This past week we lost a legend, a true rock star, Prince. His talent was a natural gift given to him at birth. But make no bones about it his pathway to dominating his field was carved out of overwhelming hard work and a passion that defined him. Prince was also known for his mentorship and elevation of women. It seems to me that this would be the right week to go back into the subject of what it takes to be a rock star. Late last December, I interviewed Trish Bishop on this very subject and I’ve asked her to come back for a second time. Trish is an International Project Manager in the field of information technology. It’s her job to create and lead teams that dominate in their field. In order to develop the capability to do this, she has spent years observing, studying and experimenting with the characteristics and skills required to be a rock star and to create rock star teams. From characteristics that include high-risk-taking, multitasking, adrenaline and passion-junkies to the skills that include authentic communication, honesty and personal integrity, jaguar mentality and relentless determination, Trisha’s clear that while some like Prince are naturally blessed with rock star capabilities, each and every one of us has a required essence that can be learned. As different as each of us are, so is how we show up as rock stars. We each have a unique gift, an innate talent and a distinct personality that we shape into our own ability to go where no one else could go but ourselves. Whether this is totally owning being a café barista, as I experienced this past week, she could simultaneously make five different types of coffee and fruit drinks to perfection in the fastest time I’ve ever witnessed while engaging in delightful mantra with her customers. Or, a renowned musical icon like prince, who made no apologies with the statement “I want the world. I want everything.” It goes without saying that one has to truly want to become dominant in their field. Rock stars are driven to push their capabilities beyond normal boundaries. But each and everyone needs one or more people to fill them out, to mentor them in their blind spots and then ride the waves of success and failure. This is where a rock star leader comes into play. I ask you to listen to this week’s show, not simply as an individual as far into greatness, however you define it, but as a leader whose job is to create the environment, to still the confidence and shape the skills that are needed for others to deliver on their rock star capabilities and aspirations. This interview has not been designed to spoon-feed this advice, but to test your own rock star skills of jaguar mentality, your ability to see and learn, all the while trusting your intuition. Now, let’s talk to Trish.
Lesley: So today, Trish Bishop is joining me and she is a true living epitome of a rock star. Now she’s going to be somewhat humble about that, but we’re going to talk about the rock star because we all have that element, that essence inside of us. So to start right off, Trish, tell us what it means as a characteristic of a rock star? What it means to be high-risk?
Trish: High-risk is basically being willing to put the need to accomplish above everything else. And what I mean by that is—and I’ll use myself as an example—is that I am willing to put myself in a position that will take the brunch of very difficult decisions. I will ask very difficult questions. I will push agendas that I believe that are imperative for whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish, even knowing that it could mean my job, or my position, or as a consultant, it could mean the end of my contract that I am so bound to the integrity of what I’m trying to do, that nothing will come in a way of that. So that is very high-ris. A lot of employees will not put themselves in that position, and just defiably so, you wouldn’t want to do that if you have a family to feed and everything else. But as a general proposition, you will find that rock stars, the accomplishment or whatever it is that they’re trying to do is that the thing that they’re after and everything else is secondary. And even if it means their job, or their contract or whatever, it doesn’t matter. They are all about getting it done. For me, when I’ve been in those high-risk situations and have to say the things that I knew would put me in jeopardy, the thing I kept in my mind was, “Can I look in the mirror and see a person who I can live with? And not just live with but feel comfortable in my skin and that there’s that I’m trying to hide? Like there’s nothing that I’m trying to protect myself from, because what needs to be said needs to be said.” And I’ve been given the position to say it. So if I don’t use that position to say it, then I am lacking the integrity that I need. So I’d like to use that word integrity.
Lesley: I think we’ve all can understand adrenaline junkies and passion junkies. Now, how do you define a high performer? I mean, we use that all the time and motivational speakers use that all the time, but what do you define as a high performer?
