How Ashley Smalley Thinks About Building Relational Leadership in Business

Ashley Smalley [00:00:00]:
Let me make time in my calendar that I don't have, honestly, to communicate to you that you are valuable to me. And then in those little things, what we're, what we're doing is proving that we are accessible. We're creating these windows of opportunity where people can get to us, which then makes them think later, oh, I can get to them. They're, they're. They are accessible, not just in word. It's kind of like when you slap core values on the wall, but you don't live them out. You've got to live them out for people to go like, oh, those are actually what we're about around here.

Kenny Lange [00:00:38]:
Welcome to the how leaders think podcast, the show that transforms you by renewing your mind and giving you new ways to think. I am your host, Kenny Lang, and with me today is Ashley Smalley. She is the founder of Smalley Consulting, which makes sense. It'd be weird if she wasn't, but there you go. Work that out. There's logic there. Ashley is a human resources consulting firm expert Extraordinaire. She is focused on building unity one team at a time.

Kenny Lange [00:01:08]:
Her goal is to help people enjoy their work more. Lord knows we need that because they enjoy the people with whom they work more. Because who doesn't want to work with fun people? Get you a work BFF. She is a certified human resources professional, women's minister, keynote speaker, lover of people, and a novice drummer. Welcome to the show, Ashley.

Ashley Smalley [00:01:32]:
Oh, hey, Kenny. Thank you so much for having me.

Kenny Lange [00:01:35]:
Well, Ashley, tell me what is on your mind?

Ashley Smalley [00:01:37]:
I think the thing that's most on my mind right now is relational leadership. I just got back from a conference last week called Kingdom at Work. I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's a. It's a organization that is really focused on helping CEO's and business owners operate their businesses as though they're Kingdom ministries. So that really their focus in their business, while they may be building homes or running a mortgage company, they are trying to make the kingdom of God known. And what was interesting for me there is, as they were talking about what it looked like to be a kingdom leader, to have a kingdom culture, everything really came down to a relational style of leadership. And I was encouraged because that's really what, when I go out and I'm working with leadership teams, that's what I'm talking about, is genuinely caring for people, really connecting with them, doing more than what the minimum is. And so I left there very encouraged that I'm not the only one who thinks that's the best style.

Kenny Lange [00:02:34]:
When I hear things like that, I think maybe I'm speaking for a lot of people and maybe I shouldn't be doing that. But I have the microphone, they don't. So I'm going to do it.

Ashley Smalley [00:02:42]:
That's right. It's your podcast.

Kenny Lange [00:02:44]:
That's. Thank you. That's the second time you've reminded me of that. I just. I'm feeling very empowered and relationally connected. You're just living your thoughts right now. So thank you for that. Thank you for being on the show.

Kenny Lange [00:02:55]:
That'll be it. Just needed an ego boost. But here's what I think when I hear, like, you should lead relationally. You know, leadership is about relationships, and I don't know that you would have many people who would go, well, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Or as you know, David Emerald, who's the author of the empowerment Dynamic, Ted, through vital questions. He had a term in a training I went through called the blinding flash of the obvious. You're like, well, yeah, naturally. Like, maybe I wasn't thinking in those terms, but the second I hear it, it resonates.

Kenny Lange [00:03:32]:
I know there's truth in it, but if it's so intuitively truthful and it's not mysterial, why do you think it's necessary for people like you who are wired like you are, like the people at this conference, to have a keynote, right, like this? This conference spent probably a decent amount of money on a keynote speaker to come and talk and address things about leading relationally. What is the prevailing wisdom that makes that necessary? Because if it's intuitively known by everybody, we wouldn't need to really talk about it that much. Right.

Ashley Smalley [00:04:12]:
I think maybe we put buzzwords to it. So we're like, oh, yeah, I'm accessible to my people. I have an open door policy. They can get to me anytime they want to. And so then by default, that means I'm leading relationally, when in reality, really it probably looks more like I'm going to seek after my people. I'm going to go over there to where they are. I'm going to go meet them right where they are and try to invest in them and connect with them there where the leader's going first, not just making themselves available.

Kenny Lange [00:04:43]:
That's really intriguing. So what, what I hear you saying is a lot of leaders who say, yeah, I lead relationally, they're. They would probably not characterize themselves as a command and control style leader or authoritarian style leader. But it's because they say, well, I'm available. If anybody needs me, I am here. I'm around. If you need something, holler. But it's not something that they're really pursuing or investing in.

Kenny Lange [00:05:14]:
They've just opened the door. But it sounds like your understanding and your observations are that that's not taking it quite far enough.

Ashley Smalley [00:05:26]:
Well, I mean, there is a general understanding that the people in leadership over you typically are untouchable or unaccessible to you. And so the thought is, oh, they say I can go, but I really, I really couldn't. Right? Like this. This is too trivial. Their time is too important, like, whatever the thought process is, just because we've all worked for people that said they were available, but we still didn't feel comfortable going into their space to interrupt their day to talk about something that we weren't quite sure where it was going to land. My thought is, rather, of course, we don't want command and control leadership. Of course we don't want micromanagement, but the leader's got to lead out. And so if it is, I'm accessible.

Ashley Smalley [00:06:09]:
Let me prove to you I'm accessible by coming and being with you. Let me come and be accessible by being near you while you do what you do. Let me make time in my calendar that I don't have, honestly, to communicate to you that you are valuable to me. And then in those little things, what we're doing is proving that we are accessible. We're creating these windows of opportunity where people can get to us, which then makes them think later, oh, I can get to them. They are accessible. Not just in word. It's kind of like when you slap core values on the wall, but you don't live them out.

Ashley Smalley [00:06:45]:
You've got to live them out for people to go like, oh, those are actually what we're about around here. So to say I'm accessible, I got to actually live that out. So, you know, that's a real thing for us here.

Kenny Lange [00:06:57]:
I heard someone say once that if your core values are not lived values, do they actually have any value?

Ashley Smalley [00:07:04]:
That's good.

Kenny Lange [00:07:05]:
And he had a british accent, so it sounded smart at the time. So a lot of things that I've learned in leadership over the last decade have come from just my experiences in being a parent. And something that you mentioned brought me back to a lesson, or it is probably conference. And the speaker said something about creating a well worn path between you and your child early on, so that when they become teenagers and it there's a little bit more friction, there's, Lord knows, more hormones and, and, and all these things that when things do go wrong for them, and they will, because they're testing their boundaries, their limits, what they can do, what they like, what they don't like, and those are all normal things. But when the mistakes do happen, you want that well worn path so that they can come to you, to process through that, to get coaching, to get comfort, to get correction, to get help and support and making it right. And just saying, I'm here if you want to wander over. But if it's, if the distance between the pat or the ground between us is overgrown with weeds or it seems too manicured and I'm gonna be like the grumpy old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn, you may not feel like you can risk the journey between me and you.

Ashley Smalley [00:08:34]:
I think that's really good. And I'm living in a house with a 13 year old daughter and an eleven year old daughter. So everything you just said, I'm like, yeah, yes, all, thank you. We need them. Double down, if you could. But they. I'm seeing the fruit of that in those relationships where I've tried to make myself not just accessible, but available and carve out time and go to them. And I'm seeing them ask questions, come find me when they're in a struggle with their friend that they don't know how to navigate, rather than asking the other 13 and eleven year olds who have no idea how to answer that question.

Ashley Smalley [00:09:10]:
Right? And so I'm thinking as that translates then into the workplace, do you know why that path is well worn between my room and my daughter's rooms? Because I love them. Because I genuinely care for them. Because I want what's best for them. See, I think if we're trying to do relational leadership because somebody said it's the best way to lead, and we're just kind of checkbox relationally leading, it feels dis genuine. People know it, there's something inauthentic about it. And so it's like, not even convinced I can trust you. So really, as a leader, for relational leadership to work, I've got to dig down deep and go, do I genuinely care for these people? Do I genuinely love them? Because if I do, then it's not hard to knock the weeds down between our offices. But the other thing you were saying that I think is so important in those relationships is vulnerability.

Ashley Smalley [00:10:04]:
See, you said if the, if the lawn was too manicured, then it looks like I'm not approachable either. And I think in order for relational leadership to work as the leader, I've got to be willing to be vulnerable to say, these are my weaknesses. This is where I screwed up. Okay. I own that one. That one that negatively impacted everybody. That one was on me. I'm sorry about that.

Ashley Smalley [00:10:26]:
Let's see what we can do to make adjustments. With my kids, I'm sharing my failings from when I was their age in hopes that they know that they can share theirs with me. And so vulnerability is a key component of relational leadership, regardless of who you're leading.

