Leading Agile Change with Jessica Katz

Jessica Katz is the founder and owner of Liberated Elephant,  she’s an acclaimed agile coach, mentor and speaker. We can learn lots about change with Jessica today including:

  • What actually are the “agile change values”
  • How to unlock your internal predator
  • The key themes for leading change
  • How to liberate your elephant with an agile mindset

Plus load more hacks!

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: There is a “change” theme in today’s news. So, we’re going to focus on a report created by Bond Capital, a Silicon Valley VC firm, whose portfolio includes Slack and Uber. The recent report, which briefed us investors has said that the global pandemic has had a similar devastating impact to Silicon Valley as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. So why does that matter to the rest of the world? Well, Bond best-known partner. Mary Meeker is a former bank analyst and renowned for her annual internet trends report, which many investors and entrepreneurs use as a touchstone for where tech is and where it’s going. And her 28-page report calls out some really interesting themes that I thought I’d share with you. So, here’s the top five things I’ve pulled out of the report.

  • Number one is data-driven forward planning, the biggest market cap growers, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Google, and Facebook, or possess short and long-term business plans centred around data and their data plans include execution, iteration, engineering, and science. The report goes on to say admits the current pandemic expect these business plans to be more widely focused with more scientists, engineers, domain experts, serving as board members and non-executive directors with much stronger, more relevant voices.
  • Number two, the continuation of remote working environments. With the coronavirus forcing companies to adapt to remote working environments to much greater degrees than they were used to. Many companies may find for certain positions, remote working is just fine, if not more efficient for them, CEOs and boardrooms will need to reflect on their companies and employees and ask management to recommend their evaluation of what their teams work best with together in person and what also needs to be effective to ensure maximum efficiency if they continue to work remotely.
  • Number three, interestingly, Meeker findings from an informal survey asking companies about remote work found that those who focus on effective written communication and documentation based off the Amazon way had the best and most efficient transitions to remote work. This form of collaboration can result in much more discerning and productive input. And of course, decision making.
  • Number four, and not surprising, accelerating digital transformation. The businesses that are doing the best and will make it through this pandemic with less difficulties and problems will be the companies who had already begun the offline to online transition. The current pandemic has accelerated these trends, which will place more emphasis and focus on a company’s technological presence with its worker consumers, as mentioned by Meeker. This includes the integration of cloud-based business functions, persistently demanded products, accessible and manoeuvre online presence, efficient delivery methods with limited contact and digitally efficient products with a social media presence.
  • And number five is on-demand business growth models. With the change in the way that we as consumers and workers have adapted the demand on companies, such as Uber, Airbnb are struggling due to social distancing, staying at home orders. On the other hand, on-demand services such as Instacart or DoorDash or any other door delivery service provider has expensed large spikes in demand and are eagerly hiring new labour.

The on-demand economy has grown across the globe over the last few years. In Meeker report, she calls out that in 2018, there were 56 million estimated on-demand customers compared to 25 million in 2016. The Bureau of labour statistics also concluded the on-demand services has around 156 million workers, and that’s in the US alone as of the middle of 2020. Meeker believes that the on-demand and door to door delivery service may be gaining a permanent market share in these unusual times, due to the clear benefits to consumers and the opportunity of displaced workers to receive work, income and schedule your flexibility around their personal schedules.

The report goes on to say that Instacart is reportedly hiring 250,000 workers now, which in more than Walmart and A3combined. So, I guess the leadership lesson here is as leaders and as business folk, are we being really thoughtful to the trends that are emerging in the future that are impacting on not just what’s happening now, but how our business might need to adapt and change in the future? My final reflections is for you to consider. What are the top five things that are trending in your business area that could impact on you, your colleagues and your business in the future? That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. Like always, if you have any information, stories, nudge it my way and contact us through social media.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Jessica Katz is a special guest on today’s show. She’s the founder and owner of Liberated Elephant. She’s an agile coach and mentor where she really makes the elephant in the room work for you, Jessica, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Jessica Katz: Hi, thank you so much for having me on today.

Steve Rush: It’s our pleasure. So, before we kind of get into a little bit about what you do now, just give us a little bit of a tour if you like of your career so far, where it’s taken you?

Jessica Katz: Sure. So, my career so far, well, I started in an administrative role really and recognize that if I was going to make the kind of money, I wanted to make to support my family, I needed to something different, went back to school and ended up in project management and from project management moved over into scrum, which is a type of agile process and then into agile coaching and now into my own business, which is the really abbreviated version of my history.

Steve Rush: What was it specifically for you that says, right, okay. I’ve got this foundation of project management, you’ve pivoted into the world of scrum and agile, which is perhaps a precursor, isn’t it for managing change in a more rapid and changing environment, but what was it specifically, you said, right. I’m now going to run my own business. I’m going to leave behind corporate America?

Jessica Katz: Yeah. So, I got passed over for a promotion and it caused me to introspect and realize that my personal values and desire for the way I thought business should be, were out of alignment with the company I was with. And I started my business there and I worked as an employee at there and at other places before it was really able to cut the wires and move into my own thing and have it just be my thing, you know, the getting passed over for promotion. I thought I was ready for, that I thought I was capable of, that I thought I was the right person for and realizing rather suddenly that the organization was going a very different direction than I thought was healthy or good for the people that work there. Caused me to say, you know, maybe I should be making this kind of change in the world and not just in the one place I work. And so that’s really what kicked off my business. I wanted to start moving the culture of business elsewhere,

Steve Rush: Got it, by the way, I think your company name is an amazing, so Liberated Elephant. It just instantaneously puts most people that worked in any business environment, straight in that room, where there is that uncomfortable elephant awaiting to be attacked. How did you come up with the name or is it just blatantly obvious?

Jessica Katz: Well, it took a little work to come up with the name, cause lots of people have business names with elephants. I had to do a little digging to find the right name, but for me, one of my superpowers is that I’m able to identify chinks in the armour. And when I work for other people, when I’m in an employee position, then I’m what they call an internal predator. And I look for chinks in the armour and identify weaknesses in the processes or breakdowns in communication. And I bring those to light and I’m ready to work through them with whomever I’ve brought them to, right. And I’m not throwing them at people going now, you solve it, right. I want to solve it with them. And those kinds of things, breakdowns in communication, in effective processes, processes we’ve put in place to deal with personality instead of actually dealing with the personality. Those are the kinds of elephants you see regularly creating dysfunction in our organization.

Steve Rush: Now the whole principle of managing change and leading change has really morphed over the last 10 years. And for those that are not familiar with agile, there’s a number of different variants of variations of Scrum, Kanban, and others. So, for those that are not familiar, just maybe give us a summary as to how you might describe somebody that you’ve bumped into has no idea about leading and managing change. What agile really is?

Jessica Katz: Sure. So agile is based in four values. Individuals and interactions, over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration, over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan. Those four values are the basis. Now agile as a whole is an umbrella term that encompasses many ways that we deliver on those four values. Scrum is one of them. Kanban is another, Lean, XP, even Six Sigma. They all fall under that agile umbrella, but agile at its core is just four values and 12 principles. It doesn’t have any roles. It doesn’t have any instructions on how to do it. It is just a value-based system. What we hear a lot in the world is, oh, well I’m Scrum, so I must be agile. And those two things, they don’t have to be the same.

Steve Rush: Right.

Jessica Katz: You can be Scrum and not actually be living the values. You can be Agile and not be doing Scrums. So, there’s you know, they can be separate. So, you know, one thing that I coach people towards in change really change management is about getting from where you are, to where you want to be and the way you move an organization from where you are to where you want to be, is you shift the mindsets and beliefs so that the behaviours follow. And often when people implement Scrum, they implement the process and then, oh, we forgot. We also need to switch people’s minds.

Steve Rush: Right.

Jessica Katz: And you actually need to start with the mindset and then move into the rest. And that’s a big lift for a lot of organizations. Well, we want to see results. What are the things we’re doing to show that we’re doing this change? And the real shift happens in small moments and in the individual minds of everybody in you company.

Steve Rush: Okay. So, when it comes to coaching other project leaders and managers around Agile, what would you say maybe the one or two consistent themes that keep presenting themselves for you that our listeners could learn from?

Jessica Katz: Sure. So, the first big one is that if leadership isn’t bought in, really thinks the idea of having an Agile mindset is valuable, then we won’t succeed. The reality is the transformation in organizations takes every individual to transform, or at least the majority of the people in the organization to transform. And it’s weighted towards leadership because the individual contributors and your system will emulate leadership, copy what they see, because that’s the path to promotion.

Steve Rush: Right.

Jessica Katz: So, what you really want to do is get your leaders bought in. So, when they bring me in as a coach, if I’m coaching an organization towards that change, I’m going to spend a lot of time with leadership. It doesn’t mean the teams and the individual contributors don’t need coaching, but they bring me in as an enterprise coach, I’m going to bring in a couple of Agile team level coaches to handle the, you know, the individual contributors and getting them moving in the right way. So, we attack it from two fronts. We get the leadership moved, and we get the individual contributors moved.

The second problem that shows up is the middle manager, the middle manager gets stuck. In Agile, we call the frozen middle. If you shift the top and you shift the bottom, the manager has both foundational pieces sort of shaken underneath them. And they have to figure out who they become in the new way, right? If you move both of those things, it’s the who moved my cheese concept, right? Oh, suddenly my cheese, isn’t where it used to be. The way I get measured, the way I get promoted, the way I promote others, the way I measure others all has to shift with that. And it can be very frightening for managers.

Steve Rush: Yeah, sure.

Jessica Katz: I’m not telling people what to do anymore. I’m letting them figure it out. And their job becomes connecting individual contributors to the larger business vision. And that’s not a skill set we’re taught before we become managers. So, it’s can be quite, yeah, it can be quite frightening for the middle management set.

Steve Rush: And when you start to think about leading change, what do you think the reason is that so many leaders of change initiatives, change programs and organizations often put that whole process before mindset? What do you think generally causes that?  

Jessica Katz: It’s easier.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I guess it is, isn’t it? Yeah.

Jessica Katz: It’s a path of least resistance to say, okay, use this tool and follow this process. And then we’ll be Agile. Is easier than saying, let me spend the time to convince the population that this is a good idea, and really sit with them as they work through the struggle of shifting mindset so that they can be better, right? At slow, it often even just initiating a new process, never mind shifting a mindset. It actually slows down productivity for a little while with the long-term gain of increased productivity and public organizations. You’re not driven towards long-term gain. You’re driven towards short term gain because that’s what moves the stock market, makes your board happy. So, there’s a bunch of cognitive dissonances that shows up and, you know, sort of conflicts of interest that appear.

Steve Rush: And of course, if you have to manage mindsets of others, you’ve also got to manage the mindset of yours. And if your mindset is perhaps less open, less growth-orientated, then you’re less likely to want to be experimental and to do new things and test new ways of working. Right?

Jessica Katz: Yeah, absolutely. It takes a lot of introspection and a lot of work to look at yourself.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: And the curiosity of self and curiosity of others is probably one of the biggest leadership skills.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: If you can get curious about yourself and where you might be wrong, and you can look at others and get curious about where they’re coming from and their perspective, you get a much, much richer picture. It becomes collaborative instead of directive. And everybody gets to be in the together instead of responding and being reactive to everything else going on around them.

Steve Rush: The first time I got involved in Agile was a number of years ago, and I had this experience where I’d kind of gathered my team together. We were all on point. We all felt engaged with the new ways of working. We went to our executive team who all gave us the verbal communication, they said, “yes, we’re all agreed”, and, “we’re all aligned”, but actually they still wanted to get old gunk charts. And they still wanted the regular milestones and check-ins and steer codes that came with good old fashioned waterfall projects. How do you deal with that scenario?

Jessica Katz: Okay. This is a classic Agile coach response. It depends. It depends a lot on the context. So, let’s say they want those things because it’s a division that’s making the shift and their leaders aren’t making the shift. So, they still need the same reporting to fit into the rest of the organization. So sometimes that’s the situation and a well-placed project manager can be very good at the translation between what we’re doing in an Agile way, to the way we used to do things in the way we need to communicate to the rest of the organization. So that can be a really beneficial asset to that kind of situation.

Another thing that I found is that there’s not a good focus when they’re receiving metrics. There’s not a good focus on what they’re going to do with that metric. So, a lot of times you can sit, you can look at somebody and go, okay, here that you want this Gantt chart, what problem are you trying to solve by having this Gantt chart and if the problem and the Gantt chart don’t actually match, right? So maybe the problem is well, I want to know what value we’re delivering to the customer. Well, the Gantt chart, doesn’t tell you what value we’re delivering. It tells you when we’re delivering things, but value is usually hidden inside initiatives or features or user stories, right? And, often organizations are very bad at communicating value. They’re very good at communicating output. How many, you know, how many widgets did we make? Easy communication. What impact did those widgets have on our customer base and on our interactions with the world, that’s a much harder lift. And so, you sort of leave that status quo going for a while, and you start to introduce other ideas and build on that till they’re satisfied that they’re getting the answers, they need to answer the question. And then you let go of the initial Gantt chart type style, right? It’s just like implementing a new system. You do a little AB testing, right? Here’s the thing you use to get. Here’s the thing we’re going to give you now, which one of these better answers your question? And once they’re satisfied that the new information answers their question, well, you can let go of the old information.

Steve Rush: I wrote an article about four or five years ago when I was doing exactly this kind of transitioning behaviours around how people were leading change. And I coined the phrase of water Agile for, you know, we were kind of half Agile, half Waterfall. And it just takes a bit of careful consideration, education and communication to those people, doesn’t it? Not just around how you’re going to move them. What can you let go of and what do you need to hold and what reporting needs to go where? But do you ever find yourself now in the world of Agile saying to your coaches, stop right there. That’s just a good old traditional Waterfall project. You don’t need Agile.

Jessica Katz: Well, you know, I haven’t run across one of them in recent years, but I do when I teach about Agile, I do make it very clear that there are opportunities for Waterfall that make good sense.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: A Waterfall project works when you know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it, and who’s going to do it.

Steve Rush: Definitely so.

Jessica Katz: If you know the answer to those three questions with real, like real definite, like you really know. Not we guessed about our requirements and we think it’s going to be this, but like really know. Installing a new server, updating firmware on a server, those kinds of things, maybe don’t need Agile, right?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: Yeah, and those can work in a Waterfall way because you know what you need to do and you know how you’re going to do it. And you probably have the same team that always does that kind of work. So, you have all of the pieces in play. Agile really is meant for complex projects, things where you don’t know what, you don’t know how and the, who is wobbly. And when I say to who is wobbly, I mean, the team is changing regularly or they’re a brand-new team together. Or, you know, the team has to shift as the project shifts. That makes the who quadrant unknown as well.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: Yeah, so we’re really like, Agile is best for complexity. And when it’s simple, let it be simple. Waterfalls is okay; however, I would recommend that you make it small in both cases.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: Yeah, that if you do a Waterfall project, that’s going to take you a year to implement, it’s way too big. You want to do a really small Waterfall project, not a big gigantic thing because we’re usually wrong about our estimates. Almost always wrong about our estimate. The cone of uncertainty will tell you your 0.25 to 4 times wrong on your estimate. So, if you estimate something’s going to take a month, it could take you a week or it could take you four months. But if you estimate something’s going to be a year, it could take you a quarter or it could take you four years. And that costs associated with that kind of risk is much higher. So, the smaller you can make it the better chance you have.

Steve Rush: Risk is also a really interesting point, isn’t it? That keeps coming up in my change world. When I start introducing the whole hypothesis of experiments and testing and using some of the Agile techniques to start helping move change forward, faster and release value earlier. One of the things that keeps coming back is, surely this is much riskier than a good old traditional or to Waterfall project. How would you respond if you were positioned with that?

Jessica Katz: Yeah, it only feels like Waterfall is less risky because it feels false. Like it’s more sure.

Steve Rush: Right.

