Coaching Abrasive Leaders with Lynn Harrison

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Keeping Agile Non-Denominational, Episode 27

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Alex Kudinov   Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Coaching Non-Denominational podcast. We are your hosts today, Cherie Silas and I, Alex Kudinov, and today we have a guest, Lynn Harrison. She is a PhD, MCC, and all those letters after her name. Lynn, why don't you introduce yourself to our listeners?

Lynn Harrison   Thanks, Alex and Cherie, it's a pleasure to be here. I am a coach and one of the areas that I'd love to talk to you about today is coaching abrasive leaders. That's been a passion of mine, not only in my work, but also in my research.

Alex Kudinov   So I know coaches explore different facets, different places, different people, how did you get to explore the abrasive leadership?

Lynn Harrison   I love that question because people, when I first chose that as my dissertation topic, they said, "Why do you want to study unpleasant leaders? Why not study the really great leaders out there?" and where it came from, for me, was that I used to do these 360 feedback processes with leaders and very often I'd be sitting down with the executive to go over the feedback. They'd be very pleasant, charming, interesting, great for me to talk to but then when we were looking at their feedback, the people they worked with, were describing them as an ogre and as this...Jekyll and Hyde, scary person to work with. I think that was just so confounding that here, this person could be very nice to speak with with me but was being experienced in this way by their co-workers. So I was curious about why that might be and what would be different about their circumstances at work and then, maybe, sitting down with a coach. So that's what I investigated; what were the causes of this kind of behavior?

Alex Kudinov   It doesn't sound like it was a one day investigation. You did your PhD, you did your dissertation, and apparently you went through a huge amount of information and material. So what did you find?

Lynn Harrison   Well, what I found is what I call the perfect storm. So, very often these leaders were intense, they were driven, competitive, results-oriented kind of individuals. So there was something about the personality and the individual factors but what was also interesting is they were operating in environments that somehow encouraged this-- or endorsed this kind of behavior, or even had a blind eye to the behavior that was difficult for co-workers. So the kind of organizations they were in were often very competitive, task oriented, results driven organizations, which most are, but in these cases, it was often culture that paid more attention to results than how they were achieved. So they didn't necessarily invest in leaders learning how to be good leaders and treat their people well, they were mostly interested in what these folks could deliver. What was common amongst these leaders was that they were often very good at the field they came from. Whether it was finance, engineering, technology, maybe law, but they had never really learned how to be a good leader and they weren't selected for management because they could lead, it was because they could get things done. So, once they got into a leadership role, what did they do but continue to do what made them successful to date, which was pushing hard, working hard, driving for results. Only, they didn't know how to do that through other people and felt a lot of anxiety because now their results are dependent on all these other people, not just themselves. This anxiety often triggered in them the kind of behavior that would-- I call it an abrasive because it rubs people the wrong way or it wears them down over time. They don't necessarily set out to make life miserable for the people around them but their behavior is very hard on other people.

Cherie Silas   It makes me wonder if they actually realized the behavior or if they were just kind of confronted with it when they saw the results of the 360

Lynn Harrison   Yeah, that was the thing that was really interesting to me because sometimes they were just shocked that people would find them so difficult to work with or that people even hated them or avoided them in the hallway; they were absolutely shocked. For some, it brought up deep shame because they did not set out to be a person that was that much disliked. For other people, it was kind of different. Some reactions were anger, like, "Well, why didn't people just tell me if they're having trouble with me?" So as a coach, I often have to help them work through that reaction to getting this feedback that they didn't necessarily expect. But it's not that simple because, for some of them, they would say, "Yeah, I know I can be kind of tough on people. I know I can be pretty blunt. I run a pretty tight ship", "I'm pretty direct", "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen", "People shouldn't be so soft and sensitive, and just get the job done." So there was a little bit of cognitive dissonance about their behavior sometimes and in some cases, they said, "Well, it works when I scare people; they get to it and they deliver" but often, they would have some remorse afterwards."You know what, I didn't have to be that rough on that person." I would say that most of them did not know, though, that people went home at the end of the day, sometimes in tears, or just planning how they're going to leave the organization, and feeling, actually, very wounded by their behavior because they just did not pick up the emotional cues; that they were having this impact.

