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© Linda Shaffer-Vanaria 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Linda offers consulting, coaching and speaking services to address a wide variety of needs.  Linda is providing answers here to the most frequently asked questions  to give insight and begin the conversation on how she can be of service to you and your organization in bringing solutions to your needs. 

"The time to work on an emergency is not when you are in it.  If you want to truly Lead at the Edge you must prime yourself to do so."   

What is EDGE?

The business world of today is filled with disruption.  What I have seen from coaching over 1000 leaders over a 15 year period is that the pace of work is increasing significantly.  This is a phenomenon where leaders get to a point where they realize that they can do so much; so they often react by creating a list and starting to check things off.  I have called this phenomenon “going linear.”  The challenge is that the world is not linear.  It can change in a moment’s notice and then we find ourselves at an EDGE we may not have anticipated.  To be enabled to be clear, confident and comfortably uncomfortable we must enable ourselves to be ready for whatever, whenever.

What is EDGE Performance?

EDGE is beyond “out of the box.”  When you are at the EDGE, you are at a place of expanding the boundaries into unknown and uncharted territory.  This territory takes a very different set of skills than territory of known parameters. 

We can operate at peak performance doing whatever we are doing whether we are doing nominal day to day things or things where we have no idea on how to acomplish what we must but know we must find the way. EDGE Performance is where we are ready and able to engage decisively at the EDGE with peak performance.  In our work and life, we will not be at the EDGE in every moment.  That is not the goal.  The goal is to be able to perform at our peak capacity when the need to engage an EDGE emerges. 

Why did you write your first book Piloting Your EDGE?

How have you leveraged your military experience in the greater business sector?

I wrote Piloting Your Edge in response to my coaching clients asking me when I was going to create a resource of all the stories and concepts I offered them so they could have it as a ready reference.  After an ongoing number of requests and having the personal desire to enter the realm of authorship I wrote the book.  I wrote it like an operating manual for a particular reason; that being in the world of EDGE we must enter to be operational learners.  In that world it is about continually understanding how to connect the dots.  It is how this element connects to another one to increase our capacity and leverage to see, describe and act decisively. 

The book was never officially offered on Amazon, as it was used with my client base.  The primary audience was with entrepreneurs wanting to have insight on how to Lead themselves in uncertainty, at the EDGE of their business and in claiming innovating principles in their day to day dynamics. 

How can your experience in male dominated business help other leaders and businesses?

One of the most valuable pieces of mentoring I received was from a Vice Chairman of one of the most eminent global financial institutions.  I met him on an airplane and he provided me an insight which helped to understand the value of my military experiences.  He said, you know what is amazing about you, you have all that experience and are able to talk about it like you are any other person from the business sector .  He said that was invaluable as it creates the capacity to share and have insights embraced without resistance.  Had I not received this feedback, I would have been inclined to keep many of my experiences to myself thinking they would not be understood or fully appreciated. 

 

Beyond my military experiences I also have a wide range of interests and hobbies, from cooking, crafting, riding motorcycles, travel, dogs and a passion for learning new things.  This has enabled my military experience to be a part of the many examples I offer.  Leaders and businesses appreciate the diversity of examples and lenses to help them see things differently.

What are the relevanc of EDGE and EDGE Performance in the world of today?

How can your experience as a pioneer help other leaders and organizations?

One of the things I learned as an out of control flight instructor is that in order to teach a pilot to be ready to face extreme out of control situations you must take them into out of control situations where they can understand what it means to focus, think and act in such an environment. 

 

How my experience has continually helped those I work with is by providing them that lens of experience so they can see their world and opportunities through a different lens.  The feedback I get is that is invaluable and rare.  As I have coached a broad spectrum of leaders, I have come to learn the value of my experiences so have can offer them to those I work with in a way that is tailored to be a focused resource.  

One of the odd capabilities that I evolved from this pioneering is the capacity to be alone with confidence and conviction. It is a skill that I find is more necessary today than before with projecting confidence with uncertainty and also with voicing a perspective that is different from the group at large. I lean on this unique experience continually in working with leaders transitioning to CEO roles and stepping into high tempo innovation dynamic environments.

I have continually been asked this question over the years.  More recently by millennial women who are in the world of high tech and gaming.  I also continue to get asked this by senior women leaders who find themselves in their role as the only woman on their leadership teams.  The issues that are central to success in this environment are learning to be yourself, learning to calibrate what is required from you to manage the perceived need to work yourself to burnout, learning to manage perceptions decisively and building a back team/network.   

I have also found my experience in this realm invaluable to men who are leaders of male dominated environments with a one or a few women and want to maximize their culture and teaming approaches to fully leverage the women they have with a great cultural environment.   When I was in the military as the most senior woman jet pilot on active duty, I often was asked by senior male officers for advice.   This taught me that men need advise and a support structure in this environment.  They often have a lot at risk and want to have insight via a sounding board to build their awareness and confidence.

What I am able to do from my experience that has proven enormously helpful is to help leaders see past their own needs to the  greater picture of needs at play and the dynamic that is required for them to thrive.  

Do you miss flying?

I do miss flying.  I miss Command even more than flying because of the opportunity to lead and bring together so many moving parts to a higher purpose.  I have had people say over the years that it must be nice to get your dream and your first choice.  My perspective on that is that we all have so many dreams that we can follow.  I always engage what I am doing as if it is my first choice and in the process of applying all you have to give, it becomes an experience that you value dearly.   Coaching and championing leaders has become as much of a passion for me as flying.  Flying is now a metaphor and instrument of thinking on how to achieve results at the EDGE.