Keep Leading!® Podcast 087 | Leading Beyond Your Limits | Lisa Walker Ph.D.

Keep Leading!® Podcast 087 | Leading Beyond Your Limits | Lisa Walker Ph.D.

Lisa Walker Ph.D.
Leadership Psychologist
Leading Beyond Your Limits

Episode Summary
As leaders, at times, we find ourselves faced with the challenge of leading beyond our present capacity. What should we do? How do we learn to Lead beyond our limits? Leadership Psychologist, Lisa Walker, Ph.D., explains the answer.

Check out the “60-Second Preview” of this episode!

Bio
Dr. Lisa Walker is a Leadership Psychologist, serving leaders and teams across industries, helping them navigate challenges, drive performance, and excel through coaching, professional speaking, training, and facilitation.

Dr. Walker earned her doctorate from the University of Texas Austin; she is a Columbia University Certified Executive Coach, a Conversational Intelligence Certified Coach®, as well as a Stakeholder Centered Certified Behavioral Coach, and served on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Walker is an ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC). This credential represents the highest level of achievement in coaching and identifies Dr. Walker as an expert executive coach. She brings over 30 years’ experience in psychology, leadership development, communication, collaborative law, mediation, and facilitation to her work with organizations. She is also a certified analyst for several assessments, including Hogan, Birkman, MBTI, EQi & EQi 360, and Neethling Brain Instrument (NBI).

Lisa enjoys gardening, cooking, running Spartan Races & hiking. Recently she hiked the Inca Trails in the Andes and summited Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s highest mountains. She has two adult children and is married to her techy husband, Peter, for almost 30 years.

Website
https://drwalkerconsulting.com/

Other Website
http://alexcelgroup.com/?mtt_page=lisa-walker-lisa-walker-coaching-consulting

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-lisa-m-walker/

Leadership Quote
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
C.S. Lewis

Subscribe, Share and Review

Full Episode Transcripts and Detailed Guest Information
www.KeepLeadingPodcast.com

Keep Leading LIVE (Live Recordings of the Keep Leading!® Podcast)
www.KeepLeadingLive.com

Transcript

If you’re a business owner, you don’t need us to tell you running a business is tough. Don’t let QuickBooks and spreadsheets slow you down anymore. Now is the time to upgrade to Netsuite by Oracle, the world’s number one cloud business system. Netsuite gives you the visibility and control over your Financials, HR, Inventory, e-commerce and more. Join the over 21,000 companies using Netsuite right now. Schedule your free product tour right now at netsuite.com/Csuite.

The key to sustainable leadership lies in the ability to thrive during uncertainty, ambiguity, and change. Grand Heron International brings you the Coaching Assistance Program, giving your employees on-demand coaching to manage through a challenging situation and arrive at a solution. Visit GrandHeronInternational.Ca/Podcast to learn more.

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

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 executive coaching, professional speaking, and facilitation.

As leaders, we may at times find ourselves faced with the challenge of leading beyond our capacity but what should we do? How do we learn to lead beyond our limits? My guest today has the answer. My guest today is Dr. Lisa Walker. Dr. Walker is a leadership psychologist who serves leaders and teams across industries, helping them navigate challenges, drive performance and excel through coaching, professional speaking, training, and facilitation. In addition, to her many impressive credentials, Dr. Walker is a Master Certified Coach, MCC, through the International Coaching Federation or ICF. This credential represents the highest level of achievement in the coaching industry and identifies Dr. Walker as an expert executive coach. In fact, less than 1% of coaches in the world hold this credential. Recently, she hiked the Inca Trails in the Andes and summited Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s highest mountains. She is truly an impressive woman. I am super excited to welcome Dr. Lisa Walker.

