By Jonathan Palombo
For Dr. Rick Mattson, it’s all about trust. Rick is one of TLG’s newest coaches and a servant leader. He emphasizes a holistic approach aligning his client’s purpose and values in a faith-affirming, high-trust practice. Rick brings over 25 years of leadership experience, helping clients from Fortune 100, 500, and 1000 companies, military academies, higher education, non-profits, and family businesses unleash their full potential. In this spotlight, you’ll gain the opportunity to learn more about Rick, his practice, faith, and experiences. Rick is truly a servant leader, and TLG is excited to have him on our team.
Q: During your 25-year career of leading teams and empowering clients, what are some of the key leadership lessons that you’ve learned along the way?
For me, it was about developing a high-trust environment and a culture that employees did not want to leave, an esprit de corps, where everyone knew how they contributed to achieving the mission and vision. It’s only when you prioritize an investment in a personal connection that you can challenge people to take risks, innovate, and grow in ways they never thought they could, and that is what leads to the delivery of unprecedented results.
I have seen effective leaders apply a balanced focus to tasks and relationships. Those who over-emphasized the work struggled at times to connect, inspire, and engage their teams in a sustainable way. An over-emphasis on tasks, without an investment in the relationship, can lead to employee retention issues. Employees can always take their skills and get a paycheck somewhere else.
Q: How did your journey in leadership development start? What caused you to dedicate yourself to coaching and lifting others?
My leadership journey started as a young professional in project management, learning to have influence in a matrix environment without direct authority over the resources. My first employer was fierce in pursuing company profits to the point where hiring and firing was a roller-coaster ride each year. This taught me to always be delivering value and to be intentional about professional development. I find it extremely rewarding to give back by helping others flourish in the most challenging environments and accelerate their professional journey.
Over my 25 years in the industry, I’ve seen leaders shy away from direct, crucial conversations that could have helped employees become aware of blind spots, develop a high-performing team, and advance their careers. Therefore, in the safety and confidentiality of a coaching engagement, I am privileged to partner with clients to identify obstacles that may be holding them back from peak performance.
Q: How does your faith play a role in your coaching practice and your leadership?
Some of the key tenets of faith-based leadership align very well with coaching. For example, by putting others first, both faith-based leaders and coaches serve a cause greater than themselves. Additionally, helping others grow personally and professionally by providing opportunities, taking an interest in their ideas, and partnering with them in decision-making demonstrates a commitment to the growth of others.
Because decision-making is paramount at the executive level, leaders must have a set of moral principles or values they use to guide their decisions and shape their behavior. But from where do those values or worldviews originate? Leaders with the courage to explore this question often find their decisions to be more a reflection of who they are becoming e.g., sincere, consistent, realistic, and authentic.
Q: What would you say has been the highlight of your coaching career, and how has that highlight impacted you?
The highlight of my coaching career is when my first client, a COO of a $50M per year consulting firm, shared, “Our coaching sessions are the highlight of my week”. While I received it as a genuine compliment that played a formative role in my coach self-efficacy, it also helped me come to terms with the reality that the C-suite can be a lonely place without a trusted advisor.
That is why I am passionate about honoring leaders of commitment, serving leaders of character, and partnering with them to take next steps in their journey. I know I am right where I should be each session a client makes a new personal discovery, removes an underlying barrier, and is willing to take a step they were previously unwilling to take toward their goals. As a result, I have never celebrated more frequently at work then I do in coaching.
Q: What led you to join TLG, and what kind of impact do you hope to have on the organization and its clients?
I found an evidence-based approach to leadership and coaching to be an effective way to facilitate individual change and drive organizational change. When I discovered TLG was founded on applied research and disciplines of I-O Psychology, I felt confident I could make a positive contribution to the organization and its clientele. Still, I am inspired by the thought that who I am as a coach is more important than what I know. Therefore, it’s important I continue to receive coaching from other coaches that help me develop in transformational and sustainable ways I could not grow on my own.