Discover Your Leadership

Mike MaffucciSeason 4Episode 4


Mike Maffucci is a senior leadership and talent management consultant. He talks about being an effective leader and creating a culture of feedback.


Mike Maffucci

Mike Maffucci

Senior Leadership and Talent Management Consultant

Mike Maffucci is a senior leadership and talent management consultant. He works with Accelerance, which is a consultancy that includes services for leadership development and executive coaching.

Mike is a member of the Forbes Coaching Council. He works with Fortune 500 clients, mid-sized companies, and leading organizations such as the World Economic Forum. Several of the leadership programs he has designed and delivered are featured in leading publications such as Sloan Management Review, and as case studies by prominent organizations, including the Corporate Leadership Council and EFMD.

Mike serves on the boards of various charitable and educational organizations in the New York and Atlanta areas.


Troy Blaser (00:04):
Hello. Welcome to another episode of Simply Feedback, the podcast hosted by LearningBridge. I am your host, Troy Blaser. It's great to have you with us today. Our guest today is Mike Maffucci. I'm excited to have Mike on. We have worked together for a very long time. Let me just give you a quick little intro. So, Mike Maffucci is a senior leadership and talent management consultant. He works with Accelerance, which is a consultancy that includes services for leadership development and executive coaching. Mike is a member of the Forbes Coaching Council and works with Fortune 500 clients, mid-sized companies, and leading organizations such as the World Economic Forum. Several of the leadership programs he has designed and delivered are featured in leading publications such as Sloan Management Review, and as case studies by prominent organizations, including the Corporate Leadership Council and EFMD. Mike serves on the boards of various charitable and educational organizations in the New York and Atlanta areas. Mike Maffucci, welcome to Simply Feedback. It's so great to have you with us today.
Mike Maffucci (01:12):
Hey, Troy. It's really great to be here and I'm really delighted to be asked, so thanks. I'm looking forward to our conversation today.
Troy Blaser (01:20):
Me too, me too. Well, maybe just to, you know, I gave a little bio, I guess, but to help us all get to know you just a little bit better maybe can we start, if you could share with us a time that somebody gave you feedback in your life that maybe had a significant impact on you or marked a turning point for you? Do you have a story you could share with us?
Mike Maffucci (01:40):
I do, but it's probably really different to what most of your guests talk about because it happened when I was maybe 6, 7, 8 years old. I can't really remember. But I think it's a good story because it gets to the heart of how feedback can be really, really powerful. So, when I was young, just beginning out in organized sports, I was in little league and I had been struggling with my batting. Right. And, as a little kid, you're just watching, you know, the ball players play and, you know, I had my stance and it looked like what I was seeing on television. I got traded, you know, which is kind of weird as a little kid from one team to an expansion team in this league in the little town that I was living in.
Mike Maffucci (02:32):
And, I got a new coach and the new coach came up to me after one of the practices and saw that I was struggling. And he said, you know, Mike, you are really amazing when you make contact with the ball. And I know that it really is frustrating for you when you, when you don't, would you like me to help you bat better? And he did because it was, it was a technical piece of feedback. It was the way I was holding the bat and the way I was standing in the box. I was swinging late and he saw it really easily. And he came and he talked to me. But the way he did it, the approach he made was around making it really positive. Not, Hey Mike, you're doing something wrong. But hey Mike, wouldn't you like to be making contact more often?
Mike Maffucci (03:24):
I think that's really important, the difference between like technical feedback and the behavioral piece. So he was locked in on both things. He knew what needed to be done and he knew how to motivate a 6, 7, 8 year-old kid to take the time to do something differently, which physically for a little kid is not so easy. And it made a huge difference in my life because I was getting so frustrated I was probably going to leave organized baseball. And that intervention, I played baseball all the way, organized baseball all the way through high school. Right. And, the funny piece of that is I got to play the team that traded me away, later that season and I hit a grand slam, which is not a big deal for a little kid. But was, it was a big deal for me, cause it was against my old team and the coach called out to my father and says like, how come he didn't hit that way for me? So for me, I mean, what is that, a million years ago? But I still remember that. And it, like I said, it made a huge difference in how I did something that I wanted to love, but was not really doing well in. And I will be forever grateful to that coach.
