Ep 97 // Your Guide to Next-Level Leadership

Ep 01

If you're a leader considering investing in executive coaching or advisory support, you cannot miss this episode. In it, executive and leadership coach Akua Nyame-Mensah dives into the world of coaching high-performing leaders, founders, and managers and what sets her apart from the rest.

Get a clear understanding of the benefits of coaching and why Akua might be a great fit for you and your team. You'll learn about Akua's unique approach, and she even walks you through a recent case study in which she worked with 50 fellows from diverse backgrounds who were building start-up teams.

Akua is unique in her extensive first-hand/diverse experience, from tiny start-ups to multinational companies. Her tailored solutions, commitment to your growth and success, project management approach, and direct communication style ensure clarity and progress toward your success as a leader.

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What's Covered in this Episode About Effective Leadership

  • Discover how Akua's ability to wear different hats adds value to clients while supporting your growth. 

  • Akua talks about her traditional training and certification as a coach and her impact as she's worked with instructional designers, facilitators, incredible coaches, and speakers.

  • Explore the importance of tailored coaching and advising solutions to meet your unique needs and goals.

  • Understand that leadership is a skill and an attitude and how coaching can help individuals evolve, make an impact, and build sustainable leadership habits and routines.

If you've enjoyed the Open Door Conversations podcast, please leave a review.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I work with leaders in their teams to help them reallocate their time and focus so they can go from tactical to strategic." -  Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "Ultimately, I don't want a client to work with me on the same challenge or issue over and over again, I'm looking to create sustainable solutions." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "I do not believe I'm the expert in my client's situation, challenge or issue, I'm also not the expert in their business, they are the expert." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in Your Guide to Next-Level Leadership

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 97 about Your Guide to Next-Level Leadership

