Leaders are always expected to be the most knowledgeable people in any given organization. 

This creates a burden of expectation that cause many managers to overstep their level of expertise.  Certified Executive Coach Karmen Masson steps in to help us rectify these pitfalls with tips on how to avoid the trap of titles.

In episode #084 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast, we cover:

  • Why leadership is about more than expertise and knowledge
  • The downfall of prejudging before gathering information
  • Dealing with the burden of expectations
  • Using a learner’s mindset instead of a judger’s mindset
  • Listening beyond the words and asking powerful questions

Karmen Masson

Karmen Masson - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Karmen Masson is a Certified Executive Coach and leadership consultant. Her first career was as a lawyer, working in private and then in government practice where she took on senior management and executive roles. She has led large teams across diverse regions, and has been an active leader in the broader community, teaching law, facilitating leadership skill-development programs, and founding and developing a successful charitable organization. Her professional and leadership experience, combined with her passion for supporting and championing others, makes her the ideal coach for leaders who work in demanding environments, have difficult issues, and want to drive change and meaningful results.     

You Can get in touch with Karmen at http://karmenmasson.com/

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach, with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. Your listening to the Meeting Leadership podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Podcast content starts here!

Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppherd and I just want to say honestly, thank you so much for being here. Thanks for choosing the Meeting Leadership podcast as a place that you trust to build your leadership skills, to learn how to run great meetings because you know if you do that, you’re going to actually have an impact on your team, on your entire organization, and you can connect the dots and see how your meetings flow through to helping you serve your customers and your community at the highest possible level.

00:58 – Why should I stop being a know-it-all leader?

Gordon Sheppard: It is really great to have you here and take a moment to consider this. Have you ever been in a leadership situation where you gave an answer even though you didn’t have all the information but you felt like you had to because you’re the one with the title, you’re the one who sort of at the front of the room, that kind of thing. Well, if that’s the case and you sort of have a bit of humility around the fact that you’d like to learn maybe a different way to do things, you’re going to get a lot from today’s episode because today the show is called Why You Should Stop Being A Know It All Leader, and to help us explore this valuable topic, we are bringing in an expert. Her name is Karmen Masson.

01:26 – Welcome, Karmen Masson!

Gordon Sheppard: Now Karmen is a professional coach. She helps professionals across industries to get really to the top of their game. She’s also had a great legal career and so many more experiences in leadership roles and she started a nonprofit called suit yourself and that’s the type of nonprofit where people that maybe don’t have the means are able to go in there, get a business suit, and actually then go be successful in an interview or maybe start their first job. This is the kind of work that she does. This is the kind of person that she is and I’m not going to keep you back any longer. Here’s the wonderful interview with Karmen Masson.

Gordon Sheppard: Karmen Masson, welcome to the show. It is great to have you here.

Karmen Masson: Thank you, Gord.

Gordon Sheppard: It was so fun to do the homework on learning about all the different phases of your adult career time, how many different ways you’ve given back, not only professionally but in the nonprofit world as well. I know I’m thrilled to have you here.

02:26 – Introductions – Karmen’s back story

Gordon Sheppard: When you introduce yourself to people, what do you want them to know?

Karmen Masson: I do want them to know that I have a back story. I started out my career as a professional, as a lawyer, and it was a long rewarding and productive career, but things changed over time and I had a lot of learnings along the way that had brought me to where I am now.

Gordon Sheppard: Learnings along the way. At 52 myself, I wish I couldn’t take three hours of your time and tell you all the sort of wounds and learnings and good things that go along with it. Funny that combo works really well into what you’re doing now in the coaching area and that’s why we’ve got you on today because we’re going to be talking about why you should stop being a know it all leader.

03:17 – Karmen’s take – leadership is about more than expertise and knowledge

Gordon Sheppard: Now this is a great topic. What’s the first thing that you want people to know about it?

Karmen Masson: I really, really want people to know, first of all that I get it. So many of us come into these leadership roles thinking that, wow, we come in with an expertise or a knowledge base and all these great skills and training that we’ve acquired over years of experience and education, and then when we get into leadership, things change a little bit and having all of that technical expertise and substantive knowledge, while it’s extremely helpful and useful at times, leadership is about a lot more than that expertise and knowledge.

04:00 – The trap of titles

Gordon Sheppard: Well, I think a lot of people often get trapped in a title. Would you agree with that?

Karmen Masson: I’ve been there quite a few times, Gord.

