Building Trust in Your Organization

“Trust is the most precious of the golden threads that connect us with others. Without it, there can be no ‘WE.’ With trust, growth, change, and transformation are possible.”

Judith Glaser

Trust is the foundation for engaging with others. When you build trust, you can truly inspire and empower others. Leaders build trust one conversation at a time. When there is trust in relationships, everything goes smoother and faster with candid and clear communication that gets better results. 

We know this to be true in our own lives, but data backs it up. Gallup research shows that employees who trust their employers experience 74% less stress and 40% less burnout. One third of employees shared they’d stay longer with an organization if leaders kept their promises; furthermore, companies with high trust levels outperform companies with low trust levels by a resounding 186%. 

Where does trust live in an organization?

Have you ever said to a colleague or employee, “Just trust me!” and felt that was sufficient for gaining trust? Of course not. Trust in an organization lives and breathes through the individuals that make up that organization. 

We can create trust, but we have to understand first where it lives with us, as individuals. 

Harnessing conversation neurochemistry

Understanding and utilizing the neurochemistry of conversations enables us to achieve profound transformational results and revolutionizes the way we interact as human beings—whether we’re working with individuals, teams, or entire organizations. 

Humans are wired to connect; but we’re also programmed to distrust first. Distrust lives in the most primitive regions of our brains, which are hardwired to protect us.

diagram of brain neurochemistry during conversations

Heart Brain

  • Enables connection all internal systems and others
  • When we are in sync with our heart brain, we move towards each other as friends; when we don’t sync we move away and feel others are foe

Limbic Brain

  • Stores history of all emotional experiences
  • The limbic brain says, “Where do I fit in?”
  • Reads social context, looks for inclusion and exclusion
  • Move towards or away from each other

Neocortex

  • Hardwired for language, storing info, basic thinking, reasoning and cognitive skills
  • Holds our internal “scripts,” including working memory and stored memory
  • Newer researcher says right brain is change brain and left brain is steady-state brain

Gut Brain

  • Link between digestion, mood and health and the way we think
  • Stress correlated to lack of biodiversity in gut flora
  • Keep track of social cues and allows us to alter behavior accordingly 

Prefrontal Cortex – newest part of the brain

  • Higher level coordination of the whole brain
  • Envision future and create scenarios, step into shoes of others – empathy, mirror neurons, make judgments, live in trust and have integrity
  • Advanced capabilities – judging, dreaming, possibility

Awareness shapes our environment for trust

We need to be more intentional in shaping the environment for trust—this opens up the prefrontal cortex, where we can best make choices without an automatic response. 

Think about our primitive brain states as an uphill climb—everything is primed for survival and is an uphill battle for us to communicate. 

Think about our prefrontal cortex as strolling on a country lane—moving forward is possible in conversation and there is a noticeable flow. 

Awareness of what we’re saying as we’re having conversations and building trust connects us with the most advanced parts of the newest brain, which can even be thought of as the “executive brain.” 

Knowing the brain research and neuroscience principles that underlie the words and actions that build (or erode) trust is the key to increasing a leader’s self-awareness and the ability to engage and inspire others more naturally and logically. 

Trust is a pivotal element in the future of remote work

74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard. This opinion is also shared by 76% of entrepreneurs—and tech organizations specifically will be leading the charge on this new normal. 

To create meaningful work across teams in-office, you need trust; but trust in an organization is more important than ever with remote work. Flexibility in work schedules and work locations are key to retaining talent—but make communication even more important. 

Regulating and understanding TRUST

Creating trust in an organization can be as simple as TRUST

Transparency

Relationship

Understanding

Shared Success

Test Assumptions 

When we use this model as a roadmap, we can be aware of our mindset, intentions and impact. As we know, this puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward. 

Stay tuned for the next in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Transparency. 

Does your organization need a trust assessment? 

Contact us to learn more. 

 

leader looks into ocean

Increasing ROI through a proven leadership framework 

leader looks into ocean

Making our businesses efficient and effective are a key part of our everyday lives. And so increasing ROI should always be top of mind—but there’s only so many new skills and operations tactics that can help, in the long run. 

Where we see a lot of companies finding success in that gap between where they are today and greater ROI is with their leadership teams; both on an individual and organization level. 

The proven leadership framework of Conscious Leadership can be the gamechanger. 

How the 4A’s of Conscious Leadership impact effectiveness

Awareness 

Awareness is the first of ORCA’s 4 A’s of Conscious Leadership. Why? Because if an organization is aware of the issues that are impacting its overall effectiveness, then they can actually do something about it. 

