Carmen Liefeld

Leadership Coach

Carmen is a new leadership coach who believes in bringing the authentic, vulnerable self to both professional and personal settings.

Carmen began her own leadership career working in highly regulated laboratories. The process-driven culture initially informed her leadership style. She relied on processes, standards, and a black-and-white mentality to “lead” people. She recalls, early in her leadership career, saying, “I don’t want to let them know too much about me because we can’t be friends.”

However, she quickly realized that her true nature was to build relationships and, in order to be successful, she needed to bring that authenticity to her leadership practices. Carmen was rewarded for bringing vulnerability and humility to her leadership style when she was selected to participate in an exclusive (top 1%), high-level leadership development program for a large non-profit organization. The goal of the program was to create the next level of top executives over a three year time-span. As a result of the program, Carmen was given the opportunity to lead groups in a variety of departments including Operations, Sales, and Project Management.

During this leadership program, Carmen realized that her true passion was for developing leaders, not necessarily for continuing into an executive leadership role herself. In her peers, she saw the divide between their work and personal selves, and felt that divide was limiting them. The divide seemed to be creating, in her opinion, the feeling of “being caught in the hamster wheel.” Not only did it seem to affect the leaders but it trickled down to all people within the organization. Leaders were guarded, protective, and often in survival mode—and so, in turn, were their employees. As soon as the leadership program ended, Carmen switched careers and moved into talent and organizational development roles.

Most recently, Carmen held a corporate position responsible for strategic talent development of an 8000+ employee company as well as refreshing the leadership culture of said company. In that role, she’s asked leaders to bring a sense of emotional safety to the workplace and coached them 1:1 to be their authentic selves as they lead.

Coaching clients comment:

“I felt I was heard and understood by Carmen. One of my difficult directors resigned from the company exposing more areas of concern. Carmen was thoughtful as I expressed my concern and disappointment about this individual. I asked for her support to help guide me in a meeting with my direct reports to address the ‘elephant’ and develop a team-building workshop to start the healing of the team…. I found our coaching sessions very beneficial and felt like I had an action plan for my business unit, but also for me as I work on my true self to be present at all times.”

“I connected with Carmen at an emotional level and felt very comfortable with her. I could feel her passion/excitement in the tone of her voice. It really helped that she made me feel ‘human’ – that it was ok to feel/be the way I was – and that there wasn’t something wrong with me, per se, but that we would work on a plan for improving the quality of my leadership.”

“Carmen was able to identify some problem areas that I was (and had been) unable to put into words which was definitely a byproduct of my sense of being heard and not judged.”

Carmen also hosted numerous team-coaching sessions that encourage the practice of being vulnerable, authentic, and transparent. These efforts have resulted in an increased level of staff engagement.

Participants from team workshops have provided the following feedback:

“This workshop is exactly what [the company] needs more of. There is still a disconnect between the culture of service and the interactions we have both in the center and with middle/upper management. Carmen was amazing, mindful, and well spoken.”

“It was a great workshop that I would recommend for each team. A true eye opener.”

“Today’s session was great! I think you are an amazing fit for the work you are doing. I’m looking forward to partnering in developing the team. I would like to bounce some ideas off of you in terms of team dynamics and how to get them functioning independent of me.”

At CO2, Carmen focuses on leaders wanting to make a shift in personal leadership style to being more vulnerable and people-centric, teams that need to make a similar change in order to be more effective, and organizations aiming to adopt a people-first culture.

Carmen holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Mary’s University and has completed the full set of coursework for development coaching from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). Outside of coaching, Carmen is passionate about fitness, the outdoors, and enjoying her small family, her son, Lukas, and husband, Brian. She enjoys participating in extreme obstacle races like the Tough Mudder (she got electrocuted the last time she participated!!), camping in northern Minnesota, and watching her son play soccer. She connects with her authentic-self through yoga practice and travel.