WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?
As a highly experienced trial and error leader, I have a wealth of knowledge to share with other female leaders who are struggling to find their place in this male-dominated world. I have made every mistake you can make so hopefully can spare you from some of them. If you long to be a more authentic and connected leader, connect with me through my coach page and allow me to share my hard earned wisdom and self-awareness with you. If you long to shift your leadership style from a “hero” to a “host,” I can help you to learn how, and to radically change the culture of your organization. Believe me, it’s possible. Checkout out one of my favorite recent blog posts, “Love in the Workplace.”
WHEN YOU REALLY KNOW ME…
Leadership for me has been a journey of self-discovery and trial and error as I found myself unexpectedly becoming the leader of a large, growing and highly innovative business.
As a young leader in my 20’s and 30’s, I definitely adopted the top-down “my way or the highway” style. Telling people what to do came naturally to me, because I was sure I was right, was very fixed in my views, and assumed that if I ran the world things would just be better. My personality naturally drew me to leadership roles because I could get things done faster and better than almost anyone, I never took ‘no’ for an answer, and moved mountains with a bulldozer approach – get out of the way or you will be run over. This style unfortunately completely failed to recognize the value of other’s opinions and the benefit of teaching others to lead rather than doing everything myself.
This “lone-ranger” or “hero” approach allowed me to be extremely successful as the leader of a small business if one measures success purely in financial and growth terms, but much less so if building relationships is a measure of success. Since a hero needs a victim, heroic or lone-ranger leaders force their team members in the victim role in the “hero/victim/villain” drama triangle and keep them from growing to reach their potential. Being a heroic leader is ironically an incredible disservice to the people whom you lead. (For more on the drama triangle, I highly recommend the book “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership” and the video as well.)
At this point, I hadn’t studied much about leadership, but set about reading every leadership book I could get my hands on and attended every leadership meeting that I could get to. I knew that as the founder of the organization culture change had to start with me, and as a result of years of sometimes painful looking in the mirror have transformed my leadership style from “hero” to “host”, and see my role now as the conductor of the orchestra, but no longer need to play all the instruments myself.
Only from this new perspective could I see the value in others’ opinions and truly engage the energy and genius of my entire team. Slowly shifting from a fixed view and the need to be right allowed me to become open and curious, admit where I had been wrong so that new ideas could come in to view, and my own ability to learn and change skyrocketed. My role became less about dragging the organization forward but gently leading from behind and empowering others to become their best selves. This entirely changed our culture and affected every relationship, particularly the relationship with our patients. The old-fashioned doctor-patient relationship with the all-knowing expert telling the poor patient what is best for her is another example of the Hero-Victim misperception. Becoming a servant leader also meant becoming a servant doctor, which involved a complete mind-shift towards viewing the patient as an equal participant in the relationship and the one primarily responsible for her own life.
As I became more skilled in mindfulness and recognized its importance in business and performance enhancement I sought out formal training first at Naropa University’s “Authentic Leadership” program in Colorado, then through the “Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute” in San Francisco (originating at Google) and through the “Conscious Leadership Group”.
Now as a certified mindfulness/ self-awareness/emotional intelligence/ meditation teacher I have passed these teachings on to my senior leadership team. Small changes such as putting all our phones in a basket in the middle of the conference table for all meetings, engaging in short mindful listening exercises with our colleagues, and starting all meetings with a mindful minute or check-in about how we are each feeling have resulted in remarkable changes in the engagement and trust within our teams.
“Slowly shifting from a fixed view and the need to be right allowed me to become open and curious, admit where I had been wrong so that new ideas could come in to view, and my own ability to learn and change skyrocketed.”
“I started coaching sessions with Dr. Susan at the perfect time in my life. I had some major changes going on that I did not quite know how to handle and was considering backing down from an amazing opportunity. Going into coaching I had a fear that I would hold myself back because I often struggle with truly opening up about what is on my mind, however, Susan was able to hear and pick out the important pieces of what I was saying which continued to open me up comfortably. She coached me through lessons that I did not even know I needed to learn and got me to the other side healthier and more prepared than I would have ever thought possible for myself. I absolutely recommend taking the opportunity to go through life coaching with her.”
“Before starting my coaching sessions with Dr. Hardwick-Smith, I honestly felt I was fully satisfied with the direction of my personal and professional life. However, I did struggle to balance the two greatest loves of my life, new family vs. career. I felt stressed and spread pretty thin. Utilizing the tools and suggestions given to me by Dr. Hardwick-Smith, I noticed my critical thinking, self-awareness, and creativity has begun to thrive and develop. I see the loves of my life in a new positive light and welcome the challenges they bring by implementing the knowledge and tools gained from each session. I am truly grateful, inspired and motivated to achieve higher levels of happiness and contentment within all aspect of my life, both personally and professionally. Thank you, Dr. Hardwick-Smith; I mean this from the bottom of my heart.”
“Dr. Hardwick-Smith’s coaching has helped me take a step back and reflect, and to look at all of my accomplishments personally and in business. I feel more able to sit and appreciate and be grateful, instead of always feeling “not enough”. Her coaching showed me how to really take the time to think about what’s been holding me back in certain areas and how to put a plan together, and take action steps to pursue the changes that I want to put into place.”
“I was very hesitant in the beginning about what to expect from coaching. I was not sure what issues I wanted to address and was somewhat fearful of being judged. Dr. H-S was great at asking the right questions, based on my values, to get me to come out of my shell. This allowed me to see things differently and become more courageous about being myself. She quickly helped me decide what areas would best serve me with our time together and opened my eyes to a world of possibilities that I had previously not thought possible.”
“I have been a manager in the healthcare business for over 30+ years. Dr. Hardwick-Smith’s coaching sessions were phenomenal. She helped me recognize my ‘inner critic’ and guided me to understand how to feel more confident and utilize my new found confidence in presenting during meetings. She supported my growth and development in becoming a better leader. I have changed my approach to managing and my staff are loving the new me. Thanks, Dr. Hardwick-Smith.”