In this episode we talked with Roxanne Kaufman Elliott about the language of leadership.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott
1:12 Roxnne Background
11.37 Leading vs Managing
36:28 Are leaders born
48:51 Don't be afraid to fail
51:15 Never Wear Red
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Brian Comerford 0:04
Thank you for joining us for another edition of Lead.exe. Today we've got a special guest Roxanne kaufman Elliot was the president and CEO for ProLaureate. Joining us today to talk a little bit about leadership challenges and how leadership can drive some of that transformation. I'm your co host, Brian Comerfprd here in Denver.
Nick Lozano 0:29
And I'm Nick Lozano here in DC.
Brian Comerford 0:32
At got Roxanne on the call.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 0:34
Thank you, gentlemen. It's an absolute delight to be here.
Brian Comerford 0:37
Well, we're thrilled to have you here. Thank you so much for taking time, we both had the pleasure of interacting with you and some of the sessions that you facilitated. And just really appreciate the value that you know you can bring to some of the topics I would like to discuss today. Why don't you kick us off by giving a little bit about your background and how you came to be doing what you are doing?
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 1:01
Well, I know we only have an hour. So let me see. Just kidding. Just kidding.
Nick Lozano 1:09
It will only take an hour and 15 minutes. Okay.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 1:12
Thanks. Thanks, Nick.
I actually started my firm pro laureate in 2003, after I had left a very substantial, successful, and for the most part, incredibly enjoyable career, corporate career, I had worked in a company that actually was a manufacturer of construction products based on some very, very sophisticated and highly technical chemicals. They weren't harmful chemicals. So it wasn't about that. But we did, we did a wonderful job started as a small company grew it exponentially in a very quick period of time to to, to about four times its size when I started there. And we were bought out by a very large global firm. While I was working with this organization, it's just interesting to note that I was working with a lot of chemical engineers, structural engineers, construction people, architects, and IT people. And I was, at least for the first several years after I joined the company, the only woman so I got to play with all the guys. I mean, this is such a learning curve for all of us, it was great. And I made it was really the foundation of formation period in my life. And in my career. Because prior to that I had worked primarily in nonprofits. So this was my step into the corporate world. And now the other half of the world lived. So it was very, very exciting, had all kinds of opportunity. And learned from it traveled globally and just had a huge experience, and education. But after we were acquired, and we were acquired by a behemoth global company a 65 billion Yes, net B as in bushels and Brussels sprouts. I realized that that was really not an environment in which I would thrive, it was just a little bit too strident for me too many levels. And what was lost. And this is an observation, not a criticism, but was, was what was lost for me in the experience was the ability to really impact teams, individuals and the organization, both on a day to day basis. And then at a very big picture from a very big, big picture point of view. And that's where I have always worked. I love the interaction with other humans. I love developing myself and learning more about who I am and my potential, and more importantly, that about others. So when I left the organization I came away with, with huge lessons that I had learned, and that some of them were extremely good. Some of them were great. Some of them were okay. And quite frankly, some of them were really ugly. So I took all of that, and I threw it into a into a big thought basket and said, All right, what do you want to be? Who do you want to be where you want to go from here. And that's when I really discovered the beauty and the magic of genuine, authentic leadership. And all of the incredible work and study and research and the volumes that have been written in this, this, this unique human capacity and capability. And I absolutely fell in love with it. And I realized that everything I had done in all of my life in my career so far was pointing me in this direction, I just really didn't know to know it until I had left that position. So I studied, and I researched for a solid year into all of the areas of leadership that were out there to find that place that really resonated with me and what I wanted to pursue and put my energy into. And that was personal and professional development and strategic thinking and planning. So I totally reinvented myself, and a whole bunch of certificates and also learning opportunities in degrees in leadership development, organizational development, strategic planning, and the list goes on. But at the core of all of this was helping other people and organizations to not have to experience the ugly, in order to be great, right, is to see that coming, is to understand it from the inside out. So that when external circumstances beyond your control, come into the environment of your work or your business, you can go to your internal foundation and strengths, individually in your teams and in your organization to manage those for a positive outcome for everyone. So that's how I got into leadership development. And since then, that was in 2003. So over the last 16 years, I have that entrepreneurial leap is certainly a leap of faith.
in those early years, how many times you could have found me in a corner of the fetal position, think to myself what in the world have you done. But it's all about determination and knowing you're on the right path. So I stayed with it. And now I love what I do, I always have, but I'm just in just such a great place. And I'm thankful for it every day, with great clients with working with great organizations, Nick, like when I work with you, and your other endeavors and just, it's beautiful. It's beautiful to see people light up, when they begin to see the strength and the Wow, the rewards that leadership that really developing, understanding and developing leadership within yourself and others can bring you. So that kind of brings us up to today. I've got a lot of different iterations of this. But I'm in a place right now I love I've now achieved some master certifications in in a few areas of leadership, particularly the leadership challenge, which is an incredible and enormous body of work for over 40 years, which I can elaborate on as we talk a little bit more. That's where I am today.
