After the Webinar: Leadership Reset – Setting Goals for the New Year. Q&A with Brenda Dietzman

Webinar presenter Brenda Dietzman answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Leadership Reset: Setting Goals for the New Year. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: I love the idea of setting boundaries and have never thought about how it can promote growth in others. I’m a probation officer and have tried to be available to my clients 24/7, but I’ve never thought about how it might be handicapping them by finding solutions for them. Do you have any suggestions on how I can continue to do this great job I’m doing but set boundaries at the same time? 

Brenda Dietzman: I think you’re on the path of understanding the reason why I’m a big, big person on explaining why and understanding why, because that can motivate you to do things, and it can also help you do different things like this. So, just thinking about that alone, of just saying, “You know what? On the weekends, you can text me. Not going to answer you until Monday unless it’s an emergency.” You can set up your phone, so it has that do not disturb on, and it tells people when they text you that you have that do not disturb on. Now, they can get through it if they, if they decide to, if they say, “This is an emergency, I really need to get hold of you.” But it just sets that boundary up. It’s like, “Oh, they’re in bed. They’re off having fun, they’re off, whatever.” And it sets those boundaries right up front for them if you set your phone up that way. But think of it this way, you have people all around you watching you. So, if you’re telling people, “Take your vacations, take your weekends and your evenings, that’s your time,” but yet, you’re continuously doing that. It puts pressure. You’re continuously answering those text messages and whatever, and not practicing what you preach, then that puts pressure on them to do the same thing. So, you’re modeling that for your clients. You’re modeling that for your clients, for your co-workers, but you’re also modeling that for your kids, if you have kids, because they see that. So, there are a lot of reasons to put just really good boundaries. And again, if something triggers you, there’s a reason that it’s triggering you, First of all, figure out the emotion, figure out why it’s triggering you, then that healthy boundary that needs to be in place, so, you don’t get triggered like that.


Audience Question: Do you have any tips for how to figure out what brings you joy, and what triggers you? I have had a hard time answering this question about myself. 

Brenda Dietzman: The best thing that I can tell you is to think about, at the end of your life, what are you going to regret not doing?  And really dig into that. Also, think about when you were a kid, what did you enjoy doing? It took a few therapy sessions to figure this out. But I love the mountains, so don’t ask me why I live in Kansas. Love Kansas, but all my goodness, it’s flatter than the pancake, literally. And I love the mountains. Well, the reason being is I was raised on a dairy farm, we worked all the time, seven days a week because you got to milk the cows. But two weeks out of the year, my dad, and my family, we would go out west, and we would spend time in the mountains. And that was the time that he was relaxed, and he was laughing and joyful, and didn’t have the pressure on him. And I think that’s why I enjoy mountains so much because of those memories. So, think about your childhood. What did you enjoy doing in childhood? Then maybe go back in, you might not be able to be a gymnast anymore or anything like that. But if you play volleyball in high school, go play volleyball. You know, if you played football, go out and find a football team somewhere. Then think about, as I’m doing this what emotions am I feeling right now. And does it bring me joy? And if it does, then keep doing that. But sometimes it’s just a trial and error. I mean, some people think that they want to learn a second language, and as just really tough for me, my brain doesn’t work that way. I probably should try it. Try it. If it doesn’t bring you joy, you kind of like the Marie Kondo thing, then get rid of it and do something else.


Audience Question: How do you build boundaries when you’re the only one in your shop with the answers? And then, the second part is, And then, how do you change the boundaries, when you’ve all worked together for so long? 