Cherie Silas   Yeah, I can imagine that. That would feel a betrayal. You've been working with this company, you've been promoted, you've been promoted, you've been promoted, and now here we are, 10 years in, and, "No one's told me that I'm abrasive. No one's told me that I'm leaving dead bodies everywhere I go." until I could imagine the betrayal but it also makes me wonder about the percentage of is this all men? Is it all women? Is there some kind of a balance?

Lynn Harrison   I would say it's an equal opportunity problem, unfortunately and in fact, in my research, some people reported that women leaders who've been promoted were every bit as tough and scary as some of the males. So it's not just a macho male kind of issue. The thing that's interesting about people not knowing they're having this impact for some time in their career is, they're getting mixed messages because often they're being promoted because they produce results. Often the company is afraid to confront them because they don't want him to get mad and quit because they are such a Rainmaker for the company and they don't want that person going to their competition. Sometimes they have a leader, they report to, who is the same way; so, doesn't see a problem with their behavior. So their boss isn't giving them the feedback or they have a boss who is conflict averse, and does not want to, or doesn't have the skills to be able to have the hard conversation with the person. So they go along for some time, getting promoted, sometimes even getting awards, for leadership and all kinds of things but in the meantime, people are talking behind their backs, or working around them, or avoiding them, or seeking to get transferred to a different project team, and so on.

Cherie Silas   So I think there's maybe a tendency from the outside to say, "It's you. It's an individual" but it sounds like it's actually systemic.

Lynn Harrison   Yes, that's why I call it a perfect storm-- I mean, because not everybody in the system behaves that way, necessarily, but individuals with a certain combination of dispositional factors will get triggered in a system that either accepts that kind of behavior, or turns a blind eye to that kind of behavior, or even encourages it. There are, unfortunately, some cultures that are just...really unhealthy, toxic cultures and this has been allowed to prevail for a long time and so you have the problem. Which takes us back to coaching. When coaching, we might be working with an individual who's showing up as an abrasive leader but that person is in a system that, if it doesn't change and do its part, it's really hard for that leader to change. So, if they start wanting to be different but their boss is looking for the same old behavior, for example, the change is not likely to happen and part of getting started down the path of changing is for not only the individual to realize and want to change but to be held accountable by their organization to change. So eventually, the organization needs to draw a line in the sand and say, "You know, as brilliant as you are, as hard working as you are, despite the great results you get, we cannot allow you to continue to operate this way, having such a dysfunctional impact on the people around you." It cannot continue. When the chips are down, that's often when people do change and take it seriously. What also needs to happen, though, is they need support in changing because sometimes they don't know how to be different. This is the way they've been for a long time, or what was modeled for them around leadership. So, you can't just go and tell a drowning person to start swimming. They often need some help with, "Well, how do I do it differently when I get triggered, I get mad, and I just all of a sudden I'm exploding, saying things I wish I didn't say? How do I manage all of this differently?"

Alex Kudinov   So I hear two sides of the story or like two components to the perfect storm, definitely organizational or environmental kind of issues, and then the individual component, as you said, 'Well, you've got to have that in you' and I would imagine that, as a coach, when you come to an organization, when you do this 360 and work with an individual, you somehow need to identify both components. I would also imagine that working with individual is kind of much easier than affecting the whole system. So what are your go to methods to even start untangling this perfect storm?

