The best leaders know how to walk their talk. Yet, so many still struggle to have the confidence to lead by example. A practitioner of everything she teaches, Kitty Barrow, an amazing leadership coach and the OG of Southwestern Coaching, joins Alicia Couri to share with us all about leading with audacious confidence. She talks about the concept of unconditional confidence, the importance of having a coach, and the need for leaders to recognize the process it takes for their team to accomplish results. Kitty then shares some of the common mistakes leaders make and what leaders need to think of instead. Empowering women, Kitty caps it off by giving some advice for women in leadership positions to lead others confidently.
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Confidence To Lead By Example With Kitty Barrow
I’m excited about my guest because we met on LinkedIn and struck up a good rapport right away. She is an amazing leadership coach that I want to share with you. Let me tell you a little bit about Ms. Kitty Barrow. Kitty is the OG of Southwestern Coaching, and her sales records went unbroken for seven straight years. Kitty personally manages one of the top Southwestern Coaching sales teams worldwide. Additionally, she is a part of the leadership team that has grown Southwestern Coaching 64% compounded growth. That’s a huge accomplishment there. She is not only a practitioner of everything she teaches, but she is also passionate about sharing the secrets of top-producing salespeople with you. Additionally, Kitty is a graduate of Auburn University and a happily married mother of two beautiful daughters. Kitty will be with us and we’re going to share all about leading with audacious confidence. Welcome to the show, Kitty.
You have some impressive numbers in your bio. Your ability to lead sales teams and be a great salesperson, where do you think the confidence to do that came from?
As you say these things, I’m almost like, “Who is that person?” All of us have that imposter syndrome. If I think about it, I’m like, “I don’t know how.” One of the things we talk about at Southwestern Coaching is a thing called unconditional confidence because a lot of people operate in their false confidence. We have to have some false confidence. Fake it until you make it. My grandma always said that most of us operate in that conditional confidence arena. If I’m getting great results, then I’m proud of myself. If I don’t get great results, then I don’t have confidence. One of the things we teach is unconditional confidence is taking pride in the things that you can control, your attitude, your activity, your work ethic. If somebody told me years ago, “You’re going to accomplish all this,” I would have been like, “Yeah.”
It feels overwhelming, right?
Yes. It’s that one day at a time of taking the next right step consistently and then you did it.
What is your philosophy around leadership?
We say a thing like, “You can’t teach what you do not know.” We’re believers in leadership by example. That’s the first part. However, that’s the start of leadership. Also, we’ve got to reach down and help people up and teach them the things they don’t know or the things that we had to learn to get there. That’s what leadership is, training the next people who can take your place.
Training up the next leaders. It’s surprising that not everybody has that concept of leadership.
No, unfortunately. A lot of leaders that I work with, they think, “I’m great. I know how to do it.” The ones I don’t run into as much because they’re usually not even open-minded about the idea of coaching is that they don’t want anybody to know what they know because then they are threatened.
We’re moving into a new era where people are becoming more open to understanding what great leadership looks like and have a desire to jump into that instead of what was done before. I had a conversation with someone and he was even saying, “I always thought all this coaching stuff was not necessary and it was a bunch of hype.” When he started getting coached, he realized, “Wow.”
Now, he’s the coach. He was like, “I drank the Kool-Aid.”
We can’t see the forest for the trees.
Do you feel coaching and having a coach is an essential part of leadership?Unconditional confidence is taking pride in the things you can control—your attitude, activity, and work ethic. Click To Tweet
Absolutely. If you ask any great athlete, they all have coaches. Being coachable doesn’t mean you don’t know what to do. It means that humans are the world’s worst at being able to diagnose what it is that we need to pick better.
Les Brown always talks about, “You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”
I was talking about this when I was teaching a leadership workshop. If we messed up, then we messed up and we have a good excuse and a reason. If someone else messed up, then we think it’s a flaw. Little things like that that we don’t realize about ourselves, how are you going to if you’re not reaching outside of yourself?
Kitty showed up in my brand color in honor of me. I am excited that she chose to wear red. I’m in gold. My brand colors are red and gold. She showed up in red. My guests are getting some silent memo or something because they’re all showing up in red for me.
