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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Who You Are Is How You Lead

Whether you’re the owner of your own small company or you’re a solopreneur, you’re a leader. Laura Miner, a Leadership Development Coach and consultant, is an expert in the science of self leadership. In this episode, she explains the 3 pillars you need to align to be an effective self leader and achieve your desired goals.

Notes from the Show

Laura Miner is an expert on Self Leadership. During our conversation, Laura shares her history working with leadership as well as her research on how we are trained as leaders, understanding what a leader means, as well as dissecting negative leadership examples.

What Laura's research comes down to is simply put, who you are is how you lead. She breaks this down into three pillars that she explains in the episode; How you think, How you act, and How you motivate. She is the author of Strengthened: Developing the Leader Within, with a second edition coming upon the completion of her PHD.

No matter who you are, you’re a leader, and the science of self leadership is applicable to you. Laura shares her own personal experiments in self leadership as she works toward balancing travel and work in an enjoyable yet productive way.

You can find a ton of resources for self leadership like the actual framework Laura uses with her clients, on LinkedIn. Plus, Laura created a special resource linked below for the listeners of Stop The Noise.

What's Inside:

  • What is self leadership?

  • 3 Pillars in leadership: Thoughts, Actions, Motivation.

  • Free Resource for Stop The Noise Listeners

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:38

Hello, everybody, welcome back to stop the noise today my guest is Laura Miner, who is a leadership coach who specializes in self leadership. And welcome Laura.

Laura Miner 0:50

Thank you so much, Susan. I appreciate it.

Susan Tatum 0:52

You and I met through Darin Harm, who is a client of mine and a accountability partner of sorts with you. And he brought up he mentioned, self the science of self leadership, and that you had written a book about this. And I'm like, I gotta talk to this woman, because that sounds really interesting. And I found out that it is interesting. So tell us a little bit about, you know, what you do and what self leadership really is.

Laura Miner 1:24

Yeah, absolutely. Well, to give you just a little bit of backstory, so that you understand how I sort of found my way into this. I had worked in a corporate environment for probably close to 15 years in corporate leadership. And my last job, so I left the corporate world in 2009. And when I left the corporate world, it was because I was working for a very immoral leaders who were doing things that really were causing cognitive dissonance for me, because what they were doing was not okay. That's a whole story in itself. But it started me down. Yeah, it started me down this trail of really looking into how it is that we are leaders, how we are trained as leaders, I know when I became a leader, I was basically told, here's your team, go, Oh, and here's your sales quota. That's what you've got to hit. And there wasn't a lot that was provided in between, I really didn't understand what being a leader really meant, right? I knew that it meant I had to lead people to a goal. What I didn't understand at the time is that who you are, is how you lead. And if you do not focus on growing and developing yourself, and being the best person that you can be, it is very difficult to be the type of leader that others can follow. And as I really started to dissect some of these negative leadership examples that I had, unfortunately experienced, I realized that it was very easy for them to compromise themselves. And the company that we worked for, because they weren't clear on who they were. So who they were, was whoever the company needed them to be that day, even if what the company was asking was immoral and wrong. So it started me on this path, I wanted to understand how do we cultivate a world that has better leaders. And when I say leader, everybody in my mind is a leader, whether you're a solopreneur, you are an intrapreneur working in a larger company, you're an employee, a bank teller, you're a girl scout leader, we are all a role model and an example to somebody else. And when we start to really understand that we understand how important this statement is that who you are, is how you lead. So diving deeper and deeper into that, I decided I wanted to go down a traditional education path. And it started off by getting a master's in Organizational Leadership and Development. I already had a bachelor's in psychology and organizational psychology. So it's already trying to understand the mechanics of how this all goes together. And then I decided to pursue a PhD and that's when I really got deeply immersed in the science of self leadership, and understanding how you could leverage self leadership to help people design and craft a life that they live and love and want to fall more deeply into. Because it's a life that aligns with who they are.

Susan Tatum 4:55

Okay, alright, so and then when we were talking before we were just talking about that, that our listeners here for the most part are people that spent a number of years in corporate work their way up the ladder, they became executives and experts. And now they are getting into the independent consulting firms world, they've started their own practices. And, you know, obviously coming from an extremely structured background, or extremely structured environment, and then all of a sudden, they're in this world where they're in charge of everything without the resources there used to, there's a huge disconnect, I guess, would be the the right word. And so I was asking you about so how does self leadership help with this? And yeah, it's really interesting answers there. So let's, let's talk about that.

