The Key to Retaining Top Talent: Leadership Engagement
About This Episode
Organizations must embrace a culture of learning and development to retain their top talent and guarantee the growth of their employees. Investing in the potential of existing teams requires leaders to self-reflect and hold themselves accountable to identify areas of improvement. And it starts with cultivating leadership engagement, at all levels of the business.
We explore this topic deeper in this episode of The Edge with Adrian Koehler, a leadership engagement expert and founding senior partner at the executive coaching firm, Take New Ground. Together, Adrian and host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek discuss the importance of leadership engagement to retain top talent and sustain the growth and potential of existing workforces.
Interested in Learning More?
- Check out Adrian’s website
- Read Adrian’s recent Los Angeles Tribune article
- Read the blog, What Did We Learn About Learning in 2022? The Employer-Employee Social Compact Reigns
- Read the blog, What Do Great Leaders Have in Common, And How Do You Nurture More of Them?
- Learn more on about Skillsoft’s Leadership & Business portfolio
- Download Skillsoft’s 2022 Lean into Learning Report
Michelle BB 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Welcome to the Edge, the Skillsoft podcast, where we share stories of the ways in which transformative learning can help organizations and their people grow together. I'm your host, Michelle BB. My pronouns are she and her, and this season we have welcomed guests from all over the place. Myriad Industries, technology, professional services, finance, nonprofit, and in the service of bringing as many diverse points of view to the table as possible. I've had enlightening and candid conversations with executive coaches, DE and I, experts, development directors, marketers, storytellers and more. And in most of the episodes we've talked about disruption and it's somewhat unexpected. Byproduct growth. You've probably heard me say this before, but I don't think any of us would've predicted where we would be today. The pandemic and the collective trauma associated with it worldwide. Calls for social justice, the great resignation, quiet, quitting, quiet hiring, geopolitical instability, inflation, and recession. We haven't had a moment to take a collective breath. I'm gonna do it right now. Inhale. Exhale.
Michelle BB 00:01:26 In our 2022 Lean into Learning report, we really leaned into the state of the current workforce. We shared year over year learning consumption trends, and we discussed ways to build a strong social compact between employers and employees. And ultimately, we know, and it was evidenced in the research, that investing in the potential of your existing team to create a more sustainable workforce is truly mission critical. And by the way, if you're interested in that lean into Learning report, you can find it at skillsoft.com. But this report really got us thinking and exploring in the age of the great resignation, in the age of quiet, quitting, and quiet hiring. How do you retain your top talent? How do you create a more sustainable workforce? Well, according to today's guest, Adrian Kahler, it all starts with leadership engagement. Adrian is a leadership engagement expert and founding senior partner at the executive coaching firm, take new ground based in Los Angeles. He coaches, executives and entrepreneurs in the art and science of leadership for themselves, their teams, and their clients to create new, unprecedented results and experience fulfillment in their work. I cannot express how excited I am for today's podcast. Adrian, thank you so much for joining us. Welcome to the Edge.
Adrian Koehler 00:02:49 Yes, excited to be here.
Michelle BB 00:02:51 So, before we get started, cuz I think this would be really helpful and useful for the audience, tell us a little bit about yourself and actually how you got into this line of work. Tell us a little bit about how you got here.
Adrian Koehler 00:03:04 Sure. Once again, awesome to be here. Love your organization, love what you do. Love the service. I mean, being of service to leaders is my heartbeat. And so that's what got me into this, this type of work. So, Adrian Kaler have a coaching training consulting company called Take New Ground. We work with select leaders, select not industry, select Attitudinally Select. And I can get into what that means. But the X-factor is actually people that wanna play the type of game and we wanna play. Not everybody does. And that's great. So how did I get into this work though? I kind of, in some ways, I don't know, wandered into this work. That's not necessarily true. I didn't wake up in the morning, you know, when I was 18, saying, hey, someday I wanna be a leadership coach. <laugh>. I didn't, I think asking an 18-year-old to, to decide what they wanna be when they grow up is a pretty inhumane act.
Michelle BB 00:03:52 Okay. And remind me to tell you a story about my daughter with that. Because when they asked her to declare a major at her sophomore year at 19, and she's like, I don't know what I wanna do. No. So that's a whole, I mean, that's a whole story there.
Adrian Koehler 00:04:04 Yeah. Well, the fact that we try to corral young minds into doing is the focus instead of becoming is the focus than being, is the focus, which is much more focused on who someone is and who they can be in the future. And character and interests and exploration and curiosity. All the things we want adults to be, we don't train kids to be, we tend them. Find a lane. So, we know how to manage you. Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox for a
Michelle BB 00:04:29 A second. That's no, that's, that's a whole nother podcast that I think you and I will host because I am of that. Let's do it. You know that same mind. I think that there is an important, you know, and look, we can tie this back to leadership, but I think that there is really something to curiosity, exploration, failing, failing fast, finding out what you don't wanna do, and then learning what you love.
Adrian Koehler 00:04:51 Yes. Yes. I won't try not to get into too many stories, but my six-year-old daughter, about to be seven. She just got sent to the principal's office for the first time yesterday, and she was heartbroken, and she earned it, right? She was throwing paper towels in the bathroom against the wall and, and, uh, she got busted. She got busted and she didn't wanna go to school today. And I said, babe, this is when you learned this is great. You, yes, you're sad. Yes, you're embarrassed. This is why consequences are our teachers. It's wonderful. Now get your chin up. Own it. You know, she wrote an apology letter to the principal. She's gonna go sit in the principal's office today. And to, to your point is fail fast. Like, hey, you messed up. That's okay. Don't be ashamed of that. Yes, you did. What's six-year-olds do, do crazy stuff.
Adrian Koehler 00:05:31 Now get up and go get up and go again. All right. Lemme get to your question. How did I get into this? So, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I was great at science and all that. So, I was like, oh, maybe I'll go be a doctor. I was like pre-med in college and thought early. I don't think I'm, I'm not, first off, I'm not that data driven. I'm people driven. God bless the data-driven people. So, I ended up getting a nursing degree, which was surprising to me. I thought I'd go travel the world doing it, which I ended up doing the adventure side of like medical and adventure worked for me. Um, worked at a children's hospital in Chicago, mostly intensive care unit for kids. So did that for a couple years outta college. Moved to Los Angeles. Faith was a big, it was, is a big part of my background, my story, ie.
