How do you get the people in your life to be fully committed? True partnership and Ty Bennett explores his concept of “Partnership is The New Leadership.”
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Ty is the founder of Leadership Inc., a speaking and training company with a mission to empower individuals and organizations to challenge their status quo, cultivate exceptional relationships, and compete in extraordinary ways.
He’s changing lives – one leader at a time. At 21, Ty and his brother built a direct sales business to over $20 million in annual revenues. He developed a system and organization that would help over 500 sales managers fine-tune their sales and leadership skills in over 37 countries. He was featured as one of the Top 40 Under 40. He was dubbed one of the 10 Coolest Entrepreneurs in Utah. He’s the author of three best-selling books. He is the host of The Relevant Leadership Podcast.
He has traversed the world speaking to tens of thousands of audience members transforming the lives, careers, and business practices of leaders from some of the most recognizable brands in the world such as: Delta Airlines, Subway, Home Depot, Coca-Cola and RE/MAX.
Ty’s best-selling books – Partnership is the New Leadership, The Power of Influence: Increase Your Income and Personal Impact and The Power of Storytelling: The Art of Influential Communication – are used in graduate courses at multiple universities including MIT, as today’s version of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
He’s one of the youngest speakers ever to receive the CSP Designation from the National Association of Speakers – less than 5% of the world’s speakers earn this honor. He’s a husband and a father and he’s PASSIONATE about helping leaders cultivate the relevance and influence they need to challenge old ways and open new doors.
Links to TY:
- Relevant Leadership Podcast – https://apple.co/2yuHnfN
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ty.bennett/
- Facebook – www.facebook.com/Tybennett5
- Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tybennett/
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/TyBennett
Books Recommended by Ty:
YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com
Mike Domitrz: Welcome to The RESPECT Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz from MikeSpeaks.com, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the U.S. military create a culture of respect. And respect is exactly what we discuss on this show, so let’s get started.
And yes, welcome to this week’s episode. As you know, I love to have friends on, and this is someone I’ve known for a long time. We used to share a mastermind together, and that is Ty Bennett. He’s a successful entrepreneur, bestselling author, host of The Relevant Leadership Podcast, and a keynote speaker that works with leaders from companies around the world. Ty, thank you so much for joining me today.
Ty Bennett: Absolutely. It’s always fun to talk to you, Mike.
Mike Domitrz: Well, thank you, Ty. Each year, as you were amping up in your business of speaking and keynoting, each year you had different themes. You had storytelling, and then you had influence, and you’ve really, really now focused on Partnership is the New Leadership, which is your book. And it’s a different take on leadership. So how do you explain, how is this concept different, this concept of Partnership is the New Leadership?
Ty Bennett: Well I think that as leadership has evolved, and as our economy has evolved… you look at the changing workforce, you look at what people want now and what engages your people… I think the old adage that leadership is based on title, position, and authority; and where as leaders we default unfortunately to leading from that positional point, and using that as a leverage point to get people to do what you want… I think that doesn’t work in our world today.
I think that if we want our people to be committed, and to be engaged… And what actually led me to writing the book, I did a survey of about 5,000 leaders asking them what they want from their people, and 76% came back and they want commitment. We want our people to be committed; some people would call it engaged, some people would say they want their best. But we want people to show up and be committed.
And when you look at what really drives commitment, more than anything we have control over from a leadership standpoint, is people are committed to people. And so how do we show up for our people? And I like to think of it as a partnership, because if I show up in a certain way as a leader, and I build a relationship, and I give my people a voice, and I empower them, and I have open dialogue and communication, and they feel my level of commitment to that partnership, they’re going to show up differently as well.
Mike Domitrz: What’s the biggest pushback you get here? Because as you know, you and I both know, from working with companies and organizations, there’s a lot of traditional people that believe in hierarchy. And they believe that hierarchy has its role, helps people understand their place, allows things to happen quickly.
So when you get that pushback from people going, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey, everybody is not going to be on the same page here. There’s hierarchy for a reason. Look, you’re in the pit and you need to make a final decision, you need to know who to turn to, or the whole group does,” how do you respond to that, Ty?
