SPARK: Video Series

Fire up your confidence, influence and courage through self-leadership

Sally talks Self-Leadership with David Pace Ph.D.

Click to watch the interview…

David Pace Ph.D.
Deputy Director
Nuclear Energy Industry Research
Energy Industry – USA
 

David Pace lives in San Diego, California where he and his wife try to keep up with their two children. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. He began his career in fusion energy development while working on his Ph.D. in plasma physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduation, he built fusion research diagnostics through postdoctoral positions with the University of California, Irvine, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a research scientist with General Atomics, David worked at DIII-D to bring new diagnostic systems into operation. His work studying the behaviors of highly energetic particles, performed in collaboration with international researchers, earned him a share of the Landau-Spitzer Award, presented jointly by the American and European Physical Societies.

Following his research career, David served as the Diagnostic Systems Coordinator at DIII-D, managing the resources of 80+ diagnostic systems operated by national laboratories, universities, and private companies. Focused on operational efficiency, he standardized system requirements data and improved the design review process resulting in a 50% reduction in review time for new systems. David is a recipient of the Excellence in Fusion Energy award, presented by Fusion Power Associates, given in part for “his extremely varied accomplishments and demonstrated leadership skills.”

David’s personal website: https://fusion.energy/

Connect / Follow David on LinkedIn.

There’s a difference between a fast decision and a good decision.

Mindfulness. There’s some aspect of that to self-leadership because it is taking those seconds or minutes and just saying, where am I coming from? What am I basing that on compared to maybe what I would like to be basing that on. 

What I wish I knew about self-leadership before I stepped into my first leadership role?

Grab the Self-Leadership Whitepaper

Book Sally to Speak at your Meeting, Conference or Event

Interview Transcript

Sally Foley-Lewis

Hi Sally Foley Lewis here with another, in our spark series of videos, chatting with the amazing senior leaders around our globe, uh, on the topic of self-leadership and had a far up yourself leadership and maybe even had a far up your people’s self-leadership as well. And today I’m absolutely honoured and privileged to be having a conversation with David Pace who is a deputy director in the energy industry. And, um, David and I actually met on clubhouse talking about leadership and particularly self-leadership. So I reached out and asked him if I could pick his brains a little bit more around this whole topic. So thank you, David, and welcome to the spark series.

David Pace

Oh, thank you very much. And I know, uh, looking forward to our conversation, I do, I expect I’ll learn a lot, so I was excited to have a chance to talk to you.

Sally

Oh, thank you. So let’s, let’s explore, I’d love to know from you what’s your definition of self-leadership?

David

Right. So to some extent it was given to me, we have some management training leadership training in my workplace, and they’re one of these, uh, courses, if you will describe this principle of self-leadership and basically said, think of how you treat yourself as a direct report. So you might have a way that you conduct yourself or a way that your personality engages with others and your supervisor maybe has identified that it needs to go in a particular way. And so how are they going to influence you or maybe guide you or mentor you and get you to where they think he can be more effective. And so then, you know, the more I think about that, the more I think of that as kind of a series of answering the, how questions. So, you know, people who maybe get into leadership positions, or even technically in management positions, they have a certain ambition, they have goals or objectives, things they want to build or see or achieve. And so that’s their, what, and that’s their why, but then the, how is what approach do I have to have? How do I know my own weaknesses and my strengths and how do I apply those to get there? And that, that all manifests through there, what I would at least call self-leadership.

