A chat with Kathleen and Lisa about limitless possibilities and letting go of what doesn't serve us
We spend so much time focusing on making our clients successful that it's not often that we talk about what drives us. We have taken a moment to reflect on a few key questions on passion, purpose, and how we wield our skill. We hope you enjoy reading this, and invite you to share your perspective on these questions too!
What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally?
Lisa: Professionally, I’m most passionate about helping others unlock what is there all along. To uncover their own talents, strengths, passions, and voice that either the world has overlooked, questioned, or shut down or they’ve not given themselves permission to embrace. Having clarity about who you are and how you want to show up in the world and the confidence to do so, is work I love helping others with. Personally, I love the study of the connection of/to mind, body, and spirit. A lack of connection to these things and to something greater than the individual is an area that often comes up in reflection from leaders. I for one, felt like I was somewhat “sleepwalking” through my life until I was reminded that we all can have a purpose, be passionate, be intentional beyond being directed entirely by external factors.
Kathleen: I love seeing people unlock their potential. When Lisa and I founded Nova, one of my guiding thoughts was that I wanted women – especially young women coming up in the corporate world – to NEVER doubt themselves, or limit themselves. I spent years wondering if I was good enough, or smart enough – or just enough enough (!) to earn my seat at the table. The fact is – you’re there for a reason, and you have lots to offer. Once I took my self-imposed doubts and limitations out of the way, my career soared. My goal with Nova is that we can shave years off the learning curve for other leaders.
What are you surprisingly good at?
Lisa: Listening for what’s not being said. Every single one of us has an on-going internal dialogue. Often, we do everything we can to ensure that no one knows what that is. I’m very good at “hearing” what that might be. It could be an assumption or self-limiting belief. It could be a trigger that keeps getting tripped creating a behavior that’s not helpful. Or something else entirely like an agenda that hasn’t been brought forward or a paradox where there are conflicting and/or competing agendas. A strength I often get great feedback on is my judgement. That judgement is usually supported by this ability to combine what I’ve heard/seen and what I discern from this and the unspoken.
What is on your desk that has a story or meaning to you?
Kathleen: When living in the UK, one of my colleagues gave me a 1x1x1 glass cube that has a star on the back, inscribed with “you are a star.” I keep it just in my line of vision so I see it every day. It’s a lovely reminder of the innate wisdom we all have, and reminds me – every time – that it is our relationships with others that make our work more meaningful. And who knew when I received that well over a decade ago that I would eventually launch a business whose name means “the sudden brightening of a previously inconspicuous star.” Serendipity!
What problems do you consistently solve for your clients?
Kathleen: I generally work with leaders who are in transition. This can look different for different leaders and corporate cultures, and the three problems we most commonly solve are:
- Learning to work through others: most high performing, high potential leaders have a track record of incredible individual accomplishments. Key word “individual”. Leadership is about uncovering and leveraging the skills and talents of others in support of your shared goals.
- Establishing an executive brand: when leaders take on a new role, or an expanded team, it is an opportunity to define a legacy: to establish themselves, and to bring their strengths to the forefront. It’s energizing to help people discover and really leverage their own unique capability.
- Peer and stakeholder management: As you scale up in an organization, your ability to get things done cross-functionally is critical. Leaders who think of the company’s goals and mission first, and then how their team can advance that mission are the most successful. Leaders can lose sight of the importance of constant peer and stakeholder alignment, which is a critical executive-level skill.
I’ve worked these issues with people across the globe, in small and large companies, and with those who lead teams of dozens and those who are in a role with no formal authority but lots of responsibility! The tools and principles we address are similar, and the leader’s individual capability and commitment determines success.
What are you complimented on most in your work?
Lisa: My ability to deliver even the most challenging messages in a way that others can not only, usually, hear them but internalize them to the extent that they can do something differently and act on the feedback. My nickname for many years has been the “velvet hammer”. I can hit directly and with impact but in a way that others feel supported and often grateful for the message.
What advice would you give a 15 year old about their future?
Lisa: You never have to live someone else’s version of the right life. There is SO much more that you can and will accomplish. So much more than you can even dream of at the point. Keep your curiosity high and your options open and you’ll live a life beyond your greatest imagination. What you feel like today are your most significant challenges… independent (different), introverted (shy), introspective (lost in thought), wanting more …are both your strengths and fuel for success. You don’t have to play a traditional role and you don’t have to be/do anyone/anything that is counter to your authentic self.
What is your personal mantra/motto?
Kathleen: Let it go. Too often, I see leaders who get SO caught up! Caught up in the drama, caught up in their vision of what should be, caught in a story (positive or negative) that’s just no longer true. Letting go means making room for a new narrative, one that is true for you right now. It’s about holding on to what’s best, and letting go of the rest. Letting go creates space for growth, development and learning. Life’s just too short to hang on to the stuff that doesn’t serve us. Depending on who I’m talking to, my advice to “let it go” may or may not be accompanied by my own rendition of Idina Menzel’s lyrics of the same 😊.