In Episode #73, Chris and Perry speak with Stacey Speller about leadership, including the specific challenges that women face when it comes to leadership. An acclaimed author, international speaker, and coach with John Maxwell Company, Stacey has 15 years of leadership and personal development experience to empower leaders and guide them through the necessary steps to live a life of true impact.
To learn more, sign up for our upcoming LeaderShift for Women workshop on March 12.
Read Transcript Below:
Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining. As a reminder, if you would like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership or perhaps bring one of us in for a 5 Levels private workshop for your organization, we would love to do that! Please leave a comment or question for Perry and me on the John Maxwell site. We would love to hear from you. Also, we now offer Learning Guides for every podcast episode which can be found on our website.
Well, let me talk to you a little bit about today and even our next episode, which we’re very excited about. I’m excited because I pulled the reins from Perry in creating the title. It’s just the first step, my friend. No, I’m just kidding that this kid, slippery slope, but I’m really excited because we have a guest, she’s not a guest to us.
She’s been a longtime friend of our organization, a longtime friend of John’s. But today’s title, and there’s more to come behind this is Leadershift for Women. And in our studio that we’re recording today, we have Stacey Speller with us, and I’m really excited about where we’re going kind of with this content. Then even some of the things in the future that we’re looking at adding value to those leaders around the world.
We have two executive facilitators and coaches on our team that came to me: Stacey Speller and Sharon Plieger, who is a former executive from Gulf Stream. And I’m going to let Stacey tell a little bit about herself in just a minute. And they said, listen, Chris, you, you better pay attention to me. You, you bet. We have some ideas, we have some thoughts and Hey, here’s what we’re more importantly, here’s what we hear in the field and here’s what we’re hearing on our coaching calls and representing John and his brand.
We have to address these issues, and we got to start talking about them. And so out of that conversation and a lot of friendly follow up, we have progressed into something I’m really excited about in regards to some training, some public workshop settings for leadership for women. And so what Perry and I wanted to do is we want to take a couple of these episodes, talk about some of the content and allow you to get comfortable hearing Stacey’s voice. Sharon’s not with us in the studio today, but let’s start. Let’s start with just Stacey tell our listeners a little bit about, about your background, about the connection with John, and then maybe even a bit of why you’re so passionate in regards to this content.
First of all, I need to just set the record straight. Oh boy, that we didn’t come to you with this heavy hand. It was a very, just intentional, straightforward. It was heavy-handed. It was actually very kind and gentle. It was what she said. That’s right. Yeah.
But I am, we are so excited. We are beyond thrilled. I started kind of my Maxwell journey maybe 15 years ago. I’ve been a Maxwell fan of his books and his teachings for a long time and then having the opportunity to connect with him. I was working overseas and working with his organization there. John just started mentoring, gave me an opportunity to share the stage with him and kind of poured into me. And you know, I am a big-time fan. Before that I had a background, I was an executive in a court system. I did a lot of court administration, criminal justice. So I’ve kind of covered the waterfront in my career, and I’ve seen different aspects of what it looks like to show up in the workplace as a leader and as a woman.
That’s good. Well we like to say around here is you are a product of the product and the product. Yeah. And so and the same thing with Sharon, right? Sharon is a product of the product and I think the two of you make such an incredible team together. And really the Genesis behind even the content and also where we’re going with this leadership for women really comes from kind of the two of you. So here’s what I want to do to kind of set the stage. So John wrote a book I think it came out last year called leader shift. It’s a phenomenal book. I recommend anybody that is interested in thinking about some of the shifts you need to make as a leader. As times change, as things grow, as you grow that, which you pick that book up.
And so Stacey and Sharon took this concept and, and made it very applicable to what we’re going to talk about today. Real quick, just to kind of set the stage, John’s definition of leadership is the ability and willingness to make a leadership change to existing beliefs. Thoughts and habits that will positively enhance organizational and personal growth. And so Stacey when you guys began thinking about the content to address some of the things, the challenges that you’re hearing out there in the marketplace, what led you to leadership? What was it about John’s principles and those concepts that you wanted to tie to this?
