Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Catherine Plano
Title: Founder and Director
Organisation: Quantum Co-Creation Pty Ltd
Catherine Plano is a transformative leader and entrepreneur, internationally recognised for her innovative approach to coaching and leadership development. With over two decades of experience working with globally-renowned companies, Catherine's impact has touched over 100,000 lives, promoting spiritual and mental evolution. As a Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, and Leadership Development Professional, she's known as the Queen of Transformation, applying her vast knowledge in brain-based leadership and behavioural neurolinguistics to build stronger, more effective teams. Championing the consciousness shift towards a global mindset, Catherine's ongoing mission is to unlock individuals' limitless potential and pave the way for the betterment of humankind.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
One of the most challenging hurdles I've encountered as a leader is none other than the infamous imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that can affect individuals in leadership positions, causing them to doubt their qualifications and worthiness. It can undermine self-confidence and create a constant battle between the inner critic and one's true potential.
As a leader, the responsibilities are significant, requiring tough decisions and the guidance of others. However, imposter syndrome can creep in and make one question whether they truly have what it takes.
It's essential to recognise that imposter syndrome is a common experience among accomplished leaders. The key lies in acknowledging those doubts and fears without allowing them to define or hinder progress.
Confronting imposter syndrome head-on has been my approach as a leader. I remind myself of past achievements, the skills I possess, and the valuable contributions I've made. Building a supportive network of peers and mentors has also played a crucial role in boosting confidence and providing a reality check when doubts arise.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
A pivotal moment that shaped my leadership journey occurred unexpectedly, not in the boardroom or office, but in the intimate space of my home after the birth of my son. This profound experience awakened in me the realisation that as a leader, I needed to lead by example, serving as a guiding light for him, illuminating the path of truth, authenticity, and living with a heart-centered approach.
Embracing my truth and authenticity became a powerful lesson that surpassed mere words. It transformed my perspective on leadership and laid the groundwork for the leader I am today. Motherhood, devoid of a manual or predetermined course, required me to become a collaborative spirit at heart, open to new perspectives and constantly learning from each interaction. I would often tell my son, "Though we lack a handbook, together, we can navigate this journey." In fact, the collaborative bond between my son and me became a metaphor for my leadership style.
I do not claim to possess all the answers. Instead, I actively listen, cultivate curiosity, and invite others to share their insights. When faced with resistance, I dive deeper, seeking to understand the underlying thoughts and emotions, unearthing, challenging, and transforming paradigms. Through my experience as a mother, I have learned to lead with empathy, authenticity, and collaboration, fostering profound connections and nurturing growth. Just as the journey of motherhood remains an ongoing evolution, so does my leadership, embodying a steadfast commitment to continuous growth and learning, from guiding my son to leading teams.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My work days are structured with a clear focus on balance and personal wellbeing. I find that maintaining a consistent routine provides me with the energy and clarity I need to thrive. I prioritise my time by adhering to a schedule that allows me to make the most of each day.
To ensure I am well-rested and ready to tackle the day ahead, I have set a disciplined sleep routine. I make it a point to be in bed by 8pm, allowing me to wake up refreshed and revitalised at 4am. This early morning start sets the tone for productivity and a sense of calm. In terms of work, I dedicate a solid 8 hours to my professional endeavours. This time is valuable and focused, allowing me to dive into tasks, collaborate with my team, and make meaningful progress towards my goals.
Equally important is carving out 8 hours for restful sleep. Sleep is a pillar of wellbeing, providing the necessary rejuvenation for my mind and body. Prioritising this allows me to approach each day with a clear mind and optimal energy levels. Finally, I ensure that I have a dedicated 8 hours of "me time" to indulge in activities that ignite my passion, bring me joy, and provide a sense of purpose and meaning. This time allows me to pursue hobbies, engage in self-care practices, and nourish my personal growth.
By adhering to this structure, I strike a harmonious balance between work, rest, and personal fulfilment. It enables me to be at my best, to embrace each day with enthusiasm, and to find fulfilment in both my professional and personal pursuits.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent leadership lesson that profoundly impacted me was the power of vulnerability and the importance of seeking help from my team. It served as a gentle reminder that I don't have to carry the weight of leadership alone. In a moment of realisation, I understood that true strength lies in acknowledging our limitations and openly expressing our need for support.
So, I mustered the courage to have an honest conversation with my team, letting them know that I couldn't do it all by myself and that I genuinely needed their help. This act of vulnerability created a profound shift within our dynamic. It fostered a sense of camaraderie and empathy among team members, as they recognised that we were in this together. By sharing my challenges and asking for assistance, I created an environment where everyone felt comfortable expressing their own struggles and offering their unique skills and perspectives.
