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Episode 2: Your guiding principles influence your leadership

Dr. Denise Simpson shares her experiences with Dr. Sarah Andreas. Find Dr. Denise

You will learn:

Connecting your leadership choices to your values

Master your mindset

Values drive our leaderships


Dr. Sarah Andreas: My guest today is Dr. Denise Simpson, she is a life and leadership coach. She helps individuals maximize their leadership potential so they can inspire their followers, impact their organization's bottom line, and ultimately redefine the way their leadership transforms our world.

Dr. Denise has spent over 20 years in leadership as a practicing leader, a university professor, and a researcher. She lives in Austin Texas with her husband and family. Welcome, Denise.

Dr. Denise Simpson: Thank you, Sarah, so happy to be here.

Sarah: Great. Can you tell us about what you're doing and what you're working on?

Denise: I am a life and leadership coach like you just said, and actually fell into coaching after I got my PhD, after spending more time in the university classroom. I realized that I could do so much more for my students and my clients outside of the academic system. I jumped into entrepreneurship about two years ago now and I get to coach some of the most conscientious leaders in the US and around the globe. I also have an online Leadership Academy, so I get to still be in the classroom but on my own terms. I'm having a great time in my coaching practice.

Sarah: That's awesome. How did you end up where you are right now?

Denise: Oh, that's an interesting question and you let me know if I get long-winded here because my leadership trajectory has been very interesting. I have worked since the age of 16. I was in the DECA Club in high school. The DECA Club is for those aspiring to be leaders and business professionals and we ran the school store. One of our requirements to be a member in this organization was to get a part-time job and I got my first bank account at 16.

I worked at the Montgomery Ward Tire Center. People would come in with their tire issues and wanting to buy tires and I was the front desk clerk or the receptionist that would receive them and invoice them and help them with their choices. It was an interesting experience at 16. From there I left home at 17 immediately registered at a university far away from home.

Went into leadership before I even graduated with a bachelor's degree and at 19 years old I was offered a position. I was working as a part-time retail associate at a lotions and potions store. You know the ones that you get to wear your apron and you get to help your customers with lotions and scrubs and all these fun stuff all this really neat stuff.

I was a loyal and dedicated part-time associate and they saw some qualities and they were qualities that really impressed them. Again, loyalty and dedication and really loving the customer experience. They offered me an assistant manager position before I even graduated from college at 20 years old. Yes, I graduate with an undergraduate degree, in fact, a bachelor's in management and focus in leadership and administration and that was it.

I was hooked, I was dedicated, I became a scholar and I'm still a lifelong scholar of leadership. Then trajectory took me into some amazing formal leadership positions. Eventually wound up in higher education and then earned a PhD in Leadership Studies and now I get to do what I do because of the 20-plus years that I have as a practicing leader. That's the trajectory I'm on.

Sarah: That is amazing. What a story. What has been your biggest leadership lesson that you had to learn?

Denise: I think connecting my values. Aligning my personal values to my leadership decisions. Something I talked to my clients about because like I said I do coach some of the most conscientious leaders in the United States and around the globe. I'm lucky to do what I do and they come to me with mindset issues. Is not the skill sets. They've been in leadership for a very long time. They can look up training and develop their skills over time and most of them do, but they reach a point where limiting beliefs and their guiding values and principles really stop them dead in their tracks.

That's something that I had to personally discover for myself before I can actually help my clients do this, but I had to reevaluate my values. What I had to do was really take an introspective look to see what those guiding principles were. Now I was born and raised along the South Texas Mexican border so my first language was Spanish and didn't speak English until about seven or eight years old. I saw a lot of things I shouldn't have seen as a little girl, experienced a lot of things that I shouldn't have as a little girl, and I realized that a lot of those values that I learned in my youth were affecting me in my personal life and in my leadership decisions.

To say that you don't take your brain in your heart into leadership is absolutely false. You take the mind, and the heart, and your values, and your principles, and your empathy, and your emotional intelligence, with you everywhere you go. Something that I had to really assess for myself and reevaluate for myself were those guiding principles. Where are they and why did they affect me the way they did? And now that I'm aware of that, how do I move forward?

When I have a new client come in that's the first thing we do, we do a full assessment on those guiding principles. I'm going to get to know who they are and what drives them. The values are the essence of who we are as human beings and you think about that. These values drive the decisions we make in our intimate relationships, in the choices we make in our organizations.

I mean, gosh, even where we want to work. We want to make sure that we have shared values with these institutions and these organizations. I think that's something that a lot of our newer students that are coming through, newer generations that are coming into our workforce may not really see for themselves right now. It's something that I had to do and that was a big lesson for me. What were my values and how are they affecting not only my personal life but my leadership decisions.

Sarah: I absolutely understand that. I for a long time called it my core values and when I thought about it as core values I always thought of a something you sat on your desk but you really didn't do anything with it. I had to change the word, I changed it to be life filters and life filters are how you make your decisions. I agree with you that I think a lot of young professionals maybe have not been exposed to the idea of having those filters or those values that help you decide how am I going to make this decision.

How I'm going to show up in the world and be okay with my whole self. Because another point you made that I totally agree with is, you don't have a personal and a professional self. You have yourself.

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