The Journey of Leadership: A Conversation with Doug Thorpe and Carole Stizza

In a recent podcast episode, I had the pleasure of hosting a riveting conversation with Carole Stizza, an executive coach with a background in HR and a unique perspective as a military spouse. Our discussion revolved around leadership, the challenges faced by business leaders and executives, and the journey of becoming a better leader.

The Art of Leadership: Military vs Corporate

Carole and I delved into the differences between military and corporate leadership. We agreed that regardless of the context, the importance of inspiring a shared vision is paramount. Leaders must be able to rally their teams around a common goal, fostering a sense of unity and purpose.

However, we also acknowledged the struggle of transitioning from operational to strategic thinking. This shift is often a stumbling block for many leaders, as it requires letting go of what has made you successful in the past to embrace new strategies and approaches.

The Challenge of Transitioning into Leadership Roles

One of the common challenges faced by individuals transitioning into leadership roles is the flawed tradition of promoting the best individual contributors to supervisor positions without considering their ability to take care of people. This often leads to dissatisfaction and a lack of preparedness for the new role.

We introduced the concept of a parallel track, where individuals who excel in their field can continue to focus on their expertise without being forced into leadership roles. This approach emphasizes the importance of having conversations about the expectations and changes that come with a promotion, as many individuals may not want to give up their current responsibilities.

The Importance of Agility and Questioning in Leadership

Carole and I also discussed the importance of agility in leadership, comparing it to a rubber band that can stretch out to the edge of uncertainty and then snap back. This flexibility allows leaders to adapt to changing circumstances and navigate through uncertainty.

We also touched on the conditioning that many people experience as they transition from the education system to the workplace. Carole emphasized the importance of giving ourselves permission to ask questions and seek feedback on our performance. This approach can help alleviate imposter syndrome and high anxiety levels when faced with unknown situations at work.

Building Trust and Empowering Teams

Trust is a crucial element in any team, and it is built through a series of questions and answers, where people feel heard and understood. I shared my belief that leaders should create an environment where it is good to ask questions and be curious, as this fosters trust and engagement.

Carole added that leaders should refrain from immediately solving problems brought to them by their team members. Instead, they should take the opportunity to teach and empower their team by asking questions. This approach encourages team members to think critically and come up with their own solutions, fostering a culture of learning and growth.


Our conversation underscored the importance of effective leadership and the challenges that come with it. From transitioning into leadership roles to building trust and empowering teams, the journey of leadership is a continuous learning process. As leaders, we must be willing to challenge our assumptions, ask the right questions, and constantly seek ways to grow and improve.

Guest Bio:

Carole Stizza spent over 25 years studying the differences between corporate and military leadership, identifying the best practices of both.

She is an internationally acclaimed speaker, best-selling author, and executive leadership coach. She is also an expert in resilience, having survived three car crashes and a stage 3 cancer diagnosis.  She has been listed as one of the top 10 Executive coaches to watch in 2023 by US Insider and one of the top 20 Leadership Development Coaches in 2023 by HR Tech magazine.

Here are links to help:

website: https://www.relevant-insight.com/

linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolestizza/

Free Assessment to offer: https://www.magpaiassessments.com/3891/0

Doug Thorpe Social Media:

Small business owners will hit an invisible wall that can stall the growth of the company. The key reason there is a wall is that owners need to shift from manager to leader. The question is, how to do that?

Doug Thorpe. Doug is a coach for CEOs and Senior Leadership Teams with 30 years of leadership experience. He is the president & CEO of Doug Thorpe Group. Doug is also a podcast host.

He helps owners understand the ways they need to reshape their thinking and attitude to make a successful break through the wall.

Learn how to move from Founder to CEO.

Doug Thorpe LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dougthorpe/

Doug Thorpe Website: https://dougthorpe.com/

Doug Thorpe Podcasts: https://podcasts.dougthorpe.com

Doug Thorpe Twitter: https://twitter.com/dougthorpe_com

Doug Thorpe Facebook: https://facebook.com/headwayexec

Doug Thorpe Instagram: https://instagram.com/dougthorpe_com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/@dougthorpe

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