Lynn Harrison   Yeah. That's a really good question. It's much more complex coaching than just figuring out how to work with an individual. So, part of it is assessing not only individual readiness, which we would all do as coaches, 'Does this person really want to change or are they just being sent to coaching?' So that's important to figure out; are they motivated to try? Then, is the organization motivated to try and are they willing to do their part. So, for example, the boss of the abrasive leader can't just hand this off to an external coach, or even an internal coach for that matter, and go, "Okay, well, that's taken care of" because the boss, as you know, sees the person day in and day out and they're in a position to give them reinforcing feedback or corrective feedback. So, they very much need to be in alignment with and participating in the coaching. So that's really important. Where is the boss at? Is the boss really supportive and willing to do their part?  The 360 process upfront I do is very comprehensive. So I do interviews but I also use a tool called a leadership circle, which is quite a lengthy tool, and it provides wonderful feedback to show a leader not only where their strengths are, their -- what they call "creative competencies" -- but where some of their reactive tendencies might be compromising what strengths they bring. So they may be a brilliant visionary but if they're behaving in ways that people perceive as arrogant, or critical, or too controlling, that's going to compromise their ability to use their strengths. This process takes time to do and so the organization has to be willing to participate in something like that, and give the time, and the resources, and they also have to be willing to fund coaching that goes beyond a few sessions after the 360 because if this person's been behaving this way for 20 years, they're not going to have four coaching sessions and then be a new person.  I use the stakeholder centered process. So not only does the person get their feedback at the beginning in a 360 but they actually go to stakeholders and they ask for their support in their change process. So they go back and ask for feedback on an ongoing basis, and feet forward or suggestions for change. So, then I do a check in at the midpoint and at the end point. So it really holds the coaching accountable but it also engages stakeholders who maybe in the past have been too afraid to say anything to this leader. That leader has to do a bit of mea culpa sometimes and go back to people and say, "Hey, I didn't intend to have the impact I've been having. I know it doesn't work for people. I'm trying to change. Would you be willing to give me feedback as I'm trying to be different?"

Alex Kudinov   So, under which condition will you walk away?

Lynn Harrison   Well, first of all, if the individual's not motivated. I mean, they may come with-- I was mentioning that anxiety at the beginning, or shame, or anger, or frustration about, what you said, Cherie, betrayal. They may start with that but if they're genuinely interested in doing the work, then that's the first critical thing, even though it's not likely to be all that easy. You know, it can be as simple as, I call it, both horizontal and vertical development work; horizontal in the sense that sometimes these leaders just even need help with not cutting people off in the middle of a sentence. They're often super smart so they already think they know what the answer is and don't have the patience to wait for the person to finish. So even something as simple as learning to listen to the person and not cut them off, or dismiss their ideas, or not huffing and puffing and putting their hand down on the table hard. They're just little things that, they may not be aware, cause angst in the people around them. So, that person needs to be prepared and willing to do some changing in their behavior, but also some soul searching around, "How come I act this way? What is it that makes me get so wound up?" What's really cool as often they end up making big life changes, because the reason they act that way at work is because they're wound so tight, and their stress levels already here, and then something goes wrong, and then it's that emotional arousal cycle, they go and the rational part of them gets lost in the wash of emotions when they're triggered. So, there's that personal side of things.  Now, on the organizational side, I sometimes use a little quadrant model, and I ask the client sponsor of the coaching, "So where would you put this person on a scale of one to 10 for their performance; their actual ability to deliver results?" and "Where would you put them on a scale of one to ten for their..." -- that'd be the horizontal axis -- "...for their ability to model the values of your organization?" so, their conduct. So, let's say on a scale of one to ten, around delivering results, the person, they would evaluate as a five or less and then on the horizontal axis, if you rated their conduct at less than five, that puts them in that kind of low performance, low conduct category, which is really an exit. Why would you spend a bunch of money on coaching for this person if their [results] and their conduct are poor? Typically, what happens in abrasive leaders is they have very high ability to deliver results. So, they're like an eight to ten on that scale and then the problem lies on the conduct scale, where they can't put them at a ten as a great leader; they're five or lower and so that puts them in the category of a potential for abrasive coaching. Does that makes sense? The organization's got a good investment in this person if they can help them change their leadership. Yeah. So a couple of things come up for me. First, maybe around process. So, you know you're going to work together on fixing this abrasiveness and if they're not really aware of it, how do they know what to bring into each coaching session? Who drives that? Well, at the beginning, they're not aware of their abrasiveness but because their 360 is a very comprehensive process. Like the interviews, I do differently than other interviews, I bring them very specific examples of what they do and say. So, they become aware that, for example, when you bang your fist on the table, when you're making a point, it startles people. They may not have been aware that they were even doing that. So, they get this very specific, behaviorally descriptive feedback that they then are on to. Then when they go public with the people around them and say, "Hey, I've gotten feedback that I can be abrasive, I'd really like your support in my changing. Would you be willing to let me know if I'm doing it" or not doing it, because people need the encouragement as well. That ongoing feedback is really important, because you're quite right, I'm not there to see it, and that's where their boss has also got an important role to play to feed feedback to that person until they start to understand, 'When I do certain things, or I say certain things, or I engage in a tone, it can have this impact on people.'  The vertical aspect of the coaching, which is about going deeper into what's going on in the person not just the external behaviors, there the person starts to reflect on, 'Well, what are my beliefs about what a leader is and should be doing?' and starting to shift their thinking that way, because, in the coaching sessions we explore, "What are your assumptions about things" and often they start at a place of achievement being very important; they've always been a high achiever and that's served them really well in their life or they're known as an expert at something. They start to develop more of an understanding of the kind of leader they'd like to be experienced as not just the smartest person in the room but somebody that people actually really want to work hard with and for; somebody who people aren't afraid to go and talk to about their ideas or their concerns. They start to develop a different sense about what it means to lead. It's not just driving things across the line and often at their own peril because when people work this hard, they're this intense, they often put their own health and well being in danger because they're just wired all the time.

