Randy Ford:Our guest today on the SuccessInSight Podcast is somebody we’ve had a chance to talk to a couple of times before. If you haven’t heard John Bentley yet, go back and listen to episode 1003 and 1007, which are great, and we’re going to continue some of that conversation today. Welcome back to the podcast, John.
John Bentley:Hey Randy. Thanks so much. I’m excited to be with you again and look forward to our dialogue.
Randy Ford:John, by the way runs Power 2 Transform. That’s Power2Transform.com. I just want to pick up where we have left off in the past. I’m always curious what sticks with people. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
John Bentley:You know, I think the best advice is — I’ve shared my Coke can story before — and as I got promoted and stayed in the Air Force. One time I was hosting a meeting and during that meeting, I didn’t realize I did some things that cut people off or, and I kind of got a little upset, and we ended the meeting and then Chief White, Chief Master Sergeant White, called me into his office, and he wrote on a sticky note, thumped it over to me. And when I read it, it was “when you lose control” and I thumped it back to him like you do a paper football. And those games we played as kids back in the day and and said, “So.” And he took a pen, and I saw him write on the paper again, and he thumped it back to me. And he had actually lined through “when” and “control.”
John Bentley:So the words “when” and “control” he had lined through. So just imagine, the first time I read it, it says, “when you lose control.” When he pushed it back, the only two words visible were “you lose,” and he said, “Read that out loud, John”.
John Bentley:“You lose.”
John Bentley:“No, say it like this, John, say ‘I lose.'”
John Bentley:“I lose.” I stuttered a little bit.
John Bentley:And he said, “Now here’s what you lose, John. You lose the ability to influence, and influence is a two-sided coin. First of all, you lose the ability, when you lose control, to positively influence others, and you lose the ability for others to positively influence you.”
John Bentley:So it’s kind of interesting that if I start behaving like a spoiled brat or a child to get my way, or I start trying to force my way, like a know-it-all-parent, I can’t influence.
John Bentley:Alls I can do is control, coerce, demand, and that does not allow me to get the results for the organization that we need through and with others.
Randy Ford:How long did that take to sink in for you?
John Bentley:It really caught me off guard immediately. It almost took my breath away. In fact, you know, I just kind of sat back in the chair and went, “Wow.” And I’m getting goosebumps right now again, almost like I’m back there it had such an impact. Not sink in, it didn’t take long, but it took time for me to unlearn why I behave that way, because it really added to the Coke can experience that we talked about earlier. So it was unlearning things I had learned as a child growing up to be more of an adult and be present in the moment, to be able to positively influence others and positively be influenced to get results through and with others.
Randy Ford:Have you shared that advice with anybody else who is kind of facing the same challenges that you were facing at the time?
John Bentley:Yeah, I’ve got someone that I’m coaching right now, and very similar to my experience growing up where I grew up believing I had to be perfect. I had to do everything myself and don’t trust others. So this individual is going along the same lines. They tend to believe that nothing they do is good enough. So when someone sees the world different than they do or has a different suggestion, they kind of get a little bit frustrated or angry and lash out. And I think sometimes when they see that, ooh, you lose, none of us want to lose. And I like to win but I don’t like to win at the cost of others now. So that’s kinda been my value shift.
John Bentley:So this individual, we’re helping them to realize that, hey, what story are you telling yourself in your head when you see that anger coming up? Because someone asked you a question or challenges you that really it’s your past experience coming into the present and it’s managing you now instead of you managing it. In fact, that’s one of the things my grandmother would tell me growing up, ’cause I’d get angry and frustrated when I couldn’t do something or it wouldn’t go right. And she said “What you don’t manage, manages you”. And so that’s another thing I share with people, in those moments, if you can’t catch yourself or call a timeout when it’s needed, that emotion’s going to take over and again, you’re going to lose control.
Randy Ford:Let’s talk about how deep that can cause … how deep the trouble is that that can cause for an organization. If there’s somebody who is completely closed off to influencing or being influenced, that’s more it seems to me, than just they can be a jerk in a meeting. It’s something, if we’re talking about in a health care setting for example, it can have a real effect beyond just that person’s interpersonal skills.
John Bentley:Yeah. There was a physician in an ER that his mode of operation was command and control, and you had a high turnover going on in that department. People would call in sick, and you can imagine in an emergency room, especially, I think it was a Trauma 2 Center that if you have people not on duty when they need to be on duty, the impact that can have on patients. Also it’s what I call a derailment factor. A person’s inability to really be able to engage others in a way that makes sense to them.
John Bentley:And here’s the way I like to say it. If I can’t enter your space the way you think, the way you like to behave in a way that makes sense to you, I never earned the right to speak into your listening, because I’m always aiming myself at you and here’s what happens, I’m going to try to force or coerce you more and more, make it more difficult. Or, I’m either going to probably gonna try to do everything myself, and in either of those cases what I’m doing is truly destroying trust with you and also thinking that you don’t have value. And I do. So when I see myself as having value and you don’t, I turn you into a thing, and all’s you can do with a thing is control it, push it, shove it, force it. You’d never get anything back from them, their talents or their insights to make things better or to move us forward toward our goal.
