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How Leaders Can Make Better Decisions

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Making hard decisions is part of the everyday work of leaders. But there are ways to make the process easier. Learn how leaders can make better decisions, using an approach that's grounded in science.

photo of Tylder Ludlow with someone moving chess pieces in the background to show that this podcast episode is about how leaders can make better decisions, and be more strategic about their decision-making process

A 480 PODCAST

How Leaders Can Make Better Decisions

39 minutes | April 13, 2021

00:00:00 00:00

In this episode of the Leadership 480 podcast, we interview Tyler Ludlow, an expert in the field of decision science. He joins us to share the science-driven process for how leaders can make better decisions, best practices for decision making, pitfalls to avoid, and more. 

Beth Almes:

Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Leadership 480 Podcast. I'm your host, Beth Almes. Today's topic is one of the most critical things that any leader needs to do, make decisions. Our guest today is Tyler Ludlow, and he's going to talk to us about decision science. Tyler is the founder and chief decision scientist at the Decision Skills Institute. He has deep experience guiding leaders at some of the world's largest companies like Unilever and Eli Lilly make better strategic decisions with practical science-driven approach.

We're going to see if Tyler can help us do that today as leaders. Tyler, it's a pleasure to have you join us on the Leadership 480 Podcast.

Tyler Ludlow:

Excellent. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Beth Almes:

Let's start by talking a little bit why you even got into this business in the first place. What is it about how leaders make decisions that drove you to build your career on this?

Tyler Ludlow:

Good question. Not too long ago, I stumbled across a video on the internet. It's a snippet of a Jeff Bezos interview and he's talking about sleep and how much sleep he gets and whatnot. He says as a senior leader in a company, what do you get paid to do? He said by and large it's to make a few high quality decisions. I mean, in his day, he said, "If I make three good decisions, then that was a good day."

I think that what I found over my career, and I guess what intrigued me, is that most of us, I would say including myself before I came across decision science myself, I never received training growing up in school or college about how to make good decisions regularly, consistently. I mean, we all do it all the time and I'm sure we all have mentors or parents or folks who help us with tough choices.

But the idea that there is a structured repeatable process that you can turn to in any instance, I think is news to most people and the ability to then follow that, deliver on it, being one of the core aspects of what it means to truly be a leader.

Beth Almes:

I think that's really interesting, Tyler. Yeah. Something we all underestimate is every day we're making like thousands of these little decisions, but then it comes down to a couple of key ones and what we decide in that day is so crucial. When you talk about a repeatable process, I'm unfamiliar. Tell me a little bit about what decision science is and how you can apply that.

Tyler Ludlow:

Right. My little go-to one-liner, if somebody asks me like, "What is decision science?" And we're in a cab or on an elevator or something, is I usually just respond by saying, it's just a structured way of thinking. I mean, I have a bit of a background in math, and that was an aptitude of mine growing up. There's definitely math and statistics that are there. Many people who get into the field, that's part of what attracts them, is that side of it.

There's also a behavioral, psychological side to it. How do we actually make decisions? For me, it was the blending of the two, both the people, human behavioral, and the mathematical pattern, problem-solving side, both being there together, that intrigued and enticed me in the beginning. 

But when done right, it's a bit of being willing to press the pause button with whatever is currently going on and likely overwhelming to some degree and be able to, like you might do in any situation, just follow a bit of a standard process to walk through something.

Just to help keep your thoughts straight, to not forget things and to deal with all of those complexities. Lo and behold, there is a way to do that with decision science, where there is a common pattern to how choices, opportunities, problems, decisions, show up in our life or in our business.

Beth Almes:

Let's talk a little bit about that pattern, as it breaks down into some steps. Let's say you've got a tough decision ahead of you as a leader, how do you start to break that down into these steps of decision science?

Tyler Ludlow:

It's the type of process that it's very flexible, so you could sort of ... malleable. Fit it to whatever situation or context you're in. I think in general, almost always the best or needed starting point is to be thoughtful about and to clarify and specify our values. The criteria that are going to guide in this context, how you identify your preferred solution or preferred alternative.

