Kelly Lockwood Primus is the president and CEO of the leading organization that is shaping the future of the workplace for women, Leading Women, In this episode you can learn:
- What gender dynamics are
- Mindsets of leaders (male, female and other) can help or hinder the gender gap
- Closing the gender gap starts with conversation
- Some of the reasons why only circa 11% of Senior Leaders in Fortune 500 are female
- Gender gaps are created by women too!
Plus great hacks and ideas.
Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services
The Leadership Hacker News
Steve Rush: Throughout history and in every culture around the world, extraordinary women have pushed society to think bigger, move forward and create. So I thought I would share with you the following women who are glowing examples of that restless curiosity, boundless, courage, and world changing ingenuity. Thanks to each of them, women and girls all over the world are able to live with fewer restraints and have bigger dreams. And all men, women, transgender, or other, have better lives as a result of their work. Here is just a few.
Florence Nightingale also known as the lady with the lamp. Was a pioneer in the field of nursing. She had a massive impact on the 19th and 20th century policies surrounding proper care. Her writings inspired worldwide healthcare reform. She and her team of nurses drastically improved the unsanitary conditions at the British based hospitals during the Crimean war, and saved countless lives and influenced thousands more. When asked, Florence Nightingale said, “I attribute my success to this, I never gave or took any excuse.”
Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. The first person to win it twice and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, both physics and chemistry. Mary Curie was quoted, “in science, we must be interested in things, not people”.
Ada Lovelace was a woman who was said to have written the first instructions for the first computer program in the mid 1800’s. Unfortunately, her work went undiscovered until the 1950s when it was introduced by B.V. Bowden in “faster than thought,” a symposium of digital computing machines. Back in the mid 1800’s Ada Lovelace was quoted, “The brain of mine is something more than merely mortal as time will show”. And wasn’t she right?
Doctor Erna Hoover in 1971 achieved a patent for a telephone switching computer program. That was among one of the first pieces of software patent ever issued. Even more impressive, she worked on her idea while still in hospital, following the birth of her second daughter. She was quoted to have said, “I designed the executive program for handling situations when there are too many calls”. Basically it was designed to keep the machine from throwing its hands up and going berserk.
Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist known for her early use of X-Ray. One of her photographs led to major discoveries involving DNA structure. Although other scientists did take credit for it, Rosalind Franklin has been cited as the creator. “Science and everyday life cannot be and should not be separated”, said Rosalind.
And finally, Mother Teresa was one of the 20th century, greatest humanitarians. She founded the order of the missionaries of charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women that helped the poor, and was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016 and demonstrated leadership at every level of everything she did. And Mother Teresa was famously quoted as “peace begins with a smile”. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you want to share your information, insights with us and our listeners? Please get in touch.
Start of Podcast
Steve Rush: Our special guest on today’s show is Kelly Lockwood Primus. She is the President and CEO of the leading organization that is shaping the future of the workplace for women, Leading Women. Kelly, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Steve, thank you so much for having me.
Steve Rush: It is our pleasure. We are going to get into the whole prospect of what Leading Women do and what you’re doing at the moment to shape the future workplace for women. But before we do that. It would be useful to give our listeners a little bit of your backstory as to how you ended up doing what you are doing?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thank you I appreciate that. So had the good fortune of joining a very interesting organization when I got out of college that got me on the path of working in consumer products, and after sort of moving around a little bit within different departments I ended up in marketing and communications and found that, that was the right place for me. I worked for pretty much every single U.S. Corporation that made a product that had a plug and a cord. If you could move it around and it was portable and it had a plug and a cord, then I worked for them. And over the course of my career, took a few risky moves. Went and worked for some very entrepreneurial men who had revolutionized some of the consumer product industry focus areas, and took a lot of risks. And ended up working in Massachusetts for this company called The Homes Group which was a mashup of two organizations. One very old, a 75-year-old public company that was purchased by this very young entrepreneurial organization that created the homes group and went to help them integrate the two companies together. Joined at right about that time and had a lot of fun doing it, worked really hard, was promoted to vice president.
