Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Brad Federman
Organisation: PerformancePoint LLC
Every day, people wake up and trudge to work, resentfully working at a company that falls short of its promises and values. This is a problem, one that Brad has dedicated his career to resolving. He is dedicated to helping organizations engage employees and customers, build resilient and bulwark relationships, as well as creating collaborative and agile cultures.
As he puts it, his job is to ‘help organizations discover and live their possible’. This mission has followed Brad throughout his career as an international author, speaker, coach, and consultant with more than 25 years of corporate experience. As the founder of PerformancePoint, Brad works with organizations and leadership in various industries, including household names such as: Nordstrom, FedEx, Embassy Hilton, Mayo Clinic, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation.
Prior to PerformancePoint, Brad was the EVP of Novations Group and has held leadership positions with Accenture and Humana Inc. He is a frequently requested featured speaker at conferences and business meetings worldwide. Some of his literary works include: Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance, and Increasing Loyalty, Cultivating Culture: 101 Ways to Foster Engagement in 15 Minutes or Less, and a contributing author to 101 Ways to Enhance Your Career.
Additionally, Brad has also been interviewed for Fox Business News’ John Stossel Show and articles in numerous publications such as American Banker, Fortune Small Business, Los Angeles Times and HR Magazine. Brad earned his B.A. degree in communications from University of Maryland and a M.Ed. degree in human resource development from Vanderbilt University. He is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and serves on several boards.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a leader, the most challenging aspect I have encountered is ensuring that toxic culture, poor ethics of others, and fear do not drive my behavior. It requires a constant and unwavering commitment to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fostering a positive work environment, and promoting a culture of trust and collaboration. In a fast-paced and competitive business landscape, it can be tempting to cut corners or compromise on ethical principles in pursuit of short-term gains.
However, as a leader, I firmly believe that long-term success can only be achieved by building a solid foundation of strong values and a healthy organizational culture. I tackle this challenge by implementing several strategies. I prioritize open and transparent communication with my team, fostering an environment where everyone feels safe to voice their opinions, concerns, and ideas. By actively listening and encouraging diverse perspectives, we can collectively address issues and find ethical solutions that align with our values.
We reinforce our culture and values on a weekly basis keeping them top of mind. I also work hard to lead by example. I am far from perfect, but I consistently demonstrate integrity, honesty, and fairness in my actions and decisions. When I make a mistake I own up to it. By setting a high standard and adhering to it, I aim to inspire and motivate my team to do the same. I emphasize the importance of continuous learning and growth, both individually and as a team.
This includes regular training sessions on ethical decision-making, promoting inclusivity, and cultivating a positive work environment. By providing the necessary resources and support, I empower my team members to make ethical choices and contribute to a healthy organizational culture. While it can be challenging to resist the pressures and temptations that may arise, my unwavering commitment to not allowing toxic culture, poor ethics, and fear to drive my behavior is essential.
I ask myself on a regular basis, “What is the right thing to do?” Rather than, “What is the easiest or safest thing to do?” By prioritizing a positive and ethical work environment, we can foster a culture of trust, integrity, and long-term success for everyone involved.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Early in my life, in junior high school, the harbingers of my career direction appeared. Because I was involved in student government, I was asked to attend a weeklong leadership development camp called Maryland Leadership Workshops (MLW). At the time, I was not excited. The invite was considered an award, but as a thirteen year old I saw it as a punishment. Little did I know the impact one week would have on my life. I spent the week learning about leadership, problem-solving, presentation skills, team dynamics, and more.
It was an eye-opening experience. The director of the camp and organization, Mike Michaelson, recognized that even though I was much younger than most of the attendees, I had a zeal for the subject and the ability to intuitively understand the sometimes complex issues presented there. Mr. Michaelson would take me under his wing and became an important mentor in my life and in my professional development.
