Becoming A Catalyst Leader With Tina Greenbaum

by | Aug 5, 2021 | Podcasts

SWGR 574 | Catalyst Leader


Leadership comes in many shapes and forms, one of which is the catalyst leader. The catalyst leader spearheads positive change not just for themselves, but for others as well. In this episode, Elizabeth Bachman welcomes a returning guest, business coach Tina Greenbaum. Tina discusses her mission and talks about becoming a catalyst and igniting transformations. Tina talks about servant leadership and transforming yourself to become the best version of yourself. Tune in and learn more about leadership and transformations.

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Becoming A Catalyst Leader With Tina Greenbaum

My guest on this episode is Tina Greenbaum of Mastery Under Pressure. She was one of the very first people I interviewed for this show. She’s episode number three. She is consistent in her ways of helping people achieve mastery when there is a lot of pressure. She’s the Founder and CEO of Mastery Under Pressure, a management coaching program for high-performing executives who need to refine and master their interpersonal and interdepartmental skills. Mastery Under Pressure gives CEOs and senior-level managers additional professional and personal tools they need to excel and empower their teams and their associates and operate well within any corporate culture. What Tina’s phrase is, “Make your best better.” We had an interesting conversation about servant leadership versus giving where you set boundaries and how to stay true to your mission and your values. It was a wonderful conversation. I had great fun. Let’s go directly to the interview.

Tina Greenbaum, welcome back to the show.

Thank you, Elizabeth. I am so delighted to be here.

Me, too. I’m so happy to have you. You were one of the very first people I interviewed when I was dreaming up this show. You’re episode number three, the first two were me. You are my first guest on this show. We’ve both evolved a lot and both staying with the same core values. Before we get started with all the pages of questions I have for you, let me ask you about your dream interview. If you were to interview somebody who’s no longer with us, who would it be? What would you ask them? Who should be listening?

Honestly, the first person that comes to mind is my mother. My mother was extremely wise. Being the daughter of somebody who was never wrong about human nature, that was a scary thing because she wasn’t. She could peg people. She was always encouraging me to be at the highest level that I could be. “You be the big one. Hang out with people that are going to bring you up.” These values that she has instilled in me have taken me through amazing ups and downs of my life and all places. Many times, I used to tell my family members, “If you want to know what she was going to say, ask me,” because I knew exactly what she was going to say. I am her prodigy.

We are all product of our parents in good and bad ways or let’s say the helpful and not so helpful ways. I would love to have met your mother especially since you were a prodigy of hers. Your company’s called Mastery Under Pressure and you’re doing many things in terms of executive consulting and coaching. You were talking about leadership and your mission. That was interesting. Talk to me a little bit about your mission and how it has evolved over the years.

People think about transformation as turning into somebody else. That's not true. You're going to turn into yourself. Click To Tweet

Honestly, I can’t remember how many years ago that I wrote this mission statement. It’s about being a catalyst. I am that catalyst that will help you to ignite that imagination of yours, to imagine things that you never thought were possible. Every couple of years, I re-read it and it’s still there.

That’s amazing that you have a mission statement that’s been consistent all this time. You’ve certainly been a catalyst for me. I have taken your course Mastery Under Pressure and learned a lot. I still have your voice in the back of my head from time to time when I’m freaking out and when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Often I have you in the back of my head helping me to calm down. Before we go to overwhelm and calming down, talk to me a little bit more about what a catalyst is.

When we looked up the word catalyst, it has a Greek origin and it means to dissolve. The work that I do is the work of transformation. It’s a process of dissolving a lot of the layers that we have taken on to protect ourselves over time so that they dissolve and we make space for the real you. People think about the transformation a lot of times that they’re going to think they’re going to turn into somebody else. That’s not true. You’re going to turn into yourself. That is less encumbered by a lot of these things that you have put on over the years. The energetic armor is what we call.

Being more you. Certainly, it’s quite true. We’ve all had dreams of the magic wand that is going to make us into a better person or a thinner person. My whole life I was like, “Lose another 20 pounds,” but I’m not willing to do the work involved in making it happen. Especially not after a year and a half of the pandemic where no one has to see what size of pants I’m wearing. When we’re talking about being a catalyst, as a leader you want to be a catalyst for your people and for your company. Can you talk a little bit about that?

In order to help other people to lift themselves up, we have to do it ourselves. As a matter of fact, years ago, I moved out here from New York to California. I was doing a lot of work and I was working hard but I felt like I was treading water. I wasn’t making the money that I thought that I could or should. I had to have a conversation with myself one day and said, “Tina, you have to up-level yourself,” and that became a mantra for me. I started to go around and get some real help on what I am missing because we all have blind spots. I always say that everybody else knows your blind spots, know your own, too. By the willingness to ask for help, number one. Number two, to be coachable. Taking it in. Not from everybody but the people that I learned to trust. Making those hard changes sometimes but constantly up-leveling myself to the place where I’ve been doing this for several years. I started to say silently many times in my head, “How many years have you been doing what you’re doing? Maybe 2 or 3. I am an expert at what I do. Why don’t I act like it?” A lot of things from the body and if you’ve ever seen Amy Cuddy’s power pose. You’re pulling your energy up, you’re standing up straight and tall and you think of the mountain pose in yoga. To come from that place. As I started to incorporate more of that, I began to own that wasn’t what I’ve inherited and give it in a way that hopefully people can hear. It changed my life. It changed the level of where I am at this moment.

SWGR 574 | Catalyst Leader

Mastery Under Pressure: All that stands between you and your goals…is YOU!

I think of a catalyst is somewhat a change agent. There’s a bit of an idea that’s tickling the back of my head about a catalyst enabling others. How do you make sure that you are also recognized for having done that? Certainly, you and I have both seen many people who give so much they erase themselves from the picture. People forget that it was Tina and Elizabeth who made this happen and they say, “Here’s this wonderful change,” but they forget who was behind it.

Spiritually, the best gifts are the ones that nobody knows who gave. The unique gift is the highest level of giving. At the same time though, when you bring up an important thing because we’re talking about boundaries, that’s to even so much being recognized. I don’t have to worry about being recognized as something like, “I’m doing this so that you’re going to remember me.” I’m going to be me and I’m going to give me in the best way that I know how. If what I’m saying resonates with you, you’re going to remember me. The important thing is when we give, we have to look at why are we giving. Is it from the heart? Is it a real gift or is it, “I’m giving to you because I’m waiting to receive?” That doesn’t go over well. Are we saying yes to things that will put us into overwhelm because we only have so many hours in a day? Nobody’s exempt. How I use my time and how I use it wisely is critically important. If I’m giving it all away, I have nothing left for me, my family and my clients. There’s a lot of stuff going on in there.

Certainly, overwhelm can be a part of that. Not only are we giving, people are asking. There are all these demands and learning how to set boundaries there. I know you’ve talked about prioritizing. I remember this from taking your course several years ago, about choosing the priorities and prioritizing yourself without being selfish or feeling selfish.

Let’s look at it. If you give and there is nothing left for you, you will, I can promise you at some point, this giving will turn into resentment. I call it my red flag of resentment. If it starts to show up it means I want something more for you than you ever wanted for yourself. My giving matches yours. My effort matches yours. I do this with my children and my clients. If they come in, “What did we talk about last week? I can’t remember. I couldn’t possibly get to it.” All these excuses. I’m going to sit back a little bit. Why should my effort be greater than your effort? You have to want it as much as I want it for you.

What I wanted to say is coming to me, let’s talk about serving rather than giving and servant leadership. As a leader, you don’t want to give everything away but you do want to be serving in a way that is serving your company, your organization and your people. One of the things that I find, a lot of my clients are women especially those who give a lot have gotten to as far as they can through skill and ability. The transition from that to being vice-president or C-level means you’ve got to let go of some of the things you were doing and look from a higher level. Talk a little bit about serving versus giving or serving is a part of giving or giving as a part of serving. I don’t have a great phrase for that but I bet you do.

Spiritually, the best gifts are the ones that nobody knows who gave. The unique gift is the highest level of giving. Click To Tweet

I don’t know but I understand. This is the way I think about it. I talk about this in my Confident Negotiator course. A lot of times, we give away things that we don’t necessarily want to but we feel intimidated or feel desperate or we feel like zeros. Some of the things that we’re going to miss out on if we don’t say yes. There’s a whole bunch of psychological things that happen. I like to pay attention to what’s happening inside of me. This is the key to everything that you’re asking and everything that we’re talking about. How do I know when I’m going into overwhelm? How do I know when I’m giving too much? There’s a signal that comes from within. I have to pay attention to myself and those signals. That’s my intuition, my feeling that goes, “I don’t want it. I can’t do that. It’s too much.” There are times where I feel like I’m full up with clients, things and commitments and then somebody comes along my way and I feel called to help that person. I can’t describe to you who, when, where, what and how. It’s a feeling like I feel called. It can be the same person to tell me the same story and it may not show up for me in the same way. I will make space for that person. I will move to something else so that I can serve in that way. At the same time, I might have to limit the amount of time that I spend or whatever but it becomes my choice. It’s a choice and something that I feel like I externally have to. It feels like maybe I have to from my insights.

When I think about servant leadership and the people I want to serve and care about, I don’t have a big company but I have a small team and making sure that everybody feels appreciated and they feel like they’re being well paid enough. If they’re not being well-paid, they will be well-paid when this next thing happens but always keeping them in mind. The number one thing that people want more than anything else with this is they want to be heard. We can give. When I don’t have a lot of money to give, my time, my caring and that phone call. There’s a guy in my network who we had a meeting and he had to cancel the meeting at the last minute. His wife is in the hospital. I checked back a little while later. She’ll be in for another two weeks and maybe a week will go by and I’ll check again. I don’t need a return. I don’t need anything. I want him to know that I’m thinking about him. That’s giving. It doesn’t have to be hours and thousands of dollars.

When you are responsible for a lot of people in a large organization, how do you find the boundary? Let’s talk about the leadership part of servant leadership. Where does that come in?

It all comes from the top. Where everyone is in your company whether you’re at the top of the company or down below or you got people above you or people below you, you are still serving other people. Number one, you have to be a good delegator. You have to be on the same page, the same values. That’s not easy to do because we’re all different people. We come from all different backgrounds but if you remember the most basic things. People want to be heard. They want autonomy and a sense of control. They want to feel like they have a purpose. That it’s their purpose, not only your purpose. We show up when we feel intrinsically motivated. It’s coming from the inside. “I’m going to do this for you, Elizabeth because I love you and I care about you. I’m worried about you. You’ve got a sick kid at home. I’m going to jump in and I’m going to do a little extra now.” We want to care about other people.

We want a challenge in our work that’s not so challenging that we can’t do it. I talk a lot about our nervous system and not asking more than your nervous system can allow. We want enough of a challenge that we feel like we’re being challenged. There are certain elements in employee satisfaction that if you, as the manager, are aware of these elements, you will incorporate them in some way, shape or form within your company. This is the message that you give to them. I belong to an organization where they talk about their values over and over, reciprocity, reach and respect. They say it at every meeting and the people that they draw in are people who have those values.

SWGR 574 | Catalyst Leader

Catalyst Leader: Employees require a lot from their leaders. They want them to be authentic, visible and caring.


The thing I realized that we haven’t said because you and I take it for granted, servant leadership is leadership that’s going to benefit everybody. Not leadership that’s going to benefit you. It’s not just me. It’s me helping to drive this train but very aware of everybody who’s participating.

I have a client who is a CTO of a company. He has about a hundred and some people below him. I said, “What is the most challenging part of your job?” He said, “It’s not the technical part. That’s easy. I got all these people who are smarter than me and they can answer these questions. It’s the people part.” That’s why he’s working with me. He said, “I am a student of human nature and I learn the things so that I can be that leader that everybody feels that they can come to, that I’m not a pushover. Am I enough on this? Am I understanding enough over here?” Employees require a lot from their leaders. They want them to be authentic, visible and caring. We didn’t get our MBAs with these elements of how to be a coach.

The one thing that every single company has in common is managing the people. I was thinking about this in terms of how you show up confidently. I’ve been thinking a lot about executive presence. Especially for women, often they’ll say, before you get to C-level, executive presence can be a shorthand for, “We don’t want to promote you. We don’t quite know why. It’s because you’re a girl but we don’t have a good reason. We say you don’t have enough executive presence.” It’s one of those nebulous things. You have this great program called the Confident Negotiator. Talk a little bit about that and how that confidence translates into executive presence.

It comes back to what’s between you and you, how you handle yourself and your own energy. Everything is energy. It’s not even time management. It’s energetic management. I said the word and all of a sudden, I straightened up. I’m getting straighter in my chair and my back straighter and I’m looking at you as opposed to looking at the camera, which doesn’t feel very personal. It’s how do I hold my body of my energy. If you’ve heard of tai chi, yoga, chi gong, karate, any of the martial arts, the energy comes from your center. In karate, it’s called the dan tien. It’s your power center. We want to get in touch with that power center before we even walk into a room. You and I sat a couple of minutes before we started the interview. You and I took a nice deep breath and we got ourselves grounded and present so that we could think clearly. My whole Mastery Under Pressure program is all about that.

The number one thing that people want more than anything else is to be heard. Click To Tweet

Let’s imagine that you have, it’s called a window of tolerance. This is your nervous system’s tolerance for stress. It comes to stress and as long as I’m in my window, I’m good. You asked me about that one, I can think clearly, we’re together and we’re communicating. If you ask me something or put so much pressure on me or I put pressure on myself, I’m going to get to the top of my nervous system’s capacity for stress and I’m going to initiate that stress response. That stress response comes nervousness, anxiety, sometimes tingling but most importantly for us in this conversation, we don’t think clearly. The brain goes offline, literally. “Where was I? What was I thinking? They’re not paying attention to me.” We start to fill it with a lot of negative thoughts. The whole process of Mastery Under Pressure is expanding our tolerance for stress. Here it comes, all kinds of stuff. It hits the fan, everything’s going haywire but I’m grounded. Great leaders are grounded. They can see what’s happening and the whole landscape way before most of the other people can see it. They can anticipate the next thing that’s happening.

One of the things I like to think of that is connecting to Mother Earth’s power below me and getting Earth energy coming up through my feet, into my center and then connecting to the power of inspiration above me. Connecting to the energy of, let’s say, the universe. In some ways, I am a bead on a string. I’m a pipe where the inspiration is coming from above and the groundedness is coming from below. It’s between the two of them, I’m right there at the center so then I can send that energy out to the people I’m trying to reach from my heart. For those of you reading, I was automatically having the hands go out from the heart, sending the energy out. This reminds me of a conversation we had where you mentioned a client you had who resented taking five minutes off to meditate. Whatever happened to him?

It’s funny. He’s in a group of twelve people. Again, people are all over the place in terms of self-care and this whole idea of what meditation and breathing. I do my best to bring it down to neuroscience to know that it’s not woo-woo and something that’s out there. It’s quite proven what breathing and meditation do. At the beginning of the first week, he said, “I don’t even make time for lunch. I can’t even talk to you about this.” I said, “If you could, what would you do?” He said, “I’d probably make five minutes to sit down and meditate. I have a watch and I could set my watch and I’ll do it.” The next week he comes back and he said, “I did my five minutes every day and I’m pissed off. It took away from all the other things that I needed to do.” That gave us an opportunity to talk about choice and priority. “Why bother? If you don’t, we’re going back to my conversation around stress.”

“Ninety-five percent of illnesses are stress-related. We get that nervous system going, we get the cortisol going and over time that knocks down our immune system. Depending on where your vulnerability is, that’s where the illness is going to show up. Maybe that could be a reason. You’ve got kids. How about focusing on your children and being able to be present for your kids.” We talked about a bunch of other possibilities as to why this might be a good idea. The next week he comes back and he said, “I did it and I liked it. I’m going to do it again.” The next week he sends me a note, he said, “I won’t be at the class tonight because I have hockey that I haven’t done in eight months. You talked about taking care of myself.”

SWGR 574 | Catalyst Leader

Catalyst Leader: Great leaders are grounded. They can see the whole landscape way before most other people can and anticipate the next thing that’s happening.


That would be a good story to end on. I know I want to ask you more about the Confident Negotiator but I will do that a separate interview. I’m going to have you back. I have lots of times where I call up Tina and say, “Tina will know what to say.” How do we find out more about how we learn more from you?

I have a program it’s called Mastery Under Pressure. That is the umbrella of everything that I do. I have a quiz that you can take. It’s, where you are on these skills of peak performance, which hopefully will lead to a state of flow. We started anxiety at one level and flow with the other. That’s where we’re going. My website is I have a book which is called Mastery Under Pressure.

It’s a good book too. I highly recommend it. Tina Greenbaum, thank you so much for being a guest again on the show. You’re one of my favorite people. I love having you share your wisdom with my readers. Let me remind you before we say goodbye that if you’re curious about how your presentation skills are doing, you can take my quiz at That’s where you can see where your presentation skills are strong and where perhaps a little bit of support could get you the results that you’re looking for. Thank you so much, Tina Greenbaum, for having been the guest here.

Thank you, Elizabeth.

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About Tina Greenbaum

SWGR 574 | Catalyst LeaderTina Greenbaum, M.Ed., LCSW is the Founder and CEO of Mastery Under Pressure, a management coaching program for high-performing executives who need to refine and master their interpersonal and inter-departmental skills.

Mastery Under Pressure gives CEOs and senior-level managers the additional professional and personal tools they need to excel and to empower their teams and their associates—and to operate within any corporate culture. It’s what she means by “Make Your Best, Better.”