Cherie Silas   It seems like if people are really unaware, for the most part, of their behavior, is it the companies that are reaching out to you and saying, "Hey, we've got this person. We need--Would you come fix them?"

Lynn Harrison   Yeah, I mean, there's usually some kind of incident that prompts it. So, the person may come if something happens like they lose their job, or they don't get the promotion they thought they were going to get, and they finally find out, 'It's because people don't want to work with you.' So something like that really throws them because they've always been the smartest kid in the room, and they've always moved along, and then, all of a sudden, they hit this wall, which can make the individual step back and go, "I gotta get some help. I've obviously missed the boat here somehow." Then, more often, the organization comes because they're losing good people and when they do exit interviews, or they do engagement surveys, or they get enough requests for transfers to other departments, then this picture starts to emerge that people find this leader difficult to work with. They start to get concerned because the people that are smart, and confident, and able to go find a job elsewhere, go elsewhere.

Cherie Silas   So if I'm a leader, and I'm doing great, how do I know if I'm a toxic leader?

Lynn Harrison   Well, hopefully your organization has some kind of feedback process that gives you feedback that's honest, or you have a great boss who's willing to sit down with you and give you straight feedback, or there's a process in place where you, as a leader, have learned that it's important you go and ask people how you're doing and how you can be that much more effective. Otherwise, a person can go along quite blindly, unaware that they're not hitting the mark with people.

Alex Kudinov   It's interesting. So, you said there's this organizational factor, and kind of coupled with individual factor, and now, well, if the organizational factor is there in place...I don't know, I personally have mixed feelings about feedback, especially like, "Oh, can you give me feedback?" "Why would I give you feedback if you're already a jerk?" So I'm wondering, if you think back to your multiple clients, what is that shining star on the hill? What is the examples that you're absolutely proud of? Not that you fixed it; coaches don't fix people but, that with your help, it was 180 degree turnaround?

