PR 244 | True Leader


How do you become a true leader in a way that’s genuine and caring? Adam Markel presents Tom Peters, who honorably served in the Navy and is the best-selling co-author of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business and is often tagged as the best business book ever. In November 2017, Tom received the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award.

In this episode, Tom shares that a leader’s role is to make every living human being they work with successful. You need to connect with others as individual human beings, not as job categories. Be decent, caring, and thoughtful when getting your job done despite all roadblocks. Tune in and witness the power of humanizing in leadership!

Show Notes: 

  • 03:23 – Captain Day And Captain Night
  • 05:15 – Bureaucracy Of The Federal Government
  • 12:13 – Great Resignation
  • 15:33 – People Are The Measurement Of Your Outcome
  • 17:28 – Desperate For Growth
  • 22:17 – Only Hire Nice People
  • 27:43 – The Plant Manager
  • 31:08 – Power Of Humanizing
  • 35:17 – Why Women Tend To Be Better Leaders

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The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.

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How To Become A True Leader That Cares About People With Tom Peters

Welcome back to another episode. I have a great honor to have, as my guest, the one, the only, the unique Tom Peters. If you are someone who has studied business management, excellence in business, the authors of pretty much the most cutting edge thought and thinking about what it means to succeed or how it is that we can create successful enterprises and how it is that we manage people effectively, this is the guy who is at the forefront of so much of that. He has been an innovator for a very long time.

He is an undergraduate at Cornell University and graduate school at Stanford, served honorably in the US military in the Navy and worked in government and for McKinsey & Company, a storied consulting firm for many years. He struck out on his own and changed the landscape with a seminal book called In Search of Excellence. It’s sold millions and millions of copies. It has been quoted and used. Tom has been speaking about what it means to be excellent, how you create excellence in business and management and in particular, how you manage other people effectively so that they can grow as a result of your management.

Models are something that we are in such great need of, how it is that we can lead and manage other people, not just effectively or productively but in a way that facilitates their professional and personal growth. Tom has been teaching about this and shared things about how it is that we do this tangibly for so long. I am so thrilled to have Tom on the show. I’m going to welcome you once again, Tom. It’s great to have you on the show. I can’t wait to hear what we’ve got to chat about.

Tom, you probably have heard your introduction 1 time or 2. For me, it’s always a little surreal standing in the wings, waiting to be brought up on stage, listening to the introduction and on some level, I feel a little uncomfortable even listening to the way that thing unfolds. You’ve heard me introduce you. Tom, what’s something that’s not written and stated in your bio or introduction that you would love for people to know about you?

With no jail time, I’m delighted to say. Though, if you are my age, driving sober is not all that common. If you did overdo it a little bit in Maryland, the policemen would stop you and I’d had this happen a couple of times. They would say, “I’m not going to give you a ticket. You’re going to pull over and stay on the side of the road. I’m coming back in an hour. If your car is moved, you get a DUI.” It’s a different era.

On that topic because I’m digressing, I want the statue in Washington at some point to be built for that woman who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I’m not an expert but from what I’ve read, she has saved tens of thousands of lives. That is fantastic. I should never be talking lightly about over-the-limit driving.

One thing that sometimes is in the introduction but not much is I went to wonderful places of school like Cornell but the one block of time I would never trade is my four years in the Navy. Not because of military discipline or anything like that but my first two years were in Vietnam. I was a civil engineer. There’s a group called the Seabees. They are combat engineers. I was in a Combat Engineering Battalion in the Northern part of Vietnam. My commanding officer and God bless you, my father, was the most important mentor in my life and the most important teacher about the topic of leadership. He was tough as nails. He wanted us to get things built. He was an honoree old soul.

It’s an exaggeration but it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that he was truly loved by his sailors. Not the junior officers like me who thought the world is him. There were 900 people in the battalion and I swear to God, he cared about each one of them. I’m not sure he knew all 900 names but he would run into a sailor and the sailor was 19 years old or something. He always stopped and chatted for 30 seconds and asked him how he was doing. There’s a way to ask people how they’re doing if you’re some big CEO type and you know that they could give a thing but it’s there.

