All Posts in Employee Engagement

May 12, 2019 - No Comments!

Count Up Your Transitions

When were you at your best? Jot down memories where you were energized and enthusiastic. What were you doing then? Imagine creating more of those welcoming moments. I bet some of them were during a transition.

I decided to count up the transitions that I have had over my career and it is well over 15 when I look at the change in roles and responsibilities as well as new culture, organizations or starting my own company. Each change required a shift in mindset and a deeper understanding of me. I was impatient at times and wanted the answers much faster than they came to me.

I recall a very big transition which was to leave corporate America and figure out what was next. Although this was many years ago, I recall it vividly. I had been in the career consulting business and focused on helping others with their story but I had not thought about my own story. Have you ever been in the pace and groove of your work? You try to convince yourself that it is all right. Over time, you realize it doesn’t feel right.  It was welcoming at first but you start to ask yourself questions about your new perspective or direction and whether you are still learning.

Fortunately, I was asking those questions and was introduced to LifeLaunch, a program of the Hudson Institute which is now called Life Forward. Back in those days it was a five day program focused on your inner talk, possibilities, feelings, prized memories and eventually goals and action steps. The concepts introduced were about reflection, revision, and renewal. It was focused on where you are today, where you want to go and how you will get there. There was a phase called “go for it” and being a results-driven person, I liked that phase. But, that is not where you start. The process begins with reflection and slowing down to think about dreams, passion, and interests and of course, purpose.

Whether you are making a job change or taking on a bigger role in your company or moving into the entrepreneurial world, the transitions we go through from one stage to another is a gift. They are exhilarating and they can also cause anxiety.

I was ready to create something new but had no idea how it would work out. That was stressful and exciting.  This can happen when you are inside a company and have a role that you enjoy and then you hear of an opportunity that you can transition to with more responsibility along with a very steep learning curve. It is what you were looking for yet scary at the same time.

What I observe today is that the speed of transitions and personal change in our careers is so fast that there is little time to move through the changes and or the emotions. We need that in order to understand ourselves, what might accelerate our effectiveness or get in the way and how best to navigate an entirely new challenge. The people are different, expectations vary and the social norms might shift but you are not aware of that yet.

As you embark on your change, it may be that the rules have changed or the way to get things done is entirely different. You might have to navigate this on your own or if you are lucky, you will have a change “Sherpa” in your company. We are never really on our own and change does not mean you will be in “free-fall” as one of my clients expressed. However, I know that feeling of fear and internal second guessing that takes us down a path of non-constructive self-talk even during a positive expanded role. Slowing ourselves down to reflect, envision and then act is a human thing to do. Reaching out to your network is a human thing to do as well. Our company cultures are not great at slowing down.

Here are my suggestions on moving effectively on a wave of transition.
1. Celebrate - Did you celebrate the ending – you may have just accepted a promotion in your company and moving on to a bigger role. Did you celebrate and congratulate yourself for the accomplishment of getting this far? Take the time to do this with your team and acknowledge success. It is easy to let the voice in our head worry about the new job or jump to action with enthusiasm but take the time to breathe and celebrate this ending before starting a new beginning.

2) Welcome the new – Meet your team, get to know the business and how things work. Ask a lot of questions. Your focus is on learning rather than doing. We are all programmed to do but few of us focus on the learning part first. Step back to figure out the new landscape and what small steps of success will look like. Determine how your network will expand and who will be there to guide you. Sometimes it is not your immediate boss.

3) Envision – Listen to your internal voice but also gather the perspectives of others. I recall my voice telling me, “you are responsible and you will do the right thing.” I had to add something critical to that inner dialogue and that was “enjoy this adventure and trust yourself.” Not so easy to accomplish but it was my daily mantra.

4) Grow – The aging process is inevitable and I don’t recall ever thinking about it until my 40’s. That is when I realized mid-course corrections are a good thing and if we can look at our learning and development as part of our investment plan that is cumulative, than we are ahead of the game. It takes time to learn a new role. You have more decisional capacity than you realize so learning, risking and experimenting is part of the deal going forward. Your company will not drive that for you so you get to set that growth plan and course correct along the way.