Kenny Lange [00:10:41]:
I love that. And it's something, to be honest, early on in my leadership, I struggled with. I know we've joked about personality styles and stuff like that. I'm an Enneagram eight. And for me, vulnerability feels like death. Um, and so admitting I didn't know something, um, or didn't understand something, or. Or I would brush off, I would admit, like, oh, there's failure. But I.

Kenny Lange [00:11:05]:
It was an experiment.

Ashley Smalley [00:11:06]:
We did this.

Kenny Lange [00:11:07]:
Here's the value in it. We're just going to keep going and not really saying, like, yeah, I think I caused some damage here. I'm going to own it. Someone asked me, have you ever heard of a leader admitting fault or being vulnerable and their influence going down? And I was like, I had to. I thought for a second, I was like, I don't. You know what framed up that way? I can't think of any time for myself or witnessing another leader, either up close or from afar, go, I've screwed this up. I missed the boat. I misunderstood.

Kenny Lange [00:11:47]:
Here's why. I believed what I was doing was right or I had a blind spot in my personality. And, you know, in some of the circles you and I travel that are far more faith oriented, they may have believed they were doing right by God or they were just sort of sleepwalking until they're like, oh, okay, so this is how I've been impacting people. What do I do with this now? I do want to go back to something you said and maybe dig a bit more into it, which is a leader goes to a conference, they hear, yeah, we're leading by love. They heard Bob Goff talk about love does, and they got a balloon. And now they're excited and they're like, okay, that is great. But they use it like a tactic. And if they were to answer the question you just asked, which is, do I actually love these people? And I know that that sounds weird, especially, you know, like, you're like, oh, well, that's cute for mom and pop.

Kenny Lange [00:12:48]:
And that works if you're sub 50 people or something like that and you kind of know everybody like, no, this can work in the enterprise level, right? When you have thousands, what, what do you say to the leader who, maybe they're listening to this. They're, they're doing the best they can. They want, they genuinely want to be a good leader. But if they answer that question as, no, I don't. I don't know that I actually love these people. I want them to perform well and do their job because that's what, we're here. We're here to work. We're not here to hug each other.

Kenny Lange [00:13:21]:
We're here to work. And they go, I don't know what to do. Like, I would love it if I loved these people because then it would seem genuine and I would get better results. But I'm just not there, and I want to. That could be a really sobering moment for a leader who goes, I don't love them. I don't even know if I want to. I just want to do really good work. And that's what matters to me.

Kenny Lange [00:13:46]:
Do they start evaluating? Am I a fit for this organization? Am I a fit leader? Do I just need to be an individual contributor? What do you say to that person?

Ashley Smalley [00:13:57]:
I think in order to love people, all you have to do is get to know them. I think it's an easy fix if you find yourself in the place where you're like, I want to love them, but I know that I don't. Or I'm not even sure that I want to love them. But the prevailing thought is that it's best to do that. That that's the best leadership style. But that's not really how I roll. I'm. I'm not even sure I love my people I live with.

Ashley Smalley [00:14:18]:
Like, I don't. What do you do? You just gotta get to know them. When you spend time genuinely learning people's stories, how they got to where they got to, I think about the ones being the hardest to love are the ones who frustrate me the very most, the ones that are really likable. And we kind of gel, like Kenny and I, the first time we got on the call, right? Like, we just kind of laugh and cut up and it's just natural and it's easy and, like, easy to love, fine. But the ones that just rub me the wrong way and I'm like, I just don't know about them. Those are the ones who probably need my love the very most. They're the ones that probably have a story that have made them hard and have made their edges rough. They are in self preservation mode most of the time.

Ashley Smalley [00:14:58]:
And if I will spend some time digging into just getting to know them, just showing them care, I'll be surprised at how much I actually start to care for them, how much I actually like. Sometimes we've got to do the action first, and our feelings will follow. But really getting to know them, asking them questions, learning about the things they care about, getting and picking up on the bits and pieces that they share, it really will make it much more possible to love them when they're not just cogs in my wheel. They're not just performing. I'm not just looking at metrics when I'm looking at a human. And here's like, I come from a faith background. I love Jesus, and there's no bones about that. My thought is, everything that we do on this earth one day be gone.