Well, we are both really big proponents of the book. When we, when we read it, she and I read it, you know, individually and we just had a conversation were like, wow, this book is absolutely phenomenal. John is so kind of evolved and fast-forward thinking, just that classic leader recognizing that now it is time for leadership to shift. And so we were just so excited about that. And so we said, this is the book, this is the opportunity to really start having those conversations about what does it look like in this kind of new world order for a woman as a leader. And this is actually tapping into it. So that’s, that’s kind of where we got really, really excited. You know what, this is, we need to work with this.
Now I’ve heard you mention a specific challenges that women face and so I love this topic as well, but tell me what are some of the challenges specific to women when it comes to leadership?
Well there, you know, we want to make sure we’re clear that, you know, John’s principles are universal and they’re classic and they’re great. And so there’s nothing about that that, you know, we take issue with leadership is universal. However, there are certain things, some of the challenges that women are now facing. Balancing work and family. You know, being part of that sandwich generation where you may have children at home, you have aging parents, you have a career, and you’re trying to be a leader. You just have so much going on. And there’s been studies now, there was a study by the American psychology association of just how stressed women are more stressed than they’ve ever been is because it kind of, that tension, that dichotomy between being a leader in their career and then still all the family challenges that they’re faced with.
You know, when you talk about that, the first thing I think about is we talk about as leaders, being aware of our team members, being aware of our environment and our surroundings and understanding that what’s going on personally you bring to work every day. And we talk about the fact that as you know from the five levels model, which we talk about a lot in regards to developing people and adding value to them personally and professionally. And a lot of times we say, who do you spend more time with? Right? It’s those that are on your team that are in the office that you’re, you’re dealing with every day. That’s, and so if you’re gonna spend most of your time there, we’ve got to help you make sure most of the things are right at home personally. And so to your point, this perspective that you bringing of the challenges are greater than maybe some of us face and it needs to be addressed, needs to be talked about.
I’m just thinking as you’re talking, and I can’t speak for all men, but I’ll speak for this man. I could not do for one second what I do if my wife wasn’t supporting me the way she supports me, but then I flip it around and all who’s supporting her and that the mom is the wife is the homemaker. I mean all these things that pile up that has a guy, it’s easy to overlook. And I’m not speaking for all guys speak for this guy. It’s easy for me to overlook and not how much a she puts into my success. Is it, do you have those, those specific challenges as well, but magnified. I think it’s really interesting to me.
Well thank you for that Perry and thank you for sharing that because I think that’s very real and I think a lot of women are probably out there nodding their heads like absolutely. That is so true that you know, there’s so many different roles in society has changed so much that you know, what was the gender role in the norm for a woman 50 years ago? Doesn’t look anything like what it is today.
So the word vulnerabilities, you know, you, you kind of share this out and say, well, I have these other things. There’s other parts of my life, but I want to be this, this, a strong executive, this leader in this world. And we did a podcast on vulnerability and we did, I found that a lot of people think that is weakness in this, I don’t see that way. But
How do, how does vulnerability play into the work that you’re doing for leadership? Well, you know, and we’re both, Sharon and I are big fans of Renee Brown and the work that she’s done, I mean, the minute sheet comes out with something, we’re reading it, watching it. In fact, I had everybody in the office and I was asking him all the guys, have you guys watched the Netflix special on Bernay Brown? Right? Every time we say her name, we, we get mullet get money because we, we quote her a lot. We’ve learned a lot there. And I’m proud of you guys for that, by the way. I might add, but you know, the, the qualities that are inherent for most women like empathy and collaboration and vulnerability, most of the time in leadership and typical leadership, it’s been to back away from that for just what you said is seen as weakness.
But now studies are actually showing that those are great qualities and their strengths. And so instead of a woman trying to lead like what she thinks a leader should be, because that’s what a man has done all these years, it’s being able to say, you know what? It’s okay to lean into those traits because their strengths and they can help you. And it also brings out your authentic leadership style and there’s nothing more powerful and effective than an authentic leader. So it really is being able to say, have the confidence to lean into some of those inherent qualities.