Adrian Koehler 00:06:12 Like, let's go put the world back together, like be a redemptive force in the world. That, that side of faith was always attractive to me. Not the, you know, hiding a fortress and be right all the time. I'm not interested in religious dialogue, but faith dialogue, spiritual dialogue, that's vitality to me. So moved out to LA to actually, then I did a hybrid. I was working in the intensive care still, but then worked at a spiritual community at church here in LA And it was a growing church. It was our 3000 people in the city, which you never, nobody ever builds that church is that large in cities. They do him in the suburbs, that's easy, but in the city's tough. But there, there was a guy named Irwin who became a mentor of mine who had the music. I quickly said, okay, I like this guy.
Adrian Koehler 00:06:52 He's gotta view the world that I like, and he makes a difference. And he mobilizes people and puts faith and risk together, which I dug as a 25-year-old. And he was famous and wrote a lot of books and people wanted him to go speak. So, they sit with it. Instead of him going, they would send punks like me to go speak. And we talked a lot about leadership. We had a partnership with Gallup at the time when the strings finder was just getting crafted. So, we were on the ground level, I guess when that was coming out. And so, we do, we would do all these seminars around personal development, around Meyers, Brigg personality stuff and character driven stuff, obviously. And I loved it. I got to go travel the world speaking and then my, but my job was to build teams, build volunteer leadership teams.
Adrian Koehler 00:07:29 So the study of human beings and what makes something meaningful has always been, cuz if you're gonna move volunteers, you gotta get incentives on the table. And you know, you had to be really great at casting vision and building connections. So, I built connections between me and the city and the county and, you know, dozens of nonprofits. And then I would mobilize teams overseas so I could hybrid together my medical background and my activism. And when Haiti, you know, when earthquake and Haiti happened, I was on the ground with doctors four days later with setting up a clinic in the middle of nowhere. That part was fun for me going from, oh my, there's an earthquake. Okay, start the clock, let's go. And then four days later, I'm on the ground with eight, eight doctors and me. Wow. Or in Pakistan's underwater, me and a doctor g are traveling around, uh, doing health clinics or, anyway, fill in the blank.
Adrian Koehler 00:08:13 Lots of travel. Lots of me being in extreme environments, helping people take on chaos for the sake of a purpose. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> out of that real quickly, that guy, I've met a guy, he had his own personal transformation. He asked me to leave that, he asked me to leave that work at the church and say, hey, and help him figure out what he wanted to do with his money because he'd had this spiritual experience. He wanted to become generous. So that meant would, would I go start his foundation for him. So, I took him around the world, exposed him to all the needs I was connected to and the people and the amazing organizations I was connected to. And we ended up working in the prison system in California, which is where I live. Oh wow. And skipping forward in the story, we ended up doing leadership transformation trainings in prison with murderers.
Adrian Koehler 00:08:55 So I met a guy named Dan Tini. He had been doing a lot of work with juveniles not too far from where you live in, in Lynn, Massachusetts. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And he really had a, he had the best, the most studied and the most used curriculum for youth transformation in the country where they would track people over time and they just wouldn't go back to prison, which is recidivism rate is the number one thing to pay attention to. Like Right. Once they go to some facility, do they come back and, you know, and he was the best. He is the best. So, I hired him, immediately learned from him, went through all these trainings, personal development trainings, which I'm a sucker for. I love it. That's vitality to me as well. I mean, growth, evolution, next level, all that stuff is catnip for me. And did that and went through some coaches training at the time.
Adrian Koehler 00:09:37 And while I was giving away all this money and helping nonprofit leaders and helping organizations and helping communities mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So once, once that got developed, I get bored pretty easy. And I wanted to go at least nationally or globally with our mission. And the guy who gave the money wanted to focus on one prison, which is wonderful. And I love you, see you later. So, what am I gonna do next? I just decided then, okay, I'm gonna go be a coach guy. I don't know what that looks like yet, but I'd been doing it for a long time. I'd really been doing it for a long time. The through line for me was that point of like being with people in the crossroads of their lives and stepping into chaos courageously to make a difference for themselves, their family, other people in their world.
Adrian Koehler 00:10:20 So that, that mattered to me. And I decided to go be a coach. And that was about 15 years ago and built a big practice outta that. And now I get to work with, um, I usually work with founders of organizations, uh, cuz I love them cuz they're crazy and I love them. They're my maniacs. I love working with hyper talented people, really ambitious people that if they can become aware of what's eating their lunch, like what's outside their view, then they can actually get what they want. Otherwise, they just live this kind of, this, this very loud life. Usually very effective life. But there's a lot of collateral damage. And I love people living a healthy life and getting what they want simultaneously. So being able to come in and have this kind of, I call it fierce advocacy. So, advocacy's always been a theme of mine. Standing for people, fighting for them, helping them, that's like championing and pushing at the same time. But it's also fierce. We're like known as the no BS people cuz it's, I don't know, the truth sets us free, not our own stories about justifications and blah, blah, blah. So anyway, that's what I get to do every day, which I love it. So that's what we do at Take New Ground.
Michelle BB 00:11:25 Oh my God. Like, there's so much to unpack there. And I think, again, we could have quite a few podcast episodes just on everything you touched on from Let's Do It, your medical experience to, and, and working with people in a very different way and using these skills of coaching and teaching and helping people grow out of chaos, I think is, is fantastic. Let me, so and then I gotta ask you a question because I mean, it just sort of makes me think as you, as we now think about some of the work that you're doing with organizations, right? Yeah. Do you feel that same sense of energy and excitement? Look, we, we know right now that in this world we live in and, and if we bring it back to kind of corporate world, so many companies are thinking about ways that they need to boost employee engagement.
Michelle BB 00:12:18 There's this whole idea of, you know, when you think about what the pandemic has done to us, what has really happened, we're in, in this place where social distancing has caused so much emotional distancing and the connections that we had with organizations, you know, the ones that we work for, it's just not the same anymore. And so how do we, how do we now navigate these organizations in a way that allow us to focus on employees, grow the business? And I know you have a topic, this, this idea of leadership engagement. I was really, really interested when, when I spent time on your site and I read, and, and we may have to bleep this one out, but let's turn leader <unk> into leadership. And so, it makes me think that from all of the work that you've done, and you've brought forth with you, you're looking at organizations and saying, okay, we are not getting something. Right. So, what is leadership engagement? What are organizations currently missing?
