Mary Lippitt Show Notes Page
Mary Lippitt was trying to influence her bosses and was rejected. When she was able to finally meet with the top executive, she realized she needed to open her mind and to recognize that her facts contained many gaps and she needed to adjust her thinking.
Dr. Mary Lippitt’s early years were spent in New Haven, CT; Lincoln, NE; Schenectady NY; Arlington VA; Paris, France; and Bethesda MD. As the daughter of a minister, she moved frequently. These experiences showed her that despite outward differences, we share many commonalities. She formed a deep commitment to finding ways to bring people together and reduce the proclivity to stereotype or dismiss others since she did not like being labeled or pigeonholed.
As an adult, Mary has lived in Buffalo, NY, Bartlesville, OK, Miami Fl, Bethesda MD (again), and now in Tampa Bay, Fl. And over the years, she worked for county government, an international electronics firm, and as director of a university’s master of human resources program.
These divergent experiences helped her recognize there is a missing element in the way we develop our leaders. We traditionally focus on the internal aspects of an individual; their personal style, traits, and competencies. The context or outer realities are largely being overlooked. Her distinctive work fills this gap by helping leaders critically analyze and address their complex and challenging issues. In Mary’s book, Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters, she offers a framework to build effectiveness, engagement, collaboration, that produce results.
Mary founded Enterprise Management Limited in 1984 and has served public, private, and non-profit clients interested in boosting critical thinking, the bottom line, and engagement. In the US, she has partnered with Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, SAIC, the US Department of Energy, and the US Marine Corps. She has also worked in Japan, Turkey, France, and Kuwait.
The role Mary enjoys the most is being a grandmother to her two grandsons, and she apologies to her daughter for making this statement. But grandparenthood has all the pleasures without any of the hassles of being a parent.
Mary currently lives in Tampa, Florida between her many travel adventures.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“You could deliver results and still care about people.” – Click to Tweet
“Kindness and results are not exclusive to each other; you could do both.” – Click to Tweet
“The success rate of change is dismal because the change agents don’t listen.” – Click to Tweet
“A mindset is a temporary point of view; it is not genetic or a personal style.” – Click to Tweet
“When I focus, I can achieve something.” – Click to Tweet
“If I keep trying to juggle six things, I’ll make very poor decisions.” – Click to Tweet
“Change is probable, pervasive, problematic, and promising.” – Click to Tweet
“Change is where we’re going to have new opportunities, but we may not like the process of having to go through that change.” – Click to Tweet
“By the time I’m being forced I have fewer options. As long as I’m proactive I have more to choose from.” – Click to Tweet
“Leadership today is about asking the right questions, it’s not about having all the right answers.” – Click to Tweet
“No one has all the right answers, the world is too complex.” – Click to Tweet
“The focal point is important because that creates the common ground.” – Click to Tweet
“I realized, when you think differently from me you help me.” – Click to Tweet
“Instead of labeling somebody right or wrong, what can I learn.” – Click to Tweet
“I’m realizing I don’t have all the information, but I also realize no one does.” – Click to Tweet
“Our focal point of leadership has become a little too narrow.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Mary Lippitt was trying to influence her bosses and was rejected. When she was able to finally meet with the top executive, she realized she needed to open her mind and to recognize that her facts contained many gaps and she needed to adjust her thinking.
Advice for others
Learn to be able to say you do not know.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
I like to follow new ideas that sometimes I forget the priority of following through with my immediate goals.
Best Leadership Advice
Listen, persevere, and respect others.
Secret to Success
I’ve developed the ability to ask good questions.
Best tools in business or life
I use a situational mindset checklist.
Contacting Mary Lippitt
Resources and Show Mentions
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
253 Mary Lippitt episode
Jim Rembach: (00:00)
Okay. Fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because we have somebody on the show who is really going to give us some greater understandings and frameworks on how to be significantly more effective. Dr Mary lipids early years were spent in new Haven, Connecticut, Lincoln, Nebraska, Schenectady, New York, Arlington, Virginia, Paris, France in Bethesda, Maryland as the daughter of a minister. She moved frequently. These experiences showed her that despite outward differences, we share many commonalities. She formed a deep commitment to finding ways to bring people together and reduce the proclivity to stereotype or dismiss others since she did not like being labeled or pigeonholed herself as an adult. Mary has lived in Buffalo, New York, Bartletts bill, Oklahoma, Miami, Florida, Bethesda, Maryland, and now in Tampa, Florida. And over the years she worked for County government and international electronics firm and as a director of a university’s master of human resources program, these divergent experiences helped her recognize there is a missing element in the way that we develop our leaders.
Jim Rembach: (00:00)
nd as the daughter of a minister. She moved frequently. These experiences showed her that despite outward differences, we share many commonalities. She formed a deep commitment to finding ways to bring people together and reduce the proclivity to stereotype or dismiss others since she did not like being labeled or pigeonholed herself as an adult. Mary has lived in Buffalo, New York, Bartletts bill, Oklahoma, Miami, Florida, Bethesda, Maryland, and now in Tampa, Florida. And over the years she worked for County government and international electronics firm and as a director of a university’s master of human resources program, these divergent experiences helped her recognize there is a missing element in the way that we develop our leaders.
Jim Rembach: (01:07)
We traditionally focus on the internal aspects of an individual, their personal style or their traits and their competencies. The context or outer realities are largely being overlooked. Her distinctive work fills this gap by helping leaders critically analyze and address their complex and challenging issues in Mary’s book, situational mindsets targeting what matters when it matters. She offers a framework to build effectiveness, engagement, collaboration that produces results. Mary founded enterprise management limited in 1984 and has served public, private and nonprofit clients interested in boosting critical thinking and bottom line and engagement in the U S she has partnered with bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, S a I see the us department of energy and the U S Marine Corps. She has also worked in Japan, Turkey, France and Kuwait. The role Mary enjoys the most is bringing a grandmother to her grandsons and she apologizes to her daughter for making the statement, but grand Parenthood has all the pleasures without any of the hassles of being a parent. Mary currently lives in Tampa, Florida between her travel excursions, Mary lipid. Are you ready to help us get over the hump? Thank you. I’m really glad you’re here and I’m really excited to talk about this particular topic. But I think before we get into that, I think it’s extremely important for you to explain who is Kate Hollander?
Mary Lippitt: (02:33)
Kate Hollander is the new head of sales at a printing company in Denver. And she walks into a situation where her staff really would prefer that she would not be there because they would wanted her job. The sales are declining rapidly. There are silos between the organizations in the, uh, between, uh, sales production and she, the owner is a micromanager. So she has a lot or plate from the get go. And the story talks about how she’s resolves this by delivering results, but also at the same time by making sure that people are engaged and respect it. What I’m trying to show in this story of Kate is that you could deliver results and still care about people. You know, kindness and results are not exclusive to each other. You can do both. And that this is what Kate shows people how to deliver results, but to work well together
Jim Rembach: (03:38)
well, and to give this even more justice. What you did is really set a very important setting and how Kate actually goes about her work when you talk about her being a medic. So if you could explain that a little bit, I think that’s a really good foundational elements to kind of help give people some understanding and context when we get into this discussion about these situational mindsets.
Mary Lippitt: (04:02)
Okay. Kate had been in sales before for a medical device manufacturer, but after nine 11, she chose to serve in the military and serve as a medic. So she’s coming off of tours in the middle East and she’s accepted a job in an industry that she is not familiar with. And so she knows about sales, but her recent experience is really in middle East and being a medic rather than a sales person. So there’s a lot of discounting her, uh, stereotypes about, you know, what can she do for us and you know, she’s younger than we are and all sorts of other aspects. Cloud, uh, the initial impression of her, uh, what really happens is that there is actually the restaurant next to her, the printing business, there’s an explosion. And then they see her in action and they realize a couple of things. Not only is she very decisive, but she also, no one knows when to step back.
Mary Lippitt: (05:08)
She handles the triage effectively. She directs people clearly and with respect, no panic. But when the emergency medical people arrive, she knows to step back. So this is not someone who is really out to, to, to, to look like on the hero. Uh, she works well with others and people realize, well she goes have some skills, maybe she doesn’t know a lot about printing yet. And the, she has to balance a reality that the owner of the business is pushing her go, go, go, go. And she recognizes that the sales have been going down for a while. So it isn’t just a motivational thing. There really are some other aspects. So she uses her honeymoon period just to sit back and do some analysis of what it is that’s really happening. And in that process she recognizes that, that her staff is using a transactional approach, just get the sale and move on.
Mary Lippitt: (06:11)
And she knows that customer service, uh, as you would know, well, requires a lot more than that. And she talks to the team and helps them come up with a ability to tailor their interactions with their potential clients to make sure that they have a solid sale and one that survives the actual first, um, order to deliver additional orders. And, and this is really resisted at first because after all, she doesn’t know the printing business and, you know, why should we change? We would be doing it this way for so long. And so she actually takes a step back and instead of trying to, um, demand, um, compliance, she actually works with her staff. She goes on sales calls with them, she doesn’t try to upstage them and she shows very early, they sh that she is trying to help them because she’s identified what their major problems are within the organization and she tackles those right away to gain some early wins to build the confidence that she really is going to be someone that helps them.
Mary Lippitt: (07:21)
So there’s a lot going on that she’s trying to juggle. And I should mention that she got this job because the vice-president charge of operations for title’s vice president of sales was someone she worked with in the military. So he was her advocate and the owner was a little reluctant to hire. She didn’t have the Printy experience. And again, he was hit the deck running nose down to the grindstone kind of guy. And, and so this, um, strong recommendation is, is the reason that she got the job, but the welcome was a little bit lukewarm.
Jim Rembach: (07:56)
Well, but you also talk about that and everything that you described there and the competing forces associated with this. So there’s, you know, the situations of threat from outside, um, you know, all the marketplace, you know, pressures, you talk about the internal culture, uh, you talk about, you know, uh, people trying to silo, you know, uh, protect, I mean, all of these different factors that I think everybody can relate to in so many different ways. And, and so then you start explaining this whole really how you navigate all of this and how Kate navigates all this. And that is in the situational mindset model. So if you could talk about the, the six components or elements of the situational mindset model because of if you just take them by word, um, you could potentially be misled and I think you need to explain them a little bit.
Mary Lippitt: (08:43)
Okay. There, there are six mindsets. Let me just preface my comments by people say, Oh, there’s gotta be more than that. I will remind people that there are three primary colors and we get lots cubes. There are seven musical notes, so we get lots of melodies. So having six is not as outrageous as it may seem. So let me identify the six. The first is I call inventing. It is a focus on what are the new products we should consider, uh, what are the new technologies that we can apply? What are the synergies that we can create internally or externally? So this is a focus on making sure that you are offering the products that are state of the art. And we do know that, you know, certain companies really go out of their way to make sure that they are state of the art, you know, whether it’s an Apple or or whatever organization it is.
Mary Lippitt: (09:38)
Having that reputation really is a discriminating factor for many customers. So that’s the first one. The second one is very customer oriented, calling it the catalyzing mindset. And in this mindset we’re looking at who our key customers, how can we increase our customer base, how can retain our customers, how can we provide them with customer service? What are the emerging customer needs? So both the first two are very external to the organization. They’re looking at technology and new ideas. They’re looking at the customer, which is obviously external. And those are really what I would call the entrepreneurial stages, the small business getting started. And then there’s a shift from the external point of view to looking at the organization. And I know you’re very familiar with the fact that organizations can grow rapidly, but sometimes there’s a lot of chaos in that growth. And so the third mindset is called the developing mindset.
Mary Lippitt: (10:41)
And it takes a look at how should we be organized? Should we be functional matrix, geographic product, whatever. But it’s also establishing, you know, what are our policies? What’s our pay policy, what’s our, uh, our policy on promotions. It’s taking a look at what are the systems that we need? How is information going to flow? What are the decision making practices we have? So it’s what I’ll call a macro orientation to how we function. And this is the orientation that says let’s take a look at our goals and make sure that we’re doing the right thing rather than just doing things right. So that’s the third one. The fourth one is also internal look, but it’s more of a micro look. Then the infrastructure develop a mindset. We call that the performing mindset. And in this mindset, what we take a look at are things like process improvement, a quality improvement, workflow analysis, facility layout improvement, um, return on investment, meeting the budget, uh, vendor management, supply chain management, all of the, the, the adjustments, the tweaking, the polishing of a work flow.
Mary Lippitt: (11:57)
And of course, you know, that is where we get the efficiency. So this is a very efficiency but quality oriented mindset. So the, the fifth mindset is still internal, but it’s taking look at the people is taking a look. What is a talent we have? Do they have the right competencies? How do we retain them? Do we have good collaboration? Do we have engagement? Do we have a succession plan? Do we have an agile culture? Are we change ready? Uh, are we proud of ourselves or do we set, have a sense of commitment and loyalty. All of the without broadly call the people and culture aspects. And, and again, some people tend to discount this area and I would just like to remind people that Peter Drucker said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. So this although may not have the pazazz of a customer sale, uh, if you don’t keep your sales people, if you don’t have the right compensation system for them, if they’re not proud of your product, they will stay with you.
Mary Lippitt: (13:03)
And you call that the protecting mindset. Why protecting? Because it’s protecting what we’ve achieved in terms of our product, our customers, our infrastructure and our processes. So it’s protecting all that we’ve built so far. And this is a very proud, you know, stage. And in that every one of these stages has many advantages, but many also disadvantages. And what can happen with protecting is that I’m so proud of what I’ve got. I won’t change. You know, we’ve, we’ve perfected everything, don’t mess with success. And the sixth and final mindset is taking a look at the trends that we need to adjust to. It’s called the challenging mindset because it’s challenging what we’ve already established. And this is taking a look at new initiatives, new business opportunities that we may have. It takes a look at maybe new business models. And again, just talking about the printing industry for a second.
Mary Lippitt: (14:04)
You know, there was a time when people would say, no one, no one will ever buy a book without being able to go to a store, open the book and look at, you know, but nobody will buy the book. Um, and I will say that Amazon has such, uh, show them how false that assumption was. So the challenging mindset looks at business models changing the strategy, adapting the strategy. It also takes a look at what of some potential new partnerships that we should go after. What are the kinds of alliances we should make? You know, it’s taking a look at positioning the organization for the future. There’s a lovely quote from Mark Twain that, you know, if you’re on the right track, that’s great, but you just stay there, you’re going to get run over. And the challenging mindset is going to tell you this is, you know, an opportunity to continue to grow.
Mary Lippitt: (14:56)
We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. What we really can do is take what we’ve done well expanded, prepare us. We have to be an organization that sustains itself. So those are the six. And again, three of them are internally focused. The developing, the performing and the protecting. And three of them are really externally focused. The challenging, which is looking at the trends, you know, what does the demographic difference mean for us? Uh, what does it mean? You know, that the interest rates are lower than we had anticipated. All those things have to be considered. So the challenging, the inventing and the catalyzing mindset look more externally. And what’s really interesting is most change agents are looking at challenging, inventing and catalyzing. And we know that the success rate of change is dismal. And that’s because the change agents get so excited about their idea that they don’t listen to the other mindsets that people have. And again, a mindset is a temporary point of view. It is not genetic, it is not a personal style. It say I’m going to do what I think is most important. And um, historically we had something called faster, cheaper and better and we would say, you know, do it faster and then it will obviously be cheaper. No, not necessarily. So this framework in the largest, that faster, cheaper, better into a more comprehensive analysis.
Jim Rembach: (16:25)
No, but I think you bring up a really interesting point, right? So it’s, I have these six elements and as you were explaining them, I started thinking about all these different subsets. So I’m like, okay, I’m an organization and it was all as you, if you, if you still even thinking about that from a champion perspective, they can’t focus on everything. It’s just not possible. The whole, you know, multitasking myth is, is quite true. While we have to do a lot of things, uh, it doesn’t mean that we can focus on a lot of things. So when you start talking about choosing and choosing, which mindset, how do you go about doing that?
Mary Lippitt: (16:57)
Well, the first thing is you have to do a comprehensive analysis of your situation. And the term, the title of the book is talking about mindset, which is a present orientation. What’s, what am I facing now? But instead of having it be your mindset about myself and my own capabilities, it’s doing an awareness of the actual situation that I’m confronting. And so I would love to do six things simultaneously, but, but I know that I can’t text and drive, so I have to become aware of my limitations. And that’s not a bad thing because when I focus, I can achieve something. If I keep trying to juggle six things, I’ll make very poor decisions. I haven’t really analyzed everything and I’ll come across as someone who is a chameleon. First she wants this, then she wants that kind of thing. So we have to make choices.
Mary Lippitt: (17:50)
But those choices are not permanent. I think people resisted a choice because they thought, okay, this is gonna be a five year plan or a 10 year plan and what we have now is the speed of change is coming so fast that we could do one priority to time complete it and move on to another. There was a lovely story about the fact that if you’re driving a car, you adjust your position, your hands, your eyes, every nine seconds and you know, this is the rate of change and change is probable, pervasive, problematic and promising. So you know, the change is where we’re going to have new opportunities that we may not like the process of having to go through that change, but we’re going to have to to be successful.
Jim Rembach: (18:40)
Well, and I think as you said that there’s one thing for me that I think is kind of stands out as that I would rather be proactive and rather it be voluntary than be forced.
