Leading with Purpose

Shayna Atkins
Jul 19 · 5 min read

An Interview with Nicole Wood

Written By Customer Engagement Intern, Jenny Matusova

Nicole Wood is CEO and founder of Ama La Vida, a company that provides, career, life, and leadership coaching. Her mission is to help people and businesses become the best versions of themselves and along the way craft their versions of success. You can visit Ama La Vida here.
I had the privilege of sitting down with Nicole today to speak about her leadership values, what she’s listening to, and what she plans on speaking about at the InnovateHER summit for women executives. Find out more about InnovateHER here.

Jenny: Nicole, I know you’re CEO of Ama La Vida, a company that coaches businesses to aid in their growth process. Your company also focuses on the individual by helping strengthen leadership skills. Could you elaborate on what it means for you to be a purpose-driven leader?

Nicole: A big thing that we do both with individuals and with companies, is helping them understand purpose so they can act with intention. A lot of that comes down to of course, on the business side, being really crystal clear about your strategy both as a business and as a culture, and then seeing how that aligns with an individual. For us, there should be the company’s purpose and mission, the team’s purpose, and mission, and then the individuals’ purpose and mission. All of those should have some level of interconnectedness, so that you know why the heck you get up and go to work in the morning, and what purpose that is solving. When I was thinking about this particular session [InnovateHER]- what that would be- is that piece of acting with intention and being intentional about who you are as a leader… but also leading from a place of authenticity and who YOU are. If you wake up and try to emulate Steve Jobs, and you’re not Steve Jobs, that’s going to get frustrating and ultimately will not work for you.

We have a framework called “Illuminate Your Purpose,” which is understanding: What are you passionate about? What are you gifted at? What do you value? What’s your purpose statement? What I was thinking for InnovateHER, in particular, would be guiding attendees through that, so they have that framework and structure to draw from so that they know “Okay, this is how I’m going to lead. And that’s okay if it’s different from how that ‘loud guy’ over there leads. It needs to be authentic to me, and people will respect it because it’s coming from a place of my own purpose.”

J: How do you use coaching as a leadership style?

N: There are a few things. As corporate cultures have evolved, and as the people who make up companies have evolved, we’ve moved away from this world of “people just show up, clock-in, clock-out, and leave.” That’s dead. Really authoritative leadership was popular for a while. Then it was training and teaching-based, which is still useful, but with the younger generations that are in the workforce now, and the way people know that learning is effective, coaching is a huge part of that. Helping people arrive at their own insights, their own goals, and empowering them to do that… also keeping them accountable, instead of just telling them what to do, because it goes in one ear and out the other. By incorporating coaching skills in the way that you lead, it helps people to want to work for you and to want to show up and do their best because they’re not just working for YOU, they’re working for themselves.

J: What trends do you see pop up in the industry surrounding corporate coaching? How are these trends impacting the workforce and performance management?

N: A big is one is talking about these things earlier. It used to be that coaching was reserved for senior executives, and younger leaders who were promoted were not trained to lead other human beings. So what we’re doing, by integrating technology into the coaching approach is making it more scalable, to start coaching sooner than later. We talk about the 12-year gap: it’s an average of 12 years between the time someone first gets promoted to managing other humans to when they get personalized leadership training and professional development. In those 12 years, they’re making people miserable, they’re forming really bad habits, and they’re doing all these things because no one’s equipped them to do this earlier on. A big trend is people actually thinking about this sooner and understanding that it’s important to be addressing this sooner. And, of course, technology being a component of how we can physically make that happen… because the budget’s not just going to show up overnight. So how do we still provide that support in a way that’s really effective? I think that the pendulum has swung so far towards technology for a while, with notions of “We’re just going to sign up for a bunch of e-learning” but we know the reality of human behavior and accountability. You can give people thousands of courses, but if they don’t have accountability structure, they’re not going to utilize what they’re given. What we’ve done is swing the pendulum back into the middle. We combine the technology with one-on-one support so we can take learning, integration, AND accountability as you move forward.

J: I noticed that you really enjoy writing articles for aspiring professionals and female executives! What are some other blogs you love reading and podcasts you listen to for inspiration?

N: Absolutely. I do love to write, and I love reading other people’s blogs. You know, Seth Godin, people like that who are always helping you reframe the way you think about things. I love storytelling and hearing the details of how people get to where they are- “How I Built This” is one of my favorites. Even companies I’m not sure I totally care about, I listen to their podcasts and always find something amazing. A lot of what I’ve learned is centered around persistence and not giving up and knowing that the overnight sensation isn’t a real thing. I’m such a business nerd, so most of the podcasts and books I enjoy are business-related. I just finished The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which is a book about management and being a CEO when things don’t go right. This is so important to talk about because so many management books are about the ideal scenario and the textbook solution- not about when sh*t explodes, what do you do? I would say my themes are business and entrepreneurship and understanding human behavior & psychology.

Shayna Atkins

Written by

Agile and Design Thinking Product Consultant supporting women & startups from idea thru expansion. Featuring women’s community, http://queensbrunch.com/. #UX

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