Want the People on Your Team to
Take Responsibility for Their Work?
I can help.
Hi, I’m Karyn!
Last year I read a story about a journalist on NPR, I still grin when I think about it. During an interview, one of his guest’s commented, “It's not like it's rocket science."
This piqued the interest of the reporter. He wanted to know what rocket scientists say when they are working on something challenging for them, since it actually is rocket science. The rocket scientists came back with, “At least it’s not brain surgery.” Fair enough.
Still curious, he went over to Johns Hopkins, told the story to brain surgeons and asked them the same thing. Their response? "At least it's not nuclear physics."
So, you guessed it. He went to wherever nuclear physicists hang out and posed the same question. After pondering a moment, the nuclear physicists replied with relief, “At least it’s not social science.”
Social science: The study of human beings and their social relationships.
The art behind the science of leadership
What is it about social science that rocket scientists, brain surgeons, and nuclear physicists are challenged by?
The ability to play well with others has been instilled in us since our days on the playground. Do we lose our touch as adults? To me, the ability to understand our social norms and build collaborative relationships is the art behind the science of leadership.
After that, everything falls into place.
I’ve never assumed leadership comes with a title. I’m much more likely to follow you if I trust you.
My leadership resume began right after college graduation when I became a backcountry Hutmaster in the spectacular yet unforgiving White Mountains of New Hampshire. It fit me perfectly. I love being in the outdoors, it included leadership responsibilities, and I respected the people and the organization.
We were a crew of five that summer servicing Lonesome Lake Hut, part of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s System (AMC). Our rustic, wilderness hut-home ran on propane, gravity fed water pumps, and our youthful energy. Each night, we housed 40 backpackers who preferred to sleep on wooden bunks with very thin mattresses, have their dinner and breakfast prepared for them, and play Scrabble by the dim propane lamps rather than lug around all that extra gear and responsibility.
Like many leadership positions, the role of Hutmaster was earned with a few seasons under your belt; it was an earned honor. But for me, it was where I began. My first priority was to figure out how to fit in with a team who was slightly hesitant because in their eyes, I had skipped some steps to get there.
That meant I had to become capable quickly, to know the nuts and bolts of the job as they did. To listen, get my hands dirty, and pay attention. Learning from the people I’m responsible for may sound counter-intuitive. But that’s exactly how I would understand their plight, and connect with them rather than be seen as unapproachable or out of the loop.
My Hutmaster role certainly wasn’t the last time I would start with a title but still needed to earn people’s respect. That’s what happens anytime you are hired externally. At first, you are looked upon with skepticism by your direct reports and colleagues. How will you behave? What does their future of work hold for them with you as their new boss?
Can they trust you?
“Through our work together, I became more confident, more relaxed, and less worried when it came to leading my team.” Ariana Mangum
"Karyn’s authenticity and down to earth sensibility was a match for me and how I like to be coached." Greg McLeod
And that’s where I would always begin.
From my Hutmaster days, to managing a bustling restaurant in the downtown Loop of Chicago, to becoming a Director in the incredibly intense pet care industry, I knew success lay within building relationships, having empathy, and creating ownership amongst my team.
Each time, we would shift from cautious to collaborative. And then, from collaborative to wholeheartedly invested in our work.
That transformation has always been my favorite part.
My passion has always been to create workplaces where people feel good, fulfilled, and proud. So you leave at the end of the day with more energy and a sense of purpose, and have that feeling carry over into your personal life. The funny part is once you get this right, everything else falls into place. Morale goes up, performance improves, turnover lessens, loyalty cements…all of which contribute to a healthier bottom line.
It’s by far the most effective way to lead your team.
After years of doing it ‘in the trenches’, now, I help leaders like you cultivate this transformation to have your own self-sufficient, successful teams. To do so, I rely on my past experiences, and also continuously invest in my own education.
When I was strategically planning my exit from employee to entrepreneur, I enrolled in the NeuroLeadership Institute’s Results Coaching Program. Neuroscience has become incredibly approachable and is used widely in personal and professional development, just knowing some basic principles can help all of us leverage the power behind our brain (what better way to maximize an operating system than by understanding it a bit). I love bringing this into my coaching, because it lends a scientific, tactical approach to mastering this social science.
In October 2018, I earned my ACC coach credential from the ICF (International Coach Federation). The ICF is today’s leading governing body on ethical professional coaching, it was quite a proud moment to achieve this milestone.
How can this help you? Well…
Leaders are not only responsible for results. Leaders are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.
As leaders, you have the most impact on the workplace, you have the power to create. And the environment you create not only impacts everyone’s overall performance and morale, it greatly impacts the quality of your own life.
When you leave for vacation, or even a doctor’s appointment, there isn’t that heavy sense of guilt or worry for not being there. You relax, knowing they will rise to the occasion. Instead of feeling stress and concern over their abilities, you trust their judgement. You are giving the powerful gift of ownership and responsibility. When it’s time to give someone feedback or conduct a review, you no longer resist or cringe. These conversations are welcomed because they help guide people’s development while improving the work you do together.
This leaves you with more energy and a stronger sense of fulfillment, with a confidence that accompanies the lightness of your new approach. And because a leader’s impact ripples through, not only you feel this, but your team feel it too.
You improve the lives of everyone who works with and for you.