Get to know one of our newest coaches, Genena Armstrong! Genena joined our team as an Executive Coach earlier this year. Her warm, energetic personality, along with her decades of experience have made her a valuable addition to the Building Champions family.
Learn more about her background and her coaching style in our Coach Interview Series.
Todd Mosetter: Hello and welcome to the Building Champions Coach Interview Series. My name is Todd Mosetter. I’m a Vice President and Executive Coach here at Building Champions. And for more than 25 years, what we’ve heard from our clients is one of the biggest differentiators for us is the quality and caliber of our coaches.
We are blessed to have some of the best coaches in the industry and the goal of this series is to help introduce them to you in a new way. Today, I’m excited that we are sitting down with Genena Armstrong. Genena is an experienced coach who brings years of talent and I’m so excited for you to meet her today. Genena say, hi,
Genena Armstrong: Hi, everybody! How are you, Todd? So good to see you! You’re amazing.
Todd Mosetter: Wonderful to be with you. Thank you so much for being here today. So, we’ve heard before that, one of the things that really sets our coaches apart is they have real-world experience. Not only are they gifted coaches who have been in the seat for years, but they bring hands-on experience.
They’ve walked in the shoes, they sat in the seats. They’ve made the hard decisions. They come with real-world experience. So, I would love to understand a little more about your leadership journey and that real-world experience that you bring to your coaching.
Genena Armstrong: Oh, my gosh. Well, I have about 25 years of Human Resources experience. I’ve worked in various different industries across several states—actually three states. I’ve worked in Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas for the last 13 years now and industries of Mortgage, Retail Banking. I’ve worked in Healthcare and I started off my career as a Business Partner—Human Resource business partner. And then, I moved over into Executive Recruiting and then I moved over to Diversity and Inclusion for a while before I became a coach. And went and became certified with the ICF, and the reason why I did, Todd, was because I found myself, behind closed doors, coaching, and I really didn’t understand what coaching really meant. And I discovered that and decided this was my life purpose and my life passion. And so, I became a coach and I am just thrilled to be doing what I do. I get to do what I love every day.
Todd Mosetter: I love that, Genena. And you bring so much experience to our team. You mentioned that you have some experience in Human Resources. So, when you think about the challenges that HR people and companies face in terms of really creating leadership capacity in their organization, right, identifying the best leaders and developing them, where have you seen companies really excel in this area?
Genena Armstrong: Well, the companies that really invest in their leaders. Okay? Because when you think about all the things that a leader has to know, it’s more than just the skill and the talent, the specific, I guess the tactical things. There’s more of the people side that I believe that a lot of companies are not aware that’s so important. So that the companies that have gotten it right, that excel, are the ones that invest in their leaders from a coaching standpoint, professional development, and in some cases, personal development as well.
Todd Mosetter: I love that Genena, You know, a thought that comes to mind is, coaching in the old days, if you will—you know, the before times—often was thought of as a, almost like a last stop before you had to let someone go. Someone was broken, so we’ll bring in a coach. But what we’ve learned, in our experience, is the best companies don’t see coaching that way, do they?
Genena Armstrong: No, they don’t actually. And it used to be that you got in trouble. When you got in trouble, you had to get a coach and nowadays it’s a luxury and it’s a benefit. And it’s something that is seen as you’re valued. And you’re given a coach when they see that you have more to offer and that you want to enhance those skills and be able to provide more productivity to the company. So, I have found that that coaching has become, we have a better reputation, coaches, we have. Especially for emerging leaders, mid-level leaders. It’s no longer, yeah, you’re on your way out the door so we need to get you a coach. I haven’t seen that in a while.
Todd Mosetter: Which is good, because that’s where coaching can make the biggest difference, right? It’s not fixing something that’s broke, it’s taking something that’s good and making it even better.
Genena Armstrong: Exactly.
Todd Mosetter: When we think about that real-world experience, there’s both successes and failures. So, can you think maybe of a story or an example of a success that you had in your career that is really worth highlighting?
