Speaker 0 00:00:01 The views expressed by guests are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike. In every episode, we engage in candid thought provoking conversations on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. And on today's episode, we are continuing our conversation on the people who play pivotal roles in our lives, in our careers and in our personal and professional growth mentors and coaches. Now, in part one of this episode, you listen to my conversation with one of my very favorite people of all time. Caroline Taylor, who's an experienced international marketing leader and change agent. Caroline spent more than 30 years in the tech sector, most notably and most recently serving as chief marketing officer for IBM's global markets. Not only this, but I am so lucky to call Caroline my very own mentor.
Speaker 0 00:00:55 Now, during our time together, we discussed the importance of mentorship and career development and personal growth. But today I want to transition this conversation to the role that coaching plays in professional growth. Now we know mentorship and coaching are both critical to leadership development, but there is an important distinction between these two. And we need to recognize when it's best to identify, to work with a coach versus just having a mentor. And while a mentor takes on the role of being an active speaker supporter in your life. A coach takes on the role of being an active listener. And this is something we are going to dive more deeply into today. As we pick back up with Beth Egan and executive coach and masterclass speaker known as the growth mindset coach for executives, Beth brings 21 years of strategic and operational experience with the Coca-Cola company to her role as an executive coach. And we at Skillsoft are lucky enough to call her a member of our family through her role as an executive coach for pluma our leading digital professional development and executive coaching platform. Beth. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us on the edge.
Speaker 1 00:02:11 Michelle, thank you for having me. I'm really looking forward to diving into this important conversation today. I am too.
Speaker 0 00:02:17 Now, before we dive in, why don't we tell our listeners a little bit about you, maybe you could share a little bit about your professional background and then also I think it's important for them to understand how you found and developed this career as an executive coach.
Speaker 1 00:02:32 Oh, I appreciate that, Michelle. Yes, I have a story and I spent, I spent over 30 years in corporate leadership positions, the last 21 at the Coca-Cola company. So I bring that, that frontline leadership experience to executive coaching, but the, um, the transitional moment for me, when I really from leading the business to leadership development, which has become a real passion point for me back in 2013, uh, my kids had gone off to college. I was newly single. I was open to the possibilities and I went on a yoga retreat to Hawaii with my yoga teacher. And there, the yoga retreat was a cohort of coaches. These were all women who I found, spoke to one, another spoke to others, um, solved problems. They had this, this way of connecting and interacting that was so uplifting and empowering. And I said to myself, I want some of that.
Speaker 1 00:03:46 And I actually signed up with an ICF certification to get my coaching certification, not knowing what I was going to do with that at the time, but I immediately began integrating it in my work at Coca-Cola. And I became, I began to be seen as a thought leader as a thought leader. And at the time the new CEO, James Quincy came into the organization and started talking about a growth culture and a growth mindset and culture transformation. And that's where I emerged as a, uh, a thought leader around, um, really shifting from this fixed to growth mindset. And I helped globally with culture transformation and best practices because the CEO believed that top-down wasn't going to do it. It was bottom up, it was creating a movement. And so that's how I evolved into this growth mindset coach at the Coca-Cola company. And then in 2018, the company offered early retirement and I said, Michelle, I'm not ready.
Speaker 1 00:05:04 I'm hitting my stride. I'm really this, this is the most fulfilled I've ever been in my career. And fortunately they give us 60 days to make the decision. And I had to have some tough coaching conversations with myself. And I said, ah, if not now, when, when are you going to step out into the broader world externally and do this work? And that's when I got clarity and made the decision to take the leap. And on my way, I connected with my network at Coca-Cola, who then introduced me to Alexandra Connell, who was the founder of pluma, which is now pluma skill Skillsoft coaching. And so, uh, it evolved for me very organically and in a way that is, um, has enabled to learn and to grow and to really feel fulfilled.
Speaker 0 00:06:02 Okay. That may be one of the most fascinating backstories truly. I've had the opportunity to hear on this podcast. So thank you for that. I'm completely enamored. I've so many questions, but okay. So let's get, let's get started. I look, I had the chance to watch you speak about your work as the growth mindset coach for executives. And I love that and you touched on growth mindset and at Skillsoft, we advocate for that. We advocate for developing a growth mindset. And we know that research shows you probably know this better than I, that leaders who adopt one tend to be more successful and fulfilled than those who maintain this, this fixed mindset. And you're probably going to have to, you know, we could have an entire separate conversation about all of this, but I think it is important. You know, when we, when we think about leadership development and the role that coaching plays in helping leaders become better at what they do this notion of a growth mindset is so important. So tell me a little bit about where coaching fits in. As we think about growth mindset as potentially the, the future aware leadership development needs to go.
