Why Leaders Need Managerial Courage with Kevin Whelan - Meeting Leadership Podcast Episode Image

If you manage teams and you want to learn about why it is so important to have courage, then you’re going to really enjoy listening to this episode.

Because in MLP #017 you’re going to learn from our special guest, Instructor and Productivity Expert, Kevin Whelan (see bio below) about how to develop managerial courage. 

Not only will you be inspired by Kevin’s insights but you’ll also learn how to:

  • Develop integrity with your team
  • Ensure that you always express the truth, even if it’s unpopular
  • Have the courage to adhere to standards and more

So get out your pads and pens because this episode has a lot of practical tips you won’t want to miss.

Kevin Whelan

Kevin Whelan - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Kevin Whelan is passionate about inspiring leadership and reducing inefficiencies in the workplace and this is how he transforms every client he works with.

In his current role as a facilitator at NAIT  – the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – he guides students through learning how to become efficient and effective people centred project managers.  

He backs up his teaching excellence with over 25 years of industry experience in manufacturing, operations and project management roles in the petroleum and automotive industries.

Kevin also gives back to the community by serving as the Vice President of ASET – The Association of Science And Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta.

You can get in touch with Kevin on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kwhelancanada

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Start Here – Podcast content starts here!

Gordon Sheppard Speaking

Welcome to the Meeting Leadership podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. It’s great to have you here. It’s great to have the type of people like you who want to up their leadership game. Today, if I could describe sort of the theme of today’s episode, it would have to be how to get gritty as a leader because today we’re going to talk about why leaders need managerial courage. I love this topic. It’s a great interview with Kevin Whelan. Kevin is a leadership and productivity expert. He’s with NAIT, which is the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology here in Edmonton, Alberta. And the interview going along with him, it’s short, but you’re going to pick up some really important points that you can take forward to use with your team today. I’m not going to hold back another second. So here’s the interview with Kevin Whelan. Kevin, welcome back to the show.

01:20 – Kevin Whelan Introduction

Kevin Whelan:       Hey, thanks Gordon. Good to be back.

Gordon Sheppard:    It’s great to have you here. We know that in episode 10 you provided a ton of value for the audience. Really I hope a lot of people get back and check that one out as well. But today for the people that haven’t met you yet, give us a second here, a little bit about yourself so they can understand kind of who you are and where you come from.

Kevin Whelan:       Sure. My name’s Kevin Whelan. I’m an instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. We work in continuing education and specifically in our department we focus on teaching leadership, project management, Lean, Six Sigma, any sort of productivity improvement courses that we can come up with, operations management, quality management, all of those sorts of things.

02:00 – Managerial Courage Introduction

And the one comment I’ll make about the program that I’m aware of over at NAIT is that the rubber hits the road there. This is where they get their hands messy. They get people trained up and the people are hitting industry at the highest possible level because of instructors like Kevin. So Kevin, good to have you back here on the show. Today it’s a topic that you named for me in a way in our pre-interview that I really wanted then to bring forward. Now the topic is why do leaders need managerial courage? And you said managerial courage and that was for me like a lightning bolt. I want really to convey what this is, what you mean by this to the audience. What is managerial courage?

Kevin Whelan:       Managerial courage is a characteristic of a leader and it really, really ties in with what we already talked about in establishing trust. Generally people want leaders in their organizations that have integrity, and by integrity we mean leaders that they trust, that they respect and they admire, and having the courage to make the right decisions or even just make a decision along the way and do the right thing when it’s the right thing to do for sure. Those sorts of things, they go a long way to developing your integrity with your team.

03:09 – Be Honest With Your Staff

Gordon Sheppard:    I can see the value in this in terms of impact, not just on people but on projects themselves. When you go to teach managerial courage, how do you break that down for people? Is there kind of a three-step process or something like that? What steps do you teach people to put this in place?

Kevin Whelan:       Yeah, well, one of the first things we have to say is, you know, you have to be honest with your staff. You have to be truthful and you have to show your own shortcomings when you have them and admit to them. But at the same time, having that truth and honesty and being able to express that truth, and that also means sometimes even when it’s not popular is very important. Some people will avoid certain topics out of a fear of conflict. And we may be fearful sometimes to speak up in a meeting because it maybe appears that the group wants to go a certain direction. Then we find out after the meeting that everyone wanted to go along with the idea because the boss was promoting it. Truthfully, if you had had the courage to stand up and speak out against it, it could have actually gone a very different way.

