Shannon Adkins and I have known each other for almost 20 years, and it’s been fun to see her life and career grow to such great heights. She is the CEO of Future State, an organizational transformation consulting firm and has spent 15 years driving internal innovation and external collaboration. Shannon chats with us today about how her career started, challenges that go along with working with Fortune 500 companies, fostering cultures of engagement and belonging, and why it’s important for leaders to model healthy conflict.
[5:44] Shannon’s previous roles at Wells Fargo and Intuit provided her with examples of great leadership. It is possible for companies to do both engaging work on a large scale and treat their employees with compassion and transparency. This laid the foundation for how she sought to be as a CEO and leader herself.
[12:43] While flexibility and freedom often come with being an entrepreneur, there are times where the stability that comes in working for a large company better suits the situation. It is a personal choice and one that may fluctuate over the span of a career.
[16:31] Shannon has been the President of CEO of Future State for five years. They are a different type of consulting firm — one that is practical, connected, and human-centered. This fits her personal mission to express herself as a leader, mother, entrepreneur and let all parts emerge as she brings her whole self to work and helps organizations in the midst of change.
[18:48] Humans seek psychological trust and safety at work. The more we feel we have that, the more we can relax into the shared vision and shared purpose bigger than our individuality.
[22:12] Shannon and her team discuss their vision and values right from the start in the interview process. They let the candidates know off the bat that they lead with heart and engage with purpose.
[30:24] Great leaders show their team examples of healthy communication even when there is dissent of opinion. When we are transparent about our internal process, it helps others understand our perspective.
[32:25] Just as leaders can benefit from serving in tactical solutions, frontline team members would benefit to share in conversation at the strategic level.
[40:42] When we do the hard work and take the sting out of our own bias and prejudice, we can lead with curiosity and interest. Mandatory diversity training often has the opposite effect and real ownership is what moves the needle.
[51:40] Observing privilege and acknowledging hard work does not have to be mutually exclusive.
[54:54] We must confront the mindset that when an individual gets more it means less for us.