Leader's Digest #63 (May 2022)

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MAY 2022




Publication Team Editor-in-Chief Fang Tze Chiang Editor Diana Marie Capel Graphic Designers 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.


ISSUE 63 I MAY 2022


From Anxiety to Confidence


How Do You Do Leadership?


The Future of Working Women And The Issues They Face


How to Share Your Ideas With Better Confidence at Work?

5 Techniques to Outsmart Overwhelm at Work


10 Things You Must Do When You Meet A New Colleague Online


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


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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.

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From the

Editorial Desk Now you see me, now you don’t! It is a quiet day. The sun has been shining for some time already. You can see where you are going without having to focus to much as all around you is clear. Suddenly, it gets darker and darker although it is not the approach of the natural night. It is 2pm. What is going on? It is an eclipse of the sun. The impact of the sunshine disappearing when it shouldn’t is very powerful and it even feels a bit mysterious, almost scary. All humans, all animals are affected as our natural daily rhythm of day and night is being affected. In that time, a short time, many feel a sudden decline in energy, in positiveness. Productivity can be affected as all stop in their tracks to await the light that is missing. When slowly the rays of the sun start to reach us, there is a sense of awe. A moment of wow. Like if the power of the sun has been given a new life, a new purpose and meaning. More and more the light and heat we know the sun for is felt, appreciated and we seem to be recharged. Similar to the sun coming back from being hidden in an eclipse, each of us can become that power to move what blocks this positive light that brings live to everything and allows perspective, context, meaning and purpose.

The moment the edge of the sun is seen, there is this sensation of reward, of well-being and that is exactly what each of us can do when we guide ourselves to show our edge of selfless motivation, of authentic generosity for the benefit of others. It is like that spark that can light up hope and drive. But we must also examine and understand that as much as there can be many sparks, many edges of powerful possibilities, can we and others receive it and light up. Like a cotton wool that if soaked in alcohol will light up immediately if a spark meets it, this does not happen if the spark meets a rock. So as much as sparks can be there, can be repeated, the receiver or the target to pick up the spark and build up from it, must be able, ready, and willing to take that energetic momentum and let it grow. We have been given sparks; we have offered sparks yet many times these are not meeting the goals these were intended to. Such ‘sparking’ can then lead to frustration, misalignment and derail what could have been an amazing inspirational discovery. Try it out. Open your spark ‘radar’ and realize if there are these sparks around you that you can take on, even if these are not directed at you. It could be a compliment, it could be the passing of a butterfly, it could be the perfume of nature. If you consciously, mindfully are ready, then you will feel the energy that is knocking on your door of life.

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Channelling Anxiety to Great Confidence In our new book Anxiety at Work, we found one of the nastier sides of anxiety is making smart, capable people feel insecure and question their abilities. My coauthors Adrian Gostick, Anthony Gostick, and I interviewed dozens of employees, and most of them said they feel anxiety about how they’re doing in their jobs. People want to know what their managers think about their work, and they have a future in the organization. Interestingly, highperforming employees often misread the lack of attention from their leader as a sign that things are not good at all.

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“Cicero called gratitude “not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” In an uncertain world, managers can reduce anxiety by offering sincere gratitude for great work—and being specific about how it helped the team. It’s interesting that when people feel like their manager has faith in them, they can take constructive conversations much easier. They also realize when there is a problem, it’s not about them. There is a problem, but they are not the problem.



Great leaders we’ve studied don’t offer up general praise like, ‘good job’ ‘great job’ – the fact is, if you can say it to your dog, it’s probably not genuine gratitude. I’m talking about leaders who offer gratitude with sincerity and specificity. When people are shown sincere gratitude, neurotransmitters in their brain send out dopamine and serotonin and contribute to their good mood. How great is that? Just by practicing heartfelt gratitude, leaders can create a physiological superhighway, so to speak, to happiness on their teams.

