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Dr. Patrick Williams shares how to model and foster authentic leadership with vulnerability and without judgment by getting naked with your clothes on and leadership lessons learned with a Maasai family during a three-week trek in Tanzania.

f you enjoyed this episode today, be sure to hit the follow button on the player (• • •) and share it with your friends and colleagues. ~ Big Love, April

In this episode, we’ll share some ways that leaders can model authenticity and vulnerability, and lessons learned from tribal Africa.

00:50 – How to get beyond trauma and help people reinvent their lives

04:23 – The best leaders develop leadership in everybody 0

5:29 – Getting naked with your clothes on

08:14 – Modelling vulnerability as courage

10:53 – Becoming resilient, become agile

14:09 – The coach approach for leaders

15:03 – Leader lessons from the Maasai people

18:57 – Reverse mentoring

22:55 – Value of picking up the phone

26:07 – Twenty years in the future

Dr. Patrick Williams Bio

Dr. Patrick Williams is a psychologist turned Executive Coach (HP, IBM, Kodak) Philanthropist and Educator. He explains his professional journey as “My life is an adventure driven by curiosity. I’ve always wondered why people think, act and react to experiences in diverse and unexpected ways… Why some are amazingly resilient while others get stuck, and even lock themselves up in self-created prisons. After 15 years as a practicing therapist, Dr. Williams became one of the coaching industry’s founding pioneers and took up his metaphorical machete, and began trailblazing the coaching industry and built “Coaching the Global Village” to deliver the power of the coach approach to communities of all sizes, in developing nations. He is a writer, speaker and author of his 7th book, “Getting Naked (With Your Clothes On).”
Dr. Williams has worked with countless business leaders, professionals, coaches, Navy SEALS, incarcerated and paroled inmates, and citizens in resource-poor locations. He is a founding member of the International Coach Federation, an inaugural recipient of its Circle of Distinction Award, a Master Certified Coach, a Board Certified Coach, a Coach for the US Navy SEAL Future Fund, and a member of the Forbes Coaching Council.

Keywords: #selfcare #vulnerability #leadership #maasai

Links to additional resources

Books by Dr. Williams:

Dr. William’s website:

Patrick’s masterclass:

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First broadcast in May 2020 during the Lead From Within Global Leadership Summit during the onset of the global pandemic. My purpose for republishing is that the value of the conversations with leading experts around the globe is still relevant and will continue to be a touchstone for empowering business and community leaders with innovation and compassion during challenging times.

Thank you for tuning in to the leader lounge community podcast. If you enjoyed this episode today, be sure to hit follow and share with your friends and community.


April Qureshi (00:00):
Hello, and welcome to the leader lounge community podcast. I’m your host, April Qureshi. And with me today is Dr. Patrick Williams. Dr. Pat is a psychologist, turned executive coach, author, and speaker. He’s a philanthropist and an educator.

April Qureshi (00:05):
And on today’s episode, Dr. Pat will share with us how to model and foster authentic leadership with vulnerability and without judgment. He also shares leadership lessons learned with a Maasai family during a three week Trek in Tanzania. Welcome Dr. Pat

Dr. Patrick Williams (00:35):
Pleasure to be here.

April Qureshi (00:36):
Yeah, it’s amazing. So you’ve been in psychology and then transitioned to coaching for more than 35 years. So tell me a little bit about, you know, starting out in psychology and then making that transition to coaching.

Dr. Patrick Williams (00:50):
Well, yeah, the, the short story is I really just took psychology cuz I was interested in what made people tick and, and kinda like you said in the introduction, what made some people tick louder? You know, like I call it living beyond mediocrity, not just settling. My, my studies back in the seventies were actually in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, kind of the east west studies of consciousness, way ahead of its time. right before Maslow’s death and studied all those luminaries. But when coaching started to be a term, I said, well, that’s really what I’m doing because I don’t like pathologizing people, even though I saw some pretty severe cases of post traumatic stress and depression, et cetera, I always wanted to get beyond the diagnosis and get to the client’s story of reinventing their life and designing a future. And that’s what coaching’s about.

