Episode 007:  Create a Practice That’s Ideal for You AND Your Clients

Episode 007: Create a Practice That’s Ideal for You AND Your Clients

007: Create a Practice That’s Ideal for You AND Your Clients

by Whit Raymond

It can be tough to run your own practice as a business owner attending to business development and as a service professional providing value to your clients. Whit Raymond understands that challenge from both sides, as he’s alternated between being inside the corporate world and serving executive teams as an external advisor and strategic leadership coach. Whit is the founder of LodeStar Leadership LLC. He’s created a system for identifying which clients are the best fit for him and which ones to walk away from, while keeping everyone’s dignity intact.

You’ll discover:

  • How Whit decided on the kind of work he’d focus on with clients
  • How to coach yourself so you stay focused and on track
  • Two strategies for overcoming anxiety related to work
  • Three warning signs that a client may not be right for you

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Connect with Whit


Read the Transcription

Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Strong for Performance podcast. I’m your host, Meredith Bell, and I am delighted today to have with me Whit Raymond. Whit, welcome to the program.

Well, hello there. Good to see you, and glad to be here, Meredith.

You are so welcome, and I’m so glad you’re here. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you to start, and then you can fill in the gaps.

Whit is the president of LodeStar Leadership, and he is an advisor and a strategic coach and consultant, primarily to executives in organizations that are committed to real change, and one of the things that I have enjoyed with Whit when we have spoken in the past is his commitment to creating healthy environments, and of course, that means creating emotionally healthy leaders who are running the place and helping to make everyone feel valued and important. One of Whit’s other skills is being able to be a master facilitator, so he’s really good at helping people reach consensus, as well as reaching commitment to achieving and pursuing goals that everybody can get around. Whit, I know I gave just a little touch about your skills and expertise. Tell us a little bit more about your journey.

Well, thank you. Actually, I’ll just take that and ride that wave. I like that. Thank you very much. I would say in terms of my journey I discovered the field of organization development many, many years ago. Did not know it existed, and I did it by doing a lot of networking and reaching out which, it doesn’t always come easily for me because I am an introvert, so it’s just I have to push myself. And then, I was doing a lot of consulting inside of organizations around organizational change, how do you build what we called high performance organizations, and it wasn’t until later that I realized I was also doing an awful lot of coaching, and what happened there was that I’d be working with executives or managers who were going through something that was impacting what we were trying to get done, and we just did it. We called it consulting but before it became that popular. So, I did that.

I worked in a manufacturing company and then I went out on my own with, actually, my boss. He and I went out and we worked with a lot of companies as externals, and then I went back in to work for a nonprofit on school reform and worked a lot of urban cities around the country, on the East Coast, and then I also worked inside Merrill Lynch for many years, and I was inside there. I was really doing a lot of coaching but also doing a lot of working with executives around the interest and needs that they had. So, I’d go and find out what was going on. Then, my boss said one time, she said, “Whit, I have no idea what you do. I don’t get it, but all I know is people love you and they keep wanting more of your time,” and she really couldn’t comprehend the work. It wasn’t part of the culture that they’d had, so I was really doing some groundbreaking work there.

And then I went external again in 2008 when the market changed and my job was eliminated, and I was really happy, and I went back out external and I was doing coaching there, and I had to restart my business all over again, because once you go in, you know, I’ve been through this many cycles so I know about how to build it up and what it’s like when it goes down. And then, I went inside BlackRock. They came after me to do some building capability. One of the things that I did love doing there was the challenge of trying to build a coaching culture. Like, how do you get senior people to coach their managers and then to coach the salespeople and use a common language and vernacular for what that was, and similar processes. I was there for three years before there was a big change, and then I went back out for the last time on external. So my business LodeStar has been around for a long time and I have a network of a lot of people that I work with. They pull me in and I pull them in as our situations need.

