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Positive Momentum with Lori Michele Leavitt

George Grombacher December 18, 2022

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Positive Momentum with Lori Michele Leavitt

LifeBlood: We talked about how to create positive momentum, what it takes to keep it moving, the characteristics of effective leaders, effective change management, and how to get started, with Lori Michele Leavitt, Pivot Catalyst, Founder, author, speaker and consultant.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Lori Michele Leavitt

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:15
Welcome to LifeBlood this is George G and the time is right welcome. Today’s guest struggle powerful. Lori Michele Leavitt. Lori, are you ready to do this? I am. Hi, George. I’m excited to have you on. Lori is the pivot catalyst. She’s a founder, author, keynote speaker, she’s working to develop leaders and help orgs generate momentum. Lori, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do? Well, as you can tell by the bio, I love momentum, get go crazy when I don’t have it. And as my service, I help others find momentum, I catalyze momentum for leaders and teams. And I write and speak about pivots. And my view on a pivot is well, it says it’s a significant change. And significant changes are not fast. Unlike how the media portrays them to be the decision to pivot is fast. Sometimes the awareness of the need to pivot is fast, like in the pandemic, but oftentimes, that’s not even fast.

Unknown Speaker 1:25
The actual move being from this point to a result that a sustainable a better place is not fast. And so I help leaders orchestrate what they need to do for their culture. So their culture is always ready for change.

Unknown Speaker 1:48
There’s that famous Silicon Valley, I think it was maybe Facebook that coined that term, move fast and break things. That’s not necessarily the right approach for the majority of organizations. No, in fact, I, I work with some entrepreneurs. But mostly I work with those businesses that have been in place for a while, and it’s really hard to change. And there are so many more people than you. And so we you, as the leader need to orchestrate many shifts by many people over time. And that’s why I use the term orchestration. It’s not commanding, it’s it’s being with but there are things you can do in your organizational culture, so that you are not having to always been command or be in that emerging emergency situation, people will discover it, they will speak up there are things you can do to make that happen.

Unknown Speaker 2:48
With a term for that be change ready.

Unknown Speaker 2:51
That’s a great term for sure. Just gonna make things up, Laurie, why not? I mean, I’m also fond of saying, when you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready, maybe I’m getting closer.

Unknown Speaker 3:04
It is it really is about preparation. And I work with a lot of leaders and a lot of those that are in the position of leadership, and are developing still as leaders.

Unknown Speaker 3:19
And there are many that are in that position that really don’t really care to be the kind of leader I’m talking about. And that’s not who we are. That’s not who I work with. And, and it truly is. It’s an ongoing, um, you are always that’s your role as a leader, you are always building and nurturing, and repairing and resetting the stage for the state. And I actually penned a term for the state that I see organizations in when those performance breakthroughs happen. And I call it the state of aligned momentum. It’s when there’s both alignment, meaning throughout the organization, they get where the organization is going, they feel part of it. And the the processes, the right people, the systems are all in place to have momentum, or at least in momentum doesn’t mean that you’re always just pushing forward. You’ll have setbacks, but people catch it quickly, early. And so you’re not stalling for a long time problems aren’t growing into something really huge. And I have seen organizations when they’re in that state have breakthroughs. And then I’ve seen the same organization be out of that state.

Unknown Speaker 4:43
So I’m feverishly taking notes.

Unknown Speaker 4:47
I imagined that if we could start right at the beginning with a new organization and set the tone right at the beginning that would be better. But but that’s probably uncommon.

Unknown Speaker 5:00
or just, you know, kind of kind of correct me where I’m wrong? Is it possible for any organization to implement these things to prepare themselves so that they are so that they can reach that state of aligned momentum?

Unknown Speaker 5:16
Yes. And in my first book, The pivot orchestrating extraordinary business momentum, I give some examples of that. And then my most recent book pivots to clarity, which clarity is us, is a key indicator that you’re in this state, there are six aligned momentum key indicators, that’s one of them. A good example of this is what Satya Nadella has done with Microsoft. And, of course, you know,

Unknown Speaker 5:45
I’m using those terms, because they’re quick to say, but it’s not such an Adela has done it. Right. He has orchestrated that throughout his organization. And he had the courage to start with culture, which is one call out. Because if you as a leader and you’re wanting to be in the state of line momentum, you have to understand where you are in moving toward that state. And you may be at the very start, and the very start is having a place where it’s safe to step up and speak out. And one way to measure that because I measure everything. One way to measure that is Does everyone have suddenly know that their manager has their back and wants them to be successful?

Unknown Speaker 6:36
And if you don’t have that, which Microsoft didn’t?

Unknown Speaker 6:42
Then that’s where you have to start.

Unknown Speaker 6:47
Which makes a ton of sense. You can want all you you can desire change if you’re at the top all you want, but if the other human beings in your organization are like, oh, yeah, sure. But that sounds great. If I do that, I will lose my job, or I’ll face and ridicule or just, they’re not comfortable with that. So that makes sense why that’s the starting point. Yeah, and what’s so wonderful these days, as you’re seeing more leaders calling that out, like Mary Barra, saying, Hey, I was in this organization, and I was part of the

Unknown Speaker 7:24
looking at costs first.

Unknown Speaker 7:27
And she’s willing to say, hey, we did this,

Unknown Speaker 7:32
we would not speak up, if, because there was a cost involved. And our priority was to

Unknown Speaker 7:41
reduce costs was a higher priority than reducing risk. I’m not those aren’t the word she used. But that’s basically what she’s saying. And that is, you know, you really, as a leader have to step back and and see what is the state of my organization, right now? What, what is happening, and it’s not always easy to discover that if people aren’t speaking up, so it’s gonna go my what I’m saying in all of this is, it’s gonna take some time. And that’s why I say it took courage to do culture first, because it’s not short term results, which in any public organization, we know, oh, company, any public company, we know there is a lot of pressure on short term results. Yeah, yeah, it happens every three months. Right. And in non-public, you know, you mentioned startups. And what I’m seeing is, when you said, Well, it probably be easier when the business is just start being.

Unknown Speaker 8:50
And you know, I love that you say that, because I just agree. Well, yeah, it’d be easier if you thought of it. But what are we thinking about when we start our businesses, we’re thinking about that fast growth, we’re thinking about getting stuff done. We’re, we’re buying systems to help us manage work so that everybody’s doing what we want them to do. And we really aren’t paying that much attention to how people are being or working together.

Unknown Speaker 9:24
It’s survival. It’s growth.

Unknown Speaker 9:27
And it’s not being

Unknown Speaker 9:34
Yeah. And so then what happens, I talked about this a little bit is that

Unknown Speaker 9:41
I work with those entrepreneurs that are fast growing that that know that they’re going to hit this wall because they’re afraid of becoming what they see as ugly corporate. They don’t want to, quote grow up ugly. So they’re going you know what we want to do culture, right? Because we don’t want to just grow, grow, grow and then how

Unknown Speaker 10:00
have a culture that we don’t.

Unknown Speaker 10:02
We don’t want to go into the office.

Unknown Speaker 10:06
That’s not where you want to be. You don’t want to build that. And I totally get I’m an entrepreneur myself, I totally get how

Unknown Speaker 10:15
it’s, it’s very difficult not to just focus on the getting stuff done.

Unknown Speaker 10:22
For sure. Okay. So

Unknown Speaker 10:27

Unknown Speaker 10:30
Where does it start? It starts with the CEO.

Unknown Speaker 10:34
It does struck me, there’s the tone at the top. And I, I’m sure there’ll be others that say, Hey, there are leaders throughout the organization. Yes, there are. And there are some in leadership roles where they are

Unknown Speaker 10:49
in a role of making decisions that affect the whole enterprise. So you could still be a leader in your role, but your role likely doesn’t affect the entire enterprise. So when I say say, leadership team, those are these decisions and the strategic direction that is affecting the entire organization, and it needs to start there, it is not about them. When I do a consulting engagement do I sometimes get in? Because they’re saying we’ll do it for them? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 11:24
But I know that eventually, they’re going to be wrapped into it. If, if I’ve seen the characteristics that I look for in the leaders.

