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December 15, 2021 | 31 Mins Read

Leadership Competencies in a Time of Unprecedented Change

December 15, 2021 | 31 Mins Read

Leadership Competencies in a Time of Unprecedented Change


Sarah welcomes Dr. Adam Bandelli, author of the book What Every Leader Needs: The Ten Universal and Indisputable Competencies of Leadership Effectiveness, to discuss how the unprecedented circumstances of the last two years have changed what leaders need to do to be effective.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we are going to be talking about the things every leader needs in a time of unprecedented change. I'm excited to be joined today by Dr. Adam Bandelli, who is the Managing Director of Bandelli and Associates. Adam, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: How are you?

Sarah Nicastro: Good. How are you?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I'm doing well. Doing well.

Sarah Nicastro: Great. So, Adam recently wrote a book that he's going to share a bit about with us today. That book is titled What Every Leader Needs. And we're going to talk about some of the characteristics and advice that Adam shares in that book as it relates to some of the change and challenges our audience is facing. Before we dig in, Adam, can you tell our listeners a bit more about yourself?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, absolutely. So, I am a leadership advisor and management psychologist by training. I did my doctoral work down at the University of South Florida, where I really focused on three things that have kind of transcended through my career. One is around leadership excellence, and that played a role in helping to write the first book. The second is around relationships and influence. And then the third is around culture work.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So, I did my degree down there. I spent the first decade of my career working for a global management consulting firm, where we really focused on three different things. One is around leadership selection assessments, so helping companies hire senior executives into key roles. The second is around leadership development and executive coaching. So I worked with a number of leaders, Fortune 100 companies on down, C-suite, C-minus 1 to really help develop and cultivate the skills they need. And then the third phase is around transformational change. So really helping companies set a vision for their teams, and then instilling those norms and beliefs down to their cultures. I started my firm in 2016, and the last five or six years we've seen a lot of growth, even during the pandemic, and we're working with some great clients.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. Good. Excellent. And we've talked a lot over the last year and a half, almost two years, about the elements of change that the pandemic has brought about when it comes to technology, leadership, culture, all of those things. So... All right, so we are going to share some of the insights from the book, but before we do that, I'm hoping you can talk a bit about some of the different forces that are causing an evolution around leadership.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Thanks. So, I think there are a couple things that are really causing a change in leadership across different companies and industries. I think one we're seeing more of this focus around crisis leadership. So the pandemic has really shown us that great leaders need to not only drive results and motivate their people, but they need to really have those connections individually with the folks that work with them. If we go back to the beginning of the pandemic, people were concerned about their children, their elderly parents, so having the work-life balance has gone away. And so, leaders who were able to sew into the relationships and really show an interest and demonstrate empathy for their people, are really getting the most out of their people as we get out of the pandemic. So that would be one place.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think the second place that leadership is really starting to see some changes is around inclusive and diverse cultures. And so coming out of social justice from 2020, many companies are now focusing on, how do we build more inclusive cultures? And how do we get our people from different backgrounds and races and ethnicities and sexual orientation to really have that connective tissue, where diversity of thought is the primary thing that's brought to the forefront and you're able to leverage the insights from people from all different backgrounds?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then I think the third piece is really around servant leadership. And so what we're seeing a lot in our firm with our clients is this idea of authenticity. And so leaders who show up and bring their best selves to work are being genuine, they are being authentic, there's a level of humility that they show to working with their direct reports, to working with their people. And that really builds cultures of excellence for their teams and organizations.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's interesting. So, I think about a few things here. I want to comment on a couple of the points you made, but before, maybe I'll add one or two of my own thoughts. One of the things that I think is both exciting and challenging for leaders today is how the need to be more agile, the pace of change, the pace of decision-making, right? This idea of being in a real constant state of continual improvement but like not in a way where like everyone's always continually improving, but like in a real like there are always real significant things happening, right? I mean, we're just in a place where there is a lot of disruption, and the idea of quick decisions, acting on your feet, being able to evaluate data and criteria in a very nimble way, those types of things, is a change in the landscape.

