that’s just life. “But your goal in growth as a leader “is to have a higher-level
problem every year. “If you have lower-level
problems like, we’re going broke, “that’s not good. “But more complicated
higher-level problems “means you’ve gotta be
growing better too.” So, higher-level problems is a sign that a trend is a friend, really. – [Craig] Well, that
might an encouragement for some people right now because I know there are
probably a lot of people that do have some high-level
problems right now, and so I guess you can
take comfort in the fact that the level of your
problems, if they’re higher, then you’re probably doing
more to make a difference. Hey, let’s dive into some
of the content of your book because I know this is
gonna be crazy helpful for our leadership community. “People Fuel.” I’ll introduce a lot of different talks and say something like, people ask, “What’s most important?” Is it the right location,
the right product, the right level of
innovation, the right systems, the right strategy, the right
people, and on and on and on. And I always come back to people. People, people, people, people. Because people choose the right locations, create the right systems,
develop the right products, create the right innovative
measures, and such. So, I wanna dive into
the content in your book. You say that people are the fuel for us to grow to be healthy and prosper. For some people, that might
be a little counterintuitive. They might think that education, books, seminars, conferences,
training helps people grow. But you say it’s people. Can you kind of unpack that for us? – [John] Yeah, it’s sort
of the missing link. Most of what I study,
Craig, is neuroscience, and how the brain really
tells us how leaders thrive. ‘Cause we’re learning so
much in these robust studies about success and resiliency and moving forward and creativity, and what we’re finding
out in the brain science is that one of the missing
links happens to be people and I’ll tell you why. Is that not only that
people, like you said, they’re the ones that generate the ideas, generate the locations,
generate the whole product, but also people are the
ones that drive the vision, and we need people in our lives. You see, most leaders, I work with so many leaders
around the country, Craig, that they’ll say, “Oh, I’ve
got a lot of people in my life. “I’m mentoring this person,
I’m guiding this person, “I’m directing this team, I’m doing this.” And I’ll say, “Goodness
gracious, I’m getting tired. “Is there anybody that
you’re not outsourcing to? “Is there anybody inputting you?” And they’ll say, “Well yeah, my spouse “and my Labrador Retriever,
Max, they’re nice to me.” And I’ll go, “That’s a problem.” You need people that you’re outsourcing to but you gotta make sure as a leader that you’re inputting
the right people into you who are the gains and not the drains. Because most leaders, unfortunately, are attracted to too
many drains and not gains and they lose creativity, they lose focus, they lose moxie, they lose
mojo, all those things. It comes from the great relationships. – [Craig] I’m curious, you write
in your book, Dr. Townsend, about the fact that
all of us need to need. Can you explain a little bit
about what you mean by that? – [John] Yeah, when you look at us at a neuroscience design level, it’s what’s called attachment theory. We’ve found out so much of the brain, hard science, I mean
researched hard science, Craig, is that there are
different sources of energy that we all need. We all know you need to sleep enough. We all know that you need
to have the great nutrition and work out and have a positive attitude and this sort of thing. But what people miss,
that is as a leader level, is they miss the good
things that come toward us from relationships. We’re finding out if you’ve
got somebody in your life that’s interested in you and saying positive true things about you and that you can, the real
key really is vulnerability. If you can be vulnerable
with a few people, in the book I talk about a life team of somewhere between three and 10 people, if you’ve got them in your life and you can really open
up how hard things hard when you need to vent,
when you’re struggling, you feel that energy that you don’t have. So you gotta do all the
disciplines of life, nutrition, sleep, and all that. But if you don’t have
enough of the right people feeding into you when you’re vulnerable, you lose a major source of
energy and productivity. – [Craig] So, when I was in my 20s, it seemed like my professors
and even my mentors kind of told us you really
shouldn’t let people know when you struggle, you should
kinda keep up the illusion of kinda knowing it all. And you’re taking a
really different stance. What would you say to a leader that is maybe afraid to be vulnerable, how would you help her or
him get over that hurdle? – [John] I would address
it on two levels, Craig. First, I’d take it on a research level. They did a lot of research in leaders between the bulletproof leader like Superman or Captain Marvel, and the vulnerable leader, the one that says, “I’m struggling,” or, “I didn’t do a good job last quarter,” or, “I didn’t lead you
guys like I needed to “and that’s on me.” And you would think that everybody wants
to be around Superman, but we found out that the
one that was vulnerable, their people were loyal, Craig, and they would walk
over hot coals for them. They found out the
principle of identification. I can’t identify with Superman. I know I’m not fit to play,
I know I’m screwed up, I know about these problems. He sounds like an alien to me. But I can identify with
that leader that says, “You know, some of this is my fault, “I’m gonna get better at it.” So, number one, I’d address
it on a research level. If you’re vulnerable in the right ways, and I do a lot of training on the right kind of vulnerabilities, people say, “I’m following you.” The second thing is to have them open up about what their thoughts are about vulnerability in the first place. You know, the research
says vulnerability is good. You find that a lot of leaders, though, have a voice in their head. We call it the harsh judge. There’s a judge that beats us up. And it says, “Watch out. “If you open up, you’re
gonna be disqualified. “You’re gonna be rejected,
you’re gonna let everybody down.” And you gotta change that. Certainly you can’t be
vulnerable with everybody, you can’t have a big board meeting and be vulnerable about everything, that’s not productive. But vulnerable about
performance issues specially that the right people, Craig, will go, “Hey, thanks for saying
that, I trust you.” And you’ve gotta change
the message in your head, that vulnerability’s a good
thing and not a bad thing. – [Craig] What happens if a leader chooses not to be vulnerable? – [John] Well, I think, like any other factor in optimization, that’s one less piece of data and one less skill that you have, which means the person may
not go bankrupt or anything, but they’re not gonna be optimized. I always tell leaders
that can’t be vulnerable, “Look, you’re a Lamborghini. “You’ve got 16 cylinders inside the hood. “But because you can’t be vulnerable, “you’ve gotta keep it
together all the time, “you’re working on nine cylinders. “Now, your company and the
world and your stakeholders, “they’re gonna go, ‘Hey,
they’re doing okay.’ “But you in your heart know, “‘I could be at 16 if I opened
up to the right people.'” – [Craig] We’ve a lot of younger leaders that listen to the podcast. Would you say, and I’m just curious, I don’t know the answer to this, would you say there’s even a
deeper need for vulnerability with a 20-something-year-old leader than there was in the past? Is that a changing trend or
has it always been constant? – [John] I’m seeing, ’cause I work with both generations too, and I’m seeing the they are
better at that than we are. They get it, they know it, and they’ll say, “I don’t wanna work here “because there’s not a
community where I can be open.” So, it’s a little harder
for the older generation to be that way, but I think
it’s the best way to be. – [Craig] Well, let’s about
appropriate vulnerability. Let’s say that I’m leading
a team full of volunteers, or I’ve got a startup team
with maybe 80 members, or I’m a CEO and I’ve
got 3,000 staff members. What would be different about
vulnerability at those levels, and what would be a constant? – [John] Yeah, the key
is performance at work versus life in general. You see, we’re supposed to
have people on our life team that know everything that probably shouldn’t be
people we’re with at work because reporting structures and you kinda have this governor
in your head about, gosh, if I report to you, it’s
gonna affect my comp. So, those are people in your life that are probably not at work. They’re in your family or
your church or your friends. But in the work environment, you keep it limited to performance. For example, “Hey, I didn’t
do a great job on the count “and we lost some money, and
I’m gonna see what’s wrong.” Or, “I’m a bit overwhelmed and
I just want you guys to know “that I’ve gotta get my priorities, “I’ve gotta think through this.” People go, “Hey, I get
overwhelmed too, thank you.” So you keep it limited to the
work and performance arena and you just say, “I’m not
everything I need to be.” And you build a culture, and
the hugely cool thing about it, you build a culture of high vulnerability and high performance. High vulnerability and ownership leads to high performance. It wins for us, it doesn’t lose for us. – [Craig] I agree completely. You know, Dr. Townsend, on our podcast we’ve been talking recently
about the difference between managing just your time and also managing your energy, and you write in your
book a lot about that, about getting energy from people. And you talk about 22 practices, or I think you call them nutrients? – [John] Relational nutrients. – [Craig] Yeah, I love that. In our relational diet,
we need these nutrients. And then you break them into
four quadrants or categories. Let’s talk about each of those briefly. Quadrant one, you talk
about being present. What does it look like when a leader receives presence from another person, and why is this so important? – [John] Right, can I go
over the theory in 30 seconds so people get what I’m
talking about there, Craig? – [Craig] Please do, please do. – [John] The idea is, you know how a body needs bio nutrients? We all know we need to take
our supplements every day and eat right now,
we’re getting healthier. And so our bio nutrients are
important to stay healthy. So if you don’t have
enough calcium every day, you’re gonna get bone problems. If you don’t have enough iron every day, you’re gonna get anemia. So, in the same way, the