Well, here’s what I love with what you just said. We talk a lot on, on this podcast about authenticity and I refer to a study that was done, Harvard business review did a study and they were looking for, they were looking for common attributes and the top 250 liters and I’m not sure how they selected the top two 50 around the world, different industry, different size companies. And and so they’re like, what is it about these leaders? Why, why are they so successful? And they’re looking for key attributes that they have in common. And the number one attribute, and I, I shared this on this podcast for two to one, the two. The second one was authenticity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or if you’re a female, right? That is what people are looking for. And we often talk about as the, the five levels model, right?
We talk about giving leaders guardrails edges of the bank to keep them in, but we don’t want you to get away from leading authentically because you, you’re created exactly how you were created and you’re going to lead that way and we want you to keep authentic. And I think that is so true, right when it comes to to men or women. And, and I think that we need to be aware of that and we need to talk about it. I think also one of the things I think you and Sharon are passionate about is giving women permission to do that. Absolutely. Because that’s probably not been the norm in, in, in the past. And so I would say even as we think about history, the last 15 years, there’s been some incredible women leaders, you know we’ve had the privilege of a meeting with several of them here with John’s influence and some of the things that John is doing. So I, I, what I’d love to hear is just a little bit of your thoughts and maybe I know Sharon can’t be with us today, but you guys have talked about this before. I’d love to hear a little bit of your thoughts about that and why we’ve seen that happen and why we’ve seen them emerge over the last 15 years of some of these incredible women leaders.
And, and it’s true. I mean, we are certainly far better today than we were, you know, 10, 15 years ago. And we’re starting to see a lot of female, you know, great role models in leadership. And we, we, as Sharon and I talked about it, we said, you know, there’s really great role models, but there’s no roadmap. And so you have women who have just risen to a certain level in their leadership. But what’s that road map for a woman leader that’s allowing her to be that authentic leader that doesn’t typically rely on what are considered normal male leadership styles. And Sharon and I, we started thinking, we said, you know, both of us, when we started our leadership journey, we just emulated what we saw men doing. And it wasn’t, it was, it was really compromising our authenticity. And so what we said is we need a actual roadmap that says, you know what, women, it’s okay to bring your authentic leadership style to the table and it can be just as effective and justice powerful. So that’s what we set out to do. We said we want to have that roadmap so that it takes the question Mark and the fuzziness away from how can I as a woman is the best possible leader.
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What I love about this right is remember what our definition here at the John Maxwell Company is around leadership. It’s about influence. So as you’re listening to this and we’re talking about women in leadership and P member, it’s not a positional thing. What reminded me of that as you, as you said, when Sharon and I started our leadership journey, which means you don’t have to have a title, remember to have influence. And so as a man or woman, you’re influencing people in your organization. As soon as you begin, you’re influencing people in your home and your community. And so as you’re listening to us talk and introduce you to Stacey and Sharon, I want you to, I want you to remember this is not just for a woman that’s in leadership, that has a title, this is for everyone, that’s in organizations. Cause we all have influence.
And I want everybody to remember that. And that’s why I think this is important. I think it’s important for all levels, levels of team members that are in the team. So, so let’s do this. Let’s, let’s jump in and talk about a couple of these shifts that you guys are going to be covering on something that we’re going to unveil the date and the location at the end of this podcast. And so take it away. The, I’ll let you kind of lead with a couple of them that you guys are really passionate. We were talking about him from high level. Perry now kind of asks you some questions and we’ll just work through a couple of them.
Okay, great. Well one of the first shifts we’re going to talk about is the courage shift and that is a shift to take your life from default to design. We find too many women who are living just kind of that day to day, month to month, year to year, and they’re living almost a script that somebody else has given them for their life. And we’re saying, you know what? Have the courage to design the life that you want to live. To be able to kind of step out of that box and say, okay, what is it that I really want? What kind of influence do I have? What kind of leader do I really want to be? How do I want to show up in the world as a female leader? And so just saying, let’s have the courage to be able to do that. So that’s one of the first shifts.
