Amping Up Your Conversational Intelligence to Enhance Your Leadership Impact

“We have to humanize ourselves first and really start to think about how do we humanize others around us.”


Episode highlights:

  • Obstacles to leadership
  • Key elements of innovation leadership
  • Leadership requires trust and trust requires curiosity
  • The value of being open to failure
  • Key obstacles to living a culture that embraces failure as a tool for creativity, growth and innovation
  • Breaking down, understanding and moving past fear as leaders
  • Understanding conversational intelligence as a leader – “words create worlds”
  • The power of the question “What’s one thing I can do”
  • We only learn from failure when we’re intentional about the learning
  • The impact of nurturing a culture of curiosity in your business
  • Ways leaders build and destruct a culture of ideas, creativity and innovation
  • Things that get in the way of leadership, team, culture and organizational change and transformation
  • The role of overwhelm in preventing change
  • Exploring the 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership
  • The science of always wanting to be right
  • Leaders must continually humanize themselves
  • The unequal impact of COVID on women in the workforce

0:00:05.3 S1: And just like if someone tells you their perspective, using that word changes in words create worlds, so the words that we’re using is creating a world in which we’re working and living in, and so just simple stuff. Gosh, you could say if someone comes to you and you can tell they’re just spitting out, they’re not making progress, you know, you could come in and you could talk about deadlines and you could add additional fear that they’re already feeling and guess what, they’re gonna continue to spin out of control, or you can go in and say, I see you and I see in you right now that you might be stuck, what’s the one thing that I could help you un-stick to move forward? And it’s important to say, What’s one thing… Because if your boss says to, you, Can I help you out? You’re gonna be… Oh no, I got it, I got it, I got it. But by changing that language, what’s one thing. Now your boss has told you they’re requiring you to give one thing, so by gosh, you gotta do it, your boss says You’ll give one thing, then that opens up the conversation, you can start to peel it back…

0:01:13.5 S1: Oh, that’s so good. I always say to someone, never say, Do you need any help? Never says, What’s wrong here? Just, what’s one thing that I can help with? One road block you need moved? What’s one problem you want some ideas on how to solve, what’s one something… And that starts the conversation.

0:01:38.6 S2: Welcome to the impact leadership podcast, brought to you by car. Over the leadership development ecosystem helps you grow your people, grow your business and grow your life. This is Episode 82 with our special guest, Jen Thornton. Jen is the founder, talent strategist and leadership development, consult with their own consulting firm called 304 Coaching, and Jen is a master with years of experience of helping to build incredible teams, starting from the perspective of how can and how must we lead differently? She’s gonna talk about something that was new to me today, conversational intelligence, and you’re gonna be amazed at some of the ideas you take away, and just a couple of nuggets she gives you on even some specific questions you can ask differently to enhance the feedback, your people development and the entire nurturing process of your team, who’s gonna talk about the role of trust, is gonna talk quite a bit about how vital it is to build a culture of failure, that you gotta talk about the seven deadly sins of leadership, including the science behind our need to always want to be right, and finally, she’s gonna share this wisdom, Bob, that leaders must continually human I selves, so get ready to learn more about conversational intelligence and ways for you to amp up your leadership impact.

0:03:13.0 S2: Comes an impact leadership podcast when we explore leadership, business and personal growth to help you grow your business and live or rich your life, where your host, Jeff dishes and Greg Matthews, we believe that leaders have to put their people first, and if you don’t have time to grow your people that you’re not leading, get ready for conversations that will challenge your thinking and help you transform your leadership and your business, welcome your bigger business and do your life. We’re excited to be back today, and my word for today is, I am intrigued, I’m intrigued by our guest and a topic that is coming at you in just a couple of minutes, we have Jennifer ported with us today, she is the founder, creator, talent strategist, leadership development professional of her organization called 304 Coaching, and Jennifer is all about leadership and all about talent development, and what she calls developing your talent pipeline at warp speed. So how about that? For all your Star Trek fans. So you’ve got some really interesting topics we’re gonna talk about today, she seems to be quite disruptive to me, so I’m already drawn to her and her message, we’re gonna talk at some point about it being addicted to being right.

0:04:30.6 S2: Kind of that’s going on in the world right now. So not at all. Seven Deadly sends a leadership probably gonna come up and we’re definitely gonna talk about something called conversational intelligence. Jennifer has an incredible track record, she’s been in leadership roles, talent development role, he has led international teams across the world, created new markets, and she brings an unconventional approach to talent development, workforce development and leadership. And that’s what we’re all about here at impact leadership hot. Yeah, so welcome, Jennifer. Thanks

0:05:04.3 S1: For having me. I’m looking forward to it. I’m never gonna have a lot of fun today, that’s

0:05:08.1 S2: The key word there where you go, right. So Jennifer, tell us a little bit about the story that brings you here today.

0:05:15.7 S1: So I guess my life started out in retail, my career in retail, and back when I was young, in early in my career, I won’t mention the age because… Who ever do that? But it was before the Internet and before e-commerce. And so I wanted to work at the mall. And by gosh, she had dreams come true. I worked at the mall and I ran stores at a really young age, and while my friends had office jobs that were super fancy and I was hanging out them all, I was actually leading teams, I was leading a multi-million dollar business. And not really even recognizing at the time what I was learning and how valuable that would be over the years, I stayed in the operations side for about half of my career, and then I really… I was just always been passionate about the talent side of the business and my results… I didn’t get it because I was competitive, I didn’t get my results because I wanted to be number one every day, I got it because I wanted to build incredible team is that kind of led to HR, which was the second part of my traditional career and that led me around the world, they got to let teams around the world and locally here in the US, which was fantastic, but then you get to that crossroads in your life where you wanna start to specialize and do what you love most, and for me that really was…

0:06:34.8 S1: Figuring out how to create teams that and created impact, and it’s not easy, and there’s not a script for it, and there’s not one size-fits-all, and so that’s kind of what I decided to do at that point, and we all remember there was like a ha moments, I remember mine and I was in a board room in Hong Kong, we had new leadership come in and I was like, I don’t think we’re gonna be aligned, I think it’s time for me to jump on this idea I have, and so I did, and that was several years ago, and it’s been fantastic, and since then, we’ve been helping companies figure out how to create incredible teams.

