What habits do leaders need to build during turbulent times? Ali Grovue takes a deep look at this on her new book, Rise Up: Leadership Habits for Turbulent Times, which she co-authored with Mike Watson. The book reveals digestible and comprehensive methods for managers detailing how to be an influential force – navigating chaos and crisis in the workplace. With extensive experience in organizational development, coupled with academic and psychological research and personal narratives, Rise Up is an essential guide for any aspiring and current leader.
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Rise Up: Leadership Habits For Turbulent Times With Ali Grovue
I am very excited to introduce our next guest, Ali Grovue.
How are you?
I am good. How are you doing?
I’m doing well. First of all, I’m very excited about this book because it is all about rising up. It’s called Rise Up: Leadership Habits for Turbulent Times. Indeed we have been in turbulent times. I’ll share with you a little bit about Ali, then we’re going to jump in. She is a Senior Consultant at Ignite Management Services, and is an expert in organizational strategy and leadership development with experience as a clean-tech COO, a nonprofit Executive Director, and an officer in the Navy.
She loves the process and innate discipline that drives her passion for personal and organizational development through purpose-driven leadership. We’re going to be jumping in and talking about leadership with your book, Rise Up: Leadership Habits for Turbulent Times. What I love about this book is you talk about some important distinctions of leadership, which are trust, inquisitiveness, humility, optimism, courage and discipline. First, I want to know from you. Why did you write this book?
I’ve been thinking about it a lot with the book having come out. I always thought I would write a book. I didn’t know what it would be about, whether it would be fiction, nonfiction, work-related or otherwise. For me, this idea of writing a book wasn’t about a particular story that I needed to tell. It was just appreciation and love for books, and writing words and sentences. I always thought that one day there would be a book in my future.
The opportunity came through my work. I’m a strategy and leadership development consultant. Through our work, we have seen that there’s a significant leadership gap in organizations. Most leaders don’t have any formal leadership training. They’re often modeling themselves off on core examples. We do this work with our clients, but we wanted to find a way to help others and the people we don’t work with directly understand what great leadership looks like, and the kind of leadership that helps build personal resiliency, and resiliency in teams and organizations. It was my co-author and my desire to help and spread what we have learned in working with our clients to a broader audience.
This is such an important topic, leadership in corporate and culture, and creating distinguished examples of how you get to be, how you get to show up and relate to others. You mentioned writing the book was something important to you. What are some lessons that you teach in your books, specifically leadership lessons?
This is aligned with my co-author and my feelings about it, but also with feedback that we’ve received. This is for leaders. It’s anywhere from new leaders to experienced executives who care about the health of their people and their organizations, but it’s also about being a good person. When you look at some of the habits like trust, optimism, courage and discipline, these are lessons that anyone can take into their interaction, how they carry themselves, how they show up, how they interact with people in their lives, but our focus is on leadership. The biggest lesson before the book even gets into the habits is around motivation and purpose. Leadership can be very difficult, certainly, in the past number of years.
It has been exceptionally difficult. People have struggled and the people who we are leading are struggling, but leadership is always difficult. The book talks about the importance of having a motivating purpose. It’s that why or that reason to get out of bed in the morning and greet the day, and push ourselves to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable, which leaders are often called to do. Having that clear purpose of, “Why am I doing this? Why do I want to be a leader?” is important because you’re not going to get it right all the time. You’re going to have those moments of, “Why am I doing this? This is exhausting. This is difficult.” It’s needing to get clear with yourself on, “Why do I want to be in this position? Why is it important to me?” Without that, it’s going to be difficult to get through those difficult times.
Do you help people with specific tools and exercises on how to get to that why and purpose?
Leadership can be very, very difficult.
We do, and we speak about some of it in the book. We do this with the clients, leadership teams, and individuals and teams that we coach. It’s going through a process of, “What do I want? What do I really want? Why do I want it?” Leadership in particular is being honest with yourself and holding up the mirror, “Am I doing this for money, promotion, prestige, power, other people’s expectations?” None of those reasons is going to sustain you. It’s helping clients to hold up the mirror, dig deep and look inside themselves and say, “What do you want? What matters to you in life? What do you care about? What’s the impact that you want to have? Is it about your family, your kids or something else?”