Sarah Nicastro: The other thing that we've talked about just a bit on here, because on this podcast we do often talk about the ways companies are leveraging technology to innovate, right? Is the idea that in many instances you have leaders who are not digital natives, right? But they're leading companies through digital transformation and the journey to digitalization, and what that means in terms of how they perceive themselves, how they need to build talent around them, how they manage and reward that talent, right? On outcomes not output, you know? So a lot of different things related to that.

Sarah Nicastro: But I absolutely agree with you that each of the things you mentioned, what's interesting to me is leaders that aren't good leaders are smart enough to know that they need to pretend to be good leaders. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, exactly.

Sarah Nicastro: So like, what stands out to me, what I mean by that is, each of the things you said, like connecting with your employees and focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and... everyone knows that those things are important. So everyone says they're doing it, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: But the real difference is I think the word that you said, which is authenticity. Right? So it is, this is not about checking a box that you're a good leader, it's about genuinely giving a shit and showing up in that way. Right? And it can be really challenging sometimes to tell the difference, do you think?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think you'll see short-term results if you put a quick bandaid around diversity, inclusion, or if you try to show more time for your people, but the best leaders are doing it consistently and they're committed to doing. And so there is no kind of drop off after a short period of time. They're genuinely trying to make the people around them better.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. And I think a lot of that has to do with a real recognition or understanding of the value that comes from that. Right? So if you think about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it's not about making sure that you're hitting X percent of this or pay equity in this area, right? It's what you said, which is, all of that is important, but it's also diversity of thought and opinion.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Like you should not want everyone around you to be the same as you, you should welcome people in that have different backgrounds, different experiences, different viewpoints. And that only makes your organization stronger. And so I think that there's this idea of historically, leaders... There's this perception of the elite and the top dog type mentality. Right? And I think in a lot of today's organizations, you see more democratization of talent and control, more empowerment, more realization that the more I engage my employees and the more they're invested in what they're doing, the better we will all be because of that.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep, exactly. Yep, absolutely. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: It's really interesting though, I also feel for a lot of folks that I have on here, Adam, that work for leaders who are dinosaurs.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So part of an old boys club.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And they see such opportunity for change in their own organizations, but it's just they're met with such resistance.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: They're hitting that wall.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And that's disheartening and it's frustrating and it's testament to that talent that sees that opportunity is only going to hang on so long before they take their talent elsewhere, because they're not in an environment where they can really contribute and thrive.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Well, I think we're in the midst of the Great Resignation now. And so leaders who are doing those things, they're losing people left and right. I have several of our clients who are going through that transition now, where the old guard who's been doing things the same way for years, attrition is going through the roof. And so, unless leaders are really taking time to develop their people and spend time with their people and build relationships with their people, you can find another job tomorrow. And so, especially... And it goes by the generational things too.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: You look at millennials or Gen Z, they're looking for variety, they're looking for things that matter in terms of social issues. And so, folks who are in their careers 20, 30 years, they're not wired that way.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so leaders at the highest levels are not being intentional about how to meet the needs of their employees, that will continue to happen.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I want to ask you a question, though, about... So let's, I don't want to say let's set COVID aside, no one can do that. And I agree that in the same way that we've stated here, COVID sped and exacerbated a focus on technology. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Because the companies that had it were glad they did, and the companies that didn't realized real quick that they should have gotten ahead of that.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I feel similarly about the topic of leadership and company culture in the sense that I do think it has sped and exacerbated some of the companies that were perhaps already on this journey of caring more, and all of these things, but I do think it was underway prior. And what I wonder is, if you have any thoughts or opinions on where was the fork in the road, or like what created the fork in the road of the old guard versus kind of... I don't even know if there is a really good term for it in the organizational psychology world, but like this more new wave of leadership, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. I mean, so you see with the gender inequalities that have been there for decades, that's begun to shift. I'm seeing more of the senior executives that I work with are women, they're empowering their people more, they're creating venues and opportunities where people can communicate more effectively. We're seeing it with minorities and ethnicity differences as well. So people who may have been in lower level roles decades ago, are now given opportunities at the top of the house, and they're bringing about that change.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so, I don't think there was one point in time or one event where it shifted, I think we saw in the early 2000s some of this start to shift, we had the recession 2008, 2009. And in this last decade, we're seeing a number of different things. The LGBTQ, that's become huge in terms of just equality in the workplace as well. So I think all these things had their starts at certain points over the last 20, 30 years, and now we're starting to see some of the fruits of that as we're going into the last couple years and moving forward.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay. All right. So in the book, What Every Leader Needs, you detail 10 competencies for leadership success in today's landscape.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: That's right.

