• Sarah E. Brown

It’s Not What You Do. It’s Who You Decide to Be with Lisa Schmidt


Do you feel like you are not good enough in what you’re doing? Do you feel like men always have it better than women?


Changing your self-doubt to self-love would help a lot in discovering your strengths and becoming a better woman leader. For you to become a better leader, start by opening yourself to different interactions and learn to ask for help from others, whether as a referral for work or awards or for your personal life.


Lisa Schmidt is a seasoned coach and leadership development expert. She is keenly interested in what fosters and what hinders personal and professional change and transition. Her primary area of practice is in supporting senior leaders in speaking truth and acting with courage as they craft compelling, powerful organizational cultures.


In this episode, Lisa shares how to overcome self-doubt and biases in order to become a better women leader. She also shares some micro-practices to do around self-care.


What you will learn from this episode:

  • Discover how to know your strengths and overcome self-doubt

  • Learn how interaction and asking for feedback from others can help you become a better woman leader

  • Learn more ways to manifest self-love through interaction with the help of a support group


We're so quick to think that we have to build up our weaknesses when really, we do so much better, and we make so much more progress in all aspects of our lives if we understand our strengths and apply them.
- Lisa Schmidt


Valuable Free Resource:


Check out the VIA Character Strengths Survey! Visit: VIA Character Strengths survey



Topics Covered:


01:40 - Challenge is the bias women leaders receive in society and their workplace


04:58 - Self-doubt around strengths, competencies, experience, and capabilities are one of the biggest mistakes women leaders face especially when applying for a job or recognition


08:02 - One free and actionable tip you can do to address the challenge of self-doubt: Ask people for help.


10:50 - One valuable resource to overcome self-doubt by learning your strengths: Check out the VIA Character Strengths Survey! Visit: VIA Character Strengths survey


12:45 - Q: What kind of regular practices can women adopt or adapt to consistently incorporate self-care into our lives? A: Unless we, ourselves, are feeling resilient, and that we feel that we have a sense of solidity in ourselves, it's very, very hard to bring the best of what we have into our relationships, into our work, and into our communities.



Key Takeaways:


“Take a bit of time to think of the being bucket list. What are the things that over the course of your life you want to cultivate in yourself that you want to be more of? Do you want to be more present? Do you want to be more thoughtful? Do you want to be more attuned to what you need for your own self-care? Because those are the practices that are going to carry you through all the difficulties of being in a leadership position of feeling that you're pulled in all kinds of directions and that's really are the foundation I believe for a fulfilling and, happier life.” - Lisa Schmidt


“There are many, many ways to be recognized either in your organization, community organizations within your profession. Tell your friends and colleagues you need and want their help, and it could be about promoting your work or succeeding with a project you've never tried before that someone you know has some experience.” - Lisa Schmidt


“Knowing that you have strengths you can use every day helps you with your happiness, your well-being. It boosts your relationships. It gives you the resilience to manage stress and accomplish your goals. It's a powerful tool and a place to start to understand what is strong about you.” - Lisa Schmidt



Ways to Connect with Lisa Schmidt:



Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown



Full Episode Transcript:


Sarah E. Brown 1:04

My guest today is Lisa Schmidt. She is a seasoned coach and leadership development expert and is keenly interested in what fosters and what hinders personal and professional change and transition.


Her primary area of practice is in supporting senior leaders in speaking truth and acting with courage, as they craft compelling, powerful organizational cultures. In addition to her Master's Degree in Organizational Change, Lisa is a Certified Professional Coach, and a skillful facilitator of leadership development, and organizational culture transformation. She is currently collaborating on a soon-to-be-released podcast on diversity and inclusion and belonging, and it's going to be called Different People.


Welcome, Lisa, thank you for joining me today.


Lisa Schmidt 2:04

Oh, Sarah, what a treat. Thank you for the invitation.


And listen, before we start, I just want to recognize the impact that you have in your work, how you promote women in business and the conversations that you're having in your podcast. I'm grateful to be included in the community that you're building.


Sarah E. Brown 2:22

Oh, good. Well, thank you so much for that. So tell me what is the biggest challenge you help female leaders face in business today?


Lisa Schmidt 2:29

Yeah, what a great question. So as you noted, I work in the fields of organizational culture, teams, and leadership development. Now, here's what I love.


Women everywhere are breaking glass ceilings like never before. I mean, look, we now have in the United States, a vice president, Kamala Harris, and New Mexico in the last year became the first state to elect all women of color to its house delegation.