Ty Bennett: I’m not against hierarchy. I think that organizational charts can exist and many organizations I work with operate differently in those regards. But as I get with leaders, if you really have the conversation, I think innately we understand that people are going to be engaged at a level, or they’re going to stay… you could look at this just from a retention standpoint… when they’re in a position where they feel valued and they like the people they work with, and work for.
The old saying would be that: “People join companies but they leave bosses.” Right? We’ve heard that-
Mike Domitrz: Absolutely. You don’t leave jobs, you leave people. Right.
Ty Bennett: Yeah. And statistically that bears out, when you really look at it. And so I’ve gone into some cultures that, yeah, for sure, this is not the driving force of their culture. I think what tends to happen, for me, is that most people who find me and bring me in, they have at least a desire to operate in this capacity.
So as an example, I spoke for Delta Airlines. And Ed Bastian, the CEO… when I finished I came off stage… he said, “You just articulated exactly what we are trying to create here.” And I love Delta as an airline. I fly with them quite often. But I think, for companies, that’s what they’re striving for. And hopefully what I’m trying to do is articulate not only the philosophy and the approach, but also some of the nuances of specific skills that need to embodied for that approach to actually take effect.
Mike Domitrz: Yeah, I love this. When we’re working with companies… and one of our core values, in our organization, is mutuality. And it’s something we teach in everything we do around the world. And really, we’re saying the same thing with different language. Partnership is the New Leadership is the same concept as mutuality. “This should be a mutual experience.” And what’s interesting is, both of our languages we’re using, partnership and mutuality is something people haven’t been discussing, but is at the core of understanding respect and valuing other human beings, is that you have mutual relationship versus, “I tell you what to do,” you do it, you have no input.
There’s no partnership there, there’s no mutuality there. Who wants to be in that? Besides the boss? It’s so one-sided. And so when you’re on stage, what is the reveal that you’re providing, or when you’re with audiences, to help them realize this shift is needed?
Ty Bennett: I give several examples and we dive into some specifics… and some based off of case studies, some based off of my own experience, and some based off of observed experience. There’s facets to it. There’s tenets to it, I guess, if you will. I like that word mutuality. I don’t know if I’ve heard or used that word, but I think it speaks to the heart of it.
One specific reveal that I give is, as you start to think about it, I share an experience that I observed where a company, actually an association, rolled out something that was not well received. They got huge pushback. And the reason they did, when you start to break it down and you start to look at what they did in putting this together, is they missed the concept that people support what they help create.
You think about in our world. That’s a principle that’s always been in place. I think we all kind of know that: You give people a sense of ownership when you allow them to participate. But in our world today, specifically because of social media, psychologically we are a different people. If you go back 20 years, before social media existed, there was a cultural understanding that if you didn’t hold a position of leadership, you knew you didn’t have much of a say, and we were okay with that. It was just how things worked, and we got that.
But in today’s world, because so many people grow up with social media, you have a voice, you’re used to expressing it, you have a say in things, there’s dialogue that takes place on a regular basis, people expect to have a voice. And that comes into the corporate world. And so leaders who operate with this old mentality, they think that commitment happens at the point of implementation: “I tell you what to do, you jump onboard and you go do it.”
But in our world today, commitment happens at the point of creation. And so we have to step back a little bit and realize that people support what they help create. How do we partner with our people in a different way? And there’s lots of creative ways that leaders do that. But yeah, I think there’s this concept… The thing about it that I find, the typical response… You asked about pushback, I get some. But the typical response I get happens more of, “I believe that, I just haven’t maybe been able to say it they way that you’re saying it.”
Mike Domitrz: Yes. Because here’s the thing, most people do want to lead this way. If you’re getting pushback, it might be that person sincerely doesn’t fit.
Ty Bennett: Yeah, that’s true.
Mike Domitrz: And they need to leave the organization. And people don’t want to hear that. But there’s a reality that you have people that don’t fit your model, then why are you trying to change them? They’re not going to change. You tell somebody in a marriage, “You’re not going to change that person.” Well it’s the same in a company. You’re not going to change that person. Now if they want to change, they can change. But you’re not going to change them. So if they don’t fit the model, if they want to be the dictator role, then you have to say, “We’re not the place for you.”