concept we have in “People Fuel” is that we have relational nutrients, and that’s how we strengthen each other, energize each other, but they don’t come in a pill form, they come from brain to brain, my brain to your brain,
your brain to my brain, in the form of conversations. They can be physical conversations, they can be phone calls,
they can be texts. But ways that we convey
these 22 relational nutrients that make us stronger. Now, those relational nutrients
are divided, like you said, into four quadrants. The first one is be present. And what being present
means is shut up and listen. Leaders sometimes we just talk too much and we give too much advice. Sometimes somebody just wants
to know that they’re okay or that they can kinda vent. Or they know you’re in the
well of struggle with them and you can say, “I get
it, I’ve been there, “I know where you are.” And sometimes a person will say, “You know, that’s all I needed. “I don’t need three steps, “I need you to be present with me.” ‘Cause then they know, “I’m not alone. “I know my leader gets me. “And I’m gonna go off and win the world “just because I’m not alone.” So, be present is a
very, very powerful one. Some of the nutrients in
be present are acceptance, affirmation, containment, helping people know that
you can tune into them, validation of their
experience, you’re normal, stuff like that. That’s the first quadrant. – [Craig] Yeah, give me some
insight on the other three. We’ve got quadrant two
is convey the good– – [John] And three is provide reality and four is call to action. So, two is when we sometimes
somebody just needs a little boost of positive and Prozac. Like, “I wanna affirm
you did something good. “I wanna encourage you. “I wanna show you respect
because you deserve it. “I wanna give you some hope “that you’re gonna get up from this “and go again and be resilient.” Sometimes people just need
to know we believe in them when they stop believing in themselves. That’s provide the good. The third one, give reality, is sometimes people need
our wisdom, our insight. I love Simon Sinek’s power of why. Sometimes they just need us to unveil, “Why did I do this? “Kinda coach me through
this, help me understand “the deeper reasons this is happening “so I don’t make these mistakes again.” And the fourth one is call to
action ’cause, as you know, in leadership it’s about
a behavior in action. “I need three steps, I need
some advice, I need a structure, “I need a book to read, I
need a conference to go to, “I need a plan.” And our job as leaders is to know what the people in our lives need between being present, conveying good, giving reality, and call into action. And also, what we need. When we wake up every morning,
we may not need action, we may need somebody to listen. It’s our job to know what
we need and what they need. – [Craig] What’s interesting to me is if someone just listening to this, they might say, “That
seems kind of obvious,” and in some ways it really is. You know, be present, convey the good. But what I’ve found in
working with leaders is these are the things
that people in our teams often crave and feel like they’re missing. Being present, they often feel
like we don’t really care. We care more about ourselves
or about our organization. They feel underappreciated so often that they just want someone to notice. Providing reality or creating
a high feedback culture is one of the things that’s so interesting when I’m working with
our younger leaders is so many of them really haven’t
received a lot of feedback. They don’t know how to receive it, don’t know how to give it. And then the call to
action is moving people. I really think when people read your book, I hope they’ll go through
this section slowly and internalize it. Because if we do those things as leaders, we really can move the needle, and what we’re doing
is we’re communicating that the people that we
work with, they matter, they’re valuable, we care about them, and then together we can do
something really special. In fact, with that in mind, Dr. Townsend, I think my favorite section, because of the application of it, you talk about the seven key relationships that leaders need or, I like
what you say, need to avoid. Because sometimes we need to
avoid some types of people. Let’s start with coaches. Talk to us about the importance of having that coach or mentor in your leadership. – [John] Yeah, when you think about the relational nutrients, what am I supposed to get from the people that are helping me be a better person, the highest form of relational nutrients, the most rich form I
can get is from coaches. Now, what’s a coach? Well, it could be a mentor, a guide. It could be a counselor. It could be a spiritual director. It could be an executive coach. But the thing that brings so much value to the leader from a coach is that they have a subject matter expertise that you don’t have, they have information you don’t have and you don’t have time to go get it and go take thousands
of hours of training, and they don’t need you
to be their best friend, so you can be kind of selfish. I mean, when I call my coach, I don’t spend half the time
talking about his vacation. I spend, you know, I’m a nice guy, so, “Hey, okay, how was your day?” But then it’s all about me. And I’ve got more than