Genena Armstrong: Oh, my gosh! Worth highlighting? Well, you know, what I believe that mistakes help you to grow. Okay? And I believe that one of the mistakes that I’ve made that’s helped me to grow and become better and successful is my transition moving from Minnesota to Texas, okay? And coming—still have the same type of a role that I had in a previous company that I worked for, but I was in a different environment, okay? A different culture. I went from cold north Minnesota to hot Texas, right? And the culture is different. And so being all excited and new in my career and, you know, at that time I was the Vice President and I wanted to, you know, really make a difference. I came in like a bulldozer, okay? And I’m great at building partnerships, right, and alliances. But I still stepped on toes and in stepping on toes, which relationship is very key,
Genena Armstrong: I found myself coming in a little bit too forceful, if you will. And so it took me longer to build relationships so that I can get my job done because of that. So, because you know, every state, every company, everybody’s different, right? Everything’s different. So, you don’t want to just assume what you do in Minnesota you can do in Texas. I mean, cause Texas is huge, right? So, you can’t just move Texas in one ship, you have to do it piece-by-piece. And so, I learned quickly, it took me about two years before I could really work towards having better relationships with the partners that I work with. And as a result of that lesson, I’ve learned a lot, but also the impact that I was able to make after staying with the company for five years, I would say was huge. And those partners that I had at that company are still very dear friends of mine today. And that was, I would say, my most successful career, memory, and, impact.
Todd Mosetter: I love that story. Thank you. You know, one of the core principles we have at Building Champions is it’s about results and relationships, right? You can’t ignore one at the expense of the other. We need good results in order to fulfill the objectives the organization has put us in charge with, but it’s impossible to do if we don’t prioritize those relationships. Because at the end, we’re people, and if we don’t get along with each other, understand each other care for each other, pull for each other, have each other’s backs, it’s going to be hard to accomplish anything great. So, great story that brings that to life. Genena, when you think about your career, what do you think the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do is?
Genena Armstrong: Oh, wow. Well, to fire someone. I really— the hardest, yeah. When I was a generalist, when I was a business partner in that role, I really had a hard time releasing employees from their jobs. That just was always hard. Even though I understood from a business standpoint that it made sense, even though the company took very good care of the employees, it was still hard to sit and have a conversation with someone and let them know that they were losing their job. And what that would do for their families personally. And it was just a difficult, difficult time in my career. And I decided then and there that the business partner role was not exactly the role that I needed to be in. And so I ended up switching careers. Still in HR, but doing something different.
Todd Mosetter: Yeah, it’s probably one of the hardest things we have to do as leaders, right? Because we’re in charge of helping our people be in a position to win. And unfortunately, we can do all of the things right, but sometimes it’s just not the right fit. And as necessary as that conversation is, it’s hard. And if you’re a leader, whoever thinks that conversation gets easy. Yeah. That’s probably another conversation to have.
Genena Armstrong: That’s right. Yeah. That’s another, that’s a workshop right there in of itself. Yeah. Yeah.
Todd Mosetter: So, you’ve been a coach for a while, both in your roles and professionally, right? This is what you do. So, help us understand a little bit, if you had to describe your coaching style because you know, every coach is a little bit different. How do you think you would describe yours?
Genena Armstrong: Well, I’m definitely energetic, enthusiastic. I very much instill that enthusiasm into my clients. A lot of times, my clients come to me and they’re just confused, right? They’re not sure, they’re going through a shift in their careers, they are looking for some direction, or even there’s some intervention that may be the case, or knowledge and wisdom that they’re searching for. And I believe in getting to know a person, not just their career, but also who they are as a human. And that’s the first thing that I do is I get to know the individual, my individual client, for who they are. And then I work with them to uncover some of the barriers that they experience. And so, I find that my clients will say, “you know what? I can’t believe I told Genena that,” you know? So “I can’t believe I said that,” you know, but it’s been inside of them and they just didn’t know how to communicate it, or they weren’t allowed.
Genena Armstrong: So, I create that space, that safe space, for people to come and bring their whole selves and be able to talk about and be vulnerable about the things that they’re trying to work on or they’re trying to grow in. So, I would say enthusiasm. I would say transparency is definitely something that my clients feel, you know, when they’re working with me and that they’re just excited about the results that they have and that just blows me away and makes me feel amazing every time I hear.
