Unleash Your Leadership

#15: Fractional Leadership With Karina Mikhli

May 29, 2023 Priyanka Shinde Season 1 Episode 15
#15: Fractional Leadership With Karina Mikhli
Unleash Your Leadership
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Unleash Your Leadership
#15: Fractional Leadership With Karina Mikhli
May 29, 2023 Season 1 Episode 15
Priyanka Shinde

In this special episode, I interview Karina Mikhli, fractional COO.  Workflow Consultant and a Founder of Fractionals United. We talked about how leadership is evolving and traditional notions of job responsibilities are getting replaced with modern ways of working. We also discuss the importance to tap into the human and emotion side of leadership in the age of Generative AI and ChatGPT.

Check out: www.fractionalsunited.com

Youtube Podcast Video



TPM Academy presents a brand new live cohort-based course - Advancing Your Career: The Path to Staff+
Supercharge your program management career with the only course designed for experienced TPMs and Program Managers in Tech

  • 🎯 Secure that promotion you have been eyeing and accelerate your career trajectory
  • πŸ—ΊοΈ Break free from your current level, exceed expectations and become promotion ready by building a career success roadmap.

Want to unleash your leadership?
Work with Executive Leadership Coach, Priyanka Shinde
Read my Book - The Art of Strategic Execution
Become a success Technical Program Management Leader with TPM Academy

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Show Notes Transcript

In this special episode, I interview Karina Mikhli, fractional COO.  Workflow Consultant and a Founder of Fractionals United. We talked about how leadership is evolving and traditional notions of job responsibilities are getting replaced with modern ways of working. We also discuss the importance to tap into the human and emotion side of leadership in the age of Generative AI and ChatGPT.

Check out: www.fractionalsunited.com

Youtube Podcast Video



TPM Academy presents a brand new live cohort-based course - Advancing Your Career: The Path to Staff+
Supercharge your program management career with the only course designed for experienced TPMs and Program Managers in Tech

  • 🎯 Secure that promotion you have been eyeing and accelerate your career trajectory
  • πŸ—ΊοΈ Break free from your current level, exceed expectations and become promotion ready by building a career success roadmap.

Want to unleash your leadership?
Work with Executive Leadership Coach, Priyanka Shinde
Read my Book - The Art of Strategic Execution
Become a success Technical Program Management Leader with TPM Academy

Follow
Priyanka Shinde on LinkedIn
Priyanka Shinde's Facebook Page
Priyanka Shinde's Instagram Feed
Priyanka Shinde's Youtube Channel

Follow
TPM Academy on LinkedIn
TPM Academy Facebook Page
TPM Academy Instagram Feed
TPM Academy Youtube Channel

 πŸ“ hello everyone. Welcome to the Unleash Your Leadership podcast. I have a very special guest today, and I'm really excited to introduce her. Karina Mikhli is a fractional COO workflow consultant and a founder of Fractionals United, which is a community for all fractional leaders and anybody aspiring to get into the fractional space.

Karina, 

welcome to the podcast

. Thank you for having me. 

Well, tell us a little bit more about you and what you do for the world.

 Sure. Many years ago I started out as a teacher and then spent two decades in the publishing industry where I first, I guess, became a leader and climbed the content operations ladder.

After one, too many reorgs and layoffs. I started dipping my toes into consulting and what would now be considered fractional c o o work, but didn't have a name back then. Long story short, I was doing that for about seven years. Went full-time with one of my fractional clients and then came back to fractional work at the beginning of this year.

It was a very different landscape. On the one hand, there are a lot more fractional leaders. Fractional is in the news. On the other hand, it felt a lot more lonely and harder. And I started looking for a community, couldn't find it, built it. And now Fractionals United is 2000 plus members in four and a half months.

That's wonderful.  

Four and a half months. And I,  do feel  this year I have been hearing the word fractionals a lot as well. So for those of us who are listening who don't necessarily understand what fractional means, share a little bit more about 

that. Of course. So fractional in a nutshell, is a part-time leader.

