Transcript

Dr. Dave Miles: Welcome to “Conversations on Leadership with Dr. Dave,” your weekly visit to the crossroads of leadership, communication, and engagement. We provide captivating conversation while helping you create your compelling company culture. We give meaningful insights on these topics from fascinating interviews with top business leaders, trendsetters in leadership research, and prospective commentary from your host and leadership expert, myself, Dr. Dave Miles. Today, we are fortunate to have Robert Kittridge from Focus Point Solution here to join us for the conversation. Robert, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself?

Robert Kittridge: Absolutely. Thanks, Dave. It’s an honor to be on your show and talk about leadership. We met years ago through the John Maxwell team, where leadership is paramount. Most of my leadership experience has been in the fire service—30 years as a volunteer, a chief, and I retired as a fire chief. I spent almost 15 years on a national incident management team working as a liaison officer. Today, I run a company called Focus Point Solution, where I work with people to become their best selves. Leadership is all about being our best selves and helping others do the same.

Dr. Dave Miles: Nice. When we first met, I noticed you were in fire service for a long time, and I spent years in the fire department as well. I did municipal fire and EMS, working as a paramedic and in critical care. Leadership in emergency services is different from an office setting. I wanted to start by asking, what does leadership mean to you, and what does good leadership look like?

Robert Kittridge: John Maxwell’s definition of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. As a leader, we all have the opportunity to influence others, intentionally or unintentionally. Good leadership is about being the best role model and influencer you can be to help others be the best they can be. Leadership is not about leading the charge on a project but about working with others to be their best selves and helping them influence their world.

Dr. Dave Miles: Recently, in a workshop with our local Chamber of Commerce, we had a participant who felt intimidated by stereotypical charismatic leaders and didn’t see herself as a leader. How would you talk to people with that viewpoint?

Robert Kittridge: First and foremost, she’s right—she can’t be that type of leader. The fallacy of what we often teach as leadership is that leaders must be hard-charging and always out in front. True leadership is stepping into your unique leadership style and owning it. Many people think they can’t be leaders because they don’t fit a certain mold, but everyone has a unique leadership ability. We need to help them find their leadership style and where it fits rather than trying to adapt to a model that may not be them.

Dr. Dave Miles: What are some tools or methods you recommend for people to understand themselves better and discover their leadership style?

Robert Kittridge: There are many ways—disc assessments, driving forces, and currently, I’ve been studying a thing called human design. Human design offers a road map for your potential, passion, and possibilities. It helps align your behavior with your design. Understanding yourself is key to becoming an effective leader. Tools like DISC and driving forces are great, but human design goes deeper into your true essence and how you are meant to influence and lead.

Dr. Dave Miles: I’m sure that aligns well with understanding what drives and motivates people too. What does good leadership look like in your perspective?

Robert Kittridge: Good leadership looks like understanding others by first understanding yourself. We can’t influence effectively if we don’t understand others, and we can’t understand others until we understand ourselves. It’s about knowing your design and behavior, aligning them, and leading from that alignment. Effective leadership comes from self-awareness and congruence with your true self.

Dr. Dave Miles: It’s crucial to know yourself, and tools like DISC, driving forces, and human design help in that. Now, moving on, what has been one of the biggest leadership challenges you’ve faced?

Robert Kittridge: One of the hardest challenges for leaders, especially upcoming leaders, is leading up. Leading sideways and down is easier, but leading up is difficult. I recall a wildfire incident in Utah where I had to tell a governor from another state that the fire was headed their way. The next day, I met with ranchers who were upset about not being informed. I took their concerns to my Incident Commander, knowing it could mean packing my bags and going home. Standing up for what I knew was right, even if it meant facing consequences, was one of the biggest challenges.

Dr. Dave Miles: Leading up is a significant challenge. It’s not easy, but it’s crucial for effective leadership. How would you differentiate leading up from managing up, which sometimes is akin to sucking up?

Robert Kittridge: Leading up is about influencing for the greater good, while managing up can often be about personal gain. Leading up involves communicating effectively, suspending judgment, and having open, contemplative conversations. It’s about bringing ideas and perspectives to the table, not just agreeing with those above you.

Dr. Dave Miles: What do you see as one of the biggest mistakes leaders are making today?

Robert Kittridge: The biggest mistake is thinking they are always right. Leaders need to speak last, not first. Speaking first shuts down conversation and new ideas. We need to create a culture where everyone feels valued and heard. Leaders must suspend their judgment and be open to different perspectives. It’s about creating an inclusive environment where everyone can contribute.

Dr. Dave Miles: Absolutely. What do you think is the best way for leaders to improve their leadership skills?

Robert Kittridge: Improving leadership skills involves understanding that skills are something we do, but our behavior and design are who we are. Teaching leadership skills is important, but if someone’s design or behavior doesn’t align with those skills, it won’t be effective. Leaders need to know their strengths and weaknesses and align their roles accordingly. It’s about fitting people into roles where they can excel naturally.

Dr. Dave Miles: That makes perfect sense. You can teach skills, but if they don’t align with someone’s natural abilities, it can lead to burnout and turnover. Now, for our final question, how can listeners connect with you and learn more about your work?

Robert Kittridge: Listeners can connect with me through my website, www.focuspointsolution.com. You can also listen to our radio show, “Topics on the Table,” every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Mountain Time, where we discuss various topics and their leadership components. My email is robert@focuspointsolution.com. On my website, there’s a link to a 10-question assessment to see if you are sabotaging your life. You can schedule a complimentary call to explore your human design and how it impacts your life.

Dr. Dave Miles: Thank you, Robert. It’s been a great conversation. Thank you to our listeners for joining us on “Conversations on Leadership with Dr. Dave.” Take care.

This week our special guest is Robert Kittridge.

Robert Kittridge is an internationally-recognized mentor, speaker, trainer and coach in the areas of leadership, personal and team development.

He has worked with leaders from entry-level to top management as well as political leaders by facilitating leadership development and transforming how leaders communicate and connect. Robert has the unique insight and understanding of how people react during critical times in their lives and what motivates and inspires them.

Robert is the founder of Focus Point Solution, a leadership and development consultant group that equips individuals, senior leaders, thought leaders and organizations with high-performance solutions to ensure continuous improvement in personal growth and business results.
‪@robertkittridge1359‬

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