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Episode 40: Building Organizations On The Basis Of Trust with Jason O. Harris

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By its very definition, trust is “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  But how do you create trust in a turbulent environment where the underlying norms are shifted, and the future is uncertain?  Lt. Colonel Jason O. Harris joins me and shares his experiences doing so across organizations from the United States Air Force to Fortune 500 companies.  Further, he shares his five-step model specially developed for times such as these.

Jason’s Biography

Lt Col Jason O. Harris is a dynamic thought leader, motivational speaker, military leader, and commercial airline pilot.  Jason is an in-demand trust and leadership expert, having done work for the United States Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development, as well as training hundreds of American Airlines pilots on implicit bias, and inclusion and diversity.  He has been featured in publications such as Forbes, national print media outlets, and multiple podcasts, recognizing him as an authority on trust, leadership, and high-performance teams.

As a keynote speaker, Jason has shared his powerful and transformative message of No-Fail Trust with leading Fortune 500 organizations, top universities, the US Air Force, and top tier hospitality industry organizations.

Jason and his network of consultants provide solutions to help organizations create cultures of trust and high-performance teams, leading to more empowered workplaces and significantly enhanced customer experiences as a result of high levels of employee engagement.

Jason’s most prized responsibility is his dedication to being a dedicated father and spouse.

Please welcome, from Aurora, Colorado, Trust expert, Air Force Veteran, and aspiring at-home chef, Lt Col Jason Harris.

You can reach Jason at www.jasonoharris.com

The Full Transcript

James: Welcome to another episode of The Corelink Solution, where we look to empower you with awareness and actionable insights. And today’s topic is trust. By its very definition, trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Think about that. I mean, the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Now, this year has arguably been the most arduous year for many of us, with a way forward that is still very much uncertain. To pave the way forward, we require newly envisioned partnerships, allies, and solutions, all of which will need to be undergirded by trust. Like capital T type trust. 

So, the question is how do you create trust in an environment that is so much different than what we’re used to? So much more virtual, so much more complex, and still pave forward in uncertainty, knowing you need trust. 

Well, joining me for this discussion today is my good friend Jason O Harris. Let me properly introduce Mr. Harris. Lieutenant Colonel Jason O Harris is a dynamic thought leader, motivational speaker, military leader, and commercial airline pilot. Jason is an in-demand trust and leadership expert, having done work for the United States Air Force Academy, Center for Character and Leadership Development, as well as training hundreds of American airline pilots on implicit bias and inclusion and diversity. He’s been featured in publications such as Forbes, national print media outlets, and multiple podcasts recognize him as an authority on trust, leadership, and high-performance teams. As a keynote speaker, Jason has shared his powerful and transformative message of no-fail trust, with leading Fortune 500 organizations, top universities, the US Air Force, and top tier hospitality industry organizations. Jason and his network of consultants provide solutions to help organizations create cultures of trust and high-performance teams, leading to more empowered workplaces and significantly enhanced customer experiences, as a result of high levels of employee engagement. Jason’s most prized responsibility is his dedication to being a dedicated father and spouse. That’s a good way to end your bio, Jason. Let me just say that, by the way. 

Please welcome, from Aurora, Colorado, trust expert, Air Force veteran, and aspiring at-home chef, Lieutenant Colonel Jason Harris. Welcome to The Corelink Solution, sir. 

Jason: Thanks so much, James. It’s an honor to be here, man. I really, really appreciate it. 

James: It’s good to have you, man. It’s good to have you. You know, I often try to shorten up a bio, to make it shorter, but you know what, I’ve also started getting into the practice of reading the long-form if I need to because I want people to know who’s here and get the full breadth of what they bring. So, I think it lends strength to the topic. So they understand, people need to understand the scar tissue you have to understand what you’re speaking to, as you start going into the topic, man. You bring so much to this topic through your background. You’ve got plenty of scar tissue, brother. So, looking forward to this discussion. Looking forward to it. 

So you give a lot away in your bio, so I’m going to ask you a difficult question from the onset. What can you share that people who know you well and think they know everything about you, don’t know? What’s a fun fact you can share that people don’t know? 

Jason: Fun fact. Wow. That’s a tough question you just asked. Wait, people that know you well, but it’s a fun fact that nobody really knows, but people who know me well…

James: Exactly! Nope. No alley-oops here. 

