ET-047: A conversation with Janine Hamner Holman
ET-047: A conversation with Janine Hamner Holman
with your host Wayne Brown on May 16, 2023
with your host Wayne Brown on May 16, 2023
Episode notes: A conversation with Janine Hamner Holman
Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET.
Today we’re heading over to Los Angeles on the West Coast of the US and I’m very happy to say we also ventured to the East Coast to the township called Cambridge, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Yes, we’re heading to the home of two legendary learning institutions. None other than Harvard and MIT.
Why? Well, because that’s where our guest, Ms. Janine Hamner Holman grew up, born in New Orleans, she moved to Cambridge at a young age with her parents and stayed there until she left the university. Here’s a fun fact about Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, which was an important center for the Puritan theology that was embraced by the US towns founders.
Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…
WB “When I looked through your bio, there was a period you describe as a crazy time where you went and worked for a brilliant Harvard professor related to law over. And you were thinking about moving into law as your career. So interesting time, I’m sure, [laughter] particularly being at Harvard. How was the experience?
JH: Heady. It was amazing. This gentleman is a well-known legal scholar still at Harvard, and a brilliant legal mind. And I started working for him when I was 17, my senior year in high school. And then he hired me back. He hired me for that summer in between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, and then the three summers afterwards. And so it was, it was incredible. I was around all of these Harvard law students and Harvard law professors, and we were taking on interesting cases…”
Today’s Guest: MS. JANINE HAMNER HOLMAN
Janine’s, an internationally recognized speaker, bestselling author, and expert on so many areas related around the field of leadership. I first met Janine in early 2023 and knew instantly that this wasn’t going to be a one-off engagement.
She’s so full of life and knowledgeable on topics where we share similar interests in our studies overlap considerably. After studying brain science and obtaining degrees from Cornell MHS, and NYU. And with more than 30 years as an executive and consultant, Janine’s insights on leadership and culture are rooted in deep experience and understanding.
Having spent the last 10 years studying the intersection of brain science, emotional intelligence and communication, Janine has now combined them into an accessible and revolutionary way to enable organizations and people to thrive.
The result is that she’s developed a science back path to behavior change and has now recognized as an expert in empowering people, teams, and organizations. As I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, my greatest challenge is keeping our conversation in some logical structure and limiting us to a reasonable time allocation.
Here’s a sampling of some of the topics that we could dive into, and yet I sense we may just need to circle back around for a second sitting in the future. Janine delivers keynotes about what it takes to attract and retain world-class talent.
Also, about organizational culture change and development, conscious leadership and cognitive biases leading in a virtual workplace, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, psychological safety at work, emotional intelligence, and of course neuroscience, which is foundational across all of those topics.
- Janine Hamner Holman | LinkedIn
- The Cost of Not Paying Attention podcast
- Mind The Gap – new book
- Excellence in Leadership and Culture. (janinehamner.com)
- J&J Consulting Group (jandjcg.com)
Final words from Janine:
“Janine, what are you working on at the moment? Is there anything that’s really got you excited that you’re working with or on at present?
JH:Well, so I’m excited about this next book in part because it is not what I thought my next book was going to be. I thought my next book was gonna be about soft skills and why they’re so hard and poorly named… And it turns out that my next book is actually going to be about helping women in particular learn how to communicate more effectively with men so that men can really hear what it is that we’re saying. And so getting really clear on content, getting really clear on pitch and tonality and getting really clear on perspective and where we’re coming from. So I’m very… It’s in the brand new stages, but I’m very excited about it…
WB:I can contribute a suggestion for your book… So what I love, is I love to have that problem and therefore I can solve something and feel worthy, right? And as you said at the very beginning when you were talking about the differences, right? So you’re not necessarily looking for the solution. You’re looking for the conversation. [laughter]
JH:Right. And so just as a tip and we’ll end it here. So girls, when you… All you wanna do is have a conversation. You wanna set the the man with whom you’re speaking up to when, you wanna let him know there’s no problem to solve and there’s nothing here that you have to remember, because then they will be set free to not have to worry about solving the problem. They’re gonna stop listening for what’s the problem… I just need to tell you about some stuff. And you don’t have to remember anything about what I tell you. It’s a game changer…”
0:00:07.6 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. Today we’re heading over to Los Angeles on the West Coast of the US and I’m very happy to say we also ventured to the East Coast to the township called Cambridge, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Yes, we’re heading to the home of two legendary learning institutions. None other than Harvard and MIT. Why? Well, because that’s where our guest, Ms. Janine Hamner Holman grew up, born in New Orleans, She moved to Cambridge at a young age with her parents and stayed there until she left the university. Here’s a fun fact about Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, which was an important center for the Puritan theology that was embraced by the US towns founders.
