Episode 71

Meet Cathy Mott & Dr Toni Flowers

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It’s rare to be able to benefit from authentic leadership insight from both a manager and one of her team members. But approaching the leadership model of the future in action from both sides of the discussion is the key to real change and growth — and this applies just as much to automotive as management in any other industry.

In a truly unique take on gravitas and the power of management, leadership coach Cathy Mott returns for a discussion with her ex-“ssob” (boss spelled backwards) and now lifelong friend Dr. Toni Flowers, who refused to be called a boss by her team.

Dr. Toni not only has an eye for talent, but sees nurturing her team as a privilege leading to great things in the future. “She allowed me to go to this program which was such a gift,” Cathy says. “And here I am — many years later — as an executive coach running my own business, because she believed in me and gave me that gift.”

Dr. Toni is driven by a powerful vision which took her — in her own words — “from the broom to the boardroom.” Born to be a healer, her destiny led her down the path toward truly authentic leadership and its gifts by unlocking what was already inside herself.

Meanwhile, Cathy sees herself as a beneficiary of this on her own journey in helping executives and others in management to harness the true power of leading with authenticity.

On this special episode of Finding Gravitas, Dr. Toni and Cathy share how their professional and personal dynamic supercharged their work together and took them both to new heights in their respective careers as authentic leaders.

Themes discussed on this episode: 

  • Spotting and nurturing talent to unlock the hidden potential in new hires
  • How great feedback can be a source of joy and inspiration
  • How having a powerful vision of yourself defines your future
  • How failure can be a source of growth and opportunity if you’re willing to be introspective
  • Working with leaders at all level for real authentic leadership insight
  • How gravitas is actually a privilege — to impact people’s lives for better or worse
  • Being a continual learner and an active listener to keep growing

Featured Guest: Cathy Mott

What she does: Cathy Mott is the mind, body and spirit behind CWC Leadership, offering executive and leadership coaching. With diverse experience across the automotive, education and healthcare industries, Cathy wants to bring her very best to encourage authenticity in a confidential space for her clients.

On Gravitas: “Mind, body, soul and spirit … it's all about bringing 100% of myself as a gift to other individuals…. I always want to bring the best version of myself to my clients. And I love creating the space for people to be truly authentic in the moment in the space of coaching.”

Featured Guest: Dr. Toni Flowers


What she does: As Chief Diversity and Social Responsibility Officer at LCMC Health, Dr. Toni Flowers shares her gifts as a leader with a keen eye for innate talent across her teams. 

On Gravitas: “It is acknowledging that you have a privilege, and that [that] privilege is impacting the lives of those that support you, those that report to you [and] share your work, and execute your vision. And recognizing that [that] privilege can be misused [and] abused, or embraced.”


Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show


[6:35] On hiring talent: Dr. Toni explains the special traits Cathy had that made hiring such an easy decision. “The thing about Cathy that stood out to me and still does,” she says, “is that Kathy always appears fearless. And whenever she does something that is amazing to her, it's not surprising to me, because I always expect her to do great things.”

[11:21] On gravitas: “Cathy would go down to the CEO’s office,” Dr. Toni explains, “because she already knew his schedule, and she would close his door, and she would give him the truth. And that takes a lot of guts and gravitas.”

[14:56] On the pleasures of receiving great feedback: Cathy talks about how Dr. Tony is “so good at giving feedback, you want her to give you feedback on how you can improve.”

[18:20] True colors: Cathy talks about Dr. Toni’s unique method for coaxing the best out of people. “I will never forget that: that someone knew me that well [and] cared enough about me to get me to a good place, so I could do the best work possible. She was amazing.”

[20:00] The essence of leadership: “There’s a growing consciousness and recognition that it’s not about treating everybody the same,” reminds Jan. “You’ve got to meet people where they’re at, and you’ve got to connect with the individual on a human to human level. That’s what great leadership is.”

[20:29] From the broom to the boardroom: Dr. Toni shares her origin story and determination to shine based on her personal vision. “While I was sweeping floors and brushing toilets clean, I knew that I was the best nurse in the world,” she says, “I just hadn’t achieved that yet. So I think your perspective of yourself, and knowing what your goal is, really helps to establish who you are in spite of where you are.”

[26:27] Executive coaching insights: Cathy talks about what she’s learned from her experience with numerous leaders at all levels, including what she’s learned from her “ssob” (“boss” spelled backwards) Dr. Toni. “The number one emotion that I coach for is fear,” she says.

[30:51] Failure as reality check: Dr. Toni and Cathy talk about how failure can lead to opportunities for growth, but it requires real introspection. “When you are authentic,” Dr. Toni says, “people can see it and sense it and smell it and taste it. And when you’re faking it, it just stinks.”