What is your learning agenda for the next chapter of your life?  Who are the people you would chose to have as mentors, friends, and guides? Build this into your plan and you will see that endings, celebrations, beginnings, and your feelings around change will be more aligned with your level of satisfaction and connection with those that matter.  Do not hurry this process. It takes time and intention.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Communication, Employee Engagement, Talent Economy

May 8, 2019 - No Comments!

Expand the Circle

Imagine you have a circle of friends that you have known for a long time and they are just the folks you hang out with when you yearn for connecting and comfort. Often, food accompanies this connecting time.

You know these friends, their unique perspective on life, what makes them laugh and their favorite food. True appreciation for who they are and why you enjoy this circle of friends or friend, is very clear knowledge that you have lived and experienced with joy.

Now think about what it is like to step out of that circle and connect with new people – that are not in your circle. It takes a different energy to expand beyond your comfort zone. It amplifies our curious self to meet new people and listen to other perspectives of the world. This is the space where we don’t know things.

We should not take advantage of our circle. Relationships are not static and the world is dynamic, so why not consider new dimensions to explore. This does not mean we abandon our circle of “confidants.”   However, do you want to learn about other people, cultures, interests and or experiences? We are only one person, so when we can learn from others, it is truly a gift and from a practical standpoint it makes us more productive and maybe even a bit worldly. We learn about the things we don’t know.

Be honest, is it tough for you to make new connections? Are we good at getting to know others? Is this a new skill to master? And, where do we find the time to expand these connections? Are we good at the art of inquiry – really getting to know someone?

I believe the next generation will offer us more perplexing situations and opportunities to expand our notion of “circle of friends” and learn new skills in connecting with others. It will be a broader definition and produce more meaning, complexity and fascination as the world seems to get smaller.

I was invited to a dinner party a year ago, for my son, a visual artist and creative writer, was fortunate to be the first artist and one person show for a new gallery in Echo Park, Los Angeles. He was so excited and the opening night was invite only for this special celebratory dinner. We sat down with 12 other folks and what was astounding was the diversity of people, backgrounds and areas of interest beyond art. Saying they were eclectic is an understatement. They shared a love of art. Beyond that, they worked in the finance area, teaching, performance, coaching, making art and professional traveler. You might say this is an LA thing but it clearly is an example of an open circle of connections that invites you in to a new conversation.

We knew before getting there that we might feel like a stranger among strangers. However, it did not take long to see more of the synergies and possibilities, and delightful peculiarities of this group getting to know each other.  Yes, there was some trepidation at first which moved into wanting to learn more about each person.

My take away is to suggest we abandon the mental models in our head about how we should meet new and different people and just embrace the unknown. That is not hard to do under an LA warm summer night while we get to share pasta, grilled zucchini and wine.

Are you part of a peer learning group? What are you learning that is unexpected? How does this group support you in the challenge of navigating work and personal challenges? I am passionate about helping others learn and build meaningful connections. As humans, we all lean towards these kinds of relationships where people can be authentic and find their voice. Enjoy expanding your circle along with wonderful food!

Sherry Benjamins facilitates peer learning groups that are forward looking, and have a keen interest in building relationships that strengths impact and direction on work and career. They begin in building a new circle of friends where it is safe to be themselves, learn about each other and accelerate their success as leaders and learners in business. Contact Sherry to learn more 562-594-6426 or sherry@sbcompany.net

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Communication, Employee Engagement

March 23, 2019 - No Comments!

Who Owns Development?

In my earlier blog post, I talked about the simple act of preparing managers to manage in order to strengthen worker engagement.  The simple part is committing to this focus.  The hard part is learning what is needed and how to move forward.

Who owns development?  Each of us decide that path and if we work with an enlightened boss, we get to discuss how to move forward that engages us personally and organizationally.  There is such a great opportunity today to turn the workplace into a learning place.  Forget hierarchy. Everyone has to be learning to compete.  My friend, Beverly Kaye talks about contemporary "lattice-like" career growth and expanding skills. Managers can be our role model here.  I suggest the following;

  • Determine what your learning plan is for 2019. (You also need to know the mission critical and prioritized business goals for the year)
  • Are you doing work that is satisfying for you and adding value? If not, what is the one thing you can do to change that?
  • Are you able to live the values that matter to you?
  • Discuss this with your peers and leadership team.  Create your company learning philosophy.  Get specific about how you support learning in your company.
  • Now take this conversation to your workers - share the philosophy.  Help them create a personalized learning plan.

