NT  0:06  
Hello and welcome to the knowing self knowing others podcast, the fortnightly podcast that explores self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Joining me your host, NIA Thomas, as we talk to today’s knowing self, knowing others guest

a very big welcome to Matt Stone today all the way from the United States. Matter didn’t even check what time it is with you at the moment. So it’s 2pm with me, what time is it with you?

MS  0:38  
Well, it’s 9:04am here in New York City.

NT  0:41  
Oh, that’s pretty civilised to have that kind of time difference. Wonderful. For all our listeners, it’s Matt Stone, who is the CEO of behavioural Oh, s and behavioural aware spelling, which supports leadership teams, there are a risk of breakdown. And something that really interested me, Matt focuses on the T ru s t trust method, which really looks at improving self awareness as a way of improving team relationships, I guess. But Matt, I’m gonna hand over to you to introduce yourself.

MS  1:16  
Well, thank you, Nia, and I’m grateful to be here with you today and having this important conversation. Yes, we, you know, in terms of my role at behavioural OS I, I and my team, we work with leadership teams, mostly, and leadership teams that are at risk from, you know, as a result of communication breakdown over time, you know, I like to say that relationships are either moving closer together or further apart, we’re never in a stasis. And so that means, you know, on a leadership team, it’s it’s no different really at its core than any other kind of group of relationships, we need to be intentionally work. And when there’s a breakdown, it can cause a lot of problems for companies, obviously, financial risk, and everything else. So that’s the core of the work that we do.

NT  2:06  
Amazing. And you’ve got your own podcast that listeners might be interested in. So accelerate with Matt Stone. And you were recording this morning about relationships?

MS  2:17  
Strangely enough, or maybe it was not a coincidence. But yeah, this morning, I try and do an episode every single day, weekday, Monday through Friday. I tried to keep it six to nine minutes. Sometimes I’m rambling a little bit more than others. But yeah, today I was talking about an article I read in New York Times about some relationship experts and their research on, it’s in the context of a marriage. But frankly, the little secret here, folks, is that the relationship dynamics, there’s so much overlap between the same things that work in a marriage as that work in a business partnership, or a colleague on a team, because at its core trust is trust is trust.

NT  2:55  
Relationships are relationships.

MS  2:57  
Yeah, that’s right.

NT  3:05  
Tell me, how do you define self awareness?

MS  3:09  
Yeah, I mean, it’s complicated. And yet, it’s simple. I think, for me, the simple answer, which I admittedly derive from my favourite book on self awareness, called Insight with Tasha Eurich is really your ability to see yourself clearly to understand your motivations, your values, to understand who you are, and why you do what you do and what’s important to you, and then also to understand how others see you. So it’s what Tasha calls internal self awareness and external self awareness. And so those combined things, and to recognise that self awareness is not only a state of being, but it’s a it’s a skill. That’s so important to know that so, yeah, that’s kind of my working definition.

NT  3:57  
Do you think there’s a relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness?

MS  4:02  
Well, there’s the clinical answer the research based answer, which is pretty definitive, it’s not really contested. The link between self awareness and effectiveness as a leader is rock solid and getting more so every time another study is done. So you know, I can say definitively and it’s not my own opinion, it’s just a scientific fact at this point that, yes, more anecdotally, to go with that. I think self aware, leaders tend to be more emotionally intelligent, they tend to understand and be present with the people around them and build stronger bonds and have better influence better positive influence on the way around them, and therefore, they’re able to be more effective in getting people to do things. But they’re not just influential, they understand what other people are experiencing so that they can be in a symbiosis which makes it a win win situation. And that In the long run, and sometimes even in the short run, produces better outcomes. Because influence is only a piece to the game I can be Hi, I mean, look, you know, Hitler was very influential. But we don’t want to, you know, we don’t want to mirror ourselves after a dictator, if we can’t, we want to mirror ourselves with a collaborative approach that’s going to create sustainable growth, not just compliance in the moment, there’s a big difference. So I think that’s where self awareness plays a huge role.

NT  5:31  
Now, in the work that you’ve done, we’re teams that are really at risk of breaking down. Are you seeing that you have leaders with limited self awareness within those groups? Is that part of the issue? In terms of that breakdown?