0:07:11.5 S2: Awesome, that’s a great story to Jennifer. Already loved the story, left the passion for this. So let’s jump in right into the topic that we all think about every day, eat, sleep, breathe, which is leadership, and you just give us your perspective on what do you see in leadership in business world today, and what don’t you see…

0:07:33.5 S1: I think what I see right now coming out of 2020, going into 2021, and just because our new way we’re working is very unpredictable, and so what I’m seeing is those individuals who lead in a way that get comfortable with unpredictability, those people who are okay not knowing the answers to all of the questions as people who are curious, the people who understand that there’s always gonna be roadblocks, there’s always gonna be obstacles, it’s our job as leaders to figure out how to help the team through it, those individuals who are leading that way, I think are managing the unpredictability that is today’s business world much better. I think what… One of the problems I’m seeing is really this need to be in crisis management every day, and there is a time for crisis management, the buildings on fire, get out. We’re not gonna collaborate. We’re not gonna talk about how it happened. We’re just gonna get out of the building. It’s on fire. And I think through some of our world events, we got in the habit, the crisis management, and it doesn’t work really well outside of crisis, and so I think that we have to start to break some of those habits and really comfortable in the unpredictable world we now lead them

0:08:53.3 S2: Really good. That’s an interesting perspective because I was listening to you, Jennifer, I’m thinking maybe we’ve been doing that for a decade, actually, not just this year, because so much of the old… I’m gonna just call it the old leadership style was super directive, it was not collaborative, it was tell and follow hopefully. Maybe we’ve been doing this for decades. Maybe that’s one of the fundamental shifts we have to make, what do… The thing that’s really interesting, and one of my passions is a neuroscience of the mind and how does it function in conversations and relationships within the workplace, but

0:09:29.7 S1: What we know about the brain and how it functions, most of that we’ve only learned in the last 20 years because of the progression of science and instruments to measure the brain, it’s really hard to take a brain out and check it out and put it back in… Right. To some progress and the science to figure it out, but then how we’ve been taught to lead, we were using… We’re using techniques that are 50, 60 years old, but that’s mine as this information we have today around the brain and how it actually works, and so I think you’re really… You’re on to something, we have been leading in a way that doesn’t make sense, or how human brains actually function, and it is a huge disconnect right now.

0:10:15.3 S2: How much of that is tied back to… This is the way we’ve always done it. Versus thinking about, Okay, let’s change it. So you see certain companies that have a different kind of culture, they seem to be more vision-oriented, they are not directed rank and file type of folks, but it’s more about, Let’s accomplish this mission. Let’s see. This vision come to reality. Is that part of the shift that you see or is there something else that maybe I’m missing in there?

0:10:45.4 S1: I definitely think it’s part of the success… To be successful, you have to have a company that’s rooted in innovation and RUA, and to create innovation, you have to create trust and the acceptance of failure because of the pro-innovation. If you are scared to fall, you’ll never innovate, and so I think when you look at really successful companies, they’ve gotten comfortable with failure, they’ve gotten to a place where they don’t shame or blame failure, they’ve gotten to a place where everyone is curious… One of my favorite things is when leaders call me and say, Well, no one’s doing what I tell them to do, and no one’s making decisions, and my first question is, I was like, Well, what about your style has created an environment or not… Making positions that there is a reason why a human doesn’t just show to work and not make decisions they’ve been programmed, did not make decisions out of fear and judgment, and so… Yeah, I think some of the biggest successes around creating this environment where people can sell fast and be proud of their failures is the only way you’re gonna innovate and stay ahead of whatever the role is bringing us on a daily basis.

0:12:00.0 S1: What do you see with the companies that you’ve worked with, it seems like that there’s this two-step process, one, we can build trust, okay, so we can have a trusting environment. And even that is difficult for a lot of organizations. But

0:12:12.0 S2: Then to go to that place where failure is okay, it’s not gonna be shamed, it’s something where we learn through it, how many of the organizations do you see actually do that?

0:12:23.4 S1: So you’re right, it is a phased approach and you can’t just walk in one day and if you’ve been tell, yelling and selling to everyone today, I want you to be innovative and it’s okay if you… So no one’s going to screw up, everyone’s gonna stay on mission, right. They’re not gonna do it. So it does take time, and I think that’s one of the biggest obstacles when leaders start to want to bring new concepts into their companies is it takes time, and we have to kind of re-write how we work together and how we think. And so building trust is the first thing to do and to build trust, you have to be curious and you have to be acceptance of other people’s realities and truth, that is so hard for leaders… So hard.

0:13:04.9 S2: So Jeff, I think I just came up with a new concept for us. Something that we can start taking out, so for any of us to take out to the world, it’s failure Fridays on failure Fridays, we’re gonna celebrate failures and we’re gonna talk through, Hey, this is what happened, this is an epic fail. This is how we’re not gonna… This is what we’re gonna learn from this process going forward.

0:13:27.1 S1: But just imagine like I love when people talk about failures openly because one, everyone can learn from it, but it really shows what… How you move things forward, we didn’t build an airplane and it took off from the ground the very first time we built that airplane, we built several and crash several, and every time we learn something, and that’s why as we create things in the world, it gets faster or smarter or more technology, it’s because every time we do something, we learn something new from it, and we’re able to take that knowledge and move forward. But unfortunately, this perfectionism that a lot of companies try to live in, we all… People’s ability to get better, because we tell them that anything but perfection is wrong, and you can’t get perfection straight out the gate on day one.

0:14:19.0 S2: And like the space. Exposure.

0:14:22.6 S1: Yeah, and they’re excited when something goes wrong, but they know that this is now what doesn’t work and learn… It’s kind of like dating, you gotta take people… You don’t want a date to learn who you actually wanna do it, you do, you have to really mess them staff up to learn what doesn’t work sometimes, but also I think that people hide their failures and don’t celebrate them, and that tells the brain… It’s not okay to get better, and so people don’t go out and try things ’cause they’re scared to try, because they’re scared to mess it up, but you have to just keep pushing forward to get better and better every day.

