Becky Andree is the CEO of Vertical Leadership Consulting LLC, a company that - in her son's words - "trains leaders brains"! Becky tells us why she set up her company and how continuous learners inspire her.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I spent 25+ years in Fortune 500 companies designing and deploying global talent initiatives. I noticed that there was too much focus on content and not enough focus on context when developing leaders.
When talking about succession and talent planning, I also noticed that leaders were using a language that described a gap in readiness but was not about knowing more. During my PhD studies, I realized that this intuitive language was acknowledging the need for complexity of thinking and that it took time and experiences to develop.
I founded Vertical Leadership Consulting to support the development of leaders complexity of thinking or, as my son will tell people, "my mom trains leaders brains". A bit of a tongue twister :).
What kind of work does your role involve?
Identifying what 'need' or 'want' the organization has. Sometimes it is just with one leader! That leader might be a high potential that the organization wants to invest in. It might be a leader with essential knowledge who cannot think with enough complexity about their role.
These types of engagements are one-on-one coaching over the course of a 12-18 month period to create awareness of development opportunities, create challenges to grow into a new way of thinking, and develop their ability to do this on their own without my support.
Other organizations want to understand the complex demands that each role makes of leaders and then assess their leaders complex thinking. That information is used to inform development interventions. Sometimes that is tweaking existing content to bring front and centre the complexity of thinking development. Sometimes it is designing the curriculum.
I have a couple of formulas I use.
I work on developing the leader's flexibility: cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally.
I use the experience of work, plus a focus on relationships with others and knowing to create awareness.[growth=experiences+relationship+awareness]
What gets you excited about your industry?
The complex challenges that I get to support my clients with by understanding and creating positive outcomes.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Grandmother Luisa - "Beware of licking an iceberg and thinking you got the whole thing."
Grandmother Flordemayo - "Listen carefully to what they are ready to see and give them that. You see a beauty they can not yet see in themselves. Go slowly and carefully."
What, or who inspires you?
Continuous learners inspire me.
I have always been a continuous learner, and those on that same inspirational journey of curiosity and discovery I feel a kinship with. As they tell me about things they have read, it inspires me.
I am inspired by Indigenous Elders around the world. I have enjoyed listening in on prayers, being included in discussions, and a few ceremonies. I continue to be inspired by the deep understanding and wisdom that has been built on for generations. This has been achieved despite significant barriers and challenges.
Children also inspire me. It is one of the reasons I am on a School Board: to stay close to how children are learning and preparing for the world.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I attend Drinking Dialogues weekly - in fact, I plan my work engagements around it! I make at least one a week, sometimes two.
I read - A LOT.
The Harvard Business Review.
Clients keep me grounded in what challenges they are facing, which normally informs the areas that I go out and stay current on.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The organization needed a leadership and culture shift to sustain lean initiatives. I led a global virtual team to design the change initiative using a franchise approach for implementation.
There was a need to upskill local capabilities, so the implementation included developing capabilities locally to modify approaches (cultural fit) and maintain franchise standards. The program we designed is still in use 10 years later, and as the company split, this program has gone with each company.
While it was challenging to design something that would allow for emergence and yet still ensure adherence to the standard, it is rewarding to see how impactful a good design can be in creating something sustainable and useful.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Set-up a non-profit to find the opportunities where activating and developing complexity of thinking would be most impactful (i.e. inner-city schools, returning citizens, government, etc.).
How do you switch off after a day at work?
My dog reminds me every day in my home office between the hours of 4-5pm that is time to step away from the computer and feed him :)
Yoga is also a great way for me to maintain physical health and engage in a regular practice of shutting down my brain and just being.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That we would recognize that humans are central to work, and we would feel comfortable loving them and allowing their full potential to be realized.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I don't think I would have one! It would also depend on that individual's motivation and curiosity.
Everyone should have read or have a podcast that inspires:
- deeper thinking
- deeper awareness
- love, humanity, and compassion