Tara is a business and leadership coach with seventeen years of experience in leadership development and small business operations.  She has leveraged her experience into ALIGN, a business consulting company focused on utilizing individual strengths to grow teams and leaders.

Listen in as Michelle and JoyGenea have a frank and open conversation with Tara Gronhovd.


Follow Tara and Align!






 02:45  Small businesses are becoming latest trends nowadays

 04:03  Young leaders must focus on setting boundaries and recognizing accountability 

 04:22  What is conflict management?

 05:22  A personality assessment is a tool you can use for “strengths framework” 

 07:40  Do you know what your strengths are?

 08:51  A person has a need to be felt, seen, heard and valued.

 10:52  Being able to connect improves communication and relationship  

 11:15  When you have a healthy business environment, people are not afraid to give feedback

 11:40  It is important to be honest and present real facts 

 12:18  Humanize it and make it part of the conversation

 12:48  Build a team in authenticity and kindness

 13:21  It is important to take of your employee’s mental health and well-being

 15:37  What is SoulCare?

 17:36  You don’t have to recreate every wheel

 20:29  As a Leader, set good example to your members





JoyGenea: Hi, I’m JoyGenea with “If These Heels Could Talk” and Solutions by JoyGenea.



Michelle: And we’re gonna start that over.



JoyGenea: Okay, fine. I can’t.



Michelle: Okay.



JoyGenea: Oh, we’re live.



Michelle: Well, then let’s keep going. I’m Michelle with BadCat Digital.



JoyGenea: I’ll just send her a new audio.



Michelle: Welcome to “If These Heels Could Talk” and a very rocky beginning. We’re going to fail forward as we talk with Tara from Align.



Tara: I coach people through that all the time, Michelle.



Michelle: Yes. Tara Gronhovd from Align. Welcome. Thank you so much for your time today. Tara is a leadership and business coach with over 17 years of experience in leadership development and small business operations. She’s a Gallup-certified Clifton Strengths coach who loves working with leaders who are open to growth and believe in healthy leadership. Tara is a change agent, don’t I know it. And as one of her clients has said, “Do not invite Tara to the table unless you want it reset.” Welcome, Tara.



Tara: I’m so thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.



Michelle: Well, thank you. Thank you. And we like to have our guests, seeing as you are the very first one. So thank you so much. But we think it’s gonna be really good to have our guests start with a really difficult and probing question. So what is your favorite brand of shoes?



Tara: This is a deep, important question for all women to consider. So my favorite brand of tennis shoes, because COVID, is Brooks Adrenaline.



Michelle: Nice.



Tara: Yes. My pre-COVID, and actually probably pre-40s, I wore a lot of heels. And my favorite brand was something called Naughty Monkey. They were really bright, and funky, and fun. And then I got older and decided that I’m cool not wearing heels, so now I like a wedge. But I don’t have a specific brand.



Michelle: Nice. So, like, stages of, you know…



Tara: Went from Naughty Monkey to Brooks Adrenaline kind of shoes.



Michelle: Is that the function of having small children?



Tara: Yeah, I think so. Something like that.



JoyGenea: That’s fun.



Michelle: Awesome. Well, thank you for that. We do actually have some real serious questions. So, Tara, thank you so much again for being here today. And we wanna talk a little bit about coaching, and operations, and kind of what you do. What is one of the biggest trends you’re seeing in the field?


 02:45  Small businesses are becoming latest trends nowadays

Tara: Yeah, I think one of the biggest trends that I see, and granted it’s because of the work that I do, but I see more and more small businesses investing in coaching for new leaders. So emerging leaders. I don’t know that that was something that was happening even five years ago as much, but I’m seeing more and more of it and I get hired more and more for it. But really recognizing that you go from an individual contributor to a manager for the first time, you have no clue what that means. And there’s usually not a handbook in small business for what that means. And so having a coach or a mentor to help them navigate those choppy waters of having to then usually manage their peers and help them through the challenges that come in that first year of leadership, I think that is one of the things I’m seeing more and more people invest in.



Michelle: Interesting. That’s really interesting.



JoyGenea: I have a follow-up question with that, just because now I’m really curious. Is there one particular thing that you’re noticing in these young budding leaders that’s a particular, like, area you wind up focusing on kind of right away?


 04:03  Young leaders must focus on setting boundaries and recognizing accountability 

Tara: Boundaries and accountability, but I think that’s something…



Michelle: I can see that.



Tara: …that all leaders have to work on and conflict management. Most people haven’t had to have a hard conversation.



Michelle: Oh, yeah. We run into that a lot.



JoyGenea: That makes sense.


 04:22  What is conflict management?

Tara: Yeah. So just helping them figure out how to do that in a way that is aligned with their style and their talents instead of trying to follow some sort of script because that never goes well. Because then you take the authenticity right out of it. And so, yeah. And with new leaders, I often see them trying to work around accountability rather than really learning what accountability means. “So let me just take that work back from that person. Let me just work around this person. Let me just be really frustrated behind their back rather than…”



Michelle: Yeah.



JoyGenea: [crosstalk 00:05:02 



Tara: Yeah. Rather than actually dealing with it.



Michelle: So, as you’re…you kind of said finding their style. I know that you are a Gallup-certified strengths coach. And that framework, that strengths framework, what is that exactly? And why did you pick that?


 05:22  A personality assessment is a tool you can use for “strengths framework” 

Tara: Yeah. I’ve worked… So Clifton Strengths is an assessment that’s based on positive psychology. And the basic tenant is you can make infinitely more progress by focusing on how you’re naturally wired than trying to be someone you’re not. And so the assessment has 34 talent themes, and it puts in order based on how you completed that assessment. The chance of you having the same top five as someone else in the same order as someone else is 1 in 33 million. So when you talk about finding someone’s personal style, I really mean customize their leadership style to how they’re wired.


And the assessment doesn’t say…the results don’t tell you what you would be good at. They tell you how you would be good at it. So what your approach and motivations are really have to do with what you naturally prioritize and procrastinate, and understanding that about yourself helps you kind of create a definition of success within a specific role or responsibility that is unique to each person. So that’s how I use that framework. And so I use it because I love the fact that it truly is unique for each person. A lot of personality assessments put you into 1 of 4 to 16 boxes. And this is about finding what is truly unique about each person.



JoyGenea: Have you done the strengths finder?



Michelle: Yeah. Actually just in full disclosure, Tara’s actually my coach. And so…



JoyGenea: Got it. I’ve done it also. Not with Tara, but I’ve done it in… Yes.



Michelle: Well, and what really appeals to me about it is that it focuses on building what is already there instead of running into trying to change what doesn’t feel natural or right. Sometimes it actually is in very keeping with my therapist approach as well, which is nice that my coach and my therapist tend to agree a lot. Although I would say it feels fairly pointed when they agree a lot. Because when you have two…



Tara: I’m fine I don’t actually know your therapist.



Michelle: But then they’re both like, “No.”



JoyGenea: It’s a lot of insight.


 07:40  Do you know what your strengths are? 

Michelle: You have to listen double or ignore that much harder. But what I really like about it is that my therapist will say, “You know, there are things that you do. They’re not bad things, they’re not good things. They’re just things that serve you or things that don’t.” And that fits very much with what Tara talks about with strengths. You know, this strength will serve you in these ways and present you with challenges in these ways. So how do you keep what works for you and rely on another strength to backfill the challenge from this one? Yeah.



JoyGenea: That’s nice.



Michelle: Yeah. I should sell for you, Tara. I could totally do that.



Tara: Oh, thank you so much.



JoyGenea: Think about your own stuff to sell.



Tara: What else do you know, Michelle, about…?



Michelle: Focus, focus, focus. Focus on your investment.



JoyGenea: The next question is what do your clients or customers need from you right now? And I know you’ve kind of…part of how we titled this was dyad coaching. And I was super curious when you put this on there, so I wanna hear more about that.


 08:51  A person has a need to be felt, seen, heard and valued.

Tara: Yeah. So I think what all people in general need, and more so today than ever before, is to feel seen, heard, and valued. And so, in general, in terms of a really basic core human need, I think that’s what…one of the things that I enjoy providing in the work that I do. But we also wanna be seen, heard, and valued by our colleagues, and our co-workers, and the people that we work with. And so, one of my favorite things that I do is called, you had mentioned JoyGenea, dyad coaching or partner coaching, where I work with two people together and bring them together so that they can better understand each other’s strengths, and each other’s motivators. I always say with strengths, it’s more important to understand someone’s motivations even than their behavior. Because when we know where someone else is coming from, we can have more grace for them. And it helps enhance collaboration and communication.


What we all do as humans is we see someone behaving in a way that doesn’t make sense, and we apply our filter, our motivators to that behavior. What would it take for us to be motivated to act in that way? And then we make a ton of assumptions that are 90% incorrect. And then we make leaps and judgment, I mean, all kinds of mental acrobats. And we end up frustrated because there’s a basic lack of understanding of each other. And so the dyad coaching is meant to bring people together so that you can really better understand each other. I’ve done this with business owners who’ve been partners for 26 years and seen aha moments. I’ve done it brand new onboarding with brand people who’ve never worked together before, and it’s helped them set them up for success. But that dyad coaching, what I love about it is seeing the light bulbs come on about each other and knowing how well that’s gonna serve them, you know, once they walk out of that room.


 10:52  Being able to connect improves communication and relationship

JoyGenea: That’s nice. Thanks. That’s really cool. I’m sure that’s quite a fun thing to do and be able to help people connect better. Really, at the end of the day, it kind of gets into connecting and being better able to relate and connect to each other, thereby increasing and improving communication, which saves us all so much time when we don’t get hijacked by all the stories and the 90% of the stuff we’ve made up.


 11:15  When you have a healthy business environment, people are not afraid to give feedback

Michelle: And I can imagine that it sets people up to feel safe in kind of conflicting moments or to provide each other with constructive feedback, performance improvement feedback, anything like that that is always a challenge through emotional give and receive, things like that.


 11:40  It is important to be honest and present real facts 

Tara: Well, and almost all of the time in those conversations, we’re able to identify really common sticking points for that particular relationship. So here’s where we butt heads, and it’s based usually on our wiring, you know, how we’re wired. And so let’s just be honest and real about the fact that we’re gonna butt heads here and expect it rather than getting defensive about it. Because when we expect it, then we can welcome it and talk about it. I’m someone who says, if there’s an elephant in the room, let’s name it, let’s talk about it, let’s describe it. I hate ignoring it.



Michelle: Put it in a tutu.



JoyGenea: Let it dance and let’s..


 12:18  Humanize it and make it part of the conversation

Tara: Yeah. Humanize it and make it part of the conversation. Otherwise, there’s all this, like, an undercurrent of tension happening, but no one’s actually talking about what’s going on. Right? So this just gives language, common language, in a way that no one needs to feel defensive about. It just gives them an opportunity to talk about it like, “Oh, here’s this thing that we know we struggle with and it’s popping up again. So let’s talk about that.”



Michelle: And then it’s a we.



Tara: Yes.


 12:48  Build a team in authenticity and kindness

Michelle: Here’s this thing you do that pisses me off, that sort of language. But here’s this thing that we struggle with in our relationship together. And that really, again, it’s about building that team in authenticity and kindness, but not that toxic niceness of I’ll ignore it and just tell you I like your shoes and it’ll go.



Tara: And just be resentful about it.



Michelle: Yeah.



JoyGenea: Yeah. That’s not always lovely.



Michelle: Yeah. All right. What is the vision for the future of your business?


 13:21  It is important to take of your employee’s mental health and well-being

Tara: You know, I started Align a year and a half ago. And I had a vision at that time to grow, but I wasn’t exactly sure how we would be growing. And the need that is so apparent everywhere I look is mental health and well-being in the workplace. So a lot of the coaching I do is… Coaching is really based on growth. So clarifying and helping you overcome roadblocks so that you can grow and move forward.


But sometimes we have really hard other things that are happening personally, or sometimes we’ve experienced trauma and difficult things at work that are impacting our ability to really move forward. And we need to ground, what I call ground, or heal, or recover first. So we are actually this month launching something called SoulCare [SP , in addition to the coaching that we’re doing. And a dear friend and colleague, you know, a certified counselor named Pamela Nelson is going to be joining Align. And we’re gonna be offering those services for when there are circumstances that require a little bit deeper level of counseling in order to then eventually move forward and grow.



Michelle: That makes amazing sense. Like I said, I have found tremendous benefit in both coaching and therapy simultaneously. And kind of this idea of bringing your whole self to work, which is a phrase that I’ve completely and totally ripped off from Tara, to give you all of the credit in the world, to bring your whole self to work. Meaning all of your baggage comes with you.



Tara: It does.



Michelle: Not just like JoyGenea with her five, six bags that she carries all the time, but all of that, all of what that means, and all of that outside stuff that comes in with you. It’s really lovely. So can you talk a little bit more about SoulCare? What is the kind of ideal…like, who would benefit from SoulCare…?


 15:37  What is SoulCare?

Tara: Yeah. I think you know, anyone who’s just feeling maybe you’re in coaching and you’re not just a little stuck, you’re a lot stuck because there are some significant things going on emotionally that need you to pause and pay attention to. And I do some of that in coaching, but that is not my area of expertise in training. And so being able to partner with someone who can come in and provide that pause and that…again, we call it kind of grounding and growing. So the grounding piece of helping them feel stable and recovering from whatever it is that they need to recover from.


I mean, a lot of times, if you think about it, we have really hard things that happen at work. It could be a leadership change, or maybe just COVID has caused incredible stress and trauma in the workplace. Or maybe you’re going through something really hard personally, and it’s impacting your work. Being able to, with Align, if you’re in a package with us, you can just use sessions interchangeably with Pamela. And so if you need to pause and do some of that work and then come back to coaching, you can. And so we’re excited to be able to offer. I’m not sure, I’m sure other people are dealing with mental health in the workplace, but this feels like a unique approach to it.



Michelle: Absolutely.



JoyGenea: No, I think it’s great. I have one great last question for you. And it is, what is one thing in your life and also in business that you wish you had known sooner?



Tara: One thing or not the 20 things that come to mind?



JoyGenea: Just really the top two or three.



Michelle: Pick one, maybe seven, you know.


 17:36  You don’t have to recreate every wheel

Tara: So one is based on, like, where I am in life right now, and one is based on just how I’m wired. The way I’m wired one is something I did learn from having a business before, and then dissolving that business and going and working for companies and coming back. But what I learned is I don’t have to recreate every wheel. I can have framework and structure and it’s good and healthy, and I can still be creative in it. But I didn’t know that earlier in my career. And I wasted a lot of resources, I think, because of it. Not that I didn’t learn, I call it all tuition. You know, it was tuition for where I’m at today. But right now where I am in my life, I wish…you know, I did therapy when I was younger, but I decided to go back last year, since we’re on this topic today, it seems to be just the theme.



JoyGenea: We’re talking about…



Michelle: Let’s do it. Yeah.



Tara: I’m learning how to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and that is learning how to feel my feelings. That’s terrible. Why do you…?



Michelle: Yeah.



JoyGenea: Then there’s not just three of them happy, sad, and angry.



Tara: Right. Have you seen Brené Brown’s new “Atlas of the Heart.”?



JoyGenea: Yes.



Tara: It’s beautiful. And she has research around, like, I don’t know, there’s 80 or some different emotions she’s identified, and it’s highly helpful when you’re trying to learn, like, the difference between how you’re feeling when you’re really used to just, like, masking all the hard ones. So, you know, our emotional health can’t be ignored, I feel like it’s our duty as leaders. And by the way, I think everyone’s a leader because you all have influence over someone else.



JoyGenea: That’s a great point. That is a diamond point.



Tara: And, you know, our emotional and mental health impacts, as Michelle said, we bring our whole selves. I kind of say, wherever you go, there you are. So we bring ourselves everywhere.



Michelle: All of you.



Tara: And we have a responsibility to each other to be doing our work. And I wish I had done this work sooner. Because it’s not fun, I’ll tell you that, but it is important.



Michelle: Yeah.



JoyGenea: Well said and really, really good advice. Thank you for being vulnerable with us to share that, and with our listeners, because that’s a really valuable thing…



Tara: And thank you for naming the mental health elephant. I think George, we could go with George.



JoyGenea: George?



Michelle: George. Yeah, George. [inaudible 00:20:11 



JoyGenea: He’s got a tutu though.



Michelle: Well, George with a tutu. That sounds good.



Tara: Sell that to McDonald. [inaudible 00:20:19  they’ve ever had one.



Michelle: And Naughty Monkey shoes.



JoyGenea: And Naughty Monkey shoes. Okay.



Michelle: Yeah, Naughty Monkey shoes, the elephant on Naughty Monkey shoes.



JoyGenea: I like it.



Michelle: I love this.



Tara: Can I just say one thing about that?



Michelle: Yeah.


 20:29  As a Leader, set good example to your members

Tara: You know, I appreciate you, you know, thanking me for my vulnerability, and I just wanna encourage people, all people, to think about talking about these things more. Because our talking about them as leaders matters just as much as our doing our work. There’s research to show that when leaders are modeling good self-care, soul care, mental health care, it gives permission to their employees to do the same and the people around them to do the same. And so talking about it is, I think, of ultimate importance if we really want people to seek the help that they need.



Michelle: Love it. Absolutely. I don’t know if we could…



JoyGenea: Nice job.



Michelle: Yeah. We’ll have to… Okay. That’s it. So “If These Heels Could Talk” is now going to move over to Tara who will be taking over from here. No, I’m just kidding. She’s like…



Tara: No, I think you do such important work. Thank you so much. I’m so honored to be with you.




JoyGenea: [crosstalk 00:21:25 



Michelle: Yeah, I think so.



JoyGenea: As you continue to grow and so forth, I think having, you know, it’d be great to check in.



Michelle: It’d be great to check in.



JoyGenea: And see some things…



Michelle: See how SoulCare goes. Congratulations, Tara, with Align, with SoulCare. Thank you so much for joining us on “If These Heels Could Talk.” And thank you to everybody who’s listening in. Really appreciate it. Be sure you check out Tara aligntransform.com. And we’ll also, on the website, iftheseheels.com will have links to Tara’s socials and her website listed right there. So you can get in contact and, you know, hear her amazing advice custom to you, you know, by paying her. So enjoy. And we hope you get in touch. Thank you all so much.



JoyGenea: Thanks. Bye, everybody.



Tara: Oh, thank you so much.