Unlocking True Potential Through Understanding Your Path To Leadership With Meredith Persily Lamel

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Skot Waldron:

Hi, welcome to another episode of Unlocked. I'm Skot and today we're going to talk about unlocking the potential of people through understanding our path to leadership. And that is super interesting. Because I've never really thought about it. I just ended up where I am. I was an entrepreneur, I started this company, and now I'm here. And I just do my thing. But what is so significant about how I got here? Well, not until we understand the experience. Well, it become a learning experience. So let me reframe that. 

The experience itself is not the learning experience. Because a lot of us just go through life and we just take in these experiences and just say, "Yeah, I've had a learning experience." It's not a learning experience until you actually take time to think back and reflect on that learning experiences. What got me here? Why am I here? Where am I going? What am I going to be doing with that knowledge that I have? Well, Meredith Persily Lamel is on the call. She is the CEO and founder of Aspire@Work. She is an executive coach, facilitator and developer. She's worked with corporations, nonprofits, she's worked with members of Congress, and releasing her new book, Six Paths to Leadership with her co-author, they have interviewed over 70 different people. And some of them are public servants. Some of them are employees. Some of them are CEOs. She's got a lot of data going in here. 

She is on the faculty at American University's School of Public Administration. She earned her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a BA from Brown University. So there's a lot to digest in this interview. There are six paths to leadership, hence the title of the book. We go through those different paths in different ways and talk about the strengths and opportunities in those different paths. So pay attention not just to your path, but the other paths because it gives context to everything else. All right. Okay. This intro has been long enough. Let's get on with the interview. All right, here we come Meredith. 

Hello, Meredith. It's really good to have you on the show. 

Meredith Persily Lamel:

Thanks for having me, Skot. 

SKOT WALDRON:

All right. You've just launched a book. I've been interviewing a lot authors lately. And I love interviewing authors because they're so excited about, like just this project that they've given their heart and soul over to. You it's taken four years to come out with this book. Holy moly, that's a long time, a lot to invest emotionally, physically, everything you've done. Okay, give us the premise for why did it take four years. So give us that. Because that's thoroughness is what it says to me. And talk to us about the book.

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah, absolutely. And let me say this, it was not four years full time. So this was also a side project as I'm coaching and teaching and raising two kids. So, a lot of different things happening but the process really didn't need to take four years. Because we interviewed over 70 leaders for the book, and so the first two years was just doing those interviews. And then we took a year analyzing the data, ensuring that our research was sound and that we pulled out the right insights from all of our interviews, and then that last year was the heavy writing. So yes, the last year was definitely the most intense year, and I did work with a co-author, my colleague, Mark Clark who's a professor at American University School of Business, the Kogod School of Business and so the co-writing process also, I think, it really enriches the process but also add some time.

SKOT WALDRON:

So, Six Paths to Leadership. So the book is called. Is it an academic book? He's an academic publisher and your co-author is in academics. Is it an academic type book?

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah. So, we worked really hard to serve multiple audiences. When we were inspired to write the book, the idea really was about contributing to the field of leadership. So, let me just share a little bit about what the book is about and then I can explain to you why it's important both in academic circles, but also more importantly it's geared towards practical or the business world. 

So, my feeling was that there was something missing from the leadership literature. So when we talk about leaders, most of the literature about leadership is about competencies and strategies for leaders across the spectrum. Occasionally, we'll see literature that is industry based. Specific things for maybe the public sector or the private sector, or for high growth industries, or smaller businesses. I work across the public and the private sector, I work with elected officials, I also work with the executive branch, I teacher in a program for career professionals, and then across the corporate and nonprofit spectrum. And what became apparent to me was that, particularly the guidance around how leaders should be spending that first year in their position mattered less in terms of stage of company or industry, what really was the most important contextual things to understand was how that person got into their position. So that's the six paths. 

So real quickly, what are six paths? They're the promoted path which we call the insider. The external higher, which we call the outsider. And these are the most written about in terms of some of those distinctions. But then we have the elected path. What are the pros and cons or opportunities and challenges for an elected leader? And those are many of our most high profile leaders, and a lot of the leadership literature doesn't apply to them. The next is the appointed leader, which we call the proxy. And that is, again, I'm based out of DC so that is both political appointees but also board appointees. These are critical leadership positions in our society. 

