Episode 31: Conscious Leadership with Executive Coach and Author, Kaley Warner Klemp

Conscious Leadership with Kaley Warner Klemp

In this episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast, Jenn DeWall interviews Kaley Warner Klemp, who is a highly sought after speaker, certified Young President’s Organization (YPO) Forum Facilitator, and transformational executive coach. Kaley advises senior executives on how to uncover and address core challenges, provides them with proven tools and methods to reach new heights, and uses her years of experience to guide leaders towards achieving their goals. Additionally, Kaley uses conscious leadership practices to help high-performing teams create a culture of authenticity and deliver superior results. Join host Jenn DeWall as she discusses Kaley’s book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.

Jenn DeWall: Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall here, and on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, I am so excited to interview Kaley Klemp. Now you heard her bio, but I want you to hear it from her first. Kaley, will you tell our listeners just a little bit about who you are, what you do, and what makes you kind of the expert of the leadership space, and what do you love about leadership? I just asked you 20 questions. I’m sorry.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Well, let’s see if I can take them a couple at a time, Jenn, thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here a little bit about me. So as you heard, I spend my time with leaders in companies and the Young President’s organization. I’ve loved different leadership tools, whether commitments of conscious leadership or the Enneagram. Really what I love about this work is helping people get that aha. That lets them be their best self more of the time.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, the aha moment. I mean, and I love that you also work with leadership at all levels, too. So you see the different challenges that people face, the probably the obstacles, or maybe even the areas that you can have later on in your career that you didn’t realize.

Leaders are Lifelong Learners

Kaley Warner Klemp: I think that’s so true that the most effective leaders at the highest level. So I have the privilege of working with lots of CEOs and presidents. They are lifelong learners. I have yet to meet a leader that sort of checks the box and is like, you know what? I’ve learned everything there is to know. They’re really the people who I am most inspired by are the ones that keep learning and keep growing.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. And that’s, I mean, lifelong learners, I think that’s funny. So it’s when we think about people that are in those successful positions. Yeah. So you don’t, when I teach leadership classes, I’ve never like, you don’t see the people in leadership classes that are kind of being a little bit lazy in their development. You see the people that actually want to do it, which is awesome.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Self-Awareness is Key to Conscious Leadership

Jenn DeWall: So I know one of the things that is your specialty and, or not necessarily your specialty, but one of the tools you use are Enneagram tests. That is a new word for a lot of people. Could you just tell us what that means? What is the Enneagram? Instagram? No, I’m kidding.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Any of them just means a system of nine. And really what that’s about- a personality system kind of like Myers-Briggs or the PI or the Birkman. But what I love about the Enneagram is that it’s all about why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? It’s a ton about that motivation behind the action. And so, whereas some systems will give you just a behavior set of characteristics. And at least to me, it sort of felt like, sorry, good luck with that. You’re done. The Enneagram really gives you a path. So it gives you some of your home base characteristics. So for me, I’m motivated by goodness and really wanting to be good in every domain in my life. And so that will show up like principles that will show up like responsibility. But it also helps me flag all the ways that amazing principal will go sideways and then get me in trouble. So then I start to catch myself being perfectionistic, right. I catch myself being really attached to needing to be right. I always want to go, okay, I know this movie I’ve seen this before. And what I love about the Enneagram is it doesn’t just stop there. It says, okay, well is what you’re striving for happening? Are you getting that deeper desire? And when you’re not, it’s a great opportunity to pause, take a deep breath, shift, and see if you can find a more effective way.

Jenn DeWall: So you see people use it just to think about, you know, the differentiator between a standard behavioral or personality test is that they can really understand maybe at a deeper level, their inner desires of what they want and how they may be, I guess, achieve gratification or happiness and so on and so forth.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Totally. And so then it operates on a couple of different levels. I always say, start with yourself. So you want to type yourself first, get really clear on sort of what are your motives, but what it also facilitates is empathy. That when I know why you’re doing what you’re doing, behaviors that to me might look completely baffling or, in some ways, actually counterproductive. I can take a step back and go wait a second. Okay. Jenn is not doing that to irritate me. Jenn is not doing that to try to control me. She has a positive motive. Let me see if I can find that. And that creates a bridge between the two of us, both in understanding who you are, why you’re doing that. And then it creates more possibilities for effective communication.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. I love that so much because it’s true. Like when we don’t understand the motive of someone else, we have a tendency to go to that dark place of personalizing it. And assuming that, you know, there might be ill intent or maybe they’re making assumptions against us, but really it’s just about practicing curiosity with understanding how someone else shows up.

Kaley Warner Klemp: I love that you brought those together. Because it really is. It’s about curiosity. It’s about being willing to drop my own story. It’s about assuming positive intent, but not in like a LA LA land sort of, oh, I just assume that everything you do is positive, but being able to stretch and find something that is real that’s in there.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. So do you do this with teams then too?

