Sue Dyer on Becoming a Trusted Leader People Want to Follow – EP 86

Interview with Sue Dyer

Sue Dyer - Leadership

Sue Dyer on Becoming a Trusted Leader People Want to Follow

What if I told you that it’s possible to build a business that continues to grow even after you’re out? Allowing you to embark on other journeys, while still reaping the rewards from the success of the business you built.

Today’s guest, Sue Dyer, is a perfect example of someone who achieved that through nurturing a high-trust environment in every organization she stepped in. Sue is the first woman in the US to head a huge construction trade association. She has represented 200 construction companies, negotiating their collective bargaining agreements and mediating their disputes.

Sue’s been in the game for over 40 years. During that time, she’s worked on more than 4,000 construction projects, and brought in over $180 billion for over 48,000 executives and leaders across the globe.

She’s now helping other companies and leaders reach that same level of sustainability and profitability, through her models of collaboration, trust and integrity, and high-performance.

In this episode, you’ll learn the six principles that helped Sue achieve tremendous success in the business sector, as well as in government. You’ll learn what it takes to build a successful organization based on trust. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to ensure that your business is flourishing years after you’re gone!

Featured on This Episode: Sue Dyer

✅ What She does: Sue Dyer is the Founder of OrgMetrics in Livermore, California and the President of sudyco™ LLC, as well as an author of the book The Trusted Leader: Use the Partnering Approach to Become the Trusted Leader People Want to Follow. She has spent 35 years proving and refining her Trusted Leadership Models with more than 48,000 executive leaders, bringing in over $180 billion across 4,000+ projects. She’s also the host of Top 40 Management podcast, Lead With Trust For Construction Leaders.

💬 Words of wisdom: “People don’t argue with what they help to create. So, once you’ve created a forum for them to create and co-create, they own it and then they implement it. They engage and they implement it. And that’s a big problem for most businesses. It just doesn’t happen.” – Sue Dyer

 🔎 Where to find Sue Dyer: LinkedIn | Instagram

Key Takeaways with Sue Dyer

  • Sue shares why she decided to start her first business.
  • How she found out that her models worked in business as well as in government
  • The key questions to ask if you want to evaluate the culture of your organization.
  • Find out the reasons that led Sue to sell her business.
  • As a leader, you’re creating the culture in your organization. Learn why it’s crucial to not let fear creep in so you can establish a culture of trust.
  • Why collaboration will always drive more growth in your company instead of competition.
  • Do you know how much your business is making, and spending year-round? To build wealth, you need to be in the loop on how your business is doing at any moment.
  • Why a lot of the Fortune 500 companies aren’t really making money.
  • The mindset you need to have to build a lifestyle of wealth and freedom.
  • Having the best people is sometimes not enough. Learn the pathway to building a culture of trust and cooperation in your organization.

Sue Dyer – Thinking and Acting Like a Trusted Leader

Sue Dyer Tweetables

“If you really want to know what the culture of your organization is, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a government, you’ve got to look at your policies. Do they support trust and empowerment? Do they really empower people to own the… Click To Tweet “We tend to judge others against ourselves instead of respecting them.” - Sue Dyer Click To Tweet


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Read the Full Transcript with Sue Dyer

Justin Donald: Well, Sue, I am so excited to have you on the show. Thank you for joining, and I can’t wait to really dig in to all the cool stuff that you’re doing in the world.


Sue Dyer: Well, thank you so much, Justin. I’m excited to be here. I’m a fan of the show and a fan of yours, and I listen every week, and so, this is a real treat for me.


Justin Donald: Thank you. It’s always nice getting a chance to spend time with people that kind of know the work that I do and have an appreciation for just lifestyle and passive income and building the life of their dreams just intentionally. And I know that you’re an incredibly intentional person. So, this is going to be a really fun episode. And our good friend Amber Vilhauer connected us. That’s how we originally met, and it was just really easy to connect. You and I have so much in common. We think very similarly, we’ve got an interesting path that kind of intertwined our history. Our experience is very similar, except that we took two different paths, and I’d love to kind of really figure out how you got into this zone of leadership because you are a big name in the world of leadership.