I live in Canada, and here our deputy prime minister is a woman. Women everywhere are coming into positions of considerable power, yet, this is somehow seen as an anomaly. Now, I'm struck by the anecdote that when justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked how many women could fit on the Supreme Court? And she said, "All nine". Her answer was met with shock. So her reply was, "Well, there have been nine men, and no one's ever raised a question about that." So this is where I start, right?


There is, despite of all the incredible gains, there's still a bias against women as leaders. And yet, if you look at countries that have handled the pandemic crisis the most effectively, New Zealand, Germany, Iceland, these are all countries led by women who followed the science, and they understood that acting quickly and thoroughly and broadly was a really good strategy.


So to get to your question, I just want to add something before I answer it. It is a known fact that women provide the kind of leadership that employees want. Recently, a study came out of the Harvard Business Review that said that based on their data, employees want leaders who can pivot, who can learn new skills, who are focused on employee development, who are honest, have integrity, sensitive, understanding the stress and anxiety and frustration people are feeling particularly in the pandemic.


And their analysis shows that these are traits more often associated and displayed by women who are in leadership positions, and these are statistically significant margins. So given all that, the biggest challenge that women face has actually nothing to do with women themselves, or ourselves. It's the world that we live in. It's the world that has entrenched ideas about what women can and can't do, say, or be.


Still in 2021, were either too assertive or not assertive enough, too mouthy, too meek, too friendly, not friendly enough, do you get the idea? So what I do is I help women be thoughtful and strategic about how they will show up, who they want to be. And so that they're making choices aligned with values, and the type of behaviors that are powerful around relationships, and around being visionary, to something that's meaningful and purposeful. In my view, leadership is profoundly an act of clarity and kindness.


And women have the ability to be both firms in their decision-making and kind in the implementation.


Sarah E. Brown 5:35

Wow. And what do you see as the biggest mistakes your clients make before working with you?


Lisa Schmidt 5:41

Well, I can name a couple. I would say one of the biggest challenges my coaching clients face is self-doubt around strengths, competencies, experience, and capabilities, and here's a common situation, and this has quite a bit of data with it.


In 2019, LinkedIn, we know is the professional social media application website, studied how people use their job posting site. Now, both genders browse jobs similarly, but they apply to them differently. So what they discovered in their research shows that when either a man or woman is applying for a job, a woman feels she has to meet 100% of the criteria, while men will apply for jobs after meeting about 60%. So there's an issue here around self-confidence. The other thing that was interesting about the data is that women tend to screen themselves out of the conversation.


And even when they apply for the jobs they feel they have 100% of the competencies, they're actually applying for 20% fewer jobs than men, and they're also more hesitant to ask for a referral from somebody they know in the company. That's the first one that the challenge that says that women, often- a mistake that women make in terms of looking for work.


The other one is really related to the last piece I said about being hesitant to ask for a referral. We are not great at asking for help. Women continue to labor under the misconception that being competent, hardworking, humble, helpful, present, available is the path to being recognized and promoted. We absolutely need to cultivate all those traits, but we also need to reach out and support one another. So many of us are so used to going it alone, and against incredible odds, we're succeeding, but we don't have to carry the weight alone.


Sarah E. Brown 7:40

Got it. So what's the number one free and actionable tip you can give my audience to help them begin to address this challenge now?


Lisa Schmidt 7:48

Yeah, listen, it's simple, and it's difficult, and it's really about asking for help. Here are some thoughts I have on this. I recently was called by a male colleague who asked me to nominate him for a very prestigious award, and I was happy to do it for him, but it occurred to me that none of my female colleagues and friends had ever asked me to do this. So the one free and actionable tip is to have your friends and colleagues nominate you for awards or any kind of form of recognition.


There are many, many ways to be recognized either in your organization, community organizations, within your profession. Tell your friends and colleagues you need and want their help, and it could be about promoting your work or succeeding with a project you've never tried before that someone you know has some experience. So a couple of examples, ask your accountant friend that you might be going for a walk with for tax advice. Ask your friend who works in human resources in a company which resumes and cover letters get the most attention.


If you have a friend running their own business, ask how you can help promote it, and offer what you have. We all have incredible strengths and networks that we can use to support one another. I would recommend, and I'll tell you the story about this in a second, that every woman be a part of a group. It could just be two or three or five that meet regularly and share your challenges, ask for support and be generous with what you have to offer. I'll give you an example.