Troy Blaser (04:40):
That's fantastic. I really liked, you know, you mentioned that as he approached you and started the conversation with you, he said, he started with a compliment. He says, you know, when you connect with the ball, when you make contact, you're fantastic. Would you like to do that more? Kind of, you know. And I liked that for a couple of reasons. One is that it sort of softened you up a little bit because you received a compliment. But number two, you may have been thinking of it as, I'm not a very good batter, I'm not very good at batting. It allowed you to sort of separate things a little bit and say, well, when I do connect, when I make contact, I'm great. I can hit grand slams. Right. But there's a maybe a more specific thing that I can work on about the contact that he was able to help with. So I think that's a really cool story.
Mike Maffucci (05:27):
Yeah. And that's the thing. He knew how to make it non-threatening. Because I had had coaches before who tried to work on my batting and they would tell me everything I did wrong. Right. That's so demotivating to any human being. But to a small kid, it's just, it's really crippling. And so if it doesn't work, and again, your motor coordination isn't really that of an adult. So making the adjustment is hard.
Troy Blaser (05:59):
He sort of found, you know, a strength, which was, when you make contact, you're fantastic. And he allowed you to do that more.
Mike Maffucci (06:08):
Right. It only took about two weeks for him to fix my stance and, so it went really, really fast because it wasn't a big deal. I was just swinging late. Because the way I was was standing there
Troy Blaser (06:21):
Just in time for you to go off and play your old team right. And get a grand slam.
Mike Maffucci (06:26):
Later that season. Yeah. That was just, again, you can tell I got an emotional jump from it because I remember it all these years later.
Troy Blaser (06:34):
That's, that's really cool. And honestly, that's a great thing to think about for all the youth sports that happen all over the world. Right. I mean, really can be a teaching opportunity or a way to impact young kids all over the place. So I wanted to maybe get into, some of the principles that you talk about when, in the work that you do, I know that, you know, you kind of can work from four primary principles around leadership and relationships. Is it all right if I just maybe go through those four and then, you can talk to us about them?
Mike Maffucci (07:09):
Troy Blaser (07:09):
Okay. So, like I said, four principles. The first is leadership is a relationship between leaders and their followers. Number two, trust is the foundation of the most productive relationships. Number three, leaders provide purpose and meaning, so followers can move forward towards meaningful goals. Number four, business success requires leaders to acquire and efficiently utilize the resources needed. So the resources being capital or human resources or operational resources, to utilize those resources to drive positive business change and performance. Is that an accurate summary?
Mike Maffucci (07:47):
That is accurate. Yeah.
Troy Blaser (07:50):
So how do you use those principles in the work that you do?
Mike Maffucci (07:53):
Well, I think to start with, when you look at them, for me, they're all about what it takes to energize people and also what is the leader's role per se, right? So we get confused a lot. And so if you've ever been in a classroom and asked people for a definition of leadership, you have 20 people, you're going to get 20 different answers. And the reason is we are bombarded with imagery and expectations. We've seen leadership role modeled by our parents, by our teachers, by our coaches in little league. All these different places. And so we have a whole bunch of assumptions about what leadership is. And these principles help me help the individuals I'm working with better understand their role, better understand where the sources of energy come from to motivate individuals to take action, to do things differently.