This is the beginning of a strong foundation for engagement.  Not simple yet critical for you and your worker to grow and not let them go.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Uncategorized

March 23, 2019 - No Comments!

Meaningful Work Produces Results – Keep Your Talent

Wouldn't it be great to fix a problem before it is a problem?  And, even better with something that is simple.  For decades we have talked about engagement and developing managers.  It seems, from a sneak preview of Gallup's new research that much has not changed. A third of workers are highly engaged.  What about the other 70%?

The study's conclusion laid out in Jim Clifton and Jim Harter's book that is to be released next month, says the overwhelming driver to sustained performance is the manager as coach.  We know that, right?  However, it is still a topic of deep conversation with my clients and colleagues about what is missing today.

I recently met with several of my clients to learn about their perspective on disruptors in their business and impact on talent.  One theme that is emerging is the need to prepare and develop managers so that they respond to fast moving changes in the business and understand what workers want today.  Workers expect to do meaningful work that supports personal growth.  They are not shy to ask for and expect this.

This goes for the new professional as well as the seasoned one.  This past week I also had three calls from accomplished professionals in HR who see limits to their own growth in their organizations and are now exploring  new opportunities.  There is a problem here that we are not solving for.  It is avoidable yet, with all the demands and accelerating pace of business, senior leaders have forgotten the reason we have growth in the first place.  Yes, you have to have a great business model and service too but it also means equally hiring,  keeping and inspiring talent.  What if you could fix your problem simply by investing in managers?  Hiring good ones matters.  As Gallup states, they are the rocket fuel of the future.

Companies that enjoy engaged workers consistently post profit gains. What is not to like about that result? It is time to go for the simple solution, before you find that 30% or more of your best talent is planning to find the next chapter of their career somewhere else.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Employee Engagement, Management

June 9, 2018 - No Comments!

Why it Pays to “Break the Rules” – Are you a Rebel?

There is a new book out that is worth exploring.  Francesca Gino, Professor of Business at Harvard just published, "Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life."

It is refreshing to read about others who break the roles, re-invent or change the world for better.  At a time when there is so much disturbing news and divide across the country, Francesca speaks to possibility and prospering even in this turbulent world.

The rebel leader is not just about people who lead others.  It is about those of us who thrive in a world of change and at times welcome discomfort.  It might be more natural for us humans to accept conformity, but Francesca shares rich stories of those that know themselves and stretch the boundaries.  One of her guiding principles is to encourage constructive dissent.  It is really about understanding all perspectives and gaining understanding before making decisions.  Her examples from Robert Kennedy to leaders at General Motors brings to life great rebels.

I so appreciated another one of her principles, which is "fostering happy accidents." One of our colleagues, Gina Codd from Edwards Lifesciences introduced the refreshing concept of "welcome surprises" at her company.  Cultures that welcome idea exchange, making mistakes and enjoying what you learn from accidents is clearly a place I would want to be.

What type of rebel are you? There is an assessment that allows us to explore that and learn.  Check out Francesca's book and begin to recognize that we need rebels in our work and life in order to bring about positive lasting change.  

 

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Newsletter

January 10, 2018 - No Comments!

SBC January Newsletter — Joe Musselman – Learning about Leadership from The Honor Foundation Founder and CEO

January Newsletter:
Joe Musselman

 SBC January Newsletter — Joe Musselman – Learning about Leadership from The Honor Foundation Founder and CEO

Imagine what it’s like to be a Navy SEAL deployed in a country you probably

shouldn’t be in and conducting a mission that no one is supposed to know about. The amazing individuals from Special Operations are trained to do the impossible. We wouldn’t expect that someone with such a unique character and skill set would have any challenge in navigating a new career for themselves and their families?