It's something that like, for example, like if you were to go in say to a car lot, to look at buying a new car, the sales person most likely is going to start talking to you about different features or different vehicles, which in the decision science world, that's a discussion about alternatives. Like, what are the choices? What are the different attributes that are available? That's how a lot of marketing is done.

They talk about the attributes of the product, what it does and whatnot. As a buyer, if I can walk in and know what's important to me, I would ... We were joking earlier, before we started recording about we have 10 kids at home. Having a vehicle like a sports car ... In general, having room for all those, enough seat belts in the vehicle, that's our, A, number one priority, right?

We could say maybe safety is high for us, or we've learned over time, by a lot of vehicles, that even just used luxury vehicles that have leather seats, leather seats clean up spills a lot better than cloth seats. To us, that's been important over time. When we go to buy a vehicle, I can walk in and just say, "Look, I'm interested in ones that have leather seats, that have this and that have that."-

I can specify what's important to me, the factors, the criteria or the dimensions that I'm going to use to select which alternative I want to go forward with. It's funny how often that part is never done. I think it's a bit of a cultural thing, but we tend to jump in and feel like in order to be making progress on the decision, we ought to be gathering information or cranking data or doing calculations or something to analyze and then choose.

Usually, I would say almost always, benefit by first reflecting on what we really care about, what's important to get out of this as a primary step.

Beth Almes:

I think that's a really valuable moment of pause. Before you do anything, take a look at your values. What is it ultimately that's driving you and driving this decision in the first place? Once you've defined your values, how do you start taking action on that? You've got the decision in front of you, you know what's important to you, how do you start taking those next steps?

Tyler Ludlow:

Then from values, most of the time, the natural next step would be to start to look at the alternatives that are available. Sometimes there's a midpoint there where you're trying to distinguish, "Is this just one single decision that I'm choosing between?" Or like back to the car example, which car am I buying? Or is it first the discussion is, do we need a vehicle? Maybe it's a transportation problem.

We could be looking at alternatives of ride sharing or getting a bike or walking or whatever it might be. If one of those alternatives was then a vehicle and I was like, "Yes, first decision. Do we need a vehicle?" The answer is yes. Next decision, "Okay. Now, which one?" Sometimes, even what looks like or seems like one problem or one decision in the beginning, often can with clarity, be broken up into multiple decisions.

Then for each decision, the next step is typically to be thinking about the alternatives that we're considering. A lot of the time, the way that we don't make the best decision possible, isn't that we didn't choose between the alternatives in inappropriate manner or in a rational manner. Oftentimes, it's because we didn't consider a broad enough set of alternatives to begin with.

A lot of businesses leave value on the table, so to speak, by not being more creative about their options to start with. They completely miss a better option, not because they wouldn't have chosen it in the mix, but they never put it in the mix to begin with. The values are important because they help us to decide which alternatives go on the table to be considered. Sometimes that means we think a little more creatively, a little differently.

We push the boundaries in a way that we weren't considering before to put the enticing and probable ones on the table. Values also help us to distinguish between all the alternatives that we really shouldn't waste our time getting into the details of, because it's clear they don't meet the initial starting criteria. If we were looking to buy a house, we would never consider a house that only had three bedrooms. That just goes out the window, right?

Or even four, maybe for that matter. Having those criteria, those thresholds, allow us to not be overwhelmed with alternatives and to get really clear about which ones first go on the table and then how we start deciphering between them to recognize which is their most preferred.

Beth Almes:

I think that's really interesting as you talk about being a little bit more creative with some solutions, and it brings to mind to me that one of the big decisions a lot of leaders have to make is around innovation, whether it's big innovation or small innovation. Let's say your team is coming to you and saying like, "Oh, we've got a great idea of how to solve this problem."

Maybe some folks on the team want to do one thing and they have some ideas and some folks want to do another, these are some of the riskiest decisions leaders make. Do I let this person run with the idea? I don't know if it's going to work out because this is new. Do I put budget behind this? How does decision science help a leader to think through a problem like that very thoughtfully?

