MaryJo Burchard – Hurricane Leadership | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

MaryJo is an executive coach, consultant, and speaker who helps leaders and organizations thrive in times of major disruption and radical change. This has led to a focus on trauma-informed leadership, trust, belonging, and change readiness. Her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership enables her to be both data-driven and empathetic in her approach.

The field of Organizational Leadership gives her a language and framework to probe the systemic “how” and “why” organizations keep growing or get stuck. Her research can connect mindsets, organizational behavior, culture, and capacity, helping leaders move beyond easy answers and into long-term, systemic transformation.

And she brings all that she’s explored with her to craft immersive, surprising, and fun interventions and learning engagements so leaders and organizations can learn and do the right things, in the best way.

To learn more about MaryJo:

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Kevin Stafford 0:02
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the conversations with coaches podcast. I’m your host, Kevin, I have already stole a beautiful productivity tip from my guest today that I’m really excited to try, which I’m guest makes me a nerd of some variety, which I’m very proud of. I have the pleasure of hosting Mary Mary Jo Borchard, emphasis on the second syllable, right for short, put it all in caps. Mary Jo is an executive coach, consultant and speaker who helps leaders and organizations thrive in times of major disruption and radical change. This has led to a focus on trauma informed leadership, which is a phrase I really, really love, trust, belonging and change readiness. Another phrase, I really love her PhD in organizational leadership enables her to be both data driven and empathetic in her approach. Mary Jo, total package, welcome to the podcast.

MaryJo Burchard 0:56
Thank you, I’m really glad to be here. Let’s

Kevin Stafford 0:59
let’s start at the place I love to start the little superhero origin story of your your identity, your being as a coach, how did you realize discover, decide to call yourself Who told you that you’ve maybe already were a coach? And whatever that realization point was, or however it arrived? Where did it go from there into the practice the coaching business you have today?

MaryJo Burchard 1:23
Such a good question. So my original background is in higher ed and I was doing Leadership Studies. And so I was training people, most of them were already leaders with positions in different organizations in how to understand what it was they were supposed to be doing. But kind of like how everyone has a diet, but not everyone is mindful of their diet. Because nobody goes to the grocery store and says, I’m starting from scratch today. No, my like, my son says, go buy the weekly things, you know, we all have our our things. So leaders have their way of doing things. And so just like that, you know, we can learn things that we should do, the way that we should eat the way that we should sleep the way that we should, with the way that we should lead. And we can know those things in our heads. But that’s not enough to own it. And it doesn’t, it doesn’t become sustainable transformation in the person’s life until they’re ready to own it. And when it was framed to me at one point, that teaching is showing and telling the what in the hell. But coaching is asking what and how. And for me, I was like, Oh, that’s it? That’s it? Because I when when we ask how and what questions and people answer us, not only are we helping them to connect the dots, but they also have to take ownership of that answer. And and the solution that we’re kind of CO creating but we’re throwing them the ball. And so that was the transition for me I felt like that was in order to help leaders become truly sustainable and and really not just know the right things to do but to become for that to become the lens that they low lay over the the way that they think and interact with the world. I needed to also coach that’s I love

Kevin Stafford 3:26
that analogy. You just use the lens that you lay over the world is when I love to think about because again, it’s like you’re not you don’t have to create vision. And this is something that coaches identify to you for you don’t bring necessarily something that the person who’s asking for your coaching doesn’t have already, what you’re doing is allowing them to discover and develop and be intentional about what they’re doing in the way they’re doing it and providing them lenses that do very little to actually change the world around them. But lets them see it in a whole new way that allows things to come into focus to the analogy.

MaryJo Burchard 4:01
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Kevin Stafford 4:03
I love I love that. I love the process so much. It’s just it’s so I do love the Compare and contrast between teaching and coaching. That’s something that I know a lot of coaches will bump into still even even though coaching is not real rising tide for quite some time now. It’s like what’s the distinction about coaching versus like something like mentorship or consulting or teaching, consulting, there’s a lot of one where there’s a lot of compare and contrast because you know, there well, there’s alliteration there coaching and consulting a lot of coaches are consultants, a lot of consultants are coaches. And so that distinction between sort of showing versus guiding, you know, like, providing answers versus asking questions. Yeah, it’s, it’s a subtle but very profound pivot. And I feel like it’s a good way to demonstrate the distinction, what a coach really has to offer.

MaryJo Burchard 4:49
And I think you know, as is true for many things, a good educator will will incorporate coaching or even incorporate consulting or it In my field, at least, you know, and but when you understand what the distinctions are, you can be more mindful of switching hats, and more strategic and when you put them on and take them off in specific contexts, so in the higher ed context, I may be coaching somebody to own, whether it is owning an element or a dynamic or a characteristic of leadership that they need to really adopt in order to be successful, or it could be an assignment, you know, on their responsibility on what they did on assignment. At the same time, I may need to as I’m coaching an organization, they may be uninformed about the impact of certain things. And they may need someone to come in and give some training, and do some research and do some things to help connect those dots so that they have a kind of customized prescription lens for that framework, then we can from that use that to build, you know, the coaching conversations. I love that

Kevin Stafford 5:59
it’s also something I find to be near universal amongst coaches is that commitment to working from the foundations up, so to speak, where it’s like they identify like come in, and like very, very agile, very adaptive, obviously, most coaches have specialties and they bring like a sort of unique set of skills and experiences and approach compared to maybe other coaches even though there’s there are certain common principles that pretty much all coaches have in common. And there’s that kind of coming in, and not just applying your coaching as just like a blanket or a paste on top of whatever you’re coming into. There’s a real seeking and curiosity for not just the the fit, be right, because the Fit has to be right before there really any work can be done, but also looking around for what’s the foundational place for us to start what’s needed before the next thing can come? What questions have to be asked before the next better questions get to be asked and answered. And so I find that that curiosity, that hunger for those foundational moments of beginning really does separate what a coach does, compared to pretty much anybody else who comes in and tries to help anybody who’s coming in trying to serve. That’s why I feel like coaching has gotten such traction amongst not just not just in business where it’s become elevated to like being not just something that, you know, people slip in as a line item on their annual budgets, but they actually invest in Carolina best in Yes. And I love seeing that growth on the professional scale. And also on the personal scale, people are understanding that they want to invest in themselves, I was talking I’m sorry, I’m talking more than you now. But there was a really good analogy that I love that’s been on my mind this week in particular, and the way that if you go back just a few decades, gym memberships are relatively new concepts where you invest in like some sort of program, you have personal trainer, or whatever it happens to be because you’re decided to take something about your fitness seriously. You know, maybe you invest in like learning about diet and exercise, whatever it happens to be. But like this idea of like a gym membership, where it’s just like you pay an organization on a regular basis, so that you have access to the tools and the training and the coaching that you want and need because you know, you have to invest in your physical health, to live the life you want to live, to go where you want to go. And I’m feeling in a similar way kind of parallel tracks, I’m feeling like that that’s a direction that coaching is definitely going well on its way there because there’s just a commitment, a realization that, you know, I need to start putting my money where my mouth is, I need to start putting my time where my mouth is where my intentions are. And it’s I just love seeing people who have no real understanding or come from a from a place of zero, like not real understanding of what coaches do who they are, and then start asking themselves questions about the lives they want to live where they want their businesses to go their career, their personal lives. They’re like, You know what the answer is? I think I need a coach.

MaryJo Burchard 8:45
Yeah, I look at a coach, a good coach can help people figure out what questions they’re not asking themselves. So that a good coach, this is something that I think good coaches have in common with good therapists, therapists are helping people look back and frame it appropriately so that they can become let it become what they need to become through it. But a coach is saying from here, where is here? And where are we going and helping people to ask those the unasked questions and own the answers. And so a good coach, a good therapist, a good doctor, medical doctor, they’re working their way out of a job because because we should be helping people to learn how to think differently and become a healthy voice in their head that helps them to steer it’s it’s like another rudder the questions determine the trajectory, you know, so, so if so at some point, they may need someone else to start asking them questions from from a perspective that I that’s not my you were talking about niche. You know, it’s not the questions that they’ve out groan what I can do for them. And so my goal is to really help people to become take them as far and as high and as deep as they’re able to go with me. Until that becomes really part of their, their way of thinking and living and acting. And then then whatever happens from there, either there, they can do it on their own, or they can find someone that can say what else needs to be asked, you know,

Kevin Stafford 10:29
what else what next? I’m going to tear myself away from this leg of the conversation because I warned you there are so many different like jumping off points here where it’s it’s so original, there’s so many I could do this for hours. But I want to kind of in line with your answer just now. bring things up to the present and look to the future and talk about like, what your what your coaching practice looks like today. And I couldn’t kind of like workshopping and how to ask this question to really get at the heart of it. So you can jump off and answer however you like. And what I’ve landed on that I’m really liking a lot is it’s almost like an interrogation question. Who do you coach? And how do you coach them? What did you know? And when did you know it? So that, obviously is like who you focus on, like, primarily work with? And then the how is the one to one group coaching, masterminds, keynote speeches, courses, all of the above? So the who and how, what’s it like?

MaryJo Burchard 11:19
I was, I would say that the the common thread between all of the people that I coach is that they are leaders at some at some level, but where they’re coming from is a very broad spectrum. So I work with people in higher ed, I work with people in nonprofits and corporations and government organizations. But the big, common thread besides being leaders, is that there’s probably some big, hairy, unexpected, unwanted, unplanned thing that they’re facing that they want to you know, there’s this perspective for a lot of people that, you know, there’s the squishy, nice person way to do things that doesn’t get anything done that makes people feel good. And then there’s this serious hard charger, who gets the outputs, you know, but I truly believe that, in the midst of the hurricane in the midst of the storm, that is when people need to be seen, and heard and valued more than any other moment. And so if you can help a leader, get clarity on how to engage in a way that conveys belonging to the people and says, we don’t have any, this is not something that we can vote on. This came to light COVID Nobody, everyone would have voted no, except for zoom, maybe. On COVID, there’s a few, you know, people who made off like kings, but but the rest of us would not have voted yes, for that. We don’t get to vote on what whether a hurricane comes, where it’s gonna land, you know, who it’s who is going to impact or for how long, but we can, when we before, during and after that storm, we can do the hard things as humanely and constructively as possible. And so I find that my, my calling is to airdrop into whatever that messy storm is, and help people to remember that there are first people and second that there are non negotiables that have to get done. So how can we do the hard things in the most humane possible way. And that’s kind of my niche.

Kevin Stafford 13:39
I like that. I like that like that. That’s quite a niche. And also, once again, you’ve nailed the analogy, because the image of you air dropping into like into like, you know, a climate emergency, a weather emergency, something like that is like okay, and that’s think of you almost as doing like the triage work where you’re just like, what needs the attention right now? Right? Let’s

MaryJo Burchard 14:00
exactly as so because it depends on the nature of we can say crisis, sometimes it’s not a crisis, sometimes it’s a really good change. It’s just a really big, unexpected one. But sometimes people will need training. Sometimes people need coaching, sometimes people need a keynote, sometimes people need all different things. So a big part of what I do is when I get there is assess the true state of things. And that’s where that research really comes in handy. And then giving people a shared language and a framework to work from, so that they can identify the big triage the biggest needs that that need to be addressed in order for everybody to stay afloat. Sometimes Believe it or not, when people are coming out of of trauma. You know, the biggest thing that they need is process improvement, coaching, because think about this in the average organization. Before some big crazy thing happens every It is defaulting through life, right. And so there are janky elements to whatever it is that they’re doing, whether it’s a program that they’re using or a process. And so what do people do, they make up the difference, they figure out how to make it work, they, you know, MacGyver it, and then but all that is in their heads, and they come to work and, and so they’re doing the process, but they’re also being the process and element of the process that nobody else knows is there. Because it’s in them, they just come in, they do it. And then when a when some big devastation happens, whether it is a volunteer to do work with Ukrainian people that are counseling, Ukrainian refugees, so whether it’s something like that, or it’s a mass shooting, or a restructure, when those things happen, and it’s unexpected, and people are knocked off their feet, they there’s so much noise that’s happening, that they can’t, they could they could do something on autopilot, but they can’t both be and do the process. And so process improvement is saying, Okay, what is the? Where are all the invisible things? Where are the holes that are not documented? Let’s get them shared. So that so that nobody has to think and you can do you know, some some of it is trauma informed in the sense of where’s the noise? And how can we minimize it and other things, it’s other times it’s more socio emotional, you know,

Kevin Stafford 16:29
I love I love that approach. Because this is, I’m probably thinking or empathizing a little too closely and feeling a little too personally about it. But there’s that those times, and you’ll realize this in your own personal life. But you’ll see this in organizations a lot as well, where too much weight has been allowed to rest on a strong, like support, but not a support that was meant to carry that much weight, right. It’s the kind of thing that accrues over time where you’re like, we haven’t been examined in too long. And you’re like, when’s the last time I looked at this thing that I just take for granted? That’s my responsibility. And like, so is it? How is this something that can just be through process development? Can the weight be more evenly distributed? Might not be the single point of failure? So what if I, using a very recent example? What if I catch COVID? And I’m out for one week? What if I What if I get the long one, I have like brain for a month? What happens to all the things that only I’m doing? Yeah. Does anybody else know how to do them? Do it does anybody know that I do them in the first place. And so that’s why coming in and looking around for that, and I love that the hurricane is a great analogy, even though hurricanes are largely looked at as negative, but it can be applied like a hurricane of positivity, like a great big, awesome change, that’s going to benefit everybody, eventually, it’s still going to create a lot of chaos, and maybe create a lot of mess, it’s gonna maybe get some people really hurt professionally, emotionally or worse. And so coming in and to be like, Okay, where can I help? Where are they gonna call them weak points. But where are the points where this is all on one person, or this is all on one processor? Where’s the unexamined supports?

MaryJo Burchard 18:00
Exactly. So it’s like putting in things like identifying where the feedback loops need to be, and where the where the torch needs to be passed, or things like that. It can be those technical things, or it could be more socio emotional, you know? But so yeah,

Kevin Stafford 18:16
I just looked at the clock. And I’m like, Oh, my goodness. We’re already well, we’re not past time. So I like to like put a little padding on either side. But I warned you, I would get like really into this. I’m like, if I’m looking at myself in the zoom window, and I’m like, see myself I’m like leaning in, like on the balls of my feet, like shifting my weight. I’m loving this conversation, but I’m going to cut it not sure I’m going to cut it at the right length and ask you. Where can people learn more about you what you do, how you do it just more about everything that you’re doing? And also where do you like to connect with people online to like, get started new relationships? Where do you like people to reach out to you like preferred social media, or just a page on your website? So where can people find you and find out more?

MaryJo Burchard 18:57
So I’m on LinkedIn, Mary Jo, Burchard, that’s easy. And that’s actually how we met. My website is Concord And my email address is really easy. It’s Dr. Dot Burchard. at Concord So people can can reach me they’re

Kevin Stafford 19:16
lovely, I believe you have your your your email address, and I think you have like a phone number on your LinkedIn profile on your about page. So it’s like, you are very contactable, which is excellent.

MaryJo Burchard 19:28
When you deal with people that have stuff on fire, you kind of need to be contacted.

Kevin Stafford 19:33
There’s there’s a little bit of a 24/7 on call element to it. Well, thank you for breaking off a little bit of time today. I’ve really, really, really enjoyed talking with you. I find myself saying this more and more lately. I feel like but you’re no exception to the rule of I want them to have you back on for a part to like focus on one thing I just I love talking to you. And I love I love what you’re doing. I love your focus on leadership, but the broad spec Sure under which you operate, I just I really, I really love that approach because it’s it’s very, can be very difficult to be that agile and adaptable to different kinds of situations and specializing in adaptability. I know that sounds almost like an oxymoron. I personally find that to be very, very, very valuable in the world in general and in business in particular, in a way that people are realizing more. So. Thanks for doing what you do, I guess is my point.

MaryJo Burchard 20:25
Thanks for having me on. It was great to meet you and actually have this fun conversation. Yeah.

Kevin Stafford 20:31
And to those listening. I mean, I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have a fraction. Find out more about Mary Jo. She you know where to find her. She’s great to have a conversation with her. You I promise you won’t be sorry. And you probably need a little bit of what she has to offer. I’ll just put that out there. But I’ll let I’ll let you decide that for yourselves. And we’ll hear talk to you again very soon.

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