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

Dr. Lisa Walker:
Eddie, it’s my delight to be with you today. Thank you for having me.
Eddie Turner:
Well, I’m so happy you’re here. Tell me what I missed. What else should my listeners know about you?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
So, it’s been an interesting, interesting time in work, doing a lot of work traveling all over, coaching teams, training teams. So, that’s been an exciting period in my work and in my life recently. And as I do that, I get to see and hike in great places and enjoy amazing cuisines.
Eddie Turner:
All right, you enjoy work and play as well as eating when it’s all over, huh?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
By design I have curated my work life and my personal life that way. It is by design.
Eddie Turner:
I love it and I’m thoroughly impressed with so much about you and your accomplishments but the whole Mount Kilimanjaro, oh my goodness! Tell me just a little bit about that.
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Oh, my goodness! So, Mount Kilimanjaro happened literally by chance. So, for a number of years I’ve been running Spartan Races. I don’t know if you’re familiar with these races. They’re these military style races that are ran out in the boondocks and quite often in cow pastures across Texas, Vermont, Colorado, you name it. and I, again by chance, got into running Spartan races because I wanted to challenge myself. I really wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and push myself beyond my physical, mental, and emotional limits. And, as I was preparing for The Beast which is one of the toughest forms of Spartan races, I tripped on a twig and fell and hurt my knee and my shoulder.
Eddie Turner:
Oh no!
Dr. Lisa Walker:
I know, it was scary. Now, my knee healed quickly after months of physiotherapy but my shoulder did not respond so readily. So, my doctor insisted that I should not be running another Spartan race at least not for a long time. So, I thought “Huh, what does a girl do then?” So, the idea of summiting Kilimanjaro came to mind. I did my research, invited my husband to consider it, and he decided that, yes, this is an opportunity. This is a challenge that he was up for.
Eddie Turner:
So, wait just a second here. I just want to make sure I’m understanding this. You go from not being able to run to deciding “I’m just going to go climb the tallest mountain in the world.”
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Well, the tallest mountain in Africa. It’s one of the tallest in the world but it is the tallest in Africa. Yes, because I figured my knees are working well. I don’t need my shoulders to pull me up or hoist me over walls like I did. In the Spartan races, you are scaling 12-foot walls, you are hoisting yourself across the pond on a rope, you are crawling in mud with a barbed wire an inch away from your body. Those are the scary things you’re doing. So, your shoulder needed to be healthy and strong to do that. I figured my shoulder would not necessarily need to be in tip-top shape for climbing a mountain. So, why not try Mount Kilimanjaro. And that was an adventure of a lifetime. It was an amazing adventure.
Eddie Turner:
I can only imagine. Now, what did you enjoy most about this adventure of a lifetime?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
So, it was a journey getting there. It wasn’t even so much summiting even though the summiting portion is a story in of itself. It was the journey from the time I made the decision that I was going to summit Kilimanjaro. That decision for me sets me on a path of preparing myself emotionally, preparing myself physically and otherwise, getting all my gears, being around the right people to get the right kind of encouragement on days when training felt so hard. So, it’s all the work that I had to do to get there. And that journey was a nine-day hike from the bottom of Mount Kilimanjaro to the top. And some of the challenges that we experienced, we found out a few days before we left the US for Africa that Kilimanjaro was experiencing record snow and ice, the most they’ve had in a couple of decades. What that meant for us is that our guide and his team had never had that experience before though they had been taking people to the top of the mountain for over 10 years. So, a lot of it was new for them just as it was for us. It made for a more intense and extreme journey. Along part of the way, the cold was so intense that while I had on six layers of thermal clothing and the approved gloves for that kind of temperature, my fingers burned with pain so bad, on portions of summit night I was crying like a baby. I’m not even embarrassed to say that. So, for me, when I talk about pushing beyond your limits, those were moments when I had to dig deep and push beyond my own physical and psychological limits to ensure that my goal which was to summit Kilimanjaro would be secure. So, yes, the night of summiting, we left base camp at midnight, that was always the plan, so that we would be able to see the sun rise over Africa around 7, 7:30 the next morning. Well, that night, the wind howled like a monster who had been sent deliberately to get us. It was brutal, it was cold, it was wet, it was an intense spirit. So, talk about pushing beyond your limits – dealing with the cold, dealing with the intense snow and ice that we’ve never experienced before. And to top it all off, after about four hours of hiking that night, I began to notice that I wasn’t seeing clearly, the lights ahead of me on the other hiker’s forehead, they were bobbing up and down and I could see the light but they were getting more and more faint as the night went on. And by the time we got to the last rest stop called Stella Point just before the summit, about an hour or so from the summit, we came to realize that I wasn’t seeing a thing. I’d actually gone blind.
Eddie Turner:
Oh my!
Dr. Lisa Walker:
