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Lauren Russo Rethinks Structure

Meet our Creative Executive Coaches

At the Creative Executive, we work with some pretty amazing people. We work with teams who are striving to communicate and collaborate better. We work with corporate clients to improve the way that work gets done throughout the organization, with an eye towards a more sustainable culture and profitable outcomes. We couldn’t do any of this work without our incredible team of coaches who work alongside these clients. In this ongoing series, we’ll be profiling all of our coaches. Our talented coaching team helps fuel the magic we facilitate for companies, teams, and leaders every day. This month, meet Lead Trainer and Coach, Lauren Russo.

It was during her work for a university women’s center that Lauren Russo came to coaching. The center’s focus was on creating change for women in significant, structural ways such as mentoring, leadership programming, and women’s advocacy. She turned to coaching as a way to help create change for people. She loves being able to take those valuable lessons learned during those years and apply them to individuals and teams. Working alongside creative, thoughtful, talented people, as they learn how to leverage their strengths and navigate their challenges with more grace and ease, is her reward.


Surfing the waves of change

Change is a continuing theme in Lauren’s overarching philosophy and career. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she thinks a willingness to change is one of the best skills leaders can develop. Change is and will continue to be, an almost constant force in our lives. “The better we get at being proactive and creative, instead of reactive, the better we will be at surfing those waves of change as they roll in,” she says. “One this is for certain, those waves are not going to stop coming.”

Lauren uses the Leadership Circle Profile model of creative competencies and reactive tendencies. The LCP model gives people a black and white map of where they are strong and where they go when things get hairy. She says that understanding yourself in this way is an excellent way for people to build up their tolerance for change and be more proactive and intentional with their choices.

Being open to change on the individual level can be related to an openness creative risk-taking on the organizational level. The most creative and innovative teams can’t do the work they do without a foundation of trust. Creativity is demanding, challenging, and scary. People do their best creative work when they feel safe to explore and innovate. Lauren believes that trust is the glue that holds it all together.


Structured freedom

Often, coaches work with people to remove the unnecessary frameworks, processes, silos, and other internal and external structures, or barriers, to their best work, or their team’s. The term “structure” can seem like an oxymoron. But for Lauren, rethinking structure is the key to meaningful change in many people. Using her Structured Freedom model, Lauren’s clients put together the external and internal structures that they need to give them the freedom to do their best work. External structures can be systems that help with prioritizing, managing, and organizing the day-to-day. In contrast, internal structures might involve the kind of mindset a person needs to succeed in their role.

The nature of work for organizations of any size is fast, complex and subject to a lot of uncertainty. This hectic environment can make it downright impossible for leaders to see the whole picture. Lauren describes one of the most common barriers to creative leadership: when leaders and teams do things one way simply by default (lousy structure) because they lack the vision for a better way. Usually, the default reigns because you haven’t had the time to focus on a better solution. But if you want to dismantle those negative structures in your life or organization, you need to be willing to take a hard look at your default way of seeing and doing.


Why Lauren does this work

Lauren loves working with people who are smarter than the average bear, because, she says, that intelligent people very often get in their own way. When working with leaders who are perfectionists and visionaries, they can often have trouble focusing on one thing at a time because their brains are overflowing with ideas. Lauren helps bring her clients down to earth without making them feel like they need to change who they are to be successful.

Clients appreciate Lauren’s ability to empathize with people from diverse work environments. It can be challenging out there, even in the best of company cultures. Lauren is great at honing in on what high-performing leaders need to get to the next level. Often, that can be as simple as permission to prioritize their visionary qualities, which can take a backseat to their ability to execute and implement day-to-day.

So how does Lauren stay energized in the work she does? “My clients!” she says. “They are so creative and smart, and they dig deep to be their best for their teams, clients, and families.” Lauren loves living in Austin, surrounded by a network of talented and grounded people. When Lauren needs an infusion of inspiration, she finds herself returning to Mexico time and time again. Experiencing the food, artists, designers, architecture, and customs, she says, reminds her of the depth of human creativity.

Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and her website.