0:15:03.9 S2: Go, Jennifer, you had a couple of really important things there, and what I wanna touch on is, I think it’s one of the biggest disconnection leadership, because I’ve yet to meet a leader, a positional leader, who didn’t say very openly, at least in conversation with me or someone like me, the most they’ve ever learned is from failure, they’ve… Always learned more from failure than success. It’s so vital, but they don’t typically allow that in their culture or they say they do, but it’s not really accurate, but all the things you said… I feel like one of the challenges and disconnect there is… And Craig, correct me if I’m wrong. I think it was Walt rank of it, we were talking about, I think it was Harvard Business Review survey of the leaders, their top three fears was not being seen as confident, failing and making mistakes, but this is the top fear, yet they’re trying to create a culture where that is encouraged and embraced, but that’s their biggest fear, which means they’re not going to model it, which means people are not gonna feel safe because that’s where they’re looking for that guidance. So number one, do you see that? And number two, how do you see companies getting asked that…

0:16:18.2 S2: ’cause it’s really, I think, an unconscious block more than a conscious resistance.

0:16:24.9 S1: Yeah, it’s actually a biological function of our brain, and so what’s interesting is our brain has one job and that is to keep us alive… That’s it, that’s all it does. That’s its number one job now to do that, it provides us with fear chemicals, because when we were evolving, we had to stay in a tribe, we could not provide shelter and food and water and protection from the donor or whatever was out there, you know, we couldn’t do that by ourselves and staying and the cave was incredibly safe, and that kept you away from danger, and so what’s interesting is our brain or permanent brain still does that today, but in today’s world, fear of failure is just like fear of… Getting kicked out of the tribe, fear of losing your job, fear of not looking confidence. So then I’m not gonna be looked at as that next promotion, and so our brain functions exactly the same, it’s just… Our brain doesn’t know the difference between a on the leg and fear of losing my job. It’s just a fear chemical, that’s all fear is, is a chemical respond. And so all of these leaders setting and fear, they’re letting that chemical response rural their world, because if they got kicked out of the tribe, me losing their job, then it would be hard to survive, so their brain is just trying to keep them alive.

0:17:55.5 S2: So Jennifer, how much of that… I love this neuroscience piece to that, do you feel is about leaders being unaware or unwilling to acknowledge even to themselves that this is fear-driven. One of the things I saw in 2020 as so many fear-based decisions being made, but the people I don’t think were even aware they are making fear-based decision, they actually logical, because the brain says, Be afraid to come up with a logical story, because I don’t acknowledge the fear, but I make decisions from that place. So what are you seeing or finding in the realm of the unacknowledged fear, being unaware of the fear that’s driving these decisions? So I find that often, most people, and again, because we don’t talk about this leadership, we don’t talk about how our brain works and how it’s driving things, and

0:18:49.4 S1: So it’s unfortunate that many people don’t really realize that what is going on is actually just a chemical response of fear. So when I start to work with people and we start to get honest with that and they start to just recognize those changes in their mind, it’s fantastic to see how things start to evolve for them. The other thing I think is important for us to know when we’re working with people and helping them move past fear, and especially for leadership, ’cause you can get all of us in later as leaders or as individual contributors, meeting in a group, we all can admit that we want more innovation, more collaboration, more ideas, more learning, well, that happens in the prefrontal cortex, but when we are in fear, that part of our brain gets turned off, and so when you have a leader leading in fear, they’re actually turning off everything they’re demanding, and so when you start to teach them that, and those light bulb starts to go off, many of them, not all of them, because there is another chemical respond to that addiction to being right that you can get into, but many of them start to recognize that when they change their language, when they change their approach, doesn’t mean we’re not telling the truth, it doesn’t mean we’re not holding people accountable, it means we’re actually doing that more often, when they start to change the language though, and they open up different parts of the brain, they get what they want…

0:20:11.4 S1: And that relaxes their fear ’cause the team is performing well.

0:20:16.5 S2: So when you look at… I guess the difference is between playing to win and playing not to lose, is that the difference between playing pre-frontal cortex and playing in mammalian brain…

0:20:29.6 S1: Yeah, that’s interesting. I got look at… Oh

0:20:33.8 S2: Yeah, I kinda look at CEO math. So some CEOS are divisive, they divide the company, they divide the results, some subtract, some ad and so multiply. And when you look at the kind of results that people have and you look at what’s going on an organization, ultimately it does come back to that key leader of saying, Okay, this is the culture we’re creating, but we create culture at multiple levels in the organization, so I guess if we choose to lead for more, I guess there’s the… I want more of something that’s the preferable cortex the… Right, okay. And then I just want less of… So if you’re leading to, I want less drama, want less unpredictability, those types of things. Okay.

0:21:21.5 S1: Interesting. Yeah, and the language makes such a difference, you can… Some simple stuff. One of my favorites, when you hire an expert to come in and then after 90 days, they come to you with all these great ideas, and then you go, Oh, you know, we’ve tried all that. I don’t want that. That’s a little much for us. And so just saying that to someone you’ve hired to be innovative and bring ideas to you, Do you shut them down, you told them, Hey, I’m just gonna give you a pay check, I really don’t need you to think, Okay, what if your ideas really weren’t going to work, and you knew that, but you needed to tell them that you could say it in a way is, you know what, we’ve tried these things in the past, it didn’t work, but you’re a new person, this is a new time I’d like to hear… For me, why you think it would be different this time? Or, Here is why it didn’t work. Last time, go back to the drawing board. Tell me how you’re gonna fix that one thing or… I don’t see it, but change my mind.

0:22:22.8 S1: Any of those open up the environment where you can still be creative and still be honest versus a… Yeah, I’ve heard it all before. Go back to you, which is what we tell new people all of the time.

0:22:35.8 S2: We’re talking about crushing somebody and in creating disengagement.

0:22:40.8 S1: But it happens salwar in corporate America and watch big teams, and that would say would… Recruiting team would work, so everyone works so hard to find this perfect person, and then we told them just to really set in a corner, I really wouldn’t want to think… We told you that in the interview process when we were in theory…

0:22:58.5 S2: So Jeff has this idea for a sign that says No Humans allowed, I think in some companies may need no brains allowed as well…

0:23:06.6 S1: Yeah, and then that’s the same person who calls me and is mad because no one’s thinking for themselves… Right.

