Leader’s Digest #53 (July 2021)

Page 1

LEADERS ISSUE 53

JULY 2021

DIGEST

FEEDBACK


LEADERS

DIGEST

Publication Team EDITORIAL

Editor-in-Chief Ismail Said Assistant Editor Diana Marie Capel Graphic Designer Awang Ismail bin Awang Hambali Abdul Rani Haji Adenan

* Read our online version to access the hyperlinks to other reference articles made by the author.

Contents

ISSUE 53 I JULY 2021

04

3 WAYS TO MASTER SELF-DISCIPLINE

11

THE 5 CHALLENGES HYBRID TEAMS FACE

06

THE BEHAVIOURS OF EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEAMS

13

FEEDBACK: IF ANYONE GIFTS IT TO YOU

08

IS YOUR VIRTUAL LEADERSHIP LACKING? 3 WAYS TO CHANGE

Read this issue and past issues online at leadinstitute.com.my/ leaders-digest Scan the QR code below for quicker access:

LET US KNOW If you are encouraged or provoked by any item in the LEADERS DIGEST, we would appreciate if you share your thoughts with us. Here’s how to reach us: Email: diana@leadinstitute.com.my Content Partners:

Leader’s Digest is a monthly publication by the Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service, dedicated to advancing civil service leadership and to inspire our Sarawak Civil Service (SCS) leaders with contemporary leadership principles. It features a range of content contributed by our strategic partners and panel of advisors from renowned global institutions as well as established corporations that we are affiliated with. Occasionally, we have guest contributions from our pool of subject matter experts as well as from our own employees. The views expressed in the articles published are not necessarily those of Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service Sdn. Bhd. (292980-T). No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s permission in writing.

2

Issue 53 I July 2021


LEADERS

DIGEST

From the

Editorial Desk The Cockpit & the Pilot-in-Command One of the most complex activities and environments is flying an aircraft. The four forces affecting a flight path: thrust (forward motion / the propeller), weight (the downward effect through gravity), drag (the backward effect of poor aerodynamic aspects like a bad flying attitude or non-retractable landing gear) and lift (the upward effects of the wings) provide critical information – FEEDBACK – to the pilot in command. These, within the context of space and time, define the level of safety of a flight and its ultimate success: to reach the destination as planned. This material, procedural and environmental awareness is the feedback that is measurable and therefore clearly comparable against very objective parameters. In other words, the aircraft’s ‘behaviour’ feedback is seen in the instruments in the cockpit. Let’s call this the hard-info feedback. Now, we have the pilot-in-command (PIC). This person will get her own feedback in different forms. First, how she deals with the ‘hard-info feedback’ and appropriately adjusts her piloting decisions (on-board and against the flight plan) and, second, how she deals with other situations, such as communications with the control tower, relating to in-reach fellow pilots, managing on-board eventualities, crew and passenger relations, etc. If the PIC was going to be assessed in their yearly pilot licence renovation exercise with the typical feedback processes in an organisation, one wonders what could happen. Let’s adapt some possible ‘on-the-ground’ (in-an-office) feedback approaches into the cockpit. It’s clear an obvious that positive feedback – newly termed: positive feedforward – is extremely valuable. This focuses on behaviours and activities that must be promoted and cultivated. In comparison, negative feedforward must be dropped immediately. This is about behaviours that lead to ineffectiveness, inefficiency and possibilities for incidents, accidents or disasters.

Organisational feedback approaches include talking to peers, customers, subordinates and superiors – what is referred to as 360 degree feedback. This, in an aircraft would be very specific and limited as a passenger with no piloting experience can only give feedback on a tiny aspect of the total, of the critical. The bigger picture and therefore the relevance of clear, direct, precise and immediate feedback is directly correlated to the consequences of non-appropriate actions by the pilot: the worst being a crash and losing lives. And herewith, the most telling aspect of feedback integrity comes to light. The more risky and harmful the consequences of our actions at work and with people, the more open, more objective we will give and take constructive criticism. The opposite is ‘polite’ feedback guided by emotional-cultural-designation boundaries whereby feedback may be packaged as not to hurt feelings, leading to nothing more than fulfilling a requirement for the common organisational tools such as the BALANCED SCORECARD. Feedback mindset shifts can be achieved and driven by people (leaders, managers, etc.) who are also involved in activities outside work that demand such feedback integrity. Those who have hobbies that have material and human high-risk factors like mountaineering, parachuting, diving, etc. will have embedded a feedback mental framework that is more objective and valuable to all. Generally, questions to ask can include: How qualified am I to give feedback? Is my feedback wording clear, direct and in the language of the subject matter? When was the last time I asked for feedback and supported any type of feedback – even educating others on feedback management? If feedback leadership was included in the next audit for career development and enhanced organisational behaviour towards global excellence, what would the results mean and lead to?

Issue 53 I July 2021

3


LEADERS

DIGEST

3

ys a W

TO MASTER SELF-DISCIPLINE BY ROSHAN THIRAN

4

Issue 53 I July 2021

https://unsplash.com/photos/kPg_cIdmk1o?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink


LEADERS

DIGEST

In his bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss writes “‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you”. How often have we thought about how, someday, we will start up a business? Or that, someday, we’ll join the speaker’s club to improve our presentation skills? Perhaps, someday, you plan to travel the world or write a book or learn how to paint. Sadly, countless people discover that someday never comes. Someday, for many of us, isn’t a reality – it’s a psychological comfort blanket that lets us believe that it’s not that we’re procrastinating. We’ll get there, eventually, it’s just…now isn’t the right time. In 1989, John Grisham was working as a lawyer in Mississippi when he wrote his first novel, A Time to Kill. Thirty years and over forty books later, he published The Guardians in October 2019. Promoting the book, he held a Facebook Live Q&A. In response to a question asking what the best advice he ever received, John replied that his publisher once told him, “Aim to put a book out every year – that’s how you’ll create a following”. Adding on to that advice, The Pelican Brief author suggested that, if writers aren’t writing at least one page every day, they’ll lose their momentum and never get around to writing their first work. There will be plenty of writers who will say that it’s not necessary to write every day. As with any valuable lesson, Grisham’s point doesn’t need to be literally true. His advice is clear: we can think and plan and fantasise for as long as we like, but nothing will develop or grow until we start doing.

BRINGING YOURSELF TO START Some might argue that they struggle to work up the motivation. They want to achieve a certain goal, but they just can’t bring themselves to get started. And therein lies both the problem and the confusion. Motivation is described as “a reason or reasons for acting in a certain way”. In wanting to do anything (and thus having a reason for it), we’re already motivated. The only thing that holds us back is the decision to act, to follow through. To be self-disciplined. Self-discipline can be a challenge to develop. When we’re growing up, we are disciplined by our parents and teachers. Society disciplines us through its norms, and we face degrees of consequences when we don’t conform. In the workplace, we’re disciplined by two primary considerations: firstly, we need to perform in order to get paid; if we don’t perform, and secondly, we could find ourselves unemployed.

So, for most of our lives, discipline is something that comes from sources external to ourselves. Unless you’ve pursued your own ways of developing self-discipline (e.g. joining a martial arts class or learning piano), you might be unfamiliar with what it entails. With that in mind, how do we develop self-discipline? Here are three key ways to develop the skill and master ourselves:

1. WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING, TREAT IT AS SERIOUSLY AS A PAID JOB A lack of self-discipline comes when we have all the time in the world to get something done, and there are no real consequences for procrastinating. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, the author Salman Rushdie describes how he disciplines himself to write, “I’ve always had told myself simply to treat it like a nine to five job– if you have a job, you just go and do it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re feeling good that day. You know, if you’re a carpenter, you make your table…I can sit down at my desk every day and do my day’s work. I just do not give myself permission not to do it.”

