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A Conversation on Good Leadership with Jennifer Mackin

good leadership Jennifer Mackin

by | Jul 26, 2021 | Q&A

What does it take for someone to become a good leader? Are people simply born with good leadership skills? In this day and age, leaders have to solve all kinds of problems. They have to make sense of the complexity and chaos around their organization and conquer them.

But what should be the true goal of a leader? How can they stay on top of things now and in the future?

In this week’s episode, Jennifer Mackin, an expert in leadership and the leader of two consulting firms, joins us to talk about leadership development. She helps us define leadership and the systems around it. Jennifer also shares valuable advice, tips, and strategies for effective leadership. Lastly, she discusses the different aspects of a leader, including having the correct mindset, knowing the process, and coaching your people.

If you want to learn more about how you can improve as a leader, then tune in to this episode!

About Jennifer

Jennifer Mackin has over 25 years of experience in shaping the way leaders do business. She is currently a leader of two consulting firms. Jennifer is Principal and CEO of Oliver Group, Inc. and the President and Partner of Leadership Pipeline Institute US. She has worked with thousands of leaders across different types of industries, including healthcare, hospitality, government, and financial services.

Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Indiana University in Bloomington and her MBA from Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University. She currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and three sons.

She recently published Leaders Deserve Better, a book chronicling her extensive experience working with leaders and organizations.

If you want to learn more about Jennifer, you may connect with her by visiting her website.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn what good leadership is all about.
  2. Discover how to overcome the current challenges that come with leadership, especially during the pandemic.
  3. Find out what you want to do and identify if leadership is for you.


Episode Highlights

[02:58] What Jennifer Does

  • Jennifer helps leaders make sense of the chaos and complexity of our culture. She prepares these people for whatever may happen in the future. 
  • With the pandemic, change is happening more rapidly than ever. Everyone is impacted, and we respond differently. 
  • Other generations have also experienced challenging periods. 
  • What’s different now is that information is getting to us faster because of technology. We’re also more likely to be living alone and not going to church. 

[09:32] Examples of Good Leadership Today

  • It’s difficult to find a role model for good leadership today. However, Jennifer believes that there are still good leaders out there. 
  • Leadership is a journey.
  • And so, Jennifer learns from other leaders and improves herself over time.
  • Look at the people around the leader as well. You can learn more by seeing the people they surround themselves with.

[12:53] Defining Leadership

  • Jennifer defines leadership more in the corporate sense, where their number one job is to develop people.
  • A leader sets the stage, helps define where we are headed, and connects individuals to their part in the big picture.
  • There are different levels of leadership in organizations that further define what their role is and what they need to do. 

[16:34] How Our Systems Prepare Us for Leadership

  • Leadership is rarely taught in schools and organizations. 
  • It’s easier to teach functional expertise to people. 
  • What’s difficult is teaching good leadership.
  • To be effective, leaders need to communicate, set standards on performance, and look at the future. 
  • These are learned through life experiences.

[21:11] Jennifer as a Young Leader

  • When she was younger, Jennifer was always seeking challenges. Even if she knew she wasn’t the best, she still always went for it.
  • More importantly, she put herself out there and was willing to fail.
  • People aren’t necessarily born leaders. Good leadership is a mix of both born and learned components. 
  • To have good leadership, you have to be motivated and have skills and intellect.
  • It’s okay not to want a leadership position. Companies should define another path apart from leadership, such as the expert path, which is being an expert at one’s craft.

[28:50] Advice and Tips for Future Leaders

  • First, good leadership is about self-awareness. Get as much awareness about yourself, like what your strengths are and what you enjoy doing. Ask others for objective information about you.
  • Don’t be intimidated by leadership. Have relationships with those who are above you so you can learn from them. 
  • Jennifer recommends creating a development plan detailing what you need to move on to the next level.
  • Lastly, sign up for whatever is happening around you. Going outside of your job description will set you apart.

[34:43] Why We Don’t Have More Female Leaders

  • Some companies only go for white male leaders because they feel comfortable with them and their proven successes.
  • People in business have become aware of the importance of diversity. It shows that diversity yields better results. 
  • Women tend to be the primary caretakers of the house. They also make less because of systemic problems of pay.
  • And so, aside from awareness, we need to change the systemic things in our culture.
  • Jennifer found that what works is imparting diversity in every part of your business. These efforts are going to take time and patience.

[44:47] Jennifer on Writing Her Book 

  • Jennifer decided on the title “Leaders Deserve Better” because she wanted to show that we can, and we must change the way we’re doing things.
  • She wanted to write about good leadership differently for it to sink into people’s minds. 
  • Most books are about how to be a good leader, but she wanted to get at the problem she saw: leadership teams overall are not being held accountable.
  • Jennifer believes that there are ideas on leadership that should be revisited over and over. This is the reason why she wrote the book.

[51:35] A Good Leadership Mindset

  • As a leader, your mindset should be to develop your people and get results.
  • It’s also important to figure out what work you value. What’s important to you is where you put your time and effort.
  • You have to be accountable for your mindset. 
  • Instead of saying that it’s HR’s job, partner with HR and be responsible for getting your people where they need to be.
  • If you have a fixed mindset, you won’t be able to have good leadership in the organization you’re in.

[56:17] Good Leadership as a Process

  • It’s not about what you’re teaching or what they’re learning. It’s about the culture and the company and how they handle it.
  • The first thing to do is to connect the strategy of the business to the people strategy. 
  • Leaders have to lead and be fully responsible by having development conversations and providing resources and opportunities for people to learn.
  • Reinforce what you learn. Learning is best when you’re with people of the same level, so you can be vulnerable and share your experiences.
  • There should also be face-to-face learning and follow-up.

[1:01:43] The Importance of Coaching

  • If you coach your team members to get better results, such will be the case. 
  • Coaching is about giving your team members a method, such as the grow model.
  • Teach that skill, reinforce it, talk about its importance, and ask your people how you did. 
  • By being vulnerable and asking for your team’s opinion, you can improve.

[1:05:12] The Importance of a Leader’s Involvement

  • Leaders have to proactively work with HR or a consultant to get the right solution.
  • Jennifer’s team only works with companies that have their leaders involved in the process. 
  • You can only make a big impact when your leaders recognize the importance of the process and are actively involved in it.

[1:08:00] Words of Encouragement From Jennifer

  • Being a leader right now is difficult, but keep at it. It will get better; it will get easier.
  • Feel like you can share how you’re feeling with whomever you are comfortable with.
  • Start with some joy—it can go a long way.
  • Thinking about the big picture will keep you going whenever things get tough.
  • Currently, things may seem hard, but you can see challenges as an opportunity to do things differently.

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

[10:23] “Leadership is a journey. None of us have arrived.”

[13:12] “A leader is one that develops other people. A leader is one that sets the stage, helps define where we’re headed, and connect individuals to that to say, ‘What’s my part in all of this?’”

[42:48] “More women in particular are on boards now than ever. And that was due to a lot of effort and a lot of education. So we’ve got to continue all of that. That’s why it’s gonna take time, though. And we’re gonna have to have a little bit of patience.”

[47:23] “Companies overall, leadership teams overall, are not being held accountable. And they are the solution and the problem.”

[51:36] “The mindset is the only way that the information coming in is going to be used in a lot of ways. If you have the mindset of what I mentioned earlier, which is, ‘As a leader, my number one job is to develop my people.’ And get the results, of course, but develop my people, right? And so when it comes to that, the mindset shift is, ‘That is my main job, A. B, I need to free up my time to spend on that.’”

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