I’ve got my motivational sign behind me.
You’ve got this. What do you think makes a good confident salesperson and a leader of a sales team?
That was exactly what I was covering at the leadership workshop I was doing. Often, as leaders, we are recognizing salespeople for their sales numbers, for their end results. If we’re not measuring and recognizing the steps that it takes to get that end result, then people will have a lot of pressure on them and that’s when people start lying and fudging numbers or whatever.
All you’re interested in is the result. I never even thought about that.
You not only know the results but what’s it going to take to get there? We’ve coached 15,000 people and probably half of them, at least, are salespeople. Ask about their metrics. What are your metrics? How many referrals do you need? How many phone calls do you need? How many reaches do you need to talk to somebody or to sit down with somebody? How many people do you need to sit down with the mega sale, which is the essential and basic critical success factor? They don’t know.
They look for the metrics. They don’t have their analytics.
My daughter plays college soccer. They are all tracking how many shots, how many home goals? Many people know their fantasy football numbers. They don’t even know their metrics.
That is huge. In predictive index, one of the things that we do talk about a lot is data and analytics. How do you measure success if you don’t know the data and you’re not looking at the analytics? We correlate predictive index and the tools that we use like money balling your business. Let’s look at how sports teams collect players. How do they gather a team together? They look at the analytics. They look at all those factors. There’s that X factor that is within the brain science that we look at too. I love that that’s the point of view that you coach from with sales teams and say, “Let’s look at your numbers, not just your end result numbers.” There are things to celebrate in between that and encourage people and help them along the way. That was a big a-ha for me as you said that. A lot of sales teams talk about their numbers and they talk about their end result numbers. They don’t talk about all the stuff that’s happening in the middle.
The end result is pressure.
How then do you take a leader that’s looking at the final numbers and walk them back to help their team to start this process?
There’s the fun part, because they haven’t been measuring it and we have educated guesses on what it’s going to take. We can ask people to go back through their calendars and mark how many meetings if you want to go into some time management stuff. As those meetings are held, how many of them closed? We have to guesstimate on the number of phone calls and referrals because nobody is ever tracking referrals. I don’t know why, in this day and age, people are still cold calling. Not that that doesn’t work, but why? Why would I ever want to do that?
Also, you can work with a leader if they have a sales goal. Oftentimes, they are trying to get more and more out of their people and their people aren’t producing, they put all this pressure on them, but if they break it down to, “If I want to hit this sales goal and my average salesperson is going to sell this much,” it’s amazing. I’m doing these customization calls all the time with leaders and I’m like, “How much does the average person sell per year or per month? How much does the average person make?” “There’s not an average.” I’m like, “Do you take math? There’s always an average.”
You’ve got to get your top and you’ve got to get your bottom and then we find the middle.
Let’s say we have ten salespeople and the average person sells $100,000, then we’re going to have a $1 million in sales, but we’ve been trying to push them to do $2 million.
You don’t even know what they’re capable of realistically.
You either need to hire ten more people or figure out how you can bring the average up. Usually why they bring us in is because we’re good at getting the averages up.
If you’re having a sales team and you have some big and audacious goals that you don’t know how you’re going to get there, give Kitty a call to help get your sales team average up so you can hit those sales goals. What are some of the common mistakes that you see leaders make when you step in?
So many, so little time.
The biggest one that you see happening over and over again.
They get busy and caught up in their own world, either they’re selling and they’re running a business or they’re just running the business and people seem to be fine, except putting out little fires and then comes the time for them to maybe step away. Maybe they want to take a months’ vacation or even a week and they can’t or they want to retire this one large construction company in Indiana. I was assigned to coach the owner, a successful man. He has his own private plane, but like every other leader, he and the other three leaders have been there for years.
They grew the company. They never took the time to teach anyone what exactly it is that they do. He’s wanting to retire in a year and he thought, “I’ll sell it to these other three guys.” The other three guys were like, “No. We want to retire too. Who’s going to take over the company?” That’s often the end result. Your company is only going to grow to the ability of its leaders. It’s crazy how a few leaders take enough time to develop a leader. They then put all this pressure on themselves to grow the company themselves or run it all themselves.