These distinguished veterans live inside a standard that is exceptional in every dimension, yet when they move on to the next chapter of their life, they feel lost.  That is where The Honor Foundation comes in. I met with Joe Musselman, former Navy veteran and founder of this incredible non-profit organization that was specifically designed to serve the world’s most elite group of Special Operations Forces throughout their career transition. I learned from Joe that The Honor Foundation (THF) and its 15 week program (150 hours) is the most comprehensive career transition program for SEALS and Special Operators in the country.

I wanted to learn how Joe sees the leadership attributes these champions bring from their experiences and how he helps exemplary candidates chart a path to exemplary opportunities.

Sherry Benjamins: Joe, let’s talk about leadership.  What are the hard and soft leadership skills that you see critical in the future?
 
Joe Musselman: Frankly, hard skills are still important but becoming less relevant. The changes and pivots in business come without warning. In start-ups this is especially true. For example, there are multiple skill sets needed all at once. There's chaos, uncertainty, and adventure. One skill set is needed then another, and another, and these needs continue to grow. The individual must adapt and evolve their technical skills to leadership skills for those in charge of people, growth, and the vision of the business. Often the default is to find more technical skills but we know that as the company scales, the demand for balanced leaders who can inspire, coach and manage others is top priority.
 
SB: Why are soft skills even more critical now to success?  
 
JM:  Let me first say that successful organizations need to see themselves as technology businesses. This next wave of business is all about data, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.  Wouldn’t you want your most ethical and courageous leaders surrounding this new technology? Wouldn’t this give you a competitive advantage?
 
Success means being adaptive and agile.  We developed an assessment alongside UCSD and Stanford that helps us understand these personal readiness capabilities.  Our Fellows who graduate our program have rich life experience, cultural and emotional intelligence, not exactly technical or hard skill sets – so we suggest that CEOs let go of the traditional resume screen and be forward looking about what it takes to develop their people.  It’s not always about the hard skills, but instead a candidate with a core set of values that matches the organization’s mission.
 
Our Special Operators are trained to execute without the benefit of ever knowing what’s next, and even with continual and extensive training, a Navy SEAL knows to expect the unexpected and always operate inside a framework of strict values and guiding principles. I ask CEOs, how often do they find someone doing the right thing when they are not present? It is not grey. This is a very clear-cut question. Are they hiring leaders that know what doing the right thing always means? The bar remains high and our graduates know that mission matters as they have lived it everyday.
 
SB: What is missing in leaders today
 
JM: One of our core values at THF is “practicing artistry.” We find people who want to change the world. We ask our Fellows to be introspective first and ask themselves, “why do you matter?”  This needs to be asked of each of us more often.  Each individual seeks to achieve their own definition of excellence and they are truly artists in what they do and practice each day in the Teams.
 
SB: Are your graduates experiencing positive corporate cultures?
 
JM: We are proud of a 92% fulfillment rate. So yes, there are companies that understand the values of authenticity, fairness and purpose. They were harder to find than you think! We have only had 4 out of 167 that transitioned jobs within their first year of employment. All four cited reasons surrounding poor leadership, lack of vision, and the behavior was not aligned with the culture.
 
SB:  What have you learned about yourself on this journey?
 
JM:  The number one thing I’ve learned, what we all have learned at THF, is simply “be you”. We help our Fellows understand that they have the ability to stop trying to “be a role” and focus instead on being themselves. I personally have learned that it is not a bad thing to be a people pleaser. THF would not be here if I didn’t have and own that DNA. I am committed to making our Fellows a wild success and I want them to be fulfilled and happy. Their happiness is my commission. Everyone is encouraged to be who they are and be unwavering in that truth. The impact our Mission has on the lives and families of our graduates is remarkable. At graduation last week, one of the Fellows came up to me and said, “Joe, THF changed our family tree.” What he meant by that is he would not have had the opportunity to attend a top MBA program, interact with CEOs as mentors, or consider six-figure salaries if it weren't for THF. This is why we do this work at The Honor Foundation.

 

Concluding Comments
Do you want to change the world?  Joe had me reflecting on this notion of thinking big.  He asks the Navy SEAL, “why do you matter?” They have life experiences that we may never understand and they face the reality of knowing why they matter every day. Yet, when asked as they consider a professional transition, it requires more self-reflection than first imagined.