Mike Maffucci (08:57):
Whether it's technical, behavioral, whatever. Right. And also to utilize the resources that they are given to create something new and better or improve their organizations. So that's what those four principles are all about. And you know, the first one about leadership being a relationship, relational energy is incredibly important to human beings, right? We kind of forget that sometimes, but when you go back to 50,000 years ago, we're living in small social groups and being a member of the, you know, the quality of those relationships were really important to your survival. And, you know, leaders create those relationships between themselves and their followers, but they also create those, if they're doing it well, creating those relationships between their followers, right. And giving them something to latch onto as a collective, a purpose or meaning. And helping each individual get there on their own. And that's what those four principles mean to me.
Troy Blaser (10:06):
I love that.
Mike Maffucci (10:07):
That's why I used them.
Troy Blaser (10:09):
I was even just that first one, leadership is a relationship between leaders and their followers. I really liked that because I think sometimes we think of leadership and we think of leaders and all the focuses on that one individual or that group of individuals who are the leaders, but they can't be leaders without followers. There is, you know, a leader all by him or herself is not really a leader because there are no followers. And so it's important to keep that in mind that it's more than just about the single individual at the top.
Mike Maffucci (10:42):
Absolutely. And we forget about that. We spent a lot of time talking about vision and getting people on board, but it really is a relationship. I mean, that's what it's all about, you know, getting people to follow you, right. Because they want to do it. And, you know, understanding what motivates people to make that choice is really, really important If you're going to be a successful leader, right? You want people to come with their full self and full energy to whatever you're asking them to do, and getting them to do work that's meaningful to them in a way that's brings personal and professional fulfillment is really, really important I think.
Troy Blaser (11:26):
Yeah. So as you work across different organizations and you bring these four principles into the work that you're doing, do you find ways to incorporate feedback into that work as well?
Mike Maffucci (11:39):
Well, you know, but the audience doesn't know. My background's in physics and engineering, so I'm always going back to first principles. So what is feedback? Right? I think that's a really important thing. Because it comes with so many assumptions and perceptions about what it is. All feedback is is a way of learning from the past. That's all it's really meant to do. And so it's like what, Jalen Hurts said after the Super Bowl loss, right. I either win or I learn. Right? And I think that's a great way of thinking about it. So yes, feedback is always there should always be there, but it's almost a third rail in human relationships. If you even think about it at home right. With your significant other or whatever. Sometimes that critical feedback doesn't go over as well as you might like. So feedback is just one part of something we really want, which are more honest, open, meaningful, what I call leadership conversations in this world. That's really what we want. And feedback is one element of that, so.
Troy Blaser (13:00):
I like that. It makes me think back to the story that you shared with us about your coach in Little League. And the way that you told that story was that your coach, he talked about, hey, when you make contact, you're really great. And then he asked you, would you like some tips or would you like some help with that? And it changed it, you know, he was asking if you wanted the help and then you were ready for that. You're like, sure, that would be great. As opposed to just coming in and telling you all the things you're doing wrong. And it's like, well, do I even want to be hearing this in the first place? Right. I'm not, not ready to hear that feedback.
Mike Maffucci (13:34):
Yeah. He allowed it to be my choice.
Troy Blaser (13:36):
Yes, exactly. You were essentially had the opportunity to ask for that help and, and so you were ready to receive that feedback.
Mike Maffucci (13:43):
Right. And which is really empowering, right? And we kind of forget that sometimes when we go about our, Hey, I've got A, B, C, and D to do and I need you to do that. Right.
Troy Blaser (13:55):
Yeah. So I know I mentioned at the beginning, we've had the opportunity to work with you on a number of different projects over the years where, you know, Accelerance is consulting with an organization, and wants to maybe offer a custom 360 degree survey, a multi-rater feedback tool. Now of course, you know, we recognize that 360 feedback is not the right tool in every situation. I wonder if you could talk just a little bit about when you find that, or when it is that you would recommend 360 feedback be used for a client and maybe what are some of the factors that you weigh as you decide whether to recommend that or not?
