Karin Hurt and David Dye on “Winning Well”: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Hurt (S)

As a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor, Karin Hurt helps leaders improve business results by building deeper trust and connection. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, marketing, customer service, and human resources.

A few highlights from her time at Verizon include:

o Developing a sales team (1.5B in Revenue) that led the nation in store sales to the small and medium business space and winning the President’s award for Customer Growth

o Transforming customer service outsourcing (96M calls/year) to reach parity in quality with internal. Karin was named on the American Management Association 2015 List of 50 Leaders to Watch, Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers For Your Next Conference.

She’s frequently featured media such as Fast Company, Inc. and Entrepreneur, as well as on TV, radio, and podcasts around the world. She’s the author or co-author of two books, Overcoming An Imperfect Boss and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul.

Karin has a BA from Wake Forest University, a MA from Towson University, and additional graduate work at the University of Maryland, where she currently teaches in the MBA and Executive Education programs.

Dye (S)David Dye works with leaders who want to get their team to the top without losing their soul (or mind) in the process. A former nonprofit executive, elected official, and internationally recognized award-winning author, David understands the challenges, headaches, and tensions business leaders face – and he also knows the rewards leaders experience when they lead well. He is the President of Trailblaze, Inc, a leadership training and consulting firm. David shares his expertise through keynote speaking, workshops, consulting, and coaching. His most recent book is aforementioned Winning Well, co-authored with Karin.

Known for his optimism, for making difficult concepts understandable, and for moving leaders to immediate, practical action, David’s workshops, presentations, and seminars help leaders increase their influence, solve common leadership frustrations, and improve productivity through practical leadership inspiration.

He believes that leaders at every level can master the essentials of influence, the most critical component of success. David writes for the Huffington Post, has appeared in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and on radio and television throughout the United States and has been listed with leadership influencers including Seth Godin, Tom Peters, James Kouzes, Barry Posner, and John Maxwell.

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Morris: When and why did you decide to write Winning Welland do so in collaboration?

Dye: We’ve both spent much of our adult lives working with, training, and supporting frontline and middle level managers, supervisors, and leaders. We have lived their life, discovered what works, and have passion for these leaders. We were motivated to write Winning Well because there is a dearth of truly practical, helpful literature available to help these managers succeed. Its so rare, in fact, that one of the first questions people ask when they hear the title of the book is: “Is it really possible to get results without losing your soul?”

As for how we decided to collaborate, Karin…

Hurt: David and I met online after David read something I had written and thought it was his—that’s how closely our messages were aligned. After a few phone calls to share ideas and resources, we discovered we were both going to the same book publishing lab. AND, once we got there, we discovered we were practically writing the same book.

We had a choice to collaborate or become competitors. We knew we were philosophically aligned but also brought very different skills, approaches, and audience to a potential partnership.

This is the most successful collaboration either one of us has ever been a part of.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Hurt: We are so aligned philosophically in most arenas, it was interesting where we disagreed. Our discussions helped us both clarify our positions and articulate our arguments more succinctly. I think what was “head snapping” if anything was learning about ourselves by which areas we refused to give in, and the depth of discussion that followed.

Dye: One revelation came during several moments where we each shared a story to illustrate a point and realized that we both had the exact same story. Despite working in radically different industries (human service nonprofit and Fortune 500 corporate), the stories were the same – only the names were different. This was an important affirmation and confirmation that we were on the right track.

The development of the core model was fun and startling for us. As we realized that there was a parallel between the internal values of humility and confidence, with the external focus on relationships and results. It was cool to watch that come together in such a meaningful way.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Dye: We originally set out to write a book on leadership. In discussion with our publisher, we understood that the management market is underserved with resources like ours. The content covers both management and leadership, but with the title focus on management, it is more striking.

Hurt: Our working title was Brown Bag 2.0 as we originally focused on being much more of a “how to” resource guide that managers could implement in the time it takes to eat their lunch. As got deeper into the writing, it became a much more robust system—we kept the tools and exercises throughout the book and at the end of each chapter, but we also expanded our thinking to include the Winning Well model, assessments, and a richer sharing of our stories and experiences.

I feel much better about our final title: Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results—With Losing Your Soul. When it comes down to it, David and I are all about helping managers to understand that they can blend the bottom line with the human spirit—they can accomplish head-turning results, without losing their soul in the process.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of “winning well”?

Hurt: The process begins with a commitment to two basic values: confidence and humility: The confidence to know your strengths, stand up for what matters, and speak the truth and the humility to know your vulnerabilities, admit mistakes, and invite challengers.

Dye: Externally, Winning Well means you combine your focus on both achieving great results and building healthy professional relationships.

Morris: What are the defining characteristics of losing well?

Dye: An interesting concept. Most people wouldn’t say losing is a goal. That said, in a potentially negative situation, the principles are the same: stay grounded in confident humility while focusing on results and relationships. This lays the groundwork for achieving your next success.

Hurt: Losing well is all about resiliency, learning from your setbacks and maintaining relationships to show up stronger the next time.

Morris: In your opinion, what specifically can supervisors do to help direct reports both win well and lose well?

Hurt: Communicate constantly at a deeper level. Talk about the tough stuff such as what scares you and the potential impact of what you’re doing on the bigger picture.

Dye: In my organization, I committed to help every employee learn how to have difficult conversations well. There are several resources out there to help with this (How to Say Anything to Anyone and Crucial Conversations). The workplace is a tapestry of human relationships and good communication is what binds us all together…or tears us apart. That’s the number one skill I try to impart in everyone I work with.

