Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 030: Disruption and Leadership

Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 030: Disruption and Leadership

Whitney Johnson
Innovation and Disruption Theorist | Keynote Speaker | Best-Selling Author | Executive and Performance Coach
Disruption and Leadership

Episode Summary
Whitney Johnson is a global influencer and host of the “Disrupt Yourself” podcast. We discuss the reason it’s important for organizations and individuals to avoid complacency by disrupting themselves and continuing to adapt over time even when it seems unnecessary.

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Bio
Whitney Johnson is one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world (Thinkers50) and an expert on helping high growth organizations develop high growth individuals. As a former award-winning stock analyst on Wall Street and co-founder of the Disruptive Innovation Fund with Clayton Christensen, Whitney Johnson understands how stocks and people gain and maintain momentum. She has codified her frameworks for developing high growth individuals––the S Curve of Learning and Personal Disruption frameworks in the critically-acclaimed book Disrupt Yourself, and the award-winning Build an “A” Team (Harvard Business Press, 2018), and is a frequent lecturer for Harvard Business School Publishing’s Corporate Learning.

In 2019, she was ranked #3 on the Global Gurus’ Top 30 Organizational Culture Professionals. In 2017, she was selected from more than 16,000 candidates as a “Top 15 Coach” by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. She is a LinkedIn Influencer with 1.7 million followers and was selected as a Top Voice of 2018. Whitney hosts the weekly “Disrupt Yourself” podcast at whitneyjohnson.com.

Website
https://whitneyjohnson.com/

LinkedIn
http://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneyjohnson

Twitter
http://twitter.com/johnsonwhitney

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/JohnsonWhitneyauthor

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/johnsonwhitney/

Leadership Quote
“Shame limits disruption, not failure. If it is scary and lonely you are on the right path.”

“Do not dare not to dare.” – C.S. Lewis

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Transcript

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This podcast is part of the C Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

This podcast is sponsored by Grand Heron International. Through a growing network of credentialed and vetted coaches, Grand Heron International brings you on-demand coaching with coaching on site and the Coaching Assistance Program for corporations. Whether you are a company committed to investing in your leaders, an individual navigating a complex situation or a coach searching for a superb network of coaches, visit us at GrandHeronInternational.com.

Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, the Leadership Excelerator, Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Keep Leading Podcast, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and insights. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact through the power of facilitation, coaching and professional speaking.

I recently had a vendor boast about not having changed his pricing structure and go-to-market strategy for over 30 years. I was shocked. What he saw as a source of pride, I saw as an hourglass filled with sand about to run out because organizations that don’t change may find themselves disintermediated. I believe it’s important for organizations and individuals to continue adapting with time even when it seems unnecessary. And this is one reason I want to talk about disruption and leadership. To do that, I’ve invited a very special guests who I’m really excited to have. I’ve invited Whitney Johnson. Whitney Johnson is one of the 15 leading business thinkers in the world. She is an expert on helping high-growth organizations develop high-growth individuals. She has codified her frameworks for developing high-growth individuals, the S-Curve of Learning and Personal Disruption Frameworks in the critically acclaimed book Disrupt Yourself and the award-winning book entitled Build An A-Team. In 2019, Whitney Johnson was ranked number three on the Global Guru’s Top 30 Organizational Culture Professionals. In 2017, she was selected from more than 16,000 candidates as a top 15 coach by none other than Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. Whitney is also a LinkedIn influencer. That means she has a lot of followers. To be a little bit more precise, over 1.7 million people follow Whitney Johnson on LinkedIn and she was selected as a top voice of 2018.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am super happy to have and to welcome Whitney Johnson.

Whitney, thank you for being on the Keep Leading Podcast.

