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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 her most frequently asked questions, providing insight to begin the conversation on how she can be of service to your organization and you personally, in illuminating solutions to your needs. 

What is EDGE?

The business world of today is filled with disruption.  What I have seen from coaching 1,000+ leaders over a 15 year period is that the pace of work is increasing significantly.  Typically, this creates an environment in which leaders, realizing that they can accomplish only so much, react by creating "to-do" lists and one-by-one, check things off.  I refer to this practice as "going linear."The challenge here  is that the world is not linear.  It can change in a moment’s notice, with leaders routinely finding themselves at an EDGE not anticipated.  To be clear, exude confidence, and be "comfortably uncomfortable," leaders must be enabled to be ready for the whatever, whenever.

What is EDGE Performance?

EDGE is beyond “out of the box.”  When at the EDGE, you are at a place of expanding boundaries into unknown and uncharted territory.  This territory takes a very different set of skills than territory of known parameters. EDGE is a never-ending process by which the limits of "the box" are continuously challenged and re-defined

Operating at peak performance equates to accomplishing nominal day-to-day tasks or seeking solutions to areas of uncertainty where we must find a way. EDGE Performance is  familiarity and confidence in channeling peak performance to achieve decisive engagement in a box of ever-changing dimensions.  In our work and life, we will not, nor need to be, at the EDGE in every moment.  That is not the goal.  Rather, the goal is to recognize that out-of-the-box thought leads only to a box of new dimensions and that via channeled application of our peak capacity, leaders themselves can  define and shape the box to their own and corporate needs . 

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 coaching client inquiries regarding when I would create a resource capturing all the stories and concepts I offered to them, so that they could have a ready reference.  After this ongoing number of requests and having the personal desire to enter the realm of authorship, I embarked on this first effort.  I wrote it like an operating manual for a particular reason; that to succeed in the world of EDGE, we must become operational learners. This world is about  understanding how continuously to connect the dots between our capacities to recognize, describe, leverage, and act decisively. 

The book has not officially  been offered on Amazon, as it was used by a  client base of entrepreneurs seeking insights on how to Lead themselves through uncertainty and into the EDGE of their business via claiming innovative principles in their day to day dynamics. 

How can your experience in male dominated businesses 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 me to understand the value of my military experience.  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."  This  he considered 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 Naval career experiences to myself, thinking they would not be understood or possibly misinterpreted. 

 

Beyond my military experience, 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 relevancies of EDGE and EDGE Performance in the world today?

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

One of the things I learned as a flight instructor is that in teaching pilots to be ready to face extreme out-of-control situations, they must  be brought to an area of understanding 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 the tools necessary so that they may see their world and opportunities through a different lens.  The feedback I continually receive is that this approach is rare and invaluable.  In coaching a broad spectrum of leaders, I have come to appreciate the value of imparting my experience  to those I work with in a way that is tailored to serve as a focused resource.  

One of the unique capabilities I evolved as a woman aviation pioneer is in the capacity to be alone with confidence and conviction. It is a skill that I find is more necessary today than ever before in dealing globally with uncertainty and also in voicing perspectives that are different from the group at large. I leverage my unique experience continually in working with leaders transitioning either to CEO roles or stepping into high-tempo innovative and 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 expectation instead of the need to work oneself to burnout, and learning to manage perception decisively while all-the-while 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 one or a few women on their team. Here, the goal is to maximize their cultural and teaming approaches, fully leveraging each team member's true potential.   While still on active duty and as the  Navy's most senior woman jet pilot , I often was asked by senior male officers for advice. This taught me that men need advise and a support structure in approaching gender specific issues.  

What I am able to facilitate in leaders via the benefits of my personal experience is in seeing past their own needs to the  greater picture of the needs at play and the dynamics required for them to thrive in global environments.  

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 this is that everyone has dreams to seek but true self actualization comes from engaging in what we are now doing as if it is our first choice and in that process, applying fully all you have to give, so that the here-and-now becomes an experience that is valued dearly.   Coaching and championing leaders has become as much of a passion for me as flying.  Flying for me now is a metaphor and instrument of thinking on how to achieve results at the EDGE. 

"The time to prepare for an emergency is not when one finds oneself in its midst. In order to lead at the Edge, one must  be primed to do so."