Laura Miner 5:58

Absolutely. So first off, I want to share that I was in that same struggle, I came from the corporate background, it was structured, every single piece of it from the email I would send out to the sales packet I would follow up with, I had 100% structure, I didn't realize how much of that did not rely on me until I started to do my own thing. And when I started to do my own thing, I realized I was grasping at straws, trying to figure out how do I effectively do this. And where the shift happened for me, is when I really started to understand self leadership. And it is because self leadership rests on three specific pillars, how you think, which is cognitive strategies, how you act, which is behavioral strategies, and how you motivate yourself, which is all about natural and intrinsic rewards. And the thing with working for somebody else, especially in a very structured corporate environment, is that you don't actually put a whole lot of thought into how you think, act or motivate yourself, because the structure is in place to move you through the system, the sales cycle, the workflow, all of that has already been built for you. When you do it on your own, you have to take that step back, you have to slow down to speed up, so that you can understand those three pillars, how you think, how you act and how you motivate yourself, get them into alignment, determine which ones you're perhaps a little weaker in, which ones you're stronger in, and you can balance out with, and then be able to move yourself forward in a way where you are taking more responsibility for the goals that you are trying to achieve.

Susan Tatum 7:49

So let's break down each of those categories, those three categories. So that thinking, acting, and motivating a little bit more.

Laura Miner 7:57

Yeah. So thinking is really about how are you dealing with your own thought processes, these can be supportive, they can be unsupportive, right. So a lot of our thinking comes down to what is the self talk that is going on underneath the little voice that, you know, we left our corporate job because we were great at it, we know we can do this consultant thing. And then that little voice starts to challenge you. And little tiny hiccups become mole hills. And so learning how to deal with that inner voice is one of the cognitive pieces. Another one is really getting under the surface of our beliefs and assumptions. Because a lot of times our beliefs and our assumptions are holding us back, they are impacting the way that we do things without us necessarily realizing it. Because we're on autopilot, right? These beliefs and assumptions hum along under the surface, they dictate the way that we do things. But if we are not cognizant of what these beliefs and assumptions are, it's another way that we wind up inadvertently holding ourselves back without seeing it. So those are just two examples in the cognitive realm, how you think of how self leadership gets in there with what I coined in my dissertation, a term called fractionable meaning they are practical and actionable strategies that move you from point A to point B. Because if you're not growing and implementing with these strategies, then the strategies are of no use. So the approach that I take is that they have to be practical in nature, so that they are moving you forward so that you are elevating, in this example how you think and developing stronger cognitive resources to be able to deal with the Challenges,

Susan Tatum 10:01

or Yeah, or to get over yourself, if I mean, if it's something that's like standing in you're

Laura Miner 10:08

a 100% a 100%. And that's so that's actually part of the motivation. And why I pursued this, because in my experience, there were a lot of leaders that I worked for, where they, they couldn't see that they needed to get over themselves. And I am the first to admit, when I was working in this environment, working with some very powerful men in that particular industry, I fell into that as well. And in fact, you brought up Darin, at the beginning of this call, he and I had a call this morning, we were talking about the fact that before self leadership, I didn't think about those types of things. So it was easy to let my financial success, create ego inflation. And with that ego, and inflation eventually came an implosion. And so self leadership helps you see those things before you step into those traps.

Susan Tatum 11:06

You know, and what I was thinking about in that situation was mental blocks. Like, I mean, for me, it was sales.

Laura Miner 11:16


Susan Tatum 11:17

Did you just, you know, to ask somebody to give me money, or, you know, it just felt icky, you know, and it took a while to figure out how to work around that. But part of it was discovering some things in my head that went back way back to childhood. How I thought about asking for something.

