Welcome to the Freedom Fridays Project Podcast. I'm Pete Clark, your host, the Whispers Guy. It appears that work expands to the time that we give it and I started to explore how I was investing my time and effort, particularly on Fridays. It's evolved to an exploration and experiment with time, energy, attention and identity and a mindset shift from I have to, to I choose to. So if you're interested in exploring some changes to the way that you invest your time and energy, if you'd like some tips on the way as you make some changes, perhaps to your identity, if you would like the freedom of I choose to, away from I have to, then this is the podcast for you. So welcome to the Freedom Fridays Project Podcast.
Welcome to this week's episode of The Freedom Fridays Podcast. This is episode 41 and it's the trilogy finish, it's part three of three in my conversation with Karen Gately, fellow facilitator, fellow change agent, a fellow good all around human trying to serve humanity in our best way that we can think of. So in episode three, we talk more about some of the aspects that we believe leaders would benefit from when they get to that junction point of allocating task and resource. Which way did they go? Did they give it to the person with the most capability or did they give it to the person with the least capability? And what are some of the key understandings of humans and people that we think would help their people leadership role? So enjoy, this is Episode 41, part three of my conversation with Karen Gately.
That's maybe an interesting pivot into some of the work that you and I do in corporate, because in corporate, they're supposedly time poor lots of things on, the default is often give the task to the busy person or give the task to the person that's got the most capability to get the job done. Whereas what we've just explored a little bit is, well actually you should give it to the person who's got the least capability, because they're going to learn the most, they're going to grow the most. But I just can't see that happening.
Well, because of the economics of it, right? So the big change that would need to happen is timeframe. So if I'm measuring financial success in the next quarter and the next year, then I'm going to be very concerned about what is the profit return on this particular individual in their job reflected in productivity. Whereas if I have a long term focus of success, then I'm going to have greater tolerance, respect for and patience with teaching and coaching. So one of the challenges that leaders need to get past is I'm too busy to slow down to coach and guide my people, it's quicker if I just do it myself, it's quicker if I just give it to the person already knows how to do it, we don't have the bandwidth. And my argument is, well, if you actually want to evolve as an organisation, and you ultimately want to be in better and better places over time, and achieve your aspirational goals, then you've got to figure that out, you've got to actually forge capacity for learning. And if you've got capacity for learning, then people are more likely to learn, funny about that. And they're more likely, as we're saying, to be given opportunities, to have a go, experiment, learn by actually having their hands on the tools and making stuff happen or not. And then having the coaching support around them, so that the right people can actually offer guidance and advice. But until organisations choose to actually slow down enough, that takes us a little bit off this insane rate of growth in businesses and, year on year growing profit levels, let's just take a little bit of that off and invest it back into the business being amazing. And the long term consequences of that I'm absolutely convinced will be we'll have stronger, better organisations having a much healthier impact on human beings and the planet, etc. So it's just getting it done and getting it done yesterday and optimise the dollars we get it done in the shortest timeframe is why we don't want to do that investing on a real level.
I think, for me, it's affirming something I believe, which is if there was, not to ignore the top line or the bottom line, but rather than focus necessarily on commercial growth all the time, you focused a little bit on internal growth of the individual, it would far outweigh the commercial growth you could achieve anyway.
Totally. When I think about growth with the organisations we work with, we are talking about growing outcomes through growing humans. So, and those outcomes are we're growing our maturity in terms of our operational excellence, we're growing our bottom line, our top line, we're growing things in the right directions. And obviously, a key part of that is we're growing our knowledge, our skills, our experience and the strength of our spirit as a team. So all of that growth is necessary for us to be moving forward, as an organisation to maintain not only relevance but to keep thriving in a world that is constantly changing and changing at pace, we need to keep evolving and growing. You know, I just think it's foundational to the way we think about that we are an organism that needs nurturing.
I have a point of view Karen, I'd be interested in your perspective on it. That decision point that we talked about 10 minutes ago about what's the purpose of this, is it to get the task done, therefore give it to the most capable person, it's done quickly. Is the purpose to grow this person, then you might give it to the person who got the least capability, both are, and there's probably other outcomes that might come out of it. And I sense that the leader or the person making that decision at that junction point, needs to have a little bit of an awareness, some knowledge, some understanding of how humans operate. And I'm saying that broadly, because I've always felt that leaders get this position of people leader, and it's kind of an add on, and they don't understand or are willing to explore, really explore not only themselves, but by doing so they've no idea what's going on for that other person and allocating that task to get it done or grow. And so I've said for years that, as part of your people role, you have to do some psychology, you have to do some work on yourself, you have to do some understanding of what it means to be human. And all of the neuroscience and the behavioural science that we now know. And here's you and I perhaps in business, because that's what we've done, and we're studying and teaching it and sharing it, whereas they rely on us to come and share it with them. What if they did that internally?
