Tess Cox & Chelsea Cox Gillman of TC&A: “Identify those that prefer to be visionaries and those that prefer to focus on the facts, data and details”

Identify those that prefer to be visionaries and those that prefer to focus on the facts, data and details. You need both perspectives on a team, like I mentioned in the story above about the different preferences Tess and I have. The visionaries will keep things exciting and often motivate the team to keep going, […]

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Identify those that prefer to be visionaries and those that prefer to focus on the facts, data and details. You need both perspectives on a team, like I mentioned in the story above about the different preferences Tess and I have. The visionaries will keep things exciting and often motivate the team to keep going, even when times get tough. Those that prefer the facts and data also help move business forward by focusing on all of the little details and creating systems to keep business organized and aware.


As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tess Cox & Chelsea Cox Gillman.

They are the mother/ daughter duo behind Tess Cox & Associates (TC&A), a leadership coaching and consulting firm. Tess is Principal and a Senior Executive Leadership Coach, Consultant, Author and Non-Profit Founder with 30 years of leadership experience. Chelsea is a Leadership Coach & Hospitality Consultant with over 15 years in luxury & lifestyle hotel operations management and leadership throughout the U.S.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I, Chelsea, was motivated from a young age as I chose to become a competitive gymnast at the age of 4 and continued up until my junior year of college. I spent over a decade running hotel operations throughout LA, NYC and Nashville and I loved it! Yet I knew there was a more sustainable and creative way to live my life. At the end of 2016 I was inspired to join forces with Tess to come alongside individuals and teams as a leadership development coach and consultant. I’m also a new mom and am so grateful to be actively involved every day with my son as he grows!

Tess started her leadership journey through music at the age of 10 and found herself traveling the U.S. singing in college and beyond. As a wife and mother, she also spent over 25 years leading in ministry. Then, while she was in graduate school, she was offered a life-changing experience to join one of her professors to travel the world and coach executives. After he retired, Tess was inspired to start TC&A and continue supporting her clients, as well as embrace her entrepreneurism to grow her business.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

We never imagined working and growing a business together! It happened organically and has expanded organically over the years as well. People are often intrigued and delighted to be supported by a mother/daughter team. We do find that our approach is so deeply engrained in us and we have an especially unique flow of working together and supporting others due to our relationship as mother/daughter.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We often have a good laugh of me reeling Tess in after she gets a new idea.

We both have different approaches when it comes to gathering information for the business ; whether we are working on a new project or planning for the future it takes both of our personality preferences.

We’ve had some funny moments as Tess is always thinking big picture and can see far into the future as she’s a visionary. I focus more on the facts, data and details of how to achieve the vision, it really does take both approaches to move everything forward.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

Invest in who your employees are as people and show them gratitude. This can be done in small, 1% ways. By connecting with your employees on a human level, they are more likely to communicate, problem solve and make decisions with greater clarity and confidence.

Ask them an appropriate personal detail about their lives, their families or their hobbies and follow up with them regularly. Showing gratitude can be as simple as a quick text or email letting them know you recognized their hard work or their ability to pivot and have a positive mindset through a complex issue.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

In our process of coaching at TC&A we have a program called The Engagement Blueprint, comprised of 6 interactive learning sessions that connect employees with one another from the time of onboarding. It can also be used to reengage with current employees.

We guide teams toward the opportunity to grow and develop who they are within their strengths and values. Employees develop a new mindset that values collaboration and create a culture of clear communication. Ultimately they find alignment and cultivate confidence to address challenges and effectively make decisions.

This intentional learning creates a foundation for large teams to have shared language to support one another and they learn more about not only themselves but their team members as well. This creates greater synergy, compassion and connection resulting in the best possible outcomes for the business.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)

  1. Identify the values of your team members as individuals. When you know what drives and motivates your team to work, you will experience the best possible outcomes. At TC&A we know that our team each values family as a foundational cornerstone in their lives. Knowing this, we are able to support one another in our scheduling and decision making for deadlines.
  2. Learn how each of your team members gains energy. Understanding that some gain energy through extroversion and being around others while others prefer to work individually and gain energy from alone or 1:1 time is very important to creating sustainable energy within your team. We know our team gains energy through being in community with one another, so even though we work remotely we regularly schedule meetings to all be together to feed off of one another’s energy.
  3. Identify those that prefer to be visionaries and those that prefer to focus on the facts, data and details. You need both perspectives on a team, like I mentioned in the story above about the different preferences Tess and I have. The visionaries will keep things exciting and often motivate the team to keep going, even when times get tough. Those that prefer the facts and data also help move business forward by focusing on all of the little details and creating systems to keep business organized and aware.
  4. Learn who leads with their feelings and who leads with logic. There is no right or wrong. However, they are very different approaches and understanding the starting place of how each team member makes decisions will give you far greater insight into who they are and save you from frustration, misunderstanding and miscommunication in the future. When I as running hotels I was often straight forward and focused on getting the job done by all means necessary. While I was highly effective, I could have adjusted my approach to be compassionate and accommodating in the moment. This would have saved me some conversations with HR about my logical and tough approach at the time.
  5. Evaluate who on your team is being proactive, scheduling in advance and often getting work done ahead of the deadline from those that are more pressure prompted, casual and open-ended. Some jobs or projects call for one preference over the other. Taking a look at what kind of personality preference you need on your team before hiring can be instrumental in creating sustainable success. I’ve had to adapt my preferred style over the years with some clients in order to experience less stressful outcomes. There’s a particular client in the agribusiness industry that is 100% perceiving (aka pressure-prompted) in their approach to how they do business. Once I changed my approach and started meeting them where they were at, I’ve experienced more favorable outcomes across the board.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Get to know your employees! Find a personality assessment (we use the MBTI as a resource for our clients) that can give you insight into who your employees are, how they gain energy, how they gather information, how they make decisions and how they prefer to order their work day and flow.

The more you know about who your employees are, why they do what they do and how they prefer to do their work, the better your outcomes will be. It does take time and investment upfront but saves you exponentially in the long run.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊

Who you are matters. Take the time to get to know yourself and learn to care for yourself first, so you can ultimately care for others and bring value to everything you do.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Life can be exciting and challenging — when we make an everyday choice to lead and live a life that matters we experience a meaningful and influential life.”

This quote is from our book The Leadership Blueprint. We love this quote because we truly believe that being intentional with your mindset and choices will support you to live the life that was meant for you to live!

Thank you for these great insights!

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