Becki Morison is an Executive Vice President with Leo, a global pharmaceutical organisation head quartered in Denmark. In this very generous and insightful conversation she shares:
- Stepping onto a country level leadership role for the first time and realising the buck stops with her
- Setting the vision helps but ensuring they are aligned to that vision is powerful
- How her pattern of daily reflective questions continues to keep her focussed on both the immediate and long term
- Why starting with humility can mitigate against inadvertent disasters as a leader
- For expat leaders, the locals know they can hold their breath longer than your rotation!
- Exploring different leadership team structures for different governance needs
- And why imposter syndrome can be very useful if we allow the character to emerge
Welcome back here to this episode of the leadership diet.
Becki: Thank you. It’s great to
Pod: be here from Indianapolis in the USA. So glad to have you here. When I first met you, you had just arrived into Australia. And I think from memory was your first time in an affiliate role as a GM of an affiliate of a multinational.
Let’s talk about that transition going from leading in a U S headquarter based city to suddenly the other part of the world and taken on that role.
Becki: Yeah, it was a transition. Um, and it was fantastic actually, because I learned so much, uh, myself. So I was leading in the US for a us based company and leading really, probably one of the largest business units that we had in the U S at the time, uh, and had the opportunity to take.
The role in Australia, which was a smaller, much smaller role. Um, and I would, I would as kind of still a signal I can’t roll, but maybe significant with a little S versus significant with a largest, when you look at the size, the scope and the, um, you know, the overall revenue contribution of the U S versus.
Versus Australia. Um, but that was my first opportunity to think about leading broadly and really end to end if you will, as the country goes with regard to the, to our product portfolio and our presence in Australia. And that was new to me.
Pod: Do you remember the day you arrived with your family? And what was that like?
As a, I’m gonna imagine it’s it’s feels like an adventure, but it’s also scary when you move in across the world with a young man.
Becki: Yes, it was, uh, it was exciting. And my husband and I are adventures and I tell people who are thinking about ex-pat or different country roles. To really reflect, to make sure they think of it as an adventure, not as a, um, not a favor, but not as they kind of requisite of the job.
Those ones roles are demanding and living in a new country is exhausting. So you have to find energy. She, in that act alone in living in a new country. Otherwise I think it’s really tough. I think you count the days until you go back home and it’s hard for both your colleagues and your family.
Pod: That’s really interesting.
You say that because I think most people who have not done ex-pat roles would assume, Hey, this is exciting. You know, I get to live in another country. A lot of times I got my house and cars and all that kind of stuff for by the organization. Yeah. What you just said is there’s another side to the story and it requires a lot of intentional effort.
Becki: Yes, and everything takes longer, you know, you lose your support network. Um, and so we were a family of four, two young kids, uh, and move into Australia. So you, you figure out how to live differently as a family. And for us, it was a joy. Like we spent a lot of time together and we really bonded in a different way.
And I saw the kids bond in a different way. I remember the first time they wanted a. We were down at the beach and they wanted their own ice cream cones. So I gave them money and they looked at me and they’re like, we don’t know what this is. Right. This is all it’s like, wow, on an ice cream cone, you’re going to have to go work together.
You’re going to have to go and figure it out and make sure they give you the right change. And, and it was really a moment for both of us just to say, boy, the world is different. And it’s going to require a lot of, um, cooperation and energy to make it work.
Pod: Story reflects a lot of things about the relationship between Australia and America in that, you know, it’s a dollar bill and say me, you have a dollar bill in the U S obviously, but there’s a whole of different stories beneath that.
And so you have to go and figure it out. Yep. So you stepped into the role as his GM of the affiliate for this U us coming, where you’d been for many, many years. What were your early days like in that role?
Becki: You know, I spent quite a bit of time trying to engage and build trust with the lead team and understand kind of where the state of the business was.
And of course that’s normal. I think anybody who’s had any type of, um, experience would, would do the same, uh, and use time to kind of listen and learn what I underestimated when I came into the affiliate was. Kind of what they needed from me versus maybe what I needed from them. And when I went down, my mentor told me on one of our last conversations, he said, Becky, he goes, you’ll be your group.
