Uncovering your potential as a leader is an ongoing process of self-discovery and attaining self-awareness. It is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that only 15% people are self-aware, even if 95% claim to be so. A lot of times, you need someone who can help shine the light on the different potential areas that you can explore. That’s where an executive coach comes in handy. Ann Holm is one. In this conversation with Joe Lynch, she talks more about self-awareness and why it is critically important in leadership, whether in the logistics space or elsewhere. Listen in and find out how someone like Ann can help you in your leadership development journey.
The section below is transcribed. Transcription has limitations so there may be grammar and typo issues.
Uncover Your Potential With Ann Holm
Our topic is Uncover Your Potential with my friend, Ann Holm. How is it going, Ann?
It’s going great.
Please introduce yourself, your company, and where you’re calling from.
I’m calling from Minnesota. My company is AnnHolm.net. I am an Executive Coach.
You are my executive coach. I’ve been working with you off and on for years. We have done a lot of projects together when I was doing a lot of training. We did a lot of stuff together because it was a nice complement. We’re calling this episode Uncover Your Potential. What do you mean by Uncover Your Potential when it comes to working with your clients?
What I mean with Uncover Your Potential is often we are either performing at a constant status quo level. Maybe we’re underperforming where you have this capacity to level up as well. What I help individuals and teams do is to get to that next level to help them either come to a level that’s adequate if that’s what their goal is or go further up if that’s what their goal is. It’s helping people uncover what is their potential for performance and job satisfaction.
A coach helps shine the light on different potential areas for you to explore. We’re not going to tell you, “You have to,” but we’re going to say, “Let’s take a bigger view of who you think you are and see if we can harvest something and take it in a different direction.”
I can speak for myself. When I came to you, I was in my late 40s. I had personal issues and also professional issues. I felt like I had adopted some bad habits. I had some setbacks. I knew I could do more. I had enough success in my life to know I could get to another level. I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do. You were very helpful in pushing, shoving, and getting me in to do some things.
You were the one who said, “Joe, you need to start blogging.” I was like, “Why?” I eventually started the show as a blog and built a big following. As I started to do it, I realized, “It’s a lot of work but I like how it feels.” It was something that I was relatively good at. I felt like that was something you were able to pick out. I knew I had some of that in me but it took a coach to see that outside perspective.
What you’re speaking to is this capacity that everyone has to do something else, especially if they’re feeling like they’re stalled or stagnant. When I encountered you the first time, you had a feeling of being stuck. What a coach will do is help shine the light on different potential areas for you to explore. We’re not going to tell you, “You have to,” but we’re going to say, “Let’s take a bigger view of who you think you are and see if we can harvest something and take it in a different direction.”
From when I encountered you to what you’re doing now, which is blogging, you’re not blogging anymore. You’ve taken it yet to another level by podcasting and making podcasting one of if not the principal things that you do. That was a long way from where you started. Through that, it was a process of self-awareness and self-discovery where you knew where to point the ship based on that. There were new coordinates if you think of yourself as a ship. There are new coordinates and directions.
You mentioned self-awareness. Talk about that stat that I hate.
Everybody hates to hear this but the Harvard Business Review had a publication in 2018 in which 95% of people described themselves as self-aware. There’s only 5% out there. When they measured this, only 15% were self-aware.
A lot of people are being self-delusional. It’s not me but others.
There are lots of levels of self-awareness. You could say, for instance, “I know I’m late for stuff all the time. That makes me self-aware.” It doesn’t. It makes you able to label what people say about you all the time, “I’m late.” It’s to feel it at those deeper levels, “What’s the impact of being late? What’s the impact on other people?” To feel it at a level in which you feel motivated to change and want to put that effort into it is self-awareness. A lot of times, we sit at the cursory level of it, “I know I’m late. I know I’m not good with details.”
The problem is it’s hard to know and see yourself as others see you. That’s why you need a coach. Your coworkers, family, and friends see it too. They aren’t going to say anything. If you’re a salesperson or if you’re in a leadership position, it becomes even more magnified. My lack of self-awareness or those weaknesses become more exposed. That’s what I went through when I reached out to you. It’s like, “I’m stuck.” Some of it was maybe banging my head against the wall when I should have gone through the doorway.
I love that metaphor because a lot of times, what we do is either bang our heads on the wall when we’re standing right next to a door or try to open one door. It’s locked and we assume every other door in that sequence is also locked. We get stuck. There’s this feeling inside of ourselves that we can be more, we could do more, or we could not only be more and do more but enjoy what we’re doing more but we’re a little bit hesitant to try more doors. What a coach will do is help you look at what door you want to try. What’s the risk? What’s the gain?
What are some of the typical problems you solve for customers in the logistics space since that’s who normally reads this?
