From fry cook to General Manager, Laura’s first steps on her career path led her to truly transformational people leadership.
After stops at major restaurants and retailers like Apple and Starbucks, Laura has shifted gears and has accolades like top-selling leadership author and international guest speaker on her resume.
- 0:00 – How Laura’s first steps on her career path sent her on a journey to truly transformational people leadership.
- 1:08 – What’s happening in the labor market today.
- 7:51 – How generational differences are part of the leadership equation, but not all.
- 11:42 – The balance between support and challenge in leadership.
- 13:48 – The value of a multi-method evaluation as a leader.
- 17:42 – Why people fail to advance in their career because they don’t feel appreciated and respected by their leaders.
- 22:05 – How to inspire leaders to be the best leaders they can be.
- 26:11 – When we look at the journey as a binary yes or no question, we tend to skip over the lessons we learned and the gaps we had to
- 29:07 – The healthiest organizations not only bring in the right people to collaborate with in a certain part of the business, but they recognize that bringing a finance
- 34:02 – Laura’s thoughts on the importance of looking at the development of people in a holistic sense.
Notes from the Show
“Leadership is my jam.”
A New Kind of Diversity: Making the Different Generations on Your Team a Competitive Advantage
There is a new kind of diversity that only eight percent of U.S. companies even recognize: diverse generations on teams.
It’s the different generations that find themselves working together. It’s a generation gap.
There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other.
Is it superior strategy?
No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are.
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Connect with Laura Darrell
Top-selling leadership author and international guest speaker passionate about organizational health and leadership development. 25 years of people, team, and departmental leadership experience with some of Canada and the world’s most iconic brands. A Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Royal Roads University.
Episode 37 – Full Transcript
Aaron Lee 0:00
from Frank cook to General Manager Laura’s first steps on her career path sent her on a journey to truly transformational people leadership. After stops at major restaurants and retailers like Apple and Starbucks. Laura has now shifted gears and has accolades like top selling leadership author, and international guest speaker on her resume. She truly is passionate about organizational health and leadership development. She says leadership is her gem. And I can tell you, that’s 100% True. Let’s dive into today’s conversation with my good friend Laura. Welcome to the new generation leader podcast, we’re giving you the tools you need to lead in the digital world ready to reach your true potential. This is the new generation leader podcast. Alright, so we’ve got a lot of layoffs that we’ve already been talking about, just as we’ve gotten started here, a lot of changes happening coming to app people, what are you seeing and noticing, as you’re watching headlines working with clients? What are they facing that you’re noticing today?
Laura Darrell 1:08
Yeah, I think it’s an interesting time in the labor markets, you you kind of have these competing headlines where I’m part of the commentary, you’re seeing organizations continually struggle to find and attract great talent and, you know, words of we’re in a hiring crisis. And you know, we can’t attract people, and we can’t keep people. But then on the other side of things, you’re kind of watching what’s unfolding in the world of tech. And certainly, it seems like every day, there’s an announcement of, you know, more folks losing their jobs. And in big numbers, too, I think that, you know, if you’re just watching the headlines, you’re looking at some of these, you know, 1000s of people losing their job. And if you don’t put that in the appropriate context of the size of these organizations are, it can seem really scary. It’s like these two competing universes is that, you know, you go on the Googles and the Amazons, and you go on some of their job boards, and they’re still hiring a ton of people, it’s maybe a bit of a mismatch of the skills they need today versus maybe what they hired for, as they were moving through the pandemic, I think the pandemic is still a huge disruption to the labor market. And we haven’t quite seen how that’s going to pan out yet, in a number of ways, like this whole, you know, first, everybody was all virtual. And now we’re trying to go back to this, you know, bring people back to the office, and we’ll maybe it’s going to be a hybrid role. I just think that because of the pandemic, we’re still seeing massive disruptions in the labor market, either not enough people, too many people, not the right people, and how do we bring those people together to get work done today? It’s such a fascinating time, really, I was
Aaron Lee 2:36
talking to a CEO this morning in the manufacturing sector, and we were talking about the return to the office. They’ve had this great debate within their office, even here recently on what is our standard practice moving forward? Well, if you’re in manufacturing, there are significant portions of your workforce that can’t work from home. If you have that many people involved in hands on in the office kind of work, then how does everybody else in the company support that and maintain a common unified culture and they had a great debate, they made a decision, they rolled that out company wide. But to make an interesting point, when we see headlines about Google and Amazon, big companies, there’s a scale difference that just doesn’t apply to Main Street businesses or mid market companies that are just a different stratosphere.
