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The 8 Dimensions of Leadership

Bookends Book Club: Podcast Episode #6

The 8 Dimensions of Leadership isn’t your typical leadership book. Written by Jeffrey SugermanMark Scullard, and Emma Wilhelm, this book aims to help leaders recognize that they have the freedom to adapt how they lead. 

In fact, the authors argue that leaders must learn how to adapt their leadership style in order to compete in today’s fast-changing environment. To help leaders discover how to do this, The 8 Dimensions of Leadership helps readers map their personal DiSC style onto their primary leadership dimension.

In this episode, Susan Stamm interviews Jeff, Mark, and Emma and asks them what separates leaders who adapt how they lead from leaders who don’t. The authors provide background on the research that informed their work.

Podcast Transcript

Use the table of contents below to navigate to parts of this interview that interest you or to revisit parts of the interview you really liked.


Why are leaders still unprepared to lead?

Susan Stamm: New leadership books are hitting the market every day. In fact, 40 new titles are released each day, according to the website with all this great information that’s out there released a daily Emma, why do you think so many leaders are still feeling ill-prepared for this role?

Emma Wilhelm: Well, Susan, we think of leadership as very highly personal pursuit in two ways. First leaders of course must work with people and this is inherently complicated. And second, a leader’s personality is really wound into the experience of leading, and many times maybe most times one’s preparation for a leadership role does not include taking personality into account. And that’s really a mistake. And what we’ve found is that leaders then have to sort of learning things the hard way through trial and error, often running into the same obstacles over and over again.

Susan Stamm: Yeah, I think personality is a big part of it. Many of us have had to learn leadership lessons the hard way without the benefits of the lessons that you offer in this book, and a few weeks ago I was attending a conference where I had the opportunity to hear you Jeff share an experience from your own journey as a leader, you were talking about a time when you were addressing an organization that you were leading, and this was much earlier in your career and you were discussing the organization’s achievements and kind of looking out into the future, what the future might look like. Would you share the story with us and tell us how it impacted you as a leader?

Jeffery Sugerman: Sure, and I think that you know, these sort of leadership moments of truth when the universe speaks to a leader saying gee, here’s something you could do better, or here’s a blind spot. Those sorts of moments are what got us interested in this topic. The particular story I was talking about at the conferences as it was about 15 years ago, and at the time I was running a large division of a very large corporation. And you know, there was a lot of training provided to up-and-coming leaders in that organization. I had the best books, the best courses, the best education, the best coaching and really had decided for all sorts of reasons that if I could run my business by mapping work processes that is sort of dividing everything in the organization down to sort of a process level, teaching people, process management skills refining processes, working on effectiveness and efficiency of processes that I could really run the whole business and at the time that was about 125 person business really, without having to manage people, I could just manage the process, and you can tell the train wreck that it was about to happen even by me just saying that but it was at the end of a quarter where we had had really a phenomenal quarter a lot of things that we were doing, we were doing right, and I was you know, sort of obsessed with numbers at the time and financial performance at the time.

I had made the at an all-employee quarterly meeting, I had made the comment that all of this is paying off if we just kept doing what we’re doing we had set a record level of profitability that quarter. And if we just kept doing what we were doing we would actually increase profitability another 20% without having to work any harder in the next quarter. And there was a polite round of applause for that comment. 

We went through the meeting it was time for Q and A and one of our senior developers there a remarkable person named John who rarely spoke up at these kinds of meetings raised his hand to make, could comment, and of course, I called on him and he said this to me. He said Jeff, you know, when I get up in the morning and take a shower and get in my car and drive to work and imagine what my day’s going to be like, I don’t really imagine a table with a pile of money on it, and the idea of seeing a table with a pile of money, plus 20% more money on top of that is even less motivating. You need to do a better job in taking us forward in this. And I was sort of stuck at the moment the applause for that comment was about three times the sound of the applause for my profitability. 

I realized that the universe through John was speaking to me about a real gap, a real blind spot that I had as a leader. Leadership is about people. The more I thought about it, and with many, many more, the more I came to understand that what was getting in my way was not what I knew but what was going on inside of me. 

And to really begin to understand that we have certain predispositions, we call them default settings and blind spots that we come to document in our research in our work, those kinds of experiences are what many leaders call those moments of truth, where those come into high resolution, we’re trying to accelerate that process and make it more understandable for people without having those embarrassing moments in front of a hundred people.