Trish: Well it’s interesting. At the contract that I’m working right now I just have somebody new come on board and she is a complete rock star, and I knew this literally within minutes. Because when I say high performer, you know, what I’m talking about is the person who can get a day’s work can work done in an hour, literally. When I talk about rock stars in general, I talk about somebody who can accomplish in two years what it would take most people five years or more to accomplish. They are just able to operate at such a high-level and such a fast pace that when I say high performer that’s what I mean. And I want to be clear that I have developed four high- performance team on my career. I’ve been extremely fortunate to do that, not everyone in those high-performance teams were high-performers. And I want to be also be clear that I think that there are people who operate at an optimum level for what they’re capable of doing. The difference that I see with rock stars is that what they’re capable of doing is so far beyond what most people are capable of doing, that they completely and totally differentiate themselves in very little time.
Lesley: So just on that note because I think it’s something in terms of context, do they alienate people? I mean, often in organizations these types of skills actually cause others to feel disconnected because they reflect on their own way of performing, and they sometimes feel that they themselves are having conflict of friction with high-performers. So, what advice that how you carry this rock star capability as a high-performer and not alienate others?
Trish: Yeah and you’re 100% right. And this speaks to the maturity level of the rock star skills for sure. What I would call an amateur rock star, we’ll alienate themselves a 100%. What I would call a more mature rock star is somebody who is able to honor and leverage the gifts that the other people around them bring to the table. Yes you can deliver and yes you can perform at a high-level, but it’s not in a way that feels to others that you’re trying to outdo them or that it’s competitive in nature. So, it’s your manner of interaction, and it’s your manner of engagement, and it’s your authentic honoring of what other people bring to the table and how that contributes to what you’re able to achieve. No rock star is a rock star on an island. I mean, yeah, they can be high-performer and everything else but the reality is you don’t move organizations forward, you don’t move agendas forward by yourself. You do that with a team, so you will either learn as a rock star how to embrace that team. And typically they’re the informal leader but they don’t always have to be in a leadership position. They just end up being the informal leader, you know, people gravitate to them because they’re very high-energy and they bring huge momentum. But you’re 100% right that an immature rock star can definitely alienate themselves. So, in terms of advice I’d say, you know, do the personal development work that is required to increase that level of maturity for yourself, so that you can better honor the people who are around you and what they bring to the table.
Lesley: Well, a rock star is not a rock star without an audience. The reality is, is that we need that audience. We need that back-up man. We need them agents. We need all of that team to make that happen. Now, they’re multi-taskers, they’re rebels, they’re highly-intuitive, they’re obviously dominant in their arena, albeit professional or business but there are also multi-trackers. So, can you help us understand what a multi-tracker is?
Trish: Yeah. And this is a bit of an in concept for a lot of people although those people who are rock stars will not…they should resonate with this. Basically what we’re doing is that we’re tracking energy. So, whether you’re in a board room and you’re facilitating a conversation, and you’re tracking the energy of everyone in the room to determine who’s on board, who’s trying to sabotage, whatever the case may be. Or potentially you’re in a project and you sense that this project is going off the rails even before there are any actual quantitative indicators to say that that’s the case. I mean, it could be a any number of situations, but in essence what we’re doing is we are tracking the energy of what we’re doing. So what we do in essence is we can sense when the momentum is being impacted. So, the rock stars always in forward whatever their agenda or objective is, and they build huge momentum to get there. When something is impacting that momentum, they sense that and then they start to track what is causing that friction or “What is slowing my momentum in order to identify the core root cause of whatever that is.” So it literally is tracking energy. They may not know they’re doing it consciously, they’re doing it on a fly and it really speaks to that highly intuitive piece. They’re doing it on the fly all the time. Most people don’t realize what they’re doing but that is exactly what it is that they’re doing.
Lesley: So, I can understand it and as we move in to some of these skills and then maturity level which I think is really key, you know, there’s one thing for us to be a rock star but leaders are really accountable for developing rock stars. I mean, this is where leadership really shines. So, if we sort of take, for example, jaguar mentality which is one of the skills of a rock star, what does somebody do at various levels of maturity not only in themselves but in bringing this skillset out of others?
