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How to Lead Like a Boss (2 of 4)

How to Lead Like a Boss (2 of 4)

The 1st 5 Human Factors Traps

Images of Karla Nelson and Kevin Nothstine  Text: How to Lead Like a Boss (2 of 4) The 1st 5 Human Factor Traps

In part two of this series of How to Lead Like a Boss, we discuss how to work as a team like a boss. We cover five of the ten Human Factors Traps in this episode and the final five in the next episode.

In part two of this series of How to Lead Like a Boss, we discuss how to work as a team like a boss. There are 10 “traps” in working with people.  We discuss 5 this week and another 5 next week.
If you missed Part 1 of this series, where we discussed the sources of leadership power, you can listen to it here.

The first 5 (of 10) Human Factors Traps:

  1. Excessive Professional Courtesy
  2. Halo Effect
  3. Passenger Syndrome
  4. Hidden Agenda
  5. Accommodation Syndrome

Listen to the podcast here:


Listen in as Karla and Kevin discuss how to lead like a boss (2 of 4)

Karla Nelson: And welcome to The People Catalysts Podcast, Mr. Kevin Nothstine.

Kevin Nothstine: Helllo, Karla. Happy to be here.

Karla Nelson: Hey, so glad to have you here. We had so much fun on the last podcast. We kind of dove down a little bit more into these… If you haven’t heard the first podcast, it’s how to lead like a boss. And we talked about the seven sources of authority, and I’ll just take a moment here to introduce Kevin, and give you his background, and the reason why we should be listening to what he says on this particular topic. He spent 21 years in active duty as an officer in the Air Force, and he worked with the special ops aircrew that flew a mission. It was the same mission that he flew in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now teaches these other special ops teams and aircrew how to find the bad guys and tell the good guys where they’re at.

So if you think about the Bin Laden raid and how they have the stack, is what they call it, his particular aircraft, that he flies and trains as an instructor. The crew, the mission crew is called an MCS-12 and that is at the top of the stack. And so he is also one of the cofounders of The People Catalysts. And Kevin is a prover shaker. And what that means is main prover, if you notice out loud I said he’s Uber prover, but he also has a secondary core nature of work as a shaker and likes to come up with ideas. He’s his own worst enemy in his brain sometimes. “Idea! Bang! Idea! Bang!” Right?

Kevin Nothstine: And we contrast with Karla, who is the Uber mover, who wants everything done yesterday.

Karla Nelson: No. Yes. All right. So for today, what we’re going to be talking about is how to work as a team like a boss. And now there are 10 pieces that Kevin’s going to walk us through on this. And it would have been too long of a podcast. So we are going to break up … We will do five here today, and then next week we will go through another five just to make it digestible, so that you can use these 10 different ways to work as a team like a boss. All right, Kevin, take it away.

Kevin Nothstine: All right. What we’re going to do on these 10, where this comes from is Crew Resource Management, is what they call it in the military. And of course the military has to have specific names of everything, and these ones are the Human Factors Traps.

Karla Nelson: You just got to love how the military names things, right? It’s like, it’s got to have some secret way of knowing this and needing an acronym. It’s hilarious. I’ve had a lot of fun going through some of their training manuals.

Kevin Nothstine: So this particular one, they call them traps. And basically it’s challenges to people working together as a team. And it’s things that you can identify-

Karla Nelson: It doesn’t always work out? What do you mean? We would be out of business if it did, I guess.

Kevin Nothstine: Sometimes you got a problem. Every once in a great while, somebody might have one of these 10 issues going on.

Karla Nelson: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Kevin Nothstine: And as we get into it, and we’re going to have some stories and talk about different ones and some from the military and some other places. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of fun doing this. Well, the first one we’re going to talk about is what we like to refer to in the Air Force, they call it Excessive Professional Courtesy.

Karla Nelson: There we go again. I love these names. This is great.

Kevin Nothstine: And what is it that’s going on? You don’t have a willingness to call out the boss when something is wrong. And they’re actually saying, in the military, we try to teach the pilots, “Hey, when you’re flying an airplane, just because they’re the boss, you should still be able to call them out.” And I guess a real good example of this from the flying world, and I’m sure you can think of something from the business world as well, but from the flying world, I had one day, I was a young copilot, a young guy first starting out. And I was in the right seat of a plane called the C130. And on the ground, my supervisor, my direct boss, happened to be the aircraft commander that day. So he’s in the left seat of the plane. So I have me sitting there, my boss in the left seat. Now we’re flying as a formation, and the aircraft in front of us that was leading the formation had what we call the group commander. This is a bird colonel. It was my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss

Karla Nelson: They have a lot of bosses.

