As visionaries, it is vital we create and embrace the flexibility to be able to pivot within our businesses and our focuses. Even if and when things are going extremely well, there is always development we continue to need as women, both individually and as an overall group, plus as CEOs. Unfortunately, the fear of…

EP #103

Episode 103: The In Between: Restless Visionary Syndrome

As visionaries, it is vital we create and embrace the flexibility to be able to pivot within our businesses and our focuses. Even if and when things are going extremely well, there is always development we continue to need as women, both individually and as an overall group, plus as CEOs. Unfortunately, the fear of making changes–especially big ones–is where many leaders end up stuck.

The Kris Plachy Team has watched these truths unfold as we’ve worked with nearly countless female CEOs over many years. That’s why I am so very excited to have my team with me for this episode. Recently, I made the decision to change up a lot of what we do and they agreed to come on the podcast to talk about things they’ve both seen and experienced. Michelle, Crista and Chelsea opened up about topics like filling the vision hole, reconfiguring the picture, reassuring your team, embracing the spirit of possibility, and much more.

“I think all of us who run businesses… we have to have these moments where we’re willing to be in suspension, in the in-between. It’s where we get a lot of really good insight.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Initial team reactions: what to expect
  • Filling the vision hole
  • Reconfiguring the picture
  • Reassuring your team
  • Embracing the spirit of possibility
  • Receiving hard truths

Contact Info and Recommended Resources


Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

I want to thank my team, Michelle Arant, Director of Operations and Coach with the Kris Plachy Coaching Group, Crista Grasso, Fractional CMO, and Chelsea Sheridan, Executive of All Things Social Media, Landing Pages & Digital Marketing, once more for being on this episode with me!

Connect with Kris Plachy

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Kris Plachy: Well, hello. Welcome to this episode of Leadership Is Feminine. I’m so excited. I’m Kris Plachy, and today we’re gonna talk about what I’m currently calling Restless Visionary Syndrome, and I have special guests for this podcast, so let’s go.

All right, everyone. Welcome. This is a first. We are doing a podcast live and I have brought my team onto the podcast, which is super fun for me. I don’t know if it’s super fun for them. Just real quick, let’s have everybody introduce themselves. So Michelle, say hello. Who are you?

Michelle Arant: Hi, I’m Michelle Arant and I’m the Director of Operations and Coach within the Kris Plachy Coaching Group.

Kris Plachy: Perfect. Thank you. Chelsea.

Chelsea Sheridan: Hi, everybody. I’m Chelsea Sheridan and I do all things social media, landing pages, digital marketing.

Kris Plachy: Thank you. Crista.

Crista Grasso: Hello, I’m Crista Graso and I’m the Fractional CMO.

Kris Plachy: Perfect. Okay, cool. So we have our small, but mighty, team here who touches all sorts of different sides and pieces and parts of the business. And we were having our team meeting on Monday. We were talking about a lot of the changes that are going on here in this business and we were sort of joking about how that isn’t a very refined process.

I think it was on a live, somewhere in Instagram that I announced that the How to CEO program, that we were running it for the last time, this last time we did it. And sort of didn’t tell anybody else about that. I just told the people on the live call, and I think that Chelsea was the one who came to Michelle, right? You said to Michelle, “Oh!”

Chelsea Sheridan: I was like, what does this mean? And how many steps is it? What are we pivoting to and how many steps does that look like?

Kris Plachy: Yeah. Right. And then my favorite comment that you said to Michelle was, do you remember what you said?

Chelsea Sheridan: No, I legit have no idea. But I’m so glad it was memorable to everyone else.

Kris Plachy: No, we’re- she told me that you said, “Well, this’ll be fun. That’s what’s gonna happen.” Right. It’ll be fun and I think it will be fun. But in all seriousness, the How to CEO program has been in place for over two years. I think we’ve run it seven or eight times now. I’m not quite sure, but I feel like that’s about right.

And for as long as I could tell you I’ve been working, I have, every two to three years, changed something. I’ve either changed my job, changed my my responsibilities. I’ve written my own job descriptions over time because I would get tired of the one I was in, so I would just create one. And I was fortunate to work in a startup for a lot of my career, so I was able to really design a lot of my own things that I did.