Brian Comerford 7:21
Well, that's great. This is such an exciting background, Roxanne and I have to say, all of those points of passion that you touched on, I think, without put words in next mouth. Those are areas that I usually share. And it's it's really ultimately, today.
Nick Lozano 7:40
How dare you put words in my mouth, Brian. No. I completely agree with Brian, that that's kind of our whole point of, you know, starting this. And I know when bringing you on you kind of wanted to talk about the language of leadership. And I'm kind of interested, what your take on that is in leadership? Do you know, I know when we think of leadership in general, a lot of people tend to think, you know, when you're coming up, you think of leadership more as managing and not leadership tasks. So So what is your thought behind this this language of leadership?
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 8:18
Well, first of all, I would, I would say that there is a vast difference between leadership and management. And I'm so glad you mentioned that, because that's one of the main points of conversation in all of my coaching and in all of my group work. And in all of my consulting work that I do in organizational development, one of the exercises we do when we're in groups, or even one on one is to get the ever present flip charts out. And on the first one, we talk about what is leadership, and we write all the words and all the phrases, and characteristics of people that to us speak to leadership. And it's usually things like well just think to you, I know that things are running through your minds right now. visionary, great communicator, building trust, building teams, decisive, action oriented, results driven, compassionate, empathetic, they walk their talk, and so on and so forth. Then we go to another flip chart page, and we write the word management. And we talk about that. And what I usually hear when people are talking about management is checking things off the list, learning new computer skills, learning how to run a meeting, developing products and programs with teams. And so it becomes very clear that management is tactical, that this is what we do on a day to day basis. In an operational way, management actually is derived from the Latin word, manis ma n us, which stands for or translates into your hands. So its hands. So that means it's the things you do with your hands, it's picking up a hammer and a nail and making something that's management. Leadership is guiding is leading people is leading yourself and others to something. So that's the difference. Now i cap off that conversation by saying okay, all that being said, What do you think? Is it? Is it leadership? Or is it management, that helps a company to fulfill its vision statement. And everybody talks about that, and we bring your vision statement into the conversation. And everyone 100% at the end of that conversation will will say, well, rocks, you know, what? leadership is what takes us into our vision. And we need management to get the stuff done. He said absolutely. So leadership is what it's going to take is to to the highest levels of what we define as success. I have that right? Yes, ma'am. You sure do. Where do you spend most of your time? Oh, boy, that was dead air. You see the heads fall, the eyes drop, and everybody sighs and they kind of slumped forward and say 99% of our time, or somewhere along there between 95 and 95 99% of our time is spent managing stuff. Right? Right.
Yeah, right. So,
my so so if we break this down, and this is what leadership is, we need to understand it and learn it in digestible chunks in small bits and pieces. So what I recommend for everyone, when you sit when you haven't had any leadership background, or you don't really know even what it is, you just know, when you see it, you don't really know what it is, is to start understanding in little bit. And if you can just walk away from your first exposure to it with maybe 5% of a better understanding. And then over the course of six months increase your your time and your energy in that in that leadership flip chart by 10%. Can you imagine what kind of impact you're going to have? how that's going to change the environment? Oh, my gosh, every single little bit, every one of those percentage points is taking you up another level and another level and another level of bringing more cohesion, more communication, collaboration, cooperation results to every team and every individual in your organization. And when you can cross pollinate that, between the various departments in the organization, Hint, Hint, IT communication, communications, the different levels, operations, finance, he human resources, and then you start taking it vertically through the organization from the C suite, to the SVP, to the VP, to the directors, to the managers, to the supervisors, to the independent contributors, what have you got, you got just an incredible leadership culture, starting to form and starting to take place. But the key to the success in doing it is in little bits, little bits all along the way. So you asked me what, what I meant when I said the language of leadership? Well, I think you're probably starting to get some idea, the way I talk and the things that I talk about. But in my career, throughout my career, and in dealing with highly technical people, like she's always fallen into work a lot in the healthcare industry, doctors and nurses, I work with engineers and architects to this day, a lot of professional services, people in finance and insurance. So the highly highly technically skilled people, and for the majority of them, and IT too, they don't, they have never received that we don't get this kind of understanding and learning in college, or in any of the work that we learn our skills and knowledge around our areas of expertise. There is a language of leadership that is universal, that crosses across that crosses through all of these different areas of expertise. And I never really understood this until I was pretty quickly moved into an executive position in my corporate career and was on the executive committee and the Board of this this firm of to, which I belonged. And I was asked to start developing a strategy for the organization going forward, that would create more open and transparent communication between every department in the organization
and so I
I know, yeah, no fun, no, was really kind of fun. And as I did analysis, first I did some research and went through and interviewed people and looked at all the different departments to figure out who was already doing stuff pretty well in terms of, you know, communicating and getting along, and who really wasn't. And I found that the weakest link, may I be blunt.