Trish: Great question. And this is one of the things that I love about the rock star program. There are people who are just flat-out innate rock stars, they’re born that way. That’s how they operate, that’s how they’ve always operated. The thing I love about this program is that everybody has the ability to develop these skills. There’s not a skill on my lists of rock star skills that people cannot learn. So, in terms of really developing those skills from a leadership point of view, when we’re talking about jaguar mentality, what I’m referring to there is what would typically be termed as a pitbull and I know I was at the beginning of my career. And so, what represents a pitbull is somebody who grabs on every bone, and will fight every fight and leaves blood on the walls in the process. The idea of this level of maturity is as you mature into that skill; the reason that I call a jaguar mentality is that what we’re trying to move to is: A) If you think about a jaguar, they kind of lay in the sun and they’re kind of lazy. The only time they’re really going to go after something is either to protect themselves or to eat. So in essence, what you’re doing is you’re being much more selective around the fight that you’re willing to fight—for starters which is always a good thing. And the next thing is, is that we can go about that in a much more way that the pitbull. So we don’t necessarily need to leave blood on the walls, and yet we can still accomplish this same thing that we did if we were the immature rock star and acting like a pit bull.
Lesley: I think that’s why somebody’s other skills are inherent in that, so the whole problem solving ability… So for example, a low-level problem solving ability is I can figure out how to get a strategy for my software development. Figure it out and I can think about the ways in which it can improve. Those are some very technical problem solving skills. But as we get more and more into the complex environment of leadership, the problems become much more intrinsic, much more embedded in the environment with multiple dynamics involved. So, what would I do as a leader to really sponsor advanced problem solving in myself and others?
Trish: I mean I’m just going to go on this one because that’s typically how I offer anyway. As you know, empowerment right? Now here’s the deal with problem solving, I mean I’m just going to say it like it is and its essence, it’s freaky common sense. And the reality is, there are so few people out there that have it, it’s a little bit shocking to me and I’m going to be honest but it’s core is common sense. As you said, you move into more complex problem solving capabilities. And then, if you’re wanting to foster that form a leadership point of view, you need to empower people but also need to have a level of expectation of them that they are going to be able to resolve that. So, you know, it’s a very cyclical in nature if you are literally developing that skill, whereas you would empower someone to resolve the issue. They would do their attempt to resolution whether it was successful or not. And then you would have, for lack of a better way saying it, a retrospective to say, “Hey, how well did that go? What did you learn from that? What did you do different to those types of things?” But it is very cyclical in nature, what I will say is you definitely can learn problem solving skills, no question. But that is one area that I find that people need to focus more on learning, then some of the other skills and that’s because I’m going to say that just fundamental common sense is not prevalent, it just isn’t prevalent. So, when you’re taking that core base of common sense and you’re trying layer on top of it, problem solving and the foundation is even there, that is a skill that’s going to take a lot of work for people to be able to master. It requires for me personally when I see it or even when I’m doing it, and I find as I get older I’m getting more excited. But when I’m doing it, the whole essence of it for me now, and again this is level maturity on that particular skill is, I’m looking to others to help me to think through and to toss out ideas for how we problem solve an issue.
Lesley: So I don’t have to be the star because I think that sometimes we see the word starts being the primadonna, I think what you’re saying is, is that “I need to recognize who’s in my band and how do we use each other in order to get to that common impact with the music that we’re creating.” So when I think about some of this complex, I think about paradoxical problem solving. And so, what I mean by that is, the ability to think of a strategy where we are slow in the sense of our customer development, because people don’t want to be rushed into creating a very powerful relationship but we have to be fast in the market. And so, you know, often people say we have to be fast in the market, which means “I got to make you a customer, get you inside of the door. I’ve got to sell you. I’ve got to make sure that you’ve just bought for me and then I’m being fast in the market.” And that’s not the same thing as being gradual in the relationship building and yet fast in terms of the strategies that you’re using to penetrate the market. That to me is a higher level of sophistication of the kinds of problems that people have solved.
