When you write a post about your boss – you really want to say nice things, right?
But, if you’ve been around Leonie and I at all, you might already know we make it a practice to be radically honest. Well, let me restate that – she makes it a practice to be radically honest and I’m just surfing along uncovered in her wake. Frankly, while I love the effects of this trait, often it scares me to death.
I’m going to set that aside and give you an inside look at what it’s like to work with Leonie. Leonie, who asked me to write this post, but won’t publish it unless she thinks it’s really an honest look, so here goes…
First, some background.
My first direct interaction with Leonie was an email from her so strongly worded that my Gmail visibly shook upon receiving it. I wrote a peer later that day commenting on how this client of mine had really unloaded on me. I responded with my typical crisis reaction tone – a level, polite, client-satisfying response (read: I have a harder time practicing radical honesty). By the next morning, I had an apology letter from Leonie. She had received my reply, done some digging, and gotten some new information that led her to believe she was wrong.
(Note from Leonie – that’s Grant’s nice way of saying that I sent him a seriously cranky email because I thought it was him that was holding up a project our companies were working on together. I very rarely write cranky emails, but I definitely did that day, and I managed to completely misfire on the person who was, in fact, the shining saviour of the whole project. Thankfully, he forgave me, and I learned a reaaaaally good lesson on making sure I didn’t rely on just one source of information, and that I really knew where the issue was.)
And I could stop my post right there.
That’s what it’s like work with Leonie. She’s radically honest, says what she thinks, even if it is painful in the moment for both parties, and then if she’s wrong, she will course-correct in an instant. Leonie is one of the rare people (in the world, in my experience) who really craves feedback of any kind and will work to implement, grow, change, or back up wherever necessary based on it. It is truly beautiful.
An outgrowth of that quality is an expectation that everyone else behaves that way.
That’s often been difficult for me (though it has provided some amazing personal development opportunities!) While I’m interested in feedback, I’m more sensitive (go figure) and it can take me a bit longer to turn the boat. Leonie is there like a tug pushing a tanker… bump, bump, bump. Relentless is one way to put it.
What’s really at the root though, is that Leonie has figured a few things out – there’s no shame in not-knowing, there’s no shame in learning, there’s no shame in changing direction.
(Also, #impatient) So… have you done it yet?
During my time here, I’ve had to grow in a number of ways.
Leonie pushes me, ask me questions about my reactions, my emotions, and my responses. She’s not worried if my answer is ‘that’s my dysfunction,’ but she does want to know what I’m doing about it. Truth is, we’re all carrying some amount of personal baggage and it is easy to avoid it in polite company. We blame other stuff, we reframe issues so we’re not at fault, and we just downright lie.
All of this is more difficult in an environment where the leader is willing to be laid bare for the sake of personal growth.
A passive-aggressive response to her like “Well, you do that too sometimes,” isn’t met with capitulation. Instead, it receives a quick, honest response: “When have I done that? Tell me, so I can understand and change.” It’s unnerving at times. If you’re interested in a public view of this process, you can find that here, along with her gracious intro and note added to my response.
Should you encounter this side of Leonie in a course, an Ask-Me-Anything, or a blog rant, you can rest assured that she is walking this talk, and the pressure she’s applying is simply an attempt at helpfulness. If someone could help you improve, if they could see the part that’s broken or hanging up, if they had the secret to help you see better results from the work that you’re doing, wouldn’t you want them to mention it? She thinks so, and more and more, I agree.
All of that said, Leonie is also sensitive.
The world is cruel to the honest ones, as she’s talked about on this blog before. In team meetings, if someone says that something sad happened, or something hurtful happened, or if we get an email from someone who is going through a rough time, Leonie reacts from a heart-open, fully-engaged perspective. Her empathy sensors are going off instantly.
When you feed something negative, like a personal attack on her or her family, into an open heart like that, it can be pretty devastating. What I love is that she keeps coming back, keeps looking for the lesson, the part of her that still needs to heal, and keeps doing the work to walk these lines with transparency. It is pretty amazing to watch and I think the effect on the team is to challenge us to face our fears and do the work to move beyond them.
I don’t think much of this is a revelation.
If you follow Leonie on social media or read this blog often, I’m sure you’ve seen much of this from the outside. In fact, that’s really the story here. Leonie has integrity. What you see outside, is what you see inside.
Sure, she has all the same struggles we all have, but she also has visible processes of reflection and renewal as she processes her baggage and gains perspective from it. Personally, that’s what I’m aiming at and looking for in others. Don’t waste my time telling me you’re perfect, tell me how you manage the times that reveal you’re not.
If you choose to do business with us…
Whether by purchasing a workbook, buying an Academy membership, or just continuing to hang out in this end of the internet, I think it is important to know who you’re dealing with. There are lots of folks in the internet, business-building space.
Some of them are offering advice that isn’t tested, doesn’t work, or is just a thin veneer covering a lackluster business model that is barely getting by.
Conversely, I believe what you find here is a leader working through her own growth, results that speak for themselves, both internally and in the Academy and Workbook communities, and a team that is constantly being focused on improving our customer experiences, being more supportive, easier to access, and more responsive to feedback, issues, and opportunities to become even better in how we help.
Personally, this was what I hoped for when I made the decision to join Leonie’s team.
I saw a place I could do more together than I was able to do on my own. If you’re looking at a similar decision, reading a sales page, or an offer on social media, or even this blog post – know this – we do everything in our power to over-deliver on our promises.
The real question is:
Are you ready for this?
I hope the radically honest, while-yet-in-process answer is YES!!
Enjoy the journey,