Whitney Johnson:
Thank you for having me, Eddie.
Eddie Turner:
Whitney, please tell my listeners a little bit more about you and your work that you’re doing.
Whitney Johnson:
Well, first of all, my name is Whitney Johnson, as you just said. Let’s see. What about the work that I’m doing? Well, my background, very briefly, is I studied music in college. And after graduating from college, my husband and I moved to New York. And he was in school, we needed to put food on the table, and I decided that I needed to actually work in order for that food to go on the table because we need money. And so, I started looking for a job. And because I studied music in college, actually it was hard to find a job. I was a music major, didn’t want to go into the music industry. I didn’t have very much confidence. I didn’t have any connections. And at the risk of stating the obvious, I’m a female. And so, the best job that I could get working on Wall Street was as a secretary. So, I would go to work every day as this secretary. And right across from my desk there was this bullpen of young male stockbrokers aspiring masters of the universe. So, this is the era of liars, poker, and bonfire of the vanities and working girl. So, the pressure to open accounts is very intense. They say things like “throw down your pom-poms and get in the game.” And at first, I was very offended because I had been a cheerleader in high school but after listening to this over and over again thinking “I’m going to be working at least five years. Why would I make X when 10X is a possibility?” I realized it was time for me to throw down my pom-poms. And that was the beginning of me disrupting myself, which has since become my life work. So, I throw down my pom-poms, I get in the game and I’m like “Okay, what am I going to do?” So, I start taking business courses at night – Accounting, Finance, Economics. I have a boss who believes in me. So, I’m able to move from secretary to investment banker, which rarely happens for those of you who know financial services.
Eddie Turner:
It’s a big move.
Whitney Johnson:
It is a big move. And then I moved from banking to equity research. We have two children, which is a very big disruption. And then I leave Wall Street to become an entrepreneur, co-found a disruptive innovation fund with Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School. And now several disruptions later, I’ve become a researcher and an author and I’ve codified a framework that I get to teach to organizations around the world, that I get to talk to all of you about right this very moment, but that was the beginning of me disrupting myself. And that’s really become the message that I would give to each one of you, the thing that I write about over and over again, this idea of personal disruption. So, that’s what I do. I teach organizations about this framework of personal disruption as a means or mechanism for developing high-growth individuals. And then I also work with organizations on introducing the S-Curve of Learning Framework so that you as a leader know how to manage this team of high-growth individuals, understanding where people are on their current S-Curve of Learning and then how to optimize those curves in order to have an organization that can be innovative as in high-growth. So, that’s what I do. Very quickly, that’s my background.
Eddie Turner:
Wow! What a summary! Thank you for that. And you’re right, I mean, just your personal journey is one of personal disruption and one that I want to make sure we dig into a little bit more and help listeners understand what they can do and what that means for them, especially as leaders. And I learned about you when your book was released – Build An A-Team. Right before or right after it was released on the Institute of Coaching, you led a fascinating webinar. And I followed your work ever since but I don’t know that I really had captured that part of your background before.

So, when you think about what you just laid out, some people might say “Why not play it safe? Why go through all these changes?”

Whitney Johnson:
It’s a great question. And it’s one that I think about a lot. So, the reason that we don’t play it safe, the reason that we do go through all these changes is if you think about it from a product or service standpoint, and that’s really if you think about this theory of disruption, it was something that was originally created by Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School but the big insider aha that I had was this theory also applies to people. It’s not just about products, it’s not just about services but it applies to people. Well, what we know from the theory when you’re applying it to companies or products or services, etc. is that when you pursue a disruptive course, when you’re willing to change, your odds of success are six times higher and your revenue opportunity is 20 times greater. That’s for a product, that’s for a service but I think we can pretty safely bet that there are some analogs for us as human beings. What we also know is that for us, as for you, Eddie, and for me, is that whenever we learn something, our brain gets a squirt of dopamine, this chemical in our brain, that makes us happy. And so, every time we learn, we get happy, we get the squirt of dopamine, we get happy. And so, we make the decision to disrupt ourselves over and over again because that’s ultimately what learning is, is that you start at the bottom of a ladder, you climb to the top, you figure some things out, and then you jump to the bottom of a new ladder because you want more of that dopamine, you want to learn. So, you learn, leap and repeat, not only because your odds of success are higher but also because you’re happier.
Eddie Turner:
Yes. Now, the reason I asked that is because some people would say, and I totally agree with you that, yes, learning more stimulates us to want to continue to have this never-ending journey of being a continuous learner but I’ve met a lot of people, as I’m sure you have in the coaching space, where they might believe that it’s best to go far and deep rather than to go broad and narrow. And so, they say “Stay in your lane. Don’t try to stretch and go into another area.” You were doing work as a secretary. Then you moved up to a higher level in the financial services industry. Then you left all of that and did something completely different and you’re running your own business now and you are a global influencer. What do you say to folks that say stay in your lane? Something similar what you said already or do you have a little bit …
Whitney Johnson:
That’s a really great question, Eddie. And I think that it still applies. So, a great example of this is, for example, if you’re an astrophysicist or you’re a neurosurgeon, you’re not going to jump careers, you’re not going to jump from marketing to finance, for example, inside of an organization or you’re not going to be in high school and then go to college because, I mean, think about it, in high school you start at the bottom of the ladder, you climb to the top, you’re senior, then you jump to the bottom of a new one. You do that in college if you go to college. Then you do that with your first job, second job, etc. but as a neuroscientist or a neurosurgeon or a rocket scientist, that’s more difficult to do in terms of the domain expertise. So, this goes to your idea of going deep but what I would say is that even when you make the decision that the discipline or the domain that you’re in requires that you stay in that lane, that does not mean that you cannot disrupt yourself.