Every weekday morning, I lead a book writing accountability group for women. So we meet at 8:30, we're together for 90 minutes, we talk about what our intentions are, ask for feedback, we offer resources, and we also use a chunk of that time to write. We protect that time. We protect it from any other intrusion. It's the part of our day that belongs to us. And we help each other protect the time. In addition to giving each other tips on working with editors, book designers, illustrators, coaches, you name it! We see each other cry over failures.


We see each other be with excitement when the successes roll in. We help each other get speaking gigs. We've reviewed each other's books on Amazon.


For what we do in this group and, listen, every morning might be a lot for some people, every two weeks would also work, but how do you bring your strength to support other women?


How can you be there for others and help each other grow because it's so important that we create these connections amongst ourselves and boost one another up?


Sarah E. Brown 10:25

Great idea. And what's a valuable free resource you can share with women to help them understand this challenge better now?


Lisa Schmidt 10:35

Well, my top tip would be to understand your strengths. There is a website, it's been in place for quite some time. It's based on scientifically validated research on strengths, and it's called the VIA Character Strengths survey. It's free. It takes about 15 minutes, and it helps you discover your greatest strengths.


And the reason I start with this is that we're so quick to think that we have to build up our weaknesses when really, we do so much better, and we're so much- we make so much more progress in all aspects of our lives if we understand our strengths and apply them. Knowing that you have strengths you can use every day helps you with your happiness, your well-being. It boosts your relationships. It gives you the resilience to manage stress and accomplish your goals.


It's a powerful tool and a place to start to understand what is strong about you, and it can be found at www.viacharacter.org. That's one. The other free resource I highly recommend are the resources for women leaders at the Center for Creative Leadership.


They have case studies, white papers, articles, and links to other key resources that really support women in thinking carefully about the choices that they make around their careers, how to build mentoring relationships, how to help one another, and given we often have limited time, how to be really focused and prioritize what's most important to us? And that can be found at www.ccl.org.


Sarah E. Brown 12:25

Great. Lisa, what's one question that I should have asked you that will help my audience take action to address this challenge? And then would you answer the question?


Lisa Schmidt 11:55

I love it. That's kind of like when you do a survey, and then there's a blank box at the bottom to say anything else you have to say, so thanks for providing this other opening, Sarah. I think the question I would have asked is what kind of regular practices can women adopt or adapt to consistently incorporate self-care into our lives?


Now, this might sound like a reach after talking about leadership resources and strength and support, but unless we, ourselves, are feeling resilient, and that we feel that we have a sense of solidity in ourselves, it's very, very hard to bring the best of what we have into our relationships, into our work, and into our communities.


And particularly in this pandemic year, we are stretched in many, many different directions, and many of us are feeling really worn out. So the first thing that I would suggest is to find

and keep even micro-practices around self-care. Listen, taking three deep breaths can make a big difference in a really busy and hectic day.


Walking around the block, it doesn't need to be a three-hour walk, literally 15 minutes could lift your spirits and get you to refocus. So I think that would be the first question. The other is to really think about what kind of magnificence, I guess I would call it our- is in your life already. Practices of gratitude. Look at who around you has the kinds of strengths, skills, traits that you wish to emulate because I strongly believe that leadership touches more on who we longed to be, rather than what we need to do.


So for some people journaling is to- like it feels like a big practice. Bullet point journaling, ask yourself what you can do in your own behavior that's not about doing more, but being more of something? Do you want to cultivate patience? Do you want to cultivate gratitude?


And my last point on this, and a friend shared this with me, I thought this was so powerful, a powerful redirector, reframing, is we often have bucket lists of things we want to do, Sarah. Right? Like a big trip, of course, we can't do that prior to pandemic. Things we might want to own.


They're often around doing things. I would suggest to your listeners to take a bit of time to think of the being bucket list. What are the things that over the course of your life you want to cultivate in yourself that you want to be more of? Do you want to be more present? Do you want to be more thoughtful? Do you want to be more attuned to what you need for your own self care?


Because those are the practices that are going to carry you through all the difficulties of being in a leadership position of feeling that you're pulled in all kinds of directions and that's really are the foundation I believe for a fulfilling and, happier life. So yeah, so I guess that would be those would be the two questions I would have added.


Sarah E. Brown 15:35

Terrific. Lisa, thank you so much for being with me today.


Lisa Schmidt 15:59

It was such a pleasure. I love being able to talk about these kinds of topics. And the fact that you create this opening for these kinds of conversations to happen is a remarkable addition to everything that we're hearing about women and leadership. So thank you, Sarah, very much.


Sarah E. Brown 16:00

My pleasure.



Enjoyed the Podcast?

Please Subscribe via your Favorite Podcast App for New Episodes