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Melissa Shanahan

#209: Leadership Work That Matters: Building Trust & Emotional Maturity with Tara Gronhovd and Pamela Nelson

Listen Now:

Do your emotions and those of your team really matter? As an owner and leader, do you have a choice when it comes to uncovering the root cause of emotions? What impact can intentionally cultivating emotional maturity in both yourself and those who work for you have?

As you work on growing a healthy businesses, one thing that will prevent you from doing so is a lack of consideration for the essential role of emotional maturity. Melissa is back this week with CEO of Align, Tara Gronhovd and her Align leadership coach and counsellor, Pamela Nelson. They’re here to share how emotional maturity plays a part in deepening trust within your team, and the opportunity it provides you as a leader to enhance their lives.

If you value your company and those under your leadership, cultivating trust and emotional maturity are non-negotiable. Tune in to hear why prioritizing this offers you a great opportunity to provide depth for the people who work for you as individuals as well as for the dynamics of the overall team, how addressing emotional maturity is part and parcel of developing trust, and Tara and Pamela’s tips for beginning to gain awareness around how you can start doing so.

If you're a law firm owner who's thirsty for figuring out exactly what you're aiming for and making a really well thought out, deliberate strategic plan to get there, and then having accountability and coaching along the way so that you can really honor your plans, then join us in Mastery Group.

Show Notes:

What You’ll Discover:

• A recap of the four distinctions of trust, and why they matter.

• How we can begin repairing trust.

• Why so many adults live in emotional immaturity, and the 10 characteristics of emotional maturity.

• The difference between caring for your team and carrying them.

• How we can use emotions for our benefit in the workplace and with our team.

• The importance of learning how to show up emotionally grounded in the workplace. 

• The interplay between trust and emotional maturity in the workplace.

• 2 ways to grow your awareness.

Featured on the Show:

Create space, mindset, and concrete plans for growth. Start here: Velocity Work Monday Map.

Join Mastery Group

Join the waitlist for our next Monday Map Accelerator, a 5-day virtual deep-dive event.

Tara Gronhovd: Website | LinkedIn | Facebook

Pamela Nelson: LinkedIn

#208: The Vital Role of Trust in Your Business with Tara Gronhovd

The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Felt man

10 Signs of Emotional Maturity

Movie: Inside Out

Maya Angelou

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown



Dr. Tasha Eurich

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Full Episode Transcript:

Download Transcript PDF

I’m Melissa Shanahan, and this is The Law Firm Owner Podcast Episode #209.

Welcome to The Law Firm Owner Podcast powered by Velocity Work for owners who want to grow a firm that gives them the life they want. Get crystal clear on where you're going. Take planning seriously and honor your plan like a pro. This is the work that creates Velocity.

Melissa Shanahan: Hi, everyone, welcome to this week's episode. I am thrilled that you're here. And I'm thrilled that I have two remarkable guests on today's podcast. One you have heard before. Tara Gronhovd, welcome back.

Tara Gronhovd: I'm thrilled to be here, and excited to bring someone along with me this time.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, Pamela, welcome to the show.

Pamela Nelson: Thank you so much. I am always willing to tag along with Tara.

Melissa: Tara, if you just want to quickly give a recap of who you are and what you do for listeners who may be new, and then maybe share a bit about the second guest today.

Tara: Yeah, absolutely. I'm Tara Gronhovd, I own Align. I work with leaders and teams to help them work even better together. And Pamela is part of the Align coaching staff. So, she is a leadership coach, but she's also a leadership counselor. And we work very closely together with leaders and with teams, because a lot of the work that we do uncovers deeper work that needs to be done. And Pamela is better qualified to handle some of that deeper work. I bring Pamela into any room that will allow me to bring her.

Melissa: Yeah, I'm really glad that you did bring her into a room with us recently, here at Velocity work.

Pamela: I tend to be in those spaces. I tend to just notice certain things because of my background and doing one-to-ones with people, but also with teams. And sometimes there are things that arise within us. Especially you guys, you have just been doing a recent podcast on trust. And there's curiosities that happen within our brain, but also that happen in our body.

And so, they're just things that I'm trained to notice and help people notice within themselves. And sometimes those things even get triggered when we talk about trust. So, Tara, would it be okay to kind of recap what happened on the first podcast?

Tara: Yeah, in the previous episode, we talked about, Melissa, you and I talked about the Four Distinctions of Trust. So, we're doing some work with your team around trust. Pamela and I do these trust intensives, or workshops, to help teams learn how to work better together. But also give language to trust, because it's such a difficult concept.

And, Melissa, I think you have the definition of trust in front of you, because you've been [crosstalk] since we talked about it, would you mind reading it so I don't get it wrong?

Melissa: Yeah, it's on a Post-it in front of me. Trust: Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions. Which to me, I mean, when I heard that definition, my jaw dropped on the floor. Because that is it.

As a business owner, the context that I go to in these settings, because I think that's true, universally speaking, but as a business owner with the business, the business is this thing that you value as an owner. You've brought it to life. And so, when you have a team and other people start handling certain aspects of the company, you're choosing to risk making something you value, the company, vulnerable to another person's actions.

And I have found that extremely difficult. A rewarding journey, a worthy journey, like figuring this out. But that's been tough. And I know I'm not alone in that.

Tara: Well, that's why a lot of business owners stay small. That's why a lot of businesses stay small, because that is a challenging journey to go on. And to figure out how to build something that someone else can take, but also how to entrust other people with something that is so important to us. Especially when, the kind of work that you do, Melissa, is so highly built on trust with clients, building trust with clients.