Mike Maffucci (14:31):
Well, I think it comes down to the goal of the client, what they're looking for from an intervention. And if that is around increasing what I call leadership effectiveness, leadership efficiency, if you will, leadership productivity, if it's any of those things moving away from technical pieces like strategy or, you know, operational excellence type issues, but really about the behavioral pieces, then I think feedback makes a big difference because, and we would recommend it for the obvious reasons that everyone in the audience knows is that, you know, it's helping someone gain a better understanding of themselves and their impact on others. We like to combine it with other tools, because 360 feedback is really, really helpful and can be extremely powerful, but it's also extremely threatening to a lot of users, right? So, for example, we would never launch a program and say, the first thing you have to do before we even meet you is do a 360.
Mike Maffucci (15:41):
We think that's way too early in the process. We are always bringing the groups together first. Explaining what 360 is and what it isn't. Even talking through some of the neurological components of what the rater experience is like so that people understand what they're getting and what they're not getting. And we also try to reframe it in a way that, makes it more positive. So going back, we try to do some kind of self-assessment upfront, some kind of, psychometric, just so people begin to learn. And each one of these pieces becomes a puzzle piece, and it allows us to ask participants. So if that is your preference as a, behaviorally, what do you think that looks like from the other person's perspective, how is that going to be reflected back at you? And we talk about things that way even before we get to a 360 conversation. So getting them to think about how behavioral preferences or ways of being impact them is really helpful. So we try to combine several different views, several different puzzle pieces, until people gain a much deeper understanding of themselves, a lot of their assumptions and their impact on others.
Troy Blaser (17:05):
Yeah. I think it makes it sound like, well, like you mentioned it can be a very anxious moment to think, oh, I'm going to go ask all these people that I work with to give me feedback. And so it sounds like you, I really like the way that you build some things around that, both before and after to help that feedback be received in a less threatening way.
Mike Maffucci (17:27):
Right. So we try to reframe it because people come in with all kinds of perceptions, they, a lot of our participants have been through 360 or multi-source feedback in the past, they've seen the way it's been used, sometimes appropriately, sometimes less appropriately. So there's a lot of unfortunate baggage that comes with doing this kind of work. And like I said, it's, it's really important to reframe it so that people see it as a choice, a positive thing, a way to collect information, a way to understand, I mean, in many ways, and I actually think of the leadership inventory tool that you use, people are really telling you, Hey, hey, Mr. Leader, hey Mrs. Leader, this is the way I would like to be led. I mean, when you think about it, it is a gold mine of information. Takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.
Troy Blaser (18:26):
Yes. For sure. It is very much, people telling you how, what their perceptions are. Right? And so, like you say, it is almost like giving instructions. As you've done work with different organizations over the years to help people get useful feedback, you mentioned you come originally from a physics and engineering background. Are you able to quantify the kinds of results that you get as you work with folks around 360 feedback?
Mike Maffucci (18:51):
You can if you build it into the process. And as you know I've been a difficult client by incorporating that into some of the customized work that we've done. Right. So, you know, this is, this is work that Marshall Goldsmith and others did, Alicia Freeze, years and years ago, which is around asking people after 6, 7, 8, 9 months if they've detected any impact, or any change in a leader's performance, and you can ask that follow up type of, feedback. And so, hey, Mike was working on improving his communications over the last six months. How much has he improved? Right. And so you can collect that data, you know, for a cohort, for an individual, for an organization, if they're bold enough, and you can find out exactly how much the process has, what kind of impact it's had on the leader's most important subjects.
Mike Maffucci (19:52):
Or not subjects, but their audience, which is the people they lead. So you can definitely do that. The other thing you can do, if, again, if you're doing it in a systematic way in an organization, you can create a culture of feedback, right. Or feedback, again, remember, it's just one part of something we do want, which are meaningful conversations about the challenges we're facing, whether they're personal, business, change, whatever they are. And the more of that dialogue you have in an organization, the better information flows. And the better information flows, the more comfortable people become in conflict, the more comfortable they become using constructive dissent techniques. For example, Hey, we're going to do this project. Let's think about things that can go wrong before we actually go live with it and address those in advance. So we know, and the research proves, I mean, McKinsey does a lot of work in this, that having those kind of really constructive conversations, open conversations, feedback-driven conversations, improve the innovativeness, the creativity of teams that are using these tools. Right. And feedback is kind of the beginning of all of that.
