Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 040: Leadership Intelligence

Keep Leading!® Podcast Episode 040: Leadership Intelligence

Dr. Valerie D. W. James
Leadership Developer & Author
Leadership Intelligence

Episode Summary
How can leaders sustain their competitive advantage? In this episode, Dr. Valerie D. W. James, explains they do this by staying committed to stretching their knowledge and skills beyond the basics.


 

Bio
Dr. Valerie D. W. James, CEO at VisionSpot Consulting Group, LLC, home of the Solutions Maximizing Brilliance (SMB) School of leadership. She is a Harvard trained leader and author of four works. Her expertise lies in leadership and organizational development and the growth of human potential and her advice is highly sought-after by current and future leaders, as well as C-level executives. She has partnered with thousands of leaders worldwide and will stretch beyond the reach of traditional leadership development programs and solutions to help you achieve tangible and measurable results. Dr. Valerie has a strong background in creating and implementing tenets for building a learning organization culture and alignment between, leadership, talent and productivity outcomes to enhance individual and team performance. Her aptitude for leadership effectiveness and process improvement strategies help expand the knowledge, growth, and engagement of employees at all levels. She has a deep understanding of leadership, human psychology, and motivation, holds a doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University and is past president of a nationally recognized human resources organization. She has received several awards attesting to her commitment to leadership and people development. Dr. Valerie’s name is synonymous with leadership, empowerment, and success.

Website
www.vscleadership.com

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/vscboostcamp/

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

Leadership Quote
“You must first envision the impossible before achieving the unbelievable. Your Mission is Possible!”

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Leadership Intelligence Beyond the Basics

Transcript

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.

How can leaders sustain their competitive advantage? According to Dr. Valerie D. W. James, they do this by staying committed to stretching their knowledge and skills beyond the basics. Dr. Valerie D. W. James is the CEO at Vision Spot Consulting Group. She is a Harvard-trained leader and author of four books, including one we will discuss today, Leadership Intelligence, Beyond the Basics: Solutions for Maximizing Your Brilliance as A Leader.

Dr. James, welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.

Dr. Valerie James:
Thank you. Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Eddie Turner:
Please tell everyone a little bit about you.
Dr. Valerie James:
Again, my name is Dr. Valerie D. W. James. I am the principal of the Vision Spot Consulting Group. Vision Spot is the home of the solutions, maximizing brilliance through leadership. And we specialize in leadership talent and organizational development and growth strategy. And our sweet spot is people, process, and productivity programs. I’ve been doing this work for over 21 years. We just celebrated our 21-year anniversary and I’m really excited about the work that we do around the globe, helping leaders transform their teams, themselves, helping their organizations work to improve employee engagement and productivity in the workplace. I love this work.
Eddie Turner:
Congratulations on your 21-year anniversary. That’s wonderful.
Dr. Valerie James:
Thank you.
Eddie Turner:
What made you go into this area of work?
Dr. Valerie James:
Wow! That’s a heavy question. I’ve worked in corporate America for over 20 years. And in that work, I believe, one of my most privileged roles was building that relationship between leaders and their employees. I worked in the human resources space and I experienced firsthand the cost as well as the effect of ineffective leadership and communication breakdowns as well as the rewards and improvement in those areas, which gave birth to my passion for studying leadership. So, instead of congregating around the water cooler and having conversations about what we’re talking about leadership in the organizations, I wanted to create the change that we wish to see in the world of work by changing the face of leadership and being the resource for that. And that’s how I started the business because I realized that leaders were there to be able to be that resource but maybe have been put in that role by default. Maybe it was an interim position that needed support, they were hired into that position the person chosen were replacing someone else but may not have had the skills to train their people or develop their people but they were great at their technical skills. And also seeing employees holding managers accountable for their ultimate success versus putting that ownership back into their seat and letting them know what it is that they wanted to do.

So, that’s how I became a strong advocate and a leadership practitioner in the space and I’ve been doing the work ever since.