Yeah. So I think about intentional living, we talk about that a lot here. John kind of frames that up as moving from just pursuing success to significance. So it sounds like a lot of piece of what you’re talking about is real, is that significant piece of your life?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you for that period. The second shift is the personal development shift and that’s from goals to growth. And so we’re, we live in this world where we’re constantly just doing, doing, doing, and it’s almost like we’re living with this what if and when, if it happens. So when I get the promotion, when I get the title, you know, when I get married, when I have the family, when this happens, when that happens, when I get an advancement, when you know I, and we’re just constantly living from this place of trying to arrive at a destination versus just growing and enjoying the journey. And so it’s being able to say, take away all this goal mindset and just get to a place where you’re growing, where every day you’re intentionally growing to become a better version of yourself.
So I already loved the first two, complety in alignment – it’s why you’re in the room and why Sharon’s on the team- with John’s principles, right? We’re talking about the intentionality behind every day. I’m listening to you say the words, when we get there, when we accomplish this, there’s also the other side of that for both men and women that say, what if I don’t get there? And what if I don’t reach that goal? And one of the things that John really kind of as a leader really imparted on me the last couple of years is, is getting out of this goal mindset. And it’s really about the growth process. And I think what some of the ladies will hear from you and Sharon and, and some of this workshops is going to be what does that growth journey look like? Your goals, that’ll come, right? But we’ve got to get focused on the growth journey because if not, there’s going to be a void and there’s going to be a discouragement and there’s going to be like, I’m out, right? I’m not, I’m not doing this anymore. And so we have to be able to begin to change their mindset around that. So absolutely love the first two. Tell us a little bit about three or if you’ve got a comment.
No, I think that’s great. I think you’re absolutely true. And for, for women, when you think about that, I love when you said I’m out because it’s like, okay, the goal didn’t happen, especially when you’re one of those high achievers. I’m raising my hand in the studio. When you’re a real high achiever, the moment the goal doesn’t happen, when you set the timeframe, then it’s like, you know, Oh, what just happened? Right? And then more of the stress kicks in and you know, the anxiousness and it becomes even more problematic. So getting to that place where it’s like, you know what, I’m so more, I’m so much more focused on my growth than I am about the goal that I’m good if the, if the goal misses, I’m still growing, so I’m still winning no matter how I look. This coaching call just this week and the, the young man was, had a very successful last year. He was so excited about the progress he’d made on every front and his life. And the question came up, you said, how do I top that? And my first thought was, why do you have to top that? Is it that? And I go back to the journey or the destination is, did you, did your family grow? Did your business grow? Did you grow? He said, yes, yes, yes. I said, well then keep doing that. And it’s like we’re taught that that’s not enough. I have to top those numbers at the top. Those experiences I have to top those. No, you can just keep growing and they’ll, it’ll take care of. So it’s kind of counterintuitive space.
That’s really good. So one of the other shifts we’re going to do is that passion shift. And this is career to calling. And this is a big one because so many of us, we have a career and we just kind of, you know, maybe you started out in college or you said, okay, I’m going to be this when I grow up and you get into a career, but then you don’t really think about your calling and your purpose. And you know, John is really big on this about getting really clear on what actually ignites your passion, really, what lights you on fire and how to lead from this. Because when you’re able to lead from a place of passion, when you love what you do and you have clarity around what you’re supposed to be doing, then the passion becomes kind of that power where you become a really effective leader because you’re so passionate about what you do.
How much do you find in your work? Do you find that that’s people just doing the job because that’s what they’re supposed to do versus a calling? It’s really huge. And especially for women, what we’re seeing is, again, we’re, we’re given a script and it’s not necessarily a script of life that we didn’t necessarily even choose, but somewhere along our journey we were handed this script and we just started following it and we just didn’t take the time to say, wait, what? What’s, what’s the calling? What’s my real passion in this? Yeah. I think it’s a lot of struggle with that. A coach calls it, I’m on, even with myself, they’re like, why do you do that? Well, I’m supposed to, well, what do you want to do? What do you call to do? What’s your calling? And I think a lot of us struggle with that.
