Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to the Knowing Self-Knowing Others podcast, the fortnightly podcast that talks about self-aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe. If you want to be a better leader and a better work colleague, then join me, your host, nia Thomas, as we talk to today’s Knowing Self-Knowing Others guest Listeners. I’m absolutely delighted to be joined today by Ira Wolff, and I first came across Ira when I was listening to the Geeks, geesers and Googleization podcast, which is just brilliant. If you haven’t listened to it, you really really must. And Ira is a founding member and a co-host with Jason Cochran on that podcast, and it’s just brilliant.

Speaker 1: Ira describes himself as one of his reasons Resondatra is helping others find a better way to be extraordinary. Now, how amazing is that? listeners Also describes himself as terrified and fascinated by VUCA level change. Now, for those of you who don’t know what VUCA is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and I bet you’re already out there. listeners thinking that that would fit very well with your organization. Describes himself as a millennial in a baby boomer body, a Hall of Fame speaker and a future of work global thought leader. Ira, it’s absolutely brilliant to have you here. Please do introduce yourself to listeners.

Speaker 2: Hey, thanks very much. Well, I think you did the introduction just fine and I really appreciate that. And again, it’s a great opportunity to be here and talk about VUCA and all the implications and where the world is headed.

Speaker 1: Absolutely, Ira. how would you define self-awareness?

Speaker 2: That’s a great question. How do I define self-awareness? One is, i would say it’s the journey of having a relationship with ourselves. So it’s understanding. you know traditionally and certainly the definitions and the experiences I was exposed to up until well, it’s what I’m continuing on this journey, the experiences that we had was really understanding yourself. But I think true self-awareness is really understanding the relationship you have with yourself. And that may in fact, just be another way of saying emotional intelligence, because certainly emotional intelligence is made up of self-awareness and then your ability to manage your emotions and then understand the other people’s emotions and also understand how to relate to other people’s emotions. So I think it’s more. I think so self-awareness is very much a relationship we have with our own selves And you know, certainly some people are in love with themselves. we’re just not necessarily a healthy relationship, but maybe to love oneself rather than be in love with yourself.

Speaker 1: Yeah, definitely, and it’s interesting that discussion about is self-awareness an element of emotional intelligence or is emotional intelligence an element of self-awareness? And when you read the literature there are different schools of thought and somebody goes one way and somebody goes another And I guess my view is that self-awareness is bigger than emotional intelligence. But absolutely, when you hear Goldman’s definition of emotional intelligence, self-awareness is right in there.

Speaker 2: Oh, absolutely, and it really is a journey. You know I’m an older baby boomer And most people have long gone and go. hey, you know you’re done, the chapters close. you know what else can I learn? And you know, here I am. you know I’m teaching classes in a master’s level program for organizational change, which obviously is a good fit with VUCA. But one of the reasons I do that is I’m still on this journey. I mean, i want to know what’s what, what are 22 year olds thinking? what are 30 year olds thinking, what are 40 year olds thinking? And you have that opportunity. But every single day is people say why are you still working so hard? And frankly, i don’t think I’m working hard. I’m just trying to realizing that there is a limited amount of time I’ll have on this earth, as we all do. we just don’t know when that’ll be. And there’s just so much more I want to figure out And it’s an exciting time to do that.

Speaker 1: Well, it’s definitely just like me. I’m on that learning journey And I hope that learning journey never stops. What are your thoughts on the relationship between self-awareness and leader effectiveness?

Speaker 2: Oh, I don’t know how you can be an effective leader without having self awareness. In fact, I mean, and most every model, And again, we talked just a few minutes ago about you know whether EI is, whether self awareness is part of emotional intelligence or emotional intelligence. You know and drive self awareness with whatever that might be, But when it comes, to leadership it’s a direct connection.

Speaker 2: I don’t know how you can be an effective leader The title you can be a leader and have that in their title. But we already know that not all leaders can lead. But to be able to lead effectively, especially in these days, we just and thank you for mentioning my podcast Just the other day we did a podcast on mental health in the workplace, how that’s changed and how critical that’s going to be, and certainly the trend of workplaces and people and you know whether it’s not really work-life balance, not work-life integration. But how do we put all that together? in the past, when employee-employer relationship was transactional, i give you a paycheck, leave all your baggage at the door, walk through the door, do what we tell you to do, go home, pick up your baggage and leave and we paid you for your time here. Then self-awareness really didn’t matter. Those days are gone. I mean, we’re living in an age where if you don’t treat people right, it’s unlikely you’re going to be in business for very long. I don’t know how you can even lead poorly without having some self-awareness.