That’s huge. There are some people that hold close to the vest, their own vision of the company and feel like they have the responsibility to grow it, instead of giving other people ownership of the vision too and allowing them to grow their vision. Sometimes, it can grow even beyond what you can see. Not even sometimes, most times, if you allow other people in, it can grow beyond what you can even imagine for yourself and allow your company to explode. I imagined that was Jeff Bezos’ story. I’d love to interview him one day. Allowing other people to speak into your vision and then take ownership of that part of your vision and say, “Let’s make it bigger and keep making it bigger.” That was the Henry Ford syndrome.
Hopefully, you will get to interview him. That is true. Oftentimes, maybe in the early years, they tried to hire people and get them on the vision but that was people’s vision, it wasn’t their vision and they didn’t know how to get them on to that vision. Ninety percent of good leaders suck at delegating. Maybe they tried to delegate but they didn’t give any instructions at all and then get it right or then they failed to follow up to see how did the people do.
They didn’t give it enough time to develop. One of the assessments that I use is Kolbe and that helps people understand how you solve problems. What is your instinctive pattern for solving problems? If my instinctive pattern is one way and yours is the other way but you are waiting for me to do it your way, it’s never going to happen. At that point, when they delegate it, they see that you’re not doing it my way so they don’t think it’s going to succeed and they shut it down before giving it an opportunity to succeed. It’s like, “This is how I solve problems.” “Go solve it and bring me the results and then let’s see if it works or not work.” That’s when they look at the company as their baby, “This is my baby. I don’t want to let my baby turn eighteen and go off on its own.”It's crazy how a few leaders take enough time to develop a leader. Click To Tweet
I have a coaching client, an incredible guy. He owns all the Iron Tribe Fitness in Nashville. It’s been successful. One of the things that we are doing is trying to figure out what is his vision and what are his three priorities. If he’s going to be at this vision in five years, what are the top three things he needs to be doing? In doing that, then he had to look at his day to say, “Where am I spending my time? I’m supposed to be doing these three things, but I’m doing these five things. Something has got to change.” He used to do all the marketing and I was like, “Why are you doing marketing?” He always felt nobody could do it better. Because of his vision and his top three priorities, he taught somebody else to do it. It’s been done better. It’s shocking. He recouped at least a day and a half every week back into his time.
I have all these videos to edit not just for this podcast, thank God someone else is doing all the podcasts side of it. I’ve delegated that out. They’re going to be running all that part. For the first few videos, I’m creating this template. Hopefully, I can give it over to someone else to do it. There’s some other video that I have to edit and someone was asking me, “Why don’t you allow someone else to do that for you?” I said, “I would allow someone but I would have to go through the videos and tell them the timestamps of everything.” I already have the editing software. It will take me the same time to give them the timestamps as it would be for me to edit it myself, or something like that. To create this reel I was creating, I’m like, “If I had to give it to someone, I would have to go through each video and tell them where to cut the video to put it together for me.” I was like, “It’s double work anyway. If I’m already in it, let me do it.”
I don’t have a problem delegating. If I tell someone my vision, I give them ten videos and I say, “I want you to cut this clip together,” and they do it. I haven’t found that person yet. I’m still looking. I don’t want to have to do it. If I’m going to timestamp everything, if I have to micromanage the situation and tell you exactly every single second that I need in this video, then that doesn’t make sense for me to then have somebody else do it.
A common excuse.
If I have to take the time to do that, what else can I do?
Have you ever heard of the 30 times rule?
No, I haven’t. Tell me.
How long does that take you to do that task?
Probably about two hours to put it together.
Let’s say it took you 30 times that to teach them this. If you had to teach them that 30 times, that would be how many hours? 60 hours. If you spent 60 hours doing that, a week and a half, if you work 48 hours a week, that’s what entrepreneur does. It’s a couple days’ worth of work. You would have recouped those two hours. How many two hours are you spending every single week doing these videos?
I don’t do this regularly. Those were some sizzle reel videos. If I had to do this every week, no.
That was a bad example.
I definitely understand what you’re saying. I’m putting these together and creating the template for it because there’s not a lot of cutting in these videos that have to be done. I can show someone how to pull this together once I have the template. I have learned the delegation skill. I am well happy to delegate some of these things to someone else. I understand what you’re talking about with having someone holding on to and say, “No, you can’t do it as good as me.”