Jason: I know, man. Definitely. I want to come back to the bio thing in a minute, especially as we talk about trust. I love that you capitalize on the definition of trust, and I love that you talk about kind of reading the long form of the bio. But I would say, probably, the one thing that a lot of people just really don’t know about me, unless they literally have spent a lot of time with me is that horses saved my life. Basically, I’m from Oakland, California. Grew up in east Oakland. Got to see a lot of traumatic things growing up. Uncle selling drugs, things like that. My mom enlisted in the army to get us out of Oakland, to get us out of that environment. And interestingly enough, I almost found myself right back into that same environment, completely removed from big city Oakland. Small city, near a military installation. And I found myself in trouble. I got sent to alternative school in the sixth grade. Got sent to alternative school again in the seventh grade. And for those who don’t know what I mean when I say alternative school, that’s the school they send you to when you get kicked out of normal school. 

James: Yes. Alternative.

Jason: And so, the same vice principal, she sent me to that school twice. Not once, but twice, for good measure. There’s a whole other story as to that principal and how she made an impact on my destiny. Literally, the reason a part of me is sitting here today is because of that principal. But what ended up happening was, in the eighth grade, I found myself getting in some more trouble, hanging out with some of the dudes that I actually was in alternative school with, and finding myself going down this path. And I met a gentleman, who effectively became like my godfather, who effectively became a father figure, a mentor. And he introduced me to horses. And it was this thing. I remember when I was growing up in Oakland and my mom was in Korea on her first assignment. She told us we were going to be moving to Fort Hood, Texas. And all I thought was, “Texas, I want some snakeskin boots, and I want to ride a horse.” We moved there when I was in third grade, and it wasn’t until I was in the eighth grade that I finally was able to ride a horse, that I was finally able to realize that dream. And now, when you ask me that question, what is that little thing that most people wouldn’t know about? That’s it, man. Horses saved my life. If it was not for the horses, I would have probably either been in jail or dead, having already been removed from big city Oakland, California and the traumatic situations that I got to experience there. So, that’s that one little rare piece of information about me. 

James: That’s good. That is good. Thank God horses saved your life, because for me, right behind me is a horse… And it’s not the main one. There’s a horse named Barkley, who, I’m not going to say, “saved my life,” but it definitely helped me, I’m gonna say, be more courageous in my life. I’m not going to tell the whole story today. I’ll just say I had a fear of horses from my childhood because of something that happened. I took a ride on this horse named Barkley, which was Charles Barkley’s horse at this ranch out in Arizona during this trip. Here’s a short story. I’ll give you the short story. 

When I was a kid, we were in New York at this park, and the instructor said, “Hey all you guys, just get on the horses. They know what to do, and you just ride along. They know what to do, just ride.” So we get on the horses. At that time, I wore glasses. I got my glasses on, right, so I’m putting my readers. And my horse doesn’t move. So, all I know is what I had seen on TV, right? What do you do?

Jason: You did the whole, “Yaaa!”

James: You kick the horse, right? So I kicked the horse. He took off, Jason. Through Central – I don’t know if it was Central Park or whatever. Took off, right? Well, what do I do then? I grab his neck. Well, why did I do that? My boy, I mean, full stride. So figure, fifteen minutes later, backing this horse into a corner. Fire trucks and everything. By the time they get me off this horse, man, I’m done. I’m done. Fast forward, probably fifteen years later, we’re in Arizona on a business trip and our boss takes us out one day, says he’s taking us, “You’ll do the normal thing, you’re at a new team, you’re going to do some team building.” We’re in the back of a van, we’re all like, “Where we going, where we going?” No one knows, no one knows. Finally, someone says, “We’re going to a ranch, to go horseback riding.” I go… 

Jason: [laughs]

James: Horseback riding? In my head, I’m going, “I’m not going horseback riding.” So now, I go, I just need to – so a part of me’s like, “You should man up. You should just do it.” Then you hear that other voice that goes, “You don’t have to prove anything to these people. You don’t owe these people anything.”

Jason: Nothing!

James: Nothing. Other voice is like, “You should man up.” Other voice, “You owe them nothing.” So, we get there, and it’s called the All Star Ranch, and they hold horses for NBA, NFL players as a part of this charity thing they do. Everyone gets a horse. All these horses come off the truck. Everyone has nice little horses. I get the last horse. His name is Barkley. It’s Charles’ Barkley’s horse. Biggest horse I’ve ever seen in my life. All muscles, just flexing as he comes off the truck. And they say, “Okay, they’re going to get me up on Barkley.” So, we go through this thing, and we’re going down the sides of mountains. All the little horses can like tiptoe down the sides of mountains. Barkley and I just slipping and sliding. By the time we come in, man, I lost probably eight to ten pounds of sweat, okay? I’m just done. But I overcame my fear. So at least I faced the fear. [laughs] 

It’s so funny because then, probably about ten years later, we were shooting this video for a conference at LegalShield, and they wanted to do this intro on horses. They came to tell me about it. Four of us, the most senior leaders of the company, got to shoot this video. They, like, were really cautious about telling me. “We want to shoot this video… And, uh… It’s about some of these horses…” And they’re all waiting for my response. “But we know you’re over the horse thing.” I said, “You know, I’m over it, butI’m not looking forward to continuing to do this on a regular basis, so let’s be clear.”