Nick Lozano 15:29
No go go ahead and go for it.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 15:31
Okay, I'm going to be really blunt. Everybody, just bear with me here. It was our IT people with all the chemistry and everything else that was going on, it was and this was during, during a time when technology was taking over everything, all the systems, all the financial systems, you know, we were changing over to client management systems, we were changing over our financial reporting in certain ways. We were also starting to put everything into computers in terms of the formulations. And all of the research that we were doing. And what we were finding was there was a huge communication gap. Those of us who were not in the technical areas of all of this, this computer work and technology work that needed to take place to streamline our processes, we could not understand one word, what those folks were saying. And they had no clue what we were talking about either.
Nick Lozano 16:28
I mean, you haven't tried turning it on and off again?
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 16:33
It was so funny, because our CFO at the time was having a terrible he couldn't get his computer to come on. All the whole IT crew in there trying to figure it out. And I walked in and I whispered one guy, plug it in!
Brian Comerford 16:49
you've already got an honorary IT Badge!
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 16:51
Thank you so much, and such a dinosaur when it comes to this stuff.
So so I had to figure out a way to create a language that could cross all barriers that could cross all nations, if you will, within this organization. And so I started talking about leadership and what that meant. And because that doesn't have, it has its own language, but it's universal, and everybody can understand it. So if I say to a group of hundred hundred people in a room, and they're from every different department in the company, and I say, give me a show of hands, if you understand what I mean, when I say walk your talk, how many hands go up 100. Do what you say you will do, 100 hands, keep your promises. 100 hands. And so it goes. So you start thinking about what is leadership, it's um having an idea of what you want to accomplish, you can have a vision of what you want to accomplish, it can be in a meeting what you want to accomplish in a meeting a vision for that, or a new product development, or a new new market opportunity, or maybe a new acquisition, whatever it may be, that vision is critical to driving, you have to know where you're going or you're you're not going to end up anywhere, right? Being able to talk to other people about that vision in a way that they also understand it in a way that it connects to their vision of why they are involved with the company in the first place, why they do their job, when you can make that connection between that larger vision and the individuals every individual's vision, you find an intersection point, the vision becomes shared. And you energize you bring enthusiasm. And you bring motivation and engagement to the entire team to make it happen because everybody has a stake in it. So you are sharing those vision to create inspiration. In the leadership challenge work that I do, I I found this body of work just a few years after I had started my own company. And I just absolutely thought my head was going to explode because I found some people who thought the way I did, and I didn't think anybody else did, or at least I hadn't found him yet. And two fellows who have created this body of work, Tim cruises and Barry Posner started this over 40 years ago when they were in college together for teaching in college. And they have since taken it to a global movement. It's I think it's at the very top of the most used, most well known and incorporated into corporations, academia, all kinds of nonprofits. And it goes on and on and on. So I started working with with this body of material, and what's unique about it is, is that it is recently searched based. So the research shows us that when organizations adopt this language of leadership, and they really understand it, and they're able to roll it out throughout their culture, that certain things happen. For instance, at high levels of engagement of five specific areas that Jim and Barry have have found to be core in leadership and every organization level with with the leaders of an organization at high frequency in those leadership behaviors, employee engagement goes to 95.8% when those same leaders are at the lowest end of the spectrum, in exhibiting those leadership behaviors, employee engagement drops to 4.2%.
Brian Comerford 20:58
Hold it there,
Nick Lozano 21:00
Mull, not for a minute, right.
Yeah, I can totally see that. In when, when I think of I don't know, if you read the book by Tony shieh, called Delivering Happiness, the CEO of Zappos. And kind of the backstory in him his his his first startup was, you know, an advertisement company that he sold to Microsoft. And he said, he felt terrible as a leader because as he walked in, they were hiring people so fast, he didn't know who they were. And he decided when he started his next company, he was going to sit on in in on every interview and know every single person who they were. So I mean, when you brought that point up, it kind of brought me back to that book. And it seems like you know, some of the best leaders kind of have that tact and that ability to adapt and kind of feel out a room.
Brian Comerford 21:50
Absolutely. I love that. I just wrote that down. And I will get that book. It sounds awesome. And here's a really cool thing about that story and about leadership is this is a learned skill. I mean, all leaders are born for sure. But not all people who are born become leaders. It's a choice. It's an aspiration, you can learn leadership. Now, we have all different kinds of leaders, a lot of times we think about leaders being these very charismatic people that have this huge presence when they walk in the room. Well, sure, a lot of leaders are like that. But I've known some of the quietest, some of the most introverted people in the world to be some of the greatest leaders I've ever known. They and they These are people without titles, without car, fancy cars and homes and all that stuff, that a lot of times we we think are the trappings of leadership. It's not. Those are trappings of success as some people define it, which is great. But it's not leadership. Leadership is exactly what you said. It's knowing your people doing what they what matters to them.