Speaker 1 00:07:12 Yeah, well and growth mindset. Michelle, I define this for my clients. As your skills can be improved. It's a belief that your skills can be improved and are not fixed. And it's based on Carol Dweck's work, the social psychologist out of Stanford university and a growth mindset is a belief. So let's say that in an assessment, your high ambition, but maybe you might be low, um, social interaction. Well, it doesn't mean you can't build the muscle. And so it's a belief that it, you, your skill may not be an eight. Empathy is an example of a power skill that is very often, uh, comes to the forefront as a development area. And it doesn't mean that that, because some people have an eight empathy, um, orientation, some don't, everyone can learn and build the muscle with the tools and the practice. And so I'll give you an example of growth, fixed and growth mindset, um, in organizations, um, in, in a think of that person in the meeting.
Speaker 1 00:08:30 So the person with the fixed mindset is going to be trying to prove themselves because they don't believe they can improve. The growth mindset is focused on improving, always questioning the status quo. The fixed mindset person is going to be focused on demonstrating their skills. They want to be the smartest guy in the room, the growth mindset person focused on developing their skills. And finally, the fixed mindset person, uh, is comparing themselves to others. The others in the room, the growth mindset person is comparing themselves to themselves, to themselves yesterday, to becoming the best, to getting better. So think of the culture change from that fixed mindset and that resistance intention in the room versus the growth mindset. That's so open to the possibilities.
Speaker 0 00:09:26 And so it sounds to me like coaching can help you even think through how to, how to adopt that growth mindset, because I would imagine a lot of people come to a coach perhaps maybe with a more fixed mindset, not even realizing that they have that mindset and this opens them up a bit. Am I leading though? I feel like I'm leading the witness a little bit here.
Speaker 1 00:09:50 So it is, it is the definition of coaching and coaching is that w that we listen to the client and we listen for, um, what might be a blind spot. And we challenge that assumption because that's where the real growth happens. And so the, the work in coaching is about helping the client to bring new awareness to the forefront. And then with that new awareness applying and practicing and reflecting upon some tools that we might put in place to help with that development. And then the work is to come back with the reflections, what worked, what didn't work, how can we make it better?
Speaker 0 00:10:38 So it's really interesting that, you know, when I, when I introduced you, I talked about this notion of mentoring. When somebody, when somebody is mentoring, they are actively speaking, they're promoting they're, they're, they're helping, um, they're helping you navigate, but they're doing a lot more of the speaking where you just talked about the fact that coaching is more about active listening. So let's expand here because I think it's important that we talk about coaching versus mentoring versus sponsorship. Um, so, so sometimes I, and I bet a lot of people would think coaching, mentoring, maybe similar, maybe synonymous, but having a coach should be, and is a very different experience. So as a coach, I'd love to hear your perspective on these concepts, like the three concepts and how they differ, but more importantly, what does coaching get or where, and how should you have perhaps all three in your toolbox?
Speaker 1 00:11:38 Yeah, it's, it's a, they're, they're differentiated Michelle coaching, sponsorship and mentoring. They're all really valuable. Here's how I break it down for my clients. Um, it, cause it's important that they understand what coaching is to really optimize the experience. So I consider mentoring to be, um, support. That's a person who can support your career, who can role model. This might be a senior person. It could also be a junior person think about, um, a millennial helping a, um, you know, a gen X really understand the language, the culture, the mindset, the social media. So it could be, it isn't just that rise senior person, but it could be modern. Mentoring could be, could be really anyone who has something to share, but it's support. And it's role modeling in an area where the other person has expertise. So that's mentoring, I'll take sponsorship. Next sponsorship is so important, particularly for our female leaders.
Speaker 1 00:12:50 The sponsor is your advocate. It's your advocate for getting a promotion or getting a growth opportunity. And this is typically an individual, a senior leader with power and influence. The reason sponsorship is so important for, for all, but, but also for our women and our people of color is to have the person in the room. Who's going to advocate for you. Who's going to ensure that when they're talking about potential, we often talk about potential for, uh, people who might look like us. And we talk about, um, performance for others. So, so a woman or person of color might be held to the performance standard while others might be held to the potential, which is a much bigger, broader. So that sponsor is so important, but that's your advocate now executive. So coach, so I like to say in this context that your coach is your empowerment partner.
