Mental Stamina of a Great Business Mind: An Interview With Susan Power, a Visionary Mentor Who Inspires the Next Generation of Leaders Through Her Boutique Leadership Firm, Power HR

I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Power.  Susan has worked across industry in financial services, transportation and logistics, municipal government, construction, manufacturing, and professional services.  Susan built her consulting skills at the global management consulting firm Accenture. In 2016, Susan sold her first consulting business (Higher Talent) in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, and […]

I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Power.  Susan has worked across industry in financial services, transportation and logistics, municipal government, construction, manufacturing, and professional services.  Susan built her consulting skills at the global management consulting firm Accenture. In 2016, Susan sold her first consulting business (Higher Talent) in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, and then spent two years in an executive human resources director role at J.D. Irving Limited.  Susan is currently building another private practice specializing in neuroleadership coaching in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Susan is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) and has her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Calgary.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?

My philosophy to work and life is that mindset is everything.  You need to make the most of every opportunity that you are given in life.  Way leads to way. If you give 110% to every client and opportunity, the universe will give you more opportunities. It is difficult to anticipate sometimes how a situation can evolve. Sometimes, what appears to be an inconsequential life event, or a negative event transforms our entire life journey for the better.  This can be because of a certain individual you meet who influences you, a referral to a new client, or an experience that causes you to see the world differently. Life is impossible to predict. It is not a linear path. I believe that I have gotten to where I am today out of shear tenaciousness and asking for what I want in life.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader? 

Overall, I am an introvert with some extrovert tendencies.  My Myers Briggs type is INTJ (introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging).  In a group setting, I am typically slower to voice my opinion as I am thinking through different options, and I am quite reflective before contributing an opinion.  Once I was given some advice by a business coach to constantly be debriefing after every big meeting, presentation, or life event. Constantly be asking yourself and others what went well, and what can we do better next time.  This was phenomenal advice, and I try to do this everyday.

What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?

Resilience is so important. Leaders need resilience to bounce back from failures and set-backs, and to keep their teams in a forward state.  Life is hyper-competitive, and we all have setbacks. It is all about how you view failure. Failure can be a golden opportunity to learn, and it can present new opportunities. Mental strength comes from learning from failure.  

Mentally strong leaders recognize the absolute criticality of self-care.  The more responsibilities you have, the more important it becomes to care for yourself so you can properly care for the other people in your life, personally and professionally.  

A lot of people in the business would feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have strong mental stamina to succeed?

This perception is common in the business world.  We need to shift this mindset. The most inspired leaders that I have had the privilege of working with make themselves vulnerable everyday.  They are the first to vocalize when they screw up and they will share it with others so the team can learn from their mistakes. Vulnerability makes us human, likeable, and makes others respect and trust us.  Of course, there is a balance. We should not be completely self-deprecating all the time in a professional environment. It is so important that we express to our team that perfectionism is unattainable and undesired.  We need to be learning constantly and realize that if our team thinks we expect perfectionism they won’t be taking smart risks. Organizations that are not bold and taking smart risks will go out of business over the next five years with the pace of volatility and change in our world.

Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?

Absolutely.  I worked with a leader that sparked something inside me. I learned more working with this leader than I have from any other experience.  The most important lesson I learned was how to treat people to engage them, build trust, and make them want to work with you as part of the team.  It was completely by osmosis that this leader taught me so much. My experience of seeing this leader in action, interacting with the team, and seeing how others reacted to this person inspired me.  It completely changed my mindset and crystalized the way that I interact with the world. The privilege of working with this leader instilled confidence in me of how capable I am of achieving my goals.

Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters. 

  1. Workout every day – even if it is only for 30 minutes.  Commit to yourself and your wellness as your top priority everyday as it will increase the energy you have for others and increase your productivity immensely.
  2. Have a support system and make time to sustain the health of those relationships.  It is easy with the pressure of work, kids, and life to put our friends on the backburner.   Don’t! Make time everyday to connect with someone important in your life. Deep friendships take years to develop.  They are worth the time and effort to maintain them.
  3. Always look for opportunities to interject some play and fun into your day.  This is so important and something that many adults forget to do. When you have fun at work, it gives your team permission to have a sense of humour and have some fun at work.  When you laugh with coworkers, it builds trust and it reduces stress. A leader needs to actively seek out opportunities for laughter at work. It is so important!
  4. Encourage your team to constantly be learning and growing.  The leadership team sets the tone for the culture of the organization.  New perspectives and ideas are good for our mental health and it strengthens our brain to learn new things.  Many employees get to a certain job level and then stop learning. Whether you are the CEO or the receptionist, you should be reading daily and constantly learning.  
  5. Take time to relax everyday.   Know how you personally can unplug and unwind.  Whether it is yoga, going for a walk, cooking, listening to music, everyday you need to take time for YOU!  By doing this, you tell your brain that you are important and valuable. It reduces stress, builds resilience, and makes you more present to be with others.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, communication is everything as far as leadership effectiveness.  We are always communicating something to others, even when we say nothing.   The way you carry yourself, your body language, your facial expressions…the words that you use…it all shows how you feel about yourself , your attitude, your beliefs, and your view of other people.  You need to be authentic and recognize your potential to truly lead others in a way that inspires them. Leaders are made, not born. We all have so much potential inside us and we all have strengths.  Most of us only scratch the surface of what we are capable of. Leaders see that potential and see our strengths. Inspired leaders encourage us to push ourselves harder and further, and inspired leaders spark action in others.  Inspired leadership is like blowing air over a low flame and causing it to grow.

If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how can they reach out? 

Susan can be contacted at [email protected], and invites you to check out her and Tyler Bayley’s Inspired Leadership™ podcast, and reach out to share an Inspired Leadership™ story.

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