And I believe that for people who sit more in kind of that visionary, creative role, that’s vital. Because as we grow, so does the work we wanna do in the world. And so I have spent the last two and a half, three years, totally invested in this part of the work and have learned a tremendous amount about what we offer and how we do it, and how we help people. Through that growth, I created a whole new program called the Sage CEO, which is taking the work of How to CEO, like to the next level, to that graduate degree or PhD level. Which is what I love helping women with at all different sort of inflection points of their growth as being a CEO.

So when I really thought about, “How do we best serve these clients?” There were two things that have happened over the last two years that I’ll indulge in here, and then we’re gonna talk about what this really means to the team. Because the truth is, I probably would give myself a C minus on how this went down with the team. And yet, I guess they would all- they’re all laughing while I’m talking, you can’t see the video – but I think they would probably also say, “Yeah, it’s just Tuesday. Like, that’s kind of how we roll.”

But the two primary inflections for me were really the birth of Sage CEO in recognizing that despite their success, despite their accomplishment, despite the fact that the team is operating and things are going really well, there’s still a lot of development that we all continue to need as women, as business owners, as CEOs. And that was very insightful to me. Not that I didn’t know it, but to watch it happen, to watch women work with us for two years and then be like, “Okay, I need to take this all to the next level. That really was very valuable for me in my own growth.”

And then the second thing was last fall, Michelle and I did the CEO immersion. And we brought in CEOs with their managers to help them build the management systems for the team. And we sat there with each other. And looked at each other and said, “So, when were we gonna figure this out? That actually helping CEOs learn how to lead their teams is valuable, but if they don’t have managers who know how to manage people, it’s not gonna help.”

And so through that birth process, we realized, okay, there’s an area of expertise in teaching managers, management skill. And then there’s an area of expertise in helping women business owners and CEOs transform into leaders, into that real leadership space. Those are the two sort of inflections for me that really made me realize How to CEO is useful. The content, the tools, all the things we offer are incredibly powerful. I’m just not sure that we’re delivering it in a way that serves as well as it could, the client we wanna help.

And so that’s why I had to make that hard stop and say we’re not doing it anymore because I needed, me first, and the rest of us to be ready to just dive into something different. Cuz we could have kept going. We could have kept just offering it. To me it wasn’t mirroring powerful lessons that we had learned. And then that feels like we’re like skimping on what we’re capable of.

Okay, so that’s what that’s all about. Now, what this will turn into, we still don’t know. That’s a little bit of a lie, but we’re working through what it will all turn into. But I am kind of curious for the listener’s sake, Michelle, you’ve been working with me the longest, so I don’t know if this surprised you or not, but what were your thoughts when I sort of said to you, “That’s it, we’re done. We’re gonna do something else.”

Michelle Arant: Let’s see, what were my thoughts? And just to let the listeners know, when we decided we were gonna do this podcast, I said, “Permission to really speak?”

Kris Plachy: Yes. Always.

Michelle Arant: And she of course said, of course. So, and the reason I say that is because we, as a team, we just don’t really have a lot of, the culture is not set up here for us to back bite and gossip and that’s just not what we do here. We support each other. However, I think in my brain, I have to stop myself and think about, “Okay, how is what I think and feel right now going to affect Kris? How is it gonna affect everyone else?”

And so I don’t complain, quote unquote complain out loud, right? So it’s very hard for me to say, “This is really what happens.” Yeah, it is hard, but because of my position, I immediately went, “Oh God”, like I’m used in my brain and my whole body like, “Oh my God”. Because we’re human. Right? Immediately we think, well, how does this affect me? Like, oh my

Kris Plachy: Of course,

Michelle Arant: So if we’re gonna be getting rid of something. Then that means we’re gonna put something else in its place. And because I’m such a process person, I immediately think of all the work that’s getting ready to, like, it’s gonna entail to make it all happen. So initially that’s where I first go to is the details and the weeds of-

Kris Plachy: Which don’t exist.

Michelle Arant: Which we have none of. Right, right.

Kris Plachy: No, no.

Michelle Arant: Exactly. In all reality, because of the people, the different personalities of the people you have on a team. For our listeners, you have to expect that that’s where each of their brains are gonna go is, “How does this affect me?” And, “What does this look like?” And all that.

