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Taking Risks and Thinking Big with Lacey Leone McLaughlin

During this woman-owned spotlight, I had the opportunity to sit down with the incredible powerhouse that is Lacey Leone McLaughlin. Lacey Leone McLaughlin is an executive coach and talent management professional with demonstrated experience in designing and delivering cutting-edge consulting services to Global/Fortune 100, midsized and entrepreneurial-led start-up companies. She is the President of LLM Consulting Group, Inc. which focuses on executive coaching, talent management, performance management, and leadership development, and is also the Co-Founder of Business inSITE Group. Lacey has almost 20 years of experience helping leaders deliver business results by focusing on clearly identified personal and organizational goals. During today's interview, we talked about how Lacey empowers leaders and learn her critical keys to success and confidence.

Lacey Leone LLM Coaching

Thanks for sitting down with Confidence Daily! Tell us about what you do.

Executive coaches help leaders maximize their work performance, lead people, create culture and how they show up. We go into organizations and partner with leaders to develop the necessary skills to drive workplace performance.

How do you cultivate confidence?

The first step to cultivating confidence is being aware. Check how others perceive you. From there, ask yourself what you’re trying to communicate about yourself. Bridging the gap between what you want to portray and how you’re perceived.

What does being a woman-owned business mean to you?

Twenty years ago in the leadership coaching space, it was mostly men. Knowing I have survived and thrived feels pretty good, and it’s exciting to influence women and others in the same way.

What was your business origin story?

When I worked at The University of Southern California (USC), I had the opportunity to hold a job that was mostly held by academics. Academics have some time away from research and teaching. Because I negotiated well, I was able to have 30 percent of my time to do something else. I dedicated this time to starting a consulting firm.

Okay, coming up with a great idea and actually taking steps to become an entrepreneur and launch your company are two very different things. How did you know it was time to start?

I knew it was time to launch my consulting practice because the business need was so clear. At the time, I was working in academia, and I noticed that most leaders received coaching–if they received coaching at all–from big consulting firms that offered a staid, one-size-fits-all model. There was clearly a need to push leaders forward, and for me to do this well, I needed the flexibility to create coaching that was customized to the needs of the leader. And that’s what we’ve done. Our approach is unique because we’re accountable to ourselves and the leaders we work with. It’s not about contracts. It’s not about billable hours. It’s about impact.

Sometimes entrepreneurship can be a hard and isolating journey. How do you stay confident along the way?

A leader is only as good as her team. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you have to invest in your people, trust them, and work on their growth. If you aren’t working with people you respect and believe in, you won’t succeed. Our business revolves around relationships, and I used to own every relationship. For my team–and, therefore, the business–to grow, I’ve had to allow my people to develop relationships. Trusting them and pushing their growth has been rewarding for both the business and myself.

If you had to list three traits or attributes that have been pivotal for your success, what would they be?

My biggest attribute is that I have grit. When I meet an obstacle, I get up and keep on going. I’m as resilient as they come. I can take on more than most people who come up consulting. Another strength is my openness to learning. I know that I need to continue educating myself, and I’m always looking for ways to develop. Lastly, when building relationships, I focus on the people, do good work, and make connections that matter. I take a boots-on-the-ground approach. I have the ability to make human connections. Put me in a room with someone, and I’ll find a way to connect.

What's one myth you'd like to debunk about your line of work?

People misconceive leadership consultants and think leaders only retain us when they’re in trouble. Sure, some people do hire coaches when something has gone awry in the workplace, but 95 percent of organizations look to coaching for other reasons. The reasons vary from an organization wanting to train and develop emerging leaders to a seasoned leader wanting to improve specific skills or have someone to bounce ideas off. Leaders work with coaches for a million reasons.

What advice would you give to burgeoning entrepreneurs?

Think big, start small, and move fast. You need to have a vision for your future, while being small enough so you can grow sustainably and also pivot quickly. If you’re too big early on, you’ll struggle to keep the business going. But if you think too small, you won’t grow.

What words do you live by?

Be willing to fail. So often leaders focus on being perfect, but fearing risks is the biggest risk of all. Magic happens when you take a risk and succeed. At the same time, not all risks pay off. You need to quickly recognize failure so you can pivot. It’s a big mistake to double down on failure. Take risks but pivot fast. Like many aspects of leadership, risk is a balancing act.

Any final words of wisdom?

Learn the power of saying no. Many leaders push themselves to the limit. They say yes to every task, work seven days a week, and eventually find themselves in an unsustainable situation. It’s pivotal to set boundaries, respect your personal time, and listen to your body. The best leaders live a balanced life, so that when they need to be “on,” they’re on. Take care of yourself, so you can be your best self.

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