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LEAD. GROW. INSPIRE.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” Simon Sinek
I’m a fan of Simon Sinek (and I know I’m not alone) because he’s an optimist, he’s authentic, and he inspires. His book “Start with Why” really got me thinking about ‘my why’ – Why did I do what I did for so many years at Nordstrom? Why did I start my own consulting/coaching business 24 years ago? Why did I create the LEAP program?
What is my WHY? I want a world where people love the work they do and the organization they do it for – they feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
I worked for Nordstrom for 17 years and had some great opportunities. Early in my career the focus was on myself and how much fulfillment my own work provided in my life. Later as I stepped into the responsibilities of leading other people, it became important to me that the people on my team were there for more than a ‘job’ and were excited to come to work every day. I worked hard to learn the skills to lead and manage effectively – and learn from my mistakes along the way. It was fulfilling to see my team accomplish great things, feel that they were part of something greater than themselves, to love coming to work every day. “Extend Yourself” is a leadership motto I learned from my time at Nordstrom. Leading my team in this way was the very extension of my ‘why’.
In 1999 I made the leap into starting my own business as an independent consultant. It was exciting, scary, and a little bit lonely to be honest but my “why” propelled me to a place where I could have greater impact by working with more than one organization, one leader, or one team at a time. The first few years were amazing. I had clients say things like “I don’t know exactly what you did or how you did it, but our workplace is so much more fun and effective because of working with you.” I could have continued that path, but I wasn’t content. I saw a gaping hole in leadership development programs that were affordable and accessible for SMB organizations who were desperately in need of developing their manager-leaders. I went on a quest to find something I could recommend or provide to my clients but nothing that I found had all the necessary elements that would help managers make leadership truly a habit.
In 2003 I launched the first LEAP cohort group – a peer-group of 8-10 people who are learning together for 12 months, facilitated by an expert coach/consultant. These leaders developed best-in-class leadership skills and as their skills increased so did their confidence! The impact on creating great places to work was multiplied 10-fold by making them better leaders and managers. There was also a multiplier effect on my consulting business. By working with the emerging leaders for 12 months, their sponsor organization got to see lasting results and reached out to us for additional consulting and coaching engagements. My ‘why’ was extended even further through others and it felt amazing.
I wondered if we could have an even greater impact than what I alone could do with LEAP. Was the ‘secret sauce’ me? Or is LEAP something that other consultants/coaches can do and get the same great outcomes? Between 2008-2010, I found a couple of colleagues who were eager to provide world-class leadership development to their clients and we agreed to ‘beta test’ it. The results were as good as any cohort I ever did myself. Best of all the independent consultants told me how much more fun they were having in their work and their business grew without much effort at all.
In 2012 I took the plunge to further our reach in creating a world where people love the work they do and the organization they do it for by licensing LEAP as a turnkey program to independent coaches + consultants nationwide. Together we can realize our mission of Saving the work-world, one leader-manager at a time. I love seeing independent consultants have a thriving business, doing the work they love and being well-paid for it. It’s great to have a ‘community of practice’ with other like-minded professionals who want to help create great places to work for all the people in them.
As I look back, I can see that my ‘why’ has stayed constant while the “what” and the “how” have changed and evolved. Want to join us in ‘saving the work world’? I’d love to hear your ‘why!'
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.