Creation is disruptive. Something will end and something new will take its place. Minimizing that disruption takes leadership that can create alignment, develop the capacity for growth and ensure a high degree of coordination. In The Next Normal, Greg Giuliano provides an actionable framework for anyone who wants to rethink, reset and renew their leadership to make a bigger impact, engage their people and lead more successful transformation. 

Discover and approachable, replicable and scalable management system to improve your transformation process, rethink your approach to leadership and create a plan to make a bigger impact. Elevate your team’s engagement and performance while accelerating organizational transformation and shaping your future. Based on more than 20 years of experience working with senior leadership, The Next Normal lays out clear principles, practices and processes that anyone willing to step into leadership can adopt, adapt and apply to transform organizations and create their own next normal.

This is The Author Hour Podcast, and I’m your host, Frank Garza. Today, I’m joined by Greg Giuliano, author of a brand-new book, The Next Normal: Transform Your Leadership, Your Team and Your Organization.

Greg, welcome to the show.

Greg Giuliano: Thank you, Frank. Good to be with you.

Frank Garza: To start, I’d love to hear just a little bit about your background and how that led to you writing this book.

Greg Giuliano: Sure. You know, I think I’m one of the lucky people in life because I get to do what I love every day. My mission is to help leaders and teams become better leaders and teams and that’s been my work for the past 20-some years. Before that, I was a therapist in private practice. Before that, I was a high school teacher and administrator and have always enjoyed helping folks to develop and grow.
And so that’s been what it’s all about over the years, working with those folks, those leaders and those teams, to become better and better all the time. And what’s been really rewarding for me is that they define what better is, that I don’t show up to them with the word, with the definition of what better is for them, that they figure that out themselves. That’s been my passion for 20-some years and thankfully, folks still call me up and ask me to help them with that.

Frank Garza: As you were writing this book, who is the target audience you had in mind for it?

Greg Giuliano: I work with a lot of leaders at all levels in the organization but when I thought about this book, it’s about friends of mine and leaders in organizations who have been doing this work for a while, they’ve been in a position of leadership for a while and things have become kind of automatic.

As the world and their organizations became more complex and they had to continue to try to figure out ways to align people and make sure that they have the right bench strength, there were still things that they needed to remind themselves of. How could they get their work done but expend less energy on it? Or be more – actually, let me re-say that. That, you know, I want them to be able to get things done with expending less energy but even more than that, I want them to be as intentional as possible. 

So it’s these leaders who have been at this for a while, they’re more senior in their organization and they need a reminder that this is — there’s always an opportunity to rethink what they believe about leadership, what they believe about teams and their organization and to reset things for themselves as leaders and for their teams to be more intentional.

So they were the ones that I had in mind as I was writing this, that as they get on planes and travel from one place to another — now that we’re doing that again — this hopefully is the book that they can take and finish in the flight and then go back to it over and over again.

Rethinking, Resetting, Renewing

Frank Garza: So chapter one is called “Leading in The Next Normal” and at the start of the chapter, you say that we need to level set and agree on some basics to be assumed almost like you’re defining some key terms, tricking to go over and over again in the book. One of those is leadership. How do you define leadership or, what does leadership mean to you?

Greg Giuliano: People in positions of leadership in an organization, they wear two hats; they’re managers of a team, right? In most organizations, they’re called a people manager but they also are leaders and from my standpoint, my perspective, is that managers run the present and there’s a lot of work that leaders and organizations do where they are just managing things. They’re making sure that everything that needs to be done on a day-to-day basis is getting done.

Then at the same time, they also have to look into the future and create space to shape a different future and that’s different than running the present. That is, what are we going to next? Where does the organization need to be next, where does this group of people that I call a team need to be next, right? What’s the next normal for them and help to create that experience for those people, and then for each person that they work with, how do they help that person to continue to develop themselves. And then ultimately, how are they as a leader always showing up differently?

They have to do some things to run, to keep things moving and they also, as leaders, need to be looking ahead and thinking about how do I get the organization, this team and these people from where they are today to where we need to be tomorrow.

Frank Garza: There’s a later chapter called, the gospel according to you, your leadership point of view and you know, just really seems to try and help people understand, “Hey, what’s my current leadership point of view?” For somebody who can’t answer that question, how can you figure out, what is your current point of view?

Greg Giuliano: Yeah, that’s a great question. Hopefully, they all — hopefully there’s not too many people in the position of leadership who don’t know their point of view but if I ask them, “What is an organization?” — I just ask lots of questions in my work. So if a leader isn’t sure, I want them to become clearer about what they believe because what they believe drives how they behave.

So I want to know, “What is an organization, why does this organization exist?” They have a point of view about that, maybe they haven’t thought about it for a while. What is a team, what makes a team successful and what makes a team a high performing team? They have a point of view about that and I want to see what that is and hear what that is and get that out of their head so that we can say, “Oh okay, well, then, how are you behaving showing up with that team in order to ensure that the team is meeting your point of view, your perspective, your definition of high performance?”

So, it’s a process of inquiry to help leaders get clear on what do they believe about organizations, what do they believe about teams, what do they believe about people, what do they believe about what’s most important for them, what’s their job as a leader. So if they’re not clear on it, I just want to get it out of their head because they have a point of view, they perhaps just haven’t thought about it for a while. And that tends to be true when I work with leaders is I just catch them — they haven’t thought about something for a while and it’s become unconscious.

So we bring all those ideas that they have and those beliefs and points of view, we bring those back into consciousness and go, “Oh, because that’s what you believe, okay. Well, how is that working?” right?

Frank Garza: You talk about rethinking, resetting and renewing, those terms a lot and going through those processes a lot. What do you mean by that?

Greg Giuliano: You know, the through line in my work and in my writing — in this, my most recent book and my last book is intentionality. To be more intentional but the kind of person that you want to be. When I was in grad school, I heard a story. It was about a group of people who were engaged in work and their work was that they were carrying bricks from one side of a field to another side of the field and as soon as they had stacked all the bricks at one end of the field, then they would start to transport them to the other end of the field and they did that every day.

They carried the bricks from one side of the field to the other side of the field every day and then, one day, one of them stopped, long enough to ask what he was doing and he wondered, what was the purpose in carrying the bricks from one side of the field to the other side of the field?

From that moment on, he was never quite as content with his occupation as he had been before and I think that the disruption of the past couple of years has led many of us to stop and ask “Why? Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I doing it this way?” People began to question their normal that was we all have our normal and as soon as we ask why, we’re at that point of no return, right? 

There is no going back and leaders ask “why”. They should ask “why” all the time and when they do, they begin to rethink why are things the way they are, why is the organization the way it is, why is my team the way it is, why am I the way I am as a leader. They begin to think about resetting their normal and creating their next normal and when leaders begin to rethink things and reset things, it leads to a renewal of how they show up of the impact that they have, leads to a change. 

A resetting and renewing for their team, their very senior can lead to a renewal of the entire organization. So that’s what I mean when I talk about rethinking and resetting and renewing. That is a process for becoming more aware and taking steps from that awareness to create a different experience. 

Frank Garza: That is a good lead into the next chapter I want to go over, your next normal and in this chapter, part of it is thinking about the kind of leader you want to be or the kind of leader you want to become. What are some exercises people can go through to help them decide what kind of leader they want to be next? 

Greg Giuliano: Yeah, well I mean, there is a great exercise in the chapter, your next normal, of being more intentional of just asking yourself some questions. Who are some leaders that you admire? What are the characteristics that leader or those leaders demonstrate and then thinking how closely you align with or relate to or demonstrate those characteristics and what would you have to change in order to be more like that, that leader that you admire? 

So that is one thing I try to get leaders to think about, what kind of an impact that they want to have and then what would they need to do in order to make that impact more consistently every single day as they are showing up to lead others in their organization. 

Frank Garza: Okay, in the next chapter you talked about transformative leadership and you talk about this term called “teamwork GPS” to identify and assess the three broad categories of conditions you needed for team success. One of those is provisions. Could you talk about what you mean by provisions? 

Greg Giuliano: Well, yeah sure. I mean, so whenever we were in the process of trying to help our teams to get better, my job as leader of the team is to make sure that this team has everything it needs in order to be successful. So, the teamwork GPS is a tool that I developed and I use with teams in order for them to get a snapshot of where things are right now for them. 

