Guest Alyson Mattlage has over 25 years of experience in corporate training and development. Alyson shares her experience in helping leaders maximize their potential. Our conversation delves into the underestimated emotional aspects of leadership, the profound impact of effective leadership on an organizational culture, and the significance of personal connections in building trust within a team. Tune in for Alyson’s tips on fostering a collaborative and emotionally intelligent leadership style.
Listen to the full episode using the player below, or by visiting one of the links below. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The below transcript has been edited for readability.
Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to Legal 123’s with ByrdAdatto. Legal issues simplified through real client stories and real-world experiences, creating simplicity in 3 2 1.
Brad: Welcome back to Legal 123’s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host, Brad Adatto, with my co-host, Michael Byrd.
Michael: Thanks, Brad. As a business and health care law firm, we represent clients in multiple business sectors, especially health care. This season, we are finding common ground for our audience, regardless of your background. Our theme is leadership where each episode we’ll talk about leadership from multiple perspectives.
Brad: Yeah, Michael, I’m excited today. We have a leader today whose profession is to coach and lead others. We have a pro, basically, on today’s show.
Michael: Yeah, our guest even led the two of us and our ByrdAdatto management team through some leadership training. And Brad, you didn’t even cause her to retire, which is a minor miracle, at least as far as I [00:01:00] know.
Brad: Yeah. I mean, she did put up with us, or me, and even after all that agreed to be on our podcast, I think I’m kind of like a fungus, like eventually I just grow upon her maybe.
Michael: I don’t know about that. I doubt it. I would say that it’s a stretch that even that you’re growing up at all.
Brad: No, that’s fair. Yeah.
Michael: But before we get started, I’ve got an important question for you. Have you been following the growing concept in college football known as the transfer portal?
Brad: Yes, and it’s fascinating and sometimes frustrating, the changes and how you follow college football now. And for those sci fi fans that are listening, know this is not some magical portal that sends up a player to another dimension. Michael, I know you love context, can you give some context on what is the portal?
Michael: Yes. So, the transfer portal, or at least the current version of it and what we’re hearing about in the news has developed since the rules on the ability of a college athlete to transfer to another program has been [00:02:00] relaxed. And so, used to you could transfer, but there was issues and you had to sit out for a while and there was a lot of red tape to make it happen. Now, there’s kind of a rocket fuel on this whole transfer portal because they’ve eased that, and an athlete can enter the transfer portal and go and play for another school the following year. And I think there’s some rules to it, but it seems pretty easy to move back and forth and now of course, there’s the issues about athletes getting paid, which I know you know a little bit about.
Brad: Yeah, and first off, for our audience members, yes, we have finally done it. We are now a sports podcast. And as a sport podcast, I should note that, for those listening, there has been a huge shift. It used to be that athletes were prevented from selling their names, images, or likeness, or as Michael’s tattoo says in the back, NIL is now gone. This shift has allowed, you know, for decades, [00:03:00] the public and politicians and the athletes were really pushing hard so that they could use their NIL to make some money and there’s billions of dollars out there in the college world and now these college athletes have their own NIL rights, which means legally they can accept money from businesses or they can go out and promote themselves and get paid just for their own NIL.
Michael: I have dreams of building, at the University of Texas, the best typing team in the country. And using some of my income to make that happen.
Brad: Five or ten dollars for those people.
Michael: Yes, yes. Well, there are big stories every year about top athletes that are entering the transfer portal to go to another school.
Brad: Alright, Michael, tell us some of these NIL portal challenge examples.
Michael: Yeah, so I read an article, I read a quote from the Nebraska head coach, Matt Rule, that said, a good QB in the portal cost a million to two million dollars in NIL commitments.
Brad: Okay, now go to a movie reference here, as Mr. McGuire would [00:04:00] say, show me the money.
Michael: Yeah, yes, exactly. I don’t think a typist would cost that much, by the way.
Brad: No, I don’t think so.
Michael: So, but there is an untold dark side to this whole transfer portal thing. Like there’s this market and all this money that’s being rumored and thrown about, but I’ve read articles about the staggering statistics of kids who enter the portal and then they don’t find a new team.