Kevin Nothstine: It’s the hierarchy, just like [crosstalk 00:04:51] for America. So basically, we have the COO up there in the lead plane, and I’m the mail clerk down in my plane.

Karla Nelson: That’s a good way to put it.

Kevin Nothstine: So, we’re flying at night. We’re doing a training mission. We do a lot of training. And we’re training of how to do an airdrop of people out of your aircraft at night. Now instead of people, we actually had sandbags this night. So we had a 15-pound sandbag that we’re going to simulate people jumping out of the plane. Well we’re flying along directly behind our lead aircraft at night. And to do the drop, we had to descend, we had to go down almost 2,000 feet to get to a lower altitude so we have an accurate drop going over the drop zone. Well, lead aircraft initiates it and says, “Okay, time to descent. Let’s go down.” And we start our descent. Well the lead plane, with the equivalent to the COO, the bird colonel up there, he only went down 500 feet, and he leveled off exactly a thousand foot higher than what he was supposed to. So we were continuing down-

Karla Nelson: And you guys are both dropping bags?

Kevin Nothstine: Yes.

Karla Nelson: That would be bad.

Kevin Nothstine: We’re planned to. Now, we always brief up. We had provisions what we call a no drop to say, “Hey, there’s something wrong. Don’t drop.”

Karla Nelson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kevin Nothstine: Okay. So, we continued our descent, and we get down close to drop altitude, and I look at the plane in front of us, and we could see him. It was a nice clear night. I said, “Hey…” I’m in the right seat. I’m talking to my supervisor next to me. And I said, “Hey-”

Karla Nelson: Okay. Tell us what being in the right seat means, because some people might not know what that means.

Kevin Nothstine: The copilot or the first officer. And the man in charge is in the left seat. That’s the aircraft commander. And so here I am the copilot, doing other duties while he’s flying the plane. Well I brought it up and I said, “Hey, lead leveled off.” He goes, “Yeah, I think they did.” I said, “They’re not coming down any further and they’re about to drop.” And he goes, “Yeah, I think you’re right.” I said, “He’s about to drop a sandbag, and we are now out of position and well below him, and we’re about to have a sandbag come right in one of our engines.”

Karla Nelson: Like good-bad scale. That would be bad.

Kevin Nothstine: Yes, that would be bad. And he said, “Yeah, we’re going to go ahead and climb back up.” So he climbed back up to his altitude. We matched his. But we didn’t say anything to them. Now he’s just dropping a sandbag. But it could be dangerous if we were actually dropping personnel. We could put them in the wrong place if we’re dropping them from the wrong altitude. But we didn’t say anything to the plane in front of us. And they went across, and they dropped their sandbag. And we called a no drop and didn’t drop our sandbag, because we weren’t in the right position.

Well, after the sortie, we get into the debrief. And the group commander, the, the man in charge of everything, was going around the room, and we went through. It got to that point. He goes, “Now, you guys no dropped. Why did you no drop on that?” And still, my supervisor isn’t saying a word about it. And I’m looking at him, and I was just wondering, “What is going on here?” And that finally I spoke up, and I said, “Well, sir, you were exactly a thousand feet above your drop altitude.” And, at first he didn’t believe it, and then his navigator says, “You know that makes sense based on our drop score and where the sandbag fell.” And right after that, the commander said, “Well, why didn’t any of you tell me something was wrong?” And the answer was Excessive Professional Courtesy. My commander, my aircraft commander right next to me, was showing excessive professional courtesy. He didn’t want to call out the boss for this potentially dangerous situation.

Karla Nelson: Wow. I bet you that might even be a little bit harder in the military than it is, just because the formalities, than in business. But somebody that can utilize this, I mean you just effectively sync your entire team if you are using that Excessive Professional Courtesy. And the other side of it is you have to agree to it. That’s why we’re going through all of these different steps. Because if your team is trained in, you are trained, you can actually just point at that and say, “This is the pitfall that you ran into that was keeping our team from working to its ultimate performance.

And so when you understand that these are the 10 things that you need to take a look at that are going to affect your team negatively and or positively, and what I mean by that is if you know it’s Excessive Professional… That needs a better name. You don’t want to call out your boss on something, then you have to have the agreement that it is okay to call out the boss on that thing. And so you have to go both ways. If you’re focusing on, hey, why didn’t you call me out?” It’s like, well yeah, that would probably, depending on what the culture of the company is and what’s going to happen if you call out the boss, right, that’s just as important to manage before you’re in that situation instead of getting upset that somebody didn’t call you out.

Kevin Nothstine: Yep. You’re exactly right. You have to create that culture where people understand that it is okay to call people out when something is potentially wrong.