Jason: Right, I don’t want to continue to try to relive this experience and try to get over this thing over and over again.

James: Over and over again, right? So, yeah, so it’s cool. So, good, man. So talk to me about what made you – because going through your career, when I think about the time you spent in the military, and then all the things you could have done coming out of the military, being a commercial pilot, so on and so forth, what made you lean into this work on trust? 

Jason: You know, it’s interesting, man. I had to sit down and I had to think through that as I got into it, and I think I kind of got into it by accident, but yet at the same time, it wasn’t an accident. It was initially, when I thought, “Oh, I want to do this speaking thing, or I want to get involved in making an impact on people.” I had done some leadership courses, and they do a lot of these assessments. I went to the Center for Creative Leadership here at Colorado, and as the lady was laying out my results and kind of going through what she had discovered and evaluating all of my personality assessments – literally, there were several personality assessments we did to include the 360, which I think is beyond valuable. And she began to explain to me where I sat on the spectrum, in a good way. She began to explain to me how unique I was. And so, I thought, “Okay, fine.” I put that in the back of my head and then fast forward, I’m learning some things, I’m getting involved with some people, and I thought I would just share my story about coming out of Oakland and all of the challenges that I was up against in life and kind of where I ended up at now. But I ended up not really talking about that. I incorporate a little bit of that into my trainings, into my workshops, and my keynote speeches, but I realized that what was extremely valuable to me in my military career was the trust that we built by way of how we operated. And then, I realized that the people that I really cared about, like my mom, who was enlisted in the army and she would tell me different things that happened to her. My grandfather, who served twenty plus years in the army. Korean war veteran, Vietnam veteran, and he chose to become a janitor when he retired from the army. And so, as I looked at these things, as I began to really step back and evaluate, “Why am I here? Why am I doing this stuff on trust? Why am I so involved in it?” I began to realize the essence of taking care of people, like my grandfather the janitor, like my mother, the enlisted soldier, single mom. And then, what I was able to experience as an aircraft commander in combat, an aircraft commander flying around the world in the military, being able to take care of people, and when I came to the realization was that it was all predicated upon trust. The whole essence of leadership, right? Like, there are people who aspire to these great things in leadership. They want to be all of these different things. They have all these aspirations, and the one thing that I see so many people forget about – they forget about the people. And at the end of the day, every organizational problem, it’s a people problem. And a people problem is a communication problem, and a communication problem also is built into this idea of a trust challenge. Right? We can’t get people to do what we need them to do or do what they should do and we can’t get an organization to work in a cohesive manner, if we do not create and cultivate an organization and a culture that is built on trust. So that is literally what drove me down this pathway of trust. I thought about some of my most challenging times in combat, and when I thought about what I experienced in combat – the people is why I’m here. The people is why I was able to come back safely, but we could not work as a crew in combat, we could not succeed and we could not come back safely, if we collectively did not have trust within that aircraft, within that crew, within that squad, or within that organization, to know that, “You know what? Your political affiliations don’t matter, where you’re from doesn’t matter. Your religious beliefs – nothing matters, other than, can we trust each other to save our lives? Can we trust each other that when the shit hits the fan, we’re going to be there and we’re going to take care of each other?” 

James: That’s good. And you know, it’s such an interesting topic, right? Because trust – I think about trust and I think about intent as an example. Those two things being so… What’s the word I’m looking for? Them having a tangential relationship, right? Like intent is almost the revealing of – so I trusted you and your intent, and then I see it play out.

Jason: Absolutely.

James: And so, I remember being in a workshop once – I forget – it was a print workshop, where you – print is another form of like DiSC or something like that, and you get your numbers and whatnot. I was one of the only folks with this number. I remember going through it. And the facilitator went through all the different numbers. And he talked about my number, and he said, “One of the challenges with your number is you focus a lot on intent.”

Jason: Interesting. 

