How CHROs Can Lead (Consciously) During a Shallow Recession 

We know 98% of CEOs are forecasting a shallow recession in the next 12 to 18 months. As more and more CHROs and People Officers are included in overall business decisions, these roles will be important in determining how well the business does. While CEOs and CFOs promote caution in expenses, how can CHROs help lead, consciously?

Provide support + guidance in talent management

CHROs can help by ensuring employees are motivated and committed to the organization’s success during a downturn through programs that promote employee well-being and foster a positive workplace culture.

Talent management can not only survive but evolve during an economic downturn. Adaptation is the fourth step in our Conscious Leadership framework, because now that we’ve become aware; acknowledged where we’re at (in this case, on the verge of a recession); and taken action toward our preferred outcomes, now we can adapt. Guiding what recruiting will help the organization be most productive at this time will be an adaptive process CHROs can impact greatly. 

Help identify + retain key employees

CHROs can help the CEO to identify and retain key employees who are critical to the organization’s success in higher-growth business lines.

With the highest tech layoffs since the dot-com crash 20 years ago, retaining key employees will be crucial to keep business going. Encouraging feedback and input from employees; fostering an atmosphere of flexibility; and placing an emphasis on clear work objectives are all routes to greater retention and employee engagement, but one thing we see as an even bigger barrier for CHROs to help through is stress management

Keep an eye on stress management

A shallow recession is a time of uncertainty, which can lead to a high level of stress for CHROs and other leaders. 

According to recent data, more than one-third of working Americans reported experiencing chronic work stress, and just 36 percent said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage that stress. During a recession? That number is sure to be higher. 

It’s really important to take care of yourself first, prioritizing effective self-care. You can’t fill others’ cups without first filling yours. 

Being open and empathetic goes a long way. Everyone will react differently to change and a recession and everyone is impacted differently. Taking strides to reduce stress across the organization will be more important during this time. 

Raising the consciousness and competencies of your organization starts with your leadership. Leaders are multipliers and when we bring our whole, conscious, intentional selves to the table, people thrive and flourish (and therefore our businesses thrive and flourish).

Be proactive with stress management for recession-proof HR

CHROs need to be ready to come to the executive table with an actionable plan to lead during the upcoming recession. If you’re a CHRO and need help developing your organizational leadership objectives and execution, reach out to our experts at experts@orcahrsolutions.com

Or take a complementary stress assessment and 30 minute consultation to see how you can use it within your organization. Email experts@orcahrsolutions.com to request yours. 

In today’s workplace, managing stress is #1

The link between stress, emotional intelligence, + highly productive teams in tech organizations

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, now more than ever, workplace stress in America has become a serious threat to workers’ overall wellbeing and health, ultimately threatening and weakening organizations. But what exactly counts as work stress? It’s not the challenges that energize you psychologically and physically and that motivate you to learn and problem solve (“good stress”). It is when job requirements fail to match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the employee, causing negative and often harmful physical and emotional responses (“bad stress”).

With job stress becoming an increasing problem, researchers have conducted numerous surveys and studies to find out how many employees are affected and what type of mental and physical health problems they are experiencing as a result. Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report shows that in 2021, stress among the world’s workforce reached an all time high, with 44% of employees experiencing stress a lot of the previous day. In the U.S. and Canada, that number is higher with 50% of employees experiencing daily stress that can be categorized as “bad stress.” 

So how do you, as a CHRO, reduce workplace stress? 

On the front lines of tech stress

As technology progresses, we are pushed further into an online world. As a result, there are more and more security issues with hackers trying to breach and disrupt companies and organizations in this online space; at ORCA HR, we work with many tech companies, and see stress in the cybersecurity sector as a particularly acute scenario. 

One concern of a past client from a cybersecurity organization was how these security breaches were impacting the workers who had to prevent or fix these issues, especially since these breaches caused severely negative PR. 

According to a report from IBM, the majority of cybersecurity incident responders think the rise of ransomware has exacerbated the stress and psychological demands—with 67% of cybersecurity incident responders said they experience stress and anxiety in their daily lives as a result of responding to an incident.

