People First! Lacey Leone McLaughlin, "The Power of Coaching & Why We All Need One!"

Morag and Lacey Leone McLaughlin discuss, The Power of Executive Coaching.

Welcome to SkyeTeam's People First! In this series, we explore the people side of successful business and careers. We all have a story to share, a leadership journey that we are experiencing.

We'll be interviewing authors, business leaders, thought leaders, and people like you to uncover the latest ideas, resources, and tools to help you become more effective at work - and in life. As it turns out, the secret is cultivating winning relationships. Business is personal, and relationships matter!

So, sit back, and grab a coffee as Morag and Lacey Leone McLaughlin discuss, The Power of Coaching & Why We All Need One!

Chapter Layout:
0:00 - Open
1:03 - What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?
5:14 - Pivot Point
6:24 - Common Mistakes
7:52 - Coaching
11:00 - Authenticity
13:45 - Networking in 2020
15:20 - Student: Professional
19:10 - Remote Networking
20:18 - What Are You Celebrating?
22:30 - Reach Out
23:00 - What Are You Working On?
23:58 - Final Thoughts & Wrap
24:04 - Wrap

LinkedIn Profile:

- [Intro] Welcome to sky team's people first, with Morag Barrett.

- Lacey Leone MacLaughlin is an executive coach, and talent management professorial, with demonstrated experience in designing and delivering cutting edge consulting services. I'm honored to call her a friend and colleague, a fellow member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches, And in her work as president of LLM Consulting Group, Lacey's had the opportunity to work with organizations and leaders who come in all shapes and sizes, that's the organizations, but I'm pretty sure that leaders too, in as diverse industries as aerospace, automotive, entertainment, finance and retail. But I'm looking forward to learning more about Lacey's leadership journey and leadership philosophy. So Lacey, welcome to People First.

- Thank you so much for having me today.

- Well, I'm looking forward to a fun conversation but I'm going to start, as I do with every episode, the origin story. Since we know it's not a clear straight line from A to B, it's a windy curve. But when you were in a elementary school, what did you think or hope to be when you were grown up?

- Yeah, it's interesting. When I think about what I was going to be when I was going, excuse me, when I was a child and what I wanted to be when I grew up, it really was, a politician at the very young age, I wanted to be a politician. And that probably has still stuck with me through to today.

- So hang on a minute. So what was the appeal of being a politician and how does it stay with you today?

- Yeah. Yeah. Good question. It's funny. So, when I was young, I think I thought I'd be the first woman president, and today I think as soon as my kids and munchkins get out of the house, I will probably run for some sort of local office.

- Wow. Okay. Well I applaud you and it's certainly an industry that, whilst I have worked for some leaders within it, it's one that from my opinion, is in right need of change. So go do it, go Lacey, vote for Lacey.

- Thanks. That's how it actually came about when I was a kid. So I spent a lot of time volunteering, and I saw the efficiencies and the inefficiencies,

- Mm-hmm.

- And decided that I could do something to make a difference. And that has stayed with me through a lot of the volunteer work that I do. It stayed with me through a lot of the, work that I do with children, college students, things to that extent. But right now that's sort of on my down or off time.

- Mm-hmm.

- At some point in my life I would love to make that a little bit more official and I'm guessing that's coming my way in the late stages of retirement.

- Okay. So tell me a little bit more about the volunteering work that you are currently involved in. Yeah, so I coach, a boys basketball team.

- Okay.

- I coach a boys' lacrosse team. I do a lot of pro bono work for, not-for-profit organizations. And then I take on a couple of classes of college seniors annually, to help them think about their transition into the real world. And in addition to that, and I don't think about Fred as a volunteer work, but we also have a student that lives in our home that we sponsored from the African Leadership Academy. And because of COVID, he's actually been residing in our house for the last seven weeks.

- Oh, wow. Okay. So, going back to the sports teams, I heard a rumor, that you were an active sports woman at school and then through university. So, you've got to play internationally. Is that right?

