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How can you be the leader you want to be, every day?
The answer, says Amy Jen Su, lies in focusing on five key leadership elements – Purpose, Process, People, Presence, and Peace.
In this enjoyable conversation, Amy, CEO and leadership coach of 20 years, author of The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles to Bringing Out Your Best Self – Every Day, and co-founder and Managing Partner of Paravis Partners, a boutique executive coaching and leadership development firm, talks listeners through the five essential principles that she’s identified for bringing out your best self.
Because, says Amy, the answer lies within.
“My own mission as a coach is how can I help others be who they’re meant to be and make the difference they’re meant to make without this tremendous sacrifice towards our health, our relationships, [all within the] life that we’re living.”
For two decades Amy Jen Su, author of The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles to Bringing Out Your Best Self – Every Day, and co-founder and Managing Partner of Paravis Partners, a boutique executive coaching and leadership development firm, has woken up and pinched herself every morning.
That’s because Amy, in her role as an executive coach, partners investment professionals, CEOs, and executives to sustain and increase their leadership effectiveness as they drive organisational change and transformation.
Having cut her teeth as a management consultant for Booz Allen & Hamilton, and also a strategic planner for the Taco Bell Corp, Amy realised, 20 years ago, that her true passion lay in coaching. And she’s never looked back.
“I always just love the people part, and the developing others and kept gravitating towards that. So at some point I think you wake up and you wonder, hey, what was I actually made for – do what you’re made for.”
For Amy, the sweet spot through the years has been working with cultures and organisations that recognise that talent and culture are real competitive differentiators.
“As you scale a business, you have to scale people with it. And so we are always looking for organisations and leaders who have a growth mindset, who recognise that as a business expands and its capabilities expand, you have to expand people too.”
In any organisation, says Amy, you will always have strategic challenges such as – where’s the business heading? What’s our ambition for tomorrow? Which leads to the usual business structures and capabilities and process development to enable the company to get there.
But there’s the secondary challenge, says Amy, and that’s to do with the talent. In order to get to where you want to go, do you have the talent? Are you able to keep the right people on the bus? And once you have them, can you grow them and develop them from within, all the while recruiting great people from outside, and integrating them into your culture?
“Even from early parts of my career until now, I’m fascinated by these organisational systems of people and process and strategy and how does all that come together?”
The key differentiator between a high performance organisation and a mediocre one, says Amy, is that they are very thoughtful about the type of people they are looking for and hire.
They create thoughtful job specs and mandates to make sure they attract and hire the right people. They involve lots of people in the recruitment process, particularly the interview process. And they’re very thoughtful about what the interview questions are.
“They’re not only screening for capability or experience, but they’re also trying to get a sense of the person, their character, their values, how they treat others and engage with others. So they look at people as a holistic person.”
Amy is a self-titled lifelong learner, but what does that actually mean?
“A lifelong learner to me is being able to number one, in some ways, be a witness of our own experience, and be able to step back and go, Hey, what was that all about?”
She looks at the world through a lens of ‘am I alright? Am I right? Are we alright?’, which, she says, are different ways of exploring the question – what is right?
Being a lifelong learner, she says, is being able to sit in those various places and support yourself as needed, to find the answers to those questions from where you are right now.
“Among many frontiers of life, the latest one for me is, in an emotional world of trying to both be present to my emotions and be regulated in them, I’ve been curious about discomfort and what is our relationship to discomfort.”
That’s because as a learner, discomfort is a great indicator that something’s out of alignment and it either needs to be dealt with or worked through.
“Discomfort is simply that I’m someone who likes to ride the edge and try a lot of new things as [I’m] learning and so I’m going to be uncomfortable. And that’s okay, too.”
The five principles for being your best self, says Amy, are thus:
Purpose – what is your purpose and how do you stay close to your purpose when that which gives you energy changes and evolves over time? How can you keep resetting your compass?
Process – this is your operating system. How do you manage your time and how do you protect your energy so that you can meet your purpose and realise what’s most important and critical to you.
People – You can’t clone yourself and there’s not enough hours in the day to do it all yourself. So how can you raise your game and raise the game of others?
Presence – we all have an itch to scratch, what is that itch for you as a leader? What is that itch that you shouldn’t be scratching right now?
Peace – how can you work hard, achieve huge external success and find peace with yourself and find life satisfying.
The concept of purpose is intimidating, says Amy. It’s almost as if we have to have a perfect sentence clearly defining our purpose, or we don’t have one.
But purpose is an ever evolving definition of contribution and passion, says Amy. And if you can track those things and give someone a concrete way of understanding it, then it makes finding your purpose much easier.
“Then I think people realise ‘Oh, right, I have it. It’s right there, I can tell you right now the difference I’m trying to make and where the highest impact is in my job or in my life.”
You have to figure out what your highest and best use is, then what your juice is, and you’ll have your purpose, says Amy.
“Your highest use is what you uniquely bring to the table. And at the same time when I ask you, what gives you juice? This question is what gives you energy and I’m listening for the intersection of those two things.”
One thing Amy wishes she knew earlier, was that leadership should be challenging.
“Every day should have three hard decisions that are not black and white and are ambiguous and gnarly. If they were easy to solve, they would have been handled at the working levels below [you].”
Dominic Monkhouse is a proven architect of business growth with a demonstrable track record. As managing director, he scaled two UK technology companies from zero revenue to £30 million in five years. Since 2014, Dominic has worked as a CEO and executive team coach, helping ambitious CEOs and their leadership teams reach their full potential and achieve sustainable growth. He is the host of “The Melting Pot with Dominic Monkhouse” where he talks with some extraordinary thought leaders, fellow business authors, and CEOs to absorb their wisdom. Dominic is the author of F**K PLAN B: How to scale your technology business faster and achieve plan A, an exciting blueprint for cultural change and business transformation.
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