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The Best & Worst Parts Of Leadership

Hello, everybody, welcome to this series of blogs and videos called 'The Coaching Conversation'. Once again, we are delighted to welcome guest host and The Executive Mindset coach, Roz McDonald. So, it's now time to sit back, relax and enjoy The Coaching Conversation.



ROZ: Today I'm lucky enough to be guest hosting this podcast and I am joined by Tina Orlando. Tina welcome. Would you like to say a little bit about yourself?

TINA: Thank you, Roz and thanks for having me here today. My name's Tina Orlando. I coach under the brand of Tina Orlando Coaching. I did my training and my certification in the USA - I lived in New York for eight years and I started my coaching journey there. Prior to that, I was in corporate multinationals for about 15 years working on the business side, and then I went on to co-found a business strategic communications agency. Right now, I coach leaders, executives, CEO's and founders, and what I try and do is to help them be the best that they can be.

ROZ: Was there something in particular that caused you to want to move out of corporate life and into coaching?

TINA: I was lucky enough to work with some really amazing executive coaches. I didn't even know that it was a job, and then when I started to move through the company, I was lucky enough to work with a couple of coaches who were very, very different in style and approach.

The clarity that they were able to bring to the part of the business that I was working in - in really tricky, difficult situations; lots of M&A situations, lots of conflict, multinational, multidisciplinary teams who were completely dispersed – They worked a bit of a magic, which I was fascinated by and then I looked into it and started the training. I thought how interesting, it's an interesting way to make an impact by helping and supporting other people, leaders and teams.

ROZ: Well, that brings us into today's topic. In this episode of The Coaching Conversation, we're going to be looking at the best and the worst parts of being a leader. If we start that off with looking at what is a leader, how would you define that?

TINA: It’s one of those questions where everybody has a completely different answer. I think if you were going to talk about the characteristics of a leader in terms of personality traits, would they ideally want to possess?

I think using the Daniel Goldman, emotional intelligence model - those five qualities of being a leader and what they bring...

Self-awareness, I think is really important and understanding how you impact others and how you show up in situations.

Self-regulation; trying to make sure that you can deal with conflict and difficult situations.

Motivation; I was reading a survey done by head-hunters that looked at what are some of the top characteristics of CEOs? Energy and motivation come up all of the time - If you want to inspire people and lead people, that's got to come from you.

Empathy is really important and I think it's not an obvious one. And a lot of people don't necessarily think about this, but if you're leading teams and successes driven through people, then empathy is a really important policy.

Finally, social skills, which is a soft skill, but it actually a very human skill. If you want to understand people, be able to motivate them, bring out the best in them and develop them and inspire them, I think you need those social skills relationships and building skills to go through that.

ROZ: Thanks, Tina, that's a great definition. Could you perhaps give us a couple of examples of somebody who fits that definition of a great leader for you?

TINA: Absolutely. The first one would be a leader that I worked with in the financial services industry a while back. This person didn't actually come to the organisation with a background in the industry and so came with a completely fresh perspective, a different view and the unique skill, and a quality that I saw was connecting what the business does to a greater purpose and a higher sense of a goal or a value for people. So, rather than the operational aspects of the business, this person was able to connect the business to a kind of macro, sometimes esoteric themes, where people went ‘wow’. What I do impacts that and also distilling something that was quite esoteric into something very human. So, really bringing it down to people and every impact, every interaction that you have and the impact that, that has on the organisation - ultimately on the bottom line - but it was a people first agenda and a people first narrative and it resonated hugely with the organisation.

The second example of a leader who I thought changed an industry is someone who was perhaps ahead of his time. This was in energy firm, a few years ago, responding to the societal pressures and demands of renewable energy and the diversification of energy supply. Obviously, we're seeing all the impacts of that right now, but this was someone who was thinking a generation ahead and was able to say, ‘okay, this is where we are now, but this is where we're going to be, this is where we need to be. What are the steps that we need to take now to be one of the first companies to get there?’.

Then, they boiled down what was a very industrialised process and product into the impact that it had on people. So rather than selling fuel, it became heat, light, mobility - this is what you do. This is what you bring to the world. It changed the way that people thought about it.

ROZ: And was that an easy sell to the organisation or was that quite a battle?

