Nia Thomas [00:00:04]:

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, near Thomas as we talk to today’s Knowing Self, Knowing Others guest.

Nia Thomas [00:00:25]:

Listeners, I’m delighted to be joined today by Domenico Pinto. And Domenico is joining me from the beautiful island of?

Domenico [00:00:34]:

Talk Madeira in Portugal.

Nia Thomas [00:00:35]:

Wonderful. I’m I’m so jealous. I’m in the UK, and it’s currently about 6 degrees outside, so I hope Madeira is far warmer than it is here for me. Domenico is a work futurist and organizational culture transformation and remote work advocate. He also describes himself as founder and chief shifter of the great shift. Now that I’m fascinated by that. Domenico, Tell me what a chief shifter is.

Domenico [00:01:02]:

Well, we work in a very flat organization. We are all fully remote, And the concept of titles and hierarchy is something that as part of our work future future work, we’re exploring a lot. And And we wanted to get away from from defining people by tasks, and by roles, basically. So we’re a bit more creative. We don’t have a a chief executive officer. We have divided the role up within different people in the organization. And I’ve taken over what I love to do the most, which is shifting Shifting culture, shifting mindset, shifting the way we work, and hopefully inspire people to to work a little bit differently, to be a bit more innovative. So we thought, like, why why not Call it what it is and then call myself the

Nia Thomas [00:01:44]:

chief shifter. Amazing. And one of the things that you’ve certainly done a lot talk of is Shift Around the World. You are quite a globetrotter. So, Dominica, introduce yourself to the listeners today and tell us about your journey across the globe.

Domenico [00:01:58]:

First of all, thank you for having me. I’ve been watching and listening. It’s very interesting what you’re doing here. So

Nia Thomas [00:02:03]:

Oh, thank you so much.

Domenico [00:02:04]:

Very pleased to to be part of it. It’s been in my DNA. I look back and my grandfather migrated away from South Italy to France first and then Germany, which is Where my parents met and where I was born. So I’m a son of Italians. I was born in Germany. And when people ask me where you’re from, I still don’t know where I’m from. Usually say my passport is Italian. And when I grew up in Germany, I started I realized I wanted to travel, and I wanted to see more And explore other cultures. So I lived in England, lived in Dubai, lived most of my adult life by choice in Australia and Sydney. And then during COVID, had a desire to come back to Europe, and I’ve been shifting around if you want. Europe for some time. Been in Greece. Been in Spain. Been in Germany where my family still lives, and then I found this beautiful spot, in Portugal. So I’ve been spending most of my time here as well as some new, talk Countries that I’ve, met like Albania.

Nia Thomas [00:02:59]:

So that really does give you a very interesting perspective on the world of work and work futures. So we have got our 5 questions about self aware leadership, so we will head on into the How do you define self awareness?

Domenico [00:03:20]:

It’s a really interesting one because When you listen to the question, you realize, wow. Like, you know, we use this word almost every day now. But how do you define it? So, if I have to stop and reflect on the for a moment, I would say it’s the way our actions and behaviors Impact our surroundings. And I’ve chosen surroundings instead of people because, if you really think about it, it’s also the environment, which is one of my great passions well. And it’s not only people. It’s animals. It’s plants. It’s vegetation. It’s it’s literally everything that

Nia Thomas [00:03:53]:


Domenico [00:03:54]:

Surrounds us.

Nia Thomas [00:03:55]:

Very interesting. That’s a real a global view, really, of of self awareness in that environment around you. What are your thoughts on the relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness? And you’re coming at this from a a perspective of looking at the future of work. So what are your thoughts about self awareness and how that fits into the future leadership world at work?

Domenico [00:04:22]:

For me, the relationship is massive. So the more self aware our leaders are, for more for me, the more effective they are. Challenge sometimes is that you can’t see it within a minute, and it will take a little bit of time. But I’m not talking about months. I’m you know, I Use the analogy, I’m talking about maybe hours. So it’s a bit of a journey, but I I see it every day. And I would argue that the most Effective leaders that we have also some of the most self aware that we can find there. We’re coming through a pandemic in many ways, and you can see if If you just looked at some of the politicians, some of the government officials, and how they handle it, you can literally see that that link between self awareness, Empathy, if you want as well, highly connected, and how effective they were in their efforts, during the pandemics. Now I’m going too to the decisions they made, but how effective they were in people actually trusting them and following them.

Nia Thomas [00:05:15]:

Do you think that Those with less self awareness were less effective in establishing that trust so that people did follow them?