Karla Nelson: Yes. And accept there’s a way to do it. And my dad used to always say, “You can tell me anything Karla, but you better mind the way you tell it to me.” Right? So like for instance, if you know you need to call someone out, it doesn’t mean you call them out in front of 50 people. Every scenario is going to be different, right? But what he was saying is, “You can tell me I’m wrong, but think about how you’re telling me I’m wrong.” Right? Or have a process by which you do it. There’s this really cool process we teach. Okay, Kevin. Next one.

Kevin Nothstine: Next one. Halo effect. This is another item that can mess things up, but you have to watch out for it. Actually this isn’t strictly to the military. There’s a book that came out in 1920 that first talked about this halo effect. And what it is is when somebody does really great at one thing, so you assume that they’re going to be great at something else. They said, “Oh, they flew this plane really, really well and now we’re going to transition them over to a different air frame, and we assume that they’re going to do an awesome job in this air frame based on their past performance in something that may or may not be related to the same type thing.”

Karla Nelson: Yeah, that can also be for the perception of companies. Allen and I did a review on Good to Great, what was awesome about the book, but what was missing because the companies didn’t do that well, but when that book was written, everyone was like, “Wow.” And the title of the podcast, if anybody wants to go back and listen to it, is Good to Grave. Because the companies that were identified, I think there was like 13 of them, a lot of them did really horrible. And even Kodak was one of them and a few other ones that went away completely. But the one that I think of when we did the research on and I read the book was Cisco Systems. So they were huge and they were just growing like gangbusters in the 90s during that tech boom and all the reports on Cisco Systems were, “Oh my gosh, you’ve got a masterful strategy and your acquisition ability to grow by acquisition and you have a superb customer. I mean everyone was like, “Invest in this company, invest in this company, invest in this company.”

And then the tech bubble hit. And literally the same exact people were like, “They have a horrible strategy, right? They don’t know what their customers want.” And it’s like the same people had the exact opposite thing to say, right? And of course Cisco Systems did turn around and they’re still a big tech company today. However, they were the same company, right? So you have to think, I mean it was the same company. So that halo effect that happens that says, “Oh, you’re wonderful, you’re wonderful.” It can also happen just in the shift of your perception of a product of a company as well. So there’s a lot of ways to look at the halo effect.

And one of the other things that makes me think of is the iPhone. Everybody said, “Oh, the iPhone is going to be the best thing since sliced bread because why? Because the i…” What was that thing called? iPod.

Kevin Nothstine: Because the iPod did so well.

Karla Nelson: Yeah, the iPod did so well. And so there’s different applications. So contextually you can apply the halo effect to of companies’ products, a company and looking at their strategic plan and what they’re doing. Then you can also be selling yourself on one of those things on either side of it, by the way, right?

Kevin Nothstine: Yep.

Karla Nelson: Yeah. I bet you that’s really interesting. In the military when you’re a pilot, everyone thinks, “Oh, you can fly that plane so you can fly any plane.” It’s even more than that because the missions are all different.

Kevin Nothstine: Oh, and I can go even deeper than that, but we don’t have time for that.

Karla Nelson: I’m sure you can. Mr. Prover. Believe me, Kevin can always go deeper and go into more detail without even thinking, but that is why he is our lead prover on the team. So, okay, what’s next?

Kevin Nothstine: Next one. Passenger syndrome. Passenger syndrome.

Karla Nelson: Okay. Layman’s term. So sitting around doing nothing. Twiddling your thumbs.

Kevin Nothstine: Yep, exactly.

Karla Nelson: Okay, there you go. Twiddle your thumbs syndrome.

Kevin Nothstine: It can also be called-

Karla Nelson: I’m going to rewrite all their training books.

Kevin Nothstine: Well, we talked earlier about another name for this is what we sometimes refer to as the copilot syndrome. Well, earlier you were asking about right seat versus left seat. In an airplane, the right seat is the copilot or the first officer in the civilian world, and the left seat is the aircraft commander. Well when you’re in that right seat, if you get somebody that is running the show and they’ve got it all taken care of, or if they’re kind of overbearing personality and just an Uber driver and doing stuff-

Karla Nelson: Well that reminds me of when you told me a story about when the fighter pilot, which is a single person aircraft typically, then you have to then put them into the crew world and then the mentality of… Just tell the story. You probably have a whole bunch of them, but I think that’s really interesting to think about. Even moving culture to culture within a division of a company, there could be an issue with that.