So, let me give you a few examples. Every time you work on a new project within, let’s say, neurosurgery or neuroscience, every time you work on a new project, every time you have a new team configuration, every time you move to a new location, every time you have a new boss, every time you make a decision to learn more about your industry or learn more about how to lead and gather a new group of scientists together or to convene people around a problem, every time you make a decision to become a better leader, all of those are instances where you are disrupting yourself. You’re still a rocket scientist or an astrophysicist or a neurosurgeon. So, you’re going deep but you’re still very much disrupting yourself because what disruption is at its simplest is it’s the decision to become a silly little thing so you can take over the world. And we become silly little things every time we make the decision to try to learn something new to do something differently than we did yesterday, to go through that discomfort of becoming a different person and trying something that we’ve never done before. We think that we do that all the time but the older and older we get it, the easier and easier and easier is to actually never do anything new. And so, that decision, even within a very, very deep understanding of an industry or a deep understanding of a discipline, there are still opportunities aplenty to disrupt yourself.

Eddie Turner:
Indeed, very well said. So, thank you for sharing that because now you gave us a framework or you gave us a window into disruption can be completely making a change in a career or staying in that same career and still disrupting yourself by continuing to challenge yourself to grow and do things differently. So, thank you for sharing that.

You actually have a seven-stage framework for personal disruption that can be a guide to people. Can you share that with us?

Whitney Johnson:
Yeah, absolutely. So, just recapping quickly. So, this framework, I discovered disruption is not just about products and services, it’s about people. And one of the things that I discovered is that, and this goes to something you said earlier, Eddie, is this idea of people saying “Well, I just want to stay where I am. This is really comfortable” but the fact is or I believe, actually, that every single one of us and the deepest part of ourselves want to learn. We want to grow. We want to develop. It’s an imperative because we know, again, that that will make us happy. The challenge is that that means it challenges us, it requires us to iterate how we are. And so, we’re scared. I mean, it’s just plain and simple, we’re scared. And so, when I think about what I’m trying to accomplish in the world is I’m trying to help people be a little less scared to do the thing that they know will make them happy. And so, this seven-point framework of personal disruption is designed to help you do that, to codify the process, to put some structure around this process of change so that we can be a little bit less scared and a little bit more happy.

So, what are the seven steps? The first one is to take the right risks. And there are lots of different kinds of risks we can take. We tend to take on competitive risk. Competitive risk in your career life looks like there’s a job posting and it looks really exciting and really attractive but because it’s a job posting, there are going to be 20 other people applying for it. So, it’s competitive risk. You have to figure out if you can compete and when to get that spot. Market risk is this idea of you don’t know if there is a job but you see a problem that needs to be solved and you figure “I think I can solve that problem.” So, you go to your colleagues, you go to your manager and say “You know, I think this needs to be solved. Here’s how I propose pose we solve it.” If you can get the buy-in to do an experiment on how to solve that, then there aren’t going to be 10 people applying for that job. There’s going to be you because you came up with the idea. So, you’re taking on market versus competitive risk, which is why the odds of success are higher is that even though competitive risk feels less scary because it’s more certain, it actually is less certain because it’s much more competitive. One of my favorite quotes ever, and I think it came from Earl Nightingale, is that “Amateurs compete and professionals create.” So, that’s the first one.