And I know that we were talking earlier about how your business has evolved over time. You’ve had a focus on certain things at some times, and I think that’s true of all of us that have been involved in our businesses for decades, which I have, too. I’m curious now, tell me a little bit about how coaching into the work week with your organizations.

It’s interesting, because coaching has become what I call a fad, or it’s just so commonplace now. There are a lot of people who want to be in the profession because they love to help people, and it’s wonderful. So, it’s just gotten very, very full. There’s an awful lot of coaches, and when I got started, in some cases people just found out that I could do it and I liked it, so I was able to do that. And I pretty much did everything. When I say everything, it would be around things such as role changes. How do you get more fulfilled in the current role? If you’re having difficulty with people who lack emotional intelligence, how do you deal with that? There are all kinds of topics and I was pretty much doing a lot of things that were pretty much what they asked for, and then if there were things I just couldn’t do, I wasn’t competent in, I’d just say that that’s not me and I might refer them to other people, which is pretty standard. I think that’s what most people do.

I will tell you that I was doing a variety of things, and I’ve gone through many phases at this point in my life where I realize I’d stop and I’d do a re-evaluation of where I am, what is important to me, what have been my lessons, and what do I really want. In that process, I’d say I’ve gone from doing what I called sometimes work that was pretty much everything to say no, I want to work with certain types of leaders. More so that’s become even more granular and more specific, and I will tell you that I look back on my experiences and I ask myself, what were the most gratifying experiences I had? And I started writing a lot of notes, and I was writing down I like to develop leaders. I was writing down I really enjoy doing that. And then, I thought about the experiences that I had and that wasn’t what gave me the greatest satisfaction. It wasn’t developing leaders. I’m good at it, but what I liked was working with leaders who want to make change and they don’t know how to do it. In there, of course, you’re teaching a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff is going to come up. I don’t mean as teaching, but they can develop a lot in that process. And, I realized that was what really got me excited.

So, the coaching now is part of what I call broader organization-wide work. That’s the focus of doing it, and I’m starting right now, I have a brand new client. This is an example, and the CEO has known me for years and said, “You know, we’re growing. I’m now a CEO. We’re leaps and bounds, and I want to work with you. I need you to help me, but I want you to help not only a couple of my senior people, I want you to work with the team, and I want you to help us with the business and how we build a larger culture, and I go, “That’s my profile.” I love it. I was very happy. So, does that answer your question? Does that-

Yes it does, and I want to just draw out a couple of points that I think would be beneficial for our listeners because I think we can fall into the trap of going with whatever opportunity comes up, without evaluating. Is this the best match for me? Am I going to truly enjoy working with this client? Can I make a difference? And I think sometimes, because we might be driven by the need to pay our bills, that we settle for working with people that our intuition tells us upfront, “Hmm, not so sure this is a good idea.” In fact, I spoke with someone just yesterday who had accepted a job with this company as an employee, a high-level position, and he noticed some yellow flags waving, but he ignored them because it was a prestigious position, and it turned out very badly over the three years that he was there, so I think this can definitely happen to those of us that are running our own businesses. We can settle for less than our ideal clients.

And I think the other piece that’s an important takeaway for our listeners is, you took the time to really think about, what gives me the greatest joy? What do I enjoy the most? So I think a good action step for listeners is to really sit down and on a piece of paper think about and write out, what kinds of activities that I have done in the past do I enjoy the most, and what kinds of clients do I work with? Because you made a very important point about the client being open and interested in making real change, that commitment. So a follow-on question would be then, from your perspective, what is it that really makes for a satisfying life for someone who’s in this coaching-consulting profession?

Yeah. Well, there’s a lot. I love the question. So look, first of all, there’s ebbs and flows in the business. Sometimes you got a lot of clients. Sometimes you don’t. If you’re building it, you’re going to build it, and I’ve done the build many times, so I know what it takes, and I’ll tell you, you got to be patient. You just have to be patient. The thing that makes it harder on patience is what you mention, which is, if you’re worried about putting food on the table, and you got a family, which is what I had too many times. So I think that that patience is really, really important.