Eddie Turner:
So, it was as a result of what you experienced. And you said instead of sitting around the water cooler talking about it, you decided to go be about it.
Dr. Valerie James:
Yes.
Eddie Turner:
All right, that is fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. Now. It’s interesting because I met you as you continue your journey in developing your leadership skills. I mentioned in the introduction that you are a Harvard-trained leader developer and you and I met at Harvard.
Dr. Valerie James:
Yes, we did. A great journey, a great experience some. I’m excited about that and I’m glad that we’re able to still stay connected with you and some of the other classmates. It’s been great.
Eddie Turner:
Yeah, that was an absolutely life-transforming event. What’s your biggest memory from our time there?
Dr. Valerie James:
I think learning how to separate yourself from the situation and putting yourself on the balcony and on the balcony, it’s really about seeing what’s happening within the organization, stepping away so you can be a better leader because you’re moving yourself from the personal aspect and your own personal agenda and really trying to get to the heart of the matter to make sure that the organization is not only thriving but the people there are engaged and feel a connection to the work that they’re doing and also their leader. So, I thought that that was a phenomenal experience. I will never forget our group conversations around doing just that and just making sure that we’re present and not so prescriptive in the way that we’re leading.
Eddie Turner:
It was a phenomenal experience, indeed. And you clearly stood out among our classmates. And so, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show. And you’re doing some very impressive work in the leadership development space. And so, hats off to you for the things that you’re doing.

Now, the year after we finished the program, you wrote a book and your book entitled Leadership Intelligence, Beyond the Basics: Solutions for Maximizing Your Brilliance as A Leader and that’s one of the things I want to talk about today. So, how did you find leadership intelligence?