Dr. Patrick Williams (01:40):
Right. So when I heard about well actually I was coaching in 1990 as a referral from a human service organization, with who Hewlett packer, Kodak IBM here along the Northern Colorado front range. And then I heard about the coaching movement that kind of started with Thomas Leonard in the early nineties. And I just went full board, closed my psychology practice in 1996 and, and coached full-time for 30 years started that school. You mentioned it, it just seemed like a paradigm of partnering with people to help them discover their best self at work health, wealth, love, and, and you know, all that stuff. So I’ve been thrilled to be a part of it and, and glad that it’s and surprised that it’s grown so large across the world.

April Qureshi (02:28):
Yeah. And that’s how I met you. I met you through international coaching Federation. There was a webinar that you hosted or that were, you were speaking at hosted by Arizona. Yes. And it was really intriguing. And so I like what you say about living in possibilities and helping people see the possibilities. And so right now we’re in this pandemic and you know, what I come to realize is that we can be pivoting from possibilities to, you know, fear and uncertainty and in any given day or any given week. And so what how does your, how does your coaching your conscious living mastery, how does that help people and leaders to navigate those, those feelings? First of all, we’re having all these feelings that usually we like to, you know, as professional as we like to, you know, press ’em down and just get the work done. So what what’s going on there? Yeah,

Dr. Patrick Williams (03:26):
That’s a good question because my coaching, I mean, my coaching’s been virtual for 25 years. I love coaching by phone. I like coaching groups and teaching on Zoom, but I prefer telephone connection with people because you’d be amazed at how connected you can feel. And a lot of executives who are now working from home or doing, being more virtual, are dealing with what we coaches dealt with over the years, isolation versus, Hey, I get to coach in my pajamas. but leadership is changing because of our, how can I say this? Our rapid spreading of virtual offices. There’s all, there’s gonna be a lot of companies that start to think, you know, we don’t all have to be in the office. We don’t all have to be sitting, buying cubicles. We can do a lot of connection and get work done without coming to work every day.

Dr. Patrick Williams (04:23):
And that used to be a tough concept, but it also means you connect differently. So you still need connection. You still need to see people live. And we hope that comes back again someday. I think the whole leadership thing in today’s world is, well, here’s my phrase. And you might have heard it before, but leadership is an activity, not a position, you know? So you might, yeah, I like that. Yeah. You might be the assigned leader, the department head the manager, but the best leaders understand that they’re trying to develop leadership in everybody who works for them. They’ll look better. They’ll feel better. And so then you mentioned feelings, well, feelings weren’t talked about in the workplace until emotional intelligence came about, kind of gave that scientific ring to, oh, we can talk about relationships. We can talk about feelings, but it’s emotional intelligence. Well, my conscious living mastery program is to take that emotional intelligence and say, it’s good to be intelligent, but what are you doing with it? You have to learn how to communicate more authentically and more from the heart, but only with the right person at the right time in the right place.

April Qureshi (05:29):
Well, and that’s that plays into your book title, right? Yeah, because it’s it, you know, getting naked. It’s like you say, it’s a metaphor for opening yourself up that way.

Dr. Patrick Williams (05:37):
Yes. Yep. You don’t do it everywhere anymore than you would get nude everywhere. You know, you don’t wanna do that either. So in fact, I wrote a blog for Forbes, I think a year ago. And I was spurred on by the, the new director of Goldman Sachs, the new CEO who wanted his managers to be more transparent and reveal more of their real life to people. So when people came to work and they said, hi, how are you? They really wanted to know how are you? And if you come in and say, oh God, I’m what a night my, I found out my 16 year old daughter’s pregnant. You know, you don’t have to go into the whole story, but they know, you know, and you know, they know, and you’re just treated more humanly, I think when you can share just enough to be human and not an automaton in the workplace.

April Qureshi (06:26):
And so what does that do for culture, like for a company culture or if you’re working in a small team or even if you’re an individual like entrepreneur and, and you have a, a team around you, what does that do? What does that, what does that create between humans? When we, when we do that in the workplace?