Jessica Katz: Right, when we do a Waterfall project, we’re certain. We’ve built all the requirements, we know everything, but the reality is as soon as it hits the market, we’ve lost our surety. Now we’re getting feedback from our customer base and the market could be internal to the organization or external, as soon as it hits the market, you start getting feedback. And if you can’t be responsive to that, if you spent a year building a project and now it hits the market and you find out the market, doesn’t like it, you’ve lost a year’s worth of money, where if you deliver for a couple of weeks and the market starts responding and you have an opportunity to shift your requirements so that it better suits the market. In a year’s time. If it takes that long. In a year’s time, you’re much more likely to have satisfied your customer. And so, you know, usually when you build these big Waterfall projects, you pull like one or two people from the customer base, you have a little advocacy group. You’re not really getting the full breadth of your customers and your customers are really what make the return-on-investment possible.

Steve Rush: And managed well, Agile will de-risk your project, the risk of change.

Jessica Katz: Yes.

Steve Rush: Absolutely, and I’m delighted here and it’s absolutely something I experienced quite a lot, so awesome. You mentioned a little earlier, the frozen middle of the middle manager. This is taking you down a path yourself now where you’re putting pen to paper and writing a book. So, we’ll naturally going to have you back on the show when the books up and running to tell us a little bit about that, but from your research about that kind of frozen middle, you kind of almost identified, having you? There are three roles that typically present themselves in organizations where that kind of gets stuck. Tell us a little bit about what you found?

Jessica Katz: Sure. So, if you were a manager, you wear three hats. One is the hat of being an employee, right? I’m an employee. I’m coming here to do a job, to get paid, to grow myself, right? So that’s one role,  the next role is one of advocate where you’re advocating for the people that report to you. You’re trying to create an environment that makes it possible for them to deliver, give them opportunities to grow, remove blockers so they can be successful. And then the other hat you’re wearing is an enforcer. And this is the person who manages the status quo of the organization. Generally speaking, organizations want to stay at status quo. The pool will always be back to status quo. And the middle manager is the one making sure that continues down that path and in doing so, if they keep with the status quo and they present status quo and they lead like they’re part of the status quo, then they’re more likely to get promoted and have raises and be recognized for their work. So, there’s a benefit to them in being an enforcer financially. And the other side of that hat is if you’re advocating for the change, that’s occurring in your teams and for your team, particularly if the team culture and the leadership culture is different. If you’re advocating for them, then you look like you’re not part of leadership and it will hurt your chances for promotion and raise because everybody wants to hire people and promote people that look and feel like them. And I’m not necessarily here talking about like physical attributes here. I’m talking about the, you know, the state of being, if you approach work the same way as the leader’s approach work, they’re more likely to recognize you as a good leader. Then if you approach work differently,

Steve Rush: Yeah. You need that kind of Azure and provocateur that drummer the change, Meister, call it whatever you will, but you need that to push against the status quo. How do you therefore then encourage that middle manager to manage their political corporate self-whilst still doing that effectively?

Jessica Katz: Very carefully.

Steve Rush: It’s definitely true.

Jessica Katz: The first thing I recommend is that if they have a change that they think is worthwhile in the system. That in this position of middle-management, you don’t actually have a lot of power. You have more power than the people that report to you, but in the organization at large, you don’t have a lot. So, my recommendation then is to find a mentor in the system who’s in leadership, who’s known for implementing change and have them help you shepherd that idea through the system because you have to move change through the system that is. It’s like, I mean, we see it all the time in the United States, the way laws are made, right? You have an idea and you have to wait until there’s enough social pressure behind it before laws started to happen. It’s the same kind of thing that needs to happen inside an organization. You build social pressure behind your ideas, and if you can get a mentor who is known for implementing change into your system, that’s already in a high leadership position. You can leverage them to help you think it through and get it through in a way that is healthy and healthy for you as a manager and then also healthy for the organization. So, it’s not jarring to the status quo.

Steve Rush: And this is also where Agile can help too. Isn’t it?

Jessica Katz: Yeah.

Steve Rush: So, by running some experiments and some hypotheses, you can gather some evidence that helps the energy behind the change you want to plan or design, right?