There are some things that take fifteen minutes every morning and they think, “It’s no big deal. It’s fifteen minutes. I’ll do it.” Fifteen minutes times five days in a week times 50 weeks, that’s 3750 and divide that by 60, that’s 62. That fifteen-minute task of working minus two weeks of vacation is a week and a half. The leaders, they have all this 15-minute task, this 30-minute task, and they don’t hand it over and then they want to run when they don’t have time.
That’s huge, time management, time delegation. Learn to delegate some of these things.
These are important.
We talked about some of the biggest challenges that you have seen with some leaders. What has been the biggest challenge for you in your own business? What was something that you did that you thought was going to be amazing but ended up flopping or failing?
How many examples do I have?
Let me count the way.
There are many examples and little time. The biggest thing that I have to work on is leading my team based on their goals, not my goals for them, and their personality type. I am driven. You don’t have to tell me what to do. I don’t want you to tell me what to do. I don’t have to be motivated. I’m going. As a new leader, I was put out with people who aren’t as hardworking like me.
At least it’s your perception of hard work.
That’s what I have to remember. That’s my perception of what is hard work and loving where they’re at and what they are able to accomplish. A lot of times, what they’re able to accomplish is huge because of the relationships that they build or the things that they’re doing that I don’t realize that they are. Always remembering, what is this person’s vision? What’s most important to them? What motivates them? What motivates them is not what motivates me. I hear this, “They could step up and work or they can leave.” I’m like, “You’re losing many great valuable assets. If everybody has your personality type, what kind of company is that?”
You have a lot of cloning going on. Everybody is trying to do the same thing and too many chefs in the kitchen. That’s what you end up with.
A lot of things fall through the cracks and no relationship building.
It’s important to understand the strengths of the people around you and understand your own blind spots. It’s about relationship building. Sometimes, people that are driven, aren’t necessarily the best relationship-building people. We go after that goal and you either jump on board or go. Having someone on the team that is that relationship builder is a vital part of that team dynamic. When you understand who is a relationship builder and you can use that strength most effectively, that’s when you start building a synergistic team. It is one of those things that it’s important but not something that people think about, like the time you were talking about, the time it takes to do things. After a big loss or a big failure, how do you recover your own confidence from something like that?
Other than a lot of prayers?
Someone else is in charge and it’s not me. I have affirmations that I say. It doesn’t have to be after a big loss. It can even be after a big win. Sometimes, I’ll feel the pressure to have to do that again. What if I can’t do that again?Remind yourself that you are capable of greatness, and this isn't the only time. Click To Tweet
I felt that too. When you did something amazing or you’ve created the most incredible thing, and then it’s like, “How do I repeat that?”
Many people have that fear of failure if that failing forward, which is priceless.
Fail fast and fail forward.
Do not be afraid of that. I have some affirmations that I say every morning that reminds me of what I love. We talk about confidence anchors. A confidence anchor is something that you have accomplished in the past that you can think back on and you can even relive how that felt and how the air smelled and all of that. Remind yourself that you are capable of greatness and this isn’t the only time. You might have several confident things along the way because every day is a new challenge, “You learn something new. Don’t do that.”
I’m getting many big a-has in this interview. I’m excited. It doesn’t have to be a failure. It could be a huge success that you think is a fluke. That imposter syndrome starts creeping back in and you start feeling, “That was a fluke. I can never repeat that again. I’m not even going to try. Why does everybody think I’m great? I’m not. Who are you reading about?” It’s like reading your bio, you start feeling like, “Who is that person? That wasn’t me.”
“How did that happen?”
One of my mentors, David Nagel, talks about being an unconscious competent.
The four levels of competency.
Unconscious competent is that you’re achieving things but you’re not stopping to see what the process of that achievement was. You feel like you can’t repeat that achievement and you have to break down the process. This is a pattern that I can follow and it’s repeatable. That will help boost your confidence. If you continue to be an unconscious competent, then you look back and say, “I don’t even know how I got here.”