Domenico [00:05:25]:

Yes. To in in the most simple way, yes. I look at, one of the great leaders that I admire, which is Jacinda Ardern in, in New Zealand. You know, she oozes self awareness and empathy. And, again, it is a journey, so it’s not about getting it right every single time, every single day. If you if I was to pick someone, I would pick her as one of the examples of someone who’s quite on journey. And when you look at how she addressed people, How she talked with people and how she did things. I was living in Australia at the time. And if I compare some of the states in Australia to New Zealand. I can see definitely how New Zealand was much more effective. Of course, it’s more than 1 factor, but if I had to generalize it, I would pick that another example.

Nia Thomas [00:06:09]:

In terms of your experience of of traveling the world, and I guess you’ve seen people within academic tuitions, commercial, public sector institutions. What what examples do you have or or maybe case studies or people that come to mind as either being self aware or not being self aware. How how do they How do they appear in your thinking? How how do you recall them?

Domenico [00:06:36]:

That’s a really interesting question. And, yeah, you’re right. I’ve been quite fortunate in the in the way that I’ve lived talk different countries where you have different cultural backgrounds. And I’ve also worked in different industries, small, big, in Germany, in Australia, and I have global clients, so it’s still on that journey. There isn’t necessarily a difference in terms of how different cultures handle it. It’s probably still a perception that we have. Think it’s just still almost a new concept. Maybe for us that we’ve been working in this field for a bit longer, it feels like it’s been there forever. But I still notice that this kind of area is still very new for for most people around. For me, it’s more a question of environment. And by environment, I don’t necessarily mean the the country or the The location you’re based in is more the people you surround yourself. That that’s been something that, find very interesting. And then as you go towards sectors and industries where I did find more self awareness, where I did find also more empathy. It’s a bit sometimes blurring eyes because From my experience, I’ve aware people are almost always also more empathic Mhmm. Towards, our surrounding. I’ve seen a lot more when it comes to government workers. Don’t necessarily mean politicians, but people in government organizations. When I look at, canemia, I see a little bit more self awareness than I see in some of the more Tougher, more harder, like, investment banking type of industries or finance industries. I’ve seen it less.

Nia Thomas [00:08:04]:

That’s really interesting. When I did my research, I grouped the respondents or gave them the opportunity to identify themselves talks in work groups. So that might have been education or social care or planning or transport, and I had the same experiences you in that there were more people who responded within those work groups of education, social care, health than within the other groups. So maybe because the roles themselves require more empathy and self awareness, they attract people Who are interested in those subjects, and therefore, they are the ones who replied to me, and maybe you’re seeing that in practice.

Domenico [00:08:46]:

Yes. Probably. I always go back to the environment as well. Something I’ve learned that self awareness, it’s like a virus. Right? It really literally infects people. Agree. So you have to start somewhere. But once you start, it’s very easy to and and we often misunderstand something. It’s It’s difficult or easy in something that’s just tough work. Right? But once it’s there, and once we get through the 1st hurdle maybe of people understanding that we are just being self aware, really infects people and becomes very, very easy to to get across and to to multiply. And I feel like in some of those these industries we’ve mentioned, probably already happened or happened to a a bigger degree. Well, in some other industries, it hasn’t really kicked in yet.

Nia Thomas [00:09:28]:

Oh, that’s interesting. So maybe in Another 5 or 10 years’ time, maybe we’ll be having similar conversations about the industries that currently but for them, it’s still quite new.

Domenico [00:09:37]:

Exactly. Hope so.

Nia Thomas [00:09:39]:

Absolutely. I certainly hope so. Yeah. Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels and why.

Domenico [00:09:50]:

Yes. The the short answer would be yes. The why is more elaborate. But if you go back to the to the environment, Think of someone that is maybe around a very self aware leader that might be in the volunteering association, might be in the same community, and might be lower ranked employee, if they’ve been influenced or infected if you want, they can be equally seen at that level. I have had the pleasure of Sometimes, coaching at all levels of organizations, some quite large ones. The last implementation with, at a bigger scale, we’re talking about more than 1,000 employees, And we were conducting trainings in groups of 18, and we were completely mixed across the board from and we’re talking about the utility sector from People that are outdoors and and and work on the field to people that are sitting in the office. And, again, all levels of both worlds. And what I found is that it would always amaze me How much self awareness you had when you least expected it? Oh, okay. And how many people in their private life on a different journey than they are, maybe in an organization? Talk many people on they are out of their own interests, our industry. So self awareness can be found at all levels, and effective leaders can be found at all levels. And maybe that leadership as I was talking earlier about difficult and hard, it’s the same with leadership and management Limit leadership and in charge.

Nia Thomas [00:11:13]:

Mhmm. Yeah.

Domenico [00:11:14]:

We seem to have done a poor job at differentiating between them. When I think of effective leadership, I see that every every level of society or even organizations can be found anywhere. I just remember a great example. I was Tirana in September, we had a conference. It was a digital nomin festival, and one of the speaker came with his daughter. Ironically, throughout the conference, she She shared some insights. And with 9 years of age, she was an effective leader for money. In Croatia, on the streets, she motivated people to clean up the Streets. So this is not even a person in an organization yet. She might not even knowing her her that, she might never work in an organization. But yet, you know, With 9 years of age, she’s one of those effective leaders that I admire.