one coach, actually. They guide, they mentor. It’s all about my world and my success. So, very nutrient-rich source. – [Craig] So, we get questions
all the time, Dr. Townsend, people write in, “How do I find a mentor? “How do I find a coach?” What advice would you give to someone looking for that coach to invest in them? – [John] Well, there’s the organic way and there’s the most
structured, formal way, I think, Craig. The organic way is talk
to the people in your life who are successful and
say, “Hey, who’s coaching?” Because now, if you the
“Harvard Business Review,” coaches are bringing in three
to four X what they cost because, pure and simple,
they really optimize us. So you go, talk to the
people in your life. But then there are really
good coaching organizations. The International Federation of Coaches. Townsend Leadership Group, we
provide coaches for people. And the cool thing about coaches is you don’t have to be
limited by location anymore, with how great the Internet is and video conferencing
and Skype and all this. I would rather have an A-player coach who lives in another state
talking to me on Skype than I would a B-player
coach who’s local to me. So, they’re out there. – [Craig] Yeah and, again, I
wanna highlight what you said. So, your organization is called? – [John] Townsend Leadership Group. – [Craig] And so, you provide coaches? – [John] Mhmm. We provide coaches, consultants,
business consultants, and people who lead small
groups of leadership groups around the country where people show up in a
group of six to 10 people for a year at a time, and
it maximizes what they do. We give them emotional
intelligence testing, we help them to grow, we
help them with strategy. So we do the small group
part, the peer group part, we do the coaching part, and we do the going into
businesses consulting part. – [Craig] So, there’s kind of a formalized version of coaching. I think another category would just be learning from distant coaches. You may never meet them but
with podcasts, books, resources, there’s no excuse for not growing. And then I wanted to, right
back to your first phrase, you talked about more informally, I think this is such
an underutilized tool. My recommendation always is,
don’t go up and ask someone, “Would you be my coach,
would you be my mentor?” That puts too much pressure
on the other person and it feels formal. Just come in with questions
as often as you can. And then one of the biggest compliments is to apply what you’ve learned, whatever the coach teaches you. And I found that leaders
love to help people. If I asked you a question
after our interview and then I applied what you taught me, the chances of you
wanting to help me again go way, way up because you
felt like your time was valued and your advice was helpful to me. And so, I’d really encourage people everywhere you go, you
can learn from anybody. So, the coaches, that’s one
thing that’s really important. And then you talk about comrades. What’s a comrade, in your definition? – [John] Well, I have a
concept called life team. And your comrades are your life team. There’s three to 10 people in your life that know everything about your strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, wins. And they’re also going through life too. I was thinking about
comrades in arms in battle. You’re going through the battle of life about having a great company,
a great organization, being a great parent,
being a great spouse, or whatever you’re doing, and everybody is vulnerable
with everybody else and we’re all working
through life together. So, your comrades are the
people that, you know, when you’re down, you
can do that eight-minute windshield-wiper call
on the way home and say, “Look, I just blew it today “and I’m just kind of discouraged.” And that person says, “I get it. “I’m with you, I’m on
your side, tell me more.” Eight-minute conversation, you feel better the rest of the day. Or you can have dinner with those people. But it’s those people that
you share your life with them and they share their life
with you and it’s mutual. We’re all comrades in arms. And you can’t have a lot more than 10 because it takes time to develop those deeper relationships in your life. – [Craig] So, for years
I’ve heard it said, “But it’s lonely at the top.” Agreed or disagreed, and why? – [John] Agreed, and it’s a problem. The reason is, there’s
a couple of reasons. One is that people are
attracted to a leader sort of like the moth’s
attracted to the flame. Leaders have energy, they’re smart, they’re creative, they love other people, so people with needs, legitimate needs, go to them for wisdom
and counsel and help. But the problem is the
leader sometimes makes that into a lifestyle. Every time I talk to
a leader and I’ll say, “Hey, what happens when
you get on a small group?” You know what they say every time? “I end up leading the small group “because I don’t have
an attitude about it, “it’s sort of my giftedness.” Which makes it lonely at the top. I lead every group I’m with. The second thing is that some
leaders are lonely at the top because they don’t feel
like it’s really safe. If I find other people to be open with, I might lose respect, I
might let everybody down. But the problem is that
attitude goes against the research and performance
of the optimized leader. They’ve gotta change that
and break through it. – [Craig] Which goes back to your idea about being vulnerable.