One of the best ways leaders can lower anxiety is to have an attitude of gratitude in their organizations, peer-topeer and top-down. We visited a hospital one Friday and were fortunate to be part of a special meeting. Each week a staff member receives the Grace Under Fire trophy, funny because it is an actual fire hose mounted on a block of wood. This peer-to-peer award is always brought out to applause and laughter. It’s their way of recognizing something great that one of the team has done during the week.

This is important because anxiety can make anyone feel like a fake. Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head when praise from managers and peers doesn’t match up with what they’re feeling inside, and they are just waiting for people to find out that they’re not what they’re cracked up to be.

We watched a nurse nominate her co-worker who had covered one of her weekend shifts. As eight hours morphed into twelve hours in the busy ER, her peer always kept their cool. This Friday ritual adds fun, puts everyone in a great mood, and strengthens relationships. It’s quick and informal, yet it reinforces what the staff members value the most, keeping calm under pressure while helping each other. And the great snacks made it that much more fun.

Imposter syndrome can happen to anyone and often shows up in celebrities. A great example is the fantastic Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run, which tells the story of his lifelong battle with self-doubt and feeling like a “complete fake.” Lady Gaga, who seems to be the personification of confidence, openly discusses her anxiety. She’s said, “I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school, and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need me to be.” Dr. Alex Korb, a neuroscientist at UCLA, explained that people who worry all the time about negative outcomes become wired to focus on nothing but the negative. The good news, he also says people can’t focus on the positive and negative at the same time. When we focus on showing gratitude, we can help our team members rewire and focus on positive emotions and thoughts and reduce anxiety.

Ideas like this are wonderful ways to recognize individual contributions. Some managers like to take the whole team out to lunch once a month, and that’s a nice thing to do, but it’s not recognition; it’s a celebration. High achievers like to know their work is valued, and the team reward can create anxiety because they’re not having their contributions recognized. Personal recognition and team celebrations are essential but have different roles in building highperforming teams. The last word: Gratitude done right is an anxiety reliever and can be oxygen that fuels engagement for team members—especially high achievers who can be gratitude sponges. What are some amazing ways you like to reward both individual and group contributions in your teams?


Chester Elton is the Author of “Anxiety at Work” & “Leading with Gratitude”, an Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker, and Founder of the #findyourgratitude Community. He has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees in organizational strategy, vision and values. In his inspiring and always entertaining talks, Elton provides real solutions for leaders looking to build culture, manage change and drive innovation. His work is supported by research with more than a million working adults across the globe, revealing the proven secrets behind high performance cultures and teams.

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The Future of Working Women And The Issues They Face BY CAROLYNE NJOGU

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The Pandemic’s Impact on Working Women We all can agree that the pandemic was a merciless phenomenon that surprised many if not all in the global sphere. Since 2020, the world, work and life as we knew it has changed. Among those most challenged by these disruptions are working women. For instance, working women who are also mothers found it more challenging to remain employed. Some with the needs to care for their family and parents were forced to leave the workforce abruptly. Gallup reported that, “Women disproportionately assumed caregiving responsibilities – often at the expense of their careers and overall well-being.” Evidently, most working women especially working mothers reported having experienced emotional and mental distress— and complicated life economically as the challenges of managing the household responsibilities increased. According to Gallup, “globally, women reported higher rates of stress, sadness and worry than men -- and they’re more likely to report that their mental health was negatively affected by the pandemic. In the U.S. and Canada, 62% of working women reported experiencing stress “a lot of the day” the previous day -- 10 percentage points higher than working men and a significant increase from 2019 levels (51%).” Depending on whether you were a mother, a caretaker or a single woman with various responsibilities that warranted your attention, mental energies, and self-involvement—only time will tell what the impact of these past few years will be in the grand scheme of things. Whatever the case, the stats are clear in conveying the underlying fears that affected women unlike their counterpart men, on the account of career advancement and family and wellbeing. If you are a career woman, a mother, and have to take care of your elderly parent for instance, you already have extra work on your plate. Furthermore, as ‘Chief Family Nurturers’, women have had to navigate the pandemic with extra loads in addition to their career as they navigate family raising, work, wife duties and taking care of their parents.