Adrian Koehler 00:13:22 Oh wow. Okay. A lot there. Let's see if I can jump into the tip of the spear. So first off, let me agree with you on the fact that Covid did a lot of things. I think Covid naturally kinda revealed. I think that's what it was. I mean mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it revealed a lot of stuff, and it was inconvenient and it inconvenient in the sense that it took away conveniences. You know, proximity does a lot for us around connections. So, it actually, it generated the environment in which we'd have to work a lot harder to get the type of connection that was maybe there before. Or maybe it was just the allure of connection because we saw the person every day and maybe they weren't that connected. I, that's why I think it just kind of turned the lights on. So, folks that were more disconnected now had license to actually feel disconnected.
Adrian Koehler 00:14:03 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like, they got more, they got more, I'm using the word connected a lot. They got more aware of their level of disconnection and discomfort and, and then what to do with that. I mean, as humans in general, we're not taught what to do with ourselves. Like how to craft our own experience. That's a deeper conversation. And we don't go in the whole philosophical realm, which we could talk about for five hours. At least I could. And most people get bored, I think. But so, the tip of the spear though, around leadership engagement is if one is willing to take themselves on, if a leader is willing to take themselves on as their first project. So that's an odd idea for most people, especially in leaders, leaders, leadership is for other people. And you know what, a lot of that's true, true. If I'm a leader, I'm leading others. But a lot of our focus with our companies, with our leadership teams, with our people we're working with one-on-one is a majority of leadership is self-leadership. Which is once again, inconvenient. Because I'd rather just deal with them, deal with it. And most of our issues always start with me because there's a handful of things, we know from neuroscience is that we don't deal with reality, we deal with our version of reality.
Michelle BB 00:15:20 Right?
Adrian Koehler 00:15:21 Right. So, we're always living in living in perception. Like you and I are on this, you know, great podcast right now it seems like we're on the same call, but we're not, you're on your version and I'm on my version, meaning like, I'm talking and you're listening and you're translating all that. You're not even thinking about this, but your brain's like taking up my sound waves and making meaning about it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And you're thinking about, do I like it? Do I not like it? Do I connect with it? Is it helpful, not helpful? Is this guy smart, not smart, credible, not credible, whatever? You're, uh, in lots of conversations about what's happening and that's what you call the podcast. I'm doing the same thing thinking about, hmm, what should I talk about next? How can I be most helpful? What's the, you know, we're all, you know, we're all in our version.
Michelle BB 00:15:58 Right? And we tend to lean into the things that we know, and we like, and we love. Right? I mean, we don't necessarily wanna lean into the things that are uncomfortable or where we are not as, you know, I, it, it's interesting cuz you know, I myself have a coach and I think everybody, I think everybody should have a coach. I will put it out there now because, you know, a coach is somebody who helps you see around corners, helps you identify blind spots. Right? And one of the things that one of my coaches said to me, and I, I'd really love to get your take on this because this is about self, right? This is about self was she said, Michelle, look, you can work on your weaknesses all you want. And right. And I understand that, that you think that you need to improve in all of these areas, right?
Michelle BB 00:16:41 I would just suggest that you think about and lean into your strengths because that's where you're going to shine and that's where you are going to make a difference in this world. Yeah. I would love to hear your thoughts on that because I really, that gave me, I don't know, it felt empowering because it's like, okay, I recognize now, look, I don't wanna be a bad leader. I've gotta make, you know, some self-corrections. But this idea that I could lean into the things that I'm actually good at made me feel like I could be a better leader as a result.
Adrian Koehler 00:17:15 Yeah. Well, you will be <laugh>. So let me agree and then I'll add an extra point to that. Yeah. So first off, let me agree. We know the science is true on this. We use a leadership assessment tool to lean into your strengths. You know, Marcus Buckingham and Strengths Finder really generated that language mm-hmm. <affirmative> like, you know, lean into your strengths. And, and that's why they, they have this 34 different strengths in the strength's finder. And they only give you five. Why? Because if you gave 34 people are gonna look at the bottom five. That's human nature. Yeah. Is what's wrong with me or how do I get better? And I think that we naturally think, you know, being well-rounded is better and we are taught that that's why we blah blah anyway, back to the beginning of the podcast, <laugh>. But if we focus on our strengths, if we focus on our strengths, we will actually generate more and less time.
Adrian Koehler 00:17:58 And we have wonderful experiences, tons of emotional, personal ROI and ROI for the people. We don't use strengths finder for a handful of reasons. I use a leadership assessment tool called the Harrison assessment. There's two theories in this assessment. The first one is called the Enjoyment Performance Theory. And here's the punchline. What they found was that if someone spends 70% of their time doing what they prefer doing, they have a 300% to 400% increase chance of success. If someone spends 70% of their time doing what they prefer doing, they have a 300% to 400% increase chance of success. So, wow. That's good news. The reality for all of us though, is we don't have enough language for our preferences. Right. Most of us call work, work most of us, you know, it's a grind mm-hmm. <affirmative> or parts of it's a grind. Or we, we obsess about the grind instead of obsess about the life and obsess about the, you know, self-expression, creativity, engagement, all the great stuff. Because we're always, we're survival machines as humans and we're looking out for trouble. And if I have less trouble, my life will be better. That's the typical math. Instead of what do I aim at where the trouble actually becomes less. So, if, anyway, so I agree on one side, if I me add a second point, which is really to this leadership question that you asked mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So yes. Focus on your strengths, be responsible for everything.
Michelle BB 00:19:16 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Adrian Koehler 00:19:17 So, I mean, we talk a lot unapologetically in our work with folks. And, and I'm a, an acquired taste. I'm a shot of whiskey, not a wine. Spritzer, <laugh>, but the, the, uh,
Michelle BB 00:19:29 Now, now I have to think about what I am. I'll, I'll give it some thought, and I'll come back.
Adrian Koehler 00:19:32 That's great. You be, you, you know, I, I've owned that part that I I'm an intense dude. And anyway, we get to it. My part of that, part of the, therefore with the folks I'm talking to, and when we talk in, in teamwork or like offsite, that kind of stuff, you can imagine we do that type of work with executive teams. We say, you know, we're all criminals and some of us are just more arrestable than others. So, we, we need to own our dark side. In our dark side in professional settings is the things we avoid the gossip we do the justifications; we give the kabuki theater; we play all the political stuff. That's all our dark side. It's a i.e., self-serving not good for other people. And so, you gotta own all that. And even if, like, so there's lots of things that I'm not good at, but I'm responsible for it. Like, I'm not an administrative guy. I don't ever wanna talk, touch paperwork in my company at all, but I'm responsible for it. Right. And, and if it, if I'm responsible for something or any kinda detail and I don't make sure it's handled, it's on me. Now, most people it, the, the, the danger with focus on your strengths is it gives license to immaturity. Okay. That's the only danger in it. Okay. Because yes, do that, but do it fully responsible, like own it all.