We’re helping them go through that exercise of understanding their motivation ultimately. Sometimes the answer to that is, “I don’t want to be a leader. This is not what I want.” Sometimes it can go in that direction. Otherwise, it can go in the direction of helping people get in touch with, “I do care about being in a role of leadership because I want to lift others and because I want to have a positive impact.” That’s where it becomes powerful. There are a number of questions set in the book that we also use with our clients.
Those questions are something that you don’t want to address one time in your life. It’s something that you addressed multiple times.
You revisit it. I do it myself as well. I look at it annually. My broader guiding purpose, thankfully, hasn’t changed much over time, but you definitely revisit it.
We get into the distinct principles in your book, trust, inquisitiveness, humility, optimism, courage and discipline. Talk us through to give those leaders and people, because we have business owners, small business owners, founders, self-employed individuals and career people, why you came to these six specific distinctions.
There are six habits in the book: optimism, courage, discipline, humility, trust and inquisitiveness. We came to them through our work over the years with clients. Before we used this framework with our clients, it started out as observations of the leaders we work with who are exceptional and do well, and create thriving and resilient organizations, and observing what was it about their behavior that was leading to those outcomes. We’re also seeing our clients who falter or struggle and seeing where those gaps were.
The identification of those habits came through our work and observing the strengths and weaknesses of the leaders that we work with. From there, developing that into a framework and applying it to our coaching and our leadership development work. Seeing the impact of that when people have awareness of what those behaviors look like and do intentional work to improve on the habits where they may be lacking and seeing the impact that has on their leadership.
Some of them are about you and they’re a bit more internal. Courage would be an example. Courage to stretch yourself, go outside your comfort zone, courage to stand by and stand up for your values. Some of them are more about how you interact with others. That’s super-critical and relevant for leadership. Inquisitiveness, there are lots of curious people who are interested but they don’t necessarily demonstrate it, especially leaders, in how they engage with their people. It’s asking questions, seeking to understand, and making people feel that their input matters. Humility is very similar. It’s recognizing you can’t do what you’re trying to do alone. Are you demonstrating that through your actions and how you interact with and engage the people that work for you?
The habits themselves, we think in a way they’re quite straightforward. They’re easy for people to understand, which is one thing that’s great about them. They make sense to people. The difficult part is changing the behavior. They’re referred to as habits for a reason. It is about habitual practice for behavior change in each of these areas. That changes how you show up and your ability to lift others and maximize their potential in pursuit of whatever results you’re looking for.
Everyone, you can go and purchase Rise Up: Leadership Habits for Turbulent Times on Amazon.com. Ali, we’ve talked about the high-level content of the book. I want to give some context to it. Can you share perhaps a case study of maybe a company you’ve worked with or something that’s in the book on how before they worked with you, they were having an issue, and then they were able to have a powerful transformation that helped them rise up?
There are lots of examples, some positive and some not. Perhaps you might look at them as positive because ultimately, they ended in decisions of, “This isn’t for me.” That can happen. It happened several times with me, which I think is a positive outcome. One that sticks out for me is I was working with an organization with a medium-sized business in the apparel industry. They were going through very difficult times. There was a new leader who had taken on what was a toxic culture and a dysfunctional leadership team. There was no trust and no respect. There were lots of blame and gossip. It was a very negative environment and the business results were terrible.
This leader had taken on this role somewhat hesitantly. She was asked to take on this role and clearly, she had a lot of doubts about taking it on but decided to do it anyway. When I started working with her, we did a lot of outreach with the staff in the organization to help her understand the perspectives of others. We’re helping her to open her mind to what was going on. The big shift for her was she was looking outward for a long time at what is wrong with the other members of the leadership team. It was, “They do this wrong. They’re not doing this.” There was a lot of blaming the other. She had come in and this history already existed.
Your life can be more. You can have more, and work can be fulfilling and enjoyable. You can find that.
It is natural to feel, “This isn’t my fault. There are all these things wrong with the other people in the organization.” I took quite a bit of coaching work, which was focused on, “Why are you here? Why did you take this on? What is this about for you?” She did have a lot of hesitancy in doing it. We’re helping her get in touch with, “I chose to take this for a reason and what is my role in that?” She got to the point where through the process of that coaching, she had a bit of an a-ha moment of, “I have just realized I may not have been the problem. I may not have caused this but I have to be the solution.”