Because 90% of people want to be in relationships that are equals. It doesn’t mean equal power, but we have equal care for each other and respect for other, and dignity for each other. That’s so important. That’s what I love. I love your phrase that, “Commitment is at creation.” That’s so beautiful, and how that’s worded. And it really makes people think: “Am I bringing people into the creation, or am I revealing the creation to them afterwards?”
Ty Bennett: Yeah, and that’s a hard thing. And in saying that, I’m not saying that every person in the company is going to be involved in every decision. That’s just not feasible. But if we’re going to lead from a partnership standpoint, and if our ultimate goal is to have our people be committed… Because part of this conversation is, when you look at what differentiates companies today, we don’t operate in the world that we used to, where companies had major differentiation based off of patents, copyrights or unique products.
Every company in the world can be duplicated in a second. And so what separates you from competition is, quite often, the way that you’re people show up. It is the level of engagement, commitment and effectiveness that your people have. And so if our ultimate goal is for them to be committed, the question around that is not: Are they involved in every decision? But the question is: Do they feel heard? Do they feel valued? Are you the kind of leader that has conversational leadership, open dialogue; that you hear their ideas, you implement their ideas, that you’re open to feedback? Because those things change the way that people take ownership.
Mike Domitrz: Yeah. And what’s tough there is, sometimes… Let’s say it’s a design concept, or it’s an engineering concept, and the two of you are on completely different pages, and you may not use any of their ideas. But you are hearing them. And that’s a tough one for people to understand.
Ty Bennett: That’s a huge point.
Mike Domitrz: Like they think, “Oh, if you’re hearing me, then you’re going to use my ideas.” That’s not what hearing means. That’s not what listening means. “I need you to come with something that fits what we’re looking for here, but I’m listening for that. I’m hearing you, looking for that. But you’ve got to bring that, too.”
Ty Bennett: But even in that process, just taking that step forward… If you and I are working together, and at least I get a chance to give my input. And you can do it in a way where, civilly, you can explain, “You know what? We decided to go in this direction. We really value your input. Thank you.” And I know that, down the line, my input is still going to be wanted, and maybe next time it’s going to come my direction, because the idea that I bring to the table is what we go with. I feel valued in a different way than if I was never involved at all.
Mike Domitrz: Correct. Absolutely. And so I think that’s that balance people don’t understand: Hey, bring people in. Let them know you’re listening and hearing. But you’re listening and hearing for something you can use.
Ty Bennett: Yeah.
Mike Domitrz: Because I think the mistake people think is, “I’m listening and hearing,” and then people read that as, “You’re going to use my ideas.” Which, “I can’t promise you I’m going to uses your ideas.” So, “I’m listening for the right fit, so keep throwing them. Throw a hundred. Maybe I use one, because it’s that picky of a process. But maybe you need to throw a hundred for me to find one. Don’t get mad after 10. That’s too early. You’ve got to keep throwing ideas at me.”
Ty Bennett: The reason that leaders don’t lead in this way, or when we default out of this way, I think there’s a couple of things that come into play. One is just ego. We want to be the leader, and so we want it to be our way, and we don’t lead in a way that engages people. But, two, and often, it’s often just apathy. We just get lazy or we just forget that this is the approach.
It is easier to just say, “Here, this is what it is. Go do it.” But it’s not effective. And so I think keeping this in mind and focusing in on it, I think most leaders understand and want to lead in this way. We just have to be focused on the right things on a consistent basis to do it.
Mike Domitrz: Yeah, and there are leaders who think, “The way they think and the way I think are so different, I don’t want to open that Pandora’s Box.” But that’s the problem. They know that you view them that way. They know that you don’t want to hear them; instead of, “We’re so different. One of these times they’re going to throw something at me I would have never thought of, and it’s going to work. I just need to keep listening for that.”
But instead they go, “I don’t want to open the Pandora’s Box of them getting mad at me for not using their ideas.” So that’s the other flip side I’ve seen leaders talk about. “Well if I go down that road, now there’s an expectation.” Yeah but if you don’t, there’s no expectation because they don’t think you care. So there’s a big difference there.
