You hear me talk about getting out of the weeds all the time.
Which usually means:
STOP showing up as the subject matter expert who needs to have all the answers…
And START showing up as the executive who can hold strategic conversations.
But let’s be real:
Depending on your role, your job may require you to hold onto a certain level of your subject matter expertise.
And balancing your technical skills with your need to show up as a leader can be a fine line to walk.
So in this episode of Women Changing Leadership, I’m going to make it super easy.
I’m going to fill you in on the exact high-level strategies I’ve recently been sharing with a corporate badass inside my advanced program, The Leadership Table.
So if you’re somebody who’s been struggling with how to scale and advance into higher-level leadership positions when you don’t have more hours to add to your day, then you are going to absolutely love this episode.
Let’s dive in.
Want to receive the recognition you deserve, step into a higher leadership position, get paid for your ideas instead of the hours you put in at work, and enjoy more time, freedom, energy, and joy? Then you need to get your hands on a copy of Promotions Made Easy. Get your copy here.
What You'll Learn:
- How to be seen as a leader, even if you’re in a role that relies on your subject matter expertise
- Why getting out of the weeds is a solo affair
- How to step out of the weeds when communicating with your boss
- How getting out of the weeds helps you reconnect with your core leadership values
- Why you need to stop trying to force yourself to be happy in the weeds
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #114: My Unconventional Strategy for Pulling Yourself Out of the Weeds
- Schedule a call to discuss my advanced program, The Leadership Table
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Follow me on Instagram
- Join my group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
- Get your copy of my book, Promotions Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Executive Suite
- Go to StacyMayer.com/Strategies to join my email list and receive my email series, Seven Promotion Strategies that Your Boss Won’t Tell You
Your next promotion is just the beginning, and this podcast shows you how to get there.
Welcome to episode number 164. Today's episode is actually a recap of a coaching conversation that I had this week inside of my advanced program, The Leadership Table. And I really wanted to share with you some of the things that we talked about at a higher level in terms of getting her out of the weeds. And there's one particular piece of advice that I share with you at the end of today's episode that's going to make everything so much clearer for you. So I highly encourage you listen to the entire episode.
But really, if you're somebody who's been struggling with how to scale and advance into higher levels of leadership position, when you don't have more hours to add to your day, then you are going to absolutely love this episode. So let's get started.
Welcome to Women Changing Leadership. I am your host, Stacy Mayer. And I teach you how to get promoted, get paid, and bring your whole self to the leadership table. I am on a mission to change organizations from the C-suite out because women are the new face of leadership and we are doing it on our terms. Hello corporate badasses.
Welcome to another episode of Women Changing Leadership. I am your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited, as always to be here with you again this week. Today's episode was inspired by a coaching conversation that I had one on one with one of my clients inside of The Leadership Table this week, and I wanted to share it with you because I thought basically every single thing that we talked about in that coaching conversation is something that you're going to want to know about and you're going to want to find the answers to.
But before we get into that, I want to tell you a little bit more about The Leadership Table and how I work with women at that more advanced level.
So imagine having an executive coach in your back pocket. A lot of executive leaders get to imagine this every single day because they are lucky enough to have that guide, that support person that really helps them guide decisions at their organization, decisions about their career, decisions about their life. It helps them make that bigger impact that they really want to make. It helps them see what's truly possible for them. That is the work that we do inside of The Leadership Table. The Leadership Table is part two of the executive path that you get on when you make the commitment to work with me. We always start with Executive Ahead of Time Learning the core principles of executive Leadership how executive communication, executive presence, how to build and maintain relationships all across the executive team. And then many of those women want to take that work a lot deeper. And so if you are that type of woman, then I want you to listen up.
This program speaks for itself. 80% of the women inside of The Leadership Table have been repeat customers. And I have several sales leaders in the group that tell me repeat customers are the sign of a really excellent product, and it doesn't get more excellent than the work that we're doing inside of this program. So if you are somebody that has been itching to have more personalized guidance, then I encourage you to get on a conversation with me right away. The applications are going to be accepted between now and March of this year as we're opening enrollment soon. And because it does include part of Executive Ahead of Time, this gives you a head start before you even enter inside of The Leadership Table to really start applying everything that I teach to not only advance your career, but to help you be that executive leader, to really have that voice at the table, to make challenging decisions at your organization and to change your organization from the inside out. Go to Stacie McCombs. Apply to submit your application. And I can't wait to welcome you into this amazing program.
