Productivity & Time Management

Episode #347 – What’s Your Leadership Superpower?

June 18, 2024

I’m Cherylanne.
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In today’s episode, we’re looking for your leadership superpower. Cherylanne shares captivating stories from her leadership journey at Procter & Gamble and introduces you to the game-changing Five E’s of Leadership model.  She’ll cover everything from inspiring a compelling vision to boosting your team’s capabilities and spirits.

Whether you’re leading a team or looking to elevate your own leadership game, this episode will equip you with actionable insights to shine in your professional journey. Ready to tap into your full potential? Let’s get started!

Show Highlights:

  • Are you seeking insights into leadership development? 00:46
  • Learn to empower your team to succeed and grow. 04:17
  • Discover this amazing leadership model to elevate your skills. 05:29
  • How did a three-E model evolve into a five-E model? 06:36
  • Here is the key to cultivating a clear vision of the future. 07:53
  • Do you want to make impactful connections? 09:24
  • Are you ready to empower and enable? 13:03
  • Discover your natural strength and superpower. 17:20

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What’s your leadership superpower? Today, we’re going to take a trip into the world of leadership together in this episode. I think it’s important to know that I sort of grew up as a leader within the walls of Procter and Gamble. I came into P&G as a brand-new hire fresh out of college. In the interview process, they ask a lot of questions about leadership experience and things you’ve done up until then. Like any dutiful interviewee, I told my stories of leadership, and in reality, I had them, right? I had things that I had done in high school, clubs that I’d led, or been captain of a team, and things I had started when I was at college that, technically, I could have called myself a leader. But the reality is, I didn’t have very much experience as a leader when I was brand new to that organization.

Yet within twenty-four months of arriving as a brand-new hire in Atlanta, I was promoted to leading my first team, a team of really seasoned salespeople. You may not know this, but I started my career in sales in Atlanta. The region I was leading was the Southeast region for the particular division I was in, and there were 14 people, all of whom probably had 20 years more experience than I did—at least 15 in some cases, 25. On that entire team, guess how many women there were? One. So, 13 men and one woman on that team of very seasoned, experienced, capable salespeople that I got promoted to lead. It was a bit of trial by fire. I’ve talked about this tangentially in the podcast over the years, and I learned so much about leadership in that first experience. There were more than one night of tears, that is for sure.

This was an era where we were really trying to introduce technology to this remote sales organization. Procter and Gamble is headquartered in Cincinnati, with salespeople at the time all over the country and really around the world. We were starting to bring technology into the sales process. I think that may have been one of the reasons that it made sense to have a younger leader in place. That was not the most well-received initiative in the history of sales, nor were some of the sales automation initiatives that I was a part of later. But I was the youngest person on the team by a lot and one of only two women in this entire organization, so I really had to learn a ton on my feet.

Thankfully for me, P&G is what has often been referred to as an academy company, meaning that they grow leaders. It’s just an organization that is particularly good at training leaders and equipping them and giving them lots of experiences. While the MBA I was working on was helpful and all of my undergrad experience or degree in business was helpful, it really was my years of hands-on experience there that gave me frameworks and opportunities to lead that I carry with me to this day. Recently, I was in a client call, a group call, and one of my clients, who is leading a team of relatively young leaders, people who in many cases, this is their first leadership experience, was kind of pulling her hair out and asking for help around training.

How do I train these people to lead? The number one thing she was noticing, and this may be familiar to you if you’re a leader as well, is that they kept jumping in to do the thing instead of teaching people and coaching people on their team through how to do things. If you’ve ever found yourself in that situation, which I have many times found myself in, you really reduce your effectiveness pretty dramatically if you are trying to do every single thing yourself, right? The whole idea of leadership is to know how to get results through others.

So we were talking with her about this idea of how do I train these people? Of course, there are a thousand things that you could do. There are a thousand trainings, there are a thousand books that they could read, there’s so many resources out in the world on leadership. But immediately, instinctively, what I thought of first when she asked this question was a model that I first learned when I was at P&G, referred to as the 5 E’s of Leadership. Oddly, fun fact, when I first thought of this, I thought of it as the 3 E’s, and that’s what I said to her in the call. When I did a little fact-checking expedition for this episode, it showed me why. The history of this model started back with A.G. Lafley when he was the CEO of the company and Jack Welch when he was the CEO of GE. It started as a 3 E model and evolved to 5 E’s. The 3 E’s when I was growing up in that company, like the late ’90s, were envisioned, energized, and enabled. I think I could recite that in my sleep. Envision, energize, and enable was what came out of my mouth when I was in this coaching call with my team.

