How should teams work within a company? On today’s show, Tony Llewellyn joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to share his expertise in working with teams. Tony is a Team Development Director at ResoLex and a specialist in large project teams. He shares some useful examples of how groups should and should not work. He also discusses the differences in how Baby Boomers and the Millennials deal with leadership roles. Learn more about improving teamwork as Dr. Diane and Tony tackle the concepts of collaboration, reflective learning, and assumptions necessary for team leadership.
Effectively working with different people from different cultures across the globe is a challenge, especially today. Dr. Diane Hamilton talks to Michelle Hayward, the CEO of the award-winning, innovative brand and growth consultancy called Bluedog Design. Michelle explains how it is to work with different cultures globally with the current pandemic. She also shares some tips on how leaders can change the culture of their companies to build more curiosity and success.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Tony Llewellyn and Michelle Hayward here. Tony is Team Development Director at ResoLex. Michelle is CEO at Bluedog Design. We’re going to talk a lot about cultural and leadership behavioral relationship issues and it’s going to be fascinating. I want to hear Tony’s work and Michelle’s because they’re both working on some amazing things to help corporate cultures improve.
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Improving Teamwork With Tony Llewellyn
I am here with Tony Llewellyn, who is a team development director at ResoLex. Tony has developed distinct expertise in the use of team coaching processes and techniques to improve project team performance. He has written extensively on the topic. He published three books, including Performance Coaching for Complex Projects, The Team Coaching Toolkit, and Big Teams: The Key Ingredients for Successfully Delivering Large Projects. It’s nice to have you on the show, Tony.
I’m delighted to join you.
I was fortunate to have David Clutterbuck on the show and he thought you’d be a great guest. He was impressed with your work. Before we get into your work, I want to get a background on you. Can you give me what led to your interest in writing about performance, coaching, and all the things you talked about?
My background and my technical career were in the real estate and construction industry. I did a good 30 years in the industry. We built the business and sold it. I got to a stage where I was spending six hours a day bouncing from meeting to meeting. I became a manager of managers. I had a sense that I wanted to go back and do something that would be interesting. We sold our business to a big global engineering business and that gave me the time and the funds to go and study again. I went back to college. I did a Master’s in Coaching and Behavioral Change in some handy business schools, a quite famous business school in the UK.
I became fascinated by the concept of team coaching, which is quite distinct from one-to-one coaching. Rather than being concerned with helping an individual thing, what you focus on is how do you help a team achieve its objectives. That started back in 2012. At the time, team coaching was still quite a novel area of coaching practice. It’s interesting to note that it starts to pick up. There are a lot of one-to-one coaches or the coaches are retraining or adding new training into their skillset to add teams into it. I did my dissertation on the question, can team coaching and project teams learn to collaborate particularly in the construction world? I put a lot of time into the research, probably more than was needed for a Master’s degree at the time. I was delighted to find that the answer was yes.
I finished the Master’s thinking, “What am I going to do next?” I’m interested in this team coaching thing, but I’ve never done it before. I can’t walk in somebody’s office and say, “Let me coach your team because I’ve got the credentials.” I decided I would write a book. I’ve thought about writing a book for a period of time. Eventually, I got a publishing contract. Six months later, I wrote a book. Writing that book gave me the platform to be able to go and start to talk to other organizations. I’ve been sitting with these guys in ResoLex. I’ve spent most of the past years working with teams on large infrastructure projects. I enjoyed being a student so much. Even when I finished my Master’s, I didn’t stop studying. I carried on reading, asking questions, interviewing people, and collecting stories. That culminated in my publication, which was focusing not so much on what happens within a classic team of 8 to 10 people. What happens when you’ve got a lot of teams? You’ve got to get them to work together.
I had Amy Edmondson on my show. She had that great TED Talk about how they work together well when the Chilean miner disaster had occurred. She called teaming versus teams of how people who don’t know each other get together and they have to figure out these crisis situations sometimes. I am interested in stories and that was a compelling story a lot of people could relate to. You collected stories. I’m curious what stories fascinated you and what were good examples of how teams work together or didn’t work together?
