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#034 – Democratizing Leadership in the New World of Work (With Kelsey Hahn)

Democratizing Leadership in the New World of Work

Podcast Summary

Leadership is crucial to the wellbeing and performance of people and organizations, yet few leaders have received the training needed to be successful in their role. Stats continually point to the fact that employees rarely leave companies, they leave bad managers. So why is traditional leadership training provided so late in a leader’s journey and often reserved for those who already hold a senior position?

The answer to that provides important insight into our rapidly changing business climate and why it’s ripe for transformation. Today we speak with Kelsey Hahn, CEO of Monark about the challenges and opportunities for current and aspiring leaders today. Kelsey is a brilliant leader and executive who is on a mission to democratize corporate leadership training. She provides valuable insights for leaders, employees, and organizations that want to thrive.

Bonus Resources

Connect with Kelsey on:



Monark Website –


Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Working Well podcast. I’m Tim Borys, CEO of Fresh Wellness group. This show explores the diverse aspects of workplace health and personal performance on the working well podcast. We dive into the foundations of what makes wellness work in workplaces around the. We connect with corporate leaders, executives, and industry experts who are helping make life more awesome at work and home. Join us to learn workplace wellness, best practices, personal performance tips, and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs.

Today we speak with Kelsey Hahn, CEO of Monark about the challenges and opportunities for current and aspiring leaders today. Kelsey is a brilliant leader and executive who is on a mission to democratize corporate leadership training. She provides valuable insights for leaders, employees, and organizations that want to thrive.

Kelsey Hahn, CEO of Monark

Tim: Kelsey, so glad to have you on The Working Well podcast. I’m excited to chat with you today about leadership training and organizations. And now you have just such a varied background. I’m really so excited to hear about how you got to this point and how you launched a new company.

Kelsey: Yes, thank you. I’m so excited to be here. So my background is really rooted in sports. So I like to share that I probably started playing hockey when I was four years old. Grew up with brothers and so it was kind of a natural thing in Saskatchewan. And that really set the whole motion, I think for where I was going to be in life at four years old but played hockey really all the way through into university.

So I played college hockey at the University of Saskatchewan and did a little bit of coaching as well after that at Queens University. And so from a very young age, I was always super curious about, watching coaches and how they communicated and always really intrigued by the teams that had. Didn’t necessarily have like a stellar bench, but functioned really well and was able to succeed as underdog. And so I’ve just generally always been very curious about leadership and coaching and teams and performance and motivation.

And when I went into university, I said, okay, how can I somehow build a career on and so naturally started studying, what’s kind of termed in business school as organizational behavior. And so, yes, so after doing some schooling and education around that, I did a Master’s in Organizational Behavior at Queens University under a very prominent leadership researcher in Canada, Dr. Julian Barling. And primarily what I was doing was studying abuse of supervision, which is just a really negative form of leadership. They call it abusive supervision.

What we did is we studied it. We studied the MBA as a proxy for the organizations. And so, we looked at data and coaching, and team performance that was occurring over a 10 year span in the MBA. And then we use that to really make organizational conclusions about, what we can learn and how we can adapt that from teams. And so that really, for me, set me on my path to being just totally passionate and wanting to find a career and build a career around how to support management teams and leaders in the workplace. By applying, I think everything that I have learned and loved about sports performance.

Tim: That’s as someone with a sports background myself, I absolutely hear that. And it’s very interesting to draw the parallels between leadership in sports and leadership in the corporate world and anyone who’s been an athlete under a dictator-style coach knows that it rarely works that well for the long term.

How Leadership Is Changing and Its Impact on Employees

Tim: As you’ve gone into the corporate world and you’ve done this research, what are you seeing in terms of how leadership is changing? And how it’s impacting business bottom lines in the employees these days?

Kelsey: So how leadership is changing more generally? I think it’s a really good question because one of the things that we talk about, I mean, certainly the pandemic definitely accelerated, I think existing trends that were already happening, automation and e-commerce and, some integration of remote work.

But ultimately, it just really sped that up. It was like over two years, it was happening and then it was like, okay, we all have to get on board, whether we’re comfortable with it or not. And I think that ultimately really jolted how leaders were used to performing and how they were used to leading.