Then what I learned was Jack Welch’s 3 E’s were energy, edge, and execution. Jack and A.G. were collaborating at a consulting firm at one point, and they put their heads together and ultimately this 3 E model that each of them had evolved into a 5 E model. That’s what I want to share with you today because I think that these five E’s give us all an opportunity to identify our own personal leadership superpower. When I remember going through this training, it was, first of all, really good training, and I learned when I was doing a little research that it was the highest-rated course in P&G history. P&G has a big library of training resources that you can go through, like in-person classes, and this was the highest-rated course in P&G history on this 5 E model. These are broadly adaptable to any organization. I think I lean into them every day in my company. When we were sharing this in the coaching call, it was clear that all the women in attendance were like, yeah, this is something that we could really quickly understand and also share with the people that we are leading. So I want to share it with you today. The 5 E’s as they’ve evolved.

The first one is still envisioned. Envisioning as a leader is really about what’s next, being able to describe what winning looks like over a period of time off into the future. In order to do that, to have a clear vision, you have to be creative. This is the piece of leadership that’s being able to be in touch with what’s going on inside the organization and what’s happening in the environment where that organization operates, the broader context, competitively or technologically, economically, what’s happening around us to create a compelling vision for the future. That vision, if done well, changes the rules. It enables that organization to win because it steers it toward open water, white space where there’s not such a crowd of competitors. I think young leaders sometimes are challenged by this E in particular. They’re not often given big responsibilities around envisioning. If you think about the most senior leaders, this is often like a superpower. Really being able to see white space and move organizations toward it. It’s deeply rooted in strategy and a lot of forethought. This ability to see something that hasn’t been done before or to go someplace that the organization hasn’t been before is really part and parcel of the envisioned idea.

So as you’re thinking about yourself as a leader and thinking what really is, what would make me a good leader, what would people say about me, that’s the first one up for consideration is envision. The second E is engaged. To engage is to connect with other people. This is where people get into an idea. It’s not enough to have an idea and sit in an ivory tower and try to execute it. It requires going off into the world, into the halls of the organization, into conversations across functions, and making connections with people who are going to have to buy into this idea and also participate in converting the idea into a plan. Engaging with people is where courage is really required. In Jack Welch’s parlance, guts, which I love. That’s so Jack Welch, right, that language. If you don’t know who Jack Welch is as a leader, books have been written about him as a leader at GE back in the day. He had a storied personality. There are mixed reviews on his leadership overall, but I think when he says that guts or edge were one of the most important things he looked for in leaders, it makes a lot of sense if you know anything about Jack.

Engaging, being able to get out there and mix it up with people, and get them involved in this idea to help make it better, to round out the edges of the vision, that is the second E. Those of us who really gravitate to people who like people, who are willing to mix it up and let ideas get pulled apart, maybe with some conflict involved before they get better, that’s what this engaging part is all about. Envision, engage. The third is energizing. Energize is how I was taught this E. It has evolved to the word empower. I think it’s just two sides of the same coin. I remember it being described to me as bringing passion to an idea, being able to get people excited about the work that was going to be done. Maybe the reason that this word shifted is that we really want to go beyond just getting people excited. We really want to motivate them and give the people who are working for us the belief and the tools that they can, in fact, do the work that’s required.

So this energizing piece is about getting buy-in to the vision. We have a big idea, and the engagement part is getting everybody’s input so the idea has legs. It has meat on the bones beyond just an idea. Then

 energizing is where we get people fired up. We want everybody to be excited about this vision so that energy is contagious, and they actually want to take action within their own area of responsibility. Sometimes, particularly when the going gets tough, this energized E is one we really lean into. Particularly in difficult times, difficult economic times for a company, if sales are down, if the competitive environment is difficult, maybe there have been layoffs, keeping people’s spirits high and keeping them really focused on moving forward together can be particularly challenging and need a certain leadership skill set to be able to do that.

The fourth E is enabled. Enable is about creating the capability in others and the confidence in others to do their job. When I was thinking about the woman who asked this question in a coaching call, enabling was probably the part that she was the most hungry for resources in. How do I get these leaders to be enablers? Think about the way she framed the question: they kept digging in and doing the work themselves, and she needed them to teach, to translate the knowledge to their organization so they could get more done. Enabling is where we stop picking everything up with our hands and shift into coaching, mentoring, teaching, and training. Our interactions with our team in one-on-ones or in group settings are more about enabling them to do the work. We find those teachable moments where we can train them as they’re doing.

