Chain of Learning Episode 14 - Becoming an Astute Political Navigator with Betsy Jordyn

14 | Becoming an Astute Political Navigator with Betsy Jordyn

Navigating Corporate Politics & Leading Through Influence

What’s your reaction when you hear the phrase “corporate politics”? Does it make you cringe and want to run away, or do you get curious about how to leverage them to influence outcomes?

Katie Anderson and Betsy Jordyn with Learning to Lead Leading to Learn book

In this episode, Betsy Jordyn joins me to discuss the essential skill of successfully navigating organizational politics. As a long-time organizational development consultant for companies like Disney, Wyndham, and AAA, Betsy’s expertise—and personal experiences—on the subject is enlightening.

Throughout our conversation, you’ll learn the difference between good politics and toxic environments and what’s at risk if leaders don’t prioritize a focus on astutely navigating those dynamics.

Betsy also shares valuable details about some of the more complex organizational transformations she has led, and how she successfully maneuvered within those political landscapes.

If you’re looking to gain influence and effectively leverage corporate politics so that you can lead change and step into your full leadership potential, then tune in to this episode.

In this episode of Chain of Learning you’ll learn:

Steps to help you master the critical skill of being an Astute Political Navigator — one of the 8 core Change KATALYST™ competencies –  to further develop your expertise as an organizational change leader 

A transformational framework to help executives and change leaders like you articulate your vision, integrate individual leadership voices, and align organizational goals 

How to effectively leverage political dynamics, avoid the trap of becoming another pair of hands, and increase your influence

The power in politics — how to balance diverse perspectives within an organization and  differentiate between good politics and a toxic environment

The essential roles of empathy, respect, deep listening, and function-specific language to effectively lead and manage change

Listen Now to Chain of Learning!

If you’re ready to transform into a leader who can navigate the continuums between asking and telling, advocating and inquiring, being an expert and coach, this is one episode you don’t want to miss.

Watch the conversation

Watch the full recorded episode on YouTube.

About Betsy Jordyn

Betsy Jordyn is a personal brand builder and messaging strategist. As a former organization development consultant for companies like Disney, Wyndham, and AAA, Betsy has transitioned into helping coaches and consultants find the voice to their vision.

Her mission: to build & transform consulting and coaching practices from the ground up by turning complex business ideas into clear, compelling, client-attracting messages and strategies.

Reflect and Take Action

Take the Katalyst™ Self-Assessment

As you can tell from this conversation with Betsy, many of the competencies of the Change KATALYST Model complement, support and reinforce each other, such as being astute political navigator, a skillful facilitator, an analytic systems thinker, and more.

If you haven’t yet downloaded my free Change KATALYST Self-Assessment, be sure to do so now, as this can be an enabler for your own personal development.

Then go back to listen to episode nine of this podcast to learn more about each competency and reflect on this episode.

Set Your Intention

What is one key takeaway of my conversation with Betsy Jordyn about how you can become a more astute political navigator?

Set your own intention for practice about how you’re going to improve in this competency and how you’re going to step into becoming an even greater change leader.

Work with Me

Need outside support for yourself or your leaders?

I love supporting continuous improvement change leaders and executives like you to master these skills to lead change and create high-performing learning organizations. You can learn more about my trusted advisor, team coaching, and leadership development programs here.

Important Links

Listen Now to Chain of Learning

Listen now on your favorite podcast players such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Audible. You can also listen to the audio of this episode on YouTube.

Timestamps:

3:43 – Navigating good politics as an organizational change leader
6:16 – Lessons in navigating both formal and informal political structures
11:26 – How to help leaders and consultants articulate goals and bring executives on board
17:48 – How to avoid the trap of being a pair of hands: influencing vs. executing
20:34 – Differentiating good politics from toxic environments
26:59 – The connection between Betsy’s current and past roles in leading organizational change and coaching consultants for growth and impact

Full Episode Transcript

Katie Anderson:
What’s your reaction when you hear the word politics? Does it make you want to run away or is it something that you run towards? Get ready to fall in love with politics, corporate politics in this episode of chain of learning and learn how you can effectively leverage politics to step into your leadership potential. Welcome to chain of learning, where the links of leadership and learning unite. This is your connection for actionable strategies and practices to empower you to build a people-centered learning culture, get results, and expand your impact so that you and your team can leave a lasting legacy. I’m your host and fellow learning enthusiast, katie anderson. Whether you’re an internal change leader, executive or have your own business, if you work with groups of people or with organization, you work with politics. Politics is simply the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups or other forms of power dynamics among individuals and within organizations. Being able to navigate and leverage politics is an essential skill for your success and impact. In episode nine of this podcast, I introduced my change katalyst model, katalyst spelled with a “k” katalyst and the eight essential influence, coaching and relational competencies that you need to become a transformational change leader, regardless of your official title or function.