So to go back a bit, the modern office was really created after World War II. if you look at the military model, very strict hierarchies were created, typically by men for men. , and then that really trickled into the leadership literature. So early approaches to leadership really focused on who could be a great leader and what they looked like and how they acted instead of how to make you a great leader.

And this was this idea of like the great man or the great man theory. And it was this idea that a leader would look and act a very certain way. And so ultimately, it really set in motion this whole exploration of are leaders born or made? And the great man really centered around leaders are born, and they can’t be made and they look and they act like this.

But luckily over time, over like the last 50 years of research, research has only ever found a pretty weak relationship between leader traits. So personality and genetics and success. And so, what we’ve learned over time is that most abilities that actually distinguish good leaders from great leaders are behavioral.

And so that’s quite interesting. And so I think what we’re seeing now is it has been this gradual change and it’s being accelerated now. But there’s this kind of growing realization. I would say that the leadership model and the way that we’ve trained leaders in the past is broken. So command and control, this transactional style of leadership is going out the window. And there’s less focus on managing people, more focused on leading them,

And so now you hear a lot of talk about transformational leadership and authentic leadership, and now we’re, we’re looking at how do we promote people beyond just technical skill and looking at their ability to really lead an influence, all different types of people in the organization.

Democratizing Access to Leadership Training

Tim: Well, there is that old adage that people get promoted to their level of incompetence, right? If there’s no training and development through the process, so many businesses out there have really skilled technical people that have been promoted into a leadership position, and they’ve never been taught how to lead. So what are you seeing in terms of how leadership training is done in organizations and who has access to it?

Kelsey: Yes. So I think that’s a space that we’re really looking to fill with Monarch because typically what we see in organizations today and it’s still pretty prevalent, I would say in Canada, is that we only offer training, leadership training in particular, to employees once they’re 10 or 15 years in, and they’re already in leadership positions, the irony of it. The phrase that we’ve used before is it’s, it’s like training for a marathon on the morning of the marathon. So we, we, we only give them this training after they’ve already proven their loyalty and their competence, and then it becomes much more of a check the box exercise, than something that as an organization, we actually hope to see ROI on which is very unfortunate.

And part of the reason for that, is there are a number of problems that I would say are kind of systemic in the leadership development and training space. But one is that the programs are very expensive. So it does limit who has access to this training and naturally over time you can see how it’s created a system of, okay, well, we can only invest so many dollars per employee who is our investment going to go to.

And so, one of the things that we’re really trying to do with Monarch is democratizing that access. Such that we’re providing training into the very frontline of the organization allowing people to really develop and grow their leadership skills before they’re put into those first leadership situations or before they’re even promoted into a leadership position.

The Key Challenges with Leadership Training

Tim: Yes, that makes perfect sense. You bring up a couple of key problems. One is the too late training, I guess you would say, the expense of it. What other key problems do you see with the current status of leadership training?

Kelsey: Yes, that’s a good question. So I would say another really big one that we see definitely happening right now is there is still a very traditional and kind of old-school approach to training. And so, we are now seeing, obviously through, COVID kind of a proliferation of digital products come on board, but the top two methods of delivering leadership training today in the US are still instructor-led training, mostly in-person and then executive coaches.

Executive coaches are great and there are a lot of platforms as well that are connecting coaches to those that they coach or mentor through a digital platform. The problem is it’s still often only available to those who can afford it, which is typically tied to that human’s rate per hour, right? So when we’re involving humans it’s just very hard to scale the training and the product.

So the methodology, I guess, really in terms of like how the training is being delivered, we’re obviously seeing a big disruption happening there. And we think the whole market really is just poised to continue to access digital tools to use AI and ML in training to start incorporating it into individuals’ learning paths and journeys. So lots of opportunities there. Much, like we’ve seen the proliferation in other spaces, fitness, and nutrition, we’re starting to see lots of different apps and programs popping up that are really allowing users to support kind of their own self-lead journey in behavioral change.