- I did. I did. So after university, I took a position with the English Lacrosse Association, and played lacrosse in England, Great Britain. For a little over a year, which was amazing. So, basically helping raise the level of performance in the law across pitch, for English to prepare for a cup year.

- Wow. So do you still play? Or you now a bench line the couch?

- Yeah. So most of the time I'm just a coach. Lacrosse is not one of those things that you can take on or go play, like a softball game, or a pickup basketball game. It's kind of something you need A lot of people that know what they're doing. Balls flying at your faces and all. But I have kind of channeled my competitive spirit to. learning tennis. So for the last two years, I've been playing tennis which I love.

- I struggled with tennis at school, that racket, my risks weren't strong enough. That's what I would say. And we played field hockey versus lacrosse. And certainly as we got older we were allowed to have mixed teams. And certainly one of my peers, he lost his front teeth, because the hockey stick went back, and he got mushed in the mouth. It was not pretty, but,

- So, I played lacrosse when you didn't wear the face guard. So that was my time. So now, the female lacrosse players, the women lacrosse players, wear mask very similar to the boys

- Okay. So aspirations to be a politician those have not gone away, sports woman, and here you are now as the CEO and founder of your own business, providing coaching, organizational development, talent management support. So again, what was the pivot point that brought you into the human side of successful business and careers?

- Yeah, actually I think it's the same thing that led me to think about someday going into politics. It's the desire to help other people be their very best. And really that's what I spend my time doing. So, throughout my career I've always had my main job and then a couple of side hustles, whether that was founding an app, and being the CEO of a tech company which I did for a couple of years, or running the research center out of the University of Southern California which I did for about 10 years. My goal has always been to help leaders and organizations, be their best in a way, that directly drives the output of the business. So, what are you doing today? How does it move the business forward? And what's the impact to the bottom line? So, it's very similar to what I want to be doing in retirement. It was really about helping people and companies be the best.

- Can you believe we're talking about, what I want to do in retirement? That's just crazy talk. Do you think about the leaders that you're working with and the leaders that you've worked with over the years, at the entry level, when they first come to you, what are some of the common mistakes that you're seeing that they're making, or things that they're struggling with that are stopping them from reaching those business results or personal career results that they aspire to?

- Yeah. I think a lot of leaders particularly early on in their career, they just get in their own way. Right?

- Mm-hmm.

- So whether that's self doubt, or not really understanding the expectations of their job, or transitioning into a role of manager from an individual contributor, it's all of these things that just, people are expected to know how to do, but we don't spend the time, learning how to do them. So if I was to say to you, "I need you to go put together a strategy on how we're going to roll out this new product." People would spend hours, and they would do their research. If I was to say to someone, "I need you tomorrow to go have a developmental conversation with your peer where you're providing them feedback." People would walk into the room and they would just do it.

- Mm-hmm.

- We don't think of these leadership challenges, the same way as we do business challenges. And I think they're one and the same. So helping early career professionals really understand, that these are skills that need to be developed and grown from day one in the professional environment, as they transition into other things later on in life.

- It's music to my ears. Cause it's getting past that school of hard knocks and we're shortening that learning curve, by being very direct in terms of here are some pragmatic tools that you can use. So if somebody is working with you as their executive coach, what can they expect that experience to look and feel like?

- Authentic. They can expect it to feel really authentic. So, when they call me and they're working through people challenges, or strategy challenges, or business challenges. I'm going to be the person that asks the questions, the why's around the decisions being made and holds them accountable for doing the work, in order to move whatever that thing they're working on forward. So it's real, it's authentic. It's direct, maybe not always fun, but intended to be impactful. So how do I find a coach? Cause it's, I mean, you Google, no doubt. I could go do it now, If I Googled executive coaches, I am going to get squillions of results. So how do I sort the wheat from the chaff, if I'm thinking about hiring a coach, where do I go and how do I find the one?

- Yeah. So there is someone in your organization who has been coached, and just like anything, ask around, talk to people you respect and admire, and ask them how they've gone through their own leadership transition and leadership journey, and see what they recommend. But there is someone in their network who has worked with someone that would add value to you or to that individual.