Brad: Ooh, that’s really bad.
Michael: Yeah, like 2021, half the kids in the portal did not find a new school.
Brad: Ooh, terrible.
Michael: Yeah, so these kids, not only do they leave a program and not have a new one, but most of them were also on full scholarships. And so, they lost their ability to get a college education because when you enter the portal, they lost their scholarship. And so there is this kind of untold side of this whole NIL transfer portal issue.
Brad: I wonder if they even know they’re betting their [00:05:00] scholarship that they’re going to get a scholarship somewhere else, and then they lose it all. Both, they didn’t get picked up, and worse than that, they lost their actual scholarship.
Michael: I did read a random story recently, because there’s always a few randos, and one was the backup quarterback at Alabama who actually played this year, was the quarterback at Notre Dame and he entered the transfer portal for lacrosse.
Brad: Yeah. I didn’t see that coming at all.
Michael: Yeah. Apparently, he was highly coveted as a lacrosse recruit and maybe he sees the handwriting on the wall on his football career and is going to make a college sports shift.
Brad: Yeah, I guess if you have like a drive to play and you just want to find the sport you’re really good at and you want to excel, you know, why not? So, what does this all have to do with our guest over here and where are we going?
Michael: Well, hold tight.
Michael: I’ve got one more story that I know you would like.
Michael: The most interesting transfer I read about was the starting quarterback for Utah State. His name [00:06:00] is Levi Williams and he is leaving his school to become a Navy SEAL. Now that’s a pretty cool story about sacrifice.
Michael: He determined that with his age, the timeline to become a Navy SEAL and the training it takes, that the time was now to do it. And he had a very successful year as the starting QB and was going into his, would have been his senior year next year.
Brad: That’s, you know, different. First off, what a cool name for a Navy SEAL, Levi Williams. I mean, I could just see that. Come on, Levi. And then second, that reminds me of another leader who played football, the Pat Tillman. And for the audience member who’s not familiar with Pat Tillman, he was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals. He was actually a really good safety. And after September 11th, he and his brother decided to join the Army. In fact, he actually turned down a $3.6 million offer, enlisted, eventually became an army ranger and unfortunately, he was actually killed in a friendly [00:07:00] fire incident. It’s a sad chapter, but it’s an exhilarating concept of leadership that Pat showed.
Michael: Yeah, it was pretty amazing cause I remember at the time it was almost unheard of. I mean, he was, I think, Pro Bowl level.
Brad: Yeah, he was Pro Bowl. That’s right.
Michael: Well, it’s time to get to our guest today, Brad. We are gonna bring on our guest today. Joining us is our friend and one of our personal leadership sherpas, Alyson Mattlage. She is the CEO of Robinson Training and Consulting. She has more than 25 years of corporate training and development on leadership. She’s worked with large clients like Texas Instruments and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and as we said, the largest of her clients, ByrdAdatto.
Brad: Favorite by far.
Michael: Yeah. Oh my goodness. Welcome.
Alyson: Hi. It’s good to see you all.
Brad: Yes. All right, Allison, we’re going to hit you right off the front with a really tough question. Have you been following [00:08:00] everything about this whole transfer portal and NIA and the college sports?
Alyson: Yeah, as a matter of fact, I have a fun fact for you all. Speaking of the dark side of the transfer portal, the bright side, you may not realize this, but of the Heisman Trophy winners, five out of the last six or seven, are from transfer schools, including the most recent Heisman winner, the LSU quarterback, but personally, so I’m a graduate of Baylor University, and we’re hoping that many of our players are not flying into the portal as we are speaking with just some tough challenges on the college football field this year.
Michael: You’re more focused on basketball.
Alyson: We are a basketball school for sure.
Michael: Yes, a very good basketball school.
Alyson: So yeah, I do love college football and it’s been fascinating to see both what NIL and the transfer portal has done, both in opportunity. And it’s interesting that you say that, [00:09:00] thinking through, what if I don’t get picked up? I mean, that’s probably not a reality a lot of them either think about or want to face.
Michael: Yeah, no doubt. And I’m also curious too if there’s pressures created by the schools now to people that aren’t making it where they’re, you know, trying to push them out to go and look for new opportunities.