Tyler Ludlow:

I think there's probably many ways, but two key ways come to mind. Lots of times, I'll say that clarity with values leads to creativity with alternatives. When we talk about being innovative or the idea of thinking creatively or innovation or whatever, sometimes it's not a question of, can I just have more ideas, different ways of thinking? It's about having more ideas that are compelling or enticing, that you might actually be intrigued about.

Having that clarity with what our values are, then allows us to challenge ourselves and oftentimes be able to think more creatively identifying new solutions that we didn't think of before. One story that I've shared before, we were on vacation one time as a family, and we had driven like 13 hours away to Pennsylvania from Indianapolis. We'd been there for a few days and we were getting ready maybe about two days later we'd be coming back home.

I had come downstairs in the house that we were staying in, from tucking in my little ones. I came downstairs to find my wife and my son talking about our departure time a couple days later of when to come home. My son was petitioning my wife to make it home in time for a basketball game that he wanted to be able to play in because he was on the school team. I came down and I started listening to the conversation, then was ... start to jump into it.

They were talking about leaving extra early in the morning to make it back home in time for a 7:00 PM game. I was thinking to myself like, "It took us like 13 hours to get here." I think it may have been like a 10-hour drive technically, but it took us 13. 

I was like, "That's leaving ..." Yeah. Imagine that. "That's like leaving at like 6:00 AM." If we want to ... He needed to be there a little early for his game. If we wanted to guarantee it, then that's leaving like at 5:00 AM. My wife was passionate about wanting to support our children.

She's always been that way, and I agree with that, right? But my dad brain was like, "But 5:00 AM. All the other kids in the car, especially the little ones, we're going to have a miserable trip for 13, 14, 15 hours, whatever it is all because we had to get up at 5:00 AM to try and make it to this game." I hope my son doesn't hear this interview. But at the time he was a sophomore playing on the varsity team and he didn't play.

I was like, "We're going to drive that miserable drive all the way there just to get him ..." Which I wanted to support him as a dad, but for the chance to play in a minute or two. I was like, "Ah." In my mind, those are some of my thoughts, but I tried to put on more of a decision science hat. We talked about starting with values. I said to him, I said, "Adam, what is it about making it on time to your game that's so important to you?"

I don't think as a dad I would necessarily ask that good of a question, but because I was wearing my little decision scientist hat, that's how it came out. My son, I was really impressed with him because he sat there quietly for a second and then he said, "I want my coaches to know that I'm committed to the team." That to me was like at the ... Before in the conversation, the value criteria in my mind that I was hearing was, "Does he make it to the game or not? Yes or no."

Now I felt like we had clarified that to essentially say what really mattered to him was that his coaches knew that he was committed. Having that clarity then I started to think, "Okay. Well, are there other options that would allow us to be able to communicate that commitment?" I started thinking, "Well, what if we leave early and then say something happens? Diaper blowout or whatever it was with the kids and we take long and we don't make it."

What if we're a couple hours away and we start to realize, "There's no way we're making it on time for this game?" What if I then called your coach or texted or emailed him and explained, "Adam got us up early. He was so committed, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but we didn't make it. I just want you to know that he really wanted to get us there though." I said, "How does that compare with actually being there?" He said, "I mean, not quite the same, but pretty close. That would work."

Then my mind was like, "What if we ..." I was like, "Adam, you can't do this, but what if we just leave late but I send the same message?" I'm like, "We tried, blah, blah, blah." You know? Because I'm like, "As a dad, that would be a nice balance." We didn't do that. 

Then I started thinking to myself, "Well, what if we paid to get Adam there? How much would we pay?" We started looking at a one-way flight or a train ticket and in the end, once we had ... And I asked him, I said, "Adam, would you be willing to pay money to get there on your own? How much money do you have?"