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yes. So I use the Enneagram actually kind of everywhere in my life. So I started with me. I actually wrote a blog post about this, that I got completely hooked by the Enneagram because gosh, about ten years ago now a little longer, 12 years ago, I would argue that Enneagram saved my marriage. So I use it with individuals, I use it with couples. My husband and I actually just finished. We turned it in on Friday, a new manuscript. So we’re writing a new book, the 80/80 marriage. So it’s not necessarily built on the Enneagram, but a lot of those principles of curiosity and generosity show up there. But then I use it with one on one coaching, helping executives really understand themselves their leadership style and then absolutely with teams. How do you work together?

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. That’s awesome. Thank you so much for walking through Enneagrams because I think it’s something we see more and more of, and it just sounds so valuable to be able to not only understand yourself, to be patient with yourself or practice curiosity with yourself, but to also think about how you can come together as a more cohesive team that respects and maybe treasures each other’s differences.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Absolutely. Yeah. All the emphasis on how diversity is actually an asset. It’s a diversity of a different kind, which is a diversity of personality types. It just, it can really help teams really differentiate themselves and be even better.

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership

Jenn DeWall: Heck yes! So I wanted you to be on the podcast. You’re an author as well, and you have written a few different books, but one of the books that we’re going to be talking about is the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, which you co-wrote. But we want to talk about what that looks like. What are the 15 commitments of conscious leadership? We’re not going to be able to talk about all of them, but I know we’re going to talk about a few, and I’m super excited. What inspired you to want to write a book about conscious leadership?

Kaley Warner Klemp: So that is a great question. Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and I— so my two coauthors and I— we were looking at all the different experiences that we had with various individuals and teams and had been trained in lots of different systems and modules, and really thought if we could bring these different tools together in one cohesive way, it had the ability to help leaders individually and their organizations transform. And really the inspiration was that we didn’t think that the models we saw of leadership that had existed to that point were sustainable. And we thought if people were able to bring these new tools forward of conscious leadership, we could start to transform how our corporate systems work. And even in shelter-in-place, we spend a lot of time at work. So if that dimension of our lives can be enhanced, it seems like a really valuable thing to do.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, absolutely. Well, and getting people to— I think you touched on it earlier with empathy and the Enneagram- but just being aware that by stopping or slowing down to speed up, being more intentional, you can create a lot stronger results, a lot more dynamic and cohesive team that there’s so much there with just being conscious and not just feeling like, you know, that you’re reacting to everything. I love it. I love it. Just the whole notion of it. Because I think there’s not a lot of people, I think traditional leadership, you might’ve seen more of the wall do as I say, because I say so, or like you’re going to bend to my approach, whereas that’s we know that that’s not the number one way, like you’re not going to motivate and empower people just by telling them what to do and demanding authority or power.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that you touched on something really valuable, which is this notion of self-awareness and presence. That if you can pause and come back to the present moment, getting grounded and really responding rather than reacting. So many more choices become available, and a lot more energy also gets freed up because it’s not being drained by drama or gossip or integrity breaches. And so you’re really available to engage in the purposeful work and exchanges and collaborations that are possible.

Jenn DeWall: I guess I love talking about energy. Like that is such a big thing, knowing that some of these, the challenges that we have in the workplace, whether it’s the stressors of, you know, conflict on a team or a product echoing the right way or a process going sideways, that we know that how we show up, how we respond to those things will have a level on our ability to invest our energy into our work, invest our energy into our family, to invest just and be present in our own lives. Yes,

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yes, absolutely. I think, you know, every moment that I spend rehearsing an argument is a moment that I don’t have available for things that are really meaningful in my life.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. I get, I like to think of it as working from home. Like you’re working unpaid from home when you’re thinking about all that stuff in your brain, you’re just being, yeah, you’re working off the clock, and you’re going through something, and you’re not likely yielding any type of return on investment for yourself.

Kaley Warner Klemp: It’s so fascinating that you say that because I think there was actually a study done where people measured the time that they were actually working versus the perceived amount of time that they thought they were working. And there was a huge discrepancy between the amount of time people thought that they were working and what they realized was all of that was the time that they were rehearsing things, that they were replaying conversations. If they were upset about something that they hadn’t cleared directly or been candid about, all of that was really just lost time.

Taking Radical Responsibility

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Yes. Okay. So let’s talk about how, how can we plug-in? How can we essentially get some of that time back? We talked about a few of the 15 commitments, but the first one we wanted to talk about is one of the commitments is taking radical responsibility. What does that mean? What does it mean to take radical responsibility? I like the word radical there.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah. Well, so it isn’t just responsibility. It’s radical responsibility because it’s this notion of a hundred percent responsibility. And when you do that, it’s really taking responsibility for everything that shows up in your life. I’m getting curious about how you’re creating your own life experience. Really the counter commitment here is any time that you spend in the role of victim; life is happening to me, villain, where there’s blame. And I like to be really clear that blame can go out. Like, why did you do that? What’s wrong with you, but it can also go in and that form of an inner critic, I can’t say that what’s wrong with you, but that energy gets drained to you or the hero where I’m taking on more responsibility than belongs to me in an effort to create temporary relief. And so this notion of “radical” is really saying what belongs to me and how can I claim that fully energetically through my time, through my actions, through my thought processes.

