Leading with Intention with Katie Anderson

Leading with Intention with Katie Anderson

by Patrick Adams | Jun 29, 2021

This week I’m chatting with Katie Anderson, an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, author and professional speaker. Katie is best known for her focus on helping individuals and organizations lead with intention. Katie is also the author of “Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn” and wrote the forward for my book. 

In this episode we talk about being an intentional leader, and creating a structure for your learning and practice. 

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  • What it means to be an intentional leader
  • 3 skills to becoming a more intentional leader
  • Finding your clarity
  • The importance of asking questions 
  • Creating a habit of reflection
  • The shift from PDCA to SAPD

About the Guest: 

Katie Anderson is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, author and professional speaker.  She has over 20 years of experience in supporting change and improvement in organizations across a range of industries, though her primary focus has been on leading transformational change in healthcare organizations.

Katie launched KBJ Anderson Consulting in 2013, to help individuals and organizations gain clarity on their goals, deepen their problem solving skills, and develop more effective leadership habits.

Important Links: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kbjanderson/

https://kbjanderson.com/

Full Episode Transcript:

Patrick Adams

All right. Our guest today is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, author and professional speaker Katie Anderson is best known for her focus on helping individuals and organizations lead with intention. She has over 20 years of experience in supporting change and improvement in organizations across a range of industries, though her primary focus has been on leading transformational change in health care organizations. Welcome to the show, Katie.

Katie Anderson

Thank you, Patrick. It’s great to be here. And to continue our conversations together today. Absolutely.

Patrick Adams

Obviously you and I are good friends. We have become good friends over the last few years. You wrote the foreword in my book shortly after publishing your own book, learning to lead, leading to learn. And so we’re going to talk a little bit about that today as well. But also about the Japan trip. I hope we can talk about that today too, because that’s actually how we first met, right?

Katie Anderson

Yes, it was. I think it was exactly two years ago, you were the very first person to sign up for my may 2020 trip, which obviously did not happen. But that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Patrick Adams

Yes, absolutely. And since then, you and I have had many different conversations, some of which have been posted out on social media. So some that are listening in today probably have heard some of our conversations in the past, just around the learnings from your Japan trip. And looking forward to some of those things, as well as a recent webinar that I actually posted, as I think it was episode six of the lean solutions podcast. So so that was right in the beginning of the pandemic. And so I ran a series of webinars, and you were on there. And then I posted it as an episode on the lease solutions podcast. So I’m sure many have heard some of our conversations about your book. But you know, as I said, in the beginning, you know, just talking about, you know, how kind of how people know you are your focus is really about leading with intention. So I want to ask you a quick question just to kind of lead into our podcast interview here. And the question is, what do you believe are the three most important skills to become a more intentional leader?

Katie Anderson

Great question, because this is my passion. First, I want to explain what I believe being an intentional leader means when I first moved to Japan, I needed business cards made and I the word intention has always been important and meaningful to me. So I had that word put on my business cards, and I learned the symbols represented heart and direction. And this really deepens the meaning to me to think about intention being about how we connect with our hearts, what’s important inside of us our values, who we want to be? And then what are the actions we need to take to align with that, too, to actually fulfill our purpose in our values. And so one of the biggest disconnects that I see with leaders and frankly, just anyone is we may have a sense of who we want to be. But our actions don’t always align with that. So the lead with intention is about both having self awareness of who you want to be, and then the actions you need to take to align with that. So the three practices that I talk about all the time that are really simple things to do, that can be so transformative, are threefold. First, is paying attention to the quality of our questions. We are in a telling habit, and often we aren’t even aware of this. So I have this thing, this slide that is actually a wolf disguised as a sheep. And a lot of the times we ask, quote, unquote, questions that are really statements or ideas disguised as questions, these are those leading questions, prompting inquiry, closed ended questions, and we’re, we’re we have the desire to be helpful and fit. You’re with someone else’s thinking; we’re actually putting boxes around their thinking. So if we can shift from stopping asking so many prompts, and leading and closed ended questions and reframe them as open ended, what or how questions, we are more likely to help bring out the thinking of other people. And I really believe that intentional leaders want to help, and they want to create creativity, and they want to inspire the thinking and other people. And this is one of the most simple ways to do that.

