Episode #1060: Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a leader and who can be a leader? Glean insight from Stella Odogwu, an executive coach, speaker, talent development consultant, podcaster, and leader in women’s leadership development, as she sheds light on her mission to help others find the leader within themselves. Topics discussed during this episode include Stella’s journey to executive coaching, her coaching program "Catapult Your Career," and her skill in helping others overcome imposter syndrome.
About Stella Odogwu
Stella Odogwu is an executive coach, speaker, talent development consultant, podcaster, and leader in women’s leadership development. She is the Founder and Coach of Intelle Coaching Solutions and coaches out of Orange County, California.
Through her organization, Intelle, she helps transform women from skilled experts to highly fulfilled senior executives. Her work has been featured on Business Insider, CBS, Thrive Global, and Fast Company. Stella has a passion for helping women increase their impact, income, career, and quality of life—all while prioritizing themselves and their families.
Through her coaching, Stella has helped many business leaders overcome imposter syndrome and develop their executive presence. Her clients have seen a 50% increase in employee engagement, transitions from senior director to vice president, as well as transitions from individual contributors to global team leadership. Some of her clients include individuals and teams from Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Procter & Gamble, among others.
Before Stella’s career in executive coaching, she held several executive positions with Terex Corporation, Henkel, Danaher Corp, and Kellogg Company. She uses her experience and skills in leadership to help women reach their fullest potential and develop their skill sets as business leaders.
From executive to executive coach
Stella shares that when she started her career journey, she “didn’t even really realize there was such a thing as coaching.” However, early in her career, she knew that she enjoyed it when people came to her and asked questions or asked for advice. She also realized that she enjoyed the coaching and mentoring part of her role as an executive more than her supply chain duties. Stella explored this realization and ultimately started her own business, Intelle Coaching Solutions.
The value of education, training, and mentorship
Stella has a vast background in education. She explains that her parents instilled the value of education in her as a child. She shares that “they scraped and saved and did everything they could to make sure that I got the best education from very early in my life.” Early in her career, she worked with companies that invested in her and her education, training, coaching, and mentorship. Severin agrees with Stella on the importance of education and shares how he often reminds business school students about the importance of valuing mentorship and training when choosing their first careers out of college. Furthermore, Stella shares that she has had several mentors and coaches to help bring out the best in her and shares a metaphor for coaching. Through these mentorship and training opportunities, Stella has learned from the “situational leadership opportunities that have arisen.” She also uses her corporate career as a tool for her personal development and growth.
“You are uniquely suited for leadership”
When asked about her learnings throughout her career, Stella shares that she has learned that everyone is “uniquely suited for leadership.” She explains, “I think a lot of times people think, ‘I’ve got to look like this other person. I’ve got to sound like this person… I’ve got to be somebody else in order to succeed here or at this level’.” From her experience climbing the corporate ladder and moving to the U.S. from Nigeria, she has learned that everyone is uniquely suited for leadership. Stella states, “there is something about you, something about your world, your education, your background, whatever it might be your way of thinking… once you wrap your mind around that and you start to believe it the sky’s the limit….know that everyone else is taken and so you have to be yourself.”
In her coaching, Stella has a program called Catapult Your Career. This helps women find the leader within themselves and “take them to the C-Suite.” She helps women “land those skip level promotions to the top so they can make more money… have a better quality of life… [and] make more impact” all while helping them find the leader within themselves and what makes them “uniquely suited for leadership.”
Misconceptions of imposter syndrome
Stella also helps leaders defeat their imposter syndrome. She explains that “one of the biggest misconceptions is that imposter syndrome is something that only certain people deal with, or it only happens at this level.” Imposter syndrome can happen to an individual at any level of their career. She states that imposter syndrome can negatively affect your creativity, which can have negative consequences on productivity and problem-solving. Through her coaching, she helps business leaders “dig deep,” identify how imposter syndrome affects them, and how to best manage it.
“Do the work”
When asked about a recently learned lesson, Stella explains that “wherever you go, there you are… no one’s perfect” and that we should always continue to “do the work… even if you think you’ve done the work, there’s a next level of work to be done. There’s a next level of growth, the next level of leaders.” Stella always encourages her clients and herself to keep growing and pushing towards growth. One of the ways that she continues to grow is through the help of her own coaches. She shares that her “philosophy is that whatever is important to me, whatever is important in my life, whatever area of life is important to me, I’m going to hire somebody to help me be the best in that area.”
Confidence and competence
Severin poses the question, “is confidence enough?” and states that “there are some who say you need to fake it till you make it. Is faking it truly a great approach?” Stella agrees that “faking it till you make it” is not sustainable or a good idea. She explains that employers will “see through the faking it” and that faking it can have a “great cost to your health.” In her coaching, she avoids these negative consequences by not advising the “fake it till you make it strategy” but instead instilling the importance of confidence in oneself and abilities. This helps her clients be more creative, agile, and have more impact. Severin agrees with Stella’s strategy and states that “competent people should lean into their competence with confidence.”
Setting boundaries as a coach
Throughout her coaching career, Stella has learned the importance of setting boundaries. She explains that as a coach, “if you can do it for them, you would. If you could go in there and fix it, you would” however, time and energy are limited resources. Therefore, Stella creates boundaries to stay in her “zone of genius, which is to provide that strategy and provide that guidance, but really let people do what is ultimately best for them or what they deem to be best for them.” Severin shares a story from his own coaching career where he wishes a client would have taken his advice, but they did not. While this ended up costing the business some financial gain, Severin states that “you can only do so much as a coach to raise awareness. They’ve got to drive their business.”
Changing the narrative of leadership
When reflecting on her older and wiser self, Stella shares that if she could “change the narrative and the conversation… around what it takes to be a leader, what it means to be a leader, [and] who can be a leader,” to show that anyone is capable of being a leader, she “would feel really, really good.” By changing the conversation about what a leader looks and leads like, Stella hopes to change the trajectory for “hundreds and thousands of lives and careers, especially for women in the corporate landscape.”
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