[38:47] Listen and learn: Dr. Toni and Cathy discuss which of the 21 traits of authentic leadership resonate most, landing on curiosity through continual learning and active listening.


Top quotes


[4:15] Cathy: “I feel like I am authentically doing what I was created to do. … I happily will say that a lot of that is because of having the privilege to work with Tony and her being able to see my natural gifts and talents that I necessarily didn’t see at the time.”

[12:14] Jan: “Often, leaders are reluctant to put people in a role that helps them grow and challenges them … leaders are looking for safety … it’s got nothing to do with that technical skill. It has everything to do with the caliber of the individual and all the traits that you just described. So we need to encourage people to do more of that.”

[22:56] Dr. Toni: “I never allow anyone that reports to me to call me boss, because we are a team. I happen to be the leader and the full responsibility is mine, but we all have to be accountable. And so for me, it was recognizing that I could not do my role alone: I had to be the visionary … but I need other people with other skills to help make my team successful. … It was that perspective that helped me to empower the people that reported to me because I needed them.”

[35:47] Dr. Toni: “Taking that time to really examine yourself is key to being a good leader, because your team needs you to continue to lead them, have vision, and also recognize where they have the opportunity for growth. And if you’re stuck in your head all puffed up, then you’re not really being a benefit to anybody.”

[36:47] Jan: “There’s a lot of fear of failure in the automotive industry, and it’s because of decades of a leadership model of command and control that's been in existence that we’re trying desperately hard to get away from. Some companies are making bigger strides than others.”

Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcript
Jan Griffiths:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Finding Gravitas podcast. And today we're gonna switch it up a bit. Yes, we are, because I love changing things up. And today, we are going to talk to two guests. Why two guests you might ask? Good question. Normally, as you know, my beloved Finding Gravitas audience, we interview authentic leaders and we get inside their heads, and we understand what it is they do, how do they practice authentic leadership, every single day.

Jan Griffiths:

And then we've had a couple of episodes where we've brought in some Gen Z kids to have some different perspective to talk about what they want from leadership. But we've never had the boss and the employee on at the same time to talk about both sides of this. What does the boss do to be a great boss? And how does the employee feel about that? So this is a little different format. But I am tremendously excited to bring on today to share with you a conversation with two amazing women. And you're going to hear their stories first, and then we're going to get into it. So first of all, I would like to introduce you to Dr. Toni Flowers. Dr. Toni, welcome to the show.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Thank you so much, Jan, it's a pleasure to be here.

Jan Griffiths:

And also with us today is the one and only, Cathy Mott, who is no stranger to the mic, and is the only person who has had a second appearance on my show. Welcome, Cathy.

Cathy Mott:

Thank you, Jan, and I'm so excited to be back.

Jan Griffiths:

Great to have you again. Okay. Dr. Toni, please tell us your story.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Oh, my goodness, where do I start? Well, I think I was born to be a healer. Our family is very unique in the fact that we are able to trace our family roots back to a Native American shaman who was Cheyenne, Indian, and a slave pre civil war. And he was a healer. And it seems that there are many, many healers in our family. So it seemed that I was destined to go into health care. My mom was a registered nurse. And watching her growing up, I just thought she had the best leg. So seeing her and those white stockings and those white shoes. And that white uniform, I knew that I had to be her one day. So, I again took that path and became a nurse, and also felt that there was a major desire for me. For social justice, I thought being fair, was the most important thing. And being right, doing the right thing, and being fair. And so my path led me into the work of diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly in healthcare where that can certainly mean life and death based on how healthcare professionals understand your culture, and what it means for you to be healthy, what it means to be sick, and how you want to be cared for. So I eventually ended up as the first chief diversity and inclusion officer at a hospital where both Cathy and I worked. And I had the pleasure of having Cathy at that time as my executive assistant. And when I say pleasure, it truly was a pleasure. And it's been what it feels like almost 15-16 years since then. And it's gone so fast.

Jan Griffiths:

And what is your responsibility now? Where?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Well, now I'm Chief Diversity and Social Responsibility officer at LCMC health in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jan Griffiths:

Lovely, I love that. Okay, Cathy, what's your story?

Cathy Mott:

Ooh, happy to share. I'm gonna work backwards, where I am today and then connect to Toni. So right now I am an executive coach, and proud owner of CWC, leadership development CEO and president. And I feel like I am authentically doing what I was created to do. And I have left shortly after Tony left the large healthcare system that we worked for, and started my own business. And it's been about eight years and I do executive coaching, consulting, I'm an author. But I happily will say that a lot of that is because of having the privilege to work with Toni and her being able to see my natural gifts and talents that I necessarily didn't see at the time.

Jan Griffiths:

That is the gift of a true authentic leader. So let's get into that and explore that in some detail, shall we, Cathy?