Speaker 1: I’ve certainly talked to other people about the leaders who are more towards that narcissistic side of self-awareness, and they are leading in organizations but they do not really have followers. They have people who just stick around for the paycheck but nevertheless they are getting the figures, they’re getting the KPI, they’re getting the money through the door. What are your thoughts on? how are they there? How are they staying there? Are they the people who are time limited in their roles?

Speaker 2: That’s a complicated question. So, as you were asking me that, my mind immediately goes to Elon Musk. Sure, and Steve Jobs was not necessarily the most well-liked leader. They admired his creativity, his model, what he was creating, his aspirations, his brilliance, but he really wasn’t necessarily the most liked leader.

Speaker 1: So we can go through history.

Speaker 2: We can go back and find out leaders who were incredibly successful and narcissistic and authoritarian, but that doesn’t, and I believe that’s always going to be true. I mean, there’s always going to be people because of some uniqueness. Again, you can’t take away Elon Musk’s brilliance, his forward, and, despite what you think of him and, if you like, of him, twitter may or may not survive, it may not live to go on, but how he changed the world with Tesla and the model, i mean he disrupted the world and he had this vision to do that And who knows what else he’s going to come up with. But he’s not very good with people And that’s probably where that self-awareness comes in, because if he was self-aware, he would have stayed in the background, maybe let other people be the hatchet people or just say I need to be in order to do what I do best, and that’s part of self-awareness. I mean, sometimes it’s understanding the limitations. So long way around an answer to your question. But ultimately, i think we’re always going to have narcissistic, authoritarian, dictator-like, very poor with people leaders And again, some of them may be self-aware and say I don’t give a crap, but in order to grow companies, i think in order, i think, brands in order to grow companies, and the more complex that the world gets, and especially in the US and many, many developed companies around the world, there’s just shorter people for the demand, so it’s going to be a supply and demand problem.

Speaker 2: We are going to have labor shortages, regardless of how many people get laid off in the next year or two or three, because the demographics again, especially in the US, canada, many of the European countries I believe in Australia is a little bit younger country in New Zealand, so there’s pockets of that. But if you want to have a business and you need people, you’re going to have to treat people differently, and so I think that’s If it used to be like an 80-20 rule or maybe I don’t even know if it was that That’s good. That may be giving the benefit of the out-to-people, but let’s say it was 50-50. 50% of leaders were really really good. They took care of their people. 50% didn’t, but they got away with it.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: That shift. I think you’re going to see that more and more companies are going to have to be and that’s already happening because now we also have the shift from male to female leadership. Now we don’t have a lot of CEOs in the publicly traded companies that are women, but certainly in the small, medium-sized markets entrepreneurship a lot of people women, a lot of the leaders are women, and it just may be. You know, men are from Mars, women are from Venus, yeah, but yeah, i mean, we’re different, There’s leadership styles and hopefully, that’s going to change.

Speaker 2: Hopefully men will get it and women will have that opportunity.

Speaker 1: Yeah, it’ll be very interesting to see what the world of leadership looks like in the next five to 10 years. We’re seeing it now. Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels, and why? what’s really influenced your view?

Speaker 2: Oh, absolutely, and it goes back to. Leadership is not a title. I mean, you have it in your title but that doesn’t make you a good leader. And sociology, a lot of the social studies. I heard this.

Speaker 2: Oh man, it’s probably 25 years ago, maybe even more, and it was almost like it was before TED Talks before, and there was an event that a friend invited me to in Scottsdale, arizona, and each year they used to invite leaders to come in and speak about leadership, personal development, the future, and I remember and I sort of blew it off at the time because they had, like the former CEO of HBO how disruptive that was going to be in the future. They had the orchestra master of maybe the Boston Philharmonic and he was a pianist, but it was like he talked And there was these unique abilities of people who led that we normally wouldn’t think of because they didn’t have leadership in their title. But there was a sociologist, anthropologist, who spoke. I know she was from the University of Southern California, can’t remember her name, but she talked about the matrix.

Speaker 2: She talked about the influencers within an organization that we used to have a hierarchy from top down, and many organizations still do, and yet she said the power of an organization rarely was held, except in those narcissistic dictatorship. Authoritarian was rarely held at the top, was rarely within the C-suite, within the boardroom. And they started to study this and this is remarkable because it’s 25 years ago. They looked at the hotspots. It’s like heatman, it’s like where is the most influence in your company? And oftentimes it could have been the administrative assistant, the receptionist. Oftentimes it was an employee within the department who had the greatest influence and it wasn’t the manager, it wasn’t a supervisor, it was somebody without a title, but they had a great deal of influence and it didn’t tie to tenure or even education. Again, leadership is at any level And we finally started to accept that followership is a form of leadership.

Speaker 1: Wouldn’t it be interesting if more organizations took the plunge and created something like a heat map for their organization to understand where power was, where leadership was and how that was changing throughout their lifespan, and whether the people at the most strategic level would be surprised?

Speaker 2: If there and again this could be very controversial. but if there is a benefit to social media, if there was a benefit to that will help organizations understood it and didn’t write it off. to understand the Facebooks and the Twitter and the Instagrams and the TikToks in the world, their influencers And there are technically nobodies until they had a niche, they had something to say and they had an ability to influence others. But that’s not new. We just did it before. It just wasn’t as amplified as it is now in social media. But in the past social media certainly created that opportunity for a lot of people.

Speaker 2: Now it’s not all good stuff, but nobody’s saying that being an influencer and an organization, being a leader in an organization, isn’t always positive either. So I think that’s another important aspect of that, as we’re brainstorming here and talking out loud is that we assume that to be an effective leader that means it’s all positive. But there’s a lot of dictators in our history that are very effective leaders, big influencers We’ll go into the current politics, recent politics, some of the headline news, but going back to history that were incredibly effective leaders.

Speaker 1: I really like that idea of thinking about leaders as influences, because when you think about it from the 21st century perspective, if we use the word influences, it opens a whole different world to thinking about leadership, doesn’t it?

Speaker 2: I’m going to go back to probably one of the biggest influences on my life that we had, and it’s going to go back to something that I think we talked about. This before we went on the air was Warren Benes, who came up with the term VUCA the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous And he came up with that in the 80s to understand what type of leaders were we’re going to need in the future, because our world was going to be so unpredictable and uncertain, and that was the acronym he used, that he described leaders as well. He described managers of getting people to do what you want to do. That was their role. Leaders were getting people to want to do what you wanted them to do, and until today, i wouldn’t necessarily said, oh, that’s about influencer, but that’s certainly shaped my mindset of what leadership look like Is leaders. A leader gets people to want to do what you want them to do.

Speaker 2: Now you can do that through punishment, so this is another side to that, but it’s really to get them to do it on their own, to want to do what they want them to do.

Speaker 1: Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of organizations have greater self-awareness than leaders at other levels of organizations? And I think we’ve touched on this as we’ve talked through, and I think it feeds through a lot of the discussions we’ve had.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it’s a maybe, it’s a definite Again, there’s many, many organizations that have done well in order to be successful in today’s market and continue to grow and again evolve. That those leaders yeah, in order to be effective, at least some of those leaders had a level of self-awareness, a high level of emotional intelligence to be able to do what they do. I don’t think you can sustain itself and compete long term, especially in today’s market where life cycles are so short to be able to do that. So, yeah, i think there’s more and more that do that. I certainly think we’re far away from saying if they’ve achieved a certain level of success, then they have self-awareness. Again, go back to Elon Musk. I think there’s certainly high levels that have demonstrated that they don’t.

Speaker 2: I always describe I recently sold my business, which was Success Performance Solutions and had over 28 years, and it was focused exclusively on pre-employment and leadership assessments And we meet with people and we identify what they had where they were, but I never looked at them as, oh, you’re going to be good or bad. I always said here’s your starting point, and one of the metaphors that I use in anybody that’s listening to this that knows me, who’s probably heard this before is that you’re driving a vehicle and you’ve got three round tires, or you have four round tires but there’s an air leak. We want to know when do you need that fourth tire and what happens if it starts to go flat. So a lot of times people say, well, this is a 90% match for leadership. I may go. What’s the 10% that could derail them? And it wasn’t a negative side At some point, because we were living in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. They’re going to meet a situation where, if they rely on what they did in the past and it worked may not work in the future. So again, but that’s self-awareness. Many people are familiar with strengths finders and people interpreted it completely wrong Is that they go here’s your top five or top 10 strengths and people say just ignore their weaknesses. But over time and as the environment changes and the world got more complex and given the last three years living in a world of uncertainty and unpredictability, which is just going to continue, is you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. And that’s what happens. So, without understanding what your vulnerabilities are, even if they’ve never impacted you before throwing out a lot of terms here but you’re probably familiar with it.