Speaker 1 00:13:56 If your mentor is support, your sponsor is advocate, your coaches, your empowerment, power partner. Um, I say that because your coach is going to bring an awareness to what strengths are really propelling you forward. And we want to focus in lean into those, what derailers might be holding you back and bring that awareness to the forefront. We talk a lot about perceptions because if those perceive you differently than you intend them to, then there's a gap and you want to make some shifts, some authentic shifts to ensure that the perceptions of others owner in alignment with your intention. So this is your empowerment partner.
Speaker 0 00:14:43 I love that. And I really love the distinction. So I just, I want to make sure everybody got that meant your mentor is your support. Your sponsor is your advocate and your coach is your empowerment partner. And I love that very simple definition because it makes it so easy to understand, by the way, you're going to love this. And I did not. Pre-seed this, everybody listening. I did not tell Beth this at all, but I met with my, I think she may even be gen Z she's, she's definitely millennial or younger men. I will officially call her my mentor, but we met yesterday so that she could give me some tips and help me through social media. So we that's the meeting I had yesterday. I am going to ask her to be my official mentor now, because I love that notion. And I don't think it's even reverse mentoring. I think it really is. You're getting support from somebody who is an expert in an area and, and she can serve as a role model. So I am thrilled that I am going to go ask this young woman now to be my mentor.
Speaker 1 00:15:52 Ah, that's. That is a great example, Michelle of modern mentoring, reaching to someone yeah. Of, uh, of, of much younger who has a certain lifestyle expertise. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:16:07 So, so then let's, so this is a great segue, I think, you know, on the topic of, of coaching and the future, because it sounds like this, this modern mentorship, or, you know, the, the, when we think about where coaching is going, what are some of the trends that are rising to the fore? And I would ask you then how has coaching changed in the past five years? And actually, I should probably say past 18 months, because I would, I would imagine that it's taken on a whole new, um, role for people, this empowerment advocate, this empowerment partner during the pandemic. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:16:50 It at Michelle, it has add, but group coaching had been growing exponentially even before the pandemic. And it has accelerated exponentially since the pandemic. And, um, it, the, it, some of the trends that have, are, are really at the forefront that, that are escalating, this growth are this idea of democratization, democratizing coaching coaching. Isn't just for the, C-suite, it isn't just for the few, but coaching is for everyone. Everyone in your organization can benefit from coaching. And at, at pluma, we coach globally across six continents, we coaches speak 20 languages. And so it is a really a global trend, um, around this highly personalized one-on-one leadership development and growth opportunity. So it's the democratization broadening and expanding coaching. The second trend is digitization. And while digitization is, is, you know, important and every aspect of all of our businesses, it's enabled coaching to scale. So now the efficiencies of an online platform have now allowed many work coaches.
Speaker 1 00:18:21 I can coach anyone in the world today and I do coach around the world. Um, and so it has really opened up a, um, it's simplified, it's efficient, um, and it is really effective. And you asked about pre post pandemic, and I will tell you that 90% of my coaching was digital before the pandemic. Interesting. And now it's a hundred percent. I just don't go to, to the Coca Cola building for a few of my clients that I have there, but so it had already been going in that direction. And now it is perceived as a really as, as the only way as the best way. It's no longer, um, second rate, but it really is, um, highly, um, that human interaction is so much more efficient on the digital platform. Uh, and then the third trend, uh, we, we call power skills. We've talked about those a moment ago, but it is this awareness that the, these emotional intelligence empathy, you know, the confidence, this awareness is what propels a leader as leaders shift from being doers to leaders. It's about the people skills and it's about inspiring others. And so this, um, this really heightened awareness of the power of these power skills, um, as a leader to motivate and inspire and influence has really accelerated coaching, uh, because those technical skills are what got all of us where we are. It's the power skills that are going to propel us forward.
Speaker 0 00:20:11 You know, you are speaking my language, anybody who has heard me podcast or talk power skills, it's something that we are such big proponents of here at Skillsoft. And I, you know, I'm a, I'm a firm believer in the fact that while the sort of role-based hard skills help you do things right, it's the power skills that help you do the right thing, which is so essential to becoming an effective leader. And now I want to, I want to talk a little bit about something that I think is important, this notion of confidence versus right. Um, because I think it's fascinating and it really made me think about, um, a topic. I know so many people out there have a sense of imposter syndrome, where we doubt our abilities, where we might feel like a fraud at work. And, and, you know, it's, it's this, I think it's this idea of confidence versus competence. And I think it is something to, and I've talked about this before in, uh, the pink pandemic work that we've done, but it disproportionately affects women as, as compared to their male counterparts. So I'd love to talk more about how coaching women in leadership positions can help move women away from some of these feelings of imposter syndrome, because we know that women tend to feel them more than their male counterparts. You want to touch on that for us?