James: “You need to figure out how to reduce that focus on intent.” And I thought it was really interesting. So, I’m sitting there thinking through it and I said, “You know, I have to process that. I have to marinate on that, really think about it.” And as I thought about it, and even as I think about it now, here is my takeaway. I think intent is really important because grace is easily given if I understand your intent and you still mess up. 

Jason: Yes. Very much so. 

James: Right? We are imperfect people. And we’re going to make mistakes, things are going to happen. 

But when I understand your intent and I can see it, and it shows up in other ways, then when those things happen, it’s so much easier to give grace, it’s so much easier to go in with each other and back each other up and so on and so forth. I just see those things having such a tangential – I don’t know if that’s the right word to use here, but those things are so tied together for me. Does that make sense?

Jason: It absolutely makes sense. I was sitting down, I was doing some more studying on trust. I start thinking about some of the basic elements of what it really means to have trust, right? So let’s just go at a really basic level. When you walk into an organization and you apply for a job, they give you the job, or you’re their hiring authority and you hire someone. There is a basic level of trust, right? The idea that trust is about reliability, right? It’s about, “I rely on you for something and you, in turn, rely on me for something.” So, as the employer, my expectation of what I trust you to do and what I’m relying on you to do is to do your job as the employee, as the team member, right? That’s the intent. And then, in turn, as the team member, as the employee, my expectation of you as the employer is to provide me the right tools. But more importantly, in the very simplistic nature of what we’re talking about and the very simplistic idea of intent, is, as the employee, I expect you to pay me on time. Right?

James: Absolutely.

Jason: And that’s the intent that we go with. Now, if for some reason you say, “Look, James. I’m so sorry, man. We are having a challenging time meeting payroll, but I got you.” You’re going to go, “I understand. I know where your heart is at, I know what your intent is based on the basic levels of trust that we’ve established, this basic contract that we’ve established with each other.” Right? That employee, if you come through and you say, “Look, you were supposed to sweep this area, or you were supposed to do xyz.” Say, “Look, boss. I got it. I ran into some challenges, or I had a time crunch, or I had to deal with an emergency with my child, whatever the case may be, right?” You’re going to say, “No worries. Take care of it when you get the chance, because I know what your intent is, and I trust that you’re going to be able to execute and do what you said you’re going to be able to do.” That’s it. So, you’re absolutely right, man. This intent of intent, it is very much tied to trust. And the idea of what you said that we are imperfect people. The very essence of trust is, “I’m willing to give you that bit of grace because I trust that you’re going to do what you said you were going to do. And we have gotten to know each other at a level that we have a level of expectation, as well as understanding and appreciation of what we will and what we’re capable of doing.” And that intent is so powerful. But if you show me that you have ill intent by any stretch, then now, what happens? I am now going to bring my level of trust, if not all of it, down.

James: Yes, yes. Big time. Well said, well said. Because you know, that is the reality. When the malintent shows up, you can’t help but reduce that level of trust, right? I think there’s a phrase – I didn’t make it up, someone else said it. Trust is built sometimes with deposits over time, but one big withdrawal can wipe it out easily. 

Jason: Man, you know, I think about something that one of my stepdads said when I was, as a matter of fact, when I had got sent to alternative school. And you’ll appreciate the timing. It was right after Desert Storm. He had come back from Desert Storm. He and my mom had got married right before Desert Storm happened or whatever. He got shipped out. He kind of gave me some wisdom before he left or really some corrections. “Look, stay out of trouble.” That’s pretty much what he said. But then, when he came back, I had gotten sent back to alternative school. And the one thing he said to me was exactly what you said, but in a different way. He said, “You could have a hundred ‘atta-boys’, and you have one all-crap moment, and it ruins those one hundred ‘atta-boys.’” And so now, that bank of trust deposits, you’ve got to build that back up, right? And now, because of that, that becomes a challenge. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, whether it’s our relationships, whether it’s with our children, whether it’s with people in the workplace, sometimes that feels so insurmountable, right? You look at people in relationships, whether it’s in the workplace or in their relationships with their significant other, a lot of times they have that one “oh crap” moment, and it basically just gets rid of those one hundred positive trust deposits. And some people just make a quick determination and go, “You know what, I’m not going to put in the work. I don’t feel like it’s worth it, or I’m not willing to build that bank back up,” right? And unfortunately, that’s tragic. But the reality is that you can overcome those challenges. You can overcome those times of that massive withdrawal, but it takes patience. It takes intent. It takes a desire and a willingness to want to build back up that level of trust, so that you can continue to move forward within that relationship, whether it’s at work, whether it’s at home, whatever the case may be. 

