Groundbreaking Leadership: A Conversation with Stephanie Treece

On the 12th episode of the Deep Leadership podcast released last March 2020, we had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Treece, a trailblazer in the field of submarine leadership. As one of the first women to serve as an officer on a nuclear submarine, Stephanie’s journey to becoming a qualified submariner and Navy Nuclear Engineer is truly inspiring.

We dove into Stephanie’s journey as a submarine officer, discussing her experiences as a new officer and later leading an experienced team as a young officer. Stephanie shared valuable insights on the qualification process on board a submarine, which can be a daunting and challenging experience for new officers. She spoke about the importance of showing up and being authentic, and the differences between authentic and fake leaders.

One of the key takeaways from our conversation was Stephanie’s emphasis on the importance of empathy and love in leadership. She shared that “leadership is much more than shouting out orders, it’s about showing empathy and love.” Stephanie spoke about her experience as a woman in a male-dominated field, and how she had to work hard to earn the respect of her colleagues. She also talked about the importance of being a good listener, and how it helped her to understand the perspectives of her crew members, and also helped her to lead effectively.

“Leadership is much more than shouting out orders, it’s about showing empathy and love.” – Stephanie Treece

Stephanie also shared valuable advice for new leaders, including the importance of being self-motivated, visionary, flexible, and a good listener. She emphasized the importance of setting a good example, and how it is essential for new leaders to lead by example, especially when they are leading experienced crew members. Stephanie also spoke about the importance of being a visionary leader, and how it is essential to have a clear vision of where you want to take your team and how to get there.

We invite you to listen to this episode and learn from Stephanie’s unique and groundbreaking leadership experience. As she continues to break down barriers and pave the way for future leaders, Stephanie’s insights and wisdom are truly invaluable. Her story is a testament to the fact that with hard work, dedication, and a positive attitude, anyone can achieve their goals, regardless of their background or gender. Stephanie’s story is not only an inspiration for new leaders, but also for anyone who wants to pursue a career in a male-dominated field.

It’s a classic episode worth a listen:

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Organizational Change Methods

In 1964, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan famously wrote, “the times they are a-changin’.” And the pace of that change has continued to accelerate since that song was written. Businesses need to be more agile and change-friendly than ever before. Today’s business leaders must be able to successfully lead change initiatives to stay ahead of trends and the competition (Kotter, 2012). Change is the only way businesses will survive (Phillips & Klein, 2022).

Change is the only way businesses will survive Click To Tweet

Fortunately, there are many approaches business leaders can use to influence change in their organizations (Phillips & Klein, 2022). The first real contribution to change management was developed by Kurt Lewin, who popularized a three-step planned approach to change in 1951. This approach required top managers to plan and project the change from the top of the organization. Lewin described the organizational change process as unfreezing, moving and acting, then refreezing in a new form (Ratana et al., 2020). This top-down, management-driven approach to change has worked for businesses for nearly four decades.

Lewin’s top-down, planned approach to change management, however, proved ineffective with the pace of environmental, technological, and organizational change in the 1990s. In 1991, Arnold Judson, a strategic management consultant, expanded Lewin’s work into a five-phase step-by-step model, which included analysis, communication, gaining acceptance, changing from the status quo, and consolidating the new conditions (Ratana et al., 2020). This five-step model led to many other multi-step change management models, such as Kanter’s ten commandments, Hamel’s eight-step insurrection method, and Luecke’s seven steps of managing change (Ratana et al., 2020).

During this renaissance period of process-driven change management programs, John Kotter launched his eight-stage leading change method in 1996 (Ratana et al., 2020). This method became the best-known (Kang et al., 2022) and most influential approach in the change practitioner community (McLaren et al., 2022). Kotter’s approach was mainly adopted from his observations as a consultant and Kanter’s ten commandments (Ratana et al., 2020). Kotter was also heavily influenced by Lewin’s unfreeze-change-freeze methodology, as evidenced by the penguin and iceberg metaphors in his writings (McLaren et al., 2022).

Kotter’s eight stages included establishing a sense of urgency, creating a powerful guiding coalition, developing a vision and strategy, communicating the change vision, empowering broad-based action, generating short-term wins, consolidating gains and producing more change, and anchoring new approaches in the culture (Kotter, 2012). The stages are meant to be followed in rigid order, although Kotter later revised this idea in 2014, acknowledging that the steps can also be run concurrently (McLaren et al., 2022).

Even though Kotter’s model is practitioner-based, not robustly founded in theory, and has been criticized as “pop-management,” it has been highly influential in academic literature, widely used in change management education, and is commonly deployed in change management efforts (McLaren et al., 2022). Kotter’s model was developed with consultancy-based observations but has been accepted as a “recommendable reference” in academic literature. (McLaren et al., 2022).

