What does it take to shape your team into high-performing leaders? What does confidence in leadership mean? What are the misconceptions around leadership many still believe even today? Those are the questions that we will tap into this episode. Alicia Couri chats with Colleen Hauk, CEO of The Corporate Refinery. Colleen shares her thoughts on how confident leaders are developed and their role in building a thriving workplace culture. She also discusses some assessment tools that can be utilized to help leaders understand each other and the people they lead. Tune in to this episode and learn how to become an effective leader today!
Watch the podcast here
Listen to the podcast here
Future of High-Performing Leaders
Developing Workplace Thriving Cultures Through Confident Leaders
In this episode, I have with me a very special guest. I’ve known this woman for a couple of years. She is phenomenal. A little bit about Colleen Hauk, she is a sought-after Workplace Dynamics Expert and keynote speaker. She is the Founder and CEO of The Corporate Refinery, a consulting and training firm that works with some of the world’s largest companies to forge new paradigms for women and what leadership means for the world.
Colleen’s passion grew from years as a corporate executive, where she experienced firsthand the negative effects of poor leadership and lack of self-care. After suffering her breaking point, she transformed her circumstances and inspired others across the organization to impact cultural change. Colleen is the co-author of two books, including the bestseller, Women Who Ignite. She’s a multiple-time contributor to Forbes and delivered her keynotes and training to Fortune 500 companies and organizations such as Pfizer, Dell, Merck, Panasonic and New York Life. Welcome to the show, Colleen.
I’m so excited to finally be here, Alicia. Thanks for having me.
First of all, in your bio, we talked about your several years of experience as a corporate executive. Take us back to when you felt like you had to do it all and it led you down the wrong path. Share with us a little bit about your experience.
I’m so grateful that I had an opportunity to work for one company within those years. They’re an amazing group of people, high performers all the way around. When I first came in, I had never worked in that industry so I fought hard in those early years to learn everything I could and prove myself. I was able to pretty quickly rise into a leadership role.
I want you to define for me high performance because we hear that term a lot. When you say you have a high-performing team, what did that look like?
It’s funny because the company I worked for before was very much a different group of people. First of all, high performing, meaning they’re very independent, not need to have a lot of external motivators coming in. People who wanted to show up and do their best. Granted, I worked in sales so it’s a little bit of a different culture and personality type. Even with that said the company I worked for previously, it was also in a sales role but the caliber of people was different. That group needed those external motivators.
I was a younger sales type person and a little greener versus this group tended to have more tenure, a little more sophistication, showed up and wanted to deliver the best, whether that was the best experience for their clients or create a culture of collaboration. The leading thing for high performers that I can call out is this intrinsic desire to be their best.
We have that framework or baseline of what you mean by high performing, let’s continue.
That’s what I was surrounded by. It was a group of people who intrinsically wanted to be their best and that aligned with me. That’s how I was raised. I grew up very much that same way. From a cultural standpoint, I fit in well in that organization and rose into an official people manager leadership role. Going into 2013, I received another promotion to the next level of leadership and accepted this position with a few blinders on. It met my professional and financial goals but I wasn’t taking the time to evaluate how it might impact me personally, my health and all the other ways.
I went into 2013 and spent the following year doing nothing but working. I was sleeping about 4 or 5 hours every night. At the time, we had three young kids at home. I was an awful wife and mom. Everything was revolving around work. Finally, at the end of 2013, I broke down and I thought that my only option was to quit my job if I wanted to save myself or my family. Fortunately, I didn’t and ended up hiring a coach and got things sorted out. Ironically, I ended up getting promoted again at that same company. I stayed there for a couple more years in an even greater responsibility, revenue and leadership role.
A lot of people reach that crossroads where they’re like, “It’s either this or my family.” It’s a hard choice to have to make but you don’t have to make that choice. You need to go through the coaching process first and find someone to support you because that’s what you’re missing. You’re missing the support to help you understand where the blinders are that you’re not seeing.
There were two things for me. One, I didn’t acknowledge it at the beginning. I thought that this is what it takes to be a high-performing leader. I love that you asked me what high performers looked like. However, oftentimes high performers internally think it means, “I’ve got to work extra hard. I need to work late. I’m going to feel this constant stress and anxiety. I’ve got to push.” That’s what you tend to believe. That’s what I thought early on, “This is normal. This is what it takes to be a high performer,” without acknowledging that there are some aspects of having resiliency and persevering but to what point is it too much?
