506 Kris Plachy:
The best entrepreneurs and CEO leaders are profoundly self-aware and understand leadership is a profound responsibility. That’s why the best business leaders often hear from team members and customers this one thing: “You’ve made a big difference in my life.”
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has made it her mission to understand and guide business leaders through the tricky path of learning how to lead a team.
Kris Plachy is the creator of the Lead Your Team Roadmap – and a proven Expert in Entrepreneurial Management helping hundreds of entrepreneurial leaders build and manage great teams so they can scale their businesses.
Kris is also passionate about mentoring women entrepreneurs and today … along with her 5-Step Team Roadmap … she shares why she believes women are uniquely suited to innovate new styles of leadership that is more nurturing, collaborative, intuitive and mission driven. We’re going to talk about her One Thriving Woman mission – and why when one woman thrives, she helps her sisters to do the same – a mission very much in alignment with Wings’ #liftasweclimb ethos. And much more.
In a space where there is a lot of ‘noise’ and advice, Kris Plachy has designed the ‘how to’ of team leadership through her “Lead Your Team Roadmap” – built on decades of leadership in a corporate start up culture. She says she learned a lot along the way from poor and uninspired management, and she innovated systems that allowed her to quickly and consistently be recognized as a top performing leader, year after year. Despite the changes in the market and in the business, Kris consistently built teams that not only won together, but stuck together.
We’re going to talk about the specific practical things you can do right now … to hire correctly, inspire, motivate and more … because if you want your business to grow and scale, your team …and your leadership of it … is the single most important driver of your success.
Listen on too because Kris shares why what we need most right now from all women entrepreneurs is for all of us to stop being something we’re not … and step into completely who we are … leveraging our true archetypal feminine strengths with power and authenticity… and helping each other.
Time now to deep dive into how to scale your business by hiring and inspiring the right team with Kris Plachy. The Lead Your Team Roadmap is Kris’ Signature Strategy. After 25 years of leading, managing and coaching leaders, Kris has a unique ability to quickly assess challenges and apply immediate, simple solutions. After all, there is no challenge you are facing as a leader that she can’t help you solve.
We’re going to go through her 5 team building steps – and also talk about specific challenges for women entrepreneurs – including the isolation that many successful women in business experience, plus how to banish fear of success and perfectionism. Kris says she’s excited by the growth in communities where women can truly #LiftAsWeClimb – and we also talk about why its vital these communities are not built in the vein of traditional more masculine leadership structures for women in business to truly thrive and flourish.
So let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Kris Plachy.
Melinda Wittstock: Kris, welcome to Wings.
Kris Plachy: Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: Your vision is to prove the power of “one” thriving woman. I want to start by asking you about what was it? What was the kind of aha moment that led you to that vision?
Kris Plachy: Well, I was in an exercise actually that I take my own clients through. I was doing it with my team and we were having a discussion about my vision and where does it come from and it flipped charts going. And I started with the story that has always sort of been my running hypothesis, that how you live is how you lead and that leadership is a responsibility and self-awareness attaches to that responsibility. And then of course, my poll that I’ve had since my twins were about two, so that’s about 13 years ago now to really invest in women and leadership. And I started writing these words of thriving and power. And I realized that one of the refrains that I’ve heard a lot just over the course of my career is, “You’ve really made a difference in my life.” That’s something people say, right? And I thought, “Wow. So when I thrive, other women thrive.” And I help and coach female entrepreneurs to be better leaders. And so when they thrive, everybody who touches their life thrives.
And so that’s where that to prove the power of one thriving woman came from. Because women are such important fixtures in our world. And when you’re thriving, and in this case, in my space, in your leadership, when you really command it and own it and feel good in it, you have such potential for positive impact. So that’s kind of the revealing process that we went through to land on that vision. And I still get goosebumps when I hear my own vision statement, which I love. Right? I think that’s the goal is it should be that inspiring. And also aspirational too.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. And just to be the change that you want to see in the world. I think women are at a unique point in history, particularly women entrepreneurs. Because we bring something to the table that’s been missing from our society and perhaps coronavirus has shown a bit of a light on this. But our natural archetypical feminine power strengths, if you will. Right.? Our empathy, our collaborative nature, our ability to really hook into a intuition when we let ourselves are very, very powerful management tools. And yet for many decades, perhaps many hundreds of years, we’ve somehow been taught that those things are weaknesses, but they’re actually strengths. How do they fit into your “one thriving woman?”