Sarah Nicastro: So, we won't have time on one podcast to go through all 10 in detail, plus, I want people to go buy your book and read about them there. But let's talk about a few. So first, let's talk about compassion.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So compassion is really about impacting people through communication, social awareness, and what I call relational intelligence. And I think the foundations of compassion are really around the idea of EQ and empathy. And so, great leaders have self-awareness about how they're coming across to others, they're effective at managing their emotions, and then they're effective about reading a room. And so those key things really make for people to show up in a compassionate way. But showing up and understanding people's emotions is just one part of it. And so the part that goes deeper is what I've coined as relational intelligence, which is the ability for people to successfully connect with others and build strong long-lasting relationships.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so, how do leaders do that? They do it by establishing rapport with their people, they do it by taking time to understand others, to be inquisitive, to be curious. They're also valuing diversity as part of the programs that run their organization, and not just as a quick fix. And then this idea of trust becomes really critical. So, are leaders able to develop trust, give it out, earn it back from their people? And that really ties into role models and mentors, and how organizations are able to build systems where people who are new can learn from those who have been there, and vice versa.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I'm going to come back with some questions on all of these, but let's go through them first.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So the next one is endurance.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. So endurance is really focused more around maintaining resilience, tenacity, and stamina to achieve your goals. And so, we've really seen this become one of the forefront leadership skills coming out of the pandemic. People have had to push through some difficult change and uncertainty. And there are different ways that leaders can focus on. I think what we've seen over the last year are that leaders who are very pragmatic and practical they were able to set goals for their teams that they can achieve in the short-term when people do not know what's going on and trying to figure things out day from day. Leaders who operate with endurance, they play at the right level as well. So this idea of delegation becomes really critical and how you're able to do that within your teams across functions as well.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then there's a piece around balancing strategic and tactical issues. So great leaders who are able to show up with endurance, they know the level that they need to play, but they also know that they have the people around them to go tactical when they need to and they can pull back up. So, it's those kinds of pieces that really make for folks who are able to show that endurance over time.

