The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

170: The Six Pillars of Socially Conscious Leaders with Dr. Keith McNally

July 27, 2023 John Neral Season 3
170: The Six Pillars of Socially Conscious Leaders with Dr. Keith McNally
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
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The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
170: The Six Pillars of Socially Conscious Leaders with Dr. Keith McNally
Jul 27, 2023 Season 3
John Neral

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Ever thought what it would be like to stand in front of a crowd and share your unique message, without a hint of fear or apprehension? Dr. Keith McNally, an accomplished professor turned podcast speaker, shares his remarkable journey of conquering the fear of public speaking, something that intimidates an overwhelming 75% of us. Through a candid conversation, Keith shines a light on the essential pillars of socially conscious leadership, emphasizing the significance of our voices in these challenging times.

A chance public speaking course in college was a springboard for Keith, preparing him for a significant mid-career shift. He walks us through this dramatic transition, recounting anecdotes from his book, Walking the Path, a Leader's Journey. Keith's experience is testament to the power of taking risks and daring to challenge the norm. This conversation isn't just about Keith's journey, but also about finding our own path to success and freedom.

But it's not all smooth sailing. This episode also explores the terrain of personal health and its inevitable intersection with career goals. Keith opens up about retracing his steps after a heart attack, turning the setback into an opportunity to reevaluate his intentionality and build effective routines. He also sheds light on the ripple effects of our decisions on mid-career transitions, sharing his approach to integrating sustainability into his leadership style. It's an insightful glimpse into the art of crafting a successful Mid-Career GPS. From the fear of public speaking to purposeful leadership, this episode with Dr. Keith McNally is a treasure trove of lessons for anyone looking to navigate mid-career transitions and make a meaningful impact in their leadership journey.

Connect with Dr. Keith J. McNally
Website | LinkedIn | YouTube | Email - mcnally.keith@yahoo.com

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Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Want me to review your LinkedIn profile?
Learn more here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
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Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ever thought what it would be like to stand in front of a crowd and share your unique message, without a hint of fear or apprehension? Dr. Keith McNally, an accomplished professor turned podcast speaker, shares his remarkable journey of conquering the fear of public speaking, something that intimidates an overwhelming 75% of us. Through a candid conversation, Keith shines a light on the essential pillars of socially conscious leadership, emphasizing the significance of our voices in these challenging times.

A chance public speaking course in college was a springboard for Keith, preparing him for a significant mid-career shift. He walks us through this dramatic transition, recounting anecdotes from his book, Walking the Path, a Leader's Journey. Keith's experience is testament to the power of taking risks and daring to challenge the norm. This conversation isn't just about Keith's journey, but also about finding our own path to success and freedom.

But it's not all smooth sailing. This episode also explores the terrain of personal health and its inevitable intersection with career goals. Keith opens up about retracing his steps after a heart attack, turning the setback into an opportunity to reevaluate his intentionality and build effective routines. He also sheds light on the ripple effects of our decisions on mid-career transitions, sharing his approach to integrating sustainability into his leadership style. It's an insightful glimpse into the art of crafting a successful Mid-Career GPS. From the fear of public speaking to purposeful leadership, this episode with Dr. Keith McNally is a treasure trove of lessons for anyone looking to navigate mid-career transitions and make a meaningful impact in their leadership journey.

Connect with Dr. Keith J. McNally
Website | LinkedIn | YouTube | Email - mcnally.keith@yahoo.com

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Want me to review your LinkedIn profile?
Learn more here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

John Neral:

Do you have a fear of public speaking? According to various research, approximately 75 percent of the population fear public speaking. This fear isn't only for getting up on the big stage. This can be a fear of speaking up in a team meeting. If you're in a leadership role, managing your fear of public speaking and leveraging the information and knowledge you have to share is a much needed gift that needs to be shared. Today, you will meet Dr Keith McNally, who will talk to you about how he overcame a sphere of public speaking, the six pillars of socially conscious leaders and why your message needs to be shared, now more than ever. Let's get started.

John Neral:

Hello, my friends, this is episode 170 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host,, John Neral. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Now, if you're looking for some help in navigating your mid-career journey, I've got a free guide on my website at https://johnneral. com, called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing. You'll learn about these five big mid-career derailers that can be holding you back from making the progress you want in your career While you're there on my website at . Make sure to check out my blog and other free resources located under the resource tab on my website.