The only difference between  a fractional coo, o o and a full-time c o o, is that you don't do that for 40 hours. You do that for a fraction of the time and you're doing some other work, whether it's another fractional or consulting or you're founder on the side, whatever it is. I spend a lot of time defining or differentiating between fractional and consulting because people know, consulting, people know interim fractional is a newer thing.

So consultants tend to be project-based and external, and it could be a long-term project, but when you take on a consulting engagement, there is an implied end date and there is a scope. Mm-hmm. And you're also  external. You don't have a team, you're not an embedded part of the leadership team when you take on a fractional engagement.

You're an embedded part of the team. You have people reporting to you, you can represent the company. You have a seat on the org chart. There is no implied end date. And, and that's the difference between fractional and interim interim. You are a part of the team usually full-time, and usually there is an end date implied unless you then become the full, long-term person.

Mm-hmm. So it's, it's there. There's a lot of. People who call themselves fractional because it's the buzzy thing, or there are a lot of  people who are consultants considering going fractional. It's not that one is better than the other. It's just a very different model. 

I know you have a blog article as well about  fractional,  what is the difference between a fractional and a consultant and advisor and so on.

So I do wanna recommend people to find that on the Fractionals United blog , because I feel  that  provides a very clear way of looking at it  .. , you started this way before. Fractionals became a buzzy word. Yes. How did you feel going into it?

Because it was probably something that wasn't as well defined and having a full-time job  holds 

more value, perceived value, I should say. 

And also I feel people still have a lot of questions , how can a C o O be fractional? , shouldn't they always be embedded? So I would love to hear your thoughts on , when you were first starting out in this space.

Yeah, so I used to explain what I did to people by saying that no one goes into business to start a business or, or no one goes into business to run a business. And that the CEOs and founders get overwhelmed as soon as there's any modicum of success. They don't wanna deal with the people, they don't wanna deal with the backend.

They just wanna  focus on  the product, the service, the thing that made them open. , a business to begin with. So as soon as they get overwhelmed, they would hire someone like me to run the business for them. And that's what then became fractional c o work, because at any time,  I could be running three to five small businesses at, at small to mid-size businesses at various stages, because I tend to, and not all fractional COOs do this, but I end to start, I start at  part-time half.

Halftime, then go more fractional. Once I put in the systems and people in place and stay on a maintenance level. Not all COOs wanna do this. I know there's a fractional coo O in the community. He's only two fractionals at any time. Halftime one, halftime the other. And then he replaces himself and moves on.

So it, it also provides flexibility and the opportunity for all of us to do this in our own little, , the way we prefer to work. So, I like having maintenance clients, which is, once I've put things in place, , they, they need me for  maybe five to seven hours a week so that there's still someone at my level.

Leading the team, troubleshooting, , and, and, and the,  founder can still focus on his areas of strength. Mm-hmm. Others don't wanna do maintenance and just move on. And to answer your other question, the truth is and people don't wanna talk about this, is that unless you're a large company in scale up or in growth mm-hmm.

Most full-time people don't work full-time every nine to 12 months. I would either get promoted, get bored, move on, or get leto. And I thought it was just amazing. But since joining the community, I've realized it's, it's a competence thing. So many people have gone through the same thing. We're , we're good at what we do.

So unless there's a new challenge or a new need, or the company is an active growth stage, we're , once we do our thing, there's something new and more you need us to do. But if you are not one of those, Fully actively growing companies, chances are we're gonna have a lot of spare time after nine to 12 months.

So you don't really need us full-time after that point, and you're wasting money in, in  keeping us on. So you can act, you can really be a successful, efficient impactful c o o and not be full-time.  

 That's really eye-opening for a lot of people because not everybody thinks that way.

And , , having a full-time job again is considered , , people trust that or, yeah. It's considered  the traditional way about going about things, but this is what I like about  the, current. Workplace and environment we are in, which is we are all exploring different ways of working.

Yeah. And I feel   it just gives us more options as well as as people in the modern workplace and, and trying to figure out what works best for us. And so , it's great for every individual to figure out what works best for me because what she talked about, which is after nine, 12 months, You're almost reaching this level of un unconscious competence.

