With extensive experience in innovative leadership and management, Ed Evarts possesses the ability to build awareness, create action, and deliver results. He has partnered with key leaders in biotechnology, business-to-business services, financial services, healthcare, and government services. His clients include Biogen, Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Boston Foundation, Bright Horizons, Constant Contact , Covidien , Dyax Pharmaceuticals, Eaton Vance, edX, GMAC, Harvard Business School Program for Leadership Development, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, ICIC, Johnson & Johnson, Keurig, Kronos, Lahey Health, Liberty Mutual, Ortholite, Partners Healthcare, Suffolk, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Ed also coached international executives in the Program for Leadership Development at Harvard Business School. His clients included business professionals from countries such as Brazil, Bulgaria, Columbia, Denmark, India, Ireland, Japan, and Russia. following the first sentence. In his former role as President of the New England Chapter of the International Coarch Federation (ICF), Ed was deeply involved in advancing the coaching profession and serving as a non-profit leader.
Ed has held leadership roles at Iron Mountain, the (former) Federated Department Stores, and the (former) May Department Stores. As a coach and as a human resources executive, he has supported leaders at all levels of an organization, in a variety of high- impact business areas including account management, engineering, finance, human resources, information technology, legal, marketing, product development, product management, operations, and sales.
Listen to this informative Publish. Promote. Profit. episode with Ed Evarts about growing your influence through writing books and hosting podcasts.
Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:
- How the simple answers are not all it takes to become a good leader.
- How empathy and demonstrating curiosity with those around you in the workplace creates an environment for success.
- How dealing the hand you are dealt instead of placing fault can prove to be a winning strategy.
- How writing a book and hosting a podcast enables you to help and reach others you might have otherwise been unable to, ultimately expanding your influence and success.
Connect with Ed:
Guest Contact Info:
All right. Hey, everybody, welcome to the Publish. Promote. Profit. Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kosberg. Again, we have a great guest for you today. I think you’re going to learn a lot from and really enjoy, especially if you are a student of leadership development or you realize that in every day and in everything you do, you probably are a leader, whether it’s in your house or in your business, or maybe just working for a career with somebody else, you need to develop your leadership. Ed Evarts is here with us today. He’s the founder and president of Excellius Leadership Development. They’re based out of Boston. It works with successful leaders to increase their self-awareness so they can manage themselves more productively. Don’t we all need that? He also works with successful teams to ensure that their time together is as productive as possible, with smaller organizations that are maybe at a pivot point in their evolution and to help them plan strategically and purposefully. Ed’s the bestselling author of two books, Drive Your Career: 9 High-Impact Ways to Take Responsibility for Your Own Success, as well as Raise Your Visibility & Value: Uncover the Lost Art of Connecting on the Job, and is a podcast host. There are the books right behind him. You’re the podcast host of Be brave At Work, very, very cool title. Ed, thank you for being with us today and look forward to learning about leadership.
Thank you, Rob. I’m thrilled to be here and chatting with you.
I think we’ll have some fun. If you can’t make leadership fun, then what can you make fun? I’ve been a student of leadership myself, and love leadership books. Probably the person that I read most in that space is John Maxwell, and that may be true for a lot of people. You help both smaller organizations, you’ve shared with me, as well as larger organizations. Maybe you could break down for me; oftentimes people have the five steps of success. I don’t know that there’s such a thing for leadership, but probably there’re some foundational principles. Give us some of the foundational things that you work on when you work with people in the leadership space.
Well, I think leadership is very complex. I would worry if there’s a book called, The Five Secrets to Leadership Success or The Seven; if it were that simple. Every time I work with clients, I have this mantra I talk about, which is how complex leadership is. That’s why there are so many books and podcasts and articles about leadership. Yet I would tell you, Rob, that there’re some basic skills that most leaders need to do, or do more of, in order to be more successful. Some of them are so basic, it’s almost embarrassing, but most people would say, “I need to get better at that.” One of them is listening, so learning that yours is not the only voice in the room and that you need to really listen to what others are thinking, and saying, and talking about is so important to help build relationships and ensure that you’re making really good progress into the direction that you want to go to. To be a great listener, you have to demonstrate curiosity, so being a great question asker, and then going silent as you listen to the answer is a great relationship to have. If you want to build the experience that you have with others and really have great relationships with your staff, demonstrating curiosity, and then listening, and then asking more questions based on what they’ve said is a great way to just deepen that relationship.
Lastly, the last skill I would tell you, that I think is really the word of the decade, is empathy, which is this ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, whether you agree with them or not, or like what they’re saying or not, but to put yourself in their shoes and really understand where they’re coming from and why they’re coming from that place, again so that you can make great progress with them. Leaders that I work with who grow in their listening skills, grow in curiosity capabilities, and grow in demonstrating empathy, grow as leaders in organizations.