John Neral:

Now Dr Keith McNally is on a mission to help as many people as possible. He's the host of the Question Guy podcast. He's building his YouTube channel. Make sure to follow him on LinkedIn and check out his new book, walking the Path a Leader's Journey, which is a guide to impact leadership through a social consciousness model. Keith's mission is to reach one million leaders worldwide. Through his book and various efforts. He is driven to change the world and make people better leaders, and I hope you enjoy my conversation with him. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Dr Keith McNally.

Dr. Keith McNally:

My name is Dr Keith McNally. I usually tell you you are talking to the Question Guy. That's typically what I say because I run my own podcast, the Question Guy podcast. I am an IT professor, so I've been teaching college for quite some time, but I'm transitioning into the world of speaking and podcasting and really helping people tell their stories, because I think people have such a need right now and I know that the pandemic seems like years and years ago, but really it's still a part of our lives and people are still coming out of a place of darkness, a place of trouble and a place of confusion and chaos. And so, from all that, I wrote a book, of course, and then with that book, I'm helping people understand that they can make sense of that chaos.

John Neral:

It really is amazing, keith, to think that it was a little more than three years ago that we started the pandemic, and there are times I feel like it was decades ago and other times I feel like it was last month. Do you ever feel that way about it?

Dr. Keith McNally:

Yeah, and to have the truth and because it's mostly because of where we are socially, we are back at work, we can go back to work, we can go to the office. We don't have to wear a mask anymore, even though I see some people still do so we have re-entered that normal again and say we feel safe. So, given that we feel safe yeah, it may feel like and that was so long ago, I remember it because it was so intense, but I'm not there anymore. But at the same time, like I said, I still see people who religiously, very comfortably, want to wear that mask and see, whether it's at the bank or at the grocery store. There's still remnants of the fact that people are being conscious in terms of their own health.

John Neral:

Absolutely. You and I are going to have a conversation today about this whole mid-career journey and what this looks like, and especially for mid-career leaders and professionals who've gone through the pandemic and have had to work remotely and then figure out how to go back to the office and everything like that. It certainly has been this time, and I loved how you used the word chaos just a little while ago. It is without question it's been very much a chaotic time in our careers and in our journeys. For you and this is kind of one of the anchors in the podcast as well is that everybody has this mid-career moment. It's something that changed the shape or their path of their career and they came out much better on the other side of it. I'm wondering if you could share with us a little bit about what was a defining moment for you at your mid-career journey and what you learned from it.

Dr. Keith McNally:

Very interesting question because I think the past 10 years have been my mid-career transition point. Only because I consider myself old and I may not be old I call myself half century plus some, which means that I am on the over-the-hill part of it and climbing back down trying to find my space. I typically say that my mid-career journey started actually when I was in college, and that sounds kind of weird, because something happened in college that I wanted more of. I just didn't know how to get there and I was never in a position to find it. I'm talking about public speaking. I took a public speaking course in college. If I could tell the story real quick, it may make some sense to your audience or audience.

Dr. Keith McNally:

A typical college semester is 16 weeks and I was in North Carolina back in the day. Public speaking was not my thing. As a matter of fact, it was the least thing that I ever wanted to do with my life, because that was just not me. Socially. I was just very closed and shy, and that comes from a whole family background dynamic that we don't necessarily need to go into, but public speaking was not something I ever thought about doing. However, in order to graduate college, everybody needed to take a public speaking class in North Carolina. So I figured save myself the trouble of going through 16 weeks in a traditional setting and do it in the summertime, which is a six-week setting. So how hard could four or five or six talks be compared to 16 weeks worth of this trauma? So with that I went in and the first two weeks were kind of preparatory, getting to know what we're doing and how we're going to do it, and then weeks three, four, five and six were our talk weeks.

Dr. Keith McNally:

Well, when I'm faced with a situation that I'm very uncomfortable with, ie public speaking, I react in a very peculiar way I sweat. And not only do I sweat, I perspire very, very bad, meaning that if you were to see me after just five minutes up in front of the classroom giving my talk on whatever my talk was about, quite frankly, I looked like I just jumped into a swimming pool and so, with my shirt, tie, jacket, shoes, everything got wet. And so when it's embarrassing, because it's very obvious that I'm nervous, but at the end of the four talks, even though I was embarrassed and, quite frankly, out of my elements, there was something special about giving a talk that I could never really put my finger on, but want it more up. You could, pretty quite frankly, want it more of it, and that would seem kind of odd given what I just experienced. But once I graduated college and I became a social worker, I sought out opportunities to give talks on. Of course, my topic was mental health issues in children, so I talked at churches and schools and civic organizations, just so that they became more aware of what mental health issues look like in the child population.