Speaker 1 00:21:43 Yeah. And Michelle, that's such a, um, it's, it's I see it every day in my coaching. Um, and it's real and the confidence competence gap, the data behind it is that in the gender data behind it, is that when a man is ready for a promotion, when he's about 60% ready, he raises his hand and says, I'm in, I'm ready. Now, a woman, when she feels ready is at what percent do you think?
Speaker 0 00:22:19 Oh my goodness. I don't know, but I will tell you that I like to do the job before I asked for the job, is that what you're going to tell me?
Speaker 1 00:22:27 That's it it's a hundred percent and it doesn't surprise me. And so that is it. And so I bring the data to the forefront with my female clients. So they can recognize that some people at the table when they're at 60% believe they're there. And when we behave and they observe that we need to be a hundred percent, that's perceived as a confidence gap. And it is, that is the confidence competence, because the woman's at a hundred when she steps in the man's at 60, when he steps in. So that's a competence confidence gap. It's important to bring that to the forefront with my female clients, so that they recognize that, that this is a self-imposed mindset that may be holding them back. And that's what leads to the imposter syndrome because imposter syndrome is feeling inadequate, despite the evidence feeling inadequate. And I see this with my C C suite clients that are so competent, and it is that feeling.
Speaker 1 00:23:36 And, um, and, and that, Michelle's where growth mindset. That's where we really work on growth mindset. And it's about reframing from the, um, I'm not ready to I'm ready enough. And when we reframe, then, then that builds the confidence. And, um, it, it, it really leads to action. Um, but it, it's a lot of work around growth mindset and scenarios around imposter syndrome and just naming it and bringing it to the forefront. Uh, but there's also a third area. Um, it's perceptual that really leads to this confidence competence gap. And it is, um, it's the language we use and there's research done by Dr. Deborah Tannen. Who's a linguistics, uh, CEO brought her in because he was told there were no females ready on the bench. And he didn't believe that he brought her in to do a study. And what she, what she concluded and brought forth in her study is that the language we use it because in our girl play groups versus the boy play groups, the, the boys were rewarded for charging the hill for being the alpha male for being the leader.
Speaker 1 00:24:53 The girls were, were rewarded for holding back and not being all of that, not thinking too highly of themselves and being just holding themselves back and not being sort of all that is, is, was, was the quote. And so, because we learned this language and behavior as children, we bring it into the board room and the perception of a woman who might be saying, well, you know, I I'm really not, um, or who might be starting sentences with I'm sorry, but, uh, that's perceived as lack of confidence. So it's this, it's this 60 versus a hundred percent readiness. It's the linguistics. And then it's this imposter syndrome, um, which is, you know, feeling inadequate despite the evidence. So that's the area in our coaching that we really work on reframing and shifting, and then applying more empowering thoughts and behaviors.
Speaker 0 00:26:04 I, I love that insight. And I'm, I, I love that definition too, of imposter syndrome feeling inadequate, despite the evidence, because of what that suggests is, women are ready and they are competent, but it is in fact, a confidence issue. And we really need to, we need to teach ourselves to stand up for and be open to new possibilities, even when they're a little scary.
Speaker 1 00:26:37 Yeah. Especially when they're a little scary, because that's where the real growth. I love
Speaker 0 00:26:44 That. I love that. I feel like this is a wonderful coaching session for me. I think I'm getting so much out of this bath now, before I jump into my last question, I think it would be great if there, you know, if we've all got this toolbox and you're going to fill it with essential tools that we all need now, again, this isn't where we're, we're not, we're not coaching the world, but, but you know, what are those things, those essential tools that you would recommend leaders have in their toolbox so that they can be more effective so they can lead others successfully what what's in our toolbox.
Speaker 1 00:27:17 Yeah. So two things I'll bring to the forefront. One is the behavior change model around a growth mindset. And the theory of the model is that your thoughts impact your feelings, which impact your actions. So you want to shift, catch and shift the thought. So if it's scary, what's a more empowering thought. What's the opportunity. What's the excitement. So shifting from the threat to the opportunity response then shifts the feeling from self doubt to confidence. And then when you have that feeling of confidence, that it impacts the action versus the inaction of the threat response. So the thought impacts the feeling impacts the action. So catch the thought and practice shifting the thought, because that's how you build a new neural pathway to hardwire yourself for confidence and continue to build that muscle. I had a client, Michelle, who, who, when we went through this, um, thought feeling action, she said, oh, it's like snowboarding.