Troy Blaser (21:12):
It feels like it ties back to the, you know, we talked about those four principles earlier. The second one, trust is the foundation of the most productive relationships, right. And...
Mike Maffucci (21:21):
It's actually the foundation of all relationships. But, all healthy relationships, but yes.
Troy Blaser (21:26):
Well, but you had tied the idea of these meaningful conversations into productivity. You know, having that open dialogue increases the trust and the productivity of the team, because that feedback is flowing, because that culture has been created among the team to share that.
Mike Maffucci (21:45):
Right. And again, having those dialogues, having those relations built up across an organization where we can talk to each other and we're not feeling threatened if someone has a better idea or someone saying, Hey, you know, maybe that's not the way to go. That's gold for organizations. And too many organizations, I mean, we can look at some of the models like Lencioni for our audience out there, the triangle, a lot of that is about not having those conversations, all those dysfunctions come from not having meaningful conversations at any point along that value chain.
Troy Blaser (22:24):
Yeah. I asked you a minute ago about quantifiable results, and you talked about being a difficult client, and I thought to myself, I thought difficult actually is sometimes more interesting. And I, you know, one of our often repeated phrases here at LearningBridge is, this idea of helping people to receive feedback graciously and act on it visibly. And that goes back to the work that you've done and we helped you with in terms of quantifying, if I'm acting on this feedback visibly, and if I'm checking in with those folks that I work with to say, Hey, I'm working on X skill, how am I doing? You know, repeatedly over time, and I can remember the charts that came out of that work showing quite clearly as, you know, people checked in or, well, if there was no check-in at all, right, no follow up, and how, whether, you know, most of the time people really didn't maybe perceive a change, but as there was additional follow up, that perceived change in effectiveness just went up and up and up. And that ties back in, like I say, to acting on the feedback visibly.
Mike Maffucci (23:34):
Troy Blaser (23:35):
To let folks know that you've received it.
Mike Maffucci (23:37):
And that's exactly right. And I love that idea of visibly acting on it. And here's the thing we can think we're doing, doing a lot. Right. But like with any message, if we, you know, the changes are incremental. I mean, you're never, I mean, if you go out and, you know, you are orange today and blue tomorrow, right. I mean, that's a big change, but that's probably not healthy or real. So people are making behavioral change in small little tiny increments that make a difference over time, but they're really hard to perceive from the observer's perspective. Right? Again, science, right? So, you know, the leaders, followers or stakeholders are also observers. So what are they able to observe? How much attention are they giving to those small changes. And just by going out and asking, Hey, you know, I appreciate the fact that you took the time to give me feedback.
Mike Maffucci (24:39):
I want to come back to you and, you know, tell you that I appreciated it and these are the things I'm working on. And along the way I might ask you for additional feedback or help about what I can do better. Well then someone says, Hey, my feedback was taken on board, they're going to act on it. They're checking in with me regularly. Yeah. And I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Like, are, is it a four or a five? I'm going to give them a five because, you know, I can see that they're doing it because it's obvious to me.
Troy Blaser (25:15):
Yeah. They're tuned into that and they've sort of been alerted to say, Hey, watch for this thing that I'm trying to do. And so it's like, okay, I'll watch for that.
Mike Maffucci (25:23):
And they're also given some ownership, right. So yeah. Hey, I'm part of the solution and, and you know, things are getting better for me, you know, because, I've said, I wish they would do differently. And they're doing it differently and my life is better. I mean, it's a win-win for all parties and too often people are just afraid to say, Hey, there's something I could be doing better and I want you to help me do that thing better. Right. It takes a lot of self-confidence. A lot of self-awareness to be able to do that, but we know the leaders who do that. And as you said on those charts, you see it right away. And the change is amazing.