James: And so, one of the things that I appreciate in your work, having watched you now for over a year – just for folks listening, Jason and I are in a mastermind group together and have been for at least eighteen months plus now. So I know this is what he does, I’ve watched him do it. And so, I know he’s dedicated to his work. When you think about what’s happening right now, and you kind of juxtapose that against the different groups that you’ve helped, between the US Air Force and different Fortune 500 companies, so on and so forth, one of the things I know is you have a model that you deploy, this no-fail trust model and the five key within it. How do you think about the applicability of that model right now, and those five keys?

Jason: Man, you know, it’s powerful, right? First and foremost, within my no fail trust model, I talk about three primary things. That’s being able to trust your training, being able to trust the process, and being able to trust the people. Unfortunately, right now, based on what we have going on, James, there’s a lot of training and processes that have had to go out the window because we’re operating under a completely new construct at this point in time, right? People have had to make changes and become innovative based on what the new environment has provided. The third thing in that baseline of no-fail trust is being able to trust the people. Your people, you can still trust your people. You might have to figure out some new processes, you might have to then also train them on those processes, but the people element is still there. 

And then, the other side of that is the cargo model that we came up with. Interestingly enough, I came up with that with my spouse. She helped me to really craft this idea of the cargo model. The idea is that creativity, being able to give your people the space to be creative. But not just giving that to your people, giving it to yourself. A lot of us right now, we are so mentally taxed. We are so mentally traumatized, that we have forgotten how to be creative. We haven’t given ourselves space to be creative, we haven’t given ourselves the grace – I’m guilty of that. There’s been days – I’ve talked to you a little bit about this, James, where I’ve felt like, today is just – I’m just happy that I woke up. You know what I’m saying? So that piece there, man, it’s significant. And that’s where we’re in, right? 

So that cargo model – you’ve got creativity, you’ve got access to resources, you’ve got responsibilities, you got goals, being able to share those goals, being able to have your teammates share those goals with you, and then you have opportunities. Opportunities for success, opportunities for small wins. And so, right now, in this space, we have to figure out how do we do those different elements and how do those apply in this new environment? I think many of us, we realize that we probably and most likely will not go back to where we were pre-March 2020. That’s the reality, right? And so, we’ve had to adapt new models within our organizations. We’ve had to figure out how to manage the people that we have. We’ve had to figure out how do we move forward and be innovative and come up with new processes. Figure out, how do we do training? And oh, by the way, we’ve got to figure out how to do this with limited resources, because we don’t have the endless resources that we once had. Well, at the end of the day, you still have people in your organizations and you still have to create and cultivate trust. You’ve got to enable them to be creative. You’ve got to figure out how to give them access to tools and resources. Some of those tools and resources are already there and available, we just haven’t – again, going back to that first one – we haven’t given ourselves the space to be creative, to think about what those tools and resources are, or to be creative with how to find them and how to have them in a less expensive manner, right? Responsibilities, this whole idea of responsibility – that is knowing what is my responsibility as a leader, and then being willing, being able to actually relinquish some responsibilities. 

I was having a conversation with my wife last night, and she was telling me one of the challenges that she’s dealing with in her work environment right now. And effectively, it was – what we boiled it down to was the challenge that she’s experiencing is because there’s someone who doesn’t want to necessarily fully relinquish that responsibility to another person. Right? I’ve heard a lot of commanders in the Air Force and what they say, James, is this, when they take over a squadron or a group or a wing, they say, “Look, as a commander, my job is to be the number one and to lead you. Your job is to do what you’re entrusted to do, what you’re responsible to do. But what I want you guys to remember is this: bring me only the problems that you cannot solve. Bring me only the things that only I can handle.” So if it’s a paperwork drill or some other task that I, as a member of that organization can do, then that person effectively has empowered me and trusted me to go and do that. Don’t bring them these small tasks that I can’t be responsible for. But that’s hard. That’s far easier said than done. How many times have you seen an organization where somebody says that, and then all of a sudden you find that they come down and go, “No, I need to take that because I need to make certain it’s done right.” Or that mindset, that mantra that we’ve heard before, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

James: Yup, yup. So, let me ask you this, so I get your point. So much has happened. Very difficult to imagine, like you think about your three-point model of the traininge, the training is very difficult to execute today, given the change in the air. The processes are in flux at best, in most places. And the last part of your model, the people. So, your point is to rely on the people and deploy this cargo model. Am I hearing you correctly?