Mark Scullard: Yeah, actually just as a little you know addition to that story because I was at the same conference and I was sitting in the back of the room and I was sitting next to a guy named Scott and Scott had currently works with our organization, and he had worked for Jeff 15 years ago. And when Jeff told that story, he leans over to me he said, that’s why I left the company. Right? 

And the thing is that Jeff or Scott and Jeff work together now, and Scott’s extremely happy, you know, and it really is, it’s that process of development, and in writing this book, we were deliberate about having conversations with new leaders and experienced leaders and talking out their journeys and the journey that Jeff described and Ken describe in terms of what he learned is different from what I learned and what Emma learned and from different leaders learned. But there really, the common process is moving from these default settings, this idea that I have one way of doing it, and that’s just the way of doing it to learning that there’s a broader scope of responsibilities at my feet. And so that’s one of the things we try to do with this book is help people realize that.

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Should leaders focus on their strengths or improve their limitations?

Susan Stamm: That’s great and I like the language of bringing it into higher resolution because when you think about that, what that actually means, it’s not that people can’t see it, but it’s not so bright or so clear, it kind of jumps out at you, and it’s a great service to be able to provide that to leaders it might be humming along a little bit very faded in the background, but what you’re trying to do is really call it to their attention. 

I’d like to continue with you Mark if we could there’s been lots and lots of press over a number of years focusing on the idea of focusing on our strengths and the Gallup folks, for example, have just released some new research of course they’re always releasing research, but there’s been some new research again, and they’re pushing pretty hard on the idea that our strengths alone can get us there and that working on our limitations really isn’t all that important. 

Do you think that this is good advice for leaders? And could you share any insights about using strengths from your research?

Mark Scullard: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. I mean, because we just listened to a story from Jeff of someone who was just focusing on his strength he had been rewarded for and we heard the end to that story and you know, and what had happened, but you know, we can certainly, we can talk about it from a conceptual discussion about that, where we can talk about the research. 

Let me start with some of the research that we’ve done on that because when we started the process of investigating leadership, we were really agnostic towards that question we were very open to wherever the research led us. And some of our more recent data we’ve had several thousand leaders going through our 360 processes, and for each of those leaders, we have two pieces of information. 

On the one hand, we have the eight dimensions, these eight different behaviors. How often do the leaders perform each of these eight behaviors? And on the other hand, we have a more global reflection or rating of the leader’s effectiveness, things like this, person’s respected as a good leader in my organization I enjoy working with this person as a leader or more straightforward questions like this person is a good leader in general.

What we wanted to see is how are those eight behaviors related to these global ratings of effectiveness? If the strengths-based approach was correct, what we would expect to see is that people who are rated as good leaders overall would just be doing two or three things really well.

And they could be below on all of the other eight. And in fact, we would expect to see poor leaders as people who really, even weren’t doing just about anything, well, maybe they were doing the thing that became natural to them working on their strength, but they weren’t really capitalizing them. They weren’t really maxing those things out. 

Well, that’s not what we found at all. What we did find is that leaders who got good global ratings of effectiveness were people who were doing each of the eight dimensions, right? Most of them had we’re doing at least seven, if not all, eight of the different behaviors that we talk about in terms of these eight dimensions. Poor leaders, on the other hand, people who got globally poor ratings, well, these people actually were using their strengths. They had on average two to four different strengths that were really pronounced for them.

And so those people actually were using what some might call the strengths-based model and still people were responding, you know, shaking their heads and saying, that’s not enough. Now, if we look at that, you know, what does that mean? Why is this strength-based approach taking off so well? And I think it is a very appealing message. You know, and I think it’s appealing for several reasons. One of them is because it’s a very comforting message to say, you know I can just focus on what I’m good at and I don’t have to worry as much about those other things that don’t come naturally to me. And that, you know, to me personally, I could say that does feel good but it’s a matter of is it true?

And you know, you can also look at from the perspective of, well, I see all these good leaders and they’re all different. And that’s true to some extent as well, not every good leader looks identical, but there are a common set of responsibilities that a leader has to fulfill. 

I think when we’re talking about a leader like Emma said, it’s a very personal responsibility you have. 

