Ep. 146: Patti Humble - Developing Others Starts With Me!

October 18, 2021 | 29 Minutes

Patti Humble, Chief Accounting Officer of United Parcel Service (UPS) headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, joins Count Me In to talk about the value of knowing yourself and the impact it can have as a leader seeking to develop others. Patti is the direct advisor to the Chief Financial Officer on SEC reporting, M&A, global record to report shared service center operations, and accounting transformation strategic initiatives. Her responsibilities include SEC reporting, technical accounting compliance, Audit Committee communications and investor relations support. In this episode, she talks about what it means to "know yourself" and the steps you can take to successfully gain a better understanding of who you really are as a person and a leader. In doing so, listeners can become more adaptable leaders and find ways to further develop and strengthen themselves and their teams. Download and listen now!

Contact Patti Humble: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patti-humble-46651235/

Adam: (00:05)
 Welcome back to Count Me In, IMA's podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I'm Adam Larson and I first like to thank you for coming back to hear episode 146 of our series today's conversation features Patti Humble, the chief accounting officer at UPS. Patty is an experienced senior leader with a broad background in both business unit and corporate headquarter environments. She is also a passionate leader who truly emphasizes personal development and the need for knowing yourself first. Next, you'll hear her discuss steps to successfully getting to know yourself and how that translates to strong leadership. So keep listening as we head over to the conversation now.
 Mitch: (00:50)
 So I know our conversation for today is going to be about developing others, but I understand it's very important to you. And I know it's a topic that you're very passionate about. So for some background for our listeners, why don't you start off by telling us why this is so important to you?
 Patti: (01:05)
 Well, thank you. I appreciate that. And I'm just going to begin with kind of an overarching statement that, you know, what, we all have a unique purpose in our lives, right? We all want to make a difference for our families, for our workplaces, for our country, even globally. And so just pause for a second and think about that. How do you make a difference? Because in my view, effective leaders, they have to start by knowing themselves first, before they can start paying it forward to others. So for me, self journey, my self knowledge and my journey, that was a linchpin. And that's when I really started putting some of my leadership puzzle pieces together. And I'm really passionate about this because I really want to share some of my aha moments with other people. I think what I've observed is that people are often very hesitant to go deep inside themselves. It can be intimidating, it can be a little scary, but as I look back over the course of my career, I found that I really needed to know myself first. And only then is when some of these other leadership traits, my coping mechanisms, all of that started to fall into place. So that's why I'm so passionate about it.
 Mitch: (02:31)
 It's very fascinating. And you know, I'm curious these aha moments, you know, you said a couple of times right there, you have to know yourself first. What does that actually look like? You know, and I'm sure it's different for different people. but what do you, what does that ultimately look like to you when you make that recognition?
 Patti: (02:54)
 Well, I think it's knowing your style, right? It's what drains you of energy when you get home at the end of the day and you're just wiped out what happened that made that happen and what gives you energy? I mean, when you think about those moments where you're just really jazzed, what was that? What gives you energy or maybe it's where you look up at the clock and you've totally lost track of time. I mean, the hours have gone by, and you just don't even know where the time went to. It's knowing that it's knowing your personality type. I think we all kind of have a sense of what our personality types are like, what are our blind spots? Where, what are the landmines that we might step on more than once. And also it's knowing your hot buttons, right? We all, we all know what those are too, but I think knowing yourself is really, it's so important because people succeed differently. So for example, extroverts and introverts, they succeed very different in the world. And you may, or you may not know where you fit along that continuum. And when I say introvert, I don't mean people that are shy. All right, there's a misunderstanding about introverts. Introverts are people that get their energy differently from thoughtful and quiet activities, right? We know our extroverts love to, to be around people and go to events. It doesn't mean that you're different, you're different than in a way that you succeed differently. That information can be really