And then the last two are the founder, some of our most high profile leaders, our founders, our entrepreneurs, and we call them the creator. And then we have the family legacy leader. And so we call that one the legacy. Initially we called it the inherited path. The folks we interviewed who are leaders in family businesses did not like that terminology. And that's actually part of the path challenge is this perceived inheritance. So we changed that name to better reflect the path and the people who are in that path and we call it the legacy leader.

SKOT WALDRON:

I like that. So talk to me about these six different paths. I mean, they're there. I think we hear about them and we're like, "Oh, that person is... this a family run business." Or, "Oh, that's an elected official, they've never had any political." So I'm coaching right now someone that's running for Congress. And he's-

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Oh, great.

SKOT WALDRON:

He's a small business owner on the demolition company, and he's never run for political anything, ever. So we look at that as an interesting path into this, what's your calling the proxy. The appointed leadership. And then you think about, I am more from the founder creator standpoint of me where I've been. I've never been on the promoted side. I've never even been on the really... I've been on the hired as an employee, but never like into a leadership position. I never made my way up through a company necessarily. So I mean I go, "Okay, so that's interesting." But I'm going to ask you this. So what? Like, what does that mean for me as the creator? Or what does that mean for somebody that's come up in a family business like, so what? So that's where I would love to get to the guts of, what does that mean for me? 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah. Right. Yeah. So the basic argument here is that each of these paths has distinct opportunities and challenges. The opportunities are the things that come naturally to the path and things that you can better leverage. So you want to maximize those opportunities per path. And the challenges side is there are perceptions of you as a leader, or there are situational challenges that you have based on how you came in, and those are things that you need awareness around and you need to proactively manage. Again, the idea of this book came about because I saw, in the case of family legacy, I saw two examples within the same week of one person trying so hard to differentiate themselves from their family name, and another person who said, "My family name has given me so many platforms, how dare I not fully leverage those platforms? 

And that's really where that light bulb went off for me where I thought, everybody needs to understand both what some of those advantages are and how to better leverage them. But then also say a month, I'm teaching career professionals in the federal government who report into political appointees, which are these term positions. And I hear the way that these career professionals talk about those appointed leaders. There's a term we share in the book, they call these career professionals, senior career professionals in the government call themselves wheebies. Meaning, we'd be here before you and we'd be here after you. These are the long term career professionals where the appointed leaders tend to be there on average of 18 months. 

And so you come in with all this excitement, all of this power from the principal as a political appointee. Tremendously large scopes of responsibility. Are you fully aware of the perceptions of you that have nothing to do with what you did before? It's about how you walk into that room. And we have one story, and a lot of it is around how they treat those career professionals. And do they leverage the expertise of the career folks effectively? Or are they so worried about their own value and adding their own value that they fail to leverage those great talents? We heard one story from an appointed leader, she was general counsel of the office of management and budget. And she said that when she came in, humility was very important to her. She recognized the importance the career professionals. 

And so she went into their office to ask them a question or to get to know them better. And some of them said, "You know, this is the first time that someone in your position has come into my office as opposed to just call me into their offices." And it really went a long way in terms of relationship development. And so, we share strategies, that's a really specific strategy. But this whole idea is that one of the challenges that you're going to face as a political appointee is whether or not people perceive you to have earned that position or to have something to offer them. And so how do we flip that over and have them, again, leverage the talents around them and find their distinct value and really leverage that. 

Ron Klain, who's now the current White House Chief of Staff was one of our interviewees. This was before he was appointed to that position. And we were interviewing him about his experience as Ebola czar. And he said very clearly, "Look, I was not a scientist, I was not a healthcare expert." You can even remember there was an SNL skit about what did this guy know about Ebola. But he didn't pretend to know about it. He said, "What is the value that I can bring?" And he said, "What I can bring is streamlining bureaucracy and making decisions." And so he changed certain patterns, and one of the big things is he said for all of his meetings, we are not going to have attendees at these meetings be based on title. Because there's a lot of protocol around, everyone has to be at the same level. He said, "I want all of the decision makers in these meetings, we need to move quickly. So whoever is there so that we can make the decision at the meeting, those are the people that I want on at the table." 

