7 Questions with Monica Zimmerman
Name: Monica Zimmerman
Current title: CEO+Author
Current organisation: The Zimmerman Circle
With southern roots and big dreams, I now work with CEO's, top tier executives and decision makers as a consultant on Creative Leadership, the blueprint for the paradigm shift in modern business. I have been a leader, mentor and consultant for over 20 years. I work in concert with my clients to go deep, reignite their creative being and transfer into their unique leadership skills.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
My big challenge is "me". If I can get out of my own way, then my business grows! The inner work has to be done in order to scale your organization. I find this with my clients, this idea of doing "personal work" still has a stigma. I am here to change that. Becoming a Creative Leader is paramount in succeeding in the global market. Implementing transparency, trust and accountability with your teams, is the path of a modern leader.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started out in retail by default, after my undergraduate studies. I wasn't ready for graduate school, and needed a job! I soon realized the dysfunction and bad management of people, that was all around me. I decided that It needed to change and I was the one to forge the path! It was some 25 years later when It was the right time to begin my consulting company around leadership. It all has to do with alignment and timing.... The Zimmerman Circle was born.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My days begin (since 2020) with a short meditation and a longer run. I have my young adult son living at home again, so feeding him and our animals is also on that list. It is a constant balancing act with my family obligations and my business obligations. It is most important to make time for creativity and self care. I wrote a book in 2020 called -Creative Leadership For Modern Leaders- I speak on the crucial alone time, on needs, to create and innovate. I always schedule that time during the day.
I will do most of the computer work before 3 pm. I often get burned out on screens by then. The latter part of the day is dedicated to meetings with clients, research and writing.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most significant thing about being a successful leader, that I learned early on years ago, is that people want to be "seen and heard". If you can offer five minutes of just listening, no crosstalk, you will quickly build trust with your staff.
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?
'The Big Leap' By Gay Hendricks talks about your "Zone of Genius" and how you can tap into that zone that is unique, only to you. The skill that only you have that no one can replicate.
This book is another support for my leadership growth that has allowed me to tap into my "zone" of seeing very quickly the needs of the organization and of the teams and finding solutions. Speed + Agility is how I work and how I help leaders move forward. That is my "Zone of Genius".
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I build teams, one "individual" at a time. Knowing how team members work best under certain leadership styles. How do they individually receive (hear) information and direction from me is key. Remember, they want to be "seen and heard".
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
I had a team member that was late 80% of the time during the week. I asked her "how are you doing". Notice I did not ask "why are you chronically late?" Context and Content= She was a great employee, with creative ideas and contributed to our team. Yet, her late arrival was becoming a problem.
We got to the reason, her mother was ill and she was taking her to the doctor before work meetings.
She didn't feel it was worth mentioning to me. I just listened to her. After she finished her story, I asked her, what is the next step to make it to meetings on time. She said she would make sure she was on time and then I countered with changing the meeting time to 30 minutes later. The time change was not an issue for the other staff members and I had wiggle room in my schedule. So, I was able to meet both of our needs, get to the real reasons and make a shift.
This type of Creative Leadership really works.