Sally

Yeah. I love that. I think that that pulling apart of the, what, why and how is really helpful. Um, I think that it, it can break a really big and daunting concept for even for a new leader down into, okay. If I compartmentalise this process, this will help me at least, um, give me the steps to work towards being the best leader I can be and starting with self. So I really appreciate that breaking that down into those parts. Um, and I think you’re right. It there’s, there’s those pieces around, uh self-awareness and, and understanding my motivators and understanding my drivers and, and how my values impact on that and my beliefs impact on that. Um, because that will, that will also filter into and, and be sometimes the bridge to the why as well, I think, um, so that when we’re working on the how, and we’re working on our self-leadership, if we take that time to really reflect on, well, what are my values and how do I want my values to show up in this particular work I’m doing, then that can actually link to the why and be a motivator around the why’s and the whats, if that makes sense,

David

Right? Hey, you know, maybe it’s because I’m in a technical field, but how comes up a lot because, you know, you worry about saying, well, I have a hammer. So now every problem is a nail. And in many cases, you know, you’re in a research endeavour, you need to invent something. You have to be careful. You can’t just say, well, okay, you know, I have the hammer, so I’m going to go around and, and strike everything because, you know, you actually have a problem which exists outside of your tool set. And the same thing applies to individuals that the problem is unaware and doesn’t care about your strengths and weaknesses, but it has a certain way it can be solved. And then you need to figure out a, to get there if you want to do something about it.

Sally

Yeah. Yeah. I love that. That’s a great metaphor. And I really appreciate the fact that even you can identify that your insight, your, your particular world of work is so technical and so that you can see that quite often, the, how is showing up more for you. Whereas if I was having this conversation with someone who is maybe the head of, um, uh, like, uh, uh, community services, family services type of role, that there would be a different, um, I would imagine I’m just assuming a, you know, a different kind of lens in which they look through predominantly. So that’s really kind of cool. Thank you for that. I think I’m learning more than you today, so thank you. Is cool. So from your perspective, what impact does self-leadership have on, on elements of self, like confidence, influence and courage?

Dave

Aye. Aye. The issue of confidence comes up a lot. And again, this is kind of a personal experience in a group experience and kind of STEM field science, technology, engineering, math fields, because in terms of self-leadership, I immediately think about imposter syndrome and think about how self-leadership will build a lot of courage, but not until you make that first step, not until you hit some threshold courage where you’re willing to acknowledge that I can guide myself, I can properly assess my strengths and my weaknesses, my foundation, and I can properly determine the difference between my foundation and kind of what I need to have to do what I want to do. And, you know, especially if you’re a graduate student, if you’re an early career scientists, a researcher, you know, if you have these feelings of imposter syndrome and thinking I’m, I’m skating by, I’m beating the system somehow, then most likely you’re going to really lean heavily on mentors.

Dave

And so you see this, whether it’s your thesis advisor, whether it’s a senior researcher, when you’re, when you’re employed post-graduate and to some extent that first effort into kind of self-guidance and self-leadership, you might pause or delay getting there because you think I got to go to the source, there’s an expert and it’s not me. And once you get past that though, and you’re willing to say, okay, what do I want to do? How am I self-directed? How do I have a drive an application? How, again, how do I get there? And then you do it and the world doesn’t fall apart and you don’t fork out of school. Maybe you pass that exam or you have a very good discussion at a meeting. And then all of a sudden you start saying, okay, you know, where else can I direct myself? How do I improve?

Dave

How do I say it’s okay, maybe that I need to work on an area. Now what I need to do is get myself going into whatever training or access I need. So, yeah. So with confidence, I think it really starts to build it because then it’s it’s experience. You start to have some successes, you say, okay, I really, I have a wheelhouse, I have a specialty that I’m good at. And something I’m not good at. I’m either going to work with people who are and leverage their strengths, or I’m going to develop it myself. But when I think of something like influence or courage, I really lean towards less technical areas in that regard. And now I’m thinking about how you might say, for instance, if you’re in a workplace and you’re in a managerial role, so now you actually, you’re talking about direct reports, interpersonal issues, and so forth.

Dave

And you might say, I know to address this problem. Maybe you have some type of undesirable work environment, situation, or even a hostile environment. Well, there’s the human resources element that you ship off to them and let them handle professionally. And as in many places you’re legally required, but then there’s just the concept of what kind of environment should my team be in what kind of environment should I work in? What kind of environment should I be helping to create a maintain? And, you know, through self-leadership, you say to yourself, here’s the approach I need to have. Here’s how I address this issue in the way I conduct myself and the opportunities that I give to people. And that’s the kind of thing where it’d be lack of courage approach is to very easily say I filled out the form and I filed it and now we’re done, but you can tell yourself, where do I want to be?