04:08 – Have The Courage To Adhere To Standards – Oil & Gas Example

Gordon Sheppard:    What a great gift to give to your students, especially for young people to try and get this attitude into their work experience immediately. What’s sort of the next step that you teach in this process?

Kevin Whelan:       One of the other things we talk about is also having the courage to adhere to standards. I’ve seen many times over the years there’s that feeling that you can bend the rules on a standard that you don’t necessarily agree with because you don’t find it important.

Gordon Sheppard:    Can you give me an example?

Kevin Whelan:       Sure. Let’s say an example was, especially over the years in the oil and gas industry, paperwork has become much more important over time than it used to be, and for good reason. However, some of the people felt that maybe this wasn’t important to them and they didn’t necessarily have the courage to speak up and say, “No, this is the right way of doing it.” A story I can think of is say an oil field service people would be going out to a job site. It might take them five, six hours one way just to get to location and with all of the confidence, and dare I say arrogance sometimes, moving, going out to a job site, thinking full well that they’ve got the job in hand and then getting to location and finding out that actually there’s a bunch of things that they missed because they didn’t fill in the paperwork and check the proper boxes to begin with. I’ve seen it many times.

Gordon Sheppard:    What a disaster. That is such a waste of time. It’s such, again, from a productivity standpoint, from their standpoint. So then what are they going to do? They’re going to drive back six hours, drive another six hours out to get just one job done, that’s a nightmare.

Kevin Whelan:       Well, quite often they would send out what’s called a hot shot truck to send the part of it which is expensive.

Gordon Sheppard:    More expense. Exactly. Oh my goodness. And in terms of the process, what’s the final thing that you want people to really know when it comes to managerial courage?

05:59 – Make Sure That People Are In Their Correct Roles – Now you can ‘lead’ instead of ‘manage’

Kevin Whelan:       Well, one of the other things that we find is that once you have your employees oriented, trained, they know what they’re supposed to do, you’ve hired them for a reason, have the courage to show faith in your team members to do their jobs. Make certain that you spend the time to assess the team’s skills and abilities and make certain that they’re in their correct roles. And after that you’re not managing anymore. Now you’re leading. You give them tasks, you give them deadlines and assume that they will succeed.

Gordon Sheppard:    I absolutely agree. When I remember back to the days that I spent in the corporate world, when that micromanagement would occur, it drove me absolutely nuts. It took quite a while, I remember, when I moved from employee to manager to learn how to lead like the way you’ve described as opposed to micromanaging. And so much of that is really about letting go.

06:50 – Learn To Lead By Example

Kevin Whelan:       Absolutely. One more point I’d like to make, and it’s because you spoke to it, it’s a very good point, Gord, is that quite often how we learn to manage is by example. So what were the examples that were role modeled for us? If they were poor examples, we need to change that so that we are a better role model for our employees.

Gordon Sheppard:    I couldn’t agree more and I wish we had all day. I’m just going to do a quick recap here and see if I can remember the three key points that we want the audience to remember from this terrific interview. One, be truthful, two, adhere to standards, and the third part is have faith and the courage to have faith in the people that you’ve hired to do their job. Is there anything you’d like to add to that?

Kevin Whelan:       I would, but we’d be here all day, Gordon.

Gordon Sheppard:    Thank you so much again for being on the show. I hope to get you back again in the future. This is highly valuable material. I know that people listening right now are going to get a lot from it. Thank you so much, Kevin.

Kevin Whelan:       Yeah, thanks, Gordon. Appreciate it.

07:49 – Conclusion

Gordon Sheppard:    Well, my big takeaway from that interview, it’s about letting go, getting out of people’s way and letting them do their job. And if it takes managerial courage to do that, I hope all of us can learn how to do that from the interview that we just heard with Kevin Whelan. If you want more wisdom from Kevin Whelan, check out episode 10 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/10.

08:14 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy

Gordon Sheppard:    I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. There you’re going to find a lot of practical information, but more importantly the inspiration that you need to become an outstanding leader. Visit meetingleadershipinc.com/academy to learn more. As always, thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

08:39 – Podcast Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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