You’re going to be great for the organization. Could they need a leader? I didn’t know what that meant. And I was like, okay, you know, they need. They need someone to run the business. When I got down to Australia and began to get to know the organization, I began to understand more what he meant by a leader.
You know, there’s a big difference between leading and managing. I needed to manage the business for sure. We had commitments to the corporate organization in terms of sales and revenue, as well as commitment to the, to our, um, to the country, uh, authorities as well. But.
The leadership part didn’t hit me initially, which is they needed a vision. They needed confidence and they needed someone who could give a steadfast path forward about what we were going to do and how we were gonna do it together. Which is different than managing. That probably surprised me because when you work in a large affiliate or at the corporate headquarters, there’s a lot of people leading. So you don’t, it doesn’t necessarily fall on your shoulders, but it did on mine. And I didn’t really appreciate that. Probably as quickly as is I could have.
Pod: I’ve seen that happen many times. We have someone who is based in headquarters and, and as he has international role or sometimes a global, um, you know, role based out of headquarters and then take on their first time role as an affiliate or a GM or a vice president of an, of a market.
And for them, they. Southern realizes no one around me in these corridors, who’s got the same understanding as I do. Oh dear. I’ve got to have it. And then it’s a real shock, isn’t it? Because it does force you to dig deep and go, okay. I am now setting the vision within the perimeters of the global stuff, but I’m still setting the vision and I think you’re right.
It tests, courage, the tests, it tests your leadership.
Pod: you remember how you stepped into that and then how you went about realizing, okay. I now got to do this. To the point of it’s done. What was that story like for you?
Becki: You know, I think, um, I began to realize that there was this gap, um, in the organization and the previous GM that was there.
Um, I don’t think, um, had done a lot of leading himself and maybe that’s why they switched him out and pulled me in quite suddenly. So the organization, I think when there was this Southern move, Felt like, um, felt more in a position of okay, like ready, like, okay, Becky, take us, take us. And I didn’t take them.
I just kinda came in. And I think in their eyes, I was more managing than leading. When I realized that for myself, um, it was very empowering, a little bit scary, but it was very empowering. And I would go home every night. And my commute back to my house from the office saying to myself, like what it feels like to work at this company in Australia is up to me and my team.
And we as leaders, we cast the shadow that then defines the culture for our organization. And what am I doing to drive that to a place that one makes people want to work there?. And then two drives great business results. Once I figured that out, then, building that plan together, wasn’t my plan. It was our plan building that plan togethe r became the obvious chore ahead of us. It wasn’t a chore, but the obvious mission in front of us. , and from there we took off and I had to get there first in my own head.
Pod: So let’s double down what you just said. You used your commute home at the end of the day to ask some questions, reflective type questions.
And once you got to the answers for those that gave you a sense of confidence or our pathway forward, what to do. I think I might have shared this with you. A number of years ago, in some conversation we had along the way, a research study called the daily habits of effective leaders that was done in Australia.
And no, the traits are leaders who were deemed to be hyper effective was the evening the reflective process they had on the way home looking at how have they shown up that day and what ne what is required of them the next day or the next month, the next six months. So it sounds like you were in the process of asking yourself that what’s required of me and us to lay this affiliate.
Becki: Yeah. And I began to ask, so I did that in the U S as well, but I began to ask first, like when I engaged today, did I improve the culture? Did I improve people’s belief in the mission and the diet? Did I improve their belief in their ability to do their jobs. I obviously done with my team in the U S but it wasn’t as top of mind as it was in Australia.
And part of that comes from the humility of knowing that. Ex-pat rotations come and go right in. And people want to work for someone who is inspiring and they get along with, but at the end of the day, this is what I tell folks that are taking on their expat assignments. And they call me for advice. And I said, just remember, like go in with humility.
Just remember that half the people are going to be excited. You’re there. And the other half are going to look at you and think in their head, I can hold my breath longer than you’re going to be here. Some of that is true. So it changes your perspective about what is the legacy that you’re helping the organization build?
Not necessarily for me as a person or what can I tick off in my resume? Based on this assignment, but because the legacy that you live in lives in the people that stay,
Pod: I remember talking to an executive assistant to who had, um, supported, um, expert GMs once. And they said to me partying, I’ve I’ve done six GMs.