Ashley Smalley [00:15:46]:
But everything that we do with people, that's the only thing that's eternal. The people are the only things that are going to live on past our time on earth here. That's really where my investment should be. Yes, we have to run a profitable business. Yes, this thing goes under if we don't, and then none of these people have jobs. And how loving is that? All of those things are true. But if I really. If I want to make the longest lasting impact, it's not going to be on what I'm producing, going to be on how I'm impacting people.

Kenny Lange [00:16:18]:
That's really good. Something that you said reminded me of the time I got to see Brene Brown in. In person, like, hear her speak. She's amazing, very dynamic. And she said something I, you know, I've read her books, I've listened to her podcasts and stuff, but I had never heard her say this. And it was. It's hard to hate people up close.

Ashley Smalley [00:16:41]:
That's right.

Kenny Lange [00:16:42]:
I don't think anybody here is like, oh, my God, I just hate my team. Like, maybe there are a few of you, but you're probably. If you're listening to this podcast, it's probably not you, but it makes me think, you know, you could reinterpret that, which is. It's easier, or at least a more simple. I'm not gonna say it's not easy to love anybody, truly. It's. You can. You might like them in the moment, but they're truly love somebody.

Kenny Lange [00:17:08]:
But I think you have to get up close. I think leadership is an up close sport. I think it's hand to hand combat. I don't think it's from afar. I don't think it's from a stage. I don't think it's any of those things. Do we lead in a team setting? Can we lead an entire organization and an all hands meeting and have 500 team? Yes, those are moments. But I think the real leadership stuff happens one to one.

Kenny Lange [00:17:38]:
And personal relationships.

Ashley Smalley [00:17:39]:
The reason that people don't want to lead this way is because it is messy. Because now I know too much. And now I've got to, you know, I feel some sense of responsibility to help you work through that or to consider what accommodation I'm going to make for that issue that you're going through. And it does, it gets messy. I think it's worth it. And if I'm a CEO and I am leading my direct reports in an up close, very intentional, genuine care kind of way, that communicates that. That's how we do things here. And I can then coach that group of people to do the same thing with their direct reports.

Ashley Smalley [00:18:18]:
To do the same thing with their direct reports, and it kind of snowballs until that becomes the culture. When people feel really cared for, you want to hear some buzzwords that people want to hear. When people feel really cared for, there's not nearly as much turnover because people want to stay where they feel cared for. You don't have nearly as many issues. Now, for the record, when I say caring well for people or loving them at work, I'm not talking about excusing bad behavior. I'm not talking about not addressing real issues. In fact, I would say if you genuinely love somebody, you are willing to have hard conversations that will make them better. My dad did this really well.

Ashley Smalley [00:19:00]:
So dad and I worked together for nine years. He was a truck driver who grew into a coo of a water hauling company. And so he was a former truck driver who led truck drivers. And it was very obvious. But, man, he was such a natural leader, and people really responded well to him. And I've recognized this in the way that he coached and mentored and disciplined me as a child, but also serving as the HR person in that same organization. I saw how he handled his direct report when he passed away. All of the people who reported to him kind of echoed the same thought, which was, you know, he was the only one who could call me into this, into his office and absolutely chew me up one side and down the other and having me say thank you when I left and it really.

Ashley Smalley [00:19:47]:
It was because he hit it from the standpoint of, I see so much more in you. You are capable of so much more than what you are giving me right now. Here is the expectation, and you're not meeting it, but not because you're not able, but because you are making choices otherwise. And then he would walk them through how to start making choices that would help them meet the expectations. And I will tell you, he was not. It was not gentle and soft. It was not like I just said it. It was in the form of a six, 4320 pound dude who had some words and used them, but he did it in such a way because it was coupled with, hey, how's your wife? I know your kid was in the hospital when I was there.

Ashley Smalley [00:20:30]:
I remember that your other daughter was really scared. How is she? It was coupled with all of these genuine care things and showing up in the highs and lows of people's lives. So that when he got ahold of you and he called you on the carpet, you were sad that you had disappointed him because you looked up to him so much. You valued his opinion of you so much. You wanted to make him proud. And he was so great at giving real time, honest feedback that wasn't gentle, but it was effective because it was coupled with love.

Kenny Lange [00:21:06]:
Sounds like your dad was an amazing man.

Ashley Smalley [00:21:08]:
And funny.

