Creative Genius Podcast

Season 5 Episode 7

When the Going Gets Tough, Leaders Lean Into Learning (Tim Fulkerson)

When the Going Gets Tough, Leaders Lean Into Learning (Tim Fulkerson)

When you think of leaders you admire, those who really make a difference, what traits stand out for you? Probably not being dictatorial, single-minded, disdainful or aloof. We want our leaders to be strong, but wherein does the real strength of leadership lie?

In this podcast, Gail along with members of her Boardroom Group glean some insights into how to become a more effective leader courtesy of Tim Fulkerson, executive coach and member of the Leadership Coach Group. Tim has coached hundreds of clients from around the world, from senior managers to senior executives in a wide range of industries and companies, large and small.

Tim began his presentation by sharing some research showing that among all types of companies leadership is the only single differentiator between organizations for how well they perform. In short, said Tim, “We know that leadership matters.”

If leadership is key to a firm’s success, how can we become more effective leaders? Not by carrying a big stick. Rather, said Tim, by tuning into the culture and creating connections with your team before you turn them loose to do the work. Effective leaders don’t direct their people, they motivate and support them and give them the freedom to do their best work.

Tim cited five “creative competencies” leaders need to be effective: relating, self-awareness, authenticity, systems awareness, and achieving.

“Leadership effectiveness is mediated by the gap between self and circumstance,” said Tim. When problems or challenges arise that are outside our current competencies because of their complexity or uncertainty, we have the choice either to react negatively and try to muddle our way through, or to engage with the situation and accept it as an opportunity to learn and expand our competencies. Effective leaders are those who respond to challenges by getting curious, by getting creative, and by acknowledging the challenge to their team and asking for their input and ideas.

Tim touched on a number of other topics, such as the role of emotions in leadership, the courage to be seen as vulnerable, and the five essential responsibilities that all leaders have to their firms and their teams. For these insights and more, listen to the entire podcast.

If you’re listening on your favorite podcast platform, view the full show notes on our website:

Mentioned in This Podcast

For more information about Tim and his colleagues, visit the website for the Leadership Coach Group.

Tim mentioned The Leadership Circle and its co-founders, Bill Adams and Bob Anderson, which specializes in leadership development.

Gail referred to the book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.  You can learn more about it on Marshall’s website.

Tim discussed the Cynefin (pronounced ‘ku-nev-in’) framework, developed by Dave Snowden, a renowned authority on chaos theory and managing complexity. You’ll find a helpful explanation, with charts and graphs, at, or a number of other websites pertaining to business management and decision-making models.

Tim spoke of the acronym VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, which derives from the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus.  There is a helpful article from Forbes magazine that explains what it means and why it matters to business.

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