And then within a couple of years, asked to run one of the business units, and I’ll tell you, it was an enormously fun, six years of my career, and then from there I ended up rolling into one or two other organizations again, run by entrepreneurs. And I think the thing that I would say to anyone who doesn’t say doesn’t find comfort working for very large corporations. If you can find an entrepreneur to work for, the fun part about it is you pretty much have a very flat leadership. It allows you to take some risks and you tend to have the ear of the CEO at a much earlier part in your career than you would for much larger corporations.
Steve Rush: And gather a lot more experience as well as part of that experience. Right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, and the fun part about it was that, you know, when you have organizations that are kind of flat and there aren’t a lot of people there when a challenge comes up, you can raise your hand and say, Hey, I can do that. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, they’ll look to you and say, okay, it’s yours. You take it, you run with it. And if you screw it up, oh, well, we’ll try it again. And so you get a lot of experience that you wouldn’t have elsewise. And it was while I was working for this one corporation that was looking to go public. I had move temporarily to North Carolina to do that. My home was still in Massachusetts, but I was living down there and sort of coming back and forth a couple of times a month. And when I joined the company, the idea was going to be 18 to 24 months before we go public. So as the head of marketing and communications, my job was to really get the brand out there, get the awareness going, make sure our products were in stores, make sure, you know, the industry was talking about us, do all of the things that, you know, bring buzz to the company. And within the first couple of weeks of getting there, the timeline changed and it went from 18 to 24 months to 9.
Steve Rush: Nothing like a bit of pressure to get things moving.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, nothing like a bit of pressure and there were several of us who were new to the organization. So there was a lot of crazy long days and a lot of hard work, but what I was finding for me was that, you know, had a lot of spare time on my hands. I was living in an apartment. My husband was still in Massachusetts, so I started mentoring women at Wake Forest University Business School and had a blast with it and long story short, company goes public. Yay. We all go to NASDAQ and celebrate and we have a really great time, and there’s a woman that I knew in my career who was leaving the company she was working for to go work for this women’s leadership organization in Dallas, Texas. And she’s, still a very dear friend of mine and a business development person and she wanted me to come and be the marketing person with her. And so she introduced me to this woman CEO, Frizay Woods who was a very dynamic person and was shaking up things for this, this organization that had been around about 20 years and long story short. I was offered the job, so lock, stock and barrel. We moved to Dallas Texas, and I spend the next couple of years working with this organization to bring more women into leadership. That is the focus of that organization, the women’s food service forum.
Steve Rush: And that is how you got your appetite for really driving the agenda, right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yes, absolutely right. So and then, you know, as life would have it. We chose to move back to the Northeast and I reached out to the woman who founded Leading Women. Really just to ask her to connect me with her network. I was not a hundred percent sure, I was going to stay in leadership because I only had a couple of years in it, but she agreed to meet me for breakfast one early Sunday morning and halfway through our breakfast. She asked if I would come and work for her and that was in 2013, and I have been with Leading Women for the last seven years and Susan retired last year. And I stepped into the role of CEO. President and CEO.
Steve Rush: Super Story.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah.
Steve Rush: So leading women now is really taking the drive to research and get underneath the skin to really help drive gender equality and close that gap that exists still in many organizations, in many companies across the world, so sell us a bit about what you do with Leading Women now?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Okay. So when founded, Leading Women was based on research again around competencies of leadership and what were the true skills that rising stars needed in order to be seen as future leaders of companies. And what we realized, or what was realized at the time is that the career advice women was getting, didn’t include any of these skills. Women were being told to do things that made themselves great and to engage other people, but it never talked about really demonstrating that you understood the business. And so leadership development programs were created and partnered with corporate clients to help teach women how to be leaders and how to learn the skills and demonstrate the skills necessary to become senior leaders of organizations and around about, I want to say 2013. So 10 years in, when I joined the company, we had just started to do research around what we call gender dynamics.
