Leadership. For those interested in being strong leaders, it’s a lifelong pursuit to become a better one. In a podcast from The Drum called Exceptional Women Out West, Leanne Smullen, our Senior Vice President of Marketing and Training, spoke with Doug Zanger about some of the leadership lessons she has learned throughout her life, and how setting the example while putting the company and team first can be great guiding principles.
Leanne gained much of her leadership experience during a military career – first on active duty, then in the Army Reserve and now as a lieutenant colonel in the Colorado Army National Guard. From international conflicts to domestic natural disasters, when the military is involved, lives can be at stake. Leanne explains that these experiences and her training have helped her learn to stay calm under pressure at SpotX and to take the long view as she and her team work through the challenges that every fast-growing company faces.
“In a crisis, I ask my team, ‘Were any lives lost? No? Well, we’re doing OK then.” This approach helps keep things in perspective, and helps her make decisions that keep the team moving forward.
Listening to Leanne describe her leadership style, she credits a large part of her philosophy to her training in Integral Coaching, a discipline that aligns head, heart and body, and which taught her how to work with individuals in a holistic way. She has a passion for developing leaders, and she looks at Integral Coaching as an effective way to help others build new capacities, address their blind spots, and lead from a more authentic place. She also credits this philosophy for helping her achieve more balance in life — she explains what “the middle way” has meant to her approach to leadership.
Leanne doesn’t see herself as being “on top.” Rather, she approaches her team from a central position among all the interconnected relationships that make the team a whole. “Make decisions based on what’s best for your company, then for your team, and then for you,” she recommends. “Leading is not about your success, it’s about the success you create by empowering others.”