Kris Mailepors is a leadership consultant and author of a great book titled “The Easy-To-Follow Leader.” Kris spent 8 years in the Cutco/Vector Marketing sales organization, advancing as far as District Manager, where he learned some great fundamentals for leadership. After honing his skills in a variety of roles, Kris founded Bushido Leadership to bring his insights to others and serve clinical leaders and nurse teams to battle burnout and grow in our new environment. Kris offers practical, actionable advice that can help leaders at any level of success and responsibility.


Q: Tell us a little about how you got started selling Cutco with Vector.

  • I got a flier on my desk at school and my other job was paying less, so I thought the instant pay raise would be great.
  • I learned so much when I was new, and I just loved being a sponge.
  • I learned the power of enthusiasm when running my first branch.

Q: You eventually moved on from working with Vector and eventually started your own consulting practice which led to you writing your book, The Easy to Follow Leader.  Tell us what lead to you writing this book?

  • Working with Vector/ Cutco, passion was able to get results. But when I moved to the health care world, compassion was what I discovered got results.
  • In coming up with new leadership models, I realized we were doing things that were very original. When we were coming up with the concept for the book, it was originally going to be for the health care industry, but my publisher felt these concepts were applicable to anyone in a leadership role.

Q: In your book you share some key concepts and I’d like to get into some of them today.  One of your stories from your book recalled a time when you were running a District Office.  Can you share some of your insights from that part of your book?

  • John Kane came to observe my recruiting seminar to offer me help. He told me that he observed me being kind of short and gruff with people and John told me, “stop trying to be a jerk, you’re bad at it.”
  • He taught me that day that I can be my authentic nice self and still be someone that holds the line.
  • That one lesson increased my recruiting results by 100+%, and I noticed I had a much easier time retaining and developing people because they stuck around and I was able to lead them and do so authentically.
  • You can be tough on people without being mean. Connect with people with passion and compassion.  Open up with people and really care about them.
  • Don’t try to be someone you aren’t.

Q: In your book you talk a lot about values. Especially around the concept of leaders needing to be really clear on their values and how their values impact the day to day. 

  • Our values are a way for us to understand the behaviors that we show. Values are like the compass on a ship.  A ship is never exactly on course but your compass will help you make course corrections
  • Knowing and reviewing your values often provides accountability. Sharing your values is a way to extra hold yourself accountable.

Q: How can you recommend that someone does the work to determine their key values?  What are the steps to follow?

  • This is a deeply personal journey and it’s one of the areas I focus on when I work with leaders of different organizations. Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all.
  • Ask yourself to fill in the blank to the following sentence, “__________ is important to me.”  Fill in that blank a few different times and ask yourself “why?” for each one.  Really get to the bottom of that thought.
  • When you’re clear on your why, you’re emotionally moved and that’s the construct for motivation.

Q: How would you suggest a leader communicates his or her values to those around them?

  • To start, just letting your team know your values, but then let them know that if you stray from your values, you want them to let you know.
  • Ask them that if they notice you living outside of your values to bring it up and call you out. That creates accountability and lets your people know that you are open to being called out.
  • And then communicate to them that you expect them to model those values too.
  • One extra piece of this concept of approachability I’ve noticed with some leaders is that they are so good at personal development that they can develop themselves so far beyond their people, and a big gap develops where people can start to feel like approaching the leader would be looked down on or you aren’t relatable.

Q: Another concept in your book is the concept of what you call “lazy leadership.”  What is lazy leadership and what are some keys to overcoming it?

  • Lazy leadership is when we lean on our biases. The Neuro-leadership Institute says the if you have a brain, you have a bias. Your brain is constantly looking for opportunities to not have to think about things which is what creates our biases.

Q: In the Lazy Leadership section you talk about the 2 main jobs of the leader.  Can you get into that?

  • This may be an oversimplification but there are two jobs a leader has:
    • To train his/ her people to set them up for success.
    • To motivate his/ her people to strive for success.

Q: In your book you describe the concept of motivation and you talk about a “fear-based culture” vs. the “desire-based culture.” Can you discuss this concept for us?

  • I would ask groups of people, “what motivates all groups of people?” I would hear words like “money” and “success.”  I don’t necessarily believe that. 
  • I think motivation can come down to either “fear” or “desire.” Money may play a role in that, but one person may want money because they’re living paycheck to paycheck, whereas another person may want money to continue to fund investments and further their current financial successes.  Both people want money but for very different reasons.  One person is motivated by fear while the other is motivated by desire.
  • In a fear-based culture a leader might say something is mandatory while in a desire-based culture a leader might describe why something is valuable to do.
  • Fear-based leadership provides temporary motivation while desire-based leadership provides sustainable motivation. It’s the difference between transactional leadership and transformational leadership.

Q: Are there any other concepts or insights that you’d like to share with this audience?

  • The level of authenticity in this culture is central to how we develop relationships.

Q: As you look into the future, how do you aspire to change people’s lives through your work or through your influence?

  • I love the concept of leaving people better than how I found them. My company, Bushido, comes from the name of the Samurai Code which has 7 values.  The Samurai were not the ruling class but they were the most revered and the most feared.  So my work is about helping people connect with their values so they can create better relationships in their life.



Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina.

To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!



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