But it doesn’t mean that me, or anyone else on this team, it doesn’t mean that we’re not willing to get on the bandwagon and go. Sometimes we just need a minute to be like, “Oh my God”. Then it’s like, all right, let’s get to work. So that’s, that’s where my mind immediately went to in the beginning.

Kris Plachy: Which I love. Because it needs to. Like eventually, that’s what I need your brain to do, right? Is like, here’s what the end looks like. Now, what needs to happen on Tuesdays for that to happen? And I also love the honesty because it’s important for all of us to remember what Michelle said that in my brain, I’m like, “Yeah, let’s change it!” And I think that sounds fun and exciting and like refreshing and everybody else is like, “That means, is this Asana task board relevant anymore? Like, what do I do? Do I have a job?” Right? That’s also a real concern for people.

So from my perspective, I’ve always just tried to be like, listen, I don’t, I’m not sure about the vision. I’m not sure where we’re going, but like everybody’s good and nothing’s changing today. Nothing’s changing today. We’re just changing how we’re planning for what we’re gonna do in the future. And so that’s the- we have to walk the bridge of movement.

But the tendency for all of us, because it’s hard and because I would be worried about you and your fear or your anxiety around all of it. I could make the case for not changing and that’s where I think a lot of leaders stay complacent. Because they do have fear over the disruption that might happen with the change, and of course, the risk. Like there’s true risk here. That’s a reality. So, thank you for your honesty there. All right, Crista, you’re the newest here in this crazy quadra-head situation. What are your thoughts? Or were they, yeah.

Crista Grasso: It was so fascinating to be a part of because my first thought was, “Oh, so this is what my team experiences.”

Kris Plachy: Yes. Right? Exactly. Oh, look at that.

Crista Grasso: But the other piece, very similar to what Chelsea and Michelle shared is, you know, I tend to look at business as a big puzzle. And I knew what the puzzle pieces were because we’ve been working on it and all of a sudden we’re now building a different picture. So what is the new puzzle? What does that look like? What are the pieces that are gonna stay? What are the pieces that are gonna go?

And being the planner that I am, of course, I immediately start planning. “Okay, well we’re gonna have to take this off the website. And we’re gonna have to reimagine this. And which is the piece that we need to focus on next?” And so it’s really just thinking, “Okay, what is the new picture? What does that look like? And now how are we gonna get there?”

So I just immediately went into planning. And what are my questions? And what do we need to sort out next so that we can get to the picture?

Kris Plachy: I love it and I love that analogy. It’s interesting. I was talking to my coach this morning and it’s a similar concept. I said to her, I said, “We’re not changing the formula”. I use the example of Coke, not cocaine, Coca-Cola. (I don’t have a lot of experience with cocoaine, just for everyone’s knowledge.) But Coca-Cola, they’ve changed their label, but they haven’t changed their formula. The Coca-Cola still tastes like coca-cola. It didn’t for a while though. Remember when they changed it? They got so much flack for that.

So, I feel like it’s a similar analogy to what you just said. The pieces are all there. We’re just gonna reconfigure and figure out a way to do this in a way that I think is better aligned. And let’s be honest, the world has changed in three. years What people want to do, how they wanna think, how they wanna spend their money, how they wanna spend their time, who they wanna spend their time with.

There’s just been a lot of evolution for a lot of us, especially for women. If there’s any particular group that has been the most challenged and tasked and relied upon over the last three years, it’s been women.

So there’s a lot of factors at play, but I appreciate your unique perspective because you have your own business. And so you also are that woman for your team. And like I said, like I know I could have done it differently. And yet at the same time, I don’t wanna say that I would have, because I don’t know that I would have. Because I think for me, I had to be able to just say it out loud and be done.

Because if I revved up to it, like, if you guys had helped me like with the plan of how we were gonna tell people, I probably would’ve kept coming up with reasons why. Cuz I have my own fear. Even my clients are like, “What are you talking about? This has been so good for me. Why would you get rid of it?”

I’m not getting rid of anything. We’re just gonna reevaluate the best way to get you the resources that you need. And we know it’s not- I know it’s not that. I know there’s another way. So there’s that evolution.

All right, Chelsea, what are you thinking or were you thinking?