As such, some women have opted out of the workforce resigned to care for the needs of their families. Others who expressed their desire to continue to work however demanded more flexible schedules, as some want to find meaning and purpose in their work. While these needs may seem trivial or irrelevant to some, the reality is that we need women in the workforce for their contributions are matchless. The research is out underscoring the reality that when women lead, firms win — and I might add society as at large wins too. Organisations must thus seek to address women’s needs and concerns for the overall wellbeing of society as a whole. Simply put, a successful and strong woman means a strong man, a strong family, and a strong society! What Working Women Want More and more women are realising that the sooner they gain control of their careers, the better off their lives and those who depend on them will be. As such, many who left corporate jobs either due to mass lay offs or because they felt it was the opportune time to launch a business, are said to have boosted new business startups despite the pandemic. According to a Yelp’s Economic Survey report, about 146,486 new businesses opened in the U.S in Q1 2021. This is an increase by 4% from Q1 2019. Many of these new ventures are women owned. A survey by gusto.com revealed the reason for this…

58% of women want more control over their work schedule. 24% wanted to start a business that they could pass on to their families.

37% were looking to improve their financial opportunities. 19% lost their jobs. 9% didn’t have any other job opportunities.

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Overall, women want to lead their destiny, and are looking to invest themselves with employers who will value their unique talents and cater to their needs for: • More job satisfaction, • More organisation dedication (career growth), • More meaningful work, • More flexible work schedules. Research by center for creative leadership found that organisations that hire women are more likely to enjoy financial gains resulting from better work place cultures and employee engagement. Making it obvious that women in the workplace concerns are not going away, and thus warrant deliberate attention.

How To Support Women in the Workplace

The last two years have been challenging and have unveiled a lot of issues. These issues always existed although the working woman has had to navigate around them to make good on expected goals. The employers have all this while chosen to turn a blind eye as long as the profits grew. Thankfully, the high rates of attritions and the cost of attracting and retaining great talent drew attention to these issues now. To address these issues squarely, future businesses must rethink their strategy on how to engage women while leveraging the opportunities that exist. For example, mental health concerns, the need for learning to stay current on the new technologies, collaboration across virtual teams and of course the need for empathy can no longer be ignored. Organisations that satisfy these needs are more likely to attract and retain people while also positioning themselves for future success. Any marginal investment can go a long way in attracting and retaining loyalty especially at a time when attrition rates are off the charts.

Infographic by Leaderonomics: A Survey of Women Starting Businesses During Covid-19

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Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, overall, women remain optimistic about their potential to progress in their careers whilst acknowledging barriers do exist.


As the workforce evolves, more and more employees will expect better treatment from their employers due to health and well-being concerns. The hard truth is that women who, by nature, are nurturers tend to approach life, work, wellbeing, and relationships a little differently than their counterparts. Businesses that realise this combination and who welcome more women into their workforce while also acknowledging women’s preference to flexibility/hybrid work will benefit from this unique talent pool.


Carolyne is the founding principal at VPF Strategies, a strategic and leadership development firm helping professionals and leaders design and develop growth strategies to meet their goals: Thriving Wellness, Cultures and Businesses. She is a speaker, author of Being Grounded: 21 Days To Come Alive and Love Your Life, and a contributing writer for various publications.