2. USE THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE If you find it difficult to just get down to the work, this popular time-management technique can help you progress towards that goal. The idea is that you commit to 25-minutes of work, and then take a five-minute break. After the third round of working for 25 minutes (75 minutes in total), you take a 15-minute break. Repeat the process as necessary. This helps you to focus during the time you’ve set for working, and the self-discipline is incentivised by knowing you’ll have a short break soon as your reward.

3. REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU’RE TRYING TO ACHIEVE A SPECIFIC GOAL Learning Japanese might be challenging, but your partner’s Japanese parents don’t speak English very well. You want to make a good impression when you meet them. Even if you manage to hold a basic conversation, it shows that you’ve made an effort – and that means several plus points for you! It’s difficult to maintain discipline if there’s no real meaning or purpose to it. By making sure an ambition or goal is important to you, it’ll be much easier to follow-through on your motivation and to persevere when you’re feeling stuck.

ROSHAN THIRAN Roshan is the Founder and CEO of the Leaderonomics Group. He believes that everyone can be a leader and “make a dent in the universe”, in their own special ways.

Issue 53 I July 2021

5


LEADERS

DIGEST

THE BEHAVIOURS OF EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEAMS BY ROB PYNE

What happens when companies disregard emotional intelligence (EQ)? Will their environmental foundation oscillate? There are all kinds of merits of emotional intelligence that every company should espouse in their milieu.

Do people shed tears in your leadership team meetings? I imagine it’s unusual, or even unheard of, in your team. But should it be like that? In late 2020, I ran a series of workshops where we encouraged leadership teams to open up about their high points, low points and turning points from the pandemic-affected year. In every workshop, someone shed a tear when they shared – or heard – stories of their pandemic trials. These stories included a whole range of emotional challenges, from being separated from partners, to teenage children struggling to cope, to illness. If you are creating a leadership team that is a real team, not just a committee, you need to build emotional connections and bonds between the members. That doesn’t mean having people cry all the time, but it does mean you need to create an environment that allows for vulnerability and raises the group’s emotional intelligence.

6

Issue 53 I July 2021


LEADERS

DIGEST

WHY YOU NEED EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

In 2010, five psychologists set out to test the collective intelligence of teams. They subjected teams of three to five people to hours of tests – including brainstorming, making moral judgements, negotiating and critical thinking. The results of Anita Williams Woolley and her colleagues, published in the journal Science, are little known, and yet incredibly important to the way we work - which increasingly involves cross functional teams. They discovered that teams do have a collective intelligence that is not just based on their individual members’ intelligence. They called this ‘Factor C’. And their research found that the two biggest predictors of a specific team’s intelligence - that is its ability to solve problems, to be smarter than the sum of its parts – were the members’ social sensitivity, and the group’s conversational turn-taking. Social sensitivity is an aspect of Emotional Intelligence. In lab settings, it is measured by the ability to estimate how someone is feeling just by seeing a picture of their eyes. The ability in this lab-based test predicts the ability of a group to solve problems. Conversational turn-taking is more straightforward – in theory. When one or two loud people dominate, the group performs worse on tests of their thinking.

THE BEHAVIOURS OF EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEAMS

In my book, I share three approaches to building EQ in senior teams which build on the research on collective intelligence. First, senior teams should lay the emotional foundations of a real team by answering three questions together: why, what and how. • Why do we exist as a leadership team – what value do we create and for whom? • Therefore, what should we be focused on, what are our priorities, what should we talk about in meetings? • And therefore, how often should we meet, what different types of meeting do we need to have, and how should we behave? • Second, emotionally intelligent teams have behavioural standards, or norms, which create a supportive environment. These norms can be related to your organisation’s values, tailored to how they should be expressed in the leadership team. They can also be based on my research which suggests three basic norms. • Listening – I like to call this ‘making people feel heard’ • Signalling your respect, trust and liking of other people – particularly important for the leader to think about how you react to people’s contributions • Dialogue – dialogue is collective thinking where we listen, signal then build on others’ contributions, instead of just waiting to put out ten cents’ worth in. Dialogue contrasts with debate which is where ideas (and sometimes, people) compete for victory. Lastly, emotionally intelligent teams do ‘temperature checks’ where they take the emotional temperature of the team. For example, by asking: how is everyone, how is work, how is life, how do you feel about that proposal, how was that meeting for you? I recommend doing this at the start of every meeting, and at the end of your more important meetings, and then at a quarterly ‘pit-stop’ (where you take time ‘off the racetrack’ for a half-day) to connect with each other as humans as well as review the strategy and projects under the leadership team’s control.