When you get to the too much part and you start to suffer that burnout, you become less of a high performer and less of a good leader. I showed up and nobody in my office and not on my team had any clue what I was going through. I was showing up like a rockstar every day like, “Four hours of sleep, no problem. I’m going to rock this meeting or client presentation.” Nobody had a clue.
That’s one of the dangers is if nobody stops to ask, “Are you okay? Is everything okay?” Even if they do ask, you lie like, ” I’m okay,” because you don’t want to lose your job.
I did not want to say anything because I believed I was the only one who was remotely going through this. I was surrounded by amazing peers and then upper leadership so I didn’t dare say anything. I didn’t have senior leadership. My direct manager was not the type of leader that would’ve asked and was very much an old-school leader. Through The Corporate Refinery, we try to shift those paradigms.
Even, if I had been asked, I would not have shared. It wasn’t until I was in burnout recovery in 2014, that I felt comfortable standing in the doorway of a colleague’s office one morning and I started to share with her what had been going on the year prior. It’s so funny because she sat there staring at me and all of a sudden, I caught myself like, “Is she going to run and tell my boss or anybody else what’s been going on?” I stopped talking and she said, “I am so sorry that I’m staring at you. I had the same conversation over the weekend.” A year later into recovery I realized I wasn’t alone, especially as a leader going through that.
That’s where the paradigm shift needs to happen. Not just asking the question but asking more specific questions like, “How much sleep did you get last night?” Not like, “How are you doing?” That’s too general. That’s easy to brush over and say, “I’m good. I’m fine. I’m great. Things are great,” but, “How much sleep did you get last night and the night before?”
There are two things I would say. As we work through The Corporate Refinery to shift paradigms, it is number one about leading with humanity and acknowledging that people are human beings. They have different experiences and things that are happening. Whether they’re not sleeping because there’s a family issue or health issue. We have to acknowledge that we’re working with human beings. The second thing that came out of that is a six-step process that I did as a leader and I train through our leadership training on how to have these effective one-on-ones. One of the questions is asking, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you feeling personally?”
Leaders must lead with humanity. They must acknowledge that people are human beings with different experiences. Click To Tweet
It allows those people who are more scientific database who don’t want to necessarily share their feelings, they can choose a number and it allows the leader to at least know, “This is where they’re at,” from an awareness standpoint. For those who do want to share, it allows a leader to pause and open up the space if they’d like to share the details of, “I’m not doing great because I only slept four hours last night,” or whatever it may be.
Take the next necessary step. That still brings in psychological safety so people don’t feel like they’re going to be targeted or fired for expressing a challenge that they’re having but allow them to know that they’re there. “We are here for you,” and they don’t have to feel the stigma of, “I’m going to be the weak link on the team.”
I love that you brought up psychological safety because it’s one of the fundamental things. One of the best ways for a leader to build that safety is themselves sharing challenges that they’ve gone through revealing some of that vulnerability. I’m not about dumping problems on people. I had a leader early in my corporate years and it was my first corporate job. I had gone from being an elementary school teacher into the corporate world.
I was excited that I had to wear a suit. This is back in the ’90s when you had to wear nylons and closed-toed shoes. I’m feeling so professional and so grown up. I’ll never forget my manager took me into the boardroom. I’m like, “We’re going to have an official meeting.” The only thing that happened was her dumping onto me all of these challenges that were happening in the office and she was crying. I was mortified. That is not a way to develop psychological safety or be vulnerable. We want to have intent and purpose but that is a mistake that I made when I was going through burnout. I did not reveal any inkling of challenges to my team. It did my team a disservice, quite frankly.
Talk into that a little bit more. How did hiding the struggles you were going through do your team a disservice, in your opinion?
One would be exactly what we were talking about is that I didn’t provide a space. If they were themselves also feeling frustrated or suffering from burnout, whatever it may be, I may have said, “My door’s always open.” I may have said those things but I didn’t provide a safe place by demonstrating myself. That was the first thing.