Dave

How do I get there is through certain behaviours or proactive measures, and then self-leadership can help you get there. And so kind of when I think of this, I think on the technical side, building your confidence through actually improving yourself or by putting yourself through various measures and achievements, but then on the courage and the influence side, I really think of just dealing on a person to person basis and in group and just saying, I know how I want us to be, and now what do I have to change about myself to lead us there?

Sally

Yeah, yeah. I’ll and I really appreciate that distinction between those two, um, confidence here, um, through activity and measuring and, and hitting milestones probably, um, in that technical sort of arena. Um, and it’s interesting, you said when you were saying that, um, I was going through probably about 10 years ago. I had a very friend say to me. So Sally, how many certificates do you need before you realize you’ve got it? You know, and so, you know, when you were saying that it’s like busted, I am a course junkie and an accreditation junkie and, um, well I’ll still do them. I am far more conscious about why I’m doing them and, um, and yeah, sure the imposter syndrome might show up every now and again, but I guess it’s that it is that moment, that tipping point, I guess, for some people where, okay. At what point is, is it okay for me to stand up with a little less support, not zero support, but a little less support and speak up and speak my expertise to this, um, and take a deep breath and see what happens with it because you know, not everyone’s going to agree.

Sally

Um, and that’s okay. Um, but then, then when you also talked about how the influence and the courage side, uh, uh, very more human and more, um, one-on-one, and I really appreciate that distinction. And, and I think also, um, when you were talking about filling in the check, the box is like, yep, just wash my hands of that problem. Um, you know, really how much does that also impact on how you see yourself in, in the team and, and what part, what positive part does that play with the team? Do you get more involved, um, as a, as a means to be helpful, or do you actually stay out as a means of preservation? And, and I think I’ve seen in some situations where, um, quite junior managers will step into being part of the group and part of the gossiping and part of the, the, the mateship of it all.

Sally

Um, and in their mind, it’s about trying to be one-of [the team] and trying to have a good relationship, but it backfires because they’ve lost some credibility around their leadership and their authority, but also, um, when I’ve had a conversation with some of them, it’s a case of actually, I really didn’t enjoy getting into the gossip of it. It’s not really what, uh, what I wanted to do. Um, but I felt like that’s how I had to be in order to have a good relationship. And so their own self-leadership in that moment is they should have trusted their gut. They should have listened to themselves, um, and stayed out of it and maybe even encouraged it to stop. Um, so yeah, I really appreciate those two distinctions there. Thank you, David

David

Yeah. Yeah. I think I, you know, you talk about junior management. It makes me think about, you know, I used to have this very oversimplified theory about upper very high management, which was that their, most of their decisions were based on a desire to reduce their frustration. And so sometimes we’ve been in situations, all of us have, I think, where maybe someone is a little tight with sharing information and, and, you know, part of that you would think is that pardon me? Or as I thought, is that that’s a way of reducing the frustration because of course, when you need to get something done, if you just say, go do this and you go do it, and nobody knows what you’re doing. Well, then no, one’s in your way. And this, this is a role where again, to kind of have self-leadership and say, but what’s more important, right?

David

What’s my fundamental limitation, how much I can achieve as one person, whether I’m a director, a vice president and a president of whatever. And the issue is, and this is true in every field. And of course it’s true in scientific fields that the team of 10 does way more than 10 times what a single individual does. This is the very definition of synergy of getting more out of than the sum of the parts. And so it really applies at all levels, which is this ability to be able to say kind of what’s this it’s not even necessarily have to be an ideal, but you can think of it as what’s this ideal that I’m trying to get to. How do I get there? Well, minimizing my frustration is not a way to get there because I might get more done on paper. But again, like you say, that’s just checking boxes. And so you really have to be able to take that look and apply that self-leadership to say, what do I need to change about me? Or what is the best way to get there? Or what’s the best team inclusive way to get there. And those are all very different kinds of things that are easy to, just to just ignore otherwise.

Sally

Yeah, it’s sometimes not easy to work on ourselves. Is it, um, take a big deep breath we’ve got some work to do. So, um, particularly when we’re comfortable, why would I make myself uncomfortable? Uh, you know, that’s, that’s growth. And, and, and because on the other side of that, that icky kind of stuff that uncomfortableness that, that actual shift and change, um, can be some really great outcomes and can be some really positive interactions that, uh, you know, I’ve seen people go from being really toxic managers, and I’ve been brought into to manage them. Uh, I’ve been bought in because I’m the last stop before you’re being booted out, you know, and, um, which I don’t necessarily like that’s how coaching is used, but let’s face it. That’s how it’s used sometimes. And I’m straight up with the manager, and I’m just saying, you do get that on the only thing standing between you and employment right now.

Sally

And they look at me and they’re just like right now, let’s get down to work. And when you see them transition from being quite toxic and really lacking a huge amount of self or self-awareness, and, uh, you know, we get into understanding their values, their motivators, their emotional intelligence, and we work on these, these elements of their self-leadership and move them through. Cause it’s not just that. I think one of the things that gets missed is also is that if you’ve got a manager who’s been really toxic or, um, behaving in one way, and then they start shifting their behaviour, one of the questions that comes up and it doesn’t really get dealt with very well by many people, is that, well, what will the team think of me now that I’m different? And, and that’s been really interesting. And so I, we work on that as well. And so they’re gonna love you. Like, they’re actually going to respect you because you’ve moved, you’ve taken a deep breath and you’ve seen what’s the work that needs to be done and you’ve done it. And so we work on that and then to come out, the other side of it, the, the, the productivity goes up from team. The respect is there, the loyalty is there, the information flows a lot better. So it’s really, it’s really a fascinating transition. Isn’t it? When, when you can see that happen.

David

Right. Absolutely. Um,

Sally

So I guess then, you know, that’s, that’s when we’re working on our self-leadership, but then, and that’s an internal thing. What about when something else like an event, and let’s say, you know, this little tiny thing that’s been bothering us slightly called COVID-19, you know, you take a big world event like that. Um, or even any sort of significant event, even in an industry and it’s thrown you, um, and maybe you can think of an event and you don’t necessarily have to talk about that. But my, my question is how do you reignite your spark? How do you, how do you get yourself back up and what are some of the lessons you’ve learned from going through that?

David

Right. You know, the first thing I think about it. And so I do have an example that comes to mind that is specific to the energy industry, is that it’s really about re aligning yourself into how you fit. You know, I think we know from organisational behaviour that people, especially in technical roles, you know, when they become unhappy with their job role, in many cases, they leave to go do the same job somewhere else. Right. And that, and that their primary motivations are not things like compensation, but really, uh, being upset about the difference between their job description and what they actually do and things like that. And so, you know, you can lose your, you can lose your spark in that regard and saying, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do, or what I signed on to do. And so then how do you find that alignment again, where all this is, what I want to do, and this is what I’m actually doing in our industry.

David

We have this constant tension between essentially putting electricity on the grid or say a product. And then the research that will make it better, but might not make it better for five years or 15 years, or even 30 years from now. And so you can probably imagine you have people who really, really love either of those roles. You know, I, I want to build widgets and this year I built a hundred widgets. And if I can help design the system that makes a thousand widgets, that’s my, that’s my group or the people who just say, I want to understand how to make a better widget. And I won’t have that design for 10 years, but that’s what I want to do. And so at one point, and in fact, I was in energy and I left and went to work in the defence industry instead.