Wow. I don’t know if I intended to go in this direction. I don’t even know that this is a good idea, but I’m going to go anyway. As I listened to you, I thought about the leaders of our country and I thought, “Wow, they could really use a lesson from Ed on what real leadership is,” because it seems as though in leadership and politics, no one listens to each other. They don’t ask each other questions. They don’t demonstrate any real curiosity as far as the other viewpoint. What do you do in a situation like that? I’m sure you run into situations, whether it’s in a corporation, a large organization, where clearly people are so firm in their own opinion and maybe proud about that opinion that they hear you say those things about asking questions and curiosity, but it’s just not something that they’re adapting to. How do you deal with that?
Well, one of the big differences between a company and the federal government is that in a company, you typically have very common starting points and very common goals. While you would argue the federal government has common goals, they don’t. Right? Things that should be XYZ, the other end thinks it should be ABC, and the big word of the day, of course, is compromise and bilateralism and things of that nature. It’s certainly a case study in a highly dysfunctional entity, which is what we commonly know as our federal government. That said, the company has a common goal. It might be revenue generation. It might be size. It might be capacity. Whatever the measurements are that we use, that’s what we work toward, so it’s a little bit more functional to get everyone aligned to a common outcome than it is to take two people in two different parts of an organization. Of course, in an organization, unlike the federal government, the buck stops at somebody’s desk. We all want to ensure we can solve problems without the president getting involved, because the president will say, “Here’s what we’re going to do.” Of course, that’s what we ended up doing. Again, that doesn’t exist federally, but knowing the buck stops someplace, leaders are more incentivized to come up with an answer, so that they can demonstrate their leadership skills without it having to go to the president for resolution.
Nice. These people are incentivized to, actually, maybe embrace. A lot of what you shared, if there’s a word that I personally feel like encapsulates it, it’s humility. There seems to be, I would imagine, if they’re calling you in, that there’s some dysfunction that is causing maybe revenues to fall off, maybe there’d be turnover where people aren’t staying on the job, they’re losing good talent, so I guess they’re incentivized to, “Man, I need to figure this out and get this straight, or I’m going to lose my job.” Is that the idea? So, they’re more willing to embrace the humility it takes to be genuinely curious, because it just seems, like you said, it’s embarrassingly simple, but why don’t people do it?
Well, I think there’s maybe a bar upon which potential coaching opportunities might be created. One is the one you just described where there’s some type of dysfunction where, while the capabilities of the executive are good, the what they do is fantastic, how they’re doing it is problematic. They may be a fantastic attorney. They may be a fantastic real estate person. They may be a fantastic pharmacist, but how they lead others, how they inspire others, is problematic, so they need some type of objective third-party person to come in and help that person see things in ways they themselves haven’t been able to be successful. On the other end of the spectrum may be highly developed people. These are people who are performing well and doing a great job, but yet maybe their sales capacity has grown twice its size because of an acquisition, or maybe they move them from sales to marketing because they did such a great job in sales they want to cross-pollinate them in the company, and they need help figuring some of that stuff out. That’s where most coaching engagements fall. Of course, there’re a million examples in the middle that could populate that, as well. But it is either due to some type of dysfunction that’s important to the organization, or the growth and development of a high-performing person who they want to continue to develop and grow in that organization.
Last question on this part, because I have some other things I want to get to. It’s not about politics, I promise. Which of those two is easier to deal with? You have the one where there’s dysfunction. You have the other where coaching is needed because of growth. Which is easier, or is there an easier one to deal with?
I don’t think there’s one that’s easier than the other. A coach could say, “I love working with people who are experiencing some type of dysfunction, because if there is hope that they can make improvement and they’re open to being coached and thinking about doing things in different ways and start doing them in different ways and provide some type of different outcome, I’m all in. I’m all over that, and I would love to do that.” I have colleagues who won’t work with people who are in some area of dysfunction and only want to work with high-performing leaders to help them continue to grow. Everybody is different. Every situation is different. I don’t know if any of them are ever easy, because they all present different challenges and outcomes that you might be focused on. I think they’re all interested in respect to working with people to help them be more successful.
Good. I would have thought it would be the dysfunction, but I just thought I’d ask, that they’d be tougher to deal with. Your two books are intriguing to me. You’ve written both books that seem to be more focused on career development, which I guess from a coaching standpoint, that’s growing your leadership, developing your career, which I really like that idea. You talked about in Drive Your Career, that there are nine and maybe there are many more than nine, but you talk about nine high-impact ways to take responsibility for your own success. Give me a couple of those that you think might most benefit those that are listening, things that they can do that, “Man, this is going to make a big impact on my potential success in the future.”