Infographic by Leaderonomics: Organisations need to invest to attract and retain people

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Powerful self-management tools prevent burn-outs and being overwhelmed Deadlines approaching, to-do lists that don’t end and back-toback meetings. Argh! The arrival of overwhelm at work is more a case of when it is going to happen ... not if it will happen. Few people get to work overwhelm-free; we all have pressures and expectations to deliver reach targets, achieve what’s asked of us and do a good job. The problem with overwhelm though, is that if we don’t manage and monitor it, it can grow and grow and turn into the beast that is burn-out. Researcher Jennifer Moss reported in Harvard Business Review that from over 1500 people surveyed in 46 countries, 56% of people say their job demands had increased. No, it’s not our imagination; we’re having to do more. And 62% of people who were struggling to manage their workloads had experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in the previous three months. Burn-out, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) says, is ‘more than just an employee problem; it’s an organizational problem that requires an organizational solution.’ Burn-out comes when we experience ongoing stress with no relief. Not even a weekend away in the country or a week off by the beach will fix the feelings of burn-out. We need to look for new ways to outsmart our overwhelm and not just call for more ‘self-care’. Our work can overwhelm us with things like the quantity or workload we’re trying to complete, information overload that we’re struggling to absorb and emotional overwhelm of having to show up and ‘carry on’. We’re faced with employers making big decisions and big changes, announcing restructures and new systems, and all the while we’re dealing with challenging colleagues, bosses and customers. Plus, we might just be overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks we’re expected to complete … in not enough time!

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Here are five techniques to help you stay alert to rising levels of overwhelm at work and how to outsmart them:

#1 Know your triggers.

#5 Manage self.

What gets on your nerves or winds you up? Knowing the things

One of the best career success tips is to be a good manager

that can accelerate or advance our overwhelm are worth

of yourself, your own workload, time, and energy. Knowing

being aware of. We can see them ahead of time and they have

what you’ve got on and when it’s due shows you’ve got your

less power over us. We can then be prepared with methods

head around the work to be done. That’s much harder to

to counteract the trigger, relieve the stress, and learn quicker

do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Estimating how long

and quicker over time. We’ll see that we are able to soothe

tasks will take, scheduling them into your diary, and then

ourselves, manage the effects of the trigger on us and we

focusing on them to complete them are all powerful personal

can come up with ways of adapting, responding, and making

management behaviours. It will be more accurate when you

sense of the situation. This is all powerful self-management.

say ‘I don’t have time for this’ because you’ll know what you’re working on and how long you expect it all to take.

#2 Write out the work. Instead of juggling all your ‘to-dos’ in your head (you know,

Overwhelm is an important part of our human functioning so

those 3am ‘wake up in a sweat’ moments) make them

it’s not like we don’t want to feel the rise of emotions or the

visible and write everything out. Even though the number of

stress of ‘too much’. We need the extremes of ‘it’s easy, I’m

things might be more than you’d like to see, ‘externalising’

chillin’ through to ‘I’m smashed, it’s too much’ to know where

information out of our head is a powerful technique in the

our boundaries are.

process of outsmarting overwhelm. You could write them into a journal, type them into a productivity app like Trello or Asana

But also know that too much of anything isn’t healthy. Working

or write each individual task onto a post-it note so you can

longer hours, stressing over deadlines and worrying about

focus on it until it’s done. This gives you greater perspective

reports isn’t a sustainable way to work over the longer term.

and objectivity about what really needs to be done. There’s a middle line here of balance – it’s where we can get

#3 Stop juggling so many things at once.

good work done and achieve our goals, but also be aware of

It’s impossible for us to multitask all day and still expect to feel

the rise of overwhelm and its damaging effects. It’s rewarding

good at the end of the day. We may panic a little when we are

to still be able to reach a deadline and high five someone –

overwhelmed and so we can tend to panic-switch from one

even if its ourselves - rather than drowning under the weight

thing to the other. We do a bit of this task, worry we’re not

of everything being too much for us to cope.

getting the other task done and then switch over to that for a while, and then switch back to the original task. This is highly inefficient and often escalates the feeling of panic.

#4 Conserve your energy and focus on fewer things. Doing fewer things but doing them well or at least finishing them helps take them out of our mind. It’s also a lot easier on our energy reserves. Our brain takes energy to fuel and if we don’t value that energy, it will soon expire! And if you do wake in worry, see point #2 and write your thoughts down. You’ll get back to sleep easier because there’s less floating about in your mind.