David

And part of it was that I personally just felt these, these, these goals at the large level are so jumbled. There’s just, there, isn’t a place for me to participate. And I, in a way, I was very lucky. I had a very good experience in my alternative. And then as the industry changed, I had a chance to come back where the specific charge for my role was to actually lead some of the changes that, that perfectly aligned with exactly what I wanted to do, personally, what I believe is good for the workforce, you know, in this industry and just boom David’s back. I felt that the flow was that way. I was paddling that way. So everything’s moving in the same direction. And that’s really, you know, if I try to think now, because I say, well, then that should fit into my framework of the how.

David

And I think it actually does, because you think that this is how I fit into this larger machination, if you will, this is how I fit into this whole industry. This is how I know I’m going to work with this group and that group and this team and my people and all the people who work at these other institutions. And that’s really what it came down to. And so you’ll notice something like COVID, I would imagine operates in exactly the same way in the sense that we have a flow, whether it’s that we really enjoy seeing our colleagues face to face, day after day, maybe just, you know, a few days a week or, or what have you. And then something changes that. And we don’t see how we fit, because how am I effective when I can only talk to you through a video conference, or maybe especially in the first couple of months of the pandemic, maybe I’m only talking to you through email and written documents and all these things that I think I contribute this hypothetical version of me, you know, relating to my sense of humour or the way that we brainstorm or any of these things.

David

And then how do I fit in all of a sudden, so many of my motivations are gone because the, how, the way that I was getting to, where I wanted to go has been fundamentally changed. And so I don’t know how we realigned with something like COVID, for instance, if you don’t like technology, if you don’t like video conferencing is that that’s probably really hard to turn around, but certainly in other ways, if you can find your realignment, you find your place. And I know that sounds cliche, and it sounds maybe oversimplified, but really there are many just fundamental changes that you can make over the course of a week or a month where you say, yes, this is what I’m good at doing. Or here’s something that I’m not so good at doing, but I want to learn. And now this industry provides that opportunity. Cause that’s what they’re looking to do. Or, you know, my company needs this type of role and then you can, you can get back on track.

Sally

Yeah. Yeah. And, and the two, there’s two things that came out of what you just shared, just inform me. And, and, um, the second one is being able to say, well, I don’t like the fact that I have to just do this via a lens now, but it’s the only option I’ve got at the moment. Um, and you know, giving it’s about that realization. I think isn’t it that just says, if I’ve got to, if I’m still wanting to be a contributor and I still want to do my job and I, and most people do want to do a good job to, you know, most people don’t, most people don’t go to work to go, how can I ruin it for everyone today? There’s, there’s obviously one or two in the world, but most people really do want to do a really good job. And so tapping back into that sense yourself and saying, okay, well, this is not my preferred platform, but it’s the only one I’ve got right now until things change again, this is what I’ve just got. I’ve just got to get proficient enough to, and then, and then we can go from there and incrementally improve. So I think that’s a really, really valid point that, um, I don’t know if a lot of people had a chance to think of way back in March last year when all of a sudden it was locked down. And, um, you know, it reminded me of many years ago, I was working out in the central bit of a Queensland in Australia in the Outback and my boss was 800 kilometers away, uh, which is something like 600 and something miles away. And, um, and so, uh, I had a tradesman that was coming to fix the hot water system. And, um, I said, can I work from home? Because this tradesman has given me, I’ll be there between nine and five, because that narrows it down and helps me, you know, um, that, that old Chestnut that we always get and the boss had a conniption.

Sally

It was, well, you need to go into the office early and put a sign up and make sure the phones are diverted and make sure no one knows and sees you. And, and, you know, if you can, and the, and as soon as the tradesman comes and finished, go back into the office and it was, you thought I’d asked her to hand over her firstborn because it was just such a big deal to work from home for one day. Um, I really should have just asked for a recreation day, um, that would have been much easier in hindsight. Um, whereas you get something like a little thing called COVID and all of a sudden we’re home like that. And, and not that I wish that negativity or that sort of impact on us, but to me, it demonstrates that we actually have got the capacity to adjust.