Kris Plachy: Oh, that’s such a great question. I feel like I could answer that question alone for the entire podcast.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? I mean, it’s a huge one because I think we’re all being called right now.
Kris Plachy: Oh, yeah. Wow, that’s really great. Absolutely. So we’ve been taught the leaders in recent history, let’s just say 500 years, in general and probably even more have been men. And so even women who have aspired to be in leadership roles have had to model and emulate and learn from male leaders. And I agree with you that the inherent strengths that we have of nurturing, intuition, listening, at collaborating and gathering people, building team, building communities, corralling people into missions, have been not deemed the strength of a leader. Right?
And I couldn’t agree more with you that we are at a place where we’re realizing what people expect and want from leaders. And that I think that intuitive skills and your ability to listen and your ability to nurture and be engaged with people, are tremendously powerful skills. And I think we’re craving it just in general, in a workforce and in our world today. There’s just a lot more need for that kind of connection. And so what we’re needing is for women to drop the need to be something they’re not, and step completely into who they are. And it will change… We’re already seeing that. I think you’re absolutely right. We are morphing, in so many ways as the world, but just as a global citizenry… I don’t even know how to say that, but women are leading the way. I agree with that. Women are absolutely leading the way and people are following.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think previous generations and even my own, there was so much emphasis on proving our competence and our ability, that we ended up focusing so much on just being really great at what we did. Like being really great doers, and in that, fall into things like perfectionism and often self-isolation, which is exactly where we should not be if we have these natural relationship skills.
Kris Plachy: Yeah. This is so interesting. So a couple of months ago, I actually wrote an article about girlfriends. And it sounds a little odd, but I would say that probably 90% of my clients and most of the women I work with are generating seven figures in their business. So they’re successful business women, entrepreneurs and they’re lonely. They don’t have girlfriends and they feel isolated in their own communities. And I’ve had people say repeatedly I just get along better with men than I do with women. When I go to my daughter’s soccer game or my son’s baseball game, the other women don’t really know what to do with me. I tell them I’m a CEO and it shuts them down. And so I agree with you. I think there’s this push pull with success that we’re also dealing with right now. It’s like attractive and exciting, and yet the higher you go and the more success you have and other people see, there is self-isolation because I think women are uncomfortable with their own success. And then there’s also some community or tribal thing also with women that we’re just all having to work through and figure out, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Well, we’re fearful of success actually, because of that exact dynamic that you talk about that if we suddenly succeed and we do something really extraordinary like building a seven, eight, or even nine figure, a unicorn business, no one’s going to be able to relate to us and we’re not going to have any girlfriends and we’re going to be lonely. And we may not even attract a man or we might alienate… Right? There’s all these series of things. And I just noticed that so many women shy away from really stepping into the light, like really shining their light and really owning it. And I think the fear is not failure, the fear of success.
Kris Plachy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I totally agree with you. But then what comes with it, right? That’s the shadow of success that people have fear around. I love to spend time with women who are successful and I love to talk about money. And I love to talk about great things that are happening in people’s lives. And I want other people to do the same. I think it’s really attractive. I think it’s really inspiring to talk to another woman who’s making $45 million in a business that she created out of her own brain. Right? I think there’s something better than that. So finding those women because they exist, right? I think everybody’s just sort of…
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it’s funny because when I first started this podcast, it was a daily, and I’ve blown past 500 episodes at first, because I interview women who have seven, eight and nine figure businesses, I thought, “Will there be enough?” And there’ve been more than enough. I mean, I’m besieged that there are so many amazing women doing great things, but it’s like they’re succeeding in silence in a weird way, right? It’s not in the public perception of on the cover of entrepreneur magazine or whatever. Although that’s changing.
Kris Plachy: Yeah, it is. Everything is morphing. I think even when you think about the traditional groups that have been in place for CEOs, majority of those if you join, they’re predominantly men. I think we’re getting better about starting to create environments for women to come and celebrate with one another and learn from one another. The only thing I think about that though is I think a lot of them are still built in the vein of traditional leadership and structures that I think we all need to be exploded.