I had lost my sight. So, here I was crying because I’m terrified my fingers are going to fall off because they are so cold and in such pain. And now, to compound things, I cannot see a thing. I simply cannot see but in that split second, I made the decision that I’m going forward. I felt I was prepared. My husband was with me. So, that’s another safety piece. My guide was an excellent guide, Charles. And with Charles holding my arm, step by step, I literally shuffled up the last portion of Kilimanjaro and made it to the summit. And I’ve got to tell you that was one of the most amazing experience of my lifetime. And while I did not see the sunrise over Africa, I saw the pictures later on and that was beautiful but while I didn’t actually see the sunrise of Africa that morning, what I got from that experience, I believe, is far beyond experiencing the sunrise. I now know without a shadow of a doubt that I can push through any obstacle that comes my way. With preparation, support and the right mindset, I can do that. And so, that has heightened my approach with the leaders that I’m so fortunate to work with because when I share stories like this, that this isn’t something that I’m just thinking about can be done, I know it can be done. And when you study neuroscience and you realize how the brain has already, based on design, prepared us to push through obstacles. It gives us additional resources to help us get through any challenge we face, whether it’s in our leadership role or in your personal lives.
Eddie Turner:
All right. So, I’m still stuck as a person from Chicago on this idea that you had on six layers of clothes and I’ve had on two going through Chicago and your fingers burning to the point that you were brought to tears, so quite arduous but you made it and you conquered. And I can just hear so many lessons of leadership that come from that. Can you tell us what is one or two that stand out most clearly about what you accomplished at Mount Kilimanjaro and how it relates to leadership and what you’re sharing with leaders today?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Yes, yes, that’s a great way to sort of dig a little bit deeper in the story, Eddie. And when I reflect on the journey on Mount Kilimanjaro, I seem to spend so much more time focused on what I experienced with that brilliant leader who guided us up the mountain. His name is Kibacha. And from about the second day on the journey, I began to notice the way Kibacha navigated his conversations with us the hikers and with his co-leaders and the team of people who carried us up the mountain. Now, there were 12 of us hiking up the mountain in his expedition and it took 67 porters including his four assistant leaders to take us up the mountain. And I was keenly observing the way Kibacha navigated all this. And there were some things that jumped out at me and I started reflecting on many of the leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with and many of the leaders that I was working with at that time while summiting Kilimanjaro and thinking about some of the strengths that my leaders bring to the table and some of their developmental opportunities. And there are a couple of things that I notice which came out with Kibacha that stood out. There’s a long list of them that’s incorporated in my book, as I’m writing, but there are a couple of them that stood out. Kibacha relied heavily on communication. He communicated clearly, he communicated, often and he communicated with everyone as a group and individual. He made connections. And so, through his group conversations and his individual conversations, he was able to show us this vision literally of us summiting Kilimanjaro. Now, a lot of folks who start the adventure do what they call they fall off the mountain. They don’t physically fall off but it means they never make it to the summit but Kibacha was able to paint such a clear picture for us that we could touch and taste and feel the summit of Kilimanjaro. And so, that inspired us moments where folks were getting physically ill, moments where you were terrified that the wind was going to pick your tent up off the side of the mountain because it was so strong and folks would get scared from that and feeling that “Well, I can’t go another day” but through those moments, he communicated with such passion and such clarity his vision of us summiting and what it would take for us to get over all the obstacles that I wanted to bring that back to my leaders. I wanted to remind my leaders of how important it is to communicate their vision clearly so that they can motivate and inspire their people because for sure, even at the time when I lost my vision, initially my husband saw that, he thought “Okay, this is dangerous. We need to reconsider” but I felt even though Kibacha wasn’t with us at that moment, he was literally ahead of us with other hikers, he had instilled in me along with some of the work I had done on my own, but he instilled in me this clear vision of pushing through no matter what and making it to the summit. So, that’s one of the things that I noticed in him that inspired me.
Eddie Turner:
That’s a very nice way of sharing that and the idea of him using great communication to build connections and as he did that, his passion came through and that gave clarity to everyone. And I like how you explain that you literally lost your vision but because of his leadership and because of his connections and passion, he is able to, in a sense, give you your vision back and help you get through this difficult time.
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Absolutely, absolutely. I could not see physically where I was going but in my mind’s eye I could see clearly, I literally could see clearly because of how clear that vision was.
Eddie Turner:
Lesson for leaders today?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Lesson for leaders today, absolutely, absolutely. As I was coaching a leadership team recently in Taiwan, one of the challenges or opportunities for growth for this particular leader is casting a clear vision for his people. And so, that’s one of the areas that we spend quite a bit of time working on and working on storytelling and how when your story is robust and when your story brings with it sort of your personal touch and is infused with the right balance of emotions and images, how you move them along with you. And at the end of the three-day coaching period that we were in, it was so amazing for me to sit back and watch as his people, his team members were just holding on to his every word as he now casts this revised vision for them and he was telling such a powerful story that I wanted to be along with the team. And so, that’s what I experienced with Kibacha on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Eddie Turner:
Fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. Wow! What an amazing story about having summited Mount Kilimanjaro and the lessons that leaders can take away from that arduous journey to take into corporations, board rooms, non-profit associations around the globe today.