Dr. Patrick Williams (06:45):
Well, it creates a, a better connection and more trust. I think a leader who can spawn that kind of creativity, like the companies who had coaches on staff, like Zappos and Amazon and Google. I mean, they’ve got staff coaches, you know it, it’s not a staff shrink. It’s not a psychiatrist. It’s not a psych therapist. If somebody’s got severe problems going on, they should get help. Mm-Hmm but to have moments of realness with emotion. So I say emotions are energy and emotion E emotion. Yeah. And if somebody’s able to express something, that’s just beneath the surface a little bit, it’ll move on, it’ll become something else. It won’t get stuffed and, and disintegrate into like that old barrel of monkeys game, where you get angry at somebody and you pull out 10 weeks of anger, you know, so that’s that’s what we don’t want to happen.

April Qureshi (07:37):
Mm-Hmm . And you said, you mentioned trust trust in the workplace trust as a leadership and, and you mentioned like leaders wanting to build everybody as a leader. And so when a leader’s able to let go and trust that, you know, they’re not gonna get threatened by other people’s other people’s, you know, skills and authority in certain areas. How does that change? You know, how does that change? The, again, like the, the culture of, of a community?

Dr. Patrick Williams (08:14):
Well, I think workers today and especially true of millennials and whoever comes after them with generation, whatever it’s called Z or something, they want to trust their leaders. They want to trust. They want honesty because, you know, we raised them. We, we baby boomers maybe we didn’t model so well, you know but honesty doesn’t mean blatant sharing of your whole story everywhere. Like stranger on a train, you might talk to somebody, but you don’t. What am I trying to say? A leader should model appropriate self disclosure. Mm-Hmm a leader. Doesn’t wanna model weakness, but vulnerability is always weakness. Vulnerability is courage, you know, courage to share somewhere where you struggled, or you can tell a young worker, oh, when I was your age, I gotta tell you, this is what happened to me too. And, and there might be some ways you could overcome it. I’m glad to share to talk to you sometime if you want. There’s so many directions I could go with that, but it’s like, you’re not trying to make everybody a leader on your team, but you want them to have leadership qualities, anybody who steps up to help solve a problem is a leader in that moment.

April Qureshi (09:28):

Dr. Patrick Williams (09:29):
So a lot of random thoughts there. I don’t know if I answered your question, but

April Qureshi (09:32):
No, it’s good. It’s good. And then bringing in, you mentioned emotional intelligence, but then you also speak about emotional agility and I think, yes, maybe that plays into what, what you’re saying.

Dr. Patrick Williams (09:44):
Yeah. Yeah. Susan David at Harvard wrote a great book called emotional agility. I used that term prior to her writing it, or I melded with her mind. I don’t know, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a great concept because it means you are agile or flexible in how, and when you share what emotions and with whom anything we’re passionate about, we have emotions, anything we’re frustrated with, or somebody made USRI or we have a life situation that happened, or we have a loss, you know, maybe you got divorced, maybe your mother died. We have emotions tied to that doesn’t mean we’re broken or, or falling apart. It just means that that’s present. And if you can find one or two people where you can share that with a committed listener, then it goes away. You know, it, it dissipates into the new energy of possibility and, and hope and laughter and all that stuff. They’re all mixed together all. So I would just end that, say, all emotions are good. Some just don’t feel good in the moment

April Qureshi (10:42):
Mm-Hmm .

Dr. Patrick Williams (10:43):
And that’s the agility that we need to, to know that if they get expressed, then they don’t get repressed and suppressed, which they bubble up later.

April Qureshi (10:53):
Yeah. And, and so we become resilient, we become agile. Right. And then, you know, in, in, in the workplace itself, you know, there’s always the productivity that needs to happen. Right. There’s always something to do and something to achieve. And so, you know, being able to bounce back from, you know, an emotion coming in upset and, you know, being able to express that to someone, like you say it, you know, in a, in a specific fashion that doesn’t just blow up, blow up the whole the whole day. But it it’ll, it allows I like what you said about the emotion allowing the energy to flow through. Yeah. Yeah. And then that new energy comes in. And so I know, I know the research is saying that we’re more productive when we’re of healthy, healthy body and healthy mind. We’re much more productive at work.