Leaders aren’t just performing tasks they’re the people who follow them, aren’t just looking at their output. they’re looking at that leader as a person, we respond to the leader as a fellow human being. And so, if you’re going to outsource the humility thing or the inspiring thing or the confidence thing. When you outsource these responsibilities, you really are taking the person out of leadership, and from our research, it just doesn’t seem to work. And those leaders don’t seem to be getting the respect, don’t seem to be getting the results that they really could if they expanded upon this default setting of theirs.

Jeff Sugerman: If I could just piggyback a story that’s just coming to mind, as Mark is telling this is absolutely true. 

In that same era where I was that young general manager of that company, that was probably way too big for me at the time. I decided that as part of my whole process analysis and process approach I would hire an HR director who literally was a cheerleader at high school. Right? But she was one of these people that was just fantastic. She was effervescent and charming and always had a smile and could literally do cartwheels in the hallway if we asked her to.

Susan Stamm: Oh, my goodness.

Jeff Sugerman: And I was I was talking… I was having some problem I can’t remember what the exact issue was, but I remember talking to a mentor of mine and I described how I hired this person and that she was going to be the one that really brought the heart and energy to the organization. And this guy looked at me and he said did you outsource your honeymoon too? And he said, how can you do this? How can you… you know this is you as well to Mark’s point.

Susan Stamm: That’s great. That’s terrific.

Mark Scullard: And I actually talk about this topic for a while, but, you know, I think the way that this idea got started is really looking at individual contributors. And I think there absolutely is a lot of truth to the idea that focusing on our strengths as individual contributors is really important. 

I’ve done a lot of career counseling, and one of the things that we look for is to help people find things that they’re good at because they’re going to be passionate about it. They’re going to be successful in and enjoy it. When we move into a leadership role, there’s a whole new range of responsibilities that come along with that, and that’s where that strength-based approach starts to fall apart.

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Are the 8 Dimensions only appropriate for higher levels of leadership?

Susan Stamm: I think that’s really helpful. 

Would you say is it you’re feeling that to be effective in a leadership role is the ability to have strength in all of those areas as important at lower levels of leadership in the organization? Or is it more important maybe really at upper levels, or is it all levels? 

Do you have thought about that?

Jeff Sugerman: You know, I would say the further that you want your reach to be as a leader as your impact that you’re going to have to do to some degree each of these different eight areas that we identify in the book. And so, if you are maybe at the lower end of the hierarchy, you can still really have this idea that you want to have some reach and you want to have some impact, and, and you’re not going to have that sort of impact until you start taking accountability and taking responsibility for each of these different eight areas. But certainly, as you move up the ladder, I think it becomes more and more incumbent upon you can, you can get away less and less with not doing some of these different things.

Susan Stamm: Yeah, that’s kind of how I was seeing it too so I’m glad to hear you say that. 

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Understanding our 'Default Settings'

Susan Stamm: I’d like to talk a little bit, and you’ve already used the language a little earlier I believe Jeff said it, he talked about the idea of default and I just loved the imagery of having a default setting. I thought it was a really neat way to talk about you know, kind of where we live on the map. 

Can you tell us a little bit about this and if we should rely on this setting? 

I think we talking about this a little bit already, in a sense when we talk about you know, whether or not we can really just leverage our strengths, but do you have, do you have a story Mark that illustrates your default setting and could you share it with us?

Mark Scullard: Yeah, and really just to talk big picture about this idea of default setting is really, again, it’s this idea of an approach to leadership that comes naturally to us and so there’s a question of, do we, or should we approach on that? Well, we absolutely do rely on it. That’s almost the definition of the default setting. And we rely on those default settings because they reflect how we see the world, what we prioritize. 

We may have one, you know, in the book, we talk about eight different dimensions, and so this is a way for people to understand what their default setting is, how they naturally come in it, and we all have it, and there’s nothing wrong with having it.

In fact, to just rely on that default setting to a fault is human nature. What we’re pushing people to do is to help them understand that they do need to put in that effort to move beyond it. 

For some people, their default setting is about just pushing strongly for results and creating that sense of urgency. You know, as Jeff said, their leadership default setting, you talked about this woman who had literally been a cheerleader, about energizing people, and they see that as the way to lead other people naturally. Or others who are just being very methodical and very systematic.. 