Now I’ve got two more to train in before I retired. Yeah. Someone comes along and I train them up and I send them on the way before the next one comes along. Yeah. You’re upset. Right. Starting with humility is that it’s a great starting point. There’s this idea of being comfortable in your skin as a leader and, and, and, and learning to understand who I am and what my role is and how, Oh, I missed that together.
It sounds like the reflective process you use for you allows you to get bright, comfortable in your skin. As a human being and as leader, is that true? And if so, tell us more about that.
Becki: Yes, absolutely. And I think that for me personally has always been important for me because I think it drives or it doesn’t drive it, but maybe it opens up or allows the authenticity in a relationship and the trust in a relationship to become established.
One of the things. Though that I have reflected on I’ve had these roles changes, significant role changes is really making sure I’m comfortable in my own skin, in the role that I’m in. Um, and, um, making sure that I understand. What, what role I am to play. And then, um, I’m fully like in my own head, all in.
So I think when I went to Australia, coming out again from the corporate headquarters, you know, they needed a leader and I was a leader for sure, but I wasn’t, I’d never needed to be the leader. And in Australia, they needed the leader. There was no one, um, kind of coming behind me. I wasn’t on the tail end of a big corporate town hall.
I was the town hall, so I needed to make sure I was okay. Um, and not okay, but make sure I was ready to be that leader. When I showed up at the office, even though sometimes you show up maybe for a meeting or in, in different capacities and you have a little, little bit of imposter syndrome, but is it’s important that your, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be great at the role, but that you have.
Um, you’re comfortable with it and you’ve accepted it, uh, cause no one else was going to be that leader in Australia except the GM. Um,
Pod: you said a few things that are really fascinating there. I reckon we could have in a whole new podcast just on that last five minutes,
Pod: I want to come back to impostor syndrome in a second, but watch, I think what you said is really profound. You gotta be comfortable in your skin, in this role. Cause each role requires something different of you.
And that doesn’t mean you’re being more or less authentic. It just means I’m shaping myself to the role that’s required to me. And I’m very comfortable with who I am as a human being. I think that’s a profound learning and I see a lot of leaders struggle with as they move roles and the role requires something else that they haven’t done before they struggle with.
Oh, that means I’m no longer authentic and that’s, that’s not the case. It’s actually, the role is very, very different. And yet you’ve got to stretch yourself to it. Thank you for sharing that that’s quite profound, what you share there, imposter syndrome, given the roles you’ve had in the role that you’re about to move to.
I would imagine that you are far from someone who’s got imposter syndrome, extraordinary confidence, but the way you’re laughing at me, the screen out of suggest, maybe I’m wrong
Becki: every single day. So it used to show up. It used to show up in doubting myself. I’m waiting and probably being one of the last to offer insights or opinions.
Uh, I think it as well, if I, if I can be honest with myself, I don’t, I don’t think I probably early on in my career fought for things as hard as I showed up, uh, when I was passionate about them. Um, I always figured someone else must have an insight that’s better than mine and that’s why we’re making a different decision or that’s why they don’t.
They’re not agreeing with my position. But as I’ve got experience, and I do think a little bit older, I’ve harnessed, it’s still there for sure, but I’ve harnessed it in a different way. You know, there’s this, this concept in leadership and in an improv and you know, I have an improv background, which is about light, like the character be there, but just manage the character, right.
Just don’t let the character kind of be winsy and flip and flat all over the stage. You gotta let the character be there, but manage it. So in a sense, that’s what I’ve done with my imposter syndrome. It’s like, it allows me to. Pause and reflect and be humble and to listen hard just to make sure I’m not missing something, but I don’t let it get, I don’t let it carry me away anymore and create kind of the self-talk around someone must be smarter than me in the room.
Someone has more experience. And so they see the situation more clearly than I. Um, so it’s about, for me kind of harnessing that energy to enable me to. Um, still grow and be confident as leader, but, um, Making sure I’m listening hard and learning, always learning.
Pod: Did you give that character a name or a persona?
Does it matter?
Becki: I did not. I did not, but maybe I said that
Pod: wonderful. As you called it now.
But they, you know what what’s lovely about what you said there is, is there’s lots of, um, I would say less than useful books written about how do you get rid of that imposter syndrome. And, and I don’t think it’s possible, but what I love about you is you just said, I want us to character and let the character there and learn from the character.