I have a lovely example of a guy telling me he was working on a mine. I won’t say exactly where it is, but it’s in the United States area. He was one of the leadership team that was brought in because the project manager had been running that project beforehand. He had been trying to use the old-fashioned command and control style of leadership. Essentially, everything had to run through him. The project got away from him. He couldn’t cope with the size and the scale of it. These four guys decided that rather than one of them becoming a leader, they had a notional leader, but they would all share the leadership. They worked out pretty much from their own experiences, what hadn’t worked before and what they want to try and get to work this time. They did some great stuff.Consistency and coherence can build up team spirit. Click To Tweet
One of the things that stick out on my mind was that every morning at 8:00, everybody who worked for the mining company stopped and found relay points, the phone points somewhere they could listen. The team gave a weekly update. There’s nothing particularly radical about or unusual, but it was an unusual thing to do at the time because they were under pressure. The contractors who were working with them could listen in but they weren’t obliged to. They kept being puzzled by, “Why are you doing this?” The response was because it helped every individual feel that they were part of that team. Even though they rarely would see the leadership team face-to-face, they knew them, they knew their voices.
What was happening was the leadership team was sending out this aligning narrative, this drumbeat. They said, “This is what we’re doing. This is why we’re doing this. This is what we’re trying to achieve.” Through consistency and coherence, it built up the team spirit. What happened in the project is it started to accelerate and has. Having gone from six months behind the project, they brought it back and finished it on time. It’s stories like that when you start poking underneath a little bit further and go, “How did you deal with behaviors? How did you deal with conflict?” This leadership starts to find alternative ways of doing things that put much more responsibility back onto the individual team members rather than a single leader as the hero having to make all of the decisions.
It’s interesting when you talk about a single leader versus different ways of handling team leadership. I had a lot of younger people on the show, Millennials and younger, who don’t want to be in that leadership like, “I’m in control,” position. They’re like, “Come to me if you have questions, but we’re all in this together.” Do you see a difference in how Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials deal with that lead role part?
A little bit because as you described it. In some ways, it’s quite a nice idea not to have to take all that responsibility on your shoulders. The perspective that it’s around sharing ideas and let’s work in a particular way. When you’re working with a team in what I call a steady state, when everything’s calm and fine and there are enough resources and everybody has got enough time, that’s one style of leadership that works well. When we get older, we recognize that we’re under pressure and things change. What teams need is the ability not just to think about, “I quite like the idea of shared leadership or distributed leadership.” What are the tools and techniques and processes that I’m going to need so that we maintain that stance under pressure? Certainly, when you’re working on projects, the pressure is going to come sometime.
There’s going to be a lot of pressure. As I mentioned with Amy’s talk, she was talking about the pressure of getting the miners out. When you’re talking about the pressure of people trying to collaborate, you focus on the culture of collaboration and one of the things that she talked about that I thought was interesting was that curiosity helps with collaboration. Where do you think curiosity fits in the whole picture of changing the culture towards collaboration?
What I’ve been focusing on and it’s certainly relevant to a post-pandemic world is how do you deal with uncertainty? How do you deal with the unknown? That can be a tendency. I noticed, particularly in my industry in construction, guys who’ve been in the industry for a while coming to the conclusion that they know the answers. I’ve got to a place in my life. I’ve been here before. I’ve got loads of experience. I haven’t seen this situation but I know something like it. That’s the answer. That bit of curiosity is completely absent from their way of thinking.
What happens when you don’t know the answer? You’re saying you know the answer but we’ve never been here before. I’ve never had this exact situation before. Doing something that may have worked in the distant past isn’t necessarily going to work today. Cultivating sense within a team that says, “We’ve got the knowledge and we’ve got the toolkit, let’s see what we can come up with together to find the answer.” That to me is that prime bit of curiosity. Not just curiosity as to what might be an outside work but curiosity to find out what other people know and what other people think. Rather than leaping to, “I know the answer,” we don’t know the answer yet. Let’s hold back. Let’s work out what we know at the moment. From that, spend some time poking away to see if we can come up with a different answer. To me, that is the essence of team learning.