0:23:13.2 S2: Well, I love this idea of the words because as pregnant, I pay great attention to words, I pay attention to the words I use, the words that people use in their leadership or don’t, and words they can change as you were speaking. One that popped into my head, the difference between closing and opening is so often discussions are about sides, and the word that I via out of my clients to use either with their team or the team member says, How do I get my boss to listen… I will try this out when your boss tells you something or say to them, I appreciate you sharing your perspective with me, are you open to hearing my perspective, ’cause now you’re framing everything as a perspective, which I believe it is versus… Can I hear… Tell you my side of it. Well, since means… Okay, we’re going added. We’re in trance. So are there some examples of what you talk about in terms of conversational intelligence, is that… Are we in that realm now…

0:24:17.9 S1: Absolutely, yeah, and that’s really understanding how to tell the truth, give feedback, but do it in a way in which people grow and people start to collaborate in a whole new way, and just like if someone tells you their perspective using that word changes in words, create worlds so the words that we’re using is creating the world in which we’re working and living in, and so just simple stuff. Gosh, you could say if someone comes to you and you can tell they’re just spinning out, they are not making progress, you could come in and you could talk about deadlines, and you could add additional fear that they’re already feeling, and guess what? They’re gonna continue to spin out of control, or you can go in and say, I see you and I see in you right now that you might be stuck, what’s the one thing that I could help you un-stick to move forward? And it’s important to say, What’s one thing… Because I about You, can I help you out? You’re gonna be, Oh no, I got it, I got it, I got it. But by changing that language, so what’s one thing, build help out that your boss has told you, they’re requiring you to give one thing, so by gosh, you gotta do it.

0:25:34.1 S1: Your boss says, You’ll give one thing, then that opens up the conversation, you can start to fill it that… Oh, that’s so good. But I always say to someone, never say, Do you need any help? Never says, What’s wrong here? Just, what’s one thing that I can help with? One road block you need… Move was one problem, you want some ideas on how to solve what’s one something… And that starts the conversation.

0:26:01.5 S2: Jennifer, I love that. I see how you can apply that in every area of life as well.

0:26:06.5 S1: Yeah. Wow. Yeah, my husband, I could tell him one or two things you could do around the house.

0:26:14.6 S2: I was thinking is asking the question to my wife or… So what’s the one thing I can do to help you right now? Or if you’re networking, what is the one thing that I could do to help you in your business right now versus… What are you looking for? I don’t know, a… Another part of this is, I was like, it’s a shift in the right way, but it starts with eliminating certain language that we now close this thing off. That’s what I’m hearing. There’s these things we say, and I’m a big believer in that eliminating words, eliminating phrases like an accountability, as you mentioned accountability, one that popped in my head is, I tell people all the time, Don’t ever, ever, ever, again, say to someone, why didn’t you get this done right, because you might as well say, Can you please get me the most exhaustive list of excuses you could possibly come up with… Well, don’t, I wanna know, I said action, you don’t, because all they’re gonna tell you if you ask it that way, is the dog ate the homework. I ran out of time, I had other priorities. Lab, blah, blah.

0:27:17.6 S2: Bob called me, Mary called me, it might as well say, Give me the list of excuses of stocks, I have limited that it… I don’t ever ask anybody that again in the rest of your life, and what’s the helpful phrase that you do suggest… Well, in my process, instead of saying that, I’m gonna say, What did you choose to do instead of honoring this commitment, ’cause I do, I wanna help them find the choices they made some more in the line, I guarantee that. Made choice if I, if not, it’ll never change, the behavior won’t tick, because if they think it was about this other priorities, someone put on their desk, well, that’s gonna happen tomorrow, and they’re gonna miss a deadline again, and a lot of times it’s way upstream. It could be, you know, the choice. The thing was, Jeff, when you gave me this assignment, I didn’t ask enough question or I didn’t ask you to talk about the priorities to figure out if this may even sense, and that way now we’re having a conversation about a solution, not the problem, but the problem doesn’t matter, all that matters. Is the solution…

0:28:22.9 S1: Be interesting too, sometimes we fell is deadlines where we’d get it wrong and sometimes we succeed, and if the question was the same both times, then that allows people to continue to grow, so could it be after every accomplishment matter, right, wrong. However you wanna define them is, Tell me what you learned, it’s one thing that you learned that will take… That you’ll carry you so that you get better and stronger next time.

0:28:49.4 S2: I love that question. I think it’s an important one, Jennifer, because as you were talking earlier about how we learn from failure, you said something that I have the way you said it as I remember it, I don’t think I fully agree, and then you said, we always learn something from failure, and I think we assume we do, but I think the learning actually needs to be a little more intentional, which is why I like that question to actually look at it, ’cause a lot of times the learning is… That sucked, I don’t want that to happen again. So just don’t let that happen. That’s not really a learning. That’s that need York, like, I fell off. Don’t do that again. I slam my hand in the car or don’t do that again, but did I really learn something? And I think learning for me is more intentional than we think it is, then

0:29:44.1 S1: Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot and I touch it to see if it’s hot, what that does is it starts to create that unconscious way we move around danger, and that happens in the workplace don’t bring up topic A because he hates it or she hates it, and you’ll get in trouble for it, and so no one brings up that topic, and so we do learn what not to touch, right or wrong, whether that’s appropriate or not to do in the workplace, but we do start to create that unconscious movement away from things that are dangerous through getting in trouble or getting a core response.

0:30:26.4 S2: When I think that… That’s really interesting, you brought up the stove because you’re talking earlier about curiosity, and I always think about young kids, why do they touch the hot stove? Number one, they don’t know about it, but it’s really because they’re curious.

0:30:40.7 S1: You wanna know if you’re telling the truth…

0:30:42.2 S2: Alright, they’re curious first and they don’t know better, but when they touch the hot stove or get near it, they don’t… And that not to be curious, they just learn not to touch the hot stove, the problem is what we do with the curiosity, and I think that… So often, a lot of my work with leaders is around saying, Let’s interact with our people like their children, not because they’re immature, but they need to learn the same way ’cause… What do we do with our kids? I don’t know if you have kids, Jennifer.

0:31:13.3 S1: No, so I’m an expert in child raising, so I have no children.