Lynne Cazaly is a keynote speaker and adviser on new ways of working. She helps businesses think and work in ways that are more productive, collaborative, creative and effective. She is the author of ‘ish: The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’.

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To further accelerate Sarawak’s Green Energy Agenda, I am proud to announce the Sarawak government is exploring sustainable aviation fuel to sustainably produce jet fuel that will contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions across its life cycle — beyond 80 per cent — compared to fossil fuels. Through our development and investment agency Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Sarawak, we are collaborating with the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC) in the development of bio-fuels, green hydrogen and fuel cells for aviation. With recent advancement in hydrogen fuel cells for aviation, particularly the recent developments in drones, I envision that soon, hydrogen fuel cells could be fuelling up hydrogen-powered helicopters. Going back to the question of ‘Wherein lies the balance between protecting the environment and growing the economy’, I can safely say that truly there is no real option — only real actions. The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg Premier of Sarawak 9 May 2022 World Hydrogen 2022 Summit and Exhibition at the City of Rotterdam in the Netherlands

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Effective Leadership Begins Within You The true character of a person’s leadership comes to the fore in times of a crisis. None more so than Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose words when offered safe passage to the US were, “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.” Some people in leadership roles play politics for their own gain, so aptly summed up by the then Nationals backbencher (and now Deputy Prime Minister), Barnaby Joyce, “No senior politician across the globe has ever got to their position by sitting under a banyan tree waiting for the world to determine they are enlightened – they got there by the art and craft of politics. But every leader, when they get there, understandably, wants as much power as they can have by other people having as little as possible. And that is just politics.” Some business leaders will do whatever it takes to get their desired outcome. Well illustrated by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who in leaked audio said: “At the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat, and you fight.” His comments were in response to a proposal from the then US Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren to break up big tech companies. Throughout my corporate career, I worked with some outstanding leaders. I also worked with some people who were very good at saying all the right things. They had the leadership jargon perfected to a tee. Sadly, their execution was largely absent. Holding a leadership role and being an effective leader are two very different things. Real leaders stay true to their values while adapting and adjusting their style to suit the context. They know that leadership is never a one-size-fits-all approach, and different situations require different methods. Adapting and adjusting requires leaders to regularly assess their leadership effectiveness against seven key indicators to highlight what needs to shift.

Infographic by Leaderonomics: Key Indicators of Leadership

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Awareness Organisational psychologist Tasha Eurich found that 95 per cent of people believe they are self-aware, even though only about 10 to 15 per cent are. There are two elements to self-awareness: internal and external. Internal self-awareness centres on how you can notice and identify your values, passions, aspirations, fit with your environment, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and impact on others. High levels of internal self-awareness are positively correlated with job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness, while it’s negatively associated with anxiety, stress and depression. External self-awareness focuses on how accurately you can assess how people view your levels of self-awareness. Strong external self-awareness is positively correlated with empathy, perspective-taking, and a greater ability to build healthy and satisfying relationships. Ask yourself: do you know what drives your thoughts and actions? How are your motivations interpreted by your colleagues and team members?

Authenticity Every time a leader decides what to do (or not do), their values and behaviours are displayed. Colleagues and team members will make assumptions about what you did, why you did it and who you are as a leader. You will be judged on your actions, intentions, values, integrity, trustworthiness and effectiveness as a leader. Ask yourself: Is there a disconnect between how you want to be seen (your leadership promise) and how you are actually seen (your leadership practice)?

Mission The concept of servant leadership has been around for centuries, but it was Robert Greenleaf ’s 1970 essay ‘The Servant as Leader’ that brought it to the surface. A servant leader starts with a desire to serve. They focus on the growth and wellbeing of people and their community while sharing power and putting the needs of others first. They are clear on who they are serving, making it is easier to focus on what matters, build the team and secure the desired outcomes. Sadly, often leaders put their own needs first. This ‘me first’ approach does little to create strong team dynamics and an environment where everyone excels. A ‘me first’ approach doesn’t inspire or motivate team members to be their best. Ask yourself: Who are you serving? Are you always putting your needs first?