It was important for me to get some disciplines because there was nobody else telling me how to spend my time. I had my day structured when I was inside companies and people pulling at me all the time, but when I’m building my practice, hey, it’s my time, and so I literally created space that was mine and I set up some routines. For example, I was doing business development and trying to reach out to people. I have a particular approach that works really well for me, but one of the things that was helpful for me was to have some tool that said, “Who am I going to call next?” and reach out to them and so I could say, “I did it. I did it.” Now, there was a little mini gratification, but it made a difference. It really did help, so that boundary setting, by setting some structures for myself, is really important.

The other thing I ought to note, is I need to stop frequently and take a break. It’s just, when you’re on, you get fearful and you lose track of time, and sometimes I can get going, and I used to set a timer to know when to get up and go for a walk for 10 minutes or 15 minutes. Do things like that, because I’ve got to keep myself fresh, and I don’t want to get worn out with it, so that’s really, really important.

I would also tell you, when you think about building a business, I think there’s two modes, basic, simple modes. One is create. Well, we’re creating our business, like meeting new clients, getting new clients. The other one is when we’re scared, and we’re worried about covering our expenses or the things — so I just became very aware of how much that fear and stress, how debilitating it is. And it was hard at times, and I had to really coach myself, and that’s another thing. It’s that, look, I coach other people. I have a coach, but I also really work on coaching myself, so I literally have a conversation with myself. “All right wait, what are you doing right now? Why are you getting a little uncomfortable? What’s really going on?” And I’d literally have a conversation as if I was coaching myself. That is really powerful, and I also, when I coach people, I say, “I want to teach you to coach yourself, so you don’t need me. You know, you can do it.” So let me pause there.

I think those are all really good. I think the taking of a break is so critical, and I love that you coach yourself. I think that that’s something that, what we fall into more often is criticizing ourselves. You know, “Oh, I should have done this, or why didn’t I do that?” And so we can get in a downward spiral, and so I’m curious to hear a little bit more about when you coach yourself. How do you do it in a way that keeps your energy and your spirit high, rather than criticizing?

Yeah, well when I get criticized, I just can feel my energy drop. I might even get depressed. There’s places you can go. It’s just not — it doesn’t feel good. I just got to the place where I start to notice that, and I said “Uh-uh, I’m not doing that.” So one of the things is, when there’s anxiety, one of the things I learned was get my butt out of the chair and change the environment. Go do something for a just a little while, and I would go outside, and I’d literally focus on, what do I notice around me? I would not analyze. I would not go inside and ruminate about what’s going on. I’d say, “No, be here now. What do I see?” for just for five minutes or 10 minutes. I was huge, huge for me. And I also do meditation, so that helps. I mean, it’s very significant. Things like meditating and walks, and the other one is, if I get anxious, I do something I think I mentioned to you before about automatic writing.


And also mind mapping. And the reason I like them is because they get rid of my judger. You know, the bypass. And any of us who have been coaching know about that, but we trip it up. What’s going on? And then I start writing, and you never stop writing, and so I write whatever my mind’s thinking, and I keep going for about five minutes. And in there, and if I run out of something, well I run out of things, but all of a sudden something gets written and it comes out of me and I go “Ah! That feels good. That’s right on.” And I can root that, and at the end and say “All right, that helps me,” and I can roll the paper up, and I can throw it in the trash can because I don’t need it. It was just a process.

And then the other one is mind mapping, which is when there’s a lot going on. I am pulled by the family. I’ve got concerns about finance. I’ve got friends. I’ve got colleagues. I’ve got clients. I’ve got prospects. I’ve got my bills. I mean, there’s a lot of things, and sometimes it feels overwhelming, so I use a mind map, which is to put it all out there. Where are we today? And I’ll put my current status, or current situation, and I’ll put a circle around it, and then I just start creating my little map, and I just let it flow, and within five minutes, eight minutes, it doesn’t take long, I have on one page a picture. I go, “Ah!” and then it’s “All right, what are my priorities?” Go back to and pick. How do I order this? Is this really that important? Can I relax on this one? And then I just talk it through and then I create my little to-do list from that.