Sue Dyer: Well, thank you for that. Gee, that’s nice to hear. I should tell my mom if she was still around. Yeah, I became a leader long, long time ago, like four decades ago when I became the first woman in the United States to head up a huge construction trade association. And in that role, kind of two things that really changed my life. One was that I was the first woman at the bargaining table with all of their construction crafts. And so, I represented 200 construction companies and I negotiated all the collective bargaining agreements and then mediated all the disputes that happened between everyone. And so, that was interesting.


And then also taking over a construction trade association where the very first meeting I ever went to, there was a knockdown drag-out fist fight. And so, you have those times in your life when you just feel like, okay, there has got to be something different here. And I set off on a journey to prove that you could be at least as successful by cooperating than competing and that we could take a partnering approach to both dealing with the unions and internally with all those people that we had to deal with. And that really set me off into the mission that’s been going on for about 40 years.


And I’ve learned over the time, develop more and more and more models to prove how can you have a predictable success. And it’s by collaborating, by cooperating, by creating high-trust, high-performing businesses and teams. And so, I kind of became a thought leader in construction and developed a lot of programs there and now sold my business, but I didn’t sell my intellectual property, so I felt like, well, I’m not really done with my job yet. And I have been intervener and facilitator, helping leaders create this high-trust environment. And now, I want to teach the leaders themselves how to do this for themselves. So, that’s what I’m doing.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s just incredible what you’ve been able to accomplish here, Sue. And what’s really neat is you spent almost 40 years of your life in this space in really building these trusted leadership models. And I don’t know if a lot of people recognize because I know you’re not big at being like a showboat or anything, so people probably just don’t know that you’ve brought in over $180 billion for over 48,000 executives and leaders across the globe, and that is no small feat. So, very impressive.


What I love is that you not only are a thought leader, but you’re an entrepreneur at heart. And so, you kind of went through this entrepreneurial journey and emerged partway through it as this thought leader, yet you’re still balancing how to run your own business while you’re educating and teaching. And by the way, this is educating at the university level, at the corporate level. You’re kind of like a CEO whisperer. And so, it’s really neat to see, and I’d love to learn more about kind of how you got to where you are.


Sue Dyer: Well, as you’re talking about that, I’m thinking about when I was working with all of the contractors in what is now United Contractors Association. I would listen to them. What I loved about construction, it was like some of them had an eighth-grade education back in those days, especially, but they were multimillionaires. And I would listen to their stories, and then after a few years, I said, I just got to start my own business. They all completely understood that, oh yeah, you got to start your own business. So, I went out, I started my own businessm and I started really what I wanted to do as I saw what my models were working so well there and with the unions. Is this just a weird thing? Is it just here? And can it happen somewhere else?


So, I took on leading eight other construction trade associations, all at the same time, and proved that the model worked then as well. So, it wasn’t just a weird anomaly, it actually could work. And then I moved on and said, “Well, what if I’m not in charge?” I started doing consulting, working with leaders in their businesses to say, well, can they work here? Does the model work here? And it worked there. Then I thought, well, let’s take on projects and project teams. And when it’s multiple companies coming together and a large construction project, it’s hundreds of companies coming together. Can I work there? And it worked there. And so, then it can work in government. So, I worked at state level. I’ve worked at a city level, municipal level, federal level. Yes, it works there.


So, I was sort of a whole journey of proving once I sort of created the models, do they work, and then continuously tweaking them until I had something that was predictable, that yes, it shouldn’t be that we start our business or we start a project or we start an initiative and we hope that the gods are with us and it’s successful. How do we make sure that it’s predictable that it will be successful? And so, that’s sort of been the journey, and it’s been over 35 years, I had my business and sold it. And when I started the business, even then, my goal was for the business to last at least 100 years. So, I designed it so that I could hand it off, and the person I’ve handed it off to will have it another 30 or 35 years to hand it off to someone else.


Justin Donald: Well, congratulations, first and foremost, for even being able to sell a business. The odds are really against any entrepreneur that they’ll even have a successful business, then those that are successful are generally at a small scale. And the ones that have massive success often can’t exit because they are the face of the business, or it’s just not built to operate beyond what they can do. They basically have more of a sole proprietorship than they do a business. And so, the fact that you could exit is just incredible. So, I want to celebrate that fact because most entrepreneurs don’t do that. They’re just on to the next thing. So, congratulations there.