0:01:06.1 WB: Alright, so back to our guests. Janine’s, an internationally recognized speaker, bestselling author, and expert on so many areas related around the field of leadership. I first met Janine in early 2023 and knew instantly that this wasn’t going to be a one-off engagement. She’s so full of life and knowledgeable on topics where we share similar interests in our studies overlap considerably. After studying brain science and obtaining degrees from Cornell MHS, and NYU. And with more than 30 years as an executive and consultant, Janine’s insights on leadership and culture are rooted in deep experience and understanding. Having spent the last 10 years studying the intersection of brain science, emotional intelligence and communication, Janine has now combined them into an accessible and revolutionary way to enable organizations and people to thrive.
0:02:04.5 WB: The result is that she’s developed a science back path to behavior change and has now recognized as an expert in empowering people, teams, and organizations. As I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, my greatest challenge is keeping our conversation in some logical structure and limiting us to a reasonable time allocation. Here’s a sampling of some of the topics that we could dive into, and yet I sense we may just need to circle back around for a second sitting in the future. Janine delivers keynotes about what it takes to attract and retain world-class talent. Also about organizational culture change and development, conscious leadership and cognitive biases leading in a virtual workplace, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, psychological safety at work, emotional intelligence, and of course neuroscience, which is foundational across all of those topics.
0:03:07.1 WB: With that team ET, let’s not waste any more time to get our conversation underway with Ms Janine Hamner Holman in this episode titled, It’s All Things Leadership from Neuroscience and EQ to Psych Safety and DEIMB.
0:03:40.0 WB: Alright, welcome back, team ET. Great to have you here again for another week’s discussion. I’ve just been chatting with our guests behind the scenes before we hit the record button, and I’m super excited because we have so many topics in common and I was just joking with Janine that it’s going to be really difficult to keep us to a reasonable timeframe [laughter] So I wish we luck. We’re gonna try and keep.
0:04:09.6 Janine Hamner Holman: We’ll try [laughter]
0:04:10.8 WB: So I really wanna welcome Janine Hamner Holman, welcome to the ET project. It’s great to have you on. It’s been a while coming. I know we connected on your podcast, what, a few months back now.
0:04:23.1 JH: Yeah.
0:04:25.1 WB: It’s great to have this opportunity to bring you and welcome you as a guest on our podcast, So welcome to the show.
0:04:31.4 JH: I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for the invite.
0:04:34.4 WB: For all of our listener base. You will have heard the intro and it probably went on for a long time because Janine covers so much territory. You have so many great topics that you speak about that resonate with me, and it’s all around the workplace and around leadership. You touch on topics like DEI&B, as you call it, belonging. You add in.
0:04:56.2 JH: Yep. Yes.
0:04:56.9 WB: You talk about culture, you talk about emotional intelligence, you talk about psychological safety, and it’s all underpinned with your studies in neuroscience, which is an area that I’m interested in as well. And you’ve just released the book, so congratulations and we’ll talk more about that as we go through. So as you can hear already listeners, there’s just so much that I wanna come up.
0:05:25.3 JH: So buckle your seatbelts. This is gonna be a 17 hour podcast episode. [laughter]
0:05:30.5 WB: We’re into marathon. This is gonna be full on. How about we start with a little bit of your background, You grew up in my favorite state of the US. No I’m not American. I’m from Australia, but my favorite state is Massachusetts. Why? Because so many great universities come out of Cambridge.
0:05:52.7 JH: Yes.
0:05:53.0 WB: And that’s where you grew up, essentially. So maybe if you could give us a brief introduction, Janine, about, was life like for you as you were growing up?
0:06:03.4 JH: I’d be happy to. So I was actually born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Which I often include A, because I think it’s pretty neat and cool. And my mum… My folks were there, my mom in particular because she was getting her Masters and working on her PHD in medieval history at Tulane University. And then my dad got into Harvard Graduate School of Design. He’s an architect and so off they went to Cambridge and there they still are. However many years later, some 60 some odd years later, my mom had a career in academia and my dad as an architect. As a child, it was a great place to grow up. And of course, like everything, it’s different now than it was then. There were a lot of the places that I remember from growing up that aren’t around anymore. And part of what was really great for me is that it was a great grounding in sort of intellectual pursuit as well as a lot of culture. In Boston and Cambridge, it’s a great hub of culture and academics and higher learning. When it came time for me to go to college, I knew I did not wanna go to college in my own backyard. So I went away to school originally to a school in Virginia and then finished up at NYU, in New York City.