So, the trust work that we do, we use Charles Feltman's book, The Thin Book of Trust, it gives simplified language for how to talk about trust in the workplace. And so, the Four Distinctions of Trust are: Sincerity; do you mean what you say, and say what you mean? Competence. I'm getting these out of order, but Competence; are you capable of doing what you say you'll do?

Do you have the right skills, the right authority, the right context to be able to follow through on what you say? Do you have the right talents? If I tell you that I'm going to spell check something, you might not trust that I'm going to be able to do that well, because that isn't necessarily my skill set. Right?

Pamela: Reliability.

Tara: Yeah, thank you. Reliability. So, reliability is following through on what you said you would do. Keeping your promises. The trick with reliability, is sometimes we don't realize we've made promises. So, there's unspoken or unclear expectations, and that can erode trust between colleagues and on teams.

And then Care; do you really take into consideration my needs when you're making decisions? Do I feel like you care about me as a person, beyond the outcome that I can produce for you.

So, those are the Four Distinctions of Trust. When we walk through that, as a team, with any team, it will bring up some really difficult emotions. It will bring up some challenging kind of worldviews and experiences from our past, that help us frame whether or not we find people trustworthy. And as a team, we have to get to a place where we can trust each other so that we can be effective.

Mostly, we talk about speed and ease, right? We want to be able to move fast, and we want to do it with ease. Without trust, it's not possible. Without trust, it's clunky and hard and painful.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve felt both sides of that. And more recently, because of the work we've done with you guys. More recently, I have felt speed with ease. And that's felt really good. I have experienced that in bits before, now it's different. I can really feel the momentum that feels good. Not like the wheels are coming off, and where I'm just trying to hang on. And I don't trust that things are getting done. I've been on the other side before, where it's just not that, it's not speed and ease.

Pamela: I wanted to piggyback there, Melissa, on something that Tara said, about it raises up emotions. So, I just wanted to clarify that emotions really are information. They are not always all true. They are not always all false. They're not always all good or all bad. They're information that we have to be curious about.

To say, what is this rising up in me? And why? Is it something that is for the present of what I'm experiencing? Does it have to do with the fact that I didn't have a good breakfast? Does it have to do with an old, former work story that's coming forward?

And it's my work to be curious about what's happening within me when there's a talking around trust. I might immediately go to a story in my head about a person that I don't trust. And so, I've got this person in the back of my head, and I'm thinking of them and the horrible things that they did to break trust with me.

So then, if ever in a meeting, or along the way someone says, “Well, I don't trust her. I don't trust her to do that,” whatever it is. Immediately, that person who's in my head, who broke trust with me, comes forward. And I am now lumped into that story. So, it just regulates our brains.

Actually, I've done this before, that if we hear from someone that says, “Well, I don't trust you. I don't trust you with that,” it's like our brain goes into fight or flight. All I hear is something muffled after that. And everything else you say is gone out of my brain. It's my responsibility to know that that is happening within me.

I do want managers and leaders to know, that is a really destructive statement. And so, it's really important to provide clarity around these four areas. That's why these distinctions are so important. Because someone might hear, “I don't trust you,” and you probably talked about this last time, Tara.

And you're not saying, “I don't feel like you don't care about me.” But, “You haven't learned how to manage your schedule yet. And I don't feel you're reliable to finish it on time. So, let's talk about the time area of trusting you. I do believe you care. I need to see some improvement in benchmarks, on your deliverables for me.” And that comes with repeatable, provable behavior over time.

And so, this is where we start to repair trust. “Because I'm starting to see consistency from you that yes, I can trust you to be reliable.” So, let's unpack that just a little bit. What questions do you have, Melissa?

Melissa: Well, first of all, I liked that you brought up emotions. We talked a little bit about this idea of emotional immaturity or emotional maturity. And so, I feel like you're sort of touching on that a bit. So, I'd love to hear more about that. And I stated before the recording, that I am familiar with the term, just through my coaching background and where I received certification and mentorship, which was this concept of emotional childhood.

And that, in a nutshell, emotional childhood is when you don't have the capacity, or you don't take responsibility for the way that you feel. So, another way of saying that is, you put in someone else's hands, the responsibility for your feeling state to be the way you want it. Or blame on someone, because you aren't feeling the way that you wish that you would feel.

So, I feel like you're saying just being able to get in tune with your emotions, so that you have information. Because you're saying that they are information, which I totally agree with, and is a starting place that's maybe imperative to do the work.

Tara: We aren't given language for this. So, I know that I'm a Gen X. Pamela, you’re Gen X. I don't know, Melissa, where you fall, are you Gen X?

Melissa: I am.

Tara: We were not given language for how to talk about our emotions. In fact, it was highly important that we mask, cover, cut off, our emotions to manage our life. And so, a lot of what we're dealing with now is recognizing emotions absolutely impact everything that we do.

And by ignoring or pretending like they don't have value, that they aren't information, that they don't exist, which is what I think a lot of us want to do. Like, they don't belong here, right? They don't belong at work. Leave them out of the doors, leave those in your car, and then come into the office, please.

It's not real, because we are emotional beings. But we just don't have language. And we haven't been given the skills, or really learned how to do this with emotional maturity. And so, you see a lot of adults walking around with emotional immaturity, because we're starting to honor emotions, but we have no idea how to handle them.

Melissa: And if you guys are both willing to talk about, a little more about in the workplace. Everyone listening to this, typically is an owner. And when they are dealing with their team members, the idea of emotional maturity… I am hoping that you'll go more into thinking, from an owners perspective, about how they can use this concept of emotional maturity in their favor.

But I'm really glad we're talking about emotions, because people don't know how to talk about emotions. Especially in the workplace. It feels like not okay. But from my training and background, which I wonder how what you guys have learned and experienced and been trained on and have degrees in, how it lines up. I think emotions are powerful.

You can use them for good. You can use them to get the results that you want. But not if you're not in tune with them. Like, you have to start to just have an awareness of what you're feeling. And that you can you can create and generate, on purpose, emotions. And so, I feel like I'm giving you two big things. Emotional maturity, I would love to hear we have to say on that. And then, how can we use emotions for our benefit in the workplace, with our team, for results that we want to create?

Pamela: I'll hop in there. I don't know how many of your listeners may have seen that Disney movie that talked a little bit about emotions, was it Inside Out?

Melissa: Inside Out.

Pamela: And it showed you what was happening in somebody's head.

Melissa: It was like a panel.

Pamela: It that was a total panel, and it had a control panel, and it had one person that hijacks the other. It was hilarious, because it was animated, but so, so real. Because one was trying to knock the other one out of the way, and one was bossy, and all of it. And then, here is this character who is trying to function. Sometimes I say, “It's me and the other six people in my head, as I try to go about doing my business.”

That is really common for everyone. And so, as we're looking at the functionality of using emotions, exactly like what you said, Melissa. Is that we move from “emotional infancy”, which I think is the terminology that I learned, is that infancy is really everything about how I'm dysregulated. And so, infancy has me crying out for help. It has me doing things that I can't do on my own.

But what I've learned, is that as an adult, I have a choice for what to do when those emotions come up. And when I learn that they’re information, I check in with myself. And sometimes that's done instantaneously and I don't really have to be aware of that checking in.

But if I, as a manager, am leading someone that I’ve noticed that gets dysregulated very quickly and checks out, or brings in a highly activated emotional presence into my team, then that's something that we get to learn to grow in; just like all of us.

We, Tara and I, love to do a Grounded Leadership Training because we recognize that grounding is the soil of how we may have shown up at a certain place, where we're at in our maturity, where we're at in our leadership. And in order to grow, I have to recognize, again, things about myself that I take ownership of.

So, I am going to, as an emotionally mature person, be able to take feedback, and to recognize I am staying in a place of perhaps being a victim. And perhaps you have experienced trauma. Perhaps there has been a former workplace where you did not have a healthy leader, like yourself, Melissa, or others that are coming into that place, and it has not felt healthy for you to be there.

So, you develop coping mechanisms to be able to handle all of that. If someone stays in a victim place that's not healthy for anyone on your team. It produces almost a post traumatic trauma effect on the whole team. But when I've learned that even though I've experienced hard things in my life, I can actually grow through trauma when I process it through with myself, or perhaps with a licensed counselor.

Walking through it outside of a workplace, where there needs to be deliverables quickly. Walking through, outside of it. My own training. A lot like how I would train myself. If I was on an NFL football team, I would not show up to training camp, if I had not worked my body or my mind or my spirit on the offseason. My offseason may be outside of work. But I take that personal responsibility to do the work that I need to do, so that I can show up the best for my team.

And that's where I move from being in a victim place to actually being a victor. And now, I have a resilience muscle I couldn't have had without that hard experience. So, I'm not going to let the hard experience define me as a victim. I'm actually going to use it to give me resilience, to be able to relate to people who have had hard experiences, and show them how you can grow through it.

Melissa: What do you want to add, Tara?

Tara: So, you hear that and if you've not done any of this work before, that might feel overwhelming, right? To think about that kind of emotional work for our team. Because we do a lot of work with teams and leaders of teams. And when we're working with leaders, and owners especially, because as you said before, that business is your baby. That business is what you're protecting. That business is important.

And so, you need your team to show up emotionally mature. First, you need to show up emotionally mature as a leader. So, that's step one. It's very possible that you have people on your team who need to do this work.

But I would say that typically when we get brought in, and it's, “Hey, will you come fix my team?” We usually pause with the leader and say, “Let's do some work here first,” right? Because it's possible that you are a very healthy, grounded leader. And it's possible that you have some work to do yourself.

Melissa: It's more likely that you have some work to do yourself.

Tara: It is. It is highly likely. Unless you've really been on your own journey, and you're hearing all of this and you're very aware of all of that for yourself, and you know what you've done. If you've never done any of this work, guaranteed, there's work to do.

Because, again, there is nothing in law school, there is nothing in business school, there is nothing in the Entrepreneurial Handbook that none of us got, for how to do this, right? We don't learn these skills. So, it's important that as leaders we recognize we've got our own work to do. And until we do, their, meaning our team members, challenges with their emotions are going to continue to trigger our own.

And when we can show up grounded and not blowing in the wind with however our team is doing, because we know that we're secure, that we're okay, that we can handle what's coming, then we can help them get grounded. And we can provide a safer space for them to do that. We can provide a place for them to do that.

And we'll talk here, in a little bit maybe, where I'd like to go, is also not taking too much ownership of it. Because I think that's the other place, and that's the thing that owners are like, “How much of this do I have to be responsible for?”

Melissa: Pamela, you're going to say something?

Pamela: Yeah. I did just want to give some signs, from a psychological point of view, of what an emotionally mature person looks like. So, here is straight from their website: They are flexible. That they recognize not everything is going to go to plan. And so, we can opt for Plan B or Plan C. I'm not going to get dysregulated if everything doesn't go as to plan. I get to flex in my mind, because I'm not victimized to a certain order of things.

So first, is being flexible. Second, is taking ownership and responsibility. I'm able to own my part, and responsibility that I'm going to grow from that or learn or be trustworthy, as we've talked about before. They know that they don't know everything. So, they show up as a learner, they show up teachable. They don't always have to be right, but they are willing to be able to consider another opportunity. And because they don't know everything, they hear other people's thoughts, they understand other people's strengths. And they're a better employee, because they are a teammate.

They look for learning and growth from every opportunity. So, a failure doesn't become a failure, they don't become a victim to failure, they learn from it. And so, they get the opportunity to be better next time. They actively seek out multiple points of view to help inform their own. We all have information bias. And I come already with a bias of what I think.

And so, when I'm emotionally mature, I want to get different viewpoints, I'm not threatened by them. And then number six, they stay resilient. And by the way, we'll put this in the show notes as well. And then they have a calm disposition. They're able to peacefully sit back and rationally dictate how to effectively deal with a situation and come to a resolution. And that's number seven.

Number eight, they believe in themselves. Emotionally mature. They don't have a false sense of self that's ego based and really diluted, but they are optimistic that they can contribute. And because they believe in themselves, they're not threatened by somebody's critique, or loving criticism. They're actually approachable.

They're emotionally mature and approachable to talk with people, not at people. And I love the last one that they have here. It says they have a good sense of humor; they can laugh at themselves. And so, these are just really great tools to say, “Hey, how are you on these 10 things?” And even a talking point for a coach with someone, “Where I'd love to see some growth, is in this area.”

Melissa: Those bullets are good. I don't know, the whole time I'm thinking about, “Oh, I got that box checked. Oh, wait, I don't have that one checked.” But I mean, the ones that I don't have checked, although it's shifting, and we… Actually, Tara and I just had a conversation about this today in a session. Is the first one that you read, or maybe it was the second one. But basically, you're talking about dysregulation happens.

Oh, it's flexible. Yeah, being flexible. And I have had a hard time for a while, about like we need to make a plan, and it needs to go well. And if it doesn't go well, why didn't it go well? And I get hung up on things. There's this hyper vigilance, on my end, that kicks into gear. And it's like, I don't know how to be a different way. I'm trying, I don't want to be that way. And I don't know how to be different.

And you're trying to be nice to other humans that are involved in this, right? And I struggle with that. But this has all shifted recently, which has felt really good. And no doubt, the Trust Workshop stuff that we've done with you guys has played a part. I can't see the direct links, but I know without doing that work, I would not be sitting here feeling the way I'm feeling. And I mean, in a positive way. About my company and about the team that is in it.

But something that Tara helped me realize, was that the shifts that have happened in the company have allowed me to raise my head and look out further. And I don't have a lot of opportunity to do that. It's like my head is down, and I'm very focused on the here and now.

And there's been some things, decisions, that I've made that has given me the space to sort of raise my gaze. And that has made it so that, somehow, maybe Terry, you can explain this, I am, as a byproduct, more flexible. The vigilance is gone. The hyper-vigilance.

Tara: Yeah, I think part of what you're experiencing, Melissa, is that you shifted what success looks like. And so, when you're super focused on everything going well, smoothly, as the definition of success, then everything is a threat. Everything that looks imperfect is a threat to that, right?

You making some really wise decisions, and we’ve talked about this, but you've done some really smart things in the business, that have led to the ability to be in this place, so I don't want to discount that. But you taking a minute, and taking time, or the opportunity to step back, look up, look out, has anchored you to something different and your focus has shifted. And now success is about something more than just everything going smoothly.

Melissa: Yeah, that's 100% true. But when you first said that, I was just thinking, “Gosh, I wish that wasn't the sentence, because that feels so hard.” People talk about, what's your definition of success? I did not deliberately change my definition of success. My definition of success changed. I didn't do that. I don't know how to explain that.

Tara: No, I hear you. It didn't feel intentional. It's not like you said, “I have an issue with how I'm defining success. So, I'm going to intentionally change it.” That is what happened, you did shift what you were focused on, how you're focused on success, but it happened organically. But I think having an awareness that it might be getting in your way can be helpful.

Melissa: That is the part that does feel like I have an awareness, based on conversations we've had, about how things have shifted. But I’m just in the shift, and it all feels good. But I'm not even sure why it feels good. But then talking to you, helped me realize why it feels good. It is the very thing that you just said. But it's like a byproduct of things. Like decisions I’ve made behind the scenes, the work that we've done with you guys.

So, when you said, so plainly in that sentence, you've shifted your definition of success, I'm like, oh, I don't want listeners to think that it's that simple.

Tara: A switch, you flipped?

Melissa: Yeah, because this has been a long road. And a lot of emotions, right? Like frustration, there's been highs, and there's been lows, and there'll be more of those, like, I don't think that's done. But something has shifted. And it is a result of all the little things along the way. And all the decisions that you keep stacking up, one in front of the other. And then it feels like I'm starting to experience something differently. Pamela, I don't know what you have to say here.

Pamela: I've been just like, chomping at the bit. What's shifted is your experience with perfectionism, which actually is really rooted in fear. I know you want to have it perfect. But what shifted, is you're no longer trying to mitigate from a fearful place. What success looks like, it doesn't look like this, or the fears underneath it.

By just having the conversation around even flexibility, for you Melissa, by just naming what has been hard, by just naming that you're on the journey, It all of a sudden lets off the pressure valve on this fear that's underneath, of not being perfect. And when you when you name something, that pressure valve comes off. And then you're 50% of the way there.

And because you're having conversations around this with Tara and others, it actually tames what's happening. This kind of mythical perfection that has to be out there for everyone's experience, for every team member, for myself. And we come into the joy of celebrating the strengths, of reality, of what we're doing. And along the way, are we going to improve? Certainly, but I'm not going to get hijacked if something doesn't go perfectly.

And that's what I hear you saying. You're no longer operating from a fear place. And you maybe wouldn't have called it that. But underneath everything, what we experience at the tip of the iceberg, typically underneath, if we were to look under, there's a fear there. And naming it just mitigates it and lets the pressure valve off.

Tara: I was just going to say, Pamela and I talk about this, really, we operate, as human beings, from two modes. We’re either operating out of fear or security or love. Like, fear and insecurity, or security and love, are the two modes. And so often, when we're feeling stuck, it's because we've we are unintentionally operating in that fear, or a place of uncertainty and insecurity.

Melissa: Right. I do not know how this is landing with listeners, but I know there is a large portion of listenership that has felt, or is currently feeling, weighed down by the things we were just talking about. Your focus on here and now, and things need to go right, and the details. And I think you have to do that for a while, as an owner.

You’ve got to lift this business off the ground, so you pay attention to every little thing. You have to train your people, and you're trying to get that right. And it is actually tough to be able to get out of that, so that you can raise your gaze. It's not impossible, and it doesn't happen overnight.

And I get all that, but I'm just thinking, for people listening, it's like, are they operating out of insecurity or fear? Yeah. Because they needed that mode to get this going, but they're still in it, and their head is down. And really, what they need and what the business needs and what the team needs, is for you to somehow, and there's not a recipe for this, is to lift your head, and, and, and. There's a bunch of different things that maybe come into focus when you lift your head.

Tara: So first of all, I'm a business owner, and I am there more often than I'd like to admit. This is a very real shared experience, if you're a business owner. So, I just want to say that. Please, don't let there be any shame. As Pamela says, “Shame off you.” Like, take that shame off, because that's real. Two, you didn't do nothing to shift, you were intentional. You have been intentional in, how are we going to get out of this day-to-day grind? You've been working on that, solving that puzzle for months.

Melissa: Yes, I hope that I am trying to really get across, it's one foot in front of the other. I do not have this path where I'm like, “Oh, this is the path.”

Tara: No, but this is a path for you. But I think there are pieces. You're in the middle of it, so it's hard to see it really clearly. But my guess, is there's a few pieces that we could tease out, that need to be pieces for most people, to get to that point. And one of them is to build trust with your team.

Because you can't let go and look up if you are ultimately responsible for every single thing. And so, part of that investment… And sometimes people get lucky, and they hire a few people and they’ve just gelled and it's great. It's really, really rare. I’ve got to say, if you are someone who was like, “I've never been a part of that,” that's actually more common.

So, part of the work that you've done, if I look at it from the outside looking in, you do take time for your business. You do work on your business. You're not just in the business all the time. And I think a lot of business owners, we all get stuck in the business. So, you are intentional in taking time, whether it's in coaching or working. I know that you have other collaborators you spend time with just thinking about your business.

So, you do that work. You also have intentionally invested in strengths for your team, to help you understand your team and help them understand each other. So, you've invested some time and energy into that. And then, you have invested a lot of time in developing workflows and processes to automate and make things easier.

So, you have been building infrastructure for this for a long time. And so, maybe that path is going to look different for different business owners, but my guess, is those three things are required for any scaling.

Melissa: So, the decision to invest with your company, and the work and time; resources to invest in that, into Align. And there's a couple other investments we've made this year or recent months, that it would be easy to not have done that. There's no guarantee, that when you make an investment, there's just no guarantee. I mean, I will show up to get the biggest ROI I can get out of it. I take responsibility for that.

But talking about fear and insecurity, it's like these decisions, it's a series of decisions that you just named. There was a decision behind each one of those things that you named, that I was not certain about. It was like, okay, I'm going to decide that this is what we're doing. And I'm going to make this decision. But is there fear? Yep. This is a big investment of a lot of resources, not just money. But there's fear and insecurity, but you just keep trying your best.

Like you keep showing up, keep showing up, you keep showing up. Even when you feel the dips, and then you feel a bit… You keep making the investments and you keep putting things towards it. I mean, we've had conversations before, like after trust workshops, and that, like, how do you know that this is the right team? How do you know? Like you were saying, the responsibility, earlier, you didn't speak to that yet.

You mentioned, Tara, that what burden should you carry? And so, I don't know if you could speak to that. But I had to really figure that out for myself. And you guys were a big part of that. So, I don't know if you want to speak to that at all.

Tara: Maybe, Pamela, you can talk about the that, and then I'll come back to the business owner kind of angst around that.

Pamela: Yeah. So, how you are measuring growth in your team? That's what I was hearing you say, Melissa. There's been a ton of investment here. What you’ve done personally, in growing the business and getting systems in place. To me, clear systems and communication says caring. It says, I care. It says I value you. If I'm going to have this in a family system, it says, I love you. Good communication says that.