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:00 why people hire me, the highest performing people are the most reluctant to change. And you can't see me but I am raising my hand here because I understand this and have experienced this firsthand. Even for myself. I work with leaders in their teams to help them reallocate their time and focus so they can go from tactical to strategic. Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from high growth startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more done. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this open door conversations podcast episode I'm really excited about diving into this week's episode was a little terrified, I will say to put it together. But I think that it's an important episode to put together. And I hope that by exploring what sets me apart and why clients choose to work with me, you can actually go from considering my support to actually making a decision. Or if you're just considering any type of coaching support or advisory support, you will have the tools and some ideas and some of the things that you should keep in mind. So if you're currently researching different coaching and advising services online, you're reading reviews, testimonials, comparing prices and packages, I really think that this episode is for you. So how I want you to feel after listening to this, my hope is that you have a clearer understanding of the value, I provide a clear understanding of what a coaching or advising solution can add and its benefits. So let's get into today's episode, I wanted to start off by just talking a bit more about my background and my expertise. I do have other podcast episodes related to this. So I will make I will make sure they are included in the show notes. The thing to start off with is that I have a really unique experience. And it really starts with me working within a fast growing startup. This is not something I am proud of, but I have hired and fired a lot of people. And so I really do understand what it takes to build those personal relationships, what it takes to build culture, and the things that really can have an impact on a team. I've done this myself starting a team from scratch. And I've also taken over somebody else's team as well. So I have this experience firsthand. Now of course, I get to work through hundreds of leaders through their eyes through what they do. But I also have experienced this myself. And on the business side, I've actually launched a business not with my own money, but I have launched a business and offloaded it to competitors. And one of the things I think that's also really unique about my experience is that the particular platform or business I was responsible for was part of this group of companies. And that group itself is actually now listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which sometimes I still can't wrap my head around. But I think that it's really interesting to have the opportunity to experience that type of lifecycle of a startup from launching something to offloading it to competitors and then seeing some of the other platforms be listed somewhere. Right that that is for a lot of startup founders, startup leaders, the dream to some extent. And so that's something that I've experienced to some extent. Now having done this for about five years, I have a tonne of experience working with experts to support organisations and companies of all types. So not only am I well trained, I guess you can say I typically talk about my coaching and facilitating and speaking background as being sort of a traditionally trained coach. And I've also done a lot of training within facilitation as well. But I've also had a lot of diverse experiences within, you know, really, really small startups to multinational, massive companies. I've seen it firsthand, I am incredibly well versed in various frameworks, methodologies and approaches, I love being able to put on and take off, whether it's my mentor hat, my coaching hat, my consultant hat, right. And that's something I do even within my sessions, one of the things that I've really been working on and I'm very excited about, and if you've ever listened to my episodes, you probably have listened to one or two episodes that actually outlines my leadership system, right, the way in which I think about leadership, which is a cycle. So I also do have my own framework that helps leaders, so I have my own clear understanding of leadership. And I use that in both my advising and coaching work. And it's an incredibly helpful way to support the leaders I, you know, I work with and help them move forward, I'm trying to get better at keeping track of my impact and the numbers. So this is not exact. But I definitely know that after five years, I have over 500 hours of coaching, or have done over 500 hours of coaching. I've done over 1200 hours of facilitating I've you know, hosted over 200 workshops. And I've supported over 600 leaders alone, just last year. So the numbers are definitely a lot higher than this. But in terms of what I've been able to track, this is just the starting point. Beyond this, this sort of brief overview of my professional background and expertise. I do and I mentioned this, you know, I mentioned this earlier, I do have qualifications and certifications. Within coaching and facilitation. You can read an outline of my certifications, my background and experience, actually on my new About Me page, very excited about this. So my website just relaunched I've gone through rebranding, I actually will be doing an episode on that as well. So you can take a look at it there. And I've actually outlined all I think the important pieces related to what I do now there, I think that one of the most interesting parts of my experiences has been the fact that I've been able to be part of learning and development leadership projects. Across the world, I've been able to work with incredible instructional designers, instructional designers, incredible facilitators, incredible coaches, and incredible speakers. And I've been able to do that at some of the largest companies in the world once again, and it's been such a great learning experience. And I've improved my speaking and my facilitating my ability to engage is so much better after being part of those teams. And being part of the team that delivers those sessions. And of course, gets to provide feedback to improve the design as well. I love to incorporate frameworks. So I incorporate a lot of instructional design frameworks and methods into my work. And it's something I think that really allows me to take my work, take my trainings, take my facilitation, really, to the next level. And as it relates to working with some of these companies, I've seen firsthand how companies take these very intangible things, vision, values, mission, and really turn them into behaviours, and really use them in their appraisals and really use them in their trainings. And as a coach, I know what it takes to build the individual habits and routines to achieve those larger goals. Right. So what does it really mean for us to have a value? What does