My particular default setting is what we in the book call inclusive, and I actually, as you mentioned in the beginning, initially went into doing psychotherapy and I had been rewarded a lot for being a great listener and being attentive to other people’s needs, and that’s how I see the world, you know and so when I come into a leadership perspective or leadership position, that’s the perspective I bring to it, that’s what I tend to see as important. 

What I have come to realize, and having to learn this the hard way in different instances is that need to push people that need to create that sense of urgency doesn’t come naturally to me. More importantly, as a first step, it doesn’t come naturally for me to even realize that that’s important. 

So, again, that’s a big part of the book is to help raise people’s awareness first and then help them to make that movement. And so, in the book, we, someone like me helped me understand why it is so difficult for me to do that pushing and to do that…, and part of it is a discomfort with upsetting other people. Part of it is a high need for harmony and stability on my part. But those are part of my personal equation. That’s part of my personality. And if I’m expecting to just check my personality at the door, when I come in and those things aren’t going to affect how I do my job, then I’m going to be oblivious and I’m not going to realize what’s going on.

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Understanding Leadership from the perspective of DiSC

Susan Stamm: That’s excellent. Well, these Eight Dimensions that we’ve been talking about so far today that the book of course is based on is, are really coming from a model and the model is called DiSC

I was wondering, Emma, if you could give us a little crash course on Everything DiSC for those that will be listening to that are not familiar with it, and perhaps even tell us a little bit about its history and where it came from.

Emma Wilhelm: I think it’s helpful for listeners who aren’t familiar with the model to first, imagine a circle that’s divided into four quadrants, and this is the DiSC Model

There are two basic axes that make up its structure. And as I’m describing this axis, you may want to place yourself on them. 

The vertical axis runs from fast-paced and outspoken at the top of the circle to cautious and reflective at the bottom of the circle. 

On the other hand, the horizontal axis runs from questioning and skepticism on the left-hand side of the circle to warm and accepting on the right. 

So, by thinking about where you fall in each of those two axes, you can sort of yourself into one of the four quadrants, and these are labeled D I S, and C that’s where DiSC comes from, and these initials stand for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

As you might imagine, given its name Dominance, the dominant quadrant describes driven, direct and forceful people (D Personality Type). 

And those in the Influence quadrant are more enthusiastic and high-spirited (i Personality Type). 

Those in the Steadiness quadrant are considerate people who prefer a stable harmonious environment. That’s what Mark just described he falls into that quadrant (S Personality Type). 

And then people in the Conscientiousness quadrant, which now are on the lower left, are analytical, reserved, and more logic-focused (C Personality Type). 

So, these four primaries distill are basically categories in which we can use these to help us quickly understand individual differences and how people work differently and have different motivations. 

That’s the DiSC model. So, the DiSC Assessment, which this book relies on as well as a tool that helps people quickly assess which of these styles describe them most accurately. And when readers are about to take our assessments, they learn which of the Eight Dimensions is their primary dimension or default setting, and this is based very closely on the disc model they line up perfectly. 

And I won’t go to great length about the history of the model, but it is based on the work of a psychologist named Dr. William Moulton Marston, who first published a book called Emotions of Normal People back in 1928. All of this work has stemmed from that book. 

It is in a different context that we use it. He didn’t use it as a typology so much, but nonetheless, the four quadrants did stem from his work, and there’s a lot more information in the appendix of our book about the research if people are interested in that.

Susan Stamm: Thank you, Emma.

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Finding your DiSC Leadership Style

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Susan Stamm: I wanted to go a little further in talking about this Jeff you’ve provided some really great options for folks to get a read on their DiSC default settings in the book there are a couple of ways they could do that. Could you describe these options for us and tell us how you would envision someone actually using this book? Is this a book I’m going to sit down and do I need to read it from cover to cover or how would I use it?

Jeff Sugerman: The design of this book is actually we think somewhat innovative and purposeful. We didn’t expect people to read this book cover to cover we wanted to give them the experience of understanding where they fit in the leadership model, and then based on that understanding and some assessment of where they need to go read the most relevant chapters for them at the time or in the president when they’re reading the book. 

They’re really a couple of different methods to doing that. 