MS  5:46  
It’s always a part of the issue, self awareness runs through absolutely everything. You know, first of all, none of us are as self aware as we think we are. It’s a bit of a superlative statement. I agree, but I think it pretty solidly stands up. So the best we can do is sort of progress, not perfection, but in a dynamic where there’s breakdown of trust and communication. It’s always the case that people’s resentments, fears, anxieties, whatever the the back part of their brain that’s rearing up to protect them, is covering up the prefrontal cortex and their ability to see things sort of irrationally and also to open themselves to different interpretations for the other person’s intent. And that’s all limited self awareness, you know, the internal and the external. So, then we develop a myth, a story in our head about what’s going on and reinforce that so Nia doesn’t like me, that’s the small narrative, and now everything that comes out of his mouth or an email or DM or however it Nia communicates with the or doesn’t communicate with me. You know, I then interpret through that lens, and I just keep piling it on before long, Nia is a cartoon villain, and not a human being anymore, tends to be what we see in these breakdowns is that they, they progress, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but they always progress unless there’s an intervention of some sort, where people develop through self awareness and openness, open themselves up to changing the story that their brain is ruminating on.

NT  7:22  
And breaking that cycle is tough. Yeah.

MS  7:27  
beautifully put. I love the breaking the cycle. Yeah, you’re breaking a cycle. Because there’s, there’s a I think, and I don’t know if you agree, but it’s almost like there’s a comfort in reinforcing my view of the world. Yeah. And if my view is hurting me, there’s still a comfort unknown, the unknown, because we’re so afraid of the unknown. So if I’ve made Nia out to be the villain, and the cause for all of my suffering, I get a payoff for that. First of all, I don’t have to take responsibility for it, though. Now, there’s a lack of self awareness there. Because I’m not choosing to practice self awareness. I’m choosing to practice denial, and delusion,

NT  8:04  
and we’re reinforcing the messages whether they are right, wrong or indifferent.

MS  8:08  
And that gets worse and worse, and it doesn’t stay the same folks, you know, you don’t get a pass on that where it’s like, well, I’m mildly delusional, you know, no, if you choose delusion, you get more delusional. It’s dangerous.

NT  8:26  
Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels of organisations?

MS  8:31  
Oh, sure. I mean, there’s effective leaders. I mean, there are janitors. And I, I, that sounds condescending, but you know, janitor is not usually associated with leadership in an organisation. But, you know, I remember as janitors back from school, who were wonderful and who were leaders, you know, as a student, you knew they were a leader, and they didn’t, they weren’t leading a team, they exhibited the kind of energy and attitude that made you respect them. And that’s what it takes to lead people they choose to follow. So if the person said something, you kind of listen to it, you know, so yeah, I think everything from the CEO, you know, on down the chain, they’re there they exist, in some places, not as much as you’d hoped they did. But I think what to your point, title does not, does not in and of itself, stroke, the category of leader, that’s for sure.

NT  9:32  
Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of organisations have greater self awareness than leaders, other levels of organisations?

MS  9:40  
I think the opposite of that, if by strategic strategic is usually although not always associated with higher level leadership, so senior executives who are setting the strategic course, and if that’s the case, I mean, I’ll just go back to Tasha, his book, you know, insight and She, she has some great research on that and quotes the research that actually the higher up you go in an organisation, the more likely you are less self aware, because unless you do the work, yes, you do the work. But you know, we tend to, you know, the higher up you get you kind of believe your own press, none of us really want to go out and seek feedback you know about ourselves, but you got to do it, you know, knowing yourself really well is only half the game, as far as like the internal part of it, the externals got to be there. And then the higher up you get, you have more power. And so therefore people are more afraid to tell you the truth. So it’s harder for you to get to practice, you actually have to have a certain level of humility that keeps your quote unquote Durrow. You know, when we say open door policy, well, you can have an open door, but everyone knows not to walk through it. And so people are very sophisticated in the way that we build a wall around ourselves through humour through extra toxic kindness, you know, the culture of, we don’t say anything nasty on its team, because we’re all good people. So therefore, we don’t say anything critical. And you better not say anything to me about it, because I won’t accept it. Bless your sweet little heart.

NT  11:17  
Part of Tru S T method, do you work with teams to do that difficult work to really open them up to greater self awareness?

MS  11:27  
Well, the T and the trust method is taking stock. And that can take form. And a lot of it depends on the situation. Sometimes what we need to do to get people out of denial about this severity of the problem is by polling a larger pool of people and getting getting some information. And we can paint quite a mosaic behaviorally of what’s what’s going on how people think and feel about, you know, the behaviours that are working or not working. But the first thing is to get out of denial. I mean, it’s so taking stock to me is getting out of denial, you can’t fix a problem that you don’t agree exists. If you’re only in blame mode, you’re not taking responsibility for your part of it. So how do I take 100% responsibility for my 50% of every relationship?

NT  12:12  
That’s a really good way of looking at it? Can you say that again? How do you take responsibility for the 50% of the of yourself that you put into a relationship? What a great way of thinking about it?

MS  12:24  
Thank you. Yeah, and I actually first learned that concept from the founder of my company, whose is unfortunately not with us anymore. But he, you know, he spent a lifetime career working on that, you know, helping people see that the importance of that it is taking it is coming to the place where you are willing to take 100% responsibility for your 50% and understanding that line, what is mine? What is my side of the street? And what is your side of the street? I can’t take responsibility. You know, it’s like codependency right, I, if I start taking responsibility for your side, I’m hurting both of us, you’re not going to grow. If I’m taking any responsibility for all your stuff, understanding what my site is, and taking complete responsibility for that is absolutely critical. And, you know, the T in the trust method, the taking stock piece, that’s one huge piece of it is getting people to acknowledge as a problem, and that they have a role in it. So they can start moving towards responsibility.

NT  13:24  
I was talking to somebody else as part of my podcasting earlier this week. And they were saying that they’d worked with the head teacher, who was struggling with relationships in the organisation, but completely failed to accept that they played any part in the relationship. There was nowhere near 50% I think they were struggling to get to 5% gain. That’s a really interesting way of looking at that, that actually you’re you’re when you’re in a relationship, you’re you’re part of a whole

MS  13:52  
and that is and the whole separation. I love how you you know, that’s a that’s a great example. You don’t get to to compartmentalise Well, the nature Well, it’s a work relationship, so it doesn’t count the same. No, no. When we start working with cyborgs maybe but we’re still working with other human beings and as long as that’s the case, we’re all just squishy, you know, complicated. Definitely. You know, that’s, that’s, that’s the way we are and we all come with our own unique flavour and currency and needs and in some cases, unhealed trauma from our paths that we’re bringing into every meeting and every encounter, it’s it’s influencing the lens, you can’t control the other people’s lenses that may be kind of messed up. So but, but you can’t change that what you can do is change what you do absolutely agree the best you can do. Yeah.

NT  14:47  
Do you think effective leaders have more self awareness than ineffective leaders? Yes.

MS  14:52  
The connection between self awareness and effectiveness is undeniable. Yeah. And not only are they more Effective, they’re happier, they tend to grow faster. Okay, someone who practices self awareness, and therefore has is, is enjoying the benefits of being more self aware, because they practice self awareness and they develop it is on a high growth trajectory, because they are more connected with themselves, they can see in real time, their behaviours and their behavioural choices that they have. So I not only know what I’m doing behaviorally, I also know what I could be doing my my range of choices. And the third kind of rail on that the third level to make it 3d is understanding how those behavioural choices are being received by the other person. So if I can combine those three things, knowing what I’m doing, knowing what I’m doing visa vie my other choices and knowing how those choices may more likely will be met by the other person, oh, my goodness, now you’ve got real control over the way that you nurture a relationship, if I know that Nia, pray that you prize me, paraphrasing what you said back to you, for example, just a behaviour. And I know that that makes you feel really heard and comforted. Yeah. And that we can move forward than I should choose to do that if I want to have a relationship with you. And if I know that, and I choose not to do it, I’m intentionally not invested in our relationship. And that may be okay for me, I may choose that. Well, you know, I’m willing to sacrifice trust in this relationship because of some other factor. But it’s conscious. It’s not, I’m not being controlled by it.