That’s great. I love both of those. For one thing, they don’t take a lot of time, but for the other, they get some great results. It’s like they free you up now to be able to focus your energy on the things that need to get done instead of feeling overwhelmed or stressed with all this running through your head, so-

So one of the things that you’re mentioning, Meredith, that really is important is that, you’ll learn over time, we make it all up. All this stress, I create it. I can have beliefs operating inside me, but I also know that, one thing you start to realize, is the only person who’s worried, or excited, is me. You could be sitting across the room in a totally different frame of mind. Well, what’s the difference between you and me? And it’s just, I’m making it up, and that’s simple. It’s extremely profound and powerful when you start to realize that we create all these stories and states, some people call narratives, right, about where we are, and usually in the back of there there’s some beliefs. Like, I’m not good enough or if I’m not really busy I’m wasting time or nobody will really want to hire me. Whatever each of us has, those things come into play, and they become very, very important for us to learn as coaches, and especially independents, to manage that, and that’s also why I think it’s good to have a coach for myself because my coach is really great.

Oh wow, that is really powerful, and most likely our listeners have heard of that before. In fact, they may talk about that with people they coach, but if not, this whole idea of we create stories about ourselves, about what’s happening around us, because we’re using this one filter we’ve got. We have our own interpretation, and one of the things that I learned that was so helpful for me was looking at any situation as neutral and as a scientist would approach it, which is by simply collecting data, and so theoretically, scientists are neutral. You know, they have a hypothesis, they’re going to test it, but they don’t get devastated if the results turn out differently than they expected. It’s data, and so that was one of the wisest things I heard, and if you want to imagine yourself with the white coat on and microscope on the table, you’re simply examining things, and you’re looking at it as information, and so now, what do I want to do with this?

And I liked the word you used before which is create, because we can all create where we want to be and how we want to be in any given situation. We’re not stuck with a certain personality or mindset, but it’s easy, many times, for coaches to see that with the clients they’re working with, but it’s harder when we are looking in the mirror at ourselves and say “Oh! Well I’m different” or “My situation is different, and so that doesn’t apply to me” when in fact it really does.

Yep, it really does. There’s another extension to that, which is I sat down and I’m actually coaching a lot of people who are new in coaching, and I do it just because I love it. I mean, there’s somebody who was former manager I work with, I taught her how to coach all her teams. She loved it. She changed her profession and went into coaching and then went to a program, and she said, “I didn’t really learn that much,” and so she said, “Would you help me?” The thing that I’m learning about it is that people that are really struggling with how to get started, that they really have to find ways to go inside, find it when you say “go neutral.” They have to find ways to really build inside themselves the capacity for handling what’s going on.

Mm-hmm. That’s great because, of course, if you’re focused on yourself, you’re not able to really focus on your client, and I know in another conversation we talked about what you encounter often with people that you are coaching, these high-level executives who are stressed out. They recognize that they need to change, but they feel stuck and like they can’t change, and I think it would be helpful to share with us, what are some of the strategies that you help them acquire, or what are some of the processes that you think through in helping them get past that stuckness?

Yeah, that’s a great question because it is common, and probably many of those who are listening to this know this, so it may be more of a reminder, but I’ll tell you that the first challenge is for me to recognize the environment that they’re in and what’s their personal state. How are they doing, like what’s their frame of mind? And often I will ask them, and by the way they answer I can get a sense of it.