Emma described a process and we do in chapter two of our books, sort of walk through an even a more detailed version of that, where you could sort of by reading and maybe place yourself, you know, you’d be close to getting one of the right three dimensions, you’d be in the ballpark. But we’ve actually provided a very precise method for people to assess themselves and it’s via an online assessment that takes about 10 minutes to complete that the access to that online assessment can either be from an authorized distributor who has access to it and can provide free access to the reader. 

Or we have a public website if people don’t have access to a distributor they can go to

That assessment is there as well. But we, recommend that people work with an authorized distributor because we think that these books create a lot of questions and a lot of opportunities for further development beyond what we can provide in a book.

So, the process that we expect is that you could go in and very quickly self-assess where, you know, which of the eight dimensions are most aligned with your current default setting. To go to the second section of the book and sort of take a deep dive, we don’t think of it… someone said, it’s more like an emotional cold shower. We don’t want it to be that, but it is a deep dive into sort of the underlying drivers of your default setting and where those blind spots are the sources of where those blind spots likely come from. 

After spending some time there, we point you to one or two other chapters in section three of the book, part three of the book where lessons from leaders in other parts of the circle that they’ve learned early in their career, we hope can benefit you by learning and studying them rather than having to experience in them the hard way. So, that’s the method that the book works at. And really, you know on average people will read four or five chapters of the book.

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What is the relevance of personality in leadership?

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Susan Stamm: I’d like to get into a little bit about you know, kind of where the book came from and some of the research that led you to write this book. And Mark, I understand that the book began with a question.

Mark Scullard: Yeah, and the question really simply put is, what the relevance of personality in the leadership domain because we, when we look at the training industry and we look at how leaders are developed, it tends to be very behavioral in nature. And that certainly makes sense. It’s, you know when things are behavioral, they’re concrete, they’re objective there’s not you know, the messiness associated with it. But we were really interested in how does personality relates to this area and more particularly the development of leaders, how can we use an understanding of personality to help people accelerate their development? And this is an area really that our organization’s been working in for over 35 years now, and we’ve been able to gather a lot of data and we’ve certainly worked in the area of leadership before, but Jeff and I actually write a regular column in a magazine called Training magazine.

And as part of that, we gather data to understand learners’ perspectives on training, and they really see it as important for their development. And one of the questions we’ve asked a number of different times and in this most recent survey, it was about over 3000 people and we were asking them, what would most improve your professional development? What could be provided that would most help you become better at your work and the number one thing, and a list of 20 different things. The number one thing far and away is always leadership development, whether or not we’re talking to people in large companies or small companies, executives, managers, individual contributors, we’re getting this message that helped me become a better leader. This is an area where I could really use some guidance on. And so that’s really, we began our research and three years ago in earnest, we started collecting data, talking to people over 26,000 people we asked them questions like, you know, what’s important to you when you’re as a leader when you’re a leader what’s important for you to get as a leader. 

Well, what are some of the leadership mistakes that you’ve made? And through that, we were really able to come up with these eight different clusters these eight different dimensions that you’ll see in the book. And what’s neat from really from a nerdy statistician point of view, these eight dimensions form, a near-perfect circle when we look at them mathematically, the relationship between them fits the conceptual model extremely well. And it really, isn’t ancient, are we’re really borrowing and using a model that scientists and people who study human nature rediscover again, and again, it’s a very fundamental reflection of human nature. And so, it gives us a lot of confidence that we are using something that’s very robust to help people understand that.

Susan Stamm: That’s great.

Mark Scullard: Yeah. And so, as Emma mentioned, you know, there’s more of the research that’s included in the appendix of the book and try to give you some of the histories of the disc and also some of the development work we did on this.

Susan Stamm: Yes. And I should mention that we’re going to be posting a white paper on some of the research on our site.

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What psychological drivers hold leaders back?

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Susan: I’d like to talk a little bit about part two of the book which I think you’ve already mentioned Jeff, and this is where I think you used the word an emotional cold shower. The book examines, the psychological drivers that can hold leaders back. But I like your language better. Jeff, could you share one of these attributes with us related to the pioneering leader, which of course is your default setting, and could you offer us a personal lesson that you struggled with somewhere in your leadership experience? I know you’ve shared a little bit about, you know, the one organization that you were with previously, but maybe something, something else that would help us to, you know, see one of these drivers in action.