Jenn DeWall: Ah, so we’re talking boundaries too. We’re talking about like with what you’re saying with being the hero of some of that. And I know there’s someone listening that absolutely likes to quiet their anxiety by volunteering or taking on more responsibility, even though they don’t have the capacity. So taking radical responsibility means owning your circumstance.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yes. And I love what you’re saying around boundaries. Because it’s owning that choice. But I think one of the primary things that distinguish being above versus below the line is the ability to choose and being able to say, gosh, even though at the moment, the easier answer would be to say yes to this request. I actually don’t have a yes to it. And so I’m going to step into my courage and say, that doesn’t work for me. I’m going to make a clean agreement. I’m going to say, no, I’m going to empower someone else. I’m going to say it’s not a priority. And that keeps me both in integrity with myself, with you. And it keeps me from stepping into that hero where I go, Oh, I’m going to take on more than I can handle because at least in my experience, I don’t know about you Jenn, but it in my experience, people don’t last as heroes very long. That pretty quickly, there’s a slide back into victimhood, and it’s sort of that martyr slide. It was just so hard to be doing four people’s work right now, where that’s actually a victim stance. It started “hero.” I can take that on. I can take that on, but it wasn’t sustainable.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. It’s not, Oh my gosh. There’s, there’s no way just the stressors. And even right now where everyone is or not everyone, but a lot of our listeners are working from home, which you had touched on that in the beginning. We know that people are overworking right now because they are working from home. And so you might be doing the job of four people, but then all of a sudden you’re taking on more and, Oh, that’s just from a mental health perspective or from a productivity perspective, from everything. It’s just not good news

Kaley Warner Klemp: Completely. I think you touched on this a little bit with the boundaries, but especially in this work from home environment, a lot of what I’m seeing with leaders is that the line between work and home got really, really blurry because it literally got blurry where is work and where is home? And so depending on how much anxiety people are feeling, they’re stepping into that self-soothing in different ways. And interestingly, work can be a form of self-soothing that if I don’t want to feel how hard something is or how scary something is or how sad something is, I can just go to work and society might give me a temporary thumbs up. But the cost energetically to my relationships, to my resiliency, is actually quite high.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. And I think it’s so easy to do that right now, just to throw yourself into your work, without realizing that the avoidance maybe is just going to be something that hurts you in the long run. I know that’s one of my things, cause I, you know, if you think about the people, if you’re an achiever or I wonder what I would be in an Enneagram perspective, but like knowing that your an “achiever,” that if I, if things aren’t going right and maybe the personal side, then I can go into my work and at least I can control that.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Absolutely. Absolutely. We’re blending our modules, but that’s exactly right. So Enneagram type three is the achiever, and threes love metrics. I’d love to know that I’m successful. And when I put out a podcast, when I get accolades, when it’s, when a client engagement, those are pretty easy to measure. Whereas in our personal lives, it’s much harder to get those accolades. It’s harder to get that metric of success. I have an eight-year-old, and it’s not very often she’s like, mom, you just crushed homeschool today.

Jenn DeWall: Like that. Yeah. That’s cool. You bring up an, Oh my gosh. I feel like we can go in 20 different ways because I like that you bring up like the need for self-validation, that it’s something that we don’t do as often as we should. We might be a little bit too, I would say dependent on that external validation, wanting those accolades from someone else, but not realizing that we have to provide it ourselves.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah. And you’re, actually, you’re touching into one of the commitments, which is around sort of sourcing my own security approval and control. And this notion of sourcing my own approval is a really powerful shift away from looking for all of my accolades and approval outside myself and then really being at the effect of other people’s perception of me. Now, this is not to say, go be a jerk in your life, but instead, when I find that that grounding sense of I’m okay. Internally, rather than hunting for it and behaving for it and putting myself out for it always.

Feeling all the Feelings

Jenn DeWall: The answers are always within. So taking radical responsibility, that’s one of the commitments. So looking at where you are today, figuring out what you can take ownership of and leveraging your power of choice, another commitment, and I love, love, love, love this, this concept, feeling all the feelings. That’s another commitment, which I think is so important because we are, we just have a tendency to pretend that emotions don’t exist at work, which always just cracks me up. What is feeling all the feelings?

Kaley Warner Klemp: Feeling all the feelings I think is to your point, it’s acknowledging how much wisdom is in our feelings. And there’s actually quite a bit of research. Now that’s showing that we feel first, so often we’ll go looking for an explanation, but we feel first, and there is wisdom there. Often our feelings are even faster than our cognitive minds. And so tapping into what is the insight or what is the wisdom in anger as a, for instance, is it a boundary? Is it a no? And so being present to that allows you to set a boundary or to hold your “no” or sadness. As a for instance, gives us the wisdom that there’s something to be, let go of. And in this particular circumstance, I’ve been quite attuned and naming the sadness with a lot of my clients around not just loss of life, but also loss of dreams, that loss of perception of the way things were loss of control.