– Yes. With the right people,
with the right people. – [Craig] What do you find,
with the right people, if let’s say we’re talking
to some leaders right now that do feel alone and
the pressure feels real and they don’t feel like
they have other people to relate to, what practical advice would you give them to try to develop a first comrade or two? – [John] Yeah, I have
a structure in the book that I talk about it. ‘Cause I tell people, “Look,
I’ve done this myself,” ’cause I wanted to eat my own cooking. You go to Microsoft Outlook, this is very practical,
it’ll take you two hours, and go to your contacts list, and you pick out the people
that you think would be, they’re high performant
but they’re also kind and they’ve got great values and you’ve got good chemistry with them and you respect them. And you look through
that list on contacts, I think everybody’s got
between 700 and 2,000 people, and you might see somebody and say, “Oh they’re still in prison,
probably not a good choice.” But you go down the list, right? And at the end of the list you go, “I’ve got like 20 people here
that I can pick a few from.” Pick the first person you
call ’em and just say, “Hey, I haven’t seen you for
a while, let’s grab lunch. “I’d love to catch up.” And in that lunch, while
you’re talking about life, you make one small vulnerable step. One small vulnerable step. Stick your toe in the water. You say something like,
“Business has been a challenge,” or, “We’re just not where we
need to be in the marketplace,” or, “My coach or my teams
aren’t doing like they should,” or maybe even something personal like, “I’ve got a kid who’s not doing well, “I’ve got a teenager who’s
struggling,” or whatever. But you take a small vulnerable step. And there’ll be three possible responses where you’ll find out if this
person can qualify or not. Response number one is, “Oh my gosh, isn’t the
weather great today?” Now, Craig, if somebody says that after you’ve taken a risk, what are you gonna think
they’re trying to tell you? – [Craig] I hope they’re buying lunch and we’re done with this. (John laughs) – [John] Yeah, they’re saying, “I don’t wanna go there,
I don’t like that stuff. “I just wanna be talking
about positive things. “I’ll just be diverting.” Nice guy, never be in the comrade list. The second response is, “Well, okay, okay. “That’s interesting about your business. “Step number one, you’ve
got to read this book. “Step number two is make sure you do this. “Step number three is make
sure you wake up early. “Every leader needs to wake up early. “Step number four, are
you taking your vitamins?” What they’re telling you is,
“I don’t wanna be with you “and hang out with you and support you. “I’m gonna give you 14 pieces of advice “because I’m an advice giver. “I don’t really listen,
I just give advice.” Not qualified. We all need advice, but sometimes we just need the listening. Step number three, and this
is the one that’s the winner. They stop, they put their
fork down, they look at you, they lean forward, they give
you eye contact, and they go, “I had no idea, I didn’t
know it was a struggle. “I’m so sorry about your
kid or about business. “Tell me more.” And you go, “Wait a
minute, they are with me. “They wanna listen to me.” And that means they qualify. So, this is gonna take about four months of different lunches, and about the third to fourth lunch, if it works right and they’re
like, “We’re with you,” and they’re talking about their life, then you say the following: “Hey, I’m getting serious
about personal growth. “I found out that business growth “and personal growth go together. “I’m getting intentional about it. “I’m starting to get some people together “I wanna meet with regularly “just to share life and
challenge each other “and get to know each
other, and I’m interested.” And when I’ve taken my
clients through that, Craig, and I say, “Go out and do it.” In a couple of months they’ll come back and I’ll say, “How’s it going?” You know what they’ll say? They’ll say, “90% of the
people that I talked to said, “‘Are you kidding? “‘I don’t have this in my life. “‘All I’ve got is my spouse
and my Labrador Retriever. “‘This is the best thing
I’ve ever seen, sign me up.'” And they start meeting regularly
and then things happen. – [Craig] This to me is
so important as a leader. I honestly don’t feel lonely in what I do, there are times when I feel like, yeah, most people don’t understand. But I found, Dr. Townsend, that even getting out of kind of my niche, meaning I am a pastor but going and meeting with business people that maybe don’t completely understand the pressures of the Church, they still do understand pressures
