Why Can’t More Leaders Be Like Simone Biles? with Denise Brosseau (Ep. #35)

By
The Better Manager Team
BetterManager Executive Coach

August 24, 2021

Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #35: Simone Biles & Work/Life Balance with Denise Brosseau

Denise Brosseau of the Thought Leadership Lab joins the podcast to show leaders and managers how they can take care of themselves as leaders and their teams when they are under stress.

When managers and leaders are more aware of the warning signs and have the tools to help, it creates healthier, more productive workplaces.

In this episode:

Meet Denise:

  • Denise Brosseau is the CEO of Thought Leadership Lab, where she works with executives, entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders on their journey from leader to thought leader.
  • Denise was the founding CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, now Watermark, and the co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, the women's start-up launchpad that has led to over $10B in funding for women entrepreneurs.
  • She's the author of the best-selling book, Ready to Be a Thought Leader? and her LinkedIn Learning course on Becoming a Thought Leader has been viewed by more than 200,000 learners around the world.

Prioritizing Mental Health

  • Naomi Osaka steped away from the French Open, then we come to the Olympics, and we see Simone Biles step away from performing in the gymnastics. The reaction to both of these women, who the entire world is watching the spotlight is staring at them, and they both chose their own priorities, their own health, their own mental health.
  • As an executive coach working with senior leaders, during COVID I've heard some terrible stories about how people are losing their stuff at work, and really impacting their employees in negative ways. My article brought it all together by telling a story about my own experience of as a young woman working at a crazy startup where the CEO was shouting and screaming at everyone from the first day I walked in the door. How I dealt with it, and how I got through it - I wish I had been more like Naomi & Simone throughout my career and hoping that others can take a lesson from these experiences.

First Steps

  • When we're at work, how do we find our voice? Like Simone found her voice, you know, that we were feeling all this? We feel the pressures, we don't want to disappoint people, you know, how do we go about doing that?
  • The small voice internally is is so important to listen to, and it can get drowned out by all the expectations around us. But you have to ask yourself, "Is this what work is meant to be? Is it meant to be physically debilitating? Is it meant to be mentally debilitating? Or is it meant to just be a job?"
  • The data out there that says 1/3 of people are looking for a new job right now, people are starting to say, "Is it okay for others to treat me like this? Is this behavior around me something I want to be in further for a longer time?"
  • And secondly, you need to recognize that you may have internalized these negative messages. I helped one of my clients just recently get into a bigger better job and and she's I feel like she's in recovery right now, because in the last place her last boss was so mean and so dismissive. She's kind of looking over her shoulder waiting for someone to disrespect her and waiting for someone to dismiss her. This internalized messaging can last for a long time, and recovery can be difficult and painful.
  • If there's physical or mental health challenges, and there's any other option, even if it's not as good career wise or money wise, it might be time to say enough.


The Wedding Lesson.

  • A recent client said when she was getting married, she started telling people six, eight months before, "I'm going to be getting married in May, I'm going to be taking a month off," "I'm getting married in May, I'm taking a month off," she said this regularly. About a month before she even started putting it in her email signature. She made sure everybody knew what the backup plan was, who every needed to go to while she was gone. Everybody knew.
  • So she goes off on our honeymoon has a lovely time. Nobody calls her nobody bothers her. She has her month off, and it's great.
  • A few months later, she heading out on vacation, a trip that she had in the works for a couple of weeks. She told her boss once but of course, her boss had forgotten. The day comes and she's trying to get out of the office early, but they're like, "What are you talking about? I didn't know you were taking a four day weekend. I need you to work on X and how come you haven't prepped who's going to back you up?"
  • Since this wasn't as important as the wedding, she didn't feel the need to over-communicate or have a backup plan.
  • And that was really her own lesson. Every time she was going to be gone, she needed to be thorough, to communicate better, and have the backup plan.
  • If we say we're going on vacation, then don't go, or if we get paid for weeks of vacation, but don't take it, we're allowing ourselves to be more and more stressed and overwhelmed. That compounds the problem: Who wants to work with somebody who hasn't taken a break!
  • We must stick to our guns, make a plan, and follow through on it - communicate, communicate, communicate!

Leading By Example

  • As leaders, we need to be doing it. When I was leading my nonprofit years ago, I was so happy doing what I was doing, so I was working all the time.
  • This wasn't the dream job of every team member, though. At one point I got some feedback from people like we are even afraid to ask to go to the dentist because you never stop working! So what I was modeling wasn't what I want to be modeling.
  • I stopped sending emails at four in the morning, working all weekend, and expecting everyone else to show up early and stay late. There was no need for this kind of behavior when it's bringing it down on everyone around us.
  • The leader is the model, and now more than ever to show the example of how to help people take care of themselves. And to model that time that we step away is really going to make us a better person and a better leader.
  • I was just coaching someone who had been trying to get out of her job, which has been very stressful. In her new position they have four weeks vacation, and you must take it. They're close between Christmas and New Year's. She was near tears when she really realized what an impact this can have: from "I couldn't really take vacation that everything is on my shoulders," to "No, you must take four weeks and that's it."

Downloads & Resources

Follow Denise on LinkedIn and at The Thought Leadership Lab.

Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

About Denise Brosseau

Denise Brosseau is the CEO of Thought Leadership Lab, where she works with executives, entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders on their journey from leader to thought leader. Denise was the founding CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, now Watermark, and the co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, the women's start-up launchpad that has led to over $10B in funding for women entrepreneurs. Denise is the author of the best-selling book, Ready to Be a Thought Leader? and her LinkedIn Learning course on Becoming a Thought Leader has been viewed by more than 200,000 learners around the world.

Episode Transcript

Posted on

August 24, 2021