Empathy — Place yourself into the shoes of whomever you’re talking to or listening to, and share similar experiences you’ve faced. This makes others feel heard, seen, and find comfort in knowing that someone can relate.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Coryn Quester.

Coryn Quester held many leadership positions at her corporate careers in Marketing and in HR. Being passionate about helping people develop into a life that truly aligns with them, she launched her own coaching business in 2018. Through helping people start a business and transition into entrepreneurship, she witnessed first-hand the power of coaching and how it can positively impact lives. In 2022, Coryn founded another new business called MeshWell where she personally matches clients to coaches based on your needs, coach expertise, and personalities. Her main goal is to bring quality coaching to the masses so you can change your life, faster!

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

Late last year, I launched MeshWell, a client to coach matching service, where I personally match clients to coaches based on client needs, coach expertise, and personalities. I’m SUPER excited about it because I totally plan to disrupt the coaching industry and change the world as we know it. Coaching is powerful, and we’re doing everything we can to help people understand that and make coaching accessible, normal, simple, and personal. Personally? I just make a major cross-country move with my family of 4 from sub-tropical weather to the wintry north, and I couldn’t be happier!

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

In my corporate career, the leader who influenced me the most was Maureen Greene James. She was US Talent Strategy Leader at the time, and currently holds the role as Diversity Business Partner at Meta. She greatly influenced me in inclusion and belonging. No matter what role you held or what level you were in, you mattered to her, and she made you feel seen and heard. I aimed to be the same, and still do today. In my entrepreneurial career, Natalie Franke, founder of the Rising Tide Society and author of Built to Belong, has greatly influenced me for many of the same principles. She stands for community over competition, giving support to all, and defying the odds. All things I bring with me into my work and life today.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

My biggest mistake as a new leader was trying to do everything myself. I quickly realized that you NEED to lean on your team for support. I once tried to do too much and completely botched a new company-wide system integration as a result. From then on, I learned to greatly appreciate any supportive community I had around me to help me achieve so much more than I ever could myself.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

When I first started out in my professional career, I thought that the higher-level position you held, meant the more of a leader you were. This is not always the case. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are leaders at all levels, and many can be stifled into what they’re “told” to do vs. the organization allowing leaders at all levels to grow and be empowered to provide that needed support.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

Hierarchy/Rank. I don’t agree with making employees “pay their dues” or perform menial tasks because of their “level” in the organization. What I mean by this is treating someone, for lack of a better word, as your “bitch” just because they don’t have the same title or pay grade as someone in upper leadership. I’ve been in positions where I was told to take the meeting notes, or make sure the projector was working, or fetch lunch all because I was one level lower than the person who told me to do it. It was demoralizing and demeaning. I vowed to NEVER do that to my direct reports.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

Going back to my Maureen Greene James example, I see good leaders as someone who treats everyone at all levels with respect, compassion, empathy and inclusion. It gives employees confidence and trust, empowers them to make decisions and take independent action, and creates a safe place to make mistakes, learn, and grow without judgment.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

Respect, inclusion, and trust that there are leaders at all levels will create a positive work environment vs. a toxic work environment. Upper management and executives may have found success in breeding competitive behavior, making employees kill themselves to gain respect from “leaders” so that they get promoted into what companies define as a “leader” when, in actuality, they are already brilliant and are a leader in something no matter at what level, but they are held back from unlocking it in a hierarchical, judgmental, and demeaning environment.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

“You’re not there to be right, you’re there to get it right and do what’s right by who you’re leading.” AND “Don’t try to do it all yourself. Lean on your team, and trust that they can lead too.”

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Empathy — Place yourself into the shoes of whomever you’re talking to or listening to, and share similar experiences you’ve faced. This makes others feel heard, seen, and find comfort in knowing that someone can relate.
  2. Imperfection — Be the example that NO ONE is perfect, and mistakes happen. Own up to them, learn, and grow. This creates safety to be innovative, try new things, and drives confidence knowing mistakes will not bring judgment.
  3. Inclusion — Keep everyone in the loop, treat everyone equally, and include employees at all levels in decisions and responsibilities as leaders at all levels. This gives the feeling of belonging and community.
  4. Advocacy — Go to bat for what is right. Speak up for yourself and for others to be in integrity and honor. This cultivates trust, and gives employees peace knowing that someone has their back.
  5. Mentally Fit — Learn how to not absorb, be sabotaged by, or feed into any negative behavior around you or any negative thoughts in your own head. The quicker you overcome negativity, the more nimble, in control, and productive you will be.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

As a leader, it’s speaking up for those who are afraid to or don’t know how. It’s standing up for what’s right, and shattering any model that isn’t honorable or isn’t in integrity. Everyday, I’m finding a way to raise my voice and disrupt the coaching industry to create a revolution and bring support that’s better for the world. I aim to make it easier to find the right support, and the right coach (if that’s the support needed). I strive to normalize coaching, and make it the 4th place after, 1) home, 2) work/school, and 3) Starbucks, that people flock to, to improve their lives. I plan to standardize it so coaches are properly trained, and it’s no longer the Wild Wild West of reckless coaching. I also want to shatter the model of charging astronomical prices for it. I’m putting the person and human back into coaching to un-cringify it and make it truly tailored to the individual so there’s trust, peace, and ultimately success in receiving it. And everyday, I’m preaching this somewhere so people know that I’m advocating for them — that 1) it’s okay to get support, and 2) to get the BEST, most reputable support for their needs.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

I want to be known for making it SO easy, accessible, and normal for someone to get support to change their life for the better, so that no one stays stuck in whatever is making them unhappy, unfulfilled or lost.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

They can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook (@corynquester), and they can also visit my website www.meshwell.co to see how I’m making my vision come to life, and find a community of certified, experienced coaches they can easily be matched to for support.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!