So, number one is you take the right risks, you play where no one else is playing. Number two is you play to your distinctive strengths. And your distinctive strengths are things that you do well that people around you don’t. And a great example of this is the koala. So, you look at the koala, this cuddly little animal. It sleeps up to 20 hours a day. So, you’re like “All right, well, if it sleeps all the time, how does it eat?” Well, it survives because it eats something that no other animals can eat, which are eucalyptus leaves, because they’re poisonous. So, this is a strength but it’s also a distinctive strength. So, the challenge for us as people is to, number one, figure out what our strengths are. And a couple of clues I would give to you who are listening is, number one, pay attention to the compliments that you get. We tend to deflect compliments really quickly but every time someone gives you a compliment, they’re almost always handing you a card that says “Here’s one of your strengths.” It’s important that you figure out how to play to it. Another clue that you can get is what exasperates you, what frustrates you. Whenever you find yourself saying “Well, that’s just common sense. Everybody knows how to do that,” that, again, is a clue to something that you do extremely impossibly uniquely well.

The challenge, also, with your strengths is that you not only don’t always know what you do well but even when you do, because it’s so easy for you, it’s so reflexive for you, you don’t actually value it. So, every time in your career you have a boss or a colleague that says “Hey, Eddie, I want you to go do that thing,” you go “I don’t want to do that thing. That’s easy. And the fact that you’re asking me to do that thing must mean you don’t really value me but if you really value me, give me that hard thing to do over there.” And so, the challenge is to say “All right, well, I’m going to figure out not only what I do well. I’m going to own it. And then I’m going to be willing to do it. I’m going to do hard things,” within that domain expertise that we talked about earlier, “and then I’m going to go play where no one else is playing.” And when you’re willing to do those two things, you start to be able to disrupt yourself and be that high-growth individual that we talked about.

So, I’ll go through the other five really quickly. The third one is you embrace your constraints or disruption or the lack of time or money or expertise is not a check on your freedom. It’s actually a tool of creation. You look at the film Jaws. That came about not because Steven Spielberg had all the resources that he wanted at his disposal. It actually came about because the mechanical shark he wanted to use didn’t work. So, he had to shoot the scenes from the shark’s point of view and let the music. You can all hear it in your head, I’m sure, and our imagination do the rest.

Number four is battle our sense of entitlement. This is the belief that that we’re somehow owed or, if we’re not owed, that once things get really good, we deserve all of the success that we have but the moment that we start to believe that we’re owed or that we deserve success, we stop asking questions like “What can I do differently?” And so that S-Curve of Learning that we’re moving along, we start sliding back down that curve because the only way you keep growing is to ask questions of “What can I do differently? What can I do better?”

Number five, step back to grow. With disruption, it’s important to understand that you bring a fist back to punch, you crouch before you jump. Personal disruption involves moving sideways, backwards, sometimes down but recognizing that if you look at the theory more closely, which I won’t go into, a sideways move, a backwards move, when it comes to disruption, can very much be a slingshot.

Number six, give failure its due. And that is this idea that we all are going to make mistakes. I’ve had lots of mistakes. I bombed speeches in front of hundreds of people. I’ve been fired. I’ve backed businesses that imploded even though I was an investor and thought I was really good at it. The challenge with failure isn’t so much that we fail. We actually have to make those mistakes. That’s part of the iterating process or iteration process. The challenge is for us not to buy into the shame that can come with it. So, shame that limits disruption, not failure. I’m speaking to you you’re in Houston. One of your sisters in this world is Renee Brown. She talks a lot about shame. And what I would say is that it’s shame that limits disruption, not failure. And shame is something that we have to let go of because shame is about starting to believe that we’re fundamentally not worthy or worthwhile but that’s not what failure is. Failure is “Oh, I made a mistake. Let’s move on. What did I learn? What’s next, next, next?” It has nothing to do with our fundamental worthiness. So, we have to give failure its due but then choose success.

