048 The Alchemy of Curiosity, Creativity, & Human-Centered Leadership with Catherine Harrison

“Own your own attention. Own your own energy. Put some boundaries up.” – Catherine Harrison

In today’s episode I speak with entrepreneur, recovering corporate leader, musician and author Catherine Harrison.  Her first book, “Three Colors, 12 Notes” just launched, and we’ll delve into what brought the book to life and how it can help you navigate a turbulent year.

Catherine’s background as both a creative artist and corporate leader makes for an interesting conversation!  She’s a great example of someone who brings their whole self to work.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How to own your attention in a distracted world vs. technology owning you
  • Catherine’s biggest leadership blunder and how you can learn from it
  • The concept of human-centered leadership and what that really means in practice
  • Her favorite books for new leaders, and a whole lot more!

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Don’t let your ego drive the bus

One that comes to mind that I immediately consider a real gaffe on my part, one I’m still embarrassed about, was when I let my frustration get the better of me, and I let my ego drive the bus.

You lead different human beings with different personalities and tendencies and preferences and things that really irritate you.

I remember a specific instance when I was getting really tired of an individual who had a grandstanding personality. For whatever reason, it showed up in different ways that were irritating to me. I’m human; everybody’s human. I chose, on one occasion, to let my frustration get the better of me and put him in his place.

I felt awful afterwards. I still do. Even in my body right now, the reflection of that, makes me feel really uncomfortable. To me, I look back and I go, “Wow, what a young and stupid, ego-driven, unempathetic, non-human-centered leadership choice that was. Shame on you.”

Be a human-centric leader

I believe so vehemently that a good leader recognizes how important it is to uncover, discover and celebrate the different aspects of yourself, to bring your best self into the workplace where you’re investing your energy, and how are you investing the time to get to know yourself – your positives, negatives, ignored points, what you can really bring, where you should actually delegate.

When you get to know yourself better, and you start to reconnect to your humanness, you become a more human-centric leader. That enables you to pull out the potential of these people that you’re hiring.


A human-centric leader who gets things done

In so many ways, we are living in a culture, even a global culture, of binary thinking – you either are this human-centered, touchy-feely leader or you’re a very strategic, results-oriented leader that gets things done. And I completely disagree with the binary nature of that.

I believe so passionately that a good leader has to be all of those things and more. You can, in fact, be very clear, firm, strategic, focused on results, give clear feedback, be a disciplinarian, be very results-oriented, and also be an empathetic, open-minded, curious leader who’s willing to be courageous enough to go, “My bad, poor decision” or “We’re really dropping the ball all over the place, help me understand how I am contributing to that.”

I think that leaders who embrace all of that stuff are the ones who not only get things done, but they get things done in a way that there isn’t a trail of bodies behind them.


Links and Resources

Connect with Catherine: LinkedIn


Three Colors, Twelve Notes: The Alchemy of Curiosity, Creativity and Human-Centered Leadership by Catherine Harrison

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. By Brené Brown

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Klemp

Catherine’s Productivity Tip: Figure out when your best energy is. Turn off your devices.