New York Times Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Leadership Expert
Courtney Lynch talks with Bill Ringle about how each of us can become better leaders and create a better world on My Quest for the Best.
>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.
Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:
- How integrating leadership development for women allowed Walmart to solve problems at the store level
- The common challenges that arise from people working together: conflicts or power struggles that need to be resolved; miscommunication around expectations, scheduling, and style; and much more
- Tips for achieving human connection even when you’re working remotely
- How to use feedback to be an inspiring leader instead of an alienating leader
- What it means when high performance teams have the courage for candor
Read the Show Notes from this Episode
- 1:02 Lynch tells about how her experiences with the United States Marine Corps shaped her abilities as a leader.
- 2:48 “I’m not someone who would’ve been able to afford going to graduated school, but thanks to my military service – the GI Bill is a fantastic vehicle – and so I went to law school after my time in uniform, and through the opportunity was able to enter the profession as a full-fledged attorney.”
- 3:26 Lynch describes how working in the law firm wasn’t the kind of work that she found fulfilling.
- 4:05 [On creating the startup with Angie Morgan] – “Our firm’s 14 years old, but I still remember the startup days like they were yesterday…there’s a lot of vision, a lot of ambition and that phase of a business. You’re motivated to work hard, and you know you want to add value and you want to have a positive impact.”
- 4:35 [On having Walmart as a first customer] – “When you’re a tiny little startup and Fortune1 becomes your first customer, you learn a lot quickly.”
- 5:02 “We didn’t have a strong platform to stand on, but we were incredibly passionate about what we had to offer.”
- 5:54 [On getting Walmart as a client] – “Walmart was a cold call, but it was an informed cold call.”
- 6:21 “I realized that the problems Walmart had, the challenges Walmart had…when you’re such a big organization, you’re a cross section of society, just like the Marine Corps…so my thinking was, if they had leadership development experiences, especially for their female employees, problems could be caught at the store level.”
- 7:06 “We just happened to connect with someone inside their diversity department whose father had served in the Marine Corps and really understood the practical value of leadership development for making any work force better.”
- 7:54 “I say it’s kudos to Walmart rather than kudos to us for investing in a small, women-owned business.”
- 8:16 [On why clients contact them] – “It’s people right? Anytime there’s 2, 3, of or more people working together, there’s bound to be friction.”
- 8:28 “We hear consistent challenges. How do we adopt a better strategy? How do we empower employees? How do we work in a virtual environment? How do we hold people accountable?”
- 8:41 “The joy of our work is that we get to work across all industries, all verticles, because people are people everywhere they go.”
- 8:50 [On why organizations contact them] – “Organizations are typically having a pain point, and people not working together as efficiently or as effectively as they could, is what seems to be at the root of it, or, the opposite side is the client or companies experiencing a tremendous amount of success, and they’re having to scale very quickly.”
- 9:18 “We usually come in when things are going really tough, or when things are just going gangbusters.”
- 9:47 “Training and development is necessary and definitely a part of what we do, yet our clients bring us in and we integrate very deeply into their business. So everything that we do is about helping the client achieve their business goals.”
- 10:40 [On working with Facebook as things were moving quickly] – “It was the true pleasure of my career to see that company grow up on the inside and work with their most amazing talented professionals.”
- 11:30 “We work a lot in the energy industry, with a lot of engineers. “I sent the e-mail I asked for it to be done!” But really it’s about human connection.
- 11:47 “There’s lots of different ways to connect, and we like to help our clients see the practical ways even in a virtual environment, a fast-paced environment, or an environment of mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers, greater human connection can happen.”
- 12:10 Lynch discusses the importance of maintaining spontaneous contact and agenda-less conversation.
- 12:34 “What can happen when we’re in a virtual world is we can get very task focused.”
- 13:19 Lynch describes her son’s “the practice after the practice,” noting how connection and bonding occurs in between the places where work and tasks are accomplished.
- 13:46 [On the inspiration for writing Spark] – “Spark is like our greatest hits album because it was really hard fought in the trenches…[Angie, Sean, and I spent thousands of hours inside the company, and it was such an exciting opportunity to be a student of the best leaders in the world.”