Michelle BB 00:20:44 Oh yeah.
Adrian Koehler 00:20:45 You know what I'm saying? And you're not saying that. I'm just saying that if, you know, as humans, we're looking for a way to make life easier for us, I think in general and more life. And so, we, we tend to kind of focus on, we, we love pain relief more than, than pleasure pursuit. Yeah.
Michelle BB 00:21:01 That's, no, look, I, I agree. Look, you know, the, the thing that I find most interesting about leadership, and by the way, I don't think leadership is for everyone. I really don't. Meaning I don't think everybody, well no, I should, I should say leadership is for everyone. I don't think management is for everyone managing others. What I do believe for sure, however, is that when you are managing others, and, and I take this to heart. Yeah. When you are a leader, you are accountable. And, and when you really think about it, and one of the things I try and remember is that all of the people who work for me, their lives, their livelihoods are dependent on me being accountable now. Yeah. I wanna be the best leader possible. So certainly, I'm gonna lean into my strengths, but ultimately, I have to ensure that I am thinking about and focusing on all of the problems, all of the challenges, all of the barriers, all of the blockers that my team faces. And, you know, in sometimes, and, and look, this is I think a, a problem we have, but I, I wonder if sometimes we tend to focus on problem solving almost a little too much. And maybe not thinking about other areas of leadership because we're so focused on that I gotta solve this, I gotta solve this, I gotta solve this.
Adrian Koehler 00:22:23 Oh, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. I mean, and, and it looks good if you're talking about the trouble, you know, so I mean that's a, there's a, there's a paradox in that, right? So, focusing on being optimistic and focusing on analyzing pitfalls. We talk about like being wise, like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what isn't working, what might not be working anytime. You know, I'm with a leader talking with a team about a breakdown. Our methodology is asked these three questions. So, there's a breakdown. First off, we want this breakdown. That's, that's the first counterintuitive thing is like, it happened, and we let it happen. Either we created it, or we allowed it. And so, I, we infuse ownership early, not like it's happening to us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we must have wanted this if it's happening. Cuz I say current reality is, is the truth teller not us. So, we own current reality first off, like, okay, good, here's this breakdown.
Adrian Koehler 00:23:10 It's here to teach us something. It's here for us to grow. Now as we look at the breakdown, ask ourselves three questions. People usually don't ask the first question, which is what's working? And if we're in this moment, what's working? Like, is it like, even despite this thing that's, that's the, this thing that's broken down globally, what's working on the team and spending time really celebrating and affirming and getting on the table what you want people to keep doing cuz that's working. So, so even though this, we're in this crisis moment for whatever reason, there's these things that we don't wanna give up. And what are those things? And then what's not working? Like what, what contributed to this, this breakdown, let's own that. And then what's wanted and needed in order to transform from this moment that we don't like because of the results or because of the mood or because of the shift in culture, whatever what's wanted needed between that and this vision, this, you know, we talk about vision is a future worth having.
Adrian Koehler 00:24:01 Like what's the thing we're willing to sacrifice for? So, if you count that way mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I think really holistically and honestly, then you can celebrate the good stuff. And you can be honest about the contribution for everybody around the table. Cuz that's the other side for leaders is we don't honor complaints in our organizations. We avoid them or we try to make them less instead of honoring them like they are underneath any complaint is latent vision. People only complain if they want something else. And people are usually more connected to the complaints than the vision because it's safer and because it's, you know, it, it points responsibility somewhere else. Like, this is happening and it's Tom's fault, blah, blah, blah or whatever. If you listen to the complaint long enough and I, I picture it like a rock, like you lift it up mm-hmm. <affirmative> and there's something underneath there. Get to that conversation underneath. Why are you complaining? What do you really want? What's wanted and needed to get from where we are today to where you want to go. But then you put responsibility on the lap of the complainer to help solve their own problem. And some people don't wanna do that. Right. They just want to keep diffusing responsibility to other people. Yeah. And those folks you ought to let go.
Michelle BB 00:25:09 Yeah. Yeah. You know, that's really, that is really interesting. I love, love this idea of getting, getting to that conversation underneath. Because I think a lot of times, we do keep it surface level and that's not going to help anyone.
Adrian Koehler 00:25:25 It does help us. That's why we do it. Like, like dealing with symptoms is looks good, right? It we get to, we get the appearance of if we're solving something, if we deal with a symptom and you know, and we just keep it at that level. Usually people, this is, this is where I think in the workforce as we're moving now mm-hmm <affirmative> leaders that are more willing to get to the core issues are the ones that people are gonna, that people are gonna flock around because the world is more chaotic, not less chaotic. The world is more complex than less complex. The world is more confusing. The options are even bigger. So, who do I trust? Well, I trust the person's gonna be real. So, if we keep dealing with symptoms, we're gonna, we're gonna cure the symptoms. Like taking Tylenol, you cure the symptoms, that's great, but every four hours you gotta keep curing the symptoms.
Adrian Koehler 00:26:09 So most of the pain of people I'm talking to is, they've been trying to cure the symptoms for a long time, and they think they've gotten to the issues. But there's plenty of conversations. I say this to my clients all the time. I say, there's what's running your organization is under the table and that's where we're going first. So, what have you decided is not worth talking about. That's where the resource is. At some point they run out of room under the rug. So, we just pull that rug back and take a look. So, getting to curative issues, which you gotta get to causal issues to get to curative issues.
Michelle BB 00:26:37 Right. Right. So, okay, so now let's talk about skills. Cause I think this is actually a great segue into the skills that we, you know, that, that leaders need. And you know, I loved your, I sort of took this note, trust the real, and, and that was just sort of what popped in my head when you said that. But it does speak to, I think some of the things, some of these power skills that we need leaders to have, right? I mean, look, you've gotta be able to collaborate with others. And, and I will tell you, I think oftentimes, especially in this hybrid world, and especially in this remote first, you know, where so many of us are on video, that collaboration breaks down often because teams are not connected. I think we have to learn adaptability. I think we have to be able to build trust again in an environment where we are two-dimensional people.