That’s important, what you’re talking about because it ties into what my research showed on curiosity. Some of the things that keep us from being curious and one of them is assumptions, the things we tell ourselves, “I already know that. That can’t be right.” The voice in our head could be wrong and that will lead us to status quo thinking because we’ve worked this way in the past. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, thank you, Marshall Goldsmith. All the things that we’ve learned may not necessarily work in the new situation. We’ve never been in a situation that’s filled with uncertainty and unknown as we’re dealing with in the COVID situation. We’re learning a lot about having to rethink what we think we know. You have different parts to your process. You have seven core elements and recover some of them. I was looking at some of what I thought was interesting. You have teams adopt the habit of reflective learning. I want to know what you mean by reflective learning and how can that help them?
One of the things I have found is that adults tend to equate the word learning with training. When they start to move into a work environment and particularly when they’re moving into a big project environment, what they think about is, “If I need training, I’ll do a technical process. Am I learning? What do I need to learn?” Teams that are successful, when you look at true high performing teams of Army special units or firefighting units or teams that spend a lot of time working together in high urgency situations. Every time they’ve gone through an action, they do a post-action review and they work fundamentally around three simple questions which are, do we all agree on what happened? What went well? What could we do better?
When it comes to the process of reflection, whether you’re reflecting by yourself, it’s a simple and good exercise to do by yourself but it’s a great thing to do as a team. It’s a great way of drawing out from people what they notice, what they think has happened, what they felt has happened. You start to get better information. More than that, once the team has collectively agreed, “This is what we’re going to do better.” They all own the answer. It isn’t the leader deciding, “I’ve looked at this and that was rubbish. We need to start again. We’re going to do things in a completely different way.” As the team, he’s putting their suggestions in but it’s compiled and then there’s an agreement, “This is what we’re going to do next time.” It goes on. The important thing for me is that it becomes a habit. The reality is it’s not a time-consuming exercise. It’s one that’s easily lost when one is stuck in a pressure situation or stress situation. The pressure is to move quickly on to the next deliverable.
As you’re talking about this, I thought it was interesting that you said, “Are we all agreeing on what happened?” We’re back to assumptions. You think that everybody’s the same thing. In my work in perception, we don’t all see things the same way. That’s an important point. Going to the word habit, you want to create habits. How do you create habits without having people fall into the status quo?
Perhaps part of the answer there is that habits need to be explicit. In other words, they’re not things that are done without being spoken about. We’ve picked on habits. We’ve tried to shift behaviors in a particular direction, adopting simple habits that will lead to people feeling comfortable about speaking or even getting to that place of what I call team culture, which is how things are done here. Rather than risking teams falling into negative habits quite quickly, it’s being quite explicit. When we have a meeting, we start being on time. That’s what we do. That’s how our meetings work. That habit is you dial in or you arrive five minutes early.
In our team, we don’t all sit down at the table and flip open our notebooks and go on to the Wi-Fi because in our team, we like to be present in the meeting and make sure that we use this time as best we can. One of the things I urge my students to do and would urge anybody to do, whether it’s a project team or what I call the standing team, is to be explicit about the habits. What happens is you know it’s working when a new member joins the team and immediately looks around and says, “That’s how it works here. That’s what we’re going to do.”
It’s important to get things explicit so everybody knows what’s to be expected. As the team progresses and they make headway into projects, sometimes people will revert to old behaviors. How do you deal with people who act like they’re buying in but really they’re losing engagement because they have this internal monologue that’s maybe not what you’re aware of?
There are a number of elements responding to that. As a leader, part of the challenge is to be tuning in. It can be easy. The modern workplace and modern workstyle are often highly pressured. As soon as you’ve done one set of tasks, you’re under pressure to deliver another set of tasks. As a leader, it’s easy to be told by assumptions. Assume that everything is fine because it looks fine. It’s a great skillset to learn to start to look around and read the room to be able to sense what the dynamics are between different individuals, things that you can see through body language or through speech patterns. See what comes through people engaging in the team’s activities wholeheartedly and putting that extra discretionary effort against those guys who are doing the bare minimum.
