Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour

Ep. #20. Developing Diverse Leaders with Dr Wayne Mullen

June 16, 2022 Jean Balfour Season 1 Episode 20
Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour
Ep. #20. Developing Diverse Leaders with Dr Wayne Mullen
Show Notes Transcript

Jean is joined by Dr Wayne Mullen.

Jean and Wayne talk about

  • How to create culture in a virtual world in a 100% virtual organisation
  • How diverse leaders bring the critical skills needed for the future in organisations
  • The double whammy for women as leaders
  • Authenticity and leadership

Wayne runs Mollitiam, a consultancy business, and is the Chief People Officer at Xapo Bank. His previous roles included Chief People Officer and Chief of Staff at Quartz Enterprises, Director of Global Leadership and Capability at King (the Candy Crush people), Global Head of Leadership and Organisational Development at VTB Capital, and Head of Leadership and Development for Standard Bank’s international investment banking business.   

He holds an MSc in Organisational Behaviour (Occupational Psychology), an EMBA, and a Doctorate in Leadership and Organisational Development (awarded the Ken Goulding Prize for Research Excellence).  His doctoral research focused on the experiences and development needs of minority leaders.

 He has many other qualifications including being an executive coach.

He has contributed chapters to two books – The Tavistock Institute’s ‘Dynamics at Boardroom Level’ and Springer Nature’s book ‘Management for Professionals: Global Diversity Management’.  Wayne is a Visiting Professor of Diversity, Leadership and Organisational Development at Middlesex University and a trustee of Ben Cohen’s Standup Foundation.

You can find Wayne here

https://www.linkedin.com/in/waynemullen/

https://www.xapo.com/

https://standupfoundation-uk.org/

Dynamics at Board Level

https://www.routledge.com/Dynamics-at-Boardroom-Level-A-Tavistock-Primer-for-Leaders-Coaches-and/Brissett-Sher-Smith/p/book/9780367540777

Global Diversity Management

https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-19523-6

Time to Think - Nancy Kline

https://www.timetothink.com/

The Promise of Giants - John Amaechi

https://www.amazon.com/Promises-Giants-John-Amaechi-ebook/dp/B08YYGNLTC



Jean:

Hi everyone. And welcome to making sense of work. It's my absolute pleasure to welcome Dr. Wayne Mullen to the podcast today. Wayne is a friend and colleague, and we've worked together on a number of programs over the last few years. So welcome Wayne.

Wayne:

Nice to be here.

Jean:

Let me you a bit about Wayne. He runs Mollitiam a consultancy business and is the chief people officer at Xapo bank. More about Xapo later. His previous roles have included chief people, officer and chief of staff at quartz enterprises, director of global leadership and capability at King. They're the candy crush people and global head of leadership development at VTB capital. Prior to that head of leadership development for standard banks, international investment banking business. He's well qualified to be talking to us today as he holds an MSC in organizational behavior an EMBA and most recently received his doctorate in leadership and organization development for which he was awarded the Ken Goulding prize for research excellence, his doctoral research focused on the experiences and development needs of minority leaders. And we're going to really dig into that today. He has also many other qualifications, including being an executive coach. Couple of other things about Wayne he's contributed chapters to two books, the Tavistock institutes dynamics at board level and spring nature's book management for professionals, global diversity management. He is visiting professor of diversity leadership and organizational development at Middlesex university and a trustee of Ben Cohen's Standup Foundation. And do you also in his spare time has a very cute dog called Harper. So welcome Wayne. Wow. You have a busy life. So how's work at the moment.

Wayne:

Work is good. There's always a lot to do, Xapo has a very global workforce. Lots of different needs. We've been doing a lot of work around actually a leadership development be wellbeing. And so there's that those are both pretty pertinent for us at the moment, but very good. Very good.

Jean:

Good. When you have a good day at work what is it that makes it good?

Wayne:

What is it that makes it good. There's probably, there's, there'll probably be something in my day where, I feel like I'm developing somebody. So whether I've done a coaching session with somebody or I've just been in conversation and we've resolved something I can feel that there's maybe a, of a light bulb moment for somebody, but certainly, if I feel that I've contributed in some way I think that's very good. HR is just generally a lot of problem solving lots of opportunities to do creative, which I love. But I think there is still for me the reason I get out of bed is because, I like developing people, seeing people do more than they could do. So if there's a little bit of that, somewhere in my day, that always keeps me happier and definitely leaves me energized.

Jean:

You're working for an incredibly modern organization, a modern organization in a modern way. Could you say a bit about the organization?

Wayne:

Xapo was originally a Bitcoin wallet and then it became a bank and, it's really an organization with purpose, which is what sort of attracted me to it. But effectively it enables, people to, to protect their wealth as for primarily in emerging markets face focus bank. And it was set up by our chairman who had who is Argentinian. And he had seen his family lose their savings many times when the government had either devalued the currency or there was suffering hyperinflation. And and Zappo effectively enables people to be able to put their money. In USD where it's safe and it's contained and it's and it's not going to be subjected to things like hyperinflation or governments devaluing their currency. It's also the first regulated Bitcoin bank in the world. People can store their Bitcoin there and it's fully protected. So it was quite a different proposition. And certainly my, my maternal family are Are in Myanmar Burma. And although the situation is different. I I certainly know some of the challenges of what it's like for our family in terms of getting money to them and if they need money for medical things or things for the houses, et cetera. Our family is certainly not in a position where they're looking to offshore savings, but certainly some of the challenges of banking and transferring money is that's always been, felt very deeply in our family.

Jean:

So it's a really gorgeous example of a values led banking.

Wayne:

Yeah. And also, I think the other thing that appealed to me is we are a remote first organization and being able to attract. Talent from anywhere in the world is really something else. We have people in well over 40 countries now everybody works remotely. We're set up very well to do that and it is a sort of mindset shift, I think when you move to fully remote working my last company was not fully remote, although we were highly flexible, but obviously during the pandemic, I was working from home from two for two years. but it's quite different when you're working for an organization, which is typically a sort of face-to-face organization. And then you work from home versus one, that's been set up to be remote and it's quite different the ways in which we work, the things we value about how we work are quite different. So I've had to learn that, but but that, I love actually.

Jean:

I'm curious about what About how you create culture when you're building a hundred percent virtual organization where people I mean, your, your job advert say remote work from anywhere. So how do you create culture in that?

Wayne:

It's interesting, isn't it? Cause when I think about how you operate operationalize culture, the model I work with is really about what are the things you say about your culture? What does that mean in terms of behavior? And then finally, what does it mean in terms of how you operate or practice and it's actually the third that tends to have most impact on culture. And so we're very clear about what our culture is. We have our values. We have I designed leadership competencies, which are extrapolated from those values. And it's very inclusive. I think we have some great role models. And we're still doing work on things like developing leaders and doing it, doing that in a way, which is consistent with what we say about our culture. But I think there's also the way in which we operate our business. Highly transparent very focused on making sure that the business is safe and robust and compliant. And then there's what we have is our ways of working and those are articulated. And that's really, when you get into practice at a deeper level, and that's much more around things like We don't want to have lots of meetings. We value asynchronous collaboration. We have tools that enable us to do that. And so we default to asynchronous which which is very much a part of our of our culture. But then we connect. So we have an all hands every week. So we all come together. We do lots of social things at the moment. it's pride month, so we're doing some work around that. We use lots of collaboration, tools like Miro slack and slack is wonderful because it does give you a sense of stuff going on because you're getting messages and things are through the day. And some of that's very work-related and some of it might just be our pets channel or book recommendations, et cetera. We also have a headquarters in Gibraltar and it's not a typical office. It's actually, it's built into the sort of defensive walls. part of the headquarters has a wall, which is about 700 years old. So sorry. No, sorry. Older than that it's um, built in this, in the 7 hundreds. And and every team can book the headquarters and go out there and spend time together. And so that's also part of our culture. And in fact, it's actually quite difficult to find a week that spare, because that can also where I do our leadership development programs. Every team can book that as often as they need to during the year. So there is still a coming together. But those off-sites, or on-sites as we call them are. Designed for collaboration. So that's when we do a lot of planning and team building and leadership development and have a bit of fun and we have a big barbecue out there and we have open space and it's a really beautiful place to go and work for a week. And of course the weather is typically pretty good in Gibraltar. So although we're fully remote, we do, we still have that opportunity to connect. We weren't able to do it during the lockdown, but we also have a global offsite every year. And so that's taking place this year in Singapore. And so we're flying every employee that wants to come out to Singapore for a week and we'll do I can't reveal too much because. 'cause, I don't want to spoil it for the employees, but it's fun stuff. It's an opportunity to just to connect and to get to know each other and have a bit of fun. And we've we've bought our hotel for the week and stuff. So that is an opportunity to just to kind of reward people and have some downtime and just experience each other in a different way, which is which if you were, if you're not a remote company, you would probably do something like that. Even if that was just Thirsty Thursday drinks or something. So that's very much a part of our culture that those are some of the sort of artifacts of our culture. But certainly we design work the ways of working around the task, not the task around the work. What lends itself best to asynchronous collaboration, what lends itself to collaborating online at the same time what should a meeting? What should it be a briefing? We see things we get out, it's not working. Let's try something else that, that works really well. Let's do more of that and share that, et cetera.

