Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

In today’s episode, we have special guest Melanie Parish.

Melanie is a business consultant who has worked with Fortune 50 companies and startups to improve leadership.

Today, Melanie will show you three ways to become an experimental leader at work and the exact English phrases that you can use to implement this powerful business strategy.

Melanie Parish

Lindsay introduces Melanie and shares that she is an author, speaker, podcast host, and founder of Experimental Leader Academy, and Master Certified Coach.

Interestingly, she is also a farmer. Melanie shares that they have an organic peanut and organic cotton farm.

The farm is part of her family and they have had it since her great-great-grandparents were around.

With this, she has a connection with the Earth because of her exposure to farming.

Her farms are in Texas and New Mexico.

Experimental Leadership

What is Experimental Leadership and why should we use it?

Melanie has learned about this concept from different mentors. One is from the book Toyota Kata by Mike Rother.

Mike writes about iteration and coaching in a continuous improvement model.

Another guru she learned from is Eliyahu Goldratt who is an Israeli physicist.

He talked a lot about bottlenecks and constraints.

As she studied iteration and experimenting, she found there is a role for a leader to play in that area.

The role the leader holds is space for experimentation or introducing the idea of experimentation.

Melanie visualizes how important experimentation is as a leader by comparing it to a boardroom where you and your team are talking about what you are going to do in an organization.

You will be talking about budget and strategizing.

She mentions that we all know people who will live and die by their ideas. You own your idea and if your idea is bad, it dies and you die too.

With the Experimental Leader mindset, we can think of what we do in the boardroom as an experiment.

You don’t know how it’s going to come out and what’s going to happen if we implement this idea.

Opening that space where you allow people to collaborate and collectively contribute to an idea makes it a shared experiment.

It doesn’t have to be just your idea.

With this, you create a more safe space for everyone to share more ideas and no one has to die with their idea.

As a whole, you can take part in testing if your collaborative idea will work or not.

Tactics To Bring On Experimental Leadership To Your Work

Lindsay asks Melanie to share three ways to be an experimental leader in your own workplace.

Here are the ways that Melanie shares in this episode:

  • Language. Start talking about experimentation. If you are talking to someone who is directly reporting to you and they are sharing a problem with you, a really good question to ask them is: “What’s the next thing you’re gonna try?” This is a good way to give it back to them without telling them what to do. It doesn’t have to be an overall solution, but it encourages them to keep going and empowers them to figure out a way out of the problem and eventually to solve it.
  • Data Collection. When you are working on a project, it is best to collect as much data as you can to gauge the success of your efforts. The next question to ask the person part of your team is “How are you going to measure it?”
  • Timeframe. You should have an experiment that is not too long. If your experiment is 30 days or longer it’s too long because the landscape of your goals may change. You want to run an experiment that is quick to start and continue in a short period of time.

Being an experimental leader will keep your team focused and prevent them from getting stuck in bottlenecks.

Lindsay loves these tips.

She adds that with these tips, you can bring a great impact to your team and employees.

This makes them feel independent and empowered while still giving them a sense of guidance from you.

Will These Work Across All Cultures?

Lindsay asks how Melanie sees this playing out across the world?

Melanie says that there are many parts in this that are universal.

It can be difficult if the culture of the work is majorly anchored in a top-down directive leadership style.

It may not be a good fit and may rock the boat.

If you would want to incorporate this into your work setting, you can ease into it.

You may get pushback if you are in a culture that is not accustomed to this and is leaning more on an autocratic type of leadership.


You can listen in on Melanie Parish’s podcast called The Experimental Leader.

We all want to keep improving ourselves and become better leaders to our team members.

Today’s episode shares a very innovative and inclusive leadership style.

It empowers your direct reports to think for themselves and enables them to make valuable decisions without dragging you into micromanaging the workload of the entire team.

Try out this leadership style at work then report back and let us know how it goes.

What are the key takeaways you got from today’s episode?

Share it in the comments down below and we’d love to read the experiences you have in your workplace.

Melanie Bio:

Melanie Parish is an author, speaker, podcast host, founder of Experimental Leader Academy, and Master Certified Coach. She is the author of The Experimental Leader book and an expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development, Melanie has consulted and coached organizations ranging from a Fortune 50 company to IT start-ups.

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