Jason: Absolutely, absolutely. 

James: And then, when you say creativity, is creativity the idea of truly unleashing every aspect of the talent? Is that your point around creativity? 

Jason: Absolutely. So like, our people, they have the answers, right? And when you hire somebody, you hire them for a particular purpose. But beyond the particular job title, the job description, oftentimes what we fail to do, is we fail to sit down with that person, get to know them, get to know what their intent is, and then we fail to take the time to acknowledge what other skill sets they bring to bare, that they bring to the fight. Do you see what I mean? And so, because of that, we never truly get to experience their creativity. That doesn’t mean that every idea that they bring – sometimes a good idea rarely runs rabid through an organization, we never get anything done. But what it means is we have people that are so sharp, so amazing, so talented, so skilled, hence why you hired them to begin with, but they have skills, talents, and abilities that go above and beyond that basic job description. And if we take time to allow them to utilize that creativity,  they’re going to solve a lot of our problems. They’re going to figure out how to actually execute that training simpler, cheaper, faster, more expeditiously. And they’re also going to be the ones who are going to help to create those processes that we need to be able to excel in our organizations. 

James: Absolutely. So I’m hearing – I’m sorry, go ahead. 

Jason: Yeah. If we never unleash their creativity, then we’ve missed an opportunity to truly allow our people to be their best selves in the workplace. 

James: Yeah. Yeah. So, I’m hearing, remove some rigidity, blur the lines, allow folks to go beyond their job description. Yeah, love it. When you say access to resources is this about – because I want to go through each element of this cargo model. I think this is really helpful for people. Access to resources, is this about tools, predominantly? 

Jason: It’s tools, right? It’s different types of resources. Sometimes it might be tools that are like hard tools, wrenches, whatever. Other times it’s tools such as access to databases. 

James: That’s what I mean, yeah.

Jason: It might be – yeah. You know what I’m saying? It’s a broad term that encompasses a lot. So it is both tools and resources that we need to be able to provide for our people. And sometimes, they’ll actually tell us what they need. Because a lot of times, what we find when we do the research – Gallup did some research and what they found is that a lot of employees, they felt like they did not have the appropriate tools and the appropriate resources to do their job. And so then, when you step back, you go, “Wait a minute.” You do some more research and find that a lot of times, those tools, those resources were not very expensive, if there was even any cost at all, and then beyond that, we found that some organizations, they already had the tools and resources, their people just weren’t told where they were at. 

James: Got it. Got it. And then, okay, so let’s talk through responsibility. How do you frame that one up? 

Jason: Yeah. Again, responsibility. For me, as the leader, I need to know clearly what my responsibility is and what my role is. I need to know what I should be responsible for. Sometimes, this takes a deep dive. Because again, if you look at many organizations, we hire up. So, we have someone who’s been in the organization and they keep going up and up, and then, in their minds, they hold on to that responsibility from where they were at when they entered the organization. Or they hold onto something because it’s their baby, right? It’s challenging for us to say we created this thing, we created this project or this resource, whatever that may be, and then to say, “I’m now going to promote it, I’m going to give my baby, my creation, to someone else to be responsible.” And so, there’s an element there. And then the other piece of that, as a leader, [inaudible 32:18] our responsibility, [inaudible 32:19] our role, and then, for our people. And in order for us to trust them, as well as for them, our people, to feel like they’re trusted, we need to make sure they know what their role and their responsibility is. Right? Oftentimes, what we find when we do the research, what we find even anecdotally, is that people will live up to the standard that you set for them. And when you give people a set of responsibilities, they’ll come to that set of responsibilities and they’ll execute it. But if we don’t spend the time to actually have the conversation with them, if we don’t spend the time to explain to them what their role and their actual responsibility is, then it’s going to be more challenging for them to actually be responsible for that task at hand, but yet we’re holding them responsible for it. You know what I mean? And so, there’s a  responsibility element that’s on the side of the leader, and there’s a responsibility element that’s on the side of the people that we, as the leaders, have to ensure that we give to them, that we give to them with clarity, with a level of expectations and a level of trust that creates empowerment as well as intent that allows them to show up and be their best fullest self possible. 

James: Yeah. And by virtue of the fact that you’ve incorporated this into your model, has your experience been that in working with many of these companies responsibilities have not been clear up and down the food chain, so to speak?