Sarah Nicastro: So this is maybe a combination of both of those two initial characteristics, but... Well, I had a really interesting conversation a few months ago with someone I know who works within an organization that was really heavily impacted by the pandemic in a negative way, like many were, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: And the conversation we had was about that organization's leadership's missteps in not being able to separate the performance of its employees with the performance of the organization, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, it was this situation where... I just think when you think of endurance and you think about what everyone's been through during the last year and a half, I mean, this can apply to your real life too. I mean, I'll be honest, like I've had times where I've struggled and I'm like, "I can't do it anymore, I don't want to do it anymore." And I'm not talking about work, I'm talking about it all. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Like it's just like the whole thing has just seemed incredibly defeating at times, never-ending, like, "Will we ever be able to X?" All of the things, all of the worry, the stress, et cetera. So... And as a leader of a company, then that's compounded by your own... your need for personal endurance with whatever might be going on in your life, with the endurance of also the organization and the team. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that when you were talking about endurance, I was just thinking like, "Boy, that has to be really, really hard to be a motivating force in such a taxing time." Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: But the reality is, that's where I was kind of thinking about the intersection of those two traits, like endurance and compassion, right? Because, yes, it's frustrating to have to recognize your team for hard work when the overall performance of the company is suffering, but you need to have the compassion to know it's not their fault and they're still trying, right? And so, by not being able to separate those things, and either directly or indirectly placing that blame on them, you just kill the morale of your whole staff. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, there's a lot that comes into, I would imagine, sort of the codependencies of these characteristics and how they all intersect.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, that's spot on. I think there's a huge connection between a number of them, but compassion and endurance are probably two of the biggest ones that have been interconnected in the last year and a half.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And I can think of one example from one of our clients where there was someone who was new to the role and new to the organization, and didn't really know and understand the culture. And so, as performance started to dip for the organization, this leader started to push harder with his people and missed out on those moments to really empathize with what they were doing in their home and personal lives, because the blending lines of work and personal has really kind of been thrown into the forefront in the last year.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And so, he was unsuccessful in really getting to motivate his team, because he didn't take time for them, he focused more on what we need to do versus who do we have around the table to get it done.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. This is where I wish I knew sports better and I could come with like a really good analogy of like, "What type of coach are you? This guy or this guy, or girl?" But I don't. But I mean, it is very much a thing of... And I think this goes back to the EQ, the relational intelligence, and being able to say, "What do they need from me right now to endure? Do I need to be hard and strict and do I need to kind of lay down the law, or do I need to back up a little bit and be more compassionate, be more empathetic and kind of take a softer approach?" And I think that really good leaders can do both, they don't sort of just characterize themselves as one or the other. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: They can kind of put on different hats as needed to get the outcome.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Great leaders are servant leaders. I'm a firm believer in that. And so, servant leaders put their people first. And if you put people first and you sow into their lives, they're going to drill through walls for you. They're going to be committed to you if you don't lead by fear and intimidation. Some of the greatest leaders that I've worked with, understand that at their core, and so they show up to make their people better. And that shows up in the results at the end of the day.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. All right. The next characteristic we're going to talk about is vision.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. So vision is the kind of quintessential leadership skill. It starts on the very basic level. If you don't have a plan or idea for your future, you'll have no idea where you're going. So vision is about developing a clear sense of the mission and purpose that really provides direction to yourself and to others. And so leaders who are able to do that three year plan, five year plan, they at least get an idea of where they want to go and they can do the kind of delineation of where we are current state and where the future state is. But there's three important things that when you're setting a vision for your team are really critical.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think one, you have to build the playbook. So if I have a goal to do X, Y, Z in five years, what are we going to do each year to get there? And so building those steps until you can achieve that vision. But the most important thing with your people is to bring them along for the journey. And so, it's not just you in a room creating this overall theme or this overall approach, it's are you getting agreement and getting alignment, and making sure that your folks play a role in shaping what that vision will look like.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then the biggest thing that I've seen that's been a challenge in the last two years has been celebrating the victories along the way. And so, leaders are constantly trying to strive for that next hill, that next goal or accomplishment. When they don't celebrate the victories, it can be very demoralizing to your team. So setting a vision really focuses on those three things. It's having your playbook, it's bringing others along, and then it's really being able to celebrate the victories along the way.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, good. The next one is inspiration.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Inspiration is one of my favorite ones. This is really around motivating, encouraging, and influencing other people. And this is where it goes beyond compassion, because compassion is really understanding where people are and meeting them there, inspiration is how you're able to take that and really drive things forward. And so, inspiration really focuses on words that have power. Our words have tremendous power, whether it's good and bad. And the people that report to us can sometimes hang on everything that we say. So, are you being encouraging with what you're sharing? Are you pointing out things that they're doing well and providing that feedback on a consistent basis? So many leaders miss out on opportunities to provide feedback. And so, that's a big critical piece of it.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Rewards, recognition, and repercussions. That's another big part of inspiration. Are you setting clear expectations and holding people accountable? If you are and they're achieving their objectives, how are you rewarding them? And not just incentives and competent pay, but how are you giving them opportunities to take on greater responsibility, or increasing their scale and scope in what they do? And then recognition is about really supporting them and encouraging them to be promoted or to move on. Are you acknowledging the hard work that they're putting in?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then the third piece around inspiration is really around developing the talents of your people. And so, great leaders are very intentional and focused on, how can I make my team better, individually and collectively? And so, inspiration really is shown and demonstrated by how you develop your people.

Sarah Nicastro: So what I'm wondering, Adam, is how reliant is a leader's ability to inspire its workforce on their investment in their own inspiration?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Explain that a little more.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I think for a leader to be able to go to work and inspire others, they need to be inspired.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that sometimes leaders don't do a good job of conserving the time and energy to source their own inspiration. Does that make sense?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. 