And I want to dig into some of those numbers and just some of like that process of what it looks like. But before we do, I want to know just how drastically different it is to kind of incorporate these leadership principles. And you’ve got a protocol, what you do is systematic, but what does it look like? Like, what are the differences between doing this in the business space versus in the government space? Because I’ve got to imagine, bureaucracy kind of creeps in, and there are complications that maybe don’t exist in more corporate America and vice versa, probably pros and cons to each side, right?


Sue Dyer: Yeah. Government tends to be more bureaucratic, but honestly, when you work with really large corporations, they’re just as bureaucratic. Decision making is probably the biggest difference. The locus of control for who can make a decision in government is usually diversified, so it’s hard to have someone that has enough power to actually make a decision for direction. That is the biggest challenge.


And when I’ve worked in government, but honestly, you have the same problems sometimes in large corporations too. They are multinational, they have different divisions, it can be just as challenging. But in government, it’s so fun to work with because it’s big, it’s challenging, and the people feel as though they’re unimportant.


Justin Donald: Interesting.


Sue Dyer: But when you can help them feel empowered to co-create solutions, not only do they feel empowered, they actually implement them. And so, you begin to get movement. And then my philosophy in really, really large governments is to, like that’s why starting at a project level or an initiative and co-create what I call a shadow organization that has this high-trust, high-performing culture that the team creates, and they create extraordinary outcomes. And then other people go, “Well, how did you do that?” And so, then they want to learn, and then another one wants to learn.


And then pretty soon, someone at the higher levels begins to go, “What’s going on over there? How are they doing that? That seems crazy.” And so, then they begin and get involved. Now, you can actually change culture because culture exists in your policies, practices, and processes. So, if you really want to know what the culture of your organization is, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a government, you’ve got to look at, what are our policies? And do they really support trust and empowerment? What are practices which are really policies that are written down? And what are our processes? Do they really empower people to own the solutions, to own the outcomes?


So, I think government, it does take a long time, but it’s really because you’ve got 100,000 people working. It takes a long time to turn a boat that’s that large, but it’s well worth the effort. I know I was so privileged to be nominated by one of the state governments here where I live for an award. And in the award, they said that the efforts that we had made just on a particular project saved them $50 million.


Justin Donald: Wow.


Sue Dyer: And I know some other people have said that we have saved billions of dollars for the taxpayer. So, it’s just really fun to do, but it’s really rewarding when people were kind of asleep and not engaged and maybe even feeling like they wanted to quit are now fully immersed, engaged, and excited. That’s what I really love.


Justin Donald: Well, it’s incredible to have that type of impact. I mean, those are big numbers you’re talking about, and it’s a lot of people, it’s a lot of influence. And there’s so much I want to get into. I mean, I want to get into the actual subject matter of your leadership programs, and we will do that today. And in fact, you recently wrote a new book, and I definitely want to get into that. Before we do, though, I want to hear a little more about your journey. What made you decide to sell? Often when people start a business, they never realize how big it could get. I mean, some people have these grandiose plans, but most people, probably, most successful people, I would say, probably successful from a business standpoint, probably underestimate how big they can grow a business, like what it actually becomes. And yours became a very substantial business. So, why sell it? And what has that transition been like for you?


Sue Dyer: So, the decision to sell the business, well, let me just back up a little bit. Probably about 10 years into the business, I remember sitting down with my husband and calculating how much money do we need outside of retirement to never have to work another day? And so, we calculated that number and then we worked towards that number. And I would say it probably took us something like, because we were already on our way, probably took us five years to get there. And then after I got there, I was like, well, do I retire? What do I do? But see, this is my life’s work, so it’s like, well, you can’t exactly retire from your life.


So, I kept on moving along, but I had in my head, I need to find a successor, I need to find a succession process. And you were talking to about how do you grow beyond yourself? Honestly, I see that as a huge mental barrier most entrepreneurs have. I see it all the time. And to me, it’s like, you got to get past that. And it’s sort of like being pulled through a knothole because it really is different. It’s changing the way you think. It’s thinking we instead of I, it’s selling the team, it’s very different. And most people don’t do that.