So it’s forced you to listen deeper. And to, and I would imagine then that’s taught you to listen for the nuggets that other people aren’t hearing or, or whatever, with wisdom that emerges from that. So it’s an understanding that it’s there to serve you, not, not getting it, your weight. So you, you, you stepped in, you set a vision, you, you harness the team, you, you got comfortable in your own skin.
What was your experience leading the affiliate over the number of years you were there?
Becki: Well, it was, you know, it’s probably when I think back to some of the lessons, it was like all the business books and, you know, business school classes all wrapped up into one. Like it was a tremendous learning opportunity, both from the business, just understanding, as I said before, the end to end aspects of the business in a smaller role and a bigger, you know, the corporate headquarters, I would have never had exposure to.
Um, I also learned. I’m more about leadership and just how long it takes to shift culture, but how important it is. And no matter how good you are at managing, if you. Set a vision and you turn around and there’s no one following you. You’re not going to be able to achieve what you want to achieve or what the organization sent me down there to achieve.
Um, so that learning has enabled me as I’ve moved into new roles, as well as mentor, coach others, to help people understand, you know, culture is informed overnight good or bad. So if you’re trying to shift it. It’s going to take some time. It also means that when, you know, things go in the shitter for one reason or another, right?
Like the bids, something happened in the business, or something happens with a leader that maybe isn’t, you know, beholding of the, of the company, you know, ideals, that culture is resilient as well. Right. It doesn’t die overnight either or, or, you know, it’s completely implode. Um, but that required patients and quite a bit of discipline to stay.
Um, um, stay on task and just because you didn’t see things changing immediately, not to abandon ship or keep course correcting. Cause sometimes it just takes a bit of time to kind of steer the ship in a different direction.
Pod: I would imagine that given that culture does take a time and most people, you know, most experts would suggest is two to four years before you really say.
A massive transformation as a leader, who’s there. And you know, you’re going to be there for a finite time, as let’s say a three year timeframe before the next round, as you said, the next rotation comes along, you’ve got to start looking for signs that you’re making progress as opposed to waiting for the end result because the end result may happen after you’ve left.
Yeah. So, so do you find that you’re, you’re looking for, for signs of progress in the business or in relationships or in, in, in metrics or something like that?
Becki: For sure there were a couple of things I learned. Um, you can progress. One is I could only be so patients with my own lead team, uh, if my own lead team didn’t believe where we were going.
And so because of that, I moved on and, and, and change some of the lead team, um, which was hard. Um, you know, whenever a leader comes, you know, drops into a country or drops into a, a division and starts changing the lead team, people get a bit nervous, but I couldn’t tolerate. Um, kind of mediocrity or moody moodiness.
That’s probably not the right word, but I couldn’t tolerate if people weren’t all in, um, the, um, the journey that we committed to as a lead team, cause to say one thing and do another, like your culture will never change. Right? Whether you’re, you know, A sports team or a family or an organization business.
Um, but there were other signs of progress that I looked for, which was, um, a bit about how is the organization working together and engaging with one another, but not at my level because that’s like, I, you don’t control it. But I influenced that the most, what I wanted to know is that levels. Um, uh, under the lead team and in functions, not directly kind of represented on the lead team were the, was the culture changing.
There were those organizations starting to operate differently, a big part of our cultural journey to build confidence as all, as well as take risks, find new ways to, to do business. We are a small affiliate, so we needed to do things differently. We didn’t have big operating budgets or a lot of, a lot of, um, HR resources, head count.
So we need to do things differently. So that’s, those were some of the things I was looking for. Even if the experiments failed, that was all right. But as long as people started to have the confidence and the ambition and the creativity to try new things, that was a good signal for me. Yeah.
Pod: Well, the audition.
I had confidence in you. Cause after the Australian experiment, they shipped you over to UK and you took on the president of the UK and the Nordics, uh, which is an interesting extra markets from, you know, very one, very, very big and large mature market to many smaller markets. What was that like from a business perspective, changing from being a single country leader to a multi country.