Lynn Harrison   Yeah, I mean, I think I can think of lots of really wonderful examples. Now, these are likely never to be the kind of people you're going to put at the front desk of the Four Seasons, and at the concierge desk, or something, let's be clear about that, but they change sufficiently that people are no longer so afraid of them. Sometimes people get sick from working with leaders like this because their intensity and their energy is just  draining all the people around them. What's really wonderful to see, from my perspective as a coach, is not only do the people around them start to experience a much better workplace but the leaders themselves start to live life in a much more balanced way. When a leader is heading down that path and they are so wound up, they're often working horrendous hours, they're not taking vacations, they lay awake at night worried about stuff for work, and so much of their identity is tied up in being so... expert at their jobs, and they actually lose sight of a whole bunch of other really wonderful things in their lives. So what's been really what I call success stories, for me and my work, is where the leader not only starts being different at work with co-workers, but actually starts to live their life differently. Most of the time, they've had a good boss, or some sponsor, in their life that had the courage to come along and say, "You know what, you're really brilliant and you need help in learning how to lead or work with others differently and I'm going to get you that help." You know, you're quite right, somebody who's toxic or abrasive is not likely wouldn't even occur to them to go and ask people for honest feedback because they don't know they have a problem just yet.

Alex Kudinov   It sounds like it's a great segue into this idea of coaching the whole person rather than, "Well, we have a problem, communication problem, let's come in and fix the communication problem." I'm wondering in your engagements, and we usually look at the whole person, and if you're working with these abrasive leaders, they probably won't bring up, 'Well, you know what', 'this whole person', and 'personal life', and all that. So how do you bring in all that things, all 360 stuff, that's going on in their life and not only focus on what's going on with coworkers who gave them bad feedback?

Lynn Harrison   Yeah, baby steps. As I was saying before, sometimes people just need the basics in how to be courteous with coworkers. Now, what's good behavior when you're sitting around the boardroom table with your colleagues? Things like counting to ten before they say their reaction to something so they give themselves a chance to calm down but then as you start to work with them, and the trust develops with their coach, even just taking a moment to say, "We'll just check in. What's going on in you right now." and it can't be too airy fairy or anything but, "What's happening for you right now?" They start to recognize that usually, that spiral that gets out of control when they get frustrated in the workplace, it usually starts with a feeling in their body. Their somatic experience is a trigger for them that, "If I don't slow things down, and take a breath, and get back on top of things, then I'm going to hijack over here, and it's probably not going to be pretty." So, they're little pieces like that and then as they start to revisit the assumptions they have about what success looks like, and what leadership looks like, and things like that, they realize, "Wow, there's more to this than just setting goals and driving for the results. There's more to life than that. If I don't understand myself, and I don't care for myself, how can I care for other people?" "If I can't be self compassionate, how can I be compassionate with my co-workers?"

Cherie Silas   Yeah. So, these leaders obviously have great capacity, they're intelligent, they're strong, they're, they're controlling a lot externally, and maybe failing to realize that there's, they actually have control over what's internal, and that they need to control it. So, I'm thinking that for some, they've been in the organizations and they've caused so much damage, even damage to the reputation that when they do change, it's not seen, and they may just need to reinvent themselves at a completely different company.

Lynn Harrison   Yeah, sometimes it-- there's too much water under the bridge and they probably need to go somewhere else to start the work of change, if like, in some cases, people won't even want to do 360 interviews, because they, they just think it's a waste of time, and there's been too much hurt and too much harm. So, that makes it pretty hard for the person, even if they do realize they have to change, is it's just sometimes too far gone. So they go somewhere else, and they pick themselves up and dust themselves off, and hopefully work with not necessarily even a coach, sometimes a counselor because sometimes this stuff can be pretty deep seated. That's the other thing for coaches to be aware of. If I'm working with somebody who has more serious emotional issues, then it's not for coaching, this is for counseling. Sometimes people who drive themselves as hard can also engage in substance abuse, some other coping mechanisms that make the situation worse, they come in, and they're an ogre at work because they were drinking the night before, and they're tired, and brittle, and not taking good care of themselves. So I think that's an important distinction to be aware of, as well.