Jessica Katz: That’s right. That big word that I heard you use there, the big words, hypothesis and experiment. A hypothesis looks like this. I believe, or we believe by implementing this change, we will see these results. We’ll know where, right. Or we’ll know we’re wrong when this data is evidence and then try it a little. In fact, when I do Agile transformations, I don’t recommend they changed the entire company all at once.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: I recommend that they set up a team or two fully empowered to make all the changes they need and test it in their system first and find out what blockers show up so that you can remove some of those blockers as you, it spread it further. So, you’re not throwing your entire company into chaos, right? You’re putting a company or two or a team or two into a chaos and deep learning for your organization. And I suppose that’s really the trick around hypotheses and experiments is that you’re looking for learning. Do you know that you’re right? Is the change that you want to implement in the system a good one? Well, we don’t know. So, test it, find a way to test it.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jessica Katz: Small test it small.

Steve Rush: And if you get these behaviours right, as a middle manager, these middle managers will progress because they’ll have the evidence to suggest that what they want to do, delete the organizations, right? And then you create that change culture at the top of the shop through kind of just natural growth and natural progression, I suspect.

Jessica Katz: Essentially, if you can get a groundswell, the company has no choice, but to move, right. But you’d probably need a, you know, a one in five for every leader that is resistant to the change you need at least, you know, five or more people that are into the idea of that change.

Steve Rush: Got it.  

Jessica Katz: Because of that weigh towards leadership.

Steve Rush: So, this part of the shows where we now start to turn the leadership lens of you. So, I’m going to ask you a few questions now just to hack into your great leadership mind. So, the first kind of thing I’d like to explore with you is your top three leadership hacks.

Jessica Katz: Okay. So, the first thing I want to talk about is spend 15 minutes every day planning your day. It’s it feels counterintuitive. Well, that’s 15 minutes. I’m not working then. Right? But the 15 minutes is used as a little bit of self-care. It lets you look at the day and decide what you need to prioritize in that day to be effective, even better. If you can do like 30 minutes on Monday or Sunday. So, you know, going into the week, what to expect. Now, those 15 minutes could be in the morning if you’re an early bird or in the evening, if you’re a night owl for the next day, what I have found is that if I do it in the morning, it sorts of sets me up for the whole day and I’m much more effective and the right things get done. And if I do it in the evening, it makes it easier to sleep. Cause I’m not worried about what’s coming up the next day. So that 15 minutes every day is a little bit of slowing down to speed up, which is a really common Agile trend incidentally that you want to slow down to speed up. It has long-term impacts instead of short-term impacts.

Steve Rush: Love it, yeah.

Jessica Katz: Yeah, so that’s my first one. My second one is don’t assume you’re right. Just because you have a specific role. So, if you’re, for example, I’m an Agile coach. I’m going to come into an organization and I want to come from deep curiosity, I can say things like, well, common practice in the Agile community is X and somebody could say, well, I don’t think that kind of practice will work for here and I’ll go, okay, well, let’s have a discussion about what the common practice is trying to solve, what problem you’re trying to solve and find a solution that better suits your needs. In a position of leadership, you need to do the same thing. I have an idea about how to solve this problem, but I want to leave the room open for other people’s ideas. And sometimes that means in environments that have a high retribution culture. Sometimes that means not saying anything until other people have spoken. But in a low retribution culture where it’s easy to trade ideas back and forth and up and down the hierarchy, then just leaving that open door and stay in curious to what other people have to say would be my second suggestion.

Steve Rush: Cool.

Jessica Katz: And my third suggestion is lift others up. This is the rising tides lift all ships kind of circumstance. In traditional hierarchical organizations. It’s very common for leaders to put themselves forward and try and look good and doing things, always trying to hoard and do things so that they continue to promote. One, you’re going to burn out at some point and two, it doesn’t give the people you’re supporting, the people that report to you. It doesn’t give them room to grow. So, lift them up and help them shine. And you will shine as a result of it. It is another one of those. It feels counterintuitive to do, but it’s the right way to scale yourself.