Sarah Nicastro: And so, I'm just wondering your thoughts on the correlation between those two things. Like they... I guess the concept of you can't pour from an empty cup, right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And so I think like some of the leaders I know that I think are most inspiring, actively prioritize investment in things that inspire them. So whether that's peer groups community, their own mentorships, reading, podcasts, movies, whatever it is that really lights them up, they know that they need to have the time to do those things so that they then have that energy to take to their role.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Where are they getting their energy from? Where are they getting their inspiration from? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think really strong leaders are balanced in how they do things. So they take time for their physical and fitness, they take time for their spiritual, mental, and emotional. So it's well balanced. But they have resources and tools that they leverage, whether it's books that they read, whether it's podcasts they listen to, but they're getting their inspiration from what they're seeing, and then it goes back to the idea around vision.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: They're getting their inspiration from, where are we taking this business? Where are we taking the team? Leaders who have the end state in mind can usually keep themselves engaged and motivated because they're moving towards something.

Sarah Nicastro: I also I think would say that some of the best leaders I know allow themselves to be inspired by their teams or individuals on their teams, right? Like they can also get inspiration from the people that they're working with.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. The last one we're going to talk about today is innovation.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. And innovation is really, how are you able to apply continuous improvements to processes and procedures over time? And so, innovation really focuses on four critical elements. I think one, innovative leaders anticipate the future. So they're constantly looking around the corner and anticipating what's going to happen next. Whether you're in an industry where you develop products, whether you're in a services industry, how can I meet the needs of my customers or clients before they even know they're happening?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think the other piece around innovation that's really critical is, can you put thoughts into actions? Some of the greatest leaders that I've worked with, not only have people around them who can come up with great ideas, but they're able to then track that back to, "Okay, how do we make this come to life?" Because you can have tons of great ideas, but unless you can bring it to the forefront and make it happen, innovation is not going to be useful.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Then there's this piece at the organizational level, which is really around how do you create cultures where people value creativity and they value idea generation? And it really starts from kind of having an open environment where people feel their values and beliefs are appreciated, and so that people can be more creative. And then going back to what we started with today is championing diversity of thought. You want different people around the table from you so that the best ideas can be brought to the forefront.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think one of the things that comes to mind when I think about innovation is, it seems like such a sexy word, but in reality, it's tied very closely, again, to endurance, right? I mean, it's to your point, you can have innovative ideas all day, every day, but if you don't actually put any of them in place, it doesn't matter. Right? So it's a big part of innovation is execution.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think that there's... Some of the most innovative minds I think are also just people that are programmed to think fast, move on to the next thing, think fast, move on to the next thing, right? So kind of tempering that with the ability to execute and the ability to kind of take things in the appropriate order to actually see them come to fruition, is a super important part of innovation.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And the other part that's tied into endurance is a lot of times people are thrown into situations where they need to adjust and change changes imposed on them that's not their choice. And so people who are innovative know how to adapt and respond. They're agile. They can respond quickly to those changing circumstances, and come up with solutions to adapt on the fly.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, really cool. So, if listeners want to know what the other five characteristics are, they need to check out the book, which we'll tell them about later. But you also have a new book coming out in the spring.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I do.