Cherie Silas   I can imagine that being under often such extreme stress that they don't know what to do with it. So if we have coaches listening to us, and they would like to get into this kind of work, what special education or training or anything, do you think that they need before jumping into that?

Lynn Harrison   Well, I think the key thing is doing our own work as coaches. So, the coach as instrument...if we're not in a really good solid place-- I mean, these are these are often very challenging clients; they're not necessarily deeply reflective when they start. They're not used to opening up about their emotions and things like that. So, it takes a courageous coach who's mature enough to be able to just hold safe space and have some compassion for an individual, who's not showing up in a very pleasant way in the world, and really get their struggle. I think that if a coach has never struggled or hasn't really seen themselves, sometimes as abrasive or when they haven't shown up as their best selves at work, it'd be hard to really be the coach this kind of person needs. So I think that's really key.  I have a bunch of different things in my background. So, I studied Ontological Coaching, which is looking at assumptions, and what's going on in our body, and the language we choose, and how we're seeing the world is a big part of the approach I take in coaching. I also got certified Boss Whisperer through the Boss Whispering Institute, which specializes in abrasive leadership coaching. I think awareness of developmental coaching is helpful. So, just recognizing that it's not just a bunch of external skills, like you were saying, Alex, it's like, okay teach them a bunch of steps, 1, 2, 3...they may want to start with that, but it needs to go deeper to have a really transformational shift. Then, you know, I really believe in coaching Supervision for coaches because a coach needs to be really aware of where the personal might be impinging on the professional when working with these kind of clients that can trigger our own stuff, our own ability to be in our personal authority, or really be there for these clients.

Alex Kudinov   You are a certified boss whisperer. Say more about it.

Lynn Harrison   I'm sorry. What was the question?

Alex Kudinov   Say more about that fascinating certification.

Lynn Harrison   Say more about it? Good! Yeah. Yeah. Well, Dr. Laura Crawshaw did her doctoral research back in 2005 and what she did is she looked at the area of emotional intelligence, and executives that were perceived to be abrasive. She started with that research, and really focused on, 'How do you develop emotional intelligence in people that seem to be lacking it?' and she argued that that's a skill you can actually teach people. So I attended her very first course that she ever offered in Boss Whispering, back in 2009, and then it was part of a certification program. So, you went through the training, and then you had a number of abrasive leader clients, and she supervised me through that process, and then eventually I got the accreditation. So that's what triggered my interest in doing research in the area was, I think her groundbreaking research-- because up until then, most of the research about aggression, or counter productive leadership behavior, tended to focus more on the victims of that, the recipients of that kind of behavior. There was very little known about the abrasive leader and so my research, which built on Laura's, was a phenomenological study. So, looking at the lived experience of the so-called perpetrator, and I wanted to understand their story and their perception of what goes on because that was missing in the literature. They were just basically depicted as these ogres, these-- there are all kinds of incendiary titles out there, these psychopaths, these deranged individuals that could not be fixed, and that did not fit with my experience as an Executive Coach, where I saw people who could be very pleasant, as I said, and even charming, and yet they, in the workplace, were having this kind of impact that really didn't fit with what I was seeing.

Alex Kudinov   Cherie asked to what you would tell coaches who listened to our podcast. So I'm curious if there are some leaders who are listening to our podcast, and they somehow recognize themselves in those who you're talking about, and they are wondering, 'What do I do first?' What would you recommend them?

Lynn Harrison   Well, I think that, if it's a leader then for the leader to reach out to a coach who works with executives and works with abrasive executives, in particular, if possible, would be great. If it's a coach who's noticing that he or she is abrasive, then they might want to take that to their supervisor and talk about that. I mean, we all have our moments but generally speaking, I think coaches do the kind of work they do because they want to help create healthy workplaces and places where people feel psychologically safe, and so they want to provide that for both the people who are on the receiving end of the behavior; but also our work is about helping people change and I think a lot of leaders who behave badly are actually people who need our help.