Katie Anderson:
I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about how this model is helping change leaders like you really more deeply understand their role and potential impact. One leader even wrote to me to say that they had never thought about the competencies in this framework, but they can really see how having these eight competencies are really going to help them describe what they do and the impact that they want. I was surprised though that I got consistent feedback that there was one competency that a lot of people hadn’t been thinking about as critical to their impact and success, and that was being an astute political navigator. Today, I want to do a deep dive into this competency astute political navigator and help you understand how you can move from the theories around what this is all about into tangible practices that will help up-level your influence game and really step into being this transformational change leader. And to help me with this, I am invited one of the master political navigators and consultants that I know to chain of learning. Betsy jordyn is an accomplished entrepreneur, business mentor, and keynote speaker and she is a master astute political navigator. Betsy is a seasoned organizational development consultant with nearly 30 years of experience advising executives in leading change in world-class companies like disney, wyndham and aaa. And betsy has transitioned her od expertise into supporting external coaches and consultants as a business mentor and brand messaging strategist.

Katie Anderson:
Betsy is part of my own personal and professional chain of learning, as I have been partnering with her for nearly two years for my own continued growth and evolution for my business and my impact. Betsy and I started off our conversation with a question of mine about how she thinks about the word politics and why navigating politics, being this astute political navigator in my change katalyst model is one of the most critical skills to be able to master. Let’s dive in.

Betsy Jordyn:
So that’s such a great question. And politics is such a loaded issue, especially when you think about politics and government and that type of politics. But politics ultimately is really about balancing competing interests and finding value in all of them. Like, I think really good politics is valuing all the different perspectives because people see things from different vantage points. So good politics is considering the different perspectives that you are having. Politics gets a bad rap because of its misuse as it relates to the power dynamic, which I’m sure we’re going to get into. But just to start off with, the definition is it’s really about balancing and integrating competing interests in a way that serves the whole. That’s what good politics is all about.

Katie Anderson:
And tell us a little bit about how you came to discover the importance of navigating politics in organizations to really be successful in your role as an organizational change leader.

Betsy Jordyn:
I thought a lot about this because I had a feeling you were going to ask me all about this. And I have to go back in time, because when did I really figure this out? And it’s when I was first getting my job as an internal od consultant at disney. And so when I was applying for the job, we didn’t apply for it. We had to audition for it. So we were given this case study. So we were given a case study, and we had to present our perspective. So it was something about, something like a pleasure island kind of enterprise was trying to grow, and we had to create our perspective of, like, well, how do you grow in a certain way? And, like, halfway through the presentation, all of a sudden, everybody who was in my group interview, I didn’t know it was an audition. I thought I was doing a presentation.

Betsy Jordyn:
They all slipped into roleplay, and they all started fighting with one another. And I’m sitting there, I’m like, what in the world’s going on? Is this, like, a completely crazy organization? And I realized at that point, that’s what they were testing me on. It wasn’t about my od knowledge and skills. It was all about how do I manage the dynamics in this room. Disney at the time, I think now there’s like 70,000, 80,000. I don’t know how many thousands of cast members that are there, but when I was there, it was about 45,000 cast members with all these myriads of lines of business and a lot of high ego, high performer type. And I was taught very early on, you will not survive in this organization if you are not managing this relational dynamic that’s going on here. So that’s kind of like, I think the genesis, it became very clear that I was not going to get the job if I didn’t know how to manage that room.

Katie Anderson:
Yeah. So tell us a little bit about what you did then and what you discovered through your time at disney and leading change and other organizations about how do you really navigate the room and navigate both those formal and informal influence or political?

Betsy Jordyn:
Like, the thing about disney that was really great is people were really explicit about different things. But I think I always came into the role with a perspective. So as od consultants, like, your listeners are all continuous improvement people. We all get systems thinking. And I think that I always had this view of the organizational system from a people standpoint as well. And it’s like, really valuing all the different perspectives. I really believe. I think my passion around gifts and strengths is, like, everybody kind of has their role in the show, and everybody has to work together.

