175. A Formula to Navigate Change, Overwork, & Confusion with Sonya Shelton

About this Podcast

Ep. 175 – A recent study by Dell Technologies* reports that an estimated 85% of jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. This research coupled with the emerging and rapidly growing applications of AI, signals a wave of rapid change will be hitting the workplace soon.

If you haven’t already experienced the increasing frequency of changes and disruptions, the chances are high that you will rather sooner than later.

In this episode, Ramona is joined by guest, Sonya Shelton, the founder and CEO of Executive Leadership Consulting. Sonya dives deep into her transformative experiences at the Walt Disney Company during one of its most challenging periods, underscoring the paramount importance of clarity, vision, and purpose in leadership.

If you want to learn how to be a stronger leader, even amidst rapid changes and uncertainties, you don’t want to miss this episode.

You can view it on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/VrpEUR_K4dY


Action Steps:

  • Reflect on your organizational goals: Are they clear, achievable, and motivating?
  • Incorporate the 5Ps of Red Thread Leadership in your leadership approach to foster clarity, alignment, and passion within your team.
  • Regularly evaluate and refine processes in your team to eliminate inefficiencies.
  • Cultivate a culture where team members are encouraged to align with the organizational purpose and feel empowered to question and innovate.

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Episode 175 Transcript:

Ramona Shaw [00:00:00]:

This week’s episode is on the topic of Red Thread Leadership, a formula to navigate change, overwork, and confusion. My guest on the show is Sonya Shelton. Sonya has seen it all, from successful startup with brand new ideas to well-established Fortune 500 companies. Sonya founded Executive Leadership Consulting back in 2007 from her passion for partnering with leaders and high achievers to create a clear vision and build work environments where employees are fulfilled and completely committed to their organization’s success. So Sonya is not only the CEO of Executive Leadership Consulting, she is also the former internal head of communications globally for Walt Disney. And she did that job when this was a very turbulent time at the Walt Disney Company. And she will tell us more in this episode about how that was and how the environment or her experience as a leader during that time shaped and inspired her future career. Now, in this conversation, we talk about the importance of having a purpose, having a plan. We talk about the importance of aligning on processes, getting really clear on who owns which position, and then also we touch on passion. These make up the five P’s. Now, I said this really quickly, but we’re going to dive into each of those five and how they all come together in what Sonya calls Red Thread Leadership. This is a fascinating conversation. I know you’re going to love it. I did, and I could have continued the conversation with Sonya for probably another hour or two. So what you’re going to get is really juicy, really good, and full of nuggets of wisdom that Sonya shares with us. So, without further ado, let’s dive in. Here’s the question. How do you successfully transition into your first official leadership role, build the confidence and competence to lead your team successfully and establish yourself as a respected and trusted leader across the organization? That’s the question, and this show provides the answers. Welcome to the Manager Track Podcast. I’m your host, Ramona Shaw, and I’m on a mission to create workplaces where work is not seen as a source of stress and dread, but as a source of contribution, connection, and fulfillment. And this transition starts with developing a new generation of leaders who know how to lead so everyone wins and grows. In the show, you learn how to think, communicate, and act as the confident and competent leader you know you can be. Welcome to the Manager Track Podcast. Sonya, it’s great to have this conversation with you and to have you on the show.

Sonya Shelton [00:02:39]:

Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m excited about our conversation today.

Ramona Shaw [00:02:42]:

So, Sonya, we briefly talked about what got you started before we hit record, but I actually think your story and what inspired you to do work with teams and leaders and organizations on topics such as leadership and communication is inspiring. Could you share a little bit more what got you into this field?

Sonya Shelton [00:03:00]:

Yeah, absolutely. So prior to starting executive leadership consulting, I was the head of internal communications globally at the Walt Disney Company. And I was there at a time where nobody in my position had ever experienced what I experienced, and nobody in that position will ever experience it again. And what happened was we had a shareholder revolt with a member of the Disney family, Roy Disney, leading that shareholder revolt against our CEO at the time, Michael Eisner, working for a company like Disney, where they’re known for the best of the best in culture, but being there also at a time when it was the worst of the worst, Right. So it was like the company going through a divorce. As the head of Internal Communications, my charge being keep everybody engaged, keep everybody remembering why they work for the company, try to eliminate the distractions. And it was a really challenging time for me as a leader. And I recognized how I showed up, had a lot to do with my environment and the things that were flowing down to me. I then flowed down to my team, even though I knew better. And going through that experience, I just developed a tremendous amount of empathy for managers and leaders and everything that they’re facing. Right. Everybody’s always watching you, everybody’s looking into how you’re responding. And then I think, especially for mid level managers, you’re in this sandwich position where you’ve got the people that report to you, but then you also have the people above you and you’re being smashed in the middle. And I think that was a little bit of what I experienced. And so I decided that I could actually recognize myself as a leader and how to shift with the help of my team who gave me the feedback and then being able to see what else I could do within. The company and then also recognize that I could have harder conversations if I was out of the political structure of the company and be able to tell it like it is and say, what’s happening when I’m not an employee. And that’s why I decided to start Executive Leadership Consulting and also be able to help more companies. Right. Not just Disney. And I see not every company is dealing with some sort of challenge, and that’s putting pressure on their leaders. I think that’s especially the case today.

Ramona Shaw [00:05:10]:

Yeah. Oh, gosh. Just hearing the story from afar gives me goosebumps. I can only imagine what a challenging time that was back then. Now, with the work that you do and the clients that you serve, I can imagine a lot of these themes that you’ve experienced, including some of those that you just mentioned, with being in the middle of that sandwich of the mid level managers, or someone just has two sides to it and two sides to manage. What are some of the other challenges that you now pick up with the clients that you work with and see as common themes.

Sonya Shelton [00:05:41]:

Yeah, I think right now, what I’m really focused on and seeing a lot has to do with, again, the external environment, right? So I think things are moving really fast. Things are changing really fast. Doesn’t matter what industry we’re working with. We’re seeing the same thing, whether it’s nonprofits technology, consumer products, like, they’re all moving really fast, and I think technology is supporting that. Then there’s also this time, because it’s moving so fast and because of everything that we’ve been through over the past few years, there’s a lot of uncertainty, right? So I see these things with the fast pace of change and the uncertainty creating a lot of activity and people just moving and being almost on a treadmill, like running fast, but not really feeling like they’re going anywhere. And they can’t really see the future that far because things are so uncertain and there’s a tremendous increase in burnout and overwhelm. And so I’m very passionate about this right now in having people get really clear about what is your purpose as an organization and what is your vision, and keep anchored to that. So you might not be able to predict the future. Things might be moving really fast, but you can stay anchored to that. And that helps give clarity about what you should stay focused on and what you should let go. And that also having that sense of purpose can bring you the energy to break through some of the challenges and see that you’re moving in a particular direction rather than feeling like you’re on a treadmill going nowhere.

Ramona Shaw [00:07:12]:

Yeah. Okay, so I have two questions of this. One, do you actually feel that we are at an inflection point and you see the light at the end of the tunnel where we’re coming out of this post pandemic world and things may start to slow down and maybe the economic environment will be better in a year or so? And do you see that light or do you feel, no, this is just the beginning of an even bigger, more systematic problem that we really need to address because otherwise it will get worse over the next decade or so?

Sonya Shelton [00:07:42]:

Yeah, absolutely. I think because there’s so much going on, I don’t think the pace of change is going to slow down at all. I think what we’re seeing with technology and AI and all of these questions that are coming up are going to change every industry in some way. I read a research study by Dell Technologies recently where they said by the year 2030, they predict that 85% of the jobs we have today will no longer exist. And that was shocking to me, right, to say, wow, things are going to be changing super fast. They can see the future of technology better than I can. But to think about things in those terms and being able to build that agility and be able to move with the changing times and also not being reactive. I think that’s something that I see in leaders as well as in companies. Almost like when a body is in stress and all of the energy goes to our limbs so that we can fight or run. I see the same thing happening with leaders and organizations, right? Like, things are moving so fast and they’re getting under stress. They get busier and busier, but they’re not actually being productive. And so really being able to focus and say, okay, who are we? Where are we going? What do we need to prioritize? And then everything else, we need to just let go and really stay focused on what we’re trying to achieve. And I think that helps managers at all levels to be able to help their teams really prioritize and focus, too. Right. Because we can get pulled in many different directions. But whatever level of manager you are really saying, okay, what are our priorities? Where do I really need to see our team moving the needle? And really stay focused and let’s just let everything else go. And empowering your teams to question, why are we doing this? The closer they are to the work, the more they can see the value that it brings. Right. And so being able to empower them to question, should we be doing this based on who we are and where we’re going, or is this historical things that we don’t really need to do anymore?

Ramona Shaw [00:09:41]:

Okay, so I’m picking up that you’re saying there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. We better get on this. We better start more broadly and fundamentally question, what are we focused on? Simplify the complex, be really narrow and purpose driven in our work and let go of the things that we may like or we find inspiring or intriguing, but will make us feel like we’re spinning in that hamster wheel.

Sonya Shelton [00:10:05]:

Yeah, absolutely. I had a client recently where I said, let’s look at your goals. What are your goals for the year? And let’s see how can we align the team to the goals? They had 25 goals. I was like, how can you create focus like this? Nobody knows where they’re going. Now, those 25 goals were in buckets, but still, I think that the team was confused about what the priorities were. They just zeroed in on maybe their couple of favorites, but they weren’t making the traction they could have made. So we really just honed that in to I say no more than five. So we at least got them down to five. Three is better, right? That buckets of priorities. This is not down to the minutiae of the goal, right, but buckets of priorities, that how do we move the needle on these three to five things? Because things are changing so much. Your goals might change based on what’s happening in the marketplace, what you’re dealing with, but those three to five priorities can stay static. Right. Because you’re moving in that direction. That’s where you’re focused and that really helps your team at any level be able to have clarity and to reduce burnout.

Ramona Shaw [00:11:13]:

Yeah. Which is interesting that you say this, because I think there’s something about wanting to be really impactful, demonstrating value, especially for newer managers or people who are still having this inner drive to demonstrate to others that they deserve the role or that they’re doing that sense of validation and looking for that. It really makes sense to spread yourself across a lot of goals and get yourself involved in a lot of different initiatives and say yes to different things that you recognize are important to some of the stakeholders. I get that intellectually. Right. It’s just that we can see a few steps forward and how that’s going to play out down the road. And when just imagining a spreadsheet with the 25 goals and then something changes in the environment and now you have to go update the 25 goals unrealigned on that, then you know where the productivity loss may happen. Right there.

Sonya Shelton [00:12:06]:


Ramona Shaw [00:12:07]:

So I was going to ask you that second question actually ties right into that example that you just shared. What is a situation that you recall working with a client who really got clear on their purpose? Because I think that purpose, statement or vision, it’s something that we hear all the time, but sometimes it feels hard to figure out, if I’m managing a team of, let’s say five, maybe 15 people, how do I push the needle there and how do I get more clear on purpose and vision?

Sonya Shelton [00:12:34]:

Yeah. So we try to simplify it as much as possible. We simplify the process by saying, why do you do what you do? How do you deliver on that and what can other people expect? So whether that’s as a company, as a team, or even as an individual leader, we use the same model. Right. So why do you do what you do? How do you deliver on that and what can other people expect from you? And then that becomes a very simple way that people can remember what that purpose is. Because I don’t believe in spending six months of brainstorming and going through all of this to craft the statement exactly right. And then it just sits in a PowerPoint slide or on the wall or whatever, and nobody ever looks at it again. I think it really needs to be how you make decisions. And coming back to that, I worked with a client, in fact, this week where we created their team version of that purpose. And they said, we’re going to put it on the wall on our whiteboard. And they came up with one word, one word for their why, one word for their how and one word for their what. And they said, we’re going to create a statement around what that is today and then recognize that those statements might change, but those three words don’t. And then we’re able to say what they ultimately deliver is a better way of doing what they do. And so they said, we’re going to start asking our team when they come with an idea, how is that a better way? And that’s how they’re starting to shift the culture of their team. And so it’s really looking at how can you simplify things for people and make it memorable and really integrate it into what you do. And so, at Executive Leadership Consulting, we call it Red Thread Leadership. Right. So taking that purpose and running the Red Thread through everything that you do so that it really becomes the DNA of your organization. And it’s not something that is just a pithy statement that people can memorize and say, but it’s not really impacting.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:26]:

Their day to day gosh so powerful. Because I think it has so many ripple effects across so many different things with alignment, clear communication, that productivity, the focus, even in the decision making, we talk about the decision filters that we need to put in place, the strategic filters to use. All that then is tied to that Red Thread.