Secondly, if you’re a great leader, your team members should want your job at some point. You should be working to develop them into your job. I had an individual team member who did want to move into my position. In hindsight, I realized I wasn’t demonstrating to him truly some of the challenges that I was facing in that position.
Granted, working the amount I did and sleeping four hours was not a requirement. That was my choice. I’ll be clear on that. That was my mistake. However, there were certain aspects that I could have shared that led to some of my uncertainty or questioning. I did him a disservice by not modeling what some of the challenges were as a leader if he wanted to move into my position.
Also, allowing them to step up in that role to support, “Why are you doing so much to that point? We’re here. Give us more stuff to do. Spread it out amongst all of us. We can all do it. Instead of you feeling like you had to do it all because you were the rockstar.”
That’s such a great point. I remember this teammate of mine, my direct report, we were traveling together. It was a few years after the burnout happened. By this point, I’m telling people all about it. He said, “Colleen, I had no idea.” He said exactly that. “If I would’ve known, I would’ve stepped up here, created this or supported you here,” but I did not reach out. I look back and know that part of it was a sense of control. It’s not that I didn’t trust my team members, it was a sense of control over myself. Also, it was such a big promotion that I felt like I still had to prove that I can do it. You being able to do it is not about you being able to do it as an individual contributor. More so, showing you can do it in a leadership role in your ability to guide and lead. Part of that comes with delegation.
This is why I love doing this show because there are a lot of misconceptions about leadership. You’re sharing that you had this idea that I had to do it to prove that I belonged in this leadership role and make sure that the higher-ups can see that they made a good decision by putting me here without understanding what leadership truly means and what confidence in your leadership means. Confidence in your leadership is not about, “Look at how much I can do, have a good attitude, show up on time and do all this stuff. Meanwhile, everything around me is crumbling but I look great and I’m doing great. I’m doing the work.”
It’s about how are you developing people, allowing them to step up into the role and not doing everything yourself. It’s like raising children. If you do everything for them, they’re never going to develop the skill to do it themselves and then when they become adults, they don’t know what to do because you’ve done everything for them.
As a leader, you’re stifling their development. I did that in 2013. I can so thankfully say that I learned a lot from that experience and continued to take ownership of my leadership development. One of my proudest achievements was a few years later when 4 of my 5 direct reports were promoted. I wasn’t promoted again that year. I received more congratulatory emails from colleagues about that. That was such an acknowledgment of my leadership skills that they were promoted and not necessarily if I was promoted or not. I had to grow up a little bit as a leader.
We’re not born with all of these skills.
Absolutely not. This is part of our leadership training, especially when we are working with high-potential or emerging new leaders. It’s not crazy that this happens because all of your promotions through the early years of your career were based on what you delivered as an individual contributor.
You’re promoted into leadership and we’re asking you to stop doing what you’ve been doing for years. Forget all of those things that got you promoted in the past and do something different. It’s trying to break a long habit. It’s not unlikely. It’s not bad. A goal of ours is to get our hands on high-potential leaders so they learn this early on and don’t make the same mistakes.
They don’t burn out, kick and blow people out and blow up themselves. It’s training and development. The paradigm around that is starting to shift a little bit. I don’t think enough of it. People are still promoting people in certain industries without giving them the tools to succeed in the role and expecting them that by osmosis or by title, you’re supposed to know. “Now, you have this title, you’re supposed to know what to do.” It doesn’t work like that.
There was a Harvard Business Review study that showed that on average there’s a nine-year gap between the time someone’s promoted into official people leader role until they receive leadership training. Yet, nearly 40% of people quit because their managers are awful. No wonder there’s this nine-year gap. We’re setting up everyone for failure when that’s happening. I agree with you. There is a bit of a shift to see but we try to get in there early and do leadership training for everyone because we all have to be self-leaders.
Leadership starts from the individual contributor all the way up.
This aligns with your show. The more that you’ve got those leadership skills early on, the more you’re going to lead with confidence because you’ve got them before you’re even put in that position.