Steve Rush: I love it. Often though, the most important things that we need to train ourselves to do differently feel counter-intuitive. And I love the whole, you know, 15 minutes or 30 minutes a day, getting yourself in order because ultimately you called it out. This is not about time management. Time management is kind of baloney, right? It doesn’t exist, but what does exist is prioritization, love those hacks. The next part of the show, our listeners have become affectionately accustomed to hearing stories from our guests where they’ve had some adversity, things have maybe screwed up in the past. We call it Hack to Attack. But the key thing here is that we’ve learned from it. And it’s now a force of good in our life and our work. What would be your Hack to Attack Jessica?

Jessica Katz: So, I have been passed over for promotions. I have received bad performance reviews. I have been fired. All of those things have happened in my history and I was contemplating them. And I was like, what’s the common theme really? That came out for me in those things. And the common theme is that I’m a really fast mover and a fast thinker and it is worth it for me to slow down and observe and listen to the systems I’m in to make sure I don’t misstep or inadvertently cause harm where no harm needed to be. It does require a sort of deep self-management for me. So, you know emotional intelligence is you know, the factors of self-awareness, self-management, others awareness and others management. I would say the two that I was weak on was others’ awareness and self-management. Really understanding the impact of my words and actions and staying around to clean it up. If I made a mistake, cleaning it if given the opportunity, right? Because if you do harm, the other person has to be willing to have you clean it.

Steve Rush: Defiantly.

Jessica Katz: That’s kind of where my big learning has come in.

Steve Rush: And thank you for being so candid. There’ll be many people listening to this who suffer with a similar kind of philosophy. And it’s just that kind of being self-aware and organized that can make a massive difference, so awesome stuff. The very last thing that we’d like to do is to give you a chance to have a bit of time travel now. So, you get to bump into Jessica when she was 21 and you get to give her some advice, what your advice going to be?

Jessica Katz: Well, just to set the stage for your listeners. When I was 21, I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to do with myself. I chose not to go to college right away. And I was a single mom. And I was about a year out from moving to Nashville where I had no support system. And if I had a chance to do it over or had a chance to go back and talk to myself, one of the things I would say is take a breath and look at your support system. How are you going to have that support, that kind of support, no matter where you go? And a lot of what that takes is asking for help, even when you think you don’t need it. It’s still a hard thing for me to do, to ask for help. I’m better about it than I used to be. But man, if I could have gotten a hold of 21-year-old me and been willing to lean into that vulnerability, it could have been a huge shift in my life earlier.

Steve Rush: If only we had time travelled, right?

Jessica Katz: That’s right.

Steve Rush: By then the world we’re all different and we wouldn’t have had the learning experiences we’ve had along the way.

Jessica Katz: That’s true. That’s true.

Steve Rush: So, what’s next for you, Jessica?

Jessica Katz: What’s next for me? My primary client is a training organization. I do some subcontract training through them. So, I do have some public classes available. If anyone’s interested, they can go to my website to find future classes and I need to buckle down and work on that book. I’ve been a bit stuck, but this conversation today may have gotten me unstuck. So, I just want to say thank you for that.

Steve Rush: You’re very welcome. We can unliberated your liberated elephant, right now.

Jessica Katz: That’s right. That’s right. Get my elephant out of the room right now.

Steve Rush: Awesome, and I know that when you’ve concluded your book, we’ll get you back on the show. We’ll talk about some of the experiences in there as well, and we’ll make sure we help our listeners connect with you. In the meantime, what’s the best place for them to, we can send them to your website and that’s liberatedelephant.com.

Jessica Katz: And if they want to follow me on LinkedIn, I do a bunch of posting there and it usually cross posts Twitter so they can follow me on Twitter. On Twitter I’m @ElephantTamer.

Steve Rush: Love that.

Jessica Katz: And on LinkedIn, you can find me as Jessica Kat.

Steve Rush: Brilliant, we’ll make sure all of those links to your websites, Twitter and LinkedIn are in our show notes as well.

Jessica Katz: Wonderful, thank you so much.

Steve Rush: Jessica, listen. It’s been absolutely amazing chatting to you. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole exploration of Agile and the change and how you coach that through with your clients. Just wanted to say, wish you every success with conclusion of your book and most importantly whatever you do next and thanks for being part of our tribe on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Jessica Katz: Great, thank you so much. Stay healthy.

Steve Rush: Thank you, Jessica.


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.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there is @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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