I was blind lucky because I had 2 deployments to Vietnam and 2 commanding officers. In my books, I’ve written a little bit about them and called them Captain Day and Captain Night. Captain Day was this first one. Captain Night was the second one. All the things I’ve done professionally have been cheesy. Any question that needs to be answered, what would Captain Day have done? Do it. What would captain night have done? Avoid it like the plague.

PR 244 | True Leader

True Leader: Only hire nice people.


My first two years were in Vietnam effectively and incidentally, given where this conversation is coming from, in Southern California. I was in a place that you may or may not know called Port Hueneme. It’s near Ventura. It’s within Eagle Rock and distance of Ventura. For my troubles and it may even be in my bio, I went to the real war zone called the Pentagon for two years. Given what you and I do for a living, what could be a better experience than learning what bureaucracy is all about?

One thing I learned incidentally and liked to get noisy about is this a little bit. We talk about the bureaucrats in Washington, Sacramento or wherever. The mid-level bureaucrats in the Pentagon may have had an infinite amount of things to have to put up with because of the bureaucracy of the federal government. They cared as much about the outcome as somebody working for Elon Musk or at Starbucks for Howard Schultz. It’s a set of decent, caring and thoughtful people going about their job and trying to get it done despite all the roadblocks. When people talk to me about government bureaucrats, they’re jerks but by and large, they’re your next-door neighbor, for God’s sakes.

I’m hearing you say bureaucrats on some levels have gotten a bad rap or at least it’s half of the story.

You have to deal with a bunch of craps. Welcome to the real world. The translation of the term is they’re trying to get in your way. The ones I worked with in Washington were trying to get the job done. I got to know this guy, Bob Stone. He was the number two guy and the Assistant Secretary of Defense’s Office. He was responsible for all military construction.

The first thing he did when he sat down at his desk on the job was he called in some captain, admiral or commander and said, “I looked at the construction guidance manual. It’s 375 pages long. I want a draft from you by the end of next week with a maximum length of three pages.” They took the Holy Bible of defense contracting and cut it from 400 pages to 3 pages. The whole world did not flip on its axis or anything. The bureaucrat, in 9 out of 10 cases, is trying to do its best in a not easy situation.

In the world that we’re living in, it’s so easy to scapegoat. Scapegoating is not something new. “It’s an easy way to judge.” The bureaucrat has that word or the way government and people in ministerial positions are seen. It’s pejorative. It’s a negative thing.

We could spend the next day on the topic. Social media has made it incredibly easy to do it in ways that can be instantly truly poisonous.

Also divisive. Honestly, I can’t imagine that people want to go into that work when it’s so easy to have them be under the bus for pretty much anything. I want to go back to what you said at work. Many people will be familiar with the books you’ve written. In Search of Excellence is one of the many books. No quiz here, Tom but how many books have you written at this point?

It’s twenty as a former engineer. That’s the most unlikely thing on earth.

There's a way to ask people how they're doing in a caring way. Click To Tweet

You went into a more creative pursuit, you mean like brainy and all that?

What I mean is that engineering at Cornell was the brutal technical stuff. There wasn’t any room for all that fuzzy frizzy stuff.

You mentioned Captain Day and Captain Night. My work is primarily about change and resilience as a way to navigate change. I tell a story about my days as a nineteen-year-old lifeguard on a beach where we had a lifeguard corp. It wasn’t the military but there were military people. There was a system similar in some respects. We had a very influential captain. Captain Day, Captain Night is a tale of two leadership styles, I’m assuming from that?

Yes. Captain Day was tougher about getting things done but he cared about the people who did them and he made it entirely clear. Even though he was your commanding officer, when he gave you a hard time, it was usually with a smile on his face. He would call me in and say something that I had screwed up. He would say, “Tom, you and I both know it could have been a little bit better than that.” He would say it with a smile but it was a smile that devastated you in the best sense of the word. We haven’t got 1 million years but there was this 2nd commanding officer and I will remember this until my death bed.