Dr. Keith McNally:

Then, from there, I got into IT and then I became a college professor and though I'm bald, what do college professors have to do? You talk a lot. They have to talk a lot, but it seemed both subconscious and intentional that I found places and spaces to practice something, I think in preparation for the midlife crisis transition. Where I am now Because where I am now is specifically looking for the stage and rehearsing my talks, rehearsing, being on stage and, as a matter of fact, I did get the opportunity last week to be up in Columbia University and I gave two talks last Monday, as a matter of fact, at the time of this taping. So it was my second real stage this year and it was a good, pivot transition for me to step into that, and it seemed like everything I was doing in life, whether planned or not planned, was in preparation for that very moment.

John Neral:

Does that make sense? It does. I say often, Keith, that we are where we are because of the totality of our experiences. You demonstrated that very clearly for us, right? Because we have these moments that shape us and they drive us to where we are. And for this moment right now, we connected in part through some mutual connections, which was great, and power of network and everything, and you were kind enough to get me a copy of your book and I'm holding this up so you can see it, but I know everybody that's listening can't. But it's called Walking the Path, a Leader's Journey. And tell us real quickly why did you write the book?

Dr. Keith McNally:

I wrote the book as a result of my own transition. This was an introspective, subconscious. Look at my psyche if you wanted to get deep and spiritual. It's really just a story wrapped in contextual elements regarding leadership, whether you want to talk about what it means to be a mentor, or being mentored, or building a team, or becoming vulnerable, taking risk or even going against a grain or feeling oppressed because the central figure of the story there's a story element regarding these kids, basically 17, 18-year-old kids who are living in an environment, in a community village, basically surrounded by mountains. It's both metaphorical and, of course, literal in the book that they feel that their lives are trapped. I think many people for me, intentionally so again, this is my subconscious being free to do what it needs to do and that's right feels trapped. Because he feels trapped, because John feels trapped in his situation, trapped meaning that he's got to now prepare to take over his daddy's farm. That's not him. He needs to find out what's on the other side of the mountain and nobody talks about it.

Dr. Keith McNally:

I don't want to go too deep into the book. I do want people to read it. This is the exploration of a young man's ability to take a deep breath, ask some real, clear questions about himself. I call understanding your why, or understanding your genesis. Why do you really want to leave? Are you giving the finger to everything that's part of your life, or are you truly needing to know who you really are? And thus the only way to find out is to take the trek over the mountain. He had to face all of those fears, those frustrations, and really come to grips as to who he is, and from that experience he's able to inspire others, bring others into his team basically those others who also feel that they're misfits in the community and together they take on the biggest risk of their lives. Basically, they forge into the unknown, they travel a path that they've never traveled before, and through each of those steps.

Dr. Keith McNally:

So it's not just about the story of climbing over a mountain because, quite frankly, at the end of the book they reach part of the top, but I don't get them over the mountain, specifically because the story's not done yet and I wanted to take the reader in two possible directions. I've got a second part to this, but also I wanted the reader to say, damn, can I even do that? And what's going to happen now? And go ahead and finish the book, finish the story out, but I talk about those in pieces of what it means to be and these aren't C-suite leaders. John's not a C-suite leader. This isn't like major organization. This is about leadership, impact and influencing others and becoming vulnerable and developing the strategies, mindset and fortitude. Really.

John Neral:

To do things differently.

John Neral:

Right, and we're going to get into a particular component about the book here in a moment. But, as I shared with you previously like, one of the things I really appreciated about your book was that you tell a part of the story. You give the reader these questions to consider, so those questions can really take the reader wherever they need to go, especially in regards to what their leadership or their career path is looking like, even if they're a life path as well. And you've also set the book up in some ways that, if you're, if you're like me and you like to write in a book, you give me space to do that, and I appreciate that Absolutely. But, keith, there's, there's one big anchor in the book that I think of it as, and it has to do with the six pillars of socially conscious leaders. Can you just list them for us? What are those six pillars that you've outlined in the book?

Dr. Keith McNally:

Sure I. I took the perspective that people define leader and leadership in many different ways, and so when I pulled all of those definitions and just kind of flung them to the wall and said what I'm focusing on is the individual and one's ability to learn and sustain a mindset or a way of thinking that allows them to be successful, now I did. I did mention the word sustain, but one of the pillars, of course, would be sustainability, because doing something today, you may be successful and accomplish it, but that doesn't mean you're going to be equally as successful tomorrow. So you need to find things that are true to you, that will help you sustain leadership or sustain success, sustain impact Now, typically people hear sustainability and think you know the climate and all that kind of stuff.

