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The Power Trio of Leadership: Listen, Communicate, and Implement from CEO Kate Johnson

Insights for New and Seasoned Leaders in Building People-Centric Cultures, Navigating Hybrid Work Challenges, and Fostering Purposeful Organizations

👋 Welcome to a 🔒 subscriber-only edition 🔒 of Great Leadership. Each week I share exclusive interviews with CEOs and thinkers and leadership insights and strategies to accelerate your leadership development. My goal is to help you accelerate your leadership development, unlock the potential of those around you, and drive business performance.

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The Leader’s Toolkit is a weekly guest deep dive around a specific topic to help make you a better leader. Today’s 15 minute video is with Kate Johnson, a visionary leader and CEO of Lumen Technologies. Kate shares her insights on connecting people to their work, fostering a purpose-driven culture, and the transformative power of continuous learning and leadership development.

Today’s episode with Kate Johnson, CEO of Lumen Technologies, a telecommunications company that provides network services and solutions to businesses and government organizations. In this video, we discuss the key aspects of leadership, particularly focusing on the initial 30 days when assuming a leadership role. Kate emphasized the importance of shifting our mindset from "being in charge" to "caring for the people we lead." This shift in perspective allows us to establish a strong foundation based on empathy and support. Instead of assuming we have all the answers, Kate suggested that leaders should actively seek feedback and opinions from their team members, recognizing that they often possess valuable insights and solutions.

Kate also highlighted the significance of understanding the current market landscape, especially in the context of hybrid work. With the rise of flexible work arrangements, leaders must acknowledge the potential challenges and loneliness that can arise. Additionally, she emphasized the need to instill a sense of purpose within the workforce, as employees are more likely to engage and commit when they believe in the mission. Starting with "why" and constantly reinforcing the purpose can foster a more motivated and aligned team.

The three phases of leadership Kate shared—listening, communicating what was heard, and implementing plans—provide a practical framework for success. By actively listening to team members, leaders can gain valuable insights and perspectives. It's crucial to synthesize the feedback received and communicate the direction to the team, creating a shared vision. Celebrating progress and small wins along the way helps maintain team morale and momentum.

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Later in our conversation, I asked Kate about the potential differences as one ascends to more senior leadership positions. She noted that while the core practices remain essential, their implementation might be adjusted based on the size and complexity of the team. However, she emphasized the value of periodically refreshing these practices even for experienced leaders to energize their approach and ensure continued success.

This conversation with Kate Johnson provides valuable insights into effective leadership, emphasizing the importance of caring for people, actively listening, adapting to the market, and maintaining a sense of purpose.

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Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan
Leader's Toolkit
15-minute deep dive action items from the world's top CEOs, leaders, & thinkers. Think of it as a mini-weekly MBA class!
Jacob Morgan