Michelle BB 00:27:23 And that's really difficult because we tend to build those kinds of relationships when we are connected in person. It's not the only way, but I think it's a lot harder to build that kind of trust. We have to communicate effectively; we need to be transparent. And I will say that the one thing that I think is most important outside of authenticity is empathy. Like, we need to be more empathetic as we go through this world and life together. Especially because, and look, I know you, you probably have a say on this as well. We spend a heck of a lot of time at work, however we define that and probably a lot less in our own lives. And so, this notion of bringing forth these human elements into our work life, because it is such a big part of our overall life, it seems to me that that is absolutely critical, especially now.
Adrian Koehler 00:28:24 Yeah. So, there's a lot that you said there, there's
Michelle BB 00:28:27 A lot to unpack there. No,
Adrian Koehler 00:28:28 No, it's great. It's great. <laugh>. Lemme start, lemme start with the last thing. So yeah. I hope we put to death the phrase work-life balance; I hope.
Michelle BB 00:28:37 Amen. Amen. Amen. To that. It, I hate it. It, it makes, it gives this like Twitch right here.
Adrian Koehler 00:28:45 Yeah. Um, the work-life balance. Balance is a zero-sum game. And so, if one thing's winning, one thing's losing, why do we wanna set up a win lose game in our lives? I mean, just in literal sense, that's what that is. Right? And even if we got it perfectly where it's like the teeter-totter is just right, the only next thing to do is to tell people nobody move. I've got my life the way I want it. Don't move, don't have a problem, don't have a feeling. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, don't have a thought. Now everybody's just a tool for you and your own kind of zen wellbeing that's, you know, very fragile. So, it's a very fragile state in general. So, we talk about work-life integration, which sounds like you and I are aligned on that mm-hmm. Hmm. <affirmative> where it's like, how do we get, just own the reality that everything's personal, period. I ask, you know, leaders' questions and they'll sometimes ask me, what do you mean you mean personally or, or professionally? And I said, well, tell me the difference.
Michelle BB 00:29:33 Yeah.
Adrian Koehler 00:29:34 Because we can't avoid our personhood at work. We bring ourselves and we bring all of our thinking, all the thinking we do when we're brushing our teeth in the morning, we bring to the boardroom, that's the same thing. Because I've got me, I've got the gap between my ears, you know, is never going away. It's coming with me, my thoughts, my beliefs, my default settings, my automatic responses, my ambitions, my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my insecurities. That's all there. So, to your point around empathy, you know, I don't use the word soft skills at all. I think it's; it's demeaning and like there's hard skills. That's the good stuff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's what we pay people for. And the soft skills if they have that great. And then that creates a culture of, it's a zombie culture for sure. Like I go into that more where it's just like there's a leader and then, you know, just tell people what to do. It comes from the industrial age. So, my point being is that I don't call it soft skills. I call them vital competencies.
Michelle BB 00:30:21 I like that.
Adrian Koehler 00:30:22 Life happens, vitality, you know, growth, new life that comes from our ability and willingness to engage with ourselves first and then to engage with other people. And that we don't teach that skill. It's deep and it's personal. And we put that in the therapist's office and, and we need it in the boardroom, we need it in the meeting, we need it on the zoom call. And there's not a lot of spaces in which people can do this type of work except for at a therapist's office, which I've got opinions about that <laugh> or just reading or just, you know, I, and you know, the therapeutic mindset itself is, is crafted by Freud for the most part. There's some other psychologists out there that crafted it, which just says, I am the result of my past, which is a very dangerous view. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's, it's very, very much a victimized view for sure.
Adrian Koehler 00:31:11 Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm not me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm, I'm, what happened when I was seven, but there's no life in it. Cuz now I'm just trying to deal with my past in a way that I get back to zero. That's how most people relate to. It's like, here's my trauma stuff, blah, blah, blah. And I'm just trying to get back to zero. And, you know, I'm a friend, I'm a fan of Adler, which is a contemporary of Freud at the time, which says, I am my future. I am what I'm committed to. It's a teleological view instead of etiological view. So, it's a, it's a dance, which is, I think the only honest way to talk about it. My point being is that we don't, as leaders, you know, I, we run leadership academies and we train leaders to act like coaches surprise, surprise because mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I think that's what everybody wants.
Adrian Koehler 00:31:50 Everybody wants to be really heard. Everybody wants to be really seen. Everybody wants to be really believed in and really challenged and equipped and then pushed. Like go, go do it. We're run an experiment called life. Go do the thing, go run the meeting and win or lose work or not work or whatever. And it'll be a part of the process for you. But we tend to like set our lives up where we don't have that great a view of ourselves. And so then therefore really self-critical and therefore we're really defensive when anybody has any feedback for us. And so, we live this defended life and we're defending our own limitations. Anytime I run a leadership training, I usually come to somebody and say, at some point today, you are gonna fight for your limitations and I'm gonna fight for your future. Which one do you want to win?
Michelle BB 00:32:35 Oh my God, that feels like a kind of a mic drop sort of question. I mean, that is so powerful, right? Because I think we all know the answer. So, we wanna <laugh>,
Adrian Koehler 00:32:46 Right? But we gotta get over ourselves. That's the thing, right? Like we gotta like, you know, the, anyway, I'll try to keep us on track here, but <laugh>, it's right. This is what gets me up in the morning is like, how good could life get? Not how can we make it through,
Michelle BB 00:33:00 Oh my
Adrian Koehler 00:33:01 Gosh, you know, we live, we live such a survival life. Like we just wanna feel as good as we can on our deathbed. And what a small way to invest these eighty-five, ninety-five, a hundred five years we have in looking good and feeling good and being right and being in control. Those are the four survival needs. Those are gravity. We don't get a vote looking good, feeling good, being right, being in control. I guarantee in any breakdown in any team right now, those are happening. Like take it to the bank, those are happening and those are natural priorities for us. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they're not the most, I mean that's, it's low-level limiting. And I can do that just like anybody ask my wife, every fight I get in, I'm fighting with myself about, hold on, do I wanna win this or do I wanna love which one? And you know, so we are all contending with that. So as a leader, and I'm with you, I think everyone's called, I think everyone's called into leadership at least leading themselves. Like if, if, if they want the life they want, they better get to the captainship of their own experience or the captain seat.
Michelle BB 00:33:59 So then this is, this is where my next question comes in. And actually like, I, you couldn't have teed it up more perfectly if we're taking ourselves on as our first project, right? If we are the priority in self-leadership, who's on our team? Who do we need around us? Who is helping us get there? Because let me tell you, you don't do it alone, right? You have mentors who have coaches, you have, you have sponsors, right? You have people who are talking about you when you are not in the room. So, who is on your team? And then maybe, you know, I'd love for you to share an example of who's on your team, Adrian.