And those are basically the Mindsets that managers have that end up putting barriers in front of women and by Mindsets, I mean, decision points that are made in people’s careers. And, you know, you and I talked about this a while back. But when managers are making decisions about who’s the next person to lead a project or take a role, or, you know, go somewhere in some other division of the company to get certain skill sets, the Mindsets that those managers have. Tend to make it so that they choose men over women and it is usually because women have family and they see that as a barrier to her wanting to perhaps travel or take an international assignment or, you know, have to commit to significant hours of work. So let’s just say, you know, that’s just one mind-set there that women are more focused on their family and less on their career, which is in most cases, you know, not true, but without asking her, how do you know?
Steve Rush: There is almost I guess, a preconceived expectation and therefore rather than enter into the debate, honestly, and openly, because often we do that with fear of what we are going to get back and how do we handle it. We then just avoid the conversation, I guess, is that what you are saying?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly. Right, so, the mindset that the manager has. Does not get explored, they don’t have an opportunity and the employee doesn’t even have the opportunity. There was a great example of this, that I was just reading the story of these two director level people. One is a woman; one is a man, there is an international assignment coming up. The vice president makes a decision without asking the woman because she just got married. So he makes the assumption that she’s going to want to have children, and instead tells the male employee that he’s got the job. And he’s got to go over to, forget where it was, Germany I think. Yet he did not ask the man what was going on in his life and they were about two weeks away from announcing that his wife was pregnant or that they were pregnant. And so, you know, he takes the role. He goes over to Germany. The woman who did not get the job was the one who wanted the international assignment. She and her husband were both looking to go abroad and work outside of the U.S. The other family, it ended up in a catastrophe because the wife’s pregnancy was a very difficult one. The male ended up being terrible at the role because he was so stressed out and they lost both employees. Both two very high performing employees. The women left the organization because they did not give her the opportunity and the man left the organization to come back to the U.S. and took a different job so that his wife and he could be near family.
Steve Rush: It is such a shame, isn’t it? That that kind of bias will impact not only on productivity in the wellbeing of people, but fundamentally that makes a massive dent in that organization’s plans to go forward as well, doesn’t it?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, Right and so a simple conversation between that vice president and the two people that reported to him. If he had just asked the question, I think he would have been surprised obviously. Clearly surprised at what could have happened and how much more successful he and his team would have.
Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely and there’s no doubt that the evolution of women taking leadership places across teams and boards has definitely increased over the next five years. There is still a lot of work to do, Isn’t there?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah.
Steve Rush: What has been the biggest contributor that you see that has enabled that to happen so far?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: I think it is the data, to be honest with you. I think probably about 10 years ago, when organizations like Catalyst and others. Started publishing including Credit Suisse and financial organizations, when they started publishing research that showed organizations performed better when they had more diversity, gender diversity in their leadership. When they were able to show direct correlation and data to support it, so it was no longer this women’s live movement or you know, any kind of women’s initiative. When they showed it was good for the business that got everybody’s attention, and so I think when I have conversations with CEOs of companies and head of HR. They are like, no, no, this is no longer the right thing to do it. We have to do this; we have to do this because the organization needs to perform better and it is as simple as that. So I think, you know, the past 10 years has shown organizations waking up and leadership waking up to the fact that they need it. Getting there as a whole another story, which is why we are not there yet. In a recent presentation I did, I think we are at just under 11% women in senior leadership roles in the fortune 500.
Steve Rush: That is still a way off pace, isn’t it?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah way off pace.
Steve Rush: What is causing that delay, do you think?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: You know when we talk about manager’s mind-sets, people that in the C-Suite are managers of people as well. And I think it’s sometimes challenging to be uncomfortable, and it’s a lot easier to hire someone or promote someone into a role that looks like you, and that acts like you, and that talks like you. And so until you get comfortable being uncomfortable or you finally have women demonstrating those senior leadership skills, it’s easy to be easy. It is easy to pick, you know, the guy that looks like you.
Steve Rush: Right.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: So one of the things that we do, you know, at leading women is, we focus on teaching and sharing our knowledge and research around gender dynamics so that men can get more comfortable working with women and understanding that their leadership style may be different and that’s okay. Women tend to be more collaborative. It does not mean we don’t drive for results, and we don’t aim for goals, but we do it by bringing others with us as opposed to sort of a command and control leadership style.