Dr. Valerie James:
So, leadership, as you know, is the art and science of influence and activity of others by providing purpose, direction, and automation towards the achievement of a goal. Intelligence is the unique thing that each leader brings to the table, their ability to share the acquired talents and knowledge and skills that they have in order to serve as a leader in that organization. We even hire based on our knowledge, skills, and abilities and that uniqueness that we bring to the table actually allows us to do something grand in the face of those that are following us and also support those that are following us as well. So, this book is designed to do just that, allow us to look at leadership from a holistic approach, and that is from four levels of practice – a personal level, your relationship with yourself; interpersonal, your ability to engage and interact with others; and influential leadership which is your ability to get the job done through other people; and then organizational leadership which is building that character into action and putting that into action into the organization. So, it’s a book that’s near and dear to my heart because it’s important how you show up and it’s important how people see you as that leader and have those relationships with you in order to execute on a vision are on a mission or the objectives of the organization. So, I’m excited about the work. And it not only includes information about those different levels of practice, it also provides tools. I think, the unique part of the book is it talks about the what but it also talks about the how and it provides the tools that you can use immediately following each read. And you don’t have to read every chapter. You can go in and just look at parts. If there’s an area that’s important to you or an area that you want to refresh or you’re struggling in, you can just go straight to that chapter, whether it’s on communication, performance management, understanding the different behavior styles of your employees, and engagement levels. It talks about strategic planning, a gamut of things that could serve as a resource holistically in one’s leadership role.
Eddie Turner:
Thank you. Now, tell me a little bit about some of these tools that you’re referring to. What are some of the tools that I would be able to leverage as a leader?
Dr. Valerie James:
So, there’s a leadership assessment in there that allows you to evaluate your communication styles and your relationships with employees and how to improve in those areas. It also creates an action plan. So, whatever the level is that you have identified as an area of opportunity that you would like to stretch, it gives you a tool in there to be able to create a development plan that’s unique to you. There’s also a strategic planning too, how to identify the business case for your strategic objectives, milestones that you would like to accomplish, setting goals to make sure that you’re really aligning the initiative with some specific and concrete goals to help people that are part of the team or your action planning teams really understand what success looks like and who’s responsible for what. So, there’s a couple of tools regarding that. There are assessments where you can do leadership assessments on yourself and also communication assessments for yourself and tools, action plans, and also become a better leader of people.
Eddie Turner:
That’s a nice array of tools. Is there one that a reader should start with first?
Dr. Valerie James:
I think the personal assessment. The personal leadership section, I think, is really ideal because it gives you an opportunity to really understand how you’re showing up as a leader in the areas where you’re strong and where the greatest opportunity lies as a leader. So, you can leverage those strengths and areas where you don’t like to stretch. You can work on those areas or you can hire people that complement your strengths and compensate for areas where you’re not as strong. And that is a great concept of leadership also because we don’t have to know everything but what we do know, we can be the best at it. And that’s why organizations have teams and hire people and that’s what our hiring process is all about, really identifying what gaps that we have in our organization and hire for those gaps so we can specialize in what we do like Steve Jobs did and Bill Gates. Some of them stepped down from their leadership role because they knew that they were excellent at their craft and they can hire people that compensate for areas where they weren’t as strong but they were excellent at it themselves.
Eddie Turner:
Thank you. Now, how do leaders maintain their competitive advantage?
Dr. Valerie James:
I think, leaders can maintain their competitive advantage by understanding the relationships that they have with others and being an authentic leader. And I often like to ask a leader three questions for a really quick evaluation of themselves. The first question is “Do people grow when they’re in your presence?” When you’re talking to them or having conversations with them about things that are near and dear to their heart from a professional standpoint, do they feel like they’re larger than life when they walk away from you? Do they gain some information and knowledge to make them feel better, more powerful, more empowered within themselves? Number two, “Are people fearless in your presence?” When people are connected to you and you’re their leader, because they feel comfortable coming to you and talking about the things, whether they’re doing well, whether they want to stretch or whether they’re not doing well, do they feel comfortable in coming to you and having those conversations and not feel like there’s going to be some type of retaliation as a result of them being their authentic self and they can feel fearless? And last but not least, “If you are stripped of your title, would you still garner the same level of respect?” I think that’s really important because you want people to see you as human and also someone that they can connect and relate to but also knowing that what you’re bringing to the relationship is valuable as well. I think it ties into your emotional intelligence and also it ties into strong relationships that create greater engagement in the workplace as well as productivity.
Eddie Turner:
Okay. Now, you mentioned something else and, in your book, you talk about leaders can do this by going beyond the basics. Can you tell us what you mean by going beyond the basics?
Dr. Valerie James:
By stretching. Going beyond the basics is really about stretching beyond your comfort zone and really being okay with understanding who you are and what you’re bringing to the table. So, I referred earlier to your strengths. So, not only what you to do well but also stretching in areas where you may not be as strong. Some people are really excellent at their craft and their position. So, they may know how to do with it really, really well but working with people may not be their strongest asset or training people how to do what they do or how to do that, which is the way that they do that. Sometimes we expect people to just know and get it out of our heads but stretching beyond the typical comfort zone or the way we operate and the way we work to be able to understand the business of the business, business acumen, and also aligning our employees with the goals of the organization and the mission, vision, and values of the organization. And it takes a strong leader to be able to do just that. And it ties into a couple of things that are definitely ideal in the relationship of the work. And a big part of it is starting with a vision of what the end result should look like. So, what they want done and how to achieve that result, discussing how people define excellence or excellent performance. My excellent performance may be a totally different definition than what yours is. Although we may be working towards the same goal, our vision for excellence may be different. So, paint a picture of what excellence looks like. And that should happen before the performance appraisal happens, not assume that everybody understands and knows, and put expectations in writing so people are clear and know what the goals of the organization, its purpose to you, and also your specific role.
Eddie Turner:
All right. So, we’re talking to Dr. Valerie D. W. James, the CEO at Vision Spot Consulting Group and she’s talking to us about Leadership Intelligence: Going Beyond the Basics. We’ll continue our discussion with Dr. James 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 Peter Margaritis, the Accidental Accountant, and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
All right, everyone, we’re back. We’re talking to Dr. Valerie D. W. James, the author of Leadership Intelligence, Beyond the Basics: Solutions for Maximizing Your Brilliance as a Leader. And so, before the break, Dr. James, you were talking about leadership intelligence and you were talking to us about how leaders maintain their competitive advantage and how they go beyond the basics by stretching themselves and increasing their knowledge but there’s something else you mentioned in your book. You talk about branding. What role does branding play for a leader?
Dr. Valerie James:
Branding is really key to a leader’s success because it ties into how people see them. I think, we’re known based on three primary factors. One is stereotypes – how people see us. When they see us, what do they see immediately – our presence, the way we look, we dress, the words that come out of our mouth, and also our disposition in relating to other people. And, secondly, our core values. Core values are the things that are embedded into the fabric of our DNA – what we think about, what we believe in and also how we execute that and how we engage with other people on a daily basis. And it ties into our authenticity and, last but not least, reputation. I think, as a leader our reputation is owned by ourselves but it’s also owned by other people that we engage and interact with. So, for example, we may see ourselves as professionals and experts or practitioners in our craft and others may see us the same way and if we have the opportunity to sit and have the people that work for us are engaged with us on a regular basis, speak on our behalf about us in a boardroom, and we stood up and couldn’t say anything but, listen, we will be surprised what we would hear because people may think that we are phenomenal leaders. We have inspired them in some type of way or we gave them some nuggets or they just saw us managing by walking around and how we operate and that plays a big part in the success of a company, the success of a team and also the success of a leader.
Eddie Turner:
So, if a leader had to select one area of their brand to work on first, which one would you recommend they start with?
Dr. Valerie James:
I would start with their core values because that’ll show up in their everyday actions, whether it’s honesty, integrity, teamwork, whatever those core values are, to allow it to resonate in everything that they do because then it’ll tie into their reputation. I think, that will be key.
Eddie Turner:
Interesting. So, you’re offering that leaders should start with an inside out approach, who they are on the inside is at their core values. And as those things show up from the inside out, then they can start to work on the external packaging.
Dr. Valerie James:
Yes, absolutely.
Eddie Turner:
Okay, very nice. So, Dr. James, your vision is trademarked and that trademark is ‘Transform an Ordinary Day at Work into an Extraordinary Day at Work’. Tell us about that.
Dr. Valerie James:
And that’s about helping people enhance their power to thrive in the workplace.
Eddie Turner:
Okay, nice and simple. So, how did you come up with that?
Dr. Valerie James:
When I was working in corporate America, I just wanted to see people happy. I wanted to change the way individuals perceived leadership and also perceived the work or engaged in the work around them, giving them an opportunity to really say we do have control over a phenomenal day. We spend approximately 70% of our wake hours doing something related to work, whether it’s preparing ourselves to work, commuting to work, getting to work, doing the work and then after that, coming home and preparing ourselves for the next business day. Yet, according to Gallup, 85% of the working-class population is either unhappy or actively disengaged. And I wanted to be able to help support organizations to create and improve that engagement by transforming an ordinary day at work into an extraordinary day at work. Listen to others and it starts at the top.
Eddie Turner:
That’s an interesting statistic. So, you are essentially saying, according to that Gallup poll, 85% are either unhappy or disengaged. That’s almost everybody we’re working with.
Dr. Valerie James:
Yes.
Eddie Turner:
Wow! All right. Well, thank you for sharing that and that led to the creation of your trademark phrase. I like that. That is really nice.