Todd Mosetter: And I can echo the enthusiasm because every interaction we’ve had, you always bring a great level of energy and enthusiasm. At Building Champions, we often talk about clients need to really understand the value of having cheerleaders and challengers in their networks, right? You need those people that are going to cheer you on and help lift you up and encourage you. But you need that challenger mindset as well. People that are going to push you. And what I love is that you seem to be able to bring both to your clients.
Genena Armstrong: Yes, that’s true. That’s actually true. And usually my clients will say, “Oh my God, I got in trouble.” But it’s funny because I’ve been—if I had to think of a person—Are you familiar with The Matrix, at all? The movie, The Matrix? So, do you remember the Oracle in the kitchen? And I think it was The Matrix Two, if I’m not mistaken. I tend to be a little bit of the Oracle. I’ve been called that because I’m able to listen, challenge, and support at the same time and still allow that individual to make their own decisions, right? Whether they want to take the blue pill or the red pill. Okay? And so, I would say I’m a mixture of the Oracle and a mixture of Iyanla Vanzant, if you’ve heard of her. Iyanla fixed my life. And so, I do have the ability to have the tough love, but, you know, you really kind of feel it but then you don’t feel it until maybe later. But then you go, “oh, that’s what she was trying to say.” Or, “oh yeah. I know. I want to be accountable, not to just Genena, but to myself.” You know? So, yeah. That’s how I would describe it.
Todd Mosetter: What a great combination. I know as a coach myself, you know, I love working with all kinds of clients, but there’s a certain kind of client that I really feel like I can add the most value to and really excites me. So, when you think about that sweet spot for you, that ideal client, where do you think you bring a lot of unique value to your clients?
Genena Armstrong: Yeah, so I would say on the DISC, I’m an I — I’m an I/D, right? That combination we just talked about. I work with individuals very well that are in the I, but as well as the D. And the D are the, you know, the tougher clients, maybe, so to speak, because, you know, they either dominant, they move forward. But I tend to be called on to help coach those individuals because I’m able to help them stop and think. And really help them to look at things differently and more positive.
Genena Armstrong: And usually Ds think that coaching is kind of woo-woo. “I don’t have time for this.” You know? “I don’t have time to talk to you, Genena. This is, you know, I’m too busy.” And I have found that my D clients end up—they’re the ones that are usually on time, they get through all their sessions, they’re calling me, and they’re complimenting me towards the end. So, I would say that the Ds, the sweet spots are Is. I love working with women in leadership and women who are in all levels of their lives or going through a shift in their lives or all capacities is what I’m trying to say. Because, you know, as women, we wear many hats, right? So, we’re moms, we’re wives, some of us, we’re business women who are business owners, some of us are ministry leaders, you know? So, I work with—and I find a passion working with women because I have experienced a lot of what we women have experienced in our lives.
Todd Mosetter: I love that. Thanks, Genena. You know, you touched on it before, about in your coaching style, you love to get to know the whole person. We talked about how much relationships matter. You know, here at Building Champions, one of the big principles that we always follow is “better humans make better leaders.” So, before we close, I would just love to know you as a person, you as a human. What is it that we should know about Genena, the person, to better understand who you are?
Genena Armstrong: Oh, gosh. Me, Genena, the person. I would say, what you see is what you get. I tend to show up my full-self and I tend to allow others to be vulnerable. I have had the gift, this gift that I, that I hold I’ve had actually all my life. And so I want you to know that what you see is what you get. And as a person, I understand that we’re not all perfect. I want people to understand that working with me, you’re not going to feel judged at all. And the goal is all about you as, as my client. And so, I have a heart for this. This is my heart. So, I’m not—this, isn’t just a job for me. It’s really truly my passion, in my heart.
Todd Mosetter: Great. Genena, thanks so much. It’s so great to get to know you. I hope our folks watching have gotten a chance to get to know you a bit better. You are a coach through and through with a ton of experience. And I know I’ve benefited from our interactions and I know your clients will as well. So, so glad to have you part of our team.
Genena Armstrong: Thank you so much, Todd. So good to see you.
Todd Mosetter: Thank you for taking time to watch this. Genena is one of our many coaches on our team. If you’re interested in talking to her or any of our coaches, we’d love to sit down and learn more about you. So, feel free to contact us either through the website or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to helping you on your leadership journey.