Totally. And again, the reason I laugh is because to me, it's so logical, right? It's like saying, you're going to be a machine operator, with no insight to how the machine works. It's the same thing because leadership, it's the clues in the name, you're actually leading, and what are you leading, you're leading resources to achieve outcomes. Well, inanimate objects don't have brains, you can't interact and communicate with them, you have to get humans to pick those things up and apply them. So in order for us to be a leader, we have to achieve outcomes. Now, sometimes we have direct report staff, and sometimes we have people that we are influencing, because they're their stakeholders that aren't directly in our team, right? So I can still be a leader of a project without having employees per se. But I will be influencing stakeholders, I will be influencing decisions and priorities and progress, which all of that requires that I'm influencing people. So one of the things that always again, makes me laugh is when I hear a CEO or a board member say, Oh, they're really great in their role, they're a high performer, they're not that great with their people though. And my response to that is, So they're an individual contributor and they're a really smart, clever one. Oh, no, I wouldn't say they're that. So it's what we expect of leaders is the starting position, right? So I'm not going to make you a leader if I expect that ultimately, you're going to be able to have that influencing ability, and to drive outcomes through the talent, energy, engagement of other human beings. If that's what I see as the primary objective of a leader, I'm going to be more inclined to look for, Do you have the potential to grow into that over time, if you're not already that person? Do you have a desire to go down that path? Are you willing to take ownership for the success of other people? And again, as we're saying these projects, so I think one of the biggest issues is that we don't have genuine alternative paths to climb the corporate hierarchy. So, we have to become a leader in order to advance in our salary levels in terms of our influence around decision making, the way our organisations are structured and organised, it's difficult to be a technical guru and still have clout without taking on the role of people leadership. So, look, I think there's a whole bunch of work for HR departments to do with their leadership teams around solving that problem. I think there are solutions to that problem. But until we actually resolve that each industry, we're going to have highly technically competent people sitting in leadership roles, ignoring the job, in many instances, and let alone learning about how people feel and why they feel the way that they do and how to influence that. I meet leaders all the time, which I'm sure you do as well, that really have no interest in people's emotions which is again, a bit like saying, I'm going to operate this machine, but I have no interest in the fact that it has glitches and breaks downs, I just have no interest in that. Well, it's naive.
Karen do you think you can be a good, not even great, people leader, even if it's just a bolt-on to your role, without doing some work on yourself?
So very rarely have I met somebody that is just a super wise soul, but they do exist. Some people are born incredibly emotionally intelligent, I'm sure you will have met young people yourself where you're like, Yeah, you get this stuff. I've certainly met kids where it's like, I wish I could roll you out to the corporate world, come have a chat to a few of these CEOs about emotional intelligence. So I think some people are very self aware, empathetic, great at that interpersonal engagement. And therefore, there will always be skills, that even those people need to develop, the communication skills and tactics to deal with people's emotional responses, or whatever it might be. But not everybody has to have done hard work on their emotional development and journey, or self awareness in order to be effective, but most do.
Karen, I'm really conscious of time. And I'm really conscious and grateful you were able to spend some time on a public holiday, because you're based in Melbourne, and a really simple question, is Melbourne the only city in the world that has two public holidays for sporting events?
Well, this is your challenge is, yes I believe so, but I'm the worst person to ask because I'm working today. Like I think it's silly too, as for having a holiday because we're having a grand final on the Saturday, I just think that it's funny is my best response. I don't know what we were thinking in what ways we're trying to kid ourselves when that policy decision was made, but it is what it is, I guess.
I've got few quickfire questions, Karen, just to close this off if you'd indulge. What's one of the last movies you laughed at?
Shrek because I watched it fairly recently and it is just gold.
And what's one of the last movies you cried at?
It was one of the Marvel movies. I'm just trying to remember which one it was but one of the Marvel movies. I'm not a great movies person.
Okay. As an ex-PE Teacher, what's your favourite sport that you like teaching?
That I liked teaching? I loved archery.
Okay. Maybe not a good one to try with young kids.
I think there was a blend with the martial arts, I was so excited when we were doing that one.
And the sport you hated teaching?
Because you couldn't demonstrate it.
It's too hard.
It's too hard, too hard. You talked about mastery and mastery of being your best self what's a one or two or three word maxim that you'd have to live by in order to be masterful.
Oh the pressure to come up with just a couple of words right? Personal accountability and kindness.
And one of the books that's changed your life. One of.
I would say Jim Collins Good to Great I just thought it was so revealing of the facts, the link between leadership mindset, behaviour, attitude, culture, and the results that come from that.
Karen has been a pleasure and as I kind of suspected, we've gotten into flow and extended beyond where we thought we might have. Thank you for your time, your transparency and authenticity it shines through, because I can see you on the screen. And we'll put all the Corporate Dojo notes and any links in the show notes. But for now, Karen, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for having me.