Sally

And I think that’s been a, that’s been a silver lining and a gift for individuals to say, okay, I don’t have to like it, but it has taught me that I can adjust and I can do this. And I think that’s, that’s been a really, um, big thing. Now, there was something else you said about, um, Oh yeah. So you, you were in the energy industry and then you left and then came back and I think that’s something that’s really worth thinking about. Um, if, if things aren’t aligned, if you, if, if it’s not flow for you and if it’s, you know, you’re not showing up at work, I’m not saying this is you. I’m just saying as an example, um, if things aren’t sitting well, then it’s okay to go out and maybe come back later. Um, because I bet you’ve come back with so much more, um, insight and so much more worldly experience and so much more maturity and so much more, um, you know, your, even your thinking would have been expanded because you’ve actually been in a different arena and then come back. So I think that, um, some people who feel as though they can’t leave, um, I think that’s worth exploring as an option. I think it’s a great,

David

Right. I, I appreciate that you, that you bring that up because really it’s, it’s intimidating to leave. It’s, it’s a slow process. In my case, it was about a three-year process for all the reasons that you mentioned that you built up an expertise. Of course you were, you, you went that way in the beginning because you had some, some passion for some particular kind of science or the field, but, you know, you realize, again, another aspect of hindsight, you look back on it and say, okay, this was it. This was me looking at it saying, what do I want to achieve? And how do I get there? And you eventually realised this is a step that needs to happen. And then being able, because I’m fortunate. And I had a positive experience in the defence industry and now a positive experience back in energy, I can say, wow, well, that was just fantastic move. Everybody should do that. And you know, maybe that’s not accurate, but still, it, it, it’s, it’s really impactful as you noticed.

Sally

Mm. Yeah. And, and you’re right. It might not be quite so positive for other people. However, to me, I don’t want to be Pollyanna about it, but it, but even if you do leave and that next one’s not great, but the next one might be better. You know, you’re building on your experiences and you’re building on your maturity and you’re building, if you’re, if you’re open to that awareness. Um, so that, you know, maybe, and maybe there’s a realisation that you never want to go back, or maybe it just helps confirm I have to get back, um, because I’ll come back a different way. And, uh, maybe, uh, maybe if, for example, um, it hadn’t changed back in industry, in, in energy or whatever industry you’re going back to. Um, but maybe you come back changed and you’re ready and you can see it in a different light. So I think, um, I think you’re right. We can’t just assume it’s going to be great for everyone. But, um, I think the more open we are in ourselves to seeing that, you know, not just, not just the world changes, but we change to yeah. That’s gold. Thank you. Yeah. So how do you help your people far up their self-leadership?

David

So this is an area where the theory and the practice are, can be very different. If I try to apply the same principle that we do for coaching in general for, you know, coaching for success, maybe is what some of these courses would be called, where someone comes to you with an issue and you have to triage it, which is that you say, is this the kind of problem where it’s a coachable moment and I can somehow direct this person to, to resolve it on their own, or is this a kind of problem that just needs either an immediate decision, or maybe it needs some, some sort of authoritarian backing in order to make progress and similar to self-leadership you have to see this opportunities and say, is this a moment where this particular person like, has, has a real growth opportunity here? And then, and then how do I foster that?

David

Or how do I, how do I bring that going? And so, just like with the coaching example or the problem solving example in general, it is about giving space, giving encouragement and space, and it can be very specific. This doesn’t have to be an, ethereal will go think about yourself in the universe. This can be very specific for instance, if, if there’s an issue, uh, I think most people, when they get into management, you have direct reports. One of the first problems you’ll experience, or the first problem brought to you will be an interpersonal conflict. So say someone from your group has an issue, maybe with someone in the finance unit, and they’re not getting the data they need or something like that. So they come to you and they’re coming to you because they want you to force the issue. And this is, you know, please give me this authoritative decision where you tell them to give me what I’m asking for, and then we’re done.

