Don’t miss our expert panelist, Sally Helgesen, a renowned expert on women’s leadership, best-selling author, and international speaker, as she shares her invaluable insights. Discover practical strategies for creating and sustaining inclusive environments in the workplace. Uncover the essential leadership skills required to fully engage and leverage the talents of all employees. Gain insights into how organizations can meet marketplace demands by harnessing the full potential of their workforce. 


Rising together, how we can bridge divides and create a more inclusive workplace. Hi, I’m Mike Vannoy, vice President of Marketing at Asure, and this is such a cool topic and, and an even better guest today. You know, we, we talk on this show every week about, you know, the war for talent is no longer some, you know, fortune 500 concept. The War for Talent has hit Main Street in employers. Small and mid-sized companies are struggling to fill jobs regardless of whether we’re in a recession, approaching recession, not a recession. The fact is, there are more openings than there are workers today. And if you’re not tapping into every single talent pool in, in, you know, we recorded a webinar about two weeks ago on unconscious bias. If you are letting your systems, your processes, your unconscious bias prevent you from tapping into new pools of talent, you, you’re missing a, a gigantic opportunity.
So on an amazing guest today. So, Sally Helgesen she said, cited in Forbes as the world’s premier expert on women’s leadership. She’s an internationally best selling author, speaker, leadership coach, honored by the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame, her most recent book, how Women Rise, co-authored with Marshall Goldsmith. Many if you know his work examines the behaviors most likely to get in the way of successful women and rights have been sold in over 22 languages. Previous books include The Female Advantage, women’s Way of Leadership. Hail is the classic in its field and continuously in print since 1990. The female Vision, women’s Real Power at Work, which explores how women’s strategic insights can strengthen their careers, the web of inclusion, a new architecture for building great organizations was cited in Wall Street Journal as one of the best books on leadership of all time, and is, it is credited with bringing the language of inclusion into business. Sally it’s a real privilege to talk to you today. Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Mike. It’s wonderful to be here.
So you’re obviously an expert on women’s leadership. As I, as I’ve been consuming your content, reading your books you really focus on the individual and what is it that we as individuals can do? Men, women, it doesn’t matter. What can we do to, to get to the next level? How do we rise as individuals in our career? I, I, I really wanna talk take today’s conversation from the employer’s perspective, right? So as we’ve had conversations on this show in the past about unconscious bias it, it, it, it, we’re not accusing employers of you know, being racist or any of the other political stereotypes that kind of come sometimes get associated with a D E I. We we’re, we’re talking about just the biases we have about maybe the high school we went to, maybe the college we went to, the people that we just hang out with and, and the parents that are from our sports teams. We have these biases that we bring to the workplace as employers. Can you speak into how that impacts our ability to see talent that doesn’t necessarily fit into our, our manifold of the world?
Certainly. I’m glad to do that, and it’s, it’s really good to be on the show and have have this question put to me because I think that it’s very helpful for employers to think in terms of what unconscious biases they may have, because these biases may help them to miss some significant pools of talent. And even if they don’t miss those pools of talent, they may fail to fully engage the talent they have because of unconscious Asuremptions. I prefer to call them unconscious Asuremptions because it’s a less accusatory way of framing it than unconscious bias. However, I appreciate that a lot of the diversity and inclusion work has focused on identifying unconscious Asuremptions, but then it leaves you kind of, now what, so I think of unconscious bias training, exactly. Which a lot of big companies do as sort of aha moment.
Now, what, what do you do once you realize, you know, okay, I was Asureming that somebody who had gone to that college or university wouldn’t necessarily fit into our culture. Okay. I was Asureming that as a woman, this individual I hired may not be the one I wanna send in on a sales call with some of the toughest guys I know. Okay. I was Asureming that this Latino employee who is from a very different background, would be good at, at doing retail, but might struggle in the technology thing. So, once we realize that we have had these biases, I don’t think that the whole paradigm gives us much to do about it. It’s, it’s all internal. And guess what? People aren’t that affected by what we’re thinking. They’re affected by how we speak and what we do. So in, and I’ve been working with this, I’ve been working in this field, not just women’s leadership, but inclusive leadership for 35 years.
And what I find is people want a kind of roadmap of what to do. They are getting it. If they didn’t get it before, the pandemic caused the kind of labor shortage that it did, and the willingness among people to say, okay, I’ve had enough with this job. I don’t feel valued. I don’t feel seen, I don’t feel appreciated. I know there’s a talent, there’s a war for talent, and I’m gonna take my talent someplace else. So if people didn’t get that message, employers didn’t get that message before the pandemic they’re really getting it now, and they recognize, I think that they have to do something about this.
I love the way you described that. So, I mean, and, and I love even the way you corrected about changing from bias. I, I feel like so much of the language as well intentioned as it is in this area people feel like it’s finger wagging. Like, something’s wrong with you or your biases, you’re doing things wrong. And even if we do, it’s easy to take someone through an exercise and say, okay, yeah, we all have biases. Whether it, it doesn’t have to be against it doesn’t have to be gender based or people of color. It’s just height, hair, hairstyles beauty. I mean age, we, we all have, have these, but just pointing them out isn’t so helpful. So, in, in your books, you talk a lot about the practical advice that women can take, how to, how to rise above as individuals. What is your advice for employers? How, how, how do, what’s the forget bias? What are the practical things that they can do to tap in to bigger pools of talent? And I think the outcome, it ends up being more diversity and more inclusion.
Exactly. That’s exactly right. So I, I agree. I think the language of unconscious bias, however we frame it, is implicitly finger wagging. And guess what? Every single one of us has biases. We don’t like someone who’s wearing tattoos. We make these Asuremptions, right? I mean, we all see that. We all feel that what really matters is the kind of behaviors that you manifest, inclusive behaviors that is the key. So in, in the new book that I’ve written Rising Together, which was very much in response to a question I got from a small employer, I was doing a program in Las Vegas and at the end of 2019, and it was at the Construction Super Conference, which is all kinds of construction businesses from all around the country. And I was doing a women’s leadership segment. So I went into my segment, it was a breakout, you know, it’s a huge conference, it thousands of people.
So I went into my breakout, yeah, expecting I’d have probably 150 women who were in the construction industry who were feeling that they did not really you know, that they weren’t recognized. That’s the main thing. Recogni recognition and who were, you know, unhappy about it and wanted to, to know how they could better manifest what their skills were. That’s what I thought I was gonna get. I showed up at my breakout. There were about 300 people there, and it was about 65% men. And I was absolutely floored. I recognized that what I was going to talk about was, was not that you know, germane to the audience I had. So what I did was I said, you know, why are you here? What, what, what caused you at the Construction Super conference to come to a segment about women’s leadership? And two things came out.
First of all, one guy stood up one project manager, and he said, you know, we fi we, and this is pre pandemic, of course 2019. He said, the pool of talent that we have to draw from is very and increasingly diverse, and this is not going to change. We understand. We, we are, we seem to do a very bad job with women. We have a hard time hiring them, and when we hire them, they often leave. We need to get better at that, or we’re gonna go out of business. And then when executive stood up and asked me the question, it kind of changed my life. He said, listen, we hope you are not going to, in response to this question, talk about why we need to get better at engaging women. We understand the whys, but we don’t know how to do it.
We don’t have a clue. And that, that it was him saying that we don’t have a clue. We need to know how to do it. That made me think, you know what, I’ve gotta focus on the how did that question, because Marshall and I had massive success with how women rise. What we were doing is looking at the specific house. So with rising together, that’s what I do. First, I look at the biggest triggers that are most likely to get in the way of people’s ability to build effective relationships across boundaries. And these triggers are often facilitated by the environment that people are working in. So this is something that we not only have individual responsibility for what triggers us, but employers can really benefit from understanding triggers that make it difficult for people to form relationships. For example, let me give a a an example that’s very simple and that people wouldn’t necessarily think about which is visibility, triggers around visibility.
This is common not just with gender, but across race and ethnicity. Women are often, and I’m just using women as a here for diverse employees in general reluctant to claim their achievements shy about talking about what they did that was valuable. Why are they shy about this? On one hand, they may have had real pushback, and this is common. It was common especially you know, in the, in the eighties and nineties, you’d say something, you’d make a point and somebody would accuse you of being arrogant of being all about me. You’re talking all the time, et cetera. You, you had just raised this point. So this is this is an example of something, the kind of thing that may have happened to somebody. Also, women are also hypersensitive to the fact that they are a member of a team. So when they are speaking about achievement or contribution they made to a common effort, whether they’re telling their employer that, whether they’re telling their team head that, whether they’re talking about it to a customer or client, they’re, they’re reluctant often to talk about why they what they contributed, because they’ll be, they’re afraid.
They’ll be perceived as taking that away from what the team did. So what will often happen, then, you’re in a situation where you’re expected to speak up about what you contributed. You sort of hem and har you say, well, my team really did that, or something slightly lame like that. And then the employer who asked you to do that, because you were doing it in a meeting, you were doing it in front of a customer or client will think, meh. You know, she’s not really somebody who’s comfortable. You know, that’s not a leadership behavior. I thought maybe this woman would have some potential as a leader, but she seems reluctant to really talk in a direct way about what she’s contributed, I guess that that’s not so much. Whereas you’ll get a man who’s from the mainstream, from the leadership mainstream, who looks like the people who’ve been in leadership in this organization, and he doesn’t have those inhibitions.
He’s not concerned about taking away from the team necessarily. He has the capacity to speak very directly about what he’s contributed, and then that’s perceived as a leadership behavior. He’s perceived of as a confident human being who has potential, whereas that, that, that, so there’s a kind of trigger operating, excuse me, where the employer thinks, okay, I guess that’s not leadership material. And then, then that begins to impact how the individual is, is perceived. So what I’m trying to do in this book is, first of all, I’m trying to identify the most common triggers that get in the way of being able to build effective relationships. And in the context, you and I are discussing the most common triggers that make it difficult for an employer to recognize what somebody’s real potential is, or see them for what they, they actually may have to contribute. And then I’m also presenting some behaviors or ways of acting that can create a more inclusive environment.
I, I wanna hear more specifics about what some of those AC actions are for employers so that, that they can walk away from, from this show and, and start implementing things today. What some of the things that we talk about internally here in frequently on this show when we run our businesses by, especially the talent management portion of our businesses, you know, how do we, how do we find talent? How do we attract talent? How do we bring them on board? How do we engage them? How do we manage performance? How do we even offboard people, whether they’re leading by their choice or, or, or ours? If we manage that by gut, because I just know people, and I just want to get to know my, my folks, this is when the the unconscious stuff kind of creeps in, right?
But the more we can be systematic about our processes for and moving all the way upstream with something as simple as a job description, right? If, if, if, if, if I’m gonna if, if I have a, a, a job that just says sales rep, then I’m interviewing people that I, my gut feels like aligned with that, right? But if I actually list the competencies required, somebody who can do this amount of prospecting, someone who has this month, these types of relationships, someone who enters, who’s, who’s performed these specific, and I love your word, the behaviors before now, my, my screening process, my interviewing process. And if I hold those competencies through to performance management and career development, I’m, I’m managing to competencies, aka behaviors. I’m not managing to all these other stuff. And it, and it helps to remove any bias that may or may not exist, but, but it, it, it, it, it, it, it, it takes all the, takes all the filters away from, whether it’s women, whether it’s gender-based, whether it’s color based, whether it’s age based.
I’m focused on what are the skills and competencies required to be successful here? And that, and that goes for leadership then too. What are the qualities and needed to be a great leader? And when you, but the act of simply putting it on paper is just a wonderful, practical tool to then not make that a criteria when you’re evaluating your own folks and then otherwise possibly looking past some great candidates. Can, can you, I, I’d love if you would critique my ideas there, and then what, put, put some, put some practical advice on top of that, of, of, of some of the things that employers should be doing.
Yeah. I, I love what you said. It’s systematic, but it’s also transparent. That’s what you’re putting these competencies on paper. And guess what, it’s also a work in progress. That’s often the, the sort of stumbling block here. There are great intentions when we get some, to some degree systematic, we think through, okay, what is really required to do this job? What is required in terms of past experiences? What is required in terms of the ability to get up to speed quickly in terms of this competency? Because again, that’s where you often get you know, a listing of six competencies that is required. I remember doing a program once for a large healthcare organization. And we were talking about the competencies listing. And you know, that had been listed for an, a new position for an application. And one of the women said, you know, I was gonna apply for that job, but there were six competencies that were listed.
And I looked at them and I realized, in my experience, I only had three, so I didn’t apply for the job. So then a conversation came up about, when you see a list of competencies, how many of them do you bel do you, do you have to have in order to apply for the job? And I’m, people are asking me, I’m thinking, I don’t, no, I don’t know. It’s always different. And the, this was a, a women’s network. So their corporate champion stood up and he was a guy who was like head of, you know north American operations. So huge job, fairly young guy. And he stood up and he said, look, he said, the job that led me to where I am now had six competencies listed. I knew I wanted that job because I thought it could lead me to the job I have now.
He said, but I only had three of these competencies. So what I realized that was that my job was to be able to describe why I could get up to speed very quickly on these three competencies. He said, I did a good job with that. I got the job, it was successful, and it led me here. The women in the room were floored to hear this. You mean, you applied and you only had three of the competencies. So that’s an important thing, right? For an employer to keep in mind, yes, it is important to list these competencies, but also to make clear that somebody applying for a job they’ve never done is unlikely to have all these competencies. But someone who comes from sort of, you know, the, the, the whatever, I’m, I’m not gonna call it a white male because they do a lot of work in places like Japan and Korea, et cetera.
It’s hardly a white male who is de determining the culture there. <Laugh> you know, in the United States, it is to some degree, but not always go out to Silicon Valley, see how many white males you can find out there. You know, it’s, it’s, yeah, people are from the subcontinent, they’re from India. So it’s whoever is defining the mainstream of the organization. In, in, in a main street setting, you’re gonna find often more white males or a lot of, you know, black women as well. I mean, it’s whoever the main, the mainstream person is. You wanna be sure that you are very clear that the expectation is these are the competencies required to do the job. That does not mean you are expected to have all those competencies on day one. So that’s number one. You wanna be very aware of that fact that some people will see those competencies and say, oh, piece of cake, of course I can do that.
Other people will look at those competencies and say, well, you know, I’ve never really done this, that, or the other. And so they’ll be more reluctant to apply. The other thing is you want to kind of keep an open mind and and be willing to adapt what some of those competencies are. I worked with a relatively, it was not a huge mining company in Southern Australia once, and they were having a terrible problem on some of their sites with safety issues. And, you know, in mining, safety is just everything. Because you, you basically lose your right license to operate if you have serious issues. So in this company they were trying to look, how can we so, so they recognized that the issue was at the supervisory level. The supervisors here were like, you know, these kind of tough old guys, and it’s just, do it, do it, do it, you know, figure out how to do it.
And that wasn’t helping people. And they were feeling as if their voices were not heard. Sir, I believe that this could be a potential problem. Okay, fine, fix it. We’re not you know, this is how we’ve always done things, you know, so you, you have to learn how to do this. So it’s a kind of, not a very, it wasn’t a listening culture when it came to the frontline managers. And by the way, this is often where there’s a stumbling block, not the senior leadership who have the certain kind of intentions, but at the supervisory level. So what they, this company decided that they needed to do was they needed to find people to put in these supervisory positions who had not kind of worked their way up in the mines, but people who had a long experience dealing with safety issues and dealing with, with problems on the ground that, you know, compromised people’s ability to operate safely.
So what they started doing was, so they started listing some competencies and ideas, and what they began to do was actually hiring people who had been emergency medical technicians and things like that. So they were looking love that very broadly at competencies. And their and, and these people were extremely attuned to listening. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever had an EMT come to your house, they’re trying to get answers from you. They’re trying to get answers from everyone in your family, what just happened? Give us the specifics they need to know. So they’re accustomed to asking the kinds of questions they need to ask in that situation. So they just changed the hiring pool and safety issues basically went away because they were looking at, they identified, okay, we’ve got an issue with the competencies that we’re hiring for in the supervisory in the supervisory field.
So think broadly and then make it very clear that, that, you know, we’re, people are smart. They develop competencies quickly on the job and give them the resources to do that too. Pair them with somebody who’s very good at the job and who’s a good mentor and give some instructions to that mentor. Here are a few things to look at, you know, cuz that mentor is gonna have some, you know, some unconscious Asuremptions that are shaping his or her ability to be a mentor as well. So give them some guidance in terms of that. And then you really setting up something,
That example is brilliant. I, that, that example is, is brilliant. I, I I love that. It, it, it gets me to thinking about, I, I think that, I think there’s an easy trap that employers can fall into. You know, I, I’m the, I’m the owner of Acme Corp. I’m an x, y, Z industry, and so I need other people from x, y, Z industry. And and I think that ex quote unquote experience in the industry or experience in the, in such a similar job probably has, has, has been a, a successful proxy, if you will, for competencies, because it makes the Asuremption that, like, I haven’t sat down to actually think and document what those competencies are, but it’s safe to Asureme that if they come from my industry, they’ve been successful somewhere else, they probably have them. But when you take the time, and this is hard, I take, I take you know, no finger wagging at employers here.
This is hard stuff. But when you really sit back and define the competencies required, your talent pool changes dramatically, right? So if one of the, if one of the competencies required for you and as you’re given that example, it was, it was, it was stressful situations and listening skills. If listening skills is one, maybe, maybe a a requirement of the job is can you multitask and handle stress, right? Well, you don’t have to handle, you don’t have to hire somebody from within your industry, which is a talent pool. This to find other jobs that are stressful, right? If, if, if, if one of those competencies, you know, all of a sudden your market opens up like crazy, but you don’t know it until you actually write down the competencies. And then probably there’s some stack ranking involved, right? Of my six, here are the three that are drop dead. You really do have to know these things and come in day one with this expertise. Otherwise, you’re not gonna be successful. These are three that are desirable, they’re required for your long-term success, but now I’m more assessing your ability if you don’t have them to grow into that, right?
Yeah, I, I really agree with that. And I, I love this idea of thinking when you’re thinking about the competencies, it’s not just so much the outcome. It’s how the person marshals their talents and their experience in order to do that job. And that thinking, this is a really important thing, especially given the tightness of today’s labor markets and the willingness of people to walk away, right? When they feel dissatisfied. That, that, that being able to think really broadly about who might be able to do this job. What kinds of skills does, for example, a high school teacher have to have? And how might those translate into, into my company? How might that work? Well, a lot of organization, it’s always fascinating to see how right on the curve teachers are in terms of a lot of their technology skills. They have to manage it all themselves.
They don’t have anybody you know, who’s do, who’s doing that for them. They’re constantly being hit with new systems. And you have to adapt to this and, and learn how to do this. This is a learning curve. So there are, there are lots of professions like that where we don’t necessarily think of what the, what the skills are that that person might have. We think, well, they’re a teacher. They’re, they’re a nurse, they’re an EMT in this case, you know? So thinking broadly is really, really important. And then the other thing is, it’s imp it’s very important in the hiring process there to ask a person very specific questions about, you know, what do you think you are best at? Where have you had help at getting up to speed on something difficult, where there’s been really a good outcome? And what was the situation that created that for you?
What talents do you feel that you have that that you would like to use, that you would like to develop, that you have not developed on the job you ha have, have had previously on the job you have Now if you’re hiring away from somebody, because this is, we miss what a big motivator this is for most people, and particularly for the kind of people who have the potential to be really dedicated contributors. People want jobs that enable them to expand and test their talents for the most place. And people who become sort of dissatisfied, disconnected, disengaged employees are people who feel that they don’t have the opportunity to do this. Mike, I’ve interviewed thousands, particularly women who have left jobs that look great on paper. Do you know what the through threat is of what they have said to me? They have said they had no idea what I could do.
They had no idea what I could do. Wow, if you are a small employer, that’s what you don’t want. You don’t want to create a culture in which people feel they have no idea of what I could do. So you need to ask them what they can do, what they’re not exploring, what they would like to develop and help them maybe, you know, help the job evolve to fit those talents. Cuz those are the most satisfying people. And by the way, those are the kinds of companies that become ever more skilled at meet, at expanding who they think their market is.
I, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna miss this opportunity. I think what you just said was so powerful, but so simple. I think it would be really easy to miss it if, if, if a giant portion, half of the workforce leaves jobs in the common thread is they had no idea what I was capable of. And your response to, what can employers do about it? Ask them. I want the show to be practical. You Yes. Walk away at the, at the end of this one hour conversation and, and implement these changes. It is as simple as that. So like, I, I think I naturally gravitate towards the over-engineered development of competencies, mapping those competencies to our performance management in a coasting methodology and a framework. That stuff is all really cool and it’s really impactful. But this, this doesn’t have to be that hard. It can truly be as, as simple as talking to not just, oh, I’m gonna go after the women because maybe I think I need to do better job managing women. It’s all of your employees because all of them fall under their own groups, different schools, different backgrounds, different genders, different everything. Tattoos. No tattoos. We’re all them individuals. Simply ask them, what other skills do you have? What would you like to bring to bear? Right?
Are there ways that you think this job could develop that would enable you to act on on those? Those are the human questions. And when I say that I, I’ve interviewed <laugh> thousands of people and heard something like along these lines from them as the most common through thread. I’m also talking about people who left some of the, you know, the companies that have the most developed, the most expensive performance management assessment tools and skills, et cetera. And that the kinds of things that most smaller businesses don’t really have have the budget to build. But these are companies that are like on the cover of Fortune for their performance management system. But it’s a system. It’s, and, and, and, you know, systems are obviously very important. We wouldn’t be here having this conversation remotely both of us from places in the country if we didn’t have fantastic engineering systems.
Key, key, key to how things operate, right? But we also need to recognize that the human side is what really keeps people engaged. I’ve never heard anybody say, I stayed at that job because, oh my goodness, they had the best performance review system. I have never heard anyone say something like that. <Laugh>, I’ve heard people say, I stay at this job. Cause the team had is so, you know, really seems to listen to us. Willie seems to care about us. And I have had had the opportunity, you know, I came to this company, you know, in you in the commercial side of the one of our insurance lines. And what I was able to do, because I was really good at talking to very dissatisfied customers, was come to hat up a whole division in this, in this insurance company that deals with the satisfied customers.
And we have developed some really interesting ways of learning from them about where we’re potentially falling short. And then the leadership of the company listens to me when I talk about that and we begin to test putting some of those things into place. How could I leave a job like this? I have grown so much in this job. A a friend of mine, Beth Kay, who’s done a lot of career development work, had a great book called help them Grow or Watch Them Go. And I see a lot of that you don’t help people grow. You don’t help them feel like, whoa, I’m, you know, I’m a little better than I thought. This job is really giving me some capacity to show who I am. We want people who mirror us and who understand what we have to contribute. And this is what this is.
You know, people often say, well, what is an inclusive organization anyway? You know, it sounds very fuzzy and they’re afraid you’re gonna come out and say, let me give you my model for an inclusive culture. No, an inclusive culture is very simple. An inclusive culture is one in which the largest possible percentage of people feel ownership in the organization. And we know whether they feel ownership in the organization, because if they do, they talk about we, not they, that language is what enables us to understand it. So it’s really quite simple. And inclusive cultures are created by inclusive practices and inclusive behaviors. And so, you know, whatever our biases are, that’s not the key thing. The key thing is key, the practices and behaviors that we model and that we expect at every level. That was the deal with the mining company. The leadership was very committed to creating an inclusive culture, but at the supervisory level, they had people who were, you know, sort of, it was all about their power and protecting their feet.
Man, you, you, you said it so perfectly. I lo I I love that. I think too often this whole d e i conversation turns into big corporate speak. And it’s not practical. Sometimes it’s tilts to the political and it’s, it’s just, I i, I won’t even attempt to say it because I couldn’t say it better than, than what you just did at the top of our conversation. I feel like I was, I was trying to steer us towards talent pool, right? So kind of above the funnel bringing employees in and, and how do we identify talent? You talked about ways to to, to tap into new talent pools. We had a nice conversation on competencies. You’re, you’re, you’re taking us now towards what I would say retention and performance orientation, right? So the, the data is really clear on this.
You know, I, I so many times executives think that the number one thing the employees want is pay. You know, that’s usually in the top five, but it’s near the bottom of the top five, right? It it is that they want to be at a place where they feel they have a voice, that they’re heard, that they make a difference, that they have an IM impact, right? That they like their coworkers. These are all things that are more important to most people. There’s a minimum threshold everyone requires for, for, for compensation. But what, what are what, what, what are some of the practical things that people watching the show today can implement to tomorrow to better engage their employees to, to, to make them feel heard and not just this gratuitous way, like, Hey, I just listened to this podcast yesterday and we’re all gonna have a staff meeting, and I’m gonna ask you, you know, what, you know, how you can contribute, how, how do employers really implement this advice?
Yeah, I, I think that’s really important. And I’m so with you on getting away from this sort of politically charged speech or accusatory speech in which we’re hunting for, you know, a minor infraction that we, we think or imagine that somebody has brought to the table. It has been extremely unhelpful in terms of the immediate things we can do to keep people engaged. I think that, that one of them is to, when we have, we don’t have to call a meeting to have everybody talk about things like you know, what, what makes them feel satisfied and heard. But I think that it’s helpful to, in a meeting, to be very, very sensitive and aware of who’s talking, of who of calling, you know, being careful to call on people who aren’t the usual suspects, who don’t constantly talk about things.
And then if they’re stumbling or they feel unsure about it to recognize, you know, that’s, that they haven’t had as much experience rather than think, Hmm, thought, thought so and so wasn’t really up to snuff. And afterwards come in and say, you know, I, I I called on you because I think you have such an interesting perspective on this, that, or the other. I didn’t feel that you were completely comfortable sharing that. Is there anything we can do that, that could help you? Also, you wanna be very sensitive and aware that there are people who try to make contributions in meetings, and often they get stepped on by someone else who’s more comfortable speaking up and more comfortable and, you know, not necessarily looking to take their idea or steal the credit, but may just be affirming it. But that’s, that’s sort of the, the, the result.
So you wanna be sensitive and aware of that, and kind of looking at how comfortable are the people in this room at contributing. A good thing to do in terms of to create greater opportunities for comfort is to really, in meetings use, one of the things we’ve learned so well to do in the virtual era, which is to have little mini breakouts through the course of a meeting. So it’s not everybody talking, you’re the leader. You talk, you call on a couple people, but put people in mixed groups and say, okay, we’ve one of the things we’re, we’re, as, you know, dealing with is we’re trying to attract this new kind of customer. Jim has just shared with us some of the experiences and doing that. What I’d like to do is to have a little bit of an informal brainstorm, put you in groups of three or four and discuss, you know, how that experience in your view might have gone a little better. Some things we might do in the future or some, some ways that you think would be more successful, excuse me, of approaching this particular group. So use that sort of mini brainstorm. It’s a way of building connections, make sure people do that across sectors and groups and levels. Really helpful. Excuse me, I’m recovering from a,
You clear your throat? I’ll ask question. I know we’re, we’re,
We’re, we’re starting to approach time. I know. So a couple topics I just want to hit on. So we, I think we talked about, you know, attracting and finding talent from, from different pools. We’ve talked about how to engage in and, and therefore retain that talent. Much of your work has been around leadership development, right? In, in you know, the, the, the, the concept of the, the skills that, you know, got you where you are or not, the skills that are gonna get you where you need to go. And that’s really focus of your last, last book from the, let’s, let’s talk about leadership development from the small business employer side of the equation, right? You frequently have an owner founder who is, you know, maybe was a great carpenter and now has a, a, a, a nice business, three crews doing home and kitchen remodels.
You’ve got a, a hairstylist who then found, started her own salon and now has a chain of five salons, right? So you got a lot of practitioners that are owners of small businesses and as they kind of try to get to the next level, they, they, they bump their heads up on the, on these. Now I need to actually, I, I, I can’t do this where I’m the sole leader to get to the next level. I’m gonna need to not just skills and competencies and arms and legs, I need leadership skills. What, what’s your coaching for entrepreneurs, small businesses to, to think about the same problem here of this inclusion and, and expanding their scope, but in, in, in developing leaders to help them get to the next level?
Yeah, I think the most, one of the most helpful things I’ve seen people do in terms of just practical advice, you’re running a business. You are the founder, it’s your business, it’s your baby. You’re very profoundly and deeply identified with it. You’re not necessarily recognizing that that deep total identity you have pulls away from some of your employees ability to be identified with the organization, because the organization is essentially you. I think the best thing you can do is to make sure that you join a group of people in a similar situation and share so you can hear what some of their experiences are. So you are not the person that everything is on in that situation. They understand what your situation is because they may be in a completely different sector, but they’re part of it. And I think that that kind of of thing is really, really helpful because part of the, the difficulty of doing this, of being a small business owner is it can feel kind of lonely.
You can’t suddenly start venting all your biggest concerns to your employees because you’re gonna scare them. You’re gonna think, make them think that the organization or their jobs are in jeopardy. So you need a cohort of people who are doing what you are doing, and you need to find that so that you can see, number one, a bigger picture see what people are doing that that is successful. You’re running a business, so you’re not, you know, off necessarily. I mean, you may read some books on leadership, but you’re not seeing it done live. You’re kind of making it up as you go along, as we all do. So you want that cohort, you want to feel embedded. You want to feel as if you have a group, people who are in that position. And I think that that’s something that you know, I’ve seen it happen wonderfully, but I’ve seen it lacking so often.
You have the furniture, you know, company. It’s, it’s kind of what we were talking about earlier in the show, thinking more out of the box in terms of who you might hire. So you own the, you know, the best known furniture company in your region, that’s terrific. And you’re doing fairly well. And they’re, you know, people aren’t buying the furniture. And young people are walking in and saying, we don’t like brown furniture, and you don’t know what that they’re talking about. So you’ve got all these issues you’re dealing with but you can learn so much from the hairdresser, from the carpenter, from the house painter who now has 15 people who are working for him or her. You can learn a lot from them. And that’s where I see, especially in smaller or more rural communities, there isn’t much linkage there. And this is one of the great advantages of this technology, is you don’t now have to drive a hundred miles in order to go to the meeting. And and I think that’s, that’s really important, right? If you can’t find something like that, start it.
That’s great advice. I, I, I could keep talking to you for a long time. I, I’m enjoying this very much and have enjoyed your work, and I’m really looking forward to your book, I think late February. Let me, let me give you a minute here to, to wrap and tell us about what’s in store in your new book.
Sure. rising together how we can bridge Divides and Create a more Inclusive Workplace. I’m holding it up here. This is the galleys. It will be out on February 28th. We’re doing pre-orders now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, if you’re interested, just go to that that site rising together. And really my big hopes for this book are that it begins to change the conversation away from identifying biases and toward being specific about what kinds of behaviors, actions, and ways of speaking are effective in creating a more inclusive workplace. And this is vital work because of the disengagement that is presently taking place.
Well, we’re gonna be sure to include a link to, to, to, to the pre-sale to Amazon in our, in our show notes. So if anybody’s interested, they can jump on that. I think this is so cool because, you know, you’re, you’re most known for helping women rise to the next level on their careers, right? And I love that you focus on the individual, not the systems and the finger wagging. It’s such practical advice in, in, and I think this is now a, a a a, maybe it’s not a pivot, it’s really, it, it, but it’s taking those same principles to employers, how to build this world of inclusivity. That’s not some politically correct thing to do. It’s the war for talent is real. We’re struggling to find employees, and when you find them, you better hang onto ’em and make this a place that they love to work and to grow and develop so that you, you never lose them. So in the, in with that s thank you so much. Really enjoyed meeting you. Really enjoyed our conversation and for everyone else thanks for joining today. We’ll talk to you next week.
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