And then the last one is to be driven by discovery. This idea of you take a step forward, you gather feedback, and you adapt. And we all tend to think that we’re pretty good at walking into the unknown.

Do we have time for me to tell you one quick story around that?

Eddie Turner:
Go right ahead.
Whitney Johnson:
Okay. So, I always thought “I’m really good at walking into the unknown” like “I’m sure I’m good at that” like “I do this all the time because I play where no one else is playing.” Well, here’s where I had this little bit of an epiphany. So, not too long ago, I just mentioned Renee Brown, I was preparing to have her on my podcast and rereading all of her books. And one of the things she said is “How do you know when you’re feeling vulnerable? How do you know what that looks like because we tend to be like “Oh, I’m good at feeling vulnerable or I’m good at walking into the unknown”?” So, she said, “What you do is when the outcome is uncertain, when you’re feeling vulnerable, is go to one of your truth-tellers and say “What do I do when I’m feeling that way?”” So, I went to one of my truth-tellers, who happens to be my husband, and I said “So, what do I do?” He said “Well, you start to micromanage or, as my children say, you nano-manage or you become hyper-critical of everything around you.” Well, that’s really bad news. I get hyper-critical and I micromanage but the good news is now I know that when I start to do those things, I am starting to walk into the unknown. I’m starting to do that thing that is scary for me. I’m starting to be willing to disrupt myself to step back from who I am to who I could be. And so, I give that to all of you who are listening is looking at what you do when you feel uncertain. And the next time you do those things that you don’t want to be doing, like being hyper critical, say to yourself “Ah, good job. That means you’re doing something scary. It means it’s time to keep going.”

So, those are the seven steps – take the right risks, play to your distinctive strengths, embrace constraints, battle your sense of entitlement, step back to grow, give failure its due. And then at the top of the curve, the bottom of the curve, and everywhere in between on the curve, be driven by your discovery.

Eddie Turner:
Fantastic. Whitney, thank you so much.

We’re having a great conversation here with Whitney Johnson, a global influencer at all levels, and we’re talking about disruption and leadership. We’ll talk about more right after this.

This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.

This is Lou Diamond from Thrive Loud with Lou Diamond and you are listening to the Keep Leading Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
Okay, everyone, we’re back. And I am talking to the amazing global influencer, Whitney Johnson, and we’re talking about disruption and leadership.

So, before the break, we spent a lot of time talking about personal disruption and the need for everyone, as a leader, as an individual to not get comfortable, disrupt yourself, continue to challenge yourself. So, Whitney, I would like to know if a listener is hearing this conversation and now, they’re wondering “Well, how can I disrupt myself as a leader or disrupt my team of leaders?”, how does this fit into a business context for leadership?

Whitney Johnson:
Great question. So, one of the things that we talked about before the break was “Okay. So, how do I become a high growth individual?” and we developed this framework of personal disruption for people to do that, those seven points, but then the question becomes “All right. So, now I’m a leader. I’m managing people. How do I manage this team, this team of high-growth individuals and keep them engaged?” And so, this is where the S-Curve of Learning Framework comes in. And this was my next big insight. So, the first one in working with Clayton was the theory of disruption wasn’t just about products. It was about people. Well, the second big insight is that everyone is on an S-Curve of Learning. So, the S-Curve, popularized by Ian Rogers in 1962, they used it to help figure out how quickly innovations would be adopted but my insight was it could help us understand how people learn, how they grow, how we develop, and those necessary pivots in our career. And so, if everyone who’s listening, if you can just in your mind or even on a piece of paper draw an S, it kind of looks like a roller coaster. And whenever you start something brand new, you’re at the bottom of that S. And what you now know is being at the bottom of the S, growth will be slow, a lot of times going to pass and it doesn’t feel like anything’s happening. So, it can feel like a slog and you as a person can tend to get a little bit discouraged but it also means as a leader who’ve hired this person, you might feel a little bit impatient because like “Why aren’t they getting better faster?” And then as they put in that effort, they’re going to move into the steep part, that back of that S. And this is where all your neurons are firing, you’re growing very quickly, things are hard but not too hard, easy but not too easy. And so, for you the individual, you’re thinking “Wow! This is really fun,” you feel exhilarated. For you, as a manager, you might be looking at it thinking “Wow! They’re doing such a great job there. In fact, they’re doing so well, I’m just going to leave them be” but, in fact, what they do need from you at this point is a lot of focus. Instead of just saying “I’m going to let them go,” you want to keep them focused, give them challenges, give them stretch assignments, help them prioritize and also make sure you say thank you to them for doing the good work that they’re doing.