He's like, "Well, I've got like 40 bucks in my bank account." In the end we ended up leaving the night before driving a half way, getting a hotel room, which was a bit silly because we'd already rented the rental house for that same night. But he chipped in his 40 bucks, we paid like a hundred dollars or whatever it was, which was enough for us to commit to our son like, "We'll get behind that." In the end we ended up having a better trip. He got to show the commitment. It was better all the way around.

It was an idea that we never would have thought of if I first didn't have the clarity on what his value criteria were. Then even the criteria of like, "Well, what about money? What if we could put money? Would you pay for this? Would that trade-off be enough?" Frequently try to drive towards clarity with those values as a way to then think creative in a process fashion. It's hard to just say, "Think more creative."

I mean, that's hard to do that, but if you have a mechanism that helps you, a process behind it, then it is easy to come up with these new innovative ideas. I think that's one answer to your question about how decision science could help with innovation. I think the other one that jumped to my mind because that's like how you come up with innovative ideas. In your question you had said, "Well, those are the risky ones. How do you choose whether to do it or not?"

I think that comes down to, how do you deal with uncertainty? If you're trying out a new, innovative idea, there's a chance that it could work and there's a chance that it doesn't. Then maybe there's a chance that it's halfway in between or whatever, and so how do you make good decisions when there's a lot of uncertainty about what the final outcome will be? That is hands down, what decision science is built around, is how to get a hold ... Using a little bit of probability and mathematics, but it doesn't have to be complicated by any means.

But how do you get a hold on uncertain possibilities so that you make the best decision where you don't control the outcome, but on average, I'd be choosing the best choice each time? There are mechanisms to do that. There's mechanisms to use rules of thumb heuristics to be able to make good choices even quickly in the face of uncertainty. That is the other way that I think decision science can help with innovation.

Beth Almes:

I really love those examples, and I do hope that your son, Adam, is the biggest fan of this show now. I hope he's our number one listener. That's my biggest wish at this point. I do think that example of how to really reframe looking at values, looking at really what's driving ... And I could really see too how if you're a leader of a team where you've got groups that say, "I want to do it this way, and I want to do it this way."

Bringing some of them together about why this way, what is so important about it? What's the real value? Could really help drive some alignment behind those decisions and behind that creativity.

Tyler Ludlow:

Yeah. Definitely.

Beth Almes:

One of the things, even as you were telling your story about your son, what struck me is how critical too is managing emotions through these decisions. A lot of times we're humans and you've got this gut feeling of like, "I've got to do this." 

Sometimes you don't always even know why, but you feel like, "This is what we really need to do. I feel really passionately about that." How does decision science help you to manage your own emotions first, and then the emotions of maybe others who are a part of this decision that you're making?

Tyler Ludlow:

Right. I'm going to steal a quote from my friend, Carl. He was one of the founding fathers of decision science, especially as it's been applied to business. He has a quote where he says, "A good decision is one that both makes sense and feels right." I say that to myself or anyone that I share that with, they do exactly what you did, nod your head up and down. It just makes sense. It's really simple, but there's power in that.

If it feels right, but it's not making sense on paper or the other way around, then you go back and you look at the numbers and think, "Do we have the right numbers? Are they cranking it right?" Or if it's making sense rationally, but there's something about it that's just nagging, it doesn't feel right, well then there's some bit that typically hasn't been included. Maybe we were oversimplifying the way we were considering that uncertainty, or maybe our assessment of the likelihood of something happening or big or small was a bit off.

You go back and I think that there's an iterative process to get the structure of the decision built in a way that it mimics reality close enough, where you say, "Yeah, all the big pieces are in there. All of the big issues at hand, the big things that I care, whatever it is, they're all built in." Then when you use that structure or that model, and it reveals its recommendation to you, or helps sift through rationally the logic and say, "This is where it's landing on."

Sometimes that will be like an aha where you're like, "Ah, I didn't see that before, but the process now has educated my gut a bit so that I'm comfortable with it." Other times the answer will crank out and you'd be like, "I thought that." 