Becki: Yeah, totally missed it. When I went in that I was making a transition from being really a country president to a regional president. So I went in that job and I was thinking about it too, too much, the way I had done the Australia job. So we made mistakes pod. We. That first year, like the UK was running well.
Um, we had a little bit of slippage in Ireland and in the four Nordic countries, we, we just weren’t made a making our plans. We weren’t getting products approved and I own that because I was managing sameness, not difference. So, so it was a big learning for me. When I reflected on my commute home.
Pod: So you’re a driver from Copenhagen to London every night.
Pod: No, I love what you just said. I was managing sameness, not, not differences are nuances and, and I mean, as well as. Having different languages across the Nordics. See you’ve got extraordinary, different histories and cultures. And as I can understand the temptation to bring everyone together into the same tent and, and, and let’s all lead together, but what’s the advantage of managing for differences in that kind of relationship, versus when you’re in a single country, like say you, England, you manage you for saying, you can explain to us well, why they’re so different.
Becki: The healthcare systems are so different and what. What is required for success in each of the countries is different, both in the way that we are structured and the way that we engage with the governments for reimbursement, I’m not talking about like whether a brand team wants to use blue in the UK and they want to use green and Sweden that that’s like marketing preference.
And from that perspective, I didn’t. Allow like a lot of difference it’s like, or, um, some of that’s just preference. Like I want to do do it my way. My country is different. Every, every country leader will hear that or geography. Well here that I’m more talking about actually the, how the external environment is different and how healthcare delivers when we started.
Uh, or when I started in the UK, the UK was. The biggest country. And so everything was done the UK way. And then we then kind of deviated if you will, but not to a great extent for the other countries. What I found is that I needed to do my best, not to start with the UK way, but, but more or less kind of parallel process where I could across all of the countries and then allow differences.
For where w where they needed to be made. One very specific change I needed to make was most of our leadership roles were UK based, but if we were really going to operate as a hub, I needed strong leadership roles in Sweden and Norway. Uh, Finland Denmark. So we began to, we still wanted to hub some of the work that we did, because again, we’re a smaller, these collective smaller countries.
We couldn’t staff a full infrastructure in some of the smaller countries, but, but it couldn’t all just be the UK way. And then. And then, you know, doled out if you will. So like for instance, we shifted our city national, our hub, national sales director to, uh, Sweden, uh, role. Um, and we moved some of the marketing to, uh, outside of the UK to other roles.
It balanced our conversation better. In the UK office, because it wasn’t always about us. I imagine I actually also thought maybe I shouldn’t be in the UK office. Like there’s too many of us just worried about us. And we weren’t thinking through how different each of the geographies were.
Pod: We hope you’re enjoying this episode of the leadership diet.
Feel free to hit the subscribe button on whatever podcast player you are listening to this on reviews on iTunes and Spotify. I greatly appreciate it. I’m wondering, and maybe I’m reaching too far here with my assumption, but I’m wondering, did the experience of working outside of the U S headquarters when you came to Australia, give you a line of sight of Austin, damn then being headed headquarters and they don’t understand us, whoever us is.
And when you went to the UK, you effective you’re back in the European headquarters for the one of a better phrase. What did that insight? We landed the decision to let’s expand our borders from London to various parts of the, of, of the hub.
Becki: Yes, working on both sides also gave me more insight into what was a preference versus a difference that we really needed to manage.
Um, and, and we were able to get to those differences, like articulate those differences pretty quickly. And when we did that, then the other shift I needed to make was change how changed my governance, the hub, my regional role, that was more work group than team. Why was I forcing everyone to try and act like a team?
Because I think quite frankly, was exhausting to them and, and fake. Right. But when we were able to identify very specifically, what was it that was different. And what did we need to pay attention to? That was different and shift the government. Then we shifted the governance, which was my job, right. To shift the governance, to allow for that, and actually enable some of those countries to move much faster than because before they would just need to wait until it was done in the UK and then kind of take the scraps off the table.
So it was a big shift in how we work.
Pod: So the governance in the, in this case, uh, you meaning governance looking at the way you met the, the, the agendas of your meetings, the decision making type governance, as opposed to regulatory. Yep. Okay.
Becki: Yes. Like how, yeah. How decisions were made, where work got done and who was accountable.