Patrick Adams

Sure. And I would agree with that, that the the piece about the open ended versus closed ended questions, I think it also shows someone respect like, because if you’re just asking a closed ended question, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to explain or to engage in the conversation by, you know, sharing what they feel right. So to ask those open ended questions, it also helps to show respect for that individual and for the insight that they might be able to include in whatever the question is that’s coming out?

Katie Anderson

Absolutely. I get asked the question all the time, too, about, well, what if I know the answer? And, and so I say, well, it’s about understanding your purpose in the moment, is it about you having the right answer or that person having to get to your answer? Or is it part of the learning journey for them to learn the process of problem solving and discovery? And then that’s a different way of how you want to ask or what you want to say, just happened with that intent? Is it about the learning process or is it about the outcome? And we often jump too quickly into feeling a sense of urgency that things need to be fixed now. So I’m just going to give all the answers and you take away that space for learning, where can we create that space?

Patrick Adams

But not only that, but when you do that, as a leader, you become the go to person for the answers. And so, you know, how overwhelming do we as leaders become if we have 1520 different people coming to us for all of the answers, versus them looking inside themselves? Or have, you know, learning how to be able to get to the answers themselves, right? So if we’re, even if we know the answer, if we put it back on them, for them to be able to experience the learning, you know, they’re going to overtime, they’re going to start to understand that, okay, I can figure this out. I know the answers. Maybe it’s gonna take me a little bit to get there or you know, a little bit of time. But what that does for leaders too, is it takes a little bit of that off of our shoulders to not be the go to for everything, right?

Katie Anderson

Absolutely. It’s like this vicious cycle, because we feel this sense of urgency, or that will just be easier to give the answer. But then we create this almost learned helplessness with people or the sense of why they should contribute, if you’re going to tell them exactly what to do, and then you end up owning all the problems and you feel more overburdened, and that you don’t have enough time. And so I always encourage people to say, like, what, you know, even what’s a little bit better look like, What’s new? How can you create those spaces for learning, and then it’s a win win, because you can solve more problems. And it’s not always you having to be the problem solver. That’s right. I love that. Yeah. So number one, pay attention to the quality of your questions. Number two, is about taking what I call an intention pause. So it’s taking even those 1015 seconds to connect with what’s my purpose at this moment? What’s the impact I want to have? And then what are the actions I need to take to align with that? We are transitioning from, you know, meeting to meeting or you know, you know, I’m here in my house recording this from being a parent to your being, you know, a coach and a consultant. And being able to take an intention, pause to say, what’s my role? And how do I want to show up? So what’s my purpose? And what those actions can help us be more purposeful and less reactive. And it’s a good reminder to ourselves about you just taking those to slow down, and being more proactive, and it really can be transformative when you’re looking to both create new habits, as well as make sure that you are truly present in the way that you want to be.

Patrick Adams

I love that how do you kV, how do you make sure that you’re taking that intention? Pause? Is there? Are there any techniques that you would suggest? Or you know, I don’t know, do you even do block time for it? Like how do you make sure that you are creating a habit of taking an intentional pause?

Katie Anderson

Great question. So a few ways. So now it’s become so habitual for me that it’s literally as I’m walking can be, as I’m walking in and just being like, Okay, what am I going into? And then, you know, I’ve sort of created this pattern for myself and so it happens more quickly. Sure. I was getting started, I needed to be more purposeful and have more structures to create that habit. So it could be like, actually, in my standard work for myself, say for example, when I was trying to improve how I was showing up as a coach and I actually talked about this in a short 10 minute video about my own getting out of the habit of telling but I was in one on one meetings. I really wish I could sit down with myself beforehand, going into a coaching session and remind myself These are the three things I’m really going to focus on. And then like, look at them on my sheet before I went into a meeting, I also when I’m coaching leaders, and this is more we work together in person. But this could certainly happen in a remote environment, too. If I was helping them, say, on their gimble walk, or when they’re working on a visibility wall, and I’m checking in on the status of work with a team, we would we would set a meeting for five to 10 minutes before that meeting, and together talk about Okay, remember, What’s your purpose here? What are the things you’re going to practice, then I would observe them in that meeting, and then give some follow up and feedback, they would do a self assessment, and then I would give some evidence, and then that would be a nice way to create that cycle as well.