Michael: But anyway, I digress. So, Alyson, talk to us a little bit about your business, your clients, and just introduce us to what you do.
Alyson: Yeah, so I, as you mentioned, have basically a leadership development consulting company and I have a desire to help leaders maximize their potential. And so, it’s interesting because it started when I worked for Texas Instruments right out of college and kind of grew up there in my career. And then I had kids and was like, hey, I [00:10:00] don’t want to work as a full time employee. I want to raise my kids. And I was introduced to this beautiful world of consulting that allowed you to both be at home and have a profession. And so, for 20, you know, plus years now, I’ve been in that space and it’s very rewarding.
Brad: So, did you use like a transfer portal when you decided to do that?
Alyson: I did. Totally. I just put myself right in that shoot. Interestingly enough, I went to my boss at the time, and I said, Hey, I want one of those retirement packages that y’all hand out sometimes here at TI. And he’s like, give me a break. Get out of my office. So, I was trying to enter into the transfer portal.
Brad: Oh, well, you were ahead of your time.
Michael: Yes, exactly.
Alyson: Yes, that’s right.
Brad: Well, and Allison, as Michael kind of started off, this season, which is believe it or not, our last episode of the season, we’re really focusing on leadership and as a leader, we’d love for you to be able to share some thoughts, but we’re going to take a step back, and really, what was your first leadership role? [00:11:00]
Alyson: Yeah. So, in thinking about question, I mean, first leadership role that had an impact, I would probably say, I have to take you back to circa 1988, 1989.
Michael: That’s Brad’s favorite place.
Brad: Yes. Tell me what movie you’re watching.
Alyson: And y’all, II grew up as a ballet dancer and when I moved to Texas from Newport Beach in junior high, I realized very quickly that ballet wasn’t like super cool. And as a junior high kid, you really, you want to, you know, move to that cool status. So, as I went into high school, I hung up my pointe shoes and traded them for drill team boots. Now I didn’t realize in Texas, high school football and the drill team like that’s a whole thing and so I went the whole drill team route and became [00:12:00] captain of my drill team and what’s interesting about that? It wasn’t like just a popularity vote like there was a panel of judges and a whole process, but all that to say, you know in true seriousness, it’s the first time I got a glimpse of what it meant to be a leader, where I was responsible for these girls that are my peers. And it was just, it was surreal, but I learned a lot about myself and leadership.
Michael: How did you feel like you did with that position?
Alyson: Well, there were times where I was like, yeah, I’m killing it. And then there were other times where I had an amazing director who was gracious enough to give me feedback in a way that wasn’t going to completely, you know, shudder my esteem, but she was really helpful in blocking that balance of these are your friends, so you have to be both fair and firm.
Alyson: So, I learned a lot. [00:13:00] And then of course, you know, I was 17 years old. I did a lot of stupid stuff.
Brad: What? At 17? We’re still doing that and Michael’s like a hundred and two.
Michael: I’m still just debating like, well if ballet wasn’t all that cool, what do you think about my typing career?
Brad: I didn’t want to bring that up, but yes. That wasn’t cool either, Michael.
Michael: But I was a leader.
Alyson: That’s, hey, that’s what counts.
Michael: Of my fingers.
Alyson: Look at you today.
Michael: Yes, look at me today. Look how fast I can type. Well, excellent. Well, good. Well, let’s stay there or stay in that time frame and just talk about, did you have anybody that you learned to be a leader from or any mentors that kind of influenced your leadership development?
Alyson: Yeah. So, an easy one, of course, is my drill team director at the time, but what’s interesting, and I didn’t realize this until later in life, is my dad [00:14:00] was a phenomenal, still is, phenomenal leader. So, he was vice president of a company, a retail company here in Dallas. And in the Christmas season, in summers, he would make my brother and I work for the store, which I did not love. And again, at the time, I couldn’t appreciate how great a leader that he was and so, seeing him in his element, and of course, this is many years later, he was so calm. He was confident and he really cared about his people. I mean, they adored him. And at first, I thought it was like, oh, I’m the boss’s daughter, they’re just saying that stuff to me, but I’ve seen it play out. And it really, I think it goes back to his leadership. People just believed in him and wanted to follow him.