Cathy Mott:

Yes, please.

Jan Griffiths:

Okay. And for those of you most of my audiences, you know is in the automotive industry and For those of you who are about to turn off right now and go, Oh, this is healthcare, what's this good? What's this got to do with automotive? This has everything to do with automotive, because this is an example of the leadership model of the future in action, we're going to talk about what it really takes to be an authentic leader and what it feels like on both sides of that discussion. So for my automotive audience, please, we've got to be more open to what's happening in other industries in other cultures so that we can bring the best into the automotive industry so that we can have an incredibly successful future because that's what we're all here for. And I'm going to stop talking in a minute. I know I'm rambling a little bit here. But for those of you who don't know, most of you won't know, since I first interviewed Kathy during the pandemic, where we talked about the grief cycle, and I bared my soul a little bit about what I was feeling at the time. Kathy has been a tremendous supporter of me, and my business, and she's always there for me. And having those people in your life is something very, very special. And what these two ladies have here is something that is very special. We're going to understand more about what that is, but they have maintained a relationship over what over 15-16 years. Is that what you just said?

Cathy Mott:

Yeah, yeah

Jan Griffiths:

Okay. All right. So Toni, let's go right back to the beginning. Tell us why did you hire Cathy, what was it about her that you said, Yep, I want her?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Well, I will tell you that initially, I kind of inherited Cathy. Cathy was the executive assistant to three of the executives. And I became one of them when I got hired there. And I will tell you that even in my interview process, I would have to stop at Cathy's desk, and she would direct me to where the interviews would take place. And there was something that was very magnetic about her, her persona, her aura, she was warm, she was very confident and very friendly. And I really enjoyed that about her. And I had three interviews, so I hit multiple times to encounter her. And so once I was hired and understood that she would be supporting me, I was just overjoyed. And a little time passed, and a new division was opened up. And that was the chief experience officer. And that role was to really guide the organizations in developing its culture, and then to create facilitators that would do the work of training and education of our teammates. And at that time, I was not over that work. But Cathy had mentioned it to me. And she said, Well, what do you think? I said, What do I think I think you better apply for that job and go get it. And the thing of it was was she that role was going to be as a trainer as a facilitator. And what I knew about Cathy, is that she had a background of training because of her faith tradition. And so I think one of the things that I'm good at, is helping people to understand their skill set. That may not be what happens between their nine to five. But what happens outside those extemporaneous things that we do outside of our jobs, that they still are valid skill sets. And so we had a heart to heart conversation that was basically helping her to see herself as I saw her, and she went for it. And her presentation, just knocked it out the ballpark. It was amazing, as I knew it would be. And so she ended up getting that job as the key chief facilitator. And eventually the work ended up in my responsibility. So I inherited her again, but I promise you the thing about Cathy, that stood out to me and still does, is that Cathy always appears fearless. And whenever she does something that is amazing to her, it's not surprising to me, because I always expect her to do great things.

Cathy Mott:

Wow

Jan Griffiths:

Toni, you had to you had to be you know what, let me ask you this. Were you so concerned you're taking somebody from an executive assistant role and putting him as a facilitator in a training role in a hospital? You know, it's a lot of responsibility. Any any concerns would What did you think? Oh, my gosh, what if what if she fails? Am I going to look like an idiot? Did you ever think about that?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

That was never a consideration for me because I think I have very keen skills of observation. And I've watched Cathy in the time before that role became available, and I will tell you in My first 10 days, in the role as a chief diversity and inclusion officer there, I started getting a line of people coming to my office. And I didn't know first of all, how they knew where that I was there. And then how did they know where my office was. And they were all coming with concerns. And I later found out that Cathy was directing them to me. I also had some challenges in the job. And I'd ask for an organizational chart just to understand the structure as I was new into my role. And I went to Cathy and I said, Cathy, can you give me an org chart? And her response was, I was wondering how long it was going to take you to ask for one. And then I also had the good fortune of watching Cathy, coach our CEO. Now, we're talking about an executive assistant who was in a support role that would march her little self down to the CEOs office, because everyone in the organization knew of Cathy's leadership skills. And so when there was a problem, and I promise you in healthcare, when there's a rumor, more than likely it has its roots in truth. Cathy would go down to the CEOs office walk into his office, because she already knew his schedule, and she would close his door, and she would give him the truth. And that takes a lot of guts and Gravitas.

Jan Griffiths:

Wow. Oh, yes, it does. Yes, it does.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

So having witnessed her and somebody different settings, and it wasn't that I was spying on her, but it was just observation. And so I saw so many leadership skills, that she was able to demonstrate, just by being herself. It wasn't about fulfilling her job, it was being herself. And that was what drew me to her. And so I never had any idea that she will fail because I had seen her be successful, and be authentically Cathy every time. So failure was not an option.

