Episode 320

Better Leadership by Learning to Lead Yourself First with Mark Fisher

In this episode, Mark Fisher joins me to talk about how you can have better leadership by learning to lead yourself first.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m back with Mark Fisher, and we’re talking about how to become a better leader. And in this podcast, we walk through how often the path to becoming the best possible leader is to start with leading yourself. Learning how to lead yourself is often a really important and critical first step to being able to lead others effectively.

And, I know many of you listening to this podcast really want to be the best possible leaders you can be. And so I think this is a great episode for you, uh, to start with yourself and Mark walks you through a framework for how you can learn how to lead yourself better, uh, and how that will translate to better results in your business.

So that sounds so valuable to you. Keep on listening, my friend.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym [00:01:00] owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential I’ve become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin

one more thing before we jump into today’s episode for the first time ever We at business unicorns have teamed up with our friends at perform better to create something called the gym owner master class And during this live workshop mark and pete are going to be giving gym owners an inside sneak peek At over 30 years combined experience running kresge sports performance and mark fisher fitness a real You Peek behind the curtain, but not only that mark and Pete will be joined by Ben, who you all know from this podcast, Phillip is a unicorns coach and our COO.

And he’ll, they’ll be sharing what’s working right now with gym owners that we work with from all over the world [00:02:00] and how we are helping them to create more impact, more income and more freedom, which is what we know you all want. This workshop is going to sell out quickly. There’s a very limited capacity and we think you should get your tickets soon because we are just announcing it now and early bird.

And March 22nd, the most important thing I’ll say here is this is crazy cheap. It’s only 149 for this, this workshop, you’ll never see anything this valuable, this cheap again. And so click the link below in the show notes, see if you can make it. If you can, it’ll be so worth your time. If you do it before March 22nd, you’ll save big bucks.

So, um, that way I hope that our team will see you there and let’s go on with the podcast. Hello fitness business nerds, what’s up? Welcome to another episode of the business of unicorns podcast. I’m stoked today to hear BB here with mr Fisher what’s up, my friend? Oh just listening to my 20 month year old daughter roar like a lion a couple rooms away [00:03:00] Strong vocal where she’s watching Lion King, isn’t she?

She’s she loves like a she’s baby That’s how she says nothing cuter today’s conversation is all about leadership. We’re at the time of recording this gearing up for our Austin retreat, which is a unicorn side event we’re doing in March. And at that event, we will be doing a workshop on Fisher doing a workshop on leadership specifically.

Self leadership. So we wanted to give you all a little talk about what we did. This podcast is coming out after that workshop, after that retreat, but we’re going to give you a little sense of what happened at our Austin retreat specifically about how you can improve your ability. To lead your team by leading yourself.

So Fisher, can you just tee this up a little bit and talk through what makes this an important skill for our listeners to care about? Yeah. For me, it’s interesting too. We were having like a little chat before this started that I am using the term self leadership, but classically this would just be referred to as person [00:04:00] development, right?

Which is to say that all, I think we’re looking at how we are being a leader of ourself through the lens of how one. Might be a leader of an organization, right? So essentially at the beginning of this workshop, I had our attendees list out what are all the things that make an exceptional leader in a business.

When you think about a well run business with an awesome leader, what are the functions. and what are the roles that they perform, right? And there are a lot of different things that might come to mind. And of course, when I did this framework, and by the way, if you’re listening and you’re a super nerd and inclined to pause and play this game, I think it might be useful for you to identify a name for you.

What do you believe are the most absolute mission critical things that a leader does? And from there, I invited people to then consider how. Does that track with the [00:05:00] roles that you play for yourself? Right? So if you say that a job of leader, for instance, might be casting a clear and compelling vision, that’s pulling the organization to a bigger future.

Then the question becomes, okay, how are you doing that for yourself? Right? Do we have, it’s one thing to have a nice three year picture tenure and there’s people do different time frames, but. You do want to do this for the business. Obviously we’re big proponents of it. We built part of the whole FU system around that.

But at the other hand, obviously as the gym owner, as the human in charge, you need to be clear on what you want from your life, right? Which has to of course include the business, but one might argue is larger in some ways because there’s elements that are, I think a very important part of how you’re living your wild and precious life that are happening completely independently of the business, right?