The reason there are nine, Rob, was as I was thinking back over my coaching career, which has been about 14 years doing one-on-one leadership coaching and team coaching, I began to notice that there were certain stories that continue to come up that applied to everyone. Whether it was a company president or a team supervisor, these stories just came up. I didn’t bring them up purposefully. The client would talk about what they’re experiencing or how things are going. I’d say, “Well, gee, have you thought about this,” or, “tell me more about that.” I think I had one of those shower moments where I said, “I’m beginning to see this pattern of stories. Maybe I can share them with the world. Let me start making note of them.” I started to make note of them and there were nine of them. These are really nine behaviors that I believe all leaders should think about and explore in respect to making great progress at work and being more of a driver of your career to ensure you’re going where you want versus being a passenger, which many people are, where they just are where they are, and don’t know how they got there, or don’t know why they’re there, or don’t like where they are and want to do things a little bit differently. A couple of stories I would share, chapter one has to do with having a positive relationship with your boss. I would tell you that 85% of my clients over the last 14 years wish they had a more positive relationship with their boss. I’m not saying that they were enemies, but they just wished that it was a little bit better than it was. In that, one thing that people can do is really ensure that they’re having a conversation with their boss at some point, demonstrating curiosity, one of those great skills, about what your boss’s goals and objectives are. I’m here to help you be successful. I’m here to help our organization be successful, but I can’t do that if I don’t know what your goals and objectives are. Do you want to be president? Are you happy where you are? Help me understand what’s important to you so I can work on that. By doing that, it really ensures your boss knows that you’re focused on them, and it helps build a more effective relationship.
That is a gold nugget right there for people that are employed. As an employer and having had a small business, but with a couple of dozen employees for a long time, it’s hard to imagine even how I would feel if people asked me that question. I can imagine that a very, very tiny percentage of people ever do that. The ones that do, holy cow, what a potential improvement on that relationship that might be. I love that. Great. Give me another one.
Yeah. Well, and to your point, it’s not a conversation happening in organizations around the globe, ironically, yet it can help you dramatically. I think the second story I would tell you is in a chapter called; Play the Hand You’ve Been Dealt. Oftentimes when I meet with clients, they love talking about their current experience, and what’s going on, and what’s wrong, and why it’s a problem, and it’s never their fault and all this type of stuff. I’ll listen, politely, to their story and their situation. Then when they’re done, I’ll ask what I think is a very important question, “So what are you going to do about it? Thank you for sharing with me all of that. What are you going to do about it,” because most of us have been dealt a hand just like in a poker game, and it’s the hand we’ve been dealt. Some people are dealt a great hand, and some people are dealt a poor hand, but regardless of what you’ve been dealt, that’s the hand you’ve been dealt. It’s great to talk about the past, but you have to talk about what you’re going to do in order to influence it in a possible way. In the book, we talk about three options, which is true for a poker game. One is to fold, and I’ve had many clients who decide that they want to move on, that this was not a good career choice or not a good company, or they don’t fit the culture, whatever it might be. That doesn’t happen often, but that can happen. The second is where most of my clients are, which is bluffing, where they’re pretending things are better than they really are. They work for someone they don’t like or have a role they don’t really understand, and bluff and pretend it’s better than it is. Bluffing can work very short-term, but it is not a good long-term strategy. Then the last is taking action, and that’s where I come in, which is, how can I turn in a couple of cards and work to get a better hand? It might take a few times, but the goal is to take action and do things a little bit differently so that you can have a more positive impact in your organization.
I love it. I thought you were going to say the third was to double down.
That’s the fourth.
That’s the fourth. Whoever’s listening, you need to go get the book. I mean, those were two fantastic stories and great analogies. The cool thing is that there’s a lot of real actionable advice, especially in the first one, just simple questions that can be asked that can really make a difference in that relationship. Then, of course, I always feel if people know what the options are, then they can choose one of those options. To lay it out as clearly as you can fold, you can bluff, or you can move forward in some way or another, play the hand. Love that. Love that. Good, good stuff. I imagine the other seven are just as fantastic. We’ll give some links to the books and where people can get some more information. Give me a little bit of, “why,” for Ed. You’ve written two books. You have a podcast. These things are very, very powerful tools to grow your impact, grow your influence. Tell me a little bit about the books themselves. You wrote one in 2017. You wrote one that published last year in 2020. Why did you write the books? What was your goal for them? Then, have you realized that goal? How have your books really done things for you, brought you clients, got you opportunities, et cetera? Maybe you can kind of lay the groundwork for that.