IN SUMMARY Often leadership teams are teams in name only. They may in fact be more like a committee, or even ‘just a meeting I go to once a month’. Building a real team with supportive relationships - and putting a spotlight on emotional intelligence - will not only make work more engaging for you and your team, but it will also help you solve your toughest challenges and do your best thinking.

ROB PYNE Rob Pyne, author of Unlock: Leveraging the Hidden Intelligence in Your Leadership Team is a leadership coach and facilitator who helps teams unlock their collective intelligence and become smarter than the sum of their parts. Issue 53 I July 2021

7


LEADERS

DIGEST

IS YOUR VIRTUAL LEADERSHIP LACKING?

3 WAYS TO CHANGE BY JESSICA THIEFELS

Consider these three distinct areas where virtual leadership is often lacking – and how you can change your strategies for the better. When considering what remote work looks like long-term, it’s important for leaders to consider their roles. In order for it to be sustainable, leaders must promote and invest in the wellbeing of their teams within all facets of the organisational culture, suggests Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report.

“When someone speaks to us, we are subconsciously taking in their facial cues, like the way their eyebrows go up quizsically or when they are passionately speaking. We’re also looking at their body language, whether they lean in or not and what their breathing and speaking tempo are like.”

However, some remote employees feel a lack of trust, clarity, support and connection from their leaders which adversely impacts both well-being and performance, according to Frontiers in Psychology.

Face-to-face conversations are integral to great virtual leadership.

Insufficient Face-to-face Communication When it comes to interpersonal communication, we derive context and meaning from the visual cues we take in. Watching another person’s nonverbal signals, such as facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact or body posture leads to more transparency and understanding. As Leila Ansart, founder of Leadership Impact Strategies, explains in a recent virtual communication article:

8

Issue 53 I July 2021

This is why it’s crucial to evaluate whether your virtual leadership is up to par. Consider these three distinct areas where virtual leadership is often lacking – and how you can change your strategies for the better.

This is why face-to-face conversations are so integral to great virtual leadership. In order for team members to feel heard and understand in this new work environment, they need to see your face. When they don’t, Ansart suggests that we make our “best guess” as to what the person means.


LEADERS

DIGEST

“Our minds love to complete the picture, so in the absence of fact, sometimes we piece together the cues. Imagine offering feedback to your direct report on a phone call. You hear a sharp intake of breath, and your brain has to make sense of this; give it a meaning. You don’t know if their cat jumped on the keyboard, the person spilled their coffee, or they were truly surprised at your feedback.” When this happens, miscommunication runs rampant, your messages aren’t heard correctly, and you risk creating problems where there were none.

What to Do instead: The solution to face-to-face communication in a remote landscape is video conferencing. As Owl Lab’s 2020 State of Remote Work survey found, 79 per cent of WFH employees think video conferences are at least as productive as in-person meetings (if not more so), and 64 per cent consider them more enjoyable than in-person or teleconference meetings. Here are three ways to maximise your video communication, according to Ansart. •

Plan video meetings for times when it’s reasonable to ask everyone in attendance to turn their cameras on. Keep time zones and family obligations in mind. • Set the tone for the engagement and attentiveness that you want others to exhibit as well. Be just as present in a video meeting as you would if the conversation were inperson. • Expand your focus from just discussing the status of projects to checking in with your team members on a personal basis every one or two weeks. This one-on-one interaction will communicate genuine empathy and care which can help remote employees feel more connected overall.