Pod: I mean, I’m in a conversation right now with a few folks in Australia around the whole notion of team development as fundamental. And I keep landing back at some of those structure conversations on, you know, to what degree are we a team or need to be a team coupled with the governance structure is lucky.
Just refer to. Whilst they sound boring to still fundamentally important them without those teams. Yeah. It sounds like you’re able to use that notion of what do we need versus what are you, what do we prefer? And figure out a way to suit the environment you’re in. Yes.
Becki: Yes. And I think governance is tricky and I don’t think I’m that great at it.
And I go into every team and I say that out loud because we need to iterate on the governance all the time, too much governance. Um, even though people may prefer to work in more of a laissez Faire environment, I think it’s slow because you’re not all rowing the boat at the same pace and in the same direction.
Um, Too much governance though is like micromanaging. So it is tricky to get it right. But when you can get it right, you, what I’ve observed with my teams is that everybody is so invested, right. A little bit of the centralism in there. Like everybody knows what everybody else is trying to deliver. And they’re so invested in each other’s success, um, that it is, um, it’s like the impact is.
Is exponential and the speed increases quite a bit, not sexy and it’s, and it’s quite boring. And for me, it’s hard.
Pod: And ultra sounds like the way you describe it. It doesn’t mean you all have to be an intact interdependent team at all times is actually the opposite is actually very liberating sometimes as long as we understand how to.
Fantastic. Yeah. And when you look back now on that experience, how did, how do you think you grew up as a leader? And he and I grew up, I don’t mean that in any sense of maturity, but in terms of overall capability or what would they be the biggest developments for you in that whole experience?
Becki: You know that when I think about my own leadership development, that was one where I needed to in a very, probably in a more sophisticated way, um, lead the team.
Uh, and drive more ambition into the team. There was a mindset of kind of our destiny is due to the market that we’re in. Like we, um, I, you know, for every time someone said to me back in Becky, this is just the way it is in the UK. Right. Or this is just the way it is in Sweden and, and some of that’s for sure.
True. Right. But then there’s also with, within the market that we’re in. How do we drive more value? How do we become more relevant? How do we work differently with payers to, um, or the, in this case, the governments to get the right pricing reimbursement. How do we work differently with our corporate structure to get the right pricing approvals?
Um, so it was, it was a good learning for me, cause you need to bring people along and you need people to believe. Not just when Becky says it on stage, Hey, we’re gonna, um, try and get really excited about this product launch. I needed people really to be excited about the product launch. And for me, that was that across a broader organization.
And not, as you said before in an organization that doesn’t all sit in one place for me, that was a new leadership challenge.
Pod: It sounds like it’s a great combination of in Australia, you, you, you had the, you had to get really close to the smaller affiliate and set the vision cause no one else was going to, and then in this other role, there was, there was still that, but it was across multiple markets and you have all of this innovation, agility, strategic change needed as well.
And without both together, it may not have happened.
Becki: Yes. Yes. It definitely forced me to, um, think more like an executive. Because the, although I was doing that in Australia, but you have to do it even more. So, cause there’s just, aren’t enough hours of the day to be, you know, involved in every business case and every government meeting and every decision to be made.
So it was, I needed to figure out where, where do they need Becky and where can I empower folks to run faster?
Pod: That, um, habit you have, um, would, you’ve just alluded just now. And then you did earlier on too, of what is needed of me, where do I, where how do I serve best? That seems to be a guiding question that you’re, you’ve been using in your different roles.
And it also sounds like it serves up different answers at different times of your career in life, which is probably part of your experience. Do you still use that kind of navigation for yourself today?
Becki: For sure. Like, um, it’s a bit of the, kind of the essential ism. Content, right. The topic there, what is it that only I can do?
What is it that only I can deliver on or what is needed that I’m in the best position to deliver and making sure. And that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I do all day. Right. But making sure that that is like number one or two on my list. And I use it, like even with my family and as my kids get older and we are navigating teenage years, which most of the time means moms shouldn’t be involved in their eyes!
But just trying to figure out, like, what is it that is uniquely. Needs to be uniquely done by Becky. And I asked on my team to articulate that and share it out loud so that we all understand, you know, I had a lead lead team meeting with my team here in the U S I’ve come back into the U S and we were talking about what is it that we do?