Jason: Absolutely. You know, I worked with a client, they’re a high end luxury hotel brand. Not even a brand, they’re just one particular hotel that’s very highly rated. And we had their sales team and their conference staff team.  Basically, the sales team, they make the sale. And then, when you bring in the conference team after the sale is made – and sometimes, it’s as far as five to ten years in advance. The sale is made, then the conference team takes over and they do everything else from getting them to the venue, to on site, all the things that are required.  And as we were having the discussion in this workshop, what we realized was that the teams weren’t talking to each other. And they did not fully respect or fully understand what each team’s responsibility was. They didn’t fully understand how to ensure that they handed over that level of responsibility for that client. And so, now there were some gaps that would happen. And now, you have the potential that you bring down the level of that customer experience, because internally, they had not discussed whose responsibility it was.  

James: Got it. Okay. Were they shocked, as you start to uncover these things and report back to the hosting party that brought you in? And you kind of reveal these gaps in terms of understanding responsibilities, etcetera. Are folks usually shocked? 

Jason: Yeah, it was eye-opening for them. And again, in this organization – it was really neat, right? This particular hotel, they’re kind of like one of the terminal brands that you go to. Like, you work your way up, and then when you get there, you pretty much are like, “Look, I’ve made it.” And so, the turnover rate was fairly low because of that. And so, what we began to uncover was we had people that had been there for twenty plus years. And then, people were starting to retire, so we had some new people there. And we found that there was a significant gap between those who had been there for a while and those who were relatively new. And it wasn’t something that was done intentionally, it just happened. And so, we began to uncover that we needed to learn how to create the right training so that everybody was on the same sheet of music. We began to uncover that the processes had not been updated, because people just assumed, “Well, you should know that.” We began to find these various gaps and we began to find opportunities for those two teams to actually communicate better, so that they could understand what each team’s role and responsibility is. And each of those team leaders, those directors, they could understand how to better communicate with each other to ensure that those teams knew what their responsibilities were, and how to have a better employee experience, because that translates to your customer experience. So, it was beyond powerful to really unpack what they all were feeling to include some level of maybe misplaced trust or a lack of empowerment because they felt like they didn’t have the information that they needed to be successful. 

James: Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. And then the G in cargo for goals, I’m sure folks get that, self-explanatory. And then O for opportunities. In this particular model, what does “opportunities” mean in this model? 

Jason: So, real quick. I want to go back to that goal speech. 

James: Alright. Sure. 

Jason: Sometimes people miss this, James. When we say goals, we think it’s all simple. Make some goals for yourself, make the simple goals or smart goals or whatever, but it’s more than that. As a leader, where I come into an organization, or I already exist in an organization, I need to be able to share what my goals are for the team. Right? Again, and that ties back into that piece of responsibility, because if I share with you, James, as a team member what the goals are – like in our mastermind. We share what our goals are, so now we know what we are responsible to help each other with. Right? 

James: Right. And accountability. 

Jason: What’s that?

James: And the accountability factor. 

Jason: Absolutely, man! So like, you’ve got to be willing to share those goals. And then, find out from your people. People want to tell you what they’re looking for. They want to tell you what they need, they want to tell you what they want, but if you never sit down and say, “Hey, James. Welcome to the organization. Welcome to the team. What are your goals here?” “Oh okay, what are your goals within the organization? And maybe if you’re willing to share, what are some of your goals personally, long term?” So now, this is something that people at times, have a hard time with. When you sit down and you talk to that person, they might say, “You know what, James? I’m here to take this job for a year, eighteen months, and then I want to move on to something bigger and better.” Some people they take that and they’re like, “Wait a minute.” Versus if you say, “You know what? Cool. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to push you as hard as I can, if that’s what you want, and I’m going to do what I can in my power to help influence getting you to the next level. Because I have a network that I can expose you to and if you do these things that I’m expecting of you, that I’ve levered the responsibility on you for,  then when we get to twelve, eighteen months, and you’re ready to move on, hopefully I will have done my job, as a leader, to help get you to where you want to be at, and help you accomplish your goals, right?” The power in that. Now that person’s going to be like, at the end of the eighteen months, they’re going to be one of the best people you’ve got on your team. Right? And then, of course, now they can also help to bring that next person so you know what you’re looking for. But if we just say, “Nah, I’m not going to share my goals and I don’t want to know what your goals are. The only thing I care about is do your job and I’ll do my job.” Then again, now we missed an opportunity to communicate, and we missed an opportunity to build trust and rapport with our people for them to bring their best selves to the job. 

James: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. Cap it off with opportunities. What does “opportunities” mean in this model?