Yes. Where you can , do things well, right? You, you start maybe at , a, conscious incompetence, but you get to the unconscious competence, and, and that's the point where , you itch for something different and either the company can give it to you , or you have to move on. And   something that resonated with me as well, coming from my technical program management background, I always said, For myself and for others is , I am working myself out of a job.

I need to automate, I need to make things repeatable. I just need to put things into place so then I don't have to do these things manually anymore. Yes. And the team doesn't have to do it, and then just move on to what else can we do. So it just, just sounds very similar in, in that sense . And it totally makes sense,  the way you described it.

Yeah. It's, it's ironic that When I was a full-time fractional, I was more stable than when I went full-time and now I'm rebuilding my fractional business. Because when you have  several things, like several clients, whether they're consulting or fractional or whatever, I. You can see when things are coming to an end or if things aren't working out and you have like a small hole to fill, right?

Because you've got several income streams or several clients and it's a lot easier to fill one gap. Than it is to start over and  replace your entire income. Mm-hmm. And that is the irony. It used to be that W2 is what everyone aspire to, as you said, and is what was considered most stable. But in this economy and climate, it's, I,  in some ways the least stable, which is really.

Weird. Yeah, that's true. That's true. I 

would love to  go back to a little bit earlier time in your life and ask you , what did you want to become when you were younger? 

Oh my God. I wanted to be so many silly things. Astronaut, detective, , like if we're going far back, , when I was a child, it's whatever I was reading about at the time.

But I did at some point, I did wanna be a teacher. I loved teaching and books which is why I went from teaching to the publishing industry for, for like two decades because I, loved books and everything to do with books and when I burned out on teaching, because I was, I was in university teaching high school girls and I looked young and discipline was an issue.

And I just got burned out. Cause I, am, , I,  come from an Eastern European environment where God forbid if I ever talk back to my teachers, like I would never hear the end of it. And the ,  I'm American through and through, but like the American Let's, let's put it this way, the,  parents I was dealing with teaching the girls I taught, had a very different attitude towards education, and the PTAs were not fun.

Like the parents would blame me on any issues with their children instead of working with me to figure out why their children were not, , behaving as they should in a classroom. So I got burned out really quickly on doing that and when I realized I couldn't keep teaching the books, I was like, okay, let me help make them.

And I fell into operations like most people who go into publishing wanna be an editor. But it was a lot harder getting an editorial job than it was getting a production job. So I'm like, okay, I'll start as a production assistant and then maybe make a lateral move. But I actually. Fell in love with production and operations and it was a way better fit to my strengths and just who I am.

So I never looked back. 

Yeah, that's wonderful. Way to   start out and  even shift over to something completely different and, and that's what I like about,  the opportunities. Now you can do so many different things you don't have to do. What you did or , what your degree was probably based out of .

So I love,  that story. Tell me, as you evolved in your career and you became a leader or you, , fell into it,  what does one, what does leadership mean to you? And when did you first become aware of your own leadership skills and aspirations? 

So to me, a leader it's the servant leadership model.

Our job is to support the people who report to us, inspire them, bring up the best in them, not boss them around. I I unfortunately had several really bad leader bosses or micromanagers. And I promised myself that if and when I became a leader, I would not do the things they did to me because it felt so, it felt so demoralizing and depressing and just horrible.

There was I won't name names, but , I can, the one I'm thinking of, we we're all so miserable,  it was a challenge to want to get up and go to work. It was, yeah, it's  we banded together. It was a small team. We banded together and we were there for each other, but it was miserable. It was, it was some of the hardest times in my life and it was all because of the person I reported to.

And I realized, , I used to, I used to think that, and it's not realistic, but that, , there are so many certifications and licenses out there. And it's ironic that two roles that have the most potential harm do not require, and that's parenthood and leadership. Yes, anyone can be a parent and, and unfortunately screw up their child for life, and anyone can become a leader and do the same.