Alex Kudinov   So and 2020 has been a hard year to say the least. What are you looking forward to in 2021? Professionally? Personally? As a coach?

Lynn Harrison   I'm looking forward to...oh, gosh, I always love learning. I just finished doing the Positive Intelligence program with Shirzad and that was really awesome and I'm doing a SoulArt  meditation class right now. So, I want to keep growing, expanding, into new areas or visiting areas I haven't been to for a while, and continuing to work with wonderful clients. So my client base right now is, I work with executives and abrasive executives but I also work with coaches, and support coaches who are wanting to do this kind of difficult, challenging, but much needed work. So I'll do more of that.

Alex Kudinov   If any of our listeners wants to reach out, how can they reach you?

Lynn Harrison   Well, my company name is Black Tusk Leadership. So my website is and as you said at the beginning, my name is Lynn Harrison, so my email address is Black Tusk is a mountain. I live near Whistler, so people wonder, 'What's Black Tusk?' Black Tusk is a mountain I climbed, that's near Whistler, that's quite an amazing, beautiful place.

Alex Kudinov   Sounds like it is. Black Tusk? Come on? It's tusk that's black.

Lynn Harrison   Well, I got a quick little story if we have a minute about that. My business partner, when I proposed the title, or the name, for our company, he was in Alberta, and he said, 'Oh yeah, I picture like a black rhinoceros tusk.' and I was thinking, "Oh, I sort of pictured the mountain" and the mountain is this black looks like a tusk that comes out of a snowfield. So we ended up creating a logo that is a mountain but it's intersecting like a rhinoceros tusk. So we were able to find both images in the logo we came up with for our company.

Alex Kudinov   Found the golden middle. All right. Well, Lynn, thank you so much for spending your time with us today. It was very educational and very interesting to learn about what you do and how you work with abrasive leaders. That's fascinating topic. Thank you so much. This has been Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Coaching Non-Denominational podcast. We had Lynn Harrison joining us today and we were your hosts Cherie Silas and I, Alex Kudinov. Bye now.

About Episode Guest

Lynn Harrison

In today’s world, leaders deal with an unprecedented pace of change, the need for continuous innovation, and responsibility for managing a profitable business. The demands come from all sides. It’s like trying to keep thousands of spinning plates in the air.

As a high-level executive, you know that to achieve this; you need to engage the hearts and minds of your people, providing an environment in which teams flourish. But it can be difficult to find the time to even think about leadership, to explore and understand the needs of your people, and to help them grow.

It’s like a catch-22 situation.

You know you need to invest in yourself to become a better leader, yet you hesitate because you are already overscheduled.

You know to create great results through and with others and make the impact you know your company can make, you have to keep developing your leadership skills.

As a former business leader myself and coach to many highly successful executives, I understand that leadership doesn’t just happen on its own. However, with attention, support, and a willingness to try new things, it can thrive, not only in the leader receiving coaching but in others impacted by the leader’s behaviour.

Leaders shape cultures. When leaders change for the better, so does the world.