So, I had started to do that and growing, so that I could hand it off. So, really, before I sold, I had started, I had developed a team, I had mentored a team for years and years and years. People that come to work for us in that business, we used to tell them, “Look, it takes about 18 months to just understand what it is we do.” So, it took time to build that and to build a team that knew what to do, how to do it. There’s science too, but there’s also art. And the art part takes more reps, you’ve got to have more reps to understand. How do you actually make these things happen?


So, that’s when I sort of about 10 years ago decided that I was going to sell, and so, began to mentor the team to operate without me. And now, most of the projects we work on are three to ten years long. Average is probably five. So, you’ve got to start out far enough so that you’re finishing up the thought of handing off projects. I’m not starting any new ones of handing them off. So, really, for me, it started a long time out. And I’ve done succession planning for other people, and I know that in order for the succession to be successful, you have to start at least five years, preferably about 10 years prior to when you want to leave. And that’s what we did.


And so, it has been extremely successful and extremely rewarding because I’m so tickled to see the business has not missed a beat. The revenues have not dropped one iota, they have grown. And so, that’s exciting to me. And I still have my intellectual property, which we have a scorecard system, a program. We have other things that I’ve created and I’ve got a series of books I’m writing. And so, this first book I wrote was The Trusted Leader because I knew from my experience that if I wanted to create a high-trust culture in any organization, it starts with the mindset of the leader because so many times, we’re hitting that barrier of the leader doesn’t know how to create trust. And so, they’re creating a ton of fear, and then that drives out all the trust. And so, it’s sort of like having your foot on the gas and the brake at the same time, and they wonder, why are we not going anywhere? My people must not be doing what I want them to do, or my people must be wrong, or I’m not hiring the right people when in fact, they’re creating the fear that’s creating that. Let that off, and then the car can go forward. You can get a lot of momentum. A lot of resources are wasted with fear.


Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, it’s cool to hear your story. It’s amazing that you can build a company that continues to grow even after you’re out, but then you can maintain some of that IP to be able to continue with the thing that has been your baby really for 35-plus years. And so, bravo to you for figuring out a way to do that. That’s incredible. You started talking about succession planning, and I can’t help but go to the show, the HBO series Succession. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show.


Sue Dyer: Oh yeah, I have. Yeah.


Justin Donald: It is so entertaining.


Sue Dyer: That is not a high-trust family, no.


Justin Donald: No, it is not. It is, I mean…


Sue Dyer: Doggy dog family.


Justin Donald: It is. It is so entertaining and so fascinating. And it’s just a whole nother world. But this is why you have the succession plan, like if you don’t do this, then the craziness that you see in that show happens because there’s no communication about it, there’s no planning about it. It’s just everything’s up in the air and everyone’s out for themselves.


Sue Dyer: Well, the interesting thing about that show as well is around succession. The same dynamic happens on whatever it is you’re doing in your business. If you have a person that kind of has most of the power, which is what it is in most organizations, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re family or not, people are vying for this power that’s going to be let go of. And so, you get all this competition going on. And competition is always adversarial. And in a business, you’re interdependent. So, whenever you have an adversarial mindset or adversarial processes in an interdependent system, that is a lose-lose.


Justin Donald: Yeah.


Sue Dyer: And it happens all the time. The other thing we see all the time in businesses, when you have a person at the top who doesn’t take the power, then all the power diffuses down into the organization, and the leaders vie for power. And that’s how you get turf wars and clicks. And for a business, you really want global optimization, but most of the time, everybody’s vying for their own little local optimization. We’re going to do good right where we are. We don’t care. They can’t even see the whole picture. So, that’s why you got to try to help them see the whole picture, be a part of optimizing the entire business so that you aren’t just doing really well in one little piece, and then the rest of the business is just like lobbying and not doing well. You’re just not aligned. I call it the nozzle effect.


So, if you put a nozzle on a garden hose and you tie it down, focus it to a very narrow spray, same resources, but now you’ve got huge force, huge momentum. Same thing happens in our scorecard that we have where we measure every month what the team has agreed to do between 1 poor, 5 great. We also then look at all those scores and we have an algorithm that calculates a momentum score. And your momentum, you can have negative momentum and you can have positive momentum, but it’s a great predictor of what’s going to happen so that the team and the leaders can then put their resources where they need them. It’s not a policing thing, it’s just really like you’re driving down the freeway and then it tells you you’re going too fast, slow down. This is your speed. If that’s what it is, it’s just purely a measurement so that the team can steer as that’s a problem with so many businesses, they can’t steer. They don’t have enough feedback to really steer. And people didn’t take ownership.