Speaker 2: But I don’t know if a lot of listeners are with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. The fixed mindset is I’ve got a set of fixed skills and I’m just naturally gifted at it And if I just learn to use those skills, i’m good. But there’s a problem with that because times change, environments change, people change. We got to continually learn, we got to continue to evolve. And then there’s a fear factor of well, if I try that, i’ll look stupid And then if I make a mistake, people won’t hold me in the highest respect. So I’ve got to do everything to protect who I was, where I was, i got good grades. Look at my success.

Speaker 2: The growth mindset is that opportunity is hey, we talked about it already. We’re just on a journey. We’re constantly learning. There’s things we did before and we thought we were good at and go wow, i wish I could do that over again. I look things that I wrote, that I did, decisions I made and they were right at the time with the information that I had, and maybe I got away with it just because the world wasn’t as complex as it was. But now you don’t have that opportunity. So we really need to understand one is what some of our vulnerabilities are, and those may change as we go on, because it may be a little bit of a vulnerability in the past but now it’s a significant vulnerability. But, moving forward, we need to know when that tire can go flat, when are the wheels going to start to come off. And so even people that are at the highest level now or were in 2019 and are only 2020, found themselves maybe not as effective as they were.

Speaker 2: And you can look through the pandemic and the responses of organizations, of people who I guess it’s the CEOs, the corporate leaders who shared their vulnerabilities. They were transparent that we’ve never been in this. We don’t know how to do it. When people were looking at them for decisions, i remember being on some webcasts and some webinars with some real and would have never had that opportunity, had enough into the pandemic to see them, and they were working from home and in walk a dog or a cat jumps up on the desk, the child walks in, the grandchild walks in and they finally understood and they shared that what it was like to be a parent and an employee and be vulnerable, and those leaders became very successful.

Speaker 2: Now, whether they all had ties self-awareness before or whether that was their wake-up call, they got it And yet others still created that. When you’re on this call, this is the way it is There can be no interruptions. You have to figure out a way to keep your kids in the other room, your cat’s off the table. You can’t broadcast from your bedroom. Well, that might have been the only room that they had, because that’s where employees lived and you got to see inside them. So the pandemic really had a lot of benefits And it was a wake-up call, but a lot of organizations would authenticity with transparency, with vulnerability, really look like. But again, if you didn’t have that maturity whether it’s maturity or self-awareness then leadership failed and those companies failed. They failed in more than this supply chain. They literally failed.

Speaker 1: It’s interesting. As you were talking, i was thinking there is very much the journey. There is self-awareness, vulnerability, learning, flexibility, adaptability All of those things are part of this journey of self-awareness And I think it’s a cycle that moves forward. It’s that wheel that keeps turning, that moves and moves, and you have to learn all of those things and develop all of those things as you go forward.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I’m so glad you brought those skills up And we use a model. It’s called the ACE model And it looks at adaptability What are the abilities you need to adapt and change and evolve. Then it looks at some personality traits, with C as the character and E as the environment. So in order to do that, you need a healthy environment. You need to know that management supports you. You need to know that you have good team support and relationships with that Psychologically space, that there is a sense of well-being. But that’s all the corporate side And most companies are still trying to figure that part out.

Speaker 2: But on the ability side of what were the abilities? you mentioned some of them, but there was so much written about in the pandemic, about grit and resilience. I think the words of the year one year was grit, one year was resilience, and you need both. You need to be gritty, and again, it’s not just perseverance, not continually running into the wall until you break through, it’s also having a passion to do that. So if you’re just gritty and that’s workaholic, but if you have a passion to do that, which means you have a purpose to do that, then that helps. And then resilience no matter what you do, there’s going to be setbacks on predictability, uncertainty, and you’ve got to bounce back and bounce back quickly. But those were two of the five adapt abilities that we talk about. The other three you mentioned was mental flexibility. There’s a lot of disinformation, misinformation, cognitive dissonance, but we also have to learn how to connect the dots, color outside the lines, whatever, whatever phrasiology you want to use. We got to deal with that.