Dr. Keith McNally:

This is just about long term understanding of being successful, and that's one of the pillars. We have to understand how we can be successful day in and day out and not just, you know, sporadically or periodically. It's got to be very much routine and I also almost want to say ritual, because those we know that things are going to get tough and because of that, when things get tough, we tend to want to give up, and I do talk about that. I talk about that quite frequently and that was one of the things that the mentor, you know, said. That's why you have to understand your why before you even take that first step up, because things are going to get tough, but the other five pillars are easy. So it's intent. So what is your intention or intentionality? You have to be really clear on your intent, your actions, collaboration I'm really big on collaborating and I do of all the polling hills principles.

Dr. Keith McNally:

I do believe in the mastermind principle that we work better together than we do individually, and that's all about collaboration. We have to align our. So the other pillar is alignment, and I talk about alignment through values, aligning with actions, and so a lot of people have that discussion in leadership, because if you're incongruent with yourself, if you are not consistent, the acting from your personal values, everything else that comes from that, that inconsistency really puts you at suspects. People may not trust you or they might not follow you, they might not understand you. And so there's definitely alignment with the values and actions, values being the other pillar really clear on what you value in terms of moral guidance. And so we generally want to make sure that we're doing the right things for the right reasons, but morality can differ from person to person. So this is a larger perspective or what's going to be good for everybody, but am I doing the right thing, as it's intended to be?

Dr. Keith McNally:

And finally, your accomplishment. There has to be some credibility. So I talk about accomplishments a lot, because John was an accomplished hunter Fisher. He was youthful, so he was strong, and so there were things that his team members would need to know about him in order to recognize that he would be there to support them if they struggled along the way up and over the mountain. So I do have those six pillars.

John Neral:

Yeah. So those six pillars that you talk about alignment, intent, values, accomplishments, collaboration and sustainability. There was a part in your book, keith, when you talked about sustainability that kind of made me stop a little bit. When I think about mid-career leaders and professionals, and specifically the quote from your book, is this quote in some ways when we think about sustainability and leadership, each leader must be able to recognize that all actions have long-term implications.

John Neral:

Hiring one person means not hiring another. Identifying a target means releasing energies from other responsibilities. You, as a leader, must be able to apply sustainability in thinking and active to accomplish the most appropriate outcome for the present and for the future. It is a lot, it's really good, and when I read that I thought how many times when we first move into a leadership role or we've been in it for a while, we forget that everything we do has a ripple effect. So my question to you is this when we think about combining our skills and our knowledge and our technical expertise and we think about that ripple effect, what advice would you give to a mid-career leader or professional that really helps them slow down and take notice of where their actions may take them?

Dr. Keith McNally:

Great question Can we start with reading the book? Sure, so I say that both tongue and cheek. But realistically, when you wake up each day and we go about our routines, we typically go about our routines thinking that I'm just meeting today's need, right, I'm going to eat breakfast, I'm going to eat lunch, I'm going to create a to-do list, I'm going to create my contact list for today, and so everything is right here right now. When we start doing that and we make those things habitual, I'm going to choose. I'm going to be intentional about what type of breakfast I eat. Do I eat high-fat muffins with lots of sugar and such Chocolate covered whammy-os?

Dr. Keith McNally:

Chocolate covered something? Or am I going to go for the brand muffin? Or am I going to go for the whole wheat toast over the white bread? Yes, we have virtuals, we have routines, but sometimes, when we don't look at the details, even those routines can throw us off course. And I'll just be real clear and specific.

Dr. Keith McNally:

I had a heart attack last October and so I'm one who prided himself on exercise. I exercise daily, both aerobically, so I do my six-mile walk. I also hit the weights, and so it's religious, it's ritual, it's routine. But I still ate high salt, whether it be rice or roni or vegetables in a can. So there was an imbalance and it was that imbalance of only seeing my activities thought was going to rescue me from I'm going to be strong and healthy the rest of my life. But there were some predispositions, genetically from my mother and her mother. But it was also the things I was doing maybe not intentionally, because I wasn't intentionally eating high salt foods to get a heart attack. I was just eating foods that had high salt. But then I had to evaluate because the nurses at the hospital said you got to reevaluate your intentionality because everything you eat now has to be purposeful, purposeful for your health purposeful for your health today, purposeful for your health tomorrow you need to develop new routines, and I did that, so I now include oatmeal and yogurts and granola, and healthier grains, less salt and less starch.