Troy Blaser (26:07):
Yeah. I agree. Well, thinking about some of the work that you've done over the years and some of those meaningful conversations that you've helped to promote, I wonder if, is there a time or an experience where you have been able to observe how feedback has caused a point of inflection in someone's life or in their career? Is there a story there that you could share with us?
Mike Maffucci (26:30):
So, alright, so I do a lot of executive coaching work as well, and there is one assignment I took on probably 10 years ago at this point. It's someone I'm still in contact with and without using any names, obviously. This individual was in a high pressure role running a geography for a private equity firm. In a decent size one. But he was stressed out of his mind and the feedback was terrible. I mean, I never say feedback, but this feedback was terrible. He was not having productive relationships with his team, with the organization, with anyone. And I remember collecting the feedback because through a set of structured interviews. So I actually talked to people and, you could see the emotion and everything they were saying and, I'm doing this and I'm really worried that the individual, the person I'm collecting the feedback for is not going to take it well.
Mike Maffucci (27:49):
So it was to a point where the head of HR for this organization flew in to New York City for this event to be there on the day in case anything went astray. But because we had done all the preparation work coming in, he took that feedback and it was hard. I mean, there's no question it was hard, and it was, we did it on a Friday. He was going away for a family weekend, told him to really think about it from the perspective of the people he needs on board and productive for him to be successful. And I'm like, think about it this way, if this was your boss, what would you, how would you react? What would you want? And he went away and he came back and he said, I get it. I wouldn't want to work for me.
Mike Maffucci (28:57):
And the change over six months was dramatic. He went from being someone that people tried to stay away from in this organization to being a talent magnet. And had nothing to do with me. Right. I just kind of guide the process and ask some silly questions every once in a while. But it was really him deciding this isn't me, and it wasn't him. Right. It, this isn't who he was as a person that you would meet socially. This was the way his job was constructed. A a lot of different things. And he went through pretty rigorously and addressed each one of these issues that were causing him to trigger really negative behavior. And it made a huge difference. And like I said, he went from being someone people wanted to avoid, they would go, oh, he's got that look again. To someone who really wanted to be, that people really wanted to work for. And in a business like private equity where talent is everything, that's exactly what you want because you rise on the buoyancy of that talent as the leader of one of these units.
Troy Blaser (30:13):
That's so cool.
Mike Maffucci (30:14):
So I've never seen feedback have such a positive influence at that scale. Since that's kind of the biggest one.
Troy Blaser (30:25):
I really liked how you talked to him about can you see this from a different perspective? Right. If it were your boss. As opposed to just that internal looking outward. But to, if you're able to figure out how to step outside of that for just a minute and see it from a different perspective, how that can really change how you handled that feedback and, and it did for this person as well.
Mike Maffucci (30:50):
Right. It's all about that reframing, right? It's not, trying to get it away from being judgmental because the other thing about that feedback is everyone had really good suggestions for what he could do differently.
Troy Blaser (31:03):
And, yeah. It's like you said earlier, if you're able to see it, they're basically telling you how to lead them or how they want to be led, I should say.
Mike Maffucci (31:12):
And in all fairness to anyone who works in financial services, right? The model isn't always ways great for analysts and things like that, they're on call 24/7, you know, they'll get a call at 11:00 AM on a Sunday morning from the managing director saying, Hey, got a presentation, you need to do this today. So that is part of the culture. It's a hard life. It's a lot of working hours, but still he was able to make those working hours more meaningful.
Troy Blaser (31:50):
That's cool. So as you think about our audience, we've got folks out there that, quite a range, but maybe some HR professionals, maybe some other coaches that are kind of in the same business that you're in. Are there some recommendations or some advice that you would give for members of our audience? Things that you've learned kind of along the way?