Nick an I have talked a lot about this, that leadership is a role. It's activity. It's it's not position.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 23:07
Exactly. Right. Right. Exactly. Right. So in so back to this language thing. So the the work with the leadership challenge brings us these five tenants of leadership, or as we call them exemplary prep practices, and driven Barry in the research they have, right now there are over 4 million people globally, who have engaged with the leadership challenge, in one way or another, there's also a 360 that is developed out of the body of work that they've done, but the five tenants are through all the research they have done over the years, which they continue to do all of the time. These five things keep rising to the top, that we can get our arms around these five things as leaders, and learn and live our lives around these, we are going to have more success. We are our companies will have more success, our people will have more success and happiness, individually and collectively. So let me just Is it okay, let me just run through those. So you can kind of get your head around, and then you'll see what I mean. So model the way is all about credibility. Okay, so that's walking your talk, doing what you say we'll do, we just mentioned those things. It's so important that we do that, because that's the way that How many times have we worked for someone and I have yet to find anybody who hasn't worked for someone who said, Hey, we're going to make this happen. This happened. And this happened within six months. And a year later, nothing's been done. Right?
Nick Lozano 24:45
I think we've all been there. We've all been at some point.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 24:49
Yeah. So when when you're walking your talk, and doing what you say you will do, there's a foundation there of values of core values that we all have. So we need to exist. net, and say, am I living to my core values? Are my behaviors mirroring my core values? And am I setting the example for others to follow that? So doing what you say you will do credibility. The second one is inspiring a shared vision, I just gave a story about this about, you know, doing it in little bits. And it doesn't matter what the vision is about whether it's the meeting this afternoon that you have to lead, or a new product development, or whatever it is, figure out what the end result is, and reverse engineer it, pull back from that and say, Okay, if that's what we want to see, how are we going to get there. And then with the MP with the people that need to be involved in making that vision a reality, we need to ask them, what's your take on this? Why are you involved in this? What excites you about this? What is your vision, you bring huge value to us accomplishing this vision? How do you see it inspiring a shared vision, it brings people together in in an amazing way. And it allows them to see and to feel really exciting possibilities about what they're doing, being part of innovation being part of really taking going to that next level. And as I say, these things are universal. It's not about the particular area of expertise we have in skills and abilities. This is the human being element that comes into it. We do this in any area, any area of specialty in which we serve, and it brings people together. So then we challenge the process. That's the third one. By this, we don't mean going in and you know, shaking everything up and yelling at people and rocking the boat and saying no and slamming your fist quite the contrary, this is taken a look at what we're already doing and saying, hmm, Does it still work? And is it okay? And is that okay? Okay, not okay. And how do we want to change this, it's looking in something and saying, maybe this worked very, very well, when it was created a process, a structure, whatever it may be a product. But the reasons that it was created that way no longer exist. And yet we continue to do it. So let's challenge it, let's re engineer it, let's go back and do something differently. But in order to do that, this brings, it brings us to the fourth practice, which is enabling others to act, we can't we can't challenge the process and bring people into doing something differently. If we don't give them the tools and the knowledge and the skills they need to do it. So we need to make sure that we're giving them the freedom to use their expertise and their brilliance and what they're doing. But also give them the tools to do it. And then finally, and this is my absolute favorite is encouraged the heart. So this is about recognizing people for their contributions. And it doesn't have to be a big party or a big deal. It has to be a genuine I, I'm going to sit down and every interview and look these people in the eye and know who they are, and thank them for coming. I'm going to walk down the hall, poke my head in John's office and say, john, you did a phenomenal job on that client call today. Thank you. And I'll again be very blunt, I have some folks sometimes who really push back on this and say, Roxs, why do I have to give somebody a pat on the back for doing them a job I pay them to do? Right? And my response would be, well, why wouldn't you? How many people are you paying to do a job that aren't doing it?
Wwuldn't you want to encourage the ones who are because by golly you do that, and they're just going to want to do more for you. It creates loyalty and kind of a corporate kind of love, you know, kind of that that thing where you just you want to do it for the you'd want to take one for the team, you want to get into the team and make it happen. So that's language, that's the language of leadership.
Nick Lozano 29:09
Now I got I like that a lot. And especially your last point, it kind of brings me to and if you read this book, it's called extreme Extreme Ownership how Navy SEALs lead and win. My job? Yeah. Yeah, and one of the things on it is, you know, you know, you as a leader, all all the problems are kind of your fault, because you're the leader, but but not to dive into that too far. But one of the thing is, is always give your teammates credit for every success and every win, don't ever take any credit yourself. And I mean, that that totally, when I when I look at here, the items that you have, it seems to me, like the great leaders kind of always do that they're they're kind of in the shadows, and they never take any of the successes or the winds, and they'll take all the blames, they'll say, you know, my team enabled us to do this, you know, this happened, because, you know, Joe got this done not and, you know, if anything bad happened, you know, it's my fault as a leader, you know, I should have, I should have been watching what was going on, I should have trained him better. But you know, next time where we're gonna, we're going to get this done, we're going to complete this, this won't happen again.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 30:17
What you're talking about, I'm actually getting that that book from my son for his birthday, because he wants to be a navy seal. And, and I've been actually coaching him off and on over the years in leadership development, and he's an amazing young man. So that's pretty cool. When you're talking about this book, and this author, it also reminds me of Simon cynic. So your listeners have not listened to any of his, any of his TED talks or read any of his books, I strongly encourage that because Simon is all about this all about he wrote a book called leaders eat last, you know, same principle that you're talking about Nick.