Kevin Nothstine: Well, the story that I think you’re talking about there is actually a little more halo effect where a guy was like, “Hey, I’m great at this other air frame and I’m moving into a crew aircraft, and I’m teaching the guy crew, crew, crew.” At the end of the day, he goes, “If I’m the one that’s flying a plane, why do I need to brief anybody else about what I’m doing?”

Karla Nelson: That’s hilarious. It wasn’t that one. It was something about like going a whole sortie and never saying a word or something like that.

Kevin Nothstine: Oh, that’s a whole nother topic. That’s a whole different one.

Karla Nelson: So just share with us then the mentality of the crew versus the fighter and why that is so… It’s not just, “Oh, you’re a pilot.”

Kevin Nothstine: I’ve got a good one that’s going to work on this passenger syndrome and actually it’s one that when I was flying one day, if I would have been in the passenger syndrome, it could have been bad.

Karla Nelson: There you go. That’s good.

Kevin Nothstine: And what happened? We’re doing a takeoff and we’re training like we do a lot of times. We’re training if we were taking off from a short field. Now to put this in perspective, we’re flying a C130 and it weighed about 130,000 pounds. Now a normal a takeoff role for a plane like that. You have a runway that’s about a mile longer, one to two miles long. Well we are practicing. What if your runway is less than a half mile long and you have to take off in that situation? So we’re on this runway that is actually about a half mile long. And so we run the engines up, we’ve got full power and holding the brakes, and it’s kind of like a race car sitting there at the starting line waiting to go, and we call it break release. And we’ve got full power and the plane starts rolling down the runway and it’s moving-

Karla Nelson: That’s got to be fun.

Kevin Nothstine: It is. To be blunt, it is. On this day, the pilot, the left seat that was flying the plane and doing this, all of a sudden his seat, its position, the tracks gave loose, and his seat slid all the way back. And it slid so far back and he’s holding his arms straight out as far as he can and he couldn’t even reach the controls of the plane.

Karla Nelson: On a good, bad scale, that would be bad because the two things… What are the two times that are most risky? When you’re taking off and when you’re landing probably.

Kevin Nothstine: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the most risky parts of the plane. And here we are taking off on this half mile long runway, and all of a sudden the pilot can’t touch the controls. Now, if I would’ve been doing the passenger syndrome and just sitting over there going, “Oh, he’s got the plane, everything is fine,” it could have been catastrophic. We could run off the side of the runway or something like that.

Karla Nelson: That seems awfully short for 130,000 pound plane.

Kevin Nothstine: That’s what we train to.

Karla Nelson: See, guys, this is why training is really important, right?

Kevin Nothstine: On that one, I was in the seat and I actually had my hand on the yoke, my right hand on the yoke, my left hand on the power levers. My feet were on the rotor pedals. So as soon as he slid back and he’s got his arms stretched out, looking like Frankenstein, the very next words that all he said was, “You have the plane.” I was just sitting there doing nothing, and now a heartbeat away, I’m the one that’s flying the plane.

Karla Nelson: Wow. I would have been probably puckering up a little bit in my seat on that one though. In the corporate world we have this word for it, acronym we’re talking military stuff, is employee engagement. And I actually really can’t stand the word even though its realities are very serious, especially in corporate America. We consistently talk about how they’ve done this Gallup poll every single year, and typically somewhere around 70% of people in the United States, 89% worldwide hate their jobs. Not just like not hate them. They hate what they do every day.

Now, if you break down those numbers, they did another study of engagement specifically. And 53% of people are actively disengaged and 13% actively disengaged. Think about that. That’s the group that now is working against you. They hate being there so much, right? So 66%. what does that do to a company’s ability to succeed?

And to me the passenger syndrome that you’re talking about and disengagement is more of an issue because they’re not being either trained properly or most importantly, it’s why we teach the WHO-DO™ method because you can apply the WHO-DO™ contextually to every single one of these things. And so, this is kind of what I like to say, the soft skills, right? To be aware of something so that you can proactively work around it. But when 66% of people are disengaged in their work, how do you get anything done? Okay, you can have the soapbox now. I don’t feel passionately about that at all.

Kevin Nothstine: No. And you know what? We’re going to move on to the next one I think.

Karla Nelson: That’s good.

Kevin Nothstine: Next one is the hidden agenda. And what this is, you have a reason for doing something that you’re not sharing with the group, and it is not in line with the goals of everybody else. You have some hidden agenda, and this could be a very large one. You can think of corporate espionage and those type things, but even on a much smaller scale, on a simpler scale, this could be, you got a late afternoon meeting, you’ve got a three o’clock or four o’clock start time on a meeting, and you want to get home to your kid’s recital, your kid’s doing a piano recital. So in the back of your mind, you don’t care about that meeting. You don’t care about choosing the best solution. You don’t care about making the best things happen, right? You just want to do whatever you can to make that meeting in so you can get home to go to your kid’s recital. And that’d be a hidden agenda.

