EP 16: Building a Sustainable Business as a Leader with Robyn MacNeill

Are you an introvertpreneur who is doing all of the things in your business? You don’t have to constantly put yourself out there because this is going to send you straight to burnout mode. There is no need to be in a constant state of self-reflection over pivoting your business anymore. You can use your zone of genius to build a sustainable business that you absolutely love and helps you make an impact on those you serve.

Our guest on the podcast today is Robyn MacNeill. She understands what it is like to feel burnt out and frustrated with the status quo, and after 10 years as a corporate leadership coach, it was time for Robyn to find her new path as an entrepreneur. Now it is her mission & purpose to ensure that every woman has the chance to discover and embrace the leader within, that woman who has been suppressed for too many years. Robyn empowers women to step into their role as leader, so they can smash those business goals with integrity while creating an impact on the people they serve.

In this episode, Robyn and I explore her journey to transitioning from corporate leadership coach to online leadership coach, the leadership culture surrounding men and women, pivoting in your business for more alignment, the different leadership types, miscommunication around outsourcing team members, and so much more.

The Transition to Online Leadership Coach

It just feels like a natural transition to make from corporate leadership coach to becoming a leadership coach online for female entrepreneurs, right? If anyone makes it look natural, it’s Robyn. Of course, she has pivoted in her business a few times from virtual assistant, to coach for introverts, and finally a leadership coach. In a conversation with her copywriter when she was coaching introverts, she said she wanted to help people communicate with that person that is within them. She ignored this conversation initially but once she looked into the science and listened to her subconscious, she realized that her previous job and role as a corporate leadership coach was her passion and she began coaching women on how to be better leaders and she absolutely loves it.

I felt very similar coming from a corporate background and starting my service business as a virtual assistant to then Pinterest manager, and now to coach for virtual assistants. I always had the Instagram handle @introvertcoach but felt out of alignment with that word to actually coach others. That is until I pivoted my business a few times and finally decided to become a coach for virtual assistants.

Leadership Culture: Women vs. Men

In the corporate world, it seems to be different for men and women when they move up the corporate ladder. For men, their assertiveness, determination, drive, and many of the other qualities that help them get into a leadership position aren’t looked at in a negative way. There are usually no rumors or gossip spread because a male coworker gets promoted to a managerial and leadership role – no matter how quick it may be.

On the other hand, this move up the ladder for women into a role of leadership can be followed by rumors, tons of gossip, and her assertiveness may be looked at as mean, bossy – the list goes on. These experiences can affect us as women in more ways than one. It can create fear as Robyn mentions and when we live in fear, we can’t effectively do our role. We become suppressed and that has become Robyn’s mission to help women step into the leaders within themselves even after the negative experiences that made them fear it in the first place.

Pivoting In Your Business Leads to Alignment

Have you pivoted in your business at all in the past 5 years? Maybe you haven’t been in business for 5 years, but if you have pivoted at least once, then know that you are on your way to a more aligned business – if you aren’t already there. Especially for introverts, who try to be everywhere at once in their business, they will eventually get burnt out or get to a point where they don’t love their business anymore. Robyn says that self-reflection kicks in and you start to realize that the role you’re in now isn’t meant for you. That’s when you start pivoting and making changes in your business that help you flourish. After all, you do want to build and grow a sustainable business for yourself because you want something that is going to last. 

I have seen so many online businesses fail. 80% of businesses fail in five years, from the statistic Robyn shares. Their dreams of leaving corporate are failing as they know it because the business they started wasn’t sustainable for them and then they return to the corporate world. They haven’t posted to their social media accounts in months and it’s a sad situation. The entrepreneurial journey isn’t a glorious one for sure because it takes hard work and consistency to create the lifestyle you are after. Robyn hopes that someday they will step back into their business and find what it truly is they are passionate about.

The Different Leadership Types We Embody

The book titled Primal Leadership written by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee is where the different leadership types come from. There are 6 leadership types that we may embody at a given time, 4 positive types and 2 that are used more sparingly. They include:

  1. Visionary – the one who sees the bigger picture in something
  2. Affiliative – goes along with others and likes to bring them through the process with them
  3. Democratic – makes sure that everyone has a voice where discussion is encouraged
  4. Coach – asks questions, prompts conversations, and allows everyone to make decisions
  5. Pacesetter – sets high standards for their team and minimal management
  6. Commanding – focused on results, will do anything to hit goals, and leads with intimidation


Based on these 6 leadership styles, Robyn created a quiz that helps you see what kind of leader you are. She has taken her What Kind of Leader Are You quiz a few times and she shares that depending on your environment, and everything around you can lead to you getting a different answer because different times are going to call for a different leader within you. She also believes that a great leader can tap into the different styles of leadership to lead people in different ways. Certain people need a specific leadership style from you to be led to do something. She managed hundreds of people and had to shift her leadership style depending on who was in the room.