Jeff Sugerman: What I have to do is also kind of go take one step back, because the guy that I described who is mapping processes, and running an organization by process maps, isn’t typically associated with the pioneering leader. And in fact, that skillset, all that discipline I adopted to cope with, you know, challenges I had more naturally as a pioneering leader. Early on in my career, even before that assignment through some development programs that I participated with in the center for creative leadership you know, I was early identified to for me to be a better leader I had to be a little bit less entrepreneurial and a little bit more sort of able to turn an idea into action. And that was an earlier cold shower that I had had before this cold shower. So, I’m one of these leaders that sort of ricochet all over the map as I tried to come to understand what this was all about. But one of the drivers that shaped me is and we write about it in the book as under the heading competence in your own vision. Pioneering leaders who are at that sort of Northern point of the leadership map, tend to have remarkable confidence in their own vision. And people like that followers love people who have sort of a clear sense of where they’re going and why they’re going whether it’s carefully thought through whether it’s realizable or not. Doesn’t matter to the pioneering leader.

And this was actually a pattern in my whole I remember in the sixth grade, I was working on a science fair project, and I had convinced myself that I could create a waterwheel that would produce electricity in my parents’ garage. And the only thing that saved me from total embarrassment was that I was working on it and my mother drove the station wagon over my work in process, but I even, as a young child, I could see something that I really wanted to do and was remarkably I so trusted my instincts and that I was right about this stuff that it wasn’t… I didn’t say this as a kid, or even as a young adult, but don’t confuse me with the facts. And that’s very much the what the struggle the pioneering leader has to realize to sort of check their ego at the door and to be able to begin to understand that really that sort of that you get sort of imagining a vision and sort of getting a group, you know, to jump out of an airplane without a parachute is not really good for the overall health of the organization, and you have to learn how to moderate that.

Susan Stamm: Oh, that’s great. That’s terrific. Let’s, travel around the map a little to the Western side of the map. In fact, the most Western point on the map is the land of resolute, and I understand Emma that this is where you live. Can you tell us a little bit about one of the drivers for leaders that would have this approach and maybe share a personal antidote with us from your experience?

Emma Wilhelm: One of the resolute drivers that really resonates with me is the one we call a drive toward personal mastery. Now this driver causes leaders like me to have extremely high standards, and this applies both to myself and to the people that I work with or lead. There are obvious benefits to this driver. It does things like make me want to run marathons and write books and, you know, conquer the world. But on the flip side, it also can cause people like me to have very little patience for others, especially if we see them as somehow incompetent. And so, it can also cause people like me to focus more on what goes wrong than on what is going well. And back in my first head coaching job after graduate school, I was the head men’s and women’s coach of a cross country team.

I ran into a lot of trouble because of this particular driver and that’s because this driver would often cause me to focus on what people should do should is kind of a keyword for the resolute leader. I figured they should be able to keep all the balls in the air, they should be able to do well in academics and be on time and for practice, they should be able to, you know, do the workouts I ask them to do. And, and I think that my focus on should is because I had always tried so hard to control myself in that way, I was very self-regulated. I was really good at balancing academics and extracurriculars almost to an extreme, I’d say. And so, I just thought everybody was like that. And so, when student-athletes would come to my office, sometimes in tears looking for empathy from me, because they couldn’t keep all the balls in the air, it was very difficult for me to empathize with that because I would be thinking, well, you should have thought about this last week, or you should have, you know, gone to bed last night instead of watching whatever ridiculous show too late and hanging out with your friends. So, I really had to work at realizing that other people do not operate the same way that I do. They don’t have that same drive toward personal mastery, even if, you know, they may want the best for themselves and they may be trying to achieve things. They just go at it a different way. So.

Mark Scullard: Yeah, I’m married to a resident leader and she tells an extremely similar story of her development and you know, of just learning about the other side of the circle, and I mean, our goal is to help people learn that earlier. And, you know, frankly when our conversation, some people never learn that. Those goals, and so to help people organize and put words around those things is really one of the values that disc has always helped people do.

Susan Stamm: Oh, absolutely. That’s a great story, Emma, and I’m glad that you have that as your strength and the role that you’re in, you know, in terms of your default setting and the work that you do I think it’s wonderful to have that attention to quality and need to make perfect. I appreciate it. So, thank you.

Emma Wilhelm: I am trying to be a more supportive person.