critical to adapting how you lead and how you position yourself for advancement in your workplace. So there's that piece of it by knowing yourself and even on a more personal level, you have to know yourself to know how you cope and, and to conquer sometimes your own gremlins, whatever those might be. I mean, think about what happened to us during COVID right during this pandemic, our coping mechanisms were really taxed. They were really strained. And I think that's a global phenomenon. So you probably learned some things about yourself during the pandemic that you might not have known and some of your gremlins might've been more pronounced, but I think when you know yourself, you're aware of your thoughts, you know, how you talk to yourself and you can talk yourself through moments of fear or uncertainty, you know, how to speak to yourself in the third person. So, you know, you think about the movie that runs in your head and you know, you tell yourself, oh my God, I can't believe I screwed up or I, how could I have done that? There is not a third person that would speak to you the way you speak to yourself. So try talking to yourself, like another, someone who loved you would speak to you, they'd say, you know what? You tried your best, you did the best you could with the information that you had, or yeah. You know, I didn't handle that so great. But you'll do better next time. If we speak to ourselves that way you talk to yourself, instead of listening to yourself, you try things like being grateful, when you're stressed out, because you look to the bright side of things, it's all that, that movie that, that plays on in your head. and I think that's part of knowing yourself. It just helps all those coping mechanisms work really well. A good friend of mine recommended me to me once, to create an "I love Patti" box and then fill it up with all the positive affirmations that you get that you receive. And then when you're having a really bad day and you need a boost, you just go read all those things all over again to say, you know what I do well, I am loved. And it just helps that, that inner, that inner voice. And I think that's really, really an important part of knowing yourself because knowing your style, knowing your energy, knowing how you speak to yourself is the platform for leadership.
 Mitch: (07:05)
 I think that's all amazing advice. And as you were sharing this information, I started thinking, you know, we kicked things off talking about or setting the stage, really developing others. And it starts with you first. And as you're speaking, I kind of said, you know, developing others that other person can still be yourself. You know, it's, it's, you know, it's the other person that, you know, people see that maybe you don't always see. So, it's really interesting. And as you, I can understand the more you learn about yourself, the easier it is, as you just said to then eventually develop other people other than yourself and lead. And it's just all full circle. So you'd already just mentioned a few really great techniques, but I'm sure, you know, you're very passionate about this. You have other things that we could share with the listeners, you know, specific steps, anything that, again, how do you identify when you are successful in knowing yourself, you know, what, how, how can our listeners take this another step further?
 Patti: (08:05)
 Yeah. well, there is a wealth of information out there on the internet about personality types. I mean, if you, if you put that into a search engine, you're going to come up with a lot of, of, material. I think, you know, people can start with something like a Myers-Briggs assessment. There's a number of things that you can do that are on the internet that are, that are free, but that's only the beginning. So like for Myers-Briggs you get come back and it's a four letter, kind of acronym that you get, but then the hard work starts. You have to read about your personality type. You have to learn about you, it's doing the homework. I mean, treat it like a treasure hunt. I mean, why do you react and behave the way you do? I, when I started digging into that and go, oh my gosh, this is, so me, how could I not have known that this is how I'm wired? And this is the way I behave. And it totally made sense. And I think once you see yourself in that light and you know, that there's other people kind of like you, it becomes, it leads to a sense of self-acceptance. And I think we all can struggle with that, at, at times, and because I'm an accountant, I actually made a small binder. I called it the Patti playbook. I think I kinda kind of figure as I went through the, the Myers-Briggs material and I did all of my homework, but it really was eye opening and it was especially eye opening when I shared it with my family, I said, you know, when this thing happens and I behave a certain way. Yeah, that's, that's, that's how I'm wired. And they're like, oh, it was really, it was really, really eye opening for them as well. And they understood what's kind of hardwired, into us. it going beyond that some companies, will support the cost of what's called