And so, you are already modeling that for your team, that you are investing in them. And they will want to know what you know, when they know how much you care. So, that caring aspect of seeing them as an individual, of giving them the training, of allowing for space of conversation, is like step one. They will want to know what you know, when they know how much you care. It's a Maya Angelou, quote, I think.

Melissa: That makes so much sense to me. They will want to know what you know, when they know how much you care. Come on, that's really good.

Pamela: Yeah, it's so powerful. And we all do this. We never want to be talked at; we want to share conversation with. And so, when I know that you're seeing and hearing and valuing me as another human, then I'm willing to then listen and grow and be in it with you. You're investing in me, so I'm seeing that care.

But your role then, as an owner, as a leader, is to then cut it off so that you are not carrying them. Your care looks like one thing, but carrying them, that crosses over into codependency. That happens in any relationship. It's like, “I now am carrying you, and that is not my role. I'm going to give over responsibility to you to take this information, along with that base of trusted care to say now, ‘What are your action steps to grow emotionally mature? To be more of a trusted leader?’”

And so, you're putting that back in their court. And what they're seeing from you, or seeing you model, Melissa, is that you're choosing resilience. You're choosing that even though things are hard as an owner, and that we're learning things in some ways as we go,  I'm not letting those dips define me. I'm letting my coming out of the dip. I'm letting that help all of us, as a team, come out of a dip together.

We build those resilience muscles. And now, we have like a new story to tell. And so, I can say I was here at one point, but because I felt cared for and not carried by you, I've actually built that own resilience muscle myself. And that's where things get exciting. It's like you never waste a good crisis then, because you know you came through one before.

And we've learned and we've adjusted and we've grown through it, rather than let it demise us and take us out. So, I hope that helps define it in a good way.

Melissa: I wrote that down, from when I've heard you say that before; are you caring for them or are you carrying them? That struck me, as well. And I think sometimes it's hard to know the difference. You know, you're trying to discern, am I carrying them? Or am I not? I don't know. So, but I love that it's thought provoking. Like it brings awareness just by asking the question.

Pamela: And it kind of like, you can feel it, like the heaviness. You know, so I mean, you can feel, when you feel you're going up that mountain, you're conquering something. And you're carrying four people with you. Like, when you go hiking like that, like here in Montana where I live, you're bringing your lightest pack, your lightest shoes, you know, like all of it. You have your supplies. But you're not carrying people.

So, you feel it as a weight, as a leader. And so out of that, you then determine, like, here's what I will do to support you in your growth. And that could look like, I will give you a little extra time to work outside of the office, for some things that are difficult right now.

And we all just went through COVID, and we recognize that people's mental health needs to be talked about 100% more in the workplace. But there is that enabling, and there is that codependency that can happen, and we are asking people to grow and become emotionally mature. And that is okay to ask for.

Tara: Yeah, I think this is why, I probably said this already, but this is why owners avoid the work. It’s “I can’t afford to carry that, too. I've got enough that I'm carrying. The business is a heavy lift on its own. Trying to figure out how to make this thing profitable. Trying to make sure I can pay everyone's payroll. Pay my payroll, and make clients happy, and still live somewhat of a life myself,” like, that is a heavy lift.

But as Pamela said, when we are carrying people… And I see this. I see people make it black or white. Like, either, “I don't care about emotions,” their emotions, “At all. Like, I can't even know about them.” Or, “I'm going to like end up being a mother hen and being codependent. And not having a difficult conversation, because I'm not sure they can handle it.” And really, it's that ‘I'm not sure I can handle it’, right?

That's why we typically avoid that, it’s ‘I'm not sure I can handle it’, not necessarily that they can’t handle it. So, we end up pretending like this is a coin, and it's not. It's a continuum. And so, there's places in the middle where we can walk, as owners, where we can provide guidance and coaching, support, care, but also clear expectations and performance management and goals and outcomes, pace.

We can expect those things, it's okay, because this is a business and we have to be able to operate as a business. So, I think I say that, because there's probably people listening, who are thinking, “I can't, there's no way. Like, there's no way I can handle having these kinds of conversations or dealing with people in these ways.”

The truth is, you are dealing with the outcomes of it, regardless if you're dealing with the root of it. I'm going to mess up the quote, but Brené Brown, in Dare to Lead says, ‘If you don't spend time allowing for people's emotions, you will spend a ridiculous amount of time wasted because of it.’

And I'm getting that quote completely wrong, because it's way better the way she said it. But we can either deal with the outcomes of not dealing with the emotion, or we can just deal with the fact that people do have them, and it's going to impact us.

Pamela: Can I speak to that, too? That whole list of 10 things, you know, that I shared earlier, Melissa, I mean, that would be a great thing to put in your hiring packet. Like, here is how we experience emotional maturity in our culture. This is our culture of emotional maturity. Now, we have all not arrived here. But these are the places that we are aware of, and that we want to build into our culture here.

And, and again, I'm going to say that because of these last two years, because we felt like there was a whole lot more of life that we could control. And we actually learned we couldn't, that the emotions that were there that we pressed down, and a lot of work to press them down, all of a sudden, we didn't have the regulation to keep them down anymore.

So maybe, that's why this conversation is even more present today, because of what we've experienced the last couple of years.

Melissa: Yes, I totally agree with that. I also identify with what you were just saying, Tara. What was the statement that you made that I reacted to?

Tara: About outcomes?

Melissa: Yes. Okay, say that one more time. I think it was we deal with the…

Pamela: It's the Brené Brown quote.