Jason: Yeah, the opportunities, right? Opportunities for success. Opportunities to showcase that they’re living up to that standard. Opportunities to showcase that they are just crushing it, right? And sometimes, those are small things. And this is from personal and the professional side. Like I said earlier, I alluded to it, some days my opportunities to succeed is just getting out of bed right now in this current environment. For people with jobs, sometimes it’s, “Hey, you know what? You showed up. You handled business, you did what you had to do. Great.” And sometimes it’s actually giving them the opportunity to just have these small wins. And then other times, showcasing the opportunities to win big and actually discussing where they won in the small ways and where they won in the large ways, right? But if we don’t create these opportunities to succeed, if we don’t show them where they’re winning at, if we don’t show them where they’re getting those one hundred atta-boys at, right, they’re going to feel like they are never winning. They are going to feel like that they are just here, going through the motions, on this treadmill of life, this perpetual treadmill. But when you show people that they’re winning, when you show people that they’re succeeding, and you’re providing opportunities for small wins along the way that lead to the bigger wins, people get excited. They take pride in winning. They take pride in ownership, and it changes who they are, right? They start smiling, knowing that, “You know what, this week, this is how we won.”

James: Absolutely, absolutely.

Jason: Cool. You know what I’m saying? And so, each organization has to decide what those opportunities are and what those opportunities look like. People need to feel that they are winning. People need to feel that they are succeeding. And if they don’t, then they’re going to begin to feel like they really aren’t contributing to an organization, that they are just showing up each and every day, going through the same motions, over and over and over. 

James: Yeah. No, that’s good. I call those the “ring the bell” moments. You need those moments, man, where – I’ve been in environments where you have the board up with the digital display, and every time a person, whatever it is, saves some steps or makes additional sale, you can put it up so people can see it and get excited. You need those “ring the bell” moments, man, to keep people motivated and excited, from moment to moment. So, that’s good. 

So, let me try to recap and anything I go off on, you correct me. But what I heard from you, man, was one, you had your no-fail trust model with three components of being able to trust the training, the process and the people, but in this moment, you were able to pivot, understanding that the training sort of went out the door, given all the complexity and things and uncertainty in the environment. The process to a certain extent as well, but as always, the people is our most precious commodity. Our most precious source of any company, and leaders who still don’t get that, feel free to come to me for remedial training. I can help with that. [laughs] And out of that is the cargo model, which really then undergirds everything about people, the creativity, unleashing all your resources, unleashing the people to their fullest capacity. Blurring the lines, going beyond the job description, and saying to people, “Wow, you know, you’ve been around this company a while, you’ve seen all these different things, I’m actually empower you to go do those things beyond that job description. You don’t have to turn a blind eye to it anymore. I’m going to let you go do some things.” Two, access to resources. Literally, give people what they need to succeed in those different things, whether it’s physical tools, whether it’s virtual tools, electronic tools, etcetera, give them what they need to succeed. The responsibilities – being clear about the responsibilities, and not taking for granted that people know, just because it’s been written on paper or it’s been posted somewhere at some point. At some point, at some time, it was on some document that Jane saw, make sure people truly understand what they’re responsible for, how to get it done and the connection – I think I heard from you – between people’s different responsibilities, so people understand how it works person to person. And then the goals – and I love this part too. The leader sharing his or her goals first. I think we should just pause there for a second. Let’s just take a power pause. 

The leader sharing his or her goals first. Yeah. Hmm. Some group accountability, and what’s going to happen from the leader’s perspective. What they’re going to be accountable for, responsible for, and a shared sense of accountability. Not to be thrusted upon or thumped upon, but to get some jet propulsion behind them from the team. Right? So, is there some vulnerability there? Abso-freaking-lutely. But is there some power that comes with that? Abso-freaking-lutely. And then last but not least, the opportunities – and I love Jason’s, how you say this, man – the opportunity to give people the chance to get uplifted. To give people the chance to get that atta-boy. To give people the chance to get those clapping moments, or what I would call the “ring the bell” moments, to get reinvigorated and excited about what they’re doing and float from moment to moment. So, love this cargo model. Thank you, man, for sharing this. 

Jason: Thank you for the opportunity to share it. Obviously, I’m passionate about it and I’m passionate about people, man. You know, for me, literally, in and out of combat, all of my experiences over time, it’s been the people around me. It’s been the people I’ve had the fortune to work with that has allowed me to continue to do what I do. And if I can do something or share something that allows someone else to create that connection and take care of the people, then I feel like I have served my purpose in this world, by doing that. So, this is just one of those ways that I’m able to share that and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share that, James.

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