Laura Darrell 3:31
Yeah, well, and I think, too, with these tech companies, specifically related to the labor market, there has been I mean, if you’ve been following kind of the labor market headlines for a number of years, it’s been really difficult to hire folks in that sector. Because kind of these, you know, these bigger organizations like the Googles, like the Amazons, and the meadows, I mean, really go down the list, they were snapping everybody up the top talent, the new talent, the internship talent. And if you were in that mid to lower size organization, you had some really, really big challenges attracting folks to your organization. And perhaps there’s a silver lining to this disruption that’s happening at these huge organizations related to tech. It’s that there’s going to be more folks on the job market that might be able to then, you know, trickle down into some of these midsize and smaller organizations, and then what is that going to do for their productivity for their innovation? You know, if you try and look out a year to three years down the road, it might be a good news story for some of the smaller organizations that have been really struggling to compete. I mean, who can compete with, you know, the labor budgets of Google and a meta? Do you look at some of their offices, and it’s like, Oh, my goodness, they’re more like, daycares with all of these like perks and things for everybody to enjoy. It’s really difficult for smaller companies without the deep pockets to compete like that.
Aaron Lee 4:51
It seems a generational difference. And it’s not just about generation. It’s more about where you are, I think in your career, too. Objectory that people at certain points, envision what they want, and then sometimes get into that path and pursue where they think they want to go. And ultimately recognize that looks great. But really, the better alignment for me, personally, is in a mid market company or a small business. And it’s a shift, I think, in terms of your outlook on even down to community and where you live, and where you play. And is that one in the same with where you work? Or do you have different environments where you spend your time and invest? Your outside of work time?
Laura Darrell 5:34
Yeah, fascinating point. And I’ve been doing a lot of research around Gen Z, they’re kind of this new cohort, you know, popping their heads up in the organizations today. And man, are they ever different? And I know, we say that, but oh, my gosh, the millennials are so different. You know, you know, I totally get that. But there’s some certain things around Gen Z, that are absolutely fascinating. And watching, you know, what those impacts are going to be in the workforce is going to be really interesting and certainly really disruptive. And I’d say the first thing that really stood out at me is around just the the overall mental health and well being of this cohort, specifically, is the worst of any cohort that we’ve ever seen. And there’s a number of things you can attribute that to, you know, there’s been some really interesting research and studies around all of this technology and having these devices in your hand, you know, kind of 24/7, the amount of time they spend on these devices. And through these social media platforms, that’s certainly a big part of it. Another part of it is just how society has changed a lot from like, when I was you know, in my younger years, and there was just, you know, there was like bowling leagues, and churches and community centers were really big. And there was all of these big, it’s like a support system for getting that social life outside of the working environment. But when you talk to Gen Z today, they expect of their employers two things. Number one, there’s going to be support for mental health. And I don’t think we’ve ever seen that level of expectation in the workforce before they expect there’s going to be counseling, access to counseling, their mental health is going to be talked about and considered as we’re building strategy and work norms. But they also expect that the employer and the organization is going to be a source of social opportunity for them, that there’s going to be clubs that they can join, that there’s going to be outings, that there’s going to be social events, because that infrastructure that used to be there is not super relevant today. And that’s a really big shift that employers are going to have to make if they want to attract this generation into their workforce. Because it’s, you know, the biggest hiring pool or since the baby boomers. So it’s not a group that you can, you know, well, we’re going to keep things the way they are and they’re going to adapt to us in an ever shrinking labor market, that strategy is probably not going to work out so
Aaron Lee 7:51
well. The generation is I’ve always found it to be a fascinating component. And I think it falls right in line with personal intelligence, emotional intelligence, generational intelligence, that you’ve got to figure out how to build a bridge across generations. Go one step deeper, or a few steps deeper than just what’s making headlines because the things that make headlines, one of my favorite ones to harp on is that millennials are associated with the participation trophy. Well, headlines about participation trophies go all the way back to the 1920s. And Jason Pfeiffer’s found some of those and has painted the narrative that it’s not new, we’re just maybe talking about it or, but generationally speaking, there’s a research firm here in Richmond that described Millennials as being having a collective focus, because of participation trophies, because we’re all in this together than moving forward with that mindset of we’re all in this together. And it’s not any one necessarily pursuing a leg up over somebody else. Obviously, that’s happening to some degree, but collectively, generationally, there’s a greater good kind of mindset. And in looking at the generational shifts, we just start to learn or understand or discover insights about generations, almost after they’ve come to their 20s or 30s. And so then we’re looking back, and now we’re looking to, you know, another generation that’s making waves, the ones who are, I guess, this year turning 1011 or under, yeah, they’re already gonna influence our culture, but we don’t know that much about them. And truly what’s laid out and COVID will undoubtedly impact some of how they think just as you know, 911, and Homeland Security impacted previous generations.