Jeffery Sugerman: When we first thought about writing the book the three of us got together and me being the pioneering leader, I actually said, well, we’re all good writers we could knock this thing out in eight weeks.

Susan Stamm: Eight weeks?

Jeffery Sugerman: And I really thought that and Emma was like, looking at me like, you know, what are weeks in your planet?

Susan Stamm: That’s great. Well, let’s move to the exact opposite side from resolute all the way over to the Eastern side of the map, actually Southeastern district is where we will find the inclusive leader, and of course, Mark, you’ve already mentioned that that is where you live on the map. It’s hard for me to imagine a downside to being an inclusive leader just, you know, listening to…

Mark Scullard: I like you, Susan.

Susan Stamm: Can you tell us through what that might look like and share an experience that would Illustrate this for us?

Mark Scullard: You know, I think one of one of the keys, you know, as Jeff and Emma had both mentioned one of the drivers that really influences how they lead. And for me, one of the key influencer’s drivers in terms of my personality in general, and then how that trickle into my leadership is just this strong need for harmony around me. And that’s harmony both in terms of you know, I like to have things stable in terms of the tasks I’m doing, but I also like to have the relationships around me be very harmonious. And if I can achieve that, I’m in good, I’m in good shape. And certainly, you know, having that as a leader, you know, there’s a lot to be said about that. You know, people, people like that, you know, it feels good.

But one of the things that it really, as I could have, I wish I had learned earlier on is that a leader’s job, really a huge part of it is change is that taking people into new terror territory. And if you’re just helping people maintain where they’re at and do that more in a more stable way. Well, you’re really just managing. Leading is finding that new territory and encouraging people and finding those new opportunities. And so that’s one area that has been really difficult for me, I think, to internalize, without having the words around it. One of the things that are helped me is role models, and I talk often about my current boss here in my organization who is just brilliant at doing that and brilliant in finding new opportunities, always pushing the boundaries.

How can we do this better? You know, where else can we take this kind of that entrepreneurial spirit? And as we talk to other people, we realize just how much role models and learning from other people there’s the trial and error of learning, but I would prefer to learn from other people and you get a sense of experiencing how they experience the world and seeing things from their perspective, and you kind of internalize that. And so, one of the things we try to do in the book is to really take those lessons, almost create a catalog of some of those lessons that help you learn from a role model if you don’t necessarily have one in front of you. But I think finding one in your organization who can tell if you do the things, you’re not particularly good at is a really great strategy and one that we encourage.

Susan Stamm: That’s great. And really the lessons that you’re mentioning Mark is really where I wanted to go next. So, thank you.

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How does the 8 Dimensions assessment help leaders?

follow along - 22:15

Emma Wilhelm: Well, aside from the obvious of finding a real-world role model, we basically built part three of the book to serve that purpose for the reader. So, through our research and talking to many, many, many leaders both in qualitative interviews and quantitatively collecting data we boiled down what each of the eight dimensions has to offer into three simple lessons. And each of those three lessons comes with three practical suggestions for how to start adopting more of the behavior of that particular dimension. But first, before you can kind of dive into that, you know, it would be a mistake to think you’re going to learn all eight of the dimensions at once. That would be overwhelming. And what we don’t want is to intimidate people, or as we said, make it seem like they need to become a superhero to be better leaders.

Really, we want them to focus on just one or two things to start with. And that’s where our leadership needs assessment came in. It actually came from something kind of unexpected that we learned through our research. We figured that based on someone’s default setting or the DiSC style, we could kind of predict what they most need to work on right now. But when we were interviewing leaders, one on one, we discovered that those lessons didn’t always resonate with them as what was most important. Maybe they had already addressed them earlier in their career. As Jeff said, he had already worked more on processes because he’s naturally, you know, a DI leader or a pioneering leader. So, that may be not what he needs to focus on, right now, so over and over again, we heard people say that what they need to work on right now had more to do with maybe the culture that they work in or personal goals that they have right now. So, we developed this needs assessment, which readers can take in the book or as part of the online assessment as well, that basically tells them which two of the eight dimensions they should work on right now, and then guides them to those specific two chapters where they’ll learn these three lessons from that leader. And we kind of see those chapters as being written from the perspective of a coach who is, say, I need to learn to be more affirming. I’m learning from the wisdom of an affirming leader when I’m reading that chapter about becoming more affirming. So, that’s kind of how part three works.