To give one more example, one of the jobs that a leader does is a Decide how to allocate resources. So for instance, and I think this is true of any scale of business, but it’s important to appreciate when you’re looking particularly like larger corporate structures at a certain point, it’s [00:06:00] not uncommon for the CFO to become the CEO because at a certain size and scale of business, one of the main things that leader is doing is just deciding how the money is getting spent.

There’s allocating resources. And as somebody that is the leader of your own life. You are going to decide how you’re allocating your resources. I don’t just mean financial, though I do. I also mean, how are you spending your time? How are you spending your energy? And are you investing those resources on things that you’re going to get a good return?

And are you careful? And mindful of where you’re spending your time, energy, and money on things that are consumptive. Things that are perhaps not returning a positive return. Yeah. Fisher, I’m going to start by saying I love this exercise so much because it’s helping people do what I think is one of the core skill sets all leaders need, which is self awareness.

And so sitting down and deciding for yourself, what do I think good leadership looks like in my gym? What [00:07:00] do I think are all the traits and characteristics and skills and habits of a good leader and then assessing yourself on your own list of what you think makes a good leader is like the perfect example of a self assessment tool that you made based on what you think is fantastic leadership.

And I think all of you listening to this would probably come up with a different list. I think it’s a beauty of an exercise like this is that you’re measuring yourself against your own values and standards for what you think great leadership looks like. And I think it’s a great first step to building self awareness about how you are doing at excelling or not.

Yes. In those various areas of leadership. Yes. Yes. Because I think it’s true that probably every single one of us, there’s always room to improve this, right? I don’t think anyone’s ever, I’ve found the optimal place. Then when you do, life has a funny way of always moving around a little bit. So as you modulate different seasons of life, your priorities, maybe your values won’t change necessarily, but your [00:08:00] life demands different things from you at different times, right?

I say that very much. It’s my dad here with a baby. I, it’s a very different demands on my time now than I did, So I think periodically stepping out of your life to really consider, okay, how am I building and investing for like short term and long term success, both again, not just financially, but also how are you spending your time?

How are you spending your energy? Where are you giving your attention? Yeah. I think this stuff really matters and you need to be in an ongoing, I think, conversation about this. The other thing I love about this, just the first part of this exercise is that I often, and you and I talk about this a lot, think about leadership as a relational skill.

It’s a skill about building relationships and relationships that change and grow and evolve or decay over time. Yes. And the analogy really tracks here because if that’s a skill of leadership, then the skill of self leadership is managing your growing and changing, evolving or decaying [00:09:00] relationship with yourself, that’s what you need and want from your own performance changes and evolves as your life continues.

And it should, right? It’s not static. I think that this really helps highlight the challenge people often have with leaders is thinking that there’s one right answer. To the question of what makes good leadership. And that’s just not the case. It’s a lot of context is required. People are different in each culture, in each team, you as a leader change and grow and evolve over time.

And not to say there aren’t some commonalities about what makes people effective leaders, but the fact that this helps you build self awareness about how are you doing right now? If you do it in six months or six years, your answers are going to be a little different. And I think that’s a useful, that’s a really good information to keep growing as a leader and business owner.

Yeah, I think the other thing that strikes me too, it’s interesting. It’s certainly. When I think about my vision of leadership or certainly how I aspire to lead. Yeah. [00:10:00] And again, I want to highlight, I think that’s a really great point. This is actually not always the perfect mode all the time. And certainly I, I know I probably over lean on this, but I often think about, I want to just pour like love care and attention into the people that I work with and hear real talk.

One of the things that gets in the way of, I think a lot of people in life and certainly people we work with is. They’re not being very nice to themself. They, they’re not showing up for themself as far as their self talk, as far as their patience, as far as their constant gentle pressure, the way that they would like to optimize doing that with their employees.

And again, it’s very hard. I think to be able to do this for other people when you can’t do it for yourself. It’s not something that never happens. I suspect there are some people that really can’t compartmentalize it. And certainly I guess it’s possible some of you are too nice to yourself, right? Maybe you are being like too permissive to yourself the way that it’s possible to be too permissive as a leader.

