30How To Stop Limiting Yourself and Finally Start Leading And Innovating with Mark Tribbitt


Sometimes it's hard to see the wood for trees when you are stuck in your own success. Mark Tribbitt, PHD at Pepperdine University breaks down what he has seen over his years teaching MBA courses that focus on strategic management and entrepreneurship with an emphasis towards technology innovation, as well his leadership coaching. 

We cover: 

  • How To Stop Limiting Yourself and Finally Start Leading And Innovating
  • 3 Ways Leaders Get Stuck (And How To Break Free) 
  • How To Stop Overthinking Everything And Start Making Things Happen
  • The Mindset Shift That Will Help You Finally Lead And Innovate

Walk away recognizing where leaders get caught up so they you can learn ways to break free!

👉About Mark Tribbitt

Dr. Mark A. Tribbitt is a tenured professor of strategic management at Pepperdine University.  Prior to pursuing a career in academia, Dr. Tribbitt spent 14 years in the financial services industry in various leadership positions.  Most recently, Dr. Tribbitt was Vice President of Operations for JPMorgan, managing servicing and trading of a $350 billion mutual fund portfolio.  

Mark’s primary research interest deals with the intersection between corporate governance and corporate entrepreneurship.  His teaching focuses on strategic management, entrepreneurship, and management of technology and innovation.  

Mark is a member of several academic associations including the Academy of Management, and he has presented his work at multiple global academic conferences. He has also won numerous awards and accolades for his teaching.

Beyond his current faculty appointment, Mark is an executive coach and consultant.  He has consulted various firms in the areas of business development, operations management, and mergers and acquisitions strategies; and has coached executives and high potential individuals across a number of industries.

👉Get in touch with Mark Tribbitt on Linkedin

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*This Transcript is Autogenerated

Hey there. Welcome to the HiHelloSura show. I'm your host Sura Al-Naimi. Today on the show. We welcome Dr. Mark Tribbett. I am so thrilled for our conversations. As an associate professor of strategy at Pepperdine university, he and I have been having conversations for over a couple of years now. And I'm really excited too. 

I have him officially on the show for us to be able to share. Our time when our conversations together with you, the listeners. So his teaching actually focuses on strategic management, entrepreneurship, and management of technology and innovation. Including to that. He also focuses on executive leadership coaching. 

His background PhD. 14 years of experience within the financial services industry. Management positions and retail, commercial wholesale banking. What has this man not done? And don't get me started on all of his research papers that are ongoing. I'm sure he'd have a much more 

eloquent way of describing that. Which is why without further ado. Well Mark, welcome to the show.

So I'm so excited. I just had the news from you that you're going to France next week. Is that right?

Oh, wow. Very lucky. It's Thursday today.

Allison's a very excited, so thank you. I'll. Thank you. On behalf of them. And for those of you that don't know, mark is a professor and the topic is what is that? The business school, but it covers a myriad of areas. So what can you enlighten me? Sure. I am a professor of strategic management.

I teach the, mostly the capstone course for our MBA program and it's across all of our MBA programs and then spending a lot of time lately working with our executive and. And this trip to France is actually part of a different program, but it's to teach strategic management to those who really focus more in organizational development, in their training.

And I've done that as well as I do some consulting and I consult in a variety of different areas. Typically. With startups, startup organizations. So I have my my I'm in kind of the entrepreneurship space. And then I do some executive coaching as well. So those are the three main buckets of things that I that I do.

But as a professor, that's probably the biggest slice of the pie. And you all, and your coaching, your leadership coaching is, oh, I am so excited to get to experience that the here's that's been a long time coming. Again, you had the time. Yeah. And so I just really wanted to learn about you teach the capstone course, which I only just found out recently.

'cause I, I actually had a look at another interview that you're in. And so the capstone course is the final course that they would take. Yes. Yes. And so how does you know, so when people get to you versus when they transition what is it, what is your intention? What is, because I'm sure that they come with a certain you talked about biases and perceptions and how do you approach that?

