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Conscient Leaders: Interview with Dana Pauley

Conscient Leaders: Interview with Dana Pauley

In our latest Conscient Leaders interview, we talk with Dana Pauley, Interim Executive Director of Leadership Montgomery, about how she’s leading her organization through change—and making time for her family and herself.

Read the full transcipt below.

Hannah:
Good afternoon. This is Hannah Romick with Conscient Strategies, and this is another episode of our Conscient Leaders series. I’m joined today by my colleague, Dana Pauley , who is the interim CEO at Leadership Montgomery. And I am super excited to have a really fun conversation about all things leadership in the world today. Dana, I’d love for you to take a minute to just introduce a little bit about yourself and Leadership Montgomery.

Dana:
Yes. Thank you, Hannah, for this opportunity. I’m thrilled to be here, talking with you today. So I’ll start by talking about Leadership Montgomery. We are a community organization that was founded in the eighties in response to a need for more connected, civic minded leaders. We’re, we’re probably most well-known for our leadership programs. And we currently have three of those that kind of run the span of your adult life. So we have an emerging leaders program for mid-level professionals who are on the rise in their career. So those that are, you know, fast track for those C-suite positions. We have our core program, which is for established leaders. And then when we have our senior leadership program, which is the only program we currently have with age focus, and it’s for participants who are 55 and older, and it’s a mix of people who are working and retired. Outside of our leadership programs, we have a corporate volunteer council, which works with companies to either start or grow structured employee volunteer programs. And then we have our newest addition, our body of work in race equity. So we have a long-term program, the real inclusion program, which works with companies to start to think about making an action plan to change their organization so that they’re operating from a race equity lens. And then we have a suite of workshops that kind of meet a person no matter where they’re at in thinking about race and racism, and how they implement some of those changes into their life. Personally, outside of work, I don’t know what that means these days and times, but, I’m a wife, I’m a mom. I’m engaged in the community. I’m happily involved with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County as their board chair. I try to volunteer as often as possible. I don’t make enough time to do things for myself, but when I do, I like to exercise and I like to be outside.

Hannah:
Here we are, it’s 2020, everybody is remarking about what a year it has been. There has been so much between the pandemic and George Floyd and the rise of Black Lives Matter, and the election campaign, not to mention so many other things. One of the great things that’s happened is you’ve just been named the interim director of Leadership Montgomery, and I’d love to talk a little bit and hear how you’re rising to this new position and how you’re taking your team through such turbulent times.

Dana:
Remembering that people, you know, whether they really like to, or not, they bring their whole selves into their work environment. And just checking in with everyone to make sure that they’re handling what’s going on in their personal life. And that they’re, you know, they feel comfortable with their workloads right now. They feel fulfilled in the jobs that they’re doing, because we’ve made a lot of changes this year in response to the pandemic and everybody was wonderful and “I’ll do whatever it takes to get it done.” But you always have to check in with anybody who says, “I’ll do whatever it takes,” because those are the people that might not take the time to take a breath. So I ask people to take a breath. I ask people to remember that the work that we do is wonderful, the community is behind us. But, but we can’t do it if you’re tired, or if you’re not, you know, feeling great about what you have going on in your personal life. So those constant check-ins are important.

Hannah:
That’s great. Do you do them one-on-ones or do you do them in a team setting?

Dana:
A mix of both. I check in with people one-on-one as often as I can, and then we do a weekly staff meeting on Mondays and try to make sure that it’s not just a, “this is what I have coming up this week,” but some of that higher level conversation of “these are the areas of opportunities that I see for us moving forward,” because you want people to understand that it’s a collaboration. Although you might be directly responsible for one thing, you have a greater role within the organization. So making sure that your colleagues understand your vision, because I think every employee should have a vision for their work. That helps speed the success of what’s going on. So if you’re able to communicate that vision, and check in with each other, it just makes it a lot better for collaboration.

Dana:
I like to say we’re all “successfully struggling” and I don’t know that that’s a bad thing right now. You know, we’ve all been dealt some raw hands. You know, part of what the leadership programs accomplish is they’re about stripping away who you have to be at work and allowing you to have a full day to think about yourself, to think about your impact in the community and to expand your network either on a personal level or a professional level. So when you provide an environment where people feel comfortable being vulnerable, they can talk through the challenges that they’re seeing. So we have been doing a great job of keeping people connected and keeping them comfortable talking about what they’re going through.