Laura Darrell 9:41
Yeah, thank you bring up an amazing point. It’s about insight, right. And you know, the more you get to experience folks from a different generation than you gain more insight, and so how do you have insight about what the millennials are going to be like when they’re in their 40s or Gen Z is going to be like when they’re in their 30s? Well, you can’t get those insights until you experience working with individuals in that level. So I think that it’s really important that we understand that generational differences is part of the leadership equation. But it’s not all of the leadership equation. I think if there was ever a case to be built for, you know, that situational approach to leadership, this is the case, I think we’re in this really unique time where there are boomers, XSeries, millennials, and z’s all kind of working in the same organization. And yeah, that’s going to bring different perspectives, different philosophies, and values and beliefs. And that’s important that you can’t forget that leadership is always about understanding who it is you mean to lead, like, what is it that your followers need, and each follower needs something different, you can’t approach everybody through the same lens and use the same leadership style, I think that you yourself, as the leader have to change yourself to get the most out of every team, every individual is that hard to do. Of course, it is, it’s much easier to well, this is the type of leader that I am. And this is how I’m going to lead my department, my team, my organization and love it or not, it is what it is, you’re never going to maximize your human capital in an organization with that approach. I believe that’s my perspective. It’s much more beneficial to the organization and to the people. If you change yourself as the leader to really get the most and deliver the most to the individuals that you wish to lead. That’s certainly always been my approach to leadership. And no, I think if you want to be a leader of people, you have to care about people and to care about people, you have to know them and to know them, you have to invest the time yourself to make that happen. Yeah, I think situational leadership is probably the go to style. Certainly that has been in my past.
Aaron Lee 11:42
One of the things I think about in terms of situational leadership is as you walk through the phases of bringing someone up, there’s a balance of I describe it as support and challenge based on what that person is experiencing at any moment. In stage one, they’re really excited. They don’t need much more support, because they’ve got all of that. But as you talked about with Gen Z’s frame of reference, and Tim Elmore has a recent book on the generations that will link to in the show notes. He says, between generations, there’s an ebb and a flow from confidence generation to a caution generation or boomers and millennials are confidence generations, Gen Z is another caution generation. So caution, and desire and want for mental health and social responsibility means and we’ve got to figure out how to dial up that support. You know, it’s interesting, and I’m curious how you uncover this for yourself, I find a lot of leaders coming to the table saying, well, here’s how I approach this situation. But everybody does, when in reality, that’s not how everybody views the situation. But we come to the table thinking my way is got to be the way that everybody else must approach this. So how did you start to discover in your stops on the leadership journey, gaining insight into how other people tick? And what made them come alive? And what made them bring their best at work?