Teams need to be aligned around some guiding stars, right? So that’s the G in GPS, they need to have shared clarity about where we’re going, why are we going, how do we get there, what’s my role, the important information that keeps us aligned so they guide us in making our decisions. The provisions piece, it’s the resources and the experience of the team. So does the team have everything it needs in terms of resourcing? 

Does it have a great culture? Does it have open communication? It’s the things that sustain us in our work. So we have resources, we have a good culture of open communication, we have trust between team members and they have a good example of leadership to follow in the person of the team leader. That’s what I talk about with the provisions, the P of GPS, that that’s what a team, that is the second piece that a team needs. 

Then the S is skill. Skill and will that the team needs to be good at some things. So there needs to be certain knowledge that everybody on the team has and there’s got to be certain skills that everybody on the team has in order to show up and do that work. The teamwork GPS is a tool that helps us assess where is this team starting from, so that the team leader has a pretty good idea on where the gap is. 

So that that person can begin to help close the gap for the team so it can meet its own definition of high performance.

Begin With Inquiry

Frank Garza: Okay, there is a later chapter, “Be a Good Coach”. How do you distinguish between leading and coaching? What is the difference and why is that important to understand? 

Greg Giuliano: Yeah, so I actually would call say that leading and coaching are very similar and probably it’s like more managing versus coaching or directing versus coaching. I see that the definition of leadership for me is to enable positive transformation of the organization, of the team or of this person and so coaching has pretty much the same definition that the work of if you are coaching somebody, you are trying to help that person or that team positively transform their experience. 

They want a different experience and your job is to help them to get there, so in that sense, leadership and coaching are very, very much aligned. So if that is a process of starting from the assumption that this person or this team could be very successful on their own then you are not solving a problem for them. You are not giving them the answer, you are trying to draw it out of them by asking the right questions and engaging in a conversation that helps the person or the team realize that they have the solution. They just haven’t taken the time to think about it and realize that. 

Frank Garza: You go over five coaching tenants in this section and I wanted to ask you about at least one of those, “Look To Use Inquiry Before Advocacy”. Could you talk about that one? Or if you’d rather talk about a different tenant, please feel free to choose another one.

Greg Giuliano: No, that’s a great one because that one is so important, not just for coaching but for leading in general. As soon as I advocate a position, you are going to vote in your head whether you agree with me or not and that’s just human nature. I like leaders to begin with inquiry especially if they’re in a coaching situation where they’re trying to coach someone. Again, it’s like my job as a coach is not to give you the answer to your question. 

My job as a coach is that I help you find your own answer to the question and so if I am coaching, I should be asking a heck of a lot more questions than I am just saying, “Well, here’s what I think” because then I am just telling you. I am just giving you — it’s like giving you the answers to something versus helping you figure it out and if I just keep giving you the answers, you are never going to learn that you have the answers. 

So coaching is a developmental process. I want leaders who want to think of them, see themselves as a coach to their team, I want them to start with inquiry. I want them to ask a lot more questions. 

Frank Garza: Well, writing a book is such a feat, so congratulations on putting this out into the world. Before we wrap up, is there anything else about you or the book that you want to make sure our listeners know? 

Greg Giuliano: Thanks, I appreciate it and I really appreciate the time. This book is a distillation of an approach to leadership and teaming that I’ve been creating and curating and crafting for over 20 years and it just became time for me to share it. I’m hoping that the takeaway that people have is that it just sparks an experience of rethinking things. 

Also that the reader can show up as conscious and as connected to themselves and to others as they possibly can, have a richer experience as a leader and as a person and have a bigger impact as they are making their way through their professional journey. 

Frank Garza: Well, thank you, Greg. This has been such a pleasure. The book is called, The Next Normal: Transform Your Leadership, Your Team, and Your Organization. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you? 

Greg Giuliano: They can find me at ultraleadership.com and all the information about me is there. You can also find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter at Greg Giuliano and I am always happy to connect to folks. 

Frank Garza: Thank you, Greg. 

Greg Giuliano: Thank you, Frank.