Randy Ford:Which you have said to me before is what consensus is all about. It’s not necessarily everybody agreeing on everything, but it’s about everybody giving all that they have toward the same goal.
John Bentley:Especially after everyone’s had the opportunity to share their feelings, their thoughts and their ideas.
Randy Ford:What are some of the other things that that you see specific to the health care industry that are causing problems within organizations?
John Bentley:Well constantly change for one, and I like to share that change is an outside-in process for an organization. So for instance, we get a new health care law, health care regulation, that is mandated possibly from the outside … we know we had the Obamacare and other things come in that require us to change. That’s an outside-in process. So I call that the management side of change. We’re going to make sure that we’ve met the requirements, we’ve got the I’s dotted, the T’s crossed, we get audited, we can report and show where we are and pass that audit.
John Bentley:But there’s another side of that that is leading the people side of change. And it’s really about transition. So you see organizations change from the outside in, but people transition from the inside out. So it’s an individual emotional journey that we all go through. And the way I like to say it, there’s three phases to that. And part of this is from William Bridges’ model where there’s endings and anytime there’s an ending in your life, whether it’s personal or professional, you suffer a loss, you feel a loss. With that loss, you usually start off denying it. This is just a phase. It’s not going to go through. It’s not going to happen. Then all of a sudden you go, wow, it’s here. You become angry. Well, that’s part of a cycle of working through those emotions. Getting into that second phase, which is the neutral zone, and in that neutral zone is a lot of uncertainty.
John Bentley:And when we’re uncertain, we try to solve a problem just to feel comfortable and okay, but what I’m asking people to do with those emotions is realize it’s normal. Realize that you must let go of those endings and celebrate those losses. And then you must have a learning and discovery mindset and a learning and discovery mindset means I want to know what I can control, what information do I need to better understand where we’re going, what do I need or who do I need for support, and really what’s a purpose that I can latch onto so we can get to that third phase, which is the new beginning to perfect this change that we’re going through, and what I see leaders and individuals failing to do in organizations or even in our personal lives, is we don’t know how to work through that emotional cycle.
John Bentley:If you think about, unfortunately most of us have probably experienced the loss of a loved one through death. It’s the same as the grief cycle, and what happens if I want to maintain or hang on to what I had, the old way of doing things or the old life. I usually go into a security and control mindset and what that means is I’m fighting with everything I have to keep it just like it was, and that takes a lot of emotional energy. It increases our stress. It causes us to have arguments with others, not be a good team player. So to me, the key to leading yourself, especially through change or leaders leading others through change, acknowledge the emotion, the emotion you’re experiencing because you got to name it to tame it. Once you do that, you can start letting go of the old and recognizing that this learning process is required and all’s I’m asking you to do, to take on a learning and discovery mindset is be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and you’ll move through it much faster and focus on that goal you want to achieve.
Randy Ford:You were talking a little bit earlier about your time in the Air Force. What are some of the leadership lessons that you learned there that you try to help people understand now, or what are some of the things that you had to overcome about the structure and leadership within the military?
John Bentley:Right after I got promoted and got to stay in the Air Force because that was our story from the beginning, I was supposed to be getting out. I was afforded the opportunity to go brief, it’d be similar to a mayor of a city that we called a wing commander, right? So four weeks in a row I’m giving the briefing and it’s him at the end of the table, horseshoe-type table, if you can picture it. I’m up in the opening, and this is my terminology, I got ripped a new one four weeks in a row. Now I always share with my audience, I’ll let you determine what “ripped a new one” means. And so I caught him going out the door and again, I just, I had one of my Coke can moments, “Colonel, why are you ripping me a new one every week? Four weeks in a row you’ve ripped me a new one. Why?”
John Bentley:And he in a very stern voice said two words, “Bentley. Q-tip.” I’m thinking, what are those things I clean my ears with, got to do with this? And then he got … great leaders do this. We’ve talked about it already… truthful and kind. He said, “John.” I noticed his tone change. “John, quit taking it personal. It has nothing to do with you. It has to do with the information that we need to disseminate. We have missions all over the world, John. We’re one of the largest depots that rebuild the equipment for the Air Force here in Oklahoma City.” I was at Tinker Air Force Base. He said also, “John, I want you to recognize the economic impact that we have outside the gates and on this community.” He said, “So that information allows us to make some key important decisions around people and resources in order to carry out our mission.”
John Bentley:So I asked him, “Where can I get the information?” He shared with me, and I never got ripped me a new one. But for the first time I started realizing that what I do makes a difference, not just in my little area, not just my little job description, but I’m having an impact around the world and in this community, because now I understand why I do what I do and how important it is to others. So it gave me a real sense of purpose, is what it did.