I continued my involvement with MLW and started staffing the program in high school. As a staff member, we were trained in writing objectives, instructional design, and more. I was inspired by these experiences and I realized that I wanted to continue the work in my professional career and that people leadership would become a centerpiece of my work life.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I would like to say something profound. I know many people have certain distinct habits. Waking up at the same time every day, reading the newspaper, etc. I do work hard and put in more time than most. However, I subscribe to an agile approach to work. Different days, situations, and phases call for different approaches. I have been known to change my day if an employee is needing support or is going through a difficult situation. When I am writing a book I have been known to schedule out of the office at different locations each day to inspire writing and have undisturbed time. I am also quite flexible because when I am on the road for work with clients I have had to become adept at working from anywhere including lobbies, airports, planes, coffee shops, and more.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
"Fear can be your jailer or counselor." Our fears are just a form of data. There is nothing negative about the emotion. It is just news your body provides you. Sometimes that news is valid and keeps you out of danger. Other times that news is irrational and can cause you problems by following that emotional advice. In many cases, fear is about the unknown. Sure that should give one pause. However, if we never had any firsts, our lives would not be very interesting. Some individuals have convinced themselves that they are in control and any situation that makes them feel out of control or powerless creates fear. The truth is we only control one thing...our choices.
I took some educated risks over the last couple of years. I was crazy enough to move from leasing a space for my business to buying a space for my business during Covid. Let me just say it was not an easy process. Dealing with a bank during Covid was a challenge. Things moved slowly. Once the transaction was completed it was time to renovate. The last time anything had been done to the building was in 1993. It had teal walls and maroon trim which should give you an idea of what we were dealing with. Having said that, the bones of the building were great. We didn’t have anything major we had to complete.
Time to call the contractors. We got 3 bids. The timelines were crazy long. We would not be able to move in, in time. What was worse were the costs. We were seeing 400-450% markups. These contractors were so busy they did not need work. They were giving crazy pricing thinking most people would walk away, but if you said yes then it would be worth taking. So we switched strategies.
Time to be the contractors. Time was limited. Trying to run a business while serving as a contractor was a challenge. Thank goodness, my wife was my partner in crime. We were determined even when we were seeing shortages of things like toilets because of supply chain issues. We kept up with the creativity and found solutions along the way.
Costs were higher than anticipated and timelines were longer than they should have been. We were at the new place every night and weekend. Tired. Run down. It really started to get to me. I usually have a few tricks up my sleeve to get myself calmed down or out of a funk like this, but they took time. I was determined to keep grinding.
A little while later I found myself sitting in a restaurant, waiting for a client to arrive, stressed out of my mind. I thought, “Did I take a leap too far?” “How am I going to get through this?”
That is when I saw a poster on the wall that read, “If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.” That was just what the doctor ordered. A sense of peace set in and I began to focus on how to move forward productively.
Today we have a beautiful office space with an incredible training room, conference room, podcast studio, and film studio area. Our business has benefitted from the space and our clients have as well. We are able to collaborate and work together in a space that more than meets our needs.
Remember, you always have choices. You just have to use that space between catalyst and response wisely. I could have succumbed to fear. That poster on that wall was my counselor. It reminded me to use that space.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
David Maister's book, "The Trusted Advisor," profoundly impacted my outlook on leadership. Through his insightful and practical guidance, Maister highlights the significance of building trust as a leader and advisor. Years ago, this book challenged me to reevaluate my approach to leadership, emphasizing the importance of establishing deep relationships based on credibility, reliability, and intimacy. It taught me that true leadership goes beyond technical expertise and requires the ability to empathize, understand, and connect with others on a personal level. By focusing on trust-building, I have been able to foster stronger relationships with my team, clients, and stakeholders, ultimately leading to more effective collaboration, enhanced credibility, and increased success as a leader. "The Trusted Advisor" has undoubtedly transformed my perspective on leadership, guiding me to prioritize trust and authenticity in my interactions, and ultimately, enabling me to make a more significant impact as a leader. Most importantly, this book helped me recognize that leadership had little to do with authority, hierarchy, or titles. As we move to flatter organizations, networks, and relationships in an ever-diverse world, this book continues to be relevant.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Be curious. In learning. About people. Period.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I had an employee come to my office and ask to speak with me. In the conversation, she opened up to me about her struggle with anxiety. She wanted me to know she was going on some medication and might not be herself over the next couple of weeks because she would need to adjust to the medication and ensure the dosage was correct.
I thanked her for sharing that with me. I told her it made it easier for me to support her. She thanked me. I asked her, “Why?” She answered me by saying, “For creating an environment where she felts safe to do so.
” Leadership is not about results. Results are a byproduct of leadership. Leadership starts with ‘Trust’ and ‘Safety’ if you want to create sustainable results and a great work culture.