Lisa LLoyd, Psychologist & Psychotherapist, It's Time for Change
Lisa LLoyd is a Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Founder of It's Time for Change. She took some time out to talk with The Industry Leaders and provide some golden rules for business owners in 2023.
What's your industry?
People! I work across all sectors where there are professionals wanting to make a difference
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
My journey was unplanned but all hinges around one core purpose: to enable people to be their best. Starting in teaching I left to support families who were not accessing or successful in the education system. That led me to qualify as a psychologist but I became frustrated having to wait until problems were deemed significant enough for me to get involved. So I joined a specialist team aimed at early intervention to improve outcomes in 'failing' communities where I was lucky enough to have a blank slate and the opportunity to make a real difference where the need was. When the funding dried up, I set up It's Time for Change, where I've spent the last 12 years evolving to do what I do today.
What does an average day look like for you?
I'm pleased to say everyday is different! One day each week I wear my psychotherapy hat and work with individuals (from the public) around all aspects of mental health and wellbeing, from childhood to adulthood. The rest of the week might be facilitating workshops around specific aspects of mental wellbeing or culture, for example working with a senior team to become more aligned in their leadership of an organisation. I could be in consultation mode, helping companies develop their practice to improve employee experience. On other days I may be running After Action Reviews that hear employees' voices to improve practice. Or gathering data about the feelings and experience of the workforce, and providing coaching or mediation when relationships aren't gelling.
How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?
I am getting better at saying no! I put firm boundaries around my work and I communicate those to the people I'm working with. I have a switch-off time when I'm in family mode, and then I don't go back to my laptop. That requires me planning well so that I don't leave unfinished work consuming my headspace. And I'm great at escaping my desk and having walk and talk meetings on the phone.
I know from a professional perspective and from personal experience that making time for my personal life makes me better at my business. I spend a lot of time helping others understand and achieve that!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
That's easy - just be true to me and stay aligned with my values! I had preconceived ideas about how I should run a business, and I was stressing about it. I was told that I should decide what was important to me and focus on that, communicating the value I provide by 'giving-away' tips in my field. By writing weekly blogs for a year, I soon gained a reliable following.
I scrapped the idea of having rigid business plans and goals and I developed much more organically. That was so liberating - I had the freedom to try out new things, pursue those that worked and drop those that didn't - without any guilt. That approach enabled me to experiment and find what felt right, what I was good at and what I enjoyed.
That advice also gave me permission to ignore 'rules' I'd been told were important such as narrowing down what I do to a very specific area within a particular industry. By having an open mindset, I have came across so many opportunities that have helped me and my business grow, and I continue to love the journey. I have no idea what the future holds but right now, it feels good!
I would encourage others to let go of expectations about the way business ought to be done and find their own unique way. Never has there been a better time for making your own mark and that often means challenging the status quo.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
Imposter syndrome is something that resonates with many people. Coming from a non-business background, I felt like a square peg in a round hole when I set up It's Time for Change. There was so much to learn! I didn't have all the knowledge or skills I needed. I felt I was going too slowly compared to peers. And because I was shaping my business around my values, I didn't feel I'd be taken seriously compared to other companies.
Throughout my journey I have met brilliant people, come across incredible 'products' and services, seen an inspirational interaction with social media, and 'competitors' growing fast and gaining amazing clients. It's easy to compare, but it's a dangerous (and fruitless) exercise to engage with.
I often have to revisit my values and check-in with how I'm doing things in a way that works well for me. I ask myself questions such as, 'that client sounds great but do I want to be working their hours?', 'is developing that aspect of my business a priority at the moment when I have limited time (keeping my work/ personal life balance), and 'am I still providing value to the people I work with and feeling proud of what I have achieved?'. This process of self-reflection keeps me grounded and quietens the imposter.
My advice would be to find a trusted person who you can be totally honest with about your doubts and fears, and allow them to help you reframe. A different perspective, positive feedback and some words of encouragement can be just what is needed.
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
My podcast 'Beyond the Water Cooler' has been an amazing way to meet really inspirational professionals, with different roles and specialisms, who share advice and strategies to improve employee experience, workplace culture and mental wellbeing. It's helped my name become more widely known too as I provide my psychological expertise on the topics, from ESG, psychological safety, and resilience, to female leadership and overcoming resistance to change.
The book that got me really excited when I was pivoting my business a number of years ago was 'Nine Lies about Work' by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall (HBR). I loved their 'freethinking' that challenged a lot of what companies do, questioning it's validity and impact. Their messages gave me greater confidence to challenge!
Patrick Lencioni's work has been helpful to think about team dynamics and I've used some of his ideas to consciously promote conversations about what a good team looks like.
As a female in business, I've also really enjoyed The Power of Perception, by Shawn Andrews, that brilliantly unpicks leadership, emotional intelligence and the gender divide.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful business owner or executive to have?