I’m talking with Dr. Lisa Walker. She’s a leadership psychologist, a global speaker, and a master certified coach helping executives and teams manage through people issues. We’ll have more from Dr. Walker right after this.

This is a challenging time for businesses. We’re all anxious to get back to work as quickly as we can but also as safely as we can. Business leaders must uphold a duty of care, a responsibility to make sure that they and others are safe in the workplace. C-Suite Network created C-Suite Supplies, a trusted source of quality protective equipment. Whatever your reason is for wearing a mask, do your part and protect your most valuable assets, your employees and customers. Go to C-SuiteSupplies.com.

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 John Perry, organization and leadership development consultant and strategic coach, and you are listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.

Eddie Turner:
We’re back, ladies and gentlemen, and we’re talking to Dr. Lisa Walker. She’s a leadership psychologist, a global speaker, and a master certified coach helping executives and teams manage through people issues.

Before the break, Dr. Walker, we talked about how you summoned Mount Kilimanjaro and lessons for leaders that we can extract as a result but you are also working on a book, from what I understand. Tell us about the book and how it got started.

Dr. Lisa Walker:
Yes, I am now working on my first leadership book and the book got started actually while I was on Mount Kilimanjaro. At first, I thought based on my experience and observation that I would be able to write a couple of articles maybe for LinkedIn and for other publications. And as I started paying more keen attention and taking my notes at the end of the day, I realized that this adventure, this expedition was chock full of amazing stories of leadership brilliance and not only from the leader Kibacha but my own experience as I am pushing myself beyond my own limits and seeing how I am literally being transformed on this adventure, it made me want to write more and share more. So, the book is using my journey on Mount Kilimanjaro as the through line for sharing leadership characteristics that are part of building leadership excellence. And so, I use the stories from Kilimanjaro along with case studies of so many of my brilliant clients that I’ve worked with, highlighting some of their own strengths and areas that they have worked on over time and how it has transformed them, their teams and their organization. So, it’s a little bit about me pushing through some of my own challenges and a lot about my clients pushing through their own challenges and opportunities for growth and excelling as they do so.
Eddie Turner:
Excellent. Sounds like a lot of resilience is needed here and this is something that comes through as a strong theme through your writings, from what I understand. Can you talk a little bit more about the relation between resilient leadership and traditional leadership?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. So, we all know that the idea of resilience is about the ability to bounce back from adversity. And it’s not just bouncing back to where you were at the moment or during the time that you’re facing adversity but it’s using that experience to even bounce you forward. So, it’s how do we face the challenges, the potential boundaries that come up in front of us as leaders and push beyond those boundaries and be even more excellent at what we do. One of the challenges that we had to face, for example, on Mount Kilimanjaro is a portion of the climb called Barranco Wall. Now, Barranco Wall is steep and rugged and scary. The night before the morning we were supposed to scale the Barranco Wall, we camped on the side of the mountain that allowed us to be facing Barranco Walls. So, as you’re there by your tent, you’re looking over at this enormous rock wall face, scary as ever and thinking “Tomorrow I’ve got to do that. How am I going to do that?” And especially for those of us who might have been sick the day before from elevation sickness or going through all kinds of stuff, how do you prepare yourself to push through something as rough as Barranco Wall and be even stronger for the next leg of the journey. Well, as I work with my leaders, many of my leaders face challenges and issues that at times rock the very core of the individual leader as well as the very soul of their team or the organizations within which they work. And at times, the feeling might be “How can I keep going on with the challenges that I face or after going through such a rough time?” I think of one of my leaders, for example. She and her team had really failed, these are their words, failed on a major deliverable because they had not explored all the variables that were involved adequately and this for their team was a massive failure. From a cultural perspective, it was very difficult for her to save face through this, saving face for herself and for her team. Well, her leader who is much more experienced and mature than she is, gave her some good guidance and support. And even with that, she said to me, “Lisa, the feeling that I have is that I can’t even face my people anymore. I am so embarrassed by this enormous failure that I’m embarrassed to face them.” Well, we did the work and she worked on her mindset, she worked on her approach and she worked on developing this attitude that “Despite this embarrassment, I’ve got to push through this.” Fast forward 12 months later, at the end of another major initiative where she and her team not just met expectations but blew expectations out of the water, right? So, talking about resilience, talking about facing adversity and then coming out at the other end stronger, more powerful, feeling more confident and brave, this leader exemplified that.