I’m glad you mentioned that because that’s what we usually have to do with leaders. Another reason they don’t teach other people what they’ve done is because what they accomplished, they’re unconsciously competent. They either knew how to do it or they learned how to do it long ago. When I’m working with a leader and helping them to develop their leaders, it’s helping them step out of unconscious competence into conscious competency. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? There are many little things that you’re doing as a leader that you don’t realize that is giving you success. Unless you come about what you’re doing, you can’t then you teach it and you also can’t hone it. We did that all with top producing salespeople and bringing them part of their cycle to sell back. Let’s analyze it. Let’s tweak it here and there. Practice it a lot and then send you back off into a little bit better conscious competence.
You move from unconscious competence to conscious competence.
Learn to move backward.
That’s where you can build confidence because you know it’s a repeatable process. Every time I do this, I get results 90% of the time. That helps build that audacious confidence. You can be bold in what you’re doing and step out boldly and achieve great success because you know that it works. You have two girls. Since you’re a leadership coach for all these years, what advice would you give them to be a confident leader as they step out? They’re in college, right?
One is in college and one is graduating.
What advice would you give them as they’re stepping out and looking to blaze a trail for themselves on being confident and being a leader?
The advice I would give my daughters as opposed to a boy is different. Did you read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In?
I’ve heard about it. I haven’t read that yet.
I want to meet her. She had such a great point. Corporate America is mainly male-dominated. When women are brought into a boardroom, a lot of the females will take the outside seats and a male, at the same rank, would happily sit right down at that table. My advice to my daughters is don’t be afraid. You belong at that table. If you were invited into the room, you belong at that table. You have gifts that they don’t have. You have skills that they don’t have. Do not be afraid of speaking your mind and having someone even try to make you feel bad for speaking your mind. The book Boundaries talks about that. If someone is going to make you feel bad because of your opinion, something is wrong with them, not you. It might be a wrong opinion, but at least they don’t need to slam you for it. That’s one way to look at it.
What about crying in the boardroom?
Without giving it away, I work with such an amazing senior partner team. We’re three women and four men. What I love about our senior partner team is the women cry because that’s how it happens. It doesn’t happen often. No man in that room thinks anything less of women. Usually, if a woman is crying in a boardroom, it’s because they feel passionately about something and that’s how we express it. Men, they don’t get it.
They’re like, “What do we do?”
I pray that every woman could be in that situation. Unfortunately, that’s not a normal boardroom.
It’s beautiful to have the opportunity to express yourself passionately. If tears come, allow them to come and not feel judged or ridiculed for it. Women approach things in a different way than men do. It’s up to all of us, men and women, to find that common ground where we can be empathetic and work together and not judge one another for our differences.
I can’t imagine what it would be like in Corporate America. Even to my own leader, over the years, I’ve said stuff and he would be like, “You shouldn’t have said that.” I’m like, “If I was a man, would you have said that to me?” Luckily, we have that relationship. I can put it right back at him. I’m sure there are women in Corporate America that they can’t say the same thing a man would say and be held in the same esteem. That’s no reason to stop.
We need to be able to push those boundaries to say what’s on our mind and even bring that up and say, “If I were a man saying it, would the reaction be the same?” Women have that power to step up or should at least empower themselves to step up and speak out.
They should. It’s not what you say but it’s how you say it. You don’t want to say it in a divisive jaded way but in a isn’t this true kind of way.
Open up our minds. Let’s share. It would be a much different and greater place if that could start sweeping across Corporate America, and not just in America but across the globe. Look at how many women we have here. We’re giving them a voice.
I get it. There are not a lot of women in leadership. Majority of our life, we’re choosing our kids or travel. Usually, moving up in the ranks means a lot of travel. I get it. I didn’t intend to pursue leadership until my kids were older. In the meantime, we fall behind and then we think, “There are not enough women in leadership.” Part of it is on us. I wouldn’t do it any different way. I’m happy for the years that I stayed in town while working and be there for my kids.If someone is going to make you feel bad because of your opinion, something is wrong with them, not you. Click To Tweet
I have a similar thing. Before I started getting deeper into my business, I was a stay-at-home mom for many years with my children. I appreciate it. That was a choice that I was able to make. I was blessed to be able to make that choice. As we venture into this direction, I wanted to mention that there are some industries where it’s still tough for women to be in leadership. I was speaking to a friend of mine who is in the fashion industry. She left that corporate world to start off on her own. The straw that broke her and she said that she had to get out was that there was this woman who was working late. It was close to 11:00 at night. She had missed a train to go home at night. She was crying because she missed the 9:00 train. The next train isn’t until 10:30 or something. She’ll get home after 11:00.