Laura Darrell 13:05
It’s a great question. For me, leadership has always been a journey, that journey has been it’s had highs and lows along the way. It certainly has helped that I’m really curious by nature, and I love to learn because of that natural curiosity, I just was always kind of reading books and talking to people watching people watching different leaders, you know, that kind of propelled this desire to do some education and leadership. Because I didn’t go to university when I kind of entered the working world I just started working right away wasn’t until much later in life that I decided to pursue that post secondary path. And I did a master’s degree in leadership, which I thought was super interesting on a whole bunch of levels. But I learned something really interesting. And it didn’t if it would totally related to like a leadership style. But I learned the value of something called a multi method evaluation. And as a leader, making sure that you are evaluating the situation, the person through multiple different lenses, and not just your own observation as a leader, because if you rely solely on how you’re observing the situation, the person unfold, oh, my gosh, we have all kinds of biases, and there’s no fighting that like that is just human nature as good of a leader as you think you are, that bias is going to creep into that evaluation. And I think that is most important when it comes to how we evaluate people. I always like to use this multi method approach to how you evaluate individual performance and what individuals need. So of course, my observations and my perspective are going to be a part of that because I work really closely with them. But it’s equally as important to gain the perspective and insights of others that they work really closely with in their day to day other departments, their peers, their clients are the end users collect all that feedback and that layers into this kind of evaluation. And then you have to look at The data to data is important, you know, the metrics, you know, do they deliver projects on time? Or do they meet their KPIs, whatever that kind of hard metric you have, when you look at someone’s performance and what they might need from a development perspective. So when you layer in kind of multiple methods, I just think you can be more certain that you’re going to show up as a leader and deliver to them, the coaching that they need, where they are in their career. And I think that was a really eye opening, aha moment for me. Later on in my career, that kind of appeared to me. And I just think, again, if you want to be in the business of leading people, oh, my gosh, to do it justice, you have to put in the time like that. And yeah, does it take a lot of time to reflect on your own thoughts? And then gather the thoughts of others? It? Sure, of course it does. Again, if you want to be a leader of people, you got to put the time and then you got to coach people and develop people where they are and what they need. Otherwise, it’s not super engaging, and probably not worth the time, if you don’t put that effort in upfront.
Aaron Lee 16:04
Hey, oh, one of the things that you’ve said, and you have on your website, I love this line. And I’ll tell you why you say leadership is my jam. And as soon as I read that line, I go back to my oldest daughter’s campaign video for student government president in her Elementary School. And in her campaign video, she said, This serving you is my jam, which in essence, in a very fifth grade, 10 year old kind of way, is leadership. And she is doing a superb job. She did win the election, by the way, amazing. It’s so fun to watch her do that and bring new energy into what she’s doing. That being your jam your life experience. You’ve now shifted instead of leading, you’re encouraging and coaching leaders, including through what’s your writing, talk a little bit about what you’ve uncovered and what you’ve started writing about. And I’d love to hear also, what’s next that you’re writing about,
Laura Darrell 16:57
okay, I have to say, I love that slogan, like serving you is my jam. I’m into that. Because if Leadership isn’t about serving others, then I’m not really sure what leadership is. So I’d love that. It’s super cute. It’s a great question. You know, I think for most of my career, I spent in leadership roles. And I really fulfilled my purpose, which is really leadership. It’s my jam. Like, it’s what I love to do. I love encouraging people, I love building this culture where people are just fired up and excited. And I love pouring myself into people and developing people, and helping them on their career journeys. Moving into retirement was really interesting, because I wondered, oh, my gosh, like, what am I going to do? How am I going to fill my time? What is my purpose going to evolve into? So I decided, well, I’m gonna write a book, because I think I have something to say, about this time that we were in about a year and a half ago, two years ago, kind of the great resignation. And people were really re exploring their lives their purpose in a post COVID world, because I think when you disconnected from the office, and we sent everybody home to work, virtually, there was a lot of rediscovery there. But oh my gosh, if I don’t have this 90 minute commute every day, look at the things that I can do with that time. And and I think just COVID was a really big moment of exploration for a lot of people. I felt like getting lost in that great resignation headline. And this exploration in a post COVID world getting lost in that was the fact that something never changed in that duration of time. And that was that great organizations with great culture that took real good care of their people. They didn’t suffer the great resignation. And you know, the loss of all of this human capital from their business, it was important for me to set the record straight. I mean, I guess you can say, if you’re an organization, oh, the great resignation is why we lost our turnover spiked to whatever the crazy percentages were. During that time, it felt a little bit to me, like people were blaming the COVID mind shift that happened, and not taking accountability for culture in their organizations. And that never changed. People want to work in a place where they feel appreciated, and respected by their leaders and their co workers. And they want to work in a place where they feel like there’s opportunity and that someone cares about them. And I want to teach you, I want to coach you, I want to develop you, I want to help you on this journey. That never changed. And I don’t suspect that’s going to change anytime soon, because that’s a basic human need. And all of us is to feel appreciated and respected for the work we do and that there’s hope for a better future ahead. I wanted to tell that story. And so I wrote that book. And that felt really great because you know, you’re reaching so many more people. In my