And that was a really critical value for that first response of Ebola, which he really did lead very effectively being someone who had, he was an attorney, a political expert and certainly not an healthcare expert. But it didn't matter because he knew how to identify the value that he could bring. 

SKOT WALDRON:

Really cool. Can I take the opportunity to be just a little bit selfish in this interview? 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Sure.

SKOT WALDRON:

So as a founder creator, what would you say are the challenges and opportunities that we as founder creators, because a lot of my audience is in that realm. What are the things that we, for example, that we encounter and that we need to be thinking about strategically?

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah. So, there's actually some interesting parallels between founders and electeds, which think, wait, how does that work? But a big part of it is that the persona of the founder is a huge part of that organization. So in the case of an elected, the person is the product, which is both an opportunity and challenge that we deal with in the elected chapter. But in the case of the creator, that bit... occasionally someone has the idea and brings it to the entrepreneur to start the business. But usually the entrepreneur is the one who has the idea and has that passion about that product or service that they don't currently see being offered in our markets. 

And so that opportunity around personal vision and passion, as well as the values that you want to bring to your company is a huge part of your opportunity. It gives you what we call founder credibility. Because nobody's ever going to question your commitment. As an entrepreneur, you live, eat and breathe your product. And so, how do we leverage that? How do we leverage that to get the most advantage out of that? And a huge part of leveraging and actually start is a lot of the work that you do, it's about telling the story effectively about the founder, because that passion and that vision, that credibility, you need that to translate to the future employees that you hire as a founder. You can't expect them to have that same connection of heart with the product and with the history. And so what are you doing to leverage your passion and then cascade that and get the most out of it. 

And the same goes for your values. Many of us leave organizations because we don't feel like the values of our organization reflect our values. So you have the opportunity as a founder to think really carefully and intentionally about your values and then say, again, to leverage that opportunity to then build an organization of norms that reflect those. And so we have one example of one entrepreneur who was very focused on work life balance as an important value. And so for example, she never had required fun outside of work hours. She wanted to be very respectful of people's personal capabilities. She always resented that when she worked for others, and she wanted to make sure that she set up an organization that reflected the family values that she wanted in her organization. 

We also interviewed Seth Goldman from Honest Tea who is very focused on health. And that's a big part of why and how he started his company. And so how does he reinforce that value of health throughout the norms in his own company? And then we go to the challenges of the founder. So one is around resource scarcity, especially in the early stages where you're always worrying about where that next round of funding is going to come from. A second key challenge is the personal limitations of the founder. So the skills and knowledge that you need to start our company are very different from those things you need later on when you're leading a larger organization. And so, very rarely does a founder hold all of those capabilities. And many founders are quite young. And so they just won't have that broad experience as well.

And so, how do founders manage that challenge? They have to do those self awareness exercises and recognize that they can't do it all. Many founders are criticized for micromanaging, not delegating effectively, not giving up power. And so we write a lot about those strategies of founders on how to give up that power, how to hire people that complement your skill set. But it starts with knowing your personal limitations, accepting those, and knowing what you're really good at. Are you going to be more of the internal CEO or more of the external CEO? But you can't know, they get very used to knowing every aspect of their business which they can't do as the company gets larger. 

And then the last challenge I just want to mention for the creator is that balance of professional and personal. One of the big challenges that comes along for many founders is friends and family as investors, and friends and family who are contributing to the company as employees. That gets really challenging over time. How do we make those decisions when that person is no longer the right person at the company, or if we have to deliver difficult news? And so again, a key challenge that founders need to go in really with open eyes around, hopefully they read this chapter before they start a company, and they really think about those early hires, and also what kind of relationships are they setting up? Because too often we hear the story down the road of, "This person has been loyal to me since the beginning, I simply can't hire somebody above them or demote them." And some bad decisions can happen when we're not able to make those differences. That's an area where the family legacy and the creator share a lot of that same challenges. How do you manage through those personal professional relationships?

SKOT WALDRON:

Many people have probably written Emyth or read Emyth. And the principle or the concept of the entrepreneur, the starter to that company was really good at that specific trade. And we see it a lot where I come from and the graphic design community or photographer or you get really good at your thing and then you start your own company, because you're good at that thing. And then a lot of entrepreneurs they go into that field and that's probably like, they go in for that passion, they want to start their company, they want to do great work, and then they start hiring people and then they start to not understand that doing the work needs to be other people's jobs. And at this time now I'm leading people. I'm not necessarily... And then what made me happy? Did doing the work make me happy? Or is it building the company and leading people and leading teams that's making me happy? And that conflict is going to come up. 