Jean:

So it's really refreshing to hear you talk about it because I think what happened during the pandemic particularly was that we, all of us landed. Why is it working remotely for those of us who live and work in Asia? Actually, there's been a lot of proxy remote working because you work across time zones and across countries a lot. So it's been happening, but we didn't design work or the task or any of that to function in that way. We didn't have conversations about this. And so what happened. I think for many people was just an endless stream of back to back meetings. There was no time even to have a break and there is a real opportunity, I think, for us to really rethink that and think about being very intentional, not even just about what do we meet for, but when we meet, how do we meet? How do we. Run the meeting so that it's very inclusive so that there's collaboration and the meeting. If we're not all present in the room and

Wayne:

uh,

Jean:

such an opportunity for us to rethink.

Wayne:

Yeah. And I agree. I think in, in my last organization most of the people I was looking after were not in the UK. And so a lot was done on video calls anyway. And one of the challenges we always used to have was like meeting them space where do you go to do your video calls? And that obviously that's not such an issue when you're working from home, but I certainly remember. After three months of working from home so I remember month three, just going, oh God, I've got, I'm going to be in here for nine hours. And it's nine hours of calls and not being able to gain grab a coffee sometimes just be hour after hour. And it's hard to do your best and be at your best with people. When you're when you're just doing lots and lots of video calls, so we do Xapo is different insofar as we try and keep those to a minimum. And we try and find out a bit more about how people like to work. We do value things like one-to-one and doing some of those on video calls, but you can also have a one-to-one, which has done through slack. If you prefer if you want to use. Do some of those things via by messaging. We wouldn't do it entirely like that, but for some people that's what they that's what they want. We're also very clear with people about things like asynchronous working. So if suddenly somebody is putting lots of meetings and a diary and you got a, that's not really how we work. We do gently nudge them in the right direction. But we are through the interview process. Very clear with people about what the requirements are, what do you need to be set up for remote working and also what know we explore them, what that might be like, because it isn't for everybody some people do struggle with it. And certainly in my last company, when we started to go back into the office there, there were many people, particularly in London, for example, I had been at home for nearly two years, but know, they were in flat shares or how shares and sharing broadband and working at the edge of a kitchen counter and they weren't set up and it wasn't good. The number of calls I did with often external companies, et cetera. And you'd be talking to somebody who was calling from their bedroom And so I think it's important to be mindful that it's not right for everybody or just a personal circumstances, don't allow it. And the other thing I think that's really important for us is around the sort of radical flexibility, which is it's we don't. Think about our working days is nine till six. You need to be available for whatever calls, et cetera that you need to. But if somebody is, somebody goes to pilates class at three o'clock on a Tuesday, or they've got to pick up the kids or they want to go for a run or take the dog for a walk or whatever. That's fine. If you get an email late at night or very early in the morning, because that's when somebody prefers to work, there's no expectation that you respond to it immediately. You work your hours based on things you need to do. And for me, what's hard is that thing about feeling guilty if I'm away from my desk. If the dog is nudging me, because she wants to play Frisbee for for a few minutes is actually going, you know what? It's okay it's okay to just take a few minutes and then do whatever. Or if you want to go and get a sandwich or meet somebody for lunch, you can do those things. I That's entirely. Okay. But it's a definite mindset shift to work with.