last executive role. I had big departments I had, you know, a lot of people that kind of reported up through me, but not the same as when you can write a book and you know, get that message out to so many more people. And then I was on a podcast talking about that first book that I wrote And one of the folks that was interviewing me said, Well, gosh, Laura, you’re like you’re describing utopia for these organizations. And I was like, another light bulb moment for me that I was like, oh, gosh, you know, you’re right. And how many people actually get to work in Utopia? Well, it’s not many. I think if you look at the organizations you’ve worked at, in your past, there’s been no one or two really good ones, there’s been maybe a couple in the middle. And you know, maybe you’ve worked for some that you wouldn’t care to go back to, that left me thinking, Oh, my gosh, what about all the folks that are working in these organizations that don’t have leaders that are willing to invest themselves in them and coach them and develop them and help their career grow and advance. So that led me to my second book, which was really meant to shine a light on luck, when someone tells you, you’re not a great fit for the role, which I think people hear a lot of, and not a lot of what a great fit means. It really doesn’t help people from a development perspective. So I set out on this mission to use my own experience why people fail to advance in their career, I talk to all kinds of executives across all kinds of industries to kind of land on like, what are the four or five big buckets that people tend to really struggle with. And that holds them back from their career success. The first part of the book was all about understanding what those buckets are. But the last part of the book was like a development plan for each one of those areas. Here’s the courses you can take. And here’s the books you can read, and the TED Talks and the podcasts and like all of these resources, so that people can have a bit of a roadmap to self develop in those areas themselves. Because not everybody has a leader or manager that’s kind of rooting for them behind the scenes and helping them close some of those gaps. So, you know, that was really rewarding. I think, maybe even more so than the first book because as a leader, myself, when I was working in the corporate world, oh, my jam was developing people. Like if you were to talk to folks that used to work for me in the past, they would say like, my biggest passion was you and coaching you and developing you and helping you advance your career in the area that you want to that was really rewarding. So I think that’s kind of what the future holds. For me. It’s just finding a way to inspire people and inspire leaders to be the best leader that they can possibly be. Because I really do think that, aside from being a parent, it’s probably the most well and a life saving professional. So I’ll say that for sure. But it’s one of the most important jobs that you can do, because you really do hold people’s futures in your hands. And if you don’t assess their performance without bias and using all the right avenues, and that multi method approach, oh my gosh, those things live in people’s employees files forever, like it can hold them back from that promotion. And it can stop them from getting a great job somewhere else, you hold their financial earning power in your hands. But I think most importantly, you’re the one that ultimately determine, do they go home at the end of the day feeling like, Oh, I love my job, I love where I work, it’s so amazing, or do they go home at the end of the day, and they’re stressed out and they’re burnt out, take that out on their family, take that out on their friends, it’s such an important job. And I just want to shine a big bright light on that for anyone that will listen, it’s really, really important to do that job justice,
Aaron Lee 23:13
that’s one of my core motivations is to do that and be that for people when they don’t have it. And I love the opportunities to be able to invest like that, and call people up to their greatest potential. What do you say to leaders of people, as you’re encouraging them to pursue that themselves? How do you multiply that DNA that you have done your heart and mind into other people to go and do the same thing,
Laura Darrell 23:40
the million dollar questionnaire, and oh, my goodness, I don’t know, I think every leaders way of doing that is a little bit different. And for me, I really try to show up as my authentic self. Every day in every interaction, I wear my heart on the sleeve, for sure I get really emotionally invested in the folks that I’m trying to lead. And I think that you have to have a really good blend of inspiration and the tools at your disposal to help make those things happen. Because it’s one thing to really inspire people in, oh my gosh, you know, be great lead grade, reach for the stars do all these great things. But if you can also be the type of leader that can have those tough conversations about where the gaps are, and like you really excel here, and that’s amazing. But these two behaviors, they’re holding you back, and here’s why they’re holding you back. But most importantly, let me help you close that gap. Let me help you with this tool, this program, you know, this exercise this job so common, whatever that is to help them become self aware of the opportunity and then help them close that gap. And I think that where I see a lot of leaders missed the mark in that area is that having tough conversations is hard. It’s called a tough conversation for a reason and a lot of times we want to skate over the feedback that might be uncomfortable. well to give or difficult to give, I learned early on in my career, when I worked at Starbucks, they took that really seriously like the culture of coaching and development. And they framed it up for me in a way that was really impactful. And I still talk about it, obviously to this day. And they say that you have to look at giving that difficult feedback and having that difficult conversation. If you don’t give that feedback, if not you, they don’t ever get that feedback, you’re actually holding them back in their career, you’re holding back their opportunities to develop and learn and achieve great things. And sure, it might be uncomfortable for you, but you’re not the subject here, the subject is the person you’re trying to lead. And you’ve just got to get over your uncomfort. And saying the difficult things out loud in the spirit of helping this person close gaps and achieve more and more and more as they advance in their career. So inspiring people and bringing that energy and bringing that enthusiasm, and it’s part being able to have those difficult conversations and follow that up with but I’m here to help. And here’s how I’m going to help you. I don’t know if that answers your question. But that’s how I always kind of approached that.
