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Leading Questions Podcast

We are Dawn Kuczwara and Jer Lance; technologists, leaders, and (most importantly) opinionated people who want to draw from our wealth of experience in becoming leaders and leading teams to help answer your questions. If you'd like yours answered, email us and we'd be happy to "help!"
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Leading Questions Podcast
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Now displaying: Page 1
Jun 8, 2021

In this episode, we answer the question:

During a recent job interview, I was asked "what values are most important to you as a leader"? What am I supposed to do with that? I was thrown, and I think it hurt me in the interview. I didn't get the job.

We discussed "Values Inventory" websites in this episode - here's one that you can use, although there are a bunch of others out there. You don't have to use this one. Use whichever one you like - we're not your mother:
https://www.lifevaluesinventory.org/

Popinjay (n.): a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter

Don't forget to read along with us - in our next bookclub we will be discussing No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer.

May 25, 2021

Our question this episode...

My boss gave me a hugely complicated project that involved coordinating a lot of external vendors. I put in quite a bit of legwork in preparation. A month later, he told me he no longer wants to do it.

How would you suggest breaking this information to all of the vendors I've been coordinating with?

Don't forget to read along with us as we tackle No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer for the bookclub!

May 18, 2021

Let's discuss Tribes by Seth Godin.

Tribes by Seth Godin

Next up - No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings & Erin Meyer

May 11, 2021

This episode's question...

 

My position is cross-functional - I work with people from across the business in a multitude of disciplines. One of the people that I interact with has no boundaries - he is constantly working, day and night and weekends. While that may work for him and his leader, it's not how I and my team operate. Additionally, he refuses to communicate with anyone over anything but a call or meeting. The problem comes in when my team needs to interact with him. He expects others to act the way he does - he sends out emails on Saturdays and Sundays demanding a call over the weekend, he expects others to be available at any time, anywhere, with no regard to their schedules. If they respond that they are booked or unavailable, he replies "It will only take a few minutes." This guy is the core of several projects, so we MUST interact with him, and his leader isn't really - he doesn't coach or train his team and refuses to deal with problems head-on, assuming they will just work themselves out. How do I reign this guy in and protect my team from his craziness?

In case you're looking to make a Pink Squirrel for yourself after hearing about it, you can find the recipe over on Liquor.com.

The Pink Squirrel

Don't forget about our bookclub! We're currently reading Tribes by Seth Godin

Apr 27, 2021

This episode's question...

Recently, a former team member interviewed for a postion at my new company. Previously, this person had certain challenges that made them difficult to work with. I have concerns about them bringing those same issues with them now. I asked them about the issues, and they acknowldged the issue and discussed how they had grown from there. I'm skeptical. How do you balance knowledge you have of a person from the past and what they describe of their growth path over the years between then and now when deciding on whether or not to hire them?

Don't forget about our bookclub! We're currently reading Tribes by Seth Godin

Apr 20, 2021

Let's discuss Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.

Range by David Epstein

Next up - Tribes by Seth Godin.

In this episode, we also mention Jer's blog post, A New Leader's Bookshelf.

Apr 13, 2021

This episode's question...

How do you handle it when something happens at work that is unquestionably an affront to your principles, but the financial loss would be incredibly uncomfortable. Not disastrous, just very, very uncomfortable for you and your family.

Don't forget about the book club! Currently, we're reading Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Mar 30, 2021

Welcome to the 100th episode of Leading Questions!

We're doing something a little different to commemorate this episode - instead of a listener question, Dawn and Jer ask each other questions they want to hear the other person answer. So, this time, you get TWO questions!

Dawn asks Jer...

You've talked about the path you've taken from being an individual contributor to being a leader - How much of that was intentional, and what was your process for becoming a better leader?

Jer's question for Dawn is...

How do you coach someone in something you're actively bad at?

In case you're wondering - here is the puppet that haunts Jer's nightmares:

Tarantula Puppet

And here's the cross-stitch that haunt's Dawn:

Nearly done cross-stitch Tiny Stitches

Mar 16, 2021

This episode's question is...

I've noticed lately that my productivity has been all over the place. Some days, I'm able to work for hours and get a lot done. Other days though, I'm at a standstill. I'm getting really frustrated because of this fluctuation. I'm concerned that this teetering is going to be detrimental to the quality of my work. Also, I'm scared it might impact my entire team's productivity and drive. What do you think? What should I do in this situation?

Book discussed in this episode Burnout: The Secreto to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
Affiliate Link || Non-Affiliate Link

Mar 2, 2021

In this episode we talk about...

Recently, I started leading a new group of people at my work. In the process of getting to know everyone, I noticed something and I don't know how to approach it appropriately. There is this one person, who is overwhelmingly talkative and who refuses to even hear others' ideas if they contradict her own opinions. The only time she allows other people to contribute to the conversation is if they further her own plans. I'm concerned that she drowns out other people and is making the team less productive and, honestly, less enjoyable. How do I deal with this?

Don't forget to join our bookclub! We're currently reading The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova!

Feb 2, 2021

In this episode we talk about...

At the beginning of 2021, I'm going to be taking on a lot of new projects and work. Over the past few months, I've been freaking out, trying to plan for the siege of to-do's coming my way. I think the planning may be making me more anxious, but I can't stop myself. How do I deal with the caseload? and how do I stop freaking myself out?

Don't forget to join our bookclub! We're currently reading The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova!