Nia Thomas [00:12:00]:

I’ve met a few podcast guests that have talked about children Who are demonstrating those leadership skills when, of course, they’ve never been taught to them. They have maybe they have watched others leading, But they they have got these skills, and they are just putting them to good use within their schools, their homes, their communities, and it and it’s and it’s quite remarkable.

Nia Thomas [00:12:21]:

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Nia Thomas [00:13:15]:

Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of organizations have greater self awareness, the leaders at other levels of organizations, and what experiences have you had that really inform your view?

Domenico [00:13:27]:

I I don’t on this case. So from all my experience coaching organizations and leaders at all levels, I I didn’t necessarily see that. I didn’t see a correlation that people get that are more senior, or more well, I maybe should roll back here because how do you define strategic level? Because even that, Are we talking about the people that are on front and dealing with the customers every day? Are we talking about the people that are just in the c suite roles? You know, even that definition can be can be questioned, but I didn’t necessarily see a correlation between them either way. So If I feel of leaders that work with customers and with people more than anything, I would say yes. Maybe they are more self aware. I wouldn’t So we see it in terms of rank and and hierarchy. I didn’t see much difference there.

Nia Thomas [00:14:12]:

Do you find that the leaders that you coach, they coming for coaching because they are already self aware and they are looking for improvement, do you have people coming because they know that something isn’t right, and do you have to have difficult conversations about needing to develop self awareness?

Domenico [00:14:33]:

It’s really a mix of them. We usually what happens is we get a organization coming over, and someone in the organization realizes that maybe I can help or maybe we can help as an organization. And then as we coach them, it will go in both ways. So you have the people that come to us because they have a certain problem that needs to be fixed, And we have the other opposite of people that are already on journey. They are quite advanced, and they want to get to the next level. So those people, That I’m talking about, they are already self aware. But then again, we have this mix between things. We have the people that like, it’s not me, it’s them, even though we are self aware. So we also sometimes have to open the eyes on that, but they are really advanced in in some elements. And then you have people that are part of the, I’ll I’ll make it easier with an example. I may coach your leadership team when you have 10 people in there. So, you know, as always, you have a couple of people that are excited, And you have a a few people that are on the fence and say, like, yeah. Maybe we need this, maybe not. Let’s see how it goes. And you have a couple of people that are on the fence saying, we don’t need this. Right? And And, definitely, I don’t need it. And then almost all the time, what happens is that someone within the journey realizes, oh, you know, this is me. I’ve been having those behaviors all along, and I didn’t even realize how my behavior and my actions actually impact the people around me. So they get on a journey. And what’s very interesting, if the people get on a journey, they’re almost unstoppable.

Nia Thomas [00:15:57]:

Yeah. Interesting.

Domenico [00:15:59]:

The the reformed, if you want, are the people that really changed and shift their mindset. And then because what happens and what’s beauty about self awareness for me is once you see it, you cannot unsee it. Yeah. So once it starts, you see it everywhere, and that’s that’s the interesting part.

Nia Thomas [00:16:15]:

That’s fascinating because I didn’t think you were going to say that. I thought you were going to say that when you start, picking that, talks, self awareness. And when you’ve unpicked that lock and you’ve opened that door, that, actually, there are monsters inside, and it it is very difficult. So I’m I’m really interested to hear that you’re saying that once people start to to see what’s inside, they’re unstoppable. That it that is amazing. Have you ever Been in a situation where actually you have had somebody who’s had a very difficult, challenging emotional reaction to that when they’ve realized, Actually, it isn’t everybody else that I’m a party to this relationship to.

Domenico [00:16:52]:

So it’s probably it has to do a lot with the way I work, the the way we work. So for me, pointing fingers and having a conversation about you need to change is directly correlating to the opposite behavior. It’s No. I’m fine. I’m going into defensive. So a lot of our training is designed about exploring it and experiencing it, in the flow, in the moment. So but, usually, the approach is to help people to see themselves And to invite them to be on journey rather than for us to push them and tell them you’re wrong. So when it’s done in this way, It’s their own decision. We’re not fighting the system as they get to the point where you see, like, oh, this is me without me having to point it out. And once that happened, then it’s very different When, when people go, the defense mechanisms.

Nia Thomas [00:17:43]:

That’s quite an enlightened way of thinking about it because often we talk about feedback, Which is very confrontational. It hits you square between the eyes, and you don’t really have anywhere to hide. You don’t have anywhere to run. But as you say, if you’re Part of a journey with somebody. So I think that’s something to really think about when we we’re thinking about giving feedback and helping our colleagues or helping our direct reports to explore their self awareness and develop their self self awareness. It’s more about coaching them along a journey.