Patrick Adams

I like that. I also think about his probably listeners who, who are definitely resonating with this conversation a bit, and probably also, maybe thinking about those times when they’re in a conference room, or having a conversation with someone, and maybe it gets a little heated, or maybe, you know, they feel themselves maybe slipping out of or maybe slipping into more of emotional kind of responses or decisions versus maybe staying professional or to your point, you know, paying paying attention to the quality of the questions and listening, would you suggest that, you know, a pause? I mean, for someone to actually say, Hey, can we take a minute? Can we step out? Or have you ever done that? Or, you know, is that something that you would suggest?

Katie Anderson

Certainly it depends on the environment. But if you aren’t, we never extinguish old habits, right? We just create stronger ones. And so those older habits will always start to emerge. And like, I find myself as I’m an extrovert, and I love to talk and I love to help solve problems. And like when I find myself wanting to jump in and interrupt, I literally have to, and I pray that I’ve created this process for myself to count to 10. before I say anything, and the same thing, if you start feeling maybe emotionality arising? How can you know what your practice plan is for when that happens? So counting to 10? Is it whatever it needs to be in that circumstance? And of course, you can always call pause on the circumstance, but certainly, what are the things that you need to do that you can stay more proactive and less reactive?

Patrick Adams

Right? I love I love that you mentioned having, you know, what’s your plan? Because I do think that as leaders and becoming an intentional leader, you know that we do have to have a plan for those types of things. And I think a lot of leaders don’t necessarily think about that, what am I going to do in this situation? Or when I’m walking into a coaching conversation? What is my mindset need to be like? And do I need to take an intentional pause? Or do you know, what are the quality of my questions going to be? I don’t think that we’re doing that as leaders as much as we should be. And so taking some time to put together that plan and responding in that way. And we’re even like you said, practice, you know, for some of us even

Katie Anderson

Yeah, for sure. And, you know, I just want to add that leadership is not only about asking questions, and you know, there’s times to be directive, certainly I always say leaders need to set direction, provide support and develop themselves. So having that clarity of where we need to go. I know in your book, you talk about you know, we need to know our destination, and then we can use our compass to get there and figure out our path there. And sometimes asking, we need to create more of a habit of asking questions, if sometimes people are really stuck, and they need us to help teach or show the way. And so without knowing for ourselves, how are we assessing that, and then how, what is our plan for what we’re going to do. And we need to move along that different continuum, it’s the more we can practice in real scenarios, and have a coach and someone who can help hold up that mirror to you and help you practice the process of setting an intention, keeping feedback, and then your own reflection as well. That actually leads into like the third practice that I really believe intentional leaders do is that they create a habit of reflection. And so it’s both creating, creating, having intention about how you want to show up. And also what’s your plan, what’s your actions, and then reflecting on how did I actually do and this could happen in the moment again, at the end of the meeting, like just even having that quick five minute reflection with the code or by yourself or at the end of the day or more broadly, and then what adjustments Do I need to make like when when was what were the things that were more challenging for me When did I find myself wanting to interrupt or when emotionality was coming or being I really that worked really well like how can I continue to build upon that as a strength and so this habit of reflection is so important. And we often do more like plan, do plan, do in the plan, do check act or plan, do study, adjust cycle, and the studying that reflection is where the learning really happens, as well. So I talked about what I think we should call the cycle study, adjust plans. Do so sapd to remind ourselves that reflection and studying is where the learning and the improvement really, really happens. And so how can we create a habit of that for ourselves?

Patrick Adams

I love that. Would you say you have a habit of reflection? Is there any way to develop? Or have you seen anybody create structure or make it kind of a formal process? Have you ever seen that or experienced that at all?