0:31:16.3 S2: But you know that… What is the favorite word of most three and four-year-olds… Why that’s curiosity. And yet, because we get frustrated with it, it’s so easy to go to because… And we do that with our people, and I will tell you in my first career, I got branded and it was a brand, they said numerous times to be… Jeff, you asked too many question. And they told me enough that I decided, well, this is clearly not a place… That’s right for me, because I’m always gonna ask questions, I’m always gonna wonder, is there a better way? I’m always gonna say, Why are we doing it this way? And that doesn’t make sense. And couldn’t we try this? And so I got tired of pounding my head against the wall, and they would probably say they never stifled by curiosity, but they did every time. They said that asking questions…

0:32:10.7 S1: Yeah, and that’s one of the things when we look at conversation intelligence, one of the movement is asking questions we don’t have the answer to, and that’s really hard, and some of those could be, if none of these resources were available to you, what would you do… ’cause you don’t know the answer to that, so you gotta think that through… You don’t know. And so I think that’s asking questions in the workplace is incredible, and fortunately, you are sort of enough to say I’m gonna not stop asking questions, I’m gonna continue being curious, I’m gonna find a place who respects my curiosity, but how many people at that organization back then, had the answer that everyone needed, but kept it to themselves because they were taught to be quiet and shake their head and agree, and

0:33:06.4 S2: It’s your path to greatness, because if you have something, some knowledge that other people don’t have. It makes job security. Yeah, attack way to live.

0:33:16.5 S1: I know one of the things I really… And talk to especially fast growing companies, I call the talent if black a better name, but on it basically what happens is, when you don’t invest in your team, but you only invest your product or your service, your product, your service eventually out-performs the skill set of the group… And when that happens, we move into crisis management, and then as soon as that happens, we say things like, stop asking questions, Do as I say, and so your big thinkers, the people who probably got you to that place start to drop off and leave because they’re gonna find a place that allows them to be curious and be Nova, and then what you’re left with are those people who are gonna go, Okay, well, that’s fine, I’m just gonna set here for whatever reason, there could be no, I can’t find another job within a commuting distance, there could be reasons why someone has to just be okay and I’m gonna do it and get through the day, and that’s when you’re only left with that you’ve kind of gone off the talent left and you know your business goes right behind it, we…

0:34:22.2 S2: Let me talk about a very specific question here, Jennifer bias. I think I love questions. I’m a believer in questions, I think that questions are the most important leadership tool, but they have to be good question, they can’t be the rhetorical questions, it can’t be the questions we’re already know the answer to, and there are some questions that seem innocuous, but in the context, they’re not… And the one that flashed in my head Is this, where so many people come to their leader, their manager, whomever, with an idea, and the response is often this, I like your idea, but… And here’s the question, Have you thought about this? Which seems like a brilliant question, it seems like a good question, like we’re gonna get to this best answer, but I have told many leaders, you need to stop saying that because partly it’s the relationship and the lack of trust, but so many people hear that is to my idea really isn’t good enough, and what you’re really telling me is you want me to do your idea, ’cause now you just told me what safe is… Safe is to do this. And I do think it’s about trust, but there’s so many trust issues and breaks that…

0:35:43.5 S2: That’s a question, I think. It’s a brilliant question. Except it can be really dangerous.

0:35:49.6 S1: I agree, and you can even change it, you can say they have brought a good idea, but it’s not quite there yet, so instead of the but here’s more say, I like the direction you’re taking this… Are you open to you and I sit in here and flushing it out and just really kinda digging in and seeing what stifling, and then you start to help them flesh out the idea and get it to where it’s usable instead of the… But, and then even if you have the answer, or you may not have the answer, but teaching them that you’re there to help grow their ideas, you’re there to help them think bigger, and that you’re gonna cheer them on while they’re thinking bigger.

0:36:32.6 S2: And is there a way to do that without taking the monkey on your back, because that sounds like a way of, Okay, now I’m going to insert myself into the process rather than saying, This is really good, I like this direction. What’s the next step? Is there one form thing that you need for me that I can help to bring us across the finish line or see something like that, and then also say, I think this is fantastic. Who do you think would be important to collaborate with to make your vision come to eat? That’s

0:37:08.4 S1: Good. And then you’re pushing them back into the team and telling them collaborations important to say once you’ve identify that person and once you’ve started that collaboration, I want that your group two, three, however many is needed to collaborate. I want you guys to come back and I want you to tell me all the good and bad ideas you’ve come up with a longer way and why you land it on your final…

0:37:31.6 S2: Let’s take a quick break and hear from our sponsors, the impact leadership podcast is brought to you by Cartier, Carver is a leadership development ecosystem with training, coaching resources, events and a community to help you grow at Carter, we believe that you can’t grow a business bigger than you, that your company is limited by your growth, we blend personal growth with leadership team and business growth to give you a single place to grow your people, grow your business and grow your life. You can find out more at Carta era dot com, welcome back. But one of the things that I see in that… And I think this is… I’ve learned it’s a big challenge for the leaders because I bring it up to them is I’ll say a lot of times, you have to learn and be willing to accept a pretty good idea, even though you have a better idea, because sometimes it needs to just be their idea. Yeah, well, isn’t the idea… To always have the best idea. I said not necessarily ’cause your people don’t grow that way, you know you’ve been through this, you have the experience many times, your idea will be better in many…

0:38:42.4 S2: Not always, but many times. But if every time we’re getting there, then why should people come the ideas to you, ’cause they might as well just wait to be told what to do, and there’s a lot of struggle because there’s that belief that says it’s gotta be the best idea. It doesn’t really mean they think they always have the best idea, but it has to be best. I said, No, what? Now, most ideas, 80% is good enough. There’s a few things that need to be epic, but most things just need be done and done in an empowering, engaging, collaborative way and move to the next thing, and if you can upgrade or upgrade your people’s skills and thinking ability along the way, all the better.