Chelsea Sheridan: But what- Okay, first off, I was thinking, I think I found out about it like on a Friday. So like, your brain is like in a lot of places Friday, right? So it was like, “What does this mean?” First and foremost, I was like, “What am I doing? If we don’t have How to CEO, like what- but what does that look like for me?” To go back to that conversation. Cause it’s the first thing your brain does. It’s so much of the structure of the work that I do is based off of an offer. So it’s like, “Our offer is literally just being burned to the ground. What does that mean?” So that was first and foremost.

And then to piggyback it off of that, it was Friday. So I’m like, this feels like a heavy conversation to be having to be Slacking Michelle and being like, “So, can we unpack this right now? Or like, do you have time?”

Kris Plachy: At 1:00 PM on a Friday. Yeah.

Chelsea Sheridan: Right. I’m like, “This feels like a Monday conversation.”

And I think that you were out that day. So it was me, Crista, and Michelle, and I was like, “Okay, full stop, everybody. Let’s just address the elephant in the room. What does this mean? What does that look like? How are we pivoting?”

So those were my first reactions. Because, like I said, so much of social and landing pages and offer building is based off of an offer.

Kris Plachy: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all synergized, right? So the good news is now you’re like, “Oh! More creativity, more things to do, more hours.”

Chelsea Sheridan: Right. And I knew in the back of my brain that there was a plan, but there wasn’t a plan. So I’m like, “This is fun.” Cause it’s new, it’s exciting. I love creating things. I’m very creative. Anybody who’s familiar listening with Clifton strengths, my five strengths are responsibility, empathy, strategy, maximizing and futuristics.

That strategy, maximizer, and futuristic is what also comes out. And piggybacking off Michelle is like, Okay, what does this look like? What does this mean? How are we executing? How can we make the most of this? But also piggybacking off the responsibility of like, what do we need to get done? What do we need to do? What needs to be done?

All different things that kinda lead us in that direction. So I think that was just what triggered me and my leadership style of like, “Okay, I know that we’ve got a plan. It might not be a plan, but there’s plan. And how do we execute from there?”

Kris Plachy: Yeah, for sure. That’s so good. I think it’s one of the ‘double-edged sword’ notions of having some collaborative leadership style, right? Is, I’m not very directive. I tend to be more like, “I’m thinking this” and we all kind of talk about it. So when I’m not in the room or when we’re not sure where we’re going, that can leave a little bit of a hole because the vision piece is required for the collaboration.

If we’re gonna truly be co-creators of something, then we have to know what we’re building. And so I appreciate that we’ve been a little bit in that suspension. That’s why we’re calling this the in-between. Like, there’s this in between place when your visionary gets restless that we have to sort of stand, where are we going? What are we doing?

And sometimes the answer is, “Not sure yet. Hang tight. It’s okay. Like, everything’s okay.” I just read the Company of One book, by Paul Jarvis, and that’s one of the things he talks about is we’re so driven to constantly grow that we sometimes don’t take a minute to ask ourselves, “For what? What are we doing here? What are we really, really doing?”

And so I think all of us who run businesses, who have our own practice, whatever it is, we have to have these moments where we’re willing to be in suspension, in the in-between. It’s where we get a lot of really good insight if we tune in.

So, so good. Thank you, Chelsea.

Okay, so as we think about being the person on the team. So we’ll just do this one other thing. As you’re listening to this, if you want your team to listen to this podcast, because that might be useful for you, if you run a company and you know that you have made some changes and people are a little disrupted and they’re a little confused.

What would you say to the people on the team? What advice would you have for them? What do you think they should be thinking about? Asking about? What would be your recommendation just based off this small experience here. So, I’ll start differently, Chelsea.

Chelsea Sheridan: First and foremost, just to validate that asking any question is a good question because it impacts the team. It impacts you, but it also impacts the group. So I think validating, if you’re in a similar spot, circumstance, no question is a bad question because they’re all valid. Things are pivoting and changing.

Kris Plachy: I love that. And let me, I’m gonna give you, I’m gonna do this really quick, and so then as the leader, indulge all the questions. Allow people to ask. It’s okay if you say, ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ It’s okay, but don’t shut the questions down. Great point, Chelsea. What else?