Melinda Wittstock: They all need to change. So let’s dig into this management question because there’s a lot to break down there. But let’s start at a 30,000 foot level. I mean, what makes somebody a really good manager, a woman in particular? And then I mean, beyond manager, really a leader?
Kris Plachy: Well, I have five things that I always think about, but I think at the heart of it for me it’s self-awareness and self-responsibility and not being unwilling, I guess. So let’s say that in a positive, being willing to take on and handle things that are difficult.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? So sometimes women do shy away from conflict. And so if you’re growing, running, scaling, a business, I mean, you got to be willing to fire people. And you have to be willing to say no. And you have to be willing to ask for help and you have to be willing to delegate and all these things. And I think all of those things are often hard for women.
Kris Plachy: Absolutely. So all of those things are hard. That your discomfort with discomfort will manifest itself differently depending on who you are. So it could be that you don’t know how to say no. It could be that you don’t know how to give feedback. It could be that you’re really uncomfortable when other people are unhappy and so you want everybody to like you in your company. I just see that at the heart of where women struggle. For me my goal is to help every woman I work with be able to deal with any circumstance at any moment with anyone at any time. Because when you have that core strength than who you are as a leader, bring it. It’s not going to say… That’s not to mean I’m going to love every moment. It won’t affect me and I won’t have to pull myself together. But to know that there’s nothing, there’s not one employee… Everybody has that one employee and it’s always the one who’s the most tenured on your team also. Who is the most challenging to either finally let go of or redirect their work or tell them they’re not performing. And so we just… For me, that’s what I always hope is by the time we’ve had one conversation or 52, you have that self-possession of, “I’ve got this. It doesn’t matter what it is, I’m going to handle it. And I know how.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right? And that’s a muscle. Like it’s when you go to the gym, right? And you’re building strength, you’re building a muscle, whatever you got to practice. Or you’re learning to meditate say. There’s a reason it’s called a practice. Right? Because was really pretty bad at it to begin with. Right?
Kris Plachy: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: So same thing with management. And the one thing about entrepreneurship I’ve found, I mean, I’m on my fifth business now, you really have to be constantly willing to be learning, to be curious, to see changes or things that trigger you as an opportunity to learn from those things. And it’s an interesting one though too, in terms of leadership, because on one hand you have a vision and you want to be really aligned with that vision and pointing right towards it. And on the other hand though, you need to be coachable and flexible. And so getting that kind of connection right, is easier said than done. I mean, it all sounds great, but in practice what can go wrong in that picture? Because sometimes it’s hard to know, right?
Kris Plachy: It’s such a polar opposite role, right? Like in one role, you have to be decisive and clear and know what you want when you’re with your team. You’ve got to have that confidence. They’re relying on you to have it just as much as anyone else. And yet you’re a human and you’re confused and you are learning or hopefully being pushed to learn. And so what I say to women all the time is, where do you go, very successful woman, to work through your worry? Because you have just as much, you’re human. So there’s places that you have to be able to go to be vulnerable and explore and be challenged. I won’t work with a woman if she’s unwilling to listen and be open minded. Right? Because we get very used to our own opinion of things. And I will add too, I just want to emphasize, I love that you use the word muscle because I agree with that. I think learning how to manage is different than learning how to lead. I think they need to be very close sisters in that process. But I think a lot of women especially assume they should be good at managing because they’re mothers or they’re sisters and they’ve taken care of people.
So there’s this frustration I think that is unique to women that somehow they should be better at it without having to have learned it, be taught any actual management skill. And that prevents a lot of women from learning. Because they just think they should be good at it.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. I think it happens too. So I think if you’re in fear, and I don’t necessarily mean conscious fear, unconsciously it can push you into wanting to control things. There are a lot of control freaks out there and perfectionists. And one of my mentors once said to me, “Who actually wants to work for a perfectionist?” Right? Because-
Kris Plachy: Not me.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Because if you turn it around and you think, “Man, well, if someone’s micromanaging me or has to be imposing the how or whatever, I’m not going to be that motivated.” And so one of the marks of great leadership obviously is motivating and empowering a team. And so-
Kris Plachy: And letting go.
Melinda Wittstock: And letting go. That’s right. That surrender where… And this comes back to this kind of whole thing about perfectionism, and there should be an AA for perfectionists. Right? Because I mean, you really do have to let go. So that means it might not be done in exactly the way that you want it done, or maybe 80% of the way there. And that’s got to be good enough. Right? That is a surrender.