Brian Comerford 30:55
And you know, I said, I really resonate with a lot of what you said, you're around, you know, having, you know, that emotional engagement? Uh huh. I want to ask you a question about some strategies for how you interact with others who are in leadership roles in your organization, who absolutely don't share that view of most problematic types of people, and yet, for whatever reason, it's, it's just something about a flower on their part of the team. And how you bring harmony to a part of a team that was challenged with someone who would really align themselves with so much of what I just heard you say,
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 31:45
Yeah, that's a great question. Thank you very much for that, right, I would I approach those things. When I can, in two ways. So it depends upon the dynamics of the team and what's going on. Usually, in my work, I would say, almost always, almost always, I will have a relationship with the person who is not in that camp of encouraging others, and is usually leading a team. And I'm also very engaged with a team so itself, so I see the dynamics that are happening, and going back and back and forth. When I am in that position, where I have a relationship, because leadership is all about relationships, you've got to have that that connection to other people in order to talk about these things and help them to, to embrace that as well. So and I've actually had this this happen in somewhat recently, with a key leader in an organization who is exactly that person. And in conversations with with the person. My questions to them have been, how do you like to be recognized? Do you like to be recognized? Because I tell you, the truth is, bless you. Everybody does. Everybody does, in one way or another, they like to be recognized. Now for some people, it may be just winning, winning the day, whatever that means to them. And to have a trusted advisor or a family member to say to me, Hey, you know, nice work, or, hey, that's cool. Maybe that's enough for them. But it is encouragement, I have never met a soul in my life that did not need encouragement in one way or another. The key is, how do they like it? How do they accept it, when you can get someone to talk about that and say, you know, I'm not about this warm, fuzzy stuff, I'm not going to do it, it doesn't do any good. That's okay. But leaders put others first. That's what leaders do. Leaders step up first, leaders take the heat for it leaders give away the as Nick was saying, give away the honors and the accolades. But they also put others first. So if you have a leader, quote, unquote, in a team or an organization, who will not encourage their team, the question is, how much of a leader arre they really? So you have that conversation with them. Of course, in a very hurtful way, ironically, to say, Are you getting as much out of your team as you would like, do you think everybody's putting 100% into this? Do you think everybody is engaged? No, of course not. They're not? What do you think would help them be engaged? I don't know. They just need to do their job, or whatever it may be? Well, you know what, no, it's a little bit more than that. What would happen if they felt engaged, and if they felt encouraged by you, and other people in the team to keep trying, even when they fail to keep trying to keep going forward, it doesn't take more than, you know what Good try, or, hey, we really moved the needle on this one. It can be with whatever, whatever words you want to use, just so it's, it's recognizing others for their contribution, it doesn't have to be a big deal. Right. So really get if you if you do not have a relationship with the, with a non encouraging leader, then you have the relationship with a team, then it's really working with them and coaching with them, to support each other. And to understand and appreciate the leader for who he or she is, and just take what they can get from that, but know that the strength, and the encouragement comes from within this deep within the team and from within themselves. So a lot of this motivation, and I talked about this a lot external motivation and internal motivation. If you've got the internal motivation around succeeding in your definition of that the external motivation, it's wonderful to have that isn't there, you'll find a way to make it happen anyway. Does that help? Does that make is that okay, does that kind of answer your question?
Brian Comerford 36:05
I love it. Yeah, I imagine that everyone who's in a leadership role, or even just an a contributor, role, at some phase in their career trajectory is going to run into a set of challenges with personalities like that. So no question about it. really valuable. Roxanne Thank you,
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 36:26
Nick Lozano 36:28
And Roxanne, I just want to ask you a question. You know, we, earlier you touched on that, you know, people always bring up that the leaders are born not made. And I was just wondering if you could, you know, elaborate them a little bit, I I'm kind of in the camp, that, you know, people have certain traits that kind of help them be leaders, you know, maybe they're charismatic, or, you know, they're a little more diplomatic, they can play the politics pretty well. But But I feel like those things help but I feel like almost anybody can be a leader, if they put the time in to kind of learn some of the skills that and that they need. It's just like anything else. Like what else in technology, we need to learn a new technology environment, you kind of go out out of your way to learn whatever this new technology is. So I was wondering kind of more if you could elaborate more on your thoughts of, you know, if leaders are born or made?