Sonya Shelton [00:14:46]:


Ramona Shaw [00:14:47]:

Now in that same concept, when you talk about the Red Thread, you also mentioned the five P’s. Can you tell us more about what that stands for?

Sonya Shelton [00:14:55]:

Yeah. So Red Thread leadership has five P’s that we look at. So starting with purpose is always the core and then looking at your plan. So taking that purpose and how do you create a vision, strategy and goals that is your plan for the future? And again, your vision and strategy not changing so often your goals might need to change based on what’s happening externally. And then we look at your processes. So again, going empowering your team to say, okay, if this is our purpose and this is our plan, what are the processes that we really need to do to be able to achieve those things and what do we not need to do? So I often see organizations will say, oh, we ask them about what does this particular process do to move you forward? And they’ll say, oh, I don’t know, but Maria used to work here and she used to like to see it this way or have it done this way. Maria’s been gone for the past three years, but we still do it this way. And because nobody feels like they have the power to question it, like they know the people that are actually doing the work, no, that doesn’t go anywhere or that’s wasted work, but they don’t feel like they have the power to question it and say, do we need to do it this way? And is this really the most efficient way? So the third P is process, and then we look at positions. So that’s how you’re structured your organization design and who you hire, how people are rewarded, how people are promoted is all looking at the positions. And does everybody understand their role is also a piece of positions, right? So does each person understand how their role connects to the purpose and the plan? And then the fifth P is passion, which is what we call culture. So are people passionate about the purpose in the organization and are they passionate about their place in it and how they’re bringing it to life? And then also with a foundation of trust? Right. So do they trust each other? So when you have those five P’s together with that red thread of purpose running through all of it, we find that you can grow much faster and that people are actually moving things forward in your organization faster than you even thought was possible. Because they’re feeling empowered. They’re passionate about what the company is doing. They’re passionate about what they’re doing. They’re coming up with amazing ideas and ways to make things more efficient, ways to make things more innovative so that they’re reaching their goals. There are clients that really put this in place, are reaching their goals faster than they thought was possible because of how energized their team is to make it happen.

Ramona Shaw [00:17:18]:

Yeah. Beautiful. And I can see even how that ties into change management. Right. In an environment where things change so rapidly, some within our control and some due to external factors, some are really quick and some are incremental. But when we have this common purpose or this thread and we see what stays consistent, it’s a lot easier to deal with the peripheral changes or in that mind, then the core is always the same. Now, any change, even if it’s fundamentally a relevant or significant change, it still feels peripheral because I know that I have the rope I can hang on to. Right. So climbing a trail, you always have the rope, and that rope will never go away. That rope is there. I think for people to then be able to navigate change makes it so much easier. When we know what are within that changing environment. What is the thing that I continue to be able to hang on to as a caring and driven manager? I know you want to strengthen your leadership skills, advance your career, and lead a high performing, engaged team. And in order to do that, as a leader, you need to lead with a system, not by shooting from your hips or reacting to everyone else around you. To do so, you need to first, learn what should go into a leadership system and second, develop your own. Now, the good news is that I teach you. One musthave part in your leadership system in a concise, actionable and yet comprehensive course focused on running successful one on one meetings with your direct reports. It includes over 67 minutes of Tactical Leadership Training plus a set of resources to make this as easy and immediately applicable for you as possible. You can either watch the video lessons or listen to it through a private podcast feed on your phone. You can get your hands on this course, which I want every single manager to have for a nominal $19 at Ramonashaw.com one. One. That’s two times the number one. You can check the show notes for the details or head on over to Ramonashaw.com Eleven to get started right now.

Sonya Shelton [00:19:30]:

Yeah, absolutely. I use the examples in our personal lives, right? We get married or we have a child or we move to a new home. These are massive stressful changes and yet we see the purpose behind it. So we just get through all of those challenges that come with us with it because we’re excited about what the result is going to be. And it’s the same thing with the purpose, right? When you get excited about and you’re passionate about where you’re going and your purpose and what you’re delivering, then those obstacles come, but you can just break right through them and it’s not so stressful.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:02]:

Yeah, and you said that. Something else that I thought is worthwhile highlighting, which is the example you used was not, we are going to put a personal computer in every home, which is a really big vision that we all know. That’s a bold vision, that’s an exciting vision for people in that field. But your example was on the topic of doing better work, making what we do better. And any team, regardless of the work processes, there is a purpose that does not have to be a big vision like Apple’s vision or Microsoft’s Vision or Walmart’s Vision or Whole Foods Vision, right? It could be something as simple as we are here and the purpose for the next 18 months is all about improving our processes and making our work better or simplifying. And that becomes that common thread. Did I get that right?