It confirms what felt, but now you have the thinking that you could rationally explain it or write the way the Supreme Court ... What is it called when they lay out their response? It's just like, "We decided to go this way for this reason, this reason, this reason, this reason."

That's a way, if you could communicate the rationale behind why you chose a certain alternative. Sometimes we start and our gut was there all along, but we lacked that rationale, so going through the process can help fill it in. In general, the goal is to not make that choice until it both makes sense and feels right. You just utilize the same framework to fill in whichever side is lacking or lagging behind or whatever. I think the other element is that in that framework ... I was leading a corporate workshop once.

A very thoughtful gentleman, after about a day and a half of working together, he had asked me, "What do you do with emotions in this decision-making stuff?" I remember the response that came to me as we were chatting was something like, "Well, in decision science, there's room to integrate emotions into either the value criteria or the uncertainty or how we're thinking about it. But you do it in a way where those emotions are integrated without the decision becoming emotional."

I think there's a big difference there of, we don't let our emotions dictate or become unrational about it, but it's not about turning everything into a number. There just needs to be a way to bring in sometimes very intangible emotional things that are quite powerful and give them a space to exist in the structure of that decision.

Beth Almes:

I think that's really interesting about building in emotions into the decision. I'm curious if you've seen a lot of experiences where leaders really do ... Great leaders often do this. They change their mind based on the data before them, but I've also seen a lot of really good leaders who are stuck on an idea. No matter how much data they get from their teams or how much proof there is, they still want to go with what they want to go with.

Do you find that this process really helps? Or do you facilitate that thinking on your own or to help others through that thinking of just that sometimes they still want to do what they want to do regardless of what the rationale is saying?

Tyler Ludlow:

I think your question, it reminds me of an experience I had much earlier in my career. I had just joined Eli Lilly in the pharma industry and was helping work on big decisions there. We had this big couple of hundred million dollar investment decision in cancer, in oncology research. As a somewhat junior individual, I had joined this team and we'd work through, it was a choice around which tumors to begin researching this certain drug in.

I think any oncologist that works in that area would tell you that there is some rationale behind, but in that space, you just don't know how things are going to work. You try this, that, or the other, it's a bit more shotgun type approach at times. We were trying to prioritize these different tumor types based on a number of different criteria and being very thoughtful about it. We'd come up with a recommendation and we were presenting that to the executive senior level leadership in the company.

In that discussion, they acknowledged, "This is very thoughtful. This is very good, but we're going to do it this way." They swapped out some things to our recommendation about which tumor types to investigate in. I hated the experience. It really rubbed me the wrong way. I was like, "How frustrating, why did we just spend all that time being all thoughtful about this just to have it swapped? We could have just fast forwarded to that point and moved on."

As I thought more about it, and I had a discussion with some colleagues, both on the project and then other decision scientists that were in my team. What I think we all came to a conclusion is that the process works really well if you do it right. If we had sat with some of those senior leaders that maybe we didn't take time with, so to speak. If we had sat with them and if they'd been willing to divulge their value criteria, what was important to them, then that could have been built into the framework.

We would have gotten the answer either that they already had, or we might've even gotten a better answer is probably the answer, but theirs would have been baked in. I've worked with a couple of companies that were trying to establish a decision science group. I remember having a conversation with one a couple of years ago. They were asking me like, "Well, what are some of the big pitfalls to trying to do this in a significant way across the organization?" I said, "The biggest thing that stands out to me is if you have a lack of transparency."

If you have people that aren't willing to be so clear about what's important to them that it can't be then baked into that structure, that construct. Then you'll end up with the experience that I had, where you walk in thinking that you've done all this great work. This is the right choice for it. Then it just feels like it got flipped on its head. The decision-maker that flipped it on its head, they may have been incredibly rational.

They just didn't share what was in the back of their mind. Without that transparency, it can go wrong. With it, it worked really well.