In the logistics space, there’s a lot of leadership development for individuals who are good at what they do skill-wise. Let’s say you’re a guy in operations, for instance. You’re good at operations but now you have to lead others. You’re in charge of operations. You have to get that staff to follow you. That’s a completely different thing because our tendency is to say, “Do it my way.”
Self-awareness is other awareness.
Oftentimes when people are promoted to a level of people leader, they underperform because they haven’t developed enough self-awareness to know how they’re coming off to other people, for instance. They haven’t developed a sense of strengths and blind spots. All those things factor into effective leadership. That would be somebody that I might encounter.
You mentioned leadership. Much of what is sales is leadership. We’re trying to influence others. Even if you’re an individual contributor, you’re trying to influence other people to your way of thinking on a lot of projects. In sales, we’re all in leadership.
What I like to say is, “Self-awareness is other awareness.” If you know that these are your strengths and blind spots and this is the way you like to communicate but then you look outward and recognize somebody else who does this differently, you have to be able to bridge that. That is often a skill that needs to be coached because what’s obvious to you is obvious to you but not necessarily to the people you’re trying to lead.
I also say, “Sometimes I don’t see the nose on my face.” I know it’s there but I don’t see it all the time. Sometimes maybe my strength or weakness that I’m not addressing is that clear to other people but I’m not addressing it. There are a million coaches out there. Everybody and their brother is now a coach. What makes you different and better from the other coaches out there besides being my coach? That’s a cool thing.
It’s my experience, training, and ability to look at everyone as an individual. Effective coaching is a co-created partnership between the person that you’re coaching and the coach. If you have a lot of experience, then you have the flexibility to relate to where that person is coming from, see them as individuals, and work with them as individuals.
For instance, what we like to say in my industry is, “An acorn is going to be an oak tree. A pinecone is going to be a pine tree but if I go to a pine tree and tell it to behave like an oak tree, good luck.” Being able to identify somebody for their individuality and bring a host of tools, mindsets, and strategies to work with them is what makes me different and better. I’ve worked with a lot of logistics companies.
I will throw this out there. What you said, I agree with. I’ll add this to it. You mentioned your education. You were a speech pathologist. You work with people who had brain injuries and brain damage. You are a brain expert, which helps for that underlying foundation. What I like about working with you is it’s not about your success where you say, “This is how I got to the top of the logistics game.” This is all individualized. You use a lot of tests and stuff that’s proven. When you get a report back, it’s her $0.02 but there’s a test first. I liked that. A lot of coaches are motivational, “Here’s how I reached the top.” That might not work for me. I’m not like you.
That kind of individual can play the role of inspiring you. A mentor is a good example of somebody who might bellow the energy a little bit like that. As far as uncovering potential, it starts with self-awareness, “Where am I? Let’s get the lay of the land.” You did mention tests. A lot of times, we use the term surveys or inventories because what we’re trying to do is get the lay of the land for people. We’re not trying to decide. Sometimes when we think of tests, we think of good or bad. We’re looking for what kind of situation are you in, strengths, blind spots, and all those kinds of things. We do an inventory and then start from there.
One of the best things when I first started working with you is I got a report that said, “Here’s what you’re good at.” I was like, “I’m good at that.” Who doesn’t love to see that? When you pointed out the weaknesses that I have, I was like, “You hit it there.” We started saying, “Let’s focus more on these strengths and then address these weaknesses in these ways.” I got strategies for it. That was helpful. It articulated those strengths and weaknesses in a way that I knew at a high level but didn’t know to that depth. That became very important to me.
Self-awareness is super important. It’s an ongoing process. I’ve been working on this for decades. There’s some new revelation I had about myself. My kids go, “That’s one of the most annoying things about you. I can’t believe it took you forever to know that.” When I’m trying to keep the peace, I’m avoiding stuff. I’m trying to say I’m keeping the peace. They’re like, “That’s annoying.”
Your kids are too old to send them to their rooms too.
It was good feedback to know. The feedback was helpful because it helped me take it to a different level as far as the way I do things. My take-home message is it’s a work in progress. If you’re open-minded, the sky is the limit.
Self-awareness is an ongoing process.
Let’s wrap this bad boy up. How do we reach out and talk to you?
You can reach me at my website AnnHolm.net and write there. There’s a little button where you can schedule a consultation. It’s free. I like to talk to you first to see if I’m the right professional for you. Occasionally, I’ll get somebody that books a consultation and I’ll say, “I know of somebody else who might serve you better.” You book the consultation and then we go from there. I have packages that I offer or we can go individual and go with very specific individual proposals. I always like to talk to you first for at least 30 minutes to get a lay of the land of what you want and need and what your expectations are.
Ann, you’ve been a great coach to me. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about uncovering your potential.
I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks to all of you for reading. Your support is very much appreciated.
About Ann Holm
I am Ann C. Holm, a Professional Certified Coach who will help you develop your strengths while accounting for blind spots. More than flashes of insight, I will help you build and sustain new neural pathways to truly uncover your potential.