To help this company, we created a stress management workshop that helped workers identify, acknowledge, and control their stress, which was becoming pervasive even when there wasn’t an active breach.

Discovering your workplace stressors

One tool that we like using to assess stress is the TTI SI Stress Quotient Assessment tool. This is a diagnostics tool that focuses on workplace culture and helps to determine and measure one’s stressors. It does so by analyzing stress in 7 different dimensions to help pinpoint which areas your team might be struggling in.

The seven dimensions include: 

  1. Workplace Demands
  2. Effort and Reward Balance
  3. Control
  4. Organizational Change
  5. Management Issues
  6. Social Support
  7. Job Security

Each of these categories have their own set of characteristics and responses which can affect performance on an individual or team-wide level.

Understanding where stress resides within the seven dimensions of the workplace

  • Workplace Demands 
      • Stress resulting from excessive demand happens when workloads become overwhelming or skills or talents don’t match the position.  
      • Reflect: Is my job even designed well enough in terms of what I’m expected to do?
  • Effort and Reward Balance
      • When high levels of output and effort are met with minimal rewards – whether that be compensation, a promotion or simple recognition for a job well done – an individual’s stress can skyrocket. Without an effort/reward balance, an employee can feel disconnected, unmotivated and even angry.
      • Reflect: Is my effort and the reward I receive in balance?
  • Control
      • Feeling powerless is a universal cause of job stress. Lack of control comes from high responsibility paired with low authority, not being heard, not being involved and others not understanding your work.
      • Reflect: Do I have autonomy in my role?
  • Organizational Change
      • Changes within the organization– from management restructuring to new policies and procedures – impact individuals differently. For some, it brings apprehension, insecurity and confusion – all which can raise stress levels when changes are not properly communicated or understood.
      • Reflect: How much organizational change is causing stress?
  • Management Issues
      • Reasonable directives from your boss should be expected. It’s when he or she creates enormous pressure or challenges, to the point of it hindering your workload, that cause stress to increase.
      • Reflect: Is your manager equipped to handle the increasing scale of the work?
  • Social Support
      • An unsupportive social environment can cause workplace stress. Managers who don’t provide clear and consistent information and co-workers who fail to assist one another leaves employees feeling unengaged and unproductive.
      • Reflect: Am I receiving support from others around me?
  • Job Security
    • Fearing for your job is extremely stressful. However, stress can also be caused by lack of advancement, being promoted too slowly or being promoted too quickly to be successful in the job.
    • Reflect: Do I feel secure about my job?

When you’re not aware of certain things, they are going to control you

Workplace stress is something that can have a large negative impact on productivity and employee flourishing if left unchecked. Through the use of the TTI SI Stress Assessment, we are able to analyze stress from many different viewpoints; not just individual stress but also organizational stress. If you can look at the whole system people work in and break it down into types of stress, then you can find the particular stress that needs to be addressed. 

Once we are able to pinpoint and defuse the stressors, we are able to begin making progress to reduce their control and impact on performance. 

Is your team (or even your whole organization) struggling with stress? 

Take a complementary stress assessment and 30 minute consultation. Email experts@orcahrsolutions.com to request yours. 



Test Assumptions in TRUST

Why assumptions limit growth for both you and your company

To have workplace success, implementing trust in your team and testing assumptions is crucial. But what does that look like? It is working with and trusting your team in finding the best way to work relationally—efficiently and effectively—while also continually reassessing and making improvements as needed. 

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. This puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward. 

Assumptions can hold back innovation

Assumptions are a natural component of workplace interactions. But what is an assumption? An assumption is a thought or a hunch based on our past experiences and our formed biases.

Here are some examples of common workplace assumptions:

  1. “This is the way it’s always been done, so why change it?”
  2. “Management doesn’t understand!”
  3. “Nobody ever listens, so why speak up?”
  4. “If someone has an issue, they will speak up, so I don’t have to ask their thoughts.”

If not constantly and consistently challenged, these types of assumptions can affect decision-making and stifle growth, not only on a personal level, but also on an organizational level. 

Bridge the gap between Assumption and Reality

Part of steadily improving is to test our own assumptions as well as the assumptions of those around us. The goal of these tests is to figure out and define what are the real roadblocks and what can be overcome with change.

Asking questions is one way to gain insight on which hypotheses are limiting progress. An effective analysis of Scenario #1 listed above might involve the following questions:

  • “Could this assumption be incorrect? Maybe there hasn’t been a better alternative suggested yet.”
  • “Has the environment changed? What resources do you have available now?”
  • “How has the situation changed? Are there new requirements that make this suggestion more relevant today?”

After acknowledging our assumptions, take action to implement change

At this point, you have identified some of the beliefs and expectations that might be holding you and your team back. Now is the time to push forward and overcome our limitations. 

Work to answer these questions in order to succeed:

  • “How are these assumptions limiting us?”
  • “What should we do differently going forward? Identify two or three commitments to action.”
  • “How will we hold ourselves accountable to these commitments?”
  • “What can we do to continue to challenge future assumptions?”

With Test Assumptions concluding our Organizational Trust series, look out for more tips on building workplace trust by signing up for our newsletter. 

For additional information and to schedule time with one of our experts, email us at experts@orcahrsolutions.com

Shared Success in TRUST

Could quiet quitting be a symptom of low trust?

Each year, many companies set out to accomplish more ambitious goals than the year prior. With these raised expectations, employees are expected to work harder and achieve more. Leaders often don’t do enough to share success and celebrate achievements, despite company emphasis on the importance of meeting or exceeding goals.

You may have heard stories about “quiet quitting” circulating around social media lately, and for good reason. Are employees motivated to put in more of their energy, passion and effort into their career, or just showing up for the task at hand? 

Quiet quitting is less about employee’s willingness to work more creatively and more about leadership’s ability to build a relationship built on trust, so the team isn’t just counting down the minutes until they can log off for the day. 

Moving from transactional to transformational leadership

Can you recall a time in your career when you had a leader who made you feel undervalued or unappreciated? Perhaps you felt like the bare minimum was all you had to give, based on your manager’s behavior. Isn’t this a transactional relationship, where you check in and check out?

Then there are inspiring mentors and leaders motivating you to be your best self—you want to show up for that energy, and want to do everything you can to accomplish the goals and objectives. Isn’t this a transformational relationship, where many positive outcomes are possible? 

A big difference between these two scenarios, which happen to many of us as we encounter different work environments and situations, is the ability to share success within and across an organization. 

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. This puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward. 

Sharing success creates a more positive environment

When leaders share success between teams and individuals, whether it comes from completing a project, meeting or exceeding financial goals, or gaining new clients, we have a higher sense of self-worth. We also feel more connected to and in tune with the organization, including having more trust in it. 

As an employee, how does it feel if success is not shared, credit not given, and accomplishments go unrecognized? 

Tips to share success with employees:

  • Reflect on and acknowledge the work. It doesn’t have to be an extensive breakdown but can be something like: “because of the work that went into x,y,z tasks, we were able to successfully achieve x result.” 
  • Give credit where credit is due. Recognizing hard work and acknowledging the employees who helped in the process gives employees validation and encouragement. 
  • Celebrate! Reward employees by taking their minds off of work. A team lunch, extra break time, or a fun workshop/ activity are great ways to build relationships and show employee appreciation. 

Stay tuned for the next and final article in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Test Assumptions. For more information and to schedule time with one of our experts, email us at experts@orcahrsolutions.com

Understanding in TRUST

How listening to understand moves colleagues from transactional to transformational relationships

Trust in organizations, institutions, and leaders is at an all-time low in the United States. When people lose their trust, it’s nearly impossible to get ahead as an organization; additionally, with job cuts in the tech sector, that can mean less people in your organization. 

Making sure the people you do have in your organization have a high level of trust with one another and the shared mission is crucial. 

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. This puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward. 

Understanding leads the way

Human beings thrive on connection and affirmation. We wither in the face of criticism and judgment. 

Listening to understand and connect is more than just listening to confirm what you know; it’s truly about focusing on the other person without judgment, and without the need to confirm or reject what is being said in order to be right. 

Dave Ulrich shares statements that help turn truth into trust. Depending on your leadership role and style, these include statements like: 

  • How well do I understand your point of view? 
  • Here’s what I propose given my values and goals. What would you suggest? 
  • I don’t know; can we find out together? 
  • What information do you have that may help us make a better decision?
  • What is happening in your life that is causing stress? Let’s discuss so I can support you. 

Full attention leads to understanding

Listening without judgment involves paying full attention to the person who is speaking, while consciously setting aside the tendency to judge them. Listening to understand and connect is an important component of creating a conversational space that creates deeper understanding and engagement rather than fear and avoidance. 

Ask yourself: what is their perspective?

When you listen, it’s about THEM, not YOU. What is their perspective? Their fear? The results they want? Listening is our gateway to connection that leads to trust. 

You’ll notice the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent.” When we are truly listening, we are not speaking at the same moment, internally or externally. We turn off our mind chatter. 

Consider: 

  • How does your connection change when you truly focus on the other person without judging or listening for points to counter or reject? 
  • How does the listener’s reaction to you change as a result? 
  • How do you feel when someone deeply listens to you? 
  • What do we do when we listen to connect?
    • Notice the eyes: are they open or closed? 
    • Notice the whole person: is there a shift in their face? 

Practice listening to understand in the next conversation you have in your organization. You’ll be surprised how far a simple intention can go. 

Stay tuned for the next in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Shared Success. For more information and to schedule time with one of our experts, email us at experts@orcahrsolutions.com

Relationship in TRUST

How companies promoting workplace relationship benefit from happier employees

Trust plays a part in every conversation you have throughout the day. While conversing with someone, your conscious mind might not be thinking whether you trust them or their provided information. Your subconscious mind, however, is constantly analyzing their interactions with yourself and others as well as recalling past experiences and similar interactions in order to gauge their trustworthiness. Therefore, all conversations either build trust or break it down. 

Over the years, workplace collaboration has become increasingly popular and important among employees. A Gartner, Inc. Survey shows that nearly 80% of workers used collaboration tools for work in 2021, which was a 44% increase since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. 

With increased collaboration within organizations, there is a stronger need to connect with others to build meaningful relationships and therefore trust. 

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. This puts us in our prefrontal cortex where we’re best suited to make the decisions and connections that move our companies forward. 

With remote or hybrid work, workplace relationships are more important—and difficult to achieve—than ever

Traditionally, full-time workers often spend more of their waking hours alongside co-workers than they do with their spouses and families. In today’s environment with many employees still working remotely either full time or part time due to the pandemic, relationships play a significant role in interactions.

When you are staring at a computer screen all day, it’s easy to forget that on the other end of your emails and chat messages is another human being. Without much of a relationship, it can be hard to assess tone and intentions over these forms of communication. This opens the door for misunderstandings, negative encounters, and ill feelings toward co-workers. Ultimately, it can lessen trust between people.

So, what are some actions you can take to prioritize remote work relationships? Here are a few of our suggestions:

  • Discuss issues over a call. You can really benefit from hearing each other’s voices and tone of voice. 
  • Take it a step further and turn on your cameras during meetings to see expressions and get that face to face value.
  • Schedule non-work related meetings where you can get to know each other better. Try and find an online trivia game or other icebreakers that you and your team can work together on. 

Workplace relationships allow employees to flourish

Whether working remotely or in-person, employees who invest in nourishing their relationships with team members feel more fulfilled and accomplish more. A Connected Commons study, where interviews were conducted with 160 leaders (80 men and 80 women) across 20 organizations, showed that workplace relationships proved useful with different aspects of: producing innovative solutions, executing work efficiently, and thriving at work. 

They found that people who create energy, purpose, and trust within their workplace networks succeed over time at a stunningly high rate. Furthermore, these good relationships brought project opportunities, talented people who sought to work with them, and were able to generate greater innovation and creativity overall. With this information in mind, it is hard to underestimate the power of relationships.

Who can you build a stronger relationship with in your organization? 

Stay tuned for the next in our Organizational Trust series, where we’ll dive deep into Understanding. For more information and to schedule time with one of our experts, email us at experts@orcahrsolutions.com

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.”

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. 

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. 

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