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Being the First: How to Lead While Navigating Unchartered Territory with Monica Alexander
Episode 1027th September 2022 • Lead at the Top of Your Game • Karan Ferrell-Rhodes and Shockingly Different Leadership
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One of the essential accountabilities of exemplary leaders is to forge a path where none previously existed. You too, may find yourself asked to lead an effort where there is not playbook to follow.

Navigating unchartered territory as a leader can be tricky, even more so when you're the first in every category. But with obstacles comes opportunity.

Monica Alexander, VP of Service Transformation at Charter-Spectrum, share invaluable nuggets of advice of how to survive and thrive when leading in an area of uncertainty. Leading in unchartered territory is connected to the LATTOYG tactic of Leading with Courageous Agility.

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Full show notes, links to resources mentioned and other compelling episodes can be found at http://LeadYourGamePodcast.com. (Click magnifying icon at top right and type “Trevor”)

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ABOUT MONICA ALEXANDER:

Monica Alexander is a VP of Service Transformation for Charter Communications, based in Charlotte, NC. She joined Time Warner Cable in 2003, developing enterprise technology and operational support strategies. Before entering the cable industry, Monica Alexander led various Quality Assurance teams in the financial and software industries. Monica received her BA in Management Information Systems from Florida State University.

Monica is the immediate president of the National Association of Multi-ethnicity in Communication Carolinas Chapter (NAMIC-Carolinas). Throughout her career, she has received many accolades for her leadership and commitment to educating youth in STEM. Appointed by Time Warner Cable to serve as the 2014 Emerging Leader Designee for Women in Cable Telecommunication (WICT). She also served in various roles for WICT Carolinas, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and the Piedmont Chapter of the Links, Inc. She is an active member of her community and church.

WHAT TO LISTEN FOR:

  1. How to develop and amplify your brand as a resilient leader, tap into your team's talent for success, and strategies to overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  2. Tips for leaders looking to avoid the "lone wolf" syndrome and develop cohesive teams that can tackle challenges in a rapidly evolving industry.
  3. Monica's Fun Facts - Antarctica, pet peeve, Drake and nachos

FEATURED TIMESTAMPS:

Learn how this Florida State University graduate manages to be a wife, mother, and innovative leader, all while transforming customer experiences for millions of people.

[05:13] Telecommunication is a fast-paced industry. Listen in on Monica's advice for CEOs on establishing new divisions, building teams, and staying up to date on technological advances in a rapidly changing industry.

[07:28] What values make up your Personal Brand as a leader? Monica discusses her brand's principles and how she's charted her own path using her leadership roadmap.

[08:59] Managing stakeholder expectations, developing talent, and moving a project forward is one of the most challenging and fulfilling things we do as leaders, but how do you manage the highs and lows? Monica explains how to achieve equilibrium.

[11:11] Monica's entry into the LATTOYG leadership playbook.  Effective leaders develop other leaders, but what's the key to developing talent that will continue to grow in their career and bring their best ideas forward? Here we discuss the traits of star players and how to develop talent within the organization.

[17:55] Monica shares the most impactful question every leader should ask their team to ensure success as a solutions-focused team. Additionally, she explains her three keys to moving the needle forward when you're a driver of change.

[27:47] Signature Segment: Full Disclosure

[35:58] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take 

LINKS FOR MONICA ALEXANDER:

PEOPLE &  RESOURCES MENTIONED:

- Overview:  The Lead at the Top of Your Game Leadership Development Experience

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR YOU:

  • Article from Harvard Business Review on leading new initiatives

Transcripts

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, with the… with the pace of change, especially in telecommunications, I love, love, love to… to be innovative and to be there in the forefront creating. My brand has kind of been one who challenges the status quo and one who… who comes up with… who thinks outside of the box and comes up with new strategies.

Voiceover:

Welcome to the "Lead at the Top of Your Game" podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.