of high-level leadership, and that kind of cross learning– – [John] I call it cross pollination. – [Craig] Cross pollination
is a great phrase. It’s one of the richest gifts to me, to get someone else’s perspective. And sometimes it’s not even
that they just give you advice, it’s just someone that cares, that’s enough to keep you going. – [John] It’s funny, I often tell people that are maybe in real estate,
“Go talk to a movie guy.” Or I tell people in medical supplies, “Go talk to someone in
third-world countries.” And they’ll come back and they’ll go, “I’ve picked up so many business
ideas that I can apply.” We really need to cross pollinate. – [Craig] They can be objective. Because sometimes we’re too
close to our own industry and we don’t see the things
that someone else will see. Some of the biggest ministry
breakthroughs that we’ve had have come from people
that really don’t know even the language of ministry, but they see it through a different lens. And I think those are great relationships. I wanna skip down a little bit. Let me give all of them because I think they’re important. These are the key
relationships you talk about. Coaches, comrades, casuals, colleagues. By the way, the fact that
they all begin with C is just cocky. See what I did there? (John laughs)
Is cocky. One of them is care, chronics,
and then contaminants. I wanna talk for a moment
about the final three. If you’re caring for too may people, if you’re dealing with
those who are more chronic in how you relate to them,
and then the contaminants, eventually you’re gonna wear out. So, unpack those three little bit for me. – [John] I actually (mumbles). When I created the model of the seven Cs, I wanted people the have
a quick way to identify the gains in their life and
the drains in their life. Now, care is those people
that a leader needs to help. Because we’re designed to
help, we’re supposed to help, we’re supposed to give and serve. It might be some board you’re one, it might be that you’re
helping a third-world country to have water wells. It might be helping with mentoring some younger person in business
who wants to get there. It’s the way you give to other people and don’t ask for anything back. And we found out from the neuroscience that when you give,
what’s called altruism, all of a sudden your hormone
gets flushed in the system that says, “I’m happy.” It makes us happy. So, we’re supposed to give. But the problem is some of us give so much and we’re on too many boards and we’re mentoring too
many people, we get drained. So you gotta have a balance there. You can’t do it with everybody. Now, chronics are different. I raise my kids with my wife in California but when I was raised in the
South, in North Carolina, and in North Carolina
we had a phrase called, “Bless their heart.” Now, a bless their heart person (laughs) is the person that they’re
just kind of a mess and they’re always a mess. They’ve always got financial problems and relationship problems,
they can’t keep a job, they can’t keep it together, and always kind of in a crisis. And the problem is, all of us have messes, but the problem with the chronic, Craig, is they have what the psychologists call a flat learning curve. A flat learning curve. So you spend all this time
sitting with them there and mentoring them and going to Starbucks, and instead of going to
your kid’s soccer games you’re there with them
every Saturday at 6:30 and you give them all
this advice and wisdom, and they don’t do one thing with it. They just wanna hang out with you ’cause you’re a nice person. And you kinda start seeing, you know, I’ve been spending a lot
of time with this person, nothing’s changing. ‘Cause they just kinda want somebody nice, they don’t really wanna change. And they can be a big
source of time wasting of your own energy, that’s the chronic. The last one is contaminants. And contaminants are just bad people. Unfortunately, there’s some
bad people in the world. And they envy you and they don’t like it that you’re successful and they wanna tear up your organization. They wanna tear up your marriage. They wanna tear up your family. And any time you’re with a person who’s destructive like
that, you can’t mess around. When I wrote “Boundaries,”
a lot of stuff about that, about you gotta set a very firm limit and not give those people a
lot of bandwidth in your life. And what we found out
about that whole picture, the seven Cs, Craig, is that most leaders are very, very weak on the coaches and comrades, and way too many care,
chronic, contaminants. And they’re what we call bottom-heavy. I don’t mean physically bottom-heavy, but they gotta get in balance because they’ve got too many
drains and not enough gains. They’ve gotta right-size