a Hogan assessment, which is a little deeper than something like a, a Myers-Brigg and companies can actually put that into maybe your individual development plan. So my only advice on that, is make sure that when you get your Hogan results back, you need to have an expert read that back to you. Somebody that's familiar with how a Hogan, what a Hogan is measuring and what your results mean. So, and the reason I say that is, unfortunately for me, I spent about three years with a misunderstanding about my Hogan assessment and that misunderstanding actually sent me backwards a little bit. So just, just make sure that if you're going to have an assessment like that, that you really are getting expert advice on the, on the results. There's other taxonomies out there in this arena. There's one of them that puts, leaders into what they call the four faces. So you can, you can be a catalyst, a strategist, a steward, or an operator. Now, most accountants like us, we tend to be stewards and operators, because again, that's kind of how we're hardwired and that's why we went into the profession in the first place. But I will say, I think we all know that in a post pandemic world, our organizations more and more are going to be looking for us to be catalysts, change makers and strategists. So it's great to be a steward and an operator, but knowing where you fit on that, that fourplex helps you understand where it is you need to grow. I mean, ask your family. I mentioned that before, when, you know, I did the, my Myers-Briggs, I mean, they know you, they know your personality, they know how your energy ebbs and flows look for patterns on how you interact with them. Those are clues, right? And in every, in every family, people kind of play parts, it's kind of like a little play, but, you know, are the people that are closest to us. They know our strengths and our weaknesses and our hot buttons. So also treat that like a little bit of a treasure hunt, ask your family members about you and getting to know yourself. Next you can turn to the workplace. So what is, what's the word about you at work? What's your buzz? Both from your boss, from the folks at work, from you, from your peers, and if you don't know what that is, I would recommend that you need to find out. and don't just ask for feedback, just general feedback from them. I mean, you ask, once you're learning about yourself, ask some really, really specific questions. and let me just give you an example. So a question, a specific question might be, what's the one key thing that I could change in order to become more approachable. If that's something you're working on or another question might be, what do you know that I will never get to know, but I really need to know that that one was really open-ended question that you could ask some of your coworkers or your boss, and that really elicits a lot of, of openness from people. And I guess the last thing on this topic, I would say just, you know, getting to know yourself and your steps along the way is, remember when you're done with this, your greatest strength. Well, that's also your greatest weakness, right? So for example, accountants, we love certainty. We love detail. We love the fact that there's just one answer. That's our craft. That's what we do. But I think we also know that we need to learn to live in lots of shades of gray, rather than the black and white, organizations are asking us to see the big picture, get up to 50,000 feet, be able to speak, you know, in, non-accounting ways to other folks in our organization. And also remember your strength is your weakness. For example, going back to, if you're an introvert, how awesome is that? That's a strength where you're going to pick up on clues that other people might miss. And you're going to balance out your team with diversity of thought, but also know that you have to modulate. You have to be an extrovert. Sometimes you need to turn it on when you need to not, not 24/7, not all the time, not asking you to change who you are, but we also know that in corporate America, you need to be able to modulate back and forth. And when you can be honest with yourself along this journey, that is when you will really know that you're growing.
 Mitch: (14:43)
 And I love how you continue to bring this back to accounting, because, you know, particularly here, obviously with IMA, we're really focused on the evolution of the profession, right? The future of the profession and upscaling, and you mentioned a lot about, you know, being able to tell the whole story to those non-finance people and a big word around IMA that we use is being adaptive. Right. And being able to take that next step, particularly the last year and a half, you know, how everybody was forced to adapt, but our real leadership strength there. So I want to keep our conversation here, going in that direction, you know, turning to adaptable leadership. What are some of the things that you've experienced and what is this dynamic really look like? How does knowing yourself and becoming adaptable tie in with leadership and, you know, just bring it full circle for this conversation.