Laura Miner 11:36

Yeah, the so like I said, there's three pillars, how you think, how you act, how you motivate yourself, how you think, is really important, because it sets up how we act, right. So if you've had these beliefs, going back to childhood, and it can be anything from the struggling with sales, because you don't want to ask for money because it's rooted money, beliefs from when you were a kid Money doesn't grow on trees, it's hard to to come by. It can be things like believing you're not smart enough, I'm dyslexic, I had a label that was put on me in school for a long time, I believed I wasn't smart enough. At some point, that was a belief that I had to deal with that I had to strip back, because that belief impacted my actions and behaviors, which impacted my ability to motivate myself, which impacted my ultimate results. And that's why these three pillars are so critical.

Susan Tatum 12:32

And that, you know, there's just everywhere when it comes to my mind, a woman that that that I worked with, who is just a brilliant technologist. And somewhere along the line, she was told that engineers can't write. And this like, stuck with her. And so when she gets she gets out on her own, and then she needs to be presenting her ideas. And she's these forces thing, but you can't write, you know, your engineers can't write. And then, and then when she got beyond that, I mean, she's a brilliant writer and a brilliant woman, it's just so the stuff does hold us back. But I guess there's also positive aspects of it. Like, I think I can do anything, if I set my mind to it, I think I can do anything.

Laura Miner 13:16

Absolutely. And the way that we can really I say, unblock the dam, right, we unblock the dam, when we start focusing on these three pillars, because we realize how much we are capable of, and how it you know, it's Marie Forleo's word but I'm gonna borrow it and how everything is figureable, right? Like, we can figure out anything, if it's that important to us. And that goes back to my earlier statement about who you are is how you lead, right? So if if you really develop yourself leadership, who you are grows, and that grows, your ability to problem solve, to decision make to build a business to be a consultant running your own firm. It just explodes from there.

Susan Tatum 14:07

So let me else I keep sidetracking you we've got so he talks about the the thinking aspect of it, which which then flows into the actions that you take, right?

Laura Miner 14:18

Absolutely. So there are several different actions. But I'll give you one example. That's one that I always start on with my clients. And that is self goal setting. And self goal setting is different than traditional goal setting. And the reason I start there is because I work with a lot of clients who have left the corporate environment and are starting their own thing. And so one of the things that we have to break down is they were used to pursuing goals that were set by others and you would think okay, well what's the difference between setting you know, achieving a goal that someone else set or setting one for yourself? And the difference is that when you set your own goals, if they are not tied to your values, and to your ultimate vision, if they are not part of a bigger picture, they will be more difficult for you to achieve and more difficult for you to keep yourself motivated to move towards. And so changing the mindset in how you approach goals so that you change the behavior associated with the goals becomes a really important first step in a lot of the work that I do with clients. And there's a lot of different activities that fall in that behavior category. But it's really about how do you move yourself to act in a way that's going to help you achieve what it is that you're striving for?

Susan Tatum 15:48

So would you say? Would I be correct in saying that sometimes. So we have goals that even if even if we're on our own, and we're setting our own goals, we set these goals because we think they're the goals we should be setting. And they may not necessarily be

Laura Miner 16:05

100%. Yeah, and now we're back to Wether our beliefs and assumptions, right. And one of the the biggest stumbles that I see people make when they have first left corporate, is that they are setting their goals with a corporate mindset. And remember, corporate goals are created to generate corporate revenue. And so if you go into if you leave corporate, and you're starting your own consultancy, and you're creating the same type of goals that you had before, those goals may not lead to the same outcome, and worse, they may lead to burnout. And so really taking a step back evaluating those goals, why are you pursuing these goals, I have a client that I've been working with where she has these clear goals. And it was clear to me that those goals were left over from how she feels she should behave because of when she was in her corporate role, that those goals are now damaging her own psyche damaging the way that she thinks about those things. Because they aren't aligned with the role she's in now, or aligned with the values that she holds for herself.

Susan Tatum 17:18

Okay, I can see why you start with thinking with these three pillars. Okay. All right. So then motivate was the third one. What, what about that?