Now, you are the author of four books. I’m only featuring one. Tell us about the other books that you’ve written.

Dr. Valerie James:
Sure. So, the other two books, I have three books on Leadership and one on Professional Development. The other book is called Power Your Potential Boost Camp: Seven Days to Professional Success and Satisfaction. That book is the personal leadership book to help people focus on specifically seven specific steps to leadership development. The other book is on Personal Development and another self-actualization book. And last but not least, my dissertation which was transformed into a book as well Leadership Behavior Practice Patterns: Relationship to Employee Engagement in a Workplace.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful.
Dr. Valerie James:
Everything is around leadership. I love leadership.
Eddie Turner:
Fantastic. Well, thank you for sharing that with us. Now, how would you summarize our conversation today, Dr. James?
Dr. Valerie James:
I will summarize our conversation in a couple of things that understanding self as a leader is really important to the success of any organization and also people leader.
Eddie Turner:
Thank you. And what’s the key message you want our listeners to take away from this conversation?
Dr. Valerie James:
You must first envision the impossible before you can achieve the unbelievable. Your mission is possible and it starts with you.
Eddie Turner:
Okay, thank you.
Dr. Valerie James:
Thank you.
Eddie Turner:
Where can my listeners learn more about you?
Dr. Valerie James:
Yes, VisonSpotConsulting@VSCLeadership.com.
Eddie Turner:
Excellent. Well, we’re going to put that in the show notes so that folks can reach out to you for your services, contact you, stay connected to you. You’re doing some incredible work. And I am so grateful to have had the experience of studying with you and to get to know you as a person. And thank you for being a guest on the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Dr. Valerie James:
Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Eddie Turner:
You’re welcome.

And thank you for listening. This 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.

Thank you for listening to C Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

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.