And then you get to the top of that S-Curve and it, again, levels out. And so, this is where people have become very good at what they’re doing. It’s easy-peasy but because they’re no longer learning, what are they not getting? They’re not getting dopamine. They can get slightly bored. And so, this is where, as opposed to being overwhelmed at the low end or the launch point of the curve, now they’re feeling a little bit underwhelmed and you as a manager need to say to yourself “Huh! If they feel this way too long, they’re either going to leave because they’re bored and bored people don’t tend to stick around or they’re going to get very complacent and that is really bad not only for them but definitely for us.” And so, what they need from you at the top of the curve is to challenge them. So, recapping really quickly is to recognize that every single person in your organization is on this S-Curve of Learning, including you. And when you have people at the low end or the launch point of the curve, they might feel overwhelmed. What they need from you at that point in time is just support. It may be in the form of more training. It may be in the form of your valuing the fact that they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re asking questions like “Why do we do it like this?”, which can help you innovate.

And then as you get into that steep part of the curve, it’s characterized for them by exhilaration. What they need from you is that focus, focus priorities, focus on them saying thank you and appreciate them. And then once they get the top, that for them is they tend to be underwhelmed and what they need from you is challenge. That challenge might be in the form of giving them more stretch assignments, really pushing them very hard, might be having them be a master to the apprentice or it might be having them jump to the bottom of a brand new S-Curve, this idea of you learn, then you leap, and you repeat. So, you build in this mechanism of personal disruption. They become high growth individuals and then you build a high-performing team by understanding where people are on the S-Curve of Learning. And then on that basis, then you manage them accordingly so that they can build momentum. So, that’s how you can use this S-Curve to manage your high-growth individuals and then how that aggregate into a high-performing team.

Eddie Turner:
Learn, leap and repeat. I love it. Thank you for sharing that. And it sounds like what you’re saying also is if someone finds the themselves unhappy, the solution to unhappiness is to get a shot of dopamine by learning.
Whitney Johnson:
That’s exactly right.
Eddie Turner:
Fantastic.

Now, you are considered one of the top coaches in the world. Marshall Goldsmith has this NG 100 Group, the top coaches, but you’re one of the original 15. And so, you are really a part of an elite group. And he had reasons for selecting you but then you are also an executive coach for the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Talk to me a little bit about your coaching approach.

Whitney Johnson:
It’s a great question. Okay. So, I guess I would start by saying my coaching is informed by, number one, the theory that we’ve just talked about, this framework of personal disruption and the S-Curve of Learning Framework. So, that informs all that I do, this idea that we need to constantly be disrupting ourselves and to be thinking about, as a manager or a leader, where are the people on my team that I manage on the S-Curve of Learning. So, that is certainly, from a theoretical standpoint, informing the coaching. It’s also informed by the fact that I worked on Wall Street. I’ve been inside of corporate America, so navigated inside and had that learned or lived experience of working inside of a larger organization as well as having that lived experience of being a stock analyst and analyzing how leaders, how CEOs could create or destroy value, watching them, observing them first as an equity analyst and as an investor. So, that informs my coaching as well.