Kaley Warner Klemp: That there’s a lot of grief around. Wow, I need to let go of that. It isn’t here anymore. And with all the feelings. So we talk about anger. We talked about sadness, fear, joy, creativity that, in those feelings, there is insight. There is wisdom; there is power. And when you are able to match them. To match your expression with your experience, but they move through and stay that powerful ally of insight, of wisdom, of really being alive, too life and yourself and having that full range because occasionally people are like, I want to feel all the good feelings, but I don’t want to feel any of the bad feelings—two things for me around that. First is there’s only sort of one channel of feelings and they all run on the same channel. So there’s, there’s no such thing as I felt my full spectrum of joy, but no sadness for me. Beyond that, I actually, I don’t think any of the feelings are bad.

Kaley Warner Klemp: All of the feelings are huge allies in life that if I never felt fear, I couldn’t be as awake as attuned. I wouldn’t have that insight around when do I want to bring all of my presence? And I sort of bring my “A” game that my fear is really helpful in being attuned to that. However, there’s a way that all of our feelings can also, especially if we repress or deny them or we start to recycle them, they lose some of that power that instead I could tell you a whole story, right? Feed my emotion with a story. And now it’s lost its power and become drama instead. I’m just going to complain. I’m going to righteously blame. You can actually hear how it takes us down a path that no longer is it of an ally for choice, but instead, it’s sort of a sinkhole I get lost in.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. I love that. You talk about it as wisdom, because I think, you know, the initial experience with emotions is we go into maybe shaming or judging ourselves to say, Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that you got so upset by that meeting. Or I can’t believe that maybe you, God forbid cried, you know, or just had some type of emotion. But instead of looking at it as something that’s bad or pretending that we only experience joy here at ABC company, look at it as there, like there’s some wisdom to be learned here. How do, how do you get, especially those people that are operating maybe so quickly or in such a busy stress-induced work environment, how do you get them? Or what advice do you give your clients to help them check in to be like, Hey, what’s the wisdom in this?

Practicing Conscious Leadership

Kaley Warner Klemp: So I think a couple of things are allies. One is the pause, even just one or two deep breaths. And that’s not only to access the wisdom of emotion that’s to access the wisdom of your full brain, that our brains run on oxygen. And if I’m moving so quickly that I really am not even breathing, it’s unlikely that I am my wisest self. So a deep breath for sure. And then I think there’s also the body that sometimes our bodies wake us up to our feelings before our minds are even ready to admit it. So if all of a sudden you’re noticing huge tension in your shoulders, or if you’ve got butterflies in your stomach or you notice that your throat is constricting, that’s a time to pause and to check in and to get curious about what’s going on here. You know, emotion is sometimes just energy in motion, and that will show up physically. It is a great opportunity to go pause. What’s here?

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Check-in with your body. I know that I carry it absolutely. In the stress or when I’m, you know, I think even what I’m discouraged. Yeah. Just like closing and going in which that happens to all of us people. I know that there is someone on this audience that might have a time where they feel like they were rejected if they were shut down. But looking at that as an opportunity to notice and sense your body, take that pause and think what, what can you learn from that? Or how could you even maybe be nicer to yourself in those situations?

Kaley Warner Klemp: That’s really true. And sometimes it’s just the compassion to feel it and to let that feeling be there and have permission that they are,  and embrace and acknowledgment and acceptance of it, even if it doesn’t make sense, or even if I don’t have a good reason to be feeling this way I do. And that, that emotion being inherently valid and having a space, which does not mean that I have permission to go, you know, punch walls, if I feel angry or to, you know, go, you know, right down and sob in the middle of a boardroom. You know, there’s appropriate social cues. And can I create space just to say, this is how I feel.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, my gosh. And then can you do that for your team too? Because the power, if you can just allow them to do it and hopefully functioning it or siphoning it in a way where it doesn’t, you know, turn on the hose of, this is my negative feedback for what we’re doing, but just having it as a space of, Hey, let’s talk about our challenges, our wins so on and so forth.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yes. Yes. I think that feeling those feelings is important, and its almost a prerequisite for candor because if I can feel my feeling, know that wisdom and match it such that it’s moving through. I don’t know that there’s a like I felt it, and it’s done to check that box. Because sometimes, there are waves of emotion that occur, but at least if there’s movement to it, then you can really be candid knowing that it’s not emotion recycling or leaking or being projected out on others.

Speak Candidly

Jenn DeWall: Let’s talk about another commitment. And I love this one because I think it’s truly something that so many people as leaders really struggle with, the commitment is to speak candidly. And why do you think people struggle with speaking candidly, Kaley? Like why the heck is this? Because I’m sure, you see it all the time where people are just a little bit more reserved or just don’t want to share their opinion. Why do you think we struggle with that?