The earlier you develop leadership skills, the more confidently you can lead. Click To Tweet
Build the arc before you need it. In a couple of interviews ago, someone said, “You’re not a leader unless you have created leaders. You may have the title of a leader but when you start creating leaders, that’s when you are a leader.” When you start getting other people who are on your team promoted, based on how you’ve coached them, nurtured them and created a path for their growth, then you can consider yourself a leader. That’s probably why you got so many congratulatory emails because it’s like, “Yes, she’s arrived at the club. Welcome to the club.”
All the things that I thought were proof to me I was a good leader were in terms of early accolades, promotions and raises. With all those things that you receive early on, it’s like, “That means I must be a great leader.” I’m getting all of these things. Not only having those my team members being promoted but also other larger challenges forced me to release anything about myself and only focus on the betterment of the team, even if at times it meant it might sacrifice something I was doing.
I would never sacrifice my values or integrity. Nothing along those lines but maybe my satisfaction with something or something may have been more challenging for me but I knew if I could push through, it was going to be for the betterment of the team. It wasn’t until those kinds of challenges and the promotions of my team members that I acknowledge, “This is what leadership looks like. It’s not the promotions, raises and other accolades.” That was the arrival of leadership but it certainly wasn’t saying you’re a great leader.
What aren’t leaders focusing on or what is something they need to be paying more attention to that they’re not paying attention to as you’re working in the industry looking ahead into 2023 and beyond?
They’re paying attention to this but it’s how they want to solve for it is where the challenge is. They’re paying attention to the fact that we are in this hybrid environment. I had 3 or 4 calls with leaders all centered around this challenge of, “We are in hybrid and I want to bring people back into the office but we can’t do that all the time. How do I get the camaraderie? How do I get the collaboration?” Microsoft Trend Report came out talking about this productivity paranoia that leaders are having. Employees are saying, “I feel productive at home,” but managers are feeling like, “I don’t see it. I don’t think you are productive.”
They’re using technology to track productivity. It’s insanity. Everybody I feel like is pretty much in that same place. It’s the how. I’m going to tell you time and time again, almost any question anybody asks me, “How could we solve this and that?” The answer is always communication. What leaders need to be paying attention to is the ways in which they’re communicating or having conversations.
Leaders must pay attention to how they communicate and start conversations with other people. Click To Tweet
Oftentimes leaders think, “I have these regular check-ins with my team members.” “Are those check-ins on productivity alone or are we having real conversations? Are you asking the right questions?” As you said, “Are you providing psychological safety? Are we doing all of the things as human beings and social beings that we are to create collaboration, comradery, productivity and effectiveness?” It’s about how the communication is taking place, what it looks like, when it’s being delivered and how it’s happening. That’s what we are focused on and seems to be the gap for a lot of organizations.
You’re so right. It’s not the tool or the latest app that we can use, it is the techniques. “How does this person best communicate? Do I understand their communication styles? Can I understand over Zoom, some other platform or Slack? Am I understanding what they’re saying?” In a text or Slack, you’re missing the tone and all these other things. How do we gather all of that? It’s about learning how to do deeper communication. Do you use a lot of assessment tools to help teams and leaders understand each other as we’re talking about communication?
Yes. It depends on what the overarching challenge is. While assessment tools can be a good foundation, everybody needs to learn a majority of the soft skills and even the leaders who are reaching out to us, need that refresher. Not because they’re not good communicators but necessarily because they have to utilize their skills in a different environment and in a different way for multi-generational and across diverse ethnicities and backgrounds.
The actual training and the coaching are still going to be the most effective. The assessments are a great place to start to get us grounded. I come from sales and they wanted you to role play and it was the most embarrassing thing but how much you can learn from role-playing and rehearsing? It comes down to the entire learning experience is what’s going to drive the needle for them.
Do you work in your practice mostly with women or is it both women and men? How have you found the difference in working with them?
Interestingly enough for me, when I started this business, it was centered around my personal story of burnout and with a passion behind showing primarily women, because it’s statistically proven that women tend to do more in terms of full-time work, plus house care, childcare and all of those things so they tend to burn out more easily.
I still get asked to speak most often at women’s conferences and leadership around women. However, what’s so funny is when we’re brought in to work with teams, it’s not women. It is meant for men and women because we’re training on communication and how to show frontline employees what high performance looks like in a healthy way and in a way that is advantageous for them professionally and personally that still delivers results for the team and the organization. We do both but a lot of where I speak tends to be more female-forward.