Jan Griffiths:

Yeah, but I think Toni, so often, leaders are reluctant to put people in a role that helps them grow and challenges them and a role they'd never done before. So often, leaders are looking for safety, right? They're looking for, okay, particularly I will speak to my experience in supply chain and automotive. Typically, it's like, okay, I want to buy I want a buyer. I want a commodity buyer for, I don't know, pick a product, glass, right? So I want to I want to find somebody who's bought glass before? Well, it's got nothing to do with that technical skill, right? It has everything to do with the caliber of the individual and all the traits that you just described. So we need to encourage people to do more of that. But let's get to the other side of the story to Cathy cuz she's bursting to get on the mic right now. So Cathy, let's give us give it to us straight. What's the other side to that story.

Cathy Mott:

So I am bursting with gratitude. Because often, I'll use the tagline as a life and leadership coach. I specialize in introducing people to themselves. And the reason I use that as a tagline because Toni Flowers introduced me to myself. And a lot of times when you're functioning, we're functioning from the inside out. And that's how we see ourselves from the inside out. Toni was able to give me a perspective of myself from the outside in. And all of the things that she talked about came natural to me, I didn't even know they were a skill set, per se. And I can remember when I applied for the job of experience facilitator, and would be in that role for eight years in training over 3500 people and absolutely loved it. Every time I facilitated that three day training, I loved it. She did my resume for me to apply for this job. When I looked at that resume, I said, Oh I want to meet her. Everything on there was the truth. It was me she gave me a new perspective of who I was as an individual. And I looked at all those skill sets. And I recognized in that moment, I could take all those skill sets and bring my authentic self into this role and use everything that I had to be successful in this role. And so when she became the Experience Officer for that organization, and I was going to report to her I was super super excited because she has this ability to bring out the best in individuals. She can see things that maybe you don't see in yourself. And she did that with each and every interaction. And even in her way that she gave feedback. She's so good at giving feedback. You want her to give you feedback on how you can improve. That's what I loved about her. And I was just telling a group of friends about her yesterday about giving feedback, that she's so good at it. I would come and sit in her office and say, Okay, what do you got for me today? Because..

Dr. Toni Flowers:

I'm having flashbacks.

Jan Griffiths:

Yeah. Tell us give us an example. Because I think people are hearing that right? And they're going, okay, great she gives great feedback. But what does that mean to give great feedback so that you just you're in a position that you just said, that you actually want more of that? Can you walk us through an example of what that looks like?

Cathy Mott:

Okay, absolutely. So I can remember, sitting in a meeting with executives, this was during the final phase of the development of the program that I would train for eight years. And they said, Well, you know, we can either use prayer flags or intention flags, what will their intention be? And I just yelled out in the middle of room, oh, there'll be intention flags, because I didn't want to do the prayer flags, there'll be intention flags, and just burst out. And we came out at the meeting, and we were sitting in her office, and she said, you know, she says, I love the way you show up in meetings, you're calm, you're cool, you're collective. And you don't have to say a lot. And when you speak out, you really speak out, she said, you probably could be more effective. If when speaking out, it's the appropriate time to do so. And know that just because you feel a certain way, that doesn't mean it's the decision, you can put that out there on the table. I said, Okay, thank you for that I really appreciate. And so my true color style, which is orange, and we'll talk about that a little later, I'm impulsive. So from that point on, when she gave me that feedback, if I had a thought I'd learned to write it down on a piece of paper in a meeting and wait for the appropriate time to speak up. So she really helped me to develop my executive presence as I grew within the organization.

Jan Griffiths:

Wow, that's a good one. That's a good one. But she delivered it in a way that was not confrontational, wasn't negative, she wasn't attacking you or telling you you, you did something wrong, or you could do something better. She I mean, she'd merely talk to you about the behavior that she observed and a behavior that would get you a better result.

Cathy Mott:

Absolutely, absolutely. And I knew exactly what to do. Sometimes people give feedback. And it's very ambiguous, people have to try to figure it out, because they want to get in and out of that space. Tony is very comfortable in the space of giving feedback. And it really is for the benefit of the person that she's giving it to, to help them grow and develop. And I absolutely love that. And another thing that she does, and while I was reporting to her, we did the there was four of us on the team. And we did the True Colors assessment, and talking about how people show up differently. So I'm the orange style, which I'm free spirited, love to give a party comfortable in front of an audience. And so and then you have the other side who may be the green, which is driven by knowledge and intellect and getting results, you have the goal that's driven by perfection, precision, let's get it done. And then you have the blue, who are people pleasers love to provide support. And what I loved about Toni is, every day when we walked in, she would greet us, and she would ask me, Hey, Cathy, how are you feeling today? And then she'd ask another colleague who was green. Hey there, Mark, what you thinking today? So she would greet us according to our color style. And then one day she asked me, she said, Do you ever wonder why I asked you how you're feeling today? I said no. Why? She says because my goal is to keep you flying high. And when you're because I know when you're flying high. I'm gonna get your best work. If you're not flying high and feeling high. It's my goal to get you there. And I will never forget that that someone knew me that well cared enough about me to get me to a good place so I could do the best work possible to some amazing