Kaley Warner Klemp: It’s such a great question. I think there’s actually a really interesting overlap between people’s personality types and where they’ll have a hiccup around candor. And so for some people that withhold is because I just want to keep it peaceful. And for other people that withhold is around, I really want you to like me, and I’m worried that if I tell you what I think that you won’t like me as much. Some people interestingly will hold back on their candor because they’ve been told that they’re too much or too powerful. And so there’s a sense of overcompensating for their truth because they’ve sort of been told over time, you know, enough and that’s with your directness. So I think, and there are different pieces of it that people will struggle with as well. So candor has three components. The first of which is being honest- is what I am saying true?

Kaley Warner Klemp: The second is completeness. Is it the whole story versus sort of cherry-picking things that are true, but aren’t actually the complete story. And then the third is, is there self-awareness to it? Am I bringing my own awareness around projection or pass insights to make sure that what I’m saying it’s true, complete, and self-aware. And I think having all of that, that’s in some ways a pretty high bar. And so people will withhold. I want to be nice. I want to be liked if it feels hard; it feels yucky. And so I think that’s where the power of this commitment and really getting partners and teammates engaged in that dialogue with the same level of commitment to candor is so powerful.

Jenn DeWall: Like, I love the full picture, like getting people to think before you maybe share something, am I sharing the full story, or is this just something that I’m assuming to be true and making art, I guess, setting that bar where people communicate with integrity. But I, I love that you touched on the need to be liked because I think for leaders that, that is oftentimes one of the things that we all crave because we know that to have influence, we need people to like us, to influence them. And then it tips over where people maybe become too sensitive. So how do you, like, how do you, what balance, and I know we didn’t plan on talking about this, but like what balance are we supposed to strike in terms of wanting to be liked? What then saying, Hey, but I can’t always be your best friend. Like how the heck do we start those balances?

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah. Well, so if I think about the principle of liking, there’s actually some really brilliant research by Robert Cialdini. And I believe he’s with the University of Arizona. I’d have to double-check my facts. But one of the things that he talks about with liking is that we like people who we have something in common with, and we like people with whom we share a goal. And so I think it’s powerful to authentically look for what do we have in common and also what is our shared goal? And if you have neither of those two things, then I’m probably giving myself a little bit, or I sort of, you know, over-rotating towards, let me pretend that I care about things that you care about so that you liked me. But I think staying with that authenticity actually, in the long run, does create more liking. So there’s the truth and the completeness of, here’s what I stand for. And there’s the stretch. Here’s what we have in common that we’re both looking toward and that we’re both striving for.

Jenn DeWall: I love that finding the shared goal and bringing the shared goal, Hey, we’re on the same team. We’re not, you know, against each other, we’re working together to drive this strategy, to help this customer, to grow our revenue for our organizations and finding that like that. Yeah. If you struggle from a personal level to maybe find likeness or similarity is looking at how you can show that you’re actually more of the same, which may be, you know, even right now with thinking about COVID, this is what are the rare times throughout history that there’s a universal norm that we can all relate to. Well, like this shared experience that we all have. So if you are struggling before COVID, this is now the perfect open the door to help you walk in and relate with someone because we are all impacted by this in some way.

Conscious Leadership and Psychological Safety

Kaley Warner Klemp: And to your point, I think there’s a moment of appropriate vulnerability. That to be able to say to someone, Hey, I have good days, and I have bad days. And today I’m on that downslope of the rollercoaster, I’m having a hard time staying with my motivation, or I’m feeling scared about the state of the world, or gosh, I’m tuning into the sadness of my family, and I’m working to, you know, maintain my own presence rather than letting that overwhelm me, that kind of revealing creates psychological safety. And that lets you step further into these different commitments.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, psychological safety is so essential, and it’s just, you know, to think about your perspective as a leader if we’re not aware of what may be our team is going through, you might start to like personalize, Hey, they didn’t check my email, or they didn’t get this when you have no idea of like the things that might be going around. So it is important. And to be, you know, I thought about it, but just to ask people, Hey, like, how’s it going outside of work? Like, how are you as a human being today? You okay? You struggling? You know, I think people like to pretend that if we start to show a little bit more of that personal side, then all of a sudden we lose all of our influence.

Kaley Warner Klemp: I think, ironically, it’s the opposite. I just completed a 360 for a really remarkable leader. And he started doing a daily COVID diary where he was sharing with his team and ultimately became so popular that it was, you know, the company and then the board and what they were saying is the level of, again, appropriate, but vulnerability and transparency around things that were working and weren’t. But his level of trustworthiness and influenced skyrocketed,

Jenn DeWall: Yes. I love him for doing that. That’s great that he was able to share. And I think it’s especially more important for the people that are younger in their career. That just think that everyone’s got it all figured it out, even though we’re all just figuring it out as we go. So that’s, that’s so great what a strong leader to be able to share that and just, I kind of like drop down that I have to be a professional all the time. That’s that’s inspiring. So practicing integrity is another one of the commitments from your book. And that’s something that I think is so important cause it’s, you know, ethics and integrity are things that we like to talk about because we know that they’re important to have as leaders, but sometimes we may not act with integrity, or we might be doing things. So what does it mean to practice integrity?