I was in the operations group responsible for writing what was called The Deployment Report about what we had done for the last nine months. The commanding officer called me in one time. He looked me in the eye and said, “Mr. Peters.” Mister is what you call a junior officer in the Navy. You don’t say Lieutenant or anything like that. He said, “Do you not know the difference between the word tangible and palpable?” I did the one thing I shouldn’t have done. I burst into laughter. I should have used the right word, I suppose. That was his level of concern. The other commanding officer would have said, “Come on. We’ve got to hit that bulldozer fixed. I’m coming out to help you.”

This is so poignant. There’s a word may be at the moment. To meet the moment, that is The Great Resignation. I don’t know if you’ve seen a time in your long and illustrious history of advising businesses and leaders. Have you seen a time when more people have voluntarily decided to leave the ranks of the employed? I want you, if you could, to tie it back to what you shared with us about those two styles of leadership. I have a theory about it but nobody cares about my theory at this moment. We want to hear from you.

Given the new technology, the pandemic, the power of Zoom and so on, I understand that there are significant differences in how we get work done. A leader has one role and it is not to have the best technology. The role of the leader is to make every living human being with whom she or he comes in contact successful and growing. I had this wonderful thing happen. I was giving a speech in Mumbai and sitting in front of me was a Four-star Indian General who ran the Army, which scared the hell out of me as a young junior officer. I was standing there saluting.

I don’t know how we got into it but he said, “When I’m looking at promoting X or Y into this next role, there’s only one thing I’m interested in. I want to go back and find the people who worked for him and find out the degree to which they became more successful because of the two years they spent with Tom Peters. That’s the magic. I’m not interested in their P&L or if they did this or that but what was their record of growing their fellow human beings?” That’s what a leader does. It’s difficult, particularly in technical areas. I’m a case in point that engineers solve technical problems.

Unless you or I, as a total incompetent, wherever we’ve gone to work by the 3rd and 2nd year, we’ll be leading some project team, may be part of another team but 7 or 8 people will be in. I don’t care what words you use reporting to but you’ll be the person in charge. At that point and this is what I particularly talk to young people about, your life changes. The entire measurement of your outcomes is the people’s stuff. You want to deal with the technical stuff, fine, hire the best technical human being on earth. That’s your job but it is no longer your job to add up 1 and 1 and try to get 2. You are in the people business.

PR 244 | True Leader

True Leader: The team of first-line supervisors is the number one asset of any organization.


Incidentally, there’s some wonderful research reported by a Canadian named Henry Mintzberg. I forgot what the research base was but it is wonderful that it says, “A Liberal Arts graduate gets half as many job offers at roughly half the salary of the technical person,” the engineer like me. “By year ‘20, the Liberal Arts graduates are many levels above the engineers and the scientists and being paid significantly more.” It is mainly what I said. In the background of the Liberal Arts graduates, they deal with people. It’s all about people, whether you learn it from Plato. It’s 100% people’s business.

Tom, let’s see if it fits. I don’t want to repeat this for myself but I want to repeat this for everybody out there who’s reading this. Leadership is caring about people’s business. It’s something you said about your Captain Day. You used the word care.

I used that word in my book and also the word desperate. I said, “A leader is desperate that every person who reports to her or him grow and develop during the 6 weeks or 6 years that they are working for me. Becoming a manager or a boss is the highest human achievement. It’s well-above brain surgeons because your life is helping people grow.” There’s one favorite thing I have in the world. It isn’t a degression but it’s so wonderful that it has to be talked about.

The great New York Times columnist, David Brooks, wrote a piece a couple of years ago. He contrasted what he called resume virtues and eulogy virtues. The resume virtues are he went to Cornell, worked for McKinsey and was promoted seven times. The eulogy virtues are what they say about you at your funeral. As somebody else said another thing of the same sort, at the funeral, they talk about how did she or he treat people. It no longer matters whether you were the valedictorian or last in your class at engineering at Cornell or the University of Michigan.