- Hmm. So as you look at your leadership journey, what have been some of those high points, and what have been some of those moments where you've just gone, "Aargh, I can't believe that just happened."

- Yeah. So high points across the board, and I sum it up because it's from day one, till today, is that I have had the best group of mentors, bosses, believers in me and opportunities that anyone has had. Really, really, really lucky and fortunate to have worked with people who've given a damn from the beginning about my success, my growth and my opportunities professionally. So across the board, very, very lucky. I think some of the points where I've been a little more surprised, was as a CEO of a tech firm for a couple of years, I tended to be the only woman in a room. And I was actually, at a conference with about 700 men, and I think 15, 20 women, and recognized that I was a little bit different than everybody else. And for the first time professionally, I had to take a step back and try really hard, to connect with people that looked at me a little bit differently. It was pretty fascinating.

- So I've been there. I was one of the youngest bank managers, early in my career. Again an industry that was very male dominated. And I can remember having my youth at that time, held against me, but also gender. So, that still happens. There is still a leaning in many rooms where people listening to this podcast are going to find that they are the one. And I can do it in reverse. And as I think about Eric Spencer part of sky team, he is often the only man and a woman, in a room full of HR professionals.

- Yeah

- So it happens on both sides of the equation. But for people listening then, what's your advice. How did you then, show up authentically, to use your word earlier on, but in a way that carved a wake for you and open those doors?

- Yeah. I got really comfortable, with making other people uncomfortable.

- Okay. So making people, getting comfortable and making others feel uncomfortable. So, say more about that.

- Yeah.

- That's intriguing.

- Yeah. Yeah.

- So for example, when I was at that conference, I'd walk around and I would see people kind of looking at me, and you could tell they wanted to engage, but were quite sure, what I was doing there, how, what I, any of it. So they were just were a little, kind of all over the place. So I'd walk up to them and say, "Hey, I noticed that you were headed my direction or you were looking my way. What is it that you're, what is it that you're working on? Tell me a little bit more about your app or your program or your organization." And they were a little taken back and it led to really great conversations. If I was involved in a conversation where people are kind of struggling through. So for example I was asked at one point, "Are investors willing to give you money knowing you have children?"

- You were asked that?

- I was, I was. And I asked, "Do you have children?" And the person said, "Yes." And I said, "So how does that go for you?"

- So you asked-- And then we had, I did. And then we had a really good conversation, around the similarities and the differences and where that even that conversation came from. Now that was a really good learning moment, and that this person and I are still very much connected, and we think out loud together all of the time, we were both founders and CEOs, the company at the same time. If I wouldn't have had the courage to ask that question and put it back in his face, I don't think we would have had the relationship that we have today. And I'm a huge, huge supporter and advocate of his now. But I think it was because I was comfortable making him really uncomfortable. We both had a learning, we worked past it very quickly, and we got to a place where we were both engaging a really good conversation.

- So how important are relationships to you in your professional success?

- Critically important, critically important.

- Yeah.

- So it is everything that I do. So, when you think about the opportunities that I've had, whether it's at the university, whether it's in consulting, whether it was on early on, every opportunity, every success that I had, I can trace back to the connection, to the opportunity, to the network, to the individual. And basically have been able to help move. I've been able to help move myself forward through these really great connections and the interest that people have shown in me. And I think if I wasn't as aware of that, things would look very different on my end.

- So, to what extent do you have a system or process then for either adding new contacts, to turn into relationships, or to maintain and nurture the relationships in your network?

- Yeah. So I'll say the main goal of my network and my relationships is I actually give a damn. So, I want people to stay connected, I want people to feel connected, and I just want to hear about what's going on in their life, and if that has something to do with business, great. But we're connecting personally first, and then we're connecting in a way that's related to business. So, if I'm connected with someone, if you're in my network, if there is that relationship component, it's because it's real, it's real. And I think that's the difference in what you see particularly in this virtual world, is those connections don't feel as strong. So people kind of don't quite know what to do with them. So my goal is to always make sure they're strong, to make sure I can do whatever I can do to help somebody out whether it's making another connection to an individual, helping them think through a business challenge or just giving somebody a person to connect with and talk out loud to, in a place where we're all back to back through the zoom meetings.

