Cathy Mott is an Author, Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker, facilitator, and trainer who has had the pleasure of working closely with senior leaders for more than 25 years. She is very insightful and has a great talent for helping others discover their natural gifts and talents, which often results in authentic leadership and resilience. As a certified Social & Emotional Intelligence Coach, Cathy has distinguished herself by her ability to create a place of safety for her readers and clients to explore and define their identity as a leader as they walk through the four quadrants of Emotional Intelligence. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Coaching Federation – Michigan Chapter. Cathy has trained thousands on a national and international level with consistent passion and enthusiasm.
She has worked in various industries, including Automotive, (Mercedes Benz Financial) Education (Michigan State University) Healthcare (Trinity Health, Ascension Health)Government, (Michigan League of Public Policy) and Philanthropy (Kresge Foundation) just to name a few. Cathy partners with her clients on a journey of personal growth and purposeful leadership which helps them to be engaged in life mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Cathy has been involved in many forms of media. She has hosted a TV show, been featured on CUTV News Talk Radio, and has now stepped into a new arena as an author. She has recently written her first book, “Shh…Just Listen! Great Things Happen in The Silence.” Cathy is authentically living a life of purpose, helping others discover and step into their greatness through coaching. Whether serving as Executive Coach, Trainer or Business Consultant, Cathy’s ultimate passion is found in helping others find the courage to give themselves permission to engage in “guilt free” self-care as a way of life.
As an Executive Coach, I frequently come face-to-face with C-Suite Leaders, who exert a valiant effort to lead their organization towards success. How does one define success? Well, it can vary from organization to organization and from year to year within the same company. Frequently success is often determined by the bottom line, which on the surface looks like dollars and cents, but what is the cost to the leader?
Usually, it can cost more than the leader has to give mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. How will a leader know when they have paid a price that costs more than they have to give, and they are internally bankrupt…Empty? The answer lies within our ability to understand the value of values. We all have a value system – one that we were either raised with (meaning our parents instilled within us) or one that we have adopted along this journey called life.
When we live by our value system, we typically will experience internal peace, which is the culmination of Authentic Leadership. Yes, living by our value system is what makes it real! The opposite is true when we are not able to live a value-based purposeful life. There are several reasons why this may happen. I’ll name just a few:
Allow me to share a story of one of my clients. This client was a Senior Leader of a large healthcare organization. On the outside looking in, many would say he was a very successful man. However, during one of our coaching sessions, he stated, “I look successful, but I’m not happy. I have played by the rules and climbed the corporate ladder, and here I am at the top, and I don’t like what I see or feel from this vantage point.
I have moved my wife across the country in pursuit of success, but I’m not happy.” As a coach, my next question was, “What is your definition of happiness?” He said, “I don’t really know. I need some time to think about that.” It would be two weeks before our next coaching session, which would allow him plenty of time to ponder.
Two weeks later, before we began our coaching session, I invited my client to engage in the Values Card activity. If you are not familiar with this activity, I will briefly explain. I gave my client a deck of 60 cards with one value listed on each card. I then asked him to divide the cards into three piles(A, B, C) evenly distributed.
The “A “pile represents the values that are “most important” in your life. The “B” pile would consist of the values that one would consider “moderately important.” The “C” pile would hold the space for the values that are “least important” to you.
For anyone who has engaged in this activity, they understand the emotional turmoil that happens internally, trying to decide where to place each card. We would continue to complete three rounds of this card shuffle. Each time the “least important” pile would go back into the box. I’ve done this activity with hundreds of leaders, and it can prove to be an emotionally challenging and eye-opening experience.
Eventually, my client was able to narrow 60 values cards down to his six most important values. These six values
should have supporting life stories to prove that he was truly living a life that was aligned with his value system.
Our next step was to spread them out in front of him. I then asked, “What do you see when you look at these cards?” His response was, “I’m not living my values. I’m not doing the things that make me happy. I want to be free to live according to my value system!” He then pulled out his cell phone and took a picture of those six cards. As a coach, I recognized this was an “aha” moment! Therefore, I would indeed follow up with a powerful question, “What are you going to do with this discovery?” He said, “I’m going to align my life to my values. I’m going to live by my rules.”
Within six months, this client had made drastic changes. He retired early from his Senior Leadership position at this large healthcare organization to engage in work that is rewarding and more meaningful to him. He wanted the freedom to spend more time with his family and with young men in the African American community. He is primarily involved in education, community volunteer work, and mentoring young black men who are aspiring to become physicians. He is now leading a life of Authentic Leadership, which has resulted in his internal peace and happiness.
Now, not everyone has to leave their job or retire to step into authentic leadership. However, the very foundation of authenticity is creating the opportunity to explore your personal value system to see if your life aligns with who you really are. Some of my clients have described a constant internal nagging that they initially thought was just fatigue but during our coaching sessions and taking a deeper dive into the “pain” that discovered a much deeper message. A couple of my clients described this feeling as being in constant “internal conflict with myself.” As a coach, I created the space for them to engage in healthy conflict with themselves and pursue internal peace. In a word, “Authenticity.”
Are you in a similar space? Is there a deeper message behind the physical pain you often experience. I am a firm believer that all emotions manifest themselves somewhere in the body. What is your internal voice trying to tell you? This voice will not be silenced forever . “Shh…Just Listen! Great Things Happen in The Silence.”
Please understand, when we are in that space of “fake it till you make it,” or powerlessly saying yes to everything that is asked of us, we find ourselves in a situation where we consistently have to exert more energy. It takes a lot of energy to be someone we are not, to be “fake.” It also takes a lot of energy to violate our value system, our innate moral compass consistently. Now imagine doing that day after day, hour after hour, and year after year. If this rings true for you, I’m sure you just experienced some kind of energy drain after reading that last statement.
I’m here to share with you that your life does not have to be this way. You can live a purposeful value-based life no matter what organization and regardless of your official title. The first step to start this journey is to explore your value system and then be able to articulate it clearly. The next step calls for courage and tenacity to begin the process of aligning your life to live by your values.
Let’ go back to the values card activity; there is something so powerful about seeing your personal values in black and white. It has encouraged many of my clients to make some much-needed changes, such as having crucial conversations, courageously setting boundaries, and
learning to say, “no.” I think the best part about this journey to authenticity is the improved relationship that develops with oneself.
From my perspective, it seems as if my clients are sometimes meeting themselves face-to-face for the first time. I view this space as sacred and consider it a privilege to share in these authentic moments.
Admittedly the intentional pursuit of authenticity can make one feel uneasy, frightened, or even intimidated, but you don’t have to do it alone. I can help! As an Executive Coach and Author with a specialty in Social and Emotional Intelligence, I would be honored to help you along your journey.
What’s your definition of Authentic Leadership? What makes it real for you?.
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