Spotting it is part of the challenge. How do you then re-engage somebody? The concept of teams, whether it’s always equated with reality, is that it’s a collection of individuals with complementary skills who are focused on a common objective. The bottom line is if somebody is not engaged in to help the team achieve their collective objective, they’re essentially there for the ride and that leads to the question, “Why are they on the team?” They’re on the team because they’re valuable and they happen to be temporarily disengaged. The team got to find out why that might be. What’s the reason for the disconnection? Are they comfortable, uncomfortable? There are a lot of things that sit below the surface. Often, the best way to find out is to ask.Put more responsibility back to the individual team members rather than on a single leader as the hero having to make all the decisions. Click To Tweet
There always comes a point when you could ask the question, “Would somebody be happier working in a different team or working in this organization?” One of the interesting things to me about team coaching is that the focus is on the success of the team over the success of the individuals who are part of that team. There may be some team coaches reading who might disagree with some of the nuances of that. What I’m saying here is it’s this idea of thinking. The unit of performance of production in most organizations is the team. There are few organizations that don’t require or don’t assemble people into groups with a mix of skills or focus on achieving particular objectives or sub-objectives. In many ways, we’re wired to collaborate and cooperate. We don’t necessarily stay in that state for a long period of time. Just because you get a sense that they’re all happy, one month doesn’t mean they’re going to still remain in the same state the following months. Teams do need continual encouragement and refreshing in some ways. To me, it’s one of the challenges of good management.
You bring up many important points. It’s interesting because I remember you said that you built on the Team of Teams concept made famous by General Stanley McChrystal, who I’ve worked with. I was on the board of advisors at DocuSign and a few other different things through Keith Krach. I have been fortunate to see him speak several times. What drew you to his work?
I was in a client’s office one day and scrawled on a whiteboard the word “Team of Teams” and I thought, “That’s interesting. That’s how I’m starting to think about how project teams should work.” I didn’t think much more about it. I must have been scanning through Amazon, looking for some other books and it came up and I saw the title. I’m still quite a voracious reader. I’d probably buy more books and I finish it in a month. It’s probably the same for a lot of us. That was one that I read the whole way through. Sometimes books that use military or sports analogies don’t always rollover that easily into the business world for different reasons, either they’re not necessarily in a life or death situation. A sports team generates a whole different set of emotions for a business team. What I thought was interesting about that book was how he essentially was talking about a military story and there’s a great story behind there for a casual reader. For me, he introduced some quite powerful concepts that have stuck with me.
You’ve incorporated a lot of what you’ve learned into your writing. Your book, Big Teams: The Key Ingredients for Successfully Delivering Large Projects, is this meant for a casual reader about leadership or is this meant specifically for leaders or everybody in the company? Who’s the target for that?
My editor said, “You have to have a target reader in mind. You’ve got to write for someone. If you say it’s for everybody, you’ll end up missing the mark.” I have written the book for people who have to take a leadership role in projects, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the nominated leader. They don’t necessarily need to be the project director. The key part of the model that I’m putting forward is a distributed leadership where leaders appear all over the projects. In a world of change, there aren’t that many people who work in organizations of any size who aren’t involved in the project in some sort or other. Whether it’s a huge infrastructure project or it’s a change project or some other initiative that’s running.
The Big Teams book is written for people who are part of a team that’s more than just a unit of 8 to 12 people. Certainly, once you start to move into an initiative that involves 50 or more people, you’re going to have lots of subteams. The key concept that I’ve been trying to get over is that when you’re working in a team of subteams, each subteam can run itself according to the way it feels it should run itself. The crucial element of success is the extent to which each subteam is able to rub along and connect, communicate, and collaborate with those other teams that it needs to.
We talked briefly about assumptions and one of the great assumptions or misassumptions that I think often made is that people will naturally collaborate. We are wired to cooperate for a period of time. Collaboration is something that’s a bit different, it’s very much around, “I’ll help you on the assumption that we’re both working towards the same objective and at some stage in the future you’ll help me.” That collaboration is fundamentally built around trust. As human beings, trust is a valuable commodity. It doesn’t just appear and it can disappear quickly. It takes work. What I advocate is, the leaders think about creating a framework and a series of processes, tasks, and activities that all move towards what I call smoothing the interface between each of the subteam so that they do naturally fall into those habits of networking, communicating and collaborating.
There’s so much that people can learn from your work. I was looking forward to discussing what you had included in your book. I was looking at some of your other information and there’s so much in here for coaching, for project success. A lot of people are going to want to know how they can reach you if they want to get your book or hire you. If they want to interact with you, how can they do that?
I’m continually looking to collect stories. I’m continually looking to connect and find people who are interested in similar things. I have an email address, which is To.llew@Mac.com. I have a website that I periodically dump stuff I’m interested in on which are free ideas and that’s called TeamCoachingToolkit.com. Those are probably the two best ways to find me.
Thank you, Tony. This has been fascinating. A lot of people could learn a lot from your work. I’m glad you were able to join me on the show.
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for asking me on.
Working Effectively Into The Future With Michelle Hayward
I am here with Michelle Hayward who is the CEO of the award-winning innovative brand and growth consultancy Bluedog Design, which is in Chicago. Michelle is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management’s Chief Marketing Officer Program. She’s also one of Conscious Company Magazine’s 22 Conscious Leaders of 2019. She’s got a long list of accomplishments that we’ll dive right in. It’s nice to have you here, Michelle.
Thank you, Diane. It’s lovely to be here. Thanks for inviting me on the show.
I was looking forward to it. You and I were talking about what you think is the value of curiosity and it’s important because you talk a lot about creating award-winning cultures and creating companies where they’re sought after places to work and how we look at curiosity and redefine it. I want to talk about that. First, before we do, can you give a little background on you so that people who aren’t familiar with your work can know how you got to reach this level of success?
I can go back and link my success with an early experience that I had. I was fortunate when I was sixteen to be awarded a congressional scholarship to the Congress-Bundestag Exchange Program. I spent a year in Germany and it was during the Cold War. It was geared to breaking down barriers, boundaries, cultural differences, misunderstandings and myths. Though I didn’t fully comprehend that at the time, it certainly forced me to experiment. I had to go back to being like a three-year-old again and learn a language, learn how to create empathy and understanding with a family, and learn how to build trust with people who didn’t know what I was all about. I didn’t know what they were all about. I failed 100 million times in that year, as you can imagine. That set me up for success. I had two choices, I could shut down and stop learning or I could become even more curious about what I didn’t understand and continue to dive into the culture and the people, their stories, and try to be successful where I could.If somebody is not engaged in helping the team achieve a collective objective, they're essentially there for the ride. Click To Tweet
It’s a great example of what it takes to build empathy. People don’t recognize how hard it is to go to a different culture like that. My daughter studied in Spain, Italy and she was in Brazil and all these places. When you go to these different cultures, you have to look at things from different perspectives and your perception changes quite drastically. My next book is going to be about perception, which ties in curiosity. Curiosity is important to be able to develop questions to find out more about other people, which leads to empathy, which leads to many things. You’re a consultant, right?
We help businesses grow.
With that growth, where does curiosity play in that? Have you helped them develop curiosity? Have they been relying on status quo thinking? Where does it fall in terms of the levels you’ve seen?
It’s interesting because as you look around and you think about the way businesses operate or pre-COVID-19, let’s say, there isn’t a lot of structural change. I see that companies are organized in specific ways. They’re often siloed. The energy within a company or a particular firm is in the way it’s organized. If you’re organized around new products, R&D probably has the highest headcount. As you look at the patterns across a lot of different corporations, you don’t see a lot of variants in the way that they’re structured. When they were structured in the last century, the twentieth-century companies, a lot of them were structured to scale and do one 1 or 2 things well at scale. They are based on efficiency models, essentially. When we look at 21st-century models, we start to see that there’s a lot more experimentation and silos aren’t as important, organizations get flatter.
I do think you start to see a sense of curiosity evolve slowly, even in the changing patterns in twentieth-century companies. We start to see people get more interested in experimentation, which is at the heart. You have to be curious first and then you can have empathy and then you build a prototype to see if you got the empathy right. You test it and then you have to be curious again about how you make it better. You go back to learning and then you apply it, etc. We’re starting to see some real bright spots in taking that approach inside organizations, not just outside of organizations with firms like ours.
