Developing the Skill of Managerial Courage with Kathleen Leigh Lewarchick

In this episode of the B2B Leadership podcast, best-selling author and leadership coach Nils Vinje speaks with Kathleen Leigh Lewarchick, Vice President of Marketing at Xngage.
In this episode...

0:23 - Kathleen's background - Kathleen explains her role and organization.
2:05 - First leadership position - How did Kathleen get her start?
2:52 - European Parliament - What was it like working there?
5:09 - Situational awareness - How can it be used in leadership positions?
7:40 - Being prepared - Kathleen shares an early career story about being prepared.
11:05 - Core leadership philosophies - What experiences has Kathleen built a philosophy around?
13:15 - Managerial courage - Where did Kathleen develop this skill?
15:55 - Embracing diversity - How does Kathleen bring diversity into her organization?
19:20 - Learning from failure - Kathleen shares a specific (and hilarious) failure.
22:51 - Advice to listeners - Younger or more inexperienced people might benefit from this advice.
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In this episode, we have Kathleen Leigh Lewarchick share her leadership expertise and advice.

Learn more about how to develop the skill of managerial courage through Kathleen's leadership experiences.

Keep on reading to find out.

Kathleen's background

Kathleen Leigh Lewarchick is the Vice President of Marketing for Xngage, a company focusing on delivering digital commerce success in the B2B space.

Xngage helps people who are experienced and new to e-commerce make their channels as strong as they can be.

First leadership position

Kathleen's first leadership role was in the European Parliament as a legislative aide.

Back in 1992, she was recommended by a US congressman, for whom she worked in a local DC office to explore opportunities in the international market and this was where she had her first leadership position.

Situational awareness was the key to her first promotion. As an American in that role, she understood her role and focused on listening and helping.

It's important to understand situational awareness from a leadership perspective.

European Parliament

Kathleen had good networking opportunities while working in the European Parliament. She got to know people in all kinds of spaces. It gave her the possibility to do something she had not considered. It allowed her to explore some regulatory pieces of business that have really influenced her up to this day.

Did Kathleen plan to work in the European Parliament and get promoted?

No. She did not. It was situational. When the opportunity came, she got the position because she was at the right place at the right time with the right people who could make the connection for her.

Situational awareness

What is situational awareness?

In terms of agile learning, Kathleen said it is knowing the conditions in which you operate and knowing the role that you play, but also being open to the ideas of what's happening around you.

If a situation develops, you need to take a greater step forward, or in some cases, be a listener and take a step back to absorb the information.

If you want to develop this skill, you have to watch and learn before you act.

Know that there is nothing wrong with acting and you should never underestimate the power of listening and being able to absorb the situation before you act. Gauge the situation and understand it.

Look at the potential scenarios if you do act because sometimes acting does mean taking the step forward and leading. Sometimes, you have to look at the positional situation of who's in the room and what they might be doing and be able to respond in a couple of different ways.

A lack of situational awareness can directly impact other people.

Being prepared

Kathleen shared an early career story about being prepared.

When she was in her late 20s looking at possible career paths, she left the opportunities in the job world for a period of time.

She decided to spend one year bicycling around the world with 250 people going to 42 countries and bicycling almost 20,000 miles in one year.

Kathleen decided to do that because she wanted to see the world from a different perspective. She had spoken different languages and she had been exposed to different cultures which made her more hungry to want to learn.

Her boss, whom she respected and trusted, told her it's not a good idea. Yet she believed and knew that she was doing this as preparation for things way down the line.

Sometimes, there's not a linear relationship between the things that people do and the outcomes that they have. You just have to put yourself in the right situation and see where this can go.

Always try to balance the risk and reward, whichever makes the most sense. There's really not a wrong move when it comes to things in your career.

Your sole goal is to make yourself more valuable to your organization and to yourself over time.

It benefits you to put yourself in that position to always be curious and to always be learning. Keep moving forward and it will make you a better person who can contribute more to somebody else.

Core leadership philosophies

There are some core leadership philosophies that Kathleen has grown to learn and experience throughout her career.

One of them is what she calls managerial courage. She learned it in her previous work environment where it's okay for people to take risks and fail.

What is managerial courage?

Kathleen said it is about someone's willingness to speak up when he/she sees an opportunity. It can also be about speaking up for others who struggle with speaking up for themselves.

Managerial courage

Kathleen learned and developed the skill of managerial courage from both internal and external reinforcement in their organization. This wasn't a solo mission.

Although she is a natural introvert, she is also very self-motivated. She looks for opportunities to connect dots, and make them a reality.

Kathleen also developed another core leadership skill which is the diversity of perspective. It is about bringing different voices in the room that either have wisdom from which to learn or new fresh voices who are new to the scene. Learning to hear what people have to say and bringing those voices together for the common good.

Embracing diversity

How does Xngage embrace the element of diversity?

Xngage's culture is very open-minded. They have a philosophy around creating raving fans out of their employees. They're building relationships and helping people feel good about the jobs that they have to do.

Their culture allows people to have diverse voices brought into the room. They bring like-minded people together.

Another core leadership philosophy Kathleen developed was forgiveness for failure. It is thinking about failure in a couple of different ways.

Carol Dweck, an American psychologist once talked about the growth mindset versus fixed mindset. She said if you have a growth mindset, you're open to the idea of failing and making mistakes and learning from them because if you're in a continuous learning and continuous improvement cycle, you'll see failure in yourself and others as an opportunity to learn.

There is no end to learning all that you need to know about leadership. You can go on forever. You don't need to feel so overwhelmed by the fact that you can't possibly learn everything, that you might as well not start.

There are things that you can continuously get better at over time and that's what makes the world a better place. That's what makes your teams better. That's what makes your leadership better. That's what makes your impact on the people you work with better.

Learning from failure

Kathleen shared a specific and hilarious failure.

Early in her career, when she was doing direct mailers, she put the wrong phone number down, and all the requests for information got sent to someone that wasn't associated with her company.

She felt terrible but she learned from it. After that, she started double and triple-checking everything.

If Kathleen could talk to her younger self, she would tell herself that perfection is the enemy of good.

You don't have to get everything perfect. You just have to get it going. Nothing's ever going to be perfect. However, if you're always focused on getting better, always focused on improving just a little bit, taking things one step at a time, then you will ultimately prepare yourselves for whatever comes down in the future.

Advice to listeners

If you want to start developing the core leadership philosophies Kathleen developed, start with being the person that people want to work with. Be courteous, hardworking, and knowledgeable enough to be a go-to person for others.

Know that you can be a leader in your own right, because of the way you conduct yourself, or that you have a certain level of expertise that others don't have.

Take a minute to look up and see what else is going on. Look at the situation and understand the different roles that are being played. Make sure that you're thinking about all the moving pieces. That's the kind of person that people want to work with.

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