Randy Ford:And your briefings changed after that?
John Bentley:I had the information he needed, and I started thinking about what questions I might get answered and I started attending other key commanders’ briefings to see what questions they asked and what they were looking for. So I became more interested in, invested in, the outcome and becoming like a roving reporter so I could be my best so others could be their best.
Randy Ford:It strikes me that some of your biggest moments that you talk about as teaching moments from earlier in your life were the times when you almost felt like you were in trouble; they were tougher lessons to learn.
John Bentley:I don’t know if they were tougher. What I like to say is that I was afforded opportunities, because people saw in me my potential and they created opportunities where I could change that potential into high performance that could then deliver desired payoff, not only for me or others. So the lesson is when things don’t go well, when things don’t go right, just stop, just stop and say, “Hey, what is it that I can gain from this? Because I’m supposed to go through this and because I’m supposed to go through it, there’s something that’s going to help me become who I am designed to be.”
John Bentley:Jim Cathcart, one of my favorite Hall of Fame speakers. Been around for over 40 years, he’s in his 70s, and he tells a wonderful story. I won’t tell the story here, but he says, “Here’s the question we need to ask ourselves, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish.” So I’ll use it as myself wanting to be the best leader I can be and I’m getting ready to do something I’ve never done before. Let’s just use that as an example. “How would the leader I’m becoming do what I’m about to do?”
John Bentley:So I’ve had to define what type of leader I want to be, list out my values and then just ask myself in that situation, how would the leader I’m becoming do what I’m about to do? So my three values are welcome diverse thinking, because it delivers the best opportunity for success. It’s inquire with curiosity to gain buy-in and commitment, and never stop serving with the talents God’s given me. So that’s the acronym for WIN. And once I got clear on my values, when I get in those situations where things are uncomfortable, or my anxiety’s ramping up or I feel like I’m going through that, moving toward that Coke can moment, I just stop and let my values help guide me and make the decision I need to make next.
Randy Ford:I’ll just say again. For anybody who hasn’t heard that Coke can story, it’s great. Go back and listen. It’s on SuccessInSight Podcast episode 1003. It’s time for our Insight2Go. As, you know, this is the recommendation or the thought that’s on your mind that you want to pass along. What is John Bentley’s Insight2Go today?
John Bentley:Yeah. I’d like to say as a leader, one of the big things we can do is extend trust. And I’ll share an example where I was working with a fire sprinkler company and in that company they had a leader who was moved into the position to manage a large contract for Home Depot. So they brought in and hired a new person to become the director of alarm installations throughout Atlanta for the companies they had. And I noticed quickly that those two weren’t getting along, that she, the lady that was now in charge of the Home Depot contract, who was the former leader, you could tell she sensed a lack of trust or lack of respect for the other individual. So, during the training, they got into a little bit of a heated discussion and I can’t even tell you what made me do this, but it was brilliant, and it stuck with me.
John Bentley:I had those two almost get knee-to-knee, and I gave them both a yellow sticky note. And I said, I want you to write down what each of you want for the alarm installation department. All right, now that you’re through, I want you to fold it in half and I want you to swap the sticky notes. And when I say count down to three, three, two, one, I want you to open it and read it to yourself. So I counted down, they read it, and her mouth dropped open. They had almost written the same thing, word for word. It kind of shook her a little bit. And she apologized to the other gentleman and said, “I had no idea. I thought that I was the only one that could do it. I want to apologize to you.” So what that did was created mutual purpose.
John Bentley:They both had the same goal and wanted the same thing for that department. Now with her apology, and this is one of the big things that stands out to me, is when I make a mistake or I say something, I shouldn’t say, the next best thing I can do is say, “That’s not who I want to be. That’s not who I am. Please let me apologize. And may we start over?”
John Bentley:So she apologized, and quickly you could see him also his shoulders were kind of scrunched up. He just seemed to relax and take a big deep breath and just go “phew” and let it all out. And those two started really working together and helping each other. So sometimes we need to find out and trust other people and let them know we care about them and we got their back, especially when I know we have the same goal in mind.
Randy Ford:Thank you, John Bentley. People can find you on LinkedIn and also at power2transform.com. That’s power, the number two, transform dot com. Thank you again for being here. John.
John Bentley:My pleasure, Randy. Look forward to our next podcast.
Randy Ford:I can’t wait. And thank you everybody for listening to the SuccessInSight Podcast. For Howard Fox, I’m Randy Ford. We’ll talk to you next time.
John Bentley is the Founder of Power 2 Transform. John is a leadership coach, trainer, and facilitator. He works with healthcare leaders to develop behaviors that build trust, maximize influence & achieve better results faster through & with others so they can effectively manage the daily pressures caused by: financial pressures, scrutinized clinical quality outcomes, extremely high levels of change, and chronic staffing shortages. John invites you to visit him at https://power2transform.com