Jan Griffiths:

Wow, that's amazing. Toni, tell me. Let's get the other side to that. We read a lot about you know, meeting people where they're at and There's a growing consciousness and recognition that it's not about treating everybody the same. You got to meet people where they're at. And you've got to connect with the individual on a human to human level. That's what great leadership is. But when did you realize that? And then how did you realize that? You know, when did you realize that you had to change your vocabulary and your language in order to connect with people on their terms, tell us a bit about the thought process behind that.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Sure. Well, when I started my career in health care, I started in housekeeping. So literally, and from the lowest position, lowest entry level position. And I always say one day, I'm going to write a book that's titled "From the broom to the boardroom."

Jan Griffiths:

I love that!

Dr. Toni Flowers:

And I think that being in a position that often you feel invisible, and people are not necessarily kind to you. In my mind, while I was sweeping floors and brushing toilets, clean, I knew that I was the best nurse in the world, I just hadn't achieved that yet. So I think your perspective of yourself, and knowing what your goal is, really helps to establish who you are in spite of where you are. And even at that time, when I was in what was considered one of the lowest positions in the organization, there was a moment when a patient was experiencing an allergic reaction. And the doctors and the nurses were standing around the the patient's bed, trying to figure out what happened in the last 24 hours. And I had cleaned that room the day before. And I knew something that was different in the room. So as I was listening, while I was cleaning, I knew that I had done something different in the room. And I was in nursing school at the time. So I also had some knowledge, not full knowledge, but some knowledge. So I spoke up, and I said, I know that there's one thing that has changed in this room in the last 24 hours, and it's this air freshener, it's a new product that we're using, and perhaps the patient is having an allergic reaction to it. Well, they looked at me at first, like, who are you? And why are you talking. And then when they when they heard me, I removed that air freshener, and we elevated the room and the patient's vital signs instantly went up. And at that moment, I recognized that being a leader was not about your title. It's about how you perform in the moment. And so from that point forward, there was never a time when I felt like I was less than anyone, it was simply that maybe my title didn't have as much power behind it as anyone else. But that I was just as powerful inside. And as simply, I just simply had to catch up with my title, that my title had to catch up with who I was inside. So when I became a leader of people, I always felt that the best route for me was not to be a boss, but to be a leader of a team. And so I never allow anyone that reports to me to call me boss, because we are Team, I'd happen to be the leader, and the full responsibility is mine. But we all have to be accountable. And so for me, it was recognizing that I could not do my my role alone. I had to be the visionary. I had to be the responsible person. But I needed other people with other skills to help make my team successful. And so I think it was that perspective that helped me to empower the people that reported to me because I needed them.

Jan Griffiths:

This episode is brought to you by Gravitas, Detroit. If you want to improve employee engagement, now's the time to implement your own internal company, podcast, human to human conversation, develop a strategy design episodes to share executive interviews, employee spotlights, technical reviews, so many different options. The possibilities are endless. Go beyond the traditional corporate communications platforms and bring the dynamic power of story from a real human voice. We will work with you to make that happen. The link is in the show notes

Dr. Toni Flowers:

as much as they needed me. Wow.

Jan Griffiths:

So that is that is an amazing story. I love that story. And I love how comfortable you are in your own skin what both of you are I know Cathy a little bit more than I know you Toni and and I love that you hold this high level executive position in a significant health care facility. And you're so comfortable talking about leadership and where you started. It's just so refreshing to see there's no, there's no ego blaring through the screen here. I mean, it's just not there. And I love that. And I wish that more people would take that on and be truly authentically that themselves.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Well, you know, I think, I think often people in leadership positions, feel very insecure. And so they kind of inflate themselves to sort of like a puffer fish to be intimidating. But in actuality, if you just breathe, and be who you are, I think people will be more effective. And the the security for me is to hire very good people who are very smart, who bring skills and gifts to the role, so that they actually make my job easier. And they make the team more successful, which makes me look very smart to have hired such smart people. And so I think if if leaders recognize that the people that report to you are a reflection of you, not competition.

Jan Griffiths:

Yes, yes. Yes, I'm interested, Cathy, your take on that. Because you've seen, you know, you've you've interacted with many, many leaders at all different levels. What's your take on that?