Sarah Nicastro: So, can you tell us a little bit, maybe give us a little bit of a sneak peek into that?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. So as I mentioned, I've spent the last two decades of my life really focused on relationships and influence. So how can leaders get the best out of their people by the relationships that they develop? So, I came up with this concept called relational intelligence, back when I was doing my dissertation in graduate school. And I've refined this framework over the last 15 years, both personally and professionally. So the new book is called Relational Intelligence: The Five Essential Skills That You Need To Build Life-Changing Relationships.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And what the book looks at is this conceptual model that I developed that looks at five skills that lead to building a strong relationship to influence people. So skills like, how are you able to make an initial connection? How are you able to show empathy and curiosity for people? How are you able to embrace diversity develop trust? So the first part of this book really does a deep dive into each of the five skills. Very similar to my first book, there's practical applications at the end of every chapter, where you can apply these right away to use them.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: The second part of the book is the applications of relational intelligence on the different areas of our life. So related to our family lives, our friendships, our professional lives, and even our romantic lives in marriage. So it kind of shows how this applies to both things. We have seen in my firm with our clients become one of the most number one issues that people are facing right now. Especially coming out of the pandemic, people have lost that human element moment. We're doing our conversations like this at Zoom. So getting in the room with people and really being able to embrace others and being able to really reestablish those connections, is critical. And relational intelligence is really a toolkit for people to reestablish their relationships.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Good. So, what do you think are the biggest barriers to leaders embracing the 10 characteristics you outlined in What Every Leader Needs, and/or some of the points that you bring up in the new book coming out, the skills related to relational intelligence?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah, it's a great question. So I think there is what we call the dark side of leadership. So there are certain traits that leaders demonstrate that can really get them into trouble. So things like Machiavellianism, narcissism, and pride. And so, whether you're building relationships with colleagues, or whether you're trying to inspire, motivate people, when leaders are self-centered and directed kind on their outcomes, when they view people as means to an end and they don't think about the repercussions long-term, there's this term, leading with the iron fist, leaders who do that will get immediate results for the short-term, but they'll damage relationships and they'll damage the impact and the culture that they have long-term.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So, that's the first thing I would say that is a real big barrier is finding and identifying who those people are, and making sure that they're not in the roles where they're going to influence and impact other people.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: I think the second thing is really around this inability to change and adapt. The leaders who have struggled the most through the pandemic are the ones who have had an inability to adjust to working from home. I look at people in the restaurant, hospitality industry, who have always been in offices and in restaurants and in places, to be stuck at home it's very challenging for folks in that industry. Other industries like myself, professional services, I did most of this, where I was either at my clients or working from home writing reports. So it was not a difficult transition for me to do this. I'm extroverted and get energy off of interacting with people, so that part was hard. But I think those who couldn't embrace change have struggled.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: And then I think the other piece that's tied into this self-centeredness is leaders who only care about the results. I believe that the highest calling of leadership is development and cultivation of the skills of the people around you. And if you're just trying to push people to get to a number or to hit your top-line growth, you're not going to be able to generate that success long-term.

Sarah Nicastro: So, to what degree though? The last comment you made. I agree. Okay?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But it doesn't seem to me that a lot of top-level executives and boards that I would interact with today would share that sentiment, or if they do, it goes back to the point I made early on, which is they can say it, but at the end of the day, all of the decisions they make are very driven by just numbers.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, to what degree do you think people share that sentiment that you have? And is that on the increase?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. I think you go by generations. I think folks who are baby boomers, who are probably on their way out in the next decade or so, they have that old guard mindset. I'm working with a lot of executives now who are in their early to mid 40s, where the focus on people and culture has become even more important. So I believe you will start to see a shift over the next decade, where there will no longer be lip service to we have to care and show empathy for our people, that will become more of their priority. It's a much more important factor to millennials, it's a much more important factor to Gen Z. And so, that shift I think is going to start to really snowball over the next 10 years.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I have a lot of other questions I'd like to ask you, but we're not going to have time for all of them today. We'll have to have you back sometime, maybe when the new book comes out in the spring. We can dig in to that a bit.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. That's fine. That's fine. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I did want to ask, you've spent years and years working with different clients on both their businesses and themselves, in terms of their own leadership skills.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Is there any like daily practice or best habit that you would suggest to listeners when it comes to this concept of embracing modern best practices and educating and continually improving yourselves? Let's leave the people out that don't have a genuine desire to go up, because what's the point? That's a different conversation. But for the people that do, what is the best advice you can give in terms of good habits, daily practices, that sort of thing?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So I'll start with what my clients do and what I coach them on, and then I'll say what I do personally, because I think that's more meaningful and impactful to your audience. The greatest leaders that I work with have healthy routines that they start their days with. If you go back to Tony Robbins, he talked about his Hour of Power, and a lot of folks. Oprah does the same thing. But you'll see successful people across all walks of life start their day with a consistent routine.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: For me, over the last several years, I've honed and refined it. So I spend the first hours of the day really focused on spiritual practices, physical health, mental and emotional well-being. And one of the things that I do that's very simple, everyone's probably heard of it before, but I journal. And so, journaling is one of the first things that I do in the morning, just getting my thoughts down on paper before I touch anything else or do anything else. And for what it's done for me is it's freed up the creative ability to write elsewhere without having writer's block or things get in the way of me putting my words to paper.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So I've written both of these books, What Every Leader Needs, and Relational Intelligence, over the last two years, because of that one specific habit. I start the habit every January, where I'll sit down and just... Again, every morning, I have to fill one page of a piece of paper out with thoughts and just random things I'm emotionally experiencing or whatnot at the start of the day. And that has led into me being freer to write and to create and to be innovative in all the work that I do in my firm.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: So I would say to your audience, get yourself a good routine in the morning, have it be a combination of thought, physical activity. You want to both exercise the psychology of your mind and also the physiology of your body. And if you do that, I think it will impact your life in many different ways, but it will automatically set your day on a bright note, where whatever types of adversity come your way, because you've kind of given yourself that one hour to set the stage, it makes the rest of the day more successful.