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 37:19
Absolutely. When I asked that question, in sessions, Nick, I always, it's a real mixed bag. I mean, a lot of people will say, Oh, it's both. So I will say no, you're born, someone say no, you're absolutely made. It's really all of that. It really is all of that. I think one of the biggest things to remember, though, when we're asking this question, is people when they get to the stage of their life, where in cognitive thought they're really beginning to think about some of these things. They don't ask, they aren't asking themselves the question because they don't know how to say, what is leadership? Right? It's one of those things that kind of shows up, you see leaders now some people will have a propensity to, to look at other people and watch their their behaviors and their attitudes and, and thoughts and so forth and say, Gee, I want to be like that person. And so they start emulating that person. And when they do that, they start developing their own kind of leadership skills. But they're not doing it really intentionally, because they haven't asked that question yet. So everyone is born, I believe, this is my Roxanne's belief, this doesn't come out of any leadership book, I believe that every single human being that is born, has the potential to be a leader. So we all have different strands of DNA, we all have different gene pools going on, we all have all kinds of stuff different going on. Some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts, some of us are, are big, and tall, and handsome, and beautiful. And others are those of us are really short and elf like people,
or whatever, you know, we all are all different, we're all unique. But I believe that
we all have that potential. It's just a matter of discovering it and making a choice about that. But first understanding that we everybody has that potential and we can develop it, it isn't something that you are given, I'm going to make you the CEO of this company. And you're a leader, no, you're not your CEO, that does not make you a leader, but makes you a leader is what you have learned. And this is where the research backs all i mean this what people think of as as leadership is the embodiment of the leadership challenge in the other work that I do. So when when you say this to people, everyone is a leader. And they're at the they're the lowest person on the totem pole, and brand new in an organization. They say no, I'm not I'm not a leader. How can I be a leader? You know, I don't even have a title yet. I'm just an associate, whatever. And I work a front line or I work an assembly line. My question to them would be, do you interact with anybody else that you work with? Sure. Do you take pride in your job? Sure. What about that is not leadership. It's all its awareness of what leadership is we are all leaders. I will never forget, this was a few years ago, my husband and I were sitting down and watching the Olympics and commercial came on from Dick's Sporting Goods. And it was this very powerful and dramatic, visually stimulating commercial, and it had Olympic athletes in different in different situations, boxing, diving, fighting, running, all fencing, doing all these things in this beautiful Narrator In the background, talking about the the rare and unique elements of the earth, magnesium, copper, oxygen, carbon, and gold. And every single human being has 0.2 milligrams of gold in our body. This is this is fact this is scientific fact. And the majority of that lies within our heart 0.2 milligrams of gold. In every single humans heart, we all have hearts of gold. And at the end of the commercial, they have this woman with a shot put swinging it around. And and the narrator says, we all have 0.2 milligrams of gold in our hearts, we just need the courage to dig it out. And that, to me, is what leadership is, is finding that gold and bringing it out, you can be a person born and raised, we see this every day, we see so many leaders that have been born with so many challenges, physically, mentally, in so many different ways. And yet they rise to the highest levels of leadership. So it's, it's about who we are, how we think about that. And we're influenced tremendously as we grow up. And getting to a point where we recognize those was good, and not so good influences and how we overcome them.
Brian Comerford 42:23
I trade, my work hours for shotput,
Nick Lozano 42:27
Brian Comerford 42:32
Find that gold thing.
I really appreciate everything that just walked us through there. I want to ask you another question that I think factors into some of that correlation between, you know, leaders, whether or not there are born or made. And, you know, I think at various points along power leadership practice, we find ourselves sort of struggling with the confidence and we've been put into position to act as, as leaders. I know, I've heard you speak a little bit before, around habits of thought. And I wonder if there's tidbits that you could share with us today that that are corollary to that that are that are helpful kids?