Karan Rhodes:

Hey, there superstars! This is Karan and welcome to today’s episode! One of the essential accountabilities of exemplary leaders is to forge a path where none previously existed. You, too, may find yourself asked to lead an effort where there is not a playbook to follow. Our guest today has experienced a life and career of many “firsts”. We are so honored to have Monica Alexander. She’s the VP of Service Transformation at Charter-Spectrum, which is a major corporate player in the communications industry. Monica was kind enough to share invaluable nuggets of advice on how to survive and thrive when leading in an area of uncertainty. Be sure to listen to her addition to our leadership execution playbook and my closing segment called “Karan’s Take”, where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show! Hey there, superstars! This is Karan and welcome today to today's episode. I am super thrilled and excited to have as… our guest today, one of my very dear friends and a mentor to me, and someone I so look up to because she is the bomb dot com. We have today Miss Monica Alexander who is the VP of service transformation for Charter Communications. So, welcome to the show, Monica.

Monica Alexander:

Thank you for having me! I'm excited to be here today!

Karan Rhodes:

Awww, we are so excited to have you. So, are you ready to give us a sneak peek into that leadership playbook of yours?

Monica Alexander:

I am, let's go! Let's get it started.

Karan Rhodes:

Alright, wonderful! Well, Monica, I love to start the episodes off with giving our listeners just a little bit about your background because, you know, we're all more common than different. And so, for as much as you feel comfortable, will you share a little bit about kind of, you know, where you're born, and your childhood upbringing, maybe a sneak peek into your personal life right now, and just a tad about your professional journey so far.

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, sure. So, I will start with I am a Georgia peach; I was born in Valdosta, Georgia. I am the oldest of seven children. There's one unique thing about me I am… of the seven children, I am the only children… the only child that shares my mother and my father. The others are half siblings so, I'm the oldest and then, my parents, they were highschool sweethearts. They both married and had children with their spouses so… But I still am the oldest of seven. I was born, like I said, in Georgia, between, and this will tie into the story later, but between first grade and third grade, I lived in Georgia and Michigan and in Florida. So, I moved every year growing up and then, I… we finally stayed in Florida, which is where I graduate from high school and went to college. I currently live in… right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. I am married; I have two amazing children. My husband, Vincent Alexander and my two children, Vincent and (unintelligible).

Karan Rhodes:

Wonderful! Well, you know, blended work… families—that's what’s more common than not these days. So, it's definitely a very interesting background. And tell us a little bit about kind of your professional journey. Where did you start and where are you… how did that lead you to what you're doing now?

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, so I… I interned at Florida State University and I majored in Management Information Systems; love statistics, love data. I started my career working in Florida and then, I moved to North Carolina in the banking industry, and I've been here over 20 years. I am current… I started out in IT doing data, doing testing. I moved into software and then, I moved into telecommunications, which… I now lead up the AI… the AI segment of our… our organization, coming up with new strategies on how to use data to improve our customer experience.

Karan Rhodes:

That is amazing. And, you know, listen now, full transparency, although Monica and I hadn't worked together, I did have a stint in my corporate career working for Comcast. And I know that industry has really evolved over the last, you know, 15 or so years. The technology has improved, their new markets that weren't in the communications industry back in the day, as I'll say, I'm calling attention to my age here. But, you know, being an executive in this industry, fast changing industry is absolutely humongous. So, congratulations Miss Monica for surviving. I'm sure you have… you have interesting stories (unintelligible)

Monica Alexander:

It’s interesting you say that. The thing about the telecommunications industry is it’s pandemic… I'm gonna say pandemic-proof, meaning it lasts. It's forever changing; it's is forever evolving. They're forever recreating themselves, which makes it exciting.

Karan Rhodes:

No, I bet it does. And, you know, Monica, I know that you’ve had a unique experience in, you know, starting up new divisions or in starting up new teams within the industry. And, you know, from organizational factors perspective, I know that is extremely challenging. But I would love to hear from you as a leader who has survived to tell the story. You know, what are some of your lessons learned and challenges around being in the tech industry and starting new things?

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, with the… with the pace of change, especially in telecommunications, I love, love, love to… to be innovative and to be there in the forefront creating. My brand has kind of been one who challenges the status quo and one who… who comes up with… who thinks outside of the box and comes up with new strategies. So, my current assignment, which I've been on for about 18 months, was to build a team from scratch. I started with three employees, and we're at about 40 right now. And… and what… there was… there was a concept that was given to me, but I quickly found that I had to go back and realign with all the leaders to really say, “Okay, this is what the concept means.” (unintelligible) servicing what context was the concept, but it meant something different to every leader. And so, to even move, to even build, to start to build the organization, the first thing I had to do was to level set on what we were building. And… and I like doing that because it allows me to… to just kind of hear everybody's vision, like what did you think it is? And what is it that you think it is? Think… think that serves in the context means? And then, take all of those ideas and kind of merge them together. And so, I… what I'll say is what I quickly learned is that everything's not black and white, and things don't always appear… they're not always as they appear.