Dr. Patrick Williams (11:42):
Well, and the research is also saying there’s neurology to back up what I said. I mean, you know, we have, we have the prefrontal cortex, which is kind of like the, the Goldilocks of the brain we wanna have just right. Understanding. But we have the amygdala, which gets hijacked as the common term is today that you react instead of respond, you, you immediately get pissed off at somebody because of other things that didn’t get shared. Mm-Hmm and you need, maybe you write it down, maybe share it with one or two people that you trust and they don’t need to respond other than listening. So a good leader can have his staff say, you know, when you say, come in and talk to me about anything, how many leaders really mean that? But you need to say, do you want me to re offer some coaching or do you just need to have me hear you?

Dr. Patrick Williams (12:28):
Sometimes they just need to say, I just wanted you to know, and, and things get better as it gets expressed. We’re not talking about all the dark emotions of anger and hurt and loss. There’s also, gosh, I’ve got a great idea for this team, but I’m afraid to speak up. You know, I’ve got ideas of how I want to progress in the company, but nobody’s asked me, it’s funny back in the day when I started K back in the day, here I go. when I started coaching in 1990 with Kodak and Hewlett Packard who were new to Colorado, they had expanded into a Western small town arena. And a lot of the executives, mostly men in those days were pretty set to coaching and they were supposed to get six months of coaching or else. I mean, they were in trouble with their job. It was, we called it remedial coaching, you know, right now coaches and coaching is offered for high potential young workers for leadership, for change of roles for transitions, because they understand that a coach can be that confidential voice and, and confidential ear to help people think what they’ve not thought and say what they’ve not said out loud with a committed listener.

April Qureshi (13:43):
Mm-Hmm , mm-hmm, I like, I like the way you say that, you know, creating a coaching relationship where people can express what they need to express. Right. And, and not feeling like they’re broken. And do you think that coaching as a culture in organizations, do you think that’s growing?

Dr. Patrick Williams (14:09):
It seems to be yes. And, and the differential is, you know, if, if a manager or leadership team is turning and coaching, they can use the coach approach, but they still have to be the manager. They still have to make decisions. A private coach is more confidential and objective. Some companies have, have both, but coaching conversation that what you and I have learned as evocative questions and questions that we’re just thinking out loud you know, kind of co-creating what, what would you, how would you like this to be different? People get to be creative. They get to think of what would they do and what would they need. And sometimes that makes the job better. Mm-Hmm , I mean, companies like Google and, and Tesla and Microsoft, I mean, they’re built on creative minds, right?

April Qureshi (15:00):

Dr. Patrick Williams (15:01):
So all companies can benefit from that.

April Qureshi (15:03):
Yeah. So you have an interesting story that you shared with me. So in 2007, you spent three weeks on a Trek in Tanzania and each week was led by a different tribe. And there, there were no tourists around. Right. And, and you, you mentioned that you stayed in a, a dunk hut with a Maasai family. I

Dr. Patrick Williams (15:25):
Forgot. I shared that with you. Yeah.

April Qureshi (15:28):
Yeah. So I’m curious what you learned, you know, going back to those tribal, you know, those cultures that are still like, you know, really living in a tribal community, what did you learn about leadership from being in the presence of, of these Tanzanian people?

Dr. Patrick Williams (15:47):
Yeah. That’s interesting that you brought that up because I went on a track that was kind of supporting a nonprofit called the Drobo fund that helped a, a certain tribe and Tanzania called the Hudson aby that are the only original hunter gatherers still alive and still functioning that way. Mm-Hmm so they were one tribe we had, and then we had the Maasai and, and then we had the Drobo. So we had three different tribes each week and they would go with us and protect us and set up our tents and cook our dinners and all that stuff after we tricked around and learned a little bit. But the leadership was about like, in their culture, when you become a, a brave warrior, like in the native American culture in America, it or Canada first nation you know, you have to earn your rights to, to become the leader.

Dr. Patrick Williams (16:37):
And, and in that culture usually was about age 30 or 40 cuz they don’t live as long as we don’t live to be 70 or 80. But what I learned was storytelling was a big part of how wisdom was patched, kind of a mentoring situation, how wisdom was passed to the younger coming up and how their, the elders were still revered. So some people call me in the coaching professional wise, elder instead of an old fart, you know, I, I think that track not only was I unplugged for three weeks, I mean, no email, no letters, no communication. I got to observe where humanity probably began and take that back to how are we, how can we learn from that in this day, day and age, we’re still tribal. You know, we sometimes do our detriment, but we don’t, we’re not tribal for survival.