And what's the common. Ones that you face that you're like, okay, I got you. Sure, sure. I love the course that I teach because if I were to describe myself, I'd say I'm a self-described general. Which has its pluses and minuses. And what I love about my course in the program is that it is designed to integrate everything that they've learned on their way through the program.

And so if you talk to many students they'll probably tell you, in my accounting clerk course, I'm thinking like an accountant in my econ course, I'm thinking like an economist. And my course is really designed to say what are you going to do with all of that? And on top of that, most of the students that come through the MBA program and especially the executives tend to have a path of entrenchment that they built for themselves.

And it typically is based in the success that they've had leading up to that point. And I find that really fascinating, really interesting. If you talk to someone who has accounting experience. No matter what problem you give them, they are going to view it as an accounting problem. The same thing with marketers, there's the same thing with operations folks.

And so my job is to, in my course break that a little bit. And some of my students fight it. They don't want to be broken. They know what they know and I get that. my job is to try to get them to think more broadly. I'm thinking about things from multiple perspectives and.

It creates four really interesting course in term. And, I get a lot of really interesting feedback afterwards. Some say I get it, you're trying to break me at every turn. And, but that has helped me later to think more broadly. So that's kinda my approach. And I, it really is fun for me.

It actually is really exciting, but. How do you, how'd you do that? How is, how does that how does that reframe work? So what I do is quite simply, I teach them the strategic management model kind of a high-level roadmap. And so what that entails is. Three different sections, right?

If I think about strategic management I, we go through a definition. What is that? What is strategy? And everybody has a different idea and it's one of those words that we use interchangeably for a lot of different things. And so we get into that a little bit, and then I break out the strategic management model, which breaks down into analysis, formulation and then execution. And. I identify pretty early on who is coming from what type of background. And in teaching them the most questions that I get is, how does this fit specifically with my business? And I love to say it depends. And that is something that's hard for people.

They think that there should be a specific path to success and every single path is slightly different. And so it's a lot of just uh, opening up the model and then dialogue to, to understand where people are coming from. And. The story that I tell quite often in the beginning of the course is when I went through my MBA before I did my PhD, I got an MBA and I was a business undergrad major.

And so I understood how debits and credits worked and understood lingo. And I had someone in my class who was a landscape architect. Who knew really nothing about business, but was really smart. And the first semester of working with him on projects, he would ask me questions, why did they do things this way?

And I would, my response in the beginning was, that's just the way it's done, accept it and move on. And then I learned, from him, We can question the way things are done and that might help us to do them better or differently. And that's what we typically do. And I encourage my students to challenge each other on the things that they bring to the table in a constructive way.

And it, it typically works really well. It tends to work really well. That's yeah, that's really interesting. Cause it's. It's getting to the why, like why what is the intention behind this? What is it solving? And then can we solve it in a different way? Or is this the right way for this moment?

Absolutely. Absolutely. That's so great. And then it's interesting because you know, their expertise has created this almost like a path dependence. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. What do you help people take risks when they've been so successful so far? That's exactly right. And it's really the neat thing about the program is some of the other things that I'd tell my students is this is your opportunity to take risks in a protected environment.

It's a great for a class, but it's about learning. And it's about stretching yourself in an environment where you don't have as heavy stakes. At the extreme and losing your job or something like that. It's the opportunity to do those things and think about things that way.

And so how does that how does that translate into the leadership coaching or are these, can you shed some light on of the areas that you're helping coach these executives and especially I'm curious if some of the. Areas of focus have changed or maybe they've always been that, but now more than ever, like they becoming more important.

Sure. That entrenchment in that previous success that creates that path dependent. Is evident a lot of executives. And so a lot of the conversations that I have in coaching people is I've done all this in the past, and it's created a lot of success for me. And so I'm very afraid to step away from that step I'm afraid to step away from those things that I know, I think where many executives may miss is the world is dynamic and it is changing very quickly. And the things that may have gotten you to a certain point may not move you to the next point. And what we do is we reinforce those things and we get into a loop where we potentially get stuck.