TINA: I think it took a long time. I think like with any sort of change or communication or story, you have your early adopters, you have people who then follow quickly, and then you have a large chunk of the organisation that does need to be convinced. Often when you're swimming against convention or the way that everything is you need to sell it, but a lot of it was backed up with data and evidence. So, while he had the vision, he also had the evidence. There were a lot of engineers in those industries, a lot of ‘hyper-rationals’, so it was about how do you connect that in a way that that would make sense to them?

ROZ: Given your experience both as a leader and having worked with lots of leaders over the last number of years, what would you say are the best parts of being a leader?

TINA: I think it's a case of be careful what you wish for, right? Because when you become a leader, you've got the status, you've got the recognition, there's validation, you've got an ability to have an impact and you have responsibility. You are dealing with more macro views, there's a social-demographic element to what you're doing. It becomes intellectually hugely interesting.

As a leader, you have the ability to impact people's careers and develop people and really bring them through in a way that might change their life. That's absolutely wonderful, and can be very, very motivating, but at the same time, it comes with a lot of sub-optimal impacts on your life in terms of the sense of overwhelm - everything gets taken over by the job - this notion that people won't speak truth-to-power, a lot of your relationships change - people who've been your colleagues and your peers for years, suddenly look at you in a different way, treat you in a different way, and that can be very isolating. Who do they then go to for counsel? Who do they bounce ideas off? Because everybody's looking to them for the answer. It can be quite lonely at the top.

ROZ: It certainly can. I think what you said about people not always sharing is true. You're not always gathering the right information to make decisions if you can't get that information out to people.

Do you have examples of situations where you've seen somebody turn that situation around or get the best out of it?

TINA: Yes. I think in a couple of ways; When you become a leader, the way that you do your job can change. Your MO changes completely and no one gives you a memo that says, okay, you've been really successful until this point in your career by doing everything. Then suddenly you're leading people and that's actually a really different set of skills. I think particularly when people have a sense of purpose or a very personal mission, being able to bring that into the workplace and almost create a groundswell around it, and lead people in that direction creates this co-created ideal of where you're trying to get to. I think that’s very, very rewarding. I think people find their passions in that circumstance. I also think of turning a negative into a positive because you have to delegate so much and you can't do all of the work yourself.

There's a huge people development opportunity there, so, people who are indexed towards that can really find and build and create the next generation of leaders and a great team to get the job done and meet the performance contract at the same time.

ROZ: We often find that it is great if they are predisposed to working in that manner, but for those who don't want to hand over control, do you find yourself working with a lot people who struggled there?

TINA: Yes, absolutely, and it's interesting because it's rarely something that people will recognise or bring up on their own. It usually comes through from a 360-review, or disgruntled team members come to us coming and saying, ‘look, can you give us a little bit more latitude?’ or ‘you're still doing everything the old way and actually you’ve got a whole team of people doing this now, and it'd be great to have more latitude’. Sometimes it presents itself in terms of conflict and tension and relationships not being the same and thinking, ‘why is this?’ and really diving into what's driving that and what could be your role in that and how might you want to do things differently?

ROZ: What particular pieces of advice would you share with the audience to help them be the best leaders that they can?

TINA: I think having someone who can be honest with you and give you very direct and very unvarnished feedback is really important. A lot of people use coaches for that and it's certainly a very valid role. I've seen some people use external consultants for that and I've seen people use peers within their organisation to do that. I think that can be really beneficial.

If you don't work in an organisation or a culture where that can happen, then you can always go externally for it - You can become part of a pay-group of leaders or managers in your industry; you can always find your tribe - your group of people who are completely disconnected from your organisation. It's Chatham House rules - there's confidentiality around it, and you can share your challenges, struggles and exchange solutions.

I would encourage people to be a little bit vulnerable in those situations, because I think unless you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you won't really be able to lean into the areas where you want to develop or you want help.

ROZ: Yes, it's not always obvious. To be yourself, and to be honest with the people around you.

TINA: If you can do that safely and find the conduit to do that, I think legitimately you can ask people in your personal life, because whilst we might display different characteristics in our home life or in our personal friendships to in the work environment, your personality is your personality and other people who know you really well could give you interesting feedback.

ROZ: Thank you. I think we could go on for a couple more episodes on this topic, but that's all we've got time for today, so thank you Tina for your time and your insight and hopefully we’ll have you back on The Coaching Conversation again very soon. Goodbye.


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