Mike Maffucci (32:11):
Okay, so the first thing I think is really important, and this is something that's kind of happened over the last 20 years. Is, again, and now you're going to see me be, to geek out as a science person.
Troy Blaser (32:25):
Go for it. Yeah.
Mike Maffucci (32:26):
Is that neuroscience has really brought some amazing insights into the world in a way that's easily understandable for people. Right? And people want to understand, people want to understand themselves and why they do things. I think. You know, I think people are curious, most people are curious about that. There are some that aren't, but most of the people, I guess I'm lucky enough to work with, they're curious. And neuroscience has some of these insights around the threat reward responses and system one, system two, thinking by Daniel Common. You know, the other one is kind of David Rock's thing.
Mike Maffucci (33:14):
There are a lot of really useful insights that people can, the people we're working with, the leaders we're working with can latch on to understand why their brains are reacting the way they're reacting. That is a little bit different to psychology and things like that because, oh, it's science, right? And it's not that the other isn't, but it's neuroscience and it's the study of the brain and why the brain doesn't always work the way we think it does. And getting people to tune into that and understand that yeah, your responses just make you human. You know, the mistakes you make or the cognitive biases you're bringing to the table, that's just human. Your immunity, to change issues, that's, you're just a human being. Right. That's the way you're programmed. And just being aware of it can be really eye-opening.
Mike Maffucci (34:11):
And like I said, we talked a little bit earlier about helping people understand the neurological response of respondents. When they go through that process. So what are they getting? Right? So, they get an email, they click on a link, it asks me some questions, and you think about it, how long are they spending answering a question that's really, really important to you. But they've got 45 of these things to go through. Right? So if you're lucky, they've given it 10 seconds of active, cognitive thought before they click on a box 3, 4, 5. Right? And so people need to understand that it's, there's not tons of thought it's, but those 10, 15 second chunks begin to add up and tell a story. So the first thing again is understanding or leveraging some of those lessons from neuroscience.
Mike Maffucci (35:06):
The other thing is tap into people's curiosity. Right.
Troy Blaser (35:10):
I like that. Yeah.
Mike Maffucci (35:10):
That's really important for leaders just in general. Curious leaders are the ones that we see always moving up in the hierarchy, getting to the C-suite. They're the ones asking great questions, right? They're the ones thinking about the what ifs and, you know, thinking about alternate futures or alternate ways of doing things. So curiosity is really important. So you really want to turn people's curiosity on, and in a lot of ways, and again, this is some of the McKinsey work in a lot of ways, organizations beat the curiosity right out of us. You know, because if you think about that six-year-old kid with the bat, right? We're natural scientists, we are curious about everything. But somewhere between that period of our lives and when we get into organizations, we forget it.
Troy Blaser (36:06):
Yeah. Just put your head down, go to work, do what your job says you should do. And yeah. Why should I be curious if that's what I'm supposed to be doing?
Mike Maffucci (36:15):
And we get siloed, we get really focused on just certain things and sometimes we just lose perspective. So again, curious, broadening perspectives, getting people to ask questions about themselves or others or the situation. Challenging assumptions. That's really what it's all about, right? If you are going to make anyone, you need to open them up to learn first. Right. Which is really challenging assumptions and helping them think through how they think. And then once they see that and understand that they could have, the future could look different, let them make the choice about how that different future looks for them.
Troy Blaser (36:58):
Well, certainly food for thought, right. To consider and tap into our own curiosity, right. Maybe I need to learn more about neuroscience or, different things like that. And so new places to explore, maybe that haven't been explored yet.
Mike Maffucci (37:14):
And it also reduces, again, that resistance to, Hey, I'm doing something wrong. Right. Because that's not what it is. It's, you can do something better. Right. A lot of these people, a lot of leaders, when they make contact, right. They're amazing. Yeah. They're unstoppable, but when they don't make contact, yeah, that's kind of an area that they could do better at. So they need to make more contact and, less strikeouts, if you will.