Betsy Jordyn:
So I got really clear. I kind of had that perspective to begin with. But when I first got to animal kingdom was like, my big client, know the leaders there were like, they were with the wild, wild west kind of people. And they told me straight out, like, if you use any of this od speak, we’re not putting up with this. And so I had to find a way to break in, to even get my foot in the door and get my seat at the table in every single one. So I had the process of how I was going to connect with each one of the executives. So I would listen in around, like, oh, well, you’re really interested. Like, oh, phil, you’re really passionate about this part.

Betsy Jordyn:
And beth, you’re really interested in this. And jeff, not jeff. I was thinking, jim, this was a different part of my world, but it’s like, I’m still remembering, like, oh, I remember your stake. So that when I was talking to bob, the vice president of the park, it was like, well, here’s the shared perspective. And also, it’s like, oh, my gosh, this is so helpful. You have a different vantage point, but then you start observing, like, well, how does work really get done around here? And there’s like, the meeting before the meeting, and who do I have to win over? You start to notice who’s the one that the leader actually turns to. And so it’s like, if I want to get this idea bought off, I have to navigate not just the formal business lines, but this informal power network to get like, okay, I’m going to get this person to buy in. Now I’m going to take that person with me, and we’re going to go get this person to buy in.

Betsy Jordyn:
Based on how the dynamics were actually shaping up.

Katie Anderson:
There’s a word in Japanese that’s called nemawashi, which really means tilling the soil. And what you’re describing as being able to navigate these politics is really that tilling the soil, priming the soil for planting the seeds of the ideas and the change that you’re trying to have by getting everyone’s perspective and making sure it’s hooked into what they’re trying to accomplish as well. In their language. You mentioned sort of speaking that language of their business, not just speaking your od speak. Or for those of you who are like lean or agile practitioners, like speaking our jargon, how is that helpful in also navigating this political structure within organizations?

Betsy Jordyn:
I guess I would have to go back even before my disney time, is that when I was working in the nonprofit organization, like I was working for nonprofit before I went and worked for disney, and I had the formal od role, and there was like this big change that went off and I wasn’t even really invited to the table. And I had this mentor who told me this really important thing at the time that I think carried me through every aspect of my career. And he says, nobody’s going to use the expertise the way that you want it to be used. They’re not inviting you. You always have to go and you have to influence them. So you have to be a proactive advocate. So I knew that part of my value as an od consultant is I see something that’s possible for them that they don’t see. And so they’re not going to ask me to lead something that they don’t see.

Betsy Jordyn:
I have to convince them, and I have to convince them in a way that’s in alignment with what they want. So if they’re saying, we want to create more collaboration around x, y and z, I have to have a vision rolling. Well, it could look like this, and here’s how you do it. Then I have to kind of figure out how I’m going to get them to buy in, and it’s not going to be selling my od services. So that’s one thing that an od consultant continues to prove in hr. Every single one of us, we want to get to the table and say, well, let me tell you how valuable my expertise is. Let me tell you how valuable what my area of specialty is. And the executives don’t give a crap about it.

Betsy Jordyn:
They don’t want to know about that. They want to know, how do I get from here to there. So you get them to articulate, these are my goals, and then you give that really good reframing, and it’s like, okay, now let me tell you how you can get to these goals. I don’t need to tell them my expertise. I need to demonstrate to them my expertise. And when they see it, then it’s like, oh, okay. But the credibility that I built is never, ever going to be around what your expertise is and getting them excited about it.

Katie Anderson:
It’s not that technical side. Right. It’s about that influence and how you’re truly leading the change in all these dimensions. As you continue to grow in your seniority and your experience in leading change, what are some of the key things that you learned to really help you be more effective in doing just the things that you’re describing to get the leaders on board and navigate those political dynamics?

Betsy Jordyn:
The number one thing is that you let the agenda emerge and then you align. So, like the biggest projects that I did, my last job when I was at disney, I was responsible for helping. Well, actually, it didn’t turn out to be that way. There was this work session that I was leading for the operations executives. So I’ll use it as an example. So I was leading this work session, and they were saying, we really need to do something for the frontline managers, and we haven’t done anything for them for a while. We really need to invest in them. We need to do something to develop them.

Betsy Jordyn:
And somebody said that, and then somebody else was like, well, we should really do something for the guests. We haven’t done something for the guests. And so they started having these conversations. So we stopped the work session at that moment, and the decision was, it’s like, well, I’m going to go talk to every single one of these leaders and find out, well, what’s their vantage point? What do they think? What is it that they want? And I still remember every one of these conversations because I remember every single leader’s perspective. Jim wanted to go back to the basics, and then I had kevin, who was all about the frontline, and reggie was all about storytelling or wherever they were at. And I triangulated between where everybody said that they wanted, and we labeled it customer and employee engagement, and that’s our north star. So I used that analogy of the blind men and the elephant, and it’s like. And I went back to this, and I presented, this is what you want.

Betsy Jordyn:
And then I remembered. Remember, reggie, you said this. This is this part. Remember, you said this? And I said, every single person. And it was the first time. First off, I got the entire operations executive team, all the parks leaders, all the line of business leaders, to give up everything that they were doing individually, to help the guests and the cast and the leaders to stop doing it and agree to work on it together, and to retire the seven service guidelines, which was something that was in the sacred cow of the organization. I got it done within two weeks. That’s my biggest claim to fame, and it’s because I remembered, and I always went back to it in every subsequent work session.

Betsy Jordyn:
I never, ever forgot what any leader, and this was like. Initiative was 20 years ago. I still remember what every single one of those leaders told me, and I integrated it, and I found the through line.

Katie Anderson:
You heard them and integrated their voices. To take all the pieces and put it together as one, to align together, that’s so transformational. And it didn’t sound like you were railroading your vision, but you still got to the end result that you wanted and saw was important for the organization.

Betsy Jordyn:
As well, because I heard it from them. I didn’t have the agenda. The agenda was I created a bigger vision out of all those pieces. So my vision, I’m very clear on my role as an od consultant. There’s the leader, and I’m at the right hand. And I never, ever get confused between that. It’s my job is to help that leader. But what I do is I get the leader to articulate it.

Betsy Jordyn:
Sometimes it’s implicit in their head, or I get a leadership team to articulate it, then I’ll use my od expertise to say, now, this is how you’re going to get there.

Katie Anderson:
That is such an important thing you highlighted here. And what I observe sometimes is a sticking point for people in particular who are in internal consulting types of roles, regardless of it’s an organizational development role, lean or continuous improvement coach or consultant, where sometimes you end up owning the work or the doing or the direction, rather than being the one that’s partnered with the leaders to leading their change. Talk to me about what you’ve observed about that impact, if internal change leaders and whatever your function is, are taking over the doing versus being that sort of the right hand person to help influence the change, I think the second.

Betsy Jordyn:
That you cross over that line, you’re no longer a consultant. So you kind of picture it like on a continuum. So the leader’s job is to set the expectations, to clarify goals and that kind of thing. It’s up to the consultant to clarify the process. So the content is owned by the leader, the process is owned by the consultant. The leader knows what they want to accomplish. And anytime a consultant says, well, they don’t really know we have to offer that, that’s not really true. It’s their business, their performance review, their bonuses, everything is tied to it.

Betsy Jordyn:
They have a vision. They just might not be able to articulate it. But everybody has a vision, everybody has a goal. It’s my job to draw it out of them, help frame it up for them. And that’s why I think sometimes my credibility as a facilitator was really strong as I know how to sort and organize ideas and say, all right, here’s what you’re all about now, given that. Because then they’re like, yeah, that’s what I want now, given that. Now let me tell you, based on my expertise that you don’t have, you’re an expert in running your business. You’re not an expert in how to efficiently effectively lead a change initiative.

Betsy Jordyn:
So I’m going to tell you how to get there in the best way possible. But I already established my credibility by helping them articulate. Think about an executive and executive team. They’ve got 1000 thoughts on their minds. Executive teams, they’re all over the map. If you could have someone rally them and say, here’s the common rallying cry, you’re golden. But it’s not like for me to push in and say, well, I want you to have a customer first organization. Let’s say that I had that as a vision.

Betsy Jordyn:
That’s not my job. My job is to get them to articulate it. Now I’m going to hook what I’m going to suggest to that outcome.

Katie Anderson:
Such a powerful and important distinction for all of us who are in consulting types of roles, regardless if you’re internal or external, defining who is the owner of the results and the work and who is the coach, the facilitator, the influencer, the shaper, to hold the space for that to happen. One of the things you and I have talked about too is how internal or external consultants also sometimes fall into the trap of being a pair of hands, so that doing the work, and this is very linked to that driving your vision forward. But how do you help people on your team? Or how did you make this shift, too, from not falling into that trap of being a pair of hands, but really staying in that influence coaching consulting role?

Betsy Jordyn:
So I think that there was a difference between me as an od consultant versus a continuous improvement leader or an hr leader or somebody else or a learning and development leader. When you think about, like, a continuous improvement leader, you actually have some day to day responsibilities relative to process improvements and efficiencies and all of that kind of stuff. Hr leaders have some responsibilities as it relates to hiring people, performance management and all of that. As an od consultant, I never had any official responsibilities. Everything I did was sort of like, it’s optional. Everything in my career, when I think about my entire career, I’ve always made up my jobs. I’ve always seen something. So I’ve always been an entrepreneur.

Betsy Jordyn:
So I kind of had that as a protection that others wouldn’t have. But there’s a lot of people that I would say is the pair of hands trap, which would be like a leader saying, hey, I want you to design and facilitate this work session. And I don’t know, when I figured out, it seemed like early on, it’s like, that’s really a cool idea. But before we get into that, let’s back up and talk about the business, because I believe training is often necessary, rarely sufficient. There’s many things that they may ask for, and it’s like, well, that’s not going to get you to your goal. And I don’t know where the courage comes from. It’s just like, but that’s not going to get you to the goal. Let’s talk about it, because I’m passionate about helping you achieve your goal.

Betsy Jordyn:
So I know this is not going to work, but a lot of people get stuck on the pair of hands trap because it’s more vulnerable in some ways. To say, my entire value is based on my influence. It’s easier to say, well, let me deliver this, because I feel it’s more tangible or it feels more sticky. But I still think that the person who is at the head of the room with the flip chart and the marker, the person who runs the flip chart and the marker rules the room. And so I think we underestimate the value of influence and we go for safety, which is like, well, I tangibly delivered this workshop for you. I tangibly delivered this, so it’s easier to stay in that place.

Katie Anderson:
Yes. And again, we’ve talked about how do you make this shift to the sort of official role and responsibility of your defined job title or position. But these influence skills are the ones that really will help you step into your potential as truly a transformational leader in whatever your field is as well. So it’s about mastering those skills. I want to go back to where we started with some of the discussion around politics. And you mentioned the word power and power dynamics. And sometimes this is a reason why maybe politics gets a bad rap. Let’s dive into that.

Katie Anderson:
What do you see of the role of power as it relates to politics?

Betsy Jordyn:
Politics and power all go together, but it’s like you could look at it in the good side and the bad side. Power is the ability to act. It’s all about like I have the ability to act. That’s what power is. And so depends on what you’re acting on behalf of. So you could say that there’s good power, like there’s power with, and then there’s bad power, which is the power over. When you think about every organization, like you put things on like two sides, like good politics, bad politics, good politics is every organization, every organization is dysfunctional. 100%.

Betsy Jordyn:
Every single organization is dysfunctional. But not every organization is toxic. So when you think about a dysfunctional organization, good politics is managing like everybody has certain part of the power that they are responsible for your delegated power. Maybe the ceo is responsible for everything, but they delegate power in order for the different business lines to act. And so good politics is understanding that there’s value in the different perspectives. Like you need the finances, bottom line, check that kind of number kind of perspective to balance out with hr’s idealism. You need marketings like creative, out of the box to be balanced with operations and what they actually can deliver, especially between sales and operations. That’s a huge conflict point.

Betsy Jordyn:
You could see where all the conflict points are naturally going to emerge out of the business lines. You could see where sometimes, like it could be a friend of operations and it could sometimes be not a friend. You could see all of that. And so good politics is balancing all those perspectives. It’s one body with many parts. And sometimes the many parts don’t always know that the body is going in that particular direction. Now, toxic organizations, that’s a completely different scenario. Toxic is when you have leaders who go with power over where they look at people as utilitarian means to an end.

Betsy Jordyn:
That’s toxic. If you have a narcissistic leader at the top where it’s like, it’s all about them. They gaslight everybody. They don’t really care about anybody’s opinion. You can see how the c suite makes decisions of how toxic the organization is because that’s going to carry all the way through. So being a astute political navigator, there’s not much you could do with toxic. I’ve had, like, as an external consultant, I would not say disney was a normally dysfunctional organization in the best way possible. I’ve had some clients as an external consultant, which is so awful that there was no hope outside of just changing out the entire leadership team, which is what happened.

Betsy Jordyn:
I did this assessment where I swear, it was not facilitating focus groups, it was grief groups. The leadership and operating practices were so awful, but there was no other option. I had no other recommendation. As you just got to, like, there were suicides in the workplace. It was that bad.

Katie Anderson:
Oh, my goodness.

Betsy Jordyn:
So it’s like toxic. There’s no other choice here. But in normal politics, it’s okay that they don’t see eye to eye. It’s the beauty of what we do as these other people is we can harmonize them, and we could bring them both together and say, all of it’s valuable, and that’s our role. And so that’s not bad. It’s not bad that people see things different. It’s like you bring them together and it’s, wow. Like, I think about some of the amazing initiatives that I help lead at disney with very diverse perspectives, and it’s like it became so much better because of that.

Betsy Jordyn:
So it’s like it’s respecting all of them. But you could see anytime an organization like, we’re a sales driven organization, you could see the specific form and shape their dysfunctions are going to come. The sales organization is going to get everything. They’re going to be the favorite child. Operations is not going to be all that important because they look like a cost center. It, forget about them. They’re the redheaded stepchildren. And then you could see the flip side is we’re just an efficient organization.

Betsy Jordyn:
It’s like, well, forget sales and marketing. They’re going to be the red hat to stepchildren. So you can see where that is. And so you can come in as a consultant, advisor, and somebody who could help. And now we have this beautiful way where we can help them bring that balance. But the toxic and the power over, there’s nothing you can do.

Katie Anderson:
You can only influence so much with that type of leadership, which is not much at all. What’s a risk if leaders or internal change agents don’t really understand how to navigate either these informal or formal political structures for their effectiveness?

Betsy Jordyn:
You take the best idea with the best project plan with the most talented people, and it will be eaten every single day for lunch by politics. Your ideas are going to go nowhere. I mean, you’re going to be stalled out. Your ideas will be stalled out. You won’t be able to get anything done. Nobody gets anything done outside of politics in an organization. You just have to be much more aware of it and accepting. So anybody says, I don’t want to work in an organization.

Betsy Jordyn:
With politics, it’s like, well, then you should just sit at home, don’t even work for anybody else, because there’s always going to be politics. There’s always going to be different perspectives. And balancing the perspectives is a good thing. You’re getting nowhere.

Katie Anderson:
Absolutely. I mean, an organization is made of people and the dynamics with people have a political dimension to it. So everyone figure out how to start stepping into your potential to really understand how to be this astute political navigator. And it’s going to dramatically increase your effectiveness in whatever your function is. And even if you’re an executive or a functional leader too, it is critical to be able to navigate those politics as well. I want to make a shift, betsy, because you and I have been working together for almost two years now, but in a different way. I think one of the reasons we connected so well is because of your experience in working with large, complex organizations and leading change and with this learning perspective and mindset as well. But you’ve been helping me as a brand consultant, as a business mentor.

Katie Anderson:
And one of the ways you work is helping people like me, who have their own companies and organizations, really help to be more impactful. So I’m really curious about how you see this connection between what you do now as a branding strategist and business mentor, with your past roles in leading organizational change.

Betsy Jordyn:
To be a stupid political navigator is the same thing that you need to have a really good brand, and it really begins with empathy and respect and appreciation of where everybody’s at. So I wound up as an od consultant. I started my own consulting business, and then people started asking me like, well, how did you do that? And then they started getting really curious about mike because I talk a lot about strengths and really leading with your strengths. But I also talked about how I navigate organizations and the relationship. And then I always would love branding, ever since I worked at the animal kingdom and I was part of that rebranding project. But I think that what makes me successful as a brand consultant for consultants and coaches, particularly those who are working in organizations, is the depth of the understanding and empathy of all the different business lines and the value that I have I can get inside their heads. So I always teach people from a branding side and from a marketing side. You begin with your ideal client and figure out who they are.

Betsy Jordyn:
Lots of consultants think that I work with this ceo. I’m like unrealistic. You might eventually get to the ceo, but no ceo is sitting there on the computer looking for a consultant like you. They’re going to look to somebody else on the team and who’s that person and what’s their stake? Based on where they sit in the organization, they’ll have a different stake. And how do you adapt your language to that person? So if I were talking to an operations person, I would be talking a lot about, I could take the same expertise, I could help you get your front line to be delivering on the customer expectations and doing it in a way that’s efficiently and you can get work done. But if I were talking to the marketing department, it’s like I’m going to help your frontline really live the brand and fulfill the brand and fulfill what it’s all about. It’s just adapting your language. That’s what I did as an internal consultant, that’s what I did as an external consultant and that is what I do as a brand person.

Betsy Jordyn:
It’s all about speaking the language. But even as I was describing what I suggest with leaders, it’s the same stuff that you and I work on with your proposals. Get the leader to articulate their goals, why they’re important. It’s the same thing I do as a business mentor and helping people land work. It’s the same thing if you want to get them to buy know to a bigger project, but it’s still pivoting from they may ask you like, oh katie, you’re amazing, come in and do our workshop. And you’re like that is awesome. But before we get into this workshop, let’s back up and talk about what’s going on in the business.

Katie Anderson:
That is such critical advice for everyone listening, not only if you have your own business, but also if you are internal and you’re trying to get your leaders on board and not just responding to what they think is the format of the intervention that they need or the support that they need, but getting back to what are their goals and then your secret sauce is figuring out what the right process is to get them to those goals. And so being able to shift our thinking on that is so valuable for no matter who your client is or internal, external and what your outcome is. What are some other tips going on that theme about how to get leaders buy in? Or maybe it’s not even buy-in. Let’s build on what you said about what is their goal, and then how you can structure and sort of navigate that sort of one-to-one, almost political dynamic about how you engage in that discussion with a leader about what they think they might need, but what you actually know is going to serve them in a different way.

Betsy Jordyn:
There’s a different side. Like how do you respond and how do you proactively advocate when it comes to how to improve the organization from a continuous improvement or transformational change standpoint? Whatever methodology or whatever they ask you for, the client is 100% of the time wrong. They’re always wrong, not because they’re bad, but because they just don’t know. So the executive that you might be working with, it says, hey, come in and do this process improvement workshop. And it’s like, well, it could work because they’re like, oh, it worked this last time. So the way they think is, I have a problem, they shoot it through. Here’s a solution I’m going to ask you. And so your job at that moment is, I’m assuming whatever they’re asking for is wrong because they’re not looking at the system.

Betsy Jordyn:
They’re not a system thinker like I am. They don’t see all the parts and they don’t really know necessarily. And we haven’t triangulated what everybody’s thinking. So you have to always say, awesome information. Do the validation, always do the empathy and validation. So what I heard you said is, you really love my workshops and I’m amazing, and I’m pretending they’re coming to you. You really love the way my positivity and the way I speak. But before we get into that, thank you so much.

Betsy Jordyn:
I love that compliment. Before we get into it, let’s back up. And you want to get them to articulate not the methodology. You don’t want to delve into whatever it is they ask for. You want them to get them to talk about the business. When you do that, from a stakeholder management standpoint, every single time I get into a new client system, when I was an internal or external consultant, my first order up for bids, it was always a stakeholder kind of conversation. And I would do sort of like what I do teach now in a discovery meeting. I’ll teach there.

Betsy Jordyn:
And I did it. There is. Ask them, what are your goals? Why do they matter? What’s the business impact? But at the business goals, business impact. And then you can get more clarity on that. And then that’s how you get out of that pair of hands. And that’s what you need to do when it comes to proactive advocacy. You see me do this all the time. I’ve been doing this, obviously, for 30 years, is like, you listen to what they tell you, you pay attention, like, these are your goals, and then you frame it up and say, what I heard you say is, and this is what I would recommend.

Betsy Jordyn:
This is what’s possible for you. And you have to own the fact that you see something that’s possible for them that they don’t see. And so you own it. And you go as a proactive advocate. You don’t go as a salesperson. You’re not trying to sell your methodology. You’re selling them on acting on what’s in their best interest. So everything begins and ends with empathy, understanding, deep listening, and really valuing all the parts.

Betsy Jordyn:
So I was, like, in the middle of one client engagement. One of the things that was obvious that they needed, but nobody really raised it, was a customer. Like, we needed to get the customer’s voice into this whole thing because it was a big missing piece in the project. But I knew the political system, so I went and talked to the vp of sales, and I’m like, tim, what do you think? I think we should do this. I got him to work through the whole pitch with me, the whole. Then, you know, we were all bought in. We all agreed on it. Then I went and talked to the president.

Betsy Jordyn:
I’m like, what do you should. What do you think we should do? And he’s like, well, this is a great idea. I need to talk to, like, cool, you know, got it bought in because I got the right person to buy in. There’s no way this would have gone forward if I didn’t value tim and if I didn’t value his role and value what he did in his ownership, and I’m not competing with him. The outside the system is the most powerful place to be. You’re not below the leader. You’re not above the leader. You’re not even completely next to the leader.

Betsy Jordyn:
You’re outside the system. That’s where your power place is.

Katie Anderson:
What a fantastic place to be. Wrapping up our conversation about how to navigate the political system. It’s about how can you stay outside of it, see it, navigate it, and help the leaders within your system connect and communicate as well, and get to that final vision. How can listeners get in touch with you, learn more about you, and learn from you?

Betsy Jordyn:
They can find about me on my website, www.Betsyjorday.Com and jordyn is with a y, not an a. There’s another betsy jordyn out there who gets on my mail when you get on my website. If you go to that same url, but toolbox if you’re interested, know, kind of like this politically savvy, embedded approach that I do to consulting. I have an e course that I captured all my best practices. I got a million swipe files, like tons of questions that you could ask, an assessment, how to do a change project, how to do executive coaching, intake forms, proposals for internal consultants and external consultants. It’s got a ton of stuff. But this is like my give back to people who really want to do good in organizations. And so I have it set up where it’s like you can name your price and 50% goes to funding micro loans to entrepreneurs and other people in other parts of the world.

Betsy Jordyn:
So that’s like my special fund give back offer. I want more purpose-driven people. I want the people who really care about creating people-centric organizations to be successful and be successful faster.

Katie Anderson:
And I can vouch for the amount of knowledge and resources that you have not only in that amazing offer, but also in just all the work you do and that you share on your podcast too. So maybe just let people know about your podcast so they can go tune in there after they listen to this one.

Betsy Jordyn:
It’s called enough already because it’s for people who have had enough already. And you could look at it from a couple of different angles, like people have had enough already of playing small or enough already of some of this corporate craziness and stuff like that. And for people who really want to believe that they are enough already. So it’s all about actionable inspiration for people who want to forge their own path, specifically consultants and coaches, advisors, people like us who are trying to help the world in this way. So it’s all about forging our own path, but also making a difference.

Katie Anderson:
Well, thank you, betsy, for being here today and for helping me also step into my greater potential.

Betsy Jordyn:
Thanks for having me, katie.

Katie Anderson:
Mastering the skills of being an astute political navigator, managing stakeholders, influencing decision-makers, and tilling the soil for change is one of the most important skills that you need to master. If you want to be an effective leader, continuous improvement change agent or consultant. It’s how you step into your potential as a transformational leader and how you lead through influence rather than direct power. As you can tell from this conversation with betsy, many of the competencies of the change katalyst model complement, support and reinforce each other, such as being astute political navigator, a skillful facilitator, an analytic systems thinker, and more. If you haven’t yet downloaded my katalyst self-assessment, go do so now. The links are in the show notes for this episode and you can also go directly to kbjanderson.Com katalyst katalyst and be sure to go back to listen to episode nine of this podcast to learn more about each competency and be sure to reflect on this episode. What is one key takeaway of my conversation with betsy jordyn about how you can become a more astute political navigator? Set your own intention for practice about how you’re going to improve in this competency and how you’re going to step into becoming an even greater change leader. And if you need outside support for yourself or your leaders from someone like me, I’d be happy to help.

Katie Anderson:
I love supporting continuous improvement change leaders and executives like you to master these skills to lead change and create high-performing learning organizations. You can learn more about my trusted advisor, team coaching, and leadership development programs on my website, kbjanderson.Com. The link is in the show notes as well. Be sure to follow and subscribe to chain of learning now so that you never miss a future episode. I’m going to keep diving into other competencies of the change katalyst model and so much more. And be sure to share this podcast with your friends and colleagues so that we can strengthen our chain of learning together. Thanks for being a link in my chain of learning today. I’ll see you next time.

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