Michael: Do you think, was this before you became a leader on your drill team?
Michael: Do you think that there was some osmosis happening where you were, had seen his [00:15:00] behavior and you had some of that?
Alyson: Yeah. That’s an interesting thing that I don’t know that I’ve really thought about, but I would bet that there were certain things that I saw in him that I just naturally emulated because I mean, for example, and this is true in me observing him in the workplace, but also at home, I’ve never heard him raise his voice.
Alyson: And I’m not making that up when I say never. He’s just so steady, calm, like no losing the temper. And so, I think there were things that were modeled that I’d like to think that I took on as a leader.
Michael: I really wish that would be something that my kids could say about me.
Brad: Or the people who work here, Michael, for God’s sake. Oh, wait. Sorry.
Michael: You’re to blame for that.
Brad: Yeah. Stop yelling at me.
Alyson: Quit yelling.
Brad: Speaking of terrible leaders.
Brad: You know, obviously you had this, your dad and the drill instructor and everybody else where it seemed like great mentors for you, but is there an experience that you can think of and this can be any [00:16:00] time of where you saw, you know, either like the worst leadership experience or a style that you saw?
Alyson: Yeah. One of the worst leadership experiences comes pointed directly at me because when I worked for TI, they had a very common model where if you were good as an individual contributor, they’re like, let’s promote you to manager because clearly if whatever you’re doing as an individual contributor, you can do that well as a manager. So, I was promoted well before I probably should have been and that was also at a time where leadership development was not huge on the priority list. And I remember they asked me to hire my own like administrative assistant. I had no idea what I was doing. Like, I don’t even know. It’s like, well, I don’t know how you hire a person. So, I just interviewed. I was like, yeah, I think I like her. It was a disaster. Like within a few months, y’all, she had to be escorted out by security.
Michael: Oh no.
Alyson: Yeah. [00:17:00] And I will spare the details of that, but it was one of those where the bad hire was on me because I didn’t know what I was doing. But here is my, why I say worst, I didn’t ask for help because I wanted to prove that you made the right decision in promoting me, even though I had no idea what I was doing. So that’s one that just from my own experience that I’m like eh, but, okay, here’s another one, speaking of semiconductor company, then of course this gentleman is no longer at the company, but I don’t know if you’re aware, but like with semiconductors, they put them on a wafer. So, it’s like this big, like round, almost like a mirror. And this manager had one right next to his computer. So, when people came in his office he would stay typing and look and talk to you into the wafer, which works like a mirror. I’m not even kidding. He’s like, I’m just being efficient. He like, he didn’t even see anything wrong with it. Like, why would I turn around to talk to these people? [00:18:00] And that has stayed in my mind. It was like, okay, first of all, it’s problematic. Second of all, that you don’t even see anything wrong with it. Like, I’m just, I’m staying here on my keyboard.
Brad: Did he go to Michael’s school of typing for any particular reason?
Michael: Yeah, I have my iPad with, you know, the selfie mode.
Alyson: Selfie mode on.
Michael: Yeah, exactly.
Alyson: So, you just talk to people. I can’t part from my keyboard.
Brad: Well, that’s a different style.
Michael: I’m curious, as you were talking, I started thinking about, okay, you’re a professional on teaching leadership. You don’t major in leadership in school. So, what happened? Like, tell me, what was your first job and how did that evolve into leadership, which then evolved into you going into the transfer portal?
Alyson: Yeah. Beam me up, Scotty. Okay. So, what’s interesting, this is another, I think great story of just very fortunate in that what I went to school [00:19:00] for, I’m doing nothing with right now. So, I went into TI with a degree in physiology in their wellness department. That’s back when like big companies had, you know, corporate wellness was a big thing, and I hated it. And what’s interesting is my manager at the time said, hey, they did this thing called brown bag lunches, where people would come in for lunch and we’d do like a presentation. They said, could you do a session on the physiology of stress? And so, I did. And after that, my boss came up to me and said, you’re in the wrong job. We’re going to send you back to school. We’re going to put you into our leadership development program and training. And that’s when the whirlwind started where they said, hey, we have a need as we’re starting training and development focus here at TI. We think there could be a fit for you. So, it was really a manager seeing potential in what was really just facilitation or presentation skills that [00:20:00] started the whole learning about leadership.