Steve Rush: Right.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: And many organizations are finding that is important today to have a more collaborative leadership group, but not all of them have gotten there yet. You know, the finance industry struggles with that. A lot of industries struggle with that, but there becoming more aware, I should say.
Steve Rush: And often folks think of this as a male unconscious bias, but in your research, actually, you also noticed that this bias also can present itself in women as well, right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely, I don’t want to take the time to tell a story, but I will say when I was a global vice president, I made the same mistake. I made a decision and talked a woman who was going off to maternity leave. I talked her out of her job and into another one in my department because I thought it would be best for her, so she would not have to travel and knowing, you know, first time mom. I thought I was doing her a favour and she came back from maternity leave and took this role and unfortunately, it was not a very autonomous role like she had before she went on maternity leave and she clashed with the manager. And she was very upset with me because I talked her into the job and she ended up leaving the organization. So, you know, it’s these mind-sets that we talk about. These gender dynamics that we talk about; there are 10 of them that, we work on globally and try to encourage managers to see from different perspectives. And when I say manager, does not matter if you are a man or a woman. Mindsets are mind-sets, and everybody has them. And you make decisions based on what you think, so we try to help people think differently.
Steve Rush: Part of our work, we teach this whole principle of unconscious bias and how it formulates our belief systems and therefore our mindsets. And we run this simple exercise around lots of different things, but one of them, which is agenda driven, unconscious bias and I would say 99 times out of a 100. Both men and women failed miserably because of the unconscious bias that they carry.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yes, You know, there’s this test I took once and I can’t remember the name of it. It is online, it asks you to associate names and pictures and words with male and female and so forth. And even after 10 years of doing this, going through it, my bias is about 60- 40, so that’s not bad, but I’m still associating words like family with a woman, as opposed to a man and you know, so on and so forth. So the reality of it, is every single person has mind-sets that are part of how they grew up. Its part of the work that they do, who they interact with and so forth, and so without bringing those mind-sets up to light and showing how you could. How they could potentially create barriers for others who don’t look like you, then you don’t have an opportunity. And so one of the things that I will tell you, it’s so much fun when we go in to a construction company that has 10 white men on their leadership team, half of whom are saying to you, you know, why are we even here? There is no problems. And after spending a couple of hours with them they turn around and say, wow, that was the most enlightening conversations we had ever had. And I never realized I was treating the women on my team, like I was their dad. You know, that is an amazing statement and it’s important for people to recognize that they have mind-sets that help them make decisions that are not necessarily always in favour of the right answer.
Steve Rush: The key here is just having an awareness that we carry this mindset, and it is an unconscious bias. It is in the title, isn’t it? We rarely pay attention to it, but having more data and more conscious awareness. We can then be more thoughtful about what we do and how we do things, right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, and it is having the conversations for absolutely.
Steve Rush: For sure. Now I have spent many years leading different teams and different organizations, and I feel really proud that of significant proportion and more than significant proportion, in many cases of my leadership team have been women. And I pride myself in the fact that when I hired those individuals. I hired them to do the type of work, that was the right for them, and the agenda really come into it and I can honestly say that categorically. But was often then subsequently accused of Steve. You are driving the female agenda. There is positive discrimination here. And how do you respond when you hear it?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Bravo, I think that is lovely. So, you know, I’ve never heard the term positive discrimination, and I think it’s interesting that people call it out. Had you hired 50% women and 50% men, do you think they would have asked you that same question?
Steve Rush: Hmm. That would never happen.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: No, exactly and so why is it by hiring more women? All of a sudden, there is something going on, right? There is something going on. Well, clearly, you know, you are leading some female agenda.
Steve Rush: Right.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Positive discrimination, just because you hired more women than men. And that makes no sense, right? You want to hire the best talent. And hopefully for those of us who like yourself, who are smart enough to realize there’s so much, we don’t know. It is best to hire people who are smarter than you or who know more than you, or who know different things that you, in order to be successful. So, does it really matter if it is a man or a woman? could it just be the best talent? And if it happens to be a woman, does it have to be positive discrimination?