If you think about your own organization, if this is something that’s a challenge for you, the way it was in the call I was describing, what is often difficult for young leaders to do is they think they’re the most effective, they think that they’re valuable by getting things done, and they don’t yet know how to translate their knowledge to other people so that other people can follow the same process. Some of this enabling work is about having the skill to break down how you have done something and describe it to someone else so they can then repeat that process. A great training ground for this, a great place to practice this, is at home. If you have kids at home and you are thinking, “Why am I doing everything myself? Why does nobody else do this?” Often what’s happening at home is that this piece has been skipped over, and we think, “Oh, they don’t know how to do it. It’s just easier for me to do it myself.” But if we replace the time we would spend doing a task with teaching the task, it is amazing how that pays dividends. I have a teenage son who is an incredible cook. He’s just an incredible cook because earlier in his life, he showed an interest, and we took the time, I took the time, to show him how to do some things in the kitchen. Slowly, painfully, but now with those years of practice, he is remarkably capable. He continuously astonishes me with what he can do in the kitchen. My other two children have been less interested in that, so the same enabling process didn’t happen with them, but it’s happened in other areas.

The same thing can be true in a workplace. You may have someone who’s really interested in learning how to do something. That’s where you want to invest the time and energy. It doesn’t have to be equally distributed across a team. The fifth E in this model is executed. Execute is really where the rubber meets the road and the plan gets put into action. Leaders have to be able to execute themselves. They can’t just sit at a desk and hope that it all works out. There is usually some element that they have to be able to do independently. You can be leading yourself. If you’re a really strong individual contributor, then personal leadership looks like being really good at executing. As soon as we get teams, these other pieces, enabling and energizing, become more important, and the higher up we go, the more important engaging and envisioning become.

I do think there’s a bit of a hierarchy to these five E’s. If you think about them as highest to lowest level, and again this is my commentary on it, envision would probably sit at the highest, then engage, energize, enable, and execute. Execution is something we need everyone to do, even if there’s no one reporting to them. Personal leadership looks like being accountable to yourself, accountable to others, hitting deadlines, getting things off the to-do list, and behind you, and picking up new things. As you reflect on these five E’s, I think there’s a couple of levels to think about. One is, what is your superpower? Which one of those five do you think you’re most naturally gifted with? What do you gravitate to without really having to be taught or trained? How can you use that? How can you use that particular vector of leadership to your advantage?

The second question I would think about is where do you need growth? What’s your growth edge? Which one of these five E’s is a place where you personally could spend some effort and energy? Maybe you need to look for training yourself. Maybe you need to ask for mentorship or coaching yourself in one of these areas so that you can continue to round out your skill set as a leader. You’re going to have some area that’s naturally your aptitude and some area that maybe you even avoid because you either don’t like it or you don’t think you’re very good at it. This is a good reminder to get some support in areas that you don’t feel like you really shine.

The second thing to think about here is your teams. If you are a senior leader and you have people reporting to you who have people reporting to them, if you’re in a multi-level hierarchy, then this is a great model to think about equipping your direct reports with so that they can turn around and use it within their organizations. This model has broad shoulders that I think could be used at varying levels in your organization.

As I was reflecting on these five E’s, are there other superpowers that you think leaders need to have? What’s missing from this model? When you think about what has made a great leader that you’ve worked for or observed, what do you think makes you a great leader? I’m curious if there is something that you are aware of that I haven’t referenced in this model that you would add to it. I’d love to hear from you if you have one, if something comes to mind and you’re like, you know what you’re missing, it’s this. Where does this fit? I don’t know if this is designed to be comprehensive. I don’t know that this is every attribute we want a leader to have, but it’s a good list of attributes to consider.

A great place to hit me up if you do have a comment and we’re not already in touch is on Instagram. I’m @cschnicki on Instagram. Just drop a comment. We’ll be posting about this podcast episode all week like we usually do in various ways, so any of those posts will be a great place to drop a comment. You also could email me directly if you go to our website at There’s a contact us form there that you can use. If you are a subscriber to the weekly, and if you’re not, you should be, you can just reply to any issue, and my team gets those emails and can share your comments with me.

A few different ways to reach out, and I really would love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve shared today. I think leadership is such an important but broad subject, so maybe it’s something that we’ll continue to talk more about here on the show. That’s all for today, my friends. Until next time, let’s be brilliant.

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