002 What Makes a Great Leader with guest Joanne Shields

Welcome to The New Leader Podcast. I’m your host, Ian Daley and today I’m really excited to have Joanne Shields with us. Joanne is the co-founder of StarFish Learning Inc, as well as a talented facilitator, designer and consultant. She specializes in enabling organizations and individuals to excel through the application of powerful learning experiences.

Joanne has worked with many leaders over the years as a consultant, and brings with her insights that I know you will find a lot of benefit from today.

In this episode, we are going to look at:

  • what separates the best leaders from the rest,
  • how to stay on top of it all without drowning in a sea of distractions (e.g., email, social media, etc),
  • planning and discipline,
  • setting boundaries, and
  • productivity and enjoyment.

I hope you enjoy this one.

Joanne’s Experience as a New Leader

I had four direct reports – two of them were younger than me, and I felt like I could connect with them. I felt like they were at a similar age and stage to me. The two older women, I was terrified of. I thought there was no possible way they were ever going to learn or listen or be led by me.

I would say my real strength, and what I focused on as a new leader, was understanding that I would make mistakes, and being transparent about that.

I worked collaboratively with all of my staff to co-create and understand how I can best support and coach them. Although I will say I was probably not a very good coach back then; I probably did a lot more telling than asking.

But I do think my intention really was to connect with them at the head level and at the heart level. I believe that if you ask them, even today, that’s what they would say, that I had a real desire and intention to help support them and to help them grow and develop their potential.

Biggest WIN as a leader

My biggest failure probably is not being willing to have tough conversations early on.

I think that’s very tough for leaders, especially new leaders. We always want to bring the positive side, the supportive side, the collaborative side to our discussions. But I really believe that what we don’t talk about and what we sort of gloss over can get in the way – not only of performance, but also the relationships that we build with our people.

If I had to give a piece of advice to a new leader, I would say find a way to approach those tougher conversations. There’s lots of good reference material out there – Fierce Conversations, Crucial Conversations. And do that in the spirit of development and support.

As we always say, you need to be firm with the problem and the actions that are going to be taken clearly state your expectations. But also be sensitive to the people side of the issue.

I think that if I had learned that earlier on, it probably would have saved me a lot of grief.

What Makes a Great Leader

From what I’ve seen, from the leaders that I’ve worked with, there are a couple of things that stand out. The first one for me is the whole analogy of being the kingmaker, not the king.

How do we really equip our people to reach their potential? Challenge them, but don’t stretch them beyond reason.

How do we give them opportunities to grow and develop and to really shine in the organization and with their customers?

I think great leaders know how to do that. They know when to ask and when to tell. They know when to be giving a lot of direction, and when to be giving a little bit of direction. But at the end of the day, I really feel like they get tremendous fulfillment, and really get very jazzed up when their people do well.

And I think that’s authentic.


Links and Resources

Connect with Joanne: LinkedIn

Visit their website: http://www.starfishlearning.com/cms2/

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier