Welcome to The Leadership Range. Our host is Neil Edwards, who works at the intersection of leadership, relationships, well-being, and inclusion. He specializes in increasing the capacity, capability, and range of leaders, teams, and organizational systems to be more relationally intelligent, positive, productive, and change agile, and he’s bringing all of that to his podcast. He and Zach chat about the genesis of the show and what listeners can expect going forward. Tune in for a new episode every Monday wherever you listen to podcasts!
Connect with Neil on LinkedIn.
Keep up with The Leadership Range by bookmarking living-corporate.com/neil.
Zach: What’s up, y’all? This is Zach. This is pretty special. This is the first podcast under the Living Corporate umbrella that is not the Living Corporate podcast. Living Corporate, as we’ve been talking about, is a media network, right? So we’re a platform. We create digital media that centers and amplifies Black and brown people at work. That means that it’s a brand that extends beyond myself, Zach, right? It’s about bringing on other people and giving them space so that they create platforms to uplift other people, right, reach one teach one, lift as you climb, all of that. So I’m really excited about the content that you’re about to listen to. Make sure you hang around, check us out. The Leadership Range by Neil Edwards. It’s gonna be incredible content every single Monday everywhere podcasts are streamed. Make sure you give us 5 stars, share it with your friends, all of that. Talk to you soon. Neil, man, first off, I have to say I’m thankful for you. You know, you and I are friends. We’re colleagues. You’re a friend of mine, but you’re also a mentor of mine, and I’ve just really been appreciative of the intentionality of our relationship. But, you know, this is not for me to come on and wax and kind of, like, wax poetic and brag about you. This is actually your trailer for your podcast. So how about we just talk about, like, how we got here in this moment?
Neil: Yeah, Zach. Well, you just kind of said it. We have a relationship. We’ve known each other for a little while. Yes, I’ve supported you, and you’ve also supported me, and how did we get here? You know, what you’re doing with, you know, Living Corporate is really important, and I found myself becoming more and more committed, not just to Living Corporate but the mission to elevate the voices of Black and brown people and their allies, and for me, you know, using my voice to do that, using my voice to really elevate what leadership is really all about, has been something that has been a vision of my own for a while, and I think that this was the right opportunity for me to do it, to do it alongside you, to serve the people who are already a part of the Living Corporate community, to bring more people into that community, and to really make a difference in people’s lives who are trying to live upward and find a path for themselves and a life for themselves as leaders in the corporate space and supporters of everybody who wants to live and grow in that context no matter what their background, where they came from, what they look like, and to do it in very insightful and practical ways and have a good time while we do it, but really it starts with our relationship. It’s easy for me to say yes to you to join this platform, and it’s easy for me to say yes to myself to join this platform and yes to everybody else who will listen and enjoy it.
Zach: Let’s talk about your journey, right, like, as a professional. Like, how you got to doing what you’re doing now and why you’re doing what it is you’re doing now.
Neil: [laughs] Well, it depends on where we want to start. Sometimes I tell people I’ve always been a coach, I just didn’t know. You know, I’ve always been into leadership and the human experience since I was a boy, but I never had context for it. You know, I never had an understanding of what I was feeling could look like in life and in a career. So I won’t go back that far, at least not yet, but coming out of graduate school and going into the professional world as a management consultant and doing work on large systems integration projects, change projects, process improvement projects, human capital projects, what I observed was we could get better technically, and we were getting better and faster, especially with advancements in technology, yet projects would still fail. People would still seem to be a bit unhappy at times, burnt out, overworked, not communicating well, not getting along, not working well together as a team, and over time because I’ve always been interested in the human condition and how people come together to get things done or to perform, I came to the conclusion that most of the things that we’re running into as struggles on these projects have to do with people and people processes, not business processes. So the dynamic between individuals, and that opened the door for me to really focus in on people and how people lead and interact and engage with each other and come into relationships, stay in relationships, and perform and get things done, and long story short I ultimately became a coach while I was a management consultant and used it in my work and really, really connected with the effectiveness of coaching and how, particularly in change engagements, how much benefit there was and how much leverage and impact leaders had on the success or failure of a project. So that’s where I started spending my time, and I thought “Wow, this is really my sweet spot,” and so I changed careers and sort of flipped the narrative and put coaching out front as my vocation and used my background in consulting and business as a backdrop for context to having conversations, coaching conversations, with folks in a corporate setting. And that’s how I became a coach. Yeah, just started coaching privately, coaching for a global coaching company at the time called Coach in a Box, and I worked in the context of multi-national organizations coaching leaders, selling coaching as a service and developing products, and eventually taking an internal role with a large consulting firm and coaching leaders internally, from emerging leaders to senior leaders, individuals and teams, and here I am.