Dr. Patrick Williams (17:29):
And they were about surviving. The dumb hut thing was interesting, cuz I’ve always been like you in my introduction, I was an adventure. I’ve slept in an igloo. I’ve slept in a bivouac tied to the side of a mountain. I’ve slept, you know, some of these things I would never do again but the dung hut was just like me proving that I would … let me learn about you. Let me sleep one night as your family sleeps with a cattle outside the hut and this house made, have done, it was awesome. It didn’t smell, it was dried down. It was cool in the heat, in a hot rainy time of the year. And it was better than some tent I’ve slept in. So to, to me, it was me proving to them that if I wanted to learn about them, I was willing to really learn about them.

April Qureshi (18:15):
Mm-Hmm yeah. And I like what you said about the, you know, moving up in, you know, as in the tribe, you know, coming of age and having that mentor you know, and a coach is different than a mentor in that, you know, the mentor has been there, done that and is right. You know, taking your hand and, and guiding you along the way. Right. where do you see, like, do you, do you, has mentorship fallen off in, in this day and age or is mentorship still an important part of, you know, being a leader and you know, you know, growing, growing personally and professionally, how, how important is having a mentor?

Dr. Patrick Williams (18:57):
I think it’s very important and, and there’s it, I, I may not be up on current research, but there was even a trend for reverse mentorship where younger employees would help the older employees with like technology with like the new ways to work virtually now, you know mentorship, I mean, originally the term came from the Odyssey when odious went off on his journey and he left tele mock in charge to teach his son, I mean, to mentor in charge, to teach his son mm-hmm . So mentoring is a little teaching because you’re usually mentoring somebody to do what you do or move into what you’ve learned, move into leadership. Coaching skills can be part of that when I’m a coach to a private executive, I’m not their mentor, but when I’m a coach to a coach in training, I’m both a coach and a mentor mm-hmm because they’re learning to do what I do, not how I do it necessarily. But you know, I, so a leader might play both roles of mentor and coach. And I think that that should stay, we really need that. We, we need mentoring in society. We need mm-hmm wise elders to be available in a community for the young bucks coming up, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, at male and female, I shouldn’t say young bucks for the young, you know, the youngsters, you know?

April Qureshi (20:17):
Yeah. Yeah. And there was something in there. What, so showing vulnerability

Dr. Patrick Williams (20:33):

April Qureshi (20:35):
And having trust and creating community where people can lead from within.

Dr. Patrick Williams (20:47):

April Qureshi (20:50):
So yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Patrick Williams (20:52):
Well, you just, you just modeled a skill that you may not have realized it was a skill, but if you’re in conversation with somebody, it’s okay to use powerful silence while you’re thinking there’s something there and, and you, you didn’t touch your heart, but a lot of times people touch their heart, the heart wisdom we’re learning. And there’s scientific research behind this, in our heart. There’s 40,000 neurites brain connectors that communicate with the brain more than the brain communicates with the heart. And if you read Heart Math Institute or Greg Braden’s work. So the heart is where indigenous tribes have always said, wisdom comes from mm-hmm, the spirit, the heart that coming from within it’s not the thinking, thinking is our cognitive and it’s important, but leadership in today is leading into what you don’t know because the workplace is so rapidly changing. And then here we are in 2020 talking about the reaction of COVID 19 virus. Some of the wisdom that is important has been multiplied. Like people are connecting, more. People are learning the value of slowing down. People are learning to to be real. I mean, when you see the movie stars or the newscasters or people do it from home and you see their apartment or their house and their hair, isn’t all greatly done. It’s kind of fun. They seem more real.

April Qureshi (22:22):
Yeah. yeah. Do you think, do you think like what values are coming forward from this that we might not have been leaning into before, as a society, as a culture, as organizations, as teams and leaders, what do you see that is kind of coming up that we can lean into even more as we cuz we’re starting to come out of it now. Yeah. We’re starting to test coming out of it. So what values are gonna remain and what are gonna fall away?