We can all benefit by answering that question for ourselves. Courage is a word that the Navy SEAL knows well. He runs bravely into battle with all his heart. In fact, the French root of the word courage is “heart.”

David Whyte, says that “courage is the measure of heartfelt participation with life, with another, with community or our work.”  It means that we can consciously live up to or into the things we care deeply about.  To be courageous as a SEAL or as a caring committed individual in this world is to stay close to the way we are made. So, why do you matter?

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Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog, Employee Engagement, Newsletter

November 22, 2017 - No Comments!

Can You Tell Your Story in Three Minutes? Absolutely!

Charles Antis, CEO of Antis Roofing invited an impressive group of OC leaders to an event yesterday (in their amazing Irvine headquarters) to learn from an accomplished and inspiring Story Teller.  Charles models the power of story and purpose in big ways for all of us. He generously hosted Jay Golden, Author, story coach and storyteller who showed us how to tap into our own stories so that they are retellable and impactful.

It only takes three minutes and within a very short time we were practicing our stories with each other.  Jay says, that "the ability to find, shape and share your own story - told one to one and one to many - is one of your greatest assets as a leader."

What is a retellable story?  Jay's new book introduces concept using a simple framework.  You would think that we know how to do this. Not really.  I learned it can be simple and yet powerful in creating connection quickly. It does start with us.  Our stories reveal a lesson that helps inform and inspire others.   Antis 2

At this time of  year, we often retell stories at family gatherings or create new experiences that become future stories.   It is not just simply a beginning, middle and end process.  There is more to it and I recommend getting Jay's book to dive into this for yourself and your team.

Stories matter today.  The human connection we make with a memorable personal story takes our relationships and engagement with others to a different level.  This takes us beyond the noise and data flying at us every day. I can see the direct link of story to insight and creativity. I am going to try this out.   Jay says in his book, "The twists and turns of the story draws us in, gives form to the journey and enables us to gain new understanding. The teller is the guide to that understanding."

The concepts fascinate me and I am going to reflect on the stories that have been meaningful for me so that I may share them, plant some seeds and see how they grow. Any one who references Joseph Campbell is my hero, Jay closes his book with a quote from Joseph, "The hero is the one that comes to know."  Bravo.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement, Management

October 14, 2017 - No Comments!

Are Robots Taking Over?

Some people think that dramatic improvement in robotics and AI puts us on the road to a jobless future.  MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee say we are in the "second machine age."  It is true that many jobs will be at risk of being automated and it is happening right now.   It is true the workplace is transforming.  However, the job market does not show that robots are on the rise yet.  Our clients share that they see a shortage of skilled folks and not a labor surplus.  If automation to replace humans was really impacting us now, we might see more job turnover.  One study written by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says that "levels of job churn are at historic lows."  Barcelona star sculpture

We can't deny huge changes in work, workers and the workplace.  I respect what exists today and look forward to having the influence to change everything.  This sculpture is in the harbor in Barcelona, called Miraestels.  I was just there and loved this inspiring structure - he is holding a hidden star behind and he seems to pose a question, and imagines a possibility yet he is awaiting a response.

We in the people business don't have to wait for a response.

To get at some of the workplace questions, we hosted Kevin Mulcahy, author of the Future Workplace Experience and Dean Carter, head of HR and Shared Services for Patagonia on October 3rd with 100 senior executives to ask questions and learn of their perspective on change.

One message was, "The strongest organizations today are learning machines."  That does not mean robots that learn, it means humans learning to leverage technology and be agile in the face of huge change.

There is a focus on productivity (app-ification) for almost everything, from performance, to how you give feedback, understand your talent and worker expectations as well as profiling success.  The majority of our attendees, who are senior executives in HR or Talent said that digital analytics and workforce analytics is the next big thing for them. Data is king.  But there was recognition that having a strategy and clear assumptions about change needed is essential.

Kevin Mulcahy says, "Pick your trends."  Make the case for change and articulate the assumptions around this before you leap ahead with analytics or how you want to transform the workplace.