Karan Rhodes:

I bet, and, especially at the levels that you're working with with so many from the key stakeholders that you're having to, I guess, bring together in order to get a strategy moving forward, I mean, how do you navigate the different perspectives? Because I'm sure everybody has their own… their… their own fashion about how to move forward. And, I mean, how do you, in your opinion, how do you do that and getting everybody aboard? And is there a point that you just call a spade a spade and say, “Look, I've taken into account everyone's perspective. I've tried to take the best of all worlds, but in order to meet our business strategy, you know, this is how we're going to move forward.”

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, so, I think it's important to level set on what… what our “Why?” is. What are we doing and why are we doing it in the beginning? And then, seek… seek perspective. Seek to understand everybody's perspective. What is sales gonna say? What is marketing gonna say? What is technology gonna say? And when you understand their perspective and their bottom line, and their “Why?”, and you make sure you incorporate that “Why?”, all of those “Why?” into the ultimate vision, you get buying in, and if you get buying in at the beginning, on the “Why?”, you always have that to go back to throughout the process. And because you're gonna run into the roadblocks or someone's gonna, you know, they're gonna pump on the brakes. And you just… you kindly use that reference point to say, “Okay, remember, this is why we're doing this.” or “This is why this decision was made.” So, it's… it's extremely important to spend the early days defining the “Why?” and making sure everybody understand… understands why so and so thinks this or why so and so thinks this so that through the process, you have that as a… as a refocusing point.

Karan Rhodes:

No, that's a great, great bit of nugget there. And I know in your position, not only this position, but your previous positions, you've had to galvanize a team and, you know, encourage their buying and followership to do, you know, whatever your main priorities of your department is. I'm just curious for you, when you evaluate your staff, what does lead at the top of the game look for you? Like what are some of the traits that you're looking to pop out for some of your top performing leaders?

Monica Alexander:

For my for my leaders, I tell…

Karan Rhodes:

Or staff, either one.

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, and I tell all my leaders, my staff, my team, I tell them, “Tell me what I need to hear, and don't tell me what you think I want to hear.” That's one of the things I tell them all the time, and the reason is I hire people that are smarter than me for a reason. And your opinion may differ from my opinion, and I feel like when we can thrive in that collaborative environment where people are… feel empowered to share their opinion even… or their perspective even if it differs from mine, we win because we… we win because we've kind of battle tested the idea or the thought that we are toying around with prior to going out to try to sell it.

Karan Rhodes:

No, that is perfect! I love that. And some people are… what I love about that is that a lot of leaders don't encourage that from their staff; their staff are hesitant or afraid to… I wouldn’t say…

Monica Alexander:

To disagree.

Karan Rhodes:

… to disagree. Yeah! And that's part of the workplace dynamics. Sometimes, you can always politely and tactfully disagree for the better good, right? And to improve what the whole group is doing but opening the door to allowing that rich dialogue is invaluable, in my opinion, to helping the whole group succeed. Do you agree?

Monica Alexander:

I absolutely agree, and it's interesting that you honed in on that because I kind of have three principles when leading… when… when leading or creating a strategy. It's one: people; two: the service that we're providing to our customers, whether that's internal or external; and then, three: the value. How are we creating value—sustainable value that is. And we're talking about the people aspect right now. You have to invest in your people, and you have to empower your people. I mean, you have to… you have to understand your people. And me, I talked about moving around a lot as a child, I had to fit into environments. So, I was… I'm really good at reading the nonverbals, and… and understanding the trends and the patterns of “Okay, this is how so and so responds when they're uncomfortable, or this is how so and so responds when they feel challenged. And so, I pay attention to the little details as a people leader. So, as I'm doing one-on-ones with my teams, and I'm asking for feedback, I can tell… I can tell by their nonverbals a lot of times I can… I can use that emotional intelligence to tell, you know, “How do I approach this?” or “Are they holding something back?” to… as a leader, strategically, you know… you know, drive the conversation so that the outputs are what we need to be successful as a team.