that so they get balanced. – [Craig] You know, as I look at the chronics and the contaminants, I’m thinking, from a
leadership perspective, both personally, meaning if I
let too many of those people dominate my time, there’s
gonna be less of me to be effective in influencing others. I’m also thinking about
them organizationally, meaning I think there are times when we tolerate inappropriate
behavior organizationally, and I think we lose so much credibility deeper in the organization when we, I can’t remember who said it, but they said basically
we sanction incompetence, I think was the phrase. We allow people that are unhealthy or kinda cancerous in the
organization to pollute it. And what’s always been
interesting to me is we tend to overestimate how painful it is to remove that chronic person, but yet on the other side we underestimate how much relief the organization feels when it’s finally done. Would you agree? – [John] It’s so funny, Craig. Every consulting client I have,
when I’m working with a CEO and they feel really loyal to somebody who’s really just useless
or has passed their time, and they feel so guilty and loyal. And I’ll just kinda get with them and say, “Look at the metrics, this is not working. “They are not performing for your group “and you’ve tried everything you can.” And I’ll ask them six months later, after they’ve let go of the person they feel awful, how (mumbles), six months later I’ll
say, “How did it go?” And they’ll go 100%, I’ve
been doing this a long time, 100% the CEO will tell me,
“Why didn’t I do that sooner? “They found another job, things are okay. “We’re so much happier.” It’s just the fears we
have at the front end, but on the back end, intense relief. – [Craig] I wanna pause right there and kinda restate what you just said because I feel like this
could help some leaders. There are some of you right now that you might have a
person that you love them but the organization’s outgrown them. They’re loyal but they’re really incapable of performing at the level
which you need right now. And what Dr. Townsend said,
and if you don’t know, he consults with some
of the greatest leaders and organizations around the country, and what he just said
was, 100% of the time, not 98.5% of the time
but 100% of the time, on the other side, the response is “Why didn’t we do the earlier?” It never is as bad as it seems
when you make a transition, but the upside on the other side, for me, based on my own experience
and the people I work with, you always wonder, why
didn’t we do it sooner? And so, you can add a little more color to
that if you want to, but I just wanted to drive that point home because I know there’s some
people out there right now dealing with some
difficult people decisions. And it doesn’t mean
that we don’t love them. In fact, it really actually
means that we do love them, not to let them stay in a place that they’re not quite gifted
to perform at the best level. – [John] It’s good for them, good for us. And I’ll tell somebody
who’s very afraid of that, doesn’t wanna be a bad guy and
feels really compassionate, and I’ll just say, “You’ve
gotta get with somebody “and role play that conversation. “Role play the termination conversation.” It’s hard to do, but when
you role play with somebody you come out and you go, okay, I felt all the anxiety,
I felt all the guilt, I felt all the compassion, and I survived. And it makes it easier
to have the real talk. – [Craig] Once you get started, the talk usually goes a little, at least you can’t stop it. (Craig and John laugh) Getting started is the most
difficult part for most of us. – [John] And so often, Craig, they’ll say, “I knew this was coming.” I mean, it’s not a big surprise to people. – [Craig] Yes, and if we do our job well, then they actually will know it’s coming, meaning we’ve given them a chance. And that’s the best in all the worlds. I’m curious, Dr. Townsend, most of the time when I finish a book, and we write it long before it comes out and then it comes out and you’re like, “Oh, I just learned this new thought, “I wish I’d put that in there.” Is there anything that’s
between the turning it in and the book coming
out that you’ve learned or you wish you would’ve
added to the book? – [John] Gosh. I think probably, yeah,
’cause all writers, as you know, we’re all
sort of perfectionistic and we think a lot about all that. Probably I would have
emphasized the importance of the relational nutrients
even more than I did. Just so people start thinking, “When I wake up in the morning,
I know it’s about my people. “I’m a leader, I’ve
gotta service my people, “my family, my employees,
everybody in my life.” But when I said that part
about we need to need, I would’ve probably emphasized that more. Because the leader that