Another one that we look a lot at is really the outcome measurement around leadership development training programs. And you can look at that like on an individual scale or you can look at it on an organizational scale. But one of my favorite questions to ask leaders is how do you know that you got some sort of return on investment or value out of the training needed?

And they’ll kind of stop and look at you and it almost always gets followed by silence because you really have to think, okay did I enjoy the program? Yes. Was I satisfied with it? Perhaps. Did I like my trainer? Did I like the cohort? All these things. But when you start to really look at behavioral outcomes in terms of did my team see a change in me? How have I been more flexible in this way? Like, have I seen any sort of behavioral improvements in the way I actually show up as a leader? That part is really tricky to measure and thus really doesn’t happen with most programs.

Tim: Well, you make a good point, too, is the traditional model is very. Instructor-led in person, you go for whatever it’s one day or a week of intensive training. And that can be extremely valuable, but then rarely is there a follow-up Rarely is there a strategy in place to define the long-term behavior change? And I see this in her industry too. I do a lot of speaking and consulting. And yes, if you come in and you can deliver a great program, but if there’s not something in place at multiple checkpoints down the road to help assist that and facilitate that behavior change over the long term, it really is lost dollars for that company because the change doesn’t get implemented. People go back to their old habits and habits don’t change overnight. They take that reinforcement and that regular check-in and technology, like you said, to scale it that’s a perfect opportunity to check in on a regular basis and provide those micro-learning opportunities.

How Leaders Can Be More Competent in a Post-Pandemic World

Tim: So one thing that you mentioned a little bit with COVID and we’ve all seen it, but talk a bit about how leadership itself has changed over right now? The pandemic has accelerated, but what skills do leaders need now, what competencies do they need now that they’re not getting in traditional training?

Kelsey: Yes. I mean the biggest one that I think we saw through COVID and it’s a little bit cliche at this point because we’ve now all learned so much about the word empathy and how it’s different than compassion, but it could not have been more true through COVID. And it’s really having, I think what we’re seeing is we need leaders to be leaning into empathy and that isn’t compassion, right? And understanding what the differences and frankly just like how the pandemic affected, if you have a 10 person team, how t affects and is continuing to affect every single one of those 10 people differently and adjusting your leadership style accordingly.

I think one of the big things, that we also missed throughout the pandemic as well, we lost all these social cues, right? I think leaders were very much challenged to how do I lead through just communication, whether it’s email or Teams or Slack, through some sort of virtual communication. And we were no longer showing up with these physical social cues, prompting us to maybe walk by someone’s office and check in on them. I think that so much of that was lost. And so, we have to be really deliberate now about how we’re actioning those things and how we’re showing up as leaders in that way in a remote world. Because we are going to continue operating with all these virtual mechanisms to communicate, but we need to now be more intentional about how we show up and how we lead.

So like a good example of that is there was a study done just around like people feeling throughout the pandemic. And most employees saying that I don’t feel valued. And so it’s a very simple behavior for a leader to just show up and say, I really valued the work that you’re doing. And for that to be such a transformational thing for someone to hear. But we lost so many forms of communication that we just stopped saying the things that people really needed to hear that it can be very small, but simple and powerful things.

Tim: But I’d even take that further and say that while those things are absolutely very important, they’re not typical those are what we call soft skills that aren’t normally taught in leadership. And for a lot of people in leadership, it’s been about, business, like you, get MBA, people coming in and they’ve got great business strategy and analysis but very few of them are being taught the soft skills of empathizing. Empathizing with people and having strong communication skills. And that has we’ve seen over the last couple of years is extremely important.

How Monark Is Changing Traditional Leadership

Tim: And so, how is Monark looking to change that? What are you doing differently?

Kelsey: And that’s a good point. And I think one of the reasons why we’ve defaulted to training leaders on technical skills is because it’s easy to measure, train and implement. Again, like behavioral things, such as inspiration and modeling types of behavior creating, leading with empathy, leading with authenticity, and having strong communication skills. These things are all way harder to measure, even though it can be done.