Justin Donald: Yeah, those are really good points, and I love the analogy, the nozzle analogy, I think that’s brilliant. One of the other interesting things that I see with entrepreneurs, and I interview entrepreneurs all the time, I have a ton of them in my mastermind, one of the things that is very common is that entrepreneurs don’t use their business to create wealth. And I know that we’re in alignment on that. And you’ve met a ton of entrepreneurs, you’ve worked with them, you’ve coached them. I’d be curious to get your feedback on that and why you think that is, like is it self-sabotage? Is it ignorance? Like what is it that a lot of these really high-income earners are not– and by the way, not all entrepreneurs are high-income earners, but plenty of them are, yet they’re not using these resources to build wealth.


Sue Dyer: I agree 110% with that, Justin. I don’t understand why someone would spend the amount of energy and time it takes to create a business to not use that business to create wealth. And I see it all the time, like it isn’t even in their brain that that’s a possibility. Now, sometimes, I think there’s a lot of barriers, personal barriers you have about that. Like people may feel unworthy or they don’t feel as though they’re capable of doing it. But I also know there are a lot of businesses that don’t really make any money. They have income, they have cash flow, but there’s no money that drops to the bottom line. I think that’s another barrier is you’re not really making money. You’re just moving deck chairs on the Titanic, I guess. You’re just moving money, you’re not really making money.


And I think the other thing is, is it takes a discipline. You have to wrap your mind around your business to know how much money are you spending, how much money can you afford, what’s your profit levels, how much margin are you going to get from this? And just have a feel for it, at any time, I could tell you, yeah, we’ve got about this image. We’re about here for the year, we’re about– and I would not be off by more than a few thousand dollars. I mean, you just have a feel for it over time. But it does take discipline, especially when you’re beginning to build wealth. I believe in investing and taking that.


I guess it’s like Mike Michalowicz talks about pay yourself first before I knew that was a thing. You take a certain amount of money every month and you invest that money and you just do it over and over and over and over and over again. Like for my grandchildren, I have three grandsons, and so, every single month, we invest money for them, and on their birthdays, we invest money for them, and on Christmas, we invest money for them. And then that way, they’re beginning to learn how to invest and that you need to invest and that it’s just a routine thing, like a savings and an investment. But I really think it’s the saddest thing, maybe there is out there for entrepreneurs is that they don’t use their business to create their wealth.


Justin Donald: Well, I think part of the underlying issue here is that as an entrepreneur, so many things are geared around measuring revenue that your success comes from measuring revenue. But in most businesses, that’s not the key. I mean, there are some businesses where you are going to get a multiple based on revenue. Most businesses, that’s not the case. And so, a lot of people will sacrifice the money that they can make today to roll it all back into the business to grow that top-line revenue. I think, and by the way, there are so many organizations that in order to get into the organization, you have to be at a certain revenue.


And so, revenue numbers are glorified, not profit numbers, not profit margins, like the things that just to me are more fundamental and more foundational. And I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs fail because they focus on revenue and not profit, and even more specifically, not on cash flow. Like you might have a nice profit and loss statement, but you have zero cash flow, and your business can sink. And so, that is just so important, and the way that I think from an, I don’t know, entrepreneurial standpoint or societal standpoint, we just have glorified numbers that are less relevant or less important to the overall health for most businesses. So, that probably plays a role.


Sue Dyer: I think that’s really smart because especially now that you see a lot of tech company, tech-type companies, who were revenue, were pre-revenue, something like, that’s not a business, guys, that’s a hobby. And yeah, we do. There are a lot of thresholds that are measured by revenue. The Fortune 500, for one, a lot of them are, doesn’t mean they’re making any money. It doesn’t mean they made any money. And so, I think that’s a very dangerous thing to just look at your top line. I would rather have a small $5 million business with a 50% margin or 70% margin than a $100 million business with a 0% margin or 1% margin. I mean, it’s not just about the money, it’s the complexity because what kills businesses is complexity.