Trish: Absolutely. And I want to go back to your comment on, you know, people believe that they have to do it all themselves. You know, for me as an immature rock star, I’m early at my career, there’s another aspect to this and that was all the problem solving that I did alone, and I drove that and I drove my solution. That is something you need to overcome. And if you want to go to Steven Covey’s Seven Rules for Success, let go of your need to be right. Let that go. Put the ego in the back burner, let go your need to be right. That is how you’re going to bring huge creativity and huge innovation to the table by leveraging other people’s ideas within a team to move things forward. You do not need to always be the person who’s coming up with a problem or solution. You just need to be able to facilitate that problem or solution.
Lesley: So, when we think about the “Trust your intuition,” what does an immature rock star do and what is a more mature rock star do when it comes to really relying on that intuition?
Trish: Oh that’s a great question. And the reason I see that is I have to think back, because to me I had an even in my teams that basically locked the trust in my intuition in such that I trust and implicitly. So it’s hard for me to even think back to when I didn’t. But in terms of maturity, when you have a well-honed intuition, there’s in the moment intuition and there’s visionary intuition. I mean, I’m just tossing this out there to differentiate between them. The in-the-moment intuition, let’s address that first because there’s levels of maturity there. In-the-moment intuition is you get a sense that something’s wrong and you act on it immediately. To me that’s going to the more immature level of that rock star skill. When we start to increase the maturity of that—and just in terms of that short term intuition –you sense something’s wrong and then you try to better understand contributing factors to that, or what’s behind that, or what all the perspectives are around it before you deal with it. So you look at it more holistically. So, you’re not denying that something’s going off. Intuitively you get that sense and you’re going to address that it’s how you address it that is the key differentiator. Then if we look at visionary intuition, that is the ability literally to see three to five years out. And so, what you’re doing in that situation is, you know, tons of transformations, you’re selflessly. But when you’re in the midst of a transformation as the piece of the puzzle are coming together, each time another piece locks in the place, you’re able to see how that changes that future vision. And so that level of maturity is seen it, it’s the first step. But if you’ll increase the level of maturity and that capability, what you’re able to do is to shift and mobilize in terms of what your new reality will look like. Even though you’re so far out, you’re able to shift what you need to do, how you need to engage, what needs to happen. You can see the steps between here and there because you saw the shift in the vision based on that new puzzle piece that put in place today.
Lesley: So to me, I just want to highlight this because you and I spent a lot of time talking about the notion and intuition is that it’s not this information that just pops out of the air. It’s using the deeper wisdom that we called inside our own energy field, inside our own body and fields of energy as well as being open to the channeling that comes from other locations. For some people that just sound a bit flaky and a bit wacky, but it’s the hits that we get are meant to be triggers of wisdom that we already have and that we’re just becoming aware of our wake to. They’re not just ideas that pop from the sky.
Trish: You know, flaky or not, this has driven me through my entire career, through fortune 500. It is how I have become what I am today, it’s how I’ve made huge success in terms of who I am, what I do and how I do it. It’s a 100% trust in that intuition reading the energy of people, reading the energy of the situation 100%. I mean I do it all the time. The more conscious you can become the better at it you become. I mean that’s another level of maturity for sure, but absolutely 100% you are… I mean I thought I saw one definition of intuition which is basically the translation of energy; it’s the ability to translate energy literally. And so you’re getting this information constantly. I mean, you know, to bring it down to a very tactical example, you need a person for the very first time and you’ll immediately just like them, or you’ll immediately like them. You haven’t even had a conversation yet, right? That’s 100% energy. You are reading their energy and there’s something about that energy that is either off or that you completely resonate, depending on which way you feel about them. It doesn’t happen with everybody that it’s that immediate and that powerful, but it certainly does happen with some people. So that’s an example of people want something that’s not so flaky of how we read that energy, so the more that you read it the more that you trust it. I literally built a relationship with my intuition like it’s a person.