I can imagine that being a real challenge too with these entrepreneurs, and understanding how to gauge that through their career. That's probably why they micromanage. Because they have their hands in it. They don't want to let go of that thing. And they're so afraid it's not going to be done as well as they can do it. Their name is on it, because they built the company. And I can imagine all that is involved in some of this research as well. Right?

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah, that's exactly what we're talking about when we say personal limitations. Knowing what you're good at, knowing what you're not good at, recognizing those talents and others and surrounding yourself by those complimentary talents, so that you can focus on the things that you are best at. Now, you might want to develop in some of those areas. Certainly as an executive coach, I work with founders many times on identifying those key development areas that they should be focused on. But really as the company grows, it's that recognition that what's going to make it most successful is the more time I can spend on the things I'm great at. And then how do I learn how to lead and oversee people with talents that are better than mine in the areas that I need?

SKOT WALDRON:

Yes, I love it. I love it. So it comes a lot with self awareness. Right?

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

First and foremost, absolutely. 

SKOT WALDRON:

First and foremost. Self awareness, knowing what we're good at, knowing what we're not, bringing people on board that I can imagine another downfall with a lot of different companies is hiring people just like me. It's like, "Oh, this person gets me, oh, this person we see eye to eye, oh, this person sees things just, I'm going to hire them immediately because they talk my language." And it's like, hold on a second, we don't need clones of you, we need people that can help support and supplement you. And you're good at your thing, we don't need more of that. We need this other thing.

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah, and loyalty too. Loyalty gets over played too. Because sometimes we focus so much on loyalty that we surround ourselves with yes people. And we need people who are going to challenge us, bring in different points of view. The key part of being an entrepreneur is also to be an innovator. And we only innovate with different ideas. And so exactly what you said, if we surround people around us who think like we do or who are just going to say yes to our ideas, we're not going to be able to continually innovate.

SKOT WALDRON:

Great. Let's jump over to internal versus external. 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah, perfect. 

SKOT WALDRON:

Let's tackle this beast. I want to hear about the differences, the similarities, what was the... Because I imagine those things going together in some way, shape, or form. What's the distinction? What was your research all about regards to those two?

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah, great. And I'm going to share with you one of our favorite tools from those two chapters, which is, how you build out an onboarding plan for yourself differently if you are an internal hire versus an external people. That's the one when I give a presentation everyone says, "Can I have that slide?" Because it really does, once again, when we think about onboarding people into new positions, we tend to focus on the outsider. But there's a whole onboarding plan that we need to do as an inside promotion as well. 

SKOT WALDRON:

Well, let me stop you there. 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

I don't think people even think about onboarding internal people. Like, onboarding is an external thing. You got to learn about our company, you got to learn about our mission, vision values, you got to learn about how we do things here, you got to learn about our process for HR, and going to lunch and time sheets. But we don't think about that for internal.

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah. In the largest corporations that I work with, they do onboarding of the internal promotion. But most companies do not. You need to have a very... you tend to need a very large HR department to support that. And one of our arguments throughout this book is that you need to own your onboarding no matter what kind of an organization you work for. But let me go through this distinction. And I guess we're going a little bit backwards by not talking about the opportunities and challenges, but I think we know these paths pretty well so I'll shortcut this a little bit. 

When you're an outside hire, one of the first things that you learn as part of your onboarding is about corporate policies and procedures. Not something we need to learn about as an inside hire. But what do we need to learn? We need to learn the norms and practices of your new forums in that next level. So, what kinds of power meetings run at that level? Let's say you're going from director to VP or VP to C suite. The meetings, decision making, processes. So, again, it might be the corporate policies as an external hire, but you need to understand the norms and practices at that next level. 

When you're an outside hire, you usually will interview the previous position holder to learn about that job, assuming that it was a good exit right from that person. You also need to interview the previous position holder when you're promoted, and most likely that person is your former boss. Is your former boss, and maybe even your current boss because oftentimes we get promoted together, right? Our boss gets promoted and then we take that person. But have we actually interviewed them in a different way? Tell me about what it's like to actually hold this job? Because all of our visibility into that role is as a direct report. When we think about, "Oh, well, I don't need to interview my boss, because I was watching my boss every day. 