Unknown Speaker 11:34
And those, I think you’ve already told me, but what are those characteristics? Ah, so I just I just stepped into that, didn’t I? So actually, the characteristics, I look at leaders and I came up with these three, as I build leadership, peer groups, because I’ll just give you this example, when you’re building a peer group, it has to be a safe and candid place. So if you’re in a peer group like mine, you need to be wanting the success of everyone in the group. And you need to be

Unknown Speaker 12:16
open to saying whatever will help you grow, and conflicting with them to help them grow. Now, wouldn’t we all want our senior leadership teams and boards acting like this, too? Yes. And so what was I looking for in character, and I came up with three. One is curiosity.

Unknown Speaker 12:40
And I defined that as, you know, a lot, but you’re not a No at all. So you have to be open to learn and grow. And these are all leaders, we do know a lot. But we have to remain curious.

Unknown Speaker 12:56
The other is courage. And I mentioned that before when my example. And that includes the courage to be vulnerable.

Unknown Speaker 13:07
And then the last, which sounds, it sounds like it doesn’t belong, because you don’t hear it often in business. But that’s tenacity. And how I define that is that you have what it takes to get through the ridiculously tough stuff. Which means when that fear of looking bad, or whatever other fears that you have, even if you say I don’t have fears, the stuff that’s holding you back from being all you can be, then you know, you, you are going to limit your growth, and you’re going to limit your ability to be a great leader. So tenacity to me is important. I also really like to be around that kind of person. Yeah, I certainly agree. Being a knowing a lot, but not a No at all, need the courage to, to be vulnerable, and, and to explore. And then the tenacity is i i know that CEOs, presidents, leaders of organizations already take a lot of of grief and they get it from inside the organization and outside and then when you’re starting to, or working to make big changes, or prepare your organization to to have that aligned momentum. I imagine that you’re going to ruffle feathers within the group

Unknown Speaker 14:35
and the media and the boards and the shareholders and probably some community and some stakeholders and exactly.

Unknown Speaker 14:46
So being ready to do that, and not ready to do it but also to stay the course as you are doing it so you don’t just pull the ripcord and say, Oh, this was a lot worse than I thought. Let’s just worry about this next

Unknown Speaker 15:00
quarter or next year. Now we need to stick to it.

Unknown Speaker 15:04

Unknown Speaker 15:07
So momentum? I, I agree? Well,

Unknown Speaker 15:14
I’m a big fan of it also. And from a physics standpoint, it’s easier to keep things moving than it is to start or stop things. And, and then making sure that it is aligned. Tell me a little bit more about that, about the belt, the alignment of the momentum.

Unknown Speaker 15:35
I will, and I also you just said two things together, you made a segue from

Unknown Speaker 15:43
not stopping to momentum. And I just, I just wanted to pick up on that, because part of momentum is being willing to stop.

Unknown Speaker 15:56
So, you know, why are you continuing? You know, don’t be a Nokia, in horror, way back then Wang, A, we made this decision, and it is our decision, and, and we’re sticking to it. And we are not looking at the signs around us, or we’re looking at them. And we think that we

Unknown Speaker 16:17
are just so great that we can push through it. I don’t know, George, have you done that? I’ve done that before. You ever done that? I’ve done that with people. Oh, yeah, they are, you know, they’re a partner there. They are not doing what they said they’re going to do. But man, I am so good at this. That didn’t matter. I can still get this No, no momentum, lost it completely huge stall. And we need to continue to look at our decisions and the context around us and choose to change when that is wise to do so.

Unknown Speaker 17:00
Anyway, back to your My Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 17:05
That’s that that’s that’s where the courage is. That’s where the curiosity is. That’s where

Unknown Speaker 17:11
and tenacity to continually have the ability, the courage, the willingness to look in the mirror at myself as a leader, but then as an organization, and then to look at the things we’re afraid to look at, or we’ve been ignoring.