Well, and I’m actually a classic example of what that looks like. And it took a lot of courage and work for me to do it because my background is in criminal justice. And I did it because it was a script that was handed to me. My dad was an undercover homicide detective. And so it was always, you have to have something that makes a difference. And so I thought, okay, well I’ll make a difference. And about 10, 12 years in, I thought, but I’m not making a life for myself. Like I don’t love what I’m doing. And I got to a point, almost kind of dreaded it. And I said, you know what? I need to take time out and figure out what am I supposed to do. And I got the courage to do it. And now, I mean, I love my life.Turn this off. That was worth it right there. Yeah. I just thought about so my wife and Stacey knows my wife and both incredible leaders. I’m not sure she listens, but I’m going to tell her, cause she said that I’m a nurse by trade, right? Coming out of college because she wanted to make her dad proud of her. She wanted to be able to have a trade. She wanted to have a job but has been miserable doing it for years. And now we’re having conversations about this calling and what is this, what’s the change that needs to happen and what’s that next season? And, and so we don’t want it to be a job and, and we want you to lead authentically. We want you to grow. We want you to be intentional. All these things that Stacey and Sharon are going to really talk about and really drill down on so that you have enough courage and you have enough internal belief to step out and say, I need to get into my calling. And some of you may be in your calling right now and you know that, but I think this is an awesome topic to talk about. It kind of leads to number four, the confidence you have. I’d love to. I think that kind of ties in here.
Well this is one of the biggest challenges that we see out kind of on the ground on the field. And Sharon, and I, we sometimes just kind of drop our heads when we hear kind of women who are struggling with kind of the whole confidence thing and being able to do, you know, whether it’s, have the tough conversations with, you know, people in your organization or just kind of those internal, because of the narratives we tell ourselves some of the struggles that we have about just being able to be confident. And, and again, it goes back to not having that roadmap because we were not 50 years ago, you know, women weren’t given a roadmap of how to be confident in their leadership journey because it wasn’t really applicable. So it’s really getting women to be infused with that confidence. And that comes again with being that authentic leader, being in your calling until it’s almost like a building block. We’re kind of setting the stage to get you to a place where that confidence can kind of just come out.
Well, you call it moving from imposter to authentic. And I thought that sounds cool, but I guess that’s really what we’re doing. Well you know what, it’s actually, when I say that women, I guarantee right now are nodding their heads. They’re resonating because it’s; it’s the imposter syndrome because of that narrative that we tell ourselves. And so we’re believing it and there are women literally, I’ve had women who look like they have it all together, but it’s like every day they get up and think, I hope they don’t realize it’s almost like that the wizard isn’t real. Like one day they’re going to find out that I’m really not as confident. I’m really not as strong as I’m pretending to be. And so it’s kind of that whole, it’s, it’s actually a thing, it’s called an imposter syndrome that you know, women in leadership, you know, find themselves faced with and it doesn’t matter where you are in the journey or even what the title is. It just is that thing of is they going to find out that maybe I’m not as good as I as I’m pretending to.
So take just a minute, we were talking and we have the privilege of doing business all around the world, different clients and partnerships and talk just a little bit from a generic perspective on the story you were telling me earlier today about a room that you’re in. It happened to be all women and you were having a conversation and just the freedom that came out of that in regards to this imposter, I think. I think it’s relevant to what you’re talking about. Just share a bit about it. So those that are listening can just hear some of the conversations that are going on in the field right now.
Absolutely. Thank you Chris. So, I was doing a training and we were talking about something completely different and one of the ladies shared that she’s having a hard time having a tough conversation with a gentleman in her organization that he’s kind of not performing that doing what he should be doing, but she’s having a tough time because he’s almost intimidating her. And so she says she wonders if it’s her own insecurity that’s keeping her from having that tough conversation. So there’s another woman in the room who, I mean, she looks like the poster child for sharp, ambitious, driven female leader. I have it all together, I’m good. And she just blurts out and she says, you know what? I battle with insecurity every single day. Every day I step out into the world. I’m battling that insecurity because of the story I tell myself in my head. And the room almost went silent. But by her doing that, it gave the entire room permission to recognize that it is real and that that we all have at some level, those struggles and being able to be vulnerable enough to break through and have the conversations so we can get the tools to be able to move forward from it
Ability could become strength. That’s great. Yeah, I love that. And what I love about it is your passion and Sharon’s passion to bring that to light and to have those conversations they need to be had in rooms. So let’s, let’s move to just another shift or two that we’ll share with you guys around some content, the communication shift. So from directing to connecting, talk to us a little bit about this.
