Leveling Up

Have you had the chance to “level-up” in your career? I had such an opportunity during the recent 2021 CEO Leadership Conference hosted by Chief Executive Group, in Phoenix, Arizona. I was honored to facilitate a “Change Management” thought leadership group at the Conference and was also able to attend the other conference sessions. It was a great experience, and I’ll share a few take-aways later in this blog.

But first, to be sure we are defining “leveling-up” the same way (for this instance, at least), let me tell you a story... 

When I played sports in middle and high school, I learned a great deal about accountability, personal development, and contribution to a team. I also learned that when you play with folks who are better than you, either experientially or with innate skill, your own game improves.

In basketball, for example, practicing with guys who were 6’ tall (or more) with years of experience under their belts really grew me as a player. I was able to see the court differently and learn new plays, and both my jump shot, and my dribbling, improved. Most of all, I learned that, despite my inexperience and lack of height (I’m just 5’6”), I could be a contributing team member. Those guys pushed me to be better. They encouraged me. They helped me find potential within myself that I had not seen. They taught me to love the game of basketball. They also challenged me. There were two choices: up my game or get left behind.

A similar opportunity occurs in business. When you surround yourself with smarter, more experienced, yet humble leaders, your own game improves.

I came away from the overall experience of the conference with a few new thoughts. They are shared below, along with thoughts from my facilitated group discussion.

  • Ask questions. Others may have greater experience in similar situations and can provide insights otherwise unseen.
  • Listen to Input. Ensure you listen to the responses from your questions. You’ll be surprised that you don’t have, nor do you have to have, all the answers.
  • It’s your responsibility as the Executive to make tough decisions. Surround yourself with diverse thought-leaders, people who will challenge the status quo, and encourage reasonable risk-taking.
  • Be humble. Always. You may be the leader of the organization (or department or team), but if you lead through arrogance, your followers will be few and far between. Humility allows for sincerity, curiosity, and compassion. And provides the example that others want to follow.
  • Trust and Respect. Trust takes sincerity (the internal conversation equals the external conversation), competence (capability + capacity), and reliability (actions proven over time). Respect requires consistency in action, consideration of others, compassion for those you serve, and care for the community (in which you serve and live).
  • Storytelling is the best way to convey value, differentiation, and expertise. Use the stories of your clients and employees… not just information about your products, processes, or services.
  • People care about the “why”. Business is all about data and analytics. When you believe in and share the “why” of your organization, the numbers speak for themselves.
  • Feel the Mission. Tying back to the “why” and the aspect of storytelling, consider the impact of your products, processes, and services. How do you touch lives, and why is that important?

Here’s a story about the power of these suggestions. When I worked for an automotive glass company, employees were taught to focus on quality in a high-production environment. When the organization rebranded itself, we began to realize that encouraging employees to make a good windshield for the sake of a quality product just wasn’t enough. We replaced the old mindset with a new, more personal one ...

using the customer stories to show the employees their impact on others’ lives.
Producing high quality, safe windshields saved lives.

These stories were shared by reading the letters the company received from grateful customers. Not the automotive companies who made the vehicles… but from the customers who bought these vehicles. Our employees began to understand that what they did every day and the product they produced, mattered. That’s the story, the why. That’s feeling the mission.

We’re never too old to learn. Everyone has, or needs, a why. Lead by following the example of those you admire, people who help or have helped you become a better “you”. And while you’re leveling up, provide opportunities for your team to do the same. Because when you have a team of leaders who exhibit similar values, trust exponentially increases and that drives great questions, better decision making, and humility.

Need help stepping into the light of personal development and leveling up? Take the initiative and touch base with me. I’ll help you find your path to reach your full potential. And we’ll have fun on the journey of discovery.

Let’s move forward. Together.


P.S.  Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!

P.P.S. With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader. My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching. I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with demonstrated ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.