Unknown Speaker 17:28
So, yes, and

Unknown Speaker 17:34
I imagine sometimes we need to redefine what our values are, what our direction is. And this is also a process that is ongoing.

Unknown Speaker 17:45
Yes, with values and those I call them, like the guardrails, the parameters mean, when you’re looking forward, and, you know, what are we going to do in the future, having those values, the principles, these are things that you will hold to, again, tenacity, even when it’s ridiculously hard to. And those are also important, and everybody should, should know what they are. And you don’t have to have the exact let’s say, in your organization, and we value trust, one, define what that is, and your organization there. And then alignment with that. Yes, you want everybody to be trustworthy, I’m saying not saying you don’t, but they may choose different words for it is this is align. So alignment doesn’t mean same as same thing with your strategic plan. So one way to keep momentum and have alignment is to share your strategic objectives.

Unknown Speaker 18:54
And then allow those that are closer to the work. So, the divisions then the departments and, and you know, you can you can not go past the managers, I mean, can get quite convoluted, but communication wise, it goes out to the edges of the organization.

Unknown Speaker 19:14
And then allow them to come up with what can they affect? And how would they measure their progress, so that you’re really starting to work at that aligning the person with the role and the role was strategy.

Unknown Speaker 19:34
We so often

Unknown Speaker 19:37
go into those strategic planning session we the senior leadership team, and we because it’s comfortable for us. We spend 90% of the time on the execution plan as if we know how the work is being done where the work is being done, and spend way too little

Unknown Speaker 20:00
Under the future looking part.

Unknown Speaker 20:05
And that is that future. That’s what, that’s what everybody is looking to us to provide. That’s what we need to be working on, do we then bring it back to this year? What do we want to do? And do we come up with some idea of how we, we can measure that so that we even know are we way off base? Do we even have the talent? To do this? Are we actually doing the right things before?

Unknown Speaker 20:35
You know, if we, if we want this, what do we have to do first? Yes, have those discussions. But don’t make it concrete, don’t just then hand it to accounting to create a budget until you’ve taken that strategy out through the organization and said, Alright, here’s the direction we’re headed. We’ve we’ve come up with some ideas of, of what we think would be done in order to get there. But you tell us,

Unknown Speaker 21:06
and then you figure out, you tell us how you would measure that progress. You tell us what would be hard, you could tell us and people will start owning that and feel aligned with that. This will get you Alignment and momentum.

Unknown Speaker 21:25
The other I mentioned the six aligned momentum key indicators, we will not have time to go over them all. But if you’d like I can mention what they are. Yeah, for sure. So one is clarity. And that is so my second book, pivot to clarity is about not only being getting clear, as a leader, and then being clear so that you are being so clear that the other person gets it for them. So it’s getting clearer and being clear.

Unknown Speaker 22:00
So there is clarity, and then mastery mindsets, you want growth in your organization.

Unknown Speaker 22:08
You want nimble decision making

Unknown Speaker 22:15
up strategic thinking, talent, adaptability

Unknown Speaker 22:19
managers, as coaches, and I may have missed one did I say five or six. But this gives you an idea of I mean, there’s just six and truly, you know, you can measure these and when you have these, you likely are in a state of align momentum.

Unknown Speaker 22:38
I love it. That makes sense.

Unknown Speaker 22:42
Laurie, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage and where can they pick up a copy of pivots to clarity,

Unknown Speaker 22:50
though my main wide website is under my name, but you can also get to get to it from the pivot Which is probably easier to spell.

Unknown Speaker 23:03
Buy books are a menu on that page. If you want to get to the second book and get some gifts with that order. We put up a separate landing page pivot to Excellent.

Unknown Speaker 23:16
Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show, lower your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to the pivot And you can also go to pivot to And dig deeper into what Laurie and I have been talking about and give yourself a copy and find out if this is exactly what your organization has been looking for. Thanks. Good luck. Thank you. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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