All right. So that being said, I'm having a one on one conversation with a corporate badass inside of my program. And she obviously started out inside of Executive Ahead of Time, as everybody did, and has really been honing in on her skill to get herself out of the weeds.
So that's the first step of the process to advancing into executive leadership is really understanding how to be identified more as an executive leader then a subject matter expert. And this is an ongoing process. So every phase that you get, every promotion that you get, practically every one on one conversation that you have with your boss, you're going to need that gentle reminder that says, Hey, have I dropped down into the weeds? Another reason why you want to get yourself into my program so that you can be reminded of this? Because we slip into it really easily. It's part of the deal of everyday work. We do it in all areas of our life.
So she's been thinking a lot about that in particular because of her area of expertise is in the world of finance. And so as she continues to grow her career and really looks at her 3xed vision, there is part of her 3xed vision that is going to be into the weeds. So as she continues to grow and build on her path, she's going to need to consider, is this right for me and what level of weeds do I want to be called to and what actually gets in my way and what's actually necessary.
So a lot of our conversations will tend to kind of go around how do we find that balance between being that subject matter expert, especially when you're in a job that requires that level of subject matter expertise, and stepping into your higher level of leadership so that you can actually think and communicate and really be a part of those higher level conversations that you want to be.
So she comes to the conversation and first of all, the first piece of the conversation is we're talking about how her boss is consistently into the weeds himself. And she says that it's very difficult to pull herself and him out of the weeds, so she feels like she has to pull him out of the weeds. She has to pull herself out of the weeds. Now we've got this insurmountable problem that it's going to be so difficult to fix.
And it makes sense. I mean, that does sound really hard. How do we fix all the people around us who are at much higher levels than we are and they still seem to be in the weeds and also stay true to ourself?
So one of the things that we talked about and I really reminded her of is that getting out of the weeds is a solo affair. I'll say that again. Getting out of the weeds is a solo affair. We are not going to fix anybody else around us. And this is so important to remember because as you start to grow your leadership, you're going to see a lot of things that you want to fix, a lot of problems, a lot of solutions that you want to present to the executive team and you're not going to be able to solve every single problem on the table.
And right now, the more immediate problem is, I have a boss who is several levels up for me and he's still completely into the weeds. I'm trying to elevate my leadership. I'm trying to get out of the weeds, but I can't do it because he's always asking me these very deep, detailed questions. So I reminded her that our job is not to fix her boss. Let's let him stay in the weeds. How fun would that be? And that doesn't mean we're letting them fail. But just stop trying to change them. You do not need to pull him out of the weeds to get yourself out of the weeds.
The best example of leadership is to be a role model for what's possible. And her stepping out of the weeds in her conversations with him is going to remind him that that's what he needs to do as well. So even if he can't acknowledge that directly, he's going to notice it and he's going to say, Oh, you know what? You're right. Let's take a step back. Let's look at the bigger picture.
So one of the things, one of the ways that I teach on how to get yourself out of the weeds, is to really start to shift your communication by 5%. And I'll link to earlier episodes in this podcast where I really go into a lot of detail about the communication process of pulling yourself out of the weeds. But in this particular segment and example, I just want you to see that our job is not to pull our boss out of the weeds, it's to focus on self and how we can personally elevate the conversation.
So she still is grappling a little bit, because she is so tied to her subject matter expertise, because it matters so much to her, because her world of finance is so important that you have that strong attention to detail. She is still wavering a little bit on her desire to get out of the weeds. And I think this is a great reminder to all of us. If you grew up as a subject matter expert in your career and you have a very strong attention to detail and you like going really deep into a subject matter, then I want you to own that. That's actually not a bad thing at all. It's not a bad thing at all.
And really, it's part of what makes you great. But as we tend to transition into senior executive leadership in order to scale ourselves. So if you just literally think about it, you can't add to something without subtracting something. It's probably a law of science. I'm sure there's something written about this, researched about this, that we can't continue to add without subtracting. Because if we continue to add, we get what? Burned out. We just keep adding and adding and adding and adding to our plate and nothing ever goes away.
So if we keep adding and you can recognize that and you can say, okay, if I want to advance into higher levels of executive leadership, I'm going to have to learn how to pull myself out of the weeds simply for my own sanity, then it's a project worth participating in. So I get her on board with this again and it's a gentle reminder, Hey, that's our goal. Our goal is to elevate your leadership so that you can really make the bigger impact that you want to make.