Morris: What can someone do immediately that will help them become a much better listener?

Dye: Before you share your own thoughts, summarize what the other party said. When you can do this as well or even better than they did, then share your perspective.

Hurt: I teach a very popular listening workshop in which I help executives “listen like an anthropologist.” We work on showing up with an open mind and observing and listening to what is actually happening—without trying to immediately influence the situation.

Morris: These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me. For those who have not as yet read the book, please suggest what you view as the most important point or key take-away in each of these.

First, Users (18-20)

Hurt and Dye: Users trap themselves in a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy. They treat people as objects and that’s how the people behave. It becomes a positive feedback loop of negativity that often ends with the manager’s ill health, burnout, or prematurely quitting.

Morris: Pleasers (21-22)

Hurt and Dye: Pleasing can feel good in the short term, but it ends in isolation, frustration, and bitterness as top performers leave and you’re called to account for results.

Morris: Gamers (22-23)

Hurt and Dye:
Gamers are disconnected from both results and relationships. They spend their days focused on status and survival.

Morris: Assessment (26-27)

Hurt and Dye: Everyone brings strengths to their leadership roles. The Winning Well Assessment gives you an opportunity to build on those strengths and address behaviors that limit your effectiveness.

Morris: Performance management (35-36)

Hurt and Dye: The number one cause of management challenges boils down to a lack of clear expectations. Everyone on the team should be able to articulate shared definitions of what success looks like: for the organization, for their team, and for their individual role.

Morris: Meetings (46-54)

Hurt and Dye: When you invite people to a meeting, it should be the most productive use of their time. (Why would you want someone doing anything less?)

Morris: Decisions (56-61)

Hurt and Dye: There are only two fundamental business decisions. Know which one you’re engaged with and don’t allow them to mix.

Morris: Ownership of decisions (59-61)

Hurt and Dye: There are only four ways to make a decision. Before you start discussion, be clear about which one you will use.

Morris: Accountability (62-70)

Hurt and Dye:
Accountability is not beating people up for poor performance. Rather, it is the healthy practice of keeping our mutual commitments to one another.

Morris: Feedback (65-66 and 148-149)

Hurt and Dye: The ability to give meaningful, helpful feedback to your team is one of the most vital skills a leader can master.

Morris: Method for accountability (65-69)

Hurt and Dye: Consistency is key. If you allow a negative behavior to happen three times, you’ve effectively told everyone that it’s okay. When you need to have accountability conversations, de-personalize it. Their behavior isn’t about you.

Morris: Problem solving (71-81)

Hurt and Dye: The most frequently ignored step in problem-solving is to define what success looks like. What are the criteria that a successful solution will satisfy?

Morris: Terminating employees (98-105)

Hurt and Dye: Terminating an employee for cause (not economic reasons or layoffs) should be an act that is in the best interest of the employee and the team. It should be done with compassion, helping the employee to recognize that they may have done something wrong, but they are not something wrong.

Morris: Momentum (118-127)

Hurt and Dye: High performing teams require an atmosphere of trust. Trusting each other and your trust for them is the air they breathe. Lack of trust will kill momentum.

Morris: Displaying trust to employees (120-122)

Hurt and Dye: Trust isn’t something you say, it’s something you do.

Morris: Team and problem solvers (128-129)

Hurt and Dye: A common reasons people won’t solve problems is that the environment discourages it. Make it safe to try, to have new ideas, and encourage those efforts – even when they don’t work.

Morris: Technologies for communicating (157-158)

Hurt and Dye: Every communication channel has advantages. You’ll be more effective, efficient, and have fewer headaches when you use the right type of technology for the appropriate content.

Morris: Building influence (203-213)“Boss” attitudes (217-225)

Hurt and Dye: Influence begins with a willingness to be vulnerable: to show up, to compassionately speak the truth, and allow people to make decisions.

Morris: Conversations (220-222)

Hurt and Dye: Managing up means putting yourself on your boss’s team – starting the conversation with your desire to see them and your team succeed, then exploring how you can work together to make that happen.

Morris: Self-motivation (234-243)

Hurt and Dye: Remember your WHY. We all have down days and Winning Well is work (if it were not, then everyone would do it.). When life gets tough, reconnect to your personal purpose and mission.

Morris: For more than 30 years, it has been my great pleasure as well as privilege to work closely with the owner/CEOs of hundreds of small companies, those with $20-million or less in annual sales. In your opinion, of all the material you provide in Winning Well, which do you think will be of greatest value to leaders in small companies? Please explain.

Hurt and Dye: In our work with small companies, one of the most valued skills we discuss is the ability to bring clarity to the values and purposes of their organization. As organizations grow, leaders often experience a frantic juggling of priorities that can leave employees exhausted and confused. The ability to clearly articulate what success looks like and the key behaviors that produce success help everyone breathe, focus, and thrive.

Morris: Which question had you hoped to be asked during this interview – but weren’t – and what is your response to it?

Hurt and Dye: One of the most common questions we’re asked about Winning Well is “What can I do when my workplace doesn’t support these values and my boss isn’t interested in changing?”

Our Answer: Take responsibility for the people you can impact. We call this an “envelope of excellence” or a “cultural oasis.” Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. You and your people will be better off for it. Be the leader you want your boss to be.

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Here is a direct link to Part 1.

Karin and David cordially invite you to check out the resources at these websites:

Link to Winning Well free chapters, free self-assessment, free toolkit, and other resources

Winning Well ecourse link

Karin’s website link

David’s website link


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