Tara: ‘We either deal with the outcomes of their emotions, or we deal with the root.’

Melissa: We deal with the root. Okay, so we either deal with the outcomes of emotions, or we deal with the root. We've had workshops, and there's moments afterwards where I'm like, “Whoa,” just like you said, where I am like, “Do we really have to go here?” And not in a critical way of you guys. These are just questions I'm asking. Like, do I, as an owner, like, is this how this has to go?

Like, we have to uncover a lot of the stuff that people, everybody, has their own experience of the work and of the workplace and of each other. Like the dynamics. And it's like, there is half my brain that's like, “Can we just work?” So that there’s half of my brain that's like, “As an owner, do I want to deal with this? Do I have a choice?” And, you know, just sort of sorting it all out.

But the truth is, and what I came to, which, again, through the help of understanding this stuff better through you guys is, well, you cannot deal with it, we could just not kind of go have some depth to these conversations. Which are facilitated, and that's important, I think. Or you're dealing with the outcomes of it. So, up to you.

And I'm a root cause kind of person, I really appreciate identifying root cause. And so, there's that. But also, I didn't know that that was going to be necessary as an owner of a business. I did not understand this part of ownership, and the importance of getting the root cause and being able to have conversations. Again, I'm going to say it, I think facilitation is a key. So, that everything functions at a higher level, and in a much healthier way, inside of this thing that you value so much.

We're talking about the definition of trust. Like, if I value this company so much that, you know, and I choose this definition, choose to risk; making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions. If I'm going to do that, I better damn well focus on this element where I'm questioning, do we really have to go here? Yeah, because if you don't, you're never going to be able to trust this company with another person's actions. Like this is kind of goes part and parcel

Tara: Every person listening has been part of company that chooses not to pay attention to this. And I'm not saying that the way that we do this is the only way to get to this. I mean, there are there are multiple paths to get to this. And we find that our approach gets there quick, which can be a little scary. So, we know that that it can be a little bit scary to get there quickly.

But providing that ongoing support around it so that… I mean, in some cases, we work with teams, and it's clear that one or two team members is really going to struggle to get there. They've got some other stuff going on. It's triggering past work trauma, which we don't talk enough about, by the way.

Because we get so much of our sense of self-worth from work, we have significant trauma when we have unhealthy leaders or unhealthy workplaces that we work within. So, often this will bring some of that up, because everyone's bringing their past work experiences, right? So, you know, if I'm bringing in that I got the berated publicly every time I made a mistake in my past work life, and had really unkind leaders, I'm going to bring that with me.

And so, when you try and have a conversation with me about a mistake, or about something that needs to happen, I'm bringing all that history of humiliation with me. And now, you have to deal with that. Now, you can deal with it by just being like, “Whoa, she's sensitive. I'm not sure if she's a fit.” And then the next person is going to have a different set of baggage they bring.

So, you know, so you can go through people who maybe aren't a fit, who maybe haven't had the opportunity to do this work. Or we can recognize that in general, we're going to have to, as a workplace, upskill people when it comes to their emotional maturity. And really, that is the work. The trust work helps to give you a common language. But it also brings awareness where people might need to do some additional work on themselves, so that they can show up as trustworthy in that space.

Melissa: One thing that has become really clear to me, over the last month I would say, is that I've realized, I'm in a position to give the opportunity. So yeah, this benefits like our team, and the way that we work. And so, that benefits the company, etc. But I think there's something cool… I haven't really thought of like my role in this way before.

But there's something cool about it. So, for all the owners listening, maybe this resonates. That as an owner, you get to provide these opportunities to the individuals that work for you. Because, yes, we're having these workshops centered around workplace and company, but it is allowing people, it's giving them space, dare I say heal, like to heal pieces and parts of them. And me, too.

Like, I'm not sitting back and not participating. And all of us have the opportunity, through this work, to round ourselves out in a way that provides opportunity in every area of life, not just work. So, I'm humbled by that. As an owner, I haven't ever really… I know that I think like, “Yeah, yeah. We're providing opportunities and jobs and things like that.” But this feels very different, because of this work.

It's the first time I felt that I am able to offer depth to the people who work for me. And it's helping them as individuals, as well as, of course, the dynamics of the team and the company. But I think I'm still wrapping my head around that. But it's a pretty cool opportunity.

Pamela: It’s amazing when you can recognize that you aren't just providing a paycheck to them, but that you're bringing value. You're bringing value to their life, Melissa. And you're helping them to value themselves. And you're helping them to discover, like what they do really value and how they can bring it into the workplace.

But that's a John Maxwell quote, you know, “Everyday, what I try to do as a leader, is I add value to people.” And when you see your team like that, it's a game changer for those who want loyalty, for those who want to grow. For those who, you know, want to do that for others on the team as well. It becomes a whole culture shift that you add to one another.

Tara: We are humbled almost every day in the work that we do, because we recognize that that is the impact that we get brought in through the workplace typically. But we have this opportunity to do work that's going to impact and have a rippling effect on the employee's life, on their family. So, I know we both have really powerful, you know, stories of people we've worked with, who they will tell you, they're a better client, they're better parents, they're better spouses, they have stronger personal…

Because all of this is about relationship. Every single thing we're talking about is a relationship. So, how we enter into relationship with each other at work is not very different than how we enter into relationship at home, either. And so, there is a real impact. And I know I've quoted this, probably in past a podcast episode I've been on with you, Melissa.

