CUES Podcast
CUES Podcast
Oct 21, 2020
CUES 103: Both New and Experienced Leaders Must Be Facilitators, Not Fixers—An Interview With Laurie Maddalena
Play • 32 min

Laurie Maddalena’s vision is to create a place where people love to come to work. Gallup has found in its most recent workforce study, she says, that only about 34% of American employees feel engaged at work.

“Most people don’t enjoy their work and I think a lot of that has to do with leadership, the quality of leadership we have in our organizations,” says Maddalena, CEO of Envision Excellence, a leadership consulting firm that provides leadership development programs for managers and executives, keynote speeches, team building and leadership assessments.

As antidote, Maddalena recommends leaders look to be “modern” leaders, focused on facilitating people doing the work, not fixing problems themselves. Modern leaders get to know their employees and place high value on the people side of the business, she says. 

New leaders sometimes struggle with taking a modern leadership approach because they have been promoted because they are technically adept—not because they have leadership skills. So instead of leading in the modern, they are more likely to lead as they were led, in a more traditional, directive rather than facilitating way.

According to Maddalena, new leaders often struggle with: 

  • Getting focused. This could be because they haven’t had the necessary leadership training or aren’t getting enough guidance from their leader.
  • Delegation. New leaders might think their technical skills are most important, when in fact their job as leader is to facilitate other people’s work.
  • Supporting their staff’s engagement. Engagement comes when leaders step back and facilitate solutions rather than fixing things themselves, she says.

To overcome these challenges, Maddalena recommends that new leaders:

  • Ask for training and other help preparing for their new role.
  • Look deeply at their leadership style and constantly develop themselves.
  • Shift their mentality about leadership. “Leadership is a privilege and it’s a responsibility,” she explains. “It’s not a hat we wear. True leadership is service.”

“I often say, ‘If it weren’t for the people, leadership would be easy,’” Maddalena adds. “Preparing yourself to be of service to people” is a key part of the job. 

In the show, Maddalena says it’s hard for people to lead in a modern way. Leadership training is important both for new and experienced leaders to continue to evolve.

“We need active leadership” more than ever during the pandemic, she says, “meaning reaching out and checking in. People are really stressed. It’s going to take more energy and effort” than ever.

“Our job as leaders is to focus on the people and facilitate the people side of the business,” she underscores. “The technical side will get done. But the people are who put the effort in to get the results, so we need to make sure that’s a big focus.”

The show also gets into:

  • How Laurie Maddalena fell in love with credit unions
  • Laurie’s favorite quote from Zig Ziglar and how that applies to leadership
  • Perspective on how leadership is the same or different during a crisis like the pandemic
  • Maddalena’s assessment of leadership readiness at credit unions during the pandemic and beyond
  • The value of modeling leadership
  • The CUES Emerge program and how Laurie Maddalena and her consultancy supported it
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