Karan Rhodes:

Wow, that's so fantastic and very astute! And emotional intelligence, as you mentioned, is so important, you know, in… for successful leaders. I mean that's came out of the research that I did, as well as, you know, you… you name it; there many millions of leadership research that is out there. But being able to, you know, be open, watch the… both verbal and nonverbal cues and zone and to be curious, and to understand why people are feeling that way, you know. This is hugely important. And, you know…

Monica Alexander:

(unintelligible)

Karan Rhodes:

Go ahead. No, go ahead, go ahead.

Monica Alexander:

(unintelligible) I actually have it right here on my phone. It says, “Leadership is getting others to achieve what they wouldn't otherwise achieve without your influence.” And so, I feel like it's my job as a leader to… to pull that out of them and to inspire them and to encourage and motivate them to… to shoot for the stars.

Karan Rhodes:

I love that! I absolutely love that. And you know, one of the other things I'd love for you to share with our listeners today, you've had a very unique life experience from going into a field that not many, to be honest with you, women of color were going into at the time. You've had, you know, even in your childhood background, some new experiences that you had to kind of forge your way through, and even… You’re so kind of share with me that you kind of always been, you know, first that, this, that, or the other. So, I love our listeners to… to hear a little bit about that theme throughout your life and how you've been successful because it's scary being first.

Monica Alexander:

It is! And the thing about being advisors, people think you know everything.

Karan Rhodes:

They do.

Monica Alexander:

And one of the first… you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and you have to be comfortable saying, “Well, I don't know, but here's what we need to do to find out.” And so, I was… I was… as I was preparing for this, I was I'm the… I'm the oldest child, I'm the… I was the first African-American female manager in our IT department in 2006 when I got promoted. I was the first to participate in this inaugural leadership program that our company organized. I laugh, “I'm kind of like the guinea pig” is what I tell people. Like Mikey, if you remember from back in the day, when everyone was like, “ Who’s Mikey?”. They're like, “Give it to Monica, she'll try it.” It's kind of my brand but in… in being the first, I think one, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to be comfortable not saying “I don't know” and that… and knowing that that… that is not a question of your intelligence or your intellect. But you may not know yet and they don't know either, because they asked you to do it. You also have to be comfortable with your ideas. And people, sometimes, you know, people at this level, people challenge our ideas, because everybody's jockeying for position. And being a woman of color, a lot of times, I'm the only woman… I'm the only woman in the room, and I'm the only person of color in the room. And whether we talk about it or not, you know, there… there are… there are cultural norms that… that happen in organizations, and that happened in these rooms. And sometimes, I feel like an outsider, but I have to be comfortable with what I… with my knowledge and… and sometimes, I even have to ask them, “If we've never done this before, what makes your idea… what makes your idea better than mine?” And then, the thing that I have learned is we have to do something and not spend a whole lot of time, I call it, pontificating about an idea and not be afraid to take risk. And the principle that I have around this is fail fast, fail frequent, and fail forward. Because at least you learned and if you’ve learned from that experience, your perspective can change, and it's no longer that you failed. It’s that you gained insight, and you can now adjust and move forward.

Karan Rhodes:

Wow! Okay, listeners, that’s our quote: “Fail fast, fail frequent, and fail forward.” Love that! Now, I'm gonna challenge you just a tad, Miss Monica, and pull back a little bit of the layer of the onion there because it's easier said than done to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And being comfortable means kind of understanding yourself and finding your way through it even though you might have some anxiety about it. And I'm just curious, how do you personally do that? I mean, because it has to be challenging when you're going against your, you know, your peer group at the executive levels and you're, you know, challenging them like, “Okay, I have an idea, you have an idea. How do we determine which idea is actually better?” You know, is there something that you do to navigate that or do you just charge forward and then decompress when you get home if it was a challenging conversation?