Troy Blaser (37:46):
I love it. Well, Mike, is there a project or something that you're working on right now that you're super passionate about that you want to share with us?
Mike Maffucci (37:55):
There is. We are developing, well, we have developed and we continue to work on it. A new product, I'll call it that. And we call it Discover Your Leadership. And what it is, is it combines action, learning, coaching, and directed learning in a one-to-one setting. So it's a little bit going back to the way things were done, you know, a thousand years ago if you went to Cambridge or Oxford, right? That way of teaching. So we call it Discover Your Leadership, it's We even set up its own website and it's a way of getting people to develop against a priority development issue they have for themselves in the environment they are currently working in. So, you know, you think about someone coming out of a talent development exercise, and they say, Hey, Mike could be a better communicator.
Mike Maffucci (38:56):
Right. Well, Discover Your Leadership. We would work with that person for six months and be looking for opportunities for them to communicate better, whether it's pitching a new project or communicating with their teams or being, having more presence with, executives, whatever the issue is. We're working with them over the course of six months to improve that. And we're doing, we're offering them models to work with ways of thinking about the challenges they have. They're bringing their actual challenges in to the environment, working on them, practicing doing experiments before they actually, you know, and make progress and build confidence along the way. So that is something that we're working on really passionate about it because I think I've seen it work, right. So there's a couple of organizations we've worked with that have deployed it and you know, we're seeing people come out of that with really high energy and passion for the progress they've made against something that has been for a lot of them nagging. Something they wish they could do better. And here they are doing it better. And it's really focused and really personalized and yeah, we're really proud of that work and we're looking forward to getting more people on.
Troy Blaser (40:16):
Even the name of it, Discover Your Leadership. It sort of taps into that curiosity that you were talking about earlier. It's like this is a chance for you to figure it out. What is your leadership? You know, how can you improve it? Are there specific things that you can improve? But it's a discovery, it's you...
Mike Maffucci (40:34):
Discovery process. Yes.
Troy Blaser (40:35):
Yeah. It's you doing the work of being curious to go find it.
Mike Maffucci (40:39):
Right. So you get introduced to a new concept or a way of thinking about something. You talk about its relevance. You reflect on how you might use it. What some of the challenges would be, you develop an experiment and you go out and you do it with one person. Right. So you're going to try to be more succinct in your communication and you want to tell someone, so what's the hook? What do you want to do? And I'm using communication because it's easy, but you can do a lot of different things and you get them to go out and say, Hey, you know, that worked out so much better. The message got across better. How can we build on that? And so you give them another piece of input, get them to think about it and we keep working down the road this way until at the end their, if executive presence was something they were looking for, you know, they feel more comfortable having those kinds of conversations.
Troy Blaser (41:27):
That's fantastic.
Mike Maffucci (41:28):
So it's, yeah. So it, like you said, it leverages that, that curiosity and discovery stuff, it makes the choice mine.
Troy Blaser (41:36):
That's cool.
Mike Maffucci (41:37):
And again, incremental in its approach because sustained development, you're more likely to internalize and make it permanent.
Troy Blaser (41:44):
Yeah. Well it sounds exciting. If, you know, if people want to know more about Discovery Your Leadership or about any of the other things that we've talked about today, are you open to continuing that conversation with them?
Mike Maffucci (41:57):
Troy Blaser (41:58):
What are good ways for folks to find you, to get ahold of you?
Mike Maffucci (42:02):
Well Discover Your Leadership is a good way to find us. You can also get in touch with me over the accelerance, website which is Or you can find me on LinkedIn.
Troy Blaser (42:17):
Cool. Fantastic. Well, Mike, thank you so much for the conversation today. It's been enjoyable and I've learned a lot and it's just been wonderful to have you be part of our podcast today. Thank you.
Mike Maffucci (42:27):
Well, thank you very much for inviting me. Wish you guys all the best of luck.