Lesley: I think that’s a really good example. And so, I think that honoring it in that fashion is fundamental. But now I’m taking you into your project management focus, and you’ve managed massive projects incredibly complex. How do you as a Project Manager who has really definite deliverables, I mean this is the kind of job where there is such a high stake on you achieving what you’re achieving but it’s through other people, how do you get others to trust their intuition? You are sitting around that project management team and you depend on them delivering, how do you get them to really start trusting themselves in that regard?
Trish: Yeah. You know what; again it does go back to that empowerment. You know, and this is pretty basic management 101, there’s no magic formula here really. It is building the trust. So when I say that, what I mean is, you stand in what you say and you stand in what you do. So, you don’t pretend to be authentic with people. They read that and they won’t trust you. If you have not done enough internal work that you can actually operate with people authentically, you’re never going to get that trust. I’ll tell you that right now. The next thing you’re going to do though is you’re just again management 101. You’re going to reiterate and you’re going to really talk to people about positive behaviors. So when you’re in a meeting and you sense intuitively that they are holding back and you probe that, and you elicit from them what their concern or their issue is or whatever that happens to you or their idea and they share that with you, you’re super positive in the reinforcement of the fact they shared that with you and you do it authentically. Again, if you have not done your internal work and you’re coming from a place of authenticity, people will not trust you. They don’t know why they don’t trust you but they won’t, so you have to get to that place. So if you authentically and positively reinforce people’s behavior, they will do it more, and more, and more because they love the way it makes them feel. And it isn’t that so much the positive reinforcement they love. They love that authenticity. They love that human to human connection. They don’t realize it but that’s actually what they’re responding to.
Lesley: I think empowerment is most powerful when a leader does not necessarily agree with the direction that somebody’s taking, but believes that they have such a commitment to the approach they’re going to take and actually don’t see such a negative downside to the direction but want this person to be able to learn from what it is that they’re about to do. I mean, when I did the roundtables on the Alberta economy, I had this marvelous mentor named Dawn Simpson. And you know, I said to him, “I really want us to break the power broker circle in the Calgary market so that we have a different type of dynamic in the room than what we do if we bring the typical power broker in” and he was not comfortable with that at all. You know, he just said, “No, no, no, we’ve got to get those politically into the room.” And he trusted me that I knew what I was doing enough even though he disagreed with the approach that I was going to take that he was behind me all the way, like he made sure I was successful at doing it the way I did it. To me that’s true empowerment when it’s not just “Okay I agree with you, go ahead and do it.” It’s when there is this conflict and yet there is a belief that the person does have their way about them in knowing what to do but will need your help to do it.
Trish: I love that example. That is awesome.
Lesley: We’ve got such a little time left. What’s the immature respectful communication, and what’s the optimum maturity that we could reach in respectful communication?
Trish: I know I’m going to sort of sound like a broken record here because its authenticity, I mean it literally lose your level of authenticity. Especially as a consultant, I’ve been a consultant for going on 15 years now or something. You know, you come in, you’re Polish, and you’re saying all the right words, and all the right way be politically correct and inclusive in your engagement style and all that kind of thing. And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But again, people will sense if you’re being authentic in that, right? They will sense that. So, especially in today’s arena like when I first came up with rock stars skills in my 2002, it was not as much of multicultural business environment as it is today. Today it’s fabulous, I love it. There are so many new ideas and new ways of engaging and new innovation that comes as a result of that, but you do have to understand how to navigate that environment. And what I found is, is that I don’t focus on being politically correct as you can tell from this interview. You know, I’m blunt, I tell it like it is. I just am who I am, that’s never changed. But I am authentic and I truly honestly… You know, I’ve learned to move past judgment which I find is at the core of anybody who is unable communicate effectively especially when we’re in a multicultural environment where you have judgments around other people. That is very, very difficult and that is not just multicultural in terms of raise but even multicultural in terms of an organization’s culture. So how we operate with managers, versus supervisors, versus presidents or whatever, if we’re not being authentic in those engagements then that is going to emerge. Again, it’s going to be a trust of few for people. So that respectful communication really comes from place of non-judgments, so I don’t judge someone because they’re supervisor and not a VP, right? I don’t care. You’re a human being and I’m doing business with you. I’m engaging with you. I’m spending my time with you; therefore I’m going to respect that interaction. So, you know, that respectful communication, yes you have to be very conscious of your voice which is not the same as being politically correct, right? It’s about what is the tone you’re using, what is the voice you’re using. And you probably have better words because you’re the communication guru. But essence, yes you have to be conscious of those things and you have to be careful about how you craft your communications especially when it’s writing. But at the end of the day, if you are authentically engaging with people whether you agree with them or whether you’re not, you will have respectful communication.