Well, I think the books that I’ve written, I have written for, I think, is a very, probably, obvious reason, which is to help spread the word even more than I can doing one-on-one. I only work with 20 to 30 clients a year. I don’t work with tens of thousands of people. Not that I’ve sold that many books, but when you put it in book form, now anybody has the ability to hear advice, ideas, recommendations, experiences of somebody who considers themselves to be an expert in this arena. My hope is, whether they purchase Raise Your Visibility & Value or Drive Your Career, that you leave with the insights and ideas and experiences that I’ve had encapsulated in a written form. Each of the books have ideas and recommendations, so it’s not just talking about these areas, but what you can do in a very simple way in order to make great progress. For me, Rob, the book has really provided me an opportunity to be more on a platform, to be talking about what it is that I have written and have identified are important to others in respect to being more visible. My first book, Raise Your Visibility & Value, talk about how to get past networking to a much bigger arena, which is the arena of visibility within your organization and industry. That’s very important to me, and I want to ensure that within the coaching industry and in the leadership development industry, I’m very visible in respect to the work that I’m doing, and a book’s a great way to help get the word out and ensure that people know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. For me, I think the return has been more in helping me stay visible in my marketplace.
I love it. Do you have any examples of how the book brought you a client or got you a speaking engagement? How have you used it to, not just accidentally raise your visibility, but proactively, and what kind of results have you seen from it?
It definitely has helped in respect to speaking opportunities. It provides a terrific platform, not just my book, but anybody who’s written a book, can share the core concepts and ideas that they are presenting with others. It definitely has provided me speaking opportunities, podcast opportunities, articles that are written encapsulating core concepts from the book. Also, current clients are a great resource. A number of current clients have purchased copies of the book, and I’ve hosted meetings at their organization talking about some of the core concepts and really taking the actions we’ve talked about and helping them make them actionable for them, because it’s not one action that fits everybody. It’s an action that you need to modify and apply to your world and your situation in order to make great progress. Current clients are a great resource. People love talking to authors. I’m not sure why. I was talking this morning with somebody, that people just think an author has encapsulated ideas in a written fashion and hence are experts on that topic. I do consider myself an expert, but it’s a great way to really connect with others and spread the word. I love it.
Love it. Well, look, you shared just two of the nine high-impact ways. How did you come up with that? Well, like you said, you were thinking about it. You started to see the patterns develop. You had to take maybe this unconscious ability that you had and make it conscious, put it in a format that somebody else could learn from, engage with, et cetera. You did the work, and because you did the work, of course, you deserve to be looked at as an expert and an authority. Most others are not willing to do the work. I congratulate you wholeheartedly for that. Obviously, you’ve done a great job with your work, because your examples were very good and lively, easy to see the power that if you simply did what you suggest, you would immediately get some kind of results. Good stuff, good stuff.
Great, thank you.
Love it. I guess, lastly, the whole idea; I don’t remember which book came first and forgive me for that, Drive Your Career or Raise Your Visibility?
Raise Your Visibility & Value was published in 2017.
Okay, so Drive Your Career is the newer. Are you working on anything right now? Obviously, you have your podcast, and you’re doing that, and you do speaking engagements and that sort of thing. Is there a next iteration for Ed, for Excellius Leadership Development? Where is this going for you?
Well, since you’re asking a question, I will give you an honest answer. I’m actually working on my third book. I’m working with a book coach right now to formulate the table of contents. To no great surprise, it’s going to be called, Be Brave at Work. When I started the podcast, I didn’t realize I would become a student of bravery in the workplace. I’ve interviewed by the time the book’s published, a couple of hundred people on bravery at work, what it means to them, how they define it, examples. I really have formulated through all of those conversations, my own impressions of what bravery at work means, how you can be braver at work. It was just a very natural iteration to take this data and combine it into a book form. I am a big fan of three, so three books, that’ll be it. That’s going to be published in the fall of 2023.
Oh, fantastic. Well, congratulations. Obviously, we have a couple years for that yet, but we will be looking and paying attention. In the meantime, how can people best reach you, Ed, whether it’s your podcast? Give us some links that we can send some folks to that want to learn a little bit more.
If you want to learn about me or the books I’ve written, you can go to excellius.com. That’s www dot E-X-C-E, double L, I-U-S dot com. If you’d like to hear any of the pre-recorded podcasts, you can go to bebraveatwork.com and all of the recorded podcasts since we started them in December of 2019, and I think any of them are fantastic. We’re briefer in respect to our conversations. They last anywhere from 18 to 22 minutes, so it’s not a huge commitment on anybody’s part to sit and listen to something for an hour, but the goal is to really talk about bravery at work and how to get better at it.
Love it. Love it. Ed, thank you. Thanks for sharing authentically with us today and being a part of the Publish. Promote. Profit. Podcast. Great to have you here, my friend.
Great, Rob. I loved speaking with you today. Thank you so much for having me.