In this episode of HR on the Mat, Courtney and Peggy continue their conversation about influential leadership traits. They talk about understanding your team members’ preferences, making modifications, accepting that you can’t be great at everything, and the importance of communication and feedback.
This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.
Welcome back to HR on the Mat, where we talk about the parallels of your work life and your yoga mat. I’m Courtney Scott with Balance and Harmony Yoga, and as you can see, today, we are at Purple Ink’s space in Carmel, at the ink pad, and joining me is the always lovely Miss Peggy Hogan.
Well, thank you. And it’s fun to be together. We are maintaining our social distancing, which is actually appropriate distancing for yoga, as well. So today, we are going to talk a little bit more about leadership traits and how to coach, develop, and really empower your team. And what…when we think about some of the empowering of the team, that can get a little bit tricky, too, and difficult, especially in a virtual world. But what are some things that you’re using, that a leader should really be kind of cognizant of as they’re looking at best practices for leading?
So, one of the things, when I used to lead a team, before I decided to devote my career to my yoga mat, was really understanding preferences and work styles, when people work best. Are they morning or they night and afternoon individuals? Understanding kind of when they’re best, their brains are working to be creative and generating new ideas, when they’re most adaptive to receive feedback. And then adapting your leadership styles. And it’s also understanding work preferences. Do people like to work in the open space? And or do they prefer to have more time by themselves, heads down time in working? And then just trying to, again, be conducive to each, have unique personalities on your team that holistically, when they come together might… It’s an interesting portfolio for a leader to try to manage and it’s important to know those different attributes of the team members as you think about how you’re going to effectively lead, empower, and coach.
Yeah, and really, I think you do have this team and the team has its own personality, but you can’t really understand the team if you don’t understand the individual. And taking that time to learn about the individuals, their strengths, maybe their weaknesses, and, you know, how to…how are…how can I best support them as they move forward, too. And that might be reallocating work to someone who has a different strength. It might be maybe doing some sort of team building or training, like, StrengthsFinder training is a great one for understanding your own strengths, but also really understanding your teammates’ strengths, because, you know, I want to know why this person I’m working with doesn’t seem to want to collaborate with me. And maybe they’re just different. Maybe they bring different skills to the table that I need to be more appreciative. And we like…so, anytime you step into a class, certainly a yoga class, usually the instructor will ask, you know, if there’s any injuries or modifications or things that we need to be aware of in terms of underlying medical conditions so that we can assess the capabilities of who we’ve got practicing with us today. And then throughout the class that will dictate the modifications we make, and do we speed things up, do we slow things down, do we try to move into those advanced postures or do we keep it back and more basic, and how much alignment do I need to give. If I’ve got somebody who’s beginner, I’ll give a lot of alignment cues. If I have an advanced class, then we’re going to speed through it, because they should know how to do it safely. But…. And I think that parallels really well to the responsibility of a leader to be able to assess the capabilities and strengths of the team, and then figure out a way how to tailor your leadership style that will be used for the whole group to be successful, but for each individual to have…hold space on their mat that’s safe and comfortable for them. Yeah, and, you know, everybody wants everyone to be everything. And we’re not. Like, you’re not necessarily going to be super creative and then super detail-oriented. You might be, but not necessarily. You’re not necessarily going to be a great relationship builder and sales manager and be super great about turning in a detailed expense report. It’s not an excuse not to do your job. But we do need to understand that people come with talents, and let’s build those into strengths. So I do think that that is, you know, really important. It is difficult in virtual world. But you can do training. We just…not to give a plug to Purple Ink, but we just did an online strengths training, and we had, I don’t know, I think 50 or 60 people sign up, and that was a great way for people to be able to learn about their own. And if you send a team, they have the opportunity to interact as well. So that’s, you know, a way of doing it in a virtual world. Once you know the strengths, continue to talk about them. And in your meetings, even, calling out, you know, Courtney, I really saw that you used, you know, your Communication strength today, when you wrote that great email to that difficult customer. So calling that out is…is awesome, too.
Yeah. And I think it comes back to the leader really understanding the capabilities of the team, and then helping the team to contract in terms of ways of working with each other. So I was on a team where nobody wanted meetings after four o’clock. So we contracted not having meetings after four. It was a project-based team, and they needed a day to do project work, and so they had Work Only Wednesdays, we called them WOWs. And we did that on purpose. And then we made a mutual agreement amongst our team that we wouldn’t schedule any meetings so that people could work, heads down time, in an environment which they saw conducive. So one lady always… she loved to work at the library. So she went to the library, and that’s where she was every Wednesday, and working. And the team just sort of, like…these became our team norms. But it’s, as a leader, being able to facilitate that conversation and let them keep contracts. Goes back, again, to having the leader figure out with the team how to hold space for each individual in terms of what will lift them up and have…accentuate their strengths.