Practice Integrity

Kaley Warner Klemp: I think that this, the smallest piece that really informs integrity, is this notion of clear agreements. Do I know what I’m doing? And for whom by when and getting all of those pieces really clear and that the people with whom I’m interacting also know that. So who’s going to do what by when it sounds so simple, but actually in teaching this, this commitment, sometimes you feel like this is, this seems too easy. And then we look at it in real life where, how many times have you left a meeting where you say something like, Hey, so you’ll get me that thing ASAP. Right? And both people go, yeah, cool. And then you leave and go. So what exactly are they going to give to you by when exactly, because my definition of ASAP was by the end of the day and their definition of ASAP was two weeks from now.

Kaley Warner Klemp: And the quality of the work, is this a draft, is this a final product? And what that creates is a lot of fuzziness in the system, but then either creates resentment or people taking over. There’s a lot of hero-ing and stepping in or babysitting, all of which undermine the quality of the relationships, the work, and the integrity and trust in that organization as a whole. So while I think there are certainly, you know, is what I’m saying true, right? That candor informs integrity. Am I feeling my feelings and tapping into the wisdom, informs integrity. I think that a new piece of do I make and keep my agreements differentiates a kind of average leadership from conscious leadership.

Jenn DeWall: I love it. Yeah. It’s like, do I follow through, can you trust that? I’m going to say and do what I said I was going to do? So important. I mean, I that’s the, you know, for me it is just such a pet peeve, and I struggle so much. I cannot, I get so frustrated when people over-promise and under-deliver like it drives me bananas and I wish it, I wish it didn’t, but it does because it strikes an integrity chord with me, like do what you say you are going to do. And I want to do what I wanted to do, and if something comes up, that’s okay. But just tell me, like, I hate how people, what to create the illusion of perfection or the illusion of I’ve got it all figured out and under control and then they over-promise and under-deliver.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah. Yes. Well, I think that you need a couple of things that are super important to highlight here. One is we can’t all be perfect all the time. Humanity. It’s like being human exists, and having things come up happens. It’s really the question of how quickly do you communicate it and how well do you clean it up? And so I think, well, I’ll speak for myself. I don’t know people who wake up in the morning. They’re like, I wonder how I can breach my commitments today? I wonder how I can have a lack of integrity? That sounds awesome. I don’t think at all that that’s the motive, but it’s, it’s recognizing the self-delusion that will happen. Oh, I can make up for that lost time. Oh, I’m sure that I can squeeze that in. Oh, I’ll just stay up late or wake up early. Recognizing there actually aren’t enough hours between now and when I committed to having something done to complete it. And so rather than tricking myself or trying to dilute the other person, it’s coming clean. And it’s interesting that that trust is actually so much more enhanced when I’m willing to say, Jenn, I blew it. I didn’t plan my time well. No excuses. I’m going to miss our commitment for Friday. I’d like to renegotiate from Monday. Does that work for you? And then being open for whatever comes up on your side rather than getting defensive or making excuses or rationalizations or whatever else I might try to do to feel better about myself.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. And I feel like that is something that I think leaders can really teach their team. Like, Hey, come clean, come clean with where you’re at. Then you don’t have that additional stress from saying, Oh gosh, now I have to get this done, or I didn’t do it. And what are they going to think? Like all that other junk that comes up with that, but just, it’s a way of like leading your team to just get them to be more accountable or practicing. Like, don’t just talk about it. Be about it is another expression that I love so much, but yeah, just, just, I guess, owning it following through. I think that’s so important to be able to obviously follow as a leader, but also just to treat and create a culture where people feel comfortable saying, you know what, I may not have handled this right. I think there probably is a piece where cultures reinforce that. Where, you know, if they adhere to traditional leadership where they’re thinking, well, like I have to look like I’m doing this or I have to do this, then it, then they’re more inclined to maybe I would say deceive because they don’t want to come off in a different way that it doesn’t align with what the culture looks like.

Authenticity Vs. Persona

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah. And I think what you’re describing is this notion of I’ve created a persona that I think you’re going to approve of. And then I promote that persona rather than living in authenticity or integrity, and in the long run, that will usually come and bite me. Either because of the glitches between what’s happening and what my persona is promoting, they become really distant. And so other people start to notice. Or I would argue even more commonly, the distance between how I really feel and how I’m behaving becomes so great that that internal cognitive dissonance and heart dissonance makes it so that I don’t maintain it. And then really unfortunate consequences will occur. I feel like I need to leave. Or someone calls me out on something, or there’s a big lapse of integrity rather than just catching almost micro-moments and cleaning them up.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I love that. You said feeling like I need to leave because I think that that’s a reason when people feel that stress or that they’re not adding up, we just get into our heads and we want to run—but recognizing that, not only for yourself as a leader, but also that your team is going through that as well. And how can you at least create a space for them to feel comfortable if mistakes are made if they do that? So they don’t run, and you don’t lose your top talent. I love that. You just shared that because it’s such an important piece of how we can retain our top talent.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yes. Yes. One of the things I talk about a lot with teens that I think is so cool is I forgive myself and others for mistakes. And the notion there is that mistakes are things where I am stretching, taking a risk, learning, and sometimes just being human, but there’s a moment where you go, Oh my gosh, that didn’t work out. I made a mistake. How can I come clean? How can I learn from it? How can I forgive myself and experience forgiveness? And then we move forward. I think that that does not create excuses for, you know, systematic failures to perform. Those are not mistakes. Those are patterns. But if there’s room for mistakes that actually really fosters a learning culture.