Cathy Mott:

I do believe there's truth to that, because that's an executive coach, I will share with you, the number one emotion that I coach for is fear. And there oftentimes is a lot of insecurity. They're intimidated by so many things. And I love holding the space for them to talk through that. Like in that space, they can really, just as Toni said, be themselves. And it's such a gift. And then the other thing I'd like to say about Toni, she did not allow us to call her boss, but I was so proud that she was my boss. So I came up with the name ssob that's boss spelled backwards. And I will tell people, she's my ssob.

Jan Griffiths:

That's Brilliant. I love that!

Cathy Mott:

Yes, because she was just so amazing at looking at people's natural gifts and talents, instilling confidence in them, and creating arenas for them to succeed or setting the stage. I'll never forget after we launched the transformation experience training at the healthcare system, and all of the lean leaders, the senior leaders had gone through FERS, in six months after we did a middle camp experience for just the senior leaders. And the four of us the team, we each had a part and Toni was supposed to close out this training session. And she got a call in the middle of the training. And she looks at me and she says, Cathy, I have to go. I need you to close it out. Now I'm a new facilitator. I'm just six months into this thing. Still nervous sometimes. And I'm like, Toni, I can't close it out. She says, oh, yeah, you can. And you're gonna do a great job too. And she put her coat on, and walked away. And I'll never forget the sound of those high heeled shoes walking down that way. I was so nervous. But I went in, I closed it out, knocked it out of the park. And that was such a defining moment. For me. It built my confidence as a facilitator, but just the faith and confidence that Toni has had in me. And then now 16 years, 15-16 years later, and facilitating it LCMC health for her senior leadership team on diversity, equity and inclusion. It's like coming full circle, just so amazing.

Jan Griffiths:

So you had to feel I mean, to say you felt empowered would be an understatement, right? You had the feel, I mean, that this this leader that you admired and respected and trusted, had faith in you to let you do something really important closing out this session, right? This was a leadership team. This wasn't just any old little training program. This was a big deal. And that you were on the spot and you had to do it.

Cathy Mott:

Yes, absolutely. And after the training, I said to myself, if she can see that in me, I need to see that in me too. And then a couple of months went by and Toni got this invitation from the corporate office. They were bringing in a training school to train and certify 60 internal coaches for the entire organization, but they were only inviting one person from each off site organization. And Toni read the letter, And she said she was invited. She says, I could go, she says, but I know how much you love coaching, because part of that training program was coaching 120 leaders. And she says, I know how much you love coaching. She said, so I'm gonna allow you to go. And she allowed me to go to this program, which was such a gift. And here I am many years later as an executive coach running my own business, because she believed in me, and she gave me that gift of being able to go to school for coaching.

Jan Griffiths:

Wow, that's incredible. That's incredible. Yeah, Toni, did it ever go wrong when you when you put your faith in somebody and trusted them?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Absolutely.

Jan Griffiths:

Okay, good. That's good. Tell us a little bit about?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Well, there have been times, and I'm thinking of one in particular, a gentleman that reported to me at one time, and he was very confident in himself. And I had about 50% confidence that he could do what it was that I was going to allow him to do. But I also know that failure can certainly be the breeding ground for success. Sometimes we can have a inflated perception of who we are. And failure is a reality check. And so he attempted to do what I asked him to do. And it didn't, it did not succeed at all. And he was extremely embarrassed. And it gave us an opportunity to talk about how he perceived himself. And my perception of him was that you have opportunity for growth. And it was just demonstrated. So for me, to have someone that I have confidence in to fail, is a great opportunity for growth, not so much. Now I'm gonna fire you it is, okay, let's talk about what was the formula that allowed this catastrophe to happen. And let's review it. And let's think about the areas that can be improved, and maybe some areas that need to be eliminated. And some areas that, again, may be opportunity for growth, and depending on how willing that person is to be honest, to be open, and to be willing to receive feedback that doesn't feel good at the time, will really determine the next place of their elevation, the next place of their opportunity for success. And unfortunately, I think that his insecurity was bigger than his desire to grow. Because he never really got to that place of authentically looking at himself. And recognizing that the path that he was going down, was not going to lead him to ultimate success in his eyes or in other people's eyes. I'm not quite sure where he is now. But I hope that he has had the opportunity to really have some self examination, some introspection, and to recognize that when you are authentic, people can see it, and sense it and smell it and taste it. And when you're faking it, it just stinks.