But that the vantage point is as a direct report. Now you have to think about everything you don't see. And are you interviewing that person from that vantage point? Does that make sense, Skot? 

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah, really good. 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

And again, many people just skip that. They focus so much on the selection of themselves, the bosses interviewing them to be the replacement, but are we interviewing as well. There tends to be, there's always a job description for an external hire. I was just talking with a client this morning, coaching a client who it's a promotion of responsibilities. And I said, "Do you have a new job description? Let's work on your new job description. Let's make sure that we align all of your stakeholders on your new job description. Again, especially with newly created or changing, because the last job description of an internal promotion may have been written 10 or 15 years ago. We need to revise that based on the new role. 

So, again, external hire has that, internal hire may have to write that. Listening to tours, huge part of the onboarding process for expectations, early wins, retention, conversations, we need to do that listening tour as that new position holder as well. Once again, I already know those people, why should I have to do that? But it's different. What are their expectations of you in this new role? What matters to them? And having those conversations from a place of a new level of power than you had previously? Making sure you know the deliverables and performance metrics. Absolutely. They get that as an outside hire. How will my success be done? 

As a promoted, same thing, we want to know our metrics, but one of the most important things that we have to do as a promoter is delegate our former metrics. Because we tend to still attach to the way that our success or a value was created in our previous role. We need to make sure that we pass on those success metrics to the new position holder of our former role, and we fully embrace and get our head around how success is going to be measured in our new role. Anyway, I could go on and on here, but I think you get the idea. There's a different perspective that you need to bring. Definitely thinking about your team and the retention. One of the biggest distinctions we hear about, so when you come in as an external hire, you need to really know who are the key people that you want to retain and focus on those individuals right away. But that learning process is going to be different. 

When you're promoted from within, oftentimes you're managing former peers, huge challenge. So how do you then engage with those former peers now as the person who needs to be their advocate for their careers and make sure you're having career development conversations right out of the gate. And so that is actually part of your onboarding process is learning about the career aspirations and what those individuals want in you as a manager, and starting to shift that relationship.

SKOT WALDRON:

That's really good too. I just was working with somebody that was promoted in their team to be the managing person of that team, the team lead of all their peers. And there was so much anxiety about, I was one of them and now I'm having to come and hold them accountable and have difficult conversations and all these things. And what if they don't like me? And all right, it was that, she was a definite feeler type person built those relationships and had great rapport with them. And now afraid of jeopardizing that as a team lead all of a sudden. So being promoted internally is definitely something that an external person coming in being that team lead wouldn't have to deal with. That's a different dynamic. So that's really interesting when you sit there and think about it, these dynamics, and what goes into this. There's so much here. So this is-

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

And can I just- 

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah, go ahead.

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

One of the biggest mistakes that the promoted makes is that, and external hires do this as well, is they think that, "Oh, gosh, I was promoted against my peers, it just as well could have been that person instead of me. So therefore, I need to spend my time proving my value and that I'm in fact deserving of this position." When that's exactly the wrong approach. Instead, what are the direct reports thinking about? They're thinking about, okay, this person could be a career blocker for me now. Because that position is now not going to open for a long time. And they're thinking, is this person going to be good for my career and help me to grow and learn? Or are they going to be a career blocker? That tends to be the way they're thinking about it. 

And so, while you're trying to... Well, mostly, you're trying to prove their value, the best strategy actually is learning about them, learning about their direct reports, and showing them that you're going to be the kind of leader who's going to grow and develop them to be their best. And that it actually has very little to do with you and your performance, but that that is a huge part of your job and you take that seriously. External hires need to do that as well. Again, they're trying to prove why they were hired. I just I heard this from someone in journalism where a new editor came in from the outside and we're so focused on changing things, and many of them, were just looking for another job because they're like, "This person is never going to advance my career." And so it's an important contextual awareness for our leaders to have. 

