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  • Michele Hanson

What Does Resonant Leadership Look Like?


Today, I’m interviewing one of the top executive coaches for ExecuInsight LLC, Karen Milley. She has had an amazing career working for leading edge companies such as the J.M. Smucker Company; RJR Nabisco, Ross Laboratories, and General Mills, Inc. Karen has had more than 33 years of success in the food and beverage, food processing, consumer goods, and manufacturing industries. She has had extensive experience with M&A and integration and is a valuable asset for companies seeking guidance on acquisition issues, implementation of new platforms, quality control, and innovation. Her broad areas of expertise include R&D, product innovation, product and package implementation, strategic planning, cross-functional team leadership and coaching for compassion in performance at all levels.


Karen will be sharing her thoughts on the importance of Resonant Leadership in today’s work environment and helping us to understand what it looks like and how it is different than other leadership practices we’ve heard about.


Question #1: How are resonant leadership practices different than other leadership buzzwords that have been out in the corporate world?


Karen: Resonant Leadership isn't about buzzwords - it is about purposeful change.  And it is about that change in the leader - not in the team.  It isn't just inspirational words - it is inspirational behavior.  When a leader identifies their own dreams, articulates them, demonstrates passion, and helps others see their own dreams and their role in creating the passion to chase them, then resonance (a state of harmony) can happen. 

Otherwise, it all goes back to those buzzwords and graduate school concepts that fade with the next new trend.  A permanent state of disbelief in the leader's words and actions, cynicism, and lack of trust will create dissonance (a state of dis-harmony) and work to prevent any team from ever performing at their best - regardless of the leader, the members, the values or their behaviors. It isn't about the leader being "likeable" or "trusted".  Resonant leadership is about the leader being one whole self.  A self that is mindful, hopeful and compassionate.  In so doing the resonant leader moves from a leadership style based on compliance to one based on compassion.  The result is passion and it is powerful.


Question #2: What teachings/best practices within resonant leadership have had a large influence on your career?


Karen: There are 4 key teachings or best practices that have been life-changing for me as a leader and a coach.


1. The teaching of becoming one self– there is always only one self. The same at work as at home. When I am able to share that vision of myself with others, who will hold me accountable for the meaningful, sustainable, change I dream of, putting myself all back together becomes a permanent change and is the person I want to be known as.

2. The teaching of mindfulness- yes, another buzzword, but really focused on the “in the moment” events.  In today's world, it is so easy to be distracted, so easy to drift out of mindfulness as a way to reduce stress in any situation.  It isn't just a word, it is a practice, a skill to be developed, and there are several exercises to improve the skill. The reward is that I will remember more, and others will know that I am real, and that I care.  

3. The teaching of hope- if I don't have it, I can't inspire it.  Identifying my dreams and creating a plan to get there is all based on hope.  When I can demonstrate what hope looks like for me, I can help others do the same.  Inspiration then comes from the many having hope.

4. The teaching of The Sacrifice Syndrome- answering my own personal wake up calls, breaking the cycle of stress and sacrifice by adding renewal to that cycle to prevent a spiral into former ways of behavior and dissonance. I used to be really good at that spiral – now I’m good at seeing others in that spiral.

5. The teaching of creating a 15-year plan. Five-year plans are easy - they can be seen, they are understood, they are obtainable.  But a 15-year plan requires a dream.  That dream is used to create meaningful five-year plans that set you on the path of obtaining those dreams.  By doing this, I was able to then coach others to do the same and be inspired by their own results. This is such a great experience it generates gratitude in return.


Question #3: What 1-2 key steps should leaders take right now to become resonant leaders?


Karen: Start with identifying your own dreams and identifying your whole and best self.  Where do you see yourself in 15 years?  What are your dreams?  What do you want your legacy to be? Then build your plan to get there.  Make every step along your plan mean something. When you have a vision for yourself that is built on your passion, your optimism and your hopes, then you can create the same with a team.  This is powerful.  This is inspiration.  




ExecuInsight LLC Coaches can help you to fulfill your dreams and assist you in becoming a Resonant Leader. Please email execuinsight@gmail.comfor more information.

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