And ,  it's impractical to require licensing or certification for either, so I get it, but it's, it's, it's when I realized the potential damage and I realized that I now had people reporting to me and counting on me, I took the time to learn. , I read a. I still read a lot about leadership and culture and employee engagement.

I learned from watching others what worked and doesn't work, and what's the one thing I had to learn is that what what works for me doesn't necessarily work for everyone else, and that you have to meet people and be the leader that they need you to be. Mm-hmm. And to acknowledge that and recognize that.

The other thing I had to learn is that leadership is about the what, not the how. So you tell someone where you want them to end up and why, and then you let them figure out how to get there. I distinctly remember one time when I was working at Oxford University Press and I was managing the production of four departments and I hired A managing editor, which is  like my second in command per each of the, departments.

And she was brilliant. She got her work done really well, really quickly, but not the way I would do it. And I literally remember biting my tongue and being , I am not going to say anything  the,  instinct was to tell her how to do it, but I. I recognized that that was a bad place to go and I bit my tongue to prevent, , to  stop myself from doing it and just to let her do it her own way.

And she got there. She got to where I wanted and really well, but not the way I want would've done it. And that was fine, but it was a realization I had to make. And I remember making that and being like, Hmm, okay. I'm not saying anything. 

Wow. Yeah, I mean, that's so insightful because what, what you're saying is as a leader, you have to do the harder things sometimes and it can take longer.

 That's what leadership is about, is not taking the easy route. Cuz it could have been so easy for you to just  point it out and do it yourself. And I,  feel like a lot of leaders or managers especially, is , oh, I , I don't know how this person's going to do it. Let me just do it myself.

It's faster. And it's very, very tempting to do that because it's also the easy way out , and so leadership is hard. Oh yeah. . And, , one of the other things you mentioned, which really resonates with a quote that I truly believe by is, with great power comes great responsibility.

It's , the, quintessential Spider-Man quote. And I do feel  That leaders having  this  self-awareness that, that you just mentioned is really important because as a leader you have to be able to know how you're perceived as opposed to what you just want to be. 

I would I would take it further and say that, well, first of all, I learned that micromanagement usually comes from either fair or I guess.

Lack of self worth. I don't know. I think Micromanagers either are afraid that they will, , their job is at risk, or like you said, they don't trust that the job will get done well. But that means you potentially didn't make a good hire. If you hired someone who is a good fit and train them, they should be able to do their job well.

Bless you. They should be able to do their job well, and you need to give them the chance to get to, ,  what you said,  the,  competence matrix, right?  It takes time and if you're there to support them and help them get there, but if you take over, they will never get there. Whether they're the right person or the wrong person.

It's human nature. If, if you. Someone is gonna do it for you.  At some point you stop. , I've actually realized this in jobs where I have to be too much in the weeds. And I've told, I've told my bosses sometimes this my CEOs , I have noticed this about myself. If I'm in the weeds, my, my higher level thinking just.

Stops. It just shuts down. So if you will tell me, do A, B, C, I will do A, B, C, but I will stop thinking about a way better way to do that because just monotonous and I just want it over with. If you want me to actually think about the best way to get from A to C, then don't tell me B, just tell me C.

And I will, I will use all my skills and expertise to figure out the best way to get there. So if you find yourself micromanaging or well, or being micromanaged,  if you're being micromanaged, it's either con. Try to have a conversation with your boss and if that doesn't go well, look elsewhere. If you find yourself micromanaging someone, then there are some hard questions you have to ask yourself.

Why, , , are you. So let me take a step back. One of the best leadership books I've read recently is Multipliers by Liz Weissman. And she goes into the whole difference between  the diminishers and the multipliers. And the multipliers are the true leaders who don't need to be the center of attention.

They realize that they, they are there to support and bring out the best, and, and, and that's what they do. Whereas the diminishers are the micromanagers or, or sometimes. She has  a whole chapter on accidental diminishers. , leaders who, who are well intentioned but don't realize that they are bringing their team down by , jumping in too quickly or, or doing all these other things.