Monica Alexander:

You know, a lot of times, it is a conversation and I have to take a step back to understand perspective. And a lot of times, I go into the conversation and I will say, “Help me understand. Help me understand this.” Instead of saying, “No, you're wrong.” I'll go into, “Hey, can you help me understand this? I'm struggling.” I'm struggling, and a part of… one of the core values or attributes that I have that people have often told me was… was unique is my authenticity. And I go in being me and I go in with a genuine concern of, “Can you help me understand because I'm struggling?” And a lot of times, when I do that, it allows them to remove the veil, and if you listen, people will talk. So, I ask the question, and then, I shut up. So, I don't go in trying to argue my point; I go in seeking understanding.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, there we go. That is a great piece of nugget, everyone. To seek to understand. And I'm sure if… as you listen to individuals, you'll pick up on certain comments or cues to… to have to make the address and your conversation to go deeper to help in the decision making, correct?

Monica Alexander:

Because I can probe more. So, once I understand, then, I can probe and ask the right questions, then, I know what's important to them. And when you know what's important to them, you can shape the conversation around what's important to them and not what's important to you. Because you're never going to get someone on your side focusing only on what's important to you.

Karan Rhodes:

Absolutely! You’re so right, you’re so right. And as a person who has risen through the ranks, if you will, what are… what is one thing about leadership–it might have been a myth or maybe a nugget that you wish somebody would have told you when you first entered the job market–what is something that you wish you have… had known then that you know now about leadership, then, the challenges of leadership?

Monica Alexander:

I think the myth of leadership is that leaders know everything. The myth isn't that… I mean, we don't know everything; leaders shouldn’t know everything. Leaders shouldn’t know how to go and find and or… corral the troops to find out the answer. And so, a lot of times, we look to the leader to say, “What should we do?” And instead of answering, I turn the question back, “I don't know, what are your thoughts? What do you think we should do?” And I think that's a myth of leadership that, you know, I wish I would have… I mean, you know, I don't wish I would have learned it earlier. I'm glad that I learned it the way that I learned it because it allows me… it allows me to be a better leader.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, that's… that's so fantastic! It's so funny you said that because I was just talking to someone the other day. And I said, “You know, one of the things that people don't understand, especially those in the, you know, VP and C-suite is that they have a underlying level of insecurity about whether they're making the right move or decision moving forward.” The people assume that they have all the answers, and they generally, usually, really don't. They have enough astuteness to take data, as you say, and try to combine and then, make the right, you know the… the decision that has the least risk. But people think that they just, you know, have all the answers, and they don't and they know the expectations of their departments and teams. And one of the biggest fears that they… I've seen them have is they just don't want to let their people down or the company down or themselves down. So, they’re…

Monica Alexander:

(unintelligible) that's a real feeling and it's imposter syndrome.

Karan Rhodes:

Yeah!

Monica Alexander:

And as I was going through… I went through a two-year leadership program where I changed roles every six months. And so, I was… I had to lead people that I had no idea what they did but it made me a stronger leader because it helped me probe; it helped me be vulnerable and connect with people and it helped me to really like, listen and ask for what I need. When you're… when you're leading people and you can't… you don't know what they do. You take a different approach, and… and in that situation, I would say I kind of perfected being comfortable being uncomfortable by being vulnerable. And going in, “Hey, I am the student here and you are the teacher. Help me understand what it is that you're doing. What are your challenges? How can I help?” And when you go in with that approach, I don't care if you're talking to frontline people, or if you're talking to senior executives. If… simplicity and vulnerability and authenticity, I think, are the keys to… to moving the needle in those situations.

Karan Rhodes:

No, absolutely! You're so spot on. And in the spirit of being self-reflective and ongoing learning, for much as you feel comfortable–I love to say that… that phrase–but as you as a leader like what is one… we’re always working on something, right? We're always trying to continuously develop ourselves and sharpen our skills. What is one area that you continue to try to develop even at this stage of your career to kind of help sharpen, to help you become a better leader.

Monica Alexander:

There's… there's two. One is keeping it simple; I work in technology and a lot of times, the concepts are technical and they're complex. But if you can explain it, and tell your story… So, it's keeping it simple and telling your story and telling it in the… in the language that resonates with your audience. And so, whether I'm talking to the engineering team, I need to be able to speak their language; whether I'm talking to the marketing team, I need to be able to speak their language. So, being able to keep that message simple and speak in the… in the… in the language of the audience so that they can receive it is… is one of the things that I think, at this level, you… you have to… you have to hone your craft and be really good at doing. That… that separates those that do really, really well—the good from the great is what I was saying.