Katie Anderson

Absolutely. And this is what I teach in every coaching, engagement, or even a workshop, as well as a tip for people to use even a simple sheet that you know about setting their intention each day and their plan for practice. And using that people have modified that to be a spreadsheet or a visibility wall with stickies as well. But creating a structure for your learning and practice is so important. Once you sort of have ingrained it as a habit, you may not need the structure as much anymore. Sure. And so you know, that’s the same, you know, when I was working in hospitals and healthcare systems, many years ago, at this point, we would have work with our leaders about their leader. Standard Work would actually include a column for reflection, and did they do things or not? And then what did they learn? And so how do you use those different the same lean concepts about making things visible about having a process? Is it red or green? Did you do it or not? If not, why not? And then what did you learn and so those things can really help us create habits as well.

Patrick Adams

Oh, I love that. I love the idea of adding that as a piece to your leader Standard Work and, and actually, you know, blocking time or creating structure around how you reflect and ensuring that you’re, you’re learning, you know, throughout your, throughout your day, throughout your week, whatever it might be. I love that.

Katie Anderson

totally some of the learning can be Oh, man, I didn’t even make time to reflect or all these things got in the way and then you know, you have a process problem. Okay, so I don’t have I, I’m not experiencing the time to reflect or I’m not making that the priority. Okay, then what are those things that I need to adjust so that I can create the space for learning? Sure, sure.

Patrick Adams

I love that. So I want to change gears a little bit here. And I want to talk a little bit about your book because we’re coming up on your one year anniversary right after you publish your book.

Katie Anderson

I know it’s so thank you, I’m so excited. Learning to lead leading to learn and it was a year is so almost 11 months now since the book’s publication. So I was in the thick of the final edits of the layout. It’s so exciting to see the reception and the impact that the book and Mr. Yoshino stories have had, especially through this challenging year of the pandemic, and the stories of failure and success. And we’ve both just gotten a lot of really warm reception of how impactful it’s been. And so it’s a real thrill for me to be able to have contributed to the world to be able to learn from these stories.

Patrick Adams

Yeah. And that’s, that’s why we do what we do. Right. And I love the I’m hearing that you know, similar comments about your book, and just how beneficial that has been for so many people. I’m curious to hear though you as an author, not just as an author, I guess I want to hear from you, just around the learnings that you’ve had, you know, in your your time with your discussions or time with Mr. Yoshino. But since you’re publishing, you know, even what have you learned? What other things have come up, you know, in your journey? Can you talk a little bit about your shift from PDCA to sapd? Right, anything like that?

Katie Anderson

Yeah. Great. Well, thank you. And also, I’m excited at the end of this podcast to talk about some of the exciting things that are coming up with the one year anniversary mark with that book, as well. Certainly, you know, one of the Karen Martin actually warned me, Karen Martin, a great consultant, author and friend, as well,

Patrick Adams

and recently on the podcast.

Katie Anderson

Oh, great. Yes, I know that. And she’s published many books. And she told me before publishing my book, know that once you publish your book, your thinking is going to continue to evolve. So you just have to recognize the publication is sort of one moment in time. And it’s okay for that, for things to continue to dance. And there’s a quote in the book, I’m paraphrasing myself here, but learning is never perfect, and it’s never complete. And I would say the same thing about writing books. One of the one of the special things is, you know, that Mr. Yoshino and I have this really important relationship in both of our lives, and we’ve continued to stay connected, and we talk, you know, not weekly, every other week. And we’ve collaborated on many workshops and talks and, and other things, which has been really fun in the remote world, although we can’t wait to see them back in Japan. Right. We’ll get to that in a moment. Yes. One of the you know, I was like where did this concept come from? I was really reflecting on the plan, studying and adjusting to the cycle. When I was planning, I was creating my workbook. My companion workbook that went with the book was actually The printed out version. And as well as this other program that I was creating, that was a companion between reading the book and learning from the stories as well as the teachings in the coaching practices that I have. And this concept of checking in how we like you always thought we need to check to check on standard work, we need to check on our processes, are we on track? are we off track, and just I was reflecting on the word check can resonate in a really negative way for some people like in a punitive sense. And if we’re trying to create organizations where it’s okay to fail, and your mysterious, she knows so many wonderful stories that we talked about in the book, where he made mistakes or failures were welcomed as a source of learning. When we say check in in the English language, I think it just can feel very punitive. And he night, one night we’re talking about that and how I actually was starting to really prefer the word study. Even the Toyota was ingrained with the check, adjust check act, Mr. Yoshino said the same thing was real aha moment for him. And then I was reflecting, you know, we really should be starting with studying as the beginning. Like, as in not sort of the end of the cycle. Of course, it’s a continuous cycle that never ends. But you know, when we, when we start even the words with plan, do, we kind of can get stuck in just that plan, do plan do but if we started with study, then we kind of reinforce that that is the most important step. Of course, all those steps are important as well. And so that was a really nice evolution of, for me, my thinking as well as working with him. And now he starts talking, he’s been talking about sapd, and moving from Czech to study as well, which was actually demmings evolution in his own thinking as well.