Brad: I’m assuming this manager is not watching your presentation with a mirror.
Alyson: That’s right.
Brad: So, it’s different managers I’m hearing.
Alyson: Different manager.
Brad: He was actually engaged with you.
Alyson: Yes. Yeah.
Michael: And, was it just like the world opening up learning that leadership or did you have to kind of grow into it?
Alyson: All of the above.
Alyson: Yeah. It was learning by doing and my own leadership role and responsibility. It was also just observing. I mean, just watching really great leaders and then not so great leaders and just seeing it evolve over time.
Michael: And so, what would you say is your leadership style?
Alyson: Yeah, I think that, well, what I would say my style is today, it’s definitely collaborative in my approach. I started out as directive where like, and I can remember y’all, cause again, I told you I was [00:21:00] promoted before I should have been, I can remember one of my employees coming into my office one day and she was like, hey, it’d be really helpful if you asked me to do something instead of just telling me and I’m like what’s the difference like do your work, but what she was trying to say is show some respect, involve me, ask and at the time I couldn’t see it. I didn’t have the maturity to see, but over time, thankfully, I really value that I don’t have to have all the answers. Thank goodness. And I try to surround myself with talented, smart people, and just invite their ideas.
Michael: I’m starting to see some of the lessons you taught us come out.
Brad: That’s what I’ll say. Ask versus tell.
Alyson: Ask versus tell. Yeah. Where have I heard that before?
Brad: I heard that one. Alyson figured it out on her own.
Alyson: Yes. Early on.
Brad: Yeah. [00:22:00] Well, so, you know, again, going back to just, you know, you’re being a professional leader and what are some of the areas of concern that you think others should be mindful of or are often missed when they’re trying to be leaders?
Alyson: I think probably one, I mean, there’s several that come to mind, but the one that is consistent, no matter what industry or what level leader is leading or navigating change, it is, I think, my observation, what tends to get underestimated is how we treat change like it’s an event versus a transition. So, we focus on the logic side of it, versus the emotional side of it and what people are experiencing. And so, we create these great comms plans for here, that’s how we need to communicate it, and roll it out, and announce the change. And then we just expect that everybody is like, [00:23:00] committed, and on board. And I think that leaves a lot of challenge following the announcement or what they would hope is the implementation of the change.
Michael: That’s really interesting. So, talk a little bit more about emotions and how, you know, just connected to leadership and how leaders should think about that.
Alyson: Yeah. So, if you think about it from the perspective of you have a cognitive domain and an emotional domain when leading change and everybody starts in the cognitive domain space like, hey, effective June one, we are eliminating this process or we’re merging these two jobs or whatever it may be. Immediately, most people don’t stay in that cognitive space. They slide into the emotion. The emotion could be frustration, excitement, you know, just depending on whatever it is you’re announcing. [00:24:00] They stay in that emotional state, feeling their own emotion, but usually investigating what’s in it for me, what’s happening, how is this good, how is this not good, and then ultimately, they get back to kind of that logic or cognitive space where it becomes more of a routine. As managers, we rarely have conversations at that emotional space. We stay at the logic level of it.
Michael: And so, the lesson learned for us is to be able to connect at the emotions level.
Alyson: Yeah. And just even having sessions where it’s purely just, I’m here to listen. I’m not going to try to sell you. I’m not going to try to convince you on this change. I’m not going to provide a bunch of data that says why we’re doing it, which you need all that, but when people are in that reaction stage, just to let it be okay because the more you push and try to convince, the more some of them are going to dig in.
Brad: So maybe ask them instead of telling them? [00:25:00]
Alyson: Yes. Look at that.
Michael: Or, why am I talking?
Alyson: Why am I talking? I’m just here to listen.
Michael: We’re just showing off.
Michael: Okay, well, as we get here, I have one kind of final speed round question for you.