Karan Rhodes:

It sure does, it sure does. Absolutely! Well, thank you so much for sharing that with us. As you know, I actually did research and did a book on some, you know, some of the traits of high performing leaders, and I was just curious, Monica, if there was one of those leadership tactics and traits that kind of popped out for you that really resonates, that are as important to be an exemplary leader.

Monica Alexander:

I'm gonna say courageous agility is (unintelligible) that resonated with me?

Karan Rhodes:

Tell me why.

Monica Alexander:

When you're the first and you're doing something new, you can't afraid of being wrong. You can't be afraid of failing; you can't be afraid of what others might say. You kind of just have to go and attack it head on. And, like I said, you have to fail fast. You have to fail fast, fail frequent, and fail forward. If you're failing, you're making progress. And so, courageous leadership to me is the one that really, really resonates for those reasons.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, wow! Okay, well, thank you! Thank you for sharing that, that was very insightful. Well, we are rounding out our segment. I can't believe time has flown by such as it has, but we have one more fun segment that we love to include with all of our guests, and it's called “Full Disclosure”. And I say up front there's no gotcha questions, it's just to put a little edge onto that personality to help our listeners know a bit more about you. And so, my first question for you is do you have any types of hobbies that you'd love to share with the audience?

Monica Alexander:

Let me see. I would probably say traveling. I love, love, love to travel so…

Karan Rhodes:

Domestic, international, both?

Monica Alexander:

International. My husband and I are actually going to… Oh my god, it just slipped my mind where are we going?

Karan Rhodes:

That means you do a lot of traveling if you can’t remember where you’re going.

Monica Alexander:

That means you do a lot of traveling if you can’t remember where you’re going.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, that's okay. We know…

Monica Alexander:

Antarctica. I’m sorry.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, Antarctica? Really?

Monica Alexander:

Oh, in January. We've been planning this for a year and a half. We're going to Antarctica in January so I’m super excited so…

Voiceover:

With a group or just the two of you?

Monica Alexander:

No, it's with a group. We travel with a travel group; we've been to Egypt, we've been to the Maldives. And we are gonna go to Antarctica.

Karan Rhodes:

Antarctica, wow! Well, you know, I travel a lot to, you know, slowed down during the pandemic but it's kicked back up but, you know, I've never been to Antarctica so we're gonna have to catch up after this episode. And we have to (unintelligible) so I can see how it went.

Monica Alexander:

I like tropical travel, but this… my husband, this is the last continent for him. And so, we're gonna do it.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, good for you! That's… Hey, that's courageous agility right there. On your personal life, anyway. Taking the chance. Alright, Miss Monica, can you share with us maybe one of your pet peeves? What is one thing that just absolutely drives you crazy sometimes?

Monica Alexander:

I would say dishonesty. So, when people flat out look me in my face and stretch the truth is what I will call it, I tell people you can solve for things when you understand but if it’s not… if it's… if you're not solving from a place of… a steady place, you'll never get… you'll never get a… an answer that’s satisfactory. So, I have to be… you have to be willing to operate from a place of truth.

Karan Rhodes:

Love that, love that. Absolutely! That's one of mine too. I have a high degree of integrity; it's part of my core values and lying is just a no no with me as well. So, we definitely have that in common. So, tell me one song that is on your music playlist. It could be anything.

Monica Alexander:

I'm gonna go with Drake's “Make Me Proud”. Have you heard of that?

Karan Rhodes:

I have, yes! Don't ask me to sing it, though…

Monica Alexander:

Yeah, that is one of the…

Karan Rhodes:

…or rap it but, yeah.

Monica Alexander:

…one of the few songs on my on my playlists.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, nice! Nice. Nice. Nice. What is one of your favorite meals?

Monica Alexander:

Nachos.

Karan Rhodes:

Really? That’s (unintelligible).

Monica Alexander:

So, I love nachos from the perspective that I love salt. So, when I have like homemade guac, homemade salsa with… it doesn't even matter. It can be ground turkey, ground… ground beef, it doesn't matter, ground chicken. Just putting that on nachos, piling it up with some jalapeños is one of my favorite meals.

Karan Rhodes:

Yummy! Nachos, okay. (unintelligible) I didn't know know that about you. So, note to self: nachos is Monica’s favorite meal. Alright, so, now that was my last question for you but I give you one more opportunity. I love to, because I'm always peppering people with questions, I give… I can take it as well. So, this is where you turn the tables on me. So, I can give you one question that you would love to ask me.

