Riding Shotgun with Organizational Leaders

542855_10151305082343377_1864577003_nYou want to know one of my guilty pleasures as a consultant?

Being invisible.

I love hearing about my work from someone who has no idea I was involved in it. It’s that moment I hear about an awesome new program that rocked someone’s world…and I know I wrote the curriculum. Or the event that went off without a hitch…and I know I designed it and coached the leader on how best to deliver it. Or the leader who has really taken her team or organization to new heights…and I know because I’ve been working with that leader behind the scenes to help her clarify her vision, strategy, and unlock her full capacity to lead.

It makes me feel like I’m an organizational ghost-writer. It’s as close as I’ll ever come to being a woman of intrigue.

Having worked as a consultant for nearly twenty years now, I have a full-range of experiences to tap into – from my days as an internal consultant in the corporate world to working as an external independent consultant – designing, facilitating, and working with leaders to navigate large and small scale organizational change, leading company retreats and team-building off-sites, delivering training sessions, doing data-gathering and compiling feedback, developing curriculum, creating event designs, and working with various assessment tools.

But these days? I’m all about being invisible to the organization.

Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than riding shotgun with an organizational leader who is willing to step up and assume responsibility to actually lead. The leaders I work with want to be the one to stand in front of the group and make the compelling case for change – or breathe life into new vision, or lay down the bigger bolder expectations of how to approach their work.

2012-12-06 18.18.32The leaders I work with don’t need me to share the stage with them. They’ve got it covered.

Which means that our work together happens behind the scenes, in the wings, or off-line. We put our heads together in advance of any moments on stage, and then regroup and debrief afterwards – integrating any new information, distilling learning and course-correcting for what’s coming next.

“When you start to work with someone like Lael, you know you can trust her right away, and that she is someone with whom you can be inarticulate, clumsy, un-composed, tongue-tied, and positively brilliant! You can talk, yell, draw, scribble, throw your hands in the air, pace, high-five, clench your fists, sit on the floor and completely drop that wonderful/awful facade we carry as leaders.”

So how does this look? You tell me.

My one-on-one work with leaders is not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal. It’s never been – that’s just not how I roll. Our work together is completely customized according to what you need and when you need it.

For some people, that’s taking a three-hour chunk of time and spreading it all out on the floor (sometimes literally) to get a lay of the land, quell the sense of overwhelm, turn down the noise, sort through the “work” that’s apparent as well as what’s emerging, and get a sense of perspective and priorities. For others, it means have me craft a pile of juicy and provocative questions in advance of our first meeting to prime the pump and get them thinking more critically about what they are noticing, feeling, wanting – for themselves as leaders as well as for the organization as a whole. Then, there are those who simply need an extra pair of hands to pull together a design, a curriculum, or some models of change that would be helpful. Finally, there are those leaders that just feel out on a limb, vulnerable and completely alone. For those people, I become a sounding-board, a trusted confident, and a safe haven to sort through the noise that can live in our heads (and in our organizations).

You get to drive the car. And I’ll ride shotgun. 

Have you just started a job in a new company and you’re wanting to use this as an opportunity to really unleash your potential and have the impact you know you’re capable of having? Were you just promoted to a position that allows to finally assume the responsibility you’ve been craving? Is your piece of the organization feeling stale, lack-luster and uninspired and you’re wanting to move it in a different direction but aren’t sure where to begin? Do you see an opportunity for change in your organization that no one else seems to be seeing?

Then you’re one of my people. Just give me the sign and I will happily ride with you.

I will promise you this: I will bring everything I’ve got to our work together – the science and theory of change and transition, a boat load of ideas, tons of resources, countless stories from the field, a shot of inspiration with a courage chaser, some tough questions, honest opinions, and a fierce commitment to your success. I will be equal parts sounding-board, provocateur, adviser, think-tank, comic relief, midwife and champion.

cowgirlwalking her horseHere’s what I bring to the party as your personal shotgun rider:

I help make sense of what you’re seeing, experiencing and wanting for your business or organization. I bring boatloads of models, lenses and frameworks that offer a better understanding of what’s at play.

I provide the space for you not to have it all figured out. When you work with me, you get to be messy, confused, then clear and confident. You get to change your mind, be full of doubt or on-fire committed. I create processes that invite you not to settle on what you know to be right and true for your organization.

I offer insight and experience that enable you to prioritize and sequence the various tasks, stages and initiatives that can all feel so important and pressing. In doing so, I demystify the process of transition and change, creating clear road maps.

I stimulate your thinking, challenge your thoughts, poke holes in your logic and have you examine your role in creating just about every facet of the organization. I am not a head nodder and hold you accountable for creating the change you want.

I offer booster shots of courage, validation and motivation when you need it most because I understand the fortitude and endurance it takes to create sustainable change.

I provide you with reality checks – sharing observations about the organization’s readiness and capacity for change as well as the effectiveness and sustainability of you, the leader. I transfer learning by the bucket load, offering periodic coaching and resources to further hone and develop you as a leader, and help set realistic expectations that will set you (and your organization) up for success.

I continually monitor and scan for opportunities to create more organizational alignment that will support and sustain the desired change. I help leaders understand and differentiate isolated instances (ie. performance issues or conflict) from established patterns (cultural or systemic issues). I look at all the moving pieces – from vision and strategy to culture and reward systems – and check to ensure they are all working in concert with each other.

I help you recognize and celebrate the change as it’s happening – and then again after it’s happened – by creating specific measures and milestones to track progress and offer perspective and hope when you become exhausted or can no longer see the impact your leadership is having.

As a consultant, I believe in keeping it real, speaking plain English and getting to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. I’m able to do that because of the quality of the relationship I form with my clients. We roll up our sleeves and dig in. We toss things (ideas, concepts, solutions) around, we pull things apart and we piece them back together in new and different ways.

My clients lead. I ride shot gun. It’s a thing of beauty.

I consult with clients nationally – some are in Maine, but most are not. Regardless of our geography, we get creative with how we work together, spreading out our thoughts on butcher paper, walls or the floor, sharing documents on-line or over email. We’ll go back and forth, face-to-face in your office, my office or over the phone. We make it work in a way that feels good, easy, and natural – no fuss, no muss. Simply put, we just get shit done. Fast and well.

If I do my job well, your clients, colleagues and collaborators won’t ever see me. But they’ll notice the difference.

I’ll be your secret weapon.