Adrian Koehler 00:34:33 Sure. Yeah. So, who do I need, right? If is mm-hmm. <affirmative> that, that's the question. Absolutely. If I'm committed to transformation for my life, like ever an ever-evolving self-high performing, then who do I need around me? Well, mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. Great question. I mean, no one's ever asked me that question before <laugh>, so
Michelle BB 00:34:54 I can't believe that I stumped you. I am sure.
Adrian Koehler 00:34:56 That's wonderful. It's wonderful. No, I, there's, there's, there's a lot, there's just a lot of answers in my head. So, I mean, who do I need? First off, I need the help I need an ever, I don't think there's a word for this. I need a willingness to get and a vision for myself to get healthier and healthier over time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> meaning like, I've got all my dysfunctional stuff and I've got all my wounding and blah, blah, blah. And I gotta have a vision for, for dealing with that and bringing that to the table and be in this engaged conversation with myself. So, who do I need? I need me first, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, like I know that yep. For Adrian, there's an aspect of me that's a c e o. There's an aspect of me that's an employee to myself, right? There's the one that follows and the ones that, the one that leads.
Adrian Koehler 00:35:39 And I really need to make sure I'm refreshed and get back. That's why I journal every morning that I get back to the c e o seat in my own life. So, no matter what's going on relationally, you know, vocationally, emotionally, spiritually, blah, blah, blah. I need to get myself to the leadership seat in my own life. So, I need me. That's the maybe the, the answer that might pass by without noticing. If you're just at effect of other people, you're never gonna, you're never, you're never gonna keep advancing, right? Right. I mean, you might get lucky, you might, you might get lucky, but you're not gonna be able to be tenacious and persistent. So, what else do I need? I need people at this is I'll, can I answer both at the same time?
Michelle BB 00:36:18 Yes, of course.
Adrian Koehler 00:36:19 Okay, good. So first off, I, I need mentors. I need someone that looks like, acts like lives, like what I want, how I want to live. So that's, that's a, that's probably a non-negotiable for people. I know. It is for me. I mean maybe its people wake up and they have their own vision of themselves and they wanna do it, but, but they're naturally, we're gonna be comparing ourself to somebody and you better get some best practices in front of you. And a, a lot of times, I mean there's like, there's lots of nuances to that, right? So, there's skills you can see those are vital, like communication skills or you know, intelligence or know-how or experience. There's that type of the conversation. But really for us, most of the time, because leadership development, personal development is mysterious to us. Like it's a mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what would be the word?
Adrian Koehler 00:37:04 It's a phenomenon. It happens when I talk about leadership, I don't talk about it as leadership skills very much. I actually talk about it as an occurrence. Like leading is something you see happening in real time. So, we actually study the presence of people. We wouldn't use weird language like that. That's the weird type of weird language I think about all the time. Cause, but we know it when a leader walks in the room, the whole room shifts. Something else is happening because that person walked in. She walked in and we're like, oh wow. I, you know, all of a sudden, we're believing something we didn't believe before. All of a sudden, like things got really clear and it wasn't clear before all of a sudden things got optimistic and we were, you know, dreading before, you know, there's something around leadership that is a phenomenon. It's an occurrence, which we study. So, we, we focus on a lot of presence. So, you need somebody to that, that you look up to and wanna become like. Right. We also need, and something I didn't do for so much of my life is we need peers. Mm. Like people that are at our level that are striving the same way. And we have really honest conversations with, you know, most of us don't vet the relationships laterally. And we are in competitive relationships with them instead of, you know, having camaraderie with them.
Michelle BB 00:38:13 I wanna jump in cuz I love this. My boss has said that the most important relationships that you can have are those with your peers. And that you need to treat those people as your first team. Certainly, there are other people whether above or below you who are important, but the people who are your peers are in fact your first team. And you need to look out for their wellbeing in addition to your own, because that's how you're successful. So, I love that because, you know, I've, it, it really has shifted my mindset about where I put attention and focus and time. I have to invest in those relationships.
Adrian Koehler 00:38:52 Right on. Yes. Right on. I mean, most of the time in general, why, why people lose their top tier leaders, whether they're peer leaders or organizations lose their top tier leaders, whether they're peers, uh, like on a senior team or below them or people are managing is because when somebody's really good, we tend to, because we live in such a scarcity mindset, we tend to, oh, they're good. Let me leave them alone. I don't need to talk to them. Right. And, and you know, that's natural for us cuz we're problem solvers, right? Leaders are problem solvers, <laugh>. So, let's go find the problems and we'll focus on there. And then we end up giving all the grease to the wheels that have plenty of grease and, and then people get dry, and they feel really alone. Uh, even top tier leaders, they're just like, there's something missing on the team.
Adrian Koehler 00:39:30 They might not even have language for it, but there's some kind of being seen, being heard, being honored, being respected, being invested in being used as a, I love it when a peer comes to me and says, hey, can I get your thoughts on this? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I love that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's such an honoring thing. It's like, hey, it is, would you, would you speak into my life? Would you like give me where, what am I missing? You know? And so, I That's great. I agree with you totally. Like we need to be intentional about building the hyper resourceful relationships in our life, which is counterintuitive. So, we also need younger versions of ourselves back to the question like, and that, and then that'll usually be people that report to us, or you know, mentees of ours. And if they report to you, you better take them on as a mentee.
Adrian Koehler 00:40:12 Take responsibility for at least your contribution to their wellbeing. You know, they're responsible at the end of the day for their own experience. E every feeling is theirs, not somebody else's. All that. I could go into that for five hours, but at the end of the day, you need to find people that you are utilizing the relationship. You know, we're talking b even before we started answering are started uh, recording around, uh, how great your team is. And I was saying that's probably, it's probably unconscious competency on your part cuz that's where great, great leaders develop in this way. We all develop in this way where we're unconsciously incompetent. That's how we started anything. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then we become consciously incompetent. Like, oh man, I blew that. Now I know why I blew it. That's growth. Like I blew, I blew it and didn't know why in the beginning and now I blew it.