And what I try to do is try to expose people to that changing environment and how their entrenchment may be helping maybe helpful in areas where it may not be helpful. Let's face it. I've had a lot of success doing things a certain way. If I'm an executive, it doesn't make sense to abandon all of that right.

To start over. But it does make sense to you. Add to that toolkit. And so I am, I try to be that sounding board for them to try to get them to, I try to be the landscape architect that I had when I was very entrenched in business and kind of in specifically in financial services and where that was taking me.

And so how would, if I'm at this. Oh, no, I'm an executive. How would I know that I was leaning into my biases and what are some things that I can do to strategically break out of them? Sure. I would suggest there's a couple of things, right? I think some are pretty straightforward.

But they're really valuable and things that people miss. I think one of the things is. Talking to the people that you interact with. But that includes developing trust. I think I deal with executives who will say I have a problem with morale in my organization.

But I go to my, the people that worked for me and I asked them, how do you feel about working here? And everybody says, it's great. And of course, they're going to say, it's great. Why would they say anything else? Because of fear of consequences, the power dynamic, understanding that all that goes with it.

And it is talking to people, but from a level of trust and understanding and an interest in an almost an eagerness to learn, I think is really important. And really, again, back to that strategic management model, continuously scanning the environment to recognize what things are.

Changing that need to be addressed. What things are changing that we need to just watch for down the road or what things have changed that don't impact us. And then making sure that you have a team that will. Helping you to uncover your bias right there. We all have them. So I do research in an area of theoretical lens called upper echelon theory, and it all centers around executives and who we are generally speaking as executives, how we come to the table creates a field of vision for us.

And some of the work that I do is around diversity and what diversity ultimately. If we do it well, does, is it expands that field division? So I have particular vision biases and thoughts that I enter every situation with. If I have someone in my team who is a trusted member of contributing member of my team, who has.

Different biases. Hopefully there will be some overlap amongst us across us, but hopefully there will be some differences on the edges, just expand my field division. And those are really important things as well. So it jumped around a little bit, but building a team that, that has those people, those individuals, those skill that I don't know.

It's hugely important. And so where do we start with that? I got to know what I don't know. And many, not all many senior people that I have interacted with feel they have all the answers I'm successful. I've done these things. I've done these really wonderful, fabulous things. Just ride with me and we'll do more of those things.

It's true. But we don't know everything. We need to understand that and then be able to build a team and find individuals to help us fill in those. I'm just like, as you were talking, I was the imagery of a kaleidoscope was coming to my mind. And and also, in creativity sessions, we'll often invite naivety into the room and people from drastically different backgrounds as we're generating solutions.

As experts. And I feel that we can't, but help to use our expertise to generate. So that's why we purposefully bring in those other influences. I love that because one of the things that I see with people that are very senior in their field have a lot of experience. People are terrified to say, I don't know.

They think I should know. So I will. Give you an answer whether it is in the know or not. And that's when they typically fall back on their experience and they redefined a problem through their lens, which may or may not be valuable. So I agree with you completely, I'm inviting a naivete into the room is really important.

And getting people out of their comfort zone is really important. So that. Really get back to basics. I think that's, I think that's great. That's a great exercise. How do you how do you advise people to get out of their comfort zones or maybe inspire that the team to get out of their comfort zone?

I've done a variety of things. I have actually even, an exercise in. Say someone's I'll make it very practical, if someone is a lover of music and that saves an executive, who's a lover view of music and they don't know anything about sports. I may ask them, Hey, tell me what you know about the NFL.

And, the eyes are big and it's it's And then we worked through it and I say, okay, you give me what you know, and then we can go from there. I think when you feel like you have to be the knower of all in the room, it makes it very hard to break out. So using basic exercises and.

I think a lot of times as well. I will share my inexperience in an area just to set the mood to say, Hey, it's okay. Some things that I know very little about and you can teach me. And so when people get that truly embrace that. I can get the other side of it and say, okay, you can teach me, or my team can teach me or those types of things that makes me think about that vulnerability story that you shared with me the other day about I think you did share it about the parents and how they were setting the tone, for exchange.