Like, why do we exist as a team? And we started out with. Um, and I let you know, the whole team was engaged in the conversation, but I had sales, I had marketing, I had market access, uh, and then, you know, like HR and then COO kind of the staff roles. And at first it was like deliver sales and then it was, we need to, um, meet our plan commitments.
You know, we need to serve patients we need. And not, it’s not that any of those were wrong, but I said to the team, I said, He has none of us like sell directly to a doctor, like not one of us like creates a script sale, right? What is it that we need to do that no one else in the organization can do, but they must, you know, they’re relying on us to do it.
And we ended up with our kind of our little like rally cry. It wasn’t like a mission, vision type discussion, but our rally cry was our job was to create clarity and communicate effectively when decisions have been made. Full stop. And if we can do that as a lead team. No, that’s not the only thing we do, right.
We’re going to do a whole lot. We’re going to do all that other stuff to meet with customers and make sure the product is, is patient focused, all of that. But for us as individuals, when we wake up every day, we need to make that commitment to each other, that we’re going to deliver that for the broader organization.
So that’s. You know, I use that in my own, in my own thinking, but then also with my teams to make sure that we’re really clear because when the laundry list of things that we think we do gets really, really long, I think maybe we’ve missed the Mark.
Pod: Yeah, exactly. Right. So that’s get right back up to the most important thing.
So give clarity and communicate when decisions have been made, how, how has that served you in your recent experience in the U S in terms of the business unit you live
Becki: in there? I think really well now it sounds so simple. And maybe people that are listening are like, but it, if every day you wake up and you make sure, and we were holding each other accountable and when something would start to wobble, we only had ourselves.
To to blame, right? Like, well, we made this decision, we agreed on like even a brand strategy. We’ve agreed on this brand strategy. We’ve agreed on this prior prioritization of the portfolio. And if someone is working on something that doesn’t ladder up to those it’s on us, because we obviously weren’t clear enough and, um, you know, had an effectively communicated when decisions are made.
So we. You know, we removed a lot of projects. Which lightened the load and allowed us to people didn’t necessarily work less hard, but we were putting our energies into the one or two things on our priority list instead of number five or six, all the revisiting of decisions, it stopped. Because that was on us.
Like if we were re like debating a decision, it means we weren’t clear enough. Um, or, or, you know, didn’t define the decision. Right. So the decision made, so I think we moved much faster pod after we aligned on what is it that we do that no one else can do for us.
Pod: I love the simplicity of that. And, uh, and, and I, I genuinely, when I say I love it, I really do, because it’s the simplest thing on the other side of complexity, as in, as simplicity for the sake of you, you’ve gone through do a whole lot of analysis.
You’ve figured out a whole lot. Yeah. Things and you arrived at. If we, if we focus on this, everything else will be sorted, relatively easy. And all of, all of the work I’ve done the leadership teams over 20 years now, the two most common complaints from organizations who look up to the leadership team are, we don’t know what they want us to do.
And they don’t tell us anything. So you’ve just said it let’s address with clarity, let’s address, weak communication you solve for that straight away. Um, so well done and I can really understand why that has led you and your team. So the success you’ve had more recently in, in, in your own
Pod: let’s change this topic completely. I have a vague memory once. Have you telling me a story about your grandmother and Wisconsin lakes and how she was a big influence on you?
Becki: You know, my grandmother was a huge influence feminist and activist. Was the one that taught me to always do the right thing, whether people are watching or not know whether you get credit for it or not, or whether it might hurt you, um, to do the right thing.
And she was a real advocate here in the United States for racial equality and economic equality. So I to kind of try and have the type of impact she had and, um, kind of live in her shadow to be good enough to live in her shadow. And we were up at the Lake, uh, once and I was really struggling, um, through a role, um, learning you learn when you struggle, but you hate it, but you have to struggle to learn, but you really.
Do sometimes. Right? So I’m in the middle of one of those learning moments and she saw it wearing on me. I think I’d probably just had one of my babies. Um, so I had really young kids and she and I were up at the Lake, just us together with the baby. And I remember her saying, you know, Becky, you don’t have to always take the big jobs and you don’t always have to.
