Episode #110:
Be Amazing at Leading a Team with Michelle Teague

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This week, Caterina is joined by business leadership expert, Michelle Teague. Michelle gives her unique perspective and advice on going into business with your spouse, leading effective teams, and infusing fun in your business! If you’ve been wondering what makes great leaders and how you can most effectively lead your team, this is the episode for you!

With over 15 years of experience as a speaker, trainer, and coach, Michelle Teague has conducted training and spoken internationally and from one coast to the other in the USA. Her focus is on leadership development, communication skills, and team building. Michelle helps people grow from where they are to where they want to be.

Her volunteer work includes the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the YWCA Westmoreland County, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Speakers’ Association, and the Scottdale Business and Professional Women’s Club. The mother of two adult children, Michelle lives in Mount Pleasant, PA with her husband, Jim, and their dog Molly.

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Expand Your Fempire Podcast #110 Transcript


Be Amazing at Leading a Team with Michelle Teague

Welcome to Expand your Fempire with Caterina Rando, the podcast for women in business on a mission. Sharing ideas to support you to grow and thrive. Now here’s your host, Caterina Rando.

[00:00:00] Caterina Rando: Welcome back to another episode of the Expand Your Fempire Podcast. I’m your host Caterina Rando, and I am blissing to be with you today because we have one of my favorite people as our guest today, Michelle Teague. Michelle is super smart. She is an expert at a lot of different things. One of the things she does is she helps companies have more effective teams. She helps business owners master their leadership. She supports organizations with infusing the values of the business throughout the organization and much more. She is also positive, uplifting, and I am blissing that she is also part of our Thriving Women in Business Community. Michelle, so happy to have you with us today.

[00:01:18] Michelle Teague: Thank you so much Caterina. I am thrilled. I am blissing to be here and I am just thankful to be a part of this community, it is awesome.

[00:01:29] Caterina Rando: Thank you. Well, you know, you’ve probably heard me say, Michelle, one of the things I’m always looking for is not only women to give value to, I’m looking for women that are gonna bring value. And you definitely do that. You uplift everyone that you come in contact with. Now you are in business with your husband. You have been in business for quite a bit. You weren’t always in business. How did you get from amazing young gal to entrepreneur?

[00:01:59] Michelle Teague: I was a corporate trainer for many, many years. And what I would see is the same thing happen over and over again. I would see people get promoted into leadership roles, and then within six months, either they were gone or people were whispering “you know, did we make the right choice? Is this the right person?” And it’s because they were failing. And it wasn’t because they intentionally wanted to fail as a leader, it was because they didn’t have the skills they needed to be a good leader. And that’s what I decided to focus on. I wanted to help these people who were new to their leadership role to develop their leadership skills, to develop their communication skills, and to get their team all on the same page going in the same direction.

[00:02:50] Caterina Rando: I love that. And you know, I recently had a client experience where I went to a store and I had such a bad experience, and I thought ” this is really a lack of training.” You know, it wasn’t so much that there was malice on the part of the salesperson. It was more like nobody trained her how to do client care. Would you agree that leadership failure is mostly the result of training or something else?

[00:03:20] Michelle Teague: Mostly yes. And that’s because people don’t know what they don’t know. The organization itself needs to step in and say “Hey, we have faith in you. We know that you have the potential to be a great leader. So we’re gonna provide you with the training that you need so that you can get those skills.” Because they don’t come naturally to everybody. Great leaders are not born, great leaders are made. And they need the skills training, just like they need to be trained on other aspects.

[00:03:56] Companies have no problem investing in training when it comes to systems. They have no problem investing when it comes to, you know, learning different programs. But for some reason it’s taken them a while to figure out that you need to train leaders on leadership skills. And that’s one of the reasons why I started my company to begin with.

[00:04:18] Caterina Rando: Michelle, most of our listeners have their own business. How can we take some time right now to train women with their own business to be better leaders?

[00:04:30] Michelle Teague: First and foremost, one of the things that all leaders need to figure out is what values do they have and what do they believe in? And the reason why I say that you need to start with that is because once you have a good foundation of what your values are, and what really matters to you, the rest of it’s easy. The reality is the rest of it will come very easy for people. And if some of the values that they have revolve around how they want to treat other people, how they want to treat their team, that’s gonna be important for them to share with the organization and with their team.

[00:05:09] The other thing is by incorporating values into not only what they do on a daily basis, but into training with their team, they’re now going to be incorporating those values throughout the organization. So training can be as simple as asking people where do you need the most help. It can also be as simple as asking the customers, as you experienced, “where do you think we need the most help? As a customer, what do you think needs to be done here within our organization?” Listen. I mean, the reality is people need to listen a whole lot more than they need to talk. And once they start listening, that’s when the magic can happen.