Would you mind sharing that story? Let's see. I'm trying to remember exactly what I kick it off. I think he'd said that there were these parents and they saw the other parents and they started to share about how. Their children were doing, whether it's grades or something. And then that inspired like a wave of, oh, Sasha is Archer just go into here or such and such, just receive this accolade.

And then there was a turning point. The next time they met and I'll hand it over to you. Yeah. So I think that if I remember recalling correctly, the, a lot of. From parents particularly, a lot of our worth is built up in what our kids do. And so people get very attached to their kids' success.

And it, cause that's that's an expression of how great a parent I am. And so I lead those things through But there's a lot of us that or not even a lot of us there, there are very paths, for all kids. And the success of one person. Child doesn't mean that the other person's child is, I'm lesser of a parent because my child has less success or does something that isn't down a specific path.

And as a parent, I've always been someone who is preached to my kids, do what you love and it doesn't. You don't have to follow a specific path for me to be considered a good parent. And you're right. I have friends who were very dialed into what better. Kids do and how they do it.

And as a result of it, they press them down a path that they may not necessarily be happy on. And that same kind of advice do what you love. You have to pay bills, but love is something that I I try to get people to understand which from a coaching perspective gets into this idea of doing almost like a skills inventory or a job inventory to understand.

What about my job? Do I, I really love what things do I. Not so much. And what things are my re willing to tolerate in my role. Cause none of us, almost none of us, I want to say none of us, almost none of us, loves every single thing that we do in our job, in our careers even But there are things that typically we portions that we love portions that we say, okay, it's not so bad.

And then portions that we know we have to do it, but we really don't want to. So in, in coaching, I get to that as well, and that helps people to find their joy. And when you find your joy, you tend to work more efficiently and more effective. And also I think, cause you're boiling it down, like the reduction source of, like you're peeling back the layers, like it, it's not necessarily that activity, but maybe it's what it means to that individual and provides them with the ability to find that in other areas or other careers.

Versus to be acts, has to be like a red bow with blue box, so that's one that inquiry is wonderful. And then I think the thing that I also resonate is just what you're expressing about is the vulnerability, the ability in the exchange whatever level you're at to say, learning maybe sharing something that, you didn't know the answer to sets the tone again, am it for just a more honest exchange, which I'm noticing a lot more of I don't know if you're seeing.

And your conversations, but just bringing your whole self to a conversation that says, this is my professional self, and this is me off, just, I feel like, I don't know if this is. I feel like that's just exhausting to have so many different personas. And if I can just bring all of me to this conversation, the collaboration what we create together is just so much better.

I haven't seen any of that. That's a fascinating and very interesting path to go down with bringing your whole self to the table. And it's, I've had a lot of discussion with a lot of colleagues from various backgrounds and it's really a diversity equity inclusion discussion that I've had most often about bringing your whole self and.

I'm on two sides of that. I think it's, I think it's so valuable. I am a firm believer that if you can bring your whole self to the table we all have these heuristics, right? I meet you and we have an interaction and I'm building a full profile of you with only knowing a very small piece, just like that. And so when you don't bring your whole self. To the table. I feel potentially, I can feel like, sure it's hiding something. I don't know what it is. She's hiding something. So I'm going to pull back. And so there's that piece of it that I think is really important, but then there's the other side of bringing your full self to the table that deals with Coming from different places.

And so if I bring their full self to the table The person that across from me may not want to see the full me. Or may not even may not want to see. I may not understand. And so then there has to be a period of explanation which moves things a little slower. And so it's a really, it's a very nuanced perspective bringing your full self to the table.

I try to bring my. Whenever I am in front of someone because to your point it can be confusing to have all these different personas. So I try to be, I try to bring my full self and in such try to invite others to bring that. But it's it's a. There's a self competence involved in that there's, an awareness involved in that there's this fear of the unknown that's involved.