You work with some large organizations. You have largely Fortune 500 companies. I was looking at your list, Mars, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Miller, Coors, these are some big companies. Do you find that it makes any difference at the size of the company, whether they’re able to be more curious or develop that easier? Is it harder if they’re bigger?
It’s harder when these companies are larger. It’s a bigger ship to turn. I will say though that one of the things that have been fascinating in this time of COVID-19 is that almost immediately we were able to recognize two types of companies. They’re all large companies that we’re talking with. The two types of companies, we base them on their reaction to this pandemic. On one side, the type-one, they were companies that were like, “We’re in crisis. This is terrible. We need to focus on 1 or 2 things. We’re not going to engage in consumer learning any longer until this crisis passes.” The messaging was a fixed mindset in my opinion.
The second type of client partner was quite different. They said, “What can we learn about this moment in time? We believe that this will be the lens through which we have to look to understand the future. Six months or twelve months from now, when we’re presented with an opportunity to learn with consumers or customers and we need to be insightful, we have to look through the portal of what is informing that insight, which is what we’re all living through.” Their curiosity grew. While they had the same crisis issues with what type-one company has, type-two leadership communicated a different message and that was like, “Get moving and progress. Let’s stay on top of this. It’s business as usual, plus we have to do all these other things.” That’s been fascinating to watch because we’ve done all kinds of interesting work with type-two firms.
What kinds of things? Is there anything you can share?
Broadly they’re asking for help in consumer-centric and customer-centric ways. They’re looking at, if we were going to look six layers deep into this pandemic moment, how are people living? What excites them? What fears do they have about the present and the future? They’re looking to understand and reach detail as vividly as possible, what is happening to humans now? How do we concretize that and keep it as a living document to inform us in the future? As time goes on, our memories certainly erode. We’re fixated on new things and new challenges, but we need to keep that front and center to understand what we could make or service could be a benefit to people in the future based at this moment.
You’re talking about a lot of things that I used to teach in a lot of courses. I taught one specifically called Foresight and Technology. We all want to be proactive, have the foresight, and have plans just in case. Do you think we have enough catastrophe or crisis management training? Do you think that there was any way for leaders to prepare for this time? What can we learn from all this?
I’m super normal in that. I’ve been fairly obsessed with reading and learning about how much we already knew as a society, public and private, about pandemics, and how they were going to emerge and how little we were prepared for that emergence into society. It seems quite obvious now in hindsight that our resiliency in the future can be enhanced by leveraging what we already know now and not turning a blind eye to that. Our wargames, and by wargames I mean in the corporate cultural sense, as we look around and say, “What are the threats?” We need to extend that thinking beyond competitive threats to things that are much more feature centric. Not only oil prices and threats to reputation but also threats to global disruption.
We’re thinking about things in all the new ways that we never thought we’d be thinking. A lot of us got stuck in the status quo of doing things thinking that nothing would ever be this big of a change. Everybody’s having to reconsider things. You and I were talking before. We never got to the point that I wanted to get because you said something about how you thought I looked at curiosity in a different way. I’d like to know what you were starting to say because I thought that might be an interesting conversation. What was the point you were going to make before I cut you off? I thought, “Stop, I want to hear that later.”
I was complimenting you because your book Cracking the Curiosity Code was a breath of fresh air for me and for my organization. We think a lot about curiosity and we think about it being tied to resourcefulness, resiliency and creativity. It’s a fairly important value in our corporate culture and mindset. Your book was one of the few resources we could find that did not link lack of curiosity to the inherent character flaw but rather pointed it out as something that could be taught, learned, advanced, nurtured, grown, etc. I found that to be extremely helpful and I would love to hear more from you on that point.
We could always talk about all that. I appreciate you giving me such a nice compliment. It’s important to look at some of the things like curiosity and emotional intelligence as things that we can improve. What was interesting to me when I started researching curiosity was that all the assessments pretty much told you if you had higher or low levels. No one told you what to do about it if it was low. It’s good to know that if it is low, there are ways to find out what stops people so they can move forward. It takes the leader of a company to want to have that desire to change the culture within the company to be more curious. Can a company build curiosity and its employees if the leader doesn’t buy into the need to change the culture?