Beth Almes:

That's such valuable insight too, especially as you're dealing with any leaders dealing with a lot of stakeholders, whether you're a frontline leader who's got senior stakeholders in it, or whether you are the CEO and you've got to please your board, either way, there's that value behind it. It sounds like a lot of times if this process doesn't work, it might be because you had the wrong inputs and values that didn't meet that stakeholder criteria.

It brings me to my next question, which half of this equation is the what to do, but half of it for leaders too, is also a lot of times around the who. The people decisions, which are often much more subjective. When you're looking at a lot of these tough decisions, sometimes it's who you need on your team, who should get a promotion, who should work on a project, if you're forced to go through layoffs, who could you live without?

Those are horrible and really tough decisions sometimes. When you're not looking at a numbers game, you're looking at people. How have you seen maybe decision science help with even some of those more complicated human decisions?

Tyler Ludlow:

Yeah. I guess if we blend together maybe a couple of other things that have come up before, so the idea of being able to be clear about our values, our criteria, right? I think it's something that if you're considering a people decision like that, and the criteria starts to become ways that you would evaluate an individual or a group of individuals. It can become awkward a bit to codify what is preferred about one individual versus the other or whatnot. Again, back to the very beginning of what is decision science?

The ability to press the pause button and then to reflect, and like we were saying, to be transparent with ourselves. I think that when we talked about the need for transparency, and I had shared a story of wishing that I had learned better what the criteria were from the leader at the time. I think if you just flip the tables and say as a leader yourself, it's extremely important for you to do the work, to be clear about what those criteria are.

Whether that is in a decision that's all business, or whether it's about people, people still prefer to hear the why behind something. The more that you can be clear about starting with those criteria, understanding, being able to use those criteria to explain why one alternative was preferred over the other. I'm trying to think of an exact instance. I know I do a lot of management as very similar to parenting and in working with our kids, I might give them very disappointing news.

They can't go to the party or do the activity or whatever it is they want to. If I can just explain, simply speaking the rationale in terms of why in mom and dad's opinion, it wasn't worth it in this case, they'll go along with it. Even sometimes I think one of the biggest ways in which that explanation shows up is in terms of short-term versus long-term. Sometime a long-term perspective on a decision is given more weight.

Sometimes you say, "Well, no, we need something to replace ..." At Lilly, we had instances where it was like in general we wanted to be working on the more valuable drugs, but sometimes you needed a drug to replace something at this point in time because you were losing patent on other stuff. You went with maybe a less valuable opportunity in the long-term, but because it showed up sooner, right? That timing was more important.

Sometimes that trade-off is important. I mean, I think you do people a service when you show them the respect to be able to communicate in clear certain terms, what the rationale was for moving forward in a certain way, even if that is a difficult choice between people. I think one element there is in working with people in decision science is using that clarity that we talked about and using it in the form of being able to communicate the why behind decisions.

I think there's another element there in working with folks that I found, and other people have told me, as they've learned decision science, is that as a leader, I think any good leader, one of their objectives is to be able to empower their employees or their direct reports with the ability to have independence and be able to make decisions in different cases. Like be able to go off and divide and conquer with their little sphere of accountability.

I have seen and heard from others say that decision science gives them the ability to empower folks by setting up, "This is the decision that we're talking about making. I'm turning it over to you." As a leader, sometimes when you go then to check in on that employee or check in on that work, it's really easy, just like I think as a parent, to accidentally pull that decision back. You're just trying to check in on them. You're just trying to talk.

You're just trying to give a little bit of your experience or your expertise, but you end up doing it in a way ... My kids, if they heard this, they'd be rolling their eyes right now. Like, "Yeah. Dad you do that all the time." I don't think I am. I think I'm empowering them, but in the end they're like, "Whatever dad, whatever you want to do." Of course, that's not a good way to do it. If you have the clarity of that decision science, you realize, "Okay. Look, I'm just helping to inform our assessment of this uncertainty.

I'm not pulling the decision back. I'm just wanting to weigh in where I came with my expertise." Or, like we talked about before, I'm going to give you the clarity about what the value criteria in play here are. It's this, this, and this. I still want you to go do all the work, with all the alternatives. Let's think creatively. Let's look at how to even do the analysis, the assessment, all that kind of ... and play it back to me in terms of those value criteria.