 Patti: (15:37)
 Yeah, well, I think people are like puzzles and most accountants really love problem solving. We probably like puzzles. So understanding people and leading people is, is rather the same because there's no two puzzles that are alike. And I mean, if you look at online again about books that are written on leadership or adaptable leadership, I mean, there are oceans of books. It's, it's actually really confusing, you know, on what you know, which is why I want you to go deep first. I want you to understand yourself first so that you can understand who you are and what you bring to leadership. And I think that also informs you, that you have to find your way in leading you won't lead like your boss, you will lead like you because you are unique, your blending, the best of the people that you've worked with and worked around and you've absorbed all of that. And you're customizing it along with your personality and adapting all of that into this, this puzzle. That's you. And I will say that I personally, I spent too much time trying to be a clone for one of my bosses thinking that that was the only way to lead, but you know what? I wasn't cut out of that same cloth. I wasn't raised to the same way in my family of origin. I didn't have the same work experiences. So I wasted a lot of time thinking that I had to be them when I should have been again, investing more in me and adaptable leadership comes back to modulating. So remember when we talked about that in the last section, right? Modulating, introvert, or extrovert, or, you know, kind of knowing yourself, managing yourself, this is the exact same thing, leaders modulate to get the most out of every person's different strengths they're putting together their puzzle, right. And their uniqueness. So when you're adjusting your style to what everybody needs, what each person needs is called situational leadership, right? It's this modulating, it's that adjusting. and it's tough. I think for accountants, again, they kind of want a single answer. When you learn how to manage a group of people, you want to be able to take that cookie cutter and move to a new group and say, okay, I know how to manage now, but you don't. Right? Because when you move, it's a whole different set of puzzles and a whole different group of people. But that's another place where we really have to live in the gray and we have to experiment right. The first time that you work about around someone, that's just argumentative. You know, you learn how to deal with an argumentative person it's called situational leadership. And then you're going to take that learning and adapt again. And you, now, you're, now you're going to know how to, how to do that. I think also adaptable leadership is how you build out your group, right? When you are comfortable in your own skin and you know yourself, and you look around your team and you can see those strengths and weaknesses in your team, you also know that you have to build a diverse group of thinkers because you don't want people around you that just agree with you or look like you, or act like you, or think like you, which is really our human tendency, right? We like being around people that are similar to us that are kind of in our tribe or the way we think. But when we welcome dissenting opinions is when we really get the best out of being an adaptable leader. And it's really fascinating to ask people that are different from you. This question, what would you do if you were me, because you're going to get a really different answer. But that diversity of thought from being an adaptable leader and welcoming those dissenting opinions are going to be really informative. And you'll be better because of the diverse group of thinkers that you brought together. But again, that's got to come back to do you know yourself, and have you looked at that situational leadership and your team to know how your, how your group needs to be rounded out with all of those skills and talents and opinions.
 Mitch: (19:58)
 And let's keep going on that topic for just a moment here, you were talking about kind of building out your team. And I think one of the best representations of a good leader is, you know, their tree, right? The people that they develop and, and who's next, essentially. So when we are talking about our team and developing others, how should young leaders think about developing their own strengths? And, you know, obviously knowing yourself first, I think has to be first and foremost in communicating that to them. But as a leader, communicating to future leaders, what's the thought process, you know, how do we go about instilling this mindset with them?
 Patti: (20:37)
 Yeah. I think one of the things they have to understand early, or, you know, young leaders is that, you know, your career is not a ladder, it's a jungle gym. It's going to be lots of jumping around. Early in a career I really ask young, young people, young leaders to focus really on their self-development first, right? Your path to success in general is always going to include being hardworking, reliable, results-oriented, trustworthy, and in our profession, extremely ethical. All of those things are what you have to build out in the first stages of your career. I also tell people to take notes. I mean, I mean, literally take notes, observe leaders around you. What is it that you want to emulate? What do you like, what do you think you can do when the way your built your personality? Who do you want to be like? And then also kind of who do you want to avoid? We all have those people that we work with for, or around where we go, oh, I'm never going to do that. But, but know that, I mean really study other leaders, make yourself a little cheat-sheet. It's actually fascinating if you do this over a period of years to go back and look at some of your early notes of what you were learning, because now you've absorbed them and they're really, they kind of become part of you. So I think your early career really has to focus around self-development.
 Mitch: (22:10)
 And then how about later in the career, you know, your, mid stage, late stages of your career, and again, we're talking about leadership, how does your mindset and your approach to this mindset vary?