Were , unlike the, diminishers who it's all about their ego and needing to be the center of attention and hogging the information so that everybody needs them. These accidental diminishers really do want to be good leaders, but, For one of many reasons or not, and some of it is just because, oh, it's faster.

Let me do this, and don't realize the long-term danger of doing that by default. Hmm. Wow. 

Yeah. There were two very important things I think that you mentioned there. One is of course, ,  this, this whole concept of multipliers versus diminishers and also . The, micromanagement aspect,  there is advice there that you are giving for leaders, but there's also a lot that I think an individual contributor can get out of what you just said, which is assess by yourself,  where you are at or what you are getting and, and, and become self-aware , am I, am I operating at the right level or not, or what might contribute or hinder the way I operate.

 You mentioned, you. Told your boss, , 

this is how , my, my 

mind shift based on what you tell me. So it, it's really important for anybody, individual contributors or leaders to understand how, how they might be operating differently based on what they are getting from the, from their bosses or from from the leaders or stakeholders around them.

And the, and the, and the second thing I,  love is your, your, your honesty around. All the things you're mentioning was , okay, I've had, , bad bosses, which all of us have had. Right. And here's what works. Or , we, we, we don't become parents. We become parents, but we don't have any guidance around it.

So I,  love, love the honest conversation here. And I,  I would love to also ask you, this is  something you were surprised by when you started leading. 

Hmm. How hard it is.

So you thought it was easy and, and that was surprising. 

Yeah. Well, the good leaders make it e look easy. Right. But  the, surprising thing is where you have to spend your time. It's not so much about doing the work anymore, it's about getting the work done through your team. And that means being there.

For them and supporting them and making sure they are in the right,  seats on the bus right in the right positions, helping them become their best and occasionally then helping them move on. Right. So the, hard thing is there is no, there are no two days alike. There is no real playbook, right?

Every person you are leading, every situation is going to be different. And you can't, you can't automate this stuff. I, believe me, I'm big on automating too. I automate and delegate and optimize whatever I can. You cannot. Automate or op? Well, you can optimize, but you can't automate leadership. It's about people connecting.

It's about really knowing the people you are leading and the situation and sometimes having to decide whether you prioritize a person or a division or a company, and how do you do that? , without, , you aren't going to have to make hard decisions and sometimes let people go. And if you are ever, if you ever get to the point where that is easy, get out.

 You are no longer a leader. ,  if you can let someone go and not feel bad about it, you have, you've become a robot and you are not a leader. Because it needs to always be about the people. And even when you make a hard decision, there is a humane way of doing it.  If you have to let people go.

So that. You don't, if you have to let 10 people go so that you don't have to close shop and let a hundred people go. Right. There is still a humane way to be there for the 10 and help them find the next thing right. And support them. And just be honest. My husband works for a I won't name names in case he doesn't want me to.

He works for a company that was recently bought up by a larger company, but their c e o is actually one of, I've only heard of this secondhand, but oh my God. , I am so envious sometimes that he works for this wonderful c e o who actually lives the things you and I read about and talk about. They had to let people go because sales weren't there.

And he was so authentic. He literally did  an all company meeting and apologized and  my husband told me  he was near tears because he felt it was a personal failure that they got to that point and he did all these things to  support the people that had to let go and know that he will always be there for them to help.

 That's what leadership should be about.  People are trusting their livelihood to you. Mm-hmm. , if you have to break faith with them, you better, you better do it in a, in a ae way. And just remember, these are people that actually trusted you. 

Yeah. \ just with the current economic environment and so many layoffs that is so relevant, then .

And you're right,  leadership , is a lot about, , your emotional intelligence and,  how you show up as a human, how you show up for others and,  this  not becoming robots, you all almost  took me to this thing. It's  everybody's  worried about this AI and generative AI nowadays, and I feel  there's so many ways we can take advantage of it, but at the core, especially when we think about leadership .

And building out our own leadership skills and capabilities that this human aspect, this emotion aspect that can never be replaced by ai.  The AI can let the person go without remorse, like you said. Yeah. But a good leader cannot. Do that or will never do that. And,  that is really powerful to understand that we can tap into our own human intelligence.