- 14:24 “Spark was written over a 5-6 year period, even though actually sitting down and writing the book only took about a year, it was those 5-6 years of learning and taking notes and working with so many different talented leaders that really led to “Hey, we learned a lot, and we want to share this so that everyone has an opportunity, everyone who picks up the book, to be a better leader.”
- 14:59 “Better leaders really do equal a better world, and that’s leaders at all levels.”
- 15:05 “Anyone has the potential to lead, and if we all just spent a little time practicing it, great things happen within our communities, and our greater world.”
- 15:50 “I think that our world is becoming more flat. Organizations are starting to trim the hierarchy, people have matrix relationships. So I would encourage someone who’s focused on what they don’t have, when it comes to authority or title, to shift their focus to what they do have.
- 16:15 Lynch explains how the best leaders guide while the worst leaders mandate and control.
- 16:51 Leadership is to influence and inspire other people.
- 17:00 “Some of the most front-line roles that we have in organizations: a front-line sales representative, a receptionist, a new account manager, a front-line invoice processor – these are the people that are making the company run, and if they demonstrate leadership behaviors, they’ll be able to influence their teams and the greater organization.”
- 17:55 “[Feedback] has to be delivered in a way that doesn’t disrupt ego and stability. There are ways to give feedback well. I think that all feedback that is delivered effectively begins with a lot of accountability.
- 18:19 “Feedback isn’t well-received if someone is placing blame while they’re giving it.”
- 19:00 “There’s a fine line between feedback and complaining.”
- 19:24 Lynch illustrates the creative leadership model for feedback: giving feedback from a situation, behavior, and impact perspective.
- 21:17 “A lot of time feedback gets into a really tough place because it becomes accusatory or unduly emotional, and we need to talk about behaviors that people can change, and we need to do it in a way that sets the stage for grace and dignity.”
- 22:21 “I think that’s the mark of a high-performing team: when you can talk about accountability.”
- 23:00 The four keys to being credible.
- 23:53 “Self-awareness is the accelerant to our leadership development. If we can anticipate our blind spots and work to take action, that’s growth and that’s where growth happens.”
- 24:55 The Say/Do Gap concept.
- 25:05 Lynch explains why leadership doesn’t only happen in heroic moments.
- 25:38 “If you’ve made a commitment, are you doing everything it takes to meet those standards that you’ve set?”
- 26:52 Why you shouldn’t “hide the ball.”
- 27:23 How people who have been athletes or in athletics often make excellent leaders.
- 28:05 “When anyone enrolls in any professional development or any academic experience they’re saying, ‘Hey, I want to learn. I want to grow.’ And that growth mindset is highly relevant to us as professionals.”
- 29:07 Lynch describes a major bump in the road LeadStart faced, and the path they took to overcoming it as a team.
- 29:55 “Stress has a way of bringing up a lot of unproductive emotions.”
- 30:28 “People want to buy consulting services from the consultants, they don’t necessarily want to buy that from a third party sales professional.”
- 32:09 “In those earlier years we really had to ask for those referrals to get them.”
- 32:27 “Hope is not a strategy. We really needed to be explicit with our clients about what we needed.”
- 34:24 Lynch describes the differences between the company 14 years ago and the company today.
- 34:57 “I’m a multi-dimensional thinker. I think broadly, I like to think from a lot of different vantage points. Yet, when it comes to doing, I’m very linear.”
- 35:29 [On tools and tips for productivity.] – “I jot down the things I must do the next time I’m at work.”
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As a founding partner of Lead Star, Courtney works closely with all levels of leaders as she designs and delivers development programs designed to drive immediate results. Courtney is the New York Times and the USA Today bestselling co-author of SPARK: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success and Leading from the Front and has written numerous articles on behavior-based leadership and organizational excellence.
She’s been a guest on CNBC, FOX News, and CNN. Courtney’s efforts with Lead Star have been cited in business publications ranging from Fast Company and Inc. to The New York Times. In addition to her work with consulting clients, Courtney served as the Director of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Partner Network, convening and connecting leading consultancies with the Center’s innovative thought leadership, research, and development solutions. Prior to starting Lead Star, Courtney’s professional experiences included service as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, an attorney at a large law firm, and a sales manager for Rational Software. She holds a law degree from William & Mary, an undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University, and completed intensive studies at Cambridge University. Courtney lives with her husband and three children in Glen Allen, Virginia.