Gary Schmidt, Director of Public and Government Affairs at Clackamas County knew he wanted to feel better about his work. Not only was he overwhelmed by the workload, he felt stressed regularly and found his creativity had waned. His team was stressed as well, and he was embarrassed to admit he didn’t know what he needed to shift his performance and the level of joy he took from his work. After getting a personal referral from a friend, he decided to start the conversation about leadership development with Michelle Rios, owner and principal of Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC.
Michelle started the coaching process with powerful assessment reports, including Everything DiSC®, that helped Gary get a clear picture of his strengths and opportunities for growth as a leader. “Michelle gave me a lot of great advice. She reminded me that ‘any strength overused becomes a weakness.’ The strength I was overusing was my compassion for others. Instead of providing them with an opportunity to learn, I would ‘throw myself in front of the bus’ to keep them from discomfort.”
Michelle taught Gary how to tap into his body for clues on when he should speak up, coach or ask questions. “We started calling it my lava,” Gary says. “Whenever I would sense stress, discomfort or a confrontation, I would get red in the face and feel my gut churning.” Before coaching with Michelle, his team members would note the physical reaction and ask if something was wrong. When Gary would say it was nothing, or that everything was okay, the team would be confused and developed a distrust for their leader since his words didn’t match his nonverbal cues.
“Michelle helped me realize my need to protect them was also born from a need to control all the details. I was inadvertently showing them I distrusted their ability to do their jobs. In return, they didn’t trust my leadership, which caused them more stress. I wasn’t doing them any favors by trying to take everything on.”
Michelle’s coaching helped Gary grow a respect for the mental physical connection. “I realize now how the physical body is connected to mental toughness. Lower energy in my body was affecting my performance at work. Michelle referred me to a wellness coach, and by shifting my habits to eating well, exercising, and taking care of my body, I improved my mental self as well.” Through his lifestyle changes, he shed excess pounds, connected with a profound sense of calm, and gained an abundance of positive energy. Gary also regained his creativity and was showing up to work with new leadership skills and new ways to relate to his team.
People started seeing the difference in him. “Honestly, they were a little freaked out. They wanted to know why the sudden change.” After several months, he told his boss that he’d been going through leadership coaching. After eight months, he shared his progress with his colleagues.
Shortly after that, he hired Michelle to train his team. “Michelle coached us on the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive TeamTM. It was amazing!” The team not only learned the value of trust and productive conflict, but practiced these skills, and committed to adding them as regular tactics in their everyday work environment. “Being upfront, vulnerable, and direct to say what needs to be said was one of our biggest takeaways from the training. We learned conflict is productive and makes our work more effective and efficient.”
After the team training, the managers on his team went through one-on-one coaching with Michelle. Gary enjoys seeing his team happy and shining in their own light. “I was very proud of how much the team – even the front-line staff – grew and talked about the positive impact Michelle’s work had on them. They were very excited for the change.”
The improvement in Gary and his team resonated out to other departments, who in turn hired Michelle for coaching. “They would come to us to ask what we were doing differently. I was happy to send them to Michelle. Her influence has boosted the whole organization,” says Gary.
Gary also has benefited from better relationships outside of work. “I used to spend my weekends feeling totally depleted and needing to recharge with time spent alone. That time often turned into me worrying about work, even when I wasn’t working. Now in my free time, I have more energy to socialize with friends and family. That’s helped us reconnect and get a lot more joy out of our time together.”
Gary is committed to the tactics he’s acquired; noting the work is never done, but a continuous journey of learning and practicing positive habits. As a result, Gary has learned how to feel better about being a leader, not just in the results, but in the everyday moments that create his career. He feels connected in himself, mind, and body, and connected to his team, trusting them, and receiving trust in return, and connected to his family and friends.
“Holistically, I’m a better me and the people in my life benefit too.”
Connect with Blue Tiger Leadership to support your leaders and teams grow to their highest potential.
Send us a note to start the conversation or make an appointment to video chat.