Kenny Lange [00:21:09]:
I admire that style. Cause I like to help. He was like, I will lovingly punch you in the face with truth. And again, this may be another Brene Brown. I've heard it a couple times. But to be unclear is to be unkind.

Ashley Smalley [00:21:23]:

Kenny Lange [00:21:23]:
That is a kindness that we can extend to people by being very clear. It doesn't mean you get to be an a hole, but it does mean that you're not helping anybody. It's honestly not even loving to ignore it, not address it, or try to help that person see a blind spot. I don't know if you're familiar with the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott. As you were describing, the way your dad approached things was he cared personally and he challenged directly. Right. You gotta have both of those elements if you want to go back to a very old John Maxwell ism. And he has 10 billion of them.

Kenny Lange [00:22:05]:
But, you know, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Ashley Smalley [00:22:09]:
Yes, it's that. But when I know how much you care, then when you tell me what you know, I'm like, okay, like, I'm listening. I'm bought into it. I'm interested in what you have to say I'm willing. Because you've already proven yes. And that's the deal. Sometimes it feels like relational leadership is a waste of time or it's fluffy, or it's any of these things, and it's not. It's an investment that you are making into the effectiveness of your team and the willingness of your employees to follow you.

Ashley Smalley [00:22:44]:
I think Maxwell also said, if you are a leader and nobody's following you, you're just on a walk. You're not actually leading anybody. So in order for people to actually want to follow, you got it. Yeah. And it's not the story on the beach, right, George? Jesus just scooped you up. It's a totally different, singular set of footprints, is because everybody's like now that just all you, buddy. In order people want to follow, they need to know that you care about them. That's just that if you think about how you like to be led, how I like to be led.

Ashley Smalley [00:23:16]:
Anytime I stand in a room full of people and I say, tell me about the best leader you ever had. Yes, they're going to say things like, man, they really knew what they were doing, but that's not usually the first thing they say. The first thing they say is, man, they made me feel like I was valuable.

Kenny Lange [00:23:32]:
So, yeah, no, that's. I know we're riffing on quotes, but some of these, I feel like, have been used so much that we don't bring them down into the tactical, practical use case. But I think it was Maya Angelou said, people may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Ashley Smalley [00:23:50]:
Yes, a hundred percent.

Kenny Lange [00:23:52]:
And to be honest, that's where we generate the trust, the relational equity that we need to ask things of people, because you're going to have to hold people accountable. That's part of leadership. You're going to have to have hard conversations like your dad had. You're going to have to do all these things, and it's going to feel like a withdrawal from the relationship bank. And it may in fact, do that. But so long as you're making those deposits, they can be microtransactions. Right? Like just, hey, how you doing? Well, hey, you did this thing this weekend.

Ashley Smalley [00:24:21]:
How was that exactly? It is real relationship. And you. For anybody who has a business where sales is a key component, your salespeople that are really effective, what are they doing? When they talk to the people there that are prospects, they're making notes about the things that they learned about them so that the next time they visit with them, they can pull those notes up and go, oh, yeah, I got to ask about their kids, whatever. Why as leaders, would we not do that with our people? You think about for really big organizations where you're like, I've got 500 people. I can't possibly. No. But when I do run into somebody, I can quick make a note in my phone that's searchable so that the next time I'm going to be in that location with those employees, I can take a look. I mean, you just have to transfer what works in one area into your leadership and you will see benefit from that.

Kenny Lange [00:25:11]:
If I want to go back to the comment you made about the, this feels fluffy. It feels time consuming, because I know, as you know, a highly driven individual, I'm somebody. You and I have talked about this outside of it being on the record that I've been in ministry for 20 something years. You've worked a lot in ministry as well, but as a driven individual, like you would think, it's like, oh, well, you're just naturally going to gravitate towards relationships and stuff. I don't, to be honest with you, my circle is pretty small, and it makes it difficult sometimes when I'm leading inside the context of a church to do that. But the better I got at that, and I brought that out into my first business and other organizations. Now I have people going back, several companies that still get in contact with me, and I'm like, oh, wow, I thought I totally screwed up everything I did, and apparently I didn't. Not everything.