As Maya Angelou might have said, “How do people feel in response to your leadership?” How do you make them feel? How did they feel in response? The word desperate is wonderful to use in that context, meaning there’s an urgency to the idea that you’re helping people grow and a responsibility.

You got two issues. A) You don’t know how to hire, which is entirely possible but, B) I haven’t learned to connect with you, which you said in a different context. Connect with you as an individual human being, not as somebody who’s in a particular job category.

In speaking with organizations on a pretty routine basis, almost daily for me and listening to leaders, everything from CEOs to mid-level managers that are asking our company to speak to resilience or how we manage change and deal with the future is uncertain. I hear a lot of things. I want to put one of those things to you and get your perspective. If we get the time, I might say how I respond to this but this senior-level leader is saying that he is noticing this exhaustion, which we’re seeing across the board. People are exhausted.

He sees that people would love to care at a deeper level about the people around them. He wants them to connect at a deeper level but he’s hearing something and he shared this with us. I was like, “This is such transparency.” I was leaning in to hear it. He said that when they’re having conversations with people and ask them, “How are you doing,” the response is, “Are you really asking me?”

Is this the usual perfunctory, “How are you doing? All good?” We tick that box and say, “Are you okay and good?” Everybody goes, “We’re good.” They say, “Good. I checked in with my team and my people.” We know that’s BS. Instead of asking, “How are you doing? What are you doing,” say, “Share a little bit more. You say you’re doing okay. I want to know.” They say, “No. In all honesty, I’m struggling.”

Be decent, caring, and thoughtful when getting your job done despite all roadblocks. Click To Tweet

He said that his people don’t know how to handle that response. They’re not therapists, counselors or ministers. What do they do? Let’s say they’ve been an engineer and 2 to 3 years later, they’re leading a team of 7. Somebody says to them, “I’m struggling.” They’re at a complete loss for what to do. I want to put that potato in your lap and get your thoughts on where it is that we can support that junior leader or manager who’s going to handle that serious situation.

The first thing I’m going to say is rude and crude. We’re going up a level. You should never have promoted that guy into a managerial job. There are people who get along with people, people who give a crap about people and people who do so to a lesser degree. I quoted this guy who was a biotech CEO in my book, “I have two things I want to tell you. We only hire nice people and you’ve got some job categories. Tom, you’re a smart guy but you don’t even know the name of the degree. It’s so sophisticated. I found something out though. Whatever it is, no matter how narrow it is, there are a lot of people who have that degree. Don’t hire the jerks.”

You’ve had an interview with me. You’re drooling. I am so incredible at the skills that are needed. “You can drool all you want, Mr. CEO but when I leave your office, I have to run the gauntlet.” Running the gauntlet is 6 or 7 interviews with a receptionist, a junior research person and somebody in the finance department. Despite the fact that you’re in love with me, any of those six people can say, “Don’t hire Peters.” That is bloody brilliant.

Here’s the second one and I hope people pay attention to it. On every list that comes out, the best medical group is always the Mayo Clinic. There was a book that came out years ago called Management Lessons from the Mayo Clinic. The 1 thing that I remember in 400 pages because it was an excellent book is, “I am interviewing you for a senior position in thoracic cardiac.” We have a twenty-minute conversation. You’re the famous doctor who I will or won’t hire. What you don’t know, whether I’m doing it on my iPhone or with a pencil in my hand, is during our conversation and this is a literal thing, I am counting the number of times that you use the word “we” versus the number of times that you use the word “I.”

“If the ‘I’ beats the ‘We,’ I don’t care how many lives you have saved on the operating table. You aren’t coming to work here.” It sounds simple but there’s a wonderful quote later on in the book by a woman who was a pretty famous surgeon who came to work for Mayo and people in those positions don’t tend to exaggerate. She said, “I am 100 times more effective here than I was in my prior hospital because we practiced team medicine and not ego medicine.”