Dr. Keith McNally:

So what does that have to do with that leadership? Maybe everything, because it's the routines that you establish. Do we talk with our colleagues and peers, or do we talk at them and instruct them, or are we engaging with them to help understand where they are in life and what their intentionality and what their purpose is for even being on the team? Those conversations are needed. Revaluate what you want to accomplish.

Dr. Keith McNally:

So maybe if you are leader of a team or an organization or a department of an organization, you have to be constantly reevaluating where that's going, because sitting still and doing nothing takes you out of the game. You will be replaced because ingenuity, creativity, technology is changing all the time. We are now in an AI world. God help us. Yeah, I know right. So we have to look at what things are we doing now that work today, but keep us sustainable, keep us in the groove, keep us in alignment with our own mission, our vision, our team's mission, our team's vision, our department, our organization.

Dr. Keith McNally:

All that's respectable and from this, and especially for the book, this is an internal look. This is an internally evaluation. This is all about you and understanding where you fit in in your own life one, two with the people around you and three in the larger scope of things. So, what organization or in the world? What is your impact? What is it that you want to achieve? A lot of people call that legacy. It could be, but for right now, in your lifetime, what's your impact?

John Neral:

Yeah, keith, you've given us a lot of things to think about, and obviously we're going to drive people to check out your book and everything like that, but we need to start wrapping up, and so, as we do that, what advice would you give someone right now to help them build their mid-career GPS?

Dr. Keith McNally:

Journal. I talk a lot about writing and journaling in the book, but as a general practice, I think and I believe in a trust in the power of the written word, and so so often we have thoughts and then five minutes later we have new thoughts and that thought that we want to hold on to gone. So if you're going to make any changes or pivots or transitions in your life, start a journal. Put it down on paper. Put something down on paper. If you've never journaled or written, you know your personal thoughts, feelings, actions, desires, plans, whatever that is, and all of that what it is.

Dr. Keith McNally:

I started with a composition notebook. So the composition notebooks that we did in public school, right K-12, when there was black and white checkerboard books open it up, page one. Start writing. It's going to feel uncomfortable at first if you're not accustomed to the routine or even the action, but as you do it, day by day, and you're going to get clearer on what you want, who you are, do some reflections and be grateful for where you are in life, even if you're in the middle of the chaos. Write down your gratitudes. Be grateful for who you are, what you have and what you've accomplished. At least start there.

John Neral:

Now, journaling is something that I don't do daily. I strive to do it daily. I don't always do it daily, but to your point, it is extremely helpful in terms of managing thoughts. So thank you for that, keith, if people want to learn more about you, they want to find you and get your book, they want to learn more about who you are and what you do. I'm going to turn the mic over to you. Please share us with us all the details about where people can connect and follow you.

Dr. Keith McNally:

The best place to connect, follow and engage is LinkedIn. So we are all familiar with the professional platform LinkedIn. At Dr Keith McNeely, that's D-R-K-E-I-D-H-M-C-N-A-L-O-Y. My most used email is McNeely Keith. So my last name, dot, my first name at Yahoocom, but I am trying to up my numbers on YouTube. So find me on YouTube because I do run a couple conversation series Question Guy, coach's Corner and Coach2Coach and I'm starting a new series in July where I get in-depth with experts on topics and I call that my Envision Speaker Series. And so again, anywhere on social media, it's Dr Keith McNeely and they'll be fine.

John Neral:

I will make sure all of that is in the show notes, dr Keith McNeely. Thank you so very much for spending some time with us today on the Mid-Career GPS podcast.

Dr. Keith McNally:

John it was a pleasure. Thank you so much. Thank you as a guest.

John Neral:

Same here. Thank you as well. So, my friends, when you think about your takeaway from today's episode, here's what I want to offer you. One of the big components of my conversation today with Dr Keith McNeely was about sustainability. It's about that ripple effect in everything you do. The decisions you make are not just in the moment, but they transition and move from that moment forward. So when you think about who you are as a leader, what you do, what you're doing for work and what you want to do next, let that sustainability piece be another added component to how you build your Mid-Career GPS, to whatever is next for you and your career.

John Neral:

And until next time, remember this we build our Mid-Career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your Mid-Career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrow coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

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The Journey of Leadership Development
Building Intentional Routines for Success
Power of Sustainable Career Planning