Steve Rush: Wouldn’t it be great that we just get to a place where there is a recognition that the person been hired for the right reasons? And it doesn’t matter whether they’re blue, pink, brown, black, man, woman, you know, wouldn’t that be great place to be?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Or other.
Steve Rush: Or other, yes.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: It would be amazing if we can get there and I think, you know. Here in the States, there has been a lot of stuff going on in society and I think we may actually see a much more rapid change than anyone would have guessed at the beginning of this year and, you know, new decade. And we were really focused on, okay, how can we be as impactful in this next decade as possible for women in leadership?
Steve Rush: There is a huge movement. Isn’t there?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Right and helping organizations recognize that, you know, they may have set goals for themselves, but somehow did not make them in the twenties. You know, from 2000 to 2020, and so what are they going to do differently as an organization? What are you going to do differently? What are you going to commit to, to really reach these diversity goals now that beyond gender and all of these riots and all of this turmoil that is happening in our society? The amazing part about it is, organizations are committing to change more rapidly than ever. And you compare that and add to it, this COVID-19 and forcing people to work remotely, and yet work still gets done and change is happening so much more quickly. It is very exciting, I mean, first half of the year, it has been really exciting.
Steve Rush: It is, definitely so, and also here’s the thing, research also suggests, doesn’t it? That the more women you hire into your leadership teams and the more executive leaders you have at board level, there’s a direct correlation to better communication, improved productivity, but also there’s a bottom line income, outcome here too. As well for getting, the right results from hiring women; you also improve your revenue.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: It is exactly, right. Exactly right, and from a conversation I have had with someone in the insurance industry. Risk factors are also mitigated and the cost of doing business goes down because there are not as many risks being taken by organizations. Because they have a more balanced approach to decisions, so financial performance goes up, risk goes down, more people feel engaged. The productivity goes up, people within the organization feel more included and outcomes are amazing. There are so many different statistics out there from Credit Suisse, from Catalyst, from all types of organizations that just show, you know, 15 to 25, I think McKinsey at 25% more productive and innovative when you have gender diversity in your leadership,
Steve Rush: That is amazing stats, isn’t it?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: It is amazing and when leading women talks about gender diversity, we really talk about gender balance. We are not saying it has to be perfect. Not every organization is ever going to make it to; you know, a 50-50 leadership team. Let’s be real about that because there are certain industries where you’re just not going to have as many women employees, but there is a balance that can be achieved throughout the organization. And it doesn’t necessarily mean every executive team is going to be 50-50, but throughout the organization, we have one client that hires 33% of their direct out of college hires are women. And we said to them, well, therefore, throughout your organization, there should be 33% women at every level of your company. And when you reach that, you’ve hit gender balance for your company.
Steve Rush: I love the principle of balance as well, because it takes away notion targets that organizations often give themselves. And actually, if you just have a target of balance, then it’s okay to be subjective. It’s okay to get right fit, then isn’t it? And then you, haven’t got worry about a number on a bonus sheet or a target sheet.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Right, and for those organizations, you know. Who do put that number out there and say, you know, by 2050, we want to have 50% of whatever area of the organization as women. That is great, if it makes sense. If you can hire women into those roles, that is great. But there are some places and some challenges right now, when you have only 23% of the people graduating with certain degrees are women. You are going to struggle to hire 50% of your staff, right? So let’s be realistic. And let’s focus on bringing balance throughout your organization. So, you know, so many companies start with the recruiting and think that’s going to solve everything and it’s not for women in leadership. You can recruit as many women as you like, but if you are not creating the opportunities for them or giving them the opportunities and promoting them, you are going to lose them.
Steve Rush: For sure.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: There is a lot of things that need to be done but having more women in your leadership will absolutely help the organization perform better. And the statistics and data show that. That is not me, that’s everybody else’s data.
