Michelle Rios, President of Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC, Top 10 Admired Leaders of 2023

Michelle Rios
Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC

Michelle Rios, President of Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC

“Transforming Challenges into Superpowers”

Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC. strives to help individuals and groups unlock their inner leadership qualities to exceed their maximum potential. President Michelle Rios founded the business in 2003, and since then, she and her team have aided countless leaders, teams, and organizations on their journey toward success. At Blue Tiger Leadership, they believe that every “Brave Leaders, Brilliant Teams and Better Organizations.” holds supernatural qualities, just waiting to be unleashed.

Michelle faced a challenge at an early age, her hearing slowly faded until she was completely deaf twice before she turned ten years old. Instead of letting it hold her back or hinder her progress, she adapted to compensate for it. She began noting facial expressions and body language in order to keep communicating. After her hearing returned, she realized that she could easily read a room when she walked into it and sense other’s emotions. She made it her life's work to teach people to overcome their challenges by tapping into their own special gifts and connecting with them. Today, Blue Tiger Leadership helps others open doors to their hidden abilities and cultivate them into superpowers.

Michelle earned a BS in Psychology, an MA in Counseling, an MA in Human Resources Development, and a post-graduate certificate in I/O Psychology - Executive Development after leaving the Air Force. Later she entered corporate Director and VP roles, gaining experience in leadership, team evolution, organizational development, and executive coaching. She is proud to share that she is one of just 2100 individuals worldwide to earn the prestigious International Coaching Federation Master Certified Coach (MCC) designation.

At first, curiosity helped her become a leader, and then qualities such as compassion, connection, courage, clarity, candor, challenge, and collaboration have molded Michelle's leadership style. She suggests leaders be open to new ideas and accept those who are different from them. Growing up with an impairment has made her recognize that kindness is invaluable, and relationships are based on understanding. She unites her circles of family, friends, coworkers, and clients through her acts of connection. Even in a grocery store or restaurant, she strives for meaningful interactions. In difficult times, she believes that it takes courage and commitment for a leader to stay the course and do the right things.

Michelle's philosophy is clear: communication is key. It conveys vision, direction, and knowledge, drawing others in--and for her, transparency is a must. As a leader, she wants to share honestly with her team: the good, the bad, the exciting, and the uncomfortable. Believing that openness helps facilitate teamwork, Michelle holds that clarity requires an honest exploration of everyone's ideas.

Creating options are fundamental to Michelle's decision-making process. She often seeks input from others before defining a direction, gathering as much information as possible, analyzing the situation thoroughly, collecting thoughts from stakeholders and individuals detached from the issue. The pros and cons of all alternatives are weighed before deciding. When the decision is communicated to those involved feedback is then monitored and received accordingly. Michelle understands that tough messages will need to be communicated compassionately and new skills must be embraced to enable teams to grow and evolve. A collaborative leader must apply the principles they are espousing and prove it through practice.

Michelle recognizes that growth requires challenges and innovation demands trial and error. Transformation necessitates disintegration and rebuilding just like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly! Although cooperation inspires creativity, shared activation is vital for best practices. Being inspired by someone else's idea can generate some of the most creative thoughts while building on them can lead to even more innovative creations.

“Michelle feels their VUCA world will only move quicker, surprise them more, and create new challenges.”

Michelle believes the best way to improve as a leader is to retain a certified executive coach, embark on an internal process to reshape one's values, commitments, and goals, as well as craft a "My Leadership Manual" that defines who you are as a leader, what others can expect of your behavior, how you handle conflict, suitable times for making decisions, and so on. Above all else, she advised taking up a challenging role or task, and equipping oneself with supportive structures such as a transition coach, tackling an unprecedented project, joining a board or committee, completing a course that stretches your abilities or dedicating yourself to a skill, activity, or language.

The company believes leadership, growth and relationships influence small and big businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government bodies alike. They say human connections drive all work. In addition, their strength lies in supporting leaders in difficult situations and teaching them how to encourage and guide their teams at all levels. Interactive training, assessments, tailored coaching, and timely assistance help clients reach their objectives. Facilitators and coaches focus on leadership development, communication, team coaching, change management and conflict resolution. Their compassionate and highly skilled staff design solutions customized to each client.

When the U.S. was first hit with Covid19, Michelle and her colleague Phil were at a client's site for their third day of a team strategy session. Suddenly, they had to pivot and transfer the entire day to organizing a shutdown to essential personnel only for an undetermined amount of time. It was surreal. On the drive home, Phil and Michelle discussed how they could best be there for their clients during this strange and tumultuous period. They weren’t accustomed to video conferencing technology, as they believed that people gain more in physical space than digitally. Yet, social distancing forced them to learn about meeting clients online and bringing value to this method of connection. The second week of the pandemic when organizations attempted to go back to work, they volunteered to facilitate client staff meetings, 1:1’s, team gatherings, department meetings, lunch & learns, and mini workshops on their platform – pro bono – as a way to show their partners what could be accomplished in uncertain times. To their surprise, 2020 was their biggest year ever in terms of revenue; even more amazing is that this happened despite the pandemic. To date, they've grown 312% compared to five years ago.

The company is determined to forge their own path and help guide others down theirs. They recognize that they must take care of themselves: their mental and physical health, responsibilities, skill growth, compassion, and wit to ensure they can hold space for clients. The more present and receptive they are, the better equipped they'll be to generate the perfect conditions for progress and transformation.

Michelle is certain that the world will become increasingly unpredictable and chaotic. She understands that leaders will have to adapt to the new demands of a rapidly changing environment in the next five years - including stabilizing remote work, realizing diversity and inclusion efforts, utilizing Artificial Intelligence while managing its risks, and fostering team growth through coaching. These changes will affect how leadership operates, how people communicate, how teams are enhanced, employee wellbeing, and solution generation for complex problems.

The company's two most exciting projects are the Blue Tiger Leadership - LEAP Innovation Circle ™ - Leadership Excellence Advancement Program, set to kick off in August. Then, in October of 2023, they will host ROAR: Blue Tiger Leadership Conference (Renew, Optimize, Adapt, Recharge).

Michelle realizes that we never know what is going on inside another person. They may be grappling with situations and difficulties we can’t see or understand. That’s why the most important thing we can do each day is lift others up. Kindness doesn’t cost any of us and it goes a long way to helping others access their superpowers. IE


Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC


Michelle Rios
Blue Tiger Leadership, LLC


Michelle feels their VUCA world will only move quicker, surprise them more, and create new challenges.

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