Speaker 2: But the one that was really interesting was unlearning. It’s not learning, it’s unlearning, because we could learn all these other, everything that we need to do, but we got. We got to stop doing without working any longer. So it wasn’t learning, was an adaptability, it was unlearning with the ability, the people who were most successful at change and adapting, which is being aware of when you need to unlearn the old behaviors and then how to do that.

Speaker 2: And then the last one, which I should have mentioned first, which was with mindset, so you know. So it basically is grit, resilience, mental flexibility, unlearning and growth, mindset. Those are the five and this was documented also very well by McKinsey. They’ve done studied Deloitte and they looked at what did, what did the leaders? what did, what did people that adapt well, that are effective and not only just lead leaders with a title, but even those leaders at the bottom of the front lines who were what? what did they have in common? And it all came back to adaptability. Now people describe it, but the work we did and the work that the groups that I worked with said OK, here’s how do we break adaptability down into skills that people can learn?

Speaker 1: And those five you know we mentioned What do you think is an effective way to develop self awareness?

Speaker 2: There’s certainly lots of assessments out there. I think it’s one is your willingness to it’s acceptance that you need to do it. Yeah, it’s just that. So I don’t know how you you can’t teach somebody self awareness. It’s a two way street. Somebody has to be willing to say that I need to be more. I need to have a better relationship with myself before I can have that with others. You have to twist on on Stephen Covey’s world, but I have to have a better relationship with myself in order to figure out everything else.

Speaker 2: But one of the ways that even to get to that point, i will go back to growth mindset. I am a huge, huge proponent. I don’t know how people do anything. I don’t know how they become more gritty, more resilient, have a more open mind, become smarter, evolve and ultimately have greater self awareness than if they don’t have at least some bits of growth mindset. Yeah, if you think, just because you’re smart, we’re.

Speaker 2: Because you think you’re dumb, you know if you’re rich or poor, if you’re tall or short, i don’t think it matters of what your limitations are. If you have a growth mindset, i mean it’s being realistic about what you can do. But ultimately, you know, people just think I’ve got. You know, i’m just good at doing this Or I’m not good at math. Or I’m good at math or I’m really good with people or I’m not good with people. When people define themselves by just that, that really limits them And that’s probably the biggest indication that they need self-awareness But to grow and improve in anybody who has a sense of ambition. And I think you know most people don’t wake up in the morning saying I’m wondering how today can be worse than yesterday.

Speaker 2: Now, it may turn out that way but nobody really starts that day by doing that. But then they listen to the people talking on their shoulders and the voices in their head and then they go back to that. But I think everybody wants to be better, but they may not have been given the opportunity, they didn’t learn how. So I think, ultimately, the universe I can’t say it’s universal, but I think everybody’s I think everything starts with having a growth mindset.

Speaker 1: Hi, raul Wolfe. It’s been absolutely brilliant having you on the show. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a really great conversation And, being the fan of Geeks, geesers and Googleization as I am, i will continue to listen to you on your podcast And I will make sure for you listeners that we put the link to the podcast in the show notes, as ever, and we will make sure that there’s links to Ira’s website. But for now, ira Wolfe, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: Hey, thanks very much, Nia. Stay safe, have a great year.

Speaker 1: Thank you for joining me. Your host, nia Thomas, at the Knowing Self-Knowing Others podcast. After every podcast, i’m going to be doing a top takeaways review of the things that I’ve learned from my discussions with guests, which you can find on my website, knowingselfknowingotherscouk, linkedin, tiktok and the other main social media sites. Rates, reviews and recommendations from you are the best way to get the word out about the Knowing Self-Knowing Others podcast. Open your favorite podcast app, find the Knowing Self-Knowing Others podcast, take a listen to some episodes, give it some stars and write a little review. A little word from you means a big deal to me. Make sure you bookmark the Knowing Self-Knowing Others podcast on your favorite podcast player and tune in to the next episode in two weeks’ time. The Knowing Self-Knowing Others podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, spotify, google Podcasts, stitcher, good Pods Podchaser, amazon Music Podcast mês 컴 Podcast Erdekt OK Caste Gross online.