Steve Rush: Sure, so if I’m a leader, be that male, female, transgender or other, and I’m just wanting to progress down, start to close my diversity gap within my team. Where will be good place for me to start?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: I think it is important to take a look at who’s on your team. And as you are recruiting or hiring in at whatever level. Ask your, you know, the recruiters or whomever is bringing you the slate of candidates. Ask them to give you a balanced slate, make them do their work; tell them that you want to see three men and three women. If you are going to interview six people. Ask them to do the research and find you competent people, both men and women to apply for the jobs or to interview for the roles. That is the first thing you can do. The second would be to make sure you are looking at the career plans that you have for all of the people that report to you
Steve Rush: And I guess by doing so, you are going to be entering into those conversations with a good balance of individuals. Being thoughtful about direction of where your organization’s going and balance will start to take care of itself then. Right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Right and have the conversation with each person that reports to you. To say, what is it you want to achieve in your career? Where do you want to go? Because not everybody wants to be a leader. Some people just like the job they have, but for those who want to a leader, then you said to them, okay, if this is the role that you are aspiring to. Here are the three things we need to do to help you get there.
Steve Rush: Right.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: These are the experiences you need to have and if you aren’t able to have those sort of honest conversations with the people that you work with, or that work with you. Then how are you ever going to have balance in your promotions? Because if you’re only comfortable talking to the white male who works for you, as opposed to the others, then you’re never going to get there. So I think it’s being honest with yourself that you need to have the conversations with the people that you work with and open the door, ask the question.
Steve Rush: Love it and often starts with ourselves too, doesn’t it?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, absolutely.
Steve Rush: So Kelly, at this part of the show, we are going to turn the leadership lens on you. Now you have been an experienced leader of others for many years and lots of different scenarios, lots of different experiences. So I’m going to hack into your leadership mind now. First place we want to go to, is to find out what your top three leadership hacks are?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Great, I love this. I love this part of the podcast. I will be honest and I am hoping what I share is enlightening and a little bit different. So the first one I am going to say is you’ve got to act as if you own the business. As an employee of any company, whether it is large or small, you need to know how that business runs. You need to know how you make money. You need to understand how decisions are made and you have to act like your impact is going to make the company more successful. You are not just a cog in the wheels, right. You are not just someone in there to push paper around. You need to understand how the business makes decisions and then make sure you are demonstrating that you understand that. Because as a leader, we look for people like you.
Steve Rush: Yeah love it.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Second and this was a great story. I had a CEO, the one who promoted me up from a director to a vice president and then to a GM. And one of the things that he said to me after a meeting in which I got a lot of people, not happy with me. Cause I was asking a lot of questions. He said to me, don’t stop asking questions. It is the only way that you will get the full picture. Make sure you ask all of the questions, whether they are easy or hard, because it is the only way to truly know what is going on. So as a leader, make sure you ask questions, and then listen to the answers, right. You can’t just ask questions and then go on your Merry way with your own perspective, ask the question.
Steve Rush: And listen to the answers is sometimes a tougher bit, right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah. Sometimes you don’t like what you hear for sure, but it will make you better. It will, it will make the organization better. It will make the performance better and it will actually help the people who are being honest with you to know that you are going to hear them and you are going to listen to them. And that’s really the third leadership hack is you’ve got to get perspectives. Groupthink will kill you and your company. If you are not able, to ask the questions and engage people who are different from you and have different perspectives. And sometimes it’s as simple as getting the marketing people to talk to the engineers or getting finance, to talk to supply chain, right. Or anyone within the organization. If you can’t get the perspectives that you need as a leader, again, groupthink will kill you.
Steve Rush: Definitely, so.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, perspectives are critical.
Steve Rush: The next part of the show we are going to kick into is what we affectionately now call Hack to Attack. So this is where maybe something’s not worked out well or we’ve screwed up in our work or our past, but we’ve actually used that now as a positive in our work in our life. What is your Hack to Attack Kelly?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Okay, so this story talks about me as a new vice president. I needed to reorganize the department and we were a service. We are a marketing organization and we, you know, we are considered a service within the company. All the business units came to us. We did all of their brand work, all their creative, all of their packaging, you know, all of the materials that they needed in order to go to market with their new products. And I needed to reorganize my department in order to elevate two people up a little bit higher in leadership so that I wasn’t having as many people report to me because I had some other things I needed to be doing. And I made the decision to promote this woman who had a really great relationship with her business unit and by promoting her, it meant I was taking her away from the day to day interactions.