David

And if you think about it, and this won’t always be the case, but in some times, maybe it’s your person’s approach and that they have more of an adversarial independent approach to this other group. When in reality, we’re all in the same company, we’re all in the same firm and on the same team. Well, so there’s your moment to, to fire up some, some self-leadership by encouraging this person to again, think about how they should interact with our colleagues in which is to say, maybe you do it by asking questions the same way you would, if you were coaching for problem solving, which is, which is to say, well, how are you approaching the discussion? Or, you know, are you aware of whatever rules or processes they have that of course would have been designed without thinking about our group, because they’re internal to their group and maybe that’s tying someone’s hands or preventing them from giving the information to you the way that you want it.

David

So just think about what is your approach with them? Are you being demanding or having some type of customer approach with them? Are there things actually that you can do to help them get what, what you need? And if you do it right, and again, the theory is a lot easier than the practice, but if you get it right, then you’ve helped someone develop a strategy for approaching problems. And it, especially for interpersonal issues, which is thinking about what is my approach to this? Is it perhaps something about my communication style, or even just my assumptions about the organization that maybe could benefit from some adjustment. And I think there’s nothing more motivating than, and I know again, right, this is a phrase, and you hear this place so much because it’s so valuable that empowering people is, is it fires them up in many ways, including their self-leadership.

David

If you’ve now given someone an example, they don’t leave a week later having resolved a problem themselves and say, Oh, wow, my, my boss sure did a great job coaching me to a solution. No, they say, wow. I, you know, I got some good advice, but I thought about it and I found the right way forward. And now that can be addictive. That can be something that someone wants to do again, not to mention the fact that you can really steam, steam roll through your day being productive, if you’re able to solve issues like that. So, so theoretically, that is my approach, trying to encourage people to think about their own platform and as they have issues and how they might spring from that platform or how they might even adjust their stance to resolve them. And then for the people that, that have some success with it, you’ll find that they become very motivated to say, well, if I learned from that issue, then where else could I improve maybe other people who come to me and think that I’m their roadblock, maybe it’s because of their perspectives. And now I can have a different type of interaction with that person. And, you know, maybe I wish I could keep statistics on how often that that approach is successful, but at least it’s an approach that, that, that I try and I have seen successful on occasion.

Sally

And I think in a, in a, in a day-to-day basis where there’s so many things happening and you know, your, your head’s down doing your work, and then you’re confronted with this direct report, he wants you to fix something. It’s that it’s almost that, that sliding door moment of going fix it, or coach it and taking the deep breath to catch yourself, to be able to say, this is a coachable moment. Um, and not go, I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for this. Let me just fix it. Let me just fix it. Um, cause that’s the, that’s the reality as well. I mean, it is much quicker and faster in the moment to fix it, but that’s a short term gain. And I, and I have to agree with you that when we do empower people, they walk away going, I’ve realised and you’re sitting there going, well, I asked the question, I asked the question, but you know, their success is our success when we think of it from a leadership perspective. So, um, you’ve got to take the, uh, take the credit in the fact that they are empowered and, and the fact that they can say I had this realisation, um, and there’s a light bulb moment, which, um, can last a long time, which is fantastic. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Thank you. So we’re just about out of time. I’ve got one more question for you, and that is what is the one thing you wish you knew about self-leadership when you first stepped into a leadership role?

David

Right. You know, I think one of the themes throughout our discussion right here has really been kind of mindfulness. And there there’s some aspect of that to self-leadership because it is taking those seconds or minutes and just saying, where am I coming from? What am I basing that on compared to maybe what I would like to be basing that on, where I’d like to be approaching. And one of the things that I didn’t appreciate coming into, uh, and in management specifically, right? So now dealing with resources and then how to allocate them was kind of the difference between a fast decision and a good decision. And then really in line with what you just said, you, you have this, this pressure, which is that if I complete 20 tasks today, that’s way better than if I complete five that’s way, way better. And so when these things come at me, if there is a simple solution, I’m gonna stamp it and move it on and I’ve done great and everybody’s happy, but, and especially in, in an area like research, these decisions have ramifications down the road.

David

And now you as a, as a leader in particular leader, when you get to maybe influence vision and long-term planning, you have to kind of think about that process as it flies through this longer timeline. So your solutions and your contributions are not always limited to the next 24 hours or the next work week, as some of them have, have impacts. And so where self-leadership and mindfulness play into that, is that when you have these moments, as you’re thinking about problem, or you’re thinking about an opportunity, you’re thinking about something exciting, the difference in saying this is something that I can think about for a day versus this is something that needs to be sent away in the next few minutes. That even when it’s not apparent in the beginning of that can make a big difference in kind of the ultimate quality of what you decide and a willingness to, to think further.

David

And, and this isn’t just about, well, delaying out of fear, you’ll make the wrong choice. This is just more about saying what’s really at play here is kind of almost if you, if you think of what’s the root cause of why this is an issue, or if you just think about, is this an issue that fits into what I want to achieve and what we want to achieve as an organisation longer down the road. And so the ability to sit and think this challenge or this opportunity that’s come up, am I equipped to handle it? How could I be equipped to handle it? How can our team evolve to handle it? How can our team evolve to handle this class of problem? Right? So not this specific problem in finishing this issue, but kind of when similar items come down the road, how are we now ready?

David

And that’s the good decision. The good decision is the one that pre-emptively solves the problem when it comes back. No, the good decision, the good decision is the one that prepares you to take advantage of an opportunity that you don’t know is out there yet. And so then that happens on the individual level as well. And that’s something that, you know, even, even to this day, I’m still learning to appreciate, which is about the way to consider problems, to consider your, your biases and your initial, uh, approach to the problem versus again, what might be the ideal approach to the problem. And then how can you adjust yourself to get there and to get there more regularly? And, you know, I think a certain amount of calm and, and maybe determined, uh, being determined, kind of comes naturally as we gain experience. But in the beginning, you just think I’m going to knock these problems out and everybody’s going to be so happy and really on paper, you’re doing great, but you’ll still be doing great if you had a better solution the next day, in many cases,

Sally

I’m giggling, I’m giggling because I feel as though you must’ve seen me in my very first leadership role, I was like a bull in a China shop. I had to get everything done so quickly and I didn’t, I needed to calm down. I need to slow down. I needed to breathe and think more so. Yeah.

David

Okay. Well, yeah, you know, there’s also a very personal aspect of that, which is that the, the, the calming down part and the taking a breath part is also making sure that you get your full development out of that experience that, you know, it, it, I think probably people would be challenged to say, how did signing the past 20 documents or approvals? How did signing that document improve you in any way? And it did it, but the thought process behind it’s assembly behind who made various decisions behind what analyses or thoughts you put into it, all of those things did improve you, but what you get credit for is signing it at the end and checking it off the list.

Sally

Mm, yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Thank you so much. I think that’s such a, such an important piece to remember is to, um, like you said, the mindfulness and taking that time to think, and look at your approach and, and hold off to make sure you give yourself that space for that, as opposed to, and I think you did say, you know, you’re not delaying because of fear, but you’re delaying, so that you’re thorough. Um, you know, they’re my words to what you said, and I really, really appreciate that. Um, and again, as I said, I was giggling because it was like, you were talking about me when I first got into a leadership role. Uh, dear, hopefully nobody’s too, too terribly scarred from their experience of my leadership. Um, but you know, I think if, if, if there’s anything out of this I’ve learned, so yeah. Yeah. David, any last words you’d like to share on self-leadership?

David

Uh, I, no, really I would thank you for interacting with me about it. I, I, what I like about this is in fact, this interaction is the perfect example of what I think improves my ability to, to think about where I am, where I want to go and how, how I’ll get there. So I really appreciate your time and thank you.

Sally

Oh, thank you. Thank you, David so much. And, uh, there’s another spark series of video for us. Uh, thank you, David Pace, who is a director, deputy director in the energy industry. I’m am Sally Foley Lewis, and I am so excited to be able to bring this series of videos and to explore these concepts of a self-leadership with a whole range of senior leaders around the globe. Thank you so much for watching and bye for now. Thank you.