You Don’t Prioritise Employee Recognition Your employees might not be feeling appreciated. In a poll of 2,000 U.S. remote employees, more than 50 per cent reported having felt a lack of appreciation and recognition from their leaders since they started working from home, reports Dr. Bryan Robinson, author, researcher and expert on work-life balance. What does this mean? A whopping 68 per cent of remote employees feel unmotivated to work since their contributions are overlooked, and 65 per cent are cutting back on productivity.

Productivity in its natural habitat.

The ripple effect of this lack of recognition is significant – 26 per cent of American workers who left their jobs in 2020 did so voluntarily, and a lack of recognition was one of the main reasons cited for this turnover, according to a Talent Retention Report from iHire.

What to Do Instead: Making time for employee recognition and appreciation can boost engagement by 55 per cent, according to McKinsey. Here are some action steps you can implement to virtually recognise the contributions of your remote workers and help them feel like valuable members of the team. • Ask employees how they prefer to be recognised with a questionnaire. Use those responses to tailor your appreciation for each individual accordingly. For example, some might prefer words of affirmation, while others are motivated by tangible rewards. • Make peer recognition a part of your team culture. Set aside a few minutes in your virtual team meetings for employees to affirm one another for a job well done. You aren’t the only one who needs to provide recognition, but you do need to remind employees to follow suit. • Select a different team member as ‘Employee of the Month’, and allow that person to choose from a list of possible rewards that make WFH lie better. Think: meal delivery from their favorite local restaurant or an hour early clock-out time once a week for the month. Ultimately, it’s important that you thank employees for the work they do on a consistent basis. Tell them you notice the long hours they put in and that you’re grateful for their commitment to the team as a whole. Even a simple verbal acknowledgement will be appreciated.

Issue 53 I July 2021

9


LEADERS

DIGEST

You Don’t Consider Your Team’s Work-Life Boundaries Almost 50 per cent of surveyed remote workers feel pressure to communicate during their off hours, suggest a 2021 report from Egress. What’s more, 39 per cent do their best to answer work-related messages as quickly possible, no matter when they receive it. These unreasonable time pressures are among the top five predictors of remote employee burnout in the wake of COVID-19, a Gallup survey found. If you contact team members when they’re off the clock and expect a timely response, it sets an unsustainable precedent and disrespects their work-life boundaries. This obligation to refresh chat notifications, check email inboxes and answer internal communications at a moment’s notice makes it hard for employees to get the rest they need. Just as onsite employees are allowed to leave their work at the office in the evenings and return home to their personal lives, remote workers need the same consideration. That starts with your leadership and encouraging – and holding yourself to – set and clear work-life boundaries.

What to Do Instead: Instead of overreaching into your team members’ personal time at home, encourage a work-life balance at all organisational levels, from leadership to the newest hire. “Be transparent about your availability plan, then set boundaries and invite others to do the same. Sabina Nawaz, global leadership coach, suggests: “Be transparent about your availability plan, then set boundaries and invite others to do the same. You can say, for example, ‘I’m prioritising my time with you. I’ll reach out in a variety of ways...[But] let me know if you need some space and don’t want to connect quite so frequently.” Use these specific and simple strategies to let your remote team know they have permission to set boundaries with you. • Establish ‘office hours’ during which employees can reach out with questions, updates, requests for feedback or whatever else they might need. Set office hours for all employees, like 12 to 2pm so you can easily reach them without overstepping their boundaries or maintaining different “on” schedules for all employees. • Avoid sending or responding to communication threads once the workday is over. If you receive an important message after hours or over the weekend that requires your immediate attention, include in your response a caveat such as: “Please be aware in the future that I normally do not answer workrelated emails after 6:00 PM on Monday through Friday, nor do I expect this of my team.” • Be flexible. Many leaders have learned during the last year that working from home means many employees are also managing childcare, home life and other family obligations while trying to work. While this may become less prominent in the future, staying flexible is critical as a virtual leader trying to manage boundaries and on/off work times.