Well, we love this. In fact, when we saw this, when we were reading the book, we were reading leadership. We were like, John is the most evolved man in the room. He gets it. And it really is being able to say, you know what? Let’s connect women do well connecting and being in community. And it’s such a great place to lead from and it’s, it’s level two. But it, it’s the springboard for everything else to be able to actually connect with people and collaborate and not be in isolation. A lot of times when you’re a female leader, especially if you get to that place where you have the position or you have the title, it’s almost like you’re isolated because you may be in an industry where you’re the only one. So now you feel like, okay, well I can’t share too much or I can’t show myself too much because they may think it’s weak. They may think that I’m not good enough. And so just really being able to say, you know what, I really want to be able to lean into that, that connection place. Well, my favorite words about connecting, I think if more leaders listen to this would be we talked about employee engagement or team engagement. Your family engagement is when you, when you take the time to stop dictating and start connecting with people, they, they see you as real, authentic and, and they’re watching you all the time anyway. They want to know, are you someone I want to connect with? And when you do that, then we’ve got engagement and now I can go to the next level. So it’s really one of the more important aspects of leading is connecting, I think. And it’s where you begin to get that discretionary effort, right? Right.
For new team members, it’s really going from level one to level two and then working through the five levels. So I’m going to ask you for a closing thought in just a minute. Let me just, let me just take a minute. And on behalf of John and Mark Marco, our CEO, we could not be more excited and more passionate about Sharon and yourself taking John’s brand and his stage and addressing this issue. When I approached them about it and I said, Hey, Sharon and Stacey have this idea and these are some of the things they want to cover and they want to address in the leadership space. Didn’t even blink an eye. Yes, let’s do it. Yes, let’s do it. And so thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Sharon for, for bringing this to us to be in passionate about it. You guys already add tremendous value to us, you know, with all of our other content. I can’t, I can’t wait to see where this goes. And so I’m going to tell the listeners a little bit about what the next options are for them to get in the room with Sharon and yourself. But just any closing thoughts as we kind of wrap up this kind of first session, part one, we’re going to do another one next week. You’ll be able to hear that one with the three of us. But any closing thoughts for today’s session?
Well, I mean, I’m so weird. We are thrilled as well. We were not surprised that John was completely onboard because again, when you read the book and just knowing John and reading his materials, you know that he is continually kind of on the forefront. He’s like a pioneer of leadership. Like what is the next level of leadership look like? So we’re excited. Worth just beyond thrilled. We want to have the tough conversations. You know, the only way to really move the needle and give the tools is to have those tough conversations, the conversations nobody really wants to have, but everybody’s thinking about and we really believe that this is gonna be a game changer. Really believe that.
I like to tease them a lot while we’re having conversations and thank them for letting me be part of this journey. But when it comes to delivering this, this is what they’ve said, it’s for women by women. You’re not allowed in the room. And I said, well, what about John? John’s not allowed in the room. And I said, well, I’m going to go under cover, I’m going to be a photographer. And she’s like, Chris, if you walk in the room, you’ll probably know that it’s not a female just saying, but so for women by women that have been in the corporate space that are dealing with leadership and influence issues on behalf of John Maxwell, Mark Cole we couldn’t be more excited about it. So March 12th, 2020 we’re going to do it right here in our backyard in Atlanta. We’re going to offer the first workshop public workshop for women. And what I want you to do is I want you to go to John Maxwell company.com and under the public workshop tab there. If you’ll click on that, we have it up on the website and we would love for you to just go ahead and register, get in the room.
We already have several of our partners and other organizations that are going to be sending some of some women that are leaders, executives, leaders of all level that have influenced to get in the room and talk about these shifts that they want to take you through, that they want to, they want to change your mindset around in regards to your career, your calling, your leadership ability in corporate America or in your organization or at home or in the community, in your church, right? Doesn’t matter. So Stacey, thank you so much for representing Sharon and yourself today. Perry thanks for very much. If you want to leave a question for Stacey or if you have any more information about this, you can contact us as always at John Maxwell company.com/podcast we always love hearing from you there. Be sure to stay tuned for the second part of this episode where you’ll hear more from Stacey and Sharon. As always, we’re grateful for you joining us here. This is the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.