Justin Donald: Yeah. And people can make the argument. I mean, hey, Amazon wasn’t profitable for 14 years or whatever it was, but they’re the anomaly of the story. Most of the other companies that were profitable that long died, they failed. But if you look at the Fortune 500, there are a lot of companies that are not profitable inside the Fortune 500. It’s mind-boggling, and I get that there are exceptions to the rule. I get that there are– if you have a software business or there are certain industries where you’re going to get a multiple on revenue, not on EBITDA, you might even get a multiple on monthly recurring revenue as opposed to annual. So, it’s based on that current run rate. And so, there’s always this desire to amp up everything you can today. I get that. That’s a small percentage of the businesses that are out there.


And so, I just think you’ve got to stay in your lane and you’ve got to surround yourself with people that play the game of business and life, wealth building, entrepreneurship, whatever it is at a higher level than you are to really hold you accountable, really inspire you, really help you shift your mindset. And so, for you, you did something really special suit. You not only had an exit that could support your lifestyle, but you decided ahead of time, like, hey, let’s say that we don’t sell it, let’s say that this business falls apart. What’s our number that we have to hit so that we can retire and we can enjoy our lifestyle as we see it today? You got to that number and you also sold your business. And so, I’m curious how you built your net worth even outside of your business.


Sue Dyer: So, for us, it was a myriad of things, certainly real estate and also stocks and bond– I mean, we have an array of investments, and it’s been years that we’ve made more money from our investments in our business. I mean, it’s been years and years and years. So, I think, again, that is how you create wealth and freedom, just like you talk about all the time, you’re creating enough wealth so that it creates enough spin-off that you’re creating an income. That’s at least what you need to live. And then you don’t stop, you just keep adding things to it and you have the freedom to retire and create a new business.


Justin Donald: That’s right. And your story is so perfect, Sue, because I mean, you just said that you were making more on your investments than from your business. Obviously, you then have a big exit and you can roll those proceeds into your investments. But now, you have an education on investing outside of your professional experience and you’ve got a head start because you started doing this early. And if the business imploded, that’s okay because you’re still covered. But an interesting aspect is how lifestyle can change over time, too, depending on your age, depending on health, depending on your family. I’d love to hear how that’s kind of played out for you.


Sue Dyer: Yeah, it really is because I love the idea on your podcast and in your book about using your investments to create the lifestyle of your dreams. And certainly, I think that’s what everyone wants. For me, first off, when I first started my business, there was an opportunity to travel constantly, and I had small children and I thought, well, success for me would be sleeping in my own bed at night so that I’m home with the kids. So, I built the business around that, I built the whole business around that. And then, as my daughter has been disabled for a lot of years and my father passed away, and so, I also had my mother to take care of. And so, I wanted to have enough money to take care of both of them, and so, to buy a house for my mom and provide her with what she needed and to take care of my daughter who was also in assisted living for quite a few years, and so, that just takes cash.


And so, you want to have enough money for your lifestyle, but also that lifestyle might include some of the requirements you have. I mean, everybody, when they get into the middle of their life, their parents get older, and you have a lot of requirements you got to take. And I think the saddest thing would be to not be able to take care of your parents or children that are in need. So, that’s sort of what we did. And so, I still continue. My mom passed, but my daughter, she’s a lot younger than I am. And yeah, so it’s a constant thing with her to keep up with. What’s the next illness? What’s the next surgery? So, yeah.


Justin Donald: Yeah, what a blessing to be able to do that. I mean, all this in the world of health is expensive. I mean, it’s hard enough to make sure that you’re doing what you need for your immediate family as opposed to even extending out. And so, everything costs money. The more specialized, whatever the procedure is, the more it costs. And so, it’s just nice to be in a place where you have set yourself up to the way that you have, where you can cover what you need. And I mean, how amazing. A lot of people may not have the luxury of being able to provide for their daughter the way that you have. I just think that that’s incredible. And just on so many levels that you could do that for your mother and really if anything else should happen, you’re set, but it’s because you made the plan early, it’s because you were intentional, it’s because you didn’t rely on just your business. I mean, a lot of people pour all their money back into their business, and if their business fails or if they are the face of their business, so no one else wants to buy it, then that becomes really challenging. I know people all the time. I know a lot of baby boomers that are retiring because no one will buy their business because they are their business. And the moment they’re gone, then there’s no business.