And so, I would say that like traditional programs really stray away from them because you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you haven’t delivered on that behavior. And so, it’s a lot easier to measure on other things, but ultimately where we’re pushing for is we have an 8 framework model of leadership or 8 behavior model of leadership that I should say. And we are training people on behaviors that are all evidenced to correlate with leadership performance. And so really, truly it is the science of great leadership as defined by how all of these behaviors show up in performance.

And so one of the ways that we’re doing that like you said, is like, we’re really focusing on habit building at the most basic level, which is getting people to engage in their development and come every day to work with a growth mindset. And so, focusing on tiny little behaviors and things that they can be doing every day, things that they can be practicing in a very applied sense versus something that you’re learning for one hour at a course, which research shows, 90% of that information you’re going to lose. So really it’s for us, we just talk so much about the magic and the execution of the way that we’re training and conducting our training versus what we’re actually training on.

The other aspect will say is that most programs. I would say, take a very one size fits all approach and we have a very personalized nature in what we’re doing. And so, we start with assessment from day one, you get a 360 assessment in our application and then that really sets your baseline. And you now have kind of like a base level understanding of how you show up in your own mind, as well as in relation to your coworkers and what they think of you. And you can now go off and learn and really guide and direct your learning based on where you have gaps or blind spots.

And so, your training can really be directed around where do I actually need training versus this like one hour webinar that’s going to teach you how to be more charismatic which isn’t an effective skill for all leaders to learn. I think that’s where our leadership training really goes awry sometimes in the industry. It’s like, well, let’s teach every leader in the world how to be more charismatic.

I’m sure we can all think of examples where we’ve had or known someone who’s a great leader who has zero ounces of charisma. Right? And that’s okay. They can be very effective without being charismatic.

Tim: Well, and that’s this flood vision of what a leader should be and every one is unique and brings their own personality and self to it, and you can have all kinds of great leaders. And one thing you mentioned was the 360 assessment. They’ve come in and out of favor at various times, mostly because of how the poor implementation process of the information. What can you speak to on that in terms of how the information from your 360 is best utilized?

Kelsey: Yes, it’s such a good point. in our private practice, my partner and I would do traditional 360 consulting and engagements. And I would say oftentimes the purpose of the 360 was performance-related. So management or the board is looking to get a sense for how an executive leader is showing up on performance versus how 360 tools should be used, which is a development in a developmental fashion.

And so, if you’re looking to make a decision around someone’s employment after conducting a 360, that’s where all the fear around the sixties came from. So yes, a lot of people are like, I don’t want to do a 360 though. Those are very scary things. So we’re really trying to change the mindset around how they’re used and in the cultures that they’re being used in.

So again, really shifting the focus to developmental We’ve done everything from making the process really seamless to engage in for users as well as raters. So making it much quicker user-friendly more timely, frankly, so that the data feels more real-time to you and, where your behavior is today. And then ensuring that confidentiality and anonymity are number one, always a prime focus. And so, we never want users to feel singled out and we never want raters to feel like their anonymity was compromised because of the feedback they gave.

And so, so far with our customers when we position that way and I think that when the product is being used and supported in the right kinds of cultures, I think we’re eliciting the right kinds of behaviors around a product like that. So like you sat around the implementation.

Tim: Okay. And that’s good to hear. Cause yes, you can get some great information, but how that information is used; I’ve personally seen it misused many times and a lot of leaders. Yes. It does not drive them away but it makes them fearful of that development process.

Kelsey: And I think the other component is like, we want you to look at your results and say, okay, this is great. There’s something I can work with here and not feel terrified where do I start? Holy cow, this is overwhelming. Like the number of times I’ve heard that after debriefing someone on a 60-page report that tells them every in and out of their personality at work. I mean, that’s not the goal. You want someone to come to the table and say, here’s something very tangible that I can start working on today that I know will have an impact.

And so, that’s really the goal, right? It’s don’t scare people away. Get them engaged in their development and allow them to feel like they have a lot of control and autonomy over what they’re doing and what they’re actually practicing.

Tim: Absolutely. And there are lots of talks these days about the great resignation or the great reshuffle, or I’ve heard other names as well. And one thing I read recently was that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was a lot more of the entry-level lower seniority workers that had higher than normal turnover. But more recently, it’s been the mid and senior-level people that are may have more means to just quit, even if they don’t have anything lined up, because they’re at a level and a time in their life when they have the ability to do that.