That’s because you’re a powerful female exec that’s running your successful business. As we’re talking about confidence and leadership, how was making that shift from corporate into CEO of your business mindset?
I feel very blessed in this regard that I come from sales. As a CEO, a lot of what you do, especially in the early years of your business is sales. I was able to bring in this mindset of not taking things personally. Reaching out, trying to pitch myself to speak at a conference, pitch our training workshops, I know how not to take it personally, because I came from a sales background. If there are any CEOs here listening, that’s a lot of the hard battle early on for CEOs or entrepreneurs. It’s not personal.
If they come from a corporate environment where they had a budget and had all this other stuff available and then it’s like, “I have to make that decision on my own. I have to look at my budget and see if I can do this. I’m not getting a budget.”
In the first probably eighteen months of that transition, the other part for me was this mindset of like, “I work 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.” Those were the hours I tended to work. I was in sales so there was some flexibility but for me that those were the hours I tried to traditionally keep. It was this whole thought of like, “I haven’t started my day yet. It’s 7:15 AM.” It’s not about the hours. It’s how am I being most effective and what my business needs. Quite frankly, those are all principles we should apply even in the corporate world but I get it not all corporate structures are that way. It was a lot of transition from habits I had and how I structured my day and what my expectations of myself were that I needed to change.
As an entrepreneur, you can easily get burnt out too.
There are higher rates of burnout among entrepreneurs more so than corporate because it’s all you at the beginning until you start to build a team. It’s setting up some boundaries. It’s challenging depending on the financial state that you’re in and any of those pressures.
What made you make that decision to transition?
I didn’t necessarily have it on my radar. When I was still in my corporate job, I was starting to share my story because that moment in the doorway of a colleague’s office made me realize, “I’m being selfish if I don’t share my story and the strategies I was learning.” I started doing that but I didn’t have this like, “In 5 years or 10 years, I’m going to launch this business.” It wasn’t there for me. I loved my job. I worked at a great company. I had amazing colleagues but there came a time that I was 1 in the first round of 50 positions that were eliminated. I was offered the same role on another team but at that time I said, “This is the universe telling me it is time to make that transition.”
I happily accepted severance from my company. They were very gracious in what they were offering. I took that severance and dove full-time into my business and it was scary. I cried a lot in those first eighteen months. It was the first time since I was seventeen years old that I didn’t have a regular paycheck coming in. “Where’s the money?” It was very scary but I was blessed that I had a good support team and was able to do it.
What advice do you have then for anyone who is starting up their business? Maybe they did get a severance and they’re like, “This is an opportunity to start my business.” Would you advise mindset coaching or business coaching? If you had to give someone advice, what would you share with them?
Regardless of how they’ve made the transition, I recommend business coaching if you’re going to hire for coaching. I still have a business coach myself. I do business coaching for small businesses but I still have a coach.
Mentoring and coaching are so important.
It is. Oftentimes when you launch a business, you start to go, “I have this new thing, which means all my strategies need to be new.” I see this over and over again. My piece of advice is how did you build your career? How did you grow these other things in your life? Go back and think about those because oftentimes it’s leveraging your strengths. The second thing is it’s probably leveraging your connections or market. We often forget when we make the transition, we believe everybody knows. For example, I could easily say, “When I left that company, everybody knew the exact business I was launching.”
They had no idea. They don’t know what I’m doing. Am I a speaker? Am I a coach or a trainer? They didn’t know. I encourage people to reach out to your warm market and current contacts. You’re not soliciting business from them but let them know. “This is what I’m doing now. Do you know somebody who may be interested in this?” When you become that entrepreneur, don’t ditch everything from the past. Lean into stuff like your strengths, strategies and network to begin with.
When you become a successful entrepreneur, don't ditch everything from the past. Instead, lean into your strengths, your strategies, and your network to begin with. Click To Tweet
That’s awesome advice because we see this all the time, where someone comes out of corporate and feel like their experiences in corporate don’t translate to being a business owner. Some of the wins, the big things that they did, the budgets they managed, the clients that they landed and all the great things that they did to get all the stars, the recognition and the stuff in corporate no longer have value or are valid because you’re like, “I’m an entrepreneur and I got to start everything all over. I have no experience in this and I don’t know what I’m doing.” You have many years of experience doing the same thing under the umbrella of a company.