Improve your Virtual Leadership Now This shift to remote work was hard for everyone – including leaders. If you’ve been struggling to keep employees engaged, set better boundaries, and connect with your team, use these strategies to improve your efforts. Sometimes, a small change can go a long way in ensuring everyone feels appreciated, motivated and connected. JESSICA THIEFELS Jessica Thiefels is the founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, a content marketing agency. She has been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more.

10

Issue 53 I July 2021


LEADERS

DIGEST

The 5 Challenges Hybrid Teams Face BY ALISON HILL

ADDRESSING HYBRID TEAM CHALLENGES Hybrid models of working for teams are here to stay. While there are plenty of benefits to adopting a hybrid team work model in your workplace, there are a set of predictable challenges that without awareness and understanding, can impact how your team connect and how work is done. In the same way that challenges of disengagement, group-think and feedback present themselves in a typical office environment. Understanding the key challenges faced by hybrid teams allows you an opportunity to be proactive in the way your team is set up for success through a hybrid model.

Challenge #1: Lack of collaboration. One of the biggest fears of adopting a hybrid approach is that individuals will work…well individually. In September 2020, we conducted a State of Remote Work survey with over 300 respondents; 47.7% found that collaboration between teams to be the biggest challenge in navigating remote work. Without the ad-hoc cross pollination that can occur more organically in an office setting, or the pull towards collaborative problemsolving or project coordinating across divisions the is one of the challenges that’s worth addressing.

Collaboration is more than the structures and rhythms that happen in a specific location. Often true and effective collaboration requires high levels of trust and care. When we understand this, we can then be conscious about cultivating these in a new format of working. Strategies to help address this challenge start with caring about collaboration, it needs to be something that matters to your team in order to people to prioritise it in their work. Upgrade the resources and platforms you utilise for collaboration conversations and work. Platforms such as ‘Miro’ provide a space for teams to co-create and dive into collaboration conversations.

Issue 53 I July 2021

11


LEADERS

DIGEST

Challenge #2: Stagnation (the opposite of ideation) The world of work requires innovation and change, one of the challenges for hybrid working teams is stagnation – getting caught in the pattern of doing what we’ve always done. Habits and rhythms are hard to break, and can feel harder to do enmasse if the teams are operating in hyrbid fashion. One of the key things to recognise before addressing this challenge, is that ideation and innovation was a challenge even when teams were co-located. Group think or ego’s pulled down the courage that is required to think differently. In order to address this challenge teams need to start by innovating their innovation process. Create a mix of both synchronous (do it at the same time) and asynchronous (do it at a time when individuals are at their best) work. Share challenges, share ideas and then allow people to do the deep thinking work in a way that best works for them. Encourage movement throughout the day to help with brain functioning to think differently. Finally create rhythms to stop (the BAU work), calibrate (what are we trying to achieve here), and celebrate (where have we gotten to in this process).

Challenge #3: Disconnection In hybrid teams there are fewer opportunities for the whole team to be connected in the space. The challenge of disconnection is greater than just not being in the same space though, it’s the challenge of feeling mentally and physically separate and alone, isolated and removed. Disconnection can undermine culture and trust quickly if not noticed or addressed. Create a culture of checking in with others. Ask the question ‘are you okay?’ and have this common practice via different communication mediums (e.g. phone, video call, text message, internal messaging systems) helps to reduce the impact this challenge can have. Work on creating face-to-face time and create spaces to celebrate and talk about both work milestones achieved and life milestones achieved.

Challenge #4: Miscommunication Communication is hard even in the best of circumstances, throw in technology difficulties, drop-outs, different work schedules, second-guessing the context for others and it can become a minefield. Confusion, misinterpretation, and heightened frustration as a result can be the outcomes, which doesn’t bode well for team success. In order to address this challenge, double down on communication skills. Take the time to check for understanding, paraphrase and summarise conversations before moving on will be time well spent. One of the reasons miscommunication can occur is due to the extreme lack of non-verbal cues in a hybrid team. You’re relying on the facevalue of text-based conversations and video conference calls held on an unreliable internet connection, mistakes will be made. It’s important to address the story in your head anytime this comes up for your hybrid team. Question your assumptions and make use of Brene Brown’s wisdom from her TED Talk on vulnerability.