Kenny Lange [00:26:09]:
And it was just those small moments that I didn't think anything about that it was, oh, I just hung out a little bit longer. I spent an extra 15 minutes over what we were booked to talk about or on the front end. We ran long. I know that I'll get so busy because I'm, you know, I'm a company of one, but I've got a wife, I've got five kids, I've got other interests and things, and I can feel pulled in a million directions. And so I'm looking at the productivity of every minute. So how are you coaching clients, people, these high driven leaders? Because they got where they are not, and this is not to shame anybody for saying, well, being a driven leader or individual is a bad thing. We're not saying that. I don't hear you saying that.

Kenny Lange [00:26:52]:
I'm certainly not at all. How do you coach them to say, you don't have to squeeze every productive ounce out of every minute? Because if you keep doing that, you aren't going to be able to lead from a place of honest and genuine relationship. How do you help people break that cycle? Because it's worked so far, so they're hesitant to break out of it.

Ashley Smalley [00:27:19]:
Well, I will tell you how I coach myself first, because I'm in that exact same boat. I love people. I'm very extroverted. However, when it's time to work, I'm extremely task driven. And so right now I'm looking above my computer at a sign that says people, not projects. When I am ordering my priorities, in my mind, it's gotta be people first and then the projects. So for me, what it requires, and this is what I would tell somebody who is similar to me, is I'm really good at skills scheduling. Next week, I can look at next week, and I can get it down to the minute until the phone rings and there's an emergency.

Ashley Smalley [00:28:01]:
Right. And now I'm in wildfire mode and I'm stressed and I'm angry and I'm whatever. And I certainly don't have room for fluffy things like connecting with people because there's stuff to be done. I have to build margin into my calendar. I know it's like the cuss word for productive people, right. But I really do. I have to create windows of time where I go, okay, if it looks like in between meetings, I'm going to have 4 hours to work that day. I cannot schedule every minute of the.

Ashley Smalley [00:28:30]:
I got to kind of load my stuff so that there's room so that when people knock on my door, I can view it as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. That would be the main thing is considering that people are a necessary part. In fact, I would say the most important part of your job as a leader. I'm like, you are. I'm in a company of one right now as well. And so that means, that means I don't have those interruptions. I do. When I'm at the church, when I'm leading there, I'm at.

Ashley Smalley [00:29:03]:
There are plenty of interruptions, but here there's not. When I had a team that answered directly to me, I was scheduling that in. And whether that's one on ones or whether that is, I'm putting, I'm putting the first 15 minutes of the day. Those are just check ins, just like informal check ins with people. If you agree that people are the most important thing, you will schedule around what you think is most important. You will time block around what you think. We, we make time for the things.

Kenny Lange [00:29:35]:
That matter and excuses for the things we don't, of course.

Ashley Smalley [00:29:39]:
And so that. That's telling, isn't it? If we say we don't have time, that isn't that telling, that. That we're making an excuse about a thing that maybe we don't care about like we say we do?

Kenny Lange [00:29:49]:
Oh, 100%. I mean, I've heard it so many times. Show me your bank account and your calendar, and I'll tell you what it is that's important to you.

Ashley Smalley [00:29:57]:

Kenny Lange [00:29:57]:
Which can be really convicting. And. And if anybody's still, you know, you're listening and you think, man, like, I. Well, how do I make that matter? Or, you know, we're. Again, we're just here to do some work. Let me frame it in some business terms. Your payroll is your largest line item on your p and l. It is by far the most expensive thing in the company.

Kenny Lange [00:30:25]:
More than your office space, more than company cars or expensive counts. The notion that this is the most expensive asset in the company. And, by the way, messing this up by having high turnover at high attrition rates at a low level, I've heard it could be up to 30% of that person's salary. One year salary is how expensive it can be. It can be multiples of somebody's salary. If you start thinking about at the senior manager and executive level, if you start thinking of, well, what would I invest in to make my most important asset even more valuable and to lower the risk. Right. Just from a de risking standpoint to the business, well, then, heck, yeah, I'm calendaring in time to spend with my people.

Kenny Lange [00:31:20]:
And guess what? If that's where it starts for you, I would tell you that that's okay, and that's fine, because along the way, like Ashley was saying at the very beginning, when you start to get to know somebody, when you get to know the whole person, and not just the employee, not just the worker, not just the contractor, it becomes very difficult to not care and have concern and show compassion and empathy and understanding and. And have more targeted, personalized investment. So if that's where you have to start, that's okay. And I would tell you there's no shame in that. You may feel like, oh, well, so and so is just all touchy feely, and they're so much better at this. So why should I even do it? Oh, I mean, it has value for your longevity and your influence, but it also has influence on the p and L and your department and whatever else you're responsible for. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how deceptively simple. Improving the quality and performance of your team is just by taking some of these simple actions and adopting the mindsets that Ashley's been talking about.