Jenn DeWall: My gosh, I love that touch. And I want to work in that culture where it is okay to be perfectly imperfect. Like no one wants to work in that fear-based culture where they’re afraid they’re gonna lose their job if they don’t do this. And if you, as a leader, are afraid that you’re going to lose your job. I mean, start asking those questions, like what is going on that you feel that is there? Does there need to be a shift in how we communicate and how we set expectations because that’s not doing anything for the health of your organization?

Kaley Warner Klemp: Completely. And I think that in order to win in today’s environment, there’s so much around innovation and pivoting and creativity and those things really aren’t available. If you’re caught in defensiveness or drama or their integrity, lapses, or people are afraid to reveal. If there’s a lack of candor, you know, gossip that will really pull away from all of the differentiators for the companies that are going to win. That people want to move to and work for.

Jenn DeWall: Yes, those are the organizations. I want to be a part of the ones that are open, the ones that are progressive, you know, that they want to achieve great things.

Excel in Your Zone of Genius

Jenn DeWall: The last commitment that we’re going to talk about of the 15 is excelling in your zone of genius. So what does that mean to excel in your zone of genius?

Kaley Warner Klemp: So I love this commitment and just to sort of build what his zone of genius even means. What does that mean? That there are really, there are four zones where you could operate. So, you know, you could operate in your zone of incompetence where you’re not good at it, and you don’t like it. I recommend again that you can operate in your zone of competence where you can do it, but really lots of other people are better at it than you are where many people get stuck is excellence. I’m good at it. I’m actually better at it than most, but I’ve lost that joy, and it feels like work.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Now, I’m not going to pretend that we won’t all do things that are in our zones of excellence or competence, hopefully not too much time and incompetence, but really what we’re striving for is genius, which is where I am better at it than most really. There’s a sense of flow that starts to show up. I love it. I’m good at it. I get recognized for it, but the reason it’s a zone of genius and not just excellent is that there’s often a risk that there’s a sense of, gosh, am I allowed to do something? That’s this fun? Wait, is it work supposed to be work? Am I allowed to love what I’m doing? And yet what we find is when leaders themselves and really when they empower their teams to come to know what their superpowers are. What are there, what are those activities? They do the things that they lead, the environments in which they show up where it doesn’t even feel like work because they’re so connected to their innate strengths, and the things that bring them joy, that the performance is incredible.

Kaley Warner Klemp: And time disappears in the good kind of way. And so I just, I love this commitment for individuals, and I love this commitment for teams. What I think about here is this is not to say like, Hey, so Jenn, Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. I really your zone of genius, you should have been a gardener. This is not about the job that you should do. This is about the qualities of the work and the characteristics of the environment where you thrive.

Jenn DeWall: Well. And I think I love talking about even the zone of incompetence. I think that sometimes we, as leaders, might delegate tasks to someone that it really is on the opposite side of their skillset. And that can create so much friction because the person just can’t feel successful. They don’t feel like they’re doing what they should be doing. And it’s just a way that if you keep piling that on, and I think it happens a lot in, you know when organizations might lack structure, I guess, I don’t know. Where do you see organizations that maybe are leaders that operate into the place of incompetence, where it is? Are there any areas that you see that specifically show up more common than others?

Kaley Warner Klemp: I think that it will show up in places where it feels like I should be able to do this. And so these are things where, you know, it’s four hours later, I’m still trying to fix my own printer. Where like, that is absolutely the zone of incompetence, but it feels like I should. I think it shouldn’t be that hard versus recognizing that there’s somebody else who could do that in 30 seconds. Right. Or these are things like, Hey, I’m going to build that weighted spreadsheet by myself because I should be able to do it. Shouldn’t be that hard. And I think that will get in people’s heads and lead them down a path of incompetence rather than taking a pause and saying, I am not good at this. How can I ask for help?

Jenn DeWall: Yes. Or as a leader, if you’re going to delegate and you think that it’s a should like, Hey, this should be able to do this in four hours. But if you don’t have the understanding, then what can you do to at least give the support the training? Cause I, I feel like this is such a training opportunity instead of just assuming someone should be able to read a book or Google it or do something, you know, when you put them in that position of the zone of incompetence, that’s where their workday is going to feel awful. So what can you do to help them feel a little bit more competent?