Outsourcing and Hiring a Team as an Entrepreneur

Are you ready to outsource in your business? It isn’t as simple as it sounds or is portrayed online because you are now responsible for them. It is a learning experience coming from corporate as an employee to now owning a business and being in charge of someone’s performance, goals, and the work that they do. Processes need to be in place before you begin hiring any team members. Some of the questions Robyn mentions that you need to answer for yourself before you start looking for a team member include:

What are they going to be doing every single day? 

How do they check in with you? 

How do you mark their performance? 

How do you have those tough conversations?

If you aren’t prepared with the above answers, then Robyn says you shouldn’t outsource yet. I have struggled with having tough conversations as an introvert in the past with clients and instead of getting these conversations over with, I would let the relationship go sour before saying something. So I believe as Robyn does in not putting these kinds of conversations off until the last minute.

Allowing Yourself to Be Vulnerable In Your Business

What contributed the most to Robyn’s success was her finally allowing herself to be vulnerable in her business. Introverts tend to have their guards up and it can be hard for us to let go, and that was the case for her. Robyn noticed that in the corporate world, you’re told to leave your personal stuff at the door and put on your professional hat. This mentality moved with her into her entrepreneurial journey and was hard for her to let go of for a long time. She can now say, “This is me. This is who I am. This is what I’m passionate about. These are my opinions. Take it or leave it.”, and once she let go, everything changed for her. 

I find that so empowering! It’s the moment where you feel truly 100% authentically, yourself. There was a time where I would not even do a discovery call without makeup on, getting dressed, having my hair done. Now I’m like Robyn, this is me. I’m more comfortable sharing exactly who I am. And it’s definitely made a difference. 

With the last year we’ve had, I find that more people are looking for more real people to connect with and see authenticity from others. I used to be drawn to branded photos online and more polished accounts, but I want to see others who are comfortable in their own skin because I can connect with them better.

Letting Your Zone of Genius Lead You In Business

Have you found your zone of genius in your business yet? Robyn’s advice for those launching their own business is to find your zone of genius first, the thing you’re good at and are passionate about. Maybe you know what that is for yourself or maybe you don’t, so she recommends doing an exercise with someone you trust. You will write out a list of all of the things they’ve ever done, for any job or in school because all of those experiences count. Then read off the list to the person you chose as your trusted source. That person will watch as your facial expressions change, when your body language changes, when the way you talk about it changes. This is when you have found something that you actually really enjoy. How can you make a business out of that? I think this is a brilliant idea for anyone looking to find their zone of genius. 

You may have started in the online space like myself and Robyn as a virtual assistant doing all of the things, which she believes is a good thing. It helps you see what things you actually enjoy and what things you thought you would like, but turns out you actually hate it. As you and your business grow, it’s important that you check back in with yourself and do this exercise multiple times because 6 months from now you may not align with what you were previously doing.

Robyn dropped so many insightful tips on this episode of the podcast today about leadership styles, leading with your zone of genius, letting yourself be vulnerable in your business, and hiring team members. Don’t forget to check out her quiz: What Kind of Leader Are You? and if you are interested in learning more about leadership and how Robyn coaches women to embody the leader within, be sure to find her on Instagram

What leadership style do you currently embody in your business based on Robyn’s Quiz? Like Robyn mentions, it can change depending on several factors.

A Breakdown of This Episode

[2:08] Robyn’s journey to transitioning into a Leadership Coach 

[6:08] Being a woman in a corporate leadership role vs. a man in a corporate leadership role

[8:12] How self-reflection in our business may lead to pivoting into something we actually love doing

[11:22] The different leadership types, what they embody, and Robyn’s leadership quiz

[15:36] Learning as you go from employee to becoming a boss and having a team

[17:04] Holding difficult conversations with clients and team members

[19:37] Allowing vulnerability was the key to Robyn’s success

[23:26] Hiring a coach for your business and knowing what you’re looking for

[30:01] Your zone of genius is where you start from in your business

If you enjoyed this episode, I invite you to take a screenshot and tag me on your Instagram stories @introvertcoach and tell me your biggest takeaway!

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