Sarah Beach is the founder and owner of Sarah Beach Consulting, which is based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her passion for leadership drove her to found the firm, and now she has helped several organizations find and develop their leadership potential.
For the past 14 years, prior to Sarah Beach Consulting, Sarah has worked in “various management and leadership positions,” where she spent time “learning, observing, and asking the pertinent questions as to what makes a great leader.”
Through Sarah Beach Consulting, she found that the true leader “inspires and empowers people, simultaneously projects confidence and humility, and yet leads effective, productive, and successful teams.”
Sarah Beach Consulting also runs along Sarah’s core belief that “leadership starts with developing an incredible self-awareness as well as knowing the individuals that you lead and serve.” To realize this belief, the firm offers a wide variety of programs that help people “grow into a highly sought after leader.”
Sarah Beach Consulting also operates along the belief that “even the best leaders need to periodically check the health of their teams. After all, your team might still achieve an extra level of productivity. Organizations need to be aware of their team’s individual strengths, so they could create more opportunities for growth.
This is why Sarah Beach Consulting also offers programs to “help you assess the health of your team along with developing strategies for everyone to reach their fullest potential.”
People want leaders who know and care about them and lead them in a way that resonates with them personally. Sarah Beach, owner of Sarah Beach Consulting
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Sarah Beach: One of the most important parts of my process as I come into work with a client is my intention to observe the operations and relationships of an organization before I even start to provide guidance or training. I observe before I act. Maybe that’s the scientist in me, but I think it’s a critical part of my consulting process. I not only observe a company from the top down but also from the bottom up. I make a point to meet and talk to all levels of employees. I even play with the company’s pets if they have them! I’ve also noticed this helps people to open up more and allows me to really see the true organization. I was working with a client once in the early stages of my observations, and one of the employees seemed a bit skeptical of my presence. He asked why I was there, and I explained that I was just observing the leadership, meeting people, and learning how the organization functions. I told him that it would be silly for me to come in and think that I could help if I didn’t know anything about the organization or the people that worked there. He nodded and said that he agreed. I could see that my response resonated with him, and he then opened up and provided some valuable insights into the company. By the way, spending the time to learn the people you are working with is one of the foundations of good leadership that I teach no matter who I work with. People want leaders who know and care about them and lead them in a way that resonates with them personally. You can’t do that unless you know them.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Sarah Beach: Fight for balance and protect it. Don’t ignore any one part of your health and life: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social. Just as leaders seek to encourage and lead holistically healthy organizations and people, we must seek equally as hard for that balance within ourselves. Balance will look different for everyone, and I don’t even think all aspects have to be equally balanced, and that balance may shift in different seasons of your life. I do, however, think some attention must be intentionally given to each aspect of our lives to avoid “burn out.” As part of this balance, use those vacation days! Take time to rest and unplug. If you feel that you truly can’t take time off from work, then you may be a single point of failure in your organization, which I suggest you reconcile immediately. Along these same lines, pay attention to your pace. We all experience busier seasons of life or work where we pick up the pace, knowing it’s only for a season, which gives us the push to get through. But that pace we use to tackle those times is likely not a sustainable pace, nor meant to be, so don’t accept it as such. Make sure you are largely working at a healthy and sustainable pace, so you have more to give during those busier times. If not, then it’s time to slow down, reevaluate, and potentially re-fuel. Finally, not every opportunity, even if it’s good, is the right opportunity. Keep healthy boundaries and don’t be afraid to say “no” to the good to make room for the great. Allow yourself to say “no”.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Sarah Beach: I am thankful for so many people along my journey. It is difficult to just pick one, but my dad has had one of the most incredible and essential impacts on my life. He taught me the value of hard work, the importance of humility and kindness, the fruits of self-discipline, and countless other life lessons that I carry with me every day. He always said that his goal each day of his life was to make at least one person’s day better. He grew up in a rural area of Pennsylvania and was the first person in his family to go to college. He worked incredibly hard and went on to graduate from medical school and complete a fellowship to become an anesthesiologist. I have never met one person that has had a bad thing to say about him. Unfortunately, in 2017, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma and then passed away in May of 2019 after an incredibly hard-fought battle. I would not be the person I am today without my dad’s influence on my life through the lessons he taught, the support he gave, and the examples he showed. Even throughout his fight with cancer to his last breath, he was an example of grace, determination, and love. I will carry those things with me for the rest of my life.