Mindset You’ll come across two types of leaders at work — those who approach leading with an abundance mentality and those who approach it with a scarcity mentality. A feast or famine mindset impacts how you connect and lead. A leader with a famine mindset hoards resources, rewards and recognition; worrying that if someone else gets the same amount or more than they do it will diminish them. This has enormous implications for how they work, as they approach conversations and negotiations with the objective of getting as much as they can for themselves. They are also less willing to collaborate, think about other people’s needs, and struggle to admit mistakes. By contrast, a leader with a feast mindset sees the work environment as a place full of opportunity, with more than enough to go around. They look to expand relationships and collaborate to secure joint outcomes. Ask yourself: Are you operating with a feast or famine mindset?

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Authority Research reveals that people in positions of power are three times more likely than other employees to interrupt colleagues, raise their voice and insult others. While a 2010 study by the University of Southern California and London Business School found correlations between overconfidence and a person’s level of power. The more powerful a person feels, the more confident they are of the accuracy of their thoughts and beliefs. This means people in powerful positions are more confident that their opinions are correct, which may result in their not listening, asking questions or taking advice — all of which can hamper effective decision making. Ask yourself: Do you think you’re the smartest person in the room? If so, have you stopped listening and learning, and is it time to find another room?

Team Norms In 2012, Google started a research project, code-named Project Aristotle, to determine what made the best teams. Initially, they thought it would be about the smarts of the people in the group, but over time they realised it had far more to do with how the team worked together. A year into the five-year study, they realised that explicit group norms were fundamental, the most important being psychological safety. Ask yourself: Are you working with your team to create team norms where each team member can be their best? Being a leader is a privilege, not a right. If you want to make your mark then remember that your leadership effectiveness starts and stops with you.

Relationship Style Leadership isn’t a popularity contest. There will always be someone ready to criticise and condemn you, but part of being a leader is taking a stand on things that matter. You have choices to make every day in how you lead and learn. Through your choices, you will create either a culture of denial and exclusion or one of opportunity and inclusion — for you, your team and your colleagues. Ask yourself: Are you stepping up, finding your unique style, building constructive relationships and being courageous?


Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.

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How to Share Your Ideas With Better Confidence at Work? BY KARIN HURT

How to Overcome FOSU (Fear of Speaking Up) and Share Your Ideas You want to share your great ideas to improve the business, but if you’re like many employees we work with, sometimes it’s hard to know just how or when to share them. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience before and it feels safer to stay silent. Or, perhaps you’re not quite sure if your idea is a good idea. But what it if IS a great idea, and you don’t share it? If you’re not feeling confident about speaking up, you’re not alone. In our research for Courageous Cultures, 40% of respondents said they lack the confidence to share their ideas.

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And 67% said they worry nothing will happen to their ideas anyway– so why bother? And yet, during this challenging time of fast pivots, hybrid teams, and return to the office, your voice matters more than ever! Can you imagine how much better things could be if we all came to work with one important question on our minds, “How can we make things better?” And then shared those creative ideas and did something about them?



5 Important Steps to Share Your Ideas So They’re More Likely to Be Heard We don’t want either of these reasons to prevent you from sharing your good ideas, so we’ve put together these practical steps to make it a bit easier. 1. Navigate the Narrative: Understand how past experiences may be creating FOSU (Fear of Speaking Up). Everyone likes to be around happy people, but in a In Courageous Cultures terms, we call this “Navigating the Narrative.”

“I really care about this company and the success of our team.I have some ideas I want to share that could help us to improve, but I want to ensure they’re on point. What are some of the biggest challenges you’re working on right now? Are you open to some of my ideas in that arena?” 3. Cultivate Curiosity One surprising part of our courageous cultures research was that 49% of the respondents (across all levels of the business), said that they are not regularly asked for their ideas.

