The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast

29 From Mid-Management to Senior Leadership with Dan Pontefract

September 04, 2023 Dr Nia D Thomas Episode 29
29 From Mid-Management to Senior Leadership with Dan Pontefract
The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
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The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
29 From Mid-Management to Senior Leadership with Dan Pontefract
Sep 04, 2023 Episode 29
Dr Nia D Thomas

On this episode of The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast, our host Nia Thomas is joined by the esteemed guest, Dan Pontefract. Dan is a renowned author and speaker with extensive experience in corporate culture change and leadership development. In their conversation, they delve into important topics such as leadership habits and behaviours, the significance of agency and self-awareness, and the concept of work-life balance. Dan shares insights from his recently finished book, "Lead Care Win," which explores leadership habits and behaviours. He emphasises the importance of self-awareness for both leaders and non-leaders alike, and how it is intertwined with the twelve work-life factors mentioned in his upcoming book,  "Work Life Bloom."

The key takeaway is that leaders need to reflect on their own self-awareness and consider the needs of the people they lead. Self-actualisation is highlighted as the starting point for leaders in each work and life factor. Trust is another crucial aspect discussed in the episode. Dan breaks down trust into three key pillars: authenticity, consistency, and advocacy. Building trust requires leaders to demonstrate these qualities, including vulnerability, staying within a certain range of behaviour, and advocating for team members even when they are not present.

The conversation also touches on the importance of empathy in leadership, exemplified by cognitive, emotional, and sympathetic empathy.. Dan's work on "Work Life Bloom" is highlighted. The goal of work-life bloom is to achieve a balance where both work and life factors are positive, resulting in feeling "blooming" in both domains.

Looking forward to having you on the learning journey!

Go to Dan's Website here


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On this episode of The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast, our host Nia Thomas is joined by the esteemed guest, Dan Pontefract. Dan is a renowned author and speaker with extensive experience in corporate culture change and leadership development. In their conversation, they delve into important topics such as leadership habits and behaviours, the significance of agency and self-awareness, and the concept of work-life balance. Dan shares insights from his recently finished book, "Lead Care Win," which explores leadership habits and behaviours. He emphasises the importance of self-awareness for both leaders and non-leaders alike, and how it is intertwined with the twelve work-life factors mentioned in his upcoming book,  "Work Life Bloom."

The key takeaway is that leaders need to reflect on their own self-awareness and consider the needs of the people they lead. Self-actualisation is highlighted as the starting point for leaders in each work and life factor. Trust is another crucial aspect discussed in the episode. Dan breaks down trust into three key pillars: authenticity, consistency, and advocacy. Building trust requires leaders to demonstrate these qualities, including vulnerability, staying within a certain range of behaviour, and advocating for team members even when they are not present.

The conversation also touches on the importance of empathy in leadership, exemplified by cognitive, emotional, and sympathetic empathy.. Dan's work on "Work Life Bloom" is highlighted. The goal of work-life bloom is to achieve a balance where both work and life factors are positive, resulting in feeling "blooming" in both domains.

Looking forward to having you on the learning journey!

Go to Dan's Website here


Support the Show.

Find Out More
Thanks for joining me on my learning journey! Until next time...


Rate and Review
Once you've taken a listen please leave a rate and review on your favourite podcast player. A little word from you means a big deal to me!

Nia Thomas [00:00:01]:

Hello, listeners. I'm delighted to have you join me for year two of the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast. Can you believe it's been a whole year already? In year two, we're going to be doing things a little differently. Our conversations are going to be more fluid, and we're going to be exploring more topics to help us understand self aware leadership. In practice, we'll expand the discussion beyond a five usual question s. Our conversations are going to be a little bit longer with episodes running for around 45 minutes, short enough to listen over lunch, and long enough to keep you company on your commute. We'll extend beyond our 30 minutes discussions to make sure we can really dive deep into our topics with our guests. Our conversations are going to be weekly so that all of the inspiring discussions I'm having with thinkers from around the globe can be shared with you more often and more regularly. We'll get to connect more frequently than every two weeks, giving you more things to talk about in your workplace. I'm your host, NIA Thomas. Looking forward to having you on my learning journey, listeners. I am absolutely delighted to be joined by Dan Pontifrack today. For 20 years, Dan held senior roles at SAP, Telus and Business Objects, leading corporate culture change, leadership development, employee experience, and overall performance improvement. Since that time, Dan has worked with organizations around the world, including the likes of Salesforce, State of Tennessee, Nestle, Canada, Post, among many others. Dan's an award winning author of four books, Lead Care Win, which happened to drop through my letterbox yesterday, open to think The Purpose, Effect and Flat Army, and his fifth book, Work Life Bloom, comes out in November 2023, which hopefully we're going to talk a lot about today. Dan is a renowned Leadership keynote speaker and has presented at four yes, four Ted events and delivers roughly 50 keynotes a year. Dan, how do you manage that? That's almost one a week. That is huge number. Dan also facilitates workshops as well as small and large consulting engagements. He writes for Forbes and Harvard Business Review and is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria. Dan also hosts the popular Leadership Now program, which, if you're a podcast fan, you may have already been listening to and watching. Dan has a number of distinctions. Dan is on the Thinkers 50 Radars list. HR Weekly listed him as one of its 100 most Influential People. In HR. Peoplehum listed Dan on the top 200 thought leaders to follow. Inc magazine listed him as one of the Top 100 Leadership speakers, and he's earned over 25 Professional Leadership and Author awards over his career so far. Dan, it's amazing to have you here.

Dan [00:03:01]:

NIA, that's a kind introduction and also very uncanadian. We hate listening to ourselves and accolades, so we should edit that out. That's what we should do. Thank you for having me today.

Nia Thomas [00:03:11]:

Yeah, we'll take that out at the end. Amazing. Dan, we are here because I guess we have similar interests in leadership, me specifically around self aware leadership. And through the work that you've been doing on your books, there is definitely commonality. But one of the things that I ask all of my guests, really, to set the scene so that we get an understanding of our common view is about self aware leadership. So let me start by asking you, what does self awareness in leadership mean to you?

Dan [00:03:44]:

What a fabulous way to start. I would say, NIA, that self awareness can sometimes be conflated. And what we perhaps need to be thinking about almost with specificity, is the concept of agency. And so what I mean by that is agency to me is the ability for one to be cognizant, if you will, of the decisions that they have to make and the decisions that also they're empowered to make in order to result in a good outcome of some sort. Ideally, if we're not self aware, if we lack self awareness, I think we lack that agency. And if we're unable to put together the bits and the bulbs that allow us to have those self determined good decisions and taking the information, the data, the intellect, in order to inform said good decision, we don't have agency. And then we're thus not self aware, and we're kind of flying by the seat of our pants. So if we want to know who we are, if we want self awareness, if you will, NIA, I think we have to actually unpack a little bit around the term agency, of which one of my social psychologists, heroes, Albert Bandura, once referred to as functional self awareness. So in order for us to really make that happen, I think that's what we have to be thinking about first and foremost.

Nia Thomas [00:05:16]:

This takes us very nicely into something that you say very early on in work life. Bloom so, listeners, you will be very jealous when I tell you I've had a sneak preview of the book to be able to prep for this conversation. Dan, early on in the book, you ask the question, how do you define yourselves? Which for me really is a question about self awareness. And I'm interested in your thoughts on how self awareness underpins your ideas in the book.

Dan [00:05:44]:

Well, let me tell you a little story that I haven't really shared yet, NIA, and that is, I thought I was going to write a book solely on agency self awareness.

Nia Thomas [00:05:57]:

Okay.

Dan [00:05:58]:

Yeah. And so, coming into the pandemic, I had just about finished Lead Care Win, the book you mentioned. Thank you. And that was sort of my take on what are those nine leadership habits or behaviors that we all could be adopting to be a better, more caring, empathetic type of individual and leader. And as soon as that book was done in its writing phase, which was about May of 2020, and it came out the following fall. I had already discovered during the journey of Lead Care Win, that, well, it's not a leadership principle per se, agency or self awareness, but that it is actually something that we need to be thinking about as human beings, whether we're a leader or a non leader. And so I dug pretty deep into, I guess pun intended, into the work around agency and self awareness, autonomy, empowerment, self actualization and so forth. But then I realized, like, oh, actually, this is not just a life factor, it's a work life factor. It's something that is threaded to your very astute observation of having read the draft of Work Life Bloom. It is nested and threaded throughout each of the twelve work life factors. Even though I call it out as one of the six life factors, I should say it is actually something that is, you've noted, found throughout. Why is really kind of your question. Well, if I'm thinking about agency and autonomy and self determination and self awareness in that way, I wrote the book for leaders. But what I wanted them to be thinking about, ultimately, is both their self awareness and the people that they lead and the need that they have these days in this post pandemic, still apocalyptic world that we live in. That your job, fiduciary, if you will, as a leader, is to actually take the time to self reflect on your self awareness. So that what you're portraying and infusing with the team in which you lead. Actually, now you're thinking about them as well. So of any of the worker life factors, that whatever we want to get into, you're right. Like whether it's strategy or whether it's skills or whether it's belonging, it really has to start with, hello, leader, who are you? What do you stand for? Not what's, your why or start with why. Simon Sinnick I'm not a fan of that. I am more into the almost Maslow's Hierarchy level of self actualization. Can you start there first and work your way down? Who do you want to be and how do you want to be known when you leave a room in each of these work and life factors that you should be helping assisting your team members with?

Nia Thomas [00:08:48]:

I really like that, how you describe that, because the number of people that I talk to, we always come back to self awareness as being one of the foundational building blocks. And when you're saying that it's threaded through work life bloom definitely fits with my view of the world. So you talked about your work factors. You've got six work factors and six life factors. And I wonder if we can talk about trust as one of the work factors and relationships as one of the life factors. And both trust and relationships are really linked to a nine pointed self awareness compass that I'm in the process developing. So I really want to know more about your ideas on trust and relationships. So you say that trust might be the work factor that makes or breaks a team members faith in leadership ability to start with, how do you define trust? What does it mean for you? And secondly, how do you operationalize it? What does it look like out there?

Dan [00:09:47]:

First of all, I'm very excited to listen and hear more about your nine point compass. We must get into that. For me, trust is not only the first factor, the first work factor that I get into. You're right. I also say it's one of those maker to break it table stake factors. And for me at least in the work and the research that I've done, I think it comes down to three key pillars. How authentic are you? How consistent are you? And how do you advocate for your team or team members? So, if we break that down, when you're authentic, you're not wearing a teflon suit, you're vulnerable. You mean what you say. You don't fake news it. You don't curl up into a ball of confusion or hoarding so that people don't know what's going on. You don't have to be an open book, but you are ultimately authentic in your interactions, whether they are asynchronous synchronous, face to face, digital or somewhere in between. So your authenticity as a leader is sort of .1, I suppose, of being a trusting leader and thus infusing that trust factor into the team. The second one consistency is that you're not a wild EKG monitor. You need to be within an 80 beats per minute sort of variance of plus or -5% all the time you can't be sprinting and then near dead. So you can't have a heartbeat of five and a heartbeat of 190. That inconsistency causes that erraticness of you. And thus the team like oh my gosh, what is happening right now? And that confusion and that inability to see where the leader is coming from is like well, what's she up to right now? Why is her heartbeat 190? And then the last one from an advocacy sorry, perspective, when you demonstrate advocacy, as you know al toel NIA, you're demonstrating belief. And that belief is in the individual when they're in the room or not. So you're sticking up for the person when they make a mistake. And your boss has asked about your subordinate hey, why did NIA do this? That's dumb. Should you fire her? And you're like, no, there's a tuition value in the Mt stake, I stick up for NIA, she's amazing, bug her off, right? That's advocacy. So, even if they're not in the room and they feel, however, that you support them and you advocate for their being, that in and of itself is also a way in which to build up trust.

Nia Thomas [00:12:31]:

Trust is such a broad umbrella term. And if you ask me and you ask the next person and you ask five other people, everybody will give you a slightly different element to build into trust. But your three elements are very interesting and I think something to think about mullover and certainly as an introvert reflect when I'm considering self awareness, it's because my view of the world is that self awareness is socially constructed. So meaning that we can only build a really full picture of ourselves when we're in relation to others. And you said something earlier that made me think that you're on that similar wavelength. In your section exploring relationships, you talk very much about loneliness in the workplace, which for me is coming at relationships from quite a different angle than I'm used to talking about. So what discoveries have you made in relation to workplace loneliness? And really why does it feature in your book so prominently?

Dan [00:13:37]:

Well, NIA, the reason being is that I don't believe, and with all due respect, a scale of extrovertedness or introvertedness. I think we are all varieties of ambiverts individuals whom have a degree of wanting more social time and less and vice versa. So I don't think an extrovert quote, extrovert, right, air quotes is always in need of having people around them and nor as an introvert, always in need of being alone. So that's first and foremost I want to clear up it's kind of like Myers Briggs, I don't believe in that either. So another day for that chat. Back to the point loneliness. So data from Gallup, from Aon, from several other HR firms, humu what they've been doing is tracking loneliness for several years now, pre pandemic and what has come to the bear for is that loneliness itself has it's shot through the roof. And when you think about the flip side, well, when do we feel at our best? It doesn't mean that you have to be, again extrovert and have be with people all the time. But you need to feel connected, you need to feel that you have someone who either's got your back, you can tap on the shoulder, you can ping through a DM or a text message or a WhatsApp, whatever, right? That you know, you have a community and that community could be three people or 300. But whatever it is, what we're feeling between the real and the digital world is this increase in loneliness. And so whether that is affiliated by things like bowling groups or church groups or other community groups and inside the workforce, a lack of friends. So the decrease in number of people who called not just colleague, but a friend at work as I've been on the collapse and decline. And when you kind of do all this math, if you will, from a humanistic perspective. As Dr. Vivic Murphy pointed out in May of 2023, when my book was already off to the proofing stage. Vivic Murphy is sorry. The Surgeon General of the USA and Vivic Murphy came out at the end of May of 2023 and 88 page report NIA and said loneliness is the new smoking at the workplace. It's an epidemic that's helping cause the stress and the burnout and the anxiety increase, which, by the way, has been increased on average 40% of those three factors since 2009. So he's making the case, as I did in the writing and the research of this book, that, look, we need inside relationships, outside relationships, online relationships. We need our boss to help us with these more than ever, because we've cocooned. And when we've cocooned and the exacerbated point of the pandemic has done this, it's like, oh, so I am just now in my little inbox, in my phone, in my laptop, and I don't have that feeling of connection. And so if I don't, what happens is the continuance then or the piling on of that loneliness, which then fuels the anxiety, the stress, the anger, and the burnout.

Nia Thomas [00:17:02]:

So what then does that mean for leaders and leadership? Because when we talk about leadership, we always talk about followers. But if there is loneliness, how do you connect leaders and followers? And how do you also maintain that professional boundaries as a leader whilst ensuring you're connecting with others?

Dan [00:17:24]:

Yeah, I guess I'm cut from a different cloth and ilk mostly, I think, because I'm not making this up. And that's when the Kind introduction and mentioned that I was leader and executive at places like SAP and Telus, that was 20 years of my life leading teams of 50 to 150 with budgets of eight to 35 million and working with the C suites of those companies and other leaders. So I come at it from a perspective. That why I'm writing and doing things like work life bloom in retrospect and looking ahead, it's like, Well, I kind of always been doing this, and I'm not trying to be pretentious or that I'm highfalutin better than anyone. I'm just saying, NIA when I worked with my team or teams, when you come at it from that humanistic, we're just human beings. We do need some of these work life factors happening if we want to excel, be productive, and be thriving or flourishing in both work and life. It's actually possible. And to your question, specifically, why not? Why not, as a leader, as a human being, take that interest in your team member as a human being and provide them with some counsel and some coaching and even mentoring on, in this case, relationships, like actually having conversations and dialogue, knowing that burnout, stress, anxiety has been on the increase. If you know that and you'd like a less anxious, less stressed, less burned out employee to begin with anyway, so there's your business reason, first and foremost. But if you scrap the business reason and look at it from just the humanity rationale, why not? Why not try to sort of help somebody become a better version of themselves in work? And thus, if it trickles over into life oh, my gosh, isn't that a good thing?

Nia Thomas [00:19:16]:

And I think we are certainly in my experience, we are getting better at having the conversation about how do we want to work together, what do we need from each other as leaders and followers, so that you have that equality within a team, but actually you get to know individuals and what individuals need from you as a leader, as a manager. And I think that authenticity, as you mentioned earlier, is definitely there and is definitely present and becoming more and more relevant.

Dan [00:19:46]:

Yeah, one of the worst metaphors or analogies out there is the proverbial iceberg theory. You see it used so often in so many different ways, where one 8th of an iceberg shows and seven, eight doesn't because it's below, below water. Well, if I were to use this in a way that sort of suggests my point, leaders tend to not all, but tend to think that they only need to show the actual iceberg and they got to hide six 7th or seven 8th of the rest of them below. And so why even approach an individual because of that mindset? So I'm basically saying, again, to carry out a metaphor that I probably shouldn't have brought up, like melt the iceberg, let's just be human to human, I think about where they're coming from in their lives and their work and vice versa so that you can have dialogue. And you mentioned where's that boundary line cross. Well, again, I'm not suggesting we're all chicken soup for the sole leaders, nor do I think we got to be asking them about their mortgage and interest rates or if they're having a garage sale on the weekend. They don't. But there are factors there where you know that it's going to trickle over to both work and life. So why can't we just be adults, let alone humans, and have conversations about these?

Nia Thomas [00:21:05]:

Definitely. And I think it's a culture shift for many people and many organizations. On your website, you have a free work life. Bloom personal assessment. I'm really interested to know what can listeners learn about themselves by doing this assessment?

Dan [00:21:25]:

We make it available in the book so it just points to it. So when people get to the section, they'd be like, oh, I could go figure out what I am. Is this dan? So the book itself, I had this wonderful feedback from an HBR editor, Julia Kirby, and she said to me, Dan, your books are pretty good, but they're in need of something else. There's really for a good book these days, there's three legs to a stool. There's your stories, which you have always in abundance. There's your expertise and practical techniques and tips and tricks and so forth. You always have that. Damn. But where's your evidence? Like, where's your primary research? And she just nailed it. And I thought, oh my God, probably have to do something about this now. So went out and hired a research company, and I worked with them on what I think or thought at the time was the model for work life bloom and how to test it. So I'm getting to the point about the survey, by the way, the assessment. So we went out across the world, 10,000 odd people, eleven countries, and we tested work, life bloom and sort of figure out, is this the right six factors in work, six factors in life? And we ultimately came up with this logic that said, well, if five or six of the work factors and five or six of the life factors are positive, then you would be blooming. So it doesn't mean you have to have all of the life factors. And it doesn't matter really what combination. It's the fact that we need to feel, generally speaking, that 83% of work and life in combination. That's the point in which I'm going to be able to bloom in both. And so we're like, oh, that's a good way to call it. Like blooming. That's a persona. I'm blooming when work and life is feeling both amazing and clear. But we decided then once the research was done, I had, oh, this works, and DA DA DA DA. I was like, I'm going to make this available to everybody now, just for free. Why not? So we had to do a little bit of tinkering, but we figured out that we reworked some of the other persona names. There's four in total. And so with that assessment, you can figure out now, well, what am I right now like in that moment in time? And as I make the argument in the book, I've been all four personas in six different companies and roles because things change between the work and the life factors. Which adds to my point where I don't believe anymore in employee engagement scores because we're always going to be changing, yet the organization is probably going to be at some sort of baseline level and not really materially change. So blooming is when both things are working well. Work and life budding is when work feels really good, but your life factors need a little bit of hoeing or weeding. When you're stunted, the life factors are very clear, but work is kind of getting in the way. So some of those work factors you'll be suffering from. And renewal is just your chance to say, well, what is going on between my work and my life? And more importantly, at the end of the day, if leaders are to take the assessment and look at themselves and maybe give that to their team and say, hey, what are you having a dialogue about? Well, what's your interpretation of agency or meaning or trust or strategy? And how can I help you so that you don't feel like you're in a garden box full of weeds and beetles?

Nia Thomas [00:24:50]:

Brilliant listeners. You will know that I am a big fan of assessments that help you develop your self awareness. So if you go to Dan's website and you go to the Free Stuff tab on the menu, you can find the assessment at the bottom of that page. And it's really, really interesting. If you have a chance to do that. I do want to talk to you a little bit about Lead Peer Win. As I said, it dropped through my letter box yesterday, so I was reading it late into the night. If I you and I do apologize, it's because I was reading the book you set out, as you mentioned, nine leadership lessons in your book, and I'm interested in drawing some about three of them. So there are some words that I'm picking out of your leadership lessons. So this is not the complete one, listeners. If you want to buy the book to read the whole thing, by all means. There's one that you refer to being relatable and empathic. Then you've got humility and thoughtfulness and then you've got another that is present and attentive. I'm interested in knowing more about your thoughts on these particular factors and how they impact workplace relationships and particularly relationships between leaders and followers.

Dan [00:26:04]:

Well, first of all, thank you. I do think that Lead Care Win is sort of the prequel to Work Life Bloom and that they're very much sort of like siblings or twin sisters or something to that effect. So, first of all, thank you. And I at least refer to being relatable. One of the key pieces to that is, what's your empathy? And I point out that there's basically a very simple way to think about how you might be a more empathic leader and is Head Hard Hands. And Head Hard Hands is to use sort of social science in a nutshell, cognitive, emotional and sympathetic empathy. So cognitive empathy is how do you intellectualize and think what other people are thinking, given their background, socioeconomic, gender, marital, religion, politics, geography, all this stuff, right? And you have the leader have to be able to get inside their head, what are they thinking? Oh my gosh, what are they thinking? That's not feeling. Feeling is emotional empathy, that's heart, that's sort of saying, what's the sadness? What's the joy? Why are they angry? Where's that coming from? Why are they confused? Why are they scared and fearful? And when you're feeling, you're now knowing what they're going through from that emotional perspective. And then, of course, if you want to do something about it, which I hope leaders who are relatable will be doing. So that's when you use, quote, your hands proverbially, and that's where compassion or sympathetic empathy comes in, you're like, oh, I know enough. Now it's time to do something about it. So being relatable, I think for me, NIA, is a chance to, A, be empathic, but B, following that up is to be personable. And when you're personable, this is a little bit like what I mentioned with Work Life bloom. But you're sharing your personality. You're sharing stories from your past. You're not being like a Terminator Two or three or whatever number they're at now, right? You're not a robot, and you're not going in for the kill. You're a human being. And when you allow both the empathy to lead you, but you also back that up with being personable, you're thus relatable you're a human being. And I think that's pretty key. I remember what the second was, but we'll come back to that. The third one. When you're staying present as a leader, let's give you an example. You're in a meeting. It's a face face meeting. You're in a room, conference rooms, eight people there, and you're the leader. And when it's an important meeting or it's even a status meeting, whatever, it doesn't matter. And the seven other people in the room see you constantly checking and or responding on your phone or answering the phone when it is not even an emergency. It's not even their boss right, to deal with that emergency. They're distracted, in essence, from the purpose of why they're meeting and congregating as a team, which is to be a team. That's the opposite of staying present in just one little sliver and slice of an example. So a stay present leader has that focused foresight to be present with their team when it matters. Yes, emergencies happen. Yes, things occur where you've got to be pulled away. I'm not naive. I've been in those rooms. But when you are unconditionally not making your team the priority in a one on one in a team, in an email where you just forget. You're just like, I'm not even going to bother answering this, or the ghosting, as we call it these days, of your own team members, it's terrible. That's where it's very uncaring. And then I think it was humility, which I thought my brain might have memory jogged myself there. So when when you're thinking about, like, deep levels of of humility, I think about, are you making it about yourself or or others? So when I think about an example would be in 2019, in the summer, there was the Women's Canadian Open of tennis. So it comes after Wimbledon, before us. Open, and we had in Canada, being a Canadian, there was the final. We're very excited because we had a Canadian in the final. Her name was Bianca Andrescue, and she was playing the arguably the greatest tennis player ever, Serena Williams. And so it's the final, and Andrescue's up three one in the first set. Umpire yells out, NIA. Match. Abandon Williams. And it's over. And I'm like, oh, my gosh, we just won a championship for the first time in 60 years on home soil. This is fantastic. Go Canada. And I'm expecting Andrescue to essentially start parade around the center court and waving a Canadian flag. She immediately went over to Williams aid, knelt. Down, looked at her, and this is YouTube as well. You can go YouTube it, folks, if you want. And she swears. So I won't swear. She's like, oh my effing, God, what happened? How can I help you? And it's that moment right there where you see humility. That's an example of leading self and leading others and saying, look, it's not about me. How can I help? So when you champion others, which is really the point I make about humility, like my own Declaration of purpose statement suggests, we're not here to see through each other, we're here to see each other through. And when you can do that, good gosh NIA. Does the team respond? So, just a little example and parallel, I suppose, right, how humility and that unpretentiousness is really what we're after here as a championing others leader, definitely we.

Nia Thomas [00:32:08]:

Rise by lifting others. I am interested in knowing some of your thoughts around the questions that I often ask people in terms of self aware leadership. And one of the questions I always ask is what do people think about the strategic level leaders having greater self awareness than leaders at the levels of organization?

Dan [00:32:34]:

What a doozy. I would say there's no exact answer that can be cut across all leaders. I will say, however, that I have experienced and continue to experience leaders whom get promoted or move their way up from mid management to senior and strategic level leadership and management. There is a fair pocket of that cohort that tend to lose sight of some of the attributes we've talked about today, particularly meaning self awareness. So. Marshall Goldsmith, God bless him, he had a wonderful book. What got you here won't get you there. And it's kind of that, but almost in reverse, like what got you here? You're forgetting over there, which was things like working hard, carrying over people, humility, unpretentiousness, that sort of thread of agency and self awareness. Some of these seniorish strategy type leaders then tend to say to themselves, oh, well, I'm now vice president, I'm now SVP, I'm now EVP. I don't stink, I don't have to put on deodorant, right? I am the boss, I am the man or the woman. I know everything now, and so thou shalt bow to me. And it is ridiculous when I do come across, which is a very large swath of this cohort that tend to begin thinking this way because of this entitlement, this elite entitlement of what their title and their salary suggests they are, is now their awareness level of who they are. And it's morbidly categorically wrong, because what the team members see is someone who has twisted themselves into a state of pretentiousness and who have left the care and empathy at the bus stop and they got on their Tesla to ride.

Nia Thomas [00:34:48]:

Away and authenticity and humility has gone out the window.

Dan [00:34:51]:

It's been driven over by said Tesla.

Nia Thomas [00:34:55]:

Absolutely. What advice do you have for listeners, all of us, about how to develop self awareness and really to develop all of those things that you talk about in your book. How do we improve ourselves? How do we make ourselves better?

Dan [00:35:13]:

Well, the first tactic that I've always used and I always suggest when I'm doing executive or leadership workshops, coaching, what have you, why don't you ask your team what they really think of you? That is both humility and vulnerability and care all wrapped up into a prezi, as we say in England, right, for the holidays. And if you think that you don't want to hear the answer, all the more reason to ask them. Start first with an open dialogue, an open communication, an opportunity. Say, Look, I've been your leader for three years, five years. I've just come into this role, for example. I'd like to know what you want to see from me. What are the attributes, characteristics that will help you become a better version of yourself? Because I'm here, not because I know it all. I want to learn it all from all of you. So if you kind of start there, NIA just as like Leadership 101, I think that's a really good way in which to do so. I think once you have that and maybe you talk to some good colleagues, friends, spouses, like, you just want to better yourself. You want to be asking these truthful, open ended, what do you think about me? Conversations. I think you're right. There are lots of great leadership self awareness assessments out there as well, and I don't think one is better than the other. And I certainly encourage people not to do MBTI, but that's another story, as I say. But there are ones like Leadership Wheel and so on, that I think you could take a good go at and just say, oh, that's interesting. Don't hold complete 100% stock in the result. Just like I'm not suggesting the work life bloom assessment is the absolute. It just gives you a kind of so I'm more red on the disk model than I anticipated. That's interesting. What should I do about that? So I think thirdly is sort of those assessments, and then fourthly, of course, I am a recovering Chief Learning officer, and I do full and fundamentally believe in what I call pervasive learning. So equal parts development of formal, informal and social learning. And so I do think you have to get into a room, I think get in online. I think you have to get into discussion forums and group discussion to further develop yourself. I don't think anyone should really stop at their if you have a degree or you don't have a degree, I don't think you should stop at that leadership role and say, I know it all now. I don't need any further self development. That's not self awareness, that's head in the sand awareness. It's very dark and muted down there. When you're in the sand. So get your head out of the sand and say, well, what do I need to develop more formally, informally or socially?

Nia Thomas [00:38:07]:

It's an ongoing journey, Dan. We can't let you go without asking two questions. The first one is, how can listeners get in touch with you? How can they find out about what you're doing? What's the best way to connect?

Dan [00:38:20]:

If you went to worklifebloom.com, it's a pretty easy way to sort of find out about the book and then there's all kinds of other links at the top there in the navigation bar to find out about me and Ted Talks and work like that. So, yeah, worklifebloom.com brilliant.

Nia Thomas [00:38:34]:

And we will also make sure that is in the show notes. The second question is, I can't let you go without asking the question about your surname Pontiffract. As we know, I am talking to Dan from England and Pontiffract is a town in West Yorkshire, and I'm fascinated that Dan has the surname Pontifract. How does that happen, Dan?

Dan [00:38:58]:

Well, listeners, I am royalty in the small hamlet of Pontifrack yes, in West Yorkshire. Pontiffrac, first of all, it's Latin. Ponty is bridge, fracked is break. So I've been trying to be the antithesis of my last name. I'm trying to build bridges, not break them. But nonetheless, Pontifract, as legend goes, were a whole bunch of folks that were located in the area at the time, which it wasn't called Pontifrac. And the French were en route to Pillage and there were several bridges that were on the way that locals said, oh, we'll burn the bridges, hence breaking the bridges so that they would slow down the path, and hence the town or the area in that particular good black licorice ground area was called Pontifrack. And so somehow within that, the family name and descendants occurred. For me, there's about, I think, 18 of us left on the planet. My middle child son feels a huge responsibility to continue the name. And, yeah, I was born in England, my parents immigrated to Canada when I was very we from Blackburn on the on the other side there in Lancashire World, and my dad's moved back. My mom's gone, but my dad lives in Stratford upon Avon now. And every time I tend to find my way back in England, we somehow find a way to get up to buy us some good local Pontifrack cakes.

Nia Thomas [00:40:37]:

How amazing, Dan, that's brilliant to understand the history of your name. And now we know, listeners, how Dan's name came to be. Danny, it's been absolutely brilliant having a conversation with you. Really looking forward to seeing your book come out. As I said, listeners, I've had a sneak peek of the book, but I'm really looking forward to seeing it when it's printed, because it's beautiful. I'm not going to tell you anymore, but you need to open the book and you need to see inside. It is beautiful. Dan, it's been brilliant. Thank you so much for joining me.

Dan [00:41:10]:

NIA thank you. I look forward to hearing about the nine point compass as well one day. And thank you for doing what you're doing to help us all become better versions of ourselves.

Nia Thomas [00:41:24]:

Thank you for listening to today's episode. Remember to rate and review the podcast on your favorite podcast player. Remember to sign up to my newsletter on knowingsalthknowingeathers co UK. And remember to join me on my learning journey in next week's episode so that we can develop more self aware leaders around the globe and generate kinder, more respectful and creative working relationships through reflection, recognition and regulation.

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