What Companies Can Do Differently to Retain Leaders

Tim: So for organizations that are looking to retain some of that top talent, because as those people start leaving the cost goes much higher in terms of having to replace them or fill those shoes. So how can companies, what can they do differently to retain those leaders?

Kelsey: No, I think you’re right. I mean, we talk about the great resignation all the time because ultimately what it caused was millions of people to really assess their relationship with their job. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much time do I want to spend in the office? Where do I want to live? Can I work remotely? So literally a time for people to find what is work to them. And I think ultimately what we’ve seen and what we’re still continuing to see is that compensation is not the be-all and end-all, for people, especially millennials and gen Z is like new employees and we’re seeing it. Anyone who’s probably done hiring in the last two years has seen that employees are not just making decisions based on who has the biggest offer for me.

So I think ultimately people are looking for jobs with more purpose and meaning. They’re looking for more flexibility and they’re looking for employers who will invest in their development over the long term. It’s an absolutely key aspect in terms of driving our internal motivation that is going to keep us at organizations long-term. Do they invest in me? Do they see me here? Do I see myself here long-term? Who do I want to be in this organization? And, and that’s really a switch that we’ve seen, I would say from what we more saw from Gen X and Boomer era, where maybe there wasn’t as much emphasis placed on this.

Tim: Yes. And was that whole saying is the, what if we invest in our people and they leave and then the flip side of it is what if we don’t invest in them and they stay?

Kelsey: Exactly. I heard one leader put it really nicely. He said I want people who want to work with us for them to walk away. And even if they do ever walk away from our company to say that that was the best work experience I ever had and that was the best employer I ever worked for.

And I think that’s okay. Like ultimately, if you have invested so much in an employee and it needs to, this place in their career, where they’re shooting for more or they’re pivoting into another industry, whatever it might be. I don’t think that’s anything to be disappointed about because I think that the net benefits that are going to trickle out into society from something like that there’s way more than gain than the risk of losing people.

And the other thing I always like to encourage leaders to think about too is that even if someone doesn’t feel that they’re in their career, that they always envision themselves in, or maybe it’s not the thing that they’re most passionate about in life, ultimately, people can find a lot of fulfillment and happiness in their jobs by being challenged, appropriately having the right amount of autonomy in their work, having great relationships. Those things are enough to keep people in the jobs long-term outside of just even the work or the purpose itself. Right?

So there are so many things you can do as an organizational leader to create the conditions that would, that would want someone to stay long-term, and development is a very key part of it.

Cost-Effective Leadership Training and Development

Tim: Yes. And you’ve brought up a lot of good points, particularly about the importance of investing in leadership at all phases. But one thing I know comes up, I’ve talked to various leaders in the past with the higher turnover especially the early starts of the career, as they say, people change jobs on average it’s like every two years now or something, and careers every five years. So from a cost-effective standpoint, how do leaders without investing all this money in someone who’s going to leave in 18 months or two years, how does that fit into it in a cost-effective way?

Kelsey: Yes, I think those stats are good, but I would challenge them. Like I would challenge us not to apply it to a broad, to a generation or just to make it a blanket statement, I think about what people want. Because I think ultimately, sometimes I think when we see those shifts happening really frequently, it’s because people aren’t getting what they actually need at the organization they’re at. So I think that the companies that are really going to be able to compete over the long-term are the ones that are offering these opportunities. They stand by their values. They’re progressive, whatever it might be.

But I hear you as well on the investment piece. And I think that’s why we have to balance the investment in employees with their tenure with the experience that they have. And so, for example, at our price point, I would say with Monark, it’s something that’s totally affordable to give to everyone. And it’s almost like a non-starter that this is what we offer to people just to be part of our company. I just think we run into so many problems when we start saying, well, only you have access to this and only you have access to this, and what you’re signaling to people. That’s where to start to see real leadership promise in organizations when it’s like, well, you’ve been tapped on the shoulder for this and you haven’t. What does that say about someone’s motivation? They’re not going to be very inclined to want to stay in the organization if the organization doesn’t see a future for them.