Jan Griffiths:

Yeah, that's so true. But it didn't, it didn't do to you, right. So now you had that experience, and you didn't go, Okay, that's it never trusted anybody again, the guy failed. It was terrible. You didn't you didn't do that. You saw it as a teaching moment. You used it to help him with his growth. And it didn't, it didn't deter you one little bit, you just said, Okay, we've learned from that, and let's move on, you still continue to trust?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Absolutely. Because failure is a part of life. And if you don't fail, then you're really not growing. Failure means you're taking risks and calculated risks are great. And I think calculated risks are the best risks to take. But if you don't take any risks, and you never know what's on the other side of that fear, and there's great things on the other side of that fear, and that's where I live and I have failed many times and from my failures. Again, I do that I kind of sit myself down and sit myself in the other seat and I talk to myself and I go, Well, you really screwed that up. So how did that happen? And and how are you going to fix that next time? And how are you going to own it? How do you walk out with your face, you know, pick your face up off the floor, put it back on? And you know, get some lipstick and go back out there and do it again because everyone has failed. Everyone has failed. And if someone says they never felt they are lying. When you fail it first of all, it's sort of like a measure, it gives you an opportunity to know where you are. And maybe there's more, a need to learn more, and maybe there's a need to take off some things, you know, I think it was a Coco Chanel that says, once you get dressed before you gotta go off, go out the door, take off one thing. So that's kind of the same way I feel that, you know, if you have failed, do some introspection, look at yourself and figure out, Is there something I need to put on? Is there something I need to take off? Is there something I need to learn? Is it something I need to relearn. So being willing to look inside, to really understand what caused the thing to happen? Like, it could be that maybe you didn't sleep good that night, or maybe you were so stressed about it. But taking that time to really examine yourself, I think is, is key, it's key to be a good leader, because your team needs you to continue to lead them, they need you to continue to have vision, and to also recognize where they have opportunity for growth. And if you're stuck in your head, and you know, all puffed up, then you're not really being a benefit to anybody.

Jan Griffiths:

I like the way that you describe this, you know, the fear of failure. There's a lot of fear of failure in the automotive industry. And it's because of decades of a leadership model of command and control that's been in existence that we're trying desperately hard to get away from, but some companies have heard are making bigger strides than than others. I'm curious, Cathy, to know your perspective on fear of failure, because you've already mentioned that you work with a lot of people and fear is, is a big issue a big deal, right? But this fear of failure, do you see that that's strong, still very strong out there?

Cathy Mott:

I do. And I also feel like it inhibits growth, as Toni said, and a lot of times the value of coaching is having an opportunity to talk through that fear. And asking what's the worst thing that can happen. And a lot of times when people are able to talk through the fear, put it in front of them and make a decision as to what they want to do, they become a little bit more courageous. But as long as we hold that fear inside, it just swirls over and over again. And it keeps people locked in a box from moving forward. So yes, there is that fear of failure that's out there. And the other thing I can say about Toni and thinking about the executives that I work with many of us, most of us, we all want to impress our boss, we all want to impress our boss. And I remember after Toni left the organization, then I left and started my own business, I would always call Toni and say, Toni, I'm going to be on a TV show today, Toni, I'm gonna be on a podcast or a radio show today. And she would always say, I knew it all along. I knew you were going to do this. I knew it all alone. Toni, I just wrote my first book, Aren't you surprised? Now I knew it all along. So she has been just amazing, as a leader, as a friend. And I'm so happy that we've continued this relationship over the years because she still helps me grow and develop today. And she inspires me by the person she is.

Jan Griffiths:

And there's no doubt in my mind that Toni, you are an authentic leader. I mean, you it is all the way through you from your head down to your little tippy toes. But I have to ask you, of the 21 traits of authentic leadership, which one resonates with you the most and why?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

I think curiosity, being curious. I also feel that I'm a continuous learner. Because there's there things change so much. And if you're not learning, then you're stuck. And the world is moving. And it's motion. And being current, understanding trends and things. Being able to be relevant, I think is so important. And being curious allows you to tap into those areas. I feel that even with the people that you hire, to support the work that you're doing, even being curious about who they are, and I believe in mutually beneficial relationships. And so even the people that are hired, there's something that they can teach me, and I'm always looking to see what what can we exchange, what can you provide for me that's going to help me and I will tell you, as far as Cathy is concerned, there's so many things because we have a mutually beneficial relationship. And so I will tell you one of the things about Cathy, that I I admired about her from day one, and I still might admire about her today It is her ability to carve space out for self-care consistently. That is a skill. It is a true skill, because I think, as leaders, and particularly as women, we are juggling so many things, and juggling so many responsibilities. And then there may be family that's added to the picture. And we're in that time where we're juggling children and aging parents. So there are multiple responsibilities. And I am not always good at carving out that space. So when I think about Cathy, I often we'll tell her, Cathy, you've got to help me because I'm not doing a good job with that self-care piece. And she will give me little bits of insight suggestions, recommendations, she'll question me about, well, what are you doing? And let's find out where there's a space where he can you? Can you get up earlier? Can you go to bed later? Can you do some things on your lunch hour. So when I say that everyone, I believe is born with gifts, talents, and abilities. And when you're in a leadership role, if you don't acknowledge those gifts, talents and abilities, that the individuals that report to you that support your work, have you're missing out, you, you are denying yourself. And I think it helps those individuals to recognize that you value them, and that you see in them, things that you can emulate. And it goes both ways. It's not just a one way street.