- That's music to ears. It's a concept I talk about in my book. Cultivate the idea of allies and being an ally. And it comes down to what you just said. It's the authentic relationships, because that's what comes, before business and career success. And it's ironic because you talked about transitions earlier on, and people who are leaving university for the real world. Now when you're at university, it feels pretty real. I'm sure with the deadlines and the lectures, and the the professors that you're working with. So where do you see the biggest gaps than in that transition from student mindset, to colleague and workplace mindset?

- Yeah, so that's super fun. I just had a conversation with 12 college students that I was supporting through this semester, and we had two really great stories that I'll share. So the first one, was we had gone through our virtual classes and if it was a different world, I would be meeting them face to face.

- Mm-hmm.

- And I'm just somebody who pops in, and talks to them and then pops back out. But, we were there through our third hour I think, our third meeting, an hour each, and before the class I got on LinkedIn and I looked and seen how many of these students had connected with me?

- Mm-hmm.

- And the answer was one.

- Out of how many?

- 12,

- 12. Okay.

- The answer was one. So, first thing I did when I got on the zoom this next time was, "Show of hands, If you connected with me on LinkedIn." and only one person raised their hand. So I said, so let's think about this. You're all going into the work world. You've all had a chance to read my bio, to see who I'm connected with, to know and understand what industries I worked in. I've offered you all help and support. And for the most part, nobody's really taken me up on that. If that's the case, how do you plan to move forward and find a role that you're happy and fulfilled with, as you graduate? And I had a bunch of students staring back at me like, what are you talking about? I said, I have made this so easy for you. I've said I will help you. I've said I will help you. I mean that I will help you. The one individual who had connected with me had sent me his resume, I reviewed it. I had already connected him with one of my colleagues. So he was getting help. I said Tom, tell them what that's been like for you. Right? And he's like, So, we had that conversation. I said so, if you're not willing to use somebody who's volunteering their time, volunteering their energy, and we know that you're more likely to find a job through a connection or a network, how are you going to make this happen?

- Crickets.

- And crickets, and crickets. And it was amazing. So, moral of the story, they all went and logged in. They're all sending me their resumes. And they're all kind of learning the skills of building that authentic personal connection, and making someone care about them, Which is something that I think has been lost. I think people have lost the need or urge to have lunch or coffee, and just to reach out to someone, and to connect in a meaningful way. Which makes people want to help others, particularly students in transition. So that's been, that was pretty fascinating.

- Yeah. I love that story. And in fact, for those listening, whether you're transitioning from university into a working career, or you're just looking to transition within your company or maybe to that next opportunity, today right now is the time to reach out to your network. And I'm thinking about myself. I have several executives who are in transition right now. People I've met from years ago, who did just that. They reached back out to me Lacey, and it's, "Hey can you help open a door? Can you make an introduction?" And I am absolutely yes. Whether it's a LinkedIn message that says, "Hey, Lacey's applied for this role. I just want to help her get on a list to," Holding you accountable to how many calls have you made? Are you prepared for the interview? How can I help it matters? And to your point, most of these roles especially the more senior roles and the entry level ones, they all come through one or two degrees of separation. The people we know, not through the anonymous submit online and hope to the algorithm.

- It just doesn't work that way anymore. You need to make the connections, and making connections means helping people want to care about your success.

- So how do you do that now when we are all working from home at this point and the soiree with a glass of wine in your hand, isn't happening. Where are you going then to meet and nurture those relationships?

- Yeah, that was a really big transition for me. I was a lunch, coffee, dinner,

- Mm-hmm.