SKOT WALDRON:

I love that. I was talking about that principle in the sense of self preservation. We've got people that are all about, "Oh, I've got something to prove now." And what happens is I try so hard to prove, prove, prove to you, prove to everybody, prove to that person, prove to myself that I am worthy of this that I end up shooting myself in the foot. Because everybody else sits there and goes, "Why are they trying so hard?" Like, you don't have to reinvent the whole thing. You don't have to put your mark and your name on every single thing. That's not what we need. Because now everybody sees them as for themselves. Everybody is like, this person isn't for me, this person is for themselves. Or they might even be against me, right? Because they're afraid that I might take their position now. They're afraid that they've got this new role and now the next person is me. And now they're afraid of me. 

So there's this hole for me against me. And in order to build true influence, we got to lower ourselves, more ourself preservation and show others that we are for them. Meaning, I'm invested in you. I want you to take my job one day. And if that's what you want. And I'm going to pour into you as much as I possibly can.

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Right. Absolutely. And that challenge just has a different flavor depending on the path, and certainly this strategy has to be different as well. Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Where can people get all this book? This is really interesting. I think that, first with the caveat of understanding if I'm a founder, there's a value in me reading about the proxy or do I just need to read my chapter? 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah, that's a great question. Obviously, we think you should read the whole book. So some of it is, and we talked a little bit earlier about the path and writing. Part of why we did choose an academic publisher because we do think that, we want to make sure that this is also a contribution to the field of leadership, and that all of our literature around leadership starts making these path distinctions. So, for some folks, it'll just be interesting. People who are just leadership junkies to kind of think differently and we've had really great feedback. And that way it's like, "I knew these things, but I never thought about in this way, and like now this light bulb is coming, is shining for me and I need to start thinking about that. But let me tell you why we think you should read multiple chapters. 

First of all, we move across paths. And there's the famous book, Marshall Goldsmith book, What Got you Here Won't Get you There. And it's this idea that what made us successful up until now isn't going to be what makes us successful in our next path. And especially when people move across paths, they take the habits and the mindset with them up their previous path. And so, it's absolutely essential as we transition that we read both about our former path, so that we have greater awareness around how our former path influenced our thinking, and then read about our new path so that we can recognize those distinctions and where some of those stumbling... those areas where where we might stumble might occur. And it's because we have these data maps that are based on one set of assumptions, we need to know those first so that we can then shift our assumptions in the new path. So that's the first piece around transition. 

Secondly, and this is huge for executive coaches like ourselves, is our paths limit our thinking. And if we try on a new path, it might extend our thinking. So here's an example. One of the great advantages of people coming in from the outside is they tend to be hired to bring new ideas and to bring some kind of a change effort. Because they're bringing in something that didn't exist internally. So there's a recognition that that person is probably going to change some things, and that individual was probably recruited with that in mind, okay? 

When we are promoted from within, it is much harder for us to initiate change for a variety of reasons. One thing is the person who promoted us put things into place first in a certain way usually above previous boss, or at least leaders that we have had relationships with. And so in some ways when we change things, we are criticizing or can feel like we're criticizing the people who came before us. And those are people that we respect and we value. And so it's much harder to say, "You know what, I know you organize the department in this way in the past, but I think there's a better way of doing it." There's a lot more baggage around doing something like that. 

And so when we're coaching someone on initiating change, and a promotion from within, we might say, "So let me ask you this, if you were an external hire, if you took this position as an external hire, how would you approach this change effort? Well, I would do X, Y, and Z. And it can help people get the confidence that that's the right thing for them to do, and understand better how much some of that baggage might be holding them back to being the best leader that they can be. 

And the same thing with entrepreneurship, let's try on the head on entrepreneurship, where we're super passionate. Or let's try on the head of an elected leader, we're going to be up for reelection every two years, how would we focus our time differently? So we think that that's also another way that you can leverage the different paths is, what can I learn from these other paths that might help me approach my path in a new way? 

The third is, for those of us who are more emerging leaders or earlier in our careers, it's really helpful to understand these distinctions. We would never say, a certain person must go this path or another person should go the other path. But what we do have is a tool called a SWOC analysis. So instead of SWOT, SWOC, which is strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. And then we want to say, given what you know about yourself, as a leader, as a professional, which paths might actually be better for you? So let me give one quick example. 