Like individuals, organizations are often not aware of the things that are having the impact on their effectiveness. By illuminating and bringing awareness to your organization’s effectiveness, it allows you the element of choice. “How do I raise awareness around what my leadership culture and strengths are?” is an important question. 

Calibrate against external benchmarks; how does your organization compare with the best of leadership in other organizations in research-based assessments? The next benchmark to set would be where you are vs. where you could be. Top quartile? Bottom quartile? It gives you a relative place to start with. Assess what our future desired state is based on what we have to execute as an organization? What is the strategy we need to deliver? You can see where the gap is. 

That’s going to have the biggest impact in terms of your competitive advantage because your business cannot be more effective than its sum total of the leadership. 

Acknowledgement 

Once you are aware, which ones will have the most impact? What are we going to take ownership of to move forward? 

What would be most important to focus on that can have the greatest impact? Correlations between variables between leadership competencies and behaviors have the actual greatest impact on effectiveness and therefore ROI. This process can be accomplished when looking at an individual’s growth or an organization’s. 

Action 

What action are you going to take? You can have wonderful assessments and take ownership of the results, but if you do nothing, nothing will change. 

Is there the will to change? For example, if I have a very large gap between where I am today and where I need to be, there’s going to be a lot more work to get there. Be honest with yourself and your organization about if you’re ready to really put the effort into it. 

Adaptation 

If you put an action plan into place, you then have to revisit that and say, “Is this action plan having the desired effect or having effects we didn’t even think it would have?” Look to see if your action plan is having the right effect. 

Similar to design thinking, you can use this phase as a series of experiments. Seeing the impact of the things you’ve implemented allows you further choices: if they are not having the right impact, how do you modify those to have the right impact? 

Much like life, adaptation isn’t a linear thing; as you start taking action on some things, you may become aware of other things having an impact. Continual adaptation will allow you to grow, change, and maximize your ROI. 

Navigating complexity and major change initiatives

As an organization either picks up speed and/or becomes more global and complex, it often goes from trying to put some structure on itself on how it can grow further. Sometimes you have a little bit of chaos between putting that structure in place, so what happens is in order to deal with the complexity, the leaders have to be able to develop themselves to deal with the complexity. 

The complexity isn’t going to go away, but they may have to shift their own internal operating system in order to deal with that complexity. If it’s not developed enough to deal with that complexity it will be challenging for those leaders to scale up. Looking at the internal aspect of leadership and how that impacts the external outcome of leadership competencies is important to increase ROI. 

Skills won’t get you to the next level

You have to know where you are before you know where you need to go—skills won’t be the answer. There’s a lot of time spent on actually looking at putting in a development program without understanding where we are now as an organization and what impact that development program will have. 

Take a holistic approach; if you don’t have awareness or insight, then the actions you may take may not be the right ones or get the desired results. 

Most leadership frameworks only work on the outer game of leadership, which is the direct competencies or skills needed to be a leader. But it’s more than simply building skill. It goes much deeper—it’s also about changing the mindset or internal operating system of the leaders and or the organization.

Conscious leadership is for lasting change

Conscious leadership involves looking at both what we call the ‘internal game’ and ‘outer game’ of leadership, so looking at both the consciousness of those leaders and the competencies of that leadership. Bringing those two things together is what can create lasting change and effectiveness. 

If the internal operating system is out of sync with the complexity that someone is dealing with, you can give them a lot of competencies, but it may not have the desired impact. The individual’s mindset or internal operating system may need to change to deal with that complexity. 

Ready to take the next step in increasing ROI through conscious leadership? Contact us. 

Acknowledging change as a CHRO in 2022

It’s human nature to resist change. With every day comes news of something ‘unprecedented,’ and often not in the ways we want to see change happening. As much as this impacts our personal lives, it also—of course—impacts the workplace. 

What’s a CHRO to do as 2022 marches on?

Navigating ever-changing—and stagnant—COVID-19 mitigations

For offices that are choosing to go back to in-person facilities, return-to-work is in full swing. Making sure it’s a positive experience for everyone is a big task on CHROs’ shoulders; not to mention 74% of professionals think remote work will become standard, according to a study from Growmotely. 

Whether your organizations’ workforce is in-person, remote, or hybrid, there’s an important step you may be missing. 

Acknowledgement is the shift CHROs need

The second ‘A’ of the Four A’s of Conscious Leadership is Acknowledgement. Acknowledgement is all about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable—and what have the past few years been but uncomfortable? 

Awareness is the shift from “I don’t know that I don’t know something” to “I know that I don’t know something,” thus creating an opportunity for choice to acknowledge.

By acknowledging changes and frustrations, you can empower your organizations’ leaders to: 

  • Shift from a fixed to growth mindset 
  • Embrace the challenge of learning and change
  • Apply emotional intelligence in everyday situations 

We all know it’s important for leaders to understand how their mindset may impact their perspective of how the team functions. So for CHROs, acknowledging change and navigating with flexibility can create a seismic shift in your organization. 

The top CHROs across the nation are focusing on individual wellness

Considering all we’ve been through in the past two years, it makes sense that HRO World lists supporting individual wellness as a top concern for CHROs. The ongoing pandemic has elevated the role of the CHRO even further—often visibly helping CEOs manage and lead their organizations into the future. 

This makes acknowledgement of present issues, day to day with an eye on the future, even more important.

A holistic approach builds upon acknowledgement

While taking into account individual employee wellness and leadership’s emotional intelligence, you need a holistic approach. 

That’s why we’ve integrated our 4As of Conscious Leadership into our customized solutions for organizations like yours. 

Acknowledging change can be difficult. We’re here to partner with you to create holistic solutions that transform the consciousness and capabilities of leaders for whole-organization success. Contact us today. 

How we scale leaders to grow sustainable technology organizations

Making waves in the tech industry? We know even the best and brightest organization can be no more effective than the sum of its leadership. The level of your leaders’ consciousness and capability is what ripples across your entire organization—and it directly controls your business’s cohesion and capacity to excel.

Why Conscious Leadership matters in today’s world

Once leaders are conscious, self-aware and intentional? They make waves. 

  • Their leadership capacity and impact increases. 
  • They can give employees and organizations what they deserve. 
  • They can intentionally create more engaged and productive workplaces. 

Agile, high-performing teams provide for fast product and service releases and opportunities for innovation and continuous improvement; however, those factors shouldn’t end with the product. Employee and leader burnout is all too real and it’s up to us to create a future of work that’s both scalable and sustainable. 

At ORCA HR Solutions, we focus on creating conscious leaders so they can grow organizations as a whole. 

Proprietary method of Conscious Leadership

At ORCA, we know the true key theme to leadership success: Conscious Leadership. And we’ve created our own proprietary framework that is needed more now than ever. 

ORCA’s Conscious Leadership 4As Framework is a framework to deepen self-awareness and help leaders realize their full potential—as well as the potential of their teams. 

It is about understanding and embracing their whole self with total awareness that a leader’s inner game creates their external results — their leadership impact. 

Leading by our values

We seek data and insights and drive our programs using world-leading tools and assessments, but our application and approach is always heart-centered. 

We never forget that our data has a human heartbeat and we never lose sight of the person behind the numbers. We go further than analysis and base our practices around emotional intelligence, creativity, motivations, experiences and empathy. 

We use data and insight to help leaders create a heightened awareness of self and others, enabling meaningful and effective communication. 

By combining our human-centered approach with rigorous methodology, our leadership development programs develop companies by developing the people who drive them. 

Scaling leaders through holistic leadership development

Leaders are whole people. Therefore, programs to develop these leaders need to be holistic, using multiple tools and ways of learning and growing. 

Our Leadership and Management Programs integrate insights, capabilities, support structures, and real learning on the job. We create holistic programs that integrate assessments, coaching, workshops, and on-the-job practice. 

The outcome is heart-centered, effective leaders that create a culture of bringing their whole self to work. These work environments are kind, supportive, and motivating where people feel like they belong. 

We unequivocally understand all different stages of growth, complexities and challenges tech organizations and startups face and come not only armed with our expertise in human development, but our critical knowledge of the intricate and unique environment, too. 

Our coaches have worked within Microsoft, Amazon, LinkedIn, Slack, Facebook, Google, DocuSign, Expedia, LinkedIn, Zillow Group, Avalara, Micron and more. 

Proven approaches for your unique goals and challenges

Sometimes leaders need 1:1 guidance for an even more personalized experience. We onboard the best coaches in the business, so we have the right person, with the right background, and right expertise to help your organization break through barriers and accelerate towards the future of work. 

We provide executive coaching, workshops, and personalized experiences for the most important challenges organizations face. 

Activating Leadership Through 10 Self-Awareness Activities

Is one of your goals this year to become a more impactful leader? Awareness is the gateway to more effective, conscious leadership. In fact it’s the first step in ORCA’s Four A’s of Conscious Leadership.

Yet many of our clients ask, “Where do I begin?”

We’ve put together a list of 10 activities to do to increase your self-awareness every day. Remember, awareness is a continual process of learning. Our team at ORCA uses these techniques to further grow and develop. 

1. Meditate and practice mindfulness.

One company’s study showed consistent employee meditation increased productivity by 120%. With meditation rising to the same level of popularity as yoga in the U.S. alone, it’s easy to find resources to help with this critical tool for self-awareness and success.  

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and notice what comes up.
  • Headspace and Calm are great tools to use for guided meditations.
  • These mindfulness tips may seem easy enough, but in practice self-awareness is a process of constant learning. Therefore, ORCA and WithPause have put together a detailed guidebook that you can use throughout your day for self-inquiry: 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience. 

2. Learn something new.

From a physiological perspective, learning something new is good for you. When you learn something new, you are exercising your brain—helping to improve cognitive functions such as concentration, attention to detail, memory recall and problem solving.

  • Find an interest that you enjoy, ideally something that brings you joy and gets you out of your comfort zone. Through trying something new, you’ll gain greater self-awareness and confidence. 

3. Use self-assessment instruments.

Understanding behavioral style and preferences to environmental factors impact how you lead and work as a team. 

  • These can include assessments such as DISC and EQ to learn more about yourself and increase your awareness. Get your free DISC Engagement Report here.
  • You can also use CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) to dive deeper into what are your strengths and how to capitalize on them. Contact us to learn more. 

4. Journal.

Journaling is one of the most accessible tools available to increase your self-awareness—especially as patterns in thought can appear when you journal over a span of time. All you need is a pen and paper (or blank document on your laptop). 

  • Consistency is key here. Notice what thoughts you have when you first wake up and write them down. Use the prompts below to guide your journal entries.

5. Create a personal values statement.

A personal values statement shows you what’s most important, which is incredibly effective in prioritizing your time and goals. 

  • What is important to you? What guides your actions?

6. Challenge your fixed mindset.

A growth mindset thrives on challenge, unlike a fixed mindset, which assumes we can’t change in a meaningful way. 

  • Example: Instead of “I need to control.” (a fixed quality that feels unchangeable) try “I am learning how to let go be a better listener and allow others to take the lead.” (this creates a path forward)
  • Kristin Neff’s 5-minute Self Compassion Break is a great tool to guide you forward when you feel stuck in your fixed mindset.

7. Identify the sensations in your body in connection with your emotion.

Recognizing how our mind and body react to situations and emotions—whether in tandem or separately—can illuminate areas we want to alleviate tension. 

  • Notice what situations or stimuli trigger you and cause you to have certain reactions or feelings. Example: What is happening in your body when you feel angry? 
  • Set a reminder on your phone that says “Name 3 emotions you are experiencing right now.” Set it to repeat at a specific time every day. 

8. Examine and poke holes in your own level of thinking.

As leaders, we know that making assumptions isn’t the best practice. Your own thinking is no different. 

  • Play your own devil’s advocate.
  • Be open to asking those around you what I am missing in my thinking about this problem.

9. Know your strengths and weaknesses/growth edge.

SWOT analysis may be second nature for your business, but knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, and growth edge present an opportunity for greater self-awareness and direction. 

  • In what areas would you like to improve? What things come naturally and easily to you? What is something you would like to do, but are afraid to try?

10. Pay attention to your intuition.

Paying attention to your intuition—and trusting where it leads—can bring self-recognition and information you can then act on. 

  • Where do you feel naturally inclined to go? Be curious and listen beyond what your rational mind might be telling you. 

Looking Back to Look Ahead: An End of Year Letter from CEO Paul O’Beirne

This time of year can fly by with more events than usual; it’s normal to feel the pressure to celebrate and soak in every last moment as the year comes to a close. It’s also a time for reflection and looking to the future with intentionality. It’s important to look back so we can see how we would like to move forward. As I reflect back on my Conscious Leadership journey this year, I encourage you to do the same. 

Vulnerability is an essential part of the Conscious Leadership Journey

This year, I stepped in front of the camera and shared more of myself with you. I’ll tell you, making my first video was both a weird and anxious experience. It felt like I was talking to myself. I had a thought of “are you staring at a screen or really talking to people?” It felt vulnerable and challenging, pushing me even further as a leader and I shared more of my own journey than ever before. Over time I was able to become a little more comfortable making videos. 

I believe what we have to say is important, especially in these times when most of us are being challenged by everything. The world is shifting and we are entering a new era of work. My mission and our mission at ORCA is to help people become more conscious and take ownership of things that are going to help them be more effective in navigating change. This mission is more important than any fear I have of being in front of the camera. 

I didn’t have any expectations about what might happen, but I gained so much from the experience. New connections, deeper connections with my network and more confidence in myself. I felt really vulnerable sharing my journey publicly and ultimately had to trust that my sharing could help someone. In the end, it resonated with some, and I had people reach out to me to thank me for sharing and some even shared how it helped them in their own journey. 

The challenge of leading a company through uncertainty

In the beginning of the year, lots of projects were still on hold as clients didn’t know what to expect in the coming months. As the year progressed, things started picking up and there was more predictability around how we would move forward. Everything wasn’t completely worked out, but we had a general direction. In 2020 we really had to get comfortable moving everything to the virtual space, and this year we were able to go back to having some in-person meetings. 

The biggest challenge we faced was the uncertainty that comes with growing and sustaining a business. Figuring out how to keep generating revenue, maintaining profitability, controlling costs and overhead, and figuring out cash flow. 

Personally, I was challenged to work on my business versus in my business and really embody the role of CEO. (You might remember my balcony and the dance floor video.) It was important to look at how to scale a business beyond just me and the relationships. I needed to personally spend more time on the balcony. 

Defining what success means at ORCA

It’s important to know your “why.” It’s crucial to how you measure your success as a leader. When I think about ORCA’s success, I ask myself two key questions:

  1. Have we assisted our customers in having a transformational experience? 
  2. Have the individuals and teams with whom we work taken away something that makes them and those around them better? 

This year I really tried to prioritize sharing our wins. I adopted a habit of doing this every week in what I called “our wins and priorities.”  We are still a work in progress, but are continuing to get clear on where we can add the most value and focusing on developing our niche. Currently we are transitioning to a more holistic approach and integrating the different assets we have to bring greater value while focusing on where we have the most experience, which is working with technology organizations. 

Looking to the future

As another year comes to a close, I’m going to continue to use connection as my roadmap. My goal is to continue to establish and build long-term sustainable relationships with our clients and partners. It’s not about selling a product or a new lifestyle. It’s about raising awareness and encouraging people to continue to grow and transform and for you to do the same for your people; in this way, we propel to new levels of success. 

We are working on integrated offerings that can be customized to different clients based on their needs. The Four A’s of Conscious Leadership will continue to be a focus, and we’re excited to dive deeper into that framework with you in 2022. 

We are so grateful for our clients, our partners, and our community at large. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday and a wonderful end to 2021, and we look forward to connecting with you next year. 

If you would like to stay updated on what’s happening at ORCA, subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news sent straight to your inbox. 



The most impactful books on my Conscious Leadership journey: 5 Book Recommendations for Conscious Leaders

I’ve always sought to learn and grow on my Conscious Leadership journey, whether it be from mentors, peers, my job, or on my own. Reading growth-oriented books is something that has helped me tremendously, and today I’m excited to share some of my favorite Conscious Leadership books with you. 

I met with Marvin during my time working at Microsoft. I really liked the work and research he did on empowering people in the workforce. He empowered people by moving responsibility to where the job is at, meaning as a leader he believed it was crucial to enable people to solve their own problems. He inspired the idea that everyone can create their own desirable future. 

This book is great for someone who is interested in organization change, or looking to feel more empowered in their workplace. 

Kevin Cashman takes a holistic approach to leadership: grow the whole person to grow the whole leader. His book offers stories, exercises, and practices to help readers develop mastery in eight areas. This is the book that started to help me think about the inner and outer game, although I didn’t call it that at the time.

This book is for anyone who wants to cultivate more awareness, and grow on their Conscious Leadership journey. 

In his book, Otto Scharmer integrates heart-centered leadership and focuses on where leadership comes from instead of how someone does leadership. This had the biggest influence on my capstone project: The Being of Leadership. 

He talks about full presence listening and how the power of listening is both being able to connect to yourself and others. He describes three presences: co-sensing, co-presenting, co-creating that coming together to create a full experience. 

I recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for something comprehensive and wants to learn about an interesting model. 

My first copy of this book was given to me in 1983. I re-read it in 1985 when I lost my dad and my job. This book is all about believing in yourself and not getting in your own way. I remember when I had no job, and I said I have no doubts and that I am going to be successful and won’t worry about money. A leader from Microsoft was supposed to meet with seven of us. No one else could make it, so I met with him one on one. After that meeting, he offered me a job, and I moved to the U.S. 

I’ve learned that when you get out of your own way, really ridiculous and crazy things can happen for you. If you’re wondering what the three magic words are, you’ll just have to read the book to find out. 

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something really impactful. This is a book that I often buy copies of to gift to people.

In this book, Ron Heifetz gives a structure and framework for dealing with complexity and understanding the whole organizational system and your relationship with that system. This is where “the balcony and the dance floor” came from. 

“Knowing how the environment is pulling your strings and playing you is critical to making responsive rather than reactive moves.” – Ron Heifetz

He talks about observation, interpretation, and intervention. How do you do these things in that system? You have more control of the complexity itself when you understand that it’s the relationship to the complexity that matters rather than the complexity itself. 

“Your silence creates a vacuum for others to fill. The key is to stay present and keep listening. The silence of holding steady is different from the silence of holding back.” – Ron Heifetz 

It can be difficult when change requires you to challenge people’s familiar reality. Many will feel threatened as you push through major changes, but as a leader you will have to find a way to make it work. 

I would recommend this book to someone who is going through a transition, or who is looking to make big changes in their life. This book will have a huge impact on how you see and understand your environment. 

There are so many other great resources out there, but these are the top books that have had the greatest impact on me and my journey. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, or want to share what you’ve learned from these books. You can get in touch by going to ORCA’s Contact page or reaching out to me on LinkedIn

Learn more about Conscious Leadership here. If you’re ready for help on your Conscious Leadership journey, you can learn more about working with us here

The Great Turnover Tsunami: What is the manager’s role in the tidal wave of employee turnovers?

There are a lot of articles being written about the great turnover. Experts call it “The Great Turnover Tsunami,” a tidal wave of employee turnovers due to pandemic burnout, among other factors. Employees are taking the time to reassess what is important to them, and spoiler alert, it’s not going back to the office.

I’ve spent the last few weeks speaking with some of my clients who are considering leaving their current roles. When I asked them why, they mentioned two main reasons. 

  1. They want to create more balance in their lives.
  2. They do not feel valued or cared for by their managers. 

The consensus among these clients was that they felt their managers had not shown up for them when they were going through personal challenges during the pandemic and before. 

Compensation is no longer the only motivating factor

My clients expressed to me that they were all willing to sacrifice compensation in order to find a role and an environment where they felt more supported and valued. 

The Global Gallup Engagement survey states that only 34% of employees in the U.S. feel engaged.The pandemic has seen that number fluctuate even lower. There is room for improvement here, and it is up to managers and leaders to make these changes a reality. Leaders and managers need to create an environment where employees feel engaged and fully supported in their role. This is even more important during times of anxiety and uncertainty. 

Of the 12 Gallup survey questions, the most important one is the following: 

Does your supervisor or someone at work seem to care about you as a person? 

Research shows that employees leave leaders and managers. One of the key reasons is how their manager sees and values them. 

Employees want to feel heard. They want their manager to engage in empathetic and compassionate conversations. They want to know their managers care about them as a person.  

People are looking for more than just compensation and benefits. They want to work in an environment, and with a manager, that motivates and supports them so they can do their best work.

Conscious Leadership can bridge the gap between managers and employees.

Leaders don’t wish to create an unmotivating or unsupportive environment. Most leaders aren’t aware of how their own behaviors impact those around them. They are unknowingly (or knowingly) blind to how their actions affect others. Yet, it’s this lack of focus and awareness that contributes to an unsupportive work environment.

One of the reasons for this is that many leaders are not appropriately invested in the management part of their role. In many cases, companies don’t focus enough on investing or rewarding the people manager component of the leadership role. If leaders want to stop the Great Turnover Tsunami, they must invest time and energy into becoming aware of how they show up. This will help them become more conscious leaders and model behaviors like emotional intelligence and empathy that make an environment more supportive and motivating. 

As an executive coach, this is my passion and is what I have dedicated my career to. At ORCA, we’ve developed what I like to call the 4A’s of Conscious Leadership. These steps are an iterative process that help leaders become more aware and implement meaningful change in their organizations.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to reach out with compassion and empathy

When was the last time you had a truly empathetic conversation with an employee? A conversation where you ask about what is going well or not going well for them as a person and not their tasks. When have you shown that you really care about them as a person?

It’s time to have a caring conversation with your employees. If you don’t, you risk losing them. 

Consider the following seven steps to help you gain insight into what your teams are feeling and experiencing.  

7 steps to ignite caring conversations

  1. Set up an individual call or meeting with each employee with the goal of listening with empathy. Do not go into the call with recommendations or action items. This is about listening.
  2. Ask what is going on in their lives at this moment and how you can provide support. 
  3. Ask what transitions they are going through personally. Some people will be feeling a sense of grief from intense change or the impact of the pandemic and continued uncertainty.
  4. Ask what they need to feel empowered and trusted to take care of their work and schedules.
  5. Ask how you can create  the space for them to be innovative and creative. 
  6. Ask how you can help them move forward through uncertainty. 
  7. Create time to have engaging conversations with your employees during your one-on-one meetings or set-up a monthly check-in.
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I challenge you to put time on your calendar to check-in with each person on your team and see how they are really doing. You have the power to lessen the Great Turnover Tsunami and have a profound impact on your teams using compassion, empathy and conscious leadership. 

If you are struggling with how to navigate this time of turnover and uncertainty, please reach out to us.  Our coaches are trained to help you become a caring manager, especially during uncertain times. Also check out the resources in our previous articles

Adaptation: The fourth step in Conscious Leadership

Our environment is constantly changing, so we need to continually adapt​

As humans, we naturally resist change. It’s part of our instincts. If we are naturally built to resist change, how can we possibly learn to thrive in a world that is constantly changing? This is where adaptation comes in

What is Adaptation? ​

The definition of adaptation is “a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.” Our environment is always changing, so we need to learn how to continually adapt. This is a continuous process. As we become more aware, acknowledge where we’re at and take action, it is critical that we monitor our progress and make adjustments. Adaptation is noticing our progress and the environment around us and then reacting accordingly. 

This is important if we are to move from Conscious Competence (I know something, but I have to think about it as I do it)  to Unconscious Competence (I know something so well I don’t have to think about it.)

In our last article, we discussed needing to continuously seek feedback and monitor the outcome of our actions. This can be a complex process, which requires us to become more attentive to our verbal, behavioral and effective cues while we are relating to others, ourselves and our environment. This process can be seen as a series of experiments of learning and growth. 
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Case Study: Self-reflection and increased awareness is the key to adapting​

Liz was a coaching client who was working on a plan to be more aware of her triggered reactions when she felt people were not moving at the right pace. She was doing well until her boss asked her to take on some new projects. 

She wanted to take on the extra work, but also felt her stress level increase with the added pressure to deliver more. 

Instead of jumping directly into action, it was important for her to take some time for self-reflection and to diagnose her new situation. 
 
I encouraged her to become aware of what might be going on with this new change and to spend some time observing what was happening as a result. 

She worked through some of the exercises to help her reduce stress, such as taking time to exercise, setting boundaries around work and getting enough rest. She also reflected on how she could shift her perspective and see the situation differently.

Liz asked herself how she could shift some of the responsibilities of her team to get everything done instead of how she is personally going to take on new responsibilities.

She was able to think more clearly because of her increased awareness, reduced stress and with this new perspective she felt ready to take on the new responsibilities. Liz was adapting to the changes in her environment.

Adaptive leadership is about the change that enables the capacity for us to thrive.​

Ron Heifetz’s Adaptive Leadership model is all about experimenting, discovering new knowledge, and making numerous adjustments throughout.” Adaptive problems require individuals throughout an organization to continually make adjustments to their environments. Adaptive leaders are open minded, willing to self correct and examine challenges from new perspectives.

Our Conscious Leadership framework can support you in this process. This is not a linear journey and requires continual adaptation to the evolving environment and to recognize that our relationship to this environment is constantly changing. The process of moving from Awareness to Adaptation is not a straight line, but rather a spiral where we are continuously adapting to the world around us at each stage.

New environments and new dreams demand new strategies and abilities, and they require the leadership to mobilize them. My friend and colleague, Sesil Pir, said in her book Human Centered Leadership, “ A leader changes shape, color and quality day by day until, one day, they find people are drawn to them without any further effort. Here are 5 steps that can help guide you through this process. 

5 steps of effective adaptation

  1. Try different approaches and see what the impact is. Adaptation takes place through repeated awareness, acknowledgment and action through experimentation. 
  2. Take time to observe yourself. Be curious about what you feel and how you react  as the situation around you changes.
  3. Slow down. Remember that it takes repetition, trial and error to learn something new.
  4. Recognize that leadership is a continuously adaptive process. In order to become skilled, it requires continual learning and the knowing that the environment around you and your relationship with it will continuously change. This struggle is part of the leadership journey.
  5. Use the system you’re in to support your growth by developing an accountability circle of trusted advisors who can give you feedback. Ask the feedforward question, “what is one thing I can do that will make me more effective in working with you.” 
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By taking time to observe yourself and experiment with different approaches, you will start to better understand your relationship with your environment. Remind yourself that adaptation is a continuous process and that situations and environments are constantly changing. As you go through our Conscious Leadership Framework, you will not only gain insights, but you will also strengthen your ability to adapt to any situation or environment and become a more effective leader.

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Action: The third step in Conscious Leadership

Tiny gains turn into big wins

What comes to mind when you think about taking action in your life? Is it fear, or maybe a desire for a huge shift or a grand gesture? These might not be the most effective steps forward when you are looking to make changes in your life. What we’re learning through neuroscience is that it’s the small moves or tiny gains that propel us forward and help rewire our brains. Before we dive into how we make effective changes, let’s talk about what action truly means.

What is an Action?

When you take action, you are moving from “conscious incompetence” to “conscious competence,” meaning you are moving from a place of I know that I don’t know something” to “I know something, but I have to think about it as I do it.” When you take action, you are committing to integrating new practices into your work and life. This impacts the people around you, your team, your organization, your family and friends. It impacts your whole self. It is important to keep this in mind and understand that the best action to take first might be slowing down, taking a step back and reflecting.

 

We are learning through neuroscience that our brain can change when we focus on what we want to change. This is called neuroplasticity, also known as the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. The brain creates new neural pathways from new habits. In his book Mindsight, Daniel Siegal indicates that consciously focusing attention on the changes you’re making will reinforce the new neural connections. The more specific we are about the changes we would like to make, the better the instructions we are giving to our brain.  

Case Study: How do you take action when you feel stuck?

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A client made this comment to me when we were working together. “I have this feeling I am driving a car down the highway at a very fast speed, but I am finding it hard to get anywhere.” He had some big deliverables that he was excited about, but was feeling stuck in moving some of the simple tasks forward. 

 

In order to help him move forward, I asked him to slow down and engage in some self awareness exercises with curiosity and without judgement. We uncovered some of the underlying issues preventing him from moving forward in the way he desired. One feeling that came up was his fear of failure. 

 

I asked him to see this from a different perspective. In this process, I asked him to observe his feelings in a way where he could see he was not those feelings, rather he was observing those feelings in a specific context.

 

He was able to break the large task into smaller pieces and focused on the next thing he could do to move the task forward. He could then connect the feeling he attached to success when he executed on the deliverables. By slowing down, he was able to see what was holding him back and then take the necessary steps to move forward.

The Power of Tiny Gains- taking small steps over time help us rewire our neural pathways.

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The key to change is to be very specific about the change we desire and break it down into smaller steps. Those smaller steps might look like learning a new routine or behavior that is performed regularly. When we do this, we are rewiring our neural pathways to bring these new habits from a state of “conscious competence” to “unconscious competence.”

If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done.

In the beginning, making a choice or change that is 1% better might not seem significant. As time goes on, those small changes and improvements compound and suddenly you will find a large gap between where you started and where you are. Focusing on making small changes and improvements every day will add up to something significant over time. Here are 5 steps you can use to implement small changes into your life. 

5 Steps of Effective Action

  1. Set a goal for yourself. Create a goal that is achievable and short-term focused.
  2. Break your goal down into smaller steps. Focus on the one or two most important things that will move you toward that goal.
  3. Be present. Focus in the moment on what habit you are working on.
  4. Visualize the benefits of achieving your goal. Think about how you will feel once you accomplish your goal. What benefits will it bring? Connect to these feelings and feel them in the present moment.
  5. Visualize the obstacle without judgement. Name the obstacles you are facing. What can you do to address those obstacles? Can you detach yourself from them and remind yourself that you are not those obstacles? They are merely a temporary experience.

By implementing small changes into your life, you start to see a larger shift over time. Taking time to slow down, reflect and be specific about the changes you desire will help your brain effectively rewire your neural pathways. It’s never too late to change as long as we are focused on the desired outcome and trust in the power of the tiny gain.

 

Are you feeling stuck and unsure about the changes you would like to make? We’d love to help! 

Reach out to us to get started with a consultation. 

 

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