0:39:22.9 S1: Yeah, I think that reminds me of false priorities, you know, is your priority that you… That the idea has to be perfect or is the priority that most handful have to be fantastic, most need to be good, but their priority is making sure your team is innovate, and if the priority is your team is innovative and open to continuing to grow and stretch what’s possible, then you’re absolutely right. Then some of the ideas have to be good enough because you don’t wanna stifle where they’re going, as a leader has to pick what priority they actually have and then work in a way in which that priority is not just words on paper, but truthful to how they lead…

0:40:06.6 S2: Well, speaking of innovation, I just did it back in November, I did a workshop on innovative leadership, just this topic, and one of the things we talked about was… They had a huge disconnect, let’s just say that Because senior senior leadership thought they were very innovative, the rest of the organization thought they weren’t, and I said, Well, that means you’re not… Yeah, but we said No, if they think you’re not, then you’re not, because that’s where the innovation needs to be happening, so that’s really what’s true here, and we are trying to figure out some of the reasons that was happening, what they could shift in that… And we talked about this perfection thing, we talked about whose idea was it? But back to the word, one of the phrases, because I had them do… We were on a Zoom call and I had him do a poll, and I said, which camp are you in around chain. Are you a change junkie, which is like me, potentially at risk of taking things up too much, on the other side, are you super change-resistant? And in middle, I said that I like change when it’s needed, but I don’t want change with the same change, and I told them that phrase blocks innovation or…

0:41:30.7 S2: No, it’s neutral. I said, No, it’s not. You think it’s neutral. It feels neutral, it feels logical, but when people hear that, that’s a message of, you better have a super good reason to change something, ’cause we’re gonna stay with what we’ve done unless you have a great reason to change, this isn’t about trying new things, this isn’t about… Testing it out at all. And they didn’t see that at all. I think they do now. Wow, it’s the statement of, Hey, my way is the best way. Unless you can prove otherwise. That goes really far in your relationships, denied, we may have talked about this, but this is something always on my head and heart, frankly, around these topics, so many things you’ve shared, we talk about… We’ve had other guests talk about it… We had a guest last week. I think his episodes coming out this week, and that’s my question to him was, Then we’re all saying mostly the same thing, there are hundreds, if not thousands of coaches, consultants, all saying some version of the same thing, or leaders. And I’m not seeing a lot of change. I see some, but not a lot.

0:42:48.1 S2: And he said, Yes, sometimes I just wonder, is anybody listening? So I’m curious, what’s been your experience of… I guess not whether leaders are listening, but what do you think gets in the way of that listening and real change?

0:43:04.1 S1: I think what gets in the way is overwhelm, and when we go to try to change something about ourselves, it’s a new idea, right, so I’m going to be a leader who ask questions right, and I’m in a… No. Okay, great, you wake up one day and you’re gonna be this person, and you do it a couple of times in your unconscious brain is like, That’s not who we are, so I’m gonna fight that a little bit, and so then… It works, but it doesn’t work. Doesn’t work like you think it works, and so you get overwhelmed and overwhelm is the first state that your brain puts you in when it doesn’t want you to change, and our brains don’t like to learn new, they don’t like to change through the yard, they just don’t they like me and who they are, you’re attacking the unconscious ego, and so I think overwhelm. And so when you look at why we give up, I’m gonna set a New Year’s resolution and I’m gonna lose 10 pounds this year, and the first two days it’s awesome, and until something happens and then you’re overwhelmed, and then when that starts to happen, you start to find reasons why it can’t be done, or reasons it doesn’t work, then you go into blame like that coach was an idiot, he…

0:44:21.9 S1: And she didn’t know what they were talking about. They said this would work, and I just proved it didn’t work, and then you give up and you eat the whole bag of potato chips and… You know about dates? I don’t know. They’re fantastic. So I think the people get into overwhelm and they don’t know enough about how… They’re not patient to know that it takes time, if you’re going to truly change who you are, you’re not only changing you, you’re changing everyone around you, and they get to go at their own pace.

0:44:49.9 S2: So how much it sounds to me… And I agree with you on that, Jennifer, that so much of this resistance is just purely internal, there’s some external excuses, but it’s really internal resistance, the chain, someone… I did a speaking engagement a month ago, you’re talking about this, and we’re talking about the importance of really taking time to engage with your people, people are human, they want that interaction across the organization, and four or five of them all gave me the same version of the question in the chat saying, Can you give us… For those of us who struggle with time to do that, can you give us some tips? And I get really frustrated. I don’t know if they knew how frustrated I was, I said, Look, how about this? When you make time for your people, the message they hear loud and clear is that you care about them, you value them, they matter, they’re seen, they’re heard, and this is a safe place for them. When you don’t… They feel unheard, un-valued, un-cared about, they feel like they don’t matter, and if that message doesn’t matter to you, there’s not a tool I can give you…

0:46:02.5 S2: I can give you tools, but until you actually get that this, you’re basically, when you don’t engage with your people, you might as well walk by and smack them all in the face every day and hit them hard and say, I see you, get it done, or I’ll smack, you tomorrow. You might as well just do that. So I think there’s… That’s why Craig and I both talk about leadership is about this work inside of us, it’s a little about tools and tactics and strategy, but it’s a lot about what’s going on in here, that’s why I love the neuroscience of talking… It’s really about unpacking what’s causing us from an emotional and an state to act the way that we do and then to change those things over time, ultimately, when we get exposed to new ideas… Oh wait. You mean as a leader, I’m supposed to be taking care of my people. Oh, okay, well, that’s a new concept, but it is a new concept for people who are stepping out of a technician role… Yes, and it’s a big shift.

0:47:03.4 S1: And it’s what we attach with that too, and when I work with the executive, one of the first things we start to work on is what equate success? What makes you successful? Because especially a lot of people, we’ve heard a million times people say, What got you here won’t get you there, and that searching success to… What was success look like in position A may be a technician and then you go to your first manager job, well, you have to re-attach success to something else, because if you keep attaching success to your to-do list and that you’ve checked the boxes. Well, then that’s not successful as… I mean, if you say, Okay, now I’m gonna attach success to team engagement, the quality of… Not my quality about Pauli, Ty, of the people on my team and every level, start to look at how you attach success and what you attach it to mentally, I think that helps people start to change a little bit too, because they just are really excited to attach it to physical. Check the box type stuff. That’s good. We make those checks. I know it does, right? Is your little Domini? You’re like, Well, look at me, I got it done.

0:48:13.9 S2: Got my line. We’ve talked a lot about around and about conversational intelligence, and I know I saw in what you shared with with us, you have that connected as the solution to what you call The Seven Deadly Sins of leadership. No one is talking about… My guess is… We’ve talked about some of those already. Could you just share those for us and our listeners of seven deadly sins?