Hannah:
And would you recommend to leaders around the United States or even the world, that that becomes like the central element of their leadership?

Dana:
I think communication is key. I think that, you know, you want to try and stay as positive as possible, but it’s okay to say, “I’m concerned. These are the things that are weighing on me right now. I’m so glad that I have you here with me in this process, because you know, it makes it a little bit easier to get through things.” I actually just said that to somebody a couple of hours ago on a call with them. I said, “you know, I’m so grateful to have you during this transition period.”

Hannah:
And are you finding time? One of the things that you and I have talked about in the past is the “taking care of self.” Help me, help the world, understand what may or may not be getting in the way of you being able to do that.

Dana:
So I will say that one of the things that I did, not too long ago, was I went and I got a massage for the first time. And it was wonderful. I didn’t realize I had been clenching my teeth while I was sleeping. And, you know, I had my shoulders hunched, just because I had a lot on my mind. I try to make sure I have daily conversation with my husband, which most people don’t think that it’s difficult, but when you’re both really busy and you have children, you realize, “Oh, it’s been the entire day. And we haven’t had the chance to connect.” My motto and my rule for this year is, when I think of somebody, I reach out to them. So keeping those, yeah, thank you. Um, keeping those connections has been pretty important, um, for, for my care. And I think the biggest thing is allowing myself the opportunity to say, “no.””No, I’m not going to do that. And it’s okay that I’m not going to do that.”

Hannah:
One last question for you before we go to close. I’d love to know what’s something you’re doing different in the last few months. Aside from the fact that you have an expanded role, but as a result of COVID and just life in 2020, what’s something that you’ve just shifted and are doing completely different?

Dana:
Trying to make sure that I think about the future in two parts. And let me explain that. So there’s the future of what we would have expected to happen. Those things that we had some control over. And then there’s the future of complete unknown. So I have to constantly think about both paths so that I can plan accordingly. There was conversation of my kids going back to school at one point, and that has kind of quieted. So you have to, you have to wonder, are they ever going back to school? What does that look like? So constantly operating in two lanes, which I realize sounds exhausting, but I think it actually is a little bit more freeing for me because I think more broadly.

Hannah:
Yeah. I could see that. And the like, “okay, here are the things that I have control over and I can make plans accordingly. And here all the other things that I might be able to influence one way or the other, but I have no control over. And so therefore let’s just acknowledge that and move on.” Thank you. This has been really fun. I really appreciat it. There were some great nuggets of wisdom in there that I’m excited for the world to hear, and for us to socialize to the greater good about leadership.

Dana:
Thank you.

 

About Leadership Montgomery:

Leadership Montgomery is advancing Montgomery County through a network of more than 2,500 public, private and nonprofit leaders who share a commitment to making meaningful changes for a thriving community. Celebrating 30 years of excellence, Leadership Montgomery educates, inspires, convenes and connects leaders through programs supported by a hands-on learning curriculum and service-based programs. Our graduates emerge better connected to people, organizations, and volunteer opportunities through improved understanding, services and relationships. To learn more, please visit leadershipmontgomerymd.org.

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Conscient Leaders: Interview with Arun Mohan

Conscient Leaders: Interview with Arun Mohan

In our latest Conscient Leaders interview, we talk with Arun Mohan, CEO of Radix Health, about pivoting a growing organization, evolving as a leader, and building resilience during a time when COVID-19 has changed everything.

Read the full transcipt below.

Hannah:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Conscient Leadership. We’re excited to have my friend Arun Mohan with us today. He is the CEO of Radix Health. Arun, why don’t you take a minute and tell us a little bit about Radix and why you started.

Arun:
Yeah. Happy to. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me. We are a technology company that tries to make it easier for people to see their doctors. So in a lot of places, it could take you weeks to get an appointment. At the same time, there’s a ton of appointment availability that exists. And so we started the company as a way to figure out how do you bridge supply and demand and make it easier, reduce plays in care, make that whole experience more modern than it currently is. And so we work with about 7,000 or so providers around the country, I think last count we’re about 34 States, a lot of medium to large size medical groups, think like big specialty groups, hospitals, health systems, that kind of stuff. And we have about a hundred folks who work for us across two offices, one here in Atlanta, and then one in Pune, India.