Mm-hmm. So much more with the AI coming in now because it'll actually help us go back and get in touch with ourselves and say, okay. What matters here, and,  I love what you said, even though I was not necessarily prompting you about robots and ai, but I would still love to hear from you because now  it's very much a rage right now with this whole generative  ai.

How are you thinking about , AI for your organizations or yourself as a leader? 

So, to me, AI is. A tool just like I,  mentioned  I'm big into automation and I'm big into no code. So I think AI is just another tool to be more efficient in some repetitive manual tasks. Right. Whether it's research or writing or, , creating tables or PowerPoints, it's, it's almost  it can replace that low level assistance.

Right? But it's not, Replacement for leadership. It's, I think the more I, honestly think that people who use AI as a partner, hopefully can spend more time focusing on the you made, right on the, on the connections, on the relationships. And maybe, maybe it will for the small company that can't afford  a whole team or an assistant, it, it can help.

Help them scale by, by, , doing the administrative tasks and having them focus on where they as a human being can add value. But as, as leaders, yeah.  I,  do not, I know it's probably going to be a tool used for training and used for recruiting, which is fine. Both of those have repetitive elements.

But there anyone who ever thinks that an AI should replace a one-on-one conversation, totally missed the boat.  You need to be connecting with people. As a leader, you need to  know your, your team,  you need to meet with them on a regular basis. You need to. , maybe you can have AI to  the first step in a performance review, but then you need to have that conversation and analyze it and, and discuss it.

So I think it could be an effective tool to just,  automation has been to just  get rid of  the,  low val, , the, low-hanging non-value add things we all have to do so that hopefully we can spend more time on the value adds. Relationship human parts of what we do. 

 What you mentioned about leadership, your own way of thinking around, , , how can I be useful? What can I automate? How can I move on? 

Combined 

with this aspect of how can we be there for people and we don't always have to be there all the time.

We tell them what to do. So define the what? Leave the how up to them.  It ties in  very well with the fractional type of work. And so I would love to hear what are your thoughts around that, because  as you were saying, all of these things, it's  that aligns so well, but in being in a fractional space because.

You can, you can be a leader. You have less time to make more impact in some ways. And so you can think about all of these ways to leverage ai, but also leverage how you're building your relationships, how you might automate and optimize and so on. 

Yeah. So I think fractional to be successful as a fractional leader, you have to be a multiplier by definition, because like you said, you have less time and resources and.

It forces us to focus on the things that matter or the things that allow us to be impactful and successful, which is the people and supporting them. When you're fractional, you don't have the time for all the bureaucracy and needless meetings and all the things that, as a full-timer, you spend a lot of time doing and really don't move the needle.

And. For a fractional. So for a fractional engagement or job to be successful, a, you have to be a leader. You can't fake it. And two, the founder and or c e o you work with has to treat you as a true partner and give you the authority to do that because, and that's a whole other discussion, right? But.

You can only succeed if your leader is a true leader and lets you do what they hired you to do. An interesting thing, we an interesting discussion we had early on in the Fractionals United community was a shift. We saw. I had it happen to me, but only in hindsight did I recognize it once we had that conversation, which is that.

For some of us that started out as fractionals who went full-time, there was a small shift in our relationship with our C E O, whereas when we were  a fractional C whatever, in my case, c o O, and we were 10 99 and not fully employed, we were treated as true partners and given that respect, but then when we became full-time with the same client, There was this subtle shift where they almost, they didn't quite respect us or treat us as a true partner because we belonged to them as their employee.

And I, like I said, I didn't re realize this till in hindsight when  several people jumped in in the community and were , yes, there is a difference. So something about being a fractional executive. They tend to treat us as true partners, which is harder sometimes as a w2 where they feel you belong to them.

It's not a rule, but  several of us have seen it. So it was just interesting and, and you need to be treated as a true partner, whether you're full-time or fractional, to be able to be an effective leader because if you're being micromanaged, you can't. I, had situations where I tried to buffer my team.