Zach: All right. So I don’t want to let the cat out the bag, but I do know the name of the podcast, right, ’cause we’ve talked about that. We have released that in some of the promotional material, right? It’s called The Leadership Range. Talk to me about, like, why is it called The Leadership Range?
Neil: I think everybody’s a leader, and we all have edges, and those edges are the points beyond which we begin to feel uncomfortable. That’s the edge of our leadership, and they’re all around us, and they show up in different contexts. So how our own development as human beings and adults, what you can and can’t be with, you know, what makes you uncomfortable. That’s a sign that you’re at an edge, and there’s an opportunity for growth and change at that edge. So we’re always becoming something or becoming someone or someone more, and it’s important to pay attention to that. So the idea is to support people and help people in expanding their range as leaders from wherever they are right now, and for the podcast that means sort of leadership generally, adult development if you will. That means well-being, because leaders need to be well to perform at their best. You can be good, but you can’t be at your best if you don’t take care of your well-being. So what are the edges there? Relationships. We all are always in relationship no matter what. We’re in relationship with ourself. We’re in relationship with the person across from us. We’re in relationship with our teams, with our organizations. We’re in relationship with money and ideas because of the stories and narratives that we hold. So what is your range in the context of relationships? Where are those relationships right and where are those relationships harming you, or where can they grow? And our range also in the context of inclusion, belonging, diversity and openness, cultural competency. In corporate America in particular, it’s fairly homogeneous. Predominantly white in corporate America, white collar, and in order for leaders to be truly effective–again, at their best–I don’t think you can be a great leader without being an inclusive leader. It’s just not possible, and it’s odd to me that we have these models for leadership and then we have models for inclusive leadership. I think they’re inseparable, but in the industry we talk about them separately. So that’s a way I communicate, but I believe they’re actually one in the same. Leadership and inclusive leadership are one in the same, but we need to talk about them separately. And that’s okay with me, but the idea in The Leadership Range is to expand one’s inclusivity, which means that you really need to take some hard explorations of yourself, your inner world, your thoughts, your beliefs, your attitudes, your biases, no matter what seat you occupy, and in this context I mean, you know, what your identity is, you know? Whether you’re Black, you’re some other person of color, you’re white, you’re female. Whatever it is, really understanding, again, what you can be with, what you cannot be with, where you’re comfortable, where your biases are, and expanding those so you can be more inclusive as a leader and as a human being.
Zach: And so I’m hearing that. I’m hearing the spirit behind it, right? I’m hearing how you envision, like, topic-wise or just kind of the general purpose. I want to understand from, like, a listener perspective, what can folks expect from this podcast?
Neil: A lot of insights and tips, right? So sometimes the podcast will be just me talking about a particular topic around those contexts that I mentioned – leadership, relationships or teams, well-being, inclusion. Those are the broad topics, and those topics usually will cover most of our lives, you know? Relevant things that are going on in society, relevant things that are going on in the corporate environment. So it may be me pulling a concept from those areas, breaking it down, and providing some insights and offering some tips for people who want to get better in that area. Like, what is it, what does it mean in context, and how do you improve it or how do you expand your range? What can you do, especially if you don’t have a coach that you’re working with directly? You know, some practical things. And then I will also bring people onto the podcast, coaches like myself who have experience in all of these areas, and we will pick a topic and break it down again, and we’ll talk about it. We’ll have a conversation about it. So you’ll hear their perspective, you’ll hear my perspective. We’ll just bounce off of one another and offer our own insights or experiences. We’ll talk about cases or incidents that we’ve had to bring context to it for folks, but still offer tips, and we’ll probably do this–you know, the intention is to have a new episode every week. We want to have fun with it. Yeah, and sometimes what I’m thinking is I may even bring clients on. So people who have been coached so that they can talk about their experience and their learning and what they did, and they may have tips to offer, and I might even coach a few people live on the air so people can get a sense for what that’s like if they’ve never had a leadership coach. So most of the conversations will be from or through a coaching lens so that people are learning and growing as they listen to the podcast, and we plan to have episodes every week.