Another thing that informs the coaching is the stakeholder-centered coaching that I learned from Marshall Goldsmith of understanding that we all operate within an ecosystem. So, the best and fastest way for us to get better is to be aware of what we’re doing that will either help us be successful or hinder our success within that ecosystem, once we know what those ideas or behaviors are, to share that with our stakeholders and then employ them and engage them in helping us get better.

And two other things I would say is I’m really focused on strengths, this idea that we do need to figure out what can derail us or push us off of our current S-Curve of Learning but what will allow us to be truly great is to understand what we do idiosyncratically well and to really lean into that.

And then, finally, I would say, the last thing that informs my coaching is, number one, a lot of years of my own work with a union psychologist/therapist, so my own personal work that absolutely informs my work, this idea of the masculine and feminine characteristics and that to become a whole person, we need to be willing to develop both the masculine and the feminine – the masculine is the ability to wield power, the feminine is the ability to care and have compassion. So, this idea of a ship and a harbor, that absolutely informs my coaching.

And then, really, truly the last thing is just my faith tradition. And the part of my faith tradition that really informs the coaching is this idea of a free agency or free will that we were made to act and not be acted upon, that we can, in fact, get better, and that we can reprogram our mind to get better if we are willing to do it. So, there’s pretty much no problem that cannot be solved if we are willing to put in the work and the effort and to get the expertise and knowledge to solve that problem and to get better and to become the best version of ourselves.

Eddie Turner:
Wonderful! Thank you, Whitney.

Now, you have written a couple of different books. If someone is listening to this episode and wants to learn more about what you shared with us today, which would be the first book that they should start with?

Whitney Johnson:
I’d say probably the first one to start with, since this is where we started our conversation, would be with Disrupt Yourself because we’ve focused today primarily on this idea of personal disruption. Then you can go to Build An A Team which is talking about managing people along the S-Curve of Learning. If you’re feeling really keen and eager, you can go to the first book called Dare Dream Do which is about the importance of daring to dream and figuring out what your dreams are and how you do them. And if you want to get a little taster beforehand, you can go listen to my podcast at WhitneyJohnson.com and it talks about big surprise, disrupting yourself. And sometimes there are solo episodes, sometimes I interview people, but that might be the best way for people to get introduced to our work beyond the fact that you have been so kind and lovely in introducing me to your audience today.
Eddie Turner:
Well, it is my pleasure to introduce you to my audience because you are simply amazing and I want even more than the 1.7 million people who already know about you follow you more. And I will say I highly recommend your podcast Disrupt Yourself. I love the name, I love the content but do you know what I love even more, Whitney?
Whitney Johnson:
What?
Eddie Turner:
Your tagline – Helping You Become the Innovative Leader People Are Clamoring to Work With. I read that I went “Wow!” So, I love your tagline for that.
Whitney Johnson:
Thank you.
Eddie Turner:
So, wonderful. So, how would you summarize our conversation for today?
Whitney Johnson:
I would summarize it by saying high-growth organizations need high-growth individuals. The framework of personal disruption is the mechanism by which you become a high-growth individual. And the S-Curve of Learning Framework is a mechanism by which you build a team of high-growth individuals that then are able to aggregate into a high-growth organization.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. Thank you. And this is the Keep Leading Podcast. And so, we’d like to leave our leaders with a quote or a thought that they can use to help them keep leading. What would you say to our leaders listening?
Whitney Johnson:
Can I do two quotes?
Eddie Turner:
You may. Absolutely.
Whitney Johnson:
Okay, because I’m a disruptor. The first quote is from C. S. Lewis. He wrote The Chronicles of Narnia and he said “Do not dare not to dare.” So, do not dare not to disrupt.
Eddie Turner:
I like that.
Whitney Johnson:
And the second quote is “If it’s scary and lonely, you are on the right path.”
Eddie Turner:
Okay. Well, we’re going to definitely put those two amazing quotes in the show notes for our leaders to be able to keep leading.

Whitney, I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for being a guest on the Keep Leading Podcast.

Whitney Johnson:
Thank you for having me, Eddie.
Eddie Turner:
And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.

Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on The Keep Leading Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to The Keep Leading Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.

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The Keep Leading!™ podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.