Mary Lippitt: (18:49)
Yes. Because by the time I’m being forced, I have fewer options as long as I’m proactive, I have more to choose from.
Jim Rembach: (18:57)
Yeah. That’s funny that you say that. My daughter right now is a, uh, in high school and she’s a junior and I’m like, you need to start looking at schools. I said, because if you don’t do that, because she’s also an athlete, I said, you know, you have to start creating relationships that you surely should have already been building. If you want a roster spot, you know that it’s all about relationships these days. I mean, they, yes, they look at the athleticism and you know, athletic abilities, but they also want to make sure they’re finding the right cultural fit. It’s become so darn important. You’re, you’re going to be left with whatever the scraps are if you don’t get moving.
Mary Lippitt: (19:31)
And one of the things she should be considering is getting tapes of her in action. I mean, there are things that she could do now to help her, you know, identify the coaches that she might want to send information to, you know, and maybe even look at those where she can get on the roster and maybe also look at those where she could get a scholarship. So, I mean it looks like it’s far off to just somebody, but, but there are things we can do now to position ourselves well for the future.
Jim Rembach: (19:58)
That’s right. And that’s just exactly what we’re talking about as far as, you know, really being able to, okay, now I understand this framework, uh, and then I need to go about the choosing process, but I need to master this. I mean, because I need to be proactive with it. I cannot be reactive. I’m going to lose choices and options. I’m going to be the one being disrupted instead of being the disruptor. And so I have to master it. So now it’s a master. You talk about really two key key elements. There’s probably more if they are, please explain them. But you talk about focal points and guiding questions. Explain them.
Mary Lippitt: (20:30)
Well, I think I w w I would say is the guided questions are helping us identify all the information first. Because what happens is the, sometimes we have an idea but we don’t really test it out. Is this really the best option I have? So the questions become a checklist to make sure I’ve collected the data from everyone. And again, one of my assumptions is that leadership today is about asking the right questions. It’s not about having all the right answers cause no one has all the right answers. The world is too complex. So getting the questions surfaces the data so then I can evaluate it and set my priority or the focal point. But then I can also communicate that focal point by explaining exactly why this is the most important thing to tackle at this point in time.
Jim Rembach: (21:21)
Well I think the importance here too is that, okay, so I need to learn this framework. I need to have stir start working on mastering this framework because I do have to decide faster and I can’t just decide based off of what I’ve known or even what others are doing. Because if I look at these situations, um, there, there’s that unique DNA that starts actually revealing itself and that’s what I have to work with.
Mary Lippitt: (21:45)
Correct. I think the only thing I would say is that the, I have to keep reminding people that a mindset is a very temporary thing. So just to say it, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s fun following what the current priority or issue is, but it isn’t a permanent label of what I will always choose. Uh, you mentioned that I lived in Buffalo, New York and it’s in a, in a hurricane over in Florida or blizzard in Buffalo, New York. You don’t care what the background, whether somebody graduated from, uh, you know, in engineering or someone graduated in art. If they can help you get out of the storm, you say, thank you. So the focal point is important because that creates the common ground that creates the teamwork that makes things happen. And it could be a very temporary thing. I mean I can, if I’m in a blizzard and I, I can’t even open my car door cause it’s frozen and somebody tells me how to do it, you know, I’m thankful but I’ve learned it, I’ll move on. So I’m talking about a mindset is a very, very temporary assessment of what is most important to do. But that temporary assessment is going to help me set the priority, which means I can focus and achieve the results.
Jim Rembach: (23:05)
Yeah. We have to have that built in agility. Right. Okay. So you all off, you know, through our, our discussion here, um, used many different co quotes and those are absolutely focal points. You know, they point us in the right direction and we really, you know, look at those on the fast leader show and share them a lot. So is there one or two they’re all riddled throughout your book? You’ve mentioned a few, but it’s are kind of one or two that stand out for you as focal points.
Mary Lippitt: (23:31)
Well, I think there’s one from Ben Franklin. I like that. Just something like, Oh, if you stop, if you don’t think creatively you, it’s like giving up your, your, your future, your life. I it thinking is critical to our life and it gets a bad name, particularly the term critical thinking. Cause it sounds like I have to be a cynic or I have to be, you know, poking somebody in, putting up shortfalls. But really critical thinking, you know, it could be as subtle as, would you want me to investigate this aspect of this? You know, and people say yes. So you can be very comprehensive in your analysis without being, you know, a naysayer or a problem child kind of thing.