Hugely valuable, but I've back. Quite frankly, talked to some people that said, I don't want to bring my full self because they interpreted differently. They, and I've had people say, I don't know that you want me to bring my full self to the table. And I, that sounds almost ominous and I don't think they mean it that way.

It's I think if. If are some folks think, some people think about bringing my full self to the table, then we're going to have to go through a bunch of interpretation about what that means. And so it's it's a very, it's a very nuanced and very interesting thing, because I've heard a lot of people talking about that most recently.

Why do I think which part of it more people are talking about it recently? Why do you think that's coming to the fall? What do you think is inspiring it? I think because of what you said, I think it's exhausting to bring three or four people to this, to have three or four different people that you want to bring to the table in inside yourself.

And I think that people feel. They're much more at ease when they can bring them full their full selves to the table. I think I'm lucky in that I work in a profession that is we're independent contractors, right? So as a PhD as a faculty, I guess faculty member. You go through a process and you do have to be very careful about what you say and when you say it and those types of things and what you bring to the table, and then you get to this point tenure.

And once you get tenure, you feel a little more at ease to say, you know what I can say and be who I want. And so in my profession, I see a very distinctly And it's interesting to talk to people from different professions. Cause I get, you want to play nice. You want to I feel like you fit in, right?

I've been talking to some people I know, not in coaching positions from a coaching perspective, but just my friends and colleagues that work in business and industry. And one thing that com has come up a couple of times is specifically People that have a personality, typically is people from underrepresented groups, but people that have a personality where they're more willing, they are happiest.

If they're just quiet and they work really hard, I work really hard and I'm capable competent, but I'm not the person that's in the front of the room. That's the main voice in the room. And I've talked to people that sit in that position. And then I've talked to people. That are at the top of the room or leading the room and they will talk about those individuals and say I don't think this person is confident because they're quiet.

They are, they're not, and trying to convince people. No. That's just their personality. That's the way that they present themselves is really. Difficult. So that person says, all right, I have to put on a face and I have to come in and I have to pound the table and I have to so that they know that I am capable, but that's not who I am.

And so we need leadership that can get beyond that, to really get to who the person is, it's in the room so that they can feel comfortable bringing their whole self to. Oh, yes. It makes me think about whatever our preference is, the way that we go about doing things, that's what we're looking for.

It can be without awareness. That could be what we're looking for and others where, you know, if we're the activator and to your point, somebody is more. Conscientious and more deliberate and thorough about their approach. The past, they're just taking too long. So that becomes our lens of how we see our colleagues or how we see our team and how we create the performance reviews, absolutely. Yeah. So instead of any awareness that we can have in times of this is who I am and Liza the other spectrums available times of me that it then, which is, I would imagine as a continuous ongoing process, it definitely is for me. No, absolutely. And that, that, that goes back to leadership and building a team.

The most successful team is a team that's not built in everybody. And with the same likeness, right? It's building this diverse team, diverse diversity from a variety of different perspectives, right? And some of those may even be skillsets. What we bring to the table, how we bring it to the table and understanding those things are.

Were most successful managers sit, I've been, I'm a little bit of a history buff. And so recently I've been reading and watching a lot about Abraham Lincoln who was one of those leaders who knew what he didn't know, and also invited to be a part of his team, people with very different perspectives than his own.

For the greater good to achieve an ultimate goal. And we just don't see that anymore. We people, I need I had a professor when I was an MBA student who said to me and it blew my mind. I'll never forget. He said he was a former C-suite for a very large company. And he said the C-suite does not.

No, maybe he was using a hyperbole, but he said the C-suite does not want diversity. C-suite wants people that look like them sound like them, believe what they believe so they can all move forward in the same direction. And I remember him saying that and I was my jaw hit the floor and I was like, wait a minute.

No. We want this variety perspective. And he said, no, the CEO in particular typically has three or four years to get in and get it. And so the CEO wants someone that looks like them sounds like them and thinks like them. And I, that was just very eye opening, I guess it sounds obvious to many, but it was very eye opening to me at that time now, 20 years ago.