Connect with me via LinkedIn or email me at

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"You really want to do something? Walk into a predominantly black university offered to do a free class for the business students or whatever students. Do a free CSM. Two days, it's time. It's not about, 'can you give me money?' Nobody wants a handout. Can you give me your time? Go mentor somebody.
"You really want to do something? Walk into a predominantly black university offered to do a free class for the business students or whatever students. Do a free CSM. Two days, it's time. It's not about, 'can you give me money?' Nobody wants a handout. Can you give me your time? Go mentor somebody.
"You really want to do something? Walk into a predominantly black university offered to do a free class for the business students or whatever students. Do a free CSM. Two days, it's time. It's not about, 'can you give me money?' Nobody wants a handout. Can you give me your time? Go mentor somebody.
"You really want to do something? Walk into a predominantly black university offered to do a free class for the business students or whatever students. Do a free CSM. Two days, it's time. It's not about, 'can you give me money?' Nobody wants a handout. Can you give me your time? Go mentor somebody.
"You really want to do something? Walk into a predominantly black university offered to do a free class for the business students or whatever students. Do a free CSM. Two days, it's time. It's not about, 'can you give me money?' Nobody wants a handout. Can you give me your time? Go mentor somebody.
Agile Leadership is not a title, it's a mindset. This and other aspects of Agile Leadership we cover with author, speaker, and agile coach Zuzi Sochova in this episode of the Keeping Agile Coaching non-Denominational podcast.
Agile Leadership is not a title, it's a mindset. This and other aspects of Agile Leadership we cover with author, speaker, and agile coach Zuzi Sochova in this episode of the Keeping Agile Coaching non-Denominational podcast.
Agile Leadership is not a title, it's a mindset. This and other aspects of Agile Leadership we cover with author, speaker, and agile coach Zuzi Sochova in this episode of the Keeping Agile Coaching non-Denominational podcast.
Melissa Boggs served as a Chief Scrum Master of Scrum Alliance and had a unique perspective on the role of a Scrum Master for the whole organization. In the world where a lot of us are struggling with defining the role of a Scrum Master at the organizational level, Melissa shares her unique experience with our readers and listeners in this podcast episode.
Coaching presence is one of the most complex and misunderstood professional coaching competencies. Cherie Silas and Alex Kudinov are chatting with Jo Fourtanier and discussing this competency in this podcast episode.
The middle management is often referred to as the Frozen Middle. The renowned expert in leadership and modern management Johanna Rothman joins Tandem Coaching podcast to discuss how to unfreeze that frozen middle.
In our VUCA world do we as coaches need to add more complexity and make our craft all that complex? Claire Pedrick says we work too hard and too much. Simplifying coaching is the key to mastery.
After writing her groundbreaking Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa was put on pedestal by the Agile community and has been there since, casting a shadow (or shining a bright light) on the community as a whole and brining wisdom of Agile coaching to the growing pool of agile coaches. In this episode we are talking about what brought Lyssa to Agile coaching, what changes she notices in Agile coaching as of late, and what she is looking forward to in 2021.
In this episode Allison Pollard discusses the concept of "meeting where they are," and what it means for Agile Coaches. How do we support people on their agile journey? What changed over the last year? When might we pivot as agile coaches and what is significance of keeping agile non-denominational.
Are you running your business or working for it? What does it take to build a successful coaching business? What obstacles should you expect and how Cornelia, a successful entrepreneur, overcame those? All of this and more.
Miscarriage is a loss-why should it be treated like any other loss? Right now it’s not - in most organizations. What kind of support and conversations that can be had in organizations to clear the taboo about infertility? How can a manager have a conversation or support someone in their team going through infertility? As a colleague or friend, how can you support someone with infertility? When you meet someone new in your organization, here is a question you don’t ask.
Coaching is an awesome instrument to engage in a co-creative process allowing to make strategic shifts in business-turmoil. In this episode we touch upon how coaching and co-creation can - even in deep crisis - be more effective and sustainable than typical "crisis" management; how coaching brings more innovation to strategic thinking and what is needed to stand open for an entire new business model.
Coaching is a word with so many misunderstood meanings and implementations. Unfortunately and fortunately, there is no single way to coach. What is now abundantly obvious is that coaching is a valuable skill for more professionals beyond Agile coaches. Turns out there is an answer to how leaders can create, enable and maintain high-performing teams, they leverage professional coaching in their leadership delivery. We are discussing and examining the link between quality leaders and professional coaching.
With Coronavirus taking over the world and people are forced into a remote work situation, Jim Sammons, Erica Henson, and Alex Kudinov are discussing how Scrum is affected by this.
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