Michael: So, what’s the biggest lesson learned? It can be positive or negative, that you can share with our audience on leadership.
Alyson: Biggest lesson is connect with people. Hands down. I believe leaders can consistently underestimate the connection that they make with people, the impact that it has. And I’m talking small things. So, for example, one of my clients, BNSF, you know, is a massive railroad operation and they started talking to different leaders and their employees. And these employees were raving about this one leader, we’ll call him Tom. And when they started asking the employees, [00:26:00] what is it about him? They said things like, he knows my name. He knows my family. He thanks me, even when I’m doing the job I’m supposed to be doing. And this is what’s creating connection where these people are like, I trust him because he cares.
Michael: That’s really cool. Alyson, thank you for joining us.
Alyson: Yes. Thank y’all.
Michael: It was amazing. Let’s go into commercial. And on the other side we’ll come in with a couple of legal insights, but really grateful for you coming today.
Alyson: I’m grateful for y’all and all that you’re doing in your leadership. Your firm is fortunate to have both of you.
Brad: Thank you.
Michael: Thank you.
Access+: Many business owners use legal counsel as a last resort rather than as a proactive tool that can further their success. Why? For most, it’s the fear of unknown legal costs. ByrdAdatto’s Access+ program makes it possible for you to get the ongoing legal assistance you need for one predictable monthly [00:27:00] fee. That gives you unlimited phone and email access to the legal team so you can receive feedback on legal concerns as they arise. Access+, a smarter, simpler way to access legal services. Find out more. Visit ByrdAdatto.com today.
Brad: Welcome back to Legal 123’s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host, Brad Adatto with my cohost, Michael. Now, Michael, this season, our theme is leadership and we had a pro in here. You know, Allison came in and really dropped some incredibly good knowledge about how to become a leader and, you know, at the end, I mean, obviously the whole first half was amazing, but she said something I think it resonated with both of us about that emotional connection that you can make and how that can impact your employees. And let’s just park there for a second because it’s more than that. Being a great leader, there’s these connections you can make emotionally with everyone.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, I think over [00:28:00] the course of this entire season, hearing some great thoughts on leadership, I love how she distilled it down to the human, the connection that people make with each other.
Michael: And I think about stepping back from leadership and what we do for a living, which is we’re helping give counsel to business owners and part of that is managing risk. And for many of our clients who are medical practices, their biggest quote risk, using that very objectively, is their patients and their employees, right? I mean, their biggest opportunity. They’re in the business of serving and treating patients and they need employees to do it, but if something were to go wrong, that’s where it’s going to happen. And what you and I, I think have noticed is that our clients that do a really good job of forming a connection with their patients or forming a [00:29:00] connection with their employees, also reduce their risk of lawsuits happening or escalated unmet expectations, coming to the surface and that they tend to just have smoother relationships and smoother experiences in running their business.
Brad: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s an element to it because there’s a connection that you’ve been kind to that patient, or you’ve established a personal relationship with that patient that when there is a dispute, they feel at least that there’s a good enough connection personally to reach out to you. Same with your employees. We’ve seen that where there’s an employee dispute and when they have a really good relationship with that employee, it tends to deescalate quicker when they realize, you know, that was just a little bump or whatever it was. And because we’ve had such a good connection, they had a higher trust level between the parties. Michael, believe it or not, [00:30:00] we’re almost done with this. Do you have any final thoughts?
Michael: It’s been an amazing season learning about leadership and because you’ve tried your hardest to form a connection with me, Brad, I will not enter the transfer portal and I’ll stay with you for another season.
Brad: Yes. Well, audience members, as Michael said, this is the last episode of season 14 and of the year. We’ll be off next week so hopefully everyone have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And we’ll be back with you with a season 15 preview on January 3rd. Until then, Happy Holidays.
Outro: Thanks again for joining us today. And remember, if you like this episode, please subscribe. Make sure to give us a five star rating and share with your friends. You can also sign up for the ByrdAdatto newsletter by going to our website at ByrdAdatto.com. ByrdAdatto is providing this podcast as a public service. This podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast does not constitute legal [00:31:00] advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ByrdAdatto. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Please consult with an attorney on your legal issues.