Karin Hurt is a former Verizon Wireless executive, a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. With over twenty years of experience in sales, marketing, customer service, and human resources she helps leaders improve business results by building deeper trust and connection with their teams.

AE: What drew you to what you are doing today?

KH: I’ve always had a passion for leadership, even as a small child. My mother tells stories of me lining up my stuffed animals and telling them what to do ;-) The first 2 decades of my career at Verizon were all HR and leadership development related. My graduate degrees are all about leadership. The second decade at Verizon, I was challenged to go practice what I had been teaching with large teams in executive roles, and that was a blast.

In my final role at Verizon, I had an opportunity to work deeply with all of our outsourced call center partners as I led that channel. I realized in working with those companies, how much I had to offer in terms of blending the bottom line with the human spirit. I began writing a blog and that began to resonate internationally. Leaders started reaching out to me to keynote speak and do consulting—which of course I couldn’t do and sustain my executive role—so I took the leap and haven’t looked back

You can see more about my “leap” in my blog post 5 Reasons I Quit My Day Job to Pursue My Dream

AE: What is the mission of Let’s Grow Leaders?

KH: To help companies and leaders build results that last, without losing their soul in the process. We provide managers with very practical tools and techniques that help them achieve
breakthrough, and remain a decent human being.

AE: What inspired you to start your blog Let’s Grow Leaders? 

KH: I wanted to be able to scale my influence and help more people achieve lasting results, without losing their soul.

AE: Have there been any eye-opening lessons you have learned going from an executive working for a company to CEO running your own?

KH: Yes, I’m the toughest boss I’ve ever worked for. I wish I could lighten up on myself ;-)

AE: What does being an “authentic” leader mean to you?

KH: Being willing to show up fully, owning your strengths and understanding your challenges. To speak the truth, and realize the mission is bigger than you.

AE: Where did the idea for your book, Overcoming An Imperfect Boss come from?

KH: So many people struggle with this unnatural relationship. I wanted to provide very practical ways to empower people to make the relationship with their boss better with less frustration.

AE: You have a new book out, Winning Well: can you tell us about that? 

KH: I’m very excited about this. The book launched in April (2016) and we’re on an incredible journey of creating a movement. It’s intentionally a very practical guide to help people on the front lines become more effective in leading their teams.

AE: Were there any 
ah ha moments in writing this book or your first one?

KH: My interview with Wally Bock Advice from the Masters: answers that.

AE: What is “Confident Humility”?

KH: Confidence: Know your strengths, stand up for what matters, speak the truth Humility: Know your vulnerabilities, admit mistakes, and
invitechallengers.

AE: You were recently recognized on Inc’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers For Your Next Conference, has that achievement changed things for you?

KH: The timing of that recognition along with the CEO Reads recognition Inside the Longlist: Management & Workplace Culture has certainly raised interest and sent more people to my website. I’ve been meeting great leaders around the world and doing a good deal more keynote speaking and consulting. I’m very grateful and humbled by the fact that our work is resonating and making an impact.

AE: How would you describe your leadership style?

KH: High energy, visionary, with a strong dose of collaboration and the ability to speak the truth—even when it’s hard.

AE: What don’t most people know about you as a leader?

KH: I continually fight to overcome what we call “Pleaser” tendencies in our Winning Well model

AE: Over the course of your career have you had other women as mentors or role models and how have they helped you shape your career?

KH: Yes, I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many amazing women and men who have served as mentors over the years. I believe so strongly in learning from a large range of people up down and sideways.  Readmore in Karen’s Blog post Don’t Get a Mentor

AE: What is the biggest mistake women leaders can make?

KH: Making too many apologies and either not harnessing confidence, or going the other direction toward arrogance. I encourage all leaders to embrace Confident humility.

AE: Although women have made great strides in securing leadership positions in business they are
stillunder represented at the upper levels of leadership. Why do you think that is and what do you think needs to happen to change it?

KH: This is such a complicated question which I can’t do justice to in a few sentences. Some of it comes down to choices and priorities, opportunities, and established structures and social networks.

AE: Are women doing enough to help each other break down the barriers that still exist?

KH: We’re getting better. We can always do more. I believe this is a responsibility of all of us to help one another to grow and advance. Not just women. Some of the people that made the biggest impact on my career were men. I’ve also had a woman or two in my career who were truly not helpful, whereas others were (and still are) amazing.

AE: Do you think as a society we are doing enough to set young girls and women up for success?

KH: I think we are doing a lot more to build confidence in girls, helping them see their potential, and providing them with more opportunities to serve in leadership roles, play sports, and to build their competence.

The tricky part is what happens when they grow up and realize that there are still some turkeys in the world and that they will face some circumstances where they will face discrimination, or sexist attitudes, or worse.

A lot of young girls (and boys) I
knowwere watching this last election closely and the way people talked about Hillary and the way Donald talked about women. And, who won.

AE: What advice would you give to young women entering the workforce?

KH: Stay strong and confident. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you and help you grow. Support one another. Be the leader you want your boss to be.

AE: What is next for you?

KH: Working to help more leaders win well.

AE: What do you want your legacy to be?

KH: She made a difference

AE: I am a lover of quotes and post one every day on my website; do you have a favorite?

“Do one thing every day that scares you” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
 
Karin has a BA in Communication from Wake Forest University, an MA from Towson University in Organizational Communication, and additional graduate work at the University of Maryland, where she currently teaches in the MBA and Executive Education programs. Karin lives outside of Washington, DC. She knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflective road of a marathoner and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders. Ultimately, it’s about Confident Humility. Find out more about Karin on her website
http://letsgrowleaders.com/ .

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WOMEN ON LEADERSHIP

An Interview with Karin Hurt

By Anthony T. Eaton   |   November 2017

LEADERSHIP AND MORE