David Stanislaw

March 29, 2022

Back to the Talent Tide Podcast


In this episode, Chris and David discuss all the qualities that a great leader should possess. Topics include: conflict resolution, organizational health, and leadership and employee dynamics.

David Stanislaw is the founder and principal of Stanislaw Consulting, LLC, in Birmingham, Michigan. Stanislaw Consulting exists to elevate the workplace experience by enhancing organizational health.

David creates real, lasting solutions that result in a more harmonious work environment by uncovering the root causes and solving the people problems that hamper an organization. He resolves workplace conflict, provides executive coaching, and facilitates succession planning. He facilitates difficult conversations. By resolving high-level personnel issues, David enables organizations to get on track to meet their business goals and objectives. He is committed to helping his clients experience a rewarding journey from hope to clarity and long-lasting change. His goal: enhancing organizational health.

In addition to degrees from Wayne State University, David has completed post-graduate training in human development as well as in individual and group dynamics. He has been certified in the use of sophisticated validated assessment tools. His 30+ years of professional experience include his career as a psychotherapist and business consultant, as well as founding and operating two outpatient psychotherapy clinics. Forever seeking knowledge, he is a student of neuroscience, and a passionate implementer of Emotional Intelligence.


Hello and welcome to the talent tide podcast the show that ensures you have the information you need to adapt and evolve your workplace culture as you ride the wave of change in Talent Management. I’m your host, Chris Nichols. And today we have David Stanislaw who works to transform organizations into healthy beings. We’ll be discussing how we can use how companies can use conflict for good and drive culture change that allows for optimal successes. David, I’m so excited to have you on the talent tide podcast today. I’d love for you to share a little bit about your background and history, why we would even be talking today. Talk about the work that you’ve done, etc. And let our listeners know why you’re here.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve with you, Chris and have a conversation. I’m I began life as a psychotherapist. I’m trained in clinical social work. And then in psychoanalysis, I began noticing in my clinical practice how many people improved in their business life, when they resolved issues in their personal life. I began consulting the businesses over 20 years ago. And today, I have a nice practice of helping companies work through conflict, resolve it, presumably be able to help people with succession planning, complicated, usually valuable relationships that are troubled. And finally I do a fair amount of executive coaching.
So you present some some really cool opportunities for this discussion today. We haven’t had anybody on the podcast with your particular skills or expertise. And I think, I think that you probably have some, some good analogies, at least, and maybe even better, some stories that you can share with us today to help set the stage for guests. But I’d love if we could start at at conflict resolution and the different types of conflict that exists in the work. Can you talk and describe what let’s start with what is healthy conflict? Is there such a thing?
Absolutely. We’re in conflict all the time, we usually aren’t thinking about it internally, we end up do we want to do this first or that first modest example of a conflict? Maybe you want to go see a movie, your spouse wants to see a different one? How do you work that out? That’s modest conflict. The conflict I tend to get involved with is in the workplace between principals of a business. Sometimes they’re brothers, sometimes their fathers mothers. Other times they’re really between partners, I work with a lot of family businesses. healthy conflict is where people can express themselves, not personal stick with the issues and work through their feelings about it. It’s not all cognitive, in fact, so much of it’s very emotional. That’s one of the biggest things that people don’t realize is that emotion comes first, the rational component of the brain, if you will, develops last. So we work through a lot of emotion and feeling in dealing with resolving conflict.
So you’re telling me that my 11 year old hasn’t quite worked out conflict resolution yet in her in her mind.
You’re helping teach her. Not to shy away from it, not to be afraid of it. But to enter into it optimistically with the idea we’re going to talk. That’s one of the rules we talk, we don’t use fist, we don’t use teeth. We’re going to simply talk and we’ll figure it out. And if it takes five minutes, we do it. If it takes two weeks, two months, we’ll do it that way.
Let’s go Let’s go down this rabbit hole then. So conflict. I love that you mentioned how often we face conflict, because you’re right, we don’t realize that we do it. And I think that one of the true arts that make for great leaders is they they resolve conflict in a way that that others might even realize wasn’t even that they were part of a conflict that they didn’t realize they were part of. And so I’m wondering, what what are the traits of a leader that you’ve seen that shows that they have the kind of conflict resolution skills that are needed, like what should I be looking for if I’m a manager, what what kind of trade should I be trying to exhibit to be to properly Move conflict four,
I think the first is to be able to listen. And that means listening with the idea of hearing what they’re saying. Many times people are listening, but they’ve already formed their answer long before the person’s finished speaking. So listening is number one. And then there are some intrinsic things that we have to have. One is we have to have a sincere interest in concern for the other person, we have to want the best from them as well as from us. So being able to kind of recognize that means that you don’t want to rush through a conflict. As a leader, you don’t want to impose a solution, or times when you have to, when you have to be more authoritative. But generally, what you want, particularly from other leaders, is the ability to talk through things work them out, so that both are satisfied what we call, you know, traditionally a win win situation.
