Ep 114: Identifying Gaps in Effective Leadership, with Gina Hayden

Jan 26, 2022

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Identifying Gaps in Effective Leadership, with Gina Hayden

On this episode of THRIVE — sponsored by accessiBe — Kelly and Gina Hayden talk about how to identify gaps in our leadership style in order to deepen connection and create more meaningful impact.

Episode 114 Links

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Duration: 31:18

Kelly: Welcome back to Thrive. What a great discussion I had with Josh Basile on the first episode. I hope that you were able to catch that. We’re going to keep that momentum going this year. And today, I have an incredibly special guests. Gina Hayden is the Co-founder of the Global Center for Conscious Leadership and a Director for Conscious Capitalism UK. In 2016, Gina actually published a book called Becoming A Conscious Leader: How To Lead Successfully In A World That’s Waking Up. And I have to say that that book has literally become my Bible. I connected with Gina a few months ago, and I’m not only excited to share that she is actually going to be writing a foreword for my book, upcoming. I’m also thrilled to have her on the show today. So we’re going to uncover some of the gaps in effective leadership. And I really hope you enjoy the conversation. So Gina, a warm welcome. Thank you so much for joining me today. You know I always love our time together.

Gina: I’m really looking forward to talking with you. Thank you. Really excited.

Kelly: Yeah. So I think a great place to start just so everybody’s on the same page would be how do you define effective leadership, because I think a lot of people have different definitions of that.

Gina: So it’s probably worth saying I do a lot of work with corporations, a lot of work with leaders of different levels and corporations, right off to chief execs and with their teams and developing leadership programs. So I’m quite immersed in the space. And I think that, at one level, effective leadership is definitely to my mind achieving results through people. So that then combines the task and the human. And I know that there are companies out there where it’s purely about the task. I’ve got some clients where it’s purely about the task, never mind, the fact that there are humans executing it. And other companies that I’m working with where it’s very much about the people, but sometimes they get a bit sketchy on pushing on the task. So I think a really good way is thinking about achieving results through people and how do you as a leader, contain both of those things and balance that particular seesaw. But beyond that, I think the notion for me anyway, with conscious leadership, the really effective leadership is this notion of moving from me, to we, to the world. How do I have self-mastery of myself? And we’ll come onto that. What does that actually mean? But I’m operating at the highest level, in integrity to myself, and being a good beacon for others as a leader. How does that translate into my relationships so that the we is at the optimal level, whether it’s team and organization? And then the world part is actually really exciting, but in now in the future is what is the potential impact for, that my company can make in the world out there that is actually for the greater good, that’s for the benefit of more than just me personally, or us in the organization and our shareholders? How do we take that out and include business and organization in an outcome that looks positive for as many people as possible, and the planet, etc.? So for me, that’s effective leadership.

Kelly: Yeah. And I couldn’t have encapsulated that any better. And I think it’s important to understand or to mention that when we say the world, we are talking about starting sort of close to home, so local community, and then the ripple effect that just naturally occurs with how other people are impacted by that ripple effect. So it could be yes, someone in the community who is being helped through some give back that is happening because of the organization or the company, then it could be the ripple effect of that on someone else. And it just goes out further and further. So I think it’s important because some people will focus in on that and say, well, how could my company impact the world? That seems really grandiose, so I wanted to just kind of dial that.

Gina: Oh, that’s really, I mean, I got a couple of quick examples for you, which I think really helped to illustrate.

Kelly: Great.

Gina: So one guy that I interviewed for the book. So I’m from Africa. And as you can probably hear from my accent, even though I’ve been living in London for like 25 years, still stays. And I grew up in South Africa at the time of apartheid. And one of the guys I interviewed also grew up, and we’re at the same age. So we were living on very, very different sides of the fence in the country at the time. He went on to become a very senior chief executive, multinational. And he described it to me, as I would say, he’s a conscious leader. He described it to me as bringing in coaches to work with the people in his company, who were coaching not only for success, but also significance, which I really love, success, and significance. He said that what happens then is if people, if individuals in the company are in touch with what is the significance of what it is they’re trying to do, they take that into their families, they take into the communities, and that has a different impact, just by nature of a positive knock on effect, ripple effect. And he said that for him, that was a way of bringing his experience from that era in in South Africa, and actually making a societal change through community, which he felt was really important. So at a more micro level, I think it’s like, we go back to our families, and do we choose to sort of kick the cat? Or do we choose to have mastery for ourselves? How are we showing up in our families? How are we showing up for our kids? Are their eyes shining? Or are they dull? And then what is the impact of that when they go out into, so I think it’s at micro level and macro level. There’s loads we can do.

Kelly: Yeah. I think that’s a great point that it’s not just outside of. It actually can be internal in terms of your own family unit. So yeah, that’s a great point. I think it’s also I know, we’re going to talk about conscious leadership a lot. So I think it’s important to kind of understand from the audience’s perspective, like what do we mean, in terms of the differences between a conscious leader and an unconscious or what I might call a wounded leader, in terms of the characteristics, and I know, you have sort of like a model of four different components that you kind of pull from, so we’d love to just kind of level set on that as well.

Gina: Okay. I think the first thing that’s really important to say is, we’re all human beings, having an experience in life. From one perspective, we might say waking up more and more and more to ourselves. So I like to think of it as a continuum. And there are some who are and we’ll look at what is more asleep mean, but there is some sort of more asleep end of the continuum, and some are at the very awake end of the continuum. And for me, the more asleep end of the continuum, or more unconscious leadership, just more asleep, would be people who haven’t really gotten on top of their own programming. So the sort of assumptions of what I mean by programming is the assumptions that they’ve learned about how the world works, the beliefs that they hold, the way that they try to create security for themselves. So it could be one way of looking at fear and love. So there’s sort of like the worlds of threat I need to survive. Therefore, my behavior at the more asleep end is and we see this in business all the time is really about self-preservation. And also knowing yourself and mastering yourself and up towards the more as we move along, we get to know ourselves bit better. So rather than uploading that sort of same behavior that I do to ensure my preservation and survival, every time with that, sometimes without thinking, there’s a bit of a gap that gets created between seeing that thing like oh, there I go again, and the gap of choice. So there’s awareness, and choice, or no awareness, or no choice. And so the choice that comes in then enables us to do things differently. So as we move towards the more kind of awakened leader or conscious leadership side of things, you start seeing people acting out of choice, acting out of compassion and love and kindness and those good qualities, less from defense and self-preservation and survival, and then also acting in a way that’s more about we rather than about me, and at the upper end for the world, rather than just me in the way.

Kelly: Yeah, I love this definition so much. A I love the idea of a continuum because we can be on any part of that continuum throughout our lives, although typically you would move from the sort of asleep to awake but the doesn’t mean that sometimes you can’t backtrack, because things set you back or there are circumstances outside of your control that, it makes it difficult. But the point is that you’re moving fluidly throughout your life. And ultimately, moving from this asleep or unconscious way of being in the world where you’re very reactive, you’re not really self-aware, there’s not a lot of emotional intelligence present to this place where all of those things are basically becoming like a practice or almost I wouldn’t say a default because this does take work. Constant order does. The programming that you mentioned, it’s funny, you said, awakened, as in like, kind of past tense. And I was talking with my Buddhist psychology coach, and she was like, could you change that for me to awakening?

Gina: Awakening, yes, yes.

Kelly: Awakened is really what we’re talking about, like you’ve achieved like enlightenment or Buddhahood. She’s like, the amount of people who have achieved that is probably very, very little. So can we call it awakening? I said, fine. I will.

Gina: I concur with that. I concur. And, you mentioned about the woundedness. And all of us as well, I mean, I think there is something very compassionate about this continuum, because we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. So it’s kind of more fun to do it together. We feel better when we’re coming at it from a sense of we, rather than kind of, I have to fight people for my corner, which is like, you don’t really want to live in that space. It’s de-energizing. But I think the woundedness, in your book, just reading that first chapter in your intro, we all have the experiences that have happened to us that have created these wounds. And really, when we’re just acting, and I’m including myself in this, by the way, when we act out of when that automatic, that program gets loaded up, which is about survival. And we just acting out of that wound, we don’t really have a lot of choice in the matter. So I think, you made the point. It’s the life’s work, and we have to do the work to get to grips with what it is that’s formed and shaped us, then we begin to have some choice over it.

Kelly: Yeah, I just want to go back to this idea about programming and wounding and why we’re using those terms. I actually just realized in as I’m writing this book, that the word trauma actually is derived from the Greek literally meaning wound. And that was fascinating to me, because we think of trauma as like, big T or small T, trauma, right? Things that were acute or chronic, prolonged or complex, multilayered, and long lasting. But what’s interesting to me is that Dr. Gabor Mate, which we all know and love talks about trauma from the standpoint of not being the thing that happened to you or happen to you, on an ongoing basis. It’s actually what happens inside of you or within you as a result of what happened to you. So when we talk about trauma, or wounding, that’s where the correlation comes in with an unconscious leader, right? If you’re still on the you said, online, or maybe offline, we could call it if you’re offline, it’s still running those same patterns and behaviors, maladaptive behaviors, where you are reacting, and you’re not self-aware, and all these things like that’s the correlation. So I just wanted to tie those two dots together.

Gina: Nicely said.

Kelly: So most of the people who are listening or watching are going to say yeah, Gina, this sounds great. And I’d love to play devil’s advocate on the show. So if I wanted to begin on this journey, because I think I’m somewhere like I’m not necessarily totally asleep, but I know that I’m definitely not awakening on that end of the continuum. How would one begin to identify where they sit on that continuum?

Gina: So there are two things I think to speak to here. The easy answer, I’ll give the easier, well, I don’t know if it is easier, but anyway, the quicker answer. So there is a thing that you can search up online called the consciousness quotient. And this is being developed by a professor in Hungary, I think it is, for a number of years now I think probably for 10 years, he’s been working on it. And he’s emailed me recently to save this kind of vamped up version of it is kind of out there. Now, if you wanted to get a sort of, how am I doing in the space of being awake? I think that’s a good instrument to play around with. And he’s interested in more research for it as well.

Kelly: I would put that in the show notes for sure.

Gina: Definitely. Yeah, that’s a good thing. And he deserves to be supported. He is very interested in this. I think there are many ways that you can also look at your own practice in your own life. So you and I were talking before you started recording Kelly around this sort of framework that I work with, so there’s the kind of the self-mastery part of it, so what are the qualities of self-mastery, that’s one way of coming in one doorway. There’s how am I doing in my relationships with others, and then there’s kind of the world and the world beyond. So I think an easy route in is, is the self-mastery piece. Normally, what I recommend is for people to first of all actually go and have a look at their values. And do a value judgment, whether you go to Barrett Values Center and do a personal values assessment, or the exercise I often do with clients is I just have a list of values, and I get them to choose 10. And then to whittle it down to five.

Kelly: I’ve done that exercise before. It’s a great idea.

Gina: It’s a really cool exercise, not because you’ve got to be defined by anything in boxing, but it forces you to think about what’s important, prioritization. And then what do you do with it? So then the question is, like, how am I living this everyday in my life? How do my values connect with my organization’s values? And another great question in the interest of self-authoring, because we’re not born with our values, whether they come from where they’re created over time, and we get to change them because we’re fluid. So maybe a question to ask is, what value would I like to bring into my life more in 2022? Or in my work right now? So it’s beginning to look at, what would that mean, in real life. Actually, practically, the other angle to come in is through purpose. So you can do some purpose exercises. And again, people get a bit scared of the notion of purpose, because there’s one purpose, and then it’s sort of etched in blood for rest. No, it’s a sense. Richard Leid does a wonderful book called, I think it’s The Power of Purpose. I’ve got it up here. And he says, purpose is three things. It is a sense of direction. It’s a practice. And so every day, how are you living it, and it’s also an evolutionary and developmental path. I love that. It’s fluid, rather than this heavy responsibility; we have to find our purpose. I mean, we want that in life. We’re not that static as beings. So I think exploring either Ikigai framework is great. Or what you can find online or something that Richard does, we’re just beginning to play around with, what is it that gives me energy? What do I want to contribute to the world? What can I get paid for? What does the world need? And looking for opportunities of what is the bigger potentiality in the work that I do? Because we feel good when we’re making a contribution. So if I’m living values, and as much as I can, and I’m living on purpose, I’m having a more rewarding life. And that’s a really good beginning step; I think to begin to think about living more consciously.

Kelly: Yeah, I think that’s great. Those are all really, really helpful. And obviously, we’ll put notes to all of those in the shownotes. Yeah, okay. So I’m just kind of like wrapping my head around all of the different ways in which you can approach this. I really liked the last one that you talked about, though, because I feel like that sort of triumvirate of, sort of North Star plus practice.

Gina: Practice, like an evolutionary journey thing.

Kelly: Yeah. And the fact that it evolves over time, I mean, that feels I’m a person who doesn’t like to be boxed into frameworks. I like scaffolding because there’s lots of breathing room. So that feels really good. That feels like a lot of breathing room to me, and I think that’s a great place to start. When you’re working with clients who are kind of at this beginning stage, I’m assuming that they’re reaching out to you, because they resonate with your work, they resonate with conscious leadership, maybe they even have that natural propensity toward conscious leadership, as I said before, but where in addition to these kind of frameworks that you just mentioned, where do you start to help them move? Because you’re not doing the work for them? They’re doing as a coach, but where? How do you start to help them move forward to actually, like, define what this actually looks like in practice for them? And, yeah, help them actually bring it into their business, which is, I think, is the crux of what we’re talking about here.

Gina: Beautiful questions. So I’m finding in my work that people are either, but when they turn up, sometimes things have happened to people, and some of your listeners and watchers might actually have this happen to them. There seems to be a couple of starter conditions and initiating conditions. One of one of them is that you’ve been achieving like crazy all your life. And you kind of go, well, is that all there is? Like, there’s just another thing, I didn’t get that thing already. So it’s like this sort of introduction to the achievement just as like, oh. So that’s one thing. Sometimes there’s a real sense of uncertainty in the pandemic. I think this and previously the recession, no matter your best attempts, rug has been pulled out from underneath you. And everything you thought was certain is now uncertain. So there’s a kind of a crumbling of what we mistook as stability and substantiality in life and life kind of goes whack. Absolutely, and we’re forced to kind of wake up right to out of a dream. Sometimes people will arrive, and they will either have had a lot of experiences and want to apply those experiences, like the guy I told you about in South Africa, or sometimes they’re just born with this kind of inner knowing. And the inner knowing is, like just, they’re looking for a space to explore something that feels unsettling them. So they’ll arrive at my door. And we’ll work with that. And often, the questions are around. Sometimes we’ll do some of the exercises I explained. But we’ll also look at helping them to become present to themselves, to listen to what the intuition is saying not just what their head is saying, too. And often in the way of working and it happens in our conversations, that I’m not actually thinking anything, I’m not making the conversation happen. I’m just being present to them and listening. And in between us this, some answers are emerging, or some questions are emerging, which then turn into how do you apply this in your business in your leadership? So I would say the starting point, I think, is the self, the starting point seems to be who are we being in the world? And then with the right kind of help, whether it’s coaching or a friend or whatever, it’s really just beginning to think about, well, how does this come? How am I showing up with my teams? I’ve had many conversations with what let’s call them conscious leaders of the B Corp movement for the benefit corporation movement, where they’ve been super awake, like they’ve been working in big corporates, for instance, where they’ve deeply disturbed. Let’s even say, three, four years ago, before plastic was so much on our radar, deeply disturbed by the amount of plastic that their companies were producing, and finding that they were one of a dozen people in their companies to be thinking this, whereas the people at the top, we’re just thinking prophets, this is deeply disturbing feeling of where is my tribe? So I think finding people like you, in your companies, often younger people, I might say, because the generations coming up are awake in many cases. And connecting through and seeing what you can influence, finding your tribe. That can be really, really good in an organization. What can you do together?

Kelly: That’s great. It’s interesting. So I’m a new member of the Conscious Leadership Guild, which I think you’re familiar with. Everyone that I mentioned, about you writing the foreword, they were like, oh, my God, that’s great. We love Gina. But it was interesting because I was in a breakout session during I think it was just two days ago. And this woman was talking about how, back in the 1980s she was leading workshops inside of DuPont as a consultant. She was leading workshops on how to tap into intuition in business. I was like you were doing in the 80s?

Gina: Brave woman.

Kelly: The thing is a lot of people will say, oh, this is brand new, this is New Age, like, not a lot of companies are doing this. Like, huge corporations have been doing this for decades. And I feel like the smaller businesses, just, I don’t know, for whatever reason, it’s taken this long to get there. But listen, we’re here now, it is not strange. And the inner knowing, the deeper knowing that you’re talking about, I feel like if we do pause and dial in and actually listen to that, that’s kind of where the start is, for me. I always say like curiosity, like what it actually is calling you.

Gina: Yes.

Kelly: Or the values you talked about, right?

Gina: Yeah.

Kelly: I love the question of alright, so what are my values now, but what is the value that I want to bring into my life that don’t necessarily have right now, right? Mine in like 2019, or 2020 was integrity. I wanted more integrity in my life. And so that became sort of a North Star. Now this year, it’s impact. That’s my North Star.

Gina: Beautiful. You can evolve. You can choose. I mean, we have the power to choose. So there’s something and this might seem a bit radical for your listeners, but go for it. It’s been really helpful to me. So the guy that I work with who I would consider awakened, extremely evolved guy, teacher, he helped me to understand that there is self-mastery, and then there’s transcendence. And I love this, because the self-mastery is how we play in the world. And we’re talking at the moment about self-mastery, how to play a happier, more fulfilled, more creative, more choice for life. And, like, who doesn’t want that? And then there’s transcendence, which is realizing that it’s all made up anyway. And not confusing the movie with reality. And for that’s a whole different level of choice, right? That’s what it’s like a wise grounded place of grounded being to live in every day, and not be an oh, my goodness, I have not mastered this at all, but not be triggered by events that happen on the screen in front of you in quite the same way. So I think it really does start with ourselves. And it starts with thinking or maybe exploring into, yes, there’s self-mastery, and then there’s transcendence. And what does that mean? And honestly, mindfulness, a great fan, right? Because I think meditation, mindfulness, just grounds you in everything that’s before our thoughts and helps to separate us away from the tyranny, I’m going to talk in personal, the tyranny of my thoughts at 3am in the morning, could you just shut up? I’m not alone. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Kelly: You are not alone. There’s whole owners and leaders. you are not alone.

Gina: Like just stop already. So just that quiet place, which is before thought, and being located more in here, than in the kind of in the movie, that’s a really important thing. I mean, they have to add in yes, it’s us. But also, it seems to be likely to be context. So when I wrote this book, which I honestly wrote for ages, and had like three versions of it, and they were all, like, more rubbish than the previous one. And I realized what I needed to do was theoretical, to come and interview people who were of this up at this end of the spectrum, and write about them and use real data, and then it’s sort of flowing. So it took a long time. But it came out in at the end of 2016. And at the time, I’d been involved since like, 2012, 13, with conscious capitalism and thinking about conscious leadership, at that time, you did not use the word conscious in business in the same sentence. I remember driving in London, coming down the city road from like, Silicon roundabout, and there was some fashion company that had actually put like, conscious apparel on this big billboard. I was like, that was like radical. And then, plastics, we weren’t aware of climate change wasn’t so much on the radar. There was nothing to do with gender. And there was nothing to do with kind of race and diversity, rarely. These days, it’s the context that is forcing us to evolve. You can’t even like throw a stick and not hit something that you’re supposed to be more awake about. So I think that climate is all over business at the moment. I think it’s forcing us to evolve. Thank goodness. So it’s partly us, partly context, I believe. I feel my book seems out of date, by the way. I now read it and really in front of the car to that, I’m like, that’s a bit old now.

Kelly: No, it’s still my Bible. I have it by my bedside, like one would. But no, I think that’s a great place to wrap and a great point. And, yeah, this conversation, I mean, obviously, we could extend this for hours.

Gina: We could go on for hours.

Kelly: I love chatting with you, but I’m going to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Gina: Lovely.

Kelly: I’m so excited about the work that we’re doing together.

Gina: It’s been great talking. Thanks again.

Kelly: Thanks.

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