Patrick Adams

Absolutely. No, I love that. I love that you are humble, humble enough to say I’m continuing to learn, right? I mean, we all need to be at that place where it’s like, no matter where we are, in our journey, we’re continuously learning and evolving. And, and, you know, I mean, I love having discussions with people on posts that I put out there, because, you know, sometimes people throw out other ideas or other sides of things I didn’t even think about, and then I think through that, and I go, you know, what, you You’re right, you’re right, I probably need to consider that. You know, so I love that you’re, you’re talking about the learnings that you’ve even had since you published the book?

Katie Anderson

Absolutely. When people stop learning, then we really, really stop. Stop living really. And that’s where the humility of knowing that we are imperfect, and we always have opportunities to learn and grow is probably the fundamental core value and belief for any really, truly intentional caring leader.

Patrick Adams

That’s right. Yeah. Hey, you mentioned some, some exciting news are some things that are coming up for your one year anniversary, can you can you walk me through that or talk to the listeners about maybe some of the things you have coming up.

Katie Anderson

So the first super exciting thing is that I have recorded the audio book for learning to lead to learn and john shook and Mr. Sal Yoshino, they’ve also recorded portions of the book as well, as an exciting and wonderful recording studio that I’m talking to you in right now. Is there I did, I did all the recording. And it was important for me to do the recording, because it’s such a personal story. And so as that was, that was on my list to do. And I finally got it done. It’s under, as we’re recording the session, it’s under quality control, review. Sex, whoo. So hopefully, that will come through soon. And the plan is that it’ll go into preorder in June, later in June, and be available on the books one year anniversary, which is July 14. So assuming that all goes well, the audio version of learning to lead leading to learn will be dropping on the books one year anniversary. And I have some special Kindle promotions that will be happening around the same time, too. So yeah, get multiple versions of the book for your reading and listening, format and desire. Oh, that’s exciting.

Patrick Adams

I I’m excited, I am definitely going to grab the audio book. I’m a big audiobook listener. So it’ll be fun to just hear your version from the audio perspective. Obviously, I’ve read it, but I definitely want to hear the audio. So that’s exciting. And also your workbook too, right?

Katie Anderson

Yes. And earlier this year, I released a companion workbook. And I’ve been using that both with classes and programs that I’ve been leading and also offering it to individuals as a way to really deepen their experience of the book. I’ve even more reflection questions there as well as exercises and practices to take the learning more deeply into your own life and your own practice. So it’s a nice way to get you to just take those stories and really make them real for who you are like creating your leadership credo and really creating a plan for your improvement and connecting with your own purpose. So we talk a lot about intention. So there’s a lot of exercises about what are those actions really aligned with your purpose as a leader or coach or as a person. I love that. Yeah, that’s what’s available on my website. So kvj anderson.com, forward slash workbook.

Patrick Adams

Perfect. And we will, we’ll drop that into the show notes as well. So if you’re listening, and you’d like to grab a copy of the workbook, you can go right to the show notes and find that link there. Before we close though, today, Katie, I want to talk about Japan, because as you mentioned, I’ve been trying to get to Japan with you for a few years now. And just kind of curious on what’s the update for Japan?