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yeah. And sometimes in true incompetence. Sometimes it really just doesn’t matter how many books I read, how many Google sites I go to. I can get there from here. And it’s not a real issue or really even a skill issue. It’s like the combination of both of them. I actually find people are less stuck in their zone of incompetence. And more stuck in the zone of competence I can. I’m just not great at it. And so that’s, I think a particularly powerful place to start to look at how else could this be done? Sometimes there’s just a roll up your sleeves, and it’s got to happen, but I think sometimes creativity can get lost, and that’s a place where it could actually help you make a shift. Oh my gosh.

Jenn DeWall: So what you’re, so what you’re saying, people, spending time and like, yeah, I’m okay at this. I guess I can do it, but it doesn’t necessarily bring me joy. I don’t necessarily have this benefit. So like trying to get them to shift to the place of how can you focus on your sweet spot? How can you really just kind of bring that out? Or I don’t know what word I’m looking for, but how can you exploit that? I guess. Yeah. So would it be fair to say then that if people are in the zone of competence and just kind of focusing on their area of competence, that they, they might in some way be unintentionally, because I don’t think it’s intentional, but operating in a place of mediocrity like that, they don’t even know their true potential. They don’t even know the things that they could do because they haven’t challenged themselves to push outside of it. Yes.

Kaley Warner Klemp: Yes. And I think that sometimes it feels like it isn’t an opportunity in certain environments. And so it’s okay to stretch and say, I am going to do the very best work that I can from, you know, whatever hour I began to, whatever hour I finished my job and I start to explore where do I feel most alive and then stretch into those spaces?

What is Your Leadership Habit for Success?

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, Kelly, I have loved our conversation. I love talking about the 15 commitments of conscious leadership, which we’re going to give our listeners a link in the outro on how they can find it. But I want to wrap up our podcast interview with the one question that we ask every single person that comes onto The Leadership Habit podcast. Which is, if you, I know that you read, you’re an active, lifelong learner; you interact with CEOs. You’re probably learning so much on any given day about leadership, but what is your leadership habit for success?

Kaley Warner Klemp: My leadership habit for success is getting present first thing in the morning. So for me, for me, that means I exercise, and as often as possible outside, I live near the mountains because what I find is that when I can start my day from a place of feeling centered and grounded, I can come back there throughout the day. And I know that I can return to that centered feeling and place and that everything else that happens, it’s going to be okay.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, I love that. Well, and for those that are listening, which maybe this is a note for myself, that means not just mindlessly scrolling through social media or first thing, checking your email. It’s, it’s about connecting with yourself, thinking, doing self-reflection. It’s not there should that actually probably be technology involved. It should be something where you’re maybe a little detached.

Kaley Warner Klemp: It can be either that I definitely, we kicked our electronic devices out of our bedroom, which I highly recommend because then there’s not a temptation on that bedside table, but it is sometimes I’m listening to a podcast, or I’m listening to an author, or I’m listening to a book, or I’m listening to a thought leader or a spiritual teacher while I’m on that walk. And often, it’s quiet, and I’m really just present with what’s occurring in nature of what’s occurring in my body so that I can start that day from the centered place that I know will help me be my best.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. So was that difficult? Can I just ask like the initial, cause I want to do that? I want to take our cell phones and put them in a place, but I think sometimes you go into, but I need it close. I need it close. I need to look at it. Was that a difficult adjustment at first to remove those from that space?

Kaley Warner Klemp: I think that there were definitely some withdrawal symptoms. But that made it easier to maintain because it highlighted the temptation of the addiction.

Jenn DeWall: Yes, I, gosh, I love that last like that tip, but now Kelly, thank you so much for just coming on the show. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your, what I would consider like just progressive leadership of being present, being connected, being conscious, and aware that we as leaders control everything that we see. I really appreciate the wisdom that you shared with our listeners. Thank you so much for taking the time, and I just, yeah, if they want to connect with you, we’ll be giving them additional information. But do you have any last things you want to share with the listeners?

Kaley Warner Klemp: I am so grateful for this opportunity, Jenn, thank you for your great questions. I guess my last thought for all the listeners is to build on each of these commitments as a practice, but there’s no such thing as a conscious leadership performance. It’s a practice that happens day in, day out, where there missteps and mistakes. And I certainly slip off and fall below the line. But the more practice we have, the more time we get to spend living in the space where it is freer, with more energy, more joy, and more space.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Thank you so much, Kaley.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of The Leadership Habitpodcast, featuring Kaley clamp. For those that are interested in learning more about Kaley, you can head over to KaleyKlemp.com, or you can find the link in our show notes. You can also find her book, the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. You can get to know more about Enneagrams and just get more connected with Kaley and how she’s helping to shift leaders to become more conscious in their practice. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to share it with a friend, let them in on the good insight that you’ve gained. And of course, please rate and review us on your favorite podcast streaming service. Thank you so much for listening until next time.