Yeah, and the…with…with the COVID situation, I think we all thought it was gonna last, you know, about four weeks, right? So it’s a temporary thing. Now everybody’s got new home office equipment, and, you know, the world has changed. We’re getting a little bit used to it. There are people really struggling now, especially people with children, you know, trying to be a tutor and teacher and, you know, hold down the home fort, and everybody’s taken up different offices. So not to belabor that, but I think that we’re realizing that part of that work contract might be 3:30 to 6:30, I’m gonna probably be a little bit scarce, and…but I’ll be checking my email maybe at eight. And that’s not to say that you have to work all day, but what might work for one person might not work for someone else. So it all boils down to communication.
Well, it does, and it comes, also, back to giving feedback. Both between peers on the team, but as a leader of the team, giving feedback to your individuals. Part of the job of the leader, and certainly the yoga instructor, is that we assess the capabilities of the practitioners we have in our class. We’ll ask them how they want to receive feedback. If somebody’s going to be putting themselves in an unsafe position, I’ve got to be able to figure out how do I get them. Some folks like the competition between their yoga…fellow yoga friends, and that will be good enough, if I could just give a big cue and say do this, or I come beside them and do the pose. Other ones, I have to actually move over to their space and mindfully, just very quietly, push their knee a certain direction so that we’re not working it or making sure that we’re locking down the spine. And that takes more of a manual adjustment. But it’s understanding what the practitioners or the individuals on your team need and how they like to receive feedback, and then tailor your leadership self to make those individuals feel empowered, and that they can actually continue in the development.
Yeah, and we…at Purple Ink, we call that feed forward information. So it’s very positive. But if you think of coaching, and, “boy, you really screwed that up,” you know, nobody’s gonna say that coaching, necessarily, but to say, “hey, you were in that meeting and I loved it when you really engaged the group, and, you know, you were…you were clever and funny and smart, and those are great points. Next time, I would love it if you would maybe get the group to participate a little bit more. I think that’ll really take you to the next level.” It feels so different.
It feels so different. And it’s knowing how to deliver that message. And one of my favorite things is – when I was practicing yoga before I was able to teach it – was watching individuals, as they would, like, get up into crows, which is where you balance on your forearms, and they would lift one leg and they would get up for a hot second, but the entire class would cheer, because that is monumentous when you get both legs off the ground, even just a second, how cool, how accomplishing, and it’s awesome to have a community around you reveling in the way you want to receive it. And for a lot of yogis, we like…like celebrating those small milestones, when we get just a half inch off the floor, heck yeah, that’s a big deal, and celebrating those big successes.
Yeah, and they can be through formal recognition programs that company has, or it could be something like a team recognition program. I mean, research is…you know, recent research shows that recognition, more than reward, is important. People do want to be paid fairly for their work and the value that they bring, but being recognized is huge. It can be as simple as, I mean, a lot of times, JoDee’s very good at her email enthusiasm, and it’s…sometimes it’s kind of cryptic, because it’s super short, but it might just be “ty,” you know, “thank you,” or a smiley face. Or, you know, we got some business or something went well, or it was a nice note, and just saying thank you. Everyone can do that. It’s so easy.
It’s so easy. And I actually encourage leaders, besides…beyond the thankings, when you can, when you notice it, give the things like…like acknowledging the courage it took to stand up in front of a group or the resilience it took to stay in a pose or…and you can take all of the stuff that you learn from…from a yoga mat into your leadership style, or really any sport of choice. There’s so much to be learned about through physical activity and how you persevere as you’re training, because we’re all athletes of some sort.
Athletes in our sport of choice, or kind of athletes in just everyday life. And so there’s always something to be gained about how you react in times of resistance, or…
And your physical health is super important. If you’re not feeling well, you know, I’ve had friends who’ve had severe back pain or, you know, some sort of an injury. If you’ve got injuries, it’s really hard to concentrate at work that day. So taking care of yourself physically is super important. And I know we’re going to do a separate HR on the Mat where we’re going to show some tips, techniques, and actual, like, stretches and things that can be done by the, you know, the most beginner yogis, if you will, so I’m kind of looking forward to doing that. Let’s talk for a minute about communication preferences. There’s so many modes of communication now, when you think of work. It didn’t used to be. So how do we…how can a boss or a leader kind of be better with understanding?
I think it comes back to understanding the work preferences. When…when do you know people are on and when are they off? And then respecting that and setting clear expectations. If your work preference as a leader is complete opposite of the team members, being clear in your, like, this is what my…I know I’m gonna do this, this is the expectations. Or the delay button on that email. It’s really important. But it’s setting those expectations. And even if you’re going to send something when you know it’s somebody else’s off time, during your off time, you also can’t respond on your own time. So it’s just the…it goes back to our first conversation around virtual leaders and how to excel in this in this world that we find ourselves. It comes back to leading by example. So as long as you’re following through on your commitments as a leader, understanding the…the communication preferences, and then just saying…acknowledging when they are, and then kind of having a conversation and contracting rules of engagement, you should be good.