Chelsea Sheridan: Because I just think that that helps promote that space, like co creativity, right? It’s letting everybody bring their voice to the table. And also, feeling like you can ask any question is huge to begin with. Like, when we had our conversation, I mean, I’ve been on this team for like a year and a half now, and I came to the table and I was like, “Alright, Michelle.”

And I gave her a look and we all just looked to each other because we knew, right? But it wasn’t like out of malice. It was funny, to be honest. I mean, it was just kinda like, “What does this mean?”

Kris Plachy: Here we go.

Chelsea Sheridan: I think having that space is huge. And I just think from the perspective of the doer, in my position, I think is just to be malleable. I mean, no matter the team size that you’re working for, things ebb and flow and it’s all about your attitude and not looking at it as like, “This is happening to me”, but an opportunity for challenge, an opportunity for growth and opportunity to learn something new, to tackle an issue, to tackle a new challenge.

So I think it’s all about mindset. It’s all about asking the right questions, but also being open to trying new things, to contributing new ideas, to listening. There’s so much that can happen in the area- the word that you always use and I love it, is co-creativity, co-creating. So I think there’s so much there that can just be benefited from the group at large that just coming with a positive attitude, asking the right questions, and also just being willing to do the work. But looking at it as it’s helping the greater project, it’s helping the greater good, it’s helping the greater team, but it’s also providing you an opportunity to learn and grow.

Kris Plachy: I love that. I think that that’s, for the leader on the same side of that, you don’t have to know all the answers. So much of this process that we’re going through right now, I am leveraging all of your insight. I have a sense of it, but I don’t know. And I think a lot of leaders are ashamed or afraid to say, “This isn’t it, but I’m not quite sure what the right answer is,” and to leverage.

You’re all incredibly talented, successful people. You have something to bring here. So for the leader listening, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to be willing to have the conversations that allow those answers to present themselves. So, okay, Crista.

Crista Grasso: Yeah, I would add and kind of build off of what Chelsea shared is just to stay in the spirit of possibility and to not limit the way that you move forward, or the way you think about moving forward based on what you’ve done before. Because as you’re making changes, sometimes things that you tried before will work in a different context.

And I think you just wanna approach it from that place of, how do we make this happen? How do we make this as successful as possible? What experiment can we try, to see if this is the way that we wanna move forward? Instead of feeling the pressure of, “We’ve gotta get this exactly right,” and, “This isn’t gonna work because we tried this before”, or coming at it from a place of fear, as opposed to a place of possibility and the amazing opportunity and experimentation mindset to really just try to play in the business again.

Because when you’re doing something new, it is that more fun energy, but it’s also an incredible time of opportunity to see what’s really working and to see what’s different and to see if something you tried before can actually work now in a different context.

Kris Plachy: Oh, good. I love that. I’ll just keep adding the leadership perspective there for me. So if that’s what we want to invite our team members to believe, then as the leader, we have to hold space for all of it. If someone brings something- there are sometimes things people say, I’m like, “Listen to me. I’ve tried that 400 times.” But I will always engage that it could be different this time. Let’s talk about it. There’s only one thing right now on the table that I refuse to entertain, and everybody knows what those are. It’s called Facebook ads, but we’ll talk about that another day.

I do think holding that open space as the leader is critical. No bad ideas. No, ‘we’ve already done that’ because that shuts off your team and then you shut off their creativity and we don’t wanna do that. We wanna keep possibilities. I love that. I talked to Michelle last week about possibility playground, like, what’s available to us. So many things. Great, great insight. Thank you. Michelle.

Michelle Arant: So I think it’s important to remember the relationship, the personalities of the different members on the team, and the relationship that we all have with each other. And if you’re listening to this because the founder forwarded it to you and said, ‘Hey, take a listen’, it probably means that you are working for someone like I work for, a visionary, a creative.

They’re always gonna have ideas that they wanna try and do, because that’s their brain. More than likely, your brain, the position that you are in, is in the details, and how do we make that happen?

As you have your moments of stress and freak out, remember that it’s just personality and neither one of you is right and neither one of you is wrong, and how you process information and how you handle the news, or the change, or whatever it is.