Nobody ought to be in that leadership position. Going back to the thing you started with, it’s the phony conversation versus the real conversation and the, “How are you,” which is obvious that I don’t care about you. I was writing something about that. It was in a tweet. I did a TV show for PBS. One of the people who we featured was a woman by the name of Pat Carrigan, who had been the first woman to run a GM auto parts plant. She has done well somewhere in the South or something. She then was called up to do it in a 2,000 or 3,000-person plant in Michigan.

It’s a complex technical job to run a plant with 2,000 people but she lived on the shop floor. I was out there shooting for 2 or 3 days but there was a shift change that must have been at 6:00 AM. I have eight people sitting around the table talking with me, tough old UAW birds from the plant floor. I went around and asked each one. Nobody’s going to believe what I’m about to say. I’m sorry. It is the truth but I understand if you don’t believe what I’m about to say. None of them, mainly mostly into twenty years of a career had ever seen the plant manager out on the floor.

I talked to the union boss. In a big plant, there will be a full-time person who is Mr. UAW for Plant X. He said, “Pat comes to the plant the first day and I get a call.” On the other end of the line is Pat and she said to this guy, “I want to talk to you first thing. Can I come down to your office and chat with you?” He said, “In my entire career, no plant manager had ever come down to my office. I was always summoned to be at Mr. Biggs’s office at 10:00 AM or whatever it was.”

I don’t know how tough you are but this guy is ten times tougher than both of us put together. He said, “I teared up when she came in the door.” Incidentally, it put the icing on the cake for Ms. Carrigan. She performed so well in that GM plant that the legislature of the state of Michigan sent her a letter of congratulations when she retired.

PR 244 | True Leader

True Leader: There is power in humanizing.


The theme is care. Be genuine.

If not, don’t hire and promote them. The military always says it. I was in the Navy. The sergeants were in the Army and the chief petty officers run the Navy. It’s the first-line supervisors. They’re the ones who run the joint. Either way, I put it in my books. Your collection of first-line supervisors, 4 of them in a car dealership and 47 of them somewhere else, is the number one asset of the organization.

They’ve got to be desperate that people grow. That’s the through-line here.

The week that we’re talking, Coach K finished his first game at Duke. He lost. He was such a gentleman and a wonderful human being. I don’t know.

Leadership is not a thing that is easily taught. It’s something you experience. Everything you’re sharing about leadership isn’t something you learned in your management class at graduate school at Stanford or wherever. You learned it out in the field with people that were modeling it for you. That’s how we learn our values. You learn them as their model to you as a child, whether parents, grandparents or others that have influenced you.

Here’s one other little story that sounds not connected but something that was triggered by what you said. This is far away as you can get in a way but it’s spot on if I tell it right. You’ve got some problem. You have a CAT scan and later that day or the next day, 200 yards or 200 miles away, a radiologist is going to read your CAT scan. The data from your CAT scan and on the radiologist is going to come across a screen. It’s going to be a bunch of numbers, graphs or whatever it is but it’s going to be all tech data.

In this one experiment, your data is coming. When you came in for the CAT scan, I said, “This is something we’re doing with record keeping. Would you mind if I took my iPhone out and took a photo of you?” In case one, before the radiologist starts his work, I see your photo. The other group didn’t see a photo. I’m not technically schooled so I’ll probably use the language wrong. What we’re looking for in your CAT scan picture are anomalies or things that are a little bit off. If I didn’t see your picture, I discovered 80% fewer anomalies than the radiologist did. It’s a simple iPhone photo of you taken, which humanize the whole thing.

You and I are talking about it in terms of managing in the military and the Pentagon. All of that is true. To see the power of humanizing, I see a photo of a real human being and then all this data comes across and you came alive. It was just a picture taken from an iPhone that shows up before the charts and the graphs come along. It’s crazy but it’s exactly what you and I have been talking about in a slightly different language.

You could call it soft, care and a lot of things but there are a lot of words to use. We could pick any words. We talk about how it is that we create resilience.

