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Are you a leader who is dealing with harmful and unconscious leaders in your organization? Or are you reporting to one of these leaders and suffering the negative consequences interpersonally and then seeing those ripple effects in your team and greater culture?
You are not alone.
I hear and work with these types of leadership and culture challenges all the time.
In this insightful episode, I will share with you some practical tips on how to coach unconscious leadership and transform this behavior to create a workplace and world that works for everyone. Join me as I clarify the differences between conscious and unconscious leadership, explain how to cultivate the inner game skills needed to become a conscious and inclusive leader, create psychological safety at work, and dive into the tactics that can help begin the shift away from the unacceptable behavior of leaders.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
“Nine Tips for Being a Male Ally at Work” from Greater Good magazine
Leading from Wholeness Executive Coaching
Leading from Wholeness Learning and Development Resources
Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World by Carley Hauck
What Psychological Safety Looks Like in a Hybrid Workplace from Harvard Business Review
“Leaders have the power to create an environment that allows people to grow and bring their whole and best selves to the workplace.” — Carley Hauck
“By speaking up, we are bringing awareness, education, and assertiveness to behavior.” — Carley Hauck
“Silence is complicity, and if we can’t call in, challenge, or and even call out these microinequities, the harm continues.” — Carley Hauck
“Leaders have an incredible opportunity to support a workplace that works for everyone.” — Carley Hauck
“We all have a responsibility to invite men to be more conscious and inclusive.” — Carley Hauck
Carley Hauck 0:09
Hi, this is Carley Hauck and welcome to another episode of the shine podcast. This podcast is all about the intersection of three things, conscious and inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams and awareness practices. I will be doing three episodes a month, a blend of solo episodes with me on a really important topic, and interviewing a conscious and inclusive leader. Before I tell you about our topic today, if you can go over to Apple podcasts, hit the subscribe button and write a positive review. It helps so much. Thank you.
Our topic for today is how to coach and unconscious and harmful leader. Are you a leader? Who is dealing with unconscious and harmful leaders in your organization? Or are you reporting to one of these leaders and suffering the negative consequences interpersonally. And or then seeing those ripple effects in your team and greater culture, you are not alone. I hear and work with these types of leadership and culture challenges all the time. And I would like to share with you some tips on how to coach this behavior.
First, let’s talk about the distinction between conscious and unconscious leadership. Senior executives and different levels of leadership have the power to create an environment that allows people to grow and bring their whole and best selves to the workplace. Or they can create a command and control atmosphere that breeds fear, silence and then happiness. In my experience, how leaders end up using that power depends in part on their mental health and their commitment to doing the inner work. In the last decade, I have served 1000s of folks, senior leaders, CEOs, middle managers, HR business partners, and individual contributors companies such as LinkedIn, Pixar, Clif Bar Genentech, Bank of the West, and many high growth startups. I’ve often been invited to support the reorganization of businesses, unhealthy cultures, or to work with senior leaders and teams to create more effective collaboration, communication and teamwork.
And these many experiences in the last decade, I have found that a conscious and inclusive leader possesses certain inner game skills. These skills and leadership capacities are self awareness, emotional intelligence, empathy, a growth mindset. They lead from love and compassion, not fear, most of the time. They’re willing to be vulnerable and authentic. And they prioritize self care and healthy boundaries. I speak and write up these inner game qualities at length in my new book SHINE, ignite your inner game to lead consciously at work in the world. But it’s also been the body of work that I’ve really been specializing in with all these various companies and leaders.
In the book, I describe nine different leaders who are embodying this way of conscious and inclusive leadership. But let me give you an example. Imagine that you are in a team meeting, and a team member is dominating the conversation. Perhaps it’s the leader. They’re interacting. They’re overtly expressing micro inequities, to more marginalized members in the group. A conscious and inclusive person, regardless of rank or title will speak up. Because they’ve cultivated those inner game qualities I spoke to you before. Let’s say this person’s name is Willie. They might say something like you just interrupted Karen and Ray. I really want to hear what they have to say. Or in the case of a microaggression. Willie might lead with curiosity and say, Can you share more about what you mean by that statement? Or I don’t understand what point you are trying to convey. Can you tell me more by speaking up, we are bringing awareness, education and assertiveness to the behavior. Silence is complicity. And if we can’t challenge, call in or even call out these micro inequities, these acts of exclusion, the hurt and harm continues.
When you have cultivated those inner game skills I was speaking on before, you will have the courage, compassion and consciousness to have these kinds of brave exchanges. The future of work amidst distributed remote teams will require even greater intentionality from leaders to create atmospheres and environments that are connected, collaborative and inclusive. leaders and those who feel called to lead have an incredible opportunity to support a workplace that works for everyone. And if you would like more support in creating this type of learning and leadership culture, please reach out to me and we can book a free consultation.