Challenge #5: Teams adopt a contractor mindset As mentioned previously, when hybrid teams become increasingly distant they can begin adopting the mindset of contractors. While having control over individual work routines and daily schedules can be useful, it can lead to a feeling of disconnection from the organisation as a whole. Commit to working on your hybrid team culture, continually discuss your company values, purpose and other cultural trademarks you’ll be able to retain a sense of belonging in a hybrid work environment. The five challenges hybrid teams face in the early days (and months after the switch). Hybrid teams, like all workplace teams, need to be consistently reminded of the purpose they hold in the wider organisation. If you can commit to this, and the aforementioned behaviours, you’ll be well on your way to creating a high performing hybrid team.

ALISON HILL Alison Hill, co-author of the new book Work From Anywhere (Wiley $27.95), is a registered psychologist and CEO of three-time AFR Fast 100 company, Pragmatic Thinking. A culmination of her expertise across leadership, culture and psychology, Pragmatic Thinking works with organisations who drive change through building better leaders, growing better teams, and shifting cultures.

12

Issue 53 I July 2021


LEADERS

DIGEST

FEEDBACK: If Anyone Gifts It To You BY DIANA MARIE

Case Study:

If cooking was a civil service competency requirement, I would probably only qualify for the Kitchen Porter or the Escuelerie positions. Ironically, I discovered the MasterChef Australia reality cum cooking competition TV show whilst doing research, stumbling upon a video that showcased one of the contestants. MasterChef has supported talented home cooks reach new levels of mastery and giving them a platform to pursue their ‘food dreams’. MasterChef highlighted the importance of diversity and representation. The dishes are diverse, impactive and authentic. It became an example that produced the “progress point”, “for them to build on” for future seasons. The judges’ cookery skills winnowed the contestants and made them better cooks. The magnificent amalgam of cultures is also respectfully blended. Indian, French, Spanish dishes are all given their share of respect on the show. The theme song by Katy Perry Hot n Cold is synonymous with the series although the current theme song is Somewhere Only, We Know by singer Lily Allen, perhaps another effort of the show to trigger emotions through music. Certainly, just like any reality show there were some flaws, but in this article, I would like to share with you the element of which I found interesting. It was how feedback was articulated, particularly to and from the contestants.

1. The people who gave feedback: Pursue of Mastery The judges are all knowledgeable and talented. They share experiences, imparting their veteran knowledge to the amateur contestants and most importantly, ready to give show much of their precious time to them. Gary, George and Matt are probably some of the kindest and most endearing personalities. Melissa was the judge who showed raw emotions. If Melissa cries, the viewers cry. Often, we are inspired by personalities who are willing to work for their dreams, because there is joy and meaning in the process. “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset,” says Dr Carol S. Dweck author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. We can’t help but find role models in people who learn from adversity, with humility. Photo credit to MasterChef Australia Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/MasterChefAU/photos

Issue 53 I July 2021

13


LEADERS

DIGEST

2. The Challenges: Meet them with Mindfulness

3. The people who received feedback: Find creativity through limits

Like all good competitions, the contestants showed a lot about facing challenges, developing skills and ultimately sharing strengths to spark joy in others. dozens of secondchances given. The elimination challenges tested the contestants’ skills and resilience. Sometimes we see contestants resign themselves to failure with the ‘I’ll never catch-up scream’.

The creativity of participants to produce tasty and beautiful dishes never fails to inspire. How do they do it? They trust their senses. Ironically, limitations can actually give us the space to experiment, make new discoveries and build confidence. The best things humans do are a result of cooperative effort and the contestants and judges on this show seem to understand this innately. Team-work is as important as independence and we see how important team work is on this show. The contestants must work together and strategize at times, or they are likely to be sent home. They are more likely to be successful if they get along with one another.