Business owners need to be self-aware, having clarity about how they show up, engage and respond. And they need to be able to self-reflect about whether that matches what they want it to be, and what is needed of them from others.
That goes hand-in-hand with authenticity; being clear about their values and purpose and aligning the business experience with that. Staying true to what is important to the owner and being clear about their intent makes expectations clearer. Being accountable to values is most meaningful and motivating for the business owner and it helps them create the best team around them who are also aligned.
Self-awareness extends to their state of mental wellbeing. Leaders must recognise and know what to do when they are not functioning at their best, consciously taking action to make it better. An owner cannot run their business well when they are not in emotional control themselves.
Boundaries between business and personal life is essential for energy, enjoyment and longevity. Work can become all consuming. We need a balanced approach to meeting our emotional needs in order to keep us in the best state to perform well. It also helps us maintain a healthier perspective towards other people in our business who are not driven by the company to the same extent.
Genuine care for others is also fundamental - successful business is based around positive relationships and so understanding the importance of check-ins, good communication and empathy is key. Demonstrating these via compassionate leadership cannot be underestimated; owners who don't make the time for that simply push issues under the radar that can drive problems longer term.
Knowing that self development is ongoing opens up opportunities for leaders to find ways of improving their practice that allows them to stay on top of what their workforce needs from them. Having the confidence to seek feedback and to really listen to employees about their own experience, and about their views of leadership, makes continuous self-improvement possible. And that drives cultural improvements and business success.
Having psychological tools to stay in the optimal zone of performance, to maintain a positive mindset, to know what is and isn't within their control to influence, to be able to embrace change and to reframe unhelpful thoughts builds resilience.
The ability to lead well is about demonstrating clear leadership but also a degree of vulnerability and the courage to admit you don't have all the answers. Having a clear direction that does not fixate on goals, and where the owner expects to make mistakes on the journey, is open to reviewing and learning and adapting as necessary, makes the experience of running a business more realistic and rewarding.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?
I would actually give them the same advice that I was given, that I've detailed above. List your values and what they look like in practice. When you're clearer about the experience you need to live to fulfil those values, you shape your role around that. If that doesn't feel possible, I advise people rethink their business or get other people to help. Throw out the traditional rule book of assumptions and expectations, and write your own.
Surround yourself with people who can support you, either with the knowledge and skills you don't yet have, or who have experience to help guide you on your journey. Mentors, whether that is in a formal capacity or simply your go-to to be a sounding board and to provide feedback, are invaluable. Creating your dream team with whom you can share your highs and lows and be your most vulnerable are hugely important in a role that can otherwise feel lonely and pressured.
I also advise business owners to ask employees in their care how they want to be led, recognising that a blanket approach is unlikely to be successful. Some want a more hands on approach than others. And if there are not yet employees, ask the question about how people want to engage with collaborators and clients.
I encourage leaders to be brave and take risks. If we stay in our comfort zone, our world stays small. Finding opportunities to challenge yourself is exciting (if not a little daunting at times). If we ask ourselves 'what's the worst that can happen?', we usually realise it's not the end of the world. Having the courage to experiment, knowing that some things won't work or simply won't be fulfilling enough is the best way to discover your niche.
And I remind business owners to practice self-compassion. Take things at a pace that is realistic; going more slowly can build your character and the foundations necessary to gain momentum in the future.
What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?
Leadership that is clear about its values and purpose, and builds their business around that, so that it is reflected in daily experience
Psychological Safety. People need to feel included, able to learn, safe to voice their ideas and concerns, and to feel respected.
Excellent communication that is 2-way, where managers and leaders give everyone a voice, demonstrate action based on feedback, and keep everyone informed of challenges, successes and direction.
Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?
YES! I set up my business with zero previous experience. It's about surrounding yourself with the right people who can guide and feedback - to act as your sounding board, and who have got your back. It's also about advice that I was given when I set out on my journey: being clear about why you want to do what you're doing, and how it fits with your values so that the whole experience is fulfilling for you at a personal level. That creates the reward and drive to keep going with passion!
In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?
How do we define 'better'? In my opinion, based on what I believe success looks like, yes. Employees have spoken up about what feels right for them and business owners have had to listen. Leaders are no longer able to play by the old rules; their workforce wants to feel connected to a wider purpose, to experience a culture of psychological safety where they are heard, to engage in a work pattern that fits for them personally so that they are able to perform at their best. Owners are more self-aware and are engaging with research that readily appears via inboxes and podcasts about how to do business better.
The last fifty years has also seen a significant shift in attitudes that have enabled much greater diversity. Many companies have made the much-needed change to embrace a richer, and more balanced workforce at all levels of the organisation - whether that's about neurodiversity or gender. That has proven to have a real impact on performance and outcomes.
Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?