Kris Plachy: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: Why do women struggle with that? It’s much easier for men to be able to let go.
Kris Plachy: Yeah. It’s interesting because I’ve coached so many men, they have their own-
Melinda Wittstock: They have different things. Well, maybe I should have said they’re better at delegating.
Kris Plachy: They are because they… Well, I have so many thoughts about it. But in general, when you look at a female entrepreneur, most of them started in their closet or in their garage or in their basement or in a two room office. And the hustle and the control that they had when they started is the very thing they have to stop doing [crosstalk 00:19:21]
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. Oh, my goodness. Having been through this so many times, right? That startup stage where you’re doing everything and you get used to doing everything and then suddenly-
Kris Plachy: You don’t have to do them.
Melinda Wittstock: And you master it all and right at that moment, you have to let that go to be able to get to the next stage. And there’s a number of different things, a number of different moments, I guess, in the scaling depending on your business, where you go through a similar process again and again and again. So it’s hilarious because just as you master something, it’s like you got to learn something new or you’ve actually got to show up almost as… Not a different person, but your priorities and how your time is being used becomes different. Right? Like I think of previous businesses of mine where all of a sudden like 50% of the activity is around hiring and around really motivating the team. Whereas in the beginning there was no team. So it was all more… Right? Like the doing or the raising money or whatever it was.
Kris Plachy: You make a great point. I have a couple of women I’m working with right now who have sort of hit that point where now it’s more about the team and their real leadership role. And they’re kind of lost. Like, “What am I supposed to be doing?” Because they don’t feel productive because they’re not touching their hands on the day-to-day like they used to. And so that’s a recreation, it’s a re identification in their role in the Business.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, we’re so used to doing, right? Like I just think of even our household roles, right? Where we just do all of it. Right? And then you extrapolate that to a business.
Kris Plachy: No. I’m with you. I just had a conversation with my husband this morning because my son’s going to college next year and he was there a year ago and I said, “Yeah. I don’t think I’m going to be in charge of the managing the money for him while he’s in college this year. I think someone else is going to be in charge. It’s going to be you.” Right? We have to delegate. Because I know most of us just accept it. And because we’re good at it and we can multitask, then we also are a little controlling and we like things to be done the way that we like them to be done. But that to me, I really think that’s the biggest challenge for women who have a business, is letting go and trusting and tolerating growth of others while they catch up or they even make it different than you originally thought it would be, but it’s better. It is the sort of proverbial, next vine in the jungle that you have to be willing to grab onto and let go of total control. Or you’ll just stay smaller as a business and you’ll struggle as a woman and a person because you’re always feeling like people can’t do it the way you want it done.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. There’s so many women who are stuck at low to mid six figures and can never quite bust out of that. And I mean, to what extent in your experience is that just the business model they’ve created? Or is it because they become their own block or both?
Kris Plachy: It’s their own block. Because I do coach women who have online businesses, brick and mortar businesses, some that are just crossing over a million, some that are at $75 million. So what they do in the world from my perspective really is irrelevant. It is. I do think there are stages of growth that tie to revenue. I would agree with you that pre-seven figures, six figures area is where we get the most in our own way when it comes to our systems and our thoughts about bringing people into the team.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. We hire too late almost in every case. So here’s the interesting thing, and all the women I talk to and mentor and whatnot as well, it’s like, “Oh, my goodness, hiring is an investment. It’s not an expense.” Just investment, not expense. Because if you hire the right people at the right time, hopefully in the right seats, they’re actually enabling you to bring in more revenue. And like without them you can’t. So you’ve got to like tie… Obviously, you got to tie that investment or whatever back to, “Okay. What’s it going to get you for investing in that person? And what are the expectations? And what are the numbers around that?” Right?.
Kris Plachy: And that’s how you have to have all of that. That’s the other piece I just want to throw in there, is so many people will hire and they don’t design the job.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yeah.
Kris Plachy: There’s no measurables. There’s no way to even know if the position is contributing. Because they just brought someone in because they wanted help.
Kris Plachy: One of the things I say to my clients is the most important hire that you make is your assistant. Your personal assistant. And that’s because that’s the one that you really have to figure out how to get people into your own brain and set expectations and really be clear. And so I’m kind of thinking the same thing would be true the way that you’re saying that if they’re not successful within that first six months, it’s because you haven’t learned how to delegate and manage and set expectations and get work done through others.
Melinda Wittstock: And of course everybody on your team too is going to have different ways that they learn, different ways that they communicate, different strengths and weaknesses, right? Hopefully you’ve done the diligence and made the right hire to begin with. But from there, what are the biggest mistakes that women can make in that hiring process? So when you’re making those hires, what is the best way to go about that at the outset and lay the expectations correctly so that you’re going to set yourself up for success?
Kris Plachy: Okay. So off the bat, the first thing I’ll say is the biggest mistake that I see women make in hiring, especially in those first few hires, is they hire people who they know, who say they can help them. So they hire their sister or their mother to be their bookkeeper or their best friend from high school. If you and I were having a conversation and you said you were going to hire your best girlfriend because she’s really good at bookkeeping, I would tell you, “Please don’t ever do that ever.” Stop immediately. So that’s number one. The second is and honestly I help a lot of my clients do this. We have to think about why do you want to bring this role? Not this person, but the role into your business? What is the result you are expecting from the role? You’re going to pay 80K for this role. What’s the result? And we hire employees to deliver a result. We don’t hire employees to pay them, to your point. And we also don’t hire employees for their time or their experience. We hire employees to deliver a result.
You as the owner and founder and leader of this business, you need to first be clear about the result that you’re expecting. So that is always the first thing you have to figure out. But most people, what they do is think, “I need somebody to do my marketing. I need somebody to handle my social media.” They don’t think, “I want to grow my social media to 50,000 followers in the next six months. And that’s the person I’m going to hire. That’s the role I’m going to satisfy.” They just think, “I need somebody else to do this for me.” And so then the hiring process is compromised. Because you’re not thinking about what you’re really trying to achieve with role.
Melinda Wittstock: Everything comes back to that. So assuming that you’ve hired well, you’ve defined your roles very clearly and then it comes time to managing these folks. I want to get the inside skinny on the best way to make sure that there’s an accountability here. So there’s two sides of the coin, right? There’s the motivation of that person, right? Like exciting them and making them very eager and rewarding them and encouraging them and all those things. But then there’s also the accountability side. So what are some systems, processes, things to do to get that piece right?
Kris Plachy: Yeah. So this actually is the five steps that I always talk about. I won’t go through each one at depth, but women who run successful businesses have all five. So we’ll just start with that. You have to have a clear vision. And the reason you need to have a clear vision is because it is the first point of alignment for hiring the best people, right? We know that my vision is to prove the power of one thriving woman, if I don’t have that clear and I hire someone who wants to save koalas and that’s really her job in life, she’s not aligned to the vision of my business. That inherently is important, especially in a smaller business. We have to have that clear.
Secondly, you have to know what your values are. And the reason that you need to know what your values are it’s because we use our values to hire and fire. And values are how you manage and hold people accountable to behavior. And then majority of the performance issues you’re going to face in your company are going to be related to attitude and behavior, not skill. Most people ignore the behavior part and then they tolerate it for the skill and that’s what sets off culture. That’s what messes up culture, right?
The third piece is your expectations. What do you expect of people when they come to work every day? It has to be level set. One of the traps of a female founder, and frankly, this is true of any leader is that adults should just have common sense and know how to be professional. They should know how to communicate. They should know how to follow up. They don’t. You’ve managed people in any… Right? We just know people do things differently than we do. You can’t expect people to be like you. You have to… If you want people to read your mind, you have to write it down. And that’s what expectations are about. The next piece is everybody has to have role clarity. Everybody has to know what their job is, what they’re supposed to be doing. And then the last piece to that is measures. Those measures have to be in there. How is my performance evaluated so that I have clear role clarity with measures? And then finally to make it all work, we have to have feedback.
So countability requires measures for production. So that’s what the role clarity is about. Job description, KPIs, OKRs, whatever your language is and behavior. When you have those in place, now I can have and hold people accountable to the table I have set for them rather than just making it up or like “This bugs me and I want you to stop.” Which creates sort of this erratic culture or which is really… The most of the issue is it’s never discussed. It’s ignored until they hire someone like me cause they’re losing their mind because people aren’t doing what they want them to do.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. I think the biggest one that all founders make, male, female, is just assuming that people can read their minds or they’re hiring a whole bunch of mini-me’s. And actually, if you did go and hire a whole bunch of mini-me’s, your company would probably fail too because you need that kind of diversity of thought. Like I always think about in my own businesses, “What are the things that I don’t know that I don’t know?”