Now, most people who are highly stressed, for example, there’s nothing I can do with them. I’m not going to coach them. There is no way because when a person is stressed, their cortisol’s running, they’re in high beta, and what happens is you can’t take in very much. You’re looking for quick fixes. I want solutions. How to do that they’re trying to deal with the external environment, so there’s no way you can coach. You can’t make them go inside at that time, so the thing that I find really important is, number one, I’ve got to build rapport with them, especially if they’re new, make sure I’m connecting with them and, number two, is I’ve got to create some space for them to slow down and get calmer, and that becomes number one goal, and sometimes for some people, it’s taken 45 minutes, and I’m not kidding. I know of a coach that I reached recently. I came in one time and was so wound up, she just had to get stuff out, and I think venting is really important, but I also am very cognitive, a habit and it’s blaming and it’s victimization, but it took her that long. Other times it was quicker, so the slowing down is really important to getting that calmness that’s there. I would say that is one things that’s really important.

Another thing that I think is really helpful for them is to become aware of what are the triggers that get them going, and how to give away, what I’d say give away you power, that’s one way to look at it, but the other way to look at it … but you end up letting the environment manage us, and so we get reactive to the environment, so I get them to work on what I call first is awareness, in the moment, and do they notice it? And lots of times I will leave a session, I’ll say, “I want you to go around and notice all the times you get triggered and get angry or you get scared, or you get fearful about it, and just notice what happens inside your body and what are the circumstances, and let’s just do that first, and they go, “Oh really?” And sure enough, every time they come back they’ll go, “Gosh, well I did this. I saw this. I saw this.” I said, “Great and then what happened?” And then they start to discover they don’t have to make changes. They don’t have to do anything. They just naturally go into it.

So I’d say number one is the awareness, slowing down, making sure I have the connection with them, and giving them things that don’t go too fast, not into tasks, not into doing, but more into being aware. After they’re aware, then the challenge is going to be around their ability to manage themselves in those situations, and this is where people who are stuck often show up. They might be aware at the moment when you’re talking to them that they really are overbearing, that they’re out of control, they’re highly reactive, and they get calmer, but when they go back out repeatedly they’re not able to stop, and I give an example.

There was a person I coached, very good professional but very driven, and I coached this individual for three months, and one of the things we noticed was she was unable to ever not drive, not be doing. She did not know how to slow down and relax, and that to me is a huge red flag, so there was something going on, much more beyond the coaching. She had some awareness but she could never manage herself to that place, so our coaching thing ended because I found a way to say, “Look, this is where it is, and it’s not working.” We did it in a very graceful way and she was very happy and we were friends, but that’s really important because the work of healing, which is overcoming those deep things that make us can’t stand certain people. I can’t stand certain situations, and you can never get beyond that, and they’ve got to learn to work with these people. I’d say there’s a healing issue there, so that’s not our work. Learning is what our work is about, helped them learn.

That’s an interesting distinction. Yeah, I’d like you to talk a little bit more about that when you see healing as the need the really have versus the learning. You gave a couple of quick examples there, but talk a little bit more about what do you look for, or listen for, to detect if a person’s really ready for coaching, or if they need something else?

Yeah, I’ve taken on a number of coaching things that the executives asked me to do because people were really struggling and they were really good and they wanted these people to really survive and make it, and I would hear about them, and I’d go, “Uhhh.” You know, red flags were going in my head. I’m not sure, but I said, “You know, I can be wrong, and I have been wrong many times in my assessment,” so I said “Okay, but here’s the deal,” I said, “if I find that we’re not able to make changes and this person’s having a struggle, I’m going to stop this. We’re not going to coach. Well, you know, I don’t want you to spend your money. I don’t want to spend the time, waste it,” and they go, they love that. They love the flexibility, and it’s really important, and so what’ll happen is you’ll find out that when you start working on something that they will agree that they’ll work on some aspect of themself.

Let’s say they’re very quick to dominate or take over, and it’s getting in the way of other people, or they’re very clique-ish. I’m just using some examples that I’ve heard where people struggle, but they don’t stop it. Even after you had the conversations they say they get it, and you can see the body’s calm. They seem to have the insight. They have the awareness, and then you agree on what they’re going to try to do about it, just give out a couple things, and then two or three times they come back and it’s the same old same old, SOS, same old stuff. It happens again and again. That to me is the flag. That’s the indicator that there’s real stuckness there.