Adrian Koehler 00:40:56 I know why that's growth and then I become consciously competent. I know what I'm really good at. Like here's why I'm good and I'm good this way, right? And here's what I do in the meeting and blah, blah blah. But then at some point, and there's definitely aspects of every leader's life that they're really great and they don't know why. And it's great to have mentees around because a mentee is a space in which you can think about how you're thinking about things so that you can teach what you know. I mean, I remember, I'll never forget Brian, who was a client of mine runs, he's the right hand of Gavin de Becker at Gavin de Becker and Associates huge. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> top class, top 1% security firm in the world. And I said to him on a coaching call, I said, hey, what you do most naturally, you probably teach most poorly. And that is, I think that's true because it's so natural and you do, do you know this? I mean, can you notice that in your own life where it's like you're just good at it and you don't necessarily even know why? Because it's like, you,
Michelle BB 00:41:52 You know what? There probably are. You know what, I'm gonna ask my team that question. Cause I think it's really interesting to sort of think about because the things that, you know, I mean, look, and if you ask me the things that I do, well I'd, I'd probably have to just say sometimes I don't even know what I do well.
Adrian Koehler 00:42:06 Right. That's my point.
Michelle BB 00:42:07 But you know, it, it's right. You know the thing that you said though, that was really interesting, right? Finding younger versions of ourselves.
Adrian Koehler 00:42:14 Yeah.
Michelle BB 00:42:15 I've done that. And I'll tell you the biggest benefit that I've gotten. Not just in the ability, I think to build relationships and, and ensure that the people who are newer to career are getting experiences that are gonna help them grow. But I have learned a ton. There is this, I believe in reverse mentoring. I have learned things that frankly I never would have if I hadn't sat down with somebody who is curious, doesn't know what they don't know, but they have some, some really unique perspectives and are unafraid to ask questions. And I love it. And I have learned so much from these conversations.
Adrian Koehler 00:42:59 Right on. Right on. So that's, I think if you do, if you have that 360 level of feedback Yeah. And level investment, I think that's what people need. I do that, I do that. And, and at better, at better levels over time, you know, I didn't have any peers for a long time. I was, I used to walk in the room as a young leader and say, okay, am I in charge? Or who, if I'm not in charge, who's in charge? And I would just find the leader and I would either become their lieutenant or I would lead the coup. That was kind of my twenty's version of myself. Not that that was healthy or anything, but that's just what I did. I was like, okay, the world needs great leadership. Who's leading? Do I like this person? Don't like this person? Great.
Adrian Koehler 00:43:34 You know, there's some more stories about that and some things I'm not that I don't know, it was learning <laugh>, it was learning, but I, that was true. And, and now it's much more clear about, I, you know, I say all the time and remind myself all the time, I always need more help than I want. I need more help than I want. I think there's, there is, I think we're getting over it at some level now in culture where like the lone ranger thing like that. Yeah. No, no. We feel like, we feel like we get bonus points if we got to the top alone. That's just absolutely not such a weird human experience. Uh, our human belief that's like there, like if I do it myself, this is why a lot of you were alluding to them earlier, like really great performers, personal performers, executors, when they become leaders or managers, that's is a whole different world, right? Because it's not me doing the thing now. It's me helping other people do the thing. And that's a whole different set of concerns and a very different skillset. So, I always need more help than I want. At least that's the first thought. And then, then I then I get into the warm bath of like, oh man, life is better together. Why did I sit on that email for four days instead of calling my friend?
Michelle BB 00:44:40 Exactly. Exactly. You know, I, I think you and I have very similar philosophies. Okay, so I got two more questions for you. Good. I mean, this is, by the way, this has just been such an amazing conversation. First of all, is there, you're awesome there. Anything, oh, I dunno about that. But thank you. Is there anything that you expected me to ask that I didn't or anything you wanted to share that it's like, you know what, I really wanted to make sure I said this. I mean, you've shared so much, but, but what did I miss?
Adrian Koehler 00:45:13 Hmm. What's core issues for us? Core issues for us, and I think what matters, it, it'll connect to some of the other thoughts. Because if we're willing to have, let's, let me say this. Well, you know, and Lamont said life is unforgivingly complex and I agree with her. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> life is unforgivingly complex. So how do we make it simple as leaders? Your job is to make it simpler. And that happens through communication. It happens through your own spending, your time thinking and getting, you know, some, some really clear language around dynamics and a really clear language around the future. That's, that's, you know, language gives people handles to know what to do. That they can move themselves, they can pull themselves forward, push themselves forward. So, you know, I think most of the, as for people listening to this is you're thinking about building leadership teams and helping to build leaders.
Adrian Koehler 00:46:01 We focus on these three buckets, and we've alluded to two of them. Mm-hmm. What we haven't alluded to is for number one for us, I mean we come in, we're very people, people like we, we are convinced that every result comes out of an interpersonal dynamic period. And I'd love to fight with anybody about that. The number one is though generating results. And most we don't get to causal issues because we keep dealing with surface symptoms and those are usually the personality issues. And we need to deal with our personality stuff. But what is our aim? And if our aim isn't generating results, then now it's a personality thing, right? Right. But you can't ever get to a commitment conversation unless somebody's got their name on the line for some kind of results. But if you get your name on the line, if you get your, you know, stick your neck out, you're on the hook for something now, now that the, the stakes have gone up.
Adrian Koehler 00:46:54 Cuz now I'm committed to something and if I don't hit what I'm committed to now I can actually get in a real learning for the sake of the goal. And if we don't, if we have squishy, that's why I talk trash a lot about our review processes. Cuz most of our HR review processes or our organizational review processes are bs. They are once a year, and they give license to people. They're not giving feedback throughout the year. And then once a year they check all these boxes and give all these scores, which are usually around raises and around promotions. They're not actually around performance, but like, how do I help them a little bit? And then I gotta sit there and think, and everybody hates doing it and the person receiving it always feels like it was unfair and untrue and blah blah blah. And we're not in a constant conversation around what's working and generating results that are gonna land on the ground or what's not working.
Adrian Koehler 00:47:42 And so, you know, generating results, building impeccable teams and self-mastery, those are the three buckets you have to do all that simultaneously consistently. Anyway, we just hadn't talked about that. But the generating results piece is helpful because a lots of people that I coach on a daily basis, they keep trying to make it work with this person and the person hasn't generated results in two quarters and they keep, you know, talking about how to make them better instead of holding them to give an account for why they don't want to do it cuz that's, if they're not generating results, they don't want to generate results. That's the counterintuitive way I look at it. They haven't made decisions to make the results happen. And a lot of times for all of us that's asking for help. So that gets the core issues on the table. So, results are helpful, objective commitments are really helpful.