0:48:38.7 S1: Absolutely, so what’s interesting is when we are in a place of authority, especially if we got there quickly, like high achievers, when we are right and when we are successful, and when we do something that creates a good result, we get a dopamine hit. And that is what addictions are based on, whether your addiction is to sugar or shopping or a substance, it’s a dopamine response, being right is the exact same thing, and men can become addicted to it, and so what happens over time that addiction starts to cloud our reality because if we’re not right, it starts to take away our truth and to maintain that level of dopamine hit, we start to demonstrate the seven deadly sins. And so one of the ones that we’ve talked a lot about is raphe, you do not believe the way I believe, you don’t think the way I think you don’t have the idea that I want you to have… Then there’s punishment. There’s rap often times we get into Pirie is one of the seven cents and we’re all about our ideas, we’re all about our true, and we don’t really care about anyone else’s. We talked a little bit that…

0:50:01.3 S1: And then one of the other ones that happens a lot as locked, and that’s when me being more smarter than everyone in the room, and we’re willing to tell everyone in the room how to do their job, but we’re not actually willing to do it, and we’re not actually willing to learn, but my gosh, would be more than happy to tell people how to do it, so we’ve been talking about how all of that shows up in the workplace, and a lot of it comes from our need to have that dopamine hit, and that’s why… I talked about his checklist, he loves to check it off as you get a dopamine hit, that’s why executives have a hard time moving to vision, because their dopamine had has always been attached to the completion of the task, so it’s really hard to attach that to be hit to a completion of a vision, and that’s a big piece of it. Well, and

0:50:53.2 S2: That’s interesting you say, when you talked about defining success in your third one about sloth, you really have to define what smart is me, because I have met some leaders and I’ve coached some leaders who genuinely are the smartest in the room in terms of intelligence and even some of their logic processing systems like you go… They really are. Now, that’s not mean they have all the good ideas, it doesn’t mean some other people aren’t smarter in the context, but I think it’s even harder for them when they legitimately are that in this case, he had built a lot of his self-self-perception based upon being the smartest person in the room. So for him not to be basically means, I have to say I’m no longer the best and I’m no longer confident and no longer me, it was a pretty deep issue going on there, but it showed up as… He had to be the smartest one in the room.

0:51:50.6 S1: I probably started in grade school for him or even earlier, as his attachment to his ego, who he was, was attached to being the smartest person in the world, were room… And that worked for a long time for me. He got to a place where I no longer work and then you have to again re-attach success, and that is hard, but really good work and you like any addiction, we don’t change until the pain of living in it is greater than the pain of change, and I think that’s when you think about leaders who really do change, a lot of them have to find a little bit of that bottom first.

0:52:28.5 S2: And it’s not there when you have that smarts in the room complex, it’s very difficult to let other people have good ideas.

0:52:37.6 S1: Yes, it takes away your… It takes away everything that you’re addicted to and dice to that dopamine head of being right, ’cause if someone else is right, then they’ve taken away your drug of choice.

0:52:47.0 S2: But… Wait, what about this? Why didn’t you think about this? But you know, I also can also lead to bullying in the sense of setting these people up so that they don’t… To make them look stupid. Attesting to minute, because then that there’s that… And they don’t even know they’re doing it. You… Tommy Spalding was on our show early in the whole podcast, and he said, You know the problem is… And I agree with them, if you ask 100 leaders, if they’re a servant leader in or 99, 95, they will say, Yes, I am or more. But the reality, only 10% of them really are, if you ask their people, but he said The rest of them didn’t wake up and said, I’m gonna go to work and be a jerk today, they actually went to work saying, I’m the servant leader, but they’re unable or unwilling at that point to see that that’s just not true, and if we’re not willing, if I’m not willing to hear and know the truth about myself, I’m not gonna change now, that’s my belief, otherwise, it’s gonna be a hollow chain, there’s gonna be… Check a box.

0:53:57.3 S2: Yeah, I had meetings with you all… Okay, now I’m communicating.

0:54:02.6 S1: I asked how your day was, okay? It was nice, yeah. Someone ask around the world, ’cause Americans ask that and we really don’t want to know, we expect to answer is fine, but if you ask that question in other countries, they stop and they think and they actually tell you how their day is going. It’s hysterical. And when I was helping executives learn how to work around the world, is one of the things I warn them about like if you ask, How’s your day or how’s it going, what’s new? They will answer you and you need to listen to the answer or don’t ask the question, but that’s a very American thing, it’s all very… Were very efficient in how we work and to be efficient and we cut corners, and what we cut corners on is the people piece.

0:54:49.3 S2: Yeah, would you say that’s an important piece for leaders to model? I think we’ve all met people that when we ask them how they are, they give us the 40-minute answer. That’s too much. Is generally too much. Now, I will say this though, if there’s something legitimate going on and it takes 40 minutes, that’s fine, but they get the rest of just the story, but I think seems to me that leaders have to start like so many things, leaders go first, so that when people do say to them, How are you today? They start being pretty honest, so you know overall… I might say overall, I’m pretty good. I gotta tell you, yesterday was frankly a tough day, man, I just got… I got overwhelmed with something, I recovered from it, but to start going into some depth or you know right now, I gotta tell you, it’s Hollis tough right now. The kids are in this… They’re learning at home, and I don’t know about you, but this… We all just… We’re doing it, we’re gotten through it, but this is hard stuff, and it distracts me from my work, and I think that’s where leaders are terrified to do that because I think there’s a fear of leaders to just humanize themselves.

0:56:04.1 S1: Yeah, humanizing is so important. In 2020, my word of the year was human is to humanize people. Little did I know what I was walking into, and I had… It was a little too foreshadowing for me, but that was why word of the year, and it’s one of the things we just struggle at as leaders, because then if we feel like we understand a person, we can’t be tough if they don’t hit the deadline, we can’t be this and we can’t… We can’t tell them the truth that they don’t perform well, but yeah, humanizing is so important, and I just don’t think we talk about it enough

0:56:43.0 S2: For you, well, this is really incredible. So grateful we had you hear Jennifer, I know it’s offered a lot… Our listeners, a lot to me, that was a new phrase to me, conversational intelligence. I’ve never heard the phrase, I get where you’re coming from, and I’m with you, I think it’s so vital, and that’s a grateful you’re doing this kind of work in the world. So is there anything in particular that you wanna highlight or promote for our listeners, Jennifer, is there any one thing that we

0:57:10.8 S1: Do? That’s a great question. Yeah, so we have some great resources on our website,, and grab them if you have questions, and there’s something you do, tell someone and you don’t know how to tell them the truth, and you need to do it in a way that promotes engagement and not fear. Send me a direct message, I’d be happy to share that with you. But I think what I want your listeners to know today is that we’re human, we have to humanize ourselves first and really start to think about how do we humanize others around us.

0:57:53.5 S2: Love it. So you mentioned the website. What are the best ways for people to connect with you? Is it to just direct message To Jenifer…

0:58:01.1 S1: Yeah, you can connect with me on LinkedIn and you can find me at Jen Thornton ACC on LinkedIn, and you can message me there or through our website at

0:58:12.0 S2: Fantastic, and we always wrap up Jennifer with a couple of questions, and my first question for you, Jennifer is… Use one of my favorites. I love movies. Again, I love movies, so I want you to think about movies or television, is there… What’s the scene or the movie or a quote or whatever from performances, TV and movies that speak to you about leadership…

0:58:38.9 S1: One of my favorite ones, again, ’cause I love innovation as Apollo and there’s a STEM, where there’s like Houston, we have a problem, and the guy walks in with all these parts and he throws them on the table and he tells engineers figure it out, and he walks away, and he let the people who are the experts figure it out, and… I love that one. It’s about taking parts that you don’t… That you see them as one way to use them and having to figure out how to use them in a different way, and again, the leader didn’t stand over and go, No, figure it out faster. Faster, no, Do this, don’t do that. They walked away, and if he had stood over them yelling at them that they can’t get it right, they would have been complete fitter, and we probably would not have gotten those astronauts home. And so I think there’s a lot of that Stein that really speaks to letting people do their job and do it right, and looking at things and using them in a way that you never thought you could… That’s

0:59:42.0 S2: A great scene. And I think one of the things that you’re probably also talking about here is that… He didn’t have to say we were in a rush. We need to get this done because the mission of NASA is to put people in space and bring him back safely. And so they know the impact of what their decision is, it has to be done, and it has to be done quickly because we got some people in peril.

1:00:07.0 S1: Yeah, I love that one. It’s a good one to port, so I’m sure there’s fantastic lens in the sports, but I don’t understand, sportsman.

1:00:16.0 S2: You said earlier because that same scene is when he says failure is not an option, and we’ve been talking about how failure is not only an option, it’s essential but in that specific case, because that was mission critical, that was life critical, and in that case, we are going to say, failure is not an option here, but it’s not gonna be our mantra across all of the things we do. But notice, Jeff, that failure was not an option in the bigger context, but to come up with the solution, they could fail multiple times in their bubble of the sandbox as they’re trying to test what’s gonna work, they’re going through and they’re trying it out. But in the actual implementation, the final implementation has to work, but that’s the thing that that’s the risk of language, because there are thousands of companies around the world that use that scene to tell people not to innovate, not knowing they’re doing it, ’cause the line is so epic and say, Hey, now, failure is not an option here, and they may have banners up that say, Failure is not an option, and they don’t put it in context, and now the message is, you better be perfect.

1:01:28.4 S2: You gotta get this right the

1:01:29.9 S1: First time, the first time you put these parts together better ethernet gonna happen.

1:01:36.9 S2: Unless you are less… My last question for you, Jennifer, is think about who in your world, whatever that means, do you see as a real strong leadership model and why…

1:01:49.1 S1: This is one I think the most difficult questions, I don’t think there’s one person. There are a lot of different people, and I grew up in the retail industries where I’ve got my leadership experience, what’s interesting about it is there’s very few female leaders in the retail industry, you would think that really would be a fun… Yeah, there’s very few female leaders in the retail industry, and so I was really fortunate at a young age that I had some really good female leaders that created an example and said it was okay to be a leadership in the retail industry, which is just crazy to think that it’s just not a lot of females. There are today, but most of them started their own companies, if you look at some of the really big boxes, the gaps, American Eagles expresses, Limited Brands, they’re all very heavily still today, melamine. So I was like, I had some really great female leaders early on, and then when I look at today’s world, I think there’s… Again, I look to some female leaders out there that are making a difference, Mindoro man, at Weight Watchers, she’s fantastic, she goes out and she does some really great things.

1:03:05.2 S1: I also a huge fan of Oprah in breeze. I think that… I look at leadership, she actually is, in a lot of ways, minds boss, but when you see them together, you can really see how they push each other and they don’t compete. Do they complement? And I think that’s important in leadership and executive groups that you never compete, that you always complement each other.

1:03:28.1 S2: Such good stuff, Jennifer, thank you and thank you. In that final question for highlighting to all of us, including me, that there’s still a long road to be traveled when it comes to gender diversity and leaders in equity.

1:03:45.1 S1: Yeah, and we’re recording this January play, 21 and report came out this morning with net gains, net loss, and all the different slice and dice, 100% of the unemployment this month came from females, what… Is there a report that came out, or I read it right before we jumped on, but it’s like, you know who gained you lost over all of it, and that’s how it washed out and so Project HOME pulling and things like that, Poirot women back and you work and I think it’s important for us to, again, talk about it, how to help each other, ’cause we need all…

1:04:25.7 S2: Thanks for sharing about that. And thanks for being here. Yeah.

1:04:30.0 S1: Thanks for having me. I knew I have fun and I had a great time.

1:04:32.9 S2: I hope you do too, actually. So if you like this podcast, you’ll love the card over tribe, the card over tribe is a community of growth committed leaders who want to connect, engage and grow themselves, their people and their businesses. Part of air is a leadership development ecosystem with training, coaching, assessments and events to challenge you and help you grow, and the car of her drive is a membership like none other, you’ll get live access to credit, Jeff, where you can ask questions as well as masterminds where you can get answers from other leaders who’ve already solved your greatest challenges, you’ll have access to additional interviews and a variety of courses, tools and resources to help you achieve your biggest goals. We have monthly Jain days where we have challenges and competitive games to help you grow your leadership capabilities, and you’ll get a personal growth of Sherpa who will guide you to help you reach your growth goals. To find out more, go to catamaran dot com, that’s C-A-R-D-I-V-E-R-A dot com. So you on the inside.

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