And often I will bring it up to them and I’ll just say, “How do you account for that? Do you notice that you’re having difficulty doing it? What’s that about?” And I’m saying those to you now because it might sound cold the way I’m doing it, but I’m very gentle to do it. I want to be direct with them because I want to hold the mirror up a little bit about I noticed that we’re experiencing together, and then see what their choices are, and often they will say, “Yeah I don’t know what it’s about,” and then I get a sense that they’re just not really committed. They’re not really committed to the change, and so then I just say, “Okay, that’s not suitable.”

I just had a client two weeks ago who I would down with because he had a very explosive behavior and temper, very good performer. When he was under high stress, he was great, but he would flip out, and he was aware of it that it was a problem, but he couldn’t change it, and what was happening is I started to get more feedback from different parts of the organization, the business, saying, “Hey, he’s doing it again,” or “This is not working.”

And so I had a conversation with him, and I did some feedback gathering, and he wasn’t open to it, so I came and said “Look, I got some feedback,” and he said he didn’t even want to know about it, and I did it two or three times and he was not open, so I said, “You know what?” I said, “Ben, this is not right. I have a feeling you’re feeling forced into coaching.” He says, “Yeah, I do.” “Ah, that’s great. Let’s stop this because this should not be a forced thing, just because some people want you to get coaching and you said you’re open to it. If this isn’t right for you, maybe this isn’t the right time. Maybe not now,” so I gave him an out, and he said, “I’d really like that.” He said, “I’ve learned so much. I got better delegating. I got better this,” and he did, there was some good feedback, but this deeper problem wasn’t going away and so he gracefully got out.

Now I think basically he shot himself in the foot because he’s not able to deal with the issue. He can’t. He’s not able to do it, and he hasn’t been able for years, and he’s a great person. He’s got wonderful skills, and I have a lot of compassion for him. He’s got whatever demons he’s dealing with that we all have our own, you know?

Yes, so do you ever recommend somebody, someone, say, pursue therapy or some other avenue that’s really outside the realm of coaching?

I have, but I’m very careful about it because that boundary between coaching and therapy and we blend over sometimes depending on where your skills are and where your confidence is and your competency is at, we have to manage that line very, very carefully. So I am very careful because that’s not my job to do that, but if I had the right kind of trust, what I found often works a number of times where I’ve done it where someone’s really struggling with something, it’s clearly because they’re in a new role or something’s going on. Through a transition, and sometimes through a transition it might be good to get a third party who have no connection with the business in any way, sort of look at what that’s about, and I’ve had a number of people who grabbed onto that because they had enough sense that they were struggling inside, and they really did want to work it.

And as a matter of fact, one of them came back to me a few months later, and I ended up recommending a therapist. They came back and they go, “Oh my god. This was incredible. This was so helpful. I was able to really understand some of the things that were driving me from my path that just were like ghosts getting in my way,” and so, felt very relieved. And so, there are ways to do that, and there are some times I don’t feel it’s right, and I just don’t go there because I don’t think there’s receptivity. That’s the big thing I listen for, Meredith, is receptivity. How open are they? And I don’t try to persuade or convince.

Well, I think that makes perfect sense because, especially when you’ve gotten experience, as you have over so many years, your intuition kicks in and can detect that receptivity. It doesn’t have to be checklist that you’re going through, but you kind of are running through this intuitive criteria that you’re paying attention to, and I think that’s really important. One final thing I’d like to talk with you about, just for a few minutes, you mentioned this in the very beginning, when you were talking about working with an organization to help the managers become coaches at various level to their direct report managers, and I just wondered if you had some tips or ideas for other coaches or consultants who are interested in helping to create a coaching culture. What are some watch-outs, maybe, that could prevent that from happening effectively, and what needs to be in place for it to be success?