My business coach at the very beginning was the one that I had because I launched my business initially as a speaker. Every time we’d get on a call and I’d be like, “As a new speaker,” she’s like, “Colleen, you have been in sales for years and you were a teacher before that. You do group exercises. You’ve been a speaker for many years. Stop saying you’re a new speaker,” but it’s true. I give that advice because I didn’t do that. I took most things from scratch. I didn’t do a good job of letting people know. It wasn’t until about a year in that I was like, “Okay.”
We don’t think our skills are translatable. That’s a huge mistake and drains your confidence because if you start looking at, “How can I take this and use it? I’m going to use it anyway but how can I highlight this as a strength or skill of mine? How can I take my experience from this and put it over here,” as your coach said. Sometimes you need someone on the outside to help you see those things because they become major blind spots.
Reach out to people and say, “I don’t know if I’m up to now. I’m no longer at this company. I have my business and we do this and this. I’d love to sit down with you and share some more,” so you have a framework if someone comes across. Even salespeople get embarrassed or somehow scared to talk to people about what you’re up to. It’s like, “They don’t want to know. They don’t care.”
Isn’t it funny because you wouldn’t have that problem if you went to coffee with someone and you were talking about your corporate job and what you do? It’s the same thing.
We’ve put all these false limiting beliefs around everything or all these paradigms. A paradigm is a belief that you’ve adopted that didn’t come from you, it came from who knows where. We have all these belief systems around how we’re supposed to be as an entrepreneur and in corporate. The two shall never cross paths.
When you’re sitting down to talk with someone, you’re talking about your company in the same way you would’ve if you were working as an employee for that company. Don’t feel like you have to have this sales hat on or this marketing hat. Be a human being and talk about what you’re doing. It’s the same thing.
We’re going to jump into the rapid-fire. We’ve talked about some of this before but you can reiterate unless you think of something else. What was the biggest leadership mistake you ever made or was the victim of? We talked about the one you made by not sharing but was there something that you were a victim of that you can think of?
It’s a full story for another day or another episode. As a leader, I was a victim of bullying. I didn’t recognize that that’s what it was. I was bullied for nine months by my direct manager. What it revealed to me during that time is that this person had been bullying other people for his many years of tenure, including many of my direct reports. I mentioned as we were talking about what made me a good leader once my direct reports were promoted but the challenges I faced were I had to make some sacrifices to support my team and this specifically was one of them.
Truly the easiest thing for me to have done in those nine months was to quit but once I found out early on how many other people, whether current employees or past employees had been affected, I said, “I can’t leave until this situation is resolved, whatever the resolution was to look like.” That was a major challenge. I was going through therapy. It was rough.
I’m sorry about that.
It made me a good leader. I have a leadership story that I can share and lessons from that. I don’t regret or feel bad about what happened. I’m not saying I’m happy about it.
You’re taking it and using it productively. You’re not sitting in victim mode. You’re empowering other people through the story. What’s the best leadership advice that you’ve ever got that you still implement?
I’m an extrovert. I love to help people solve problems. If you come to me with a problem, the solution wants to jump out of my mouth. This was at that company I was at for twelve years and I went to a leader who looked the complete opposite of me. He was very reserved and tended to be more of an introvert but I knew everybody loved working for him. His biggest piece of advice to me was, “Always stay curious.”
How I took that away was to stop offering advice right away, stop always having the solution, sit back, be quiet and ask more questions. Part of our leadership training is how to lead with curiosity. I owe that to this past leader. Leading with curiosity and asking questions is more often a way to be a great leader and have them self-discover the solution versus you offering the advice.
Asking questions is a strong sign of a great leader. Click To Tweet
Always stay curious. I love that because that’s why I do all these shows that I do and stay curious about everything and everyone.
Bravo to you.
Here’s a fun one. If you were a castaway on a deserted island and you can only have three things, what would you hope washed up ashore or was airdropped to you and one cannot be a cell phone? There are no cell towers anyway so you wouldn’t be able to reach anybody.