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 43:28
Oh, boy, did you pick a good one habits of thought, oh, golly, I love to talk about this. So yes, absolutely. Here's what happens. And this is, again, based on research by various and sundry behavioral psychologists. What we what we have found is that, as we grow up, those just from being born till we're five years old, we're surrounded by a lot of influences. Those influences want to keep us safe, and away from harm, they want to guide us they want to help us. And in doing that, a lot of good is done. But also what happens is, we start forming our fundamental values and beliefs. so that by the time we are five years old, 98% of our values and beliefs are already formed. And we don't even know it. So if we have, if we've been told enough times, and again, you know, for all of us parents that are out there, we do this to protect our children. So this is not a it's not a criticism of that we need to do that is but it's understanding the impact of it in the longer run, is also very helpful, because we can relay that to our children as well as they get older. But when you say enough times, don't touch the stove, you'll get burned, don't write on the wall, you'll be punished, don't walk on the grass, you'll you'll kill the seeds. For goodness sakes, don't talk to strangers. I mean, all this has good stuff behind it, right? We want to protect our kids, we want to protect our, our young humans growing up. And that's great. But by the time that we get into early teenage years, and early 20s, we forget about those constant reminders of what we shouldn't do, who we can't be what we what we shouldn't be, because some of that stuff is you're not smart enough, you're not pretty enough, you're we're not we don't have enough money, a lot of limiting things come out. so that by the time we get to that age, late teens, early 20s, these things are no longer don't touch the stove, you'll get burned, it turns into internal dialogues that have become habits of thought that we don't even know we're thinking that are telling us don't try that you're going to get hurt, you're not smart enough to go after that degree, you know that it's going to be painful. If you try and you're going to fail, don't reach out to those people. Because they're not going to want to talk to you, why would they talk to you. So we end up in this conundrum of, well, I kind of think I'm okay, but I'm not really sure because I don't trust myself, I don't have the confidence to put myself out there. Because I'm going to be harmed in some way. So by the time we're this age, what happens is about 73% of our brain is conditioned negatively, to developing ourselves to grow into becoming to taking a chance to risking, and, and the other 23% is the positive stuff. But the good thing is, and this is where being made comes in. Okay, we were born, we got to this stage now what we can be aware of our own habits of things thought that have been created through our upbringing, and again, out of our protection out of our out of love for us and all of that. But we get to this place. And if we can become aware that our biggest obstacle is the person looking back at us in the mirror every day, we got to get out of our own way. We had to break those habits of thought. And we do that by starting to take a deep dive in studying Who am I really? What are my values? Who am I? What am I capable of doing, not what everybody else has told me I should do? Or what I can't do? let me figure this out on my own. And I know I'm going to be able to do it. And so you start that sort of thing. You start with some affirmations, and you start having different thoughts, which create positive habits of thought, yeah, I can do this. Yeah, I'll give it a try. Why not? Let's let's give it a go. Yeah, habits of getting your way all the time.
Nick Lozano 47:55
Roxanne, and I like all that. And Brian's gonna be tired of hearing me say this, cuz I've probably said it every podcast we had. But I feel like, you know, a lot of people, you know, we've kind of been told surely like everything you went through, like this hot, don't do that this can happen like all these negative things. And, and we get afraid of failure. We're all the negative consequences economic, but like, like for us, we're going to start this podcast, what if it sounds terrible? What if it doesn't help anyone? If nobody listens to it? And we, we don't stop to go back and think well, like, what if we can help five people or 10 people is that hour of time we put into this worth it. I mean, to me that's worth it. You know, most people kind of stop and think about the negative things and they don't, you know, put the time to think of what the good things that could come out of it. If If you know, everything winds up being successful, we kind of tend to stick on the, you know, the pessimistic side,
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 48:51
we always default to that. And we always go there, I'm going to offer you a suggestion that when you are colleagues or you're working with folks, you're going to that negative place and saying you know, we're never going to be able to do this, this is never going to happen. We're not we don't have enough people, we don't have enough time. We don't have enough resources. Stop, take a breath, pause, and ask what would that mean? What would that look like? Even if you're right? And it is impossible? Let's for a moment, let's for a moment, put that over there in the corner and just ask ourselves? What if it were possible? What if we could do it? What would that look like? And what would happen then? It's self awareness, self awareness, self awareness. Just check yourself all the time. Am I am I being in the moment? Am I being a good listener, and not just hearing what I want you to say, really listening and hearing what you are saying? And making sure that I'm understanding that. And we were just talking just right before we started recording again that How many times do you go to a restaurant and see people out to dinner with each other, everyone's immersed in their own electronic device, we're losing our connection, our human relationships are still the foundation of everything. All technology is fabulous. And it's incredible. And I know, artificial intelligence is supposed to be able to work on its own and make decisions and do all of that. But I don't know guys, it's, you know, it's the human being that drives commerce. And it drives families and it drives everything. So I don't know, don't,
Nick Lozano 50:29
don't let all the AI hype fool you Roxanne. Brian feels about it, but don't let it go. It's pretty basic right now, you know, I can barely have cars that don't run into anything.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 50:45
I love that.
Brian Comerford 50:48
Sherry Turkle has a great book called alone together that talks quite a bit about that exact topic. And on books, I know that you've referenced the big leadership. Sorry, challenge a couple of times. But I want to put you on the spot ask you about your book. never wear red.