Domenico [00:18:16]:

Yes. I mean, 2 more elements that are, for me, directly related. 1 is that us as coaches, us as consultants, Our industry, we need to become more self aware when we’re coaching. Right? So that’s one element. So some of our behavior and actions, is the one that probably leads The defense mechanism and the fact that, you know, people enter ready to fight because we are getting on the ring, and that’s how we measure it. Right? There’s a problem with you. You’ve done something wrong. You’re gonna speak to this person.

Nia Thomas [00:18:46]:

Sure. Okay. Yeah.

Domenico [00:18:47]:

So already there, it’s it’s quite, a steep learning curve on that perspective. The other thing is I think we all need to acknowledge. And and for me, this is a journey. So it’s not putting a a shelf together Where there’s one way, and that’s it. It’s it’s still relatively new, and we don’t know half of it ourselves. And we need to acknowledge the people on journey, and they’re on this journey while they’re sometimes running businesses running business unit. And one of the many times I see it is How we expect leaders just because they sign up for this journey to be better than anyone else. Right? Mhmm. Yet they haven’t done this before as well, so It’s equally new to them, and some of them have the pressure of running a business. So it’s just our human behavior to go to what we know, and and change needs a bit of time. And they won’t get it right every time. But over time, you will start seeing that they’re getting it more right more times, and that behavior changes. And we are Support mechanism around that. We need also to be aware that, you know, it’s not we’re also in a journey. They can’t they can’t just switch it off from one day to the other and become perfect. It doesn’t look like that.

Nia Thomas [00:20:00]:

What do you think is an effective way to develop of awareness.

Domenico [00:20:05]:

That’s now a really tricky one. I find as a first step, the daunting thing, but probably the most effective thing to do is to to really share this journey. Especially if you’re a leader and you haven’t been self aware most of your career, You are still gonna be judged, and everyone is still expecting you to fail. So sharing that, empowering people to give you feedback is one of the first ones to do. In an organization, I always find that it’s much more effective for everyone to do a bit of training Relevant just 1 person because, man, we are all on a similar journey, and people can understand where I am. But then from there, The question for me is always whenever something happens is to go back and look into the mirror and ask yourself, what could I have done to prevent this from happening in the 1st place? And I feel like that’s that’s for me the way to go at the entry level. And then, of course, from there, there’s so many layers that we can have. But it’s probably where I would start, and I find this is probably where you capture the most, the most things, and you make the most ground at the beginning.

Nia Thomas [00:21:09]:

Is there something that you do in your daily practice, in terms of your professional development and your reflection To maintain your self awareness or to further develop your self awareness.

Domenico [00:21:22]:

All those things that you just mentioned are things that I do on daily basis. When we go a bit more advanced, I also find meditation before big meetings, before big days, in the morning, in the evenings. That’s something that Not necessarily for self awareness, but it keeps us focused. And as a result, you know, it keeps us focused on the things that matter, and self awareness is one of them that for me matters. I tend to read a lot and and follow a lot of different things, podcast, journals, LinkedIn people that I follow. I keep going back to people that I I find where I’m more self aware and others and and have conversation with them. So I try to surround myself with them. And more so, I try to to open the eyes of people around me that are not self aware. But after a while, I’m I’m not scared to To let them let them go is a strong word, but to to to maybe surround myself more with people that I I find more To where I want to go in life rather than where where I was. And if I can’t inspire them, I’m not too shy to to move away from that.

Nia Thomas [00:22:23]:

That’s wonderful. Thank you, Dominica. That was really, a really interesting conversation. And I think that’s probably what all of us who are talking about self aware leadership want is that that we want to be in a position where we we don’t feel pressured to Have those difficult and challenging conversations with people whose self awareness is nil, but people who have an interest and are, are willing for us to help them open that door, then we are interested in having the conversation, and we we will help them and support them how how best we can And whilst developing our own self awareness because, of course, we all of us have our own blind spots, and and that’s what our daily goal is that we will reduce the size of that blind spot.

Domenico [00:23:10]:

Exactly. It’s a very nice way to put it.

Nia Thomas [00:23:13]:

It’s been lovely having a conversation with you. Thank you so much. We will make sure that there is a link talked to your website and your LinkedIn in the show notes. But for now, Domenico Bintou, thank you so much for joining me.

Domenico [00:23:25]:

Thanks for having me.

Nia Thomas [00:23:29]:

Thank you for joining me, your host, Nia Thomas, at the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast. After Through 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, knowing 12 knowing others, 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 taught to me. Make sure you bookmark the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast on your favorite podcast player and tune in to the next in 2 weeks’ time. The Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Goodpods, Podchaser, Amazon Music, Podcast Index, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Deezer,

Looking forward to having you on my learning journey!


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