The role of the leader is to make every living human being they work with successful and growing. Click To Tweet

I love the idea so much that you are having a conversation with the owner of That’s my analog to care.

No matter the words we choose, there’s a thing there that means that you’re not just on a perfunctory level interested in another. You genuinely have some vested interest in their success and growth and how they’re doing in the world. We’re wrapping up here, Tom. Maybe this will be part one of some longer conversation we get to curate together. I would love that. This is the last question I want to ask you. In your professional life, what’s one thing that you are jazzed up about?

I’ll give you two instead of one. They’re both long-term interests but have gotten higher and higher on my list. One of them is a fabulous design. To me, the company that lives to take another penny out of costs makes me want to go like that. It’s products and services that Jony Ive, who was the former Chief of Design at Apple, said, “Make the world a teeny bit better.” Design is about caring and soul. It can be demonstrated in a ball gown or equally in a block of code. It’s about thoughtfulness, caring, inspiration and so on. To me, fabulous design is the number one differentiator.

The second thing I would talk about, which I would refer to as the many things you and I didn’t have time for is I won’t say we’re better than the past. We’re worse. The research is clear. On average, women are better leaders than men. If you’ve got less than 50% of your board of directors and the executive team being women, you are dumb.

I feel so good at this moment because more than 2/3 of the leaders on our team are women. You made my day, Tom. Most days, I feel at some point dumb and I do not at this moment.

Here’s one little thing like the photograph and radiology. There’s a wonderful book I read years ago. The author is a woman by the name of Louann Brizendine, who’s a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. She wrote a book called The Female Brain. One tiny indicator by the age, after the birth of three days, female or whatever you want to call them at that age, baby girls are making three times more eye contact with their fellow human beings than baby boys are.

It’s a wonderful thing incidentally and this came out of a fantastic book called Compassionomics. Darwin never said the survival of the fittest. Darwin said, “Survival of the best communities.” Some other guy by the name of Spencer said the survival of the fittest. If you have a great community, you produce more kids and the kids live longer. Back 80,000 years ago, that was incredibly important.

It’s a pleasure to spend time chatting and catching up with you.

The feeling is mutual. This has been a terrific conversation.

PR 244 | True Leader

True Leader: Design is about the soul: being thoughtful, caring, and inspiring.


Thank you so much. Everybody, we welcome your feedback and love your questions. If you know somebody that would be salivating to be reading this, go ahead and share this episode and leave us a comment. We look forward to serving you further in the future.

Seriously, what an interesting interview and interesting guy Tom Peters is? He’s got so many stories rich with information, insight and ways to bring dry topics at times to life. I loved hearing about Captain Day and Captain Night, one way to tee up the conversation about leadership styles and the effective way that we can be leading people and not leaning into an old paradigm the way things were done in the past. There’s no question that the way things were done in the past is not entirely effective in the moment. I would venture to say it may be entirely ineffective and even obsolete going forward. That’s key that we’ve got to develop leadership that is more like Captain Day. We got to truly care about people.

In his book, In Search of Excellence and a lot of what he’s been talking about as a keynote speaker, someone who leads in thought leadership circles and as an author, he talks about being desperate that people grow. It means that leaders have to be desperate toward others in their circle such as the people that they are modeling, leading, managing and lording over like the old way of thinking or seeing things. In that role of supervisor or boss even, they’ve got to care so desperately about the growth of their people. I thought that was quite amazing.

I asked Tom about a specific situation where in this environment, managers may be faced with helping the people that they’re leading and managing to solve significant problems in their life. Meaning when you ask somebody how they’re doing and they say something like, “I’m struggling.” That manager has to be equipped and prepared to meet that moment authentically and effectively.

Tom uniquely answered the question. He took the position of someone who’s in that role as a manager who doesn’t know how to meet that moment when someone says, “I’m struggling.” Maybe they’re struggling mentally, have been experiencing anxiety or depression or are exhausted physically or emotionally from all the ups and downs of this pandemic, the endless uncertainty that seems to be with us every day and the wave after wave of a new challenge or disruption even.