Hannah:
One of my questions, as I was thinking about our conversation was what have you done to pivot and or to focus?

Arun:
I think we’re at the stage that we’re in, what happens very naturally is you just kind of do, so you see a problem, you just respond. And I think what we realized as part of all this is that in order to, to move, you know, sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. There’s a difference between strategic speed and operational speed, right? And so I think historically we’ve often confused the two and, you know, especially in a time where you don’t have people together, you don’t have that sort of shared understanding. That sort of sometimes develops naturally when you put people in the same room together, you have to be much more explicit around, Hey, here’s what I want to do. Here’s the plan. Here’s how I’m gonna get there. You actually have to slow down and focus on a few key things. And that means you’re just going to have to let some fires burn. Like some things have to, you know, you can’t go out and tackle 20 different things. Something is not going to be done, right. Or you’re going to lose people along the way. And so, you know, the challenge for me as a leader and for all our team really is, how do you determine, what do you give up? And then as a leader, how do you push your team just to say, “Hey, listen, it’s okay to give these things up. And in fact, you have to give this up. You cannot do this.” Because it’s sometimes to your own detriment.

Hannah:
One of the things that we at Conscient Strategies see a lot with companies of your size is that leadership needs to evolve and continue to shift. And I’m curious how you’re thinking about the next stage of your company’s growth and what that means for you and your own leadership progression.

Arun:
Yeah. That’s a great point around how do you actually scale it? Just like you scale your business. You’ve got to scale leadership. You know, as we think about, as I think about scaling at the end of the day, it’s like, how do you actually empower your team to do their work? And so it’s gone from me doing a lot of the heavy lifting day to day to saying, “Hey, here’s where we want to go.” And then actually just getting out of the way. So I’ll give you one really concrete example is around hiring. So when we first came in, I said, “Hey, all right, I want to interview the first hundred people who come and work for us.” Because I felt like it was important for me to understand who they were and make sure they were good culture fits. And what I realized in the last three months is that actually gets in the way of a lot of stuff. And so my job as a leader is to trust that the folks working around me are moving in the same direction that I am. Uh, they have the same goal and they’re going to be, they might get there a little bit differently, and they should, I should empower them to actually make those decisions themselves. I’m going to trust that the team is as good as I am or probably better in terms of how they think about who they bring on a team.

Hannah:
I often work with organizations and have a conversation that “the people on your team are gonna make a decision every single minute.” So what are the frameworks? What are the rules of the road? So that everybody understands like here are the hard lines and then here’s the like soft dotted line of decision making.

Hannah:
Resilience is certainly a term that’s getting a lot of play these days. Um, and I think people are defining it a little bit differently than others. And I would love, just on a broader, like, what does that word even mean to you? And how are you using that and thinking about that, as you think about the future?

Arun:
As a company, you know, the question has been, there’s so much change happening and people are just exhausted with it. They’ve just been absolutely fatigued by it. And some of that’s good change. Some of it’s not good change. And the question is, how do we make people able to function effectively despite all that? And so what we ended up doing was number one, we said, “Hey, we have to be in a position where we’re just very much over communicating.” And so we started doing weekly virtual town halls. We started doing weekly emails. We started, doing smaller group sessions where we would bring people together and talk about things, sort of small things. But it was just this idea that, “Hey, listen, you’re not alone. And here’s how we’re thinking about it. We’re giving you everything that we know about how the business operates, you’re gonna know. And that way you’ll feel like you’re part of that decision making process. And that you can predict, you can start to predict what you think will happen next.” And I’m one of these extroverts, which is probably, you know, not surprising to many people. And so it has been, you know, I think number one, not being in the office, not having that energy, has been challenging. So you know, I was very intentional about putting together a peer group of other CEOs who I felt would understand some of what I’ve been going through, spent a lot of time exercising and you know physically getting stronger, which makes one more resilient too. So the other thing I started doing was I started doing walking meetings with my core exec team. So COO, my cofounders, we’d do walking meetings. We literally met like three times a week and we’d walk for an hour. So we got a lot of steps in, and that also satisfied some of that need for being around people. And then more recently, what I started doing is I started coming into the office just as a way to get out of the house and have more transition. There are other people who feel very similarly to me, they have to get out of the house, they have to have that transition. They actually have to get dressed up. And it feels good to do that. And it feels normal to do that.