Jean:

It's because those things are not only okay. But we know from the research that taking those breaks away from work. From our desk, it's actually good for our cognitive ability, our cognitive function to have that break. But it sounds like you're saying there's so many people I know who are working remotely, who feel guilty if they're not constantly on their instant message or whatever it is because they, the story is if you're not online, you're not working and you need to be online all the time. And that's a terrible.

Wayne:

Yeah, it is. And I think there's something about how do we train how do we make sure that when we when we're training leaders, they understand that they facilitate that and encourage that, and that they're not dropping a messages. I sent you an email and you haven't answered it or I've sent you a slack message and you didn't respond. Flexibility means we're nonlinear and I see that with my teams they will come online at different times because it suits them and that's okay. We focus much more what do we need to do? And what's gotta be achieved every week, but when, and how I think most people benefit from lots of latitude in how they actually work.

Jean:

So I think so one of the. The last bastions, which I think you're talking about of work is the time of the day we work, I think, and that some people just work better. From lunchtime to midnights people, but don't ask me to work those hours, but if you asked me to work six till two I'll be fine. And I think it's so refreshing to hear you describe something which enables people to do.

Wayne:

Yeah. One of my team I often see her online late in the evening. I've checked in with her is that that she's okay. But she says she she picks up her son and then they have a family dinner and they do all of that. And then when the when the apartment is quiet again, that's when she starts to do. Some of the bigger pieces of work when she has time to concentrate, et cetera. And I have another member of staff who does it the opposite side of the day. I see her coming online very early in the, in, in the morning. And and again, that's for her. And then she does the school run and does the dog will walk. And and so as long as we I think as long as we're checking that people are okay, but that's not a. He that they have so much work that there, but that they're just managing their workload and their work life in a way that works for them. Then I think that's fine,

Jean:

what slightly problematic, as I've just heard you say that you heard them, you see them come on nine in the morning, online at the end of the day,

Wayne:

I was thinking exactly the same thing it is cause, cause I I do tend to park things that need concentration for either very early in the morning or. In the evenings and stuff, but I might just be online looking at the news or Twitter or something and I, and because it's my laptop, it's uh, I can see that people online, but but no I certainly don't feel a compulsion to be working into the night yes.

Jean:

Good. I'm relieved to hear that. This leads us really nicely into your research that you did exploring. How really, I think I'll get used to talk about it, but how really to develop people who are in a minority in organizations or w women, but women usually in a minority in the senior parts of organizations. So could you tell us a bit about this and what you discovered.

Wayne:

I'd spent many years doing leadership development and I spent many years doing DEI work and they were different. And so that so for me, there was always a struggle about how do you reconcile that? When we do leadership development work there are lots of very established models around leadership development and leadership styles and how you develop leaders and all of that good stuff. And then when you look at the research around. What happens to people in organizations? It says, we know it's different th that organizations don't work in the same way for everybody. They don't work in the same way for women. They don't work in the same way for LGBTQ plus people. And they don't work in the same way for black, Asian, and minority ethnic people, but the leadership doesn't account for that. And so really what I wanted to try and do was to try not to try and. Bring those together. So to say, what do we know about how people experience organizations and what it's like for organizations and progression rates, et cetera, and obstacles and then how to incorporate that into leadership development now. So I obviously had to contain the research. So I looked at three groups so we know that gender has an impact. In organizations we know that sexual orientation that there is a difference in terms of how people experience organizational life and then certainly ethnicity has an impact as well. And so I looked at those three groups where women are not a minority, but there are statistical minority in leadership. And then and then I looked at lesbian, gay and bisexual, but we tend to use broader terms now, but the research was a few years ago. Transgender so that, so there were trans women who participated in the research. And then the third group really was black, Asian, and minority ethnic leaders. We know for example that men who are directive agentic task focused pace setting there tends to be highly valued in organizations and and men got on because of those kinds of leadership behaviors, although they're not necessarily the most effective ways of leading when women exhibit those behaviors they Tend to be judged quite harshly. So there's a whole lot of terms that we use to look for women who exhibit those kinds of behaviours. So it's interesting that when we look at the research there's a sort of double whammy for women, rarely because if they exhibit leadership styles, which are what we might consider traditionally male it's harmful for them, but if they use more inclusive consensus, participant leadership styles they're considered like you hear terms like mother hen or she's good with people and stuff. And so it also doesn't help women to to get on there's. There's some really interesting research around speaking while female the number of times when we get interrupted or someone repeats their ideas, but because the man that says that they get there, they're credited for it. So there's a wealth of research around what happens to women in, in leadership positions. When there is a sort of dominant narrative around authenticity and leadership, like, how can you be authentic if you, how can you be authentic if you can't bring your full self to work? If in being authentic and therefore being. You may be revealing information about yourself, which is stigmatising and leadership develop doesn't necessarily support or encourage or or help people to do that and it's obviously coming out, it's not this single event anyway many of the people I, I interviewed or contributed to the research, talked about things like Being at a client meeting and somebody saying what does your husband do? And having to make that decision that moment do I say, actually I have a wife and that reveals something about my sexuality or do I just let it pass? And very indirect pronouns they or whatever, or even changing the pronouns with people. And the same with for example black and minority ethnic leaders still that thing about censoring themselves. I'm not gonna say that because I might sound too black or I'm not gonna say that I went to the temple of the weekend because it reveals I'm Hindu and therefore it doesn't fit with this dominant stereotype of what leadership looks like. And actually many people talked about some really terrible experiences and people outright being told, I don't want an India manager. I don't want to work for an Indian and it's still shocking in, in, in this day and age. The intention was. At the end of this doctoral research, I'd be able to do things in my leadership development that would bring those two things together and would be able to help minority leaders be able to go out wave my magic wand and help at least three groups of people to be more successful in leadership. But actually, what was interesting about the research. I think it's helped me to bring those two things together and to integrate some of that D and I work and the research work into my mileage at work, but actually the main conclusion really that came from the research was that minority leaders may actually have a, an advantage in contemporary context. And that was. It was not what I was expecting. And so really the challenge for organizations is how do you draw upon the resources and the experiences of minority leaders, which are increasingly relevant in contemporary context? If you look at, for example LGBTQ plus people. Who often occupy a very ambiguous space and have to navigate their sort of professional landscape in a way which is often about saying, am I safe? Is that okay? Here is whatever. And that ability to work with ambiguity and navigate ambiguity is a huge. Right now in leadership in fact, it's probably if I would say the two most important skills, I think right now for leaders are your ability to navigate ambiguity, and empathy. And I think anyone who's who comes from a minority group tends to be. More sensitive to the individual needs of people anyway. We see that black leaders, for example, tend to score much higher on, on measures of humanistic leadership. And that's it's incredibly important right now it's certainly not binary in terms of male and female leadership styles, but there are certain emerging patterns of behavior. And what we see is women do tend to draw upon more consensus based leadership styles, much more styles, and we know they're more effective. They're just, they've just historically not been valued as much. And I think it may explain why when you have more diverse boards when you have more women on boards, for example financial performance tends to be better because they're probably better at managing risk. When you're not being continually reinforced it puts you in a S in a space where you are more, probably more reflective and so you're thinking about more carefully about whether you're on purpose, whether you're managing risk whether you're doing the right things, whether you're doing the right things by people. It should have been obvious actually, but I hadn't considered that when I started that research. But actually that was really what came out of it. If you look at what's required of leaders right now in organizations, and then you'd look at what people who have maybe operate on the margins, bring that's exactly what organizations need right now. And so we have to be able to to tap into that. And I think the other thing is that it made me think a bit about my some of my coaching work. And again, it's not, it's certainly not binary but if I were to sum up the main differences I've seen between male executives and women executives in coaching, it's been that. Men at the top of the organizations often have struggled with flexibility because they've been reinforced very much throughout their careers. And suddenly you're at very senior levels and organizations, and that doesn't really help you. If you need much greater flexibility and maybe you haven't had to do that as much. And I think with women, sometimes it's about stepping into role and not and letting go of the need to hold back because of how you might be judged. But anyway the research was fascinating from those very appreciative of the people that contributed to it. I was very lucky to have so many smart people, yourself included that contributes to that research. But it certainly. I think personally transformational for me, but certainly professionally. I In terms of being able to start to bring together D and I, and lead development in a more coherent way was really helpful.

Jean:

Yeah. I've got about 500 questions to ask you. That was good. That was quite long. That was quite a long introduction tomorrow. Great. Thank you. Let me start then with a question then about authenticity, because I'm curious about what you're saying is that people who have experienced. I think this is what you're saying. People who have experienced being in the minority, whatever that looks like have had to learn a broader range of skills in order to navigate organizational life. And and those skills really deeply required in our fast paced environments where we're having to deal with complexity. And cov has been a good example of that and that requires Maybe to have courage, I think about being myself and to be able to bring those aspects. And yet we've still got a bit of a prevailing culture that is not as inclusive as we would hope. And there's some stats coming out of the pandemic that say that for example, women have been disproportionately negatively affected by the pandemic in the workplace. We often see that during periods of recession, but more than. Statistically get, lose their jobs. How do we help create a more dialogue of understanding about this? How do we help leaders of organizations to see. That by not including people they're really missing out on this ability to navigate in the modern world?

Wayne:

I certainly think having those conversations and certainly they should be integral in every piece of leadership development that we do we should be talking about what does it mean? What does it mean if you start excluding people who bring things to the organization that we desperately need, like resilience, like the ability to navigate ambiguity, like the ability to be authentic like the ability to account for Differences that your team members might need. And then also things like looking at the task, like how do you increase the informational resources available to deal with things like complexity or problem solving? How do you engage in deeper elaboration of issues? Your ability to integrate diversity is actually a Testament to organizational agility. And there are, I think there are very few organizations right now that wouldn't say agility as a challenge for them and that how do they do it? How do they start to respond to things? And so I think helping leaders at the top of organizations start to connect these pieces. Commercially what's important to, to your stakeholders about what your workforce is made up. How it's made up how are you going to increase information resources? How are you going to elaborate more deeply on the issues that. That you have, how are you going to be better at managing risk, which has obviously been a huge issue. I've I've complexity how are you gonna make sure you keep your people, how are you going to get the best out of your people? How are you going to track people? And all of these things are outcomes of diversity. And I think we forget that diversity is not a divest is an outcome. It's what it is, where we're looking for because of these things. So I think if we can help people to connect. Those pieces and say it's really mission critical cross-functional collaboration is a challenge in all organizations and if anyone's ever worked with a product team and an engineering team knows that but. But it's mission critical. Absolutely is. And then, and so when you think about most organizations have a need for sort of transdisciplinary practice you need to be able to get product people and engineering people and HR and finance, and all of these functions working together. And so that in itself requires your ability to handle and work with diversity. So I think the more we can help. Organizations understand that diversity is mission critical and it's not something outside of how you're working. It's about how you work, and we started off this conversation talking about things that remote working and ways of working, but it is part of that. But also I think there is something that opening ourselves up to the idea of leadership, which doesn't look or sound the way we've historically needed it to, or we've expected it to not need it to, but expected it to. And one of the things that that many of the people talked about during the research as minority leaders, we often center ourselves. And what that does is it leads to this gradually erosion that it's not okay to be yourself. I don't want to say that because people think I'm saying it because I'm a woman or I'm people. I don't want to say that because I'll stand to black. Or I don't want to talk about what I did. We can, because it's different because it's different to what the other people in the leadership group would do. And I think we have. Start to do those things so that people can say actually leadership does look a little bit different now and it can do, and it needs to and that's okay. And equally for majority leaders it's not about taking away anything it's about helping them to understand how they can be more effective in how the organization can be more effective. Once you start to tap into the resources that you have and. Unleash all the stuff that people have. And I think anyone that has either operated from the margins or been discriminated against or struggled against the diversity or just against the structural system, which makes it more difficult for them, brings a lot of resource and creativity and and. That just sat in gifts that we desperately needed and organizations right now.

Jean:

Yeah. Yeah. And that's really, it's really about that mutual understanding and appreciation of each of the.

Wayne:

Yeah, I think if you try, if you treat anything as different from or disconnected from the sort of primary tasks of the organization, it's very difficult for people to integrate it into their thinking. Whereas actually, a few, if we can have this conversation, you would say having a few times several times now, but it's mission critical, and if we can integrate and work with diversity in our organizations, it contributes to solving same. One of the challenges that organizations face agility, talent, attraction, talent development, creativity, collaboration, innovation. Elaboration, all of the things that, that many organizations struggle with, it's not a panacea, but it certainly takes us a bit closer to being better at those things.

Jean:

Yeah. I ran uh, my first offsite last week since before COVID and we had a team of. Many it actually flown in, which was amazing from around Asia. And I run this exercise where I asked people to share something about themselves, but one of the options is inviting people to tell us something about your name, because often people's names have got to a story or something about their family or how it's spelled. And I was so struck by how across culture, I guess we had 10 different cultures in the room. I used to, if the people had a story about their name, that was something that was something that brought us all together. We saw our common humanity. In the fact that there was something about our names. I'm not explaining that very carefully. Clearly it was such a beautiful way of seeing, bringing together us as humans and talking about something that's very personal.

Wayne:

It's I think it's, I think it's a wonderful exercise and I might steal it shamelessly from you. Whenever I do lead at ValMark, I always start with some work around personal history it's because it does personalize us. And also you because it does also bring out the fact that people are interesting and they've had different experiences. You can always connect people. You get, okay that person loves cycling. And so does that person, and this person's lived in that country and there, and this person speaks this language and the site is that person. And then there's all these things which connect us. And so I think they're very powerful. I think they're very powerful exercises.

Jean:

Helping us to listen to hear each other, I think in that space. Yeah. Yeah. And There's a challenge. I think in all of this, about how we bring this conversation into the room when we're both developing leaders and when we're creating organizations and how do we bring the idea that we need different perspectives and a different world into everything we're doing?

Wayne:

Yes. And I think when I'm do leadership work and I talk about leadership styles, I talk about certainly gender issues. I think that's a very important one, but I think there's also something about recognizing. Some of the challenges that people face. And I think that's where we get into the inclusion piece. If I'm a leader and I'm hearing a comment, which is homophobic or transphobic or something, I may not immediately know who in my space from my team actually might be gay, bisexual, or lesbian or trans. We don't know they might have someone in their family or be in a relationship with somebody. And it's learning some of those things about when when we have to call out some of those behaviors and and teaching managers, you have to do it in the moment. You have to do it because. That's the kind of staff that really erodes your culture, cause it's leadership is soft and about what we tolerate, not what we do. But then also just things like, when you're in meetings, like how do you make sure people everybody has an opportunity to speak how do you make sure people are prepared? And so we do some of that work we send agendas in the, in in advance asking everybody going around the room, even virtually to ask people if they've had the opportunity to decide everything that they needed to say, because we know that for some groups or certain we ha we haven't even talked about cognitive about diversity, but for some people it's much harder. And so giving people that opportunity, things like asynchronous work gets the best out of somebody some people framing a gender items as question, I seen all the great stuff that comes from Nancy. Clients work, but and then lovely tools and techniques to work with, but they are inclusive now. And I think it's moving beyond the theoretical, into giving people like really practical ways of working which actually are more inclusive. I was doing a a programmer in February in Gibraltar and something, one of the people said was that English is not his first language. And he said most of the people in his. Don't speak English as a first language. And he said, I'm suddenly in a room with people who English is their first language. And he said, it's much more nuanced. There's a lot more words that I'm not familiar with and whatever. And he said maybe one of the things that we should do is just bring people out a day earlier. So they can just get used to hearing like British people speaking because he said, I everyone in my team speaks English, but we, none of us are. Native English speakers. And so it's different in Southern we know around native speakers, he said, it's really tiring because I have to keep translating stuff and go, yeah, I hadn't thought about that. So yeah,

Jean:

so much of what you're describing is what you're living at the moment and the store actually. This job is a beautiful opportunity for you to take your. Research and then embed the learning from that into an organization. That's fantastic.

Wayne:

Certainly as say, as I said Going through that process of doing doctoral research was personally transformational for me without a doubt, because it really helped me just understand some things about myself. And I have a bi cultural upbringing. My mother is Asian, my father was white. And it just helped me with some of those things. And I think, but also I did a professional doctorate it's practice-based so it was really about how do I develop. Practice and use the stuff in a in a very practical way, rather than just contributing to theory, which is important, but it was, for me, it was really about developing practice. And yeah, so I loved it and it was, as I say, it. Been professional transformation. Cause I can use that. I can use some of this stuff. It's still got a long way to go and I would love to just have six months just to spend on drawing out things and turning it into nice little toolkits and whatever that will come. So yeah. There's still time. Yeah. Wow.

Jean:

Thank you for sharing that it's reminded me to go back and be curious and think about the people I'm coaching. I think, and the people I'm working with and about how I can help them protect particularly leaders who are in the minority groups in organizations, and how to help them to think about coming into the room, bringing their experience and bringing that experience of being in the minority and valuing it, seeing it as part of their toolkit.

Wayne:

Yeah, I think it's what, all the resources that you can marshal in order to be really effective. Being able to reflect and think about what is it that I bring as a leader that might be different and might be therefore helpful to the organization because no one else brings it or fewer people bring it. So

Jean:

there's a great leadership exercise in there. I think in that question Thank you, Wayne. As we draw to the close of this conversation, I wonder if there's any books or podcasts that you particularly would recommend to people?

Wayne:

I love Nancy clients' work time to think. That book contains just lots and lots of tools and techniques, which I think by definition are very inclusive and I've already mentioned one she talks about framing, agenda items as questions, because it's all about creating thinking environments where, you know, where people come into the space, whether it's synchronously or asynchronously. I suppose it's the power of bringing together many minds. I love some of her work and the way she writes and and I think we've all experienced things like what is it like when you're truly listened to? And then she she has some very powerful lessons in her book. I'm a big fan of John Amaechi and he has just released a book called the Promise of giants. And interesting. I think many of the things that we've talked about today are themes that run through his book, but his book is very much a co a call for I think a more human workplace. And I think the timing of it is perfect. I think particularly post pandemic. And as we see organizations move to things like hybrid work digitizing their products, et cetera. He's incredibly eloquent and I think as much so in his writing as in the speaking it is very much a call for how do we create inclusion really? In the interest of both the people that work for us, but also. In the interest of serving the organization and I think he articulate and his ideas beautifully.

Jean:

Brilliant. Thank you. I will put links to both of those in the show notes. Excellent. Wayne, thank you so much. I've really taken a lot away from this. I'm going away to think more about it, more about this idea that Each of us brings from the difficulties or the challenges in our lives, a different aspect to leadership actually. And that if we could draw on that more, if we could help people share that experience more than that would help them to develop and grow as leaders. And it would help organizations to bring those different approaches in. I think it's really lovely way of looking at leadership. So thank you very much.

Wayne:

It's been an absolute pleasure, so thank you for having me great.