Gordon Sheppard: It is one of those things where you know you get that fancy title. I’ve actually been there myself, when I was running a team of nine people and I got that title early on. Honestly, it went straight to my head and I didn’t have that luxury of this kind of interaction say with a coach to get that self reflection that you’re able to give people because this kind of thing when you’re a know it all, when you’re in that leadership role and you think you have to have the answers, that can actually be harmful.

Karmen Masson: Absolutely. We start making assumptions based on things that we think we already know or that we think that we should know and because of that, those assumptions that we make, we end up making decisions and often prejudging before we have really useful good information that we should be getting from the folks, that teams, that we’re working with.

04:32 – Prejudging without all the information

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and isn’t it ironic that you would say prejudging given your legal background and isn’t that really so much what happens in the legal profession? You even if you don’t know, you kind of seem like you do know. Has that been your experience?

05:10 – The burden of expectations

Karmen Masson: Absolutely. It’s an expectation that when you walk into a meeting with a client or you walk into a courtroom, you know your stuff. That’s what you’re hired for. That’s what you get paid for and that’s what the expectation is and it’s a heavy burden that not only lawyers, but so many professionals and experts in all sorts of fields, really carry around with them. It’s a heavy weight thinking that you need to know it all well.

05:43 – Using a learner’s mindset versus a judger’s mindset

Gordon Sheppard: Certainly we can understand the basic premise that you’ve laid down. What can leaders do about it from your perspective?

Karmen Masson: The beginning point that I would suggest is starting with adopting what I, and many others, have termed as a learners mindset and that really Gord, is about starting to think about what is it that we don’t know and being comfortable and okay with not knowing all of the answers and all of the solutions and all of the steps that it’s going to take us to be successful and achieve the results that we really want.

07:17 – An example of the learner’s mindset in action

Karmen Masson: If I compare that learner’s mindset with the typical mindset that many of us have come into leadership knowing and thinking that there was an expectation of which I would call more a judger’s mindset.

Gordon Sheppard: Well and this really speaks to what I’m going to call 21st century leadership. This is a time when female leadership is just starting to come into its own and I say female and male sort of regrettably, because I wish it was 500 years from now and we just were in like a Star Trek episode where everybody got along, but this learner’s mindset piece that you’re talking about really is something where in the 21st century we’re seeing it now from influence from female leaders. I saw a male comedian who used to be sort of this real macho guy, but now he’s able to sort of admit that that wasn’t the right approach for all the frustration or anger that he used to get out from his perspective. I think this learner’s mindset is something that’s really, really valuable.

Gordon Sheppard: How can somebody practice it in a leadership moment? Can you give me an example?

Karmen Masson: One example that I can think of, which was a turning point in my leadership experience was I was faced with a challenge of some really heavy fiscal restraints, and I was told I need to have a plan for a major cutback within literally hours and in a gender’s type mindset, I would have the answers. I would already know what the plan is or I would take moments to figure it out and present my plan and to start directing people to get the job done.

Karmen Masson: Now compare that with a learner’s mindset and saying number one, it’s okay not to know what the answer or the best move is to deal with this challenge and then saying, how can I learn more and questioning and being curious about this uncomfortable place of unknown and then thinking, okay, how can I learn more? Who can I tap into to help me learn more about this? And that’s where that linkage from, Hey, it’s just me all alone trying to solve this problem and be a great leader; to, hey, who can I connect with on my team? Who are the folks that can help me and support me? But also, what to contribute to the success of our organization?

09:17 – Listening beyond words and understanding your colleague’s challenges

Karmen Masson: So it’s that starting with yourself, being okay with things, and then being curious and asking, how can I learn more about the issues, the challenges and the steps and the plan? How this will actually unroll.

Gordon Sheppard: Hearing your experience in the trenches and not even knowing exactly what the outcome from that moment was, it sounds like when you’re coaching now, you’re able to really help people get there. What are some of the other skills that you’d like to add into their tool bag? Again, to get into a learner’s mindset.

Karmen Masson: Two of the top scales that I share with my clients and that they have found great success in. Firstly, listening, and this isn’t just the typical, I hear your words, I hear your suggestions. Okay, let’s go.

Karmen Masson: The kind of listening that I’m going to describe is different. It goes beyond the words. It goes beyond, this is technically what I think needs to be done, but digging deeper and listening to not only maybe the folks that I’m tapping into for some great ideas, but also challenging in a positive way, them to listen deeper to their teams, to their people on the ground, to find out what are the challenges that they’re experiencing and in something like a fiscal constraint, what are the challenges that they’re going to face moving forward with this?