And I believe in. Thinking broadly bringing different perspectives to the table, which makes it easier again to, for people to bring them full set their full selves to the yes. I just, I think that like what you mentioned about it seems so obvious. Now, I remember reading Sheryl Sandberg's book.

Was it leaning the yeah. And I just, it blew my mind when I read it. I think, I don't know, maybe eight, eight years ago or something like that. And I just suddenly became so wow. All these behaviors that I was partaking. It just, I couldn't I couldn't unseen and it was just, it was so Evan, but up until that point I just didn't realize, and I think that's, definitely a role that I.

Aspire to, to be sharing the things that I hadn't in plain sight. And I feel like doing the same thing different areas. So with that in mind, thinking about, where are we? We're March. What are you excited about? What's coming down the pike for you that has you, I feel your leadership coaching is taking off and this is so many things, but what are you giddy to get it?

To get to? Yeah I, like I said, I am a self-described generalist and so I love variety. And so I have a number of different things that are moving along. I'm really excited about the executive coaching that I'm doing. I love to help executive. Literally step out of the lane that they're in.

Even if for a brief minute to see what is going on outside of that lane, before they jumped back into it. And hopefully that broadens their lane makes their lane a little wider. So I'm really excited about that. I'm working on a project specifically it's in its infancy stages, but an opportunity to maybe develop some leadership and strategic thinking.

Coaching for high potential individuals. So they may not be C-suite but they're high potential in their organizations. So I'm really excited about that. And then my teaching always stays really high on my list. And then I, I'm working with a couple of startups and that is so much fun because a lot of the.

Startups have a great idea, right? Whether it's a new to the world idea or it's just a better way to do something that's existing. Those things are really exciting, but what I often see, cause these are really early stage organizations. These are people that are really into. And understand the product or service that would be that they're developing.

But they don't know how to manage it and execute it. And I, it can be really frustrating. But also very exciting to help people to figure out the execution. I think when someone comes up with a new idea or a new widget, the very next thought is, okay, I'm going to be the CEO of the organization and it's going to be a worldwide phenomenon.

But we're not all built to be CEOs, right? I was literally, before you before I connected with you this morning, I was reading a post of someone who said the CEO needs a COO. And it said in most instances the two are very distinct. Personalities with distinct capabilities. And so I like to delve into that and figure out the execution piece of it again, with the strategic management model there's analysis to formulation and there's execution, and the execution piece tends to.

I always just tail off people say, Hey, I did all my research. I know there's a need. And so I'm going to build this widget and they think, okay, that's it. And there's not a whole lot of, okay, how are we going to actually do that? So those are the things that are the most exciting for me coming up.

Oh, I see some exciting research being shared, hidden in plain sight. That sounds amazing. Mark. How can people get in touch with you? Sure. They can actually reach out to me via my email. Mark dot trivet@pepperdine.edu. I'd be happy to talk to anyone. I monitor that and I'm always on it. I'm also on LinkedIn and I, although my, I don't check it as closely.

I'm on Twitter as well definitely feel free. Yeah. I try to be, I try to be. That's amazing. Thank you so much for your time. Well, I just can't emphasize enough malt. Thank you so much for joining us today. And listeners again, thank you so much for joining us today. Please get in touch. Let me know what resonated with you. Let me know what sparked an idea for you. Your feedback is the thing of that is really cultivating and shaping. 

Every show that you get to hear. I will, of course. Have Mark's information. And ways to contact in the show notes. So do not hesitate to reach out to him. And for myself, if you've enjoyed the conversation, your reviews mean so much to me. And if you're also looking to tap into consistently being able to think differently, getting the mindset. 

The framework and the toolkit to get new solutions out the door. Then check out HiHelloSura.com/thinkdifferently And do your B M for a pleasant surprise. Just there. So as always looking forward to having you join us on the next show. For now I'm your host  Sura Al-Naimi