0:07:44.7 WB: The school in Virginia. Which school was this?
0:07:48.3 JH: It was the University of Richmond. In Richmond, Virginia. Which was actually. It was such an interesting place and it was probably looking a back low these many years later, a lot of the difficult things that we go through in life, are hard and painful at the moment, and so important for our growth and development. And I got pulled into the University of Richmond, and it may well have changed significantly. This was 40 years ago. It was a… I’m sure it is still a beautiful campus rolling lawns and brick buildings and sort of that Harvard, structural concept and a big lake in the middle. It was just bucolic. There was West Hampton College for women and Richmond College for men all inside the University of Richmond. And so the dorms were single sex and classes were integrated. And there was something that I liked about that. I’d gone to a pretty small high school, and so that sort of, there was a feeling of comfort in that. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a very homogeneous place.
0:09:14.7 JH: Almost everybody was White, almost everybody was middle class or more wealthy than that. And I got into a situation where I really had to decide what did I wanna stand up for and what was I willing to sort of put myself in the ground over. And it was hard and painful and I ended up sort of socially getting blackballed and that’s part of why I left. But part of what was great for me about that experience is that it forged in me this understanding of there are things and circumstances that happen in life that really we get to decide, yeah, I’m willing to go. I’m willing to go to the map on this. And I think learning that conviction in the face of challenge as a young person in my late teens was really, was very hard. But I think it was really helpful and set me on this course of really understanding what matters to me and knowing that I’ve got the backbone, the gumption, the wherewithal to stand up for it.
0:10:44.1 WB: When I looked through your bio, there was a period you describe as a crazy time where you went and worked for a brilliant Harvard professor related to law over. And you were thinking about moving into law as your career. So interesting time, I’m sure, [laughter] particularly being at Harvard. How was the experience?
0:11:08.1 JH: Heady. It was amazing. This gentleman is a well known legal scholar still at Harvard, and a brilliant legal mind. And I started working for him when I was 17, my senior year in high school. And then he hired me back. He hired me for that summer in between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, and then the three summers afterwards. And so it was, it was incredible. I was around all of these Harvard law students and Harvard law professors, and we were taking on interesting cases. And it was the time in the United States when the Claus von Bulow appeal was happening that eventually a movie was made out of. And Alan did… The lawyer that I was working for did the appellate trial for that case. It was amazing. And when you’re 17 and 18 and 19, it’s like, okay, great. This is what I’m gonna do.
0:12:14.5 WB: Yep.
0:12:14.5 JH: This guy [laughter] he was the youngest tenured professor ever in the history of Harvard Law School. Like, I’m smart, but I’m not that [laughter] kind of smart. But that’s what I thought I was gonna do. And then I went to New York City, finished school and worked for a couple of really big law firms in New York City, and I thought, oh no, This is not what I’m going to do [laughter] It’s very different when you’re in the rarefied air of Harvard University and professors are able to take on whatever interesting cases they want versus in a big production law firm.
0:12:54.1 WB: And it’s such a…
0:12:55.7 JH: I did a small pivot.
0:13:00.0 WB: Yeah.
0:13:00.2 WB: Which is quite understandable. You’re diving into one of the heaviest areas of, or professions probably anyway, and you’re in an environment which is probably the epitome of most people’s dreams that wanna move into that environment. And at the age where you’re so impression easy to impress. So… I only imagine the journey that you’re on at that stage. So you pivoted and then what happened after you pivoted?
0:13:32.0 JH: So I pivoted and went to work for non-profit organizations for the next almost 20 years growing up. One of the things that I think is wonderful about my parents, neither one of my parents had any money when they were growing up. And my father, eventually became an architect and did well in his career. So, as I was growing up, we were starting to have, not wealth, but some money comfort. And they made a big deal out of the fact that because I happened to be born in the United States, because I happened to be White, because I was being well-educated, because through them I had access to some measure of income, wealth, that all of that meant that I had privilege and that with privilege came responsibility to give back. And I could make it manifest in my life however I wanted, but it was their request that I take it seriously.