But on balance, I do know that there are a lot of people that are just real hard on [00:11:00] themselves. And if you believe, and again, we’re not saying this needs to be the case, but if you’re like me, if an important value for you is how am I as a leader contributing to the people that I work with becoming a, as Robert Greenleaf said, a taller, stronger, more autonomous version of their full self.

Then I would ask you, how are you supporting yourself in that journey? Right? Because it can entrepreneurship’s hard. There’s ups and there’s downs and it’s right. That entrepreneurship is a person development journey with like quantified aims, but in practice, yeah. Sometimes the issue is we’re just too hard on ourselves.

That’s why I’m such an advocate for therapy for most leaders is because you know, Usually you have some unhealed things that are showing up in weird ways in all of your relationships, by the way, but can also show up for you as a leader. And certainly that’s sort of part of my own journey. Yeah. I want to talk about other parts of this workshop and those other things you have planned, but I just want to share one quick thing for those of you who are planning to do this exercise at home, or maybe you’re starting to do it right now and you’re making a list of all the [00:12:00] things that you’re doing.

You think make great leadership. I just want to offer you like a quick little getting started template. There’s a leadership model. I really like a lot. I think I’ve talked about this podcast before from the place called the center for creative leadership, and it’s an acronym. It’s just DAC and it stands for direction, alignment, commitment.

And I think that those are three really. Great buckets to consider when you’re brainstorming what great leaders do or what leadership looks like is thinking about all the ways that as leader, you are creating direction for people. As Mark mentioned, creating a vision, pointing people in the right direction, the way that you’re creating alignment, getting everyone on the same page, everyone to sing from the same songbook, work in the same way, care about the same things and the way that you’re creating commitment, the way that you’re creating the kind of discipline to stay the path and to do what we said we are going to do.

And if you need help brainstorming, allow those three buckets to be your quick start guide, right? If you’re not sure how to think about leadership, I would just say start filling in those buckets with ways that you’re trying to do those three [00:13:00] things. And you’re probably going to be off to a pretty good start.

Yeah. What else do you got planned for this workshop, Fisher? Yeah, I think once we have created this list of things that we know that are almost always going to be good for you to invest in and ideally identified now, okay, because the other thing is this can get academic, right? I really want to operationalize as always.

So once you’ve identified, okay, what are the actual behaviors, what are the actions that I can do to be a better leader for myself, which again, it’s two pieces, right? So what are the things I can start doing or do more of that, which could be, and that Jim’s pace, no secret. A lot of you don’t work out enough.

I love you. I love you a lot. You don’t take care of your bodies enough. You don’t go get massages. You don’t do the physical self care things, which particularly if you’re going to be the game a long time, I think are necessary. And then on the other end, you have to be honest about the things that are maybe not helpful, right?

What are the vices, right? Are you spending too much time on social media? Are you drinking too much? Are you drinking too much coffee? Which like, as of this podcast with my beloved baby, I can’t say I’m exactly a Paragon [00:14:00] of the optimal model of coffee consumption at the moment. But I think once you have those lists, the final piece is again, just considering, okay, well now what do we do?

Because just as if you’re coaching a client, you can’t do all of the things. You’re not going to be able to actually do all of the things. And as always, I prefer for you to do a handful of things and actually do them than make a giant list of things that are overwhelming and not move the ball forward.

So at the end, what we’ll have done is put the pieces together. So you’re clear on, okay, what has to happen in the next seven days? And if it’s something that is a little bit more long term, so let’s say Hypothetically, I don’t know if this is the case, but let’s say hypothetically, you think, maybe this podcast struck something, you’re like, okay, I keep hearing about potentially therapy.

I know there’s some places where I have a disproportionate, unhinged emotional reaction. I can’t seem to get myself out of it. I’m self aware enough to know it’s a problem, but I don’t know what to do. Okay, then you need to find something, right? So to be clear, you might not be able to, Find somebody this [00:15:00] week, but the action step might be when in your calendar over the next seven days, are you going to vet options?