Yep. Yep, yep. Yep. That happens all the time probably. And that’s one of the great things I actually do love about the military. Everyone on the call here are listening on the podcast has been around military individuals or are a military brat themselves. My dad was in for 24 years. My father-in-law was in for 30 plus years. Kevin. I just have a lot of people that I know that are in the military. And actually two of my bonus kids are in the military as well. And so I love how they let you then say, “Hey, my kids has something and family time.” Well, in corporate America it depends on the culture.” That would be looked down upon if you had to get to your kid’s recital. And that’s not every company. It’s gotten so much better even than when I was younger. But if you talk to our parents about that, you could have a whole bunch of people with a hidden agenda because they don’t want to speak up to say, “Hey, I’ve got this thing.” Right?

Karla Nelson: And so that again is about opening that culture up, and the military is the best I think at that when if you got a sick kid, people understand, right?

Kevin Nothstine: Yeah.

Karla Nelson: If you need to get home to your family, people understand, which is pretty cool.

Kevin Nothstine: Okay. Last one we want to talk about today is what we call accommodation syndrome. Okay. And this one’s a little more in depth, a little harder to understand than the hidden agenda. Now, the accommodation syndrome and what this is about, it’s your decreasing arousal to a stimulus because-

Karla Nelson: Okay. English please.

Kevin Nothstine: You accommodates something. Okay. What happens as you continuing to do something that’s risky, the more you do it, the more times you do something that has some inherent risk, the more you…

Karla Nelson: The more you’re willing to do it, like it doesn’t feel risky anymore.

Kevin Nothstine: Exactly. You don’t perceive the risk near as much because you’ve been doing it several times.

Karla Nelson: Ooh, a lot of people did that back in the crash in 2008. They were so used to buying these big commercial buildings and this and that, that never, they couldn’t lose. They did it so many times. And then all of a sudden the timing of the market, they just went down because inherently buying a hundred million dollar he used the property is risky. After you’ve done it 2030 times and you’ve made money, it seems like it’s less risky, right?

Kevin Nothstine: Exactly.

Karla Nelson: Makes sense. Well, this reminds me of the innovation area of doing this. There are so many different companies out there, especially right now with the decentralization that technology has brought companies where whoever had the most money always won before. Now it’s whoever takes care of your customer and can build an app, can takeover. Look at the hotel industry. Airbnb dominated that and they don’t own one piece of real estate, right? And I think of companies like Kodak who created the digital camera, but they didn’t want it to take away from their other business. So they sold off their IP. Well that’s why they are gone, right? Taxi industry. Uber did the same thing. Taxis were expensive. The process was horrible, right? And then all of a sudden they take that industry.

And not only do they take it over, they grew it. So they launched in San Francisco. And the taxi industry was $1 million per year, and they grew it to an industry that was 10 million per year utilizing Uber. And so they not only changed the course of the industry, they actually grew the market, which is kind of unique because we always talk about [Tam 00:00:25:10]… I won’t get into all that. But to actually have something that’s so valuable that it grows in industry because of innovation.

So the accommodation syndrome, yes. It’s definitely can be used that hey, you’ve done this, it’s risky, it’s risky, it’s risky. And your inherent thought of it is, “Oh, it’s easy and so I can just keep on doing it.” But if you look at Blockbuster is the same way. With innovation, they thought they were too big to fail. So they had had their 10,000 stores forever. And guess what, there’s one open, right? We teach this in our training that the way they stayed open was an innovative way of staying open, which is you can only go and rent DVDs that you can’t access streaming live. And so I think innovation is a really good one to look at in business for the accommodation syndrome and running businesses are like, if you’re growing by acquisition, I’ve seen that. Or if you do a turnaround, people that go in and do turnarounds and they’re fixing something up. Even a house for sale that do flipping homes after they’ve done it so many times they think, “Oh, you know what?” They don’t take into consideration $100 million sounds like funny money. It just sounds like some other different day, right?

Kevin Nothstine: If you want a real good example of that, just look at the United States government. A billion here, a billion there. And pretty soon you’re talking about serious money.

Karla Nelson: Yeah, definitely. That’s awesome. Well these are so good. I know we can’t get through all 10. That’s why we are breaking this up into a four-part series now, and we’ll go through the next five. And then what we’re going to do is we’re going to pull some solutions out in the final part four of this four-part series. So, thanks so much, Kevin, for your time here today in how to work as a team like a boss.


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