Susan Stamm: Yeah, well, that’s a really, really rich tool resource that you’ve provided in the book is this needs assessment that really helps to point you in the right direction, and as you just shared Emma, you know, that direction because we change so rapidly and organizations change rapidly and external factors change rapidly. Those needs are always in motion so it’s really great to have that in there that you can, you know, keep looking and adjusting as needs change.

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Advice for leaders

Susan Stamm: So, it’s time for us to wrap up our time with you, and I’d kind of like to go back to that very first leadership experience in each of your lives, as we wrap up our time together, I’m wondering if you might be able to share with us the advice that you would have given to that younger version of yourself, if you were able to kind of go back in time, knowing what you know about yourself today and have a conversation with yourself years back, what would you say to yourself? And Jeff, I was wondering if we could begin with you, what would be your advice to the younger Jeff?

Jeff Sugerman: I think I would counsel a lot of patience that people and organizations don’t move necessarily at the pace that I move at. I’m more of an outlier than the norm and I had it backward I always thought if people were patient and thought and really trying to do a great job that somehow, they were moving too slow. So, I was easily sorting of the cast about as a bulldozer or something, just sort of, you know, act shoot first think later. And I think that would be the, at that very basic lesson that people’s needs are not the same as mine. And that people’s pace is not the same as mine and that if I could sort of embrace that earlier and understand that those people want to win just as much as I do, it’s just that their styles are different. That would be a good lesson back to me.

Susan Stamm: That’s great. Mark, how about you?

Mark Scullard: Yeah, and there’s probably many, I probably want to have a full-day seminar with myself. You know, a large part of it would really be about, as the leader, you really need to be the driver you need to be initiating. And if you’re not pushing those things and really getting people excited about those things, then your group is not really going to reach their full potential, and so I think even though that certainly sounds a cliche and obvious, I think for people, particularly in my area of the disc circle that’s not an intuitive message and it really, you need to get that message over and over and feel, you know, bounces off your head again and again and again, and I know it did with me and I would’ve liked to have just picked it up and internal a lot quicker.

Susan Stamm: Yeah. I’m afraid. I’m like you probably need the two-by-four or the long session.

Mark Scullard: Yep.

Susan Stamm: Emma, how about you what would be your advice to your younger self?

Emma Wilhelm: Well, as you said, there are many things that I wish I had known, but one that may be a little surprising since I’m a resolute leader, as I would actually tell my younger self to dial up some of the commanding aspects a little bit more specifically showing confidence. I was put in very real leadership positions, very young being a coach, and not that much older than the college students I was leading and maybe also being a woman and coaching men, I really should have worked on showing more confidence early on because it goes a long way to whether people buy into what you’re selling. And I really struggled to find my way, and it’s taken a long time to kind of work on that for me, and I ran into some specific problems with that. So, I think I would definitely encourage leaders who are early on in their careers regardless of their style to, you know, that there is something to that you do need to show confidence and believe that you have some abilities as a leader,

Mark Scullard: You know, just your kind of listening to all of our stories. It really does for me reinforce this message that you know, this mantra that we have is a, you know, leadership is a full-body experience. And again, checking our personalities at the door. Well, that’s simply not possible. We can pretend we’re doing it. But each of the things that we’re describing that would’ve made us better leaders are really core to who we are as people. And so, in the training industry or the development industry, if we ignore those things, we think there’s a lot of potential to improve the type of development we do with people.

Susan Stamm: Absolutely. Absolutely. Good reinforcement for you knows, the mantra of focusing only on your strengths I think you’ve all highlighted things that really could have kick-started your careers, and made you far more effective than you were originally, and you got there, you learned the lessons as you went, but gosh, to have those advantages so much earlier, just think for each of us, how much further we’d be today.

Mark Scullard: Yeah, absolutely.

Susan Stamm: Well, I want to thank you, Emma, Mark, and Jeff again for visiting with us today and sharing this work we’ve really only scratched the surface.

There’s so much more in this book and I’m hoping that people will get a copy of it and read it themselves.

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Learn More

We’ve only touched a small portion of what’s in the book The 8 Dimensions of Leadership

We hope you pick up a copy of the book to learn more about your own leadership style.

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