Mindfulness allows us ‘to build greater awareness of the ‘here and now’ with a greater awareness of the changing moment-to-moment experience of our minds and bodies” says Ryan Niemiec, author of Mindfulness and Character Strengths. Rather than allow themselves to be overwhelmed by their emotional whirlpool and the shouts from the gantry, it’s inspiring to see the ‘lightbulb’ moment when contestants realise that all they have is the present. There is still time left on the clock and they can respond to the demands of the situation. By staying engaged and drawing on their personal strengths, they know they are making the best of the opportunities they have.

It’s acceptable to share opinions but, it is also important to function as a smooth and tight knit group when the chips are down. The leader may just have a good plan that will work if everyone cooperates. Comedian Magda Szubanski tweeted, “You know what I love most about @ masterchefau? How kind and supportive they are with one another”.

Focus amongst chaos is a skill. Seemingly impossible tasks are set forth to offer the most intense challenges possible for contestants. It is up to them to make it work no matter what. Things go wrong and everyone may be scrambling, but you must still get the job done to the best of your ability. This requires focus even when there are multiple distractions afoot. We see how some of them manage to concentrate on the tasks at hand to make it through the round successfully. Adaptability and improvisation are important. We also learn how vital it is to be able to think outside of the box. When the Mystery box challenge is brought out, the contestants have no idea what the contents will be. It is entirely possible that they will be required to use ingredients that they have no experience with. It is up to them to reason the problem through, use their best judgment and create a masterpiece that is better than what the others will produce. Life is very much like that at times. We are more successful when we can think on our feet and make adjustments as we go because life in general can be unpredictable.

4. Relationships: Be brave, be vulnerable The contestants treat their co-contestants as friends. Here we see adults, who may be zany but also are hold a level of maturity and discretion. It seems painful to watch, but what MasterChef teaches us is the importance of not giving up — plate up what you have made and let it be judged. Courage researcher and professor Brené Brown puts it like this, ‘there is no courage without vulnerability’. Michael Jordan once said “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”. MasterChef team challenges teach this lesson powerfully. No matter how talented you are as an individual working with other people exposes a different set of strengths and weaknesses, and can deliver many more rewards helping people achieve something they could not have done on their own. Contestants discover they impact each other’s journey and that delighting real diners is a team effort.

14

Issue 53 I July 2021


LEADERS

DIGEST

5. The stories Everyone remembers the challenge that involved each contestant receiving a surprise photo from their childhood, some including family members in the shots. They were then asked to create a special dish that reminded them of their loved ones. The stories were varied, but each tugged at the heartstrings. Khanh Ong spoke about his family living in a refugee camp, Reynold Poernomo described his childhood hardly seeing his parents as they worked hard to support the family, and Poh Ling Yeow recalled fond memories with her father. Each of these stories are interesting. They tell the audience about why they love to cook and what inspired them to embark on their careers. Through this, we learn that everyone has a story worth listening to.

Perhaps in some of the communities or environment we grew up in, feedback was often avoided simply because we don’t want to offend anyone. You’re frequently warned not to say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say. Fortunately, we also have leaders within our personal or professional environment from whom we can learn some sense of giving and receiving feedback. As for cooking, I was also lucky that my late mother-in-law did not list being a good cook as a prerequisite, nor did she use it as analytics for achievements. But as for everything in life, never too late to learn anything, so long as one is willing. Wink-Wink. DIANA MARIE Diana Marie is a team member at the Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service attached with Corporate Affairs who found love in reading and writing whilst discovering inspiration in Leadership that Makes a Difference.

Issue 53 I July 2021

15


Feedback requires the ability to listen well. Giving and receiving feedback is a vital communication tool.

- Ismail Said CEO Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service

Building Leaders of Excellence LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE OF SARAWAK CIVIL SERVICE KM20, JALAN KUCHING SERIAN,SEMENGGOK, 93250 KUCHING, SARAWAK. 082-625166

082-625766 leadershipinstitute_scs

info@leadinstitute.com.my SCSleadershipinstitute

www.leadinstitute.com.my Leadership_scs