Michelle BB 00:48:29 I agree. And I, I thank you. Thank you for, for sort of circling back to the, you know, getting us to where we need to be thinking about sort of a more holistic picture of leadership. We are almost out of time, but look, every episode that I do, I ask the same three questions. So, this is when you can't get out of, but hopefully you'll enjoy it. It's a three, it's actually, it's not three questions, it's one question three parter, and you may need to write this down, or if you have good memory, it's number one, I wanna know what you're learning right now, or something that you've learned recently that's had an impact. And the second part of that is, how are you applying what you've learned, whether it is at work or part of, you know, this other aspect of your life. And then third, what advice would you give to others about that thing that you just learned? So, it's, what are you learning? How have you applied and what advice would you give?
Adrian Koehler 00:49:25 That's great. Let's see if I, there's lots that I'm learning. I'm trying to pick one that's the most helpful. I am learning, we become a podcast guy, so I mean, we have a podcast, the Naked Leadership Podcast, that's just a free resource for anybody. It's leading something. It's called the, yeah, it's called The Naked Leadership because that if we're leading well it's gonna be vulnerable. And we talk about the dynamics of, of what it takes to approach issues at work in a way that's resourceful for you and for other people. So, it's very tactical in some, some calls and, and very philosophical maybe, uh, on some others. But I've been listening to a lot of podcasts around, around behavioral science. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is like the study of motivating people and, and why people do what they do. I have tended to, up until now in my business, under-indexed on the science of what we do.
Adrian Koehler 00:50:19 You know, I, I'm good and we're good at the art of what we do, right? Because, and we've made, we've branded around it. Like, you know, the courage in conversation is really what makes a difference for us. Because if people are gonna have the robust conversation, new stuff happens. And most stall mates in businesses is because the conversation stopped. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, but I'm really learning much more about the science and why people make the decision they make and really studying more of the cognitive biases that we all live in, and we don't pay attention to and don't have language for. And don't even like start to integrate the management of that. So, what I'm, what I'm doing with my team is making sure that my learning around these issues isn't in a silo. Cuz I'm a nerd and I love all this stuff. <laugh> and sharing out with my team, which is a little bit vulnerable because whatever mm-hmm. <affirmative>
Adrian Koehler 00:51:07 I might like stuff they don't like, or I might agree, they might not even agree on certain things. So, we've, you know, generated a handful of Slack channels where we are starting to learn in public, I was gonna say, say learning together, that's an aspect of it that's coming. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But really, we're just now learning in public. So invited the team to post in things that they're listening to, things that they're learning, things that, that's great. Is, you know, cultivating their own thoughts. And then we can argue about it, and we can agree around it. We can do whatever. So that's part of the application. If, if there's not, if you don't have a culture of learning, then you're b you're at some point you're run out of runway. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because all you're, you know, you'll be really dogmatic naturally where it's like, the way we have thought about it, and people complain about this all the time, they say, that's not how we do things around here, which is code four, here's the things we're dogmatic about despite evidence in reality.
Adrian Koehler 00:52:02 And if we're paying attention to reality, it's gonna call new things out of us. So, we better generate a culture of learning. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that is gonna help us stay nimble. Right. Like, that's one of the paradoxes of opinion making is certainty in my own opinion and open and reflective to other people. That's a paradox that's never going away. Like, how certain am I and how much do I wanna get to know yours? And how mu how can I, how do I hold my opinion? And we need to hold it loosely and take other people in. Now if we hold it too loosely, which that happens lots of times in conversations I'm with, someone's really open and reflective and they're not that certain. Then they have this revolving door issue where it's like the last person that talked to them is usually what's gonna help craft their idea and the people. They're unpredictable as a leader. So, generate that space in which you get more and more clear about what you think about things. And then also generate the space in which you're really wide open to upgrading your idea, to trying something new, to experimenting with an idea in a project. And, you know, if you can do that both being persistent and experimenting another paradox, then you're gonna be really unstoppable. And people love that, especially high performers. If they know that being in this organization makes me smarter over time, they'll stay.
Michelle BB 00:53:15 Okay. So, generate space and I love that. And, and I think be open and, you know, the thing I think that I will take away most from this conversation is that there is so much passion and opportunity and in, in being a good leader. And it really is, I think becoming the best version of yourself and focusing on self-first, surrounding yourself and making sure that you focus on the people who are next to you, locked arms. And then also holding yourself and others accountable for the results that you wanna deliver. And, and like, amazing in terms of insights. And, and by the way, I love your sort of no holds barr take no BS approach. Yeah. Cause this is what I think, you know, people like the real right. The trust. The trust, the real Adrian. We gotta spend more time, but we're out. I love it. So, I just That's okay. I, this was fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for your passion, for everyone out there, look here at Skillsoft, we propel organizations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences. This was a transformative learning experience. And I hope you've enjoyed this episode of the Edge as much as I have. Be sure to tune it again as we unleash our edge together. I'm Michelle BB. That's Adrian Koehler. Until next time, keep learning, keep growing and be well.
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About Our Guest
Adrian Koehler is a leadership engagement expert and senior partner at the executive coaching firm, Take New Ground. He coaches executives and entrepreneurs in the art and science of leadership for themselves, their teams, and clients to create new, unprecedented results and experience fulfillment in their work.
He is the Founder and Senior Partner at Take New Ground, a leadership coaching, training and consulting firm based in Los Angeles. TNG partners with select executives and organizations to get the results they want by creating the culture they need. He is the co-host of an engaging podcast: The Naked Leadership Podcast with TNG Sr Partner Dan Tocchini.
Drawing on his background in philanthropy, ministry, activism, and medicine, Adrian thrives in the extreme environments and finds comfort in difficult conversations—in fact, his passion for human performance has taken him around the globe, serving people in times of crisis, transformation, and stalemates. Over the last decade, Adrian has trained and developed leaders at NIKE, Virgin Hyperloop One, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Herschel Supply Co., Oprah Winfrey Network, Gavin DeBecker & Associates, Siegel & Gale, UCLA and elsewhere.
Prior to his work as an executive coach, Adrian was the founding executive director of The Cornerstone Project, a grant-giving foundation that supports positive life transformation and spiritual reconciliation for the incarcerated and those with criminal histories. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2005, Adrian worked as a pediatric intensive care specialist at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He has also served as a pastor and community organizer at Mosaic LA and founded serveLA, Mosaic’s community dedicated to holistic development for the marginalized and vulnerable in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing while playing football at Millikin University. Adrian resides in the heart of Hollywood, Los Angeles with his wife Alli Webb and their four children.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.