Brenda Dietzman: Talking about Radical Candor. It’s having hard conversations with people and maybe not this direct, but I’m going to make it this direct for, for time’s sake, “I’m enabling you, and I can’t be here for you. I’m going to leave someday. So, what can we do to set up learning opportunities, experiences, and responsibilities? So, you get the experience and the knowledge that I have.” Maybe it’s mentoring, maybe it’s you have to come to me once a week with a problem that you’ve had that you think is unsolvable and then I ask you questions. I don’t solve it for you. But I ask you questions and give you tasks so that you can figure it out yourself.” And then when you do that, then you start to open up that possibility for them. You know what? People are pretty resourceful. If they have a problem that they need solved right now, you’re probably going to figure it out. So, they might fail miserably at it, but you know what? Unless somebody’s dead, we can fix it. So, give them opportunities to fail and make failure safe with your people. Let me say that again. Make failure safe for your people. Celebrate it. “In fact, you know what? You gave it the old college try and you failed, and you fell flat on your face, but you try. Good for you. I appreciate that as your supervisor. Now, let’s see how we could have done it better,” and then ask them questions and get them to the correct solution by the questions that you’re asking them. And then slowly start to set those boundaries. So, with their new knowledge, with their newfound confidence, in themselves, they can start to, they can start to solve problems on their own.


Audience Question: As a new supervisor how do I lead a team having limited hands-on knowledge of every task that my team is responsible for doing?

Brenda Dietzman: I think that there’s an overemphasis on leaders knowing how to do every single thing that your people do. I think that there’s an overemphasis on that. People on the front line like that because they know that you understand the difficulties that they have. But, I had a very wise supervisor once told me when I became a sergeant, he said, “I don’t pay you to work. I pay you to make decisions, and I want people working for me that know more about their job than what I do because there is no way that I can know everything about everyone’s job.” Then, I’ve got to give them the freedom to make mistakes. Make it safe for them. And that it’s okay, and that they can move on, and we’re going to get over that. Being with your people, spending time with your people, asking what the hurdles and the responsibilities are, and what the frustrations are. What are the good points are? So, you can keep building on those things. That’s the important part. You’re not going to be as good as what they are at their jobs, because they do it every day, and they get more and more experienced every day, every day, every day. But, your job, I think, is more about giving them the tools, the opportunity or the time, and the knowledge to do their job. And that can be sending them to classes. It could be getting them a new computer. It could be saying, “You know what, I’m giving you too much work. We’re going to spread this out a little bit,” giving them the time to do their job. I think that there’s too much of an overemphasis that you have to be an expert at their job. That’s not your job, your job is to be their supervisor.


Audience Question: How do you motivate others when they appear to be very negative and not open to motivation? 

Brenda Dietzman: There are a few people in life. They’re the strivers which probably most of you on this call are in that category. You’ll want to make the world a better place, you want to make yourself better you want to be better. Then there are the people that do the work. They don’t go above and beyond, but they get the work done. And then there’s the rest of them. I was often presented with this question as the number two person at a pretty large organization of how do I motivate somebody? And my question always back to that person was “What’s their personal life like?” If they have an incredible personal life, they have a very vibrant personal life, rich relationships, and healthy behaviors, then they come to work, and they’re different person, that means that you have a toxic work environment. But most of the time, what I found is that those people are just miserable throughout their entire life. So, the best way that you can do, the best thing that you can do for them is to give them the tools to improve their entire life. Because that’s the only way that they’re going to improve or get motivated at work is to improve the rest of their life. To improve themselves. So that might be giving them the wellness classes, teaching them about finances because if they’re overwhelmed about the furnace dying and they have to pay X amount of money and they don’t have it. That’s what might be getting them down. Because they’re in huge financial debt. So maybe giving them information about how to build finances and a savings account, and getting them over that hurdle so, the rest of their life can clean up. It might be that they’re going through a divorce at the moment. It might be that they’ve had a traumatic childhood, and they’re still dealing with the trauma from their childhood. Giving them resources to your employee assistance program, teaching them about mindfulness meditation. Getting them healthy is about the only way that you’re going to do that. And understand this. What do you control? What do you not control? You don’t control people.  You can give them all of the knowledge all the time, all of the opportunities that you can, but if they don’t decide to make themselves better, there’s nothing that you can do to do that. So, either part ways with them or you deal with them.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Leadership Reset: Setting Goals for the New Year. 


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