I don’t agree with Tom’s assessment there that perhaps that person isn’t meant to be a leader and shouldn’t have been put in a leadership role, to begin with. That is new and different. It’s not something that typically leaders are trained for. In my years as a leader in any schooling that I’ve had, whether it was in law school, business or any other area in the arena of my life, there’s never been any training for that.

It’s the concept of, “How do you help a person who is dealing with something for the very first time?” It’s something we have all never had any practice with such as navigating a pandemic, endless unknowns, uncertainty and disruption. I don’t think that has been a scenario that’s been planned for that we’re dealing with. I’m maybe looking at that situation and saying that that manager is not equipped to be that therapist or counselor to be able to help somebody at that moment to deal with their struggle.

What that shows us is that there’s a profound opportunity to help that manager, not only to develop greater resilience themselves to be able to become change proof themselves by becoming more resilient mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually but that they can then model and assist the people that they’re leading to themselves to be able to navigate the changes, the unknowns and the future even in a way that’s a lot more elegant.

To have that meaningful conversation with somebody doesn’t mean that you have to have all the answers for them or you have to solve their problem. This is something that I’ve learned as a daddy having 4 kids, 3 daughters and 1 son, in particular, with our youngest daughter. With my other kids, I tended to be more well-received, I suppose, when I was offering up a solution to a problem or something like that.

Connect with others as individual human beings, not as job categories. Click To Tweet

Maybe they would be kinder to me. I don’t know but with my younger daughter, I got a pretty good lesson when she was in her mid-teens that she didn’t want me to try to solve the problem. Frankly, all she wanted to do was share it. If I was going to participate at all actively, it was actively listening to what she was after and nothing else. Having done my fair share of listening, there hasn’t been a case where she’s come to me with her problems to ask me directly what I think about something or how I would approach something, get my guidance, counsel or whatever it might be.

For people that are in that place of struggle, it may well be that a manager’s role is to be there to support, listen, hold space for them, ask further questions, clarify questions and help them to see what’s the next step or whatever that might be. It might be that they do have to see a counselor or a therapist because they have some things that they’re not able to resolve. They want to be able to talk about them more regularly or in a way where someone would get actively engaged in giving them feedback.

What we do know is we’ve got to re-examine the role of that manager, senior-level leader or junior-level leader to say, “How do you deal with a person on your team who is struggling? Who’s been courageous enough to answer that question?” Frankly, the first duty of managers is to ask the questions, ask the next and care enough to go deeper, know more, do that active listening and ultimately be able to hold that space for someone’s coming through things as we all go through things. We have to work through things and often it is that we are going to work through. To not work through those things alone is the key.

We’ve got to let people know by our caring. This is something that Tom and I did discuss quite a bit. Through our actions, we show caring and show the people on our teams that we have their back. We’re with them. We support them. We’re desperate for their growth. That’s certainly where the two roads crossover. I do agree with Tom in that arena. We’ve got to be looking at how we train leaders a little bit differently to meet the moment. This is a very new moment in a new time. The future is going to demand more compassion, empathy, emotional intelligence and holistic resilience, not less going forward.

I’d love to get your comments, thoughts, feelings and things that you agree and disagree with. I love to hear them so please feel free to leave a comment. You can email Leave us a rating. We’d love to get your thoughts about the show. Subscribe and share this episode with other people in your arena.

If you’ve not yet taken your resilience assessment, you can go to and take that assessment or you can get it on the website at as well. Find out where you are mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually when it comes to your resilience zone. It’s been a blast as always. I hope you’ve loved this episode. I can’t wait to serve you further in the future. We’ll say ciao for now.


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About Tom Peters

PR 244 | True LeaderTom Peters is coauthor of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business. Eighteen books and thirty-five years later, Tom is still tirelessly focused on putting people first and developing leaders who stay in intimate touch with the front-liners who do the real work. His most recent effort is Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism.