Jolene Clark of Redhead Momentum talks about Growing High-Performing Teams
May 2, 2018
Erik Wolf: Hello and welcome. I have exactly the correct amount of caffeine in me and so that means it’s time to record another fun-filled edition of The Denver Executive Association Trusted Advisor Podcast. That’s a tongue twister. If you’re a fan of this show, then you know that exactly twice a month I hang out with 30 of Denver’s top business leaders. We have a delicious breakfast in our conference digs overlooking DU’s hockey arena. Go Pioneers! We talk, we share knowledge, we share connections, we share business and twice a month I shine a light on one of my fellow DEA members on this podcast. My name is Erik Wolf and I’m with the digital marketing agency, estound. We serve small and mid-sized business owners as nearby as Denver and as far as New Zealand with website design and development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, marketing automation and much much much more. My guest today is Jolene Clark of Redhead Momentum. Jolene’s focus is on building and growing high-performing teams and leaders. Her intuitive and experienced approach provides organizations the strategy, structure, and support to achieve the success they desire. Jolene engages, empowers, and equips individuals, leaders, and teams. She has 17 plus years in a variety of leadership roles both frontline and behind the scenes. Welcome, Jolene.
Jolene Clark: Hi. Great. Thank you so much for having me this morning.
Erik Wolf: You’re so welcome. Thank you for being here. So first things first. What is Redhead Momentum? And how do you help businesses grow high-performing teams? That sounds like something that’s terribly difficult to do.
Jolene Clark: It might sound like it but thanks for asking.
Erik Wolf: Do you use a lab?
Jolene Clark: We use the energy and fire of the stereotypical redhead. So while you can’t see me, I do have a naturally red and naturally curly hair so I would say that’s a little bit of the magic behind it. Although we are not biased to any hair colors, actual or created. So I partner with top executives and leaders in organizations, like you said, to build and grow high performing teams. And I pull from the 17 years of formal experience as well as 39 years of experience and field research which creates that intuition that you mention. So from our work together I recommend where and how manageable shifts need to take place in the areas of organizational development, performance management, leadership development, everything that creates that company culture and employee engagement to help the business see the success that they’re looking to achieve.
Erik Wolf: So where did your business come from as Redhead Momentum? What was the genesis of that?
Jolene Clark: Great question as well. So I wanted something that really reflected movement because if you think of momentum itself: an object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest. And you had mentioned it might sound really complicated and it’s actually the opposite. So if you think about it from a physics perspective.
Erik Wolf: It’s Newton ya’ll.
Jolene Clark: It is! And so when you think about it from a human perspective too in business, when I come in and I work with and I meet with top leaders and they want to know, “Jolene come in and tell us what’s going on with our business. Do you have that magic key?” And I just have them be able to get laser-focused on what is going on in their business and have them become active observers. And they see what’s moving and what’s not. And we talk about the psychology. So I wanted my business to reflect everything that I have loved about my career as of yet, although I realize that I may have been the only one who actually knew what that meant at that time, including all the things I’m good at and all the things that I love doing. And so I thought about starting my own business for a few years. It had been in the back of my mind for a bit and at the time that I made the leap, I was working for a company here in Denver full-time and it just wasn’t filling my cup and less and less it was filling my cup as I went to work. And the cool and scariest part about that was, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work it’s actually that I didn’t want to in that role and that what for me was the pivotal moment that it was time to expand. I wanted to expand the challenges in my life. I wanted to expand my clients, the diversity of my work and everything, every theme when I take that next opportunity in my life, personal or professional, is that I wanted more. I wanted to be able to touch more people with my work than just one company and just the one that I was working for at that time. Thus, Redhead Momentum was born. So Momentum was the original name and I felt like I needed something a little bit bigger to describe that. And one of my friends had come to me and said you kind of always talk about how you and your friends have red hair, like these like fiery redheads.
Erik Wolf: Wait you have a gang or something?
Jolene Clark: It’s our leadership development gang. We don’t have a sign and we don’t have a jacket, but you can find us on the streets of Denver and around the United States.
Erik Wolf: Especially when the sun is out.
Jolene Clark: That’s right. That’s right. We might be wearing sunblock though.
Erik Wolf: Well I think that having that sort of maybe not unhappiness, but dissatisfaction in a corporate role is actually the catalyst for a lot of people becoming entrepreneurs. So that’s what it was for me as well. What’s one thing, and I know that there’s probably many things, but one thing that a lot of business managers don’t really know about developing people?
Jolene Clark: They focus on the what, on the tactics. So, several clients, I’ve worked with and I come in they sit down and they show me spreadsheets, they showed me files, they showed me org structures, they show me org charts and documents and I mean the list could go on and on as many of you are probably familiar with all those terms. But really at the heart of it, the core of all of our business is people. Most of us can’t do what we do without all the people that we have around us if even one. And so my work is helping people challenge their own beliefs and the beliefs of others. So shifting paradigms first, or almost at the same time that the work is being done, versus focusing on the tactics. So when I meet with leaders and when we talk about teams, the first thing I do is actually challenge their own beliefs on what this work is going to be like because they expect me to just hand them over formats and spreadsheets and templates and things to manage the business, but really we talk about the people.
Erik Wolf: The keys, they want the keys. So you talked about when you when you go in and meet with people and sort of what that first meeting might look like but what’s the step before that like? Because obviously before you go in there and get to have that first meeting, these people realize in some respect that they need you. So what’s that lightbulb that people should watch for to say, “Aha! I need a redhead.”
Jolene Clark: Yes! Well, everyone, I imagine needs a redhead. And I’m happy to be that redhead in their life. I would say the theme that comes through the people that I talk with after I engage with them is that feeling of what keeps them up at night and continually trying to solve the same problem differently. But it’s never fixed which then leads them to believe there’s something else going on and either they don’t know what that other thing is, they don’t want to address what that other thing is, or they don’t know how or it feels like a bit of overwhelm. And so because I work, I take a leader lead approach. So I can work with companies of any size because I work with the top leaders and we can filter this work throughout the organization via them. And so when leaders are saying something like I have this problem team member or I think I have to fire somebody, sometimes is the typical way that somebody will connect with me, and we end up engaging in a conversation and really it’s that the person is either overqualified or in the wrong position, not being motivated. They could be doing a great job of what they’re doing, maybe the personality and behavioral styles and the way things are done at that company culture just aren’t aligning. And so it’s so much more than actually just the work that’s being done.
Erik Wolf: That’s really interesting because I have first-hand experience talking to a consultant that I’m working with and we were talking about people on the team and where they’re being successful and where they’re not being successful and we said, “Well you know once we get this person doing this…” Well, why a person needs to do that? Maybe they don’t. And that was a real light bulb moment for me in terms of, do we need somebody else? Well no maybe not. Maybe we can actually realign and actually allow people to do the things that they’re good at and want to do as opposed to trying to always be shoving square pegs into round holes and things like that. So I completely relate to that. So I would love to hear a real-life example, hero story, if you would, about you going in and saving the day with somebody’s team.
Jolene Clark: Sure. I have two that I can share with you. One of my most recent clients is an international health and wellness company and when we first met they had just doubled their employee population from 25 to 50 employees. While that might not sound like a lot to some people who work in larger organizations, the CEO and the Director of Operations were managing both the strategy (a little bit) and the tactical day to day. And I say a little bit because they were managing the tactical day to day, a full cycle human resources and everything that goes along with all of these employees, so an international employee population across time zones. They originally thought that they needed an interim HR director, which is how they found me and I was connected with them, which was the role that I held for nine months. But during my time with them, it really evolved into so much more and quickly right away. So we helped to identify the underlying need for better defining the overall culture that they wanted as they were looking to scale and sustain their business. So they needed to strengthen the overall organization and the leadership of the organization. So they had some really passionate, there was no lack of passion and energy in the team members and their support and conviction for the business. But we needed to create a more cohesive culture when it came to the actual team part of things versus individuals that were supporting the organization. So by effectively addressing and creating a tactical tangible plan around this psychology and strategy in these two areas, the top leadership team in the organization is now on a path to continued growth, in order for the company to achieve what really are really large goals. And they were positioned for success, financially healthy when I first met them and they wanted to continue doing so. But if they were to continue scaling the way that they were, I would say the way that they were creating that culture or the culture they were letting happen, I’m not sure that that would have happened and they believe that as well.
Erik Wolf: Well going from 25 to 50 people, that’s huge. That’s crazy huge.
Jolene Clark: Yes. So amidst the paperwork and all the stuff that goes along with that just managing the day to day, managing the goals, aligning with team members, managing behavioral styles and then like I said managing across time zones and technology as well.
Erik Wolf: So we do the trusted adviser podcast and we call it that and we put your feet to the fire a little bit so I feel that I’m required to ask you for some free advice. What’s a quick tip that you would give someone who is looking to address professional development in their firm?
Jolene Clark: Yes. So when people ask me who are the types of clients you work with, like describe them for me, or what size companies? I use the same psychology that I do when I work with those organizations and I start with the psychology and I first say I work with people who are willing. And what that really means is that you attract what you believe so be the person of what you want to attract. So sometimes when I’ll meet with people, some friends or family will say, “I know this company that really needs you” and I think OK. I want to engage with them in that sweet spot though when they even see that they need me. They don’t even have to have the answers or the solutions or even know what that even looks like, but the fact that they’re open to that. In working with some clients, we meet and they have honestly what is maybe a very negative or a draining energy. And it’s interesting to start in that space because what they have now created or seems to have been created is all drawn around that energy. So you attract what you believe, so be the person of what you want to attract.
Erik Wolf: That is a very good way of putting that. I like that a lot. I might borrow that.
Jolene Clark: You’re welcome to. I won’t charge you for that one Erik.
Erik Wolf: Sweet! I can afford coffee now. Well thank you for joining us I really appreciate your time, this has been really awesome. How can our many many listeners get in touch with you if they would like to do so?
Jolene Clark: Yes. You can find me at redheadmomentum.com. And there’s a contact me along with assorted information.
Erik Wolf: Well, fantastic. Thank you again and thanks to everyone who is listening to the DEA Trusted Advisor podcast. We’ll see you next time.