[00:05:59] Caterina Rando: You know, Michelle, recently I sent out a survey to the women who I serve to ask them for their feedback. And I wanna tell you the truth, I’m gonna come clean here. I almost never have sent out surveys in all my years of business because I was afraid of the feedback. I was, or maybe I still am, so sensitive because especially as a speaker, you know this, like people would evaluate your speech. And 99% of it is “outstanding, excellent.” And there’s one or two comments. I actually could tell you every negative comment I’ve gotten for the last 25 years, because those are the ones that really stick out.

[00:06:45] I’m saying this to you because I’m thinking perhaps other business owners, speaking particularly about women, have been afraid of that feedback. And I decided “you know what? I’m more certain and solid in my belief that I bring massive value, and with the feedback we can continue to upgrade.” So what are your thoughts for business owners that may feel the way I used to feel?

[00:07:12] Michelle Teague: I think it’s very interesting. One of the points you made, Caterina, is you could tell everybody the negative comments, and that’s because from a very early age, we are trained to pick out what’s wrong. I want you to think about little children. They will notice some of the greatest and most wonderful things. But once they get to be about 5, 6, 7 years old and they’re in school, the very first thing that they’re taught is “no, you didn’t spell that correctly. You’re coloring outside of the lines. You didn’t add or subtract these numbers right. You didn’t write it the correct way.” And they’re being told “no, no, no, no” all the time what’s being done wrong, as opposed to “you did a beautiful job on that picture. Oh my gosh, you are the best speller. You are the greatest writer. I am so proud of what you are accomplishing.” And so they’re being taught to look for what they’re doing wrong.

[00:08:14] And that’s what happens to us as we become adults, is we’re constantly looking for what we’re not doing right. And when we are getting feedback, we forget all the good feedback that we have here. All we hear is what you did wrong. And as adults, we need to make a conscious choice to listen, cuz some of that feedback we need to use, some of that feedback we need to incorporate, because we do need to make improvements here and there.

[00:08:44] Everybody can improve. It’s just how people are saying it for one. Are they being kind when they’re telling you this? But the other thing is you also need to hear the good feedback. You need to hear what you’re doing well, because we need to continue to focus on our strengths. There’s a reason why it’s a strength. More than likely there’s a reason why people said “Oh my gosh, you do a fabulous job doing this, and I want more of that.” And so feedback truly is a gift that we need to look for from other people.

[00:09:20] Caterina Rando: From other people, from our clients. One thing, Michelle, and you tell me what you think about this okay, cause I’ve often believed that I’m not interested in feedback from every Tom, Dick, and Harry, Mary, Jane, and Sheila. I’m really only interested in feedback from my clients and trusted sources. Trusted sources would be colleagues that know me and respect me. What are your thoughts on that?

[00:09:48] Michelle Teague: I tend to agree with you. The worst thing that somebody could do is if they’re a complete stranger, to walk up to you after they just heard you speak or after a presentation or after a training and say “You know, I thought you did really good here, but here’s what I think you need to change.” And it’s just like “I don’t know you from, you know, Tom, Dick and Jane off the streets. Why should I listen to what you have to say?”

[00:10:15] And you’re right when it comes to listening to our customers, listening to our clients, listening to our friends and colleagues, because we’ve got a vested interest in them. We’ve got a vested interest in providing them with the information and with the services that they want. So it makes a lot more sense to pay attention to them than it does to complete strangers.

[00:10:42] Caterina Rando: I will say related to this, early in my speaking career I created a boundary, because as a young speaker, I was having people come up to me and give me unsolicited feedback. When people would say “Can I give you some feedback?” or something like that, I started to say “Only if you wanna tell me how awesome it was.” Because inevitably they wanted to tell me how to make it better. And that would be very challenging for me. And here’s the thing, speaking is a very vulnerable act. We don’t usually acknowledge it as a vulnerable act. And of course, the more we do it and the longer we do it, I think we manage that more easily. But especially in those early years, I’m very glad that I created that boundary. What are your thoughts?

[00:11:33] Michelle Teague: I agree. Most people out there are afraid to get up and speak in front of a group. Public speaking is one of the greatest fears people have. It’s difficult. It can be very overwhelming. It can be very stressful. There are some people who just can’t do it. There are a lot of people who can’t get up there on a stage and talk to a group of people.

[00:11:56] So when somebody has the bravery, when they have the guts, when they have the courage to do that, they need to be applauded. They need to be acknowledged for doing what just about everybody else in the room won’t do. Yes, we need to go and we need to tell them what a fabulous job they did. If the speaker asks for feedback, that’s when you politely give it to them. If they look at you and say “Oh, I’m glad that you enjoyed it. What did you really think about it?” That’s when you share the well-placed comments and the well-thought-out comments of “Oh, I really enjoyed this. Maybe you make a change here. Overall, I thought you did a great job. Unsolicited feedback I take with a grain of salt. Because it is exactly that unsolicited.