Speaker 1 00:28:34 If you lean your shoulder into the hill, your body follows. And I love that analogy because if you shift the thought, your feelings and your actions follow, so it really simplifies this behavior shift, this mindset shift to that thought catching and shifting the thought and allowing the feeling and the action to follow. So that's that the first and that can be applied to so many things. The second tool in the toolbox is listen and respond with empathy. And that is so powerful. One of my clients called it magic the other day. It, because it is being fully present, it's listening to the facts and the feelings. So you have a sense of where the other person might be coming from so that you can connect with them in a way they feel heard and understood. So number one is be present fully present, listen, to understand, not to respond, uh, listen for the feelings and the facts. So you understand their perspective from their point of view. And three ask, don't tell, follow with an empowering question, not go do this, or here's how I would do it, but follow with an empowering question. So how is that going to move your business forward? Whatever the question might be, but listening and responding with empathy, builds, trust, influence, and inspires others. And it really is a powerful tool.
Speaker 0 00:30:17 You know, I know that we haven't been on for very long, but I've learned so much and I love all of this guidance and I encourage everybody. You know, I'm going to go back and listen to this again. And again, because I think there's a lot of wisdom here and a lot of real, tangible guidance that can be applied in the now. So thank you, Beth for that. And I I've been taking notes as I'm sure you've seen and not everybody can see us. Um, he, you know, we don't have that. We don't have the visual today, but, but I have been taking notes furiously, and it's been such an incredible conversation. Now I do have one final question and I've asked this of all our guests since I started as it's actually a three-part or so you kind of, you may, you may need to take a note, but, um, as we reflect on the past year, we've all had a different experience when it comes to the impact that the pandemic has had on our lives. So the question is this number one, what have you learned about yourself in the Pendo during the pandemic? Number two, have you applied what you've learned in the flow of work and the flow of life, and then finally, what advice might you share with others based on that knowledge? So what have you learned, have you applied it and what advice would you give?
Speaker 1 00:31:34 What have I learned? How would I apply it? What advice would I give? And Michelle, I am the first to say that I am a work in progress. This is a lifelong journey. Um, and the pandemic, you know, what I, what I really learned is it's okay to slow down. I am an extrovert, I get energy from people. I have an active social life, um, social and business travel, and all of that has, has come to a halt. And so what can I do? I've learned that it's okay. I have filled that. How have I applied it? I feel that with, with home family and self, um, at home, we bought a new home we're renovating and, um, it just really putting our resources into just, just creating this nest, um, in terms of family, my partner, Paula, and I decided to get married recently. <inaudible>
Speaker 1 00:32:42 and that really, that really came out of, I did have a, I did have COVID I had, uh, a mild to moderate version of COVID. I lost a brother-in-law from COVID. And so we thank you. And so we really looked at what matters most and how we want to live our lives. And so that's a commitment that was scary. That is now just really the, the, the, um, uh, the, the, the beautiful thing to do. Um, and so w just working on the home and evolving in, in, um, in my relationships and I'm experimenting at work, um, I've just taken on a role as a recruiter with Plumas. So I'm helping to find coaches globally, which is work. I never thought I would. I never thought I would do, but I absolutely loved speaking to these wonderful, brilliant people globally. So that's my current state, um, of applying what I've learned, um, in the slow down, um, my advice is to adapt, continue to adapt, to change, continue to find opportunities to learn and grow from it. I love what I, I saw a quote from, from Darwin. And he said that, that, and he's talking about the animals, of course, but he said, it's not the smartest or the strongest who survived, but it's the most adaptable. And so it's, it's yeah. Just continue to adapt and find the real joy in the challenge.
Speaker 0 00:34:24 Yeah. I love that, Beth. Thank you so much. It has been a tremendous pleasure to have you on the edge.
Speaker 1 00:34:33 Well, Michelle, thank you. And I am so privileged to be able to talk to you and to speak out to your audience about the value and power of coaching
Speaker 0 00:34:49 And, you know, look, great leaders never stop growing, no matter their job level or title or the amount of success they achieve. And even as a chief marketing officer, I still rely on mentorship and coaching to help me learn and grow and become a more effective leader. And throughout my life, I've had the wonderful pleasure of meeting with people like Caroline and with Beth. And I I've come to see that we are better together. So I'm going to leave you with this. If you don't already have one, Caroline told you find a mentor, also find a coach or find a sponsor who can serve to support you on your professional and personal journey. And if you have already marked the path, reach out and invite someone to learn from you and what you've experienced and to our listeners, thank you for tuning into this and to every episode as we unleash our edge together. And on behalf of the entire Skillsoft team, we encourage you to keep learning, keep growing and in light of our conversation today, consider reaching out to those people who have supported you on your journey and share your thanks in honor of national mentoring day, I'm Michelle BB. This is the edge until next time be well.