So, it’s a really delicate thing, but I love that you’ve done it the right way. And I’d really like to take some time just highlighting your new best-selling book. And so, you talked about it a little bit earlier, The Trusted Leader. But what I’d like to get into are really some of your core values that you talk about in your book, and this is what has been used in different curricula with universities, this is what’s been used with a lot of different corporations and government agencies that you’ve worked with. So, please tell us more about the actual subject material here.


Sue Dyer: Yeah. So, in this book, again, I talked about it. It’s about thinking and acting like a trusted leader. So, it’s the partnering approach, and I talked about when I was executive director and we took this partnering approach. This is the mindset and the values. And the mindset is sort of how you think your intentions. You remember the Pygmalion effect years and years ago, the teachers, what they believed about the students actually created the result.


So, the same thing is true in your business. And so, there are 10 partnering intentions and there are six partnering values. And the values are really important because values are a cluster of beliefs. It’s what you believe to be true, and those beliefs create attitudes. You can’t see a person’s beliefs, but you can see and hear and experience their beliefs, their attitudes. And then those attitudes create behaviors. So, if you want to change your people’s behaviors, you have to start with values. And so, the core values for creating a high-trust atmosphere, of course, starts with trust. And the underpinning of trust is really a commitment to being fair. No matter what happens, we’re going to be fair because think about it, conflict happens or distrust happens when I feel like somehow I’m being treated unfairly. And so, you commit to being fair.


And so, it’s about fairness. It’s about transparency. So, transparency is being willing to be open and honest, but also to share good, bad, and ugly. So, you’re not afraid to share openly, and your people are not afraid to share openly. So many times what I have seen is that you spent all this time hiring great people. You got the best of the best. And then you create an atmosphere where they’re afraid to speak up. And then when there is a big problem or a big opportunity, you don’t even know about it. It’s killed a lot of business, I’m just sad.


Justin Donald: Yeah, you even say high trust equals high performance, like that’s one, your go-to saying, you talk about in your book. And that is kind of like a core foundational principle with how to build a great team, right?


Sue Dyer: It’s a principle we also have. Years ago, I started a nonprofit charitable organization called the International Partnering Institute, and they have sponsored five different university-level studies on this model. And we know that you can save at least 10% of cost, 10% of time, and around 10% improvement in satisfaction between employees. And there are other things too, like creativity, innovation, and you can’t even have it until you’ve created at a high-trust atmosphere. And these things are additive, so it grows exponentially, yeah.


So, one of the other values that I think is so important is respect. And it’s a two-way street, but respecting people’s point of view, people’s perspective, abilities because far too often, we cut it off. We go through the world and we think, well, I’m pretty good. I’ve been around a while, I’ve done pretty good, a little bit of me is good, a lot of me would be great. So, we tend to judge others against ourselves instead of respecting them.


Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a good point because if you’re not surrounding yourself with the right people, then you are going to think that you’re the smartest person around. And you never want to be the smartest person around, you always want smarter people around them than you. A lot of people don’t realize that, but I mean, the smartest people make sure that they are not the smartest people in any given room.


Sue Dyer: I think that’s absolutely true. But when there’s fear, you don’t do that.


Justin Donald: Yeah.


Sue Dyer: When you fear or competition, fear/competition because competition, in this case, is really fear showing up.


Justin Donald: And it erodes then one of your other core values, which is collaboration, which we can all agree is one of the keys to building a dynamic organization, one that scales, one that permeates this electrifying culture.


Sue Dyer: To me, collaboration is so awesome because I know from my work that there is a 100% collective wisdom in a team, in a business, and that is what’s kept me so excited about going in and working with teams and businesses for all these years because when I walk into the room and I have this group, and they’re open and sharing, I have no idea. Notice anyone else in that room know what that group is going to come up with, but I know they’re going to come up with something that is phenomenal, extraordinary. And then I also have as one of the intentions is people don’t argue with what they help to create. So, once you’ve created a forum for them to create, co-create, they own it and then they implement it. They engage and they implement it. And that’s a big problem for most businesses. It just doesn’t happen. And it happens because of collaboration, the collective wisdom.