Aaron Lee 26:11
I think we skipped over some times those lessons that we learned and how we learned them and the gaps that we had to fill in. And if we do that, then we can tend to look at those challenging areas that somebody has and say, Oh, you don’t have it? I’m sorry. And it becomes a kind of binary yes or no, instead of saying, hey, let’s develop this. And the tools our team is using are designed to teach a leadership principle, but not just to give information. But to hold up a mirror and say, Where do you see yourself in this? Where do you see an opportunity for growth and development and be visual enough that they can remember the next time around, instead of doing this, I need to do this and respond in this way and found myself even for me personally, the lessons I continue to learn about myself, it’s about making progress one step at a time. And when we look at it in terms of the starting line versus the finishing line, and not the journey itself, we can get stuck and not seeing the potential in people that if we can remember that journey that we went on, I think that puts us in a great, humble place. And I hear a lot of humility in where you are in looking at the potential of people and recognizing I’m not the expert, I can’t do all of this for you. I can’t make this work. But let me open up my world to you and lay out some options for you to pursue on a path to whatever’s next for you whatever’s ahead, and how can you grow and develop in that direction?
Laura Darrell 27:35
Yeah, I love that. I love the way you talk about leaders having humility and understanding that I don’t have all the tools, I don’t have all the answers. I’ve certainly spent a lot of time reflecting about who I am as a leader and what my gaps are and trying to close those gaps. I think to have the expectation that is the leader, you’re always going to have the answers and you’re always going to have the tools is a recipe for a really unhealthy organization. And there’s a great book called The advantage by Patrick Lencioni. Number one, he’s amazing, I love all of his books on my shelf right over there, you just really gets it and in the advantage specifically talks a lot about, you know, collaboration from a leadership perspective and how vital it is to breaking down silos, which are just, oh my gosh, not healthy, not a great place for an organization to be, you know, when I look at some of the leaders that I admire most and certainly what I aspired to be as a leader was somebody that was certainly humble enough to understand that, look, I have a area of expertise. You know, I grew up in operations. That was my jam. Like I worked in restaurant operations. I spent almost my whole career in that industry. So could I have a really credible or to quote, Ray Dalio? Do I have a high believability factor in operations? You bet I do. Am I a finance person? Do I have any believability in finance, marketing it like you can go down the list. And no, I don’t have any credibility in those areas, because that’s not my jam. That’s not where my experience comes from. And so the healthiest organizations not only bring in the right people to collaborate with in a certain part of the business, but they recognize that bringing it a finance person in a marketing person and IT person to look at an operations, you know, challenge or platform you’re trying to build. They’re going to have incredibly unique insights. And they’re going to look at that problem in a way that is completely different than you would look at that problem. And they’re going to ask real smart questions. They’re going to change the dialogue. And I think that in a lot of organizations, that step gets missed because it’s not in the functional expertise of the problem we’re trying to solve. So taking that extra step to invite those folks to the table just for a conversation, changes the conversation and leads to innovation leads to Certainly a more collaborative organization where people take their departmental hats off. And they just use what they are and their expertise to look at problems. And I really like Patrick Lencioni. His work for that reason, because he talks about, you know, not just in the advantage, but in silos, politics, and turf wars, I mean, all of his coaching and consulting seems to really gear towards, check the functional hats at the door, bring smart people together to look at problems, because that’s the way you’re going to get to the right solution. And I really, I really admire his work because of that approach.
Aaron Lee 30:32
Yes, he’s one of those voices that he keeps bringing great books and his style with the parable along with the lesson every time it elevates those conversations. And he certainly has a believability on everything he talks about, based on his vast background and experience in consulting with lots of different organizations. There’s some great stories that still make me chuckle when I think of watching him tell a story or describe the situation. He’s a great voice.