Tim: Yes, absolutely. And I’m glad to hear you say that because yes. Well, there’s always turnover in organizations. The people rarely. Well, there are always reasons people leave, but the biggest number, one reason people leave is because of their leader. And, and as you said earlier, leaders, aren’t being trained until they’ve already been in the role for a certain amount of time.

And, I know personal examples of leaders that have, 50% or more turnover in their department. And then. Are there leaders who have almost zero turnovers in their department and yes?

Well, and I think another, one of the big myths in leadership development too, that we haven’t really talked about, but it’s, it’s like, oh, well this is leadership training.

This isn’t like this isn’t for everyone. Right? The thing about leadership training is, and I like to say this is like leadership training. Good leadership training is just good people. It’s good. It’s good. Soft skills, right? It’s people who communicate well, it’s teaching them about like we said, we talked about empathy and a lot of these softer skills.

So these are skills like for us, we have a D we have a module that kind of, focuses on leading yourself and then being able to lead teams and then eventually leading the organization. And so actually, like all employees can find. Different different pieces and parts that have the module and the training that they, that really resonates with them, whether you’re an individual performer or you’re someone who actually manages a team.

And that’s about an organization and an employer recognizing that no matter who you are in an organization, from The frontline receptionist to the CEO, every single person in your company has influenced and impact, on your stakeholders. And so that’s where, again, we really, we really believe in providing that kind of development to everyone because you never want someone to feel.

Like, I’m not worthy ever. I can’t grow into something better than I am today.

Evidence-Based Leadership ROI

Tim: Well, one of the things I love about your approach is that you’ve said, a number of times are evidence-based. So how do you go about and measure that ROI on leadership? What are some of the metrics?

Kelsey: Yes. So that’s great. So we were talking a little bit about some of the problems with some of the leadership training that’s out there. So often what you might hear with some of these programs is again, like it’s like, well, I felt really inspired. And so the report out on like customer satisfaction metrics. So I enjoyed my time. I feel like I got a lot out of it. The speakers were fantastic. 10 out of 10 life-changing experiences.

We’re not necessarily interested in capturing those kinds of metrics. So again, we’re scientists by training. And so we start everything with pre-measurement and eventually post-measurement. Actually with the goal, not necessarily have seen large jumps in numbers or articulating to our users that yes, like you really want to move the needle by this much. What we want to see and what we coach leaders and teams to support their employees in is just seeing any kind of engagement and development. Right?

Because that’s the idea is everybody’s going to move at their own pace and any kind of development changes in behaviors are good for the organization. So we start with 360 measurements. You go on a learning journey. These are all done micro-lessons, like we said, we’re getting you to engage every day. Really fitting into the flow of the workday instead of again, like asking you to take yourself out of the workplace. We want you in real-time situations. We want you walking into a team meeting thinking about the lesson that you learned five minutes ago that you were able to think about how to apply it to your behavior.

And then what we’re doing after you complete your learning journey, you’re going to be prompted to do another 360 assessment. And so oftentimes that’s where we’ll obviously see the behavior change with some users where if they’ve really focused on one behavior maybe it’s flexibility, maybe it’s stress tolerance. You can actually see the increase in the behavior over time.

And so the modules are really designed to support habit building. We see most users completing them in about six weeks, which is a good timeframe in terms of actually making some behavioral changes because we can’t expect these things to happen overnight. But sometimes people, we’re not always going to expect to see those like large behavioral jumps. But again, we want to see evidence of some progress and that leaders are practicing things and they’re trying to apply these things at work.

Tim: Six weeks is a lot better than a one-hour online webinar, right? In terms of behavior change.

Kelsey: Yes. And so that’s, our goal is really to show those behavioral metrics and it’s not meant to be security. These are all things that every single person in the world can practice and get better in. And we wouldn’t be training on things that are, there’s nothing personality-related, no sort of fixed traits that we know are very difficult to change and hard for people to grow and develop in over their life. So these are behavioral things, things that are very much in a person’s within a person’s control.