[00:12:51] Caterina Rando: Well, Michelle, I know you would always be very kind and sometimes people’s feedback is anonymous and they’re not always kind. What I wanna say though too is that I’m not interested in everybody’s feedback. I’m interested in whether or not they wanna be a client. So this is why I’m anti-evaluation. I’m like “you know what? Your evaluation is did anybody decide if they wanna work with you?” If not, something’s wrong. And of course, you can have your friends, your colleagues, trusted sources in the room.

[00:13:21] Michelle, you are a phenomenal speaker. I’ve heard you speak, you always do a great job. Let me ask you this question, let’s sidebar. You are in business with your husband, and tell me what’s one thing that’s awesome about that and what’s one thing that’s challenging about that?

[00:13:38] Michelle Teague: I wanna go back to the values part here, because one of the reasons why I’m in business with my husband is because one of my values is family. I value spending time with my family, and there is no greater way to spend time with your family than to actually go into business with your family. The interesting thing is he and I are very different when it comes to what we do. I am one of these people who is very driven, very goal oriented. I tend to just go, go, go, go, go until things are finished. He’s a bit more laid back. He has a very hard time staying focused. Very good conversationalist. He can walk into a room and just start up a conversation with anyone and everyone and just have a great time and have a lot of fun. He is a funny kind of guy and he will just have a wonderful time, whereas I’m always like “No, come on, we got stuff to do.”

[00:14:42] And so the two of us make a very good team, because he ends up coming up with some brilliant ideas and then he will turn to me and say “Okay, go do this.” Because I’m the detail person. I can come up with the details, I can come up with the plan to execute and get it done. And so when it comes to running a business together, that’s generally what happens is we will brainstorm and he will come up with some really great ideas. And then it’s up to me to go out there and execute ’em. And so that’s how we have split up a lot of what goes on. He does a lot of the sales part. He does a lot of the big thinking and the visionary part, whereas I do a lot of the more detail-oriented part. I do all the invoicing because if it were up to him, he’d forget about it half the time. So I make sure a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff takes place so that our business can continue to run and keep going.

[00:15:41] Caterina Rando: I love that. I love that you compliment each other so well. Michelle, what advice would you have for a woman listening who may be thinking about bringing her spouse into her business?

[00:15:58] Michelle Teague: You need to be a brave person to do this. You need to make sure that you’re actually friends. And the reason why I say that is because some people when they’re married to somebody, they marry the love of their life, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. You marry the person that you can’t live without. You don’t marry the person that you can live with. You marry the person you can’t live without. Having said that though, it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily your best friend. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you get along well enough to where you’re going to be able to go into a business partnership and be able to keep your married life out of it. And that can be difficult for some people because at the end of the day, you’re married to this person.

[00:16:43] At the end of the day, you’re having dinner together, you’re going to sleep together. I mean, this is somebody who you’re gonna spend the rest of your life with. And you wanna make sure that you’re on the same page going into any business, because if you’re not, if there’s any type of friction going on there, it’s gonna ruin your marriage and it’s not worth it for that. You need to make sure that you can get along with this person working together as partners, not just together as a married couple.

[00:17:18] Caterina Rando: Great advice, Michelle. Now Michelle, you’re like me, we’ve been around the block a few times. Let me ask you this –at least a few times– let me ask you this: what advice now today as a thriving woman in business, would you give your younger self starting off in your own business?

[00:17:38] Michelle Teague: I think part of it would be to listen to that voice inside. And the reason why I say that is because I think too many younger people listen to what’s going on outside of them, and they don’t necessarily choose the right people to listen to.

[00:17:54] Your intuition, that voice inside of you that’s telling you this is the direction that you need to go in, is telling you that for a reason. If you listen to what that voice is saying, nine times out of 10 you’re gonna be successful. Because it knows what you really need to do. It knows what you’re capable of. And when you listen to yourself and you believe in yourself and you believe “Yeah, I can really do this,” in leaps and bounds you’ll be more successful than if you’re listening to the people outside of you. Cause they don’t know you like you do. They don’t have an understanding of what you’re truly capable of. Whereas you do. I would definitely say you need to listen to yourself. You need to listen to what it is that you truly want in life, and what direction do you wanna go in… and then go.

[00:18:48] Caterina Rando: Go. Love it. Michelle, one of the things that I’ve noticed in observing you since we’ve known each other is that fun is one of your values that is definitely reflected in your business. Will you share a little bit about how you showcase fun in your business?

[00:19:10] Michelle Teague: Sure. One of the things that I help organizations, I help people with, I help teams with, is team building itself. I wanna make sure everybody’s on the same page, going in the same direction, but nobody says that it has to be boring when you do that.