There was also discussion about Recruiting and the automation that will allow greater efficiency and the ability to build eco-systems of talent that are aligned with the organizations values, purpose and career paths.  Dean Carter talked about building communities of people who might want to work with Patagonia but the company or individual may not be ready.  His company curates conversations with talent that shares their values and purpose driven culture.  He urged us all to think broadly about ongoing and continuous conversations with talent and why having a clear and compelling employer brand is critically important to answer  the "why work here" question.

Are you a workplace activist?  You need to be...the robot will not play that role at all.  We have the opportunity in the people business to be the catalyst for change and to speak boldly about the big bets for the future and what can be started now. Go to it.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement, Recruiting

August 28, 2017 - No Comments!

SBC August Newsletter – Meet Gayle Karen Young, Culture Builder & Catalyst

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 4.52.07 PM

Today leadership is about visibility and being authentic. Earlier this year, I attended a session with my favorite living poet, David Whyte, who inspires us to be vulnerable in being ourselves. I have followed his writing and enjoyed his workshops for many years. This session included a most intriguing organizational expert, Gayle Karen Young, who I was totally taken by. I found her perspective on leaders finding their way in this messy organizational life quite mind shifting.

Gayle brings wisdom and warmth to the conversation about how we develop as leaders within complex and changing systems.  She calls herself a “rogue provocateur.” Join me in our fascinating conversation about how we thrive in this unpredictable place called leadership.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about your perspective on leadership today.

Gayle Young: Its been fascinating to watch my own thoughts on leadership and culture evolve as I’ve moved from being an external consultant to taking on a role as Chief Talent and Culture Officer (essentially the CHRO) at the Wikimedia Foundation, and then going out on my own again.

For background, the Wikimedia Foundation is a fascinating organization for being one of the top five visited websites in the world. It’s the only top 50 website that is a non-profit. The actual organizational size is small, but a huge number of volunteers help run it and essentially create the product. Each language has their own Wikipedia and governing bodies. The volunteer base influences a lot of the dynamics. We worked in more of a network or influence-based structure.

Any dynamic that impacts the geopolitical news landscape, shows up on Wikipedia. Whether it was a downed flight in Ukraine or conflicts in South America, you can see ideological differences pop up across different wikis. It taught me a lot about complexity, permeability, culture, and of course, the day-to-day of business management like performance, quarterly goals, large implementations, etc.. I grew to have an appreciation for the intersection of complexity and organizational development and culture.

Being a leader in these contexts for me means having a capacity to work both the mythic and the mundane. It requires working on the mission, the values, the intangibles, and the day-to-day experiences that become tangible components that nudge a complex system in a particular way, like the way that decisions are made or that meetings are run. I say “nudge” because I believe that we don’t get to manage culture. We do small things that ripple through a system in profound ways.

SB: You’re now collaborating with fascinating leaders and companies.  What made you decide to go out on your own? 

GY: I was at the Wikimedia Foundation for four years and I loved it. It was a great place to practice leadership and my own mission. I was working with one of the executive directors, Sue Gardner, who I would follow anywhere. There was a leadership transition where the organization didn’t need me in the same way and I had personal needs that led me to take a year off. At that time, I was at a retreat at the Burren Executive Leadership Program, which aimed to foster a leader’s action by way of reflection. That’s when I first met David Whyte, who was an artist in residence. It changed the course of my life.

SB: Tell us about what you do to help a leader with running their company? 

GY: I do have one-on-one coaching with clients where we reflect on their own practices of leadership. I also work with executive teams. Sometimes I go in and support a new team as it’s coming together. We explore how do they lead together? What does collective leadership look like? A team that’s high-performing doesn’t just do their own thing and then come together. They practice what they want to do.

I also have my passion projects. I work with an organization called Hidden Leaf that offers grants for personal development for social justice leaders, or I work with organizations like Uncharted, that supports social entrepreneurs.

SB: What would you say to a CHRO today about their leaders and the organization  of the future? 

GY:  I think it starts with understanding the evolving nature of the workforce and it’s an interesting one. There’s an upsurge of people looking for meaning. A lot of Millennials tend to be part of the compulsive-awesome generation. In terms of designing work and roles, people are asking, “what is their evolving portfolio of their skill set?”

An organization’s culture is a nested set of environments. If you’re going to understand the culture of Wikimedia, for example, you have to understand the values of the Enlightenment and the spirit of the Gutenberg Press, as well as seeing that it is rooted in the ethos of the free knowledge movement and in the open nature of the internet itself. Those streams of values, norms, and beliefs are part of the operating ecosystem. A CHRO can understand and track the streams that are influencing an organization’s culture.

SB: How do we start to see the often subtle influences at play when understanding what influences us? 

GY: If you’re going to try to understand yourself, try to understand the contexts you emerge from as a beginning. I’m an immigrant with a Chinese family, raised in California.  Each of these things gives a window into what makes me up. In that way Toms Shoes would be influenced by philanthropy, the shoe industry, manufacturing, and its location in Silicon Beach. It’s like mapping out what all the elements are of being you, but at an organizational level.

SB: As we reflect on who we want to be as leaders, are you seeing more partnership between CEO’s and HR?

GY: If you're CEO doesn’t get you and has a traditional view of HR, in other words, a compliant-based version of HR instead of a development-based version, that makes for a very difficult relationship and forward thinking partnership. Particularly if the CEO doesn’t appreciate and value and support that function, it is almost a non-starter.

SB: I attended the workshop that you and David did together and I’ve followed David’s work for over 20 years.  He facilitates new conversations that guide  personal development. . Do you see executives investing in this way?   

GY: If you want people to follow you with a kind of whole-hearted engagement, then personal development and professional development are inextricable. One metaphor is the difference between a hollow core and a robust one, and that IS visible in the world whether you know it or not. As a leader, by the very of nature of leadersihp, you must have a willingness to really be seen. What you’re seen as standing for, since every movement you make is watched and noted on, as an active, conscious choice, makes all the difference in the world. That’s where the self-knowledge comes in. With the work David does, he helps get us to be grounded in our own robust vulernability. But we have our own work to do to understand how we want to be seen in the world, what we stand for, and what we live out. It’s this notion of when you’re unaware of what you put into the world, Jung said, “that which remains in the unconscious comes back to us as fate.” Unless you work with your own interior landscape, then you don’t have a hope of influencing what it is that you invite.

In closing...We are in a time when doing the “internal work” of a leader is seen as high value, yet many find it challenging to accomplish. Gayle’s refreshing and honest perspective encourages us all to dive in to move forward. Clearly, the benefits of finding a friend or coach to help you in your leadership journey are invaluable.

May 13, 2017 - No Comments!

Learn the Unexpected

There was a fascinating article in the Opinion Section of the Wall Street today that highlights Barbara Oakley,  a Professor at Oakland University, Michigan and her book called Mindshift.  It is a deep dive into the science and practice of learning. Her personal story truly demonstrates a multi-faceted journey in learning.   We place obstacles in our way when confronted with new learning challenges.  I can say that from personal experience.  However, according to Professor Oakley, this holds us back from new outlooks.

I was taken by the notion of learning something new as a workout to the centers of the brain that are most affected by aging.   That was not a new notion but hit home for sure.

What really captivated my imagination was the idea of learning the unexpected. Do we allow ourselves the vulnerability to ask, "Who do we want to become in our work and what needs to be explored in this life?"  Not often enough.  It is consuming to just respond to everyday challenges that are right in front of us let alone think out into what we want for our future self.

I attended a workshop a few weeks ago in San Francisco, facilitated by my favorite corporate poet and philosopher, David Whyte.  He is working with executives to help them be "Half a Shade Braver" (his new topic and CD) and be vulnerable and risk yourself in leadership. That often means surrendering to the unknown and reflecting on key questions that we have inside of us that will patiently wait for us to answer.  Those questions are not going away, says David Whyte.

The mindshift that Professor Oakley speaks of had me reflecting on the workshop with David. The question that I want to ask is, "what parts of me have I not spoken of or developed yet in my work?" What are the possibilities?  It is an exciting time at any age to hold the possibilities in your hands and learn how to learn.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Recruiting, Uncategorized