Leveraging Both In-Person and Online Training

Tim: Yes. Leadership isn’t that this black box anymore it’s, it’s wide open. It’s like, Hey, these are the traits and skills that when you develop you’ll be a better leader. And how does, obviously everything shifting towards technology, how does this type of technology platform with Monark fit into the bigger scope? Do you see in-person training going out the window or is there a blender? Does it even improve it more? If you have both of them together? What are you seeing in that regard?

Kelsey: That’s a great question. You brought that up earlier in terms of like where we still very much see value for in-person training and sometimes where that in-person training fails is just on the follow on and the accountability part. Or maybe it’s like, it’s that actual behavior change piece, right?

So, leveraging behavior based on a one-time course where you did feel inspired. That’s actually a great way to get people motivated and starting on a path of development. And so we believe there’s tons of value in still leveraging and actually partnering, which is what we’re doing with still in-person leadership providers and also working with teams that use executive coaches, so that executive coaches can enhance how many people they’re coaching with and how deep their coaching is going into the organization.

Ultimately the role that we’re playing there is really a follow-up and accountability partner. It’s kind of akin to the scale if you’re trying to lose weight. Most people are probably stepping on the scale a few times a week and just having that checkpoint of okay, where am I at. And it’s very top of mind and that’s really what we’re trying to create is like this top of mind, are you working on these behaviors? Are you having these conversations? What kind of feedback are you getting from your team? We, totally acknowledge that in-person training will always exist and we’re big fans of the relationships that you can build and certainly the development that can come from meaningful reflection with others. And then hoping that we can really play a strong part in that, like follow on accountability piece.

Tim: Absolutely. The phrase you used earlier that I love so much is the democratizing of leadership. And, I think that is one of the areas that has to change the most. Even from the first day, you come into the organization, you are starting to learn how to become a better leader. Even if you’re not a leader, you might not even see yourself as a leader at that point but if we wait 10 or 15 years until they’re in a leadership position and floundering before we actually give them any training, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And most times they’ve already left by that point.

Kelsey: They’ve left or behaviors become very fixed, hard to change. Once you’ve been doing something for 15 or 20 years, and you’ve already been promoted to a position of competence or of power, why would you be changing your behaviors at that point? So there’s a lot of like, there are so many reasons why we need to change the narrative around who gets training how early it’s being delivered, and kind of the value and the message that we’re sending to those people who get it.

Tim: And yes, another point too is that if someone does stay and they do get promoted into leadership positions, they might not have left, but they might have been the catalyst for many other people leaving if they do not prefer are showing really good leadership skills.

Kelsey: Yes, exactly. And it’s hard, it’s hard for organizations to obviously track and account for that over time. But you can bet that the cost of a bad leader has cost an organization lots over time.

The Biggest Barrier to Implementing Leadership Training

Tim: So what would you say is the biggest barrier for companies to implement the style of leadership right now. What’s the biggest excuse? Sorry,

Kelsey: implementing the leadership training itself?

Tim: Yes. What’s the biggest barrier to the implementation?

Kelsey: I think the biggest one is just really probably twofold. It’s one ensuring that we’re in the right organizations with the right culture and values. So ultimately supported by the right leadership at the top. If a leader is strictly bringing in a tool like ours to use in performance management and to put people on a spectrum and say, Hey, we all need to be at this level at these numbers, and I’m going to put you on this program and I need to see you improve in six weeks. A platform like ours is not going to be used in the way that it’s intended. It’s going to be weaponized. People are going to start to hack it. We’re going to lose that real sense of like providing people with open and transparent feedback. So that’s a problem. So number one, we have to be in the right environments, right?

Tim: The equivalent of putting the pedometer on your dog and letting your dog run around the neighborhood.

Kelsey: And then secondly, we need to be in organizations where there’s we still need it, there’s a learning curve around the adoption. Right? And so, what kinds of conversations are leaders having with their teams or individuals on their team once they’re using the Monark app.

Those are some of the ways that we still need to become embedded into the organization. Just to really change the culture around how you view leadership training, right? So these things are ongoing conversations, and if you lead a team, your job is to be supporting the growth and development of other people. That is a requirement of your job. And some leaders today wouldn’t look at as being an aspect of their job, right?