Karmen Masson: Because the more that we can actually hear what is really on people’s minds, what they’re really scared of, what they really fear, it’s then that those challenges will become something that we can work with, and work through, and work together to solve, right from the beginning, rather than dumping them with a bunch of ideas, and suggestions, and plans later on and expecting them to just pick up and run with it.

Karmen Masson: So that first skill is really the importance of listening.

Gordon Sheppard: And the importance of listening would lead to really the opportunity to ask great questions.

10:54 – The most valuable skill according to Karmen: Asking the powerful questions

Karmen Masson: Absolutely. You got it. That’s the most key valuable skill that I can impart on my clients and that in my own experience, has really turned around my leadership. That’s asking really powerful questions and powerful questions with something that’s so simple.

Karmen Masson: Powerful questions are open ended and they usually start with one of two words. What or how. It’s as simple as that and by using those simple what or how words to start a conversation off or to engage someone to think about what are your ideas about how to approach this tough situation, it’s then that we can help to really engage with people and explore with them and show that we’re really open to hearing out their suggestions rather than it being a closed question that’s kind of a yes or no answer and moves things along quickly the way that we want.

Gordon Sheppard: I love your tone of voice as you’re mentioning that last thing because that’s such a fallback for no at all leaders. It is question but it’s not really a question. It’s kind of a statement and you kind of bully your way through but we can hear how limiting that is because again, they’re not exploring the scope of the situation and really coming up with the best combined outcome.

12:13 – Recap of key concepts

Gordon Sheppard: I just want to take a moment to recap some of the key concepts. These are just hyper valuable. I know any leader listening to this is going to get a lot from it.

Gordon Sheppard: The first thing that I heard was don’t get trapped in your own title. Don’t think you have to know it all. Don’t prejudge. Have a learner’s mindset and then the listening thing that I just can’t get enough of that you said is go beyond the words. I think that is just so wise and then this will allow you to bring up these great questions.

Gordon Sheppard: Karmen, what a wonderful combination. Is there anything you kind of want to help put a bow on this with as a last thought?

Karmen Masson: I think the bow is believe in the capability of your teams and the people that you’re working with because if you believe that they are capable as much as you are, all of a sudden the answers to these really tough challenges will become not only clear but better than what you would have come up with on your own.

13:07 – Get in touch with Karmen Masson – http://www.karmenmasson.com

Gordon Sheppard: That is absolutely outstanding. Karmen, I really appreciate that you being here. If people want to get ihttp://karmenmassan.com​karmenmassan.com​​​n touch to learhttp://karmenmassan.comkarmenmassan.comn more from you, what’s the best way to do that?

Karmen Masson: Check out my website at karmenmassan.com.

Gordon Sheppard: I really appreciate that you are here. Thanks for being on the show.

Karmen Masson: Thanks so much for having me, Gord.

Gordon Sheppard: You know, there was so many great takeaways when I did that interview. The biggest ones for me as a leader, don’t prejudge. Have a learner’s mindset. What a gift to yourself or to anybody and finally the real blockbuster for me is listen and when you’re listening, listen beyond words. That is such a great way to phrase that, it’s a great way to think about it and it’s the kind of thing that you can take action on right away in your next meeting.

13:53 – More from Karmen Masson – MLP 091 – MLP 107

Gordon Sheppard: If you’ve enjoyed listening to Karmen as much as I enjoyed interviewing her, then check out Episode 91 on the podcast. It’s called What Stops Leaders From Speaking Up and What To Do About It. And again, Karmen’s back on the show to share her expertise about that and then, in Episode 107, Karmen shares one of her best inspiring leadership stories and we can all learn a lot from that. So I hope you check that one out by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/107.

14:23 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy

Gordon Sheppard: I am also proud to say that this episode of the Meeting Leadership podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now if you and your team are looking for really good live training options, really solid online training options so you can build your leadership skills and learn how to run outstanding meetings, then visit meetingleadershipinc.com/academy.

Gordon Sheppard: Just as a reminder, if you haven’t hit the subscribe button yet, please do. Then if you get a chance, leave a rating, leave a review, we’ll read it and we’ll react to it and we’ll use it to build even more great content on the podcast.

Gordon Sheppard: As always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership podcast.

15:04 – Podcast Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader and don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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