[00:19:25] Team building and teamwork can be a lot of fun. And one of the things that I do is I actually play what’s called a leadership game. It’s a game and it’s fun and it gets people talking and it gets people sharing ideas and laughing and having a good time. And I think that’s what’s missing today in a lot of organizations.

[00:19:49] You know in the past couple years when you had covid happen, that put a damper on a lot of what was going on, a lot of the fun activities that organizations and teams could have. And as a result, organizations didn’t incorporate fun activities. Post pandemic, that’s one of the things that organizations and teams need to get back to, is what can we do to incorporate more fun? What can we do to make it so that this isn’t drudgery.

[00:20:23] I realize it’s work that you’re accomplishing, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring, it doesn’t mean that you have to hate it. You should love what you do. You should have passion with what you do. And make it fun, make it something enjoyable, that people want to go and do what it is that they’re doing. That’s the way it should be. So incorporating fun makes a lot of sense.

[00:20:48] Caterina Rando: I totally agree. One of the things we do at our team meetings is we always start with a win. And that way everybody gets to showcase something they’re excited that they have accomplished. And that’s one thing we do that’s fun. I just sent out boxes. They don’t even know this yet cuz they haven’t arrived yet. But I sent out boxes to my team. It’s like a summer box with summer stuff. It includes cracker jacks and brownies and stress balls and a few other things. And of course a check, just because for the summer to treat themselves to something. An unexpected surprise is always a good piece of fun. And, you know, it’s interesting because I used to describe the values of my business and I would say things like love and kindness and generosity and integrity and massive value, and I wouldn’t say fun. But then when other people started to describe me and my business, they would use the word fun.

[00:21:56] The reason I shine the spotlight on that, Michelle, is sometimes we’re so much something that we don’t even see it. You know? Because it’s just part of who we are. And that’s why I think it’s good to ask your clients “How would you describe my business? How would you describe us?” and to see what they have to say.

[00:22:15] Michelle Teague: Anybody whose tag phrase is “bing, bing, bing,” you know it’s gonna be fun, so it makes perfect sense.

[00:22:22] And actually you bring up something that I think is very true, where you need to ask your customers, you need to ask your friends “how would you describe me? How would you describe my company? If you were doing, you know, that elevator pitch, if you were doing that 30-second commercial, how would you describe it?” Hearing about your business and hearing about it from your customers and from your friends can shine a very different spotlight on it for you, because that’s how you’re really coming across.

[00:22:55] Jeff Henderson wrote this book called For, and he tells you “you know, you need to be for your customer. You need to be for your team. You need to be for yourself. You need to be for your community.”

[00:23:06] And in it, he asks two important questions, and the first one is “what do you want to be known for?” What do you as an organization want to be known for? What do you as a business person wanna be known for.” and the second question he asks is “What are you actually known for?” And only your customers are gonna be able to answer that.

[00:23:27] And the difference between that is what you need to bridge that gap. Because once you are actually known for what you wanna be known for, that’s when business is easy. Everybody knows what it is that you do, they can easily identify it. It’s when there’s a gap in between what you wanna be known for and what you actually do that you gotta kind of bridge that gap and help your customers along. And the way you’re gonna find that out is, like you said, ask people “How do you see me? What do you think I do? How would you describe me?”

[00:24:04] Caterina Rando: Love it. So important. Michelle, we could talk all day. We got a lifetime supply of hot topics to talk about. We’re gonna have to wrap it up for today. How can people get in touch with you and anything about your business that you wanna share with them?

[00:24:18] Michelle Teague: The easiest way to get contact with me is go to my website, ateagueofyourown.com, and from there you can send me a message. You can give a call. You can find me on Facebook, you can find me on LinkedIn. Got the page there, A Teague Of Your Own, real simple to reach out to me.

[00:24:36] I am more than happy to help business leaders, I’m more than happy to help the women out there who need a little bit of help in developing their leadership skills, who need help with their communication skills in regard to either their team, or even with their customers, or with their friends and family members. I mean communication skills are something everybody can use, and I’m also more than happy to help people with team building, and getting everybody on that same page, and going in the same direction so that you’re achieving the goals you want.

[00:25:10] Caterina Rando: Sounds great. Michelle, I also know that you often have workshops that you do that people can join you for. And also join us on Facebook in our group. Hopefully, you love this podcast episode as I did, and you’ll listen to some more podcast episodes and subscribe and give us a review.

[00:25:30] Most importantly, I want you to remember that you have massive value to bring. There is a lifetime supply of people to serve. As Michelle said, run your business based on your values, so you can sell more, serve more, and most importantly, uplift more lives. Bing, bing, bing. Thank you, Michelle.

[00:25:51] Michelle Teague: Thank you, Caterina.

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