HI, I'M ALAINA
Pronouns: she | her
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
I help people managers develop relationships, practices, and systems
that are rooted in trust.
The first time I managed a team, I was still a teenager in high school believe it or not. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just say if I told you I was good at the people management aspect of my job back then, that would be the stretchiest of stretches. When I started out, I never had any formal manager training. I mean that literally. I had zero manager training.
All of the important lessons I’ve learned about managing a team, I learned by fire. I learned some lessons from managers I've worked with in some capacity (mostly what not to do). I’ve learned even more lessons by being willing to try things out and see what works until I found a leadership style and approach that worked for me (i.e., I was able to stay true to myself and have balance in my life and on my team all while achieving ambitious goals).
Over the years, I managed more teams with greater stakes. I got better at it, much better. Now, I excel at it, and I want to share my lessons with you so that you can learn them more quickly and easily than I did. So, I have leveraged my professional experience coaching leaders, consulting for small and large organizations, and designing learning experiences for adult learners to develop leadership accelerators and coaching programs.
I specialize in:
Using design thinking to solve leadership challenges
Building and repairing trust while creating conditions for healthy conflict
Equitable and inclusive leadership of diverse teams
Navigating leadership and team transitions
Effective team design
Inclusive hiring processes
Onboarding for long-term retention
Designing and facilitating experiential team sessions
Facilitating challenging conversations
Leading remote and hybrid teams
Microlearning for leadership development
I have worked with a wide-range of companies and organizations, such as:
GitHub, The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Greenlight Fund, Sila Nanotechnologies, SmugMug, ClimateWorks Foundation, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, The Heising-Simons Foundation, Third Plateau, Second Street, Year Up, St. Louis Fashion Incubator, Cancer Support Community of St. Louis, the International Masonry Institute, and more.
I have worked with social impact organizations (for-profit, nonprofit, and philanthropic), global tech companies, startups, small businesses, and corporations, and I have built teams, programs, and companies from the ground up. I have lived and worked in Detroit, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and the SF Bay Area.
My education background and affiliations:
MBA, Washington University in St. Louis
BS in Business Administration, Wayne State University
Fellowship Alumnus, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
Dallas-Fort Worth Alumnus, Teach For America
Racial Equity Mentor and Subject Matter Expert, Net Impact
WORKING WITH ME
The principles that guide my work with clients:
I should be me, and I will. You should be you. Life is too short to show up as someone else, and it shouldn't be a requirement for survival in the workplace or anywhere else. At the same time, we should be evolving our sense of self as we learn.
The idea that emotions do not belong in the workplace is counterproductive. Part of what makes us human is how we experience emotions and feelings. In my work, I have also found that people who suppress their emotions tend to make emotional decisions more often than people who acknowledge their emotions. Emotional intelligence is the key to having strong and healthy relationships with ourselves and others, and, personally, I'm a huge fan of it.
EXPERIENCES + DATA
There are multiple ways of knowing that don’t rely solely on traditional research methods. Our experiences are powerful and they matter. Data, qualitative and quantitative, help us to understand things on a larger scale when those data exist. I value and consider both.
CRITICAL AND CREATIVE THINKING
I ask "why" often (e.g., Why are things the way that they are? Why aren't they better?). I push beyond the obvious answers and dig deep to get to the root of the matter. I also ask "how" (e.g., how do we make seemingly impossible things happen?).
HONEST AND DIRECT COMMUNICATION
Generally speaking, I do not think people are better off when they are sheltered from the truth. I also think lots of issues could be avoided entirely if people were honest. I simply say what I mean and mean what I say so my message isn't lost. My intention is never to be harsh, so I balance direct communication with empathy. I choose to believe that my clients have what it takes to face the truth, but to do that, they must first see it, hear it, and know it.
I learn what I need to learn and unlearn what I need to unlearn so I can transform a problem into a solution. Meaningful change is not the same in every context; some situations call for small steps and others bold action. What matters is that we are doing transformative work, not avoiding it.
I DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
If you think this is your typical manager training, think again.
I COACH, I DON'T TRAIN
I help you use insights to apply what you learn to your unique circumstances and make decisions informed by experiences + data. This is not the usual approach of someone talking at you giving you generic advice without consideration for what makes you and your team unique.
AUTHENTICITY > UNIFORMITY
I know from experience that there is more than one way to be successful as a people manager. I help you move beyond the limiting belief that there is only one right way to lead a team, shed your inauthentic manager persona, and embrace your unique style of leadership. There's no telling you that you have to abandon who you are to emulate a single model of success.
I SHOW YOU HOW
I help you identify exactly where to start your transformation, how to sequence changes so they build on each other, how to hit reset with your team, and how to communicate about your evolution without losing credibility. Unlike the typical manager training, I will not tell you what to do without ever showing you how to do it.
ACTION + EXPERIMENTATION
My approach is action-oriented, and you apply what you're learning while you're learning it. Furthermore, I think “because I’ve always done it this way” is never a good enough reason to continue doing things that way, so I encourage you to experiment with small and bold solutions to have the impact you want to have. I do not throw a bunch of theoretical concepts at you and hope you can figure out what to do with the information after coaching ends.
SIMPLICITY IN COMPLEXITY
I know that when you change something over here, it can break something over there. My method helps you dig deep to find root causes and lift up to see how things are connected to avoid ineffective solutions and unintentional consequences. Because most manager trainings focus on a single skill, they miss the complex nature of interconnected people and systems. I do not.