Kenny Lange [00:32:24]:
That's my separate TED talk for the day.

Ashley Smalley [00:32:26]:
No, I like that, Kenny. I think that's really good.

Kenny Lange [00:32:29]:
I've learned the hard way and had to adopt and I'm still being coached on it. So I'm fortunate to have a wife and a pastor and a few other people who remind me like, hey, be more human.

Ashley Smalley [00:32:40]:
Oh, and I will tell you too, there's a really good book that kind of speaks right along to this, where how it is really effective in a business for more than just relationship building. And its called love as a business strategy by Mohammed Anwar and some other authors. But its a true tale of a business that was on the brink of bankruptcy and he had kind of a change of heart and started trying to love people well and how that business absolutely skyrocketed as a result. So that's a great read for kind of along the same lines of what you're talking about.

Kenny Lange [00:33:15]:
That's really cool. If somebody listened to this, said, hey, this sounds great, I want to get started. Maybe we've already sprinkled in some of these things, but how could someone get started on leading relationally that would cost them next to no money. Over the next 24 hours, schedule one.

Ashley Smalley [00:33:33]:
To ones with your direct reports that have no agenda. Schedule it where it's like I'm coming in with no agenda. I just want to know how things are going with you and not even necessarily project updates. I'm not checking your status. I want to know, like, how was your weekend? What was the thing last week that was most life giving to you? Or what was the thing last week that was most draining on your life? Just asking questions that get them talking because you're going to start learning some stuff.

Kenny Lange [00:34:01]:
Ashley, if people want to know more about you, more about smalley consulting and what you're up to, where would you send them?

Ashley Smalley [00:34:07]:
I would send them to um, it's, you know, where my creatively named business is housed on the Internet. And so you can go. You can go find me there. There's a connect page. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Facebook. I'm technically on Instagram, but I'm pretty sure just my social media manager knows that, not me.

Kenny Lange [00:34:26]:
Awesome. And we'll link all that up in, in the show notes if anybody wants to go and check that out. But that is small. Esm a ll e y don't forget that e. It'll sneak up on you. Thank you so much for. For coming by, for dropping your wisdom on us. I hope that this isn't the last time that you're a guest, because I think that there's a lot here.

Kenny Lange [00:34:43]:
Lord knows we could transcribe some of our other conversations. They might be irrelevant, but they would be entertaining. That is not so. That may be part of it.

Ashley Smalley [00:34:53]:
Oh, that's funny.

Kenny Lange [00:34:54]:
Thanks for having me intro with the beat.

Ashley Smalley [00:34:56]:
Oh, hey.

Kenny Lange [00:34:57]:
Okay, ideas. I'm open. I'm creative like that.

Ashley Smalley [00:35:00]:
Okay, good.

Kenny Lange [00:35:01]:
To anybody listening. If you got value out of this episode and you want to help somebody else, just pay it forward, which is always a wonderful and beautiful thing to do. The easiest way, rate, review, subscribe, or share it with somebody. Get more visibility around the show. Obviously, I am grateful for that. I know it's self promotional, but sharing things like this can be a great way to help your colleagues, help your friends, loved ones make the progress that they want to make in their life and leadership. We are grateful here, all of us. And the guests are grateful for that as well.

Kenny Lange [00:35:36]:
But until next time, change the way you think you will. Change the way you lead. We'll see you.

Creators and Guests

Kenny Lange
Kenny Lange
Jesus follower, husband, bio-dad to 3, adopted-dad to 2, foster-dad to 18+. @SystemandSoul Certified Coach. Dir. Ops @NCCTylerTX. Go @ChelseaFC
Ashley Smalley
Ashley Smalley
Ashley Smalley is the Founder of Smalley Consulting, a Human Resources consulting firm focused on building unity one team at a time. Her goal is to help people enjoy their work more, because they enjoy the people with whom they work more. Ashley is a certified human resources professional, women's minister, keynote speaker, lover of people, and novice drummer.
How Ashley Smalley Thinks About Building Relational Leadership in Business
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