And we were going to backfill her role as a business partner to this business unit and I didn’t let the business unit leaders know that I was going to do that. And as a result, they were quite upset with me because they felt I wasn’t giving them the opportunity to be a part of this transition. And it ended up creating quite a bit of struggle and personality clashes and hard feelings, and that was my fault because I should have let them know and I should have engaged them in the process and the transition. So instead, you know, we internally in our department hired a new person, and then introduced them to the business unit and did not ask for their input.
Steve Rush: Big lesson, right?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Vey big lesson, very big lesson indeed. Had my department been an external agency, you know. A marketing agency, we probably would have been fired.
Steve Rush: Right.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: It’s important to recognize that when, you know, you have teams that really work well and you are going to make a change to those teams that you best engage all of the partners in that team to make sure that they are coming along with you. As transitions are made, otherwise you may hit a very hard wall.
Steve Rush: Never underestimate that. Can, you?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: No, you can’t and I, you know, a young leader at the time that was new and didn’t recognize, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And let me tell you, when you hit that wall, it is really hard to crawl over it. So definitely collaborate as much as you possibly can.
Steve Rush: The last thing we would like to do with you today is to do a bit of time travel, and I’m going to take you on a metaphorical journey now. You are going to bump into Kelly at 21 and you have an opportunity to give her some advice. What would it be?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, so Kelly at 21 had no idea what her career would be. She had planned for many, many years to be a lawyer and realized while I was in school. In college, not law school, thank goodness that it really was not for me. And so what I would say to her is, its okay not to know and use the time to learn. So I had multiple roles, over the course of the first couple of years from I came out of school and I did not know where I was going to be and what would make me happy. And so the reality of it is the journey will make you happy because you will find out so much about yourself and about business and what you like about it and what will be fun about it. And you’ll meet a lot of great people, so don’t worry so much about where you’re going to be and it’s okay not to have an answer at 21.
Steve Rush: That is lovely advice. I think many people actually certainly at 21; I cast myself back to that time. Would be so focused on the destination that we will perhaps not give as much attention to what the journey can give us too.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, if I could distress myself at 21 to realize how much fun you can have in your career. And the opportunities are endless for anyone and you can end up in a job like this, and frankly, I think my entire career. I’ve always said, I’d never really want to be the CEO. I would like to be the president so I can keep running the day-to-day business, but I never thought I would really want to be the CEO. And now that I am, gosh, I love it. What a great opportunity it is to meet and talk with people and come up with ideas that maybe someone else has not thought of yet, so the journey is important,
Steve Rush: Super stuff, and it’s no surprise Kelly that you’ve arrived at where you’ve arrived at. And we’ve had some fantastic chances to kick into some of your leadership hacks, but the journey doesn’t stop there. For folk that wants to get to know a little bit more about you and about the work that you do with Leading Women, how can they connect with you?
Kelly Lockwood Primus: So they can find us on our website, leadingwomen.biz, the biz is intentional for everyone to recognize that we focus on business. You can find our blog at that address as well, and you can find us on LinkedIn. We have a LinkedIn group; we share a lot of information, all the latest research. And we’re also on Facebook and Instagram, of course, but the majority of our time and energy is spent on LinkedIn.
Steve Rush: When folks are finish listening to this podcast today, they can head over to the show notes and click straight to your links.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Steve Rush: So Kelly, for me, I just wanted to say thanks ever so much for joining us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast. I have had a great time talking with you. Not, just today but in the time that we have before. And I know our listeners will take a lot of insights, thoughts, and inspiration to think about the diversity gap that exists or not as the case may be in their organizations, but thanks for being on our show today.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thank you so much. I look forward to listening in on your future podcasts as well.
Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thanks Kelly.
Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.
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