I think it’s, it’s quite interesting. You mentioned, you work with a lot of family businesses, right. And so I find that most people find conflict initially with family, right, that’s where it starts. And I have, I’ve worked in family businesses in the past my own family. So I, at the ripe age of 11 years old, myself, I started working for my grandpa in his on the family farm, and he had a tractor repair shop and his son worked for him, as well. And so he was my uncle. So we kind of had these three generations of family members working in their small business, but always interesting to see Father, Son relationships and that dynamic, and what that looks like, and then you throw myself in there. And then later on, I actually worked for my sister for about two years. And that that gave me a different perspective. And this was after I graduated from college, and it is my second job, actually. And so I worked for her and had had a chance to experience what that was like. And I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t do a family business or work with family ever again. But that that would be my own personal preference. But tell me, what are the challenges in family businesses that you find? And how do you help them resolve them? Because from my experience, it was they don’t know how to communicate well with each other because there’s a power dynamic that exists that goes back much further than a typical leader, like delegation type style management, so can you can you talk about the particular dynamics around family businesses,
what you’re really talking about, I think, is what we commonly call baggage. And we work hard and without, sometimes bags fully packed. And that’s one of the complications in a family business. I mean, one of the strengths is you have love and, and a desire to work together long term relationship commitment to each other. But the other problem that really interferes is baggage. Now, the same baggage comes to the fore, in a non family business. So if somebody has a problem with your father, maybe five dad was fairly authoritarian. And, you know, your style in relating to him was to be a bit submissive or weak, hiding your feelings or perhaps competitiveness and anger, well, you move into a business is not a family business, that dynamic is still there may not get invigorated, and it may not even be relevant. But working for dad in the family business, there’s going to be a power struggle at some point, because presumably, he wants to leave at some point, or he should leave at some point. And you will have your own ideas about that. Generally, you may be wanting to succeed him more quickly than he wants to be succeeded. That’s one of the easiest and most common problems that I run into.
How do you see how do you create the proper organizational health in an organization so when you when you go to into, say, a medium sized business 50 to 100 employees, I find that that most companies, they when they reach 50 employees going from 50 to 100 creates quite a bit of friction, because they they they’ve been used to very much a one to one management style of, hey, I know everybody I can manage 50 employees, but once it starts to get larger than that, it gets really hard to to create the kind of structure that’s needed. So is that a situation that you’ve seen and can you maybe speak to some of your experiences with companies that are going through growth and how they how they He’s built the structure needed.
That’s one of the major problems that entrepreneurs end up having. They began a company, they’ve got an idea they’re successful, when they get to the point of whether it’s 20 employees, 50 employees, 20 million 50 million, eventually entrepreneurs who candle, like a world of some disorder, some chaos, they begin to run into problems, because in order to scale to, you know, get larger, you have to have systems and processes in place. If you’re an entrepreneur and can’t get beyond that, what we think of is kind of spirit of entrepreneurship, which is thriving, in some some chaos, you’re going to have trouble growing the organization. And this is where many entrepreneurs run into trouble. So developing a second or third layer of management, if you will, is something many of these people can’t do, they have to have their fingers on everything. And eventually, of course, it totally fails. So that’s frequently the situation I get into, I’m working with a firm now out of state where they wanted a flat organization, there are 30 people, that CEO, at the end of last year, did 28 performance reviews 28, it’s impossible. People should not be supervising more than five to eight people, generally, if you’re going to do a competent job. So that’s an example of where the entrepreneur, the guy who started this firm, really wanted to keep his fingers on everything. And I got invited into this company by another consultant in HR, because the company was beginning to fall apart. Sales were falling flat. People were leaving good qualified people were leaving for great opportunities. So this is an example where growth is required of the owner, the CEO, the entrepreneur, in terms of being able to allow structure systems to develop, or he’s got to get out of the way. One of the two sounds simple, but the process is usually very money.
You right, because there’s feelings and emotions, David Right. People have feelings and emotions, and that that tends to take over. Any any realm of normalized thoughts and behaviors, correct?