She hasn’t seen her son go to bed or see him in the morning. She hasn’t seen him in several months because she leaves early before he gets up and she gets home late and she was crying that she was missing him again. This was a woman, three weeks after giving birth, she had to be on a plane to go somewhere else to do some stuff. In fashion, people are waiting in the wings to take your job. She was saying, “I don’t want to be in that position when I have a child. I have to make that choice, my child or my job.” In a lot of ways, it’s not fair to make women have to make that choice. Your job is on the line if you can’t travel and do all this stuff that you were doing before you had children. They don’t make men make those decisions. Women have to make those decisions.
No, they don’t. It always falls on the mom. Even if it’s a stay-at-home dad, it still falls on the mom. I don’t begrudge. I’ve been able to accomplish a little bit while they were kids and a lot after they were a little bit older. There’s something special about being there for our kids. Why do we feel we have to accomplish something outside the home and what we accomplished in the home wasn’t valued? My girls and your children are successful and strong. One of my daughters is an engineer. She called me up and she was like, “This is the offer. How am I going to get more? What do I need to ask for? How do I need to ask?” She went in there and she negotiated that offer. My youngest is the captain of a soccer team and in charge of their social media marketing for her sorority. They’re good kids. There’s also power in not feeling bad. Afterall, if your kids turn out neglected and looking for attention.
You have a lot of guilt in that situation as a woman. You have to make the choice. If you make the choice of your job, you have a lot of guilt over your children. If you make the choice to be with your children, you have a lot of guilt over your job. It’s not a great place to be.
I also worked from home. One blessing about COVID is working from home is going to be much more acceptable for moms, which I love. It doesn’t have to be either/or, can it be either/and? There are a lot of moms who have become successful starting a home-based business. When my daughters were little, I used to love to read them at night. I hate it when they fell asleep when they get to the chapter books. I was reading Little House on the Prairie to them and it hit me that mama never played with Laura and her sister, ever. Ma and pa were home all day but ma and pa were working sunup to sunset. Laura and her sister, Mary, and all of them had to work as well. Once or twice, mama made them a doll. It turned out well. I’m reading this to my daughters because stay-at-home moms would make me feel bad because I was at work at home mom. I’m like, “I’m mama Ingalls. I’m there for them, but I’m also running the business.” I’m not a hover mother and my kids are independent.
Me too. I’m not a hover mother either. I told you at the beginning of this, we have a lot of stuff in common. I am grateful that you said yes when I asked if you would be on this podcast. I love this conversation with you. I’m sure we will have more conversations because we’ve scratched the surface on women in leadership. I would love to do another episode with you to dive into women in leadership if you’re open to that.
I would love to. I love talking to you and if you ever come to Nashville.
If I’m ever in Nashville, I will definitely call you up. Thank you so much, Kitty, for being on the show. Make sure you reach out to her for all your leadership, especially around sales leadership, team building that you need in your sales team. Please, reach out to Kitty. She is a wealth of knowledge. She’s been selling since she’s been in college. She knows the sales business inside and out.
Thank you, Alicia.
About Kitty Barrow
I was not born to be in sales.
While interning in college with the Southwestern Company, I learned the love of PROFESSIONAL SELLING and have been breaking sales records ever since.
* Hit your numbers, but feel that your day is run by your fires rather than your income producing activities?
* Know that this is your year for President’s Club?
* Is your company lacking in real SALES training?
* Need a partner to take you to the next level?
* Always striving but NEVER reaching your fullest potential?
* Have a sales team who aren’t hitting their fullest potential?
We’ve coached over 13,000 people with an AVERAGE INCREASE in income of 25.1%!!
Specialties: Sales Consulting, Sales Leadership Coaching, Servant Selling, Sales Skills Training, Strategic Consulting