Yeah, well the number one, is everything depends on who’s at the top. That’s so simple, it’s so profound, and I see so many people try to make changes in the middle of organizations with people who aren’t buying it. I had one today, a major client. There’s no buy-in to address some major issues that are going on. You can’t do anything, so in terms of building a culture, number one is there’s got to be somebody who buys in to it, and when I say buys into it, it’s somebody who sees the importance of getting results and performance, yes, but they also understand the power of people and culture. They really understand that they’re inseparable.

The second things is that often for us as coaches we get focused in on wanting to help people. It’s what drives us to do this, but I think there’s another way to look at it. Yes, we help people, but in organizations where you’re building a coaching culture, it’s got to be a strategy. It’s not just to do coaching. It’s not doing development. It’s really trying to improve the performance and capacity or capabilities that people bring to the work in order to get better performance from the business, or the team, or whatever that they’re working on. For a senior president has to buy into that, and one of the things that I’ll offer up is “Well, let’s talk about coaching as a strategy, and why would you want your senior managers to learn how to coach?” And one of the things that I would say is, “Well, what’s the job of a good manager? Is not a part of a good manager learning how to help people grow and learn and motivate and all that stuff?” Yes, it is. Well then coaching is one strategy that you can use to do that.

Another one is you can send people to go off to do work with a buddy system, where they mentor. They can do action learning. They can go do other roles. There are millions of different things, but coaching can become one vehicle for doing that, but it is a strategy, and yes there’s benefits to that, and then I go to them, “What is it going to take to do that? What kind of level of commitment is it going to take?” because people have to redefine their role and often what I will do is help them look at the role and have them wrestle with, what does it mean to put coaching in there? Why would it be in there? So I have to get them to buy into it.

Right, right. Well that makes perfect sense, and I couldn’t agree with you more about, if the top person is not willing to get behind this, you’re kind of pushing, trying to push, something up a hill. It’s going to be hard, and it may have no lasting impact.

Nobody will do it. If the sea of people don’t endorse it, the only people who endorse it are people who are philosophically already aligned for it and matched for it. They might do it in their own spheres, but in a lot of these fast-paced organizations, it’s tough. They’ll talk it, and they pretend that talking is the same as doing, and then people start calling them out on it and saying, “No, you’re not doing it. Look where you’re spending your time. You’re not doing anything. When was the last time you sat down with your people and really had a good heart-to-heart conversation and did something focused?”

Yes, well as you know, we have 360 feedback software, and what we found when we first introduced it was the places where it got the greatest reception is when the top leaders said, “Start with us,” as opposed to “Let’s go to the mid-level managers. We don’t need it up here.” But if they modeled getting that feedback, handling it well, and openly made a commitment about, “Here’s what I learned from you that are my strengths. I’m going to use them more. Here’s what we learned where I got a surprise and didn’t realize this was causing problems. I’m committing to improving.” It makes a whole difference as you start rolling it down, and I see the same thing with coaching. It’s a parallel process where, if you don’t have it start at the top, where those people have the skills, they know what it looks like to do it well, it’s questionable whether you’d even want to undertake it because you know in advance the likelihood of really profound impact might not be there.

Oh that’s great. I so agree with you, and part of that role modeling and doing the leading is also that whole aspect that many viewers may be aware of, the importance of symbolic acts, leadership acts, and so there’s the role model but there is a symbolic thing too that, when they see it, it’s really powerful.

Yes, that’s a great point. Well, we could continue talking for an extended period. It was so much fun, and I really enjoy all of the important insights you shared about your own experience working as an insider in organizations as well as external, working to help these clients really make long-term improvements because I think that’s what all of our listeners are really interested in doing is having an impact that lasts so that when they leave, they’re no longer working there, there’s this healthy relationship building that’s happened that is sustained over time after they’ve gone.

Yeah, that’s great. I think you said that very well. I really like that.

Thank you. Thank you so much for being with me today. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you.

You, too, and thank you very much, Meredith. I enjoyed it.

You’re welcome.