I also have to give credit to my husband, Chris, who is one of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. He loves to see me pursuing my dreams and encourages me daily. Also, marriage teaches you a lot about how to work (and not work) well as a team, and I’ve actually used these valuable lessons while leading teams in the workspace!
Delegating effectively has countless benefits, even beyond an obvious one like taking burdens off the leader, but let’s start there anyway.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Sarah Beach: Delegating effectively has countless benefits, even beyond an obvious one like taking burdens off the leader, but let’s start there anyway. First, there will always be tasks that only the leader can complete or is the best person to complete. Effective delegation gives the leader time and energy to tackle those specialized tasks without them being diluted by those other non-specialized tasks that are perfect opportunities for others to complete. Beyond that benefit, effectively delegating helps to develop your employees, and ultimately, new leaders. It gives someone else the opportunity to learn new skills and become proficient. Additionally, it gives insight into the career aspirations of your employees. You may have someone that would love to learn the skills of your role in hopes of someday fulfilling that role or a similar one, and through delegation, they can begin to develop some of those necessary skillsets. By delegating you are also demonstrating and reiterating that you trust your employees. Trust is essential to a functioning team, so this benefit is invaluable. In trusting your team and delegating, they will feel valued in the process and will appreciate having input into things that affect them. Effective delegation also opens the door for new ideas and creative thinking, as other people completing a task may develop new ways to reach the desired outcome.
Ultimately, delegating effectively creates time for you, presents opportunities for others, promotes a culture of trust and value, and leaves room for new ideas and creative thinking. Who wouldn’t want that in their organization?
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Sarah Beach: I think there are many reasons and traps we can fall into that prevent us from delegating. First is the thought that it’s most likely faster to just complete a task ourselves rather than take the time to explain what is required and possibly have to train someone in new techniques or skills to complete the task. It can be challenging to see the benefits and the future return on time investment (ROTI), especially when working in a fast-paced work environment, as many people do. When leaders delegate, there is often a natural dip in some aspect of the task completion, whether it be timeliness, comprehensiveness, and/or quality. As a new person is taking on and learning that task, there is inevitably some form of a learning curve. These “dips” can be uncomfortable for many leaders, and result in them shying away from delegation. In addition, it can be challenging to relinquish control or responsibility of tasks. There is a certain level of risk that comes with delegation. When something is no longer completely in your control, you lose sight of every detail (unless you’re a micromanager…which I highly discourage!). People may even approach a task differently than you or produce slightly different products while still meeting the intent, and that change can also be uncomfortable for some leaders. There needs to be a high enough level of trust in your team when delegating, and if that is absent, then delegation can be difficult, damaging, or even impossible. Ultimately, many of these challenges in delegating could possibly be traced back to an issue of trust, so don’t ignore this essential component of a functioning team.
As a leader, foster an environment in which people have the freedom to create new processes and give them permission to take risks, and own the responsibility for their products.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
Sarah Beach: We can’t be shortsighted in terms of our initial time investments when delegating. It is worth the effort and time upfront to reap the future benefits. We need to shift our mindsets about delegation from a means of getting something done to a means of developing people and new leaders. This development is really another benefit to our initial time invested. We are not only empowering our employees and showing them that they are valued, but we are fostering new skill development and an increase in their responsibilities. You are ultimately developing a stronger more engaged workforce, and getting the work done! We have to get comfortable with the inevitable “dip” that occurs when a task is initially delegated. Admittedly, this is really tough, but if we think of delegation in terms of development of our people, then this “dip” just makes sense and is easier to accept. We also need to shift our mindsets from thinking a task must be done one way to asking what other ways it could be done. As a leader, foster an environment in which people have the freedom to create new processes and give them permission to take risks, and own the responsibility for their products. Then support them in the ways they need, whether it be through trust, resources, encouragement, or direction.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Sarah Beach: It would be to develop a new generation of leaders who are self-aware and focused on the needs of the individuals they serve. Can you imagine the workplace if every leader, while still being effective, focused on the people rather than a bottom line? If employees were constantly empowered to be their best selves while given grace for being human and having lives outside of work? If the bar was held high for employee performance, and each person was given the resources necessary to reach it? If leaders were self-aware and maintained integrity? I think job satisfaction and employee retention would soar. I think we would see innovation shatter ceilings. I think we would see a change in our world.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!