Laura Miner 17:27

Yeah, so motivating yourself is all about really getting to the types of in forensic natural rewards that are going to drive you. But here's the important thing about this. And here's what's so totally different when it comes to solopreneurs, independent contractors, things like that. I love my job, I have crafted work that I feel so blessed every day to be doing. That does not mean that there are not parts of my work that are not as enjoyable, right? It doesn't matter if we're working for somebody else, or working for ourselves, we still have parts of our job that are not our favorite parts, right? And what, what motivation does, is it one of the roles that it plays in, in the scientific realm of self leadership, is that it helps you infuse more fun, more play, more enjoyment, so that even the things that are not your favorite things, you can find ways to enjoy them and make them more fun. And the way I personally do this with my clients, as I have all of my clients take a Strengths Assessment. So if I know that one of their strengths is one of their top strengths is curiosity, then I will say to them, how can you get more curious about this particular task that you don't like, so that we can use that strength to make the task more fun to fuel it with more motivation, and to not let it grind you down? Yeah. And so layering these in to say, motivation isn't just about, you know, the the carrot that's pulling us toward it. It is also the elements that we can embed, so that we're being pushed, and we don't feel so heavy by the things that we don't enjoy. And when we can start to enjoy the things that are otherwise a little bit heavy. The job of being an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, an independent consultant becomes more fun and a little bit more easy.

Susan Tatum 19:40

Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, and then that that leads me into we were talking before we started recording about you just got back from a month in Portugal, you and your husband, and it was some kind of experiment that you were running. Tell us about that.

Laura Miner 19:58

Yeah, absolutely. So my husband is a little bit older than me, he has forced retirement. He's a pilot, he has forced retirement coming up in a few years. And one of the things that we want to do is we want to travel, not necessarily full time, but definitely be gone for four to six weeks at a time, multiple times a year. So for me, our month in Portugal was 35 days to be exact, was an exploration and an experimentation into how can I do this, and still work and still be productive and still be effective. And it failed miserably, which is amazing, right? Like, it's amazing, because there were so many valuable lessons, I would sit down with my journal and I would say, Why is this not working? What would need to be different? What would I need to try and test differently? And I think it's really important that we remember that everything that we do is experimental in nature, right? Even if we've been doing it for a whole lot of years, I've been doing this since 2009. Every year is still a different type of experiment. Because the landscape changes, business models change technology changes. It's always an experiment. And if we can give ourselves the grace to realize and understand that, then again, we can have more fun and more play with how we explore it, how we figure out what is going to work best for us right now, in the conditions that we are in. And so for me, you know, one of the things I realized on this trip was the trips have to be different.

Susan Tatum 21:44

sorry, what was it that wasn't working for you?

Laura Miner 21:47

We were moving Hotel. Well, Airbnbs we were moving every week,

Susan Tatum 21:54

and this affected your ability to productively work.

Laura Miner 21:59

Correct. so by moving every week, I didn't have enough space to work, I didn't have enough mental space being still plus or so much in every city that you want to see. And then the other thing was, we're gonna have to rent Airbnbs that have a little bit more physical space to work. Not always easy in Europe, but it can be done. So it was figuring out what are the things I have to do different, I will say this, I, in advance, had already set a context with clients surrounding the days and times that I would be available, how long to expect a response for me. So part of it is about the self responsibility embedded and self leadership, to Craft and Design things in a way that helps you achieve the goals that you want to achieve. And for me, one of those goals is balancing travel with work, because I love both. And I'm not going to give up either.

Susan Tatum 23:01

I'm going to reply this part of this podcast over and over again. Because I approach you know, my thing is about client development and building pipelines and building strong businesses. And it's all an experiment to me, because you're dealing you're dealing with people, and that changes, the markets change. And if you break it down into little pieces and run it as experiments, I find you get answers so much faster, and you can make these adjustments. So that's that was really that was that was very meaningful to me what you just said.

Laura Miner 23:38

Oh, good. And the thing I would add to that that layers on top of the experiments is that I am all about surfacing questions over answers. So if you heard what I just said, I would sit down with my journal at night. And I would say why is this not working? What do I need to do different? And I would brainstorm question after question after question. I wouldn't necessarily answer them in the moment. I brainstorm the questions because it opens up to thinking it opens you up to really look at am I coming at this from one particular angle because of my beliefs and assumptions? And is that making me blind to other things that actually could change this equation and serve me in a different way? So in that, that phase of experimentation, it is all about the questions more than the answers because the questions lead to eventual answers.

Susan Tatum 24:37

Makes total sense. So you You've mentioned a couple of your clients when we talked previously you were not taking on new clients right now. Is that still true?