Dec 15, 2020

Let's discuss Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates (not Michelle Obama).

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41W9YpbHNbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Next up, The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova.

 

Dec 8, 2020

This episode is all fun and games, other than the parts that aren't...

My company moved everyone to WFH when COVID-19 hit our state. It’s been several months and my team has settled into their routine well, hitting their goals. In this time where people feel isolated already, the team is understandably feeling it as well. How do I keep them bonded, and maintain healthy relationships, when the most interaction you have is a square on a Zoom call?

(Also, it was teambuilding.com)

We are reading Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates for our bookclub, so, if you'd like to join us, get to reading!

Nov 24, 2020

In this week's episode, we answer...

My family is a dual income home. My partner is still working, and I’ve been laid off. So I’ve taken over the household and our two young children. There is no in-class school, and there is no daycare, meaning they are with me all day. There are shifts I can make once I go back to work, but the days of the 8 - 10hr work day are long gone. If this is the new normal, what should working parents in this situation be expecting from their leaders? What should companies be doing to pivot with their employees new challenges? And what have you two changed to help your team succeed and meet them where they are?

We are reading Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates for our bookclub, so, if you'd like to join us, get to reading!

 

Nov 17, 2020

Time to discuss the current bookclub book, The Art of Leadership by Michael Lopp.

The Art of Leadership book cover

For our next book, we will be reading Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.

 

Nov 10, 2020

In this episode...

Like many, I’ve been furloughed. I work in the event industry, so being brought back full time is looking grim until spring next year. The company I work for is a small tight knit team that is committed to getting everyone back, and I love working there. There are still some projects and events that trickle in, and they’ve given us the option of working them, but they will have to back pay them when we come back on board.

I want to be a team player to help us get back on our feet, but back pay doesn’t help me right now and working an event can be Russian roulette. How do I set boundaries between helping a team out of love for the place, and taking a stand on what I need to as a professional they hired?

Don't forget to read along with us, The Art of Leadership by Michael Lopp is our next bookclub read!

 

Oct 20, 2020

This episode, we answer this:

My brother works in a manufacturing engineering plant. The company is a week or more behind promised delivery dates to various customers and has been running frantic shifts 7 days a week, to the extent that they are pulling marketing and engineering staff out of their normal roles and having them hand assembly parts. Today, someone in his group tested positive for COVID-19. They are not allowing employees in the group to leave for testing; they sprayed everything down in the area with disinfectant and sent everyone back to work. What would you do in this situation? He's not long out of school, so hasn't gotten himself well established yet - walking isn't a great option, especially with the economy like it is.

Don't forget to read along with us, The Art of Leadership by Michael Lopp is our next bookclub read!

Oct 13, 2020

It's time to talk about Radical Candor by Kim Scott!

For our next book, we're reading The Art of Leadership by Michael Lopp.

Sep 29, 2020

In this episode, we answer the question:

Each Christmas my team puts together a group gift that they give to me along with a card. Each year, I write a nice card for each of them, but, I don't buy a gift because I don't make that kind of money! Worse, because there are a lot of them, even pitching in 5 or 10 dollars each adds up to a really nice gift. Am I doing the right thing? Should I be getting them a gift? This would almost double my Christmas budget!

Don't forget to read along with us, we will be discussing Kim Scott's Radical Candor next week!

Sep 3, 2020

So now we circle back and read The Phoenix Project after having finished the sequel. How did it hold up? Let's see...

For our next trick, we'll read Kim Scott's Radical Candor!

Aug 18, 2020

Later than we'd have liked, we answer a question that is very timely and important:

How do I talk about Black Lives Matter and the protests and all that with my team? I know we're supposed to leave religion and politics at home, but it feels like I should address this. Should I?

If you have questions about this, or feedback about our handling of this conversation, we definitely want to hear from you... email jer@, dawn@, or questions@ leadingquestionspodcast.com

If you want to learn more, some great resources:

  1. How to Be and Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  2. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD
  3. White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
    1. Be sure to follow up with Lauren Michele Jackson's What's Missing from "White Fragility"
  4. Save the Tears: White Woman's Guide by Tatiana Mac
Aug 4, 2020

In this episode, we answer:

My boss has been trying to transition our team from everybody working all the time, day or night to setting realistic expectations for support and holding us to those. It's hard for me to take her seriously when she answers emails day and night within minutes of their arrival. I'm not talking about just high importance emails, but all emails. It's rare for an email that is sent between 6am and 11pm to fail to get a response from her within an hour. Sometimes, she even responds to emails at 2 or 3 in the morning! I don't feel right not paying attention to my emails when sometimes they're from her, and if it's important enough for her to be online at all hours, shouldn't I be too? What do you think she really wants us to do?

And some special treats from us to you:

Don't forget to join us as we read The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford!

Jul 14, 2020

Find out if we're crazy for reading them out of order, but this bookclub episode covers The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim.

The Unicorn Project: A Novel About Developers, Digital Disruption, and Thriving in the Age of Data

Next up, we'll go back and read The Phoenix Project to see how it stacks up with this newer work.

Jul 7, 2020

Our question for this episode is:

I occasionally get invited to do social things with some of my employees and if I'm interested in the event itself I'll go - typically things like video games or even holiday parties. I don't go to every events, but I do go to the ones that sound fun. I'm not playing favorites. But it also means that I have gone to events for less than half of my team. Is that ok?

Don't forget to tune in next week as we discuss Gene Kim's The Unicorn Project!

 

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