Ty Bennett: In my mind, I keep going back to this idea of mutuality, the word that you use. And you think about… I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of leaders I’ve done sessions with where I’ve asked them, “What makes a great leader?” We’ve had dialogue around the key principles, the key characteristics, and all of those principles are mutual concept.
They throw out the idea of respect, a leader who has respect. Well, do you demand respect or do you earn respect? And is respect given? That’s a mutual concept. Or a leader that says, “I want accountability from my people.” Guess what your people want from you? Accountability. They are all mutual concepts. It is a partnership if we do it the right way.
Mike Domitrz: Absolutely. That’s what I love about it. It’s so interesting when we’re working with companies and, literally, that is one of my focus words: mutuality. The next book that’s coming out. It’s amazing how many people pause and realize, “Yeah, we don’t use that word.” And just like partnership, they’re very similar in what they’re saying. And so that’s what I love about your stuff. You’re bringing a twist to a word people aren’t discussing that they need to think about, which is how leadership plays a role there.
And you brought up before, conversational leadership. So how does that show? What does that mean? I think people hear that and think, “Oh, I just need to say hi to my people everyday, see what’s new in their life.”
Ty Bennett: Well, that’s an element. You should know your people. You should have conversations that go beyond just a basic idea of who they are. And I think the deeper you get to know them, the more open, and the more real, the connection can be. But it takes kind of an ABC approach to what conversational leadership is.
So A is the approach. I call it the three As. First off, as a leader, are you accessible to your people? The idea of the leader in the ivory tower that no one can talk to is just not where we live in today’s world. And so you have to be with your people, and find ways to do that. I know that we’re all busy. But maybe you’re not taking lunch on your own and you’re being with your people, or whatever it is. So, are you accessible?
Second question is: Are you approachable? Because there’s leaders that are around their people but nobody shares anything with them. Because they’re either going to yelled at, or the leader’s going to dismiss their ideas, or they just aren’t very approachable.
And third: Are you authentic? Are you real with your people? Are you a straight shooter? Do you give them the truth about things? And so I think that, from an approach standpoint, sets up the opportunity to have this conversational leadership.
And then the B, I think it’s all about balance. And there’s several balances that we could talk about. I talk about the balance between care and candor. People need to know that you care about them, but they also need to know the truth. And you need to be candid when you need to be candid, and so there’s a balance in that. I think there’s a balance in the way that you talk to people, and whether you’re condescending or you’re conversational.
As an example, if I were to just separate things and say, “We’re going to meet as the leadership team and then we’ll let you know.” Well that’s pretty condescending. You separate people out and that comes across as, “We’re going to decide this and you’re not in that category, so we’ll let you know.” Just little nuances in the language that we use. Do we use collective language when we give commands, or do we extend more invitations? Those little nuances in language, I think, make a big difference.
And then the C in that ABC approach is… Ultimately, the idea of conversational leadership is to create connection. It’s for your people to feel open, to feel like like they have a chance to dialogue with you, and that there’s a real connection that’s in place. I thought I’d coined the phrase, “conversational leadership,” when I wrote this book. And then I looked it up and there’s Harvard professors and others who’ve talked about conversational leadership, and probably have nuances in their approach. But the idea would be that as a leader you’re talking with your people, not at your people.
Mike Domitrz: And that’s so huge. And I love that. I love the authenticity. I think approachable is the tough one, that a lot of leaders don’t understand they’re not.
Ty Bennett: Yeah. And it’s hard to have that 360 view of yourself, and really know that.
Mike Domitrz: It is. So are there techniques or strategies that you give leaders for recognizing, “While you think you are, these could be red flags you’re not”?
Ty Bennett: A lot of companies, a lot of leaders, will do some of those 360 assessments, get feedback from their people, whether that’s anonymous or… I’m working with a company right now, coaching some of their leaders. And we’ve gone in and done some of those things to get feedback on: What do your people think about you as a leader? What are the areas that they really like? What are the areas that they feel like could improve, or areas that they struggle with? And it’s eye-opening. I think sometimes we don’t get that.
You and I as speakers, Mike, I think have a unique central mission where often we get feedback from audiences, whether it’s good or bad, that is very revealing and very instructional. For me at least, I look at that and I’m like, “Oh, wow.” And we get video of what we do, on stage, and you can go back and watch it, assess it. As leaders I think we have to work to create some of those situations, so that we can get an actual snapshot of who we are and how we come across to people.
Mike Domitrz: A past guest and a good friend of mine, I think you may know her too, Stacey Hanke, that’s what she does. She helps companies recognize that 360. Hers is “recognizing your influence.” Because people think they’re influential, but nobody’s responding to your emails; nobody’s buying the stuff you’re telling them about. You might not have as much influence as you think you do. And this is very true of leaders, in this same conversation. You might not come off as authentic as you think you are.
Ty Bennett: It’s hard to self-assess that. Obviously we’re doing the best we can, and so we think we’re doing a good job because that’s what we believe is the best approach. And so, yeah, stepping back and getting that feedback, sometimes it’s a little bit painful. But there’s no way to learn and grow and change without it.
Mike Domitrz: Exactly. What do you think is the biggest surprise, when you work with leaders, that they didn’t recognize, they didn’t see?
Ty Bennett: That’s an interesting question. It probably varies from leader to leader. One idea that I teach that I think is often very eye-opening for them is… I phrase it by saying, “Motivation’s important, but it’s overrated.” And what I mean by that is, if you think about any goal, if you’re going after a goal, whatever it is… in this situation, we’re talking about commitment of our people… but any goal: On one side you have motivating factors that drive you towards it, on the other side you have obstacles or inhibitors that keep you from achieving it.
And I always ask leaders, “Which one’s more important?” And when you really break down the psychology of it, what’s more important is to remove the obstacles and the inhibitors. I think as leaders, we often think about, “How do I motivate my people?” And we think of leadership almost as motivational cheerleading: “I’m just going to tell them to go do a good job, I’m going to cheer them on.” But if we don’t clear the runway, and allow them the systems in place that they need, and help them develop the skills and the tools and the knowledge that they need to be able to run, then that runway doesn’t make a difference.
We’ve got to clear that for them and focus some of our leadership, at first especially, on removing those obstacles and those inhibitors. I think often that’s an aha moment for leaders, when you really start to assess where you’re spending your time. Because we’re often spending our time on the other side of the equation, just focusing on, “How do I motivate my people?” But unless we give them the opportunity to really get after it and do it effectively, that motivation doesn’t make that big of a difference.
Mike Domitrz: Yeah, I love this discussion. And what I love about it is, we’ve all done this. And we’ve all had discoveries. Now you and I, both being our own business owners, I know I’ve had this… and you can tell me if you have too… where at some point, you recognize, “Hey, I need to step out. I need to be doing less, because it’s just not productive. So I need to be doing less, and letting people do that.” And as you give that up, at first people are like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t you want input on this? You’ve always…” I say, “No, I don’t. I trust you.”
But it’s hard for them to believe that, because you haven’t given that freedom prior to that moment. But once they start to really get it, and realize, “Oh, they do trust me,” to watch how they soar with their own ideas and their projects, and where they take it, with you not in it, is amazing; and really is a lesson on, “Most of us need to be getting out of the way,” which is what you’re talking, clearing that runway is something many of us do in our lives. But as parents too, we’re trying to direct our kids instead of clear the path for them to run.
Ty Bennett: Yeah, actually, the book that I’m writing currently, the working title is Leader of Leaders: Mentoring with Confidence. And it really is the hands-on approach of doing exactly what you said of: How do you take someone from: They are at the basic level of you have to model it for them; to then you coach them through to it; to then taking more of a backseat role as a consultant of, they can come to you for questions when they have them; to fully empowering them to let them take ownership and go and do it.
Because it’s a process as a leader to be able to turn that over to your people, but it’s so important. Not only as you mentioned, to free yourself up to be able to focus on other areas, but also to allow them to really grow and take ownership, and take their leadership to another level.
Mike Domitrz: Absolutely. And you’re a huge fan of books. You’re a reader. You’re an author, obviously. You’ve got three best-selling books. A book outside of yours that you really love is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. it’s such a well-known book. what about it do you love, or does it really fire you up about it?
Ty Bennett: Well you asked that question before, and for me that was such a foundational book. I read books like crazy. And we could talk about some that are, maybe, more current. But that one for me is one of those that established a foundation of key principles and philosophy that I believe in, when it comes to leadership and influence; and helped put me on the path of… leading to where I am today in the work that I do.
Stephen Covey was also a mentor of mine. I had a chance to get to know him before he passed away, and so there’s probably a personal connection to that. But I think, from a personal-development foundation, that book has got to be near or at the top of the list.
Mike Domitrz: And when you write, what inspires you to write the next one? You have three books. You’re working on another book right now. What keeps you going in the writing process, while so many people can struggle in that? What fires you up?
Ty Bennett: Well it’s interesting, because I do write a lot. But I view my natural skillset as a speaker. And that’s a process I enjoy more… Well, yeah, I do enjoy more. But it’s a different process to write. For me, the thing that I love about is writing is how it crystallizes your ideas. It forces you to be able to put those ideas in a succinct, transferrable version that people can grab onto.
And so that part of it, I love to teach. I love to share things that hopefully can help people. And so I want to continue to put out good content that keeps me relevant and keeps me engaged in the process. And so, yeah, that writing process, it’s such a refining process to your ideas. I think it’s a great thing for anybody to do.
Mike Domitrz: I love that. And, Ty, you are somebody that has shared and [inaudible 00:25:21] other influences in your life. And we’re all about respect here. And I have what’s called Champions of Respect. Who was a Champion of Respect in your life, for you?
Ty Bennett: There’s a lot of them. People probably don’t know this name very well, but one of the mentors who’s had the biggest… outside of my parents, probably, the biggest… impact on my life is a gentleman named Ulisses Soares. He’s Brazilian. I lived in Portugal for two years. I was serving a mission for my church and he was the leader of that mission. And so he was like a surrogate parent for two years, for me. And I had a chance to watch him lead and to learn from him, and to meet with him one-on-one, and to sit down with him.
And he is someone that… I’ve never heard him say anything negative about any person. He loves everyone and has a unique of way transferring that love to where he shows people that he cares about them, that he is in their corner, that he’s there for them. And that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t demand respect, or want people to step up and do great things. But he’s somebody who has taught me a lot about how to build connection and relationships and respect, from a leader’s standpoint.
So when you ask that question, that’s who comes to mind for me.
Mike Domitrz: That’s beautiful. Have you been able to go back and spend time with him since those days?
Ty Bennett: Yeah, he actually lives in Utah now [crosstalk 00:26:56]
Mike Domitrz: Oh my goodness, really?
Ty Bennett: Yeah, which is great. He lived in Brazil for a time, and he’s back in Utah now. And so he and I talk very regularly. We probably see each other a few times a year. My wife and I had a chance to take a trip with he and his wife to Israel a couple of years ago, and spend 10 days with them on that trip. So yeah, we’ve maintained a close relationship. He continues to be a mentor for me to today.
Mike Domitrz: That’s really wonderful. Ty, I want to thank you for being with us. For everyone listening, I want to make sure they know how to get ahold of you. And that’s your website, which is TyBennett.com. Which, we’re going to have this all in the show notes. Your podcast, Relevant Leadership. All your social media. We’ll have it all there. Thank you so much, Ty, for sharing your brilliance.
Ty Bennett: Oh, happy to do it. I don’t know how brilliant it is, but thanks for having me.
Mike Domitrz: Oh, you’re brilliant.
Ty Bennett: Always great to talk to you, Mike.
Mike Domitrz: Well thanks Ty. What you’ve built… For anybody listening, you can find this all in the show notes, and Ty’s bio… But in your 20s, you built a $20-million business. And now you’ve got a retreat center and you’re doing just so many things, continually stepping outside of a comfort zone to create something new. And it’s exciting to watch. So thank you, once again.
Ty Bennett: I appreciate it.
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