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Welcome to our new feature, Raise The Bar Coaches’ Corner, where our Head of Marketing interviews our coaches for tips and strategies about being a more effective leader. In this episode, Natalie Guillen, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach thru The Co-Active Training Institute, talks about why change can be so messy and why it’s integral for leaders to have a support system. Natalie has over 15 years of experience working with some of the biggest brands including Google, PayPal, and Wells Fargo, helping companies define their strategic goals and aligning teams to achieve them.

Here are my three big takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Often leaders get frustrated with the process of forming new habits; it’s awkward and messy but the more they work on it the better they get.

  2. Leaders should create a support structure for themselves once their training is over to help reinforce new habits.

  3. Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath.



What was your biggest takeaway from this episode?


Read more about Natalie here


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Natalie: Habit formation is messy and it's frustrating at the beginning, We try to apply a new behavior. And at the beginning, we're going to fail.

Aaron: Hi, I'm Aaron Levy and I have this vision of a workplace where your manager doesn't suck; where instead your manager is your coach helping you to reach your full potential.

I founded Raise The Bar, wrote Open, Honest, and Direct and started this podcast to help companies transform their workplace into a place where both the company and employee succeeds. In this podcast, I get to interview leaders who build high-performing teams and learn from them and what it takes to unlock a team’s potential.

Today we debut a very special feature, The Coach's Corner, a short episode where we interview our coaches for tips and strategies about becoming a more effective leader. Our Head of Marketing, Tina talks with Natalie, one of our Raise The Bar coaches. Natalie is not only a certified professional coach, she also has 15 plus years of experience working with some of the biggest brands in the world from Google to PayPal and even Wells Fargo.

She spent her career helping companies define their strategic goals and aligning with their teams to achieve them. I know you’ll enjoy this episode and the great conversation between Tina and Natalie. Cheers.

Tina: Hey, Natalie. Thank you for joining us.

Natalie: Hi, Tina, delighted to be here with you.

Tina: Tell me a little bit about your background.

Natalie: I am an executive coach and leadership consultant and I coach amazing leaders who raise the bar.

Tina: Love it, you've been doing such great work. Natalie; I've been watching some of the facilitations. So I'd like to start with talking about our learn, apply and reflect methodology that we use at Raise The Bar. Can you kind of give me a quick synopsis of it and why it works?

Natalie: Yeah. So it works really well because we have these amazing leaders at the bootcamp and we're teaching them some skills that we believe make leaders great.. And we not only practice during the sessions themselves, but also as homework. We give them like a hard homework to do where they have to practice skills that are hard; a homework that is pushing them out of their comfort zone. And then we ask them to reflect on that and discuss what they learned, what went well, what didn't go well, what they would do differently and what was the impact of what they did or didn't do. Right?

So by not only applying the skills that they're learning right away to a real life situation, and then reflecting on the impact that that situation had reinforces the behavior. They start to get better and smarter about the why behind their actions and the impact of those actions or of that inaction.

And by doing that, they become more aware and more intentional about how they show up, how they're using their time and the kind of impact they want to make with the people around them.

Tina: And as a coach, what do you find are some of the challenges that people have when trying to apply the skills that they've learned?

Natalie: Yeah. One of the challenges is that especially with the kinds of leaders that we're working with, these are like overachieving individuals that take big pride in their work.

And so perfectionism is something that comes up a lot. It's not about getting an A, it's not about getting it a hundred percent polished and perfect the first time around and every time after that. Habit formation is messy and it's frustrating at the beginning. We give the metaphor of crossing these tall fields of grass, where the grass is like six feet tall and you're trying to get to the other side and we get really frustrated because there's not a paved path that you can take, or you have to kind of like go around and push the grass around and create your own path. And it gets very frustrating, but if you stick with it, eventually you'll get to the other side. Habit formation is like that. We try to apply a new behavior. And at the beginning, we're going to fail.

You know, it's going to be awkward and messy and uncomfortable. And for us and perhaps for even for the people around us, they might be wondering, Oh, but what's wrong with you, you aren’t normally this way. And, and yet the more we do it, the more familiar it feels and the better we get it.

Tina: I love that metaphor of feeling like you're wading into a tall field of grass, because anytime we try new skills that happens, and I can imagine the easy way out, and sometimes subconsciously, would be that some of our leaders would revert back to old habits in times of stress or new projects that have to be done quickly. If someone came to you during the coaching session and said, you know, Natalie, I'm trying to do this, but you know, we have a deadline and it's very stressful. And I had somebody leave the organization and I just found myself going back to my old habits. What would you suggest to them?

Natalie: Yeah. To take a deep breath. And recenter themselves because it starts with that with us being able to have the resilience, the fuel to choose differently. Like we tend to glamorize leadership, right?

It's like, oh, I got my team and my one-on-ones and I hired these people and the reality is that leadership is work - and it's hard work. It's not only about the tactics of having a one-on-one it's about the quality of those conversations. It's not about having that title of being the boss. It is about what that represents and what that means for the team and your ability to inspire them to do better, to be better together.

Leaders really bring the weather. And in moments of stress it is really easy, It's our default to go back to our old patterns that are not as effective. And in order for us to choose differently, we need to have resilience. We need to have a reservoir of energy to carry us forward. And do the right thing, even when we're tired.

Tina: I love the idea that you mentioned that it's intentional and it's a choice, right? We do have to wake up in the morning and make our choice of, are we going to choose to be a leader or are we just going to get things done and be a task manager?

What happens once the leaders are out of the training? How do they best keep their new habits going? And how does the company, the organization, the people leaders of that organization support this new training that their leaders are on?

Natalie: Yeah, that's a great question; it's easier to stay focused when you have a structure around you and the bootcamps allow for that structure, every meeting with the leaders every two weeks.

Once the bootcamp is done, I encourage leaders to create a structure that works for them so that they continue to be mindful and focused about their leadership growth. So a structure could take many forms. It could be, for example, having a coach that continues to keep you focused on your goals; it could be having a community around you like success buddies or your manager, you know, and having conversations about your impact as a leader and the leadership skills.

If you want to continue growing it could be time aside for self-reflection, you know a lot of leaders do Fridays afternoons because they feel that that's a time that they get less interruptions time for self reflection about the week and what went well, why they didn't go well, why would you do differently? And what is the impact. So it is important for leaders to create a structure that works for them that is consistent so they can continue to be intentional about their growth.

Tina: Love that, Natalie, I want to thank you for sharing some of your tips and strategies, knowledge with us.

Natalie: Thank you, Tina.

Aaron: Open Honest and Direct is produced by Raise The Bar, where we help organizations level up their leadership by empowering their managers with the tools, skills, and training to be better leaders of people. You can get in touch with us at

Thank you for listening and go put your learning into practice.


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