It’s human nature to remember a negative experience you had speaking up more than a positive one. This means an important step in gaining the confidence to speak up is to remember the times that you did speak up and it made a difference.

And, the sad truth is that many managers think they ARE asking because they have an open door. Which is great, but not enough.

Think back on your career. What would you describe as your biggest moments of courage? Can you recall a time that you spoke up, even when you were nervous, challenged a decision, or shared an idea and it made all the difference?

In the meantime, our hope for you is that you won’t wait to be asked.

P.S. We would love to hear about your biggest moments of courage in the comments below (e.g. I stopped a bully, I confronted my boss. I challenged the data.) Courage breeds more courage, both in ourselves and with others.

We’re working hard on spreading the word on the importance of asking well.

We want to ensure your voice is heard and that your feel confident to share your ideas. Ask yourself and others a good courageous question. If you want to cultivate curiosity about how to make things better, the easiest way to start is by asking courageous questions of yourself and others.

2. Create Clarity: Ensure you understand the strategic priorities. Most of the time when leaders tell us that their team is not that strategic, or express concern that they’re getting too many ideas they can’t use, the biggest issue is a lack of clarity about what matters most.

A courageous question differs from a generic “How can we improve?” question in that it’s both specific and vulnerable.

Yes, it’s your boss’s job to translate strategic priorities and to help you understand how you can add the most value … including what problems they’re looking to solve and where they need a great idea.

For example:

However, we all know that no manager is perfect, and sometimes this communication breaks down. If you’re unsure of the strategic priorities, ask your manager with an approach like this.

It’s specific in that the focus is narrow, you’re just thinking and talking about one area to improve. And it’s vulnerable because it assumes that improvement is possible.

• “What’s one thing we do that really frustrates our customers (and what can we do about it)?” • “What’s one thing that’s sabotaging our productivity right now (and what should we do instead)?” • “If we could make one change to improve the quality of our remote meetings, what would that be (and how can we make that happen)?”

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One easy technique we teach leaders in our strategic leadership and fishbowl programs is called Own the U.G.L.Y.

4. Share Your I.D.E.A.s Sometimes when a good idea goes unnoticed, it’s just a matter of positioning.

You don’t have to be the one in charge to run people through these strategic questions. You can learn more about this process by downloading our free Idea Incubator Guide.

To ensure your voice is heard, and help your ideas attract the attention they deserve, use our I.D.E.A. model to position them.

Own the U.G.L.Y.

I-Interesting Why is this idea interesting? What strategic problem does it solve? How will results improve from this idea (e.g. customer experience, employee retention, efficiency)?

u g l y

- What are we Underestimating? - What’s got to Go? - Where are Losing? - Where are we missing the Yes?

D- Doable Is this idea something we could actually do? How would we make it happen? What would make it easier or more difficult? E- Engaging Who would we need to engage to make this happen? Why should they support it? Where are we most likely to meet resistance? A- Actions What are the most important actions needed to try this?How would we start?

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5. Respond with Regard Of course, one of the best ways to ensure your voice is heard is to actively listen to the ideas of others. When a coworker, project team member, or even your boss shares an idea, how you respond makes all the difference in their willingness to keep speaking up, and of course, will impact how they respond to your ideas. If you want a team culture where everyone comes to work asking “How can we make this better?”, getting good at responding with regard to ideas (even if they are halfbaked or off-base) makes all the difference.

Start Here to Ensure Your Voice is Heard We want to ensure your voice is heard, so we’ve shared a lot here to give you some options to consider as you consider and share your ideas. The most important part is to start. Ask yourself, “How can we make things better around here?” Think about (and share) one I.D.E.A. that would help. And then, ask your co-workers the same question and ensure their voice is heard too.


Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. She has decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR which she uses to help clients turn around results through deeper engagement. She knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflection of a marathoner, and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders.

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A Powerful Digital First Impression is Critical Meeting new coworkers and clients online can feel awkward and much less human than the analog version that we were all used to before March 2020. But e-meeting is the biggest kind of meeting (for some of us, it’s the only kind of meeting) these days, so making a powerful digital first impression is critical. There are things you should do before meeting them to help you deliver a powerful first impression when they perform preliminary research (a.k.a. Google and LinkedIn) on you. Then, there are things you need to do during that first screen-to-screen meeting to create a solid foundation for a good relationship. When those two interactions deliver a positive impression, you’ll

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be on a pedestal thanks to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias in this sense means that a couple of consistent positive experiences with you will set the trajectory in a positive upward direction. Here are my top tips for maximizing the power of video (which is the richest form of communication, next to being there in person), which you can use to keep that trajectory moving higher. If they offer to do a phoner, ask for video instead. It’s the closest thing to those realworld interactions we used to have, and video allows you to deliver a complete communication. You should be comfortable using video now, so make sure the first interaction is as engaging as possible.


1. Show up on time. Be ready to go as soon as your

6. Acknowledge them. There is likely something

online meeting starts. Nothing says “this isn’t important to me” like showing up late or frazzled.

impressive, something you respect, something you admire about every person you meet. From your research, identify the thing you want to call out.

2. Say their name (multiple times if you can). If you’re meeting them on Zoom, their name will likely be right there on the screen. It’s the digital equivalent of the Hello My Name Is sticker that’s common at many networking events. Make a mental note of the name. If there are multiple people you’re meeting at once, take a screenshot, and you’ll have the pics and names of the folks from the meeting.

everything you learn about someone, do jot down the important bits. Just don’t take too many notes, though, because you’ll seem disinterested if it’s clear you’re typing instead of paying attention. I keep an Evernote note called People and jot down a few keywords related to each new person I meet.

3. Look them in the eye. That means looking at the

8. Create a connection. Identify someone in your

camera, not where they appear on your screen. This is the biggest mistake I see people make over and over. Although it may feel weird, when you get used to it, it will have a big impact on how you connect with others, while showing them you have mastered online interactions. If it feels weird talking to a green light on your laptop, tape a picture of a person right where the camera is (making sure not to obscure the lens!).

network you could introduce this new colleague to. Think about who in your network would be great for them to meet. One of the most valuable networking activities you can do is to create connections among network members.

4. Ask questions and listen. Have some questions prepared that will show that you’re interested and original. Go for questions like “What are you excited about right now?” over “What’s the weather like today in Chicago?” Ask them about something you learned from the prep you did for your online research on them. “So, I see you worked for American Express early in your career. How did you like that?” It shows that you are interested and have done your homework. It’s more important to be interested than interesting. And don’t forget to ask the most important question: “How can I help you?”

5. Use tech to enhance the experience. Use the QR code of your LinkedIn profile so they can easily connect with you by just holding their phone up to the screen. Warmly. ai for Zoom lets you create a background signature with information you want to share about yourself.

7. Take notes. While you likely won’t remember

9. Identify when you will next connect. Don’t end the meeting without a plan for the next meeting or activity. Identify when/how you will connect again. Relationships are built over many interactions.

10. Don’t rush out of the Zoom room. Don’t be the first person to click “leave meeting.” You don’t want to look like you were desperate to move on to something else. With a little effort, you can make e-meetings positive, powerful and productive.

This article was originally published on forbes.com. For more information on Personal Branding , please visit williamarruda.com


William Arruda is the bestselling author of the definitive books on personal branding: Digital YOU, Career Distinction and Ditch. Dare. Do! And he’s the creative energy behind Reach Personal Branding and CareerBlast.TV – two groundbreaking organizations committed to expanding the visibility, availability, and value of personal branding across the globe.

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“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” - Bill Bradley -

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