0:14:32.7 JH: And so my first plan was to be an attorney and probably a criminal defense attorney, and then decided, nope, not doing that. And so then went to work for sort of do-gooding, nonprofit organizations, was trained as a community organizer by the same person who trained Cesar Chavez. Did that work for almost 20 years until 2008 when, the economy in the US in particular, took another big nose dive and I thought, do I wanna continue working? And I was in leadership, do I want to continue working for these small doing great work, organizations in another down economy? And so for the first time in my life, I took a step back and I took about six months off to really think about what do I wanna do? And I ended up getting recruited by Waste Management, which is the world’s largest trash and recycling company.
0:15:34.2 JH: And the first thing I said to them was, y’all are really not a nonprofit organization. You’re a Fortune 200 company. What would I do for you? And they said, well, you know how to manage people, you know, how to manage budgets. And a lot of what I’d been doing was fundraising and organizational development work. And, that’s all about building relationships and managing change.
0:15:55.4 JH: We need people who can do those things. It’s like, huh. So I did that for about eight years and then pivoted again and opened my own business, about six little over six years ago. It’s been a non-linear, not what I thought it was going to be sort of path. But I think that’s often the story of our lives. And I’m excited with the journey that it has been.
0:16:22.2 WB: What led you into neuroscience now? You’ve been studying at, off and on for what, 10 or more years now? So what…
0:16:29.7 JH: Yeah, about 15. Well [laughter] So it was very self-serving. My entree to neuroscience was I was dating and I was trying to figure out, okay, what is happening in the brains of these creatures known as men? Because the things that they’re doing, no woman would ever do that. And I thought, is it possible that our brains are actually different? And so I went in search of this information and it turns out they are obviously we’re both humans. We’re all humans. And there’s some things that are very particular about, men’s brains and the design of men’s brains that is actually different from the way that women’s brains are designed and organized. There’s things about the way that our eyes see things. There’s things about the way that we hear pitch and tonality. And so I… That was the start because I was trying to understand [laughter] what was happening with these men that I was dating, and could there possibly be a better way for me to communicate?
0:17:43.3 JH: And it turned out that there was an. In the end, I got married. And it’s a fascinating time in the history of humanity to get interested in the brain because there is so much now with, nanotechnology. It used to be that we could only study somebody’s brain when they were dead. And so there was a limited amount of stuff that we could learn. And now, we can put probes inside people’s brains and find out what’s actually happening in real time. And so that understanding of neuroscience and neurobiology has really largely, informed the work that I do. ‘Cause I come at it from this science-based brain science lens.
0:18:30.0 WB: Which is incredible because the areas that you focus on, that you work with organization are very through out with soft skill areas, which are largely influenced, of course, by our cognitive thinking and emotions and feelings, and the connection is so strong. So one area I know that you touch on, the cognitive biases. I mean neuroscience, we can have a whole episode on alone, but [laughter] Go down the rabbit hole. I mean, you opened the door for me to comment about the difference between men and women.
0:19:06.5 JH: Yes.
0:19:08.4 WB: I’m gonna close the door because we could [laughter], but I take your point. And, yeah. I often say to, to other women, don’t overthink a guy. We’re pretty straightforward. We’re pretty simple.
0:19:24.0 JH: I was, I was giving a talk the other day and, went on a, little tangent, and I was talking about how men listen primarily in two different ways. What’s the point and what’s the problem? And if you’re not getting to the point and they can’t figure out the problem, then they get, they, in general, of course, this, all humans operate on a wide spectrum. And in general, if they can’t find a point and there’s no problem to solve, like, well, what are we talking about here? This is the stupidest conversation ever. And of course, that’s not the way in which most women are trained to talk. Yeah. It’s actually my next book, which I did not know was going to happen, but a friend planted this seed in me, and it is taken hold. My next book is going to be a book for women about how to talk with men so that they can hear what we’re saying.
0:20:33.0 WB: I, had the pleasure of talking with Sally Helgerson with her recent book, rising Together a couple of months ago, and she’s a fantastic individual as well. And, she does a lot of work, particularly on women, but in the area of diversity, inclusion, equity, etcetera. And in a similar vein to what you just mentioned, how is that communication? What’s the difference? How do you approach it as a woman to be able to actually rise and shine and, stand out in, the workforce in particular. So yeah, very, interesting. I look forward to that conversation.
0:21:13.9 JH: Give me at least a year before we’re there.
0:21:18.2 WB: In the book. You talk about, it’s called Mind the Gap, by the way, for listeners Mind the Gap. It came out in March, I believe.
0:21:28.3 JH: That’s right.
0:21:28.4 WB: You talk about the difference between 20th century and 21st century leadership, which is also a topic I’m passionate about.
0:21:34.9 JH: One of your things. Yes, absolutely.
0:21:38.0 WB: And in there you talk about conscious leadership, and I’m, wondering, how do you define that? Like, what does that mean for you?
0:21:46.5 JH: So I realized, I’m not even sure exactly when, that there were these key pillars that were coming up over and over and over again as I was working with leaders on what was being called for, from 21st century leaders, which is in so many ways, so different from what was called for in the 20th century, and how to help people really sort of break down and understand the different components. And so the, way that I created it is that there’s six pillars. And somebody asked me like, well, what if you discover some more pillars? I said, well, then there’ll be another book, or there’ll be an addendum, or an updated version or something. But as far as I know it right now, there’s six pillars. And so it starts with really getting clear on your mission and vision and values.
0:22:52.6 JH: That’s what I think of as sort of the foundation. And whether what we’re talking about is an organization, or really, whether it’s me, I have figured out that I am on a mission to have the world of work be one in which everyone can thrive. That then permeates everything that I do, and it helps to guide the things that I take on and the things that I choose not to take on. So really getting clear on mission, vision, values, that’s the foundation. And then the next piece is just making a decision to be a leader. And my perspective, which I believe you and I share, is one can be a leader from any position in an organization. It has nothing to do with title, it has nothing to do with education or longevity or any of that stuff. You can decide to be a leader and be a leader.
0:23:48.7 JH: Then the next piece of it is emotional intelligence and self-awareness. And, unless we understand what’s happening inside here, we can’t connect well with anybody else. Then in order to connect well with anybody else, we’ve really got to practice. We really get to practice listening. And that’s the fourth pillar. Most of us have not been taught how to listen well, and many of us have collapsed the idea of hearing with listening, and unless we are hearing, impaired hearing just happens. Listening is in fact a skill. Then the fifth pillar is being open, being willing to be uncomfortable, something. Wayne, you and I have talked some about and then the sixth pillar is being curious, always learning, having a growth mindset. So as I currently understand it today, those are the six pillars.
0:24:54.7 WB: How does one approach any of those? Like, what do you do with that information? So I know that I need to have this conscious awareness, or.
0:25:03.8 JH: Get the Book…
0:25:08.2 JH: Right? You like, okay, that all sounds important. So how do I start doing that? The book is really designed to help people. It’s, really a workbook. And so for people who want to get their information via an ebook, my request is that because you can’t of course write anything in an ebook that you email us at teams@jandjcg say jandjcg.com, and we will send you PDF versions of the worksheets so that you can be doing the work. ‘Cause really it’s about, if you realize, okay, so I don’t know, what my mission is. I don’t, I’m not really clear on what my values are or how’s that different from morals or, like these words can get squishy. So then I have a whole section, the whole first real section of the book in the, in the work booky part is helping people figure that out for themselves. And then it just proceeds on through it. If you realize, okay, I’ve been hearing a lot about this empathy thing. I don’t really know how, what this is or how to do anything about it. Well, there’s a a section on that [laughter] So it, it walks you through all of those six pillars and all of the component parts of it.
0:26:28.7 WB: You’ve opened Pandora’s box for me. I’m… Sitting here thinking. Oh thank God its my time.
0:26:36.2 JH: So sorry. [laughter] And that’s all we have time for today, folks. [laughter]
0:26:44.1 WB: Alright. I have to pick a couple of topics out of that. So one thing that I noticed you omit in that introduction there is you don’t talk about purpose, you talk about vision, mission, and values, Is purpose somewhere in that mix or you left that out on intentionally?
0:27:04.7 JH: So I think of purpose as the same thing as mission. So, my purpose, my mission, is to have the world of work be one in which everyone can thrive. I think of those as the same thing. Do you think of them as different.
0:27:18.7 WB: Maybe only from putting a timeline. So I see it more as a holy grail of where I wanna be. Versus the mission of this is sort of the journey I’m on and these are the targets I’m trying to hit as I go type of thing. That could probably be my own difference. But.
0:27:38.7 JH: And I think of vision sort of as where, what the north star is, where is it that, if, I mean obviously my mission and my vision are sort of collapsed because I’m not gonna achieve this mission in my lifetime, nor by myself. Which is why I’m always excited to find, fellow travelers on this journey so that we can, partner up and help support each other with what we’re up to. ‘Cause it’s a big mission that we’re on.
0:28:12.5 WB: For sure. Absolutely. And talking about that, you already do that through your organization, I believe, right? So you have other people within the organization that are delivering the message, working in the same direction as what you do.
0:28:26.7 JH: Yeah.
0:28:26.7 WB: Which is great.
0:28:26.8 JH: Yeah. We have a, consulting company called the JandJ Consulting Group. And actually I’m just, I was just working on a diagram. I’m working with a new client starting on Thursday. And, so I was, I, I know that this group of folk tend to be very visual, and so I thought, alright, I’m gonna build ahouse. And I did not get my father’s architectural skills [laughter], but with the mission, vision, values as the foundation and then the culture as the roof, and then, I’m working on what are the different, posts that hold it all up and what’s on the inside, and yeah. And that’s, and we do that work on an ongoing basis with organizations.
0:29:13.3 WB: Excellent. Coming back to your pillars, [laughter]
0:29:18.9 JH: Yes.
0:29:20.6 WB: So one of the pillars you spoke about was self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Which, I also believe is absolutely foundational for every leader. You must have this self-awareness before you even start to self-regulate.
0:29:37.2 JH: Exactly.
0:29:37.3 WB: So, within the self-awareness space, is there anything specifically that you talk about within the book that people need or should be aware of?
0:29:48.2 JH: What a great question. I mean, I love the way that you put that. And similarly, my belief is that, if part of what we are working on creating inside of organizations is trust and communication, regardless of what we call it. And, one of the companies I’m working with is a trash company, a very sort of male dominated, let’s get things done kind of place. They don’t wanna sit around and talk about anybody’s feelings. And in order to be making good decisions as a company, they need to be able to get good information from their trash truck drivers, from their customer service people, from their community reps who are meeting with their, municipal clients. And so if they don’t have good communication, and if they don’t have self-awareness, they’re not going to be able to set the conditions where then their frontline people are actually gonna tell them the truth.
0:31:00.7 JH: If I tell you something as a frontline person, that’s not what you wanna hear, and you yell at me, then I’m gonna stop telling you what the truth is. I’m either gonna blow smoke up your skirt, or I’m just gonna change the subject or whatever. People have many different ways of, obfuscating. And so you need me to feel safe, to feel comfortable to trust in you. And so, we’re getting to work on that, really through an understanding about self-awareness.
0:31:38.5 WB: Right.
0:31:39.4 JH: And, and it’s one of these connection points that I know, Wayne, you understand, but a lot of business people, they don’t, I mean, I remember I was working for a boss who had one of those big red circles with the line through it, meaning don’t, and inside it, he had the word drama. Well, we were working, we were doing like community engagement and customer relations, and there was [laughter], there was always drama. But when you felt like this is a, I can’t come to my boss and tell him about this problem that we’re having, then A how are we gonna solve it? Well, and, and B, how is then he going to understand what’s happening? Low self-awareness, had him put that sign on the door, which then made all of us hesitant to, tell him the truth.
0:32:33.5 WB: You, you have a beautiful graphic on your web, one part of your website. It’s a picture of a boardroom setting, I guess, with the boss standing up and five other people sitting around the table and the bosses saying, all those in favor say aye. And you have five speech bubbles, thought bubbles, if you like, of the other.
0:32:56.2 JH: Thought bubbles. Exactly. Yep.
0:33:00.1 WB: Everyone is having a, negative thought in disbelief about what they’re being asked to prove of. And yet they all say, aye. Yeah. [laughter],
0:33:08.7 JH: They’re all raising their hands. Right? I mean, and how many of us have been in a situation where we’ve been that person, where we’ve known like, this is the stupidest idea, or this is destined to fail, but I can’t, raise my hand and say, no, I have to raise my hand and say yes. And, we have lived through collectively a lot of situations that have revealed the danger of that. I mean, one of the ways in which what’s often now called psychological safety, got discerned is because, a woman, Amy Edmondson was doing research in hospitals. And looking to understand why mistakes were happening. And obviously in those situations, if you’re in a hospital and mistakes happen, people can pay the ultimate price. We also know that in the NASA Challenger disaster in the 1980s when the Challenger, rocket exploded, there were engineers at NASA who knew that the O-rings on that rocket were going to fail when the temperatures got cold. Well, I know very little about outer space. What I do know is that it’s fucking cold [laughter] And so they knew that the O-rings were going to fail, and they could not raise their hand and say, we have a problem here. And people died. And the space program was set back, and faith in government was set back. And it is an enormous price that we pay when we don’t create the conditions for leaders to really understand themselves and then create a safe place for people to tell the truth.
0:35:10.6 WB: As you rightly say, Amy Edmonson pioneered this whole concept through her research. You know, that was, I don’t know, maybe 20 years, maybe more than that now.
0:35:19.7 JH: I think more than that now. Yeah.
0:35:23.5 WB: Yeah. How much do you think corporate or organizations have really taken that to heart and changed? Do you think there is a shift? Now I know I’m generalizing, and that’s an almost impossible question, but are you seeing in your circle a shift in that direction?
0:35:41.0 JH: And so in that narrow slice, of my circle, people with whom I speak, I am happy to say that the answer is yes, [laughter], and I don’t work with large enterprise organizations. I don’t work with companies like Waste Management with 44,000 employees because it’s too hard to turn that ship. In the time that I was there, there were so many new initiatives, and we’re gonna roll out this new thing. And the pull, like the centrifugal force back to how it’s always been, is just too strong. And so I work with sort of small and mid-size organizations, most of them not publicly traded, so that they’ve got more flexibility and can be more agile and can, implement new things quicker. And if you’ve got the, the C-suite buy-in, you’re gonna be able to make changes much more quickly.
0:36:51.7 JH: And they’re gonna stick, being on a mission to change the world of work, I can’t spend my time doing things that are, we just need to check a box. And I’ve had organizations come to me and say, particularly actually, around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, We need to do, we know we need to do something. And so I say, okay, I got it. What kind of thing are you thinking? Well, like a two hour workshop, right? I will refer you to a few people. [laughter] Doing something meaningful on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is a multi-year long process. And if you don’t understand that at the get-go, if you think, we’re gonna get it one and done, it’s the reason that I say to people, one of the things I do is work on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. And they go, ‘Ooh, that’s so, yeah. Ooh, that’s, that’s, that’s awful”. Because they’ve been through experiences where companies or organizations tried to do a one-off thing. And mostly what ends up at the end of that is everybody feels bad. Like, well, that’s not a good use of money or time.
0:38:08.0 WB: Yeah. This is such a major topic in our world. And I’m with you. I feel that probably do such a lousy job. We may have good intentions, we may…
0:38:21.3 JH: Yes.
0:38:21.8 WB: Set out with all the right reasons, but we don’t understand magnitude of the issue, and therefore we throw darts at the board hoping that it sticks somehow. I would say it’s really ingrained in, you need to bring it as a element of culture longer term.
0:38:41.0 JH: Yeah. And it needs to be something that everybody in the organization believes that they are a part of. If you say, okay, we’re gonna do a diversity thing and we’ve hired a chief diversity officer, great. Usually that person is accountable to the director of HR, who is often then accountable to the head of finance or CFO, which in my experience, is a recipe for disaster folks. If you have a company and you have HR accountable to money, you’re now pitting people versus money. It is a recipe for disaster. Your people are, in fact, your most important asset. Have HR be directly accountable to your CEO. That’s my soapbox, [laughter] for today. [laughter]
0:39:38.0 WB: For sure. I mean, in today’s world, we have a lot of metrics organizations as well, and one of the corporations I worked for recently was, had the metrics where the CHRO reported to the CHRO all the way up the chain. So whether you’re at local level, you reported to the next level of CHRO, etcetera. And that tended to work reasonably well. At least as you went up the chain, those people sat on the board. [laughter] I wouldn’t say it was flawless, but it was a reasonable outcome. One thing that I’m interested to get your a take on Janine, is, let’s say I’m a team lead. I’ve just been put into the role and I see this as a huge opportunity. I’m really eager, I want to do all the…
0:40:25.3 JH: So excited.
0:40:27.4 WB: I’m genuine, I’m authentic. I want to have a team that feels psychologically safe.
0:40:33.3 JH: Yes.
0:40:33.6 WB: How do I start? Where do I start? What do I do?
0:40:38.5 JH: Oh, that’s a great question. So I would start by sort of setting some ground rules and expectations. And we have this idea, most of us, especially in Western culture, we have collapsed two things that need to be unconnected. We have collapsed vulnerability and weakness. If you talk to anybody who has ever served their country as part of their military force, they will tell you that vulnerability is strength. It has nothing to do with weakness. Because when you are in that frontline situation, you’ve got to be vulnerable with the people who have your back. And it takes something to be vulnerable. Brené Brown, the queen of vulnerability has a saying, which I have read, and I have not been able to find it again. I need to go back and read everything that she’s ever written. But it is something like, the thing that people most want to see in you is the thing that you least want to show them, which is your vulnerability.
0:41:56.8 JH: When people get vulnerable with us as humans, we get interested in them. And so when you can say to your team, “Hey guys, I’m really excited to be leading this venture now. And the reality is, I know I’m gonna make mistakes. I need you to be honest with me about when I’m doing things that don’t work for you, and I’m gonna really work on making it better. So let’s start with like, how do you like to be appreciated? And I’ll go first.” What I love in appreciation is words of affirmation. I love it when people say attajob, attagirl, you did such a great job. And if they take it to the next level and they say, “you did such a great job on this specific thing, and here’s how it made a difference for me”. Like, that is gold. I will eat on that all day long. And so once you start finding out for your people how they like to be appreciated, and once you model for them really what you’re looking for, then you’re gonna have the first building blocks of creating that really strong team. Because appreciation is the currency that moves human beings. We think it’s money, it’s not.
0:43:37.3 WB: Yeah.
0:43:38.1 JH: Human beings will go through fire for people that they know that have their backs. The people that I still got on the phone and talked to after working for almost 40 years it’s the folks I’ve been through the trenches with. It’s the people that we’ve been through hard stuff together and we got through it. And those are the people that were not just coworkers, but they really became friends. And so when you can make that connection on the currency of appreciation, I think that’s the best place to start.
0:44:23.8 WB: As predicted at the very beginning of the… [laughter]
0:44:27.6 WB: We’ve really just touched, scratched the surface on what we could talk about. We’re out of time already, but we could lead from that last comment into discussions around neuroscience and why that is around emotions and feelings and the whole thing that… Of going that all into… Some sort of logical conclusion. But we don’t have the time, unfortunately. I guess it’s a great sequel, right? There’s a great…
0:45:00.4 JH: There you go…
0:45:00.7 WB: Janine, what are you working on at the moment? Is there anything that’s really got you excited that you’re working with or on at present?
0:45:09.3 JH: Well, so I’m excited about this next book in part because it is not what I thought my next book was going to be. I thought my next book was gonna be about soft skills and why they’re so hard and poorly named… And it turns out that my next book is actually going to be about helping women in particular learn how to communicate more effectively with men so that men can really hear what it is that we’re saying. And so getting really clear on content, getting really clear on pitch and tonality and getting really clear on perspective and where we’re coming from. So I’m very… It’s in the brand new stages, but I’m very excited about it…
0:46:03.9 WB: I can contribute a suggestion for your book… So what I love, is I love to have that problem and therefore I can solve something and feel worthy, right? And as you said at the very beginning when you were talking about the differences, right? So you’re not necessarily looking for the solution. You’re looking for the conversation. [laughter]
0:46:25.9 JH: Right. And so just as a tip and we’ll end it here. So girls, when you… All you wanna do is have a conversation. You wanna set the the man with whom you’re speaking up to when, you wanna let him know there’s no problem to solve and there’s nothing here that you have to remember, because then they will be set free to not have to worry about solving the problem. They’re gonna stop listening for what’s the problem… I just need to tell you about some stuff. And you don’t have to remember anything about what I tell you. It’s a game changer…
0:47:08.4 WB: It is. Thank you so much…
0:47:09.0 WB: I’m looking forward to this book. Where can people connect with you, Janine if they wanna reach out and work with you or learn more about you, what you’re doing, great work you’re doing?
0:47:21.3 JH: Yeah, so the best way to connect with me is on LinkedIn… I am the only Janine Hamner Holman there. So, and my email is there and I am on Messenger. And so you can… It’s the easiest place to find me…
0:47:37.6 WB: Okay, perfect. We’ll make sure we link to it. I’ll probably throw a few other links in the show notes just for…
0:47:43.3 JH: Please, yes.
0:47:44.1 WB: Have a look at your websites and see what you’re doing for keynotes, etcetera. But look, it’s been great catching up. Again, I really appreciate the opportunity and thank you. Yeah, hopefully it’s not the last time and I really look forward to staying in contact. [laughter] We have so many topics we didn’t get to because of time…
0:48:03.9 JH: I know.
0:48:04.3 WB: But anyways…
0:48:05.3 JH: Stay tuned for Janine and Wayne, episode number 374. [laughter] Wayne, it’s truly been my honor. Thank you so much.
0:48:15.5 WB: I really appreciate it. Thank you.
0:48:19.3 S3: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs @coaching4companies.com.