Today’s business leaders must be able to successfully lead change initiatives to stay ahead of trends and the competition Click To Tweet

Kotter’s change model has been deployed in various industries but has been especially successful in guiding change in higher education settings, specifically for dealing with administrative and technical changes (Kang et al., 2022). Kang et al. (2022) documented its use in a three-year change process in an engineering department at a university in the southwestern United States. They concluded that with some modifications, Kotter’s model worked well in an institutional setting. They found a non-linear approach to be more effective and integrated ideas from the design-based implementation research (DBIR) model (Kang et al., 2022).

Other modifications have been suggested to Kotter’s model as well. McLaren et al. (2022) suggest that “establishing a sense of urgency” can create anxiety and stress in employees and ultimately lead to increased resistance to change. Instead of vilifying the status quo, they recommend emphasizing the things from the status quo that will remain the same after the change initiative. In this manner, employees can have a firm anchor and reference point, reducing stress and increasing acceptance of the change (McLaren et al., 2022).

References

Kang, S. P., Chen, Y., Svihla, V., Gallup, A., Ferris, K., & Datye, A. K. (2022). Guiding change in higher education: An emergent, iterative application of Kotter’s change model. Studies in Higher Education (Dorchester-on-Thames), 47(2), 270-289. doi:10.1080/03075079.2020.1741540

Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Harvard Business Review Press.

McLaren, T. A. S., van der Hoorn, B., & Fein, E. C. (2022). Why vilifying the status quo can derail a change effort: Kotter’s contradiction, and theory adaptation. Journal of Change Management, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print), 1-19. doi:10.1080/14697017.2022.2137835

Phillips, J., & Klein, J. D. (2022). Change management: From theory to practice. TechTrends, 67(1), 189-197. doi:10.1007/s11528-022-00775-0

Ratana, S., Raksmey, C., & Danut, D. (2020). Conceptualizing a framework: A critical review of the development of change management theories. Studies in Business and Economics (Romania), 15(2), 205-214. doi:10.2478/sbe-2020-0035

Note: This paper was written as part of my requirements for a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership at Liberty University. I’m sharing this here for those who may be interested in some of the theories of leadership. Let me know if you have any questions.

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If you want to become a better leader, order my latest book You Have the Watch: A Guided Journal to Become a Leader Worth Following.

This guided journal provides daily leadership guidance and reflection for an entire year. Each week, you will learn a new leadership skill. Each day, you will explore a new facet of that skill. As you do the work and put in the reps as a leader, this journal will be your constant companion. By the end of the year, you will master fifty of the most important leadership skills.

Go Where You Are Celebrated, Not Just Tolerated

One of the key pieces of advice I give to professionals is to “go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated.”

Go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated. Click To Tweet

This advice came from my good friend, Coach John Brubaker who wrote the foreword to my first book. It means that instead of staying in a job or organization where you feel undervalued or unappreciated, you should actively seek out opportunities where your unique skills and talents are recognized and valued.

When you are celebrated in your work, you are more likely to feel fulfilled and motivated in your job, which can lead to greater productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction. Additionally, when you feel valued in your work, you are more likely to stay with a company for the long-term, which can lead to greater career advancement and stability.

However, it is important to note that this does not mean that you should be constantly looking for the next best thing or jumping from job to job. Rather, it means that you should be mindful of your current situation and actively seek out opportunities where you can feel fulfilled and valued in your work.

One way to do this is to take a step back and assess your current job and organization. 

  • Are you being given opportunities to grow and develop your skills? 
  • Are your contributions and ideas being recognized and valued? 
  • Are you being compensated fairly for your work? 

If the answer to these questions is no, then it may be time to start looking for new opportunities.

Another way to find a place where you are celebrated is to focus on your strengths and passions. Think about what you are naturally good at and what you truly enjoy doing. Identify the type of work that aligns with your strengths and passions and seek out opportunities in those areas.

It’s also important to remember that being celebrated doesn’t mean that everything is going to be perfect all the time. Sometimes you will have to deal with difficult challenges and people, but if overall you feel like you have a chance to grow, be recognized, and achieve success, that’s a great sign that you are in a place where you are celebrated.

In summary, “go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated” is all about finding work that aligns with your strengths, passions, and values, and in an environment that recognizes, values, and rewards your contributions.

Remember that you deserve to work somewhere where you are truly valued, respected and celebrated, not just an average employee.

 

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If you want to become a better leader, order my latest book You Have the Watch: A Guided Journal to Become a Leader Worth Following.

This guided journal provides daily leadership guidance and reflection for an entire year. Each week, you will learn a new leadership skill. Each day, you will explore a new facet of that skill. As you do the work and put in the reps as a leader, this journal will be your constant companion. By the end of the year, you will master fifty of the most important leadership skills.