Kris Plachy: Exactly. Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And without other people in the team that have a different perspective, different background, sort of more diverse experience, I’m never going to know those things. But it kind of behooves me to figure out, “Yeah. What’s the best way to kind of motivate them. But every single one of your five rules are just so clear. Right? Just to get those things right.
Kris Plachy: And they’re so unsexy, Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: I think if you take the time to just lay that groundwork, you’re going to go much faster. It’s kind of like the tortoise and the hare. And I tend to be, in fact, my Chinese animal. I’m the rabbit, right? So I go fast and earlier and I do. I go really fast. So that’s a good thing and bad thing, because I can’t assume that everybody else is going to be like that and I can’t go so fast that I skip over an important step. Which if I look back on different things that I’ve done really well or not so well in all the different companies I’ve grown or scaled or whatever. I mean, that’s been it. I’m going way back to the beginning of the conversation where you said self-awareness, right? So if you know-
Kris Plachy: It takes a few bumps to figure that out, right?
Melinda Wittstock: It does. If you want therapy, just become an entrepreneur, right? But you’ve got to really be willing to learn though. And you’ve got to be willing to look and see without taking it personally. Like it’s not a bad thing. It’s just who you are. But if you really know your strengths, double down on those, higher your weaknesses but be aware of the weakness. Be aware of your style. Be aware of all those things so that you can articulate it to somebody else. Yeah.
Kris Plachy: That’s so good when you tied it to weakness. Because I think what a lot of people, women especially will do, is they hire to the weakness, but they abdicate. So I use bookkeeping a lot just because most entrepreneurs are not into the bookkeeping. And so they often will hire, “Oh, I need somebody to do the books.” And then they just completely abdicate it.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. But oh, my gosh. What a terrible mistake because the numbers are telling you the story of what’s going on. So if you’re not on your numbers…
Kris Plachy: Yeah, and it’s a very passive relationships rather than forecasting and budgeting and looking at your performance on a regular basis and really anticipating. So that’s a common… This abdication of, “Well, you’re the expert so I’m going to hire you to be good at it and I don’t have to think about it.” But which of course always seems to bite people backwards if they do it. And I’ll take that one step further because I’ve coached quite a few women over the past year who have built successful multimillion dollar businesses and to the point that they’re building out their C-suite now, right? So here they are, the CEO, and they’re hiring their CTO and their chief marketing and they don’t have the same level of experiences as a lot of these people do. And really the shake in their own confidence here has affected some of these women where they’re abdicating big chunks of business responsibility without oversight.
And so what I always try and remember with my clients is that you still are leading this team. This is not you now hiring a bunch of people who are going to help everything be better. You’re still in charge and yeah, they may have 15 years more experience than you, but that’s where the self-awareness piece comes back in, right? If I lack confidence, if I question my own authority, if I’m afraid of being disrespected, I won’t be able to increase my own presence as a leader in that moment. And so your self-awareness… I say it all the time, in order to grow the business, you have to grow the woman running it. That they go together. And sometimes the business gets ahead of you and you have to catch up and other times you get way ahead of the business and we need the business to catch up. But what we need is for you to be always seeking, growing, investing. I know I’m saying a lot, but I have one other thing I want to say about that, because I do coach men and women. Majority of my clients are women, but for years I’ve coached lots of very successful men.
And when I talked to a potential new client, what is one thing that is very consistent with the difference between them, is that men see hiring a coach as an investment in the business. Women see hiring a coach as an expense, an indulgence in their-
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, God, my coaching, my coaches and masterminds and all that stuff, have been the best investment that I ever could have made.
Kris Plachy: Right? Yeah. I think I’m using that as the example, but I think that’s true in lots of places for men and women, right? So I want to really, really capture that self-awareness because it is at the… You can look at some very successful women who have not been able to punch through another level because of this gap in their own awareness.
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh.
Kris Plachy: Right?