Monica Alexander:

I'm gonna ask you, what are you reading right now?

Karan Rhodes:

You know that’s a great question. Um, I actually am not reading books at this point in time. I am… I have a curated set of authors that I read on medium. So, I'm reading more articles right now because I'm trying to get a better handle of what's going on in, not only the workforce, but in the world in general. And so, right now, I am using medium right now to kind of see what's out there. And I have a whole bookshelf of books that are on queue for later on this year but right now, I'm in the article space. So, I look at medium, I do get regular updates from like Harvard Business Review and Forbes and Inc just to kind of see what's going on in the world of work. But yeah, that's where I'm focused right now. More of the quick learn, quick hit articles versus a book.

Monica Alexander:

That's actually… I mean, that's okay, too. I think… I think one of my… one of the things as a leader that I encourage my leaders and I do myself is to read something every day. And so, whether it’s an article or whether it's a book, leaders are readers. And I think that as long as you're (unintelligible) your mind and focus from… you're a part of something or you create something that's bigger than just yourself, I think you will grow as a leader.

Karan Rhodes:

Yeah, and thank you for saying that! I do that as well as I do have a curated list of podcasts, too. So, although I have one but I've listened to others. So I’d listen to the podcast while I'm working out and then, I have a time in the morning after I meditate to, you know, read a couple of the curated articles and see what's what's on there. And you’re right, you know, the… my daughter calls me the human Google but it's not really bad. It's just, you know, being curious about some of the new perspectives or thoughts or even not new. Maybe they’re reinforcing perspectives that are out there, helps you to be more aware of, you know, the world and the communities in which we live. So, that's my perspective anyway.

Monica Alexander:

And it helps you to navigate. It helps you to navigate and really stay connected with what's going on.

Karan Rhodes:

It does, it does. Well, alright, Miss Monica. Boy, has time flied. So, I am so thankful and appreciative for you joining myself and the listeners at the “Lead At The Top Of Your Game” podcast. You have really outshined what our expectations and tons of nuggets of information that I know that all of our listeners are gonna be able to use. So, thank you so much for your gift of time. We really appreciate it.

Monica Alexander:

Absolutely! Thank you for the invitation and I appreciate you. So, thank you!

Karan Rhodes:

Alright. Well, listeners, we have show notes that will be included in this episode, so be sure to check those out. We'll have a link to Monica's LinkedIn bio so you can check her out as well, and we'll have a few other resources and nuggets that aligns with some of the lessons learned on today's episode. But without further ado, you all have a fantastic rest of your day and continue leading at the top of your game. Take care. Bye! I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Monica Alexander, VP of Service Transformation at Charter-Spectrum. Links to her bio, her entry into our leadership playbook, and additional resources can be found in the show notes, both at your favorite podcast platform and at the website LeadYourGamePodcast.com. And now, for "Karan's Take" on today’s topic of leading in uncharted territories. Today, I wanted to alert you about a few success inhibitors from Harvard Business Review, regarding three common mistakes that executives make when leading novel or new leadership initiatives. The first success inhibitor involves failing to provide the right kind of oversight. You can’t get distracted by other priorities if you’re the leader and you must provide constant guidance to your team. Without that oversight, there will be a high probability that your team will not only fail, but will also resent you for putting them in that situation. The second success inhibitor is around not putting the best and most experienced talent in charge of the project. You can’t buy what experienced individuals bring to the table. They are the ones who are better at making the calculated risks that might be needed in order for an initiative to succeed. And if you have great talent on your team, why don’t you take a chance and use them even if it may be a stretch experience for them? And the third success inhibitor is failing to leverage the organization’s core capabilities. While the venture or initiative that you are tackling may be new, chances are that the organization has data, research, and market expertise to accelerate your chances of success. Take advantage of the infrastructure and teammates that already exist at your fingertips. Many leaders don’t have that luxury and most of your colleagues would be honored to help you. If you enjoyed this topic, more information on developing stronger leadership acumen can be found by clicking on the Signature Program link on our website, shockinglydifferent.com. Thanks for listening and see you next week!

Voiceover:

And that's our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you lead your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at leadyourgamepodcast.com. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now!

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