Nick Lozano 51:09
You beat me to Brian. Oh, it's gonna ask thta question.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 51:15
You very sweet to bring that up. Thank you very much. Yeah, this is a book that shares part of my journey. It was it was one of those must do things I just needed to get some stuff out there. The title refers to what one of those negative things I was told all of my life growing up, I'm a redhead. I'm a ginger, right. And I was told several times a day, every day of my life, I swear until I left home, never to wear red. never wear red. Never, ever, ever wear it. And I was told Why? Because it looks terrible. And you look terrible in it. And nobody's going to take you seriously. And the list went on and on and on. Well, you know, I always thought that was rolling off my back until I was going through this, this transition really from my corporate life into my entrepreneurial seizure. And I started thinking about this book and what I wanted to say. And it was really the beginning of the conversation for me to a broader audience of how we we need to let go of all of these messages that we've been sent, and that we've not even knowingly embraced, that are holding us back from our full potential from being who we who we really can be. And being as big and as impactful as we can. And I that's not having anything to do with ego. So the book walks you through my philosophy of leadership, really, and that's owning yourself, discovering your own authenticity, and in genuineness and leading with that, everywhere you go. And we do in three ways. We do it with three eyes, I call it i to the power of three. So imagine a small, with a little three of them the right hand corner, right? It's like pot, I the either the power of three. So here are the three nuggets, the three keys to happiness and success from Roxanne land. The first thing you need to do is to find your inspiration inspire. That's the first I, dig really deep. What is in your heart? What is your purpose? What are you here to do? I believe that we all have that we just need to get out of all of the stuff, all the filters, all the things that we've learned to think, and learn to say and learn to do and say, wait a minute, who am I really? And what is my purpose here? And why am I doing this? Do I love it? How can I impact other people with this? Once you figure that out? And that's no easy task, by the way, because there's a lot of filters built in, you got to be willing to do the work, right. So I share stories about that. And examples of, you know, my epic failures along the way, and some moments of realization and so forth. I mean, it's a real journey, guys, I'm telling you, it's amazing. But once you get there, great, okay, that's wonderful, you have your aha moment, you can sing Nirvana from the mountaintops and and get back down to earth. Because here's what you got to do, you got to put a strategy around that, you have to ignite that. In order to make it worth anything, you can't you can write it out and write a book or do whatever. But unless you do something with it, it's just going to be there and you're going to know it, and it's not going to have any impact. So you have to put a strategy together. So this is the middle section of the book, where I lay out a strategic process that I have designed with a lot of help from a lot of other people and a lot of other learnings that that I have gathered over the years into this process. And that's what the book is really based on. So igniting It is about knowing your vision, creating a vision or mission, breaking that down into very time bound critical buckets that need to be completed putting putting goals very specific goals around that action steps, which takes you to and again, I put in stories around that how to do it, it's a how to manual, really. And then the final section is impact. Now you have your vision, you have a strategy, you got to act on it, you must execute. Otherwise, it just sits there on a shelf. So now you have to really put your feet to the fire and get some people around you that can help hold you hold them there and go out and do it. So then I pull in a lot of other resources into the book and allow you to see what all just a small snippet of what's out there.
I talked about the leadership challenge, I talk about so many different things that we can do, and people that you can resource and programs that you can look at, to start exploring this and to find out what resonates with you and to take you take you forward. Talk about the languages of love or in corporate speak. It's the language of connection. It's the language of recognition. We talked about principles of like all kinds of things. So that's really the basis of the book. And the wrap up of it is that we all live or should be living by our core values need to understand what those are. And mine and I will share this with you. It's a four letter word that makes a lot of people creeped out, they get really scared. I use this word. But it's love luv. It's just, it's love of helping love of self love of others love of the beautiful organizations that people create in the way that they impact lives in such positive ways and really impact world, the world and communities and individuals and families and where do we all fit in that scheme of things, what is our unique gift that we bring, and let's go out and give that away is the more you give it away, the more you get back. So never wear red is a leadership love story. Hopefully helping people to get out from behind who they think they are and start taking a journey into who they really are to become the leader. They're meant to be sort of like
Brian Comerford 57:25
Said like someone who is truly authentic Roxanne. And I think the fact that you've got a subtitle that I've never seen on any other type of leadership book.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 57:41
Thank you very much.
Brian Comerford 57:42
I'll just summarize by saying so much of what you've shared with us today about language of leadership, what I'm hearing from you, it has to do with really driving a lot of those leadership characteristics, through community through interaction through relationships with others. And ultimately, it all comes back in your lap. It's worth it has to be done by you, the individual and as much as others.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 58:14
Well said, Sir, and it all it always starts with you. It starts with you first. You gotta lead yourself before you can lead anybody else. Yeah, start with your values.
Brian Comerford 58:23
Thank you so much for taking the time with us today. I'll just say one more thing. You're so well spoken and your voice is so soothing if you don't have an audiobook version of Never wear read, gotta go out and create one. It's just a pleasure.
Nick Lozano 58:37
And if our listeners are looking for you, how can they find you social media or website or anything?
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 58:45
Sure. Yep, they can go to Facebook, just type in pro laureate. And you'll go to my business, Facebook, you can go to LinkedIn, same thing. It's pro laureate, you'll find me there. You can also go to the website, which will be re-done this summer. It's still very relevant. It just needs to be updated. And I'm going for a much fresher look to it. It's been sitting there for a little while. I might need some help with that too, if you know anybody might. So that's, that's pro laureate dot come. And that's PR o l, A, you r e a t.
And you can find me directly at [email protected].
Nick Lozano 59:27
Perfect. And we'll go ahead and we'll make sure we put off all your contact information in the show notes so that our listeners can find it there as well.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 59:34
Thanks, Nick. Thanks, Brian.
Nick Lozano 59:38
All right. Thank you for everything.
Roxanne Kaufman Elliott 59:40
Oh, it's been a blast. I've enjoyed it immensely. Thank you. I hope to talk to you both again soon. Have a great weekend.