Mike O’Kane, founder and senior technical advisor for Okane Consultants, gets real about how to take your leadership from lousy to superb. Leaders foster vulnerability in the workplace and use that to build trust. Mike has learned that while achieving alignment within your team can be the hardest part of your job, it is essential to serving your business, clients, and family well.
Mike’s company specializes in optimizing mine waste management. Part of Mike’s job is to:
- Make sure promises made to the communities near a mine are kept.
- Responsibly maximize the mine’s resources.
- Plan for the future use of the land.
- Help the mine progressively close.
The other part of his job is to foster alignment amongst his team members, clients, and the community. Mike credits leadership lessons he learned from his mom and his aunt for guiding him in this important responsibility. These lessons include:
- Have hard conversations.
- Ask questions you don’t want to ask.
- Keep it simple.
- Keep your ego in check.
Ditch Lousy Leadership
Mike says it has taken hard work for him to become the leader he is today. He even considers his earlier self to be an example of a bad leader.
He recognized that in order to lead well, he needed to slow down. Moving too quickly between ideas, conversations, or projects leaves little room for deep thinking, planning, or considering others’ perspectives.
[11:26] “I used to be really proud of being highly functional in chaos, and now I realize how stupid that is. That’s not a really good thing to be proud of.”
Just because something works well for you, doesn’t mean it works for your team.
Mike adds that sometimes when he would express his ideas in a meeting or to his family with too much emotion or passion, he gave the impression that his ideas were orders instead of suggestions.
Slowing down can help avoid this confusion. When you take a moment to pause, you can communicate and listen more effectively. Strong leaders take time to ensure their team really understands them and vice versa.
The Little Things Matter
In his own leadership journey, Mike has embraced the importance of change. He shares some of the biggest lessons he has learned since starting his company in 1996:
- Your company doesn’t need to define you.
- Develop strategies for staying present with family and friends.
- Be prepared to have your answers questioned.
- Define your roles and responsibilities.
- Document core processes.
- Take time to recharge.
Mike says that how you respond is more important than what happens to you. Schedule times for clarity breaks — and never lose your passion. In leadership, as in many aspects of life, Mike reminds:
[26:00] “The little things really, really matter.”
Also Mentioned In This Episode:
- “The Untethered Soul” by Dr. Michael Singer