Justin Donald: That’s great.


Sue Dyer: Dan Millman said, “No one is as smart as all of us.”


Justin Donald: That’s right. Yeah, that’s so true.


Sue Dyer: And then the last of the six is helpfulness because I think that it’s– you could say service, but I really think it’s about wanting to help. It’s helping, being helpful, stepping up to the plate to help. I know when I work with teams and we’re creating this cohesion, and then people begin to say, “Well, we’re committed. We’re certainly committed to our leader, we’re committed to our business, we’re committed to what we just co-created.” But I know that they are going to create something extraordinary when they say things like we are committed to doing whatever it takes. And that’s where helpfulness, the idea of a value of help when this comes in because that then, okay, what do we need to do? Let’s help each other get there. And so many businesses, I mean, most businesses don’t have that. They’re working against each other.


Justin Donald: That’s right.


Sue Dyer: Well, what do you mean you’re going to do this? You get this budget? No, I want that budget. I mean, they’re competing. And whenever you have competition in an interdependent company, it can’t succeed. And one of the biggest disruptors that’s happened worldwide in business, and it actually has happened everywhere, if you look at the maps on COVID and it shows how interdependent the world is, look at how we can’t get parts for cars and we can’t get groceries for the shelves, we are interdependent. And in an interdependent world, there is only win-win or lose-lose, nothing else is possible.


Justin Donald: Yeah.


Sue Dyer: And our leadership models are based on somebody winning and somebody losing.


Justin Donald: Totally. And that’s so true because I used to work in an organization where, basically, the organization was split in half. There’s an east half and a west half, and there are two CEOs. And so, it’s two people always competing against each other that actually don’t even get along and it really makes it hard. So, part of this, there’s this toxic environment that starts to happen, but then there’s this desire to not share what’s working with the other group so that you can be the first to prove it out and then there’s just constant competition of sizing up each other. And again, it takes away from that collaborative work to grow the company together. And it really is a shame, and a lot of organizations are like that.


Sue Dyer: It is. If you think about it, mathematically, one plus one equals zero. That’s the competition, that’s what competition does, it’s a zero-sum game. They think of business as a zero-sum game. And it just can’t work in an interdependent world. So, I really think we haven’t created a new paradigm for leadership in well over 100 years. I really think we’re playing a different game, we need different rules, we need different leaders.


Justin Donald: Yeah, you’re so right. And this is just such an incredible session with you. I just want to thank you for coming on the show and just ask you where we can find out more about you and get our hands on your book.


Sue Dyer: Oh, thank you so much. It’d been such fun to be here. You can find me at Sudyco, S-U-D-Y-C-O dot com, and the book, you can just put /book, you can find the book. And that would be great. And I also have a little gift for everyone. So, if you’re sitting here, thinking, well, I wonder if I’m a trusted leader, if I wonder where I fall along this continuum between fear and trust, I actually have a measurement tool called the Trusted Leader Profile. And you can get that for you guys alone at and you can measure where you fall. And in the profile, you’re going to get a number between 1 and 15 that will tell you what your trust level is. And then you’ll know, it’s a snapshot in time. It’s something to do with maybe your whole team and look at, well, where are we following along here and why and what’s going on?


You’re also going to get two graphs. You’re going to get your primary style, which will show you your normal style of leading, which are the norms you’re creating in your own business right now as a leader. This is how you’re leading. And then graph two, which is your perceived style of leading, which is how you think you’re leading. And if there is a difference, and there are five styles, and if you really have a significant difference between how you are leading and how you think you’re leading, well, that’s the first part, first way to start to reconcile those things to begin to on your trusted leader journey.


Justin Donald: Well, thank you so much for joining us, for giving us some awesome content for this really cool assessment and profile. Sue, this is just great, and I want to leave today the way I leave every session that we get to spend together, and that’s by saying this. What’s the one step that you can take today to move closer to financial freedom in a way that is in alignment with your goals, your values, who you are, a way that’s on your terms, not someone else’s, in a life not by default, but a life by design that you can proactively go after? Figure out what one step is and go after it today, and we’ll catch you next week.

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  1. […] love the idea of having an equation for your core values. Darius Mirshahzadeh has helped numerous businesses become 9-figure businesses. You will be […]