No. Leadership has to be focused on ways to always upskill, improve, advance the level and value of its talent. If they don’t see curiosity, IQ, or EQ as potentials for improvement, I don’t know. That’s craziness. We want to invest in people’s ability to learn. At Bluedog, when new doggers come in, we do expose them and offer them an EQ assessment. It’s a self-assessment. It’s self-reported and the results are available to them. The idea is it’s a reality test, “I thought that I was this way, but it looks like I also could improve here. I overemphasize and over articulate in these ways. How can I get curious about myself to be able to ignite a new future going forward?” It’s a roadmap for them but you’re right, there isn’t a lot of support out there in terms of, “I’m low here or high here. What do I do about it?”Contingency is going to look differently today because of COVID-19. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting when I was trying to decide what to write my doctoral dissertation on. I knew I wanted to look at performance, specifically sales performance. I happen to have this one whack job of a professor. I had him for a week before I dropped them. One of the things he asked me was what I was going to write my doctoral dissertation on and I said that I wanted to write about what impacts sales performance. For some reason, he heard, “Emotional intelligence and sales performance would be interesting.” I’m like, “What?” I don’t even know what that is at the time. I said okay and hung up the phone. I dropped him because he was nuts.
I looked up emotional intelligence and I ended up writing about that for my dissertation and later on, studying it. Emotional intelligence is such a huge thing that we will continue to see. I was fortunate to have Daniel Goleman on the show, and I’ve had a lot of experts talking about it. It’s a big part of perception as well. When I started to research perception, I found that it was a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for curiosity, and CQ for cultural quotient. If you combine all those things together, you find out more about how to work with people in all these different countries, locations and demographics. It’s going to be interesting to see how we look at the world after this current crisis to see if we’ll see that we’re more alike than we are different. Do you think it will be easier to work globally? How is this going to impact all that?
There will be positive engagement globally if we begin solving for what we’re faced with together. There is going to be shared empathy in terms of our and your economy shut down. I was on the path toward retirement and now I’m not. There’s going to be some similar experiences that will help to tie people together. A fixed mindset approach means that everybody works and lives differently based on wherever they are on the map. A growth mindset approach is, we may live and work a little bit differently, but we’re faced with the same global big problems that limit us all if we don’t work together. I’m hoping that the high level of empathy, engagement, and shared knowledge is going to continue.
It will be interesting to see because this is unprecedented for the modern work world to see how people will handle this. Many people are going to have to learn to embrace failures now that they’ve never failed maybe in the past. Some of the most interesting people I’ve had on my show have all had super huge failures in their lives at some point. What doesn’t kill us sometimes makes us stronger and we learn from failure. I see a lot of younger generations embracing failure in their leadership style more than I used to see in the ‘70s or whatever in the workplace. Do you see that we’re learning more from our failures and not looking at them like such a “bad thing?”
I don’t know. That’s a difficult question to answer. When I sit in my seat every day, I feel my failures. I don’t know that other people perceive them as often as I perceive them. I try to share them when they’re particularly salient to my organization and especially when I need to ask for help. It’s almost impossible not to float 100 new ideas a day now and have the majority of them not live on into the coming weeks. There’s so much thought experimentation happening. I do think that might be another great positive coming out of it. I hear it from other leaders as well.
I was talking to an individual and she was clear. She’s in a new role. It’s a global role, a large role in a multinational company. She’s like, “I’ve got these four strategies that I’ve inherited. I don’t have people teams or a globally connected network now that’s going to enable me to get these moving.” In many parts of the world like I’m in Chicago and they are on lockdown. It’s not business as usual and people are not moving forward and it’s incredibly difficult. Right then and there, the first day on the job, in some ways fail. Those conditions are set outside the boundaries of what this person is capable of, which is much more.
It’s going to be an interesting year to see what change and what this opens up your mind to. Sometimes you think you’re too big to fail or whatever that mindset is and now that you see that everything isn’t exactly controllable the way you think it’s going to be, it will give a lot more contingency planning. That should be interesting and I know you deal with a lot of different situations in what you do because you do all these interesting things. You’re sitting on different boards and it’s hard to find women on a lot of boards, even in this market, even in California where they have a law saying that you have a certain number of women on boards. Are you finding it challenging to find boards to be part of? How did you get to be on two of them?