Hannah:
Thank you so much for your time. I know that the people who hang out with us on the internet will really appreciate some of your wisdom. And I look forward to hearing how Radix progresses over the next quarter and over the next few years.

 

About Radix Health:

Radix Health is a technology company that believes that patient experience starts with patient access. Our data-driven solutions align provider supply with patient demand, maximizing existing capacity and reducing delays in care. We help leading medical groups to optimize every step of a patient’s appointment journey – from alerting patients to needed care, helping them find the right provider, scheduling an appointment across multiple channels, and engaging with patients until the day of their visit. We take the busy work out of getting patients in the door so you can focus on the hard work of keeping them healthy. To learn more, please visit www.radixhealth.com.

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Conscient Leaders: Interview with Al Johnson and Broderick Young

Conscient Leaders: Interview with Al Johnson and Broderick Young

We spoke with Broderick Young and Al Johnson, wealth management experts and founders of Reveal Wealth, about what it takes to be a better business leader in today’s world. Three things to focus on, they say: environment, empathy, and equity.

Read the full transcipt below.

Al: 
To leaders out there: I would say that they need to strive to make their environment the most comfortable environment and positive environment that they can. I heard a quote and Brod just brought it to my mind that said, “your environment is more important than your heritage.” As we look at and get a broader, or maybe even a better sense of the disparities, the gaps, the inequality that surrounds individuals in this country, I think it’s vitally important that leaders make sure that the environment that they create is one of exposure, is one of positivity, and one, one of hope for their, for their people. If they really want to make a difference, we can, you know, start there.

Broderick:
In a leadership role, I think it’s important to listen. These are people’s experiences. And recognizing that maybe you don’t know, and the reality that you did not know it, but there’s a segment of America that has had no choice but to know it. Right? They had to know this. This is like, when we talk about, as Al says, heritage and environment, this is not just their heritage, this has structured their environment right now. And not that demonizing anyone to say that, “Oh, it’s your fault that this happened.” But recognizing that, no, this is a person’s reality. This is affecting their current situation. And if you can do something at this point to help make that better, not a handout or, or anything, but can you help position them in a place where they can make that situation better? I think as a leader, that’s something you should consider doing.

Hannah: 
Yeah there’s no question, listening to your people. Everybody’s different, right? As a leader, part of your job is to figure out what makes different people tick and what are the different things that different people need to drive them to help you succeed what you’re trying to succeed as an organization. And it is, it takes a lot of listening. It takes a lot of back and forth, because you’re not necessarily gonna get it right on the first go, and recognize that there are so many people who may have grown up in constructs and structures that didn’t allow them to feel safe, to voice what may be getting in the way. So we’re working real hard to create that listening, and that space for listening and then taking action is one of the best things you can do right now.

Hannah: 
I’d love to hear from your perspective, how does the intersection of wealth management and corporate diversity really come to bear and what are some things that corporations could be doing to really drive that inclusion forward?

Broderick: 
I would, I would challenge people to really think, especially those leaders out there, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, I focus more on equity and productivity. 50 to 60% of employees spend at least three hours a week worried about their finances. 71% of them say that their financial situation worry impacts their daily workday. Right? You have a lot of individuals who are first generation grads, first generation people actually making good money, but don’t really know what to do with it, because of the reality that I don’t have the uncle that I can borrow $10,000 from. My mom, God bless her, but I can’t call her up and say, “Hey mom, I need $25,000 because X, Y, Z happened.” So there’s little room for me to make errors with what it is I’m doing and how I’m planning. Those nuances need to be taken into consideration and the education that employers can help give to their employees to mitigate those stresses would be invaluable.

Al: 
One of the things that leaders and employers can do to help even that playing field, so to speak, to make things equitable as much as they can is make the resources available. Right? So if you know a Broderick or, you know, someone else, like he said in a not as good of situation, did not have the financial knowledge or the financial wellness in order to make the proper decisions to help close said wealth gap or racial wealth gap that we’re, that we’re speaking of as an added benefit to the corporation, to their employees, maybe they could bring in a Reveal Wealth, right? So we can bring about diversity and inclusion through the utilization of financial literacy.

 

About Reveal Wealth:

Reveal Wealth, is a Maryland-based wealth management and financial planning firm. Their mission is to Reveal the strategies and financial tools that have been utilized throughout history to protect, accumulate, and ultimately distribute wealth. Learn more at werevealwealth.com.

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