And in order to convince her or coach her that this is the right path, I actually asked her. So we looked at her 3xed vision and I said, Do you want that goal? So three promotions from now or even just one promotion from now or two promotions from now, do you want to be really far into the weeds once you get that role? And of course, her first answer was: God, no way, because it seems exhausting.
But also I asked her, what are you not going to be able to do if you are so far into the weeds? And the answer was: a lot of her leadership principles that are near and dear to her heart. Her value of inclusion, her value of compassion and empathy, and really elevating other leaders around her, these are core values to her.
And I asked her if her boss held those same core values. And she was like, absolutely not. No. And I was like, of course he doesn't because he's so far into the weeds. He can't do both. We can. Can't do both. So something has to give. And so I said, if cognitively if you're really going through this exercise and asking yourself, how am I going to change? What is it that I'm going to do differently? Then you also have to say, okay, what kind of leader do I really, really want to be?
And so we looked at her 3xed vision and we added her name to her 3xed vision. So if it was my 3xed vision, then I would say that I want to be a CFO in Stacy's way. I want to do it my way right. I want to be a CFO my way. And then you could list out all the different leadership traits that you want to have as CFO. And one percentage of that, a small portion of that, might be to be that deep subject matter expert. That is truly possible. That could be an example of the type of leadership that you want to hold. You really do want to have those answers. But it also might be to elevate your team members to support other people's career, to be a voice at the table, to be included in boardroom conversations. All of those things cannot happen if you are so far mired in your subject matter expertise.
When you do get called into boardroom conversations, you're just going to be asked about your subject matter expertise, not your ideas. You're not actually going to be involved in how to change the organization. You're just going to be fixing and problem solving. Again, not a problem if that's what you want to do, but you need to do this consciously.
So then when I ask her these questions, she's like, Oh yeah, of course that's not what I want to do. I want to do it my way.
So the second takeaway from today's conversation that I really want you to see is add that into your 3xed vision. Really get very clear. You're not going to do it the same way that your boss is doing it or your boss's boss. You are going to do it your way. And what does your way mean? And really lay that out for yourself.
And here is the juiciest part of the conversation. And I probably should have started with this because it's so good. There is a concept in marketing called Don't Bury the Lede, and I think I just buried the lede. But rather than going back and recording this whole conversation, I want you to know this is it. Make sure you listen to this part.
So now we get her on board for getting out of the weeds. She starts to understand what her 3xed vision is and really understand how she's going to do it her way. And then we got to the how. So what are we going to do? And her first statement to me was, I'm just going to keep telling myself I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have all the answers. And I was like, I think that you don't believe that at all. She was like, well, what do you mean? I mean, we just talked about scaling and all of these things.
And I was like, because you value having all the answers. So as much as you value compassion and leadership and inclusion, you also value having all the answers. You don't want to be a Dumbo sitting there in the C-suite acting like an idiot all the time. When you see leaders like that, you resent them. You don't want to be like them. So you're sitting here telling yourself, I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have all the answers. Your brain is going to argue with you and be like, You know what? You're wrong. You do have to have all the answers. You know what? Listen up. Remember, it's important to have all the answers.
And so you're just going to have this cognitive argument with yourself over and over and over and over again until you finally just give up and you go back to work and try and get all the answers. When I pointed that out to her, she was like, yeah, you know what? You're right. I do think it's a bunch of BS. I do want to have all the answers. She said, it's sort of like telling a woman who wants to lose £50: oh, it's fine being exactly who you are and being £50 overweight. It's like, no, it's actually not fine. It doesn't feel good. And I don't I don't mean to say this to those of you who are trying to lose weight, but what I want you to see is that when you don't feel comfortable with something, when you don't believe something, stop trying to hit yourself harder on the head with that idea. I can just be happy in the body I have. I can just be happy not having all the answers. Maybe that's the way that I should be.
No. I want you to get pissed off about the body that you have if you don't like it, I want you to get pissed off that you don't have the title that you deserve. I want you to understand that having all the answers is part of what makes you a phenomenal leader. It is what makes you a corporate badass. The desire to have all the answers is not the problem at all. All right. The desire to have all the answers is 150% not the problem. You have to stop making it a problem.
