As a Mindshifter, Anna helps male leaders in tech get out of the firefighter mode, become the proactive Leaders they want to be, and enjoy the ride as they go. Anna’s background is in engineering and project management, and back in the corporate days, she met too many brilliant humans who acted as stressed, overwhelmed managers-firefighters. She is committed to shifting the workplace practices to empower these brilliant humans to become the Genius Leaders they can be.
Her practice is highly customized to address the needs and the current situation of every Leader Anna works with. The main goal is to create a safe space for the leaders to explore new practices, learn to understand themselves and others better, and get the support they have been lacking while being the go-to person for everyone else in their organizations.
As her clients put it, “working with Anna is like entering a room with soft walls where it’s safe to bounce around freely” and “it’s a real luxury to be selfish for this one hour per week and have space to focus on myself and my needs only”.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Anna Liebel: Thank you for the opportunity to share my story!
If you would have told me a year ago that I will be focusing my work on male leaders, I would have laughed at the idea! I have been a strong proponent of equal rights to everyone, trying to break stereotypes in my professional environment, organizing exchange programs and conferences on the topic of gender representation in the media, etc. When I decided to work with corporate clients around a year ago, the immediate thought was to serve female leaders in tech. It’s my background, I’ve been there, I know how hard that journey can be. So I wanted to help fellow women thrive in the environment that was so often against them.
The more I connected and networked with the decision-makers of the companies, the more I noticed that I was talking to men. And to my surprise, these men were opening up to me about their own leadership challenges, instead of discussing how they and I can support female leaders within their organizations.
It took several months of such observations and an interview for my Genius Leadership podcast for it to finally click – my purpose is to use the gift of creating a safe space for people to explore themselves, and use it for men.
There are so many fantastic male leaders out there who are willing to be great, empathetic, vulnerable, authentic leaders for their people, but they were never taught how. Through our work together, they get to explore their inner world, their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, in a non-judgmental way. They get to be selfish, voice their concerns, be open about not knowing all the answers. We are normalizing being human for leaders – one conversation at a time.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Anna Liebel: I teach my clients to be vulnerable, so here is my moment of vulnerability. My company is still very young, I have officially opened it less than 2 months before the pandemic hit.
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride, and the first two years can be probably compared to the queueing to get to the wagon. The amusement park has put a lot of work into creating an atmosphere so that even while you are waiting in line, it’s a part of the experience. There are some scary corners you have to pass, but there are also screens promoting the ride. Some visitors get tired of waiting and leave the line, some get scared in those darker corners and go elsewhere. Others keep their eyes on the screens and look forward to the ride. And the rest are having fun in the line as well, talking to friends, discussing the park, etc.
I am still in that line, waiting to get the whole experience the rollercoaster has to offer. There are people around me (team members, family, and friends) who make waiting more pleasant. Those screens with the ride promo (the results of our current and past clients) get me over the moon happy and proud that I am here.
But I also need to get through those dark corners (backlashes, failed sales) that make my heart pause for a moment and skip a beat. There are moments of impatience wondering whether I will ever get to feel the excitement of the ride.
I don’t consider giving up, though. Knowing my “why” helps tremendously. I want to transform the workplaces through my work with their leaders, and this purpose gets me out of bed every day.
It’s crucial to tap into our purpose because it holds so much power and resilience!
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Anna Liebel: Going through the journey alone.
There are so many entrepreneurs who have brilliant minds, high ambitions, great work ethics, fantastic ideas. And a huge flaw of thinking they should be doing it all alone, that if they ask for help, they will be seen as weak, that whatever they struggle with, they are the only ones doing so.
I always teach my clients to get into the habit of asking for help.
Have a team? Great, now create space for them to properly shine! Delegate tasks to them, let them try, make mistakes, and learn. Make your trust a given from day 1 – not something they need to earn.
Not sure about your next step in business or career? Look around for people who have done that journey! Reach out to them and ask for a piece of advice. The worst thing that can happen is that they say “no”. In that case, remember – their “no” is not about you, it’s about them. They might not have the capacity to help now, they might be going through some tough/busy period, or even not feel like they are good enough to help you.
Know that you have to make a change but not sure you will follow through? Find an accountability partner! So often, my clients tell me “I always implement what we have discussed because I know you will follow up on that with me, and I can’t lie to you that I’ve done it if I haven’t”. Find that person who will follow up with you and push you in a loving and caring way when you need it.
Is there a particular podcast you listened to, or business thought leader that you find helpful while maneuvering this pandemic?
Anna Liebel: I am a huge podcast fan and could list a dozen great shows here! Here are my top 3:
- Unstoppable Entrepreneur Show by my business coach Kelly Roach. Over 700 (!) episodes on all topics business – mindset, tactics, mechanics. Some of them I have listened to many-many times this year.
- The 90th Percentile by renowned psychometrician Dr. Joseph Folkman and leadership legend Dr. Jack Zenger. With 15-minutes or less, each episode provides great insights, research-backed statistics, and tips each leader can benefit from.
- Hacking Your Leadership by Chris Stark and Lorenzo Flores. Real, raw conversations about what’s working in the leadership world and what does not.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Anna Liebel: All our clients say they are grateful to not feel like a patient or a number. They compare our sessions to meetings with dear friends from whom they learn a lot each time.
- We are not afraid to call out the elephants in the room.
- We provide a safe space for the leaders to explore themselves.
- Our clients have the luxury of quality me-time every week.
- We act from our Zone of Genius and help our clients reclaim theirs.
- We provide highly customized services and work together for a longer period of time, instead of offering one-size-fits-all solutions, thrown over the fence in a speedy manner.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Anna Liebel: True branding is about values and purpose – not the visuals like your logo, company colors, or corporate fonts. Your values and purpose are the factors that attract your dream clients and help you stay on track, creating great results together.
How would you define “leadership”?
Anna Liebel: Leadership is about influence practiced with intention and awareness. I believe it is three-dimensional, even in the virtual world we all got locked into in 2020. The three dimensions are 1:many (you lead several people at a time), 1:1 (you build a meaningful relationship with each person on your team), and 1 (you lead yourself). We need to be aware of all three dimensions and have strategies to succeed in each of them.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Anna Liebel: Try it! And do so with an intention to learn. Then failure is not an alternative, you win either way. The entrepreneurial journey has a lot of bumps, so be prepared for bruises. It’s hard work, so exercise your discipline. Don’t wait for The Idea – it’s often not the most brilliant idea that wins, but timing, experience, consistency, and persistence.
Timing is nothing you can predict, so just get in the game and stay in it, and you will increase your odds for success.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Anna Liebel: The place to begin building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our circle of influence, our own character. – Stephen Covey
Covey’s works have taught me to look for the answers within myself. Getting to know ourselves, we leave the habit of being self-occupied behind. We build a strong home base that helps us generate energy to fully show up for our people, to serve them as the best versions of ourselves.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Anna Liebel for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Anna Liebel or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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