, from what I was dealing with, but you're, you're, you're  limited if you don't have the full authority to do your job well. 

You have to,  be a leader, like you said, in order to be successful in the fractional role because there's a lot of in independence that you are given and you will have, and then there is probably a lot of ambiguity as well, and you have to be able to manage all of that in addition to all the other dynamics.



Something you mentioned here was  about  community. Mm-hmm. When you go to the top, , they often say it's lonely at the top. At leadership levels, and I love that you're forming a community about it because something you mentioned, which I always say, when you talk to other people and when they say the same thing or they have the same experiences, that's when you realize, oh yes, either this happened to me.

I. Or it's like, oh, I'm not alone.   , I'm not crazy here thinking that this is just happening to me. ,  so tell me a little bit more about  your community and how you  thought about bringing that community together. 

So the last two years I joined a bunch of great online communities SP mo, most of them specific to operations.

Operations Nation, COO, forum op operators Guild, and of course OnDeck where we met. And I know, I know, , they taught me the value of finding like-minded people. There, there, yes. Like you said, there's definitely something about like when you're a COO in whatever industry, whether fractional full-time.

It's great to be able to ask other COOs or other operations executives, oh, how did you do deal with this? Or, or, I need a new, I need a new accounting partner. Do you have any referrals? I used to have to do so much research whenever I needed to find a new tool or a new vendor, and now I literally just go into these communities and ask for referrals, and I know firsthand.

It's people who have used these tools or, , experienced firsthand with these vendors, recommending them. So it's such a, a, it's a time saver. So, , it's, it's it's investment that pays for itself over time. And yeah, it's, it's definitely lonely because I.  I'm a very obvi, well, not obviously, I'm a supportive leader and I have true relationships with my team, but there is a divide you cannot cross, right?

Because someday you may have to either hire them or discipline them. Hopefully not So, And, and everybody has to find that divide.  There are definitely, , I've gone from being a peer to promoted and then having to figure out how to lead the people who were my peers before. And that's challenging.

And I also, , I also have had team members cry to me during one-on-one. And I encourage them to bring their whole true self and I'm there to support their entire life. But I still can't. Turn around and, and rent and vent to them about my peers, because that's putting both of us in a very awkward situation, which I would not do.

So you do need friends and, and other peers outside of your organization that you can be totally transparent with and safe with. , both, sometimes, occasionally, just venting and ranting because you just need to let it out. Or to get  a, an objective third party perspective. Right. Or  I, , I'm part of co forum and we have this  monthly circle meeting, which actually is happening tonight and I'm looking forward to it, where  we can , ask for advice and somebody came to a, a previous meeting and, and had to  think about how they were going to message an upcoming.

, restructure and, and people, , gave her concrete advice on how they handled it and what to do and not to do. And so, yes, I am a big, a big proponent of finding your tribe. And, , sometimes it's, it's functional, sometimes it's level. And that is why when I realized coming back to  the fractional world, that it's so much.

Lonelier and harder now that I wanted my fractional tribe, and I made a point of it being cross-functional.  I have enough communities that are specific to COOs or operators. I wanted a cross-functional, fractional community because as fractional, as fractional leaders, there is so much we all have to figure out, ?

Between  finding the work and juggling various clients and just how to engage in a fractional level that  there, to me there was a value in being cross-functional. And, and that's, that is where  most of the conversations happen on, not on, on how to be a fractional c o o, but how to be an effective fractional executive.



That's so wonderful. And I see a bunch of  conversations and discussions going on in that community, which is  so great to learn from  the collective wisdom of everybody. 

, you will always find a benefit out of it.  I have loved this conversation. It's been great and I, think we can go on and on, but I would love to ask you just a couple of last questions.

One is, , what advice would you give. Rising leaders, especially in the fractional space since you 

come from that space? I 

think it's the same advice to, to all leaders which is be constantly learning.