Sonya Shelton [00:20:53]:

Yeah. So it’s really more about what is their differentiator. Right? So for them, they’re actually building a technology that nobody’s ever seen before and so they’re a really small company compared to their competitors, but they’re driving on this. We have to keep remembering that what we’re doing is better than our competitors. And so every aspect that we’re doing and that we’re looking at is how we’re different from them and how we’re making things better. That’s their what, their why is around impact. So what that technology that they’re building is a massive impact in the world and so they can see that they’re going to be keeping people safe and that they see the impact that they are ultimately going to be having. And then their how is challenging the status quo. Right? So because we’re small, we’re nimble, we can do something different. We’re challenging the status quo to ultimately deliver something that’s better is the whole red thread and their purpose. And we talked a lot about how do they bring that to life in their culture, when is it okay to challenge the status quo and when is it not okay to challenge the status quo? Right? And in their culture, when can getting a better way or looking for the better way get in the way of them actually delivering something? Right? And so we start to talk about how does that purpose connect to the passion in how they’re ultimately operating so they can avoid some of the pitfalls in what they just created for their purpose.

Ramona Shaw [00:22:19]:

Let’s talk about these pitfalls for a moment. Too when you do this work, what are some of the things that if someone did that without a consultant on their side, what could be challenges that they’ll face down the road that you want to make sure that they’re aware of?

Sonya Shelton [00:22:33]:

Yeah, I think both for your purpose and your vision is really making sure that you’re clear about what it is and what it isn’t. Right? So as I was saying, the challenge, the status quo is how they do what they do. Where could that be a problem? So where do we stop challenging the status quo and move forward and come to an agreement? The same thing with finding better ways of doing things. Where do we need to let it go? Where is that point where we’re sending something out the door because it’s good enough for right now. We’ll continue to iterate, but we’re not going to get stuck in always trying to make it better without actually getting to a result. And so when you’re creating your purpose and even your vision, can you see it? Especially vision, I say it’s called vision for a reason right. You need to be able to see is what does it look like when you’re there? What will people be saying? And the Microsoft example that you gave is a great one because you can really see what that means, right? Like having a computer on every desk, running Microsoft software, everybody understands what that means. So how can you do that with your vision? Right? So have that level of clarity that everybody knows exactly what that looks like. And then for your purpose, what is it and what isn’t it? Right. So that you’re helping people really develop that clarity so that they’re not going off the rails.

Ramona Shaw [00:23:51]:

And I want to emphasize here briefly, we talk about these big company visions, but for anyone listening who has a team and may not have a say in the company, vision may not be in the room and this is being discussed. But for their team, you can start small. We can start with our own life vision, with our career vision and our leadership vision, by the way. Too right? And how we’re going to show up as leaders and then look at the team just within that sphere of influence that we have and start there and already have a pretty significant impact. And I assume that you see that in your day to day work with leaders and teams as well, that we can start in a small way and then inspire others, but at least do the work that’s right in front of us?

Sonya Shelton [00:24:32]:

Yeah, absolutely. And I use my experience at Disney as an example all the time, which is when I had my AHA moment and realized where I was as a leader. We were still in the middle of it, but I imagined putting my team in a bubble and said, okay, things are going to hit me. I’m not going to pass them down, and we’re going to create the bubble of how our team works. So what is our purpose here? How can we show up and how do we interact with each other? Regardless of what’s happening in the company, our team is going to be doing this. Right. And it really made a difference. I would say, just looking around in the company, we had extremely high engagement, 100% retention during that time. And it was really about how we said, okay, we recognize we’re facing challenges. We don’t have control about what’s happening outside of just us, and this is how we’re going to make it with our team.

Ramona Shaw [00:25:23]:

I love the visual of the bubble. This is what we create heads together. Let’s figure out what are the values, what are the principles, how we interact, making sure we do our job on the five P’s, like you said, the purpose of plan, the processes, the positions, gosh emphasize that and the passion of it too.

Sonya Shelton [00:25:40]:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s not about being siloed. Right. And that’s why I use the bubble. Right? Because we can still see out, they can still see in, and we’re still modeling that with what does the company need from us, but from a point of view of we can create our own culture that is different from what’s in the challenging environment around us.

Ramona Shaw [00:26:00]:

Absolutely. Now you talk about overwhelm, exhaustion, reactivity that you mentioned earlier of how leaders are naturally inclined to be more reactive to the changes that we’re dealing with. What is it that you would recommend to leaders who can relate to that may feel yes, it’s been a long time of me feeling overwhelmed or I feel stressed or I just feel like I’m in that hamster wheel. Where should they start?

Sonya Shelton [00:26:24]:

Yeah, I think that the first thing is why starting with the why do you do what you do? And then really developing clarity around what do we need to be focused on? If that’s our why, why we’re here, can we connect to that emotionally to give us the strength to get through some of these challenges, but also really getting clear about where we need to be focused? And again, empowering the team to say, no, we don’t need to be doing all these other things. And then I see this, especially with entrepreneurs, but I think it. Happens with anybody in a leadership position is some new idea comes, right? And then they go chasing that idea and lose track of where they were headed and they’re just running in different directions and not really getting anywhere. They’re getting a little bit down the path and then something else new comes and then they go down that direction. Right? So it’s really staying focused on something new comes. Of course. Is it going to move us forward in our purpose and our vision or is it just something that looks cool? And often it’s just something that looks cool and then on the flip side, when something comes in that’s a problem or a challenge. How do we solve this challenge through the lens of our purpose and vision? Sometimes it’s not even a challenge to solve, it’s actually an indication of something to let go. So I think a lot of times leaders are afraid to let go of things or to say, we’re not going to do that because like you were saying, they want to be successful and so they want to do everything. And that actually impedes their productivity and impedes their ability to progress, whereas really staying focused on those priorities and moving those things forward. Maybe you don’t say no, maybe you say not now until we finish this thing, then we’ll come back to that and really being able to provide your team with clarity. And then I think the third thing is really focusing on celebrating the small wins. So there’s a lot of research that’s been done around and I see this a lot. I mentioned the treadmill analogy where people are running so fast and maybe they accomplish something, but the next thing is already like three quarters of the way done and they’re onto that and so they’re not really taking the time to celebrate the wins along the way. And so it feels like we’re not accomplishing anything. So we’re just running and running on to the next thing and not really pausing and saying, look what we just did and let’s celebrate that. And even if it’s small, and being able to celebrate that along the way helps people get that visual of, oh, we are actually getting things done, we are actually making progress. And that gives me the fuel and the energy to keep going to the next thing, as opposed to I feel depleted from that thing, and now I’m coming into the next thing depleted also. But taking that pause to celebrate along the way.

Ramona Shaw [00:29:01]:

Yeah, it’s interesting, there’s a lot of great analogies with building Lego or structures and it’s interesting even though there’s little small bags that makes it bite size, right? So it’s one bag at a time and you recognize you’re moving through the numbers, but then also it doesn’t let you build something little over here and then something little over there where you’re not seeing it all come together. No, you’re actually always seeing how what you just did, if you tried a little tiny thing for an hour, but then you add it, you see how it starts to build. And I think sometimes we get lost in combining little pieces over here, little pieces over there, and then sometimes they said, should all be coming together, but we don’t see it. So this idea of always connecting it, even if it’s just through communication, connecting it back to how that was an accomplishment and how that adds to the bigger picture or the bigger Lego structure.

Sonya Shelton [00:29:49]:

Yeah, absolutely. And we have a template for team meetings and one on one meetings that we share with our clients. And the very first thing is, what do we want to and so what do we want to celebrate? That’s moving us towards our goals, our strategy, our purpose, and it changes the dynamic of the whole meeting, starting from that place.

Ramona Shaw [00:30:07]:

Yeah. Love that. And that’s a very tactical tip for anyone who listens, right? To say, hey, let me try. Let me ask that question in my next one on ones or my next team meeting.

Sonya Shelton [00:30:15]:

Yeah, absolutely.

Ramona Shaw [00:30:16]:

Love it. I think we could talk probably for another hour or so, but as we’re coming to the end of the time, is there anything that I didn’t ask or anything that we didn’t touch on that you think could be useful to talk about?

