Nov. 8, 2021

Susan Schwartz: The Journey From Expert to Leader

Susan Schwartz: The Journey From Expert to Leader

In this episode, Sarah Tenisi speaks with Susan Schwartz, Founder and Leadership & Management Coach at The River Birch Group. She spent her early career working as a project manager on large technical projects. Today she focuses on transforming professional experts into excellent leaders. Her book, Creating a Greater Whole, discusses this process in detail.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

●      [01:58] Why aspiring leaders should never overlook the “soft and squishy” skills

●      [04:43] How a technical expert transforms into a professional who leads with excellence

●      [07:43] Why Susan wrote Creating a Greater Whole

●      [10:27] What’s emotional intelligence got to do with it?

●      [16:04] Why those in IT are very much responsible for user experience

●      [18:00] The power of storytelling and other soft skills for technical experts

●      [25:45] The importance of having a team of people who are unlike you

●      [29:05] The evolution of teams over the last 30 years

●      [33:16] Creating psychological safety in your work environment

●      [40:29] Foundational knowledge versus expert knowledge

●      [43:28] How to delegate and set expectations as a leader with “TAG”

●      [49:00] How leadership will look in the next ten years

●      [53:23] Why Susan prefers the term “professional skills” over “soft skills”

Key quotes:

●      “A leader’s function is to motivate and to help people see the overall picture—to know why what they’re doing is so important, who they need to connect with, and why they need to connect with them. Leaders are coaches and mentors and they help you learn how to make those connections, and very often, it’s done by modeling.”

●      “Emotional intelligence is a tool that enables you to observe the situation around you and choose how you’re going to react and behave to that situation, because you can’t change anyone’s behavior except your own.”

●      “When you’re in IT inside a company, all of the users are your clients, and internal clients are so much harder than external clients, because they expect that much more and they’re less patient—so much less patient.”

●      “It’s all about continuous learning. Real leaders are constantly learning by asking questions and learning about what’s going on within their teams.”