that look like in practice, and as a coach, I understand that that individual contribution, the individual things that need to happen in order to get there beyond all of this, I am told by my advising coaching clients that they appreciate my strong organisational skills. So I've been told many times in terms of my coaching work that hey, it's super easy to book meetings with you to let us know where we are in our coaching things are kept track of in terms of my advising work, people really appreciate my project management approach, how direct I am in terms of communication, making sure we're all on the same page when it comes to thinking about what success looks like. I personally am most proud of a lot of my work outside of my paid engagements. If you've heard any of the work that I've done, or follow me on social media, you know, I'm always talking about my hashtag, I'm remarkable work. It's something that's been so incredibly important to me, and has really helped me on my own, you know, self employment entrepreneurship journey, and I've had the opportunity to host over 90 workshops for that initiative alone. I'm also incredibly proud of my coaching Fellowship, which is now known as the woman impact Alliance work. If you are someone that is looking to get high quality executive coaching, but maybe you don't have the resources This is the organisation you need to be in touch with. So I'll make sure there's links to that in the show notes. And then last but not least recently, I've been really, really excited about some of my work I do with Google as a mentor within some of their startup spaces. These are things I think that also add to my ability to be a very effective facilitator and coach within my paid engagements as well, as it relates to how my expertise aligns with the specific needs of my clients. I think that a lot of the people I work with tend to highlight how they appreciate that I have such diverse experiences. This is one of the reasons why I'm many of them are excited to work with me, I live in one place like more gruff people in different places, I have a very, you know, unique background myself in terms of where I've grown up what I've been educated in. And these are all things, I think, that really contribute to my ability to support different groups in many different ways. And so the way in which I like to think about it, or the image that comes to mind, when I think about the type of support I provide is that some individuals or some companies really see me as a lighthouse as a beacon, someone to help them, guide them to help them get to where they want to go. And in some ways, right, I've done some things, I've been able to experience some things and it can be helpful in that way. And then with other organisations, maybe that are a little bit more structured, have been there for a little bit longer. I'm a bit of a firework, I'm someone that brings in maybe a different perspective, and is really able to think outside the box and support leaders and their teams with new ways of doing things, building new habits and building new routines. So I think overall, I can provide that very interesting balance between, hey, some experience, and then I'm not always necessarily the expert. And I think I can still facilitate conversations and support people in that way. What does it mean in terms of my personal approach and values as it relates to why people are excited to work with me, I think straight off the bat, if you know anything about my coaching approach, I do not believe I'm the expert in my client's situation, challenge or issue, I'm also not the expert in their business, they are the expert, my job as a coach or advisor is to create that safe space. So they feel comfortable thinking through those challenges, and trying on new approaches, new solutions, new ways of moving forward. And there are several things I think that are crucial to being able to support others. And these are things I keep in mind, in order to have an effective coaching or advising engagement. The first is believing that you can change and evolve. And I know there was a time where I felt like as a human being that were static, things don't change, it's definitely not something I believe anymore. And I believe that we change and evolve every single day, actually even hour to hour. And that's one of the reasons why the framework that I'm building this leadership cycle is so important, and I think will be so helpful to a lot of leaders who feel like they have to be one way, or there's only one right way to show up as a leader. The second thing I think that leaders have to believe, and those who work with me have to believe is that they can have an impact on others, we like to think of ourselves really as individuals, and that somehow as individuals, we don't have an impact on each other. I don't think that's true. I think, of course, that we are responsible for our own reactions, but that just by showing up within within a space, you can definitely change the environment, how you show up how you speak, how you engage, and even just the energy that you bring into a room can have an impact on other people. Another thing, and this is the third thing I have on here, I think that I believe and I think a lot of the people that I work with believe is that leadership is a skill. And I also think it's an attitude, you can learn to be a good leader, right, you can learn and I put good of course in quotes, that's actually not what I put down in here. I just spoke that out. But you can learn to be a leader and that leaders are made. I think another key thing here is that it's not just about continuing to add skills to your skill box, but really about being able to understand the situation that you're in and apply the right approach and ask for the right support within that space or within that environment. Another thing and this is something that's been really important to my journey is that you don't have to be in quotes a people person to be a good leader. You don't need to understand people in quotes, and you don't have to agree with them in order to get things done. I think that's something that's really big, and something that I definitely continue to see. And the last thing here is something I think that relates to this idea that leadership is a skill and attitude is that leadership is a habit. It's a routine. It's a system. And it's really about making sure that you are building a system that makes sense for the current stage that you are in. And so I have sort of an assessment related to this, but it's really about making the most of the stage that you're at and we're always going in and out of these different stages. And it's not a it's not a bad thing. It's not a bad thing as it relates to the values that I'm keeping in mind with my, you know, coaching and advising approach, there are three values. And these are the same values that I introduced, I think in my first podcast episode, which is sort of about my story. This first is intentionality. And this is really about knowing yourself and just having a direction, you're not going to have everything figured out. And so I truly