Dr. Patrick Williams (22:55):
Well, here’s what I think is interesting about that is people have what what’s, what’s different in a good way about this. Stay at home order people have picked up. I think I saw Trevor Noah two weeks ago, pick up his phone and say, you know, you can actually make calls on this thing. Most people it’s called an iPhone or whatever you have, but, but people don’t call. They text, they read, they get sports, they get stocked. They, they, you know, it’s like, you can actually call it. People have been doing that more. Yeah. Back in 2000 there was a book written called megatrends 2000 and it said when there’s more high tech, there needs to be more high touch. Mm-Hmm I think this is even more true today when we go back to whatever the new normal is, which will not be what it was before we need to take with us. Some of our learnings, like, what am I grateful for today, despite all this, what am I grateful for? Who am I checking in with?

April Qureshi (23:56):
And that could be the self, right?

Dr. Patrick Williams (23:58):
Yeah. With yourself. How am I getting outside? How am I enjoying nature? More, some people are going on walks for the first time in their life and they’re right by a park. Yeah. Out my moving my body. That’s part of that. And what beauty am I paying attention to or creating? I mean, there’s humor, there’s people doing chalk art. There’s I have a family Zoom call every Sunday with my family. That’s all over the world. It’s like, now they wanna have a talent contest.

April Qureshi (24:24):
Well, my,

Dr. Patrick Williams (24:25):
My family’s talking more than we’ve ever talked in our life. It was usually like a quick check in or something. So there’s a lot of things we’re doing that. I hope we don’t stop doing

April Qureshi (24:35):

Dr. Patrick Williams (24:36):

April Qureshi (24:37):
And they’re really old fashioned ways. Right. There’s nothing and all

Dr. Patrick Williams (24:42):
That. Yeah. Like really? And then think of the environment, my God, the pollution’s gone away, the rivers look clean. Let’s maybe we can learn something from this, you

April Qureshi (24:49):
Know? Yeah. And that only that happened in two weeks. I was like, personally, I was so, so surprised that the, that the earth bounced back so quickly. So what does that tell us, right?

Dr. Patrick Williams (25:01):

April Qureshi (25:02):
Yeah. So Dr. Pat, if our audience listeners want to know more about you, how can they get in touch with you and find out more? Yeah,

Dr. Patrick Williams (25:14):
Thank you. So, so my main website is Dr. Pat and there’s blogs. And there’s ways you can connect with me if you wanna hire me to speak or coach or whatever, but I’m most proud about a program I’ve developed called conscious living mastery. And so that’s It’s an online 12 module course. That’s geared to coaches, consultants, leaders, so that you can kinda work on your own rough edges, if you will, to make sure you can be present with the people you work with the family at work, et cetera. So I urge you to take a look at that and all my books are listed on Amazon. And also on my webpage, you’ll see a link, so

April Qureshi (25:57):
Great. Let know. Yeah. Pat, is there Patrick, is there anything that you wanna leave us with today?

Dr. Patrick Williams (26:07):
You know, there’s the wisdom, there’s a, there’s a poll I read when you were on the ICF chapter and I don’t have that, but I saw a video last week of a, a guy who read a story to his child 20 years in the future. And it was like called, it was called hindsight 2020. So a little play on words of what did we learn from 2020 instead of just hindsight, what did we learn that we want to keep going? So I’m gonna write a blog on that. I hope nobody steals that title, but if you do, ah, go ahead. And the other thing is, I think we need to be careful about using the term going viral. Now, maybe that’s not so positive anymore. Let’s see it was really popular video, or you should watch this. It’s not it’s going viral. We will come out of this. We’ve learned a lot. There’s a lot. We still don’t know there’s a lot yet to come, but the whole world is affected by this in, in both good ways and bad ways. So learn from it and be ready to help develop the new normal

April Qureshi (27:16):
Dr. Pat. Thank you.

Dr. Patrick Williams (27:16):
Thank you April-Ria.

April Qureshi (27:21):
Thank you for tuning in to the leader lounge community podcast. If you enjoyed this episode today, be sure to hit, follow and share with your friends and community. Until next time, I’m April Qureshi. Bye for now.