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Advice for leaders now from Torch coach, Stephanie Staidle

At Torch, we believe that great leaders are built not born. In order to develop, one must be willing to examine themselves closely. This is where leadership coaching comes in. Leadership coaching is a development-focused relationship where a trained coach works closely with an individual to identify their growth edges and set goals in order to propel them into their full potential. 

Each month, we will be interviewing one of our coaches to share their knowledge and tips for aspiring leaders. This month, we are highlighting Torch coach, Stephanie Staidle. Stephanie mixes her corporate background, Masters in Arts Therapy and extensive training as a leadership coach to develop leaders. We sat down with Stephanie to ask her six questions about leadership development, what follows is a condensed version of our conversation. You can watch the full video below. 


Jasmine McDermott: What does the Torch value ‘be courageous and lean into the madness’ mean? What does that look like in action?

Stephanie Staidle: When it comes to professional and personal growth, it’s the fear that you want to lean into. It’s that madness. And, that takes a lot of courage, to stretch to be vulnerable and to take a deep look at yourself. The madness may be of your mind or the madness of whatever is going on within your organization. Whatever the challenge is, actually lean into it, don’t avoid it, and move through it to use it as a growth opportunity.

JM: Sometimes fear doesn’t go away. How can leaders work with their fear?

SS: Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s having fear and acting anyway. One way to do this is to ensure you are connected to your body and you can do this with a simple mindfulness exercise.

  1. Scan your body and notice where there is tension. Where does the fear live?
  2. Once you have found it in your body, get curious. Does it have a temperature? What is the sensation? Is there a color associated with it? 
  3. Bring your awareness to the sensation without judgment. Breathe into it for  3-5 minutes.  
  4. Now, notice how you feel. On a scale from 1-10, where does your fear lie now? How does your body feel? 

This simple exercise can help you move from feeling paralyzing fear to feeling more grounded. When you bring your awareness back to your body and your breath, you are activating the parasympathetic nervous system allowing your body and mind to come to a more rested state. From this place, you can be with the fear and act anyway. 

JM: What motivated you to be a coach? 

SS: My background is in Psychology. I started off as a therapist. I got my Masters in art therapy and worked in social work. Therapy is amazing and I think it really does have its place, but I also think there are pieces that are missing when it comes to human development.

I started to do personal development courses where I was coached mostly in neuro linguistic programming, which Tony Robbins is known for. It is a way of reframing and rewiring the brain. It had such a profound effect on my life, I decided I wanted to become a coach. Now, as a coach, I see the results that my clients have. It continues to motivate me because there is no greater joy than to see my clients transform. 

JM: How does a leader discern whether they need coaching or therapy? What is the difference?

SS: Coaching looks at the future. It prompts you to ask yourself, “What do you want? And, how are you going to get there?” Once that is established, you actively work with your coach to start working towards those goals. 

Part of a coach’s job is to keep you accountable to your goals, even on the days when you don’t want to do the things or it’s uncomfortable. A coach is there to help you move through any barriers or challenges, especially mindset blocks that come up along the way. 

In comparison, therapy looks at the past. It provides a safe space for you to explore and heal past traumas. It also is helpful in working with anxiety and depression. 

JM: What differentiates a good leader from a great leader?

SS: Communication. This is a huge barrier amongst leaders and people as people are not trained to learn how to communicate, how to listen. This is essential in leadership because it allows you to work through and resolve conflict. If you are unable to resolve conflict, then you likely will be unable to create cohesive, collaborative and successful teams. 

It’s also important to note that communication is not just what you are saying or how you are listening. Here are some additional questions to examine your communication:

  1. What’s your nonverbal communication? 
  2. How do you exercise empathy in your communication?
  3. Are you willing to be vulnerable in your communication? Do you examine and ask yourself “Am I wrong” or “Can I think about this from another angle?”
  4. Do you advocate for all voices to be heard within a meeting?

JM: What advice do you have for leaders today as we are amidst a pandemic, a civil rights movement and economic uncertainty?

SS: Here are my top pieces of advice I’m giving leaders and myself right now:

One, have grace with yourself. Having an expectation that you are supposed to be performing the same when you are faced with a pandemic, natural disasters, systemic racism and economic upheaval is unrealistic. If you are a manager or a founder, give yourself and your employees space for self-care. Give parents time to homeschool their kids. The world is in an unprecedented time and we all need to be kinder to ourselves. 

Two, lean into the madness. Do the hard things, be willing to be wrong and get curious. Whether you are leaning into anti-racist work, re-establishing work and life homeschooling your children, or growing a business amidst a pandemic, lean in. This is where growth happens. 

If you’re interested in Torch coaching, contact us today

If you’re interested in becoming a Torch coach, apply here.