Some of us are great at first impressions. If you're really good at first impressions, an outside hire path might be more appealing to you. Others build reputations over long periods of time. And as you get to know that individual you think, "Oh, my gosh, that person is incredible." So if you're someone who's kind of a fine wine, and builds a reputation over time, something like a promoted path might be better. And so you might want to think about joining organizations where there's a very long career run. Because you need to make sure there's multiple promotions ahead of you. Where if you're an ex, if you're great at that, building new relationships, if you love building new relationships coming in and setting out first impressions that outside hire, and some of these other paths where there's more movement might be a good path for you.

SKOT WALDRON:

I love that. And I can almost imagine as the leader of an organization, yeah, sure. It's great for me to learn about my own path, where I came from, my current role, what I should do, what I should think about. But if I'm leading an organization, I need to think about all of these different paths as "Okay, so who am I electing to a board? Who am I bringing internal? Who am I bringing external? Who am I bringing in on externally that was a founder that built their own company, and then I'm bringing them on, how do I understand their thinking and their way of building their company? And what value is that going to bring. Okay, I could see it, I see the light. It's good. 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Yeah. And how can I be a better supporter? So, for those of us who are coaches, HR consultants, leaders who are responsible for talent development across our organization, what do I need to know about the many people that I work with so I can help set them up for success? And we also talk about as a follower. So if you're a direct report of an outside hire, how can I help support them leveraging their opportunities and managing their challenges? So, for example, one of the opportunities of an outside hire is how they leverage their external network. And so are they hoarding those relationships or they sharing them? That's a huge opportunity for them and their leadership. So if I'm a direct report, maybe I sit down with them and I ask them, "Here's some of my challenges, do you have anyone in your external network that you could introduce me to?" So you're kind of helping them recognize that that's an asset that they bring, and you're helping them to leverage that asset. 

SKOT WALDRON:

Really, really good. Valuable. Valuable. Okay, where do we get a hold the book? 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

It's available on the online, most online booksellers. So I think we know who those are-

SKOT WALDRON:

Everywhere. Everywhere. Yeah. Okay. 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Certainly on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, bookstore.org. So yeah, please go online and we welcome your feedback and go on to pathstoleadership.comm and share your feedback, share your stories, let us know. We're going to be doing additional research on these paths. And so questions that you want answered, if we haven't already answered them we're going to look for new ways to do that research for you. 

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay, Six Paths to Leadership. Thank you, Meredith, it's been a rock star. 

MEREDITH PERSILY LAMEL:

Thank you so much. 

SKOT WALDRON:

Wow, I had quite an enlightening interview, not only because I'm learning about these different paths, and because she's super smart, and she has a super bunch of data that she could share with us in understanding of these paths. But I got a little bit of insights myself about why I'm here. Some potential problems I may encounter, some struggles that I may have as an entrepreneur, that I've experienced. That, "Oh, yeah, that did happen to me." But also some opportunities that some things I really bring to the table, some things I need to embrace and learn about how to embrace those things. 

And not only did I learn that, but I also learned why it's important for me to understand those other paths of leadership. It's not just about my path. But what about the people that I'm mentoring? What about the people that I'm leading? How can I understand their path? Then how can I go, okay, so their path is from the external side, or their path is from the internal side? How can I use their strengths and opportunities to build them up to be the best leader they can be? How can I be for them in a way that they understand that I'm for them and want the best for me and for themselves, and for our organization? 

Now, that is going to be so important as we move forward in what we do. I love what Maredith said that a lot of leadership books out there right now they revolve around competencies, around different strategies and different things, but how much time is dedicated to really understanding the path that we are on, and understanding how we got here, how others got to where they are, and how we can use that to build them up for the future. Not a lot of time. So I'm super grateful, Six Paths to Leadership is out now. You can get your hands on that. 

Thanks for being on the show, Meredith. If you want to find out more about me, you can go to skotwaldron.com. Find me on LinkedIn. Find me on YouTube. That's where I store all these videos. I have a lot of learning applications and tools and insights for you there, short bite sized chunks, and go check out that information and like, subscribe, comment, all those things. I'm really grateful for you. And I love that you are listening to the show. So thanks for being here. And if you have any questions for me, find me on LinkedIn. We can connect there and talk all day. Or hey, telephone, I guess we could do that too. All right. Thanks, everybody, for being here. I'll see you next time on another episode of Unlocked.

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