Lacey Leone McLaughlin knows how hard it is to manage in the modern workplace. For over twenty years, she has worked as an executive coach, teaching CEOs, Hollywood showrunners, and corporate professionals to lead. Professors, book publishers, and journalists have asked her, “What are the lessons from the leaders you work with? What can other people learn from them?” But McLaughlin has kept her work confidential and remained corporate America’s best-kept secret—that is, until McLaughlin’s niece graduated from college and urged her to share her business workplace lessons.
Although universities teach medical and finance courses, few instruct students in the nuts and bolts of leadership. McLaughlin’s niece thought McLaughlin could help solve that. “It would be great,” her niece said. “It would be like a quick MBA.”
McLaughlin’s new podcast, Unfolding Leadership with Lacey Leone McLaughlin, was born. Each episode features an interview with one of McLaughlin’s clients, discussing bosses’ secret conversations behind the scenes.
In the first episode, Academy Award-nominated producer and Fremantle Original Productions President Jeff Hasler details his secrets to retain employees (hint: treat your workers well!) and examines why older bosses should listen to their millennial employees. Many baby boomers came of age in toxic workplaces, so they believe that offices should remain the same. Millennials are teaching them how to build more equitable, hospitable workplaces. Hasler finds that his millennial employees’ suggestions have improved all employees’ happiness. When everyone’s happy, more work gets done.
Listening to millennials is just one of the lessons on Unfolding Leadership with Lacey Leone McLaughlin. Future episodes dive into what it’s like to be a female boss, how to lead in this work from home Covid environment, and other provocative, essential lessons.
Part of the reason leaders refrained from discussing these lessons is because it’s so hard to be a boss now. McLaughlin hopes listeners start to empathize with bosses. “Right now, it’s hard to be a boss because there are so many opportunities to get things wrong: dealing with COVID, working from home, the social dynamic, me too movement, social justice,” she says. “There’s a lot of opportunities to do and say the right thing. There’s more of an opportunity to get things wrong.” Her podcast allows bosses to discuss these lessons in a safe setting.
One consistency among the episodes is that when asked about the future of their industry, most guests say, “We’ll see where that goes.” Many leaders would be scared to admit a lack of foresight, but McLaughlin encourages top businesspeople to speak honestly about leadership. She hopes younger listeners can learn from their lessons.
“People think leaders are born,” McLaughlin says. “I think some people are born with leadership traits, but it’s a skill that needs development. We say that person was born a leader, or that person is an extrovert or that person is charismatic. Historically, we think leaders are just this from the beginning when in reality it’s a muscle that needs to be developed.”
The reality is leadership is a skill like coding or accounting. Learning leadership skills takes years of working, training, and practice. Through the course of Unfolding Leadership with Lacey Leone McLaughlin, she comes back to this important lesson: “The best leaders I’ve worked with have in common,” she says. “They recognize that leadership is hard. If you’re open about it, you’re a better leader than if you’re not.” By listening to McLaughlin’s podcast, listeners of all ages can devour this lesson.