Do you have, and this certainly you could Google, I would say. That type of resource. Sometimes it’s best to get recommendations is my usual approach. And again, that can look different depending on what the particular item is that you’re going to take some action on. And certainly there’s, I like habit trackers.

It could be one other thing as a tool that we’ve used again and again, that I think can be useful to you. Manage the, maybe the inputs that you want less of. I think that can be a form or maybe you find some other form of accountability to support you in doing less of this thing that you know that you’re doing to a level that is not supporting how you want to be leader for self and invest in that.

The limited time and energy and money that you have. Yeah, I think that’s so critical. I love the way you described it Fisher, which is once you’ve done this self assessment about how you think you’re doing at the leadership skills that you defined, the next step is okay, well, what can you do about it?

What [00:16:00] can you do more of? What can you do less of, and how do you do it? How do you hold yourself accountable to taking those next steps? In some cases, I think you might be perfectly capable of holding yourself accountable to doing them. In other cases, it might be helpful for you to get into conversation or relationship with someone who can serve as a sounding board or accountability buddy.

Or paid professional coach or therapist or whatever it is to really help you move the ball forward. I’ll say this at the very least, I think it’s really powerful and useful when a leader actually makes clear to the team that they lead what they’re doing to improve as a leader. So even if, if you can lead with that kind of vulnerability, it’s like, Hey team, I realized it’s a little self assessment from the business unicorns podcast this week.

And in there I learned there’s a few ways I want to get better as a leader. I want to get better at X and Y and Z. And I want you all to make sure that I’m doing that. Say on me, give me the feedback. I’m going to ask for it from time to time, but just being candid with your team that you want to keep growing and [00:17:00] learning and sharing with them all the ways you want to grow can be such.

gold at lighting a fire under your ass to actually do it. Having all those eyeballs on you, I think is often very motivating for people. Yeah. And also to say nothing of demonstrating some real vulnerability, acknowledging for the team, Hey, I know I’m not meeting my own standards in these ways. Cause here’s the other thing too.

I suspect there can be probably different approaches to different cultures. One of the things I have valued that really from day one, Kira, you and I made it very clear. It’s like, we’re not willing to work with people. We’re not going to not have a personal relationship. With the people who are, that’s like a non negotiable sort of thing.

So now, again, I’m certainly not suggesting that, you know, you necessarily need to air all of your personal laundry to everybody you work with by any means. But I know that the people that I have direct relationships with, we are very much committed to each other’s success as humans, and I feel very comfortable and seen in those settings if there’s something going on personally, I know I’ve chatted in previous podcasts about some of the [00:18:00] challenges I had over the fall, where I was like, this is.

I’m dying. I’m drowning here, which it was professional, but also it was like personal because it was a personal cost on my poor professional decisions. And. Yeah, I think that can actually bring you closer with the people that you’re working with, and also model for them that it’s okay for them to be a full human with you.

And my assumption is if you’re listening to the podcast, I can probably assume you’re probably not someone that is shy about being human with the people that you work with. And you probably are also committed to their success as a human, which by the way, even if you’re like a Machiavellian capitalist is going to Serve the business if they’re happier and more fulfilled in whatever it is they’re doing.

So that’s maybe another potential takeaway here is potentially this could be a thing you could facilitate as like a micro workshop, even if you have a small team, which also is going to send the message, Hey, I care about you as a human. And I, we have certain roles that we play here and certain goals we share for the organization.

And. Hopefully we have, hopefully we have a commitment to support each other to live the life we want to be living and reach our [00:19:00] potentials as humans in service of this larger mission, which will include things that happen outside the business. Yeah. Beautifully said. I think it’s a great place to leave it.

I can even see how this will could turn into a three 60 feedback situation for leaders as well to get feedback on how you’re doing and all these criteria. But awesome. Thanks for sharing these exercises. Fisher. I have no doubt that our listeners go and do these things. They will find some value in growing as a leader.

As a result. Thanks for sharing. And dear listeners, if you haven’t yet go follow us on Instagram, we’re doing great shit over there. So go click the button down in the show notes and follow us today. Thanks for a great conversation. Fisher. I’ll see you on the next one. Bye