enjoy being able to help leaders align their actions with their values, because this is really where they're going to feel good about themselves. And this is really going to help also reduce the likelihood of burnout as well. The second value is growth. And the way in which I've defined it is having a constant focus on your evolution expanding opportunities, I believe that growth is a lifelong journey. And I mentioned earlier, in the episode, sort of in the introduction, this idea of you know, when you are a high performer, when you've achieved a lot, it's really, really hard to change. And so I think that effective leaders, and one of the things I keep in mind and try and teach or have come through in my work in my content is that it's really important to continue to embrace learning opportunities, and challenges, ultimately, because you learn through working through those challenges, this third one here, and I think this is incredibly important, especially as it relates to coaching, advising is recognising that commitment is showing up for yourself fully taking action and being at choice. So I'm committed to my clients success, I'm committed to them really being the effective leaders, the inspiring leaders, however, they want to define leadership they want to be. And so I love to go above and beyond, but I can't do that, of course, by myself in a silo or in a vacuum. And so it's really important that anyone who partners with me who works with me who I support is also committed to the process and committed to, you know, working through their challenges and getting to their point be however they define it. When I when I think about the impact that my my approach the way in which I think about my advising and coaching, the impact it's had, I get very excited when a client reaches out or says during a call that they've been able to identify a tool or technique to support them with a challenge and issue without me being there. I've said this before, and some people might disagree with me in terms of the work I do, and the support I provide. But I'm really working myself out a job. Ultimately, I don't want a client to work with me on the same challenge or issue over and over again, I'm looking to create sustainable solutions. And those are the habits and routines, and other cases, it's the processes, the checklists, the SOPs that they need, in order to succeed within their business within their department, and maybe even within their life. The next thing I wanted to do was just take a second to really just reflect on, you know, the impact. So what I wanted to do is just share a recent example of the impact my approach, the impact the way in which I think about supporting my clients the impact, it can have. To start off, I just wanted to say my clients determine success. And being able to set expectations and check in on progress is an important habit. I think that every leader needs to build an every single company needs to have a system for this. And that's something that I also do within my practice. And when I support leaders as well, you can visit my testimonial and Case Study pages if you want more insight if you want to read more success stories, more ways in which I've been able to support leaders in their companies. But I thought it'd be interesting to walk through just one recent example of building out a learning and development solution. And I have some things that the fellows that attended My Sessions said, Of course, I do like to think about my learning and development solutions a little bit more on a long term approach. So I'll be reaching out again, of course, to just see the impact and whether or not they've been able to retain a lot of the information. But what I wanted to share before I talk a little bit about what some of the other fellows mentioned is that most of my work has has to clients, a company sponsor, and then of course, the leader or leaders that will benefit from my work. And so one of the ways in which I tend to measure success is whether or not I get asked to coach again, within that organisation whether or not my you know, direct client, if I'm working one on one renews and continues to want to have ongoing coaching, you know, the other way is, of course, if I'm doing trainings or workshops or facilitating, if they asked me to develop another training or workshop or continue with the advising, that's one way in which I measure success, and so far, I'm really grateful I've been able to have really great partners that tend to ask me to come back and tend to ask me to continue or tend to ask me to work with additional leaders. And from my perspective, if a busy leader keeps showing up to a one on one session, that shows me that they get something out of our time together that there's some some sort of value they get because there's so many other things that they could be focused on right if a busy for I wonder keeps coming. That's probably a pretty good sign. And so what I wanted to quickly do was just read out some feedback that I received recently from from some work that I did. And I'm really proud of this work. It's, you know, it's an approach that, of course, not everyone necessarily is aware of. And so you know, asking, of course, my partners that, hey, like, I want to approach this in a bit of a different way, I want to do something a little bit different, and then being open to it, I think, is always incredibly gratifying. And in this case, it's something that I think really worked to everyone's benefit. So I recently was asked to put together a session a training for group of fellows that we're going to be building out startup teams. And so this particular organisation brings together fellows from different workstreams backgrounds, countries personalities, and the fellows really need to be able to accelerate their ability to honestly and vulnerably connect to find compatible co founders. So they can launch a business within a very, very short timeframe, I was asked to design and deliver this in person workshop, they gave me three hours, and they gave me a lot of fellow so I had a close to 50 fellows. And so what I did was put together a research backed, actionable engaging workshop that included both pre and post assessments, and a session evaluation. And so this is incredibly important to me to really make sure that, you know, first and foremost that not only am I aware of what success looks like, but that also my client is aware and that were aligned with it. And so my first step, whenever I'm putting together any sort of people advisory or in this case, specifically a learning and development solution is that we have both awareness and alignment. And when I do my awareness and alignment, one of the first things I do is an a needs assessment. And I'll talk a little bit about why that's so important. That next step is then to do experiments and analysis. And that's typically where I'm doing a gap analysis, and really trying to figure out what are the core competencies, we want to make sure that we cover within this Training. In this case, we didn't have much time. And so it was really important that I was being very, very direct and clear about the activities that would lead, hopefully to specific habits, routines and approaches that these fellows would take the next step, which is step three is to come up with a strategy plan. In this case, when I do a training, a strategy plan is really an outline of the activities. And then of course, I want to align with my partners. So the company sponsor to make sure we're on the same page in terms of what that strategy will be, or in this case facilitation plan would include the last step implementation. In this case, it's of course, showing up in person having the energy, making sure that we're able to get through the plan, and having that evaluation so that we can get feedback. And I'm incredibly proud of the impact that we had the fellows reported really great feedback, you can actually take a look at this case study. It's on my website. So I'll make sure I include the show notes. But we had really great feedback. And after the session 90% strongly agree that the session was relevant to them, over 90% strongly agreed that the content would be important to their success. 100% agreed that they would use the concepts in their work. And this is another key thing that I always want to keep in mind with any of my work is that I want to make sure that it's incredibly actionable. I want to make sure that anything that we use within that session, they can use tomorrow, they can use immediately, they can see how it can really be something that they can leverage. And that will help them on their entrepreneurial journey, in this case. And then this last stat here is 97% strongly agree that they would recommend this session to others. And so that's a little bit more related to my facilitation and my approach. And so this is just one example of sort of how I show up as as a facilitator, the things I keep in mind. And I think also some of the things that help set me apart as it relates to really supporting my clients, whether it's within the coaching realm, or whether it's within more of the people advisory work that I do. And this leads me to sort of this next point that I wanted to touch on in this particular podcast episode is that I take an incredible amount of time, I really focus on understanding my client's needs and goals. This is so important. And hopefully, this case study that I just quickly shared with you. And that you can of course, take a look at on my website helps you see how dedicated I am to building sticky learning experiences. For me, it starts with being curious. And I'm incredibly curious, and I don't take what I'm told at face value. So a lot of times when I'm brought into an organisation, I'll have one or two people that are telling me specific things from their perspective. I really appreciate that but it's also really important to hear from several people within the organisation. So with this case that I just shared with you, I actually interviewed not just the I guess you would call them subject matter experts or people who are involved within the programme, but I also actually interviewed some fellows who had gone through the programme previously. So as I mentioned before, and just sort of to sum this up, my coaching and advising varies based on my client and their goals. With coaching, I always start with a discovery session to walk through goals, vision, areas of growth and desires. It's also a really great opportunity for me to teach leaders how important it is for them to take a second to stop one of my favourite service providers to partner with talks about this as really being on the balcony. So this idea of as leaders, a lot of times, we're on the dance floor, we're dancing, we're doing the things. But sometimes we need to take a break, go on the balcony, and really see the bigger picture. Right? That means being able to reflect and think about maybe what we want to do differently, the way I typically envision it sort of being on a hamster wheel, a lot of us are so busy doing doing doing and have really benefited from being good at delivering and doing and producing and performing. But we haven't taken a second to see if we need to get off that wheel, stretch a bit, maybe do some yoga and do something different. And so that first session I do with my coaching clients allows them to do that, for a lot of them and actually is a little uncomfortable. But it's something that's incredibly important. And what they walk away with is a long list of things that they can use during our engagement. And then of course afterwards as well, with my advising, I always start with the needs assessment and strategy. That's something I just quickly walked you through. When I talked a bit about that people advisory or that learning and development project that I had with those fellows, each thing I do is always customised and tailored to every single client. And so what I just walked you through were some of the things and some of the ways in which I do that, like any service based business, my work is based on relationships. And so it's really important that both of us, right, the company sponsor, my coachee, the participants, the people involved that all of us are looking forward to connecting and collaborating as I continue to think about what sets me apart, and I mentioned this earlier, is that I love to be able to wear different hats to support my clients. And so hopefully, what you've heard in this episode helps to outline those different hats I tend to wear and the different approaches I take to really make sure that every approach I take is really customised and is really in service to the clients. In this episode I talked a bit about my experience and my background, I talked about my approach and values. I gave you a quick case study, I sort of talked a bit about why it's important to understand the client's needs and how I approached customising that. And last but not least, hopefully you took away a little bit about what makes me different and really the value that I can add to any organisation, any team or any leader whether or not you decide to work with me, I hope you have an idea of what you can ask about or even look out for when you're looking to invest in a coach or an advisor. I really, really appreciate that you've taken the time to listen and my next episode, I will actually dive a little bit deeper into my one on one work specifically, and what my clients hire me for as a coach. And once again, sort of what makes me different specifically as an executive and leadership coach. I probably will also touch a little bit on what executive and leadership coaching is because I still get those questions all the time. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, please leave feedback. You know, I'm always looking for more reviews. If you have any questions or ideas for future episodes, you are welcome to drop those as well. If you do want to work with me, please feel free to reach out I will leave a link once again in the show notes for you to contact me so we can have a conversation and stay safe and stay sane. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane .


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