Yet, going back to the beginning of this podcast episode, it doesn't scale. Having all the answers doesn't work. It doesn't help us. Get to that next level of leadership in a way, in our way. In a way that we really want to scale our leadership because it leads to burnout. We're not able to be the leader that we want to be. We're not able to mentor. We're not able to do our thought leadership in the world. All of those great things that we want to do as a leader because we're still so fixated in having all the answers. So having all the answers, while it's not a problem, it also doesn't serve us as we advance into executive leadership.
So that's the first realization. Don't make it a problem to want to have all the answers, but what are we going to think instead?
And here is the glorious moment. Get out your pen and paper. If you're driving, if you're commuting, come back to this point in the episode. I might even link to it in the show notes because I think it's that important. Instead of telling yourself, I don't have to have all the answers, I want you to tell yourself, I have all the answers.
I'm going to say that again. I want you to tell yourself: I have all the answers. Because the truth is, for everything you don't know, there's something else that you do know. You have just as many answers as you don't have answers. And so if you are trying to learn something as an academic exercise, as a deep dive, like literally two + two = four, and you're like, I didn't know what that answer was. I really didn't know. I got to go back to school. I have to stay up all night and figure that out.
There are certain problems. As an executive leader. There are aspects of your job that you're going to have to know enough about. You are going to have to have a certain amount of answers. But for the most part, as you start to transition into higher level leadership, as you become a senior vice president, as you become a C-suite executive, the truth is having all the answers is a huge hindrance to your ability to really be successful, to pan out, to solve the bigger problems, to really be able to be a problem solver for your organization. Having all the answers is a problem.
And so I want you to start at whatever level you're at now. And I really want you to start asking yourself, what do I know? I have all the answers. I have all the answers. And then mark down the two or three things you need to learn. There's always something that we do need to learn. Oh, I don't know how to do this. Ok, go find that out. Figure out the answer to that question. But it's probably teeny tiny compared to having all the answers that you're trying to have right now. So just ask yourself, what do I know? You can do this as a journaling exercise. When you find yourself in the weeds and you're trying to solve a problem and it's 2:00 in the morning and you're spinning in your head out of control, you need to figure this out. You need to learn more. You need to read more, you need to research more, you need to understand more. I want you to stop for a second and ask yourself, what do I know? And write it down on a piece of paper, line by line by line. I know this, I know this, I know this. You could even say I know that I don't know this.
When you start to shift into that type of mentality, it's going to teach you how to be even more resourceful than your resourceful self. And even better than that, it's going to allow you to make forward progress because we can't make forward progress if we're continuously beating ourselves up and making ourselves feel bad about the fact that we don't have all the answers. And we're certainly not going to make forward progress by lying to ourselves and saying that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I don't have all the answers, because when we do that, we're not going to go for anything big. We're not going to stretch outside of our comfort zone because we're going to constantly still be worried because our brain knows that we're lying, that we don't have all the answers. So we're going to wait to raise our hand for that role, that dream role that is being handed to us. Why? Because the other executives think that we have enough answers, that we do have all the answers and we know how to problem solve and we know how to go out and get it. And we know how to find the answers. And we know how to build a team that's smarter than us and we know how to elevate the conversation for other women so that we can have that support that we need at the executive level.
That is what I mean by having all the answers. So as a corporate badass, you 100% have all the answers that you need to succeed at the next level of leadership. You are absolutely ready to pull yourself out of the weeds. You deserve to have that voice at the table. You are ready right now with no more degrees, with no more quote unquote answers. You are ready to lead your team across the finish line, whatever that finish line might be. You do have all the answers and the more that you can remind yourself of that and the more you can find evidence of that, the faster you're going to find yourself in those higher level positions. The more money you're going to be making as a senior executive leader.
And guess what? You're going to have more of a voice at the table. You're going to stop being called on just for your area of expertise, and you're going to be called on to serve and to answer questions about those higher level problems that your organization is facing.
Enjoy this new mantra for your week. Let me know how it goes. Shoot me an email. And again, remember, if you're interested in deep diving with me inside of The Leadership Table, if you want more guided coaching, I invite you to hop on a free strategy call. Go to StacyMayer.com/Apply. Again, doors open in March. But if you join Executive Ahead of Time now, you'll have a couple of months to really hone in on those basic core leadership skills so that you can seamlessly transition into that next level of leadership.
Thank you again and I'll see you next week. Bye!
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.