Be the leader, uh, and, you know, wrap your arms around whether it’s the family or your organization or the problem that you’re trying to solve. Um, really very moving moment, because I think she was trying to let me off the hook, if you will, of, of that. Um, Obligation. I felt to live well in her shadow. Um, but it was also really good about what it feels like when you’re learning and what it feels like when you’re doing good work.
And that sometimes it feels exactly the way I was feeling. Um, but it was a reminder of the purpose of that journey. Oh,
Pod: is she be thinking today of where you landed and the various roles you’ve landed and indeed the role you’re about to move to. And if he had in a few weeks,
Becki: I think she’d be very proud.
I think she, um, was one that always said like, Becky, just go do what you want to do it and do it in your own way. And. You know, initially that didn’t mean a lot to me, but then as I became more and more senior in my company or engaging at a more senior level, whether it is kind of in a, in a governor perspective or in the business world, um, feet got harder and harder to just kind of do it my way.
Cause I felt like I was so different than everyone. It’s not just because I was a female leader, but because my style is so different. So. Um, that, you know, her advice to me to, to go and go strong, but do it your own way has been, um, kind of a rally cry for me. And I think she’d be proud. I’m figuring out a way to do it.
I haven’t. I haven’t totally turned off that crazy kid that I was,
Pod: and I would hope you never do life would be boring if you did that.
You’re about to change again, you’re heading back on the trail. You’re heading over to Denmark to take on an exciting new role, executive vice president for Leo. What are you hoping bring with you in, into that new experience?
Becki: So I’m hoping to bring, you know, a lot of these leadership lessons that I’ve had and not saying that it’s going to be the same.
Um, sometimes when you move into a new role, you need amped up about having impact and making sure people are glad they hired you, that it can actually be more disruptive. So. The more confidence I have and the more I can manage my imposter syndrome, which I’m going to give a name for her, but that enables me, I think, to enter in a good, in a good place.
I also, you know, I can’t downplay the importance of learning all that I did about the different markets and how to create value in different markets. That will be invaluable as I move into a global role. Um, so that will be really. Really valuable, important. Well, we knew for me is sitting on the executive team, uh, and again, you know, um, having to figure out what, what is that role that I need to play there?
Like, as we talked earlier, as we started the conversation, what is the role I need to play there and figuring that out so that I can do it well,
Pod: And of course you’re moving to a new organization. Cause you, you, you, you you’ve, you’ve been in the organization for two decades that, right? Yeah. So there’s a whole lot of new learning in terms of, of new people in the new ways of doing business as well.
Very, very exciting. Well, I’m very excited for you and the family to be moving across there again on a, on a whole new adventure, bringing up in our conversation to a close I’ve got two last questions for you, Becky, which I ask everybody. So excuse me, for being obvious. One is, what is your favorite song or favorite band?
Becki: Oh gosh, we have music going all the time at our house. So we do love music, but I probably have to harken back to like a college band, which is going to date me, but like, uh, something like, um, You too, or blow fish? Yeah, can’t take that out of me. Some of the first concerts I went to, that’s probably why I always think about them like that.
Pod: Well, I’ll, I’ll, uh, I’ll find some links to some Houdin Blowfish songs and have it in our show notes there. And, uh, the last question for you, given everything, we’ve talked about, everything that you have accumulated three experience that you have, what would you be now telling you? The 35 year old version of yourself
Becki: to be more confident to remain humble because, um, you should never stop learning.
Um, but to be more confident in, in my ideas or my approach to solving problems, I think I. Again, took the back seat or sat in the back row for too long. Now I love where I am right now. It’s not like I look back and be like, I could be the president of a company right now. That’s not the way I think about it.
I think about, could I have had more impact and led stronger for the people that I worked with for the teams. I had a privilege of being part of. Could I have done more for them? If I had been more confident.
Pod: Well, I’m excited for the folks who are about to inherit a new leader. When you move across to, to Denmark and around the world,
Becki: maybe you should do a future podcast with one of them.
They can tell you what it was like.
Pod: It’s been a pleasure. I love all the insights that you’ve shared and the wisdom you’ve distilled in a very short period of time. I wish you and the family all of the best on your new adventure. And can’t wait to catch up again and hear how that goes.
Becki: Fabulous. Thank you so much, pod. Thank
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