And I also want to stress, and cannot stress enough, that we’re all here to fill a role, and whatever our role is, drives the success of the initiative, of the business in general as a whole. And so, remember that, what your role is, and then just know that you can make it personal for a little while, but then you have to jump back into, “This is my role. This is what I’m hired to do and this is what’s best right now for the business. And this is how I’m gonna get on board and I’m gonna go with it. And I’m gonna do the best that I can. And we’re gonna make this happen.”

But just remembering that you process things differently probably than the founder or your boss. And so it’s okay for you to have those moments. But it’s not okay for you to bring those moments and live in those moments of doubt and overwhelm and frustration and all of that. Because if you do, then it just brings the team down. It brings you down. It bring the team down. And it brings the founder, the visionary, your boss, it brings her down. And we are all here in support of her, and letting her do the things that grow the business in the way that she feels like is best.

And so supporting that only helps us because we get to be a part of a team where the business grows and we get to do all the fun things. But just remembering that we’re all different. We’re not right or wrong. We’re just different. And so, we bring all of that to the position or the role that we have. But the main thing is that we have to deliver on what we were hired to do.

Kris Plachy: Because there is still a business running. That’s the first piece. I love that you said that. And I also think from the leadership perspective, you have to be willing to hear people are worried, scared, upset, stressed. I mean, I don’t think we really had a lot of that here, but I do think in my past experience with change, you have to not get defensive as a leader. You have to be willing to hear all of it. And I actually- Emily’s not on this call, who’s our CFO- but I met with her on Monday and talked through some of the ideas that I have and she was very frank with me and told me why one of the ideas was a really bad one.

And not that the idea wouldn’t work, but she’s worked with me now long enough, she’s like, “You’re not gonna like that. Why are you doing that? Don’t do that.”

And I said, “You’re right. The reason I’m attracted to it is it feels like it will be easier to help more people.”

She’s like, “No, it’s not gonna be easier. It’s gonna be harder, because you’re gonna have to do more of the very thing that you don’t wanna do. So don’t do that.”

So you’ve gotta, for those of you listening, you have to be able to tell them some truth. You have to tell people like me, the truth as you see it. And for the leader, you have to be able to hear it. If you make it dangerous or threatening to tell you the truth, people will just go along with you all day and you’ll end up at the end of a dead end alley wondering how you got there. You’ve gotta have people in your life that will tell you the truth and also, not be afraid to hear it and you might not agree.

I could have told Emily, “No, I’m totally all in.” And she would’ve supported that. But she was very honest with me and it was very valuable. It’s like, “Oh yeah, you’re right. What am I doing? I gotta get outta here. I gotta get outta here. I gotta get outta here.” Cause I slip into structures that are very worn and proven, and I start thinking, “Oh, that’s the way to do this.”

Instead of, “Wait, what is it that I’m really trying to do here? I’m a visionary. My job is to create a new future, not to replicate the one that everybody else has already.”

So, I don’t have anything to share with you yet. It’s all still top secret, hush hush. But what I will tell you is that if you’re on the private subscriber list, you’re gonna get coming attractions, you’ll get notified of things sooner than everyone else. So if you’re not on the private subscriber list, you should be, and you need to go to KrisPlachy.com and just click the ‘Join the List’ button.

But if you’ve tuned in today and some of this has resonated, I certainly hope it was helpful. Change is happening all the time, everywhere. We can’t get away from change. We don’t get to hide from change. We don’t get to protect ourselves or our team or anyone else.

And as a visionary, if you’re staying small and you’re not changing cuz you’re afraid of what it will do to others in your company, we need to talk about that. Because that’s not serving the vision. And if you’re a visionary who doesn’t know how to talk to people about how to implement change, we can fix that. That’s all solvable.

And if you work in a visionary’s business, you have to understand, ‘This is just Tuesday’ and this will be your life if you work for a founder. There are some founders who are better at it than others. And if you wanna work for visionaries, my recommendation is you always look for the visionaries who are open, collaborative, co-creative focused. They allow for discourse. They allow for conversation.

Because you may not know where you’re going, but at least y’all can be talking to each other and figuring it out together instead of feeling totally isolated and clueless, and I know that’s not a safe or comfortable space to be, either. So to the extent that this was useful for all of you, thank you for tuning in and stay tuned. We may have more information for you really soon, maybe.

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Photography Danielle Cohen