Yeah, for the owner, it’s his baby. Don’t mess with my baby. Somebody comes in with a good idea. Don’t mess with my baby, I want to just like it is but it’s not working. I want to just like it is
I think, from my experiences that organizations no matter the size, deal with this on a regular basis, David I, I’ve worked with companies, small, medium, large, larger, whatever that looks like. And I hear the same thing. For example, I was out at coffee this morning with a friend of mine, who works for a very large nationwide health care system. And she recently went through the onboarding process, the talent acquisition, the interview process, she said it was great, I loved the interviews, it never felt like I was in an interview, I was always having a conversation. But I went through the HR process of being on boarded. And all of a sudden, things got a little bit shaky. She said she hasn’t heard back, she’s had to deal with four different people in the process. And finally, she talked to somebody else in talent acquisition, and said, Hey, can you help me navigate some of these challenges? By the way, we’re talking 10s of billions of dollars in an organization, right? This is not a small, small company, they should have systems and processes, right? They should have alert set up whenever somebody doesn’t do something in time. And the response that she got from this particular TA person was, ah, well, that’s that’s HR TA & HR, we’re, we operate differently. Talk to me about that kind of conflict and how how detrimental that is to an organization and maybe you’ve got some stories that you can you can pull into that conversation as well.
Well, that’s really unfortunate because she’s getting a taste of unbridled bureaucracy that I think is getting in the way of any, what I’m going to say is people interest on the part of the organization. So you know, obviously she’s was looking for a position. If I were in her shoes, I’d feel pretty discouraged at this organization being one that I would want to work for. I’d want to have an organization where if I picked up the phone, send an email to somebody whom I talked with They would have an interest in me being served well in this process. Because this is, to me, it’s a huge red flag. Very, very unfortunate circumstances for her. I hope she’s got other options.
The talent tide podcast is sponsored by endevis. endevis is a full service recruiting firm, offering a broad range of solution from professional contracting to retained and contingency search to recruitment outsourcing. endevis prides itself on its core values of being bold, accountable, help first, passionate, and results driven to ensure the talent we bring to our partners matches their core values and overall mission. For more information, please visit endevis.com. That is e-n-d-e-v-i-s.com. What would you if if an organization came to you say say I’m the CHRO of this organization, and I got this feedback of TA and HR seem to have a division? They can’t seem to to work together? What would be the process of going through in your mind? How would you go about conflict resolution in that scenario, where you have deep, deep lines of, of communication failure? You know, strong sense of security. And both sides, I’m sure that I’m sure that HR probably feels similar ways about talent acquisition, right? So are the traditional HR services? What are the first steps for somebody like you to come in and say, Well, how do we resolve these challenges? How do we take? How do we keep somebody from saying, Ah, we don’t we don’t work together anymore? Because they do their thing. And we do our thing? In your mind when you come in as an external resource? How are you attacking that, that problem and solving it?
Well, the first thing is to consider this only a symptom. Does it go deeper? Is this the only part of the organization that’s like this? Or is this part of the culture is this an organization where we have silos and competitive spheres going on. So my first approach would be to not only talk talk with these two departments, but with somebody who’s a decision maker, and able to put me in touch with other departments within the organization. Because of this as a company wide an organization wide pattern of behavior, solving it or trying to solve it at this level would be futile, it won’t change, it has to be at the source. And frequently, it begins at the very top of the organization, may not be the current board may not be the current CEO, because each successor piece of the organization adds complications to the already what I’m going to say as wrinkled facade of this company. It may be that the organization at one time was fairly healthy departments talk to each other, they were concerned about the onboarding experience. And uniformly were responsive to the needs of the potential employee. But somewhere along the way this has fallen apart. So the first is to consider this really as a potential symptom that’s not isolated within the organization, because you can’t solve a problem, a root problem out on the branch of the tree, if you will. It’s a systemic thing. And that’s a question. It’s not necessarily a conclusion. But that’s where I would start. I love
the analogy of not starting on the branches. That’s a, that’s a good one. I think I’m going to be visualize that on my wall at some point. So when, if I’m a if I’m a mid career young, young whippersnapper looking to make a name for myself in an organization, I might be an individual contributor, I might be part of a small team. What are some of the traits that would make me as as a young professional leader, someone that that stands out as being a leader, right, like we often talk about the difference between leading and managing, and I think that conflict resolution, in and of itself is probably a significant portion of what being a leader is, we might have different ways to define it. But much of what you say I find comes from just communicating with people. So as a young leader, how can I how can I show others that I have a well developed conflict resolution style and then I’m work that I’m a team player and can work in groups, etc. Can you can you kind of speak to that dynamic David? Thinking about a, you know, young young leaders or or mid mid mid level leaders?