But there's really compelling research that shows that our career wellbeing has the highest probability of impact on our mental health. Like almost two times higher than any other variable, is our career wellbeing. And the two variables within that, that matter most, is my role. So, is that clear? And do I feel good about my role? And my manager, the person who leads me.

So, we, as leaders, do have an incredible honor, responsibility, to invest in the people that work with us, and we have the opportunity to really change lives through our leadership.

Melissa: It's just so good. I feel compelled to say that, for listeners, I'm offering up stuff that I'm realizing and I'm learning through the work that I think really matters, no matter who you are. And like you said, maybe it doesn't have to be this specific path with Align, it’s what's going to get you there. But clearly, it's a path that you can take.

But I realize that a lot of listeners, there's a chance that people might have the thought, well, like, “This podcast has like turned into about Melissa and about her team.” But I'm hoping that it just shines a light for people. It gives them ideas for within their teams. And gives them some, yeah, some inspiration for maybe how to shift their thinking.

I'm very in this journey, as you all know. And I feel like I do try to make that clear to listeners. Like, I don't think I have stuff figured out. And that's why I'm speaking up about my experience. I'm speaking up because I'm in the middle of it. And this is not my expertise. And typically, I talk about things that is aligned with my expertise on this podcast.

But I think this is important enough that the conversation needs to stay alive. Because you can't have a healthy business... We're all here trying to grow our businesses. That's what I help my clients do. But you can't do that if this isn't a consideration as you grow.

And so, though I'm not the voice for it, I’ll offer up my blunders and my messy journey, and also have the experts on with me. And I hope that this just gives people a point of reference or, you know, a way to think about things.

Tara: Well, I just want to say thank you for being so open, vulnerable. Because I think it's relatable, right? Being able to share from our own experiences, allows people to connect with us in a different way. And it gives us permission to not be perfect.

It gives us permission to be on the journey, as well. To not have things figured out. To say, you know, I think I see myself in there somewhere. I think people listen to, whether it's your story, Melissa, or someone else's story, people listen to stories, connecting with their own experience.

And so, I think it's a powerful way to help people learn.

Pamela: Yeah, and people also tell stories. And so, when you think about, if someone asks you, “Tell me about your best boss. Tell me about your best workplace experience.” They're rarely going to say about that big sale that they made, or the you know, the big contract that they got, or whatever. They're going to talk about, “It was my favorite place because of this person who grew me, who saw me, who like championed me, who mentored me.”

And we do that as whole people. We don't just come compartmentalized; we show up whole. And so, it's being seen in all of those areas. And I'm guessing, Melissa, that you have a story, you know, like that as well. Like, you're here with the bravery to start your own business because of people that have been a part of your life.

So, you're continuing that. That this is this story that continues to be told, and will be told, because you're letting the conversation happen.

Melissa: The next question I have for you guys is, as we close this up. You know, people listening, of course they can get in touch with you. If they don't feel ready for that, or for whatever reason they'd rather just take some steps on their own.

What are some concrete things that they can do or focus on, that will open their eyes or push them in the right direction, that they want to be in, more aligned, creating more trust, improving team dynamics? What would you say are like, one or two things even? Maybe it's just one thing.

Tara: Maybe each of us can come up with one. You know, so grow your own self-awareness as a leader. So, there's a lot of different ways you can grow your own awareness. I'm going to give you two quick little ways. So, I'm kind of cheating and giving you two within one. So, what can you do? We talk about awareness as a practice, it's not something you are or aren't. You grow your awareness, and you have to be intentional to continually grow it.

So, a couple of ways to grow your awareness. One would be, get in touch with your own strengths, and really do a deep dive on who you are, how you show up, where your blind spots are. Assessments like, Clifton Strengths or Strengths Finder can help you with that. There are other assessments, too. So, that would be one.

And then, find some people who will be honest with you, and ask for some feedback.

Melissa: Peers? Mentors?

Tara: Someone you trust, who cares about you. So, Dr. Tasha Eurich talks about loving critics. So, someone who cares about you enough to be honest. So, it doesn't matter who that is in your life. Just start to practice. Pamela and I talk about a question that a leader we respect talks about, what's it like to be on the other side of me? So, get in touch with that part. Pamela, what do you think?

Pamela: Yeah, I'm going to invite people to think of all areas of their life. So, their mental, their emotional, their vocational, and perhaps even their spiritual life. Where do they want to be a year from now? Because if they don't start identifying what's holding them back, or developing new habits to change, or new habits to grow, a lot like what's been happening with you, Melissa, it will stay the same.

And actually, you can never totally stay where you're at, you will atrophy if you don't exercise some new muscles. So, a year from now, where do you want to be physically? Where do you want to be vocationally? Where do you want to be relationally? With people at work. With people at home. How do you want to grow emotionally? And maybe that involves spiritually, as well.

So, you know, set that intention, a year from now, with each one of those things. And then, what do you need to get there?

Melissa: So good. Thank you, guys, so much. I really appreciate your time.

Tara: Thanks for having us.

Hey, you may not know this, but there's a free guide for a process I teach called Monday Map/ Friday Wrap. If you go to, it's all yours. It's about how to plan your time and honor your plans. So, that week over week, more work that moves the needle is getting done in less time. Go to to get your free copy.

Thank you for listening to The Law Firm Owner Podcast. If you're ready to get clearer on your vision, data, and mindset, then head over to where you can plug in to Quarterly Strategic Planning, with accountability and coaching in between. This is the work that creates velocity.

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