To be a good leader, you have to be a good listener; humility and listening are inextricably linked. If you are in a position of influence, it doesn’t mean you know more than anyone else. Rather, your job is to help your team succeed, and the best way to do that is to listen. The less you jabber, the more you’ll be able to hear and the better you’ll be able to respond.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle Buckett.

Kyle Buckett is an unshakable idealist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together through developing strong cultures.

Kyle’s WHY is to refine and create positive cultures that attract great people. He believes great people make elite teams. Elite teams make organizations elite. And when you have elite organizations striving for excellence in their missions, the world is a much better place!

With a vision to change the way businesses think, act, and operate, Kyle and his team work with leaders and organizations in nearly every industry to help transform company culture and create a better working world.

As a retired Navy SEAL leader, board member, and PubCo. executive, Kyle has discovered remarkable patterns about how some of the greatest movements in history were led by self lead teams. He is fascinated by the people and organizations that make the greatest, lasting impact on the world. He has devoted his life to sharing his thinking, and leading movements to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

We are about to release our book “Leadership is Overrated: How the Navy SEALs (and Successful Businesses) Create Self-Leading Teams That Win!”

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

I cannot name one. In fact, at the end of our Book I list all 38 that have influenced my life and made an enduring impact. I believe that impactful leaders take sources of inspiration from all walks of life, and look to more than 1 human role model. That being said, I take the majority of my inspiration from Jesus Christ.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

When a company is in a startup season, it’s in survival mode, and the leadership often makes the mistake of allowing the hoped-for end to justify the means. So they skip steps and rush through certain aspects of establishing a healthy culture just so that they can go public or get acquired or simply make pay-roll. But maybe you work for a company that has been around for a few years or even decades, in which case you may be mired in the results of cultural decisions that were not made by you. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. Regardless, we all end up with a culture we don’t feel that we have full control over.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

It has changed as I have experienced more opportunity and been entrusted with more and more individuals, and I spend 270 pages in our book talking about how my leadership definition has evolved over time. I believe to be a great leader now, it takes someone who enables and empowers those who have been entrusted with to lead. You have been given this opportunity and blessed to be placed in a position of leadership, are you going to use it for the betterment of humanity? Or are you going to squander that opportunity on other endeavors?

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

Paying attention to the wrong motivations, and feeding into those motivations or drivers, compared to others. It’s important to note that these motivations can vary from person to person, and individuals may prioritize different factors based on their unique needs and circumstances.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

Understanding how to structure an organization based on the motivations of the individuals to ensure you are creating an environment of culture improvement. So often today we hear of CHRO’s talking about hiring for “Culture Fit”. We don’t believe in that. We believe in “Culture Improvement”. Everything should start with Culture Improvement, otherwise what are we doing?

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

Read the book “Leadership is Overrated: How the Navy SEALs (and Successful Businesses) Create Self-Leading Teams That Win!”

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

Winning at all costs for an organization is not really winning at all. Many leaders lose sight of their teams when consumed with a massive vision for success, and as a result everyone loses. Achieving greatness at the cost of the people who helped you get there is just not worth the cost. This isn’t how humans work. You can’t beat a person into submission and expect them to love you. That’s not how love works. They’lI fear you, but love you? Probably not. And fear always breeds a kind of insecurity that makes long-term success precarious at best.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?

Sorry,…I have to give you 6. We call these the “Six Practices of a Humble Leader”

1. Listen More, Talk Less

To be a good leader, you have to be a good listener; humility and listening are inextricably linked. If you are in a position of influence, it doesn’t mean you know more than anyone else. Rather, your job is to help your team succeed, and the best way to do that is to listen. The less you jabber, the more you’ll be able to hear and the better you’ll be able to respond.

2. Show Appreciation

A little goes a long way. In meetings and on group chats, call out people for their successes; publicly celebrate the wins of the team. Send a handwritten thank-you note. Leave a voicemail on Friday night on a team member’s work line, thanking them for something small they did that week. Make sure people know how much you appreciate them, whoever they are and regardless of who you might be. When team members are traveling, find a way to send flowers or gift cards to their spouses. Let their partners know how proud you are of them and what a difference they’re making on the team.

3. Step Out of the Spotlight

When someone compliments “your” efforts, make sure they know you have a team working with you; point out who else deserves the credit. You may have led the charge, but few successes are solitary in nature. We all need to lean on others on occasion, and greatness is almost always a group effort. When you make other people look good, you’re actually solidifying your own reputation and gaining more power and job security.

4. Admit When You’ve Made a Mistake

Own your mistakes and admit to them quickly. When Kyle inadvertently shot his teammate and then owned his mistake, things turned out better as a result. Kyle’s teammates respected and trusted him more, and the experience made him a better, humbler leader in the long run. Yes, it’s risky to put yourself in a vulnerable position like that, one in which you admit you’re wrong, but if you have ever tried to hide a mistake and it was later found out, you know how awkward that can be. All it does is label you a liar when the truth finally does come to light.

5. Don’t Micromanage

To guide a self-led team, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room; you just need to be able to trust people. If you don’t want to get stuck in the endless loop of micromanaging everyone around you, find competent people to do their jobs and then let them. You hired these people presumably because they’re good at what they do. If they can’t do it without your input, then you hired the wrong people and it’s back to the drawing board.

6. Welcome Criticism

This can be hard. Hearing how far you’ve fallen short or screwed something up doesn’t feel good. But it can be useful. No, an annual review can’t feel much better, because all your misdeeds may be spelled out for you at once, but that’s only because of how shallow most criticism is. To truly change things, we have to go deep, as close to the source of the problem as possible. This is why the SEALs use a 720-degree performance appraisal, which includes a 360-degree review from peers, subor-dinates, and superiors, and then a second 360-degree review that involves interviews with those same people. It allows the navy to get an in-depth and accurate assessment of an individual from a variety of perspectives, which is tremendously helpful.

We need to be as open to the same kind of honesty and feedback from our own teams. After all, you’d like to give it, wouldn’t you to tell everyone where they need to improve and fix things for you? Isn’t that right? But if they all have things to improve upon and since you’re not infallible then it stands to reason you might have a few things you could work on as well. It can be difficult to take criticism, but it’s neces-sary. You don’t magically stop making mistakes once you reach a certain level of experience. If anything, people may start hiding your mistakes from you the more senior you become, at which point honesty is invalu-able. If you are willing to listen to others and their recommendations on how you can improve, you’re going to learn so much more than any seminar or workshop could ever teach you. That’s leadership. And even if you’re not a leader by position, this is one area in which you can lead by example, demonstrating an emotional capacity to put others first and not feel the need to hog the attention. Humility is not a gift; it’s a habit-and the more we practice it, the better we’ll get.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

I believe through rituals. Daily, Monthly, Annually,..etc etc.

Rituals protect the culture you’ve created and codify it. They maintain the sanctity of what previous generations of people have designed and developed. This is how we build on the contributions of those who came before, how we “stand on the shoulders of giants.” How else can we see beyond the vision of our predecessors? We need rituals and ceremonies to do this, but great tears are not developed by merely following a list of arbitrary rules. Greatness is the result of radical thinking, not conformity.

It takes imagination and vision, as well as discipline, to develop and sustain world-class cultures. In the case of John Wooden, he was never quite satisfied with what was considered normal for a players. His Pyramid of Success consisted of rituals and that encouraged the building blocks such as industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and self-control. He believed that these foundational traits (through rituals) were essential for personal and team success. John Wooden’s coaching philosophy and leadership approach helped him achieve unparalleled success with the UCLA basketball team, including ten NCAA championships in a 12-year period!

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

To give more than I took.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!