At that moment, she took ownership over the process and worked with the leadership team to change the dynamic and improve those relationships. Our engagement had ended within a few months. We had a catch-up and she said, “It’s like a different company. It feels completely different.” The shift was that individual leader mindset change. That was the shift. It was her looking in the mirror and saying, “I’ve got to stop pointing fingers at everyone else. I’m the leader. It’s up to me to change it.” That shift completely changed how she show up and how she get into the challenges, and then you saw it in the business results later.
Coming from 100% responsibility and that shift that you mentioned is integral in terms of that particular example. Thank you for sharing. We’re going to jump into the lightning round. I’ll ask you questions and you will say the first thing that comes to your mind. The first question is what is your legacy?
I want to help people live more joyful and fulfilling lives. There’s so much sadness and unhappiness, and people no getting what they want out of life. I want people to know it can be more. They can have more and work can be fulfilling and enjoyable. I want to help them find that.
What is your favorite book?
I don’t think I can pick one.
The first person that comes to mind.
I’m going to go with the author of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck. It’s a fantastic book. Several of those would be on my top book list, so I’ll go with him.
What are you reading next?
Leadership is about lifting others. It’s about driving results through others. It’s helping them find and connect with their purpose and fulfill their potential in the pursuit of organizational results.
I’ll tell you what I’m reading. I’m almost done. It is fairly new. It’s about Churchill and the blitz during World War II. It’s called The Splendid And The Vile. It’s historical non-fiction.
What are you writing next? Do you get another book in you or something else?
The very next thing I have the privilege of writing is an article for an HR publication all around the leadership choice, which goes back to some of the points we’ve talked about choosing to be a leader and what that means. That will be the next thing. I’ll be getting that out for publication in June. What’s the next book? We have a similar framework for what creates resilient leadership teams, which is another set of six habits. We have talked about writing that book, but I still think there’s a creative book in my future. I don’t know what that is yet. I don’t know if it’s fiction or nonfiction. It’s something not work or business-related. I think something will come. That’s maybe more like a ten years from now thing.
I love that. Everyone, you can go to Amazon or your local bookstore and purchase Rise Up: Leadership Habits for Turbulent Times. Ali, where can people at home find out more about you, websites and social media?
To learn more about our work and the book as well, you can go to our company website, which is IgniteManagement.ca. The best way to follow me and keep in touch and see what I’m up to is through LinkedIn. It’s my name, Ali Grovue. I’m the only one that exists. If you punch that into LinkedIn, you will find me. My Instagram handle is the same.
What would you like to leave with our audience at home? One last piece of advice.
Leadership is about lifting others. It’s about driving results through others. It’s helping them find and connect with their purpose and fulfill their potential in the pursuit of organizational results. That’s what this is about, and this is what the habits help you to do. First, the need to embrace that is what leadership is. It’s not about developing great products or closing deals. It’s about other people, how you interact with them and the impact that you have. It can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, and bring you a lot of joy. It can also be tough. If you’re going into a leadership role or you’re in a leadership role, you need to think about what that means. Pick up the book, go through that process of the motivation and the purpose, and get clear on why you’re doing it and the rest will come.
Ali, I want to acknowledge you and thank you for being here.
Thank you so much. This was a ton of fun.
Everyone at home, thank you so much. I’ll see you next time. Take care. All the best.
- Ali Grovue
- Rise Up: Leadership Habits for Turbulent Times
- The Alchemist
- One Hundred Years Of Solitude
- The Grapes of Wrath
- The Splendid And The Vile
- LinkedIn – Ali Grovue
- Instagram – Ali Grovue
About Ali Grovue
ALI GROVUE is a Senior Consultant at Ignite Management Services. An expert in organizational strategy and leadership development, Grovue has served as a clean-tech COO, non-profit executive director and an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. Grovue completed her degree with honors in organizational behavior from the University of British Columbia and Leadership Coaching training at Harvard University. Her love of process and innate discipline drives her passion for personal and organizational development through purpose-driven leadership.