Laura Miner 24:52

That is still true. That will be changing after I finished my PhD which I am close to doing. But yeah, so I have to say I am, I feel very, very fortunate, my clients don't leave, I've had several of my clients for multiple years, I do six month contracts every six months they renew. So as of right now I'm I'm not actually taking on new clients. But I will be when my, when my dissertation is complete, what I have done, though, is I have started to make more of my tools or resources available to other people. So I put frameworks on LinkedIn on a regular basis that are the actual frameworks I use with my clients. So I share those posts a few times a week. As I shared with you, I also created something for your audience. So I don't know if you want me to share that now or save that?

Susan Tatum 25:54

Well, okay, I, we can get into that. But I do want to mention, because you have a book that I think is can be helpful as well. Right to the self leader?

Laura Miner 26:04

I do. Yeah. So yeah, there's strengthened developing the leader within, and I will be revising and re releasing that after my dissertation. So it's available right now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, different places. And this is an interesting evolution, because this, I wrote this book, after getting my master's, and before starting my PhD, and as I was already pretty well steeped in the subject matter, but who we are, is constantly evolving, right? And so now, there are even better ways, better methods, things that I have honed since I wrote this book. So everything is a work in progress, right, this book will have a second edition coming out shortly after my dissertation, because of the fact that there are even more methods and strategies that I have for supporting people, which is why I also put them on LinkedIn so that people have access right away.

Susan Tatum 27:10

Cool. And so now you have this, you were telling me about this incredible assessment and ebook that you put together for the listeners here, and I can't wait to do it myself. So tell us a little more about that.

Laura Miner 27:26

Yes, well, self leadership, it's it's not just a term I'm using it is a concept that has been well researched, going back to the 80s. And because of that, and because of how much academic and institutional support it is had, there is a psychometrically valid self leadership assessment that measures each of those three categories. And the nine factors that I haven't even scratched the surface getting into that, but there are nine factors that go even deeper than what we've talked about here. So I have made the assessment which this is the same assessment I use with all my paid clients. It's also the same assessment that I used in my dissertation work, which was measuring self leadership in successful small business owners. And so I have made that assessment available to your audience. In addition, I wrote a playbook what I call the self leaders play book that not only gives them an overview so that they can look at their scores understand their scores for each of the nine factors and the three categories, and the overall and then in addition, there is an exercise for every single one of the factors and categories. Because again, going back to what I said before, if you don't experiment, if you don't implement self leadership is about taking action that if you don't take action, it doesn't do anything for you. It's only in the action and the experimentation that you develop, how you think, how you act, and how you motivate yourself. So this playbook combined with the assessment helps you do just that.

Susan Tatum 29:12

You know, my my, my mind just went off in a second can I use this with some of my clients to get them to take action because sometimes it's like you you now you know which now you know what to do let's go do it. And that's the hard thing to to get going. So I can't wait to dig into this. how can listeners find this?

Laura Miner 29:33

Absolutely. So I created a special link just for your listeners it is L W M dot link slash stop the noise

Susan Tatum 29:46

Alright, and I'll put that in the show notes too. That's a really I appreciate that that's that is going above and beyond being being joining me here to be a guest and gonna be very valuable. So where else now? They can folks can find you on LinkedIn.

Laura Miner 30:06

Absolutely. It's Laura W Miner. M I N E R and my website is the same laura w

Susan Tatum 30:16

So, and you are prolific publisher of content on LinkedIn, I see that. Are you? Are you publishing daily? Is it that much?

Laura Miner 30:24

I try to publish Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There might be times in between where I may miss a day here and there, but for the most part, pretty consistent with Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and and the goal in what I share is really to help people develop their self leadership strengths. And so sometimes I blatantly call it out. This is about how you think sometimes it's a little bit under the surface, somebody would have to realize that what I'm doing is helping them develop their self leadership skills without actually telling them I'm doing it.

Susan Tatum 30:58

You're playing games with us

Laura Miner 31:02

only the best ones.

Susan Tatum 31:03

All right. Well, Laura, thank you so much for being here. This has been fantastic. And I hope you have a good rest of your day and good luck with your phd.

Laura Miner 31:18

Thank you so much, Susan. I appreciate it. And thank you for having me on today.


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