Lesley: I love one of the things that you said the last time we talk was that because of the text world that we’re in and the email world, so many people bounce it off and don’t reread what they’ve just done and they just press send. And, there are so many with autocorrect and everything else that can happen in those moments. It’s insane how we’ve created almost a tolerance for messy communication, for “Try to figure this message out because if you can, good for you.” You know, the essence of this also is that we communicate our energy when we’re writing it, which is one people say, “Write the email if you’re in that and then leave it. Go away, go for a walk.” Only because it’s not just what you’re saying, it’s the energetic imprint that is behind those words and you press send. So, I would think they’re basic but again, you know, as you said it’s not necessarily basic practice. It’s going to be physics but not necessarily basic practice. Well, Trish, I’m going to let people know where they can find out more about the rock star program. I think there is so much to be learned also just for ourselves as human beings, so that we feel good about how we show up. So I can’t thank you enough for spending this time with me.
Trish: Always a pleasure.
So how did you do developing your strategy to develop rock stars? You know, it’s interesting to me that leaders such as this are rock stars himself, but in a different way they’re both a mirror and a shaping force. They have antenna up and they’re picking up signals about what’s going on in the world, in themselves, in everyone around them faster and more clearly than anyone else around them. Now many of us think that this skill is not necessarily teachable, but I’ve got to say it differently. We’re all embedded with the ability to see a numerous dimensions. We all are gifted with uncanny psychic ability. Each of us is wired to observe, assimilate and then re-interpret to our own unique lens and spin. But like Prince we, simply do not assume this to be the case. Not only did Prince master every aspect of his genre from singing, song writing, producing, took selling and playing a wide variety of musical instruments. He was a fanatic musical historian. He achieved all of these with unparalleled discipline and a work ethic that very few could maintain. He was driven to make a statement in the world that only he could make. What differentiates a rock star leader is that no one believe that such traits are not simply those that we normally call rock stars, that each of these capabilities live within each of us. Here is where we see the true essence of authenticity to which Trish was referring; it’s that outer reflection of the inner magic that we hold. Rock star leaders make others stronger and more confident in everything they do. It’s less about giving power or authority the standard definition of empowerment, but more about truly believing the magic is there and then unrelentingly expecting it show up. The interesting aspect for me is that often neither the leader nor the rock star actually knows what all of this is going to look like, but they expect it to show up and they know and trust that it will take their breath away. You can find out more about Trish Bishop and the work that she does by going to TrishBishop that’s T-R-I-S-H-B-I-S-H-O-P-dot-strikingly-dot-com. And, you can take a look at the rock star program by going to Facebook and punching in Rock Stars Unlimited. I know she would love to hear from you, and we’re thinking of putting on a virtual series on this program to help others develop these skills. So, you know where to find me at Lesleysouthwicktrask.com—where all of my interviews are transcribed if you prefer the written word—and at Womenwholead.co, of course Facebook Women Who Lead Radio Show. Well, thanks for listening. You know this is your show and I am your host Lesley Southwick-Trask. See you next time.