So there’s just a little bit of, I think, really like learning and changing the narrative around how leadership development is delivered and ensuring that we as leaders take ownership over how we’re training it in the organization.

Tim: Yes, absolutely. And you mentioned that earlier, the command and control leadership style isn’t probably seeing the benefits of developing other leaders. And so, until that mindset shifts, the organization is going to continue falling behind in terms of how they’re attracting talent and the people that decide to stay in the organization.

Kelsey: Yes. Like we had one leader tell us that in an engagement that we worked with them on that they said their job on their team was not to give feedback. If their employees were not asking for feedback, then that’s on them. So, that’s the problem, like feedback is a two-way street. And so, there are a lot of barriers I think, to overcome when we’re talking about not just sending people away and expecting that they come back transformed. We have to really build in ways to make this all very habitual. And frankly, just part of our modern workforce.

Tim: Absolutely. yes. And, the amount of changes that happened over the last two years is mind-blowing. And, I think that flywheel has been put in motion and the changes over the next few years are going to be just as immense. That’s my thought, but I don’t know.

Kelsey: No, I think we have an unprecedented opportunity right now. I think as leaders in the organizations to really reinvent and create workplaces from scratch when it comes to culture and collaboration and hybrid. Like there’s just so much that we get to reset and say, and even for organizations, they’re saying, okay, like we’re all coming back to the office now.

This is a huge opportunity for leaders to think differently about maybe what we did in the last 10 years isn’t how we have to lead or structure our organization going forward.

Tim: Yes. Love how you said that. The optimist in me gets excited about that. And I want to see that happen. It’s been in desperate need of happening, particularly at the senior levels in organizations, and I am really excited to see that change happen particularly as platforms like Monark are out, and there are so many great changes happening in just the workplace in general. Whether it’s communication, leadership, employee learning, and development, there are just so many great changes and I’m happy to see Monark as part of that.

Key Takeaways

Tim: Before we wrap up, what if people only take one thing away from the conversation today? What what’s the one thing you hope they walk away with?

Kelsey: Well, that’s a good question. Well, I’ll come back to you. It sounds good. I’m not going to play by your rules. So one would be that question, if you are currently offering some sort of leadership training in your organization, I would really ask you to reflect on how you’re getting the value out of it. And if it’s employees that are getting access to it, how do the employees are getting value out of it?

Really ask yourself that, beyond will people like it and they say good things where I know they’re doing it so I can confirm that they’re doing it. Like let’s really start moving the needle on what’s the actual value add and how do we know that people are actually developing in their careers.

And then my second thing would just be to leave people really with the challenge for which is what I just kind of what we just ended on, which is to think about how we can use COVID and this new hybrid workforce, that everybody is being forced to adopt, frankly. How can we use this as an opportunity to get rid of the things that we know so many people in the world hate about work? And really use it as an opportunity to build up the workplace and use it as something that inspires and engages us in our personal life.

What if going to the office was something that we all look forward to every day? I think one of the saddest things in the world is people waking up on a Monday morning feeling like, oh my God, here we go again. Like that is the vast majority of people, right, in the working world. And so, I just think the challenge to leaders is how can you make the experience in the workplace so good and so irresistible that people will just want to be there and show up for you every day?

Tim: Yes. Well said I’ve yet to meet a person that willfully left a job where they had a great leader. They had a great team and they were making a positive impact in their role and doing their best work. It doesn’t happen.

Kelsey: Those are pretty happy people.

Tim: Yes, exactly. And that, yes. I’m so excited to see where the future goes. And thank you so much for joining me today, Kelsey, and where can people find you?

Kelsey: So people can find Monark on LinkedIn. We also have a Twitter account where we share a lot of stats and research that we’re doing. Soon to be launched new websites. So stay tuned for that. And then personally, just I’m pretty active on Twitter as well. LinkedIn. Ye, Kelsey Hahn.

Tim: Awesome. I will post those links in the show notes and best of luck with the new business. And I’m so excited to see where you take it. Thank you again.

Kelsey: Thanks for having me.



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