Zach: That’s incredible. I mean, Neil, I’m excited. And we talked about this at the top, but I’m just excited about the fact that we’re able to come together–to your earlier point that you did say yes, right, you said yes to me, you said yes to yourself, you said yes to the folks who are gonna be listening and to all of your supporters in your network, and I cannot wait for November 2nd, the first official episode. In the meantime and in-between time, where can people find you and keep up with you and learn more about you?
Neil: I’m on LinkedIn, you know, and I am a regular commentator on LinkedIn. I weigh in on articles and give a point of view on LinkedIn, and I usually keep that very business like, things that are corporate relevant or leadership relevant. So yeah, that’s the easiest place to find me, LinkedIn. N-Edwards-07 on LinkedIn, normal URL. That’s probably the best place right now. I don’t have a private website where I’m posting blogs or anything like that. LinkedIn is the best place to find me.
Zach: Okay. Yeah, that sounds good. I know those things are in development, so as soon as those things come up then we’ll make sure that we plug those into the show notes, but we’re gonna make sure that your LinkedIn and all of that stuff is in the show notes below. I’m just really excited. You know, funny enough, Neil. I won’t say who said it, but somebody said, you know, “Your voice and Neil’s voice on the same podcast is a thirst trap,” and I said that’s crazy. I don’t think that’s true. I think that we have normal voices. I don’t think that our voices are just so crazy, but you know what? If that’s what’s gets the users and the folks excited, hey, enjoy it, y’all. Now, please understand The Leadership Range is part of the Living Corporate network, but don’t expect me on The Leadership Range. This is Neil’s podcast. I might pop in as a point of support just to say hey, celebrations, whatever, but my intention is to give Neil this space. You know, it’s interesting because a lot of Black and brown folks don’t have access to or even know how to access coaches, and if they do it’s hard to find coaches that look like them, and so I’m really excited about the fact that we’re able to create a space where this might be the only coaching that a lot of Black and brown professionals get. That’s powerful to me.
Neil: Yeah, I’m so glad you said that. So the majority of the guests that I want to bring on will be Black and brown coaches. I want to elevate the voices and the work of Black and brown coaches. Now, that won’t be the only profile that hopefully will come onto the podcast, because there are–and I have a lot of allies out there that are really interested in leadership and interested in inclusion and interested in supporting elevating diverse voices, but for sure, you know, I’m inviting Black and brown coaches to come in, join me on the podcast, have a great, insightful conversation, share your story, share your tips, get your voice out there, and hopefully folks will start calling you and get some work.
Zach: And that’s another thing as we’re wrapping up. It’s about lifting as you climb. Like, you and Matamba Austin. I’ma say his whole name. Matamba Fernando Austin. I’ma say his whole government name on my podcast. Y’all specifically inspire me about just thinking communally and thinking from a perspective of just an abundance mindset and seeking to bless others. Like, y’all do that just naturally, and I believe that I do that as well, but seeing it modeled frankly by two Black men that are older than me and frankly have more excuses to practice a scarcity mindset, have more excuses to be guarded and jaded and pessimistic, to see y’all do that inspires me to do it too. So look, y’all, we could go back and forth and play this sexy voice ping pong, but we’re gonna stop, okay? [laughs] We’re gonna stop for now, but we’re not gonna stop for long, because next week The Leadership Range will have its first episode. It’ll be every Monday, okay? So make sure y’all check it out. If y’all want to hear more of The Leadership Range, y’all want to keep up with The Leadership Range, make sure you go to living-corporate.com backslash N-E-I-L.