Sarah Nicastro: What time do you get up?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Usually 5AM. So I try to do this with-

Sarah Nicastro: What time do you go to bed?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: 9:30, 10:00. So I'm an early fall asleep early, get up early.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I'm going to be honest with you, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I feel like I don't want this to turn into a therapy session, but I will admit publicly that I, in the last couple of months, have fallen out of that habit myself. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So I, five days a week, would get up, go to the gym at 5:45. I don't know that I was as good at the other parts, I don't journal and then... Those are all things I would like to do. Right?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And it's a completely different day when I do it. I just also... I struggle with the fact that I work full-time, I'm married, I have two small children. Like, I know it's, I don't want to say it's an excuse, it's a reason, but it's not a good enough reason, which is I'm just tired. I'm tired.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But I actually ordered a Peloton last week, it will be here on Monday, and I am committed. You all can follow me on Instagram and watch me post my workouts daily starting Monday morning, because I know damn well it will pay off significantly. And I like the idea-

Dr. Adam Bandelli: You talked about inspiration. You talked about inspiration.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: This is the hour of the day where you can get inspired by something you're listening to, you can get inspired by working out. So, this is the hour of the day you give to yourself. Give the first hour to yourself, give the first hour to energize and get yourself ready for the day, and it will impact the rest of the day.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Yeah, I think that's fantastic advice. And I think that I always go back to after I had my first son and I gained a ridiculous amount of weight when I was pregnant with him, but I did a program from home, it was a half an hour a day, and I always told myself, "It is 30 minutes, like there is absolutely no reason you can't prioritize this." And a lot of it is just habit, you know?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: And that's why I think I've been frustrated, because I've had it for so long, and then I broke it, and I'm having trouble getting back into it, but I will, you know?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: But you're absolutely right, that it's a... People always... I don't know how you can get up that early, but like once you're doing it, you realize how good it is and how much it helps you. Like I always say too like, "I work out more for my mental health than I do..." Like, yes, it's good for my physical health, but like my motivation is how I feel, period. You know?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I think that's really good advice. Okay. Adam, any closing thoughts or comments before we wrap up today?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: No, no, this has been tremendous, a pleasure to speaking with you and your audience. And you can follow us on... Our website is, if you want to find out about the services that our firm offers around leadership development. And you can also go to the website,, that's one word. And that's where you can find places to purchase the book, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et cetera.

Sarah Nicastro: What Every Leader Needs. And the new book is coming out in the spring, do you have a month?

Dr. Adam Bandelli: April, 2022. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, we're going to start posting about that in January. So there'll be a lead-up to the release of Relational Intelligence. And you can follow us on social media, we'll have all that information for you.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Well, we would love to have you back when the new book comes out and talk a little bit about the content there. Really appreciate your time today. It's been wonderful having you. So thanks for coming on.

Dr. Adam Bandelli: Yeah, my pleasure.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. You can find more by visiting us at You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future Of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.