Sonya Shelton [00:30:27]:

Yeah, I think just looking at that concept of alignment as a leader, as a manager, how can you align yourself to the bigger picture? How can you align your why to the company’s why? How can you align your team to all of that? Really looking for it’s not a one and done situation. It’s a constant process of we’re going in this direction. Is everybody with us? Right? Is everybody moving in that direction and really providing that clarity and purpose behind what we’re doing and making sure that everybody’s on the same page and taking that pause not just to celebrate, but to make sure that everybody’s with you.

Ramona Shaw [00:31:05]:

Yeah, like the glue.

Sonya Shelton [00:31:07]:


Ramona Shaw [00:31:07]:

Tying it all together. Beautiful. Thank you so much, Sonya, for being on the show and for sharing your wisdom and your experiences from the range of clients that you work with. This was a wonderful conversation. I found it inspiring and insightful, and I hope the listeners will, too. I’m confident they will, too. We will drop some links in the show notes to learn more about Sonya and her company, as well as some of the goodies that we will share with the audience to learn more about her work and get something easy to digest and grab for free. So check out the show notes for that. Thank you, Sonya, for being on the show. This was a real treat, and I wish you all the best.

Sonya Shelton [00:31:44]:

Thank you. I loved our conversation. Thanks for inviting me.

Ramona Shaw [00:31:48]:

If you enjoyed this episode, then check out two other awesome resources to help you become a leader people love to work with. This includes my best selling book, The Confident and Competent New Manager, which you can find on Amazon or @ramonashaw.com/Book, and a free training on how to successfully lead as a new manager. You can check it out @ramonashaw.com/masterclass these resources and a couple more you’ll find in the show notes down below.

Reflection & Discussion Questions:
  1. Use Sonya’s why, how and what formula to simplify your/your team’s purpose.
  2. How do you navigate rapid changes, both within and outside of your control, while staying anchored to your organization’s purpose and vision?
  3. Think about a time when you had to navigate change, overwork, or confusion as a leader. How could you leverage the Red Thread Leadership 5 P’s formula to overcome those challenges?
  4. How do you currently celebrate small wins? Can you think of ways to incorporate celebrating small wins to help your team feel like progress is being made?



Grab your copy of Ramona’s best-selling new book ‘The Confident & Competent New Manager: How to Rapidly Rise to Success in Your First Leadership Role’: amzn.to/3TuOdcP

If this episode inspired you in some way, take a screenshot of you listening on your device and post it to your Instagram Stories, and tag me @ramona.shaw.leadership or DM me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/ramona-shaw

Are you in your first manager role and don’t want to mess it up? Watch our FREE Masterclass and discover the 4 shifts to become a leader people love to work for: ramonashaw.com/masterclass

Don’t forget to invest time each week to increase your self-awareness, celebrate your wins, and learn from your mistakes. Your career grows only to the extent that you grow. Grab your Career Journal with leadership exercises and weekly reflections here: ramonashaw.com/shop

Love the podcast and haven’t left a review yet? All you have to do is go to ramonashaw.com/itunes and give your honest review. Thanks for your support of this show!

* Disclaimer: Shownotes may contain affiliate links. That means that I am awarded a small commission for purchases made through them, at no added cost to you.


00:00 – Episode Introduction

02:00 – Sonya’s transformative journey at Walt Disney during a shareholder revolt

06:00 – The dire need for agility in leadership: Preparing for a striking future

08:00 – Proactive leadership: Aligning with the company’s vision and encouraging teams to challenge the status quo.

10:30 – The pitfalls of over-extensive goal-setting: A client case study.

11:00 – The importance of focus in leadership and avoiding the spread-thin trap.

12:00 – A simplified approach to establishing organizational purpose and influencing team culture

14:00 – The 5P’s of Red Thread Leadership: The backbone of effective leadership.

17:00 – The benefits of the 5P’s: Realizing rapid growth and fostering energized teams.

17:30 – Navigating change with a robust purpose.

18:30 – Sonya’s mastering one-on-one meetings with direct reports.

20:00 – The paramount importance of clarity in defining organizational purpose and vision.

25:00 – Staying aligned and focused as a leader: The essence of prioritization and alignment.

30:00 – Episode closing remarks

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