Why that one is preferred. There's still a lot of work to do on the decision, I'm just going to weigh in as a leader, what my responsibility is for clarity. I don't know if I rambled on or answered a different question there, but that's one of the other ways that I think decision science works really well as a shared common language or construct between employees and leaders and being able to divide and conquer and empower.

Beth Almes:

I couldn't agree more. Actually, I thought it was very great the way you put it. At DDI, we have like five key principles we teach leaders and sharing thoughts, feelings, and rationale behind decisions is one of our key principles that I personally find very, very valuable. Although, sometimes it can, of course be hard if you know the thoughts behind the rationale isn't what someone wants to hear. Definitely painful, but necessary.

Tyler Ludlow:

Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Beth Almes:

Which I'm sure you get all of the time too with your kids. I do hope we gain 10 listeners for this show, and they're all your kids. 

Tyler Ludlow:

I'll let them know. I'll let them know.

Beth Almes:

Now, for my last question, which is one that I ask all of our guests on the show, it's about a moment of leadership that really had an impact on you. Whether it was good to say that like, "This put me on this path forward." Or negative to say like, "And that was when I decided never to do this again." Kind of thing. What was a moment of leadership that really impacted your life?

Tyler Ludlow:

I don't know that this is all that profound, but it's what jumped to my mind as you asked the question. My very first job after graduating with my MBA, I had talked myself into a role in the IT organization in this very large global company. I didn't have a background in IT, but what they were wanting done I felt like, "I can do that. I can talk and translate and communicate and problem solve." They hired me. My first boss in that space, her name is Debbie.

I remember having a conversation with Debbie early on, and this is so silly and trivial, but she had given me a task. I forget what it was. It was related to design of some new computer system or something. She'd given me a task to do like, "Oh, you need to do this." Then I remember she paused for a second and said something like, "If you want a real challenge, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." She stated a bigger or a more in depth way that I can solve that.

I don't know that she really knew what she was doing. She's a wonderful person. Maybe I should give her credit in that she did know what she was doing. What I heard as her employee was when she said, "Or if you want a real challenge." I was like, "That's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to do the minimum. I'm going to try and do that." Just as a turn of wanting to impress her or self-mastery or whatever. I went after it. I did do the bigger thing, the better whatever it was.

I was real excited to like ... I think I had maybe a weekly or biweekly one-on-one with her or whatever. The next one I was like, "I'm going to show Debbie, not only did I do the one, but I did the bigger version of it." I don't know that I had ingrained that perfectly in me, but I thought about that before, in terms of there's something to be said for being really clear about, "Okay. This is what I need done. Clear."

To be able to present something as like, "She gave me the choice of whether I wanted to seek after that bigger thing." I think it was more powerful and more meaningful because not only did I do that bigger work, but it was my choice to do it in that bigger way. She got a lot more out of me. Again, I don't know that it was exactly incredibly preconceived on her part. It just seemed very natural the way that it occurred. That's what jumped to my mind when you had asked impactful leadership moments. That's what jumped out.

Beth Almes:

That's a great story. That moment of opportunity just opening the door for someone, how that really drove for better performance. Those are great lessons for our leaders of the small things you can do to encourage and inspire your team. Thank you so much for the conversation today, Tyler. It was just a pleasure having you on the show. I think you brought so much value to our leaders who are probably thinking through tough decisions right now, and I'm hoping use this to take a moment and reflect. Thank you so much.

Tyler Ludlow:

You're very welcome. It was enjoyable to be here. I hope you do get at least those 10 new listeners. I'll work on the 10 that I know. Maybe there's even more than that, that come on board.

Beth Almes:

I will be tracking very closely to see if we get those 10 all at once. Thank you to all of our listeners who spent part of their 480 minutes with us today. I'm Beth Almes, reminding you to make every moment of leadership count.

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