Well, I think it’s it’s demonstrated and how you function individually with people, but probably more importantly with with a team. And again, it comes back to, frankly, being able to listen first and understand what’s going on. And then to make contributions that are meaningful. And that means questioning things. That means looking at things from slightly outside the box. It means questioning, not being afraid to speak up, but doing so in a respectful and kind way. But thinking about things in a more broad way leaders are people that are generally what we define a leader is really, frankly, somebody who has followers. And if you’re going to, if you’re going to attract people to follow you, you’re going to have to be something worth following. So if you have an inquisitive mind, for example, and you work for an entrepreneurial company, you may very well be coming up with ideas, you may think of new product lines, you may think of a new marketing strategy, depending on you know, what, what team you’re on. But I think it’s the person who really stands out, as somebody who’s really identified with a company looking out for its welfare, and being the kind of person that I’ve referred to, as you know, kind of a grown up, somebody who’s mature, somebody who’s able to talk and listen easily, and participate with other people, regardless of the difficulties they may be, you know, presenting for, for you as a person. Some people are very difficult to get along with, you should be able to get along with everybody.
Fantastic explanation, I think, I think that’s going to be something that resonates with listeners, and anybody that listens is to how do I know? But how do I know David? So how do I? And maybe there is no answer to this? How do I create my own self awareness? What should I be doing as an individual to ensure that I’m, I’m representing myself kind of in the way that you described say that I want to do these things, or I think that I am, but how do I know for sure that it’s working? Or is there is there a way to know?
Well, this is where self awareness is so important. Having an awareness of who you are, how effective you are, what you’re able to do is terribly important. In the position, you describe being in kind of a young whippersnapper, you should have at least one mentor, whom you’re looking at talking with listening to later, when you get into your career more, more deeply, more substantially. Many leaders look for an executive coach, this is a person who gives candid clear feedback, helps you see yourself help you function in a much more thoughtful and what I’m going to say is leadership wise way. And what I mean by that is being aware of the position you have, as a leader, a leader needs to be able to be contributing to the organization and to its people, substantial things. And that includes really an attitude of caring for people, having the capacity to empathize with them, being able to put yourself in their shoes, being sensitive to people who may be exhibiting problematic behavior. I recall an incident where somebody came to me saying they had an employee who wanted him to fire somebody who talked very disrespectfully to him. He was violating the company’s code of conduct. So I asked him a few questions. And it turns out that this is a man who’d been with the company well over 20 years exemplary employee, big contributor, kinda saw get out. I said, Well, this sounds like an aberration. What’s going on here? I think you need to inquire deeply what’s going on with this man? Well, he found out that this man was in the middle of a custody battle, bitter, bitter custody battle with his wife. He blew up in Suarez boss because he was frustrated. It would have been totally inappropriate to fire this man. This is a circumstance that requires understanding and support. This is a guy who needed who needed somebody to say, sounds like you’re in a tough spot. Is there something I can do to help you out?
It’s a powerful story gave me cold chills listening to tell it David. It actually reminds me of a recent story as well that I experienced I was having a conversation through LinkedIn actually in the individual that told me, we were talking about a Global Fortune 10 distribution, retail type organization. And he I was asking about, I asked a question on on LinkedIn about the war in Ukraine. And if they thought that would have any effect on their business. He mentioned no. And I dug a little deeper. So I said, why? And he said, Our organization always finds a way to fight through. So well, how do you like working there? And he’s like, Well, actually, I’m not working there anymore. So dove deeper said, You love working there, why? Why are you not there anymore? I said, well, they they put me on night shift. And I did that for three months. And I decided that for me and my family, I wasn’t going to do that anymore. He was an operations manager. And he, he told him, he was taken as two weeks and, and he would be leaving the organization. They didn’t do anything to fight for him to stay. And they, they seemingly lost somebody who loves the company, right. And he chose to go unemployed and look for another opportunity in the midst of, you know, a time period that we’re facing that, you know, we’re calling the great resignation, or whatever you want to call it. But there’s plenty of opportunities, right, so he left without having another job lined up. But he left because I don’t know if he told them that he didn’t want to be on nights. But nobody also asked him or had a conversation with him about about going tonight beforehand. And I just think that true leadership is having a pulse, right of the people that you’re you’re working with and understanding how they feel, at work, regular check ins, it’s hard like that, that to me, as a leader myself, I think I find that you have to dedicate time to talking to people not talking about work. You can talk about work but you have to understand how they feel about work. Technically, we hire people in my mind, because that we feel that they have the skills to do the job. But do they have the capacity. And capacity in my mind oftentimes is tied to mental or emotional well being. And so if I might have the skills to do my job, but my capacity is limited due to mental or emotional constraints due to how I feel with relation to the work that I’m I’m doing. So do you have any comments about that? I know we’re nearing up time. But what are your thoughts around? How to be the leader that people want to follow? How do I how do I be more intentional? And maybe that is the answer. But can you can you kind of summarize this conversation around leadership with with what what it takes to be a great leader?
You know, it’s easier to kind of look at a failure like this in leadership than it is necessarily to outline what what a good leader is, the reality is, is that, you know, the qualities that I talked about earlier that you’ve talked about here, presumably this company didn’t want to get rid of this guy. But making a major shift in one’s personal and work life. Moving to the night shift, it seems to me that if you value that employee, you’re going to sit down with him or her and say, Look, we need somebody to cover the night shift. You I think have the skills to work alone with a skeleton crew at night. I’d like you to do it. And this person at that moment, might very well say, Well, you know, that’s going to destroy my family life, I can’t do that. Well, then some negotiation might occur, well, would you be willing to do it for a couple of weeks, every two months, for example, and work other people into the cycle. There are many solutions that are possible. The reality is is that you have to be thinking about who that person is, what that person may need, and you need to be open to it. Too many of us enter into conversations with people with assumptions we’re not aware of. And those assumptions often alienate other people. That’s why listening and listening includes noticing the body language, noticing their facial expression, watching for changes, it being it’s being sensitive to all of that. You want to be on the same page literally, with everybody whom you’re leading. If in doubt, check it out with them. Talk to not been looking so good. Lightline you’re looking unhappy. Is there something going on? I’d like to know you know what’s happening with you.
The key is communication All right, David, that seems to be one of our biggest barriers to success and happiness, both professionally and personally. You got to communicate, you got to talk right?
Well, talking is one half of it. Listening is the tougher part,
the right, people. We’re all good at talking.
We think we are anyway. The reality is, is that we don’t think enough about listening. And that means really asking questions, getting in deeper, somebody will say, Oh, nothing is going on, Everything’s just fine. Well, you’re not, you don’t have that same sparkle you usually have. You’re not walking with kind of that light gate that I usually see. There must be something interfering with your happiness.
David has been a wonderful conversation. We’re right about the the 30 minute mark. But I want to I, this is a conversation that I foresee us coming back to, I definitely see a part two coming down the road because there’s so much more that I want to talk about with relation to coaching and leadership. I just, my belief is that companies need far more leaders than then than they even realize that they need and we do a terrible, terrible job of developing leaders, we do a we do a decent job of developing managers. But nobody really wants to work for a manager. I want to work for somebody that I that I want to work for, right. And so we’ve got to do a better job as organizations of developing leaders. David, how can people reach you online or off? What’s the best way for someone to get in touch talk about leadership with you?
Well, the easiest perhaps is going to my website, stanislawconsulting.com. I also have an 800 number that I can be reached by going to the website. So that’s probably the simplest. I could give them my phone number now, which is 866-222-7272. How’s that
hey, you go perfect. You’re on LinkedIn as well. Right, David?
Of course, awesome of course
So listeners, if you’re interested in talking to David about how to one up your career and move from being a manager to a leader. Definitely reach out to David through his website or connect with him on LinkedIn and, and just talk to him. I have a conversation. Self awareness is key. And you usually can’t be self aware until you have a conversation with someone else and start to re evaluate yourself. That’s That’s my opinion on that particular subject. It may be wrong after you talk to David, but you have to find out what you chat with him. David, it’s been a pleasure having you on I can’t wait to have you back on the talent tide podcast. I think I can book you again?
Yes, it’s been fun, Chris. Thanks so much. Awesome.
Well, that’s a wrap on another episode of The Talent TidePodcast. I’m Chris Nichols. The guest today was David Stanislaw. Again, you can reach him at Stanislaw consulting online. He’s up in Michigan. Thank you all for joining. Be sure to like follow and subscribe wherever you listen or watch the podcast. And until next time, have a great day and be the leader that you want to follow. Thank you all