Okay, let’s talk about a more unconscious leadership style. You are likely seeing something like this. There is a senior leader who, let’s say, is a cisgendered white male. He’s an executive at this organization, and has been in his current role for several years. He has five direct leadership reports, and he uses tactics of micromanaging. He has even at times taken on some of his direct leadership reports, program ideas and passed them off as his own, not giving credit where credit was due, therefore hindering promotion and positive performance reviews. As a result, there is a lack of psychological safety. The leaders who report to him do not feel empowered in their ability to share ideas to empower their direct reports or their teams. They don’t feel like this leader has their back. And they don’t know how to speak to it. And this one leader creates a negative culture where no one feels like they can make mistakes where people don’t feel included, or there is no accountability. And therefore people don’t feel they can rely on one another because their efforts could be undermined, based on how this leader reacts. In summary, this one leader is having a large negative impact on business plans, ideas, interactions, and even systems of the organization itself.
So how does one coach this kind of behavior and leadership? How do we shift it? If you’re reporting to this kind of leader, here are a few tactics first, try and understand what their motivation is for leading this way. Why have they said what they said, why might they have acted like they acted. Second, there is likely some mental health and pathology underneath these behaviors, potentially a narcissistic personality disorder or something else. Those with narcissistic tendencies have a large sense of inadequacy. And based on my background, as a therapist, which is what I focused on before I stepped into executive coaching, and working in organizational and leadership development. I am aware that there are a lot of leaders with this type of personality trait. And it’s often not something that’s easily changed, and it’s usually stemming from deep childhood trauma. There were likely repeated experiences of never being able to please a parent neglect, emotional, physical and or sexual abuse. Narcissus may seem very confident, they may appear very charismatic. But that confidence is really a deep vulnerability and a lot of shame of who they really know themselves to be.
So how do you challenge the inner narcissist? Let me be frank, we all have narcissistic tendencies, this desire to be seen to be acknowledged, we can be self serving, we can forget about somebody else’s needs or desires other than our own. But the type of leader that I’m speaking to here that has this really strong negative impact on the team, and the culture is usually a consequence of deeper pathology at play. Like the leader example above. So knowing this, how do you challenge this? Well, this person has low self esteem. So we don’t want to destroy it anymore, because that will likely activate more unconscious behavior. Instead, we want to convey respect and acknowledge their need to be recognized in a certain way. We want to show empathy initially so that we can gain trust. We want to showcase compassion so that we can begin to challenge and confront these dysfunctional behaviors.
Third, these types of behaviors and personalities need to be held accountable. And they are prone to gaslighting, there is usually a lack of self awareness, a lack of empathy, and a lack of personal responsibility. So in my experience, you have to have multiple people and senior leadership on board for these behaviors, and negative consequences to be held accountable. And they also have to be showcased, in full view of everyone else, having private conversations are not going to get this type of behavior to change in a more sustainable way.
One of the things that I find really helpful in these types of situations and with these kinds of leaders is to show data of the negative consequences of these behaviors on the team and the culture. I am a certified practitioner, and the psychological safety scan, which is an assessment of psychological safety. That is showcasing four different dimensions. It comes from Dr. Amy Edmondson’s 25 years of research at Harvard on the subject of psychological safety. And when this assessment is given, I have real data that allows me to give an open conversation about what is actually happening. As a result of this research on consciousness. It creates an opportunity to point to the negative impact it is having not only on the team, but the entire culture and create the business case and motivation for an intervention to shift it. Additionally, assessment and the debrief creates accountability and transparency. So that gaslighting and deflecting by this leader is minimized. After everything is being brought into the open, there’s a real opportunity to shift this type of leadership behavior. And that’s the negative impacts on the culture.
And now what? I would love to support your organization or leadership team with. So if you would like support around this type of challenge in your organization or leadership team, I would love to help you. And I specialize in these three ways, coaching folks on how to navigate these situations. If you’d like to have me help you assess the psychological safety in the team or the culture, and then do a debrief and have recommendations for an intervention for greater safety, inclusion, accountability, and overall flourishing. Or, if you’re seeking someone to support you in a more full time capacity on this topic, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to book a free consultation with you and put you in touch with someone who can help because I have a big network and I love to help people.
I’m going to leave you with three takeaways. Be conscious, intentional, and courageous. If we don’t step forward, and push back or call in on people, the systems and structures will continue to not work and then we can’t create a healthy environment or workplace that works for everyone and where we can all flourish. The topic of men being allies, and shifting this way of unconscious leadership is something I feel really passionate about. And I’ve written articles and recorded podcasts in the last few years on this topic. I’m gonna leave a link for one of the articles in the show notes for you to read. But essentially, women, men, people of color, marginalized groups, we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to invite men to be more conscious and inclusive. And since men hold the majority of power, social capital and influence at work in the world, it is so important that we bring light and thus can create the healing and transformation that is needed.
If you have any questions or comments, please email me at support at Carley Hauck and I would love to hear from you. Finally, thank you so much for your attention, for tuning in and being part of this community. Until we meet again, be the light and shine the light.