is giving to others from an empty tank,
something’s gonna happen. You can’t keep giving to
people from an empty tank. There’s gonna be an energy
problem, concentration problem, irritability problem, focus problem. So, I would’ve emphasized a little bit, you’ve gotta bit a little
bit selfish in a healthy way so you can go change the world. – [Craig] I’d love to give you a chance to say a little bit more, but I would love for you to talk directly to someone who’s listening right now, a leader who does feel
like their tank is empty. What advice would you give to that leader to help start refilling the tank? – [John] Well, first I
would say that we get it. All of us are this way. Every leader I know has a
problem, some kind of a problem in not feeling that demand
to be a leader to everybody. But what I found is that you probably have some people in your life that if you open up to them a bit, maybe not employees and stuff, but people in your life life, and say, “I just need to
have somebody to kind of vent “besides my spouse and my Labrador.” You will be amazed at the people that go, “You know, I’m so glad you just did that. “I respect you, I wanna be
with you, I’m your friend. “And you’re always giving to me, “I’m glad you’re giving me
an opportunity to give back.” It’ll be a miraculous event
when you allow somebody to say, “I’m so glad you’re asking me
to help you in the journey.” This is really good. – [Craig] And people who are
helping love to be needed and love to make a
difference in their lives, so it’s actually giving them a gift to be a blessing to you as well. Well, Dr. Townsend, you’ve been a gift to literally millions and
millions of us with your research. I love your writing. Not only you’re a great writer but I love that you
often approach leadership through neuroscience and talk
about how the brain works, and that adds a dimension
that I don’t know naturally and it’s helpful to me and
to so many other leaders. The book is called “People Fuel: “Fill Your Tank for Life,
Love, and Leadership.” I know we’ve got some leaders out here that probably heard you mention earlier on you do coaching through your organization. If someone wants to
find out more about you or what you have to offer,
where would they go to learn? – [John] Just DrTownsend.com,
D-R Townsend.com. There’s all sorts of information about our cultural organization, but also we have an institute, Craig. We now have a formal academic program where you can get an online master’s in organizational leadership or a master’s in executive
coaching and consulting through our group that we’ve been working
for several years now, and so people can actually get a degree if they don’t wanna just
get professional training. – [Craig] Excellent. Well, I appreciate you
making that available to us, and thank you for your hard work and being generous to share it in books. I know that people will
wanna get the book. One more time, it’s called “People Fuel.” Dr. Townsend, thank you
for your contribution to leaders all over the world and being a blessing to
me and so many others. – [John] Thanks for what you do, Craig. – [Craig] Thank you so much, Dr. Townsend. It’s been an honor to have you with us. And thank you to our leadership community, it’s an honor to have you with us. We’ll be together again on the
first Thursday of next month, releasing a brand new podcast. And I wanna say, again, thank you so much to those of you who share this and invite others to be part
of our leadership community. If you’d like more
detailed notes about this or information on where you
can get Dr. Townsend’s book, you can just email us. Go to Life.Church/LeadershipPodcast. Let us know your email and we’ll send you the detailed notes. They’ll drop also on the
first Thursday of every month. If you have not yet
subscribed, please do so. And again, as Dr. Townsend was saying, hey, bring yourself, have
the courage to be vulnerable, don’t feel the pressure
to always know everything. Because people would
rather follow a leader who’s always real than
one who’s always right. – Thank you for joining us at the “Craig Groeschel
Leadership Podcast.” If you wanna go even
deeper into this episode and get “The Leadership
Guide” or show notes, you can go to
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3 thoughts on “Q&A with Dr. John Townsend: Key Relationships – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

  1. What to do, when 29,have two kids, alone, living paycheck to paycheck, coming up short week after week, month after month. Running myself into the ground just to keep food on the table and the lights on. Let alone the roof.

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