NT  16:43  
Yeah. And I guess that’s the difference. It’s, if you are self, self aware enough, you can make those choices, whether they appear good, bad, or indifferent, as we said, but you have to have that self awareness to make that conscious choice. And I think that’s the difference. Because we see so many leaders who are not self aware and not making conscious choices, and then saying, Well, why are these people behaving like this around me, if the penny hasn’t dropped, you’re not smelling the coffee,

MS  17:13  
because it’s all about them. It’s their fault, not mine, you know, and yet we dance with each other, we respond to each other. So you know, one thing I don’t know if this resonates with you, but the whole concept of the Golden Rule versus the platinum rule, you know, we all grew up, if you went to like, you know, like church, the way that we did was give us the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated? Well, that’s a that’s a nice sentiment. But in this case, it falls short. If that’s all you do, you’re projecting yourself on to other people. And we’re all unique beings. And so what I like isn’t necessarily what you like or need. Now, here’s the other secret that I’ve learned in doing this work. And again, I’m curious what you think I have a colleague, for example, we have very, very different personalities, we have very different behavioural preferences, and there are times when I will know what he wants me to do. And for some reason, sometimes a good reason, I’m not going to do that. So what I will sometimes do is say, I will acknowledge that and ask permission, almost just acknowledge that that’s his need and want. And in this case, I’m not going to do it because of these reasons. And it’s almost like just showing that you know that someone needs something, you don’t necessarily have to always do it. But if the person feels seen and heard and respected, then, you know, you’re in good shape, we can adjust to each other.

NT  18:35  
I think that’s key. And you said that word for me, respect. And it’s about having that openness and respect, being able to have the dialogue about the dialogue. And I think that I think that comes with a real maturity in a relationship and a trust in a relationship. And maybe when you’re new to having a relationship with somebody that isn’t so easy. But I think as you develop, I think you need to open that up and have that respect, and that open conversation. And it’s difficult. It’s not always the easy thing to do. But I think if you’re able to have that dialogue, and, and be able to justify your decisions, and you’ve made that agreement between you as a as two people in a relationship, then I think that allows you to move forward with that awareness of what you’re doing.

MS  19:22  
I do think it develops over time with intention. I also think this isn’t really a push back. But let me just add something on to that. If you manage people, there’s no reason why on day one, you can’t have a direct conversation about your behaviours and its impact on the other person. In other words, well, let’s say you know, let’s say I for some reason, not that this would ever happen because clearly you would manage me but let’s say you came on to my team and I and on day one in the onboarding process, okay, you got your insurances taken care of you. You know, you got your chair. If you’re working in the office, you got your equipment, you know your role. Okay, now, I want to know the big behaviours that are important to you from a manager in, especially in the first 90 days, let’s talk about the specific behaviours that are going to make you feel supported and respected in the first 90 days and get that out, there’s that. I think that should be a minimal expectation of a manager of people, and then the rest will develop.

NT  20:19  
Yeah, I think you’re right, setting out expectations, being open about them. And then building that trust step so that you can have more challenging conversations about I think something you think something we may not think the same thing, but we have to agree to disagree respectfully. And I think maybe, as you say, it’s that through that induction and onboarding process being open about, we talk about relationships here, we talk about behaviours, we talk about communication styles, and it sets the culture of an organisation.

MS  20:50  
Yeah, I like what you said earlier about the discussion about the discussion or the dialogue about the way we dialogue. I think that’s really that’s what’s missing from most of these things. So let’s say you go into a diversity, equity and inclusion space where you’re opening up to these difficult topics for people. But you haven’t had the fundamental human conversation about as people, no matter where you come from, what demographic you’re in, or whatever, you know, what we need as a person, and therefore, it’s going to make it much harder to talk about these other things openly.

NT  21:22  
Amazing, Matt Stone, it’s been an absolutely brilliant conversation. Thank you so much for joining me all the way from the United States of America. It’s been brilliant, as we mentioned earlier, accelerate with Matt Stone, I’ll make sure that there is a link in the show notes. So listeners that want to go and listen to your podcast. They are very welcome to do so. Just click Matt. It’s been absolutely brilliant. Thank you very much once again,

MS  21:46  
thank you near

NT  21:53  
thank you for joining me your host near Thomas at the knowing self knowing that this podcast. If you’d like to know more about self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Please take a look at my website knowing self knowing others.co.uk You can also join me on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter. Make sure you bookmark the knowing self knowing others podcast and tune into the next episode in two weeks time. I look forward to having you on my learning journey.

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