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. Kris, I’m just so intrigued and I can’t believe we’re this far into the interview without asking you, where did all this amazing knowledge and practice come from? Did you have any hard knocks learning this stuff along the way? Tell me a little bit about your journey. Because I want to demystify that hard knock thing because we learn things when we fail and we try something and it doesn’t work or whatever and we have to try a different way or whatever. But tell me a little bit about how you came to where you are right now with this wisdom and knowledge.
Kris Plachy: Well, I think my experience started with being a young individual contributor with terrible managers. And I worked in a startup right out of college and I shouldn’t say they all were. I had a couple of really great leaders. But I had a few doozies. And they say we learn just as much from people who shouldn’t. What you don’t want to do versus what you do want to do. So my very first two bosses were really… I mean, really bad. And they were both women, honestly. They were abusive and it was not a good circumstance. I quit my job. But then when I became a manager, I had the great opportunity of becoming a manager in an environment that didn’t have any support for managers. And so I had to figure out how… And I worked in sales before that. So I had to figure out how to coalesce a team and get the most out of people and not know how. And so I just decided I would think of them all as my clients.
And it was when I did that, that I was able to build this different kind of relationship with them than I had experienced with watching this other leader that I had worked with at the time that was very punitive and fear-based. Then I had many missteps along the way as I grew in my own leadership. And I went from small team to very large team. And then in that course of that path, I discovered coaching. I started just taking my own training. And I was a coach leader for the majority of my corporate career. I got certified, I did all of the work but never started my own business. But the capstone of my corporate career was we had about 4,000 leaders in the company I worked in. And they were making huge mistakes across the company and their president was tired of all of the escalated HR issues.
And I had built a reputation for myself because of all of the studying I’d done. I was leading initiatives in my whole region for coaching and developing managers. And so I was invited to create a coaching performance team for the whole business, for the whole company. And we did that. And then I was invited by our COO, who was our only female leader to create and put together the women’s leadership program for the whole company for that was for all of the women in the business. And so my own learning told me to teachers like Bill George who wrote True North and Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. And then I compliment that with my own learning through life coaching and coaching and then my old learning through leadership. I’ve learned over and over and over again through lots of different masters.
And so the core thesis of my work is that how you live is how you lead. You cannot remove the human from the leader position. And I watched so many people try to do that. To try to be different at work than they were at home or try to pretend that they weren’t something when they’re at work. And it doesn’t work and it’s inauthentic. And I know that what I do in the world is I try and help people be better leaders from the point of view of what I think makes for great leadership. So I’m sure someone might argue with me. I can speak from personal experience, having led hundreds of people that I think what I do works and I’ve got good results to prove it. But I also know that it is a philosophy and at the end of the day, what we need is to have one. I think a lot of people assume leadership roles, even entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs do not wake up and think, “I’m going to start a company because I want to manage people.” Right? So we have to formulate our own opinion.
But this is just my calling. Honestly, Melinda, I had somebody… I don’t know if you know who Ali Brown is, but she’s [crosstalk 00:43:58].
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Kris Plachy: She and I were talking the other day and she said, “You’re just like a business Buddha.”
Melinda Wittstock: That’s wonderful. I think that’s a title of your episode, business Buddha. I like it.
Kris Plachy: Business Buddha. Yeah. This is my place. And I love it and I take a lot of pride in it. And I also have tremendous respect for women who are doing powerful work every day to be better humans and better leaders and making impact and make money and change the world. And I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Melinda Wittstock: Kris, well I could talk to you for a lot longer and you’re going to have to come back. I just want to make sure that everybody who’s listening knows exactly how to find you and work with you.
Kris Plachy: Yeah, I’d love to invite you to just… The easiest way really is a couple of ways. You can go to my LinkedIn profile, which is Kris Plachy. My name is so awful. I’m like, “I probably need to be like Chris Smith.” Right? But it’s Kris Plachy, K, Kris, and then Plachy, P-L-A-C-H-Y. Find me on LinkedIn. My website is the same as my name and then I’m also on Instagram if you like a little more touchy-feely, get-to-know-you kind of environment. I love that space to just be a little more me. And so I’m also on Instagram as Kris Plachy Coach. So I’d certainly love to get to know more of your listeners and see what information I can provide out there to be helpful. But mostly, this has been a rich conversation and I’m very grateful for the invitation, Melinda. Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: Kris, well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Kris Plachy: Oh, I love that. That’s fabulous. Thank you.