Laura Darrell 30:59
Oh, he’s one of the best. And I think just a great example to that, no matter what kind of heights you reach in your career, or from a leadership perspective, man, there’s just always something to learn. I’m reading books still to this day, and I’m not leading people or teams anymore. But that still make me think, oh, my gosh, you know, that’s so interesting. You never thought about it that way. I think that’s just the nature of how things go, right? We’re always evolving. And it certainly business today is changing at the speed of light, it feels like and if you’re not constantly looking at yourself, and reflecting on your experience, and how you can look at things differently, pick up different skills along the way, you’re gonna get left behind, things are just moving too quickly to sit still and kind of rest on your Well, this is who I am. And this is how I lead people. And that’s the way it is things are changing too quickly for that to work.
Aaron Lee 31:49
This sure are changing fast. When you’ve had your own season of change in shifting into retirement life. As you look back over your career and everything that you experienced. What’s one of your favorite stories or memories from your leadership experience that still brings you joy? When you think back to that moment?
Laura Darrell 32:09
That’s a great question. I think that when I look back at you know, some of my first years as a leader, and I think about you know, I used to work for this restaurant chain in Canada called and W restaurants that like QSR, pretty big restaurant chain in Canada. That’s really where I cut my teeth. from a leadership perspective, I started as a fry, cook, and you know, that I worked in the drive thru. And then I was a supervisor. You know, I think about that first opportunity, I had to be the general manager, you know what that experience was like, it was amazing. It was one of the best times from a leadership perspective, because not only was I learning how to lead people, but I was also learning how to manage a p&l and how to market a business and how to, you know, recruit and hire, and how do you keep people and like all of these things coming at you all at once. And I think that, when I look back on that now, it’s such a rich development ground for future leaders to come out of because really, the responsibility is enormous. You’re the general manager of the entire business, not just a small department within a business. You’re the general manager of the whole business, I didn’t appreciate it maybe at the time, I didn’t realize it at the time. But I was really learning how to run an entire organization in a much smaller scale. And I just think that deserves the folks that do that, that come up through whether it’s retail or you know, hotels or restaurants, the folks that learn to general manage in that space, they’re getting a really well rounded leadership perspective, from that experience. So I think that I look back at that time now. And I’m like, gosh, I didn’t even realize it when it was happening. But I was learning how to wear many, many hats and be a generalist in all different parts of the business. I think that was really interesting, a really interesting time.
Aaron Lee 34:02
Those are interesting seasons to pick up and learn lots of skills, lots of insights that get multiplied over and over throughout the years, those block by block and I think following our own career paths, and looking at how to build up the career path of someone else. I think that’s a great opportunity for leaders today to look at the development of their people in a holistic sense. And I’m excited for our listeners to dive into your books and be able to begin adding those skills and perspectives and opportunities as they share those with those elite. We’ll link to both the great resignation the Motability gap in show notes from how else can people connect with you?
Laura Darrell 34:42
I am pretty active on LinkedIn. I’ve worked you know, hard over the years to build a lot of connections in that space. And that’s where I share a lot of, you know, kind of two or three times a week things that are you know, jumping out at me from a leadership perspective, I also write on substack hollow leader I like to kind of dive into mostly what right looks like from a CEO perspective. So I look for kind of CEOs out there that I think are just crushing it when it comes to people and how they nurture talent within their organization. So that’s a good spot to find some of my musings on leaders today.
Aaron Lee 35:18
That’s great. We’ll link to all that in the show notes at New Generation. leader.fm. Laura, thanks so much for being on today. I really enjoyed our conversation, we covered so much ground and I find it interesting that no matter which path a conversation goes on the show, we’re covering a lot of ground that’s practical, it’s real. And there’s always an insight to pick up. So thanks for sharing a little bit of your story.
Laura Darrell 35:42
Oh, my gosh, it was my pleasure. Erin, thank you so much. Great to meet you and just really thankful for the opportunity to chat with you and your listeners.
Aaron Lee 35:51
Thanks for listening to the new generation leader podcast. Subscribe today on your favorite podcasting platform, ready to solve your leadership crisis? Download the show notes and unlock your true leadership potential at New Generation leader.com/podcast. Thanks for listening today. We look forward to seeing you next time on the new generation leader podcast