Monday, May 20, 2024

SPRING LEADERSHIP SERIES – Featuring Katherine Spinney

Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I’d like to introduce Katherine Spinney, and following a brief introduction, Katherine shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Katherine Spinney combines her background in education, social work, leadership, and coaching to support new, aspiring, and growing supervisors to become the leaders they strive to be. Through a powerful, research-based combination of training and coaching along with a robust virtual community in The Supervisors Circle, Katherine helps managers build the confidence and skills they need to better support their teams and ultimately their clients. As a former struggling supervisor who had to teach herself how to become a successful leader, it is Katherine’s life’s mission to help others learn and grow leadership skills.

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way? This could be due to a specific character and their actions, a series of events, the plot of one or several episodes, or a specific time reflected in history.
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Like many people, I recently finished THE BEAR, and was moved in many ways for many different reasons. In terms of leadership, I thought the portrayal of Carmy was fascinating because he did so many wonderful things. He made a lot of mistakes - some which were significant - which is how real leadership goes.

Too often, depictions of leadership are unrealistic in terms of perfection or go too far the other way in portraying leaders who epitomize pure malice or incompetence or both. Carmy’s depiction stood out to me because of its realism. He exhibited strong leadership by apologizing when he made a mistake and investing in his team by sending them to get trained by the best in their respective fields. He also demonstrated what NOT to do as a leader when he lost his composure (which is putting it lightly) and when he failed to follow through on a number of significant tasks. Due to his commitment to getting better, his care for his team, his willingness to own up to his mistakes, and his clear vision, his team remained committed to him and the vision they shared.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Two films stand out to me.

ERIN BROCKOVICH from the movie of the same name demonstrated leadership in so many ways. Not only did she advocate for those who were being harmed and even killed, she did so while advocating for herself. She was aware that people dismissed her as they did her clients based on perceptions and stereotypes due to their lower socio-economic status. Along with her clients, Brockovich was constantly in a position of having to prove herself worthy while proving her clients worthy of the most basic protections and amenities like clean drinking water and health care. Her approach was not always well-received, but she did not allow that to stop her from fighting for what she knew to be right and doing so against corporations who had significantly more money and power. Time and time again, she spoke up and stood up to prove herself and to fight for her clients against incredibly powerful adversaries. Her courage and leadership were admirable and effective against considerable odds.

And since you did not specify positive, I am also going to choose OFFICE SPACE. The cult classic has stood the test of time, for better or worse, about the annoyances and challenges of office life. So many of the situations continue to resonate with today’s audiences because they keep happening.

From the boss who is completely disconnected from his employees to the restaurant manager who wants his staff to go above and beyond without having to ask them to go above and beyond (FLAIR!), too many of us have similar stories of working for people whose sole job seems to be making our work environment as miserable as possible.

Billed as a comedy, it is simultaneously a tragedy for how true and accurate this movie continues to be. Hopefully, it can serve as a cautionary tale of the very leader we do NOT want to be. There are several examples of bosses and leaders in the movie, which is part of the point, and none really serves as a positive example of leadership. But each one can remind us not to repeat the same mistakes that too many others so easily seem to make.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Shared anything. Whether it is shared Outlook calendars or shared Google Docs, these types of shared electronic spaces make collaborating so much easier and make leadership so much more accessible.

Throughout the years, I have worked with supervisors who have made it frustrating, challenging, and in some cases, impossible to get their time or feedback. With the use of shared calendars, it is so much easier to meet with them, and it is so much easier to give and receive information, making many of those in-person meetings unnecessary. Rather than the time-consuming back and forth of email scheduling or having to go through an assistant, having the ability to connect easily and efficiently is really refreshing and demonstrates a commitment on leadership’s part to be accessible and transparent.

I also love using these shared tools as a running record of accomplishments throughout the year. Too often, when end-of-the-year evaluation time rolls around, there is glaring recency bias. This allows everyone to stay on top of all the wonderful things happening all year long.

(According to Scribbr: "Recency bias is the tendency to overemphasize the importance of recent experiences. Recent events seem more important due to their immediacy, but the most recent experiences are not always the most relevant or reliable benchmarks for our decisions. Under the recency bias, we don’t realize this and may make hasty or emotional decisions.")

QUESTION: Lastly, since I’m a marketing professional, I would be remiss not to ask this question. Which brand do you consider the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: So many industries and so many companies come to mind. From Apple to Amazon to Nike, there is nowhere to go to escape from brands and their influence.

To answer your question about choosing one best embodiment of an industry leader, I am going to choose the NFL. Not because they embody the qualities and values of strong leadership - quite the opposite actually - but because they have such an absolute stranglehold not just on other football leagues and not even just on other sports, but on entertainment in general. In this past year alone, the NFL accounted for 93 out of the 100 most watched US broadcasts of the year. Not just sports, but broadcasts! That is astounding. Despite a myriad of controversies, and perhaps, in some cases because of them, people in the U.S. cannot seem to get enough of the NFL. They are truly the leader in terms of popularity and entertainment, and it isn't even close.

SHARE THIS: Despite a myriad of controversies, and perhaps, in some cases because of them, people in the U.S. cannot seem to get enough of the NFL. ~@CoachKat2017 #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to Katherine for appearing on my blog, and for sharing her leadership insights.

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Connect with Katherine at these links:
Facebook/Instagram: CoachKat2017

Check out Katherine's previous appearances here on my blog:

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Katherine Spinney (November 2023)

Have You Ever Participated in a Leadership Book Club? (February 2022)

Leadership Is ALWAYS About Those You Lead! (February 2021)

TweetChat Highlights: How to Improve Leadership Readiness during the #COVID19 Crisis (April 2020)

How Can Leaders Help Employees Exceed Expectations? It’s All About the Culture! (August 2018)

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