So that's part three, three of three, my final conversation with Karen Gately, and it has left me pondering for myself a number of questions again. And I'm going to share some of those questions with you at the end here. And maybe give you some space to write them down or spend a moment thinking about them. And I'm starting with that question of a future self. If you were to imagine catapulting yourself into the future, a day, a month, a year, 10 years, whatever it might be, whatever timeline you're comfortable with, or not maybe a timeline you're not comfortable with. What would that future self look back and advise you to do today with a certain dilemma, or conundrum or challenge or issue that you face? Because my experience is usually our future self has the benefit of hindsight, has the benefit of experience, has the benefit of others who have navigated that particular challenge or issue. And even just taking a moment to pause and think, how would your future Pete handle the situation that he's in now? If you could jump in a time machine and ask that person for advice, what would they say? Would they ask, would they tell, would they stay silent? Would they offer a story, analogy? How would that counsel, how would that conversation help you even at least right now pondering that, with some of the challenges and issues that you're facing? The second question that I'm pondering, again at this stage in my life is my definition of success, and how it's and how much it's influenced, that I'm aware of, with external factors, practical factors, paying the bills putting food on the table, the real aspect of that and the metaphorical aspects of that, versus the internal definitions of success around fulfillment and meaning and connection and compassion, and serenity and peace. And it's reminded me again how challenging that toggling between those definitions for me certainly has been. And I find myself sometimes focusing on the internal fulfillment, the inner fulfillment aspects, and then recognising I've got a big tax bill to pay so wondering how on earth I'm going to pay it, and then catapulting back into perhaps a conversation with Karen or a book that I might read, going and what if I allowed the universe to come through me. And then my daughter is doing her last exams at school thinking, I just need to be there in order to support in any way I can, her through that. So that constant toggling between internal and external definitions of success. And I observe quite a number of people defining that definition with quite a large timeline, a year, 10 years, life, which I'd be advocating, in some sense. I'm also pondering and in pondering, I wonder if you can ponder this to what if it was just the next hour, or the next moment? Or with my to do list or being present in a conversation with someone you care about, despite all the distractions? I wonder if there's many different factors that would define our success and even asking that question moment by moment, or minute by minute or whenever it's appropriate. What would make me feel good, what would success look like feel like sound like in this next half day? I wonder if that is something, certainly me anyway, I could ponder more on. And the third question that I think I'll continue to ponder, it may won't be a longer more iterative journey for me is when I seek when I go to discover, and I'm willing to look, I'm willing to go to the edge and look, I don't know if I've necessarily been in the ditch, as Karen described, although some of my backstory you could argue probably was, but in being willing to look, how comfortable am I at putting the aspects of myself that I don't particularly like that don't resonate, that I see in others that reflect me? How willing am I to respect them, and try and understand them, and not necessarily make friends with them, but accept there's a role to play and it's trying to teach me something. And my cognitive and emotional and physical ability to put that part of me in the passenger seat as opposed to the driver's seat, if I can hold it outside myself, as opposed to inside myself, then I'm more able to distinguish the helpfulness or the hindering of that aspect of me. And it's often an uncomfortable self conversation actually, when we reflect on some of the things we don't like about ourselves, why would we want to reveal that? Why would we want to bring that out into the open? And I don't know if I know the answer to that question. I'm suggesting I'd been willing to at least ponder and wonder and at least take a few steps and peer in to what those might be. And maybe not liking what I see sometimes, the willingness to even stay there and look and be with it, and accept that it's not a great look and it's not a good aspect of me that I would abhor in other people. But be willing to stay with it and put it in the passenger seat, because it serves me in some way. I don't yet know how or where or when or with who, but it serves me in some way. So maybe that's something for you to ponder. When you think about the imperfections, the bits of you that you don't like, and I don't mean physically, I mean the ways that you act, the ways that you behave that you intend not to and it shows up under pressure, or when you're tired, or you're busy, or there's some concern, anxiety, fear or dread kick in if you do this particular action, this might happen, and we'll do everything we can to avoid that happening. Is there a way you can at least welcome or open a door for that person, that part of you to sit alongside? And the fourth thing I'm pondering is probably a never ending journey for me is the understanding of humans, not least myself, and not from a narcissistic perspective, not from a Hey, look at me perspective, more from the more I understand about myself the more I understand one, what I'm projecting and two what others might be experiencing? And a question I was asked recently that really kind of slapped me around a little bit was, what's it like to be on the receiving end of you? And I ignored the question at the start, because I probably didn't like what maybe the answer could have been with certain people in certain situations. But as I've become, as I've let that question sit, what's it like to be on the receiving end of me? I've become a morsel, a tiny little bit more comfortable about some of the answers, and some of which I'm pleased about and some of which I will do everything to rebutt. And so that's my final question for you to consider. What's it like being on the receiving end of you? And that might be a reflection on others but also, what's it like being on the receiving end of you in you, which is kind of a double negative, it's kind of asking you to think about how you think about and treat yourself. And so again, I wasn't expecting to say so much at the end here but that's the end of episode 41, my third conversation with Karen Gately. Hope that's been enlightening or at least useful. And please, if you enjoyed it, if you've enjoyed what we're doing here at the Freedom Fridays Podcast, please subscribe and like us on all your favourite podcast platforms. Thanks very much, see you next week.