Yeah. Now, I do want to just go back to something you said, because I am a night owl. So I do shoot off an awful lot of email at night, and I do try to use the send tomorrow button to be respectful for people. That said, I have told everyone on my team and they know I’m a night owl, and I…they know that I don’t expect them to do anything, because occasionally I’ll forget that delay. I’m not expecting a response. I’m just doing my work. So they can do it whenever. And then if I ever get an emergency or really needed them, I would call them or text them. So, I think a lot of it is communicating. That said, funny thing about the delay button – JoDee was getting a lot of stuff that was arriving her…in her email at, like, 7:00, she’s getting blasted with, like, 40 emails from a few of us. And she’s annoyed by that, because on the weekends, she likes to work, you know, so that it’s not all packed in. So, it really…so much of this stuff, whether it’s feed forward or performance management or work preferences, learning styles, really comes down to communication about it.
It does. It comes…
And honesty about it.
And it comes back to holding space, right? You’ve got to be able to figure out what the safety confines are and how do you hold space for somebody, just meaning that you’re honoring their unique preferences. And as a leader, I think it’s important for us, especially now in this virtual world, to take on a lion’s share of that burden, to tailor our leadership style, to make sure that we are innovating, encouraging our team to continue to persevere and develop their own strength.
Yeah, I agree. Well, I think there’s some good tips that we’ve talked about today. We are going to talk more about, you know, even virtual meetings and just kind of the physicality of attending all these Zoom meetings, being on the computer, and the importance of stretching, you know, walking meetings. Are there any other creative things you can think of that we can do for the team here physically?
Two things. One is breath, breath work. Big inhales and exhales, three to five breaths. It’s amazing what it can do. If you’re looking to energize a team, if you’re looking to kind of change the tone of the conversation, if you’re looking to just bring everything kind of back down, or just take a break and have a natural pause in the conversation, breath work is always a great place. The other thing is by doing inversions, and so that’s a simple forward fold. Anytime that you can get your heart above your head, it’s going to be opposite flow of blood, it’s going to throw oxygen into those blood cells, and it’s going to do two things for you. One, clear your head. And it’s also going to give you a boost of energy. So I love doing a forward fold. And I’d say hold the forward fold for about a minute, and you’ll be surprised about the effects it has. You can hold it up to five minutes. Doing your inversion of choice every morning, you’ll be surprised about how much energy and how more clear you see the world.
And I’ve been doing that a little bit. If I’m sitting, you know, I kind of move around the house and work on my computer, but if I’m getting some high back pain, or even if I feel like I’m getting restless or not concentrating, that forward is super helpful. And for those of you who don’t know what a forward fold is, it’s basically, you know, bending at the hips and touching your toes with your legs straight. And if your hands don’t touch your toes, you just go ’til…’til it feels good. So you’re getting a nice stretch.
Yeah, that’s exactly it. Planting both feet firmly on the mat hip width apart, starting standing up crown high, inhale and exhale, fold at the hips, relax the neck, and enjoy.
And it feels awesome. And you can swing around and…
Yeah, swing around like a rag doll. You can do a whole bunch of different stuff with your arms and whatnot to be able to stretch deeper into those legs. But I would say that’s a really safe place to explore and see what you can do.
And see…if you’re in a Zoom meeting, if people want a break, I would say suggest it. They might look at you like you’re crazy, because, you know, perhaps this is something that hasn’t been done before. But I think, you know, setting your intention in front of that meeting as a leader, and then understanding if you’re seeing people are fading a little bit, yep, I need to…we need to do a little team care, so I’ll do a stretch. That’s a great way to kind of help lead those virtual meetings and keep people a little bit more motivated, too.
Yep. Absolutely, absolutely. Well, and I think after this, we are actually going to provide a small little flow for self-care. That’s one thing we haven’t talked about yet, which is that leaders, in order to care for your team, you have to care for yourself first. And so we will be providing a little bit of a flow that will give you an opportunity to do exactly what we just said a forward fold does for you. A unique way to boost the energy and to clear the mind and to make sure that the leader’s taken care of before they start taking care of their team. It’s that proverbial airplane put your mask on first. And we’ll show you just how to do that in five minutes or less.
Yeah, and some of those moves they can share with their team, too. Or share…
Do it as a team.
You can always turn your Zoom cameras off if that helps.
…feel less intrusive. But yeah, doing it as a team and coming back to it.
Yeah, and it’s being a good leader by showing that taking care of themselves is a priority.
Well, it was fun talking about this today, and it’s been fun being in person at the ink pad. So we’ll end with our normal namaste.
Yep. So inhale. Exhale, palms kiss, come down to heart center. Namaste.