Katie Anderson

Yes, so I cannot wait to have you with me in Japan. This is the longest stretch that I have not been in Japan since my family originally moved there in 2015, for 18 months. And so they are there. We’ve been planning, as you know, a trip in November, I’m not sure if it’s actually going to be able to happen, given all the continued uncertainty in the world. We’ll make an official call soon. If you’re interested in learning more about that, please go to my website, or reach out to me kbj Anderson, forward slash Japan trip. And then I also have just announced my dates for 2022. So regardless, we’re going in 2022. And you’ll be competing with me in November or May or October of next year. Yes, for sure. So May, mid May of 2022 and early October of 2022. So head over to my website, and you can get more information there. Registration at the time of this recording is not up yet. And you can reach out to me to get more information as soon as that’s available. So Mark your calendars. And I cannot I can’t wait. Mr. Yoshino is going to be part of the trip and getting back to see so many of the organizations and the leaders that I’ve been close with over the last many years.

Patrick Adams

Yeah. And just speaking of that, can you tell us maybe your top, I don’t know, the top two learnings that you’ve had, over the past few years of taking these trips to Japan, maybe just a brief description or summary of maybe your top two learnings?

Katie Anderson

Yeah, it’s and there’s so many learnings. So it’s hard to choose? Just a few, you know, one of the most impactful experiences that people in past trips and myself included have had, it’s actually not going to a company or a manufacturing organization, but going to an elementary school to see how early age some of the concepts of respect of respectful environment respect for your people, respect for your team, have are created in an early age and the concept of milk tonight, which is regret for waste. And these are some of the concepts that were have been pulled from Japanese culture into the toilet away and Toyota production system which we have translated into lean. So that is that and that’s just so it’s such a contrast, in some ways, how we how our school systems are set up like the kids, actually, we watched them clean the classrooms every day, they don’t have janitors, kids clean, I actually have a video on my website called practicing soji. Because at the beginning of the pandemic, I told my kids who were then six and nine that they were going to have to be like Japanese schoolchildren and start cleaning the house every day. So as you imagine, I didn’t feel my younger one was more enthusiastic, but it was a fun, a fun experience. And then the second element would be just to see how different companies and leaders have applied concepts of continuous improvement and respect for people in their organizations, both from we go to a series of Toyota suppliers to see sort of the supply chain connection, but also organizations that are not connected to Toyota at all, and how they don’t practice the Toyota Production System. There’s no concept of lean, and you’re not doing a lot of air quotes right now in Japan. But there are some of these concepts of how do we how do we engage our people? And how do we use these principles and practices in our own companies. And also then knowing that this is not not all Japan is like this, there are some really cultural practices that are the opposite of what we would consider, like consider lean. And so it’s a challenge in Japan. And so you’re seeing you end up seeing the highlights, but also getting to see that there are challenges in Japanese companies as well and that they too are on a continuum of learning and just trying to do their best as well. That’s great. And then we have a lot of fun and eat a lot of great food and go to Rio con and soak in the hot springs. Yes, I’m looking forward to things.

Patrick Adams

I am looking forward to that for sure. It’s gonna be an exciting trip, whether it’s this November or next may either way I’m looking forward to it. So it’s been great to have you on as a guest. Once again, this this will be your second episode with the lean solutions podcast and I just appreciate you coming on and talking about some of the learnings that you’ve had over the last year with Mr. Yoshino after publishing your book and Obviously talking about becoming a more intentional leader, where your passion is and just talking through some of those important skills that are needed to be an intentional leader. So thank you so much for your time today.

Katie Anderson

Thank you, Patrick. And I want to remind people that they can get in touch with me at kbj Anderson calm. And then for information about the book and the audio book and some special things we have going on for the book’s one year anniversary, to go to learning to lead meetings to learn calm, it’s also linked to on my website. So thanks, everyone. And thank you, Patrick. It’s great to talk with you and I can’t wait to have you in Japan with me.

Patrick Adams

All right, take care, Katie. I thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the lien solutions podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe. This way you’ll get updates as new episodes become available. If you feel so inclined. Please give us a review. Thank you so much.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.

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