I,  think, and, and women and mothers and parents have the same challenge. We can be too giving, right? But we have to take care of ourselves first. And what I remind myself is if I don't take care of myself, I'm not there for my team. And I actually had someone say this to me yesterday, and I think it's, it's also a female thing.

 It's easier for us to ask for others than ourselves. So sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we're actually not being selfish and putting ourselves first. We have to put ourselves first to be the leader that our team needs. If we burn out, we're ineffective for them. So, , continue learning, being self-aware and just recognizing that

it's not gonna be easy. It's not necessarily gonna happen the way you want it to happen. My son recently graduated from the University of Michigan, and one of the speakers said something that really resonated with me. She basically said that life is going to be, and I'm paraphrasing, she said it a lot better, but the message was, Life is going to have a lot more winding paths than you expect or anticipate.

But it's in the winding paths where, where life's true beauty and value can be found. So just finding a way to embrace what it is to be a leader, which is to be constantly changing, growing, and supporting. And honestly, one thing I will say is not everybody is meant to be a leader.  There are people I think it's the Peter principle, right?

Where  you are promoted to your level of incompetence. And I think we all need to , recognize if this is the path for us. When I worked for Oxford University Press they, there was a senior production editor who they were very smart and constantly finding ways to  in, in Give her raises or ways of recognizing the value she brought without promoting her because she didn't, she wasn't interested in that.

She, she was such an a, a magnificent senior production editor that people like, authors  she, she worked in the musical musical vertical authors would ask for her. She had a name. Everybody knew how, what value she brought, and she had a life outside of that. She wasn't interested in being a leader.

And the company in her, her leadership team, recognized that and didn't force her beyond where she was at her best. So I think it's important to be self-aware enough,  if you don't want, , if you're not a teacher or a mentor by heart, , if this is not the way you want to show up, it's okay.

And don't become a leader. Be a really competent expert in whatever it is you want to do and embrace that. I think it's more important that people recognize that leadership is a skill and not everybody, , I know there's, there's, there's debates on whether you can learn to be a leader. And I honestly think you can learn to be a better leader, but not everyone is meant to be a leader.

 The way you  mentioned two or three different things in here from  being parents, women, , and then this notion of leadership, which is  to  recognize it for yourself that.

I don't need to be a leader.  That's just leading yourself to a life that more works for you and not based on some societal expectations or perceptions. And so there's power in that too. And so just knowing what holds you, what works for you is, is really important. And,  thank you for sharing all of the things about  how women approach certain things, because this is literally the things I was talking about for the past two weeks.

I was , one is we advocate better for others than ourselves. And so , let's start just doing that.  Let's just do it for ourselves. And the other thing is it's saying is  we have to be assertive about our own self care. And so thank you for saying that., it's so great to hear it from more folks like you , because that's really important for a lot of people to hear and understand.



Well, this has been wonderful. What comes next 

for you? So I am 

continuing to go to grow Fractionals United. It's, it's a large portion of what I'm doing, so if there are any fractionals out there listening, you are welcome or leaders considering going fractional. I am looking to bring on sponsors.

So if there are any products or services that could use, The 2000 plus leader eyeballs. I welcome a conversation, but , for now I am still a fractional coo o and workflow consultant. I think it's, it's important for me to be one of them while, , growing this community and I, and, and honestly it's been a, a growth, a growth experience or a learning experience as well because, It's very different building and running a community than a an other kind of organization.

And it's the first time I'm in the visionary role as opposed to an integrator. So that has been an interesting leadership experience and learning opportunity which I'm actually enjoying. It's hard, but I'm enjoying it. 

 Tell us where can the sponsors and fractional leaders find you?

So just go to fractionals united.com. There are simple forms both to join the community, to hire fractional talent to sponsor us. And I'm also on LinkedIn. I'm, , open any conversations or messages there. . 

Well, Karina, thank you again. And everyone , go to fractionals united.com. I'm sure you will get a lot of value out of it.

And please prime Karina , 



On LinkedIn. , I wish you all the very best with this community, Karina and everything that you do for the fractional world. And , I really admire your leadership, 

thank you for having me.