- On a plane. Yeah. Making sure I connected with people face-to-face, it was a really large adjustment for me. And it goes back to making that connection. So I'm not doing it informally over a meal or wine or coffee anymore, but it's about making the time still. So picking up the phone, getting on zoom, and just asking people how they are, which right now in this COVID environment is a really big question. So when people have the opportunity to not talk about, all of the other things weighing on them, and you just say how are you? And you see where the energy goes and you actually listen and care. It tends to have the same impact, which is surprising to me. I didn't think it would.

- No, definitely connecting with people, to understand how they're doing, not just what they're doing, is critical. And I'm curious cause I know, you do have children at home who are being homeschooled, you've got the student who's staying with you, you're running your business. You've had to adjust how you do business. Cause we're doing it all virtually. So how are you doing this year Lacey, and what are you celebrating from the first few months of pivot and adjust?

- Yeah. So I am celebrating that we're getting through and that I'm okay with that.

- Okay.

- All right. So, when March happened, it was kind of chaos, how do you get the kids through the day? How do you keep a business alive? How do I readjust and adapt, the 20 trips that I had plans to get on airplanes that are now gone? How do I build, continue to build and grow my business in a way that is allowing me to do the work that I love, in a completely different platform. So, at that point it was pretty overwhelming. My family and I, we made a really big goal. Or at least it felt like a big goal which was, let's recognize the good, find the joy, which is more time together, an opportunity to really think about all of the things that we want to do and like to do at home and with each other, and use that energy on the days that get a little stinky because virtual learning is hard and we lost internet and there's five people on a zoom at the same time, and really use that energy to work through all of the hiccups, that have come in the last 10 months, which have been real. So I'll say that, that adapting and transitional period, at the end of the last school year, really prepared us for the summer and the start of this school year. And we have systems and processes in place and I'm pleased to report, that it's working as good as it should or can, and that we're all doing just fine.

- And that's the thing to ask for. We're all doing just fine. So again, for people who are listening in am thinking, okay. "I've now got my house in order. I now have the Headspace to focus on me." What sort of challenges or issues might they be struggling with or wrestling with, that would suggest they should reach out to you, or again go back to that search for the right executive coach.

- So people are tired. Leaders are tired and they're taking care of everyone else. How are they taking care of their own development, their own growth and their own organization? So if they're struggling with any piece of the business, are they're struggling with how their team is moving forward, are they're struggling to pivot into a different business model, and they need that focus and clarity and that movement to action then, that's probably the time to pick up the phone and call me.

- Okay. So what are you working on then, as you are looking into the new year, and where are you looking to personally learn and grow?

- Yeah. So, I'm thinking really about how I connect with people in a bit of a different way. And that's really come out of this COVID environment. So one of the things that I've been so lucky with my career as I've worked with amazing leaders, who have done amazing things, I mean I can't tell you, that the leaders I've worked with are mind blowing, and they're just really impressive people. And I think in this environment, there's an opportunity for everyone to learn, from other amazing people. And other people's experiences and stories. So I'm trying to figure out a way to help some of those lessons or stories be told. So everybody has a chance to benefit from what other leaders have experienced and gone through and worked past and struggled with.

- Mm hmm. Fascinating. So how can people learn more about you, and the work that you and your team are doing?

- Yeah, absolutely. So, on LinkedIn, Lacey Leone Mclaughlin, and the website is They can reach out any time, or give me a call. You can pretty much find my phone number anywhere. Well, Lacey it's been a pleasure connecting with you today. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you ongoing happiness and success.

- Oh, my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

- [Narrator] Thank you so much for joining Morag today. If you enjoyed the show, please like and subscribe. So you don't miss a thing. If you learned something worth sharing, share it. Cultivate your relationships today when you don't need anything, before you need something. Be sure to follow skyeteam and Morag on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you have any ideas about topics we should tackle, interviews we should do. Or if you yourself would like to be on the show, drop us a line, at That's S-K-Y-E Thanks again for joining us today and remember, businesses is personal and relationships matter. We are your allies.

Join us for future conversations

Got it. You're on the list!
2020 SkyeTeam