Work and Life is a radio program hosted by Stew Friedman, director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, on Sirius XM’s Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Every Tuesday at 7:00 PM EST, Stew speaks with everyday people and the world’s leading experts about creating harmony among work, home, community and the private self (mind, body and spirit).
On Work and Life, Stew Friedman spoke with John Baldoni an executive coach and author of a number of books including his latest, Moxie: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.
The following are edited excerpts of their conversation.
Stew Friedman: What is moxie?
John Baldoni: Guts, gumption, and determination to beat the odds. Courage, standing up for what you believe in and your people. I always liked the word from movies of 30’s and 40’s: “That boxer, he’s got moxie.” It’s an inner resolve. When I watched the recent economic crisis and leader after leader didn’t know how to react, didn’t know how to deal with adversity, I began to think about this as a leadership challenge.
SF: How can you address the question of guts and resolve? How can people develop this capacity?
JB: People can tend to focus on the negative: “my project was turned down,” “I can’t connect with my team.” I ask people to be mindful of themselves and to be situationally aware. MOXIE is an acronym. The “M” is for mindfulness. Explore what you want to achieve. A leader can’t say it’s not my job, you have to take responsibility. The “O” is for opportunity. “X” is the X-factor – character compassion, creativity, what makes you, you. “I” is for innovation and “E” is for engagement.
SF: If those you coach lack the resolve, what do you do to help them build and develop an inner resolve?
JB: Confidence is key. Where does confidence come from? From inside, yes, but also from what you’ve done. Sports or academic track record, your accomplishments, achievements. We can dwell on our defeats vs. what we’ve done. To get resolve, focus on building confidence.
SF: So it’s reframing adversity and using what they have already accomplished.
JB: Part of the reframing is that you’re not alone. Warren Bennis said he never met a successful person who didn’t have a crucible.
SF: How can people develop moxie, self-confidence and persistence? How can it be cultivated?
JB: Some of us are more dispositionally inclined toward this, but can be nurtured, learned. You need to be tactical and practical. It’s not just believing in yourself, but then it’s what are you going to do about – school, professional development courses, job rotation…you need to prepare yourself.
SF: In our uncertain world with so much economic displacement and inequality where does one get the wherewithal or strength. How to get past that? There’s reviewing past accomplishments, but how else can we develop strength, internal resolve.
JB: Role models, teachers, parents, historical figures, people who inspire. How did they achieve? If we’re talking about the disadvantaged they often have street smarts, survival skills, moxie. And they can reach out to teacher coach, pastor.
SF: So, getting help from others, or learning from exemplars who’ve risen through crucibles is another strategy. How does moxie play out outside of work, in family, community, self?
JB: I If you have inner resolve, inner strength, you’re more centered, you know what you can and cannot do. Mindfulness, the “M” is critical but so is the “E” for engagement. How do I relate to others? It’s not simply self-awareness. It’s also how am I being perceived? I use our Total Leadership in nearly all my coaching over the past 5 years. Some leaders have stunning lack of self-awareness, they’re not aware of how they’re coming across to others. Leadership is an active process, how to take time to take stock of themselves.
SF: It’s important to be mindful of how we come across at home as opposed to at work or with friends? It’s important to understand how others perceive us.
JB: Yes, at work we might have false fronts, we might be fearful of losing our jobs, or we might not be in the right job. I borrow from you, your time and attention chart. Where’s the time for yourself? How are you prioritizing? What can you do differently? Getting 360 degree feedback takes guts, takes moxie
SF: It takes courage to look inside, to find out who you really are and what you’re trying to do in this world. It’s hard work to convert what you have toward the goal of leading the life you want, a life defined by purpose and filled with meaning.
JB: MOXIE is a way of exploring purpose. You can’t foster innovation until you engage with others. Engage hearts and minds and get the commitment of others. You can only reach out and engage if you’re self-confident, purposeful, and know how you can I do it.
SF: What’s the key take-away?
JB: Guts and gumption. Don’t let adversity be the end. There’s no shame in being knocked down, it’s what you do with it. You need to figure out how to get around barriers, make good things happen for yourself and others. Radiate it yourself and coach others around defeat.
John Baldoni is chair of the leadership development practice of N2growth, a global leadership consultancy, and author of Lead with Purpose, Lead Your Boss, and the new book, MOXIE: The Secret To Bold And Gutsy Leadership. For more, follow John on Twitter @JohnBaldoni.