I have a lot of thoughts about what you said in those many different questions. I’m writing a book. My book started off being squarely in that space. I consider myself to have so much experience in such a great front-row seat to so much disruption in so many different companies across the globe. I’ve certainly learned and know a lot at that point in my career where I want to share a lot. I’ve been met with mostly resistance in terms of getting on a board seat. I stopped at some point in that process and said, “What is it that is holding me back?” I rewound my tapes and what I found was, there were so many decisions that I did or did not make in my 20s and early 30s that haven’t formed where I ended up now in that quest. It has nothing to do with my success in business, believe it or not.
The book is going to be about informing women with a new roadmap. It’s failure of imagination when you think about giving contingency planning. It’s going to look different because of COVID-19 than it looks before. There is a failure of imagination of what we can’t imagine or we don’t know when we’re young. We largely can’t even answer the question of where we want to be eventually. The hope is that through the wisdom of many women in my peer group. We can bring them new thinking and how to plan for their unknown futures in a way that sets them up for success and keeping most doors open possible for future choices.
I do find that in my circles, many talented women are wondering the same thing that you’re wondering. They’re in their mid to late 40s, which some statistic out there says that 48 is the perfect age to land on a board. They’ve worked at public companies their whole lives as chief growth, strategy, marketing, or whatever officer and they’re sitting there saying, “Why am I struggling to find the board that would like to take me on?” They head out to Stanford and say, “It must be my pedigree. I need to take a class and become board-certified in some way.” They do that and they expand their network yet more and they still find themselves in a similar place. A lot of it is because they don’t have that network and that track record to have access in to that world and that club. It’s different.
It’s an interesting topic. I’ve had a lot of experts on the show talk about things to do with women in boards. It’s a tough thing, especially if you don’t have the financial experience or CEO level of financial experience. A lot of men had those jobs that give them that expertise, which is challenging. I thought that your background was interesting and a lot of people will find what you do fascinating. I’m sure they’re going to want to contact you. If they did, is there some website or some way you’d like to be reached?
I would love to be reached through MichelleHayward.com That would be fabulous. Thank you.
I hope that people take some time to check out your work and I look forward to the book. When is it coming out?
I’m going to publish it in July of 2020.
Congratulations. What’s the name of the book? This will be coming out around that a little bit before that.
It has a working title now of 2085, which is the year that it’s been projected women will make pay parity with men in the workplace.There will be a positive engagement globally if today, we begin solving for what we are faced with together. Click To Tweet
That’s a long time.
It’s scary so that was a provocative idea that was put forth to me and the research I did. I thought that we can do better. If we have a roadmap, get started earlier, and we know what the pitfalls are, we can do better as women.
Is that the subtitle? That would be a good one. Thank you, Michelle. It was so nice to have you on the show. I enjoyed our chat.
Thank you, Diane. It’s a real privilege. I appreciate it.
I’d like to thank both Tony and Michelle for being guests on the show. It was such a great conversation. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com and find out more about curiosity. Everything is there. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode.
- Bluedog Design
- Performance Coaching for Complex Projects
- The Team Coaching Toolkit
- Big Teams: The Key Ingredients for Successfully Delivering Large Projects
- David Clutterbuck – Previous episode
- Amy Edmondson – Previous episode
- TED Talk – Amy Edmondson
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
- Team of Teams
- Cracking the Curiosity Code
- Daniel Goleman – Previous Episode
About Tony Llewellyn
Tony Llewellyn is a Team Development Director at Resolex. For the last ten years Tony has developed a distinct expertise in the use of team coaching processes and techniques to improve project team performance. He is a specialist in team development in large project teams where the management of interfaces between sub teams becomes an essential element of project success. He writes extensively on the topic and has published three books on the subject of coaching project teams.
About Michelle Hayward
Michelle Hayward is CEO of the award-winning, innovative brand and growth consultancy Bluedog Design in Chicago. Featuring practice areas in business transformation, business strategy through innovation and brand, they advise companies and executives on leadership effectiveness, culture change and integrated growth strategies.
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