Jan Griffiths:

So it's mindset, then growth mindset for you. It's absolutely critical. Yeah. Okay, that's great, Cathy, of the 21 traits, which one resonates the most with you?

Cathy Mott:

I have to say it's listening, active listening, it's such a gift to others. And it's a gift to yourself. And many leaders, most leaders get paid to know. And so when someone's in conversation with them, in their mind, they're already thinking of the next answer in their head. So that's not active listening. When you're actively listening to someone, you're paying attention to the words that are coming out of their mouth, their body language, which is 55%, their tone of voice, you're paying attention to everything, and you're putting your thoughts aside, and really connecting with that person. When you can engage with individuals on that level, you really get a taste of what true authenticity is from yourself and the person you're listening to. So I would say listening.

Jan Griffiths:

Listening, let's talk about Gravitas. Toni, if Gravitas is the hallmark of authentic leadership and not the dictionary definition because I redefined it because it's my business. It's the name of my business, and I can do whatever I want. So given that it's the hallmark of authentic leadership, what is Gravitas to you?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

I think it is acknowledging that you have a privilege. And that privilege is impacting the lives of those that support you those that report to you those that share your work, and execute your vision. And recognizing that, that privilege can be misused, it can be abused, or it can be embraced, and to be grateful for the opportunity to be perhaps the one positive light or interaction that that person may have been their whole day, recognizing things like responding when there's an illness in the family, and saying you need to go home and take care of that. Just Just go home, being able to say, you know, I think that you could benefit from perhaps a certification program. So let's invest in your growth, and let's get you certified, recognizing that even closing the door and letting the person cry in your office is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. And so the privilege of recognizing that you can positively or negatively impact another human beings life, that how much value you have in that person, that privilege is recognizing that. And so, for me, it is an honor and a privilege to lead. And it's one that I try very hard not to abuse.

Jan Griffiths:

Yeah, that's a great explanation. Cathy, what is Gravitas to you?

Cathy Mott:

I'm going to say, mind, body, soul and spirit. And the reason I say that, for me, it's all about bringing 100% of myself as a gift to other individuals. So Toni mentioned earlier I'm really good at self care. And the reason I'm good at self care is because I love what I do. And I always want to bring the best version of myself to my clients. And I love creating the space for people to be truly authentic in the moment, in the space of coaching. They may not do it in other spaces in their life, like people will share things with me, they haven't even shared with their family members or their spouse. So it is mind, body, soul and spirit for me, bringing 100% the best version of myself to the work that I do as a gift to my clients.

Jan Griffiths:

Yes, you know who, who answered the Gravitas question along those lines. And you'll be impressed. Very similar in thinking, Stephen M.R Covey. So, Cathy Mott and Stephen M.R Covey, you're on the same wavelength. Well, I'd like to thank both of you for being on the show today. And here's the tagline that I see for that show. And for your book, Toni, it by the way, did you write it yet? Did you write the book?

Dr. Toni Flowers:

No, I'm working on it.

Jan Griffiths:

From the broom to the boardroom. It's coming. I mean, that just says it all to me. It's everything that we've talked about. There it is. And please, I want to be one of the first people to read that book. I'd like to be one of your early early readers, and then we'll get you on the podcast to talk about the book. That'd be awesome. How's that? Right. Amazing. Yeah, let's do that. Because, hey, if I could do it for Stephen Covey, I could do it for you.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

Hey, I don't mind following him.

Jan Griffiths:

I was fortunate enough to interview him on his new book, "Trust and Inspire" before it published.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

That's awesome.

Jan Griffiths:

And it was really a tremendous experience. And I would love to do the same for you. So Dr. Toni Flowers. Thank you for being with us today.

Dr. Toni Flowers:

My absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Jan Griffiths:

It's been great. And the one and only amazing Cathy Mott. Thank you.

About the Podcast

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Finding Gravitas
The Authentic Leadership Podcast

About your host

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Jan Griffiths

Jan Griffiths is the founder of Gravitas Detroit, a company committed to helping you unlock the power of your team through authentic leadership.
In January 2020, Jan launched the Finding Gravitas podcast where she interviews some of the finest authentic leadership minds in the quest for Gravitas.
Gravitas is the hallmark of authentic leadership.