And here’s the deal, Eddie. Not only was it that she exemplified that. Her entire team exemplified what it means to be a resilient team. They all bought into the vision she cast for them. They all decided to get the support that they needed to ensure that they were focused, they were motivated, they were well equipped for this challenge and they blew everyone out of the water. It was interesting to hear some of the comments that were coming from other leaders, from her peers, all wanting to know what they did to get them through this.

Eddie Turner:
What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing that with us. And there’s a lot of lessons we can extract from that but I think one of the questions is for people who want to build that type of resiliency, what strategies would you share?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
So, the foundation of resilience, I think, is self-awareness. First of all, we’ve got to understand core strengths. We’ve got to understand opportunities for growth. We’ve got to understand the things that triggers us. We’ve got to understand the things that generally get in our way and can throw us off course. Understanding yourself is the first part of it and then tapping into resources around us. One of the things this particular leader that I shared about indicated to me is she said “Lisa, as I did my after-action review and I checked to see what had gotten in our way, I realized that my team and I did not take advantage of the resources around us, especially people around us, other leaders who had walked this walk before who could give us guidance and support about what to look for down the road and around the corner.”
Eddie Turner:
Excellent. So, they learned that they needed to be self-aware but then to tap into the resources around them.
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Absolutely, absolutely.
Eddie Turner:
So, two strategies you would offer to leaders listening to our conversation today.
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Absolutely, Eddie.
Eddie Turner:
All right. Well, wonderful. So, when we think about resilient leadership, leading beyond our limits, is there anything else you’d say to summarize our conversation that we’ve had that our listeners need to know, Dr. Walker?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
I would absolutely say, Eddie, that another important ingredient in all of this and all the work we do is our mindset. When we have a mindset that says “I can do anything. Whatever comes my way, I have the ability to pull together the resources, to develop my skill set, to draw on my core strength, to focus not so much on the things that I can’t do but more so on the things that I can do” because we know from your neuroscience that our brain stands ready to ensure that we are able to push through the obstacles as they come. And based on brain design, we also know that the more we do, the more we can do. As we are pushing through obstacles, we are wiring and rewiring our neurons to allow us to be even more prepared for additional challenges, additional obstacles to transform them into opportunities for success.
Eddie Turner:
The more we do, the more we can do. Excellent. Thank you for sharing that. And this is the Keep Leading!® Podcast. In addition to all the wonderful information you’ve just shared with us, Dr. Walker, is there a piece of advice or a quote that you live by that we can share with other leaders to help them keep pleading?
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Well, I love to turn to C. S. Lewis and C. S. Lewis says “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” And for me, those are such powerful words that when focused on effectively can take us on a journey of leadership excellence.
Eddie Turner:
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” I love that. Thank you for sharing that.

Where can my listeners learn more about you?

Dr. Lisa Walker:
You can learn more about me at www.DrWalkerConsulting.com. That’s where you can get additional information about the work that I do and how I serve my community, both local and global.
Eddie Turner:
Wonderful. We will be sure to put that in the show notes so people can get to know you, connect with you and follow the fantastic work that you are doing around the globe.
Dr. Lisa Walker:
Thank you, Eddie. Thanks for the opportunity to share my story and to share about some of the amazing folks that I get to work with on a daily basis.
Eddie Turner:
Thank you, Dr. Walker. Appreciate having you.

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 that 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.