One would be my whole family, that would be the first thing. They’re all together. Whatever this looks like for me, to still be able to work out. Body combat and body pump are my favorites. Combat, I can do it by myself. I’ll say for washed up would be some barbell with some weights. The last thing would be chocolate chip cookies.
I was thinking for the weights you could probably take a branch and some coconuts.
It’s the same though as having the actual equipment.
If you were a song or song title that is out there in the world, what would it be and why?
This is the hardest one for me because I’m not a music person but my walkup song is Unstoppable by Sia. Though I understand and recognize how to not get burned out, I still live in this place of being unstoppable. It’s unstoppable with everything.
You have a drive.
It’s still there. When I talk about confidence, it’s not about having all the answers. It’s about having that belief that you have the resources to figure it out. To me, that aligns with being unstoppable. I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to have this confidence that I’m not going to fail. I am going to fail but I’m going to have the resources. I’m going to be unstoppable and figure it out.
It’s not just resilience but knowing who you are when you know yourself. “I can overcome that. I’m going to fall flat on my face or have fallen flat on my face. I can get back up. I’ve gained the tools, knowledge and resources.” The drive and high performance don’t go away. It’s there with you.
I hope not.
It’s there with you if you have it. You have to learn how to use it positively and not let it become dysfunctional in your life. That’s the key. My final question for this rapid fire is what book are you reading or you can give us your top three favorite titles?
The one that I am still reading is called The No Club. This is focused on the notion that we get sucked into what’s called Non-Promotable Tasks, NPTs. It’s the one thing that we have found in our most recent research that is leading because of burnout. Saying yes to NPTs, like things that anybody else could be doing. These are things that don’t drive toward the overall organization’s mission or objectives. These are tasks that you’re doing that are not contributing directly to your promotion. It resonates with everyone but primarily women. The data has found that managers are 50% more likely to ask women to take on NPTs. However, women are also 50% more likely to say yes when they’re asked.
We’ve been doing a lot of work around building awareness of this concept. I spoke at a women’s conference with 700 attendees. I asked them to raise their hand if they’d heard of non-promotable tasks. It was less than 1% of the audience. I’m trying to take some of the research from The No Club. These women have done an amazing job of doing some early studies, interviews and educating people. One of the women reached out to me after that conference and said after listening she did a diagnostic to see how much of my work was promote-worthy versus non-promotable and she took it to her boss. That’s communication.
She and her boss uncovered that about 80% of it was non-promotable. Her boss supported her in figuring out how to start moving those things off of her plate. What happens is we know we want to get promoted so we got to do the things that’ll get us promoted but we don’t know how to get rid of these non-promotable tasks. We work more hours and got too much work. It’s a leading cause of burnout. That’s my book and the NPTs.
That is amazing. That’s a great book to read, especially for women in leadership. I was going to ask you finally what your book was about. You could share that too or do you want to leave it on the NPTs because that is huge?
Let’s leave it to NPTs to know that my book is my story of burnout and if I knew about NPTs back then, I probably wouldn’t have had that story in that book.
That’s it. Thank you so much, Colleen, for joining us and sharing so openly and candidly. I’m convinced that this episode is going to help so many people recognize and become aware of some of the things that they’re doing so that they can change or shift how they’re leading, especially around the NPTs. I have to go through my list of stuff and see what I’m doing that I shouldn’t be doing. Thank you all for joining us. Continue to lead yourself, your teams and your organization with audacious confidence. We’ll see you on another episode of the show. Goodbye, everyone.
About Colleen Hauk
Colleen Hauk is a sought-after workplace dynamics expert and keynote speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Corporate Refinery, a consulting and training firm that works with some of the world’s largest companies to forge new paradigms for women and what leadership means for today’s world.
Colleen’s passion grew from her 15 years as a corporate executive where she experienced first-hand the negative effects of poor leadership and lack of self-care. After suffering her own breaking point, she transformed her personal circumstances and inspired others across the organization to impact cultural change.
Colleen is the co-author of two books, including the bestseller, Women Who Ignite. She is a multiple-time contributor to Forbes and delivered her keynotes and trainings to Fortune 500 companies and organizations such as Pfizer, Dell, Merck, Panasonic, and New York Life.