The result was a remarkable display of collaboration and collective problem-solving. As we worked together, leveraging each other's strengths and supporting one another, we achieved outcomes that surpassed anything I could have accomplished alone. This experience served as a powerful reminder that leadership is not about being invincible or having all the answers. It's about recognising that we are part of a team, a community, and embracing the collective wisdom and support that it offers. By being vulnerable and seeking help when needed, we foster an environment of trust, growth, and shared success.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Without a doubt, one book that has had a profound impact on my leadership journey is "The Leader in You" by Dale Carnegie. As I delved into the pages of "The Leader in You," I found myself captivated by the timeless wisdom and practical insights it offered. The book illuminated the transformative power of effective communication, influential leadership, and fostering positive relationships. One key lesson that resonated deeply with me was the significance of genuinely valuing and appreciating the individuals I lead.
Carnegie's emphasis on understanding people's needs and motivations struck a chord within me. I realised that as a leader, my role extended beyond achieving goals; it was about inspiring and empowering others to reach their full potential. Armed with this newfound awareness, I made a conscious effort to connect with my team members on a deeper level. I invested time in active listening, showing empathy, and recognising their contributions. The impact was profound. By implementing the principles from the book, I witnessed a transformation in team dynamics. Trust flourished, communication became more open and honest, and collaboration reached new heights. The atmosphere became infused with positivity, motivation, and a shared sense of purpose.
"The Leader in You" served as a guiding light during times of uncertainty and helped me navigate challenges with resilience and compassion. Its practical strategies and real-life examples inspired me to embrace a servant-leadership mindset, putting the needs of my team at the forefront. Through the wisdom shared by Dale Carnegie, I developed a leadership style rooted in authenticity, empathy, and building meaningful connections. This book not only refined my communication skills but also shaped my perspective on leadership as a transformative force capable of igniting positive change.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
If I could offer just one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: Embrace continuous learning and growth with an open mind and an unwavering commitment.
As a young leader, it's essential to recognise that leadership is a journey, not a destination. There is always room to learn, evolve, and expand your skills and knowledge. Embrace every opportunity for growth and never stop seeking new ways to develop yourself as a leader. Be open-minded and receptive to feedback and different perspectives. Surround yourself with mentors, coaches, and a network of supportive individuals who can guide and challenge you.
Seek out books, articles, and resources that will expand your understanding of leadership and inspire you to push your boundaries. Additionally, embrace a growth mindset, understanding that failures and setbacks are valuable learning opportunities. Embrace them, reflect on them, and use them as stepping stones toward improvement. Cultivate resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, knowing that true growth often arises from overcoming challenges.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
During my time as a leader, there was a team member whom I will refer to as Sarah. When Sarah joined the team, she possessed immense potential, but lacked the confidence to fully unleash her capabilities. As her leader, I made it a personal mission to support her growth and provide the guidance she needed. I took the time to understand Sarah's unique strengths, passions, and aspirations.
Through open conversations and active listening, I discovered that she had a natural talent for strategic thinking and problem-solving. However, her self-doubt often held her back from taking on more significant challenges. Recognising the tremendous value Sarah could bring to the team, I embarked on a journey of mentorship and empowerment. I provided her with opportunities to stretch her skills, guiding and encouraging her every step of the way.
I challenged her to take on projects that pushed her boundaries, all the while providing a safe and supportive environment for her to learn and grow. As time went on, Sarah began to flourish. Her confidence soared as she tackled complex tasks, showcased her expertise, and contributed remarkable insights. She became a go-to person within the team, inspiring others with her dedication, innovative thinking, and unwavering commitment to excellence. Witnessing Sarah's transformation was an incredibly meaningful experience for me as a leader.
Seeing her evolve from a self-doubting individual to a confident and impactful team member was a testament to the power of mentorship and empowering leadership. Sarah's growth not only positively impacted our team's performance but also created a ripple effect throughout the organisation. Her success became a source of inspiration for others, igniting a culture of personal and professional development. This story serves as a reminder of the immense satisfaction that comes from investing in the growth and development of our team members.
It reinforces the importance of recognising and nurturing the potential within each individual, enabling them to flourish and reach new heights. As a leader, it is truly rewarding to witness the transformation of team members like Sarah and know that you played a part in unlocking their true potential. It reaffirms my commitment to fostering an environment that empowers and supports the growth of each team member, knowing that their success ultimately contributes to the collective success of the entire organisation.