 Patti: (22:23)
 Yeah. So by mid career, we hope that all of us have kind of, had that subject matter expertise. That's that's largely been mastered, right? You've got that in your rear view mirror. You've mastered your craft. Your roles that you're taking on in your mid career are now demanding kind of more ownership, more responsibility, and certainly more leadership. This is where you're transitioning from being a subject matter expert or IQ, more towards EQ or emotional knowledge. And that's also where your hard work, and investment from knowing yourself is really going to start to accelerate your effectiveness. This is where, where it really starts to gel. There's a good book for mid career that I liked. It was called, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There". It's by Marshall Goldsmith, I found that one particularly helpful just to kind of sometimes get you out of the little, the little rut, that, that you're in. The other thing kind of shifts in mid or late career about leadership is also the leaders that you have. And let me explain what I mean by that. So you need to make sure that you've got sponsors. Now, sponsors are different from mentors and coaches. What do I, what do I mean by that? So coach just like in sports or other things, they show you how mentors can give you advice, but sponsors, those are the folks that speak up for you when it's time for decision. Those are the folks that are powerful enough to be in the room when decisions are being made about you, about you and your development and your assignment. So I think that's it. It's not specifically your leadership, but it's something you need to be very mindful of about leadership in general is just to make sure that you've got sponsors. And I think the other thing that's super important in this mid-career is asking. If you don't ask you don't get, I have a quote that's actually taped on the bottom part of my monitor by my computer. And it says, if you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask the answer will always be no. And if you don't step forward, you're always going to be in the same place. So it's just a really good reminder. That's super important in that mid-career ask and ask and ask. In mature career, I'll call it mature career, right? comes the ability really to influence that's where you start to really affect change. And when we get to this part of the leadership journey, I think that, you know, the leadership traits here, also include really being able to communicate with nonfinancial executives in your business. It's the part of your career where you're really taking risks outside of your comfort area. If you've always been in an accounting vertical, maybe you're taking a leap over into a business unit or planning or marketing or something like that. It's getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. That stage is where you really kind of learn to respect the culture of politics doesn't mean that you have to necessarily adopt it, but you have to respect the culture politics. You have to get comfortable in your leadership role to know enough to not to miss out on anything important, but you don't need to know it all. And I think for accountants, that's really hard because we really love knowing all the rules. We really love the detail and separating yourself from that and being okay with knowing just enough is kind of a difficult transition in that part of your career here also in this time, you're spending more and more time developing your people. And so all these things we've talked about, about your leadership, knowing yourself, taking risks, asking this is where it all comes to a crescendo, because this is where you're developing your people. You're asking lots of questions rather than you're asking more than you're telling and you're really see being able to focus on developing all, all of that learning in into your people.
 Mitch: (26:53)
 Well, Patty, this has been incredibly insightful. I've honestly really enjoyed this whole conversation and I just, am very appreciative of everything you shared. And I want to give you an opportunity if there are any final thoughts that you have on this topic that you would like to kind of wrap up with.
 Patti: (27:09)
 Yeah. So just you're right. Just kind of wrap this all together. So the journey of a leader, I think has several key skills. As I think about it. First, we talked about invest in your own learning and I mean your intellect and your personality, that's the investment you make in yourself. It's hiring those exceptional leaders for your team, that diversity of thought, and really developing those, those self-reliant teams. It's getting out of the details and not micro-managing as hard as that might be. We talked about communicating, right? You got to communicate in all directions up, down and sideways. And I think lastly, one of my favorites is Bernay Brown. She has a pretty famous, Ted talk. It's about vulnerability and authenticity. It's admitting when you're wrong, it's being